(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo

Whisky Tasting




Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2022 - Part 2


March 2022 - part 1 <--- March 2022 - part 2 ---> April 2022 - part 1


Mars 31, 2022


Little Duos, today Aberlour IB vs OB


Aberlour is another favourite at Château Whiskyfun. It was one of the first two Distilleries we've visited with the Malt Maniacs, a long time ago. What's sure is that it was either Aberlour or Glenrothes, both great places anyway. What I seem to remember is that at Glenrothes, they had been flying the national flags of each and every one of us in front of the Distillery! We couldn't believe our eyes but it's true that distillers, in the early days of the Web, were still wondering 'how to handle those strange people from the Internet'. There's been excesses in both directions… But well, this will be Aberlour. At that time and since it was Macallan's heyday, stumbling upon a Speysider that was ex-bourbon rather than ex-sherry was like crossing the path of a tomato with wheels (copyright Edmund, Lord Blackadder).  Which happened to us at Aberlour… Having said that, this will be a sherried expression. But sorry, I feel like I'm babbling on like a blogging parrot today, so to the whisky please… By the way, have I ever told about… (S., please!) 

Aberlour 12 yo 2008/2021 (52.3%, Maltbarn, sherry cask, 160 bottles)

Aberlour 12 yo 2008/2021 (52.3%, Maltbarn, sherry cask, 160 bottles) Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: a rather leafy and leathery one at first, with some green walnuts, bay leaves and a wee butyric side. Gas, gun smoke, perhaps even sheep cheese, rubber… All that before orchard fruits would start to play their roles. Peaches. With water: sour cream, mashed celeriac and turnip, then indeed peaches and greengages. Some twin face malt on the nose. Mouth (neat): raw, rustic, robust, bitterish and extremely leafy. New artisan plum spirit (damsons) and some kind of rubbery green tea. Or green tea with a little lapsang souchong added to the teapot. With water: nicer, with some grapefruits and gooseberries, plus the usual walnuts. Finish: long and leafy. Apple peel in the aftertaste, plus a little muscovado. Comments: a tough guy from the country, a style that's a little unusual at Maltbarn. Be diplomatic.

SGP:371 - 81 points.

Aberlour 21 yo 1999/2020 (51.2%, OB, selected by La Maison du Whisky for Jack Tar, Poland, 1st fill American oak barrel, cask #3856, 156 bottles)

Aberlour 21 yo 1999/2020 (51.2%, OB, selected by La Maison du Whisky for Jack Tar, Poland, 1st fill American oak barrel, cask #3856, 156 bottles) Five stars
There, one of those rare non-sherried ones. I mean, we used to believe they were rare… Colour: gold. Nose: Danishes, lemon tarte (with meringue!), custard, gianduja and earl grey. This is simply perfect. With water: oh, fresh croissants, Chablis, honeysuckle, oatcake and chalk. That's all self-explanatory, is it not? Mouth (neat): Wulong tea with a drop of lemon juice (I know) and various pastries and breads. There's a tight, green and zesty spiciness in the background (perhaps a tiny spritz of horseradish sauce) and a perfect grapefruit – mirabelle duet. With two drops of water: perfect, luminous, fresh, with a spectacular lemon blossom and fresh vanilla duet (fresh pods straight from where they grow). One day we'll tell you about the means they have to use to pollinate vanilla and… (S., no, please). Finish: long, on vanilla cake with mirabelles. Comments: some sides reminded me of a famous Dufftown Distillery starting with a B. Excellent.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Aberlour we've tasted so far


Mars 30, 2022


Little duos, today 15 year old sherried Pulteney

Let's drive North, to Wick, and have our 100th Pulteney. Yes, only 100 Pulteneys within almost 20 years, what a shame, it's as if the whisky world ended at Brora/Clynelish. Not proud at all, I say I deserve blame and gibes. Meanwhile…

Pulteney 15 yo 2006/2021 (52.6%, Hart Brothers, Cask Strength, first sherry butt filled)

Pulteney 15 yo 2006/2021 (52.6%, Hart Brothers, Cask Strength, first sherry butt filled) Four stars
It is as if someone's given instructions to the printer by telephone. I mean, first sherry butt filled, isn't that rather first fill sherry butt? Or was it, indeed, the first sherry butt they ever filled? Anyway, good fun, love Hart Bros. Colour: amber. Nose: it was some sweet sherry, apparently. Many raisins, dried figs, dried dates, perhaps even moscatel, then ginger cookies and some salted fudge. A coastal side remains, it's not heady. With water: a dusty touch, otherwise old oloroso, meat sauce, Maggi and hoisin sauce. It went from very sweet to pretty savoury. Mouth (neat): a salty and rubbery touch at first, then some thickish sweet ale, rancio, chocolate sauce (mole), flavoured pipe tobacco (cherry), fruitcake (Alsatian beerawecka – and why not) and marmalade. The rubber's gone. With water: the rubber's gone for good. Lovely chocolate sauce indeed, salted marmalade, and the expected walnut wine. Finish: rather long, dry and chocolaty. Salty toffee in the aftertaste. Comments: very good 'sherry monster'. I would suppose ten more years of bottle aging would push it towards the 90-mark.

SGP:462 - 87 points.

And now, our 100th Pulteney…


Pulteney 15 yo 2004/2020 (63.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry butt, cask #629, batch #20/092, 507 bottles)
Five stars

Pulteney 15 yo 2004/2020 (63.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry butt, cask #629, batch #20/092, 507 bottles)

Not too sure about what that batch number on the label means in this context, unless they would work with the same printer as the Harts. Ha. Colour: deep gold. Nose: totally the glory of refill. Olives, teak oil, putty, wood smoke, fudge, some fino-y character, walnuts, tiger balm, sweet mustard and tiny bits of pencil shavings. With water: some mint, earth and liquorice. Mouth (neat): G&M have always been Pulteney specialists and that shows. Wonderful lemony, sour, nutty and salty arrival, then masala, bulldog sauce, tobacco and brine. A lot of power but it is curiously drinkable, even at 63.3 vol., or maybe is that because I rather adore this salty style? With water: some sweetness returns, around raisins and butterscotch, pepper mint liqueur, sweet teriyaki sauce, walnuts… Finish: long, meaty, salty, rich. Tobacco and oak in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm reminded of G&M's older CASK Pulteneys, splendid drop.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

PS: sorry about those silly jokes about the printer, just trying to keep it all a little fun in these darker times, with our friends in Ukraine in mind.

(thank you Tim!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Pulteney we've tasted so far


Mars 29, 2022


A quintet of Macallan

Long time no Mac. Let's first try a few more or less recent ones including some No-Age-Stated expressions (are the actual ages that shamefully low?) and then an old one that's really old.

Circa 1985. Charlie, were you there? ->

Macallan 15 yo 'Double Cask' (43%, OB, +/-2021)

Macallan 15 yo 'Double Cask' (43%, OB, +/-2021) Four stars and a half
This baby is a self-blend of ex-sherry-seasoned American oak and ex-sherry-seasoned European oak, hence the name 'double cask', so apparently, it's not double maturation. I tried this before, informally, and so have now a good feeling. Colour: full gold. Nose: great nose, with something of old Macallan of, well, of old. Some burnt wood, toffee, pecan pie, brown toasts, a drop of molasses, then more and more maltiness that would come together with a few floral notes (meadow flowers), thick ale and butterscotch. A minimally salty smokiness. Mouth: very good drop, no questions. There's the traditional Macallan complexity that quite a few recent bottlings had forgotten about, with some spicy marmalade, chestnut and heather honeys, pancake sauce, drop of miso soup, dried apricots, apricot jam, mirabelle jam, all that while the honeyness keeps growing. Do they have beehives at the mothership? I mean, at the Distillery? Finish: pretty long, honeyed and toffee-ed. The expected coffee/chocolate/marmalade trio in the aftertaste. Comments: one of the malts that can take a low strength such as 43% vol. without turning a hair. Possibly one of the best within the official range, if I may, I find it more 'Macallan' than others.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Excellent, let's move on…

Macallan 'Rare Cask 2021 Release' (43%, OB)

Macallan 'Rare Cask 2021 Release' (43%, OB) Four stars
There, one of those nasty NASses. Is the age really unmentionable here? I remember 2018's version was pretty cheap (WF 78). I mean, cheap on your palate, it is a very expensive bottle (300€ for a NAS, three times the price for the fantastic 15 yo). Colour: gold. Nose: eh? Don't I find metal polish, old coins, old copper (grandma's kettle) and a lot of acacia blossom and honey? And drops of trappiste beer? And biscuits? Madeleines? Shoe polish? Glazed chestnut? Mouth: I find the 15 superior, but they are not that far away. This one's more rustic, a little gritty and rubbery around the edges, perhaps a little too gingery too, but I would not cry foul, it's a pleasant, malty, honeyed, rather old-school palate. Now is it 300€ pleasant? Finish: medium, a tad 'cooked', malty and toffee-ed. The usual aspects in the aftertaste (remember, coffee, chocolate and marmalade) plus a little pencil shaving. Comments: some sides make me think of some lovely armagnac. I mean, 50€ armagnac. In any case, way better than earlier batches in my book. 
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Macallan 'Enigma' (44.9%, OB, Quest Collection, 2017)

Macallan 'Enigma' (44.9%, OB, Quest Collection, 2017) Four stars
Fully ex-sherry-seasoned European oak. Viva Europe! With a name such as 'Enigma', we could forgive the lack of any age statement. For once. Colour: deep gold. Nose: more on brownies, chocolate cake, darker molasses, darker honeys, darker fruitcakes, a drop of soy sauce, beef bouillon… And really a lot of chocolate. I think they should tell us about the kind of sherry too, about the bodegas… In any case, I do enjoy this very chocolaty nose. Mouth: it is very different on the palate, rather more 'stewed', on cakes, Jaffa cakes, cinnamon chocolate, ginger cookies… It would never stop getting spicier, the European oak is having the lead here. Finish: rather long, all on chocolate and oak spices, with a dominant cinnamon. Not quite my favourite part. Comments: hold on, they actually told us about the bodega here, my bad! It is Tevasa, in Jerez. In general, those bodegas do not produce any drinkable sherry, they only build and season bespoke sherry casks for the whisky industry. In short, they are kinds of subcontractors to the whisky industry. Well, not exactly, I know… Anyway, very nice drop, but still, the 15, any place, any time, any circumstances.

SGP:561 - 85 points.

Macallan 'Concept  no.3 David Carson' (40.8%, OB, 2020)

Macallan 'Concept  no.3 David Carson' (40.8%, OB, 2020) Four stars
I find it fantastic that they would not write it 'CON' and later 'CEPT' anymore. Life is about learning. Cask bill here includes sherry butts, bourbon barrels and just 'American oak'. I would suppose that's virgin white oak. Now I don't know what the strength of 40.8% means. Very old whiskies or just cheap ultra-reduction ? There's also something 'digital' about this bottle, but we now know that all what us humans need is 'less digital' rather than more. The pendulum is swinging back and this is all getting very tricky for brands. Colour: gold. Nose: massive, immense, huge chocolate. We're simply having hot chocolate somewhere in Mittelleuropa. Say Vienna? Also, hold on, apple juice. Mouth: all right, this is very good and the lousy low strength doesn't even feel. Typical Macallan 'body'. Mead, raisins, honeys, flowery teas, spicy cake (Stolle), old desert wine, mullein syrup, quince jelly… I really enjoy this and at 40.8%, you can drink a lot of it. My, with such statements, they'll shut down this web site sooner or later. Bring 'em on. Finish: medium, extremely chocolaty. Pralines, ganache, or anything by my favourite Parisian chocolatiers. No, no names, I wouldn't want to ruffle any feathers. Comments: very good. At least, the juice isn't digital.
SGP:451 - 87 points.

Good, to the source of many old ones…

Macallan 1968/2009 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt)

Macallan 1968/2009 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt) Five stars
With the famous red ribbon that was already to be found, albeit horizontally, on the older 'official' handwritten 1938, 1940... As it says on the label, this was 'Selected, Produced, Matured and Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail'. Many old official bottles of Macallan are actually ex-Gordon & MacPhail. Gordon & MacPhail have been and still are 'seminal' to many a Scottish whisky brand or distillery. Good, G&M, that's going to be one pint (of beer, not of Brora) next time we meet. Colour: full gold. Nose: oh yes oh yes oh yes oh yes. Pencil eraser, pollen, many honeys, beeswax, stearin, broom and gorse, old hardwoods (we used to mention dashboards of old Jaguars), tangerine and citron liqueurs, lime blossom, zucchini flowers, acacia, and hundreds of different nectars. Probably one of the most floral whiskies you could ever nose. Mouth: of course there is a little fragility, and indeed 'their' Glen Grants, Glenlivets or Longmorns are superior, but this is all subtleness, floralness, honeyness and… cakes and teas. Earl grey and amaretti. In short, whisky for your Five O'clock tea in an old Scottish hotel such as The Balmoral in Edinburgh. Touristy, carpet everywhere, incredibly out of fashion and even rather dusty in all senses of that word, but if you never did this, do it at least once. Better book. Finish: Comments: totally lovely old Macallan, a little fragile here and there, but lovable. Drink while listening to Peter Skellern or Brian Ferry's jazzy tunes, and please avoid Led Zeppelin or Kamasi Washington!

SGP:551 - 91 points.

(Thanks to the Burlet gang)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Macallan we've tasted so far


Mars 28, 2022


Excellent New Scottish cats special

We haven't got enough of each to warrant come proper 'solo' sessions, but that time will come. In the meantime…

A blue Scottish fold. Just couldn't resist ->

Dalmunach 6 yo 2015/2021 (50%, Claxton's Exploration Series, red wine barrique)

Dalmunach 6 yo 2015/2021 (50%, Claxton's Exploration Series, red wine barrique) Three stars and a half
Right, a red wine finish, so I doubt we'll manage to get to the core of Chivas's Dalmunach today. Colour: salmon/blush wine. Thighs of a moved nymph, as 18th century painters would have said. Nose: fun. Burnt strawberry cake, natural rubber, Lambrusco and stewed peaches. Whiffs of peonies. With water: a little smoke, hints of bay leaves, Timut pepper, leaven, baker's yeast…Mouth (neat): but-this-is-good. Strawberry cake, touch of rubber once more, vine peaches and now wham-bam raspberries and cassis. Phew. With water: pretty good! No deviant berries, rather more malt, kriek, maraschino and just one goji berry. For glory. Finish: medium, perhaps more on blood oranges, with some terry pepper and some discreet cloves. Comments: this has been done with restraint. Extremely far from the disaster I was expecting, even more so after I had checked the colour.

SGP:651 - 84 points.

Ardnamurchan 6 yo 2015/2022 (57.1%, WhiskySponge, 48A, refill barrel, 163 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 6 yo 2015/2022 (57.1%, WhiskySponge, 48A, refill barrel, 163 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: perhaps the best within the new wave of peaters. Very precise, chiselled, with subtle tar (Pirelli – ha) and coal, then olive oil. When olive oil comes through, I am happy. With water: burnt butter, olives, cigar ashes, smoked sausage. Mouth (neat): even better on the palate. A feeling of coal-smoked olives, which they would have then let marinate in a blend of Jamaican rum and mezcal. Something like that. With water: we need to see the papers, where it says 'Scotland'. Finish: long, olive-y, almost bacterial. Big smoky ashes in the aftertaste. Comments: straight from a Scottish muck pit. I was ready to go to 88, until I noticed that it was only 6. I do what I want.
SGP:367 - 88 points.

Ardnamurchan 6 yo (53%, WhiskySponge, 48B, refill and 1st fill barrel, 163 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 6 yo (53%, WhiskySponge, 48B, refill and 1st fill barrel, 163 bottles) Four stars and a half
The Sponge may have done some blending here, which collectors always… fear. Colour: white wine. Nose: this is much gentler than 48A, more on grist, pancake, banana skin and, indeed, a tarry smokiness which, this time, behaved. Rather sadly, the olives and the mezcal are gone. With water: a bit in the middle. Mouth (neat): peatier on the palate, more tropical as well. Smoked bananas and maracuja cream. I mean, smoked maracuja cream. Then more saltiness, brine, lemons, oysters and… some Jamaicanness! With water: water almost puts it back into the same cluster as that of 48A, even if it remains 'lighter'. Finish: same. Comments: some Talisker-level smoke here. To be honest and after careful thinking, I like it the same as cask #48A. It just needs a little more of your time.
SGP:454 – 88 points.

Ardnamurchan 7 yo 2014/2022 (57.1%, WhiskySponge, 48C, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 163 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 7 yo 2014/2022 (57.1%, WhiskySponge, 48C, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 163 bottles) Four stars and a half
All right, I think I can see the plot now. Colour: golden straw. Nose: crushed bananas and croissants, white Bordeaux (Pessac – do you say white claret in English?) plus jelly babies, marshmallows, fermenting pineapples and pancake dough.  With water: sameish. Nice doughy and fermentary tropicalness. Mouth (neat): sweet vanilla, mangos, passion fruits and bananas. Typical good malt distillate in fresh American oak, well taken care of.  With water: more on sweet barley, grenadine, even cranberry. Finish: long, leafier. Hops and pomegranates. Comments: I'm thinking of ex-BB Bimber, I don't know why. Perhaps my Boris side.
SGP:641 - 88 points.

All right, I would suppose the equation was 48A + 48C = 48B. Good one! (I swear to Vishnu that I was not in the know). What's dead sure is that in my book, all three were equally very good. But let's move on…

Nc'Nean 2017/2021 'AON' (59.6%, OB for Kirsch Import, sherry hogshead, cask #17-257, 208 bottles)

Nc'Nean 2017/2021 'AON' (59.6%, OB for Kirsch Import, sherry hogshead, cask #17-257, 208 bottles) Four stars
AON? Wasn't that a rather dreadful movie with Charlize Theron? The price is insane here (169€), but you never know, platinum is expensive too… Colour: red amber. Nose: feels American. Westland and stuff. Wood oils, marmalade, pinewood, gingerbread. With water: gingerbread glazed with marc de gewurz mixed with orange blossom water and icing sugar, plus a metallic touch. Copper tones. It is about wood. Mouth (neat): good thick spicy gingerbread and ten tons of liquorice allsorts. With water: same plus a huge pecan pie and Trappist sauce. I mean, you take one litre of Westmalle or a Rochefort and you let it simmer in a copper pan for about half a day. Finish: and it goes on. The entire world's production of Jaffa cakes. Comments: welcome to the year 2023. I mean, 2022. I cannot not agree that this Tesla of malt whisky is well made, but it sure isn't a Miura. Make sense of that if you can. Seriously, I cannot not like it a lot (why all those double negatives, S.?)

SGP:661 - 85 points.

A last new cat, possibly just the opposite…

Daftmill 2009/2021 (60.7%, OB for Kirsch Import, 1st fill oloroso butt, cask #024/2009, 627 bottles)

Daftmill 2009/2021 (60.7%, OB for Kirsch Import, 1st fill oloroso butt, cask #024/2009, 627 bottles) Four stars and a half
Aren't those people at Kirsch's firing on all (twelve) cylinders these days? Always at the cutting edge… And did you notice that this was 11 or 12, already? Colour: gold. Nose: luminous banana and mango cakes covered with manuka honey, with a little tar liqueur and probably a drop of spent engine oil. A drop of miso soup as well. First fill oloroso or not first fill oloroso, at 11+ Daftmill seems to be going fractal… With water: pinewood, brake pad (after a good race, as we use to say) and various tiny fermentary elements. Especially Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese sauces. Mouth (neat): my my my my… You've just met Tyson in some back street and shouldn't have started joking about Holyfield's right ear. Massive whisky. With water: calms down but remains thick, spicy, sweet and salty, and to be honest, not that far from the extravagant and slightly tiring Nc'Nean. Finish: eternal and glorious, full of oils and peppers. Comments: soupy and very impressive but to be honest, it is not impossible that I would prefer gentler and slightly leaner ex-HHD or ASB Daftmills. We remain ready and welcoming…

SGP:562 - 88 points.

Maybe one more…

Annandale 6 yo 2015/2021 (61%, The Whisky Chamber, bourbon barrel, cask #449, 343 bottles)

Annandale 6 yo 2015/2021 (61%, The Whisky Chamber, bourbon barrel, cask #449, 343 bottles) Three stars and a half
I believe it's the first time we're formally trying Annandale, from the Lowlands, where they started 'burning' in 2014 although an older Annandale Distillery had been working until the year 1924. The new Distillery is famous for having put a price tag of £1,000,000 on their first cask, which, I have to add, did pull a lot of healthy guffaws. Not sure the Veblen effect works like that. Colour: white wine. Nose: the room is full of pears and grist, whilst some fruity beers are coming out too, but the strength is high and may block it a wee bit, let's see… With water: fatter, creamier, with rather a lot of sunflower oil and marzipan, even some suntan lotion, with whiffs of coconut, karite butter and all that, then crystallised citrons and oranges. Very fine now that H2O did its job, but water is totally mandatory here. Quinces coming out after a minute or two, which just always works. Mouth (neat): raw and brutal, which is perfectly normal, mind you. Big rubbery pepper, bay leaves and leather. With water: perhaps a little pepper in excess, otherwise just finely citrusy and almondy. Would anyone accept to try to make peppered marzipan, not just marzipan using bitter almonds? Finish: long, on pepper and lemon foam, with some paraffin in the aftertaste. A tiny touch of iron too, or silver spoon, and even a hint of camphor, as well as a peatiness. Comments: very fine, if not 1Mio-fine.
SGP:453 - 84 points.

Another first on WF…

Strathearn 4 yo 2014/2018 (57.4%, A Few Barrels Company, Uniqueness Of The Cask Collection, New charred American oak octave, cask #081, 57 bottles)

Strathearn 4 yo 2014/2018 (57.4%, A Few Barrels Company, Uniqueness Of The Cask Collection, New charred American oak octave, cask #081, 57 bottles) Four stars
Strathearn, lovely place! I believe the Thompson Bros. have got some new Strathearn too, including one that we even helped making (well we were doing the talking and joking). Colour: gold. Nose: creamy, with this feeling of nosing a whole assortment pack of banana foams, strawberry marshmallows and just jellybean allsorts. Some vanilla too, naturally. With water: sweet sawdust, polenta, houmous, chickpea, maize bread… Mouth (neat): geared towards melon cake or something like that. The sweet oak is a little loud I have to say, with a lot of coconut, also ginger and white pepper. Tricky octaves… With water: and there, success, all you needed was a good water and a proper pipette. Pink grapefruits, touches of turmeric, perhaps ginseng… That's all nice and finely spicy, without getting over the top. Finish: medium, sweet and creamy. Citron liqueur with some pepper and indeed, turmeric. Or gin. Some cocktail! Comments: some ups and some down but it clearly ended on the upside. Another one to watch, the whole mission is getting complicated, is it not.
SGP:551 – 85 points

Good one, we went straight from complaining about the +/-20  or 25 distilleries that were shut down in the early 1980s and 1990s to moaning about the fact that there are too many new distilleries in Scotland. Are we ever happy?

Good, truly a last one…

Isle of Raasay 'Release no.2' (46.4%, OB, batch #R-02, 7500 bottles, 2021)

Isle of Raasay 'Release no.2' (46.4%, OB, batch #R-02, 7500 bottles, 2021) Three stars and a half
This baby from the 2016 and 2017 vintages. They've used quite some 'cask bill', basically ex-rye whiskey, fresh Chinkapin oak, and first fill Bordeaux red wine. It seems that it is also a self-blend of unpeated and peated Raasay. Colour: straw. Nose: this feeling of pinewood-smoked bananas, plus porridge, cream cheese (hey Suzy! Sorry, Zappa fans only) and craft weissbeer. It is very fermentary and I would say the smoke only makes that feeling even bigger. I cannot find any Médoc, St Emilion or Pomerol, having said that, but I'm not sure I'm going to lodge a complaint. Mouth: I think this is nicer than batch 1. Much fruitier than on the nose, although still rather singular (pink pepper, cream cheese, pomegranates, pears, soot, cider, turmeric this time again…) Finish: medium, on some kind of sour smokiness and rather chenin blanc than cabernet, if you ask me. No, last time I checked they were not growing any chenin blanc in Bordeaux and with global warming, I doubt they'll ever do it. Spanish varietals might be next… (oloroso Pomerol, that would have style, no?) But I'm babbling… Comments: up 3 points in my book since general release #1.

SGP:653 - 83 points.

Mars 27, 2022



Happy International Whisk(e)y Day!

Every year since 2008, here and elsewhere and on March 27, the original, truly non-commercial International Whisk(e)y Day commemorates the birthday of the much missed Michael Jackson, the great whisky writer (1942 - 2007). Today raise a glass to Michael Jackson and please help fight Parkinson's Disease!



Doing rums, for Michael Jackson

Before we tackle brandies again (next week!) Let's start this easy-easy…

Sample Eleven Blended Rum (44%, The Rum Mercenary and Kintra, 2019)

Sample Eleven Blended Rum (44%, The Rum Mercenary and Kintra, 2019) Four stars
It says it is 'gentle and bold' and I think the bottle was designed awesomely. Colour: light gold. Nose: putty and wax, sugarcane juice, benzine, linseed oil, old magazines, ground after a heavy tropical shower. No complaining. Mouth: very good, cane-y, petroly, with overripe bananas and just one olive. The 44% vol. feel a little light, but that should be me. Very nice salty cane-iness. Finish: medium, this time with one or three black olives, beyond the cane. Comments: I think you could make stupendous mojitos or ti'punchs out of this, but it is a sipper too. Easy and smart composition, with a solid backbone.

SGP:552 - 85 points.

Caroni 23 yo 1998/2021 'Tortuga 2' (59.9%, Precious Liquors, Trinidad, cask #35)

Caroni 23 yo 1998/2021 'Tortuga 2' (59.9%, East Asia Whisky Company, Precious Liquors, and Sea Turtle Conservancy, Trinidad, cask #35) Four stars and a half
Easy-easy, he said… Now this was done within a partnership between East Asia Whisky Company, Precious Liquors, and The Sea Turtle Conservancy.. I cannot think of a better cause, except Ukraine, of course. Colour: gold. Nose: light Caroni, but with much shoe polish, metal polish, tomato sauce (all'arrabbiata) and castor oil. A little tabasco and sriracha. With water: manzanilla! Castrol! 2-stroke fumes! New MacBook! (this time with a keyboard that you could use, hope they're done with the cheap junk). Mouth (neat): some varnish as in the best bourbons, then smoked bacon, more sriracha, paint, varnish and tarragon. With water: smoky liquorice and roasted nuts. The core's not big, but the coating is perfect. Finish: medium, saltier and brinier, tarry and ashy, with green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: absolutely excellent, despite the thinner body of a 'light' Caroni.
SGP:362 - 88 points.

New Yarmouth 26 yo 1994/2021 (59.1%, Thompson Bros., Jamaica, 271 bottles)

New Yarmouth 26 yo 1994/2021 (59.1%, Thompson Bros., Jamaica, 271 bottles) Three stars
I am not a fan of New Yarmouth, I find them 'too much' and 'too binary'. There, I said it. Colour: amber. Nose: gas station, carbon paper and olives. With water: pencil shavings, Van Winkle, IKEA, glues. Mouth (neat): salted fudge, gresini sticks, focaccia, then liquorice, molasses and pancake syrup. Really very sweet. With water: bananas and olives stewed in liquorice, manuka honey and vodka? Very good but lacks a kick. Finish: long, on tarry and smoky brine. A lot of power but perhaps not a lot of body. Rotting bananas in the aftertaste. Comments: it's just that I'm a fan of Hampden and Worthy Park.
SGP:662 - 82 points.

Action, reaction…

JMWP Rum 15 yo (54%, Thompson Bros., Jamaica, 259 bottles)

JMWP Rum 15 yo (54%, Thompson Bros., Jamaica, 259 bottles) Five stars
What a lovely, dirty, punkish label, you would almost believe our friend Jamie Reid made it. But this should be Worthy Park, so shh… Colour: gold. Nose: huuuge, on old Comté cheese, pearish varnish, brine, old Gouda, pipe tobacco, Williams pear eau-de-vie… In truth I find this stunning, I'm sure it'll go well with foie gras. With water: forgot to say, that would be duck, it's too heavy for goose. Mouth (neat): exceptional spirit, focused, tight, smoky and ashy, simple and yet tertiary, salty, coastal… I think we'll mention oysters. With water: ooh, sorrel! Finish: very long, splendid, chiselled, with notes of Portuguese anchovy cream. Obrigada. Comments: the only question that remains is, between Worthy Park and Hampden, which is Ardbeg and which is Lagavulin? What do you say? Very well selected, Phil and Simon (and Colin and Ros). A pinnacle of malternative rum.
SGP:463 - 91 points.

It's getting tough, let's avoid Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua or even Barbados…

Clarendon 10 yo 2010/2021 (63%, Dràm Mor, Jamaica, cask #433043, 295 bottles)

Clarendon 10 yo 2010/2021 (63%, Dràm Mor, Jamaica, cask #433043, 295 bottles) Five stars
Clarendon is Monymusk. Colour: gold. Nose: sour brine, seawater, gherkins, olives, capers, new IKEA stuff, glues, extreme liquorice, varnishes, carbolineum… haha. With water: carbon, ink, spent engine oil, green grapefruit, starfruit, physalis, Kawasaki fumes, carbon dust. Mouth (neat): one of the best. Huge salty liquorice, tar, grapefruits, glue, oysters, pepper, plastics, Play-doh… Gets extremely dry, extremely tarry. Massive rum! With water: tarry smoke, lime, greengages, rhubarb and kiwi… I find this green fruits + tar combo just totally impeccable. Finish: very long, ashy. More ashes than in the Worthy Parks and Hampdens. Comments: these Clarendons are austere, they may be the Arvo Pärts of rum. Hope Putin's Russian dogs will leave Estonia alone.

SGP:363 - 90 points.

I believe we need to stay in Jamaica…

Monymusk 9 yo 2010/2020 'SBS' (62%, Velier, National Rums of Jamaica, 15 barrels, 4660 bottles)

Monymusk 9 yo 2010/2020 'SBS' (62%, Velier, National Rums of Jamaica, 15 barrels, 4660 bottles) Three stars
Never heard of an 'SBS' marque at Monymusk. If it's MBS, that's no esters to almost no esters. One Monymusk that I was still having in the stash. Colour: gold. Nose: a mistake here, this is ten times sweeter, rounder, cakier, un-Jamaican, certainly very nice, just out of place. Feels Cuban, all right, all right. With water: bananas flambéed, acacia honey, Havana Club. See what I mean. Mouth (neat): tighter and saltier, but the body's light and almost thin. Pineapple wine, light brine, cane juice, sugar syrup. With water: thin body but a pleasant salty fruitiness over it. Lemon syrup and cane syrup. Finish: medium, light, a little earthy, slightly salty, thinnish. A drop of seawater, say from the Mediterranean, plus caramel and orange liqueur. Not exactly a malternative, but there. Comments: good but thin, light, a little frustrating and un-Jamaican. I would have said Dominican.
SGP:552 - 80 points.

We could do with a bonus (tasted a few days later)…

Foursquare 13 yo 2007/2021 (60.9%, Dram Mor, Barbados, 277 bottles)

Foursquare 13 yo 2007/2021 (60.9%, Dram Mor, Barbados, 277 bottles) Four stars
This thirteen years old FS spent the first eight years of its life at the Distillery, so does that count as 'tropical aging'? Isn't there sometimes too much politics in rum? Should the dedicated drinker care? Let's discuss that one day, safe from any lobbying eyes and ears (and, above all, mouths)… Colour: gold. Nose: very foursquare, oily and yet light, with some smoky chocolate, banana foam, deep-roasted nuts, black praline, touches of spent engine oil perhaps… In truth I find it a tad more pot-still-y than usual, but that may be the insanely high strength. With water: a little bacon, a little toasted bread, the lightest toffee ever, popcorn… This sure is light rum, in fact. Mouth (neat): coconut and varnish, then triple sec and peanut oil, plus just maize grain whisky (ala North British). Well, this time I'm finding it less pot-still-y than usual, go figure. With water: no no no, hold on, this time we're finding a mentholy greenness that would rather remind us of some cachaças. I think we're somewhat lost. Finish: medium, with delicate herbal touches. Perhaps chamomile, and surely a small pink olive in the aftertaste. Comments: we can't and won't follow Foursquare throughout the ages (no time for that, remember, only Sundays) but I enjoyed this very medium one that was very 'self-blend' indeed, but perhaps not very malternative:. Forgot to mention orange cake in the aftertaste.

SGP:641 - 85 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far


Mars 26, 2022





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
A few mixed pairs
Always a fun way to try a broad swathe of different drams. We'll kick off with some newish blended malts if you don't mind…


J G Thomson & Co Blended Malt 'Sweet' Batch 1 (46%, OB, 2021)

J G Thomson & Co Blended Malt 'Sweet' Batch 1 (46%, OB, 2021)
Part of a new range of flavour profile themed blended malts from the sibling stables of the SMWS. Colour: gold. Nose: I suppose it does indeed 'feel' sweet. Very Speysidey, coconutty in non-artificial way which I quite enjoy and with rather a lot of apple sauce, custard, barley sugars and a little limoncello. I find it sweet but in a rather fulsome way, which is pleasing. Mouth: as on the nose there's a robustness here I didn't quite expect. Rather spicy, warming, overtones of clean, slightly active oak coming through. More custardy gooey vibes and a wee hint of nutmeg and cinnamon. But, indeed - sweet. Finish: a wee bit on the short side but glows with creme caramel sauce and baked apple. Comments: sweet, unarguably. The kind of simple, hyper-easy, uber-modern whisky you could just guzzle all the live-long afternoon.
SGP: 641 - 82 points.



J G Thomson & Co Blended Malt 'Rich'  Batch 1 (46%, OB, 2021)

J G Thomson & Co Blended Malt 'Rich'  Batch 1 (46%, OB, 2021)
Colour: orangey gold. Nose: ok, I think I get it. This is absolutely much 'richer' in that it's more obviously sherried. A clear influence of modern sherry-seasoned casks with these rye spices, background pencil shavings, boozy-Christmassy cake and bits of liquorice and marzipan. Again simple and direct, but then isn't that an asset when your bottling has a one word descriptive title? Mouth: the wood bites a little deeper in the mouth. Aniseed, cloves, woody mulling spices, and again these glowing, boozy fruit cake notes. Nice chewy quality about the palate. Finish: good length, increasingly spicy and warming, softer oak tones balancing with some spiced oranges. Comments: Rich? Check! I like this one a wee notch more due to the heft. Smartly composed, easy drinking and fairly priced I would I'd say.
SGP: 561 - 83 points.



Deanston 9 yo 2012/2021 (51.4%, Dram Mor, cask #95, madeira finish, 274 bottles)

Deanston 9 yo 2012/2021 (51.4%, Dram Mor, cask #95, madeira finish, 274 bottles)
Dram Mor seem to be issuing quite a few clever and well executed finishings these days. Let's see how Deanston + Madeira tallies up… Colour: white wine. Nose: rather winey and tart at first nosing. Gooseberry acidity, crisp green apple, grape must and then comes more 'Deanston-esque' stuff like mashed cereals, malt extract and mineral oil. Quite fun. With water: shoe leather, putty, limestone and mashed potatoes. More towards youthful Deanston now I would say. Mouth: whacky and fun. Rather like a genever on arrival with these slightly bonkers notes of juniper, aniseed, sweetened cereals, olive oil and fresh green herbs. Again it's globally rather sharp and punchy. With water: a bit brighter, fresher and more pure overall now with chalk, lemon peel, white pepper and some firmer impressions of canvass and wool. Finish: medium, peppery, lightly sooty and drying. Comments: a bit all over the place but also quite fun and charming to follow on this meandering journey. Not sure what the madeira is technically doing here, but you feel its presence in a way that manages to never become extreme.
SGP: 461 - 84 points.



Deanston 14yo 'Organic' (46.3%, OB, -/+ 2017)

Deanston 14yo 'Organic' (46.3%, OB, -/+ 2017)
I don't try much official Deanston, but I see Serge is a fan. I'll have to make more of an effort… Colour: straw. Nose: lots of mashed cereals, banana skin, fresh wort, warm grist - all those evocative 'active distillery' vibes. Also some lemon peel, sourdough starter and fruit scone mix. Feels pretty raw and natural. Mouth: a wee tang of carbolic acidity, then more general beery richness, nettles, hops, lanolin, crushed oatcakes, ink and waxed canvass. Drying, richly cereal and very much towards a rather austere and even older style of malt whisky I would say. Some sunflower oils, fresh breads and a hint of sandalwood and dried flowers. Finish: medium in length, getting very beery, dry and lightly hoppy now. Some pollen dust and plain buttered toast. Comments: I enjoyed this more than I thought I would and more than the nose suggested. I think the palate in particular displayed a beery, austere charisma that's quite unusual these days.
SGP: 462 - 86 points.



Craigellachie 13 yo 2007/2021 (46%, Mossburn, Oloroso finish)

Craigellachie 13 yo 2007/2021 (46%, Mossburn, Oloroso finish)
One of a raft of indy releases from the team behind the new Torabhaig distillery on Skye. Colour: pale amber. Nose: slightly candied at first, but that's alongside the expected 'weight' of Craigellachie distillate that comes through swiftly. Wet leaves, petrichor, milk chocolate digestives and a little rather fruity black coffee. Mouth: nicely spicy, jammy and just the right amount of sweetness that would make you think of herbal cough medicines and liquorice. Although there's also a bit of active oak nibble around the sides of the tongue. Finish: good length, the Craigellachie meatiness comes through quite assertively now. Mulched tobacco, damp earth and cocoa. Comments: a well-executed sherry finish that, despite a wee bit of pushy wood here and there,  preserves and elevates many of the finer aspects of the Craigellachie distillate.

SGP: 562 - 85 points.



Craigellachie 2006/2020 (54.9%, Caora, cask #8101283, refill barrel, 215 bottles)

Craigellachie 2006/2020 (54.9%, Caora, cask #8101283, refill barrel, 215 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: much fatter and sinewed with this very juicy and plush malty sweetness. Background waxiness, mineral oil, shoe polishes and this impression of hot draff and sweet wort. Craigellachie can be a compelling and enchanting make when presented in natural form like this, easy to see why those dyed in the wool whisky geeks at Caora would select such a cask. With water: dusty, chalky, floral and tautly structured with this brittle waxiness and impressions of pollens and dried flowers. Mouth: oily, mouth-coating, surprisingly herbal and with these wee medical traces in the background as well. A nicely chewy maltiness, some fennel and touches of mint tea, verbena and camphor. With water: still very thick in texture and on things like fennel, aniseed, dried flowers, waxes, herbal ointments and mineral oils. Finish: good length, nicely drying, toasty cereals, shilling ales, bitter herbs and wee sooty touches. Comments: is Craigellachie an underrated distillate? It's very a gungy and quite brutal make at times, but for fans of charismatic spirit it's undeniably fascinating. This is a really good example I think- a smart selection!
SGP: 462 - 87 points.



Glenrothes 9 yo 2012/2021 (57.4%, Dram Mor, cask #3061, madeira finish, 292 bottles)

Glenrothes 9 yo 2012/2021 (57.4%, Dram Mor, cask #3061, madeira finish, 292 bottles)
The folks at Dram Mor are clearly fans of Madeira… Colour: gold. Nose: I'm not kidding, but… madeira cake is what I'm getting up front. Sticky fruit cakes, plum wine, flower honey and rather sweet dessert wine notes. All very easy and appealing. With water: a mix of suet and bouillon on one hand, with shoe leather and miso on the other. Mouth: here the stickiness of the madeira remains but it's also a bit more earthy, fat and full of praline, tobacco and leafy notes. Sweet caffe latte and milk chocolate. Perhaps a tad cloying now? With water: still rather cloyingly sweet, now going towards biscuits and things like Tunnocks Teacakes (if you don't know, you should!). Flower nectars, golden syrup and boiled sweets. Finish: medium, sticky sweet, some milk stout and digestive biscuit. Comments: all very fine, just a bit too sweet for me.
SGP: 741 - 83 points.



Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2017 (52.3%, The Whisky Agency 'World Bar Tour', cask #7162, sherry butt, 218 bottles)

Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2017 (52.3%, The Whisky Agency 'World Bar Tour', cask #7162, sherry butt, 218 bottles)
Colour: deep mahogany. Nose: leathery, earthy and tobacco-drenched old school sherry. Full on walnut liqueur, hazelnut oils, fir wood resins, sultanas soaked in old Armagnac, dunnage earth, bitter dark chocolate and many tiny notes of cherry wine, cough sweets, wild strawberries and eucalyptus. Superb and totally sumptuous sherry that embodies many styles simultaneously. With water: robustly earthy now, simmering espresso, roasted pigeon, Manhattan cocktail and celery bitters. Deeply, darkly earthy, meaty and full of stewed fruits. Mouth: leaf mulch, damp, leathery tobaccos, mushroom powder, dark chocolate and hessian with lots of wee suggestions of cloves, game meats, brown bread and five spice. Lots going on which makes the whole thing greatly entertaining. With water: continues this fusion of spices, game meats, chocolates, earths and many bitter herbs, tobaccos, dark grained breads and heavy ales. Finish: long, going into very classical rancio, balsamic and earthy territories. An impeccable sherry cask that is riddled with game, coffee and walnuts in the aftertaste. Comments: a style of sherry cask that raises more questions than it answers in this day and age. That aside, quality is totally top notch. A great and bonnie sherry monster!
SGP: 562 - 91 points.





Mars 25, 2022


Little duos, today Glen Spey

You may know that we love to do these slightly unimportant, yet essential (to us) little sessions. What's more, we had a bunch of Glen Speys right in January and all have been rather marvellous, so, more please...

Wilfredo Lam, Femme Cheval, 1973 (Robin Rile Fine Art, Miami) ->

Glen Spey 11 yo 2010/2021 (55%, The Cooper's Choice, Calvados cask finish, cask #803006, 354 bottles)

Glen Spey 11 yo 2010/2021 (55%, The Cooper's Choice, Calvados cask finish, cask #803006, 354 bottles) Three stars and a half
I know it'll infuriate a few good friends if I write that this might be another in-cask meta-blend of malt whisky with a completely different spirit. Which does not, naturally, mean that it couldn't be a very nice drop, let's put our beret on and see what gives… Colour: straw. Nose: it is impossible not to find cider apples in there, but it's true that we often find apples in whiskies that have never seen any in one form or another. Very tight nose, on green fruits indeed, plus a lot of chalk, Sancerre-style. A little hot, water should make it less tense. With water: paraffin, fresh almonds and bits of yellow peaches, plus fresh raisin rolls and even croissants. Croissants and calvados, that's a proper breakfast! Mouth (neat): young calvados indeed, green apples, lime, chalk, apple peel, manzana liqueur… With water: oh pretty good, a tad rounder, with those peaches (gums and jellies) and sweet artisan cider. Granny smith and goldens. Finish: rather long, a little chalkier again, with a little green pepper. Hints of green pear in the aftertaste – remember calvados is not always only about apples. Comments: a very good surprise but we knew they know how to bake these at The Vintage Malt Whisky Co. We keep procrastinating with that but there's a massive Calvados session in the pipes at Château Whiskyfun.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Glen Spey 13 yo 2008/2021 (56.8%, Fable Whisky, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Chapter 11, cask #801891, 284 bottles)

Glen Spey 13 yo 2008/2021 (56.8%, Fable Whisky, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Chapter 11, cask #801891, 284 bottles) Three stars and a half
You would almost believe the great, great Cuban painter Wilfredo Lam did this label, had he not died in 1982. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: exactly on the distillate, this could have been matured in stoneware, concrete casks, amphoras or else. Barley eau-de-vie, overripe apples, marzipan and more fresh croissants. With water: rather incredibly, I'm finding a little young calvados. Mouth (neat): barley sweetness, tart apples, candied sliced pears (brilliant stuff), then a little grass, stalk, grape pips, peel… Creamy body. With water: more green pepper, lime skin, stalk, I couldn't not mention a tart white Sancerre once more. They say one cannot change his own nature. Finish: medium; similar, no further development while that's no bad news. Comments: incredibly close to the Cooper's Choice, very good and, as we sometimes say, close to nature.

SGP:561 - 84 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glen Spey we've tasted so far


Mars 24, 2022


The (secret) Laphroaig sessions 2022

part three

Laphroaig bay
Totally not sure about what these are. They could well be Laphroaig but even if some will smell of a repainted hospital, we won't claim they are authentically 'L'. Let's proceed…

Islay Vintage Cask 26 yo 1993/2019 (52.4%, Glen Castle, Asia, 202 bottles)

Islay Vintage Cask 26 yo 1993/2019 (52.4%, Glen Castle, Asia, 202 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: if this is not Laphroaig, I eat my Basque beret with mustard-and-strawberry sauce. Apples, iodine, creosote and ozone, oysters, mercurochrome, a touch of turpentine this time, smoked kippers, lemons, beach sand… No doubts at all. With water: emblematic raw wools and chalk. Buying a new scarf  - which will then scratch your neck, naturally - at the Islay Woollen Mill. Mouth (neat): wee wine gums at first, even a little icing sugar, lemon drops, then a whole tidal wave of smoky, kippery, coastal and peppery flavours. Oysters with lemon and tabasco. With water: splendid clean, lemony and salty development. The expected olives are showing up too. A little mint too. Finish: long, salty, peaty, lemony. Classic. Comments: this just couldn't not be that distillery. Brilliant ultra-classic drop, perhaps more L than the official Ls.

SGP:557 - 90 points.

A Secret Islay 8 yo 2013/2021 (53.3%, Wu Dram Clan, PX hogshead, 264 bottles)

A Secret Islay 8 yo 2013/2021 (53.3%, Wu Dram Clan, PX hogshead, 264 bottles) Three stars
All right, they've added a wonderful watercolour of the Carraig Fhada Lighthouse to the label, while that one lies… in Port Ellen! Crikey, no proper clues to be expected here, even if the nearest working distillery is, of course, Laphroaig… Colour: light gold. Nose: the PX behaved well but a few obvious sulphury touches do fly around when you nose it for the first time. They do impart a Lagavulin-like rubbery tarriness, having said that, which is troubling. The jury's still out… Long live the jury. With water: hard-boiled eggs, rubber, fresh tarmac, asparagus… Mouth (neat): truffles, eggplants, green lemons, artichokes and rubber boots. With water: tobacco and more tar. Some zesty lemonness and a few oysters would suggest this could still be Laphroaig. Finish: long, rubbery, tarry. Clearly Lagavulin traits (think the 16) but that could be the PX cask just as well. Comments: I'm finding this one a little challenging but remember I'm rather a lover of crystal-clean peaters. Which this one sure isn't.

SGP:366 - 82 points.

Speaking of the jury…

Shh… ecret Islay 21 yo 1999/2021 (59.8%, The Whisky Jury, refill barrel, cask #TWJ-L-1999, 250 bottles)

Shh… ecret Islay 21 yo 1999/2021 (59.8%, The Whisky Jury, refill barrel, cask #TWJ-L-1999, 250 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: ziiing! Deep-smoked wool and grist, a kilny side, then French beans and a whole wakame salad. Narrow, simple, millimetric and perfect, as far as I'm concerned. With water: raw wool, hessian, grist, porridge, working kiln… Mouth (neat): feels fifteen years younger now. Some horseradish and rucola, some acetone-y varnish, some concentrated lemon juice, and this time again, some troubling Lagavulin traits. As if our lives hadn't become complicated enough within the last few months and years. Some esters too, Jamaica-style. Monymusk-on-Islay? With water: it loves water and it became even more varnishy and estery. Much more sweetness too, ala Lagavulin. The plot thickens. Finish: very long, vegetal, still rather acetone-y, sweet, with lemon drops, mezcal, agave syrup… Comments: I say this is a blend of Lagavulin and Laphroaig. I know that's impossible since it is a single malt, but this is my place and I write what I want. There.

SGP:566 – 88 points.

Islay Single Malt 30 yo 1990/2021 (49.8%, The Whisky Jury for Nanyang Whisky, Singapore, refill barrel, cask #4404302, 242 bottles)

Islay Single Malt 30 yo 1990/2021 (49.8%, The Whisky Jury for Nanyang Whisky, Singapore, refill barrel, cask #4404302, 242 bottles) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: oh, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame, fresh butter, wee hints of nail polish, pecans and Brazil nuts, a drop of cachaça while we're there, fresh oil paint, lime and maracuja (moderately), the expected wool, wee olives, wakame this time again, salads, teak oil, that old fisherman's boat everyone's using in tasting notes… Well, the 'peat' started to decompose into many many aromas, which is always thrilling. Even notes of Comté or Gruyère cheeses. Mouth: just splendid. Perfect strength and body, saltiness, citrus, coastal elements, medicinal ones, oils, embrocations, all that remaining kind or aerial all along. I mean, never heavy and never stuffy. High drinkability ratio. Finish: rather long, saltier, perfect, lemony, briny and undebatable (we've decided to go the dictator way too). Comments: a stunning yet dangerous drop. Ticks all the boxes in my book, even if I'm sure some friends may have preferred more powah. Not me. 30 is a perfect age. Oh and let's sow further confusion, I wouldn't cry wolf if you said this was actually a 30-y-o CI.

SGP:566 - 91 points.

Islay Single Malt 30 yo 1990/2021 (51.5%, The Whisky Jury, refill barrel, cask #4404303, 264 bottles)

Islay Single Malt 30 yo 1990/2021 (51.5%, The Whisky Jury, refill barrel, cask #4404303, 264 bottles) Five stars
Looks like this is a sister cask (bravo, S.!) Colour: light gold. Nose: close, just more almondy, fatter, oilier, less briny. With water: fresh mint coming out, as well as lemons, crabs, kippers, seaweed, just 'peat', olives, ashes and this time again, fresh oil paint. What a pretty picture. Mouth (neat): I'm not even sure anyone would need to write or say anything about this wee whisky that's just keeping the entirety of its promises. With water: we almost recreated cask #4404302. Well done, I think I'll send my resumé to all booze konzerns right tomorrow. Finish: verbena and lemon lifting it. Comments: adorable and exceptional old peater that you may quaff with or without H2O, your choice. Between us, this could have been an official 30 just as well – at four times the price and with very unmotivating labels. Yep.

SGP:556 – 91 points.

Secret Islay 2011/2021 (53.3%, Michiel Wigman and The Malt Affair, Singapore, East meets West, Port barrique, 200 bottles)

Secret Islay 2011/2021 (53.3%, Michiel Wigman and The Malt Affair, Singapore, East meets West, Port barrique, 200 bottles) Four stars
I'm lost here, Port, Islay, Singapore, the Netherlands… whisky's getting too complicated, I give up, I'll go cultivate lettuce. Not. Colour: salmony amber, should that exist. Nose: strawberry cake and smoked bacon, grenadine, Lyons pralines, old wine barrel, mouthwash, Szechuan pepper… All that works this far. With water: great fun, for once. I mean, this time peat + red wine seem to work a treat. Moist strawberry and raspberry cake with rather a lot of smoke, peonies, almonds, marzipan, pistachio cream, orgeat and almond liqueur… Right, amaretto. Mouth (neat): some sweeter peater. Perfect brine, smoke, peat, pepper and even salt, just with a fruity coating. Red berries, as expected. With water: the spirit having the upper hand, the Port slowly bowing out. Incredible balance, peat + red wine rarely tango well (I keep insisting). This time they do, pretty miraculously. Finish: medium and more on dough and smoky pastries. Comments: well done Michiel. Great, unexpected balance, as touriga nacional, in my book, would usually tend to swallow and never give back just any distillate. As for what the latter was, no ideas I'm afraid, although the shape of the pagoda roof on the label is rather that of Ardbeg (never seen the vents painted red, having said that; sorry, no time to check that).
SGP:655 - 87 points.

Grace Ile 25 yo (48%, The Character of Islay Whisky Company, 2020)

Grace Ile 25 yo (48%, The Character of Islay Whisky Company, 2020) Four stars
This is a single malt. According to websites (ha), 'Grace Ile' leads to 'grey seals', which do in turn lead to Portnahaven on the Rhinns, but I'm not dead sure you could only find those seals in Portnahaven.  Colour: white wine. Nose: there is some smoke, so this cannot be Bruichladdich, so it's not about the seals in Portnahaven. This is very ashy, flinty, medicinal, with some sea spray, apple skins, fresh hazelnuts, white asparagus and fresh cabbage and cauliflowers. All things that are pretty perfect. Mouth: very good, potent, zesty, clean, vertical and vegetal. Citrus and an obvious saltiness, sour bouillons, smoked fish and this almond + lemon combo that would lead to amaretti and limoncello. Right, to Italy. Finish: rather long, clean, coastal, just excellent. Peppery aftertaste. Comments: if it's Laphroaig, it's a softer one, but I have to say I haven't found much medicinalness (?) in there either. Great coastal drop, nonetheless. Now, where would you find those grey seals on Islay, when not in Portnahaven? Perhaps at the bar at the Port Charlotte Hotel, ha-ha.

SGP:566 - 87 points.

Secret Islay 31 yo 1989/2021 (52.1%, Thompson Bros. for Kirsch Import, Germany, bourbon barrel, 250 bottles)

Secret Islay 31 yo 1989/2021 (52.1%, Thompson Bros. for Kirsch Import, Germany, bourbon barrel, 250 bottles) Five stars
We've heard things about this bottling. Colour: light gold. Nose: smoked oils, suet, paint, marzipan, paraffin and plastics, almond milk, fresh walnut skins, hand cream, seashells and riesling. All right, all right. With water: paint and more seashells. Cockles cooked in riesling and served with some proper wholegrain bread and fresh butter. This is terribly 'apéritif', when are we going to be allowed to sit down to eat? Mouth (neat): epic and glorious. This tastes of time, really. All reminiscent of an old library, old books, old British car (right, Jaguar), leather polish, cellulosic varnish, LP records, lemon syrup, almonds and walnuts, miso soup, even sake… Wow wow wow, what an amazing complexity. With water: complex and unbeatable. Stunning salty waxes of all kinds. Finish: only medium long but saltier, more on Thai soups, coriander, basil, chives, fish oils… Comments: exactly and very much my kind.
SGP:476 - 92 points.

We'll now have a last one.

Islay Single Malt 30 yo 1990/2021 (49%, Thompson Bros. for the Nectar's 15th Anniversary, Belgium, 250 bottles)

Islay Single Malt 30 yo 1990/2021 (49%, Thompson Bros. for the Nectar's 15th Anniversary, Belgium, 250 bottles) Four stars and a half
With mussels on the label, good one. Great to see a bottling by the Thompsons for these ever-friendly and trustworthy people at The Nectar. Colour: light gold. Nose: tropical and topical fruits this time. Mangos, bananas, guavas, then acacia and clover honeys, with a smokiness that's going towards almondy creams and beeswax. Drop of crème de menthe. Oh wow. Mouth: more rustic and robust than expected, rougher (although this wouldn't quite qualify as a rough Laphroaig), with an almondy eau-de-vie-ish side (small berries, sorb, holly) and only moderate amounts of smoked fish and seashells. Lovely herbalness, parsley, chive, sage… And just brine. Finish: rather long, salty, with more pepper and even sour chilli sauce in the aftertaste. Soft sriracha, for example. Comments: great drop, no quibblings and no complainings. 15 years of immaculate trust and honest friendship, well done, The Nectar!

SGP:466 - 89 points.

Mars 23, 2022


The Laphroaig sessions 2022

Part zwei

As planned and always more or less randomly…

Illegal Shipyard Riot 13 yo (56.7%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, 211 bottles, 2020)

Illegal Shipyard Riot 13 yo (56.7%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, 211 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
Got to love anagrams, I am a fan myself. What's more, this is officially a single malt, so not Williamson, which is a blended malt. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one's almost exclusively on smoky brine and ashes at first, then on the expected bandagey and maritime aromas, with some ozone. Millimetric and beautifully simple not-that-old and not-that-young Laphroaig. With water: raw wool and porridge, grist, fireplace… Mouth (neat): a little raw kirschwasser and gin at first, then gherkins and olives in brine. A few drops of rubbery oil. With water: goes on with more sour, briney elements, more gherkins, olives, capers, iodine and liquorice… Finish: long, tight, vertical, more mineral and even a tad metallic now. What we call 'a blade' (ha). Comments: wild and pure Laphroaig with no obvious signs of any kind of oakiness.

SGP:467 - 88 points.

Williamson 15 yo 2006/2021 (53.9%, The Whisky Barrel, hogshead, cask #TWB 1027, 257 bottles)

Williamson 15 yo 2006/2021 (53.9%, The Whisky Barrel, hogshead, cask #TWB 1027, 257 bottles) Four stars and a half
This baby's nicknamed 'It's Been A Long Way'. It is both a Williamson and a single malt, so I suppose I was wrong, not all Williamsons are technically blended malts. Colour: white wine (chardonnay). Nose: this time there is some cake, butterscotch, custard, vanilla cake… but hurray, no coconut. Very lovely whiffs of coffee with a drop of milk (not a latte) over some classic coastal and bandagey notes. I'm reminded of some earlier official 10 CSs, but not of the mango-y first batches, naturally. With water: coffee and hessian, earth, oysters… And more raw wool. Mouth (neat): awesome salty citrus. Huge tight lemonness, with the cask's roundness coating it all. I think I'll have to mention limoncello again, as well as a little juniper and caraway. With water: ultra-classic lemony Laphroaig, with nothing beyond here. Laphroaig for purists. Finish: long and even more on 'smoked and salted limoncello'. Someone will really need to try to make that one day. Why not Beam Suntory? Some unexpected raspberries and strawberries in the aftertaste. Comments: bordering perfection, very stylish.

SGP:567 - 89 points.

Laphroaig 18 yo (56.4%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, refill oloroso, cask #HL 55134, 609 bottles, 2019)

Laphroaig 18 yo (56.4%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, refill oloroso, cask #HL 55134, 609 bottles, 2019) Four stars and a half
I am surprised I hadn't tried this one before. Let's hope there are no clashes between the peat and the oloroso. Colour: gold. Nose: dead easy, it's a breeze, no clashes whatsoever as the sherry has been behaving like… say David Niven in most of his movies. Having said that, I am finding touches of strawberry jam once more, but those are extremely subtle. Other than that, cigars, walnuts, earth, teppanyaki sauce, creosote, liquorice and, naturally, ointments and cough syrups. No complaints. With water: the raw wool is back. Mouth (neat): rich, creamy, sweeter on the palate (chestnut purée), with superb salted citrons and pink grapefruits, Timut pepper, a little jasmine tea perhaps… With water: gets a little grittier and leafier. Green walnuts, lemon marmalade, touch of ginseng perhaps, ginger and turmeric… But it would remain rounder all along, especially after that Williamson. Contrasting styles. Finish: long and a little rich and compote. Some flintiness and some tobacco in the aftertaste. Comments: a couple of scares here and there but it all went perfectly well.

SGP:556 - 89 points.

Laphroaig 14 yo 1999/2013 (58.2%, High Spirits Collection for I love Laphroaig, Italy)

Laphroaig 14 yo 1999/2013 (58.2%, High Spirits Collection for I love Laphroaig, Italy) Five stars
This one too I should have tried much earlier. Colour: straw. Nose: a sweeter one, narrower in a way, more on smoked pears at first, then ashes and charcoal. A little closed, I would suppose water will wake it up, let's try. With water: bandages and hessian, raw wool, kelp on the beach, floated wood… Mouth (neat): indeed, a much sweeter one, with plums and berries everywhere, some jams, even syrups, chicory coffee… Very unusual and certainly good fun. With water: there, tropical fruits popping out, this time we're really reminded of old-style Laphroaig. Passion fruits and blood oranges. Finish: long, citrusy. Oysters, mint and grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: it needed a little water and a little time, and then became absolutely wonderful. It was worth both the wait and the Vittel.
SGP:656 - 90 points.

Laphroaig 21 yo 1998/2020 (59.9%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill butt, cask #DL14020, 228 bottles)

Laphroaig 21 yo 1998/2020 (59.9%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill butt, cask #DL14020, 228 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one was bottled in December 1998 and bottled in April 2020, in case you're a number freak. But warning, we're having heavy peat and probably heavy sherry again on the desk… Colour: deep gold. Nose: a few struck matches and even bits of black truffle at first sniffing, all the rest being dominated by smoked raisins, heavy honeys, American barbecued ribs and bacon, pickled and caramelised small onions and milk jam. A little balsamic gravy too. Tremble, mortal… With water: some sulphury touches once more, really a lot of earth and mud, carbon, crude chocolate/cocoa, the wildest cigars (earthy Italian Toscani cigars), espresso while we're at it… Mouth (neat): huge, peppery and sweet. Reminds me of some pepper liqueur we've tried a few years back. Jalapenos. NOT Fireball, though. With water: sour cherries, oranges, leather, tobacco, a muddiness again, rustic pu-her-style teas from the Himalayas (not making this up, I promise), and pepper again. Softer pepper, little chilli. Finish: long, between mud, oranges, cough syrup (eucalyptus) and heavy-smoked bacon. The heavier peppers are back in the aftertaste. Comments: what a fight in you glass! A very heavy drop, at times a bit tiring but full of charms, rather in the style of the famous official 1974 for LMDW but of a lesser magnitude. Remember that 1974?

SGP:567 - 88 points.

Perhaps an official, quickly?

Laphroaig 15 yo (40%, OB, 'Unblended', UK, cork, +/-1980)

Laphroaig 15 yo (40%, OB, 'Unblended', UK, cork, +/-1980) Five stars
Actually, this is the rare 'big red 15 with cork' version for the UK market, so at 40% vol. instead of the rather more common 43% or even 90°proof/45% vol. for the EU or the US. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this stunning tropicalness, starting with pink bananas and getting close to small Indian mangos, with the whole Atlantic ocean in the background. Whelks stewed in mint sauce. No, really, plus a large pack of Vichy lozenges. This nose is incredible but we do know that at this strength and after so many years in a bottle, things may get a little awry on the palate, let's see… Mouth: it's alive, its alive! Beeswax, heather honey, manuka too, menthol, cockle soup, mouthwash (you wish!), samphire, lemongrass… Sure it would tend to whisper rather than shout, but everything's in place. Finish: short, as expected, but fresh and never cardboardy. Stunning almondy and salty notes. Comments: miraculous not-quite-fragile Laphroaig. I think I like this one even better than last time, but after so many years, each bottle will be a little different.

SGP:645 - 91 points.

Good, a very last one. I've already tried it, it is totally legendary, but I never wrote a proper tasting note for it, only a few lines hastily jotted down, last time in 2007. I suppose it is time we got down to it, is it not…

Laphroaig 15 yo 1967/1982 (57%, Duthie's for Samaroli, sherry)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1967/1982 (57%, Duthie's for Samaroli, sherry) Five stars
Some would add 'with Distillery drawing' to the description. I have this baby at WF 98 in my list, a rather solid score since I've already tried it a few times. But yeah, I never really wrote any decent tasting notes… By the way, we never mention prices (that would be vulgar) but I've seen on Whiskybase that it's now going for north of 60,000€ a bottle. Cra-zy. Colour: golden amber. Nose: wandering throughout an eucalyptus forest very close to the sea, in the midst of summer, while drinking Yquem 1900 (like) and smoking a perfectly taken care of pre-Fidel double-corona. More after I've added a drop of water… With water: earths. All kinds of earths, especially very rich compost-like earths they use for growing the most precious flowers. Quite some dried kelp too, while walking on the beach at low tide. Mouth (neat): just insane. The definition of utter perfection in whisky, starting with artisanal thin mints, going on with all raisins and honeys of the creation, then abandoning itself to the arms (what?) of thousands of different fruits, berries, herbs, flowers and spices. Now we won't list those or this would start to look like a dictionary and we'd be here for the rest of the day, including the night. But what a glorious list that would be! With water: it's incredible how it would take water. Every percent will add different flavours, going from a rather piney and mentholy smoky profile to luscious jams and dried fruits covered with honey and spices (saffron upfront). And then it would just silence you (I can hear you, who said 'great news'?) Finish: some other whiskies, including some other Laphroaigs, are even longer but this very one's extremely gracious, with even a wee mentholated freshness in the end. Comments: it leaves you breathless. Personal score unchanged. Thinking of Ukraine.

SGP:675 - 98 points.

(Many thanks Aaron, Chris, Jon and Tom)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Laphroaig we've tasted so far


Mars 22, 2022


The Laphroaig sessions 2022


Laphroaig-fueled wisdom, Annie Tempest, 1999 (Whiskyfun Collection)

I'll admit I've been lazy with my Laphroaigs and that they've been kind of piling-up within the last months. Not to mention all those new 'Secret Islays' that they should sell at Boots' rather than at offline or online whisky shops, because of how medicinal they are! We'll do this at random, our nose in the wind…

Laphroaig 'Quarter Cask' (48%, OB, +/-2022)

Laphroaig 'Quarter Cask' (48%, OB, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
This should be some extremely young Laphroaig jacked up on freshish oak. We've already tried a very recent bottling last year (it was okayish – WF 78) but I'll be doing every effort, as you can see… Colour: straw. Nose: all on ashes and wood smoke, then lemon squash and, indeed, mercurochrome and cough syrup. I'm not finding it as vanilla-y as earlier batches, whether old or recent, which I find kind of reassuring.  Mouth: oily arrival, with loads of lemon drops, citrus-wine gums, then some brine, pickled lemons and then sawdust and just 'smoke'. I find it pretty good, just rather elementary. Finish: rather long, with a little white pepper, more sawdust, lemon jam and a sugary touch.  Comments: good, but it feels a bit like the sweetish oak remained on the surface. In my book, all official age-stated Laphroaigs are beating this humble one. But then again, I think it's still pretty good.
SGP:655 - 79 points.

Perhaps another youngster, one that would tell its age?

Laphroaig 7 yo 2012/2019 (55.2%, Sansibar for Slainte, 367 bottles)

Laphroaig 7 yo 2012/2019 (55.2%, Sansibar for Slainte, 367 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: warm, extremely bready, a tad acidic too, slightly butyric, all these things being assets here. Sourdough, smoky pot ale, mashed potatoes, truffles, oysters… With water: smoked mercurochrome blended with salted lemon juice and weissbeer. Mouth (neat): very sweet, new-makey, fermentary, with sweet beer, more sourdough bread, rhubarb and asparagus, a little chili… Then many more lemons. With water: some toasted oak and butterscotch coming out, café latte, otherwise brine and beer, with a wee metallic touch (beer can). Finish: long, on just the same flavours, with an even saltier aftertaste, and a glass of riesling, hoppla. Comments: still a baby if not a boy wonder, but already very good, I would say.

SGP:467 - 85 points.

We'll also try some 'unassumed' Laphroaigs the provenance of which we have not doubts about. Such as…

Williamson 2010/2020 (53.1%, The Whisky Jury, for wine4you, refill barrel, cask #twj-Lph02, 225 bottles)

Williamson 2010/2020 (53.1%, The Whisky Jury, for wine4you, refill barrel, cask #twj-Lph02, 225 bottles) Four stars and a half
Come on, everybody knows that Williamson is Laphroaig 'blended on the paper'. Plus, there's the story of Bessie Van Gils (a.k.a. Williamson) etc. Colour: white wine. Nose: ravishing rounder coastalness, seashells (our beloved whelks are back), sunflower oil, custard, then chalked slate and really more and more olives and capers. In their brines. With water: more cigar ashes, coal, seaweed… And olives. Mouth (neat): huge, high-precision smoky monster. Even more capers and olives in there, smoked kippers, oysters, limestone (as in a young Chablis)… With water: we're drinking olive brine. Finish: long, growing more lemony, which always works. Comments: there's more olive in there than in the best mezcal. BTW we might do a super-large mezcal session in June or July, if God and Vladimir Vladimirovich let us live. They should both drink more Williamson.
SGP:457 - 89 points.

Laphroaig 2001/2020 (53.9%, Cask 88, Scottish Folklore, Léoville Las Cases finish, cask #1700368, 270 bottles)

Laphroaig 2001/2020 (53.9%, Cask 88, Scottish Folklore, Léoville Las Cases finish, cask #1700368, 270 bottles) Two stars
Boy are we late… It's true that the fact that this is heavy Islay that's been dancing for two years with heavy St Julien (red Bordeaux) remains a tad scary here at WF Towers. Peat and red wine, riiiight. Colour: golden amber. Not pink. Nose: bell pepper, truffle, fig leaves, kid's toothpaste, charcoal, cassis, tarmac, tomato leaves… With water: new rubber boots and more tomato leaves and stems. Mouth (neat): totally odd but, quite bizarrely, not integrally dissonant. Rubber, maraschino, tar, Szechuan pepper… It's just that this is something else. Where am I? Who am I? Existentialist whisky… Does the whisky world have any meaning at all anyway? And the whole world? With water: the distillate having the upper hand (hurray) but the peppers got even more extreme as well. Finish: very long, rubbery, leafy. Comments: I don't know, I really don't know, it's such a long way from the base… And from Kildalton. Very different from Cask 88's other whiskies, which are excellent – and certainly less experi-'mental'.
SGP:377 - 75 points.

Laphroaig 10 yo 'Original Cask Strength Batch 14' (58.6%, OB, 2021)

Laphroaig 10 yo 'Original Cask Strength Batch 14' (58.6%, OB, 2021) Four stars
My-God-the-first-batches! Sometimes you would believe Schumpeter was right with whisky too. The latest batch we've tried was #11 and we thought it was 'excellent-not-great' (WF 86). The first batches had been like 'wow!' Colour: gold. Nose: more oak than before, that's for sure. This is dry, ashy, with only tiny bits of mangos. I would swear it really needs water. With water: vanilla, sawdust, tea (tea?) and bacon, then more shoe polish. Bonfire. Mouth (neat): excellent upfront. A funny cologne touch at first, absolutely not unpleasant, certainly some sawdust as in any modern Laphroaigs (not my dope but there), then this massive smoke + lemon + salt + iodine combo that just works, even when things get extremely simple. With water:  tight, salty, lemony, with acidic and vinegary touches that are working extremely well. Finish: long and, drumroll please, rather akin to fino sherry! Although I doubt there would be any sherries in there. A little leather and leaves in the aftertaste. Comments: we're still very far from the first 10 CSs, but this simpler, more rustic composition sure has its charms. The problem is the indies…

SGP:357 - 86 points.

Lp11 2005/2020 (52.2%, Elixir Distillers 'Elements of Islay', bourbon barrels, 496 bottles)

Lp11 2005/2020 (52.2%, Elixir Distillers 'Elements of Islay', bourbon barrels, 496 bottles) Four stars
I'll say it again, we're very late indeed with our Laphroaigs. Colour: white wine. Nose: a sweeter fresher nose, with rather more fresh fruits than usual, especially strawberries (but there's a story between peat and strawberries, just ask maltsters). IPA, pink grapefruits, wool, porridge, pink pepper… I think this should be pretty lovely. With water: almond cream, lady's moisturiser, grist and barley, iodine, touch of juniper, grapefruit skin, pine needles… Lovely, really. Mouth (neat): very eau-de-vie-ish this time. Sugar, bonbons, even pear drops, then salt and lemon juice. Very young and very pure (we'll call this one 'Greta'). With water: rawer peat, salt, genever and lapsang souchong. The complexity that was in the nose is gone but that was to be expected. Finish: long, salty and rather more medicinal. Some would call this 'bandagey'. Comments: extra-point for the purity.

SGP:367 - 87 points.

A last one, quickly…

Laphroaig 20 yo 2001/2021 (58.3%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #11)

Laphroaig 20 yo 2001/2021 (58.3%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #11) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: ah yes, well, this works. Smoked bread and cakes, pita bread, garden bonfire, lit cigar, black chocolate and engine oil. Yet another variation on the Laphroaig theme. Water should change it. With water: straight to chalk and wool, embrocations and bandages, also fresh almonds and walnuts. I mean walnuts of the day. Mouth (neat): a very bright, almondy, resinous arrival, with a feeling of fresh oil paint and just wee apples. Then just cider apples. With water: more freshness, this time rather on liquorice wood, softer brine, those wee pink olives, green tomato chutney… Finish: long, rather delicate, complex, with white asparagus and lemon curd in the aftertaste. I think. Comments: extremely good. The arty label is neat too (no boring white-on-a-white-background that's so un-Web).

SGP:467 - 88 points.

I know we said that would be the last one, but is this Whiskyfun or is it not Whiskyfun?

Laphroaig 32 yo 1988/2020 (45.7%, The Syndicate, cask #9203, 126 bottles)

Laphroaig 32 yo 1988/2020 (45.7%, The Syndicate, cask #9203, 126 bottles) Four stars and a half
Bottled by Murray McDavid (are they still on here?) for Sir John's gang of crazy whisky nuts. In general, The Syndicate's Islays are the best one could find using legal means. Colour: gold. Nose: we all know this, at 30 years of age and unless sheltered in ridiculous woods (red wine, virgin etc.) the grandest peaters from the Isle of Islay become even grander, do the peacock's tail, and would just burst into uncontrolled myriads of dazzling aromas. Right, right, passion fruits, mangos, tangerines, oats, almond milk, spent engine oil, church candle, old hessian bags, then earthy teas (green pu-her), just oranges, hand cream, cockles and winkles… And whatnot. This is what some would sometimes call 'a fractal nose'. Mouth: some great fun here, the cask having become a little piney, certainly deviant, herbal, very tobacco-y, liquoricy… The coastal saltines would then fight back, with rather a lot of, well, salt, plus samphires and edible seaweed, wakame, kombu and compadres. Finish: long, salty and more on small citrus, yuzu and… compadres. Wakame and yuzu, that's the (unusual) leading duet here. Lemony peppers, bitter almonds. Comments: very coastal, complex, gastronomic… And almost not medicinal at all. A great variant despite a few fragilities here and there.

SGP:366 - 89 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Laphroaig we've tasted so far


Mars 21, 2022


Little duos, today Talisker


There was a 41 that we had missed, while last year's 41/1979 'Prima & Ultima' had been glorious in my humble opinion (WF 93). Naturally, we couldn't leave the situation in that sorry state but first, the usual apéritif…

Talisker 2011/2021 'Distillers Edition' (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 5XJ)

Talisker 2011/2021 'Distillers Edition' (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 5XJ) Four stars
As usual, this baby was finished in 'Amoroso cask wood', amoroso being a medium cream-type blend of oloroso and sweet PX, formerly also known as 'sweet oloroso' or 'oloroso dulce', both denominations being know verboten in Jerez. Not too sure about the other regions of Spain. Colour: rich gold. Nose: starts frankly vinous, with whiffs of old wine barrel and must. It's then geared towards the usual walnut wine, herbal leaf teas, lime leaves, cedar wood, then something camphory and even clearly medicinal. I have the impression that that latest young Taliskers have become a notch more medicinal, but I may be dreaming. A little curry and soft mustard too. Mouth: it's rather funny that the amoroso wood would have made this young Talisker rather more peppery. Other than that, we find the expected tobacco and leather, bitter almonds and walnuts, curry indeed, plus a feeling of smoked dry Madeira wine, with a little brine. Finish: rather long, on similar flavours. Comments: once again, I don't think the amoroso made it really sweeter, it just made it less smoky. I prefer the regular 10 by around 5 points – just tried a very recent batch informally, it was brilliant - which is a lot, but this DE is one of the nicest. If they 'must' (good one S.) … 
SGP:465 - 85 points.

Talisker 41 yo 1978/2019 (50.7%, OB, The Bodega Series, 2000 bottles)

Talisker 41 yo 1978/2019 (50.7%, OB, The Bodega Series, 2000 bottles) Five stars
This one was finished in casks of manzanilla 'La Goya' from Delgado Zuleta's. I believe La Goya is a rather cheap (7,25€ for 75cl at the owners', that's scandalously low), yet excellent manzanilla. Colour: gold. Nose: I find it difficult to tell the Talisker from the manzanilla, as in my book, both liquids do share some similar traits, especially the fresh walnuts, the brine, the flinty smokiness and the clear coastal side. Some wonderful olives and almonds, mint, eucalyptus and a richer Bordeaux Blanc (a Pessac). Splendid. With water: majestic. I'm not always a huge fan of finishings but this time, they created a real ace, the whisky and the wine are tangoing just right. Stunning almondy and lemony smokiness, putty, walnut liqueur, tar liqueur, seawater, brine, and even a wee whiff of acetone that works perfectly well in this context. Mouth (neat): first a sublime spicy fruitcake, then a bitter, tarry, very medicinal richness. Oysters, Worcester sauce, almond milk, cough medicine, some kind of smoked fudge, also several small citrus fruits, kumquats, bergamots, also some tarter lemon caviar or finger lime… With (the tiniest drop of) water: same comments about the manzanilla and the whisky dancing together to perfection. Finish: pretty long! Superb salty, maritime signature. We all know it's the sea that makes Talisker (go to love ad people) but what's sure is that some skilled men and women have been a really big help, including some in Sanlùcar de Barrameda. Comments: what a salty beauty.

SGP:365 - 92 points.

(Thank you Nicolas)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Talisker we've tasted so far


Mars 20, 2022


  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!


Rums on the desk

Yeah, why don't we do a few more rums on this very Sunday, randomly and looking for malternatives?… And let's kick this off with an easier one (supposedly)…

Trinidad Rum 18 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, Trinidad, +/-2021)

Trinidad Rum 18 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, Trinidad, +/-2021) Four stars and a half
In theory, this shouldn't and couldn't be Caroni, as Caroni stopped 'fuming' in 2002. So, Trinidad Distillers - Angostura? Colour: gold. Nose: a wee tad acetic and varnishy at first sniffing, otherwise totally on ripe bananas, mangos, guavas, papayas and coconut (water). Light, fresh, extremely fruity. I can't see who would complain. Mouth: just excellent, easy, fresh, on the same fruits plus more citrus, a drop of benzine, pinot gris, salt, tar, earth, passion fruits and liquorice allsorts. Totally lovely and easy, you would down five litres of this without blinking an eye and while exegeting Wittgenstein. Finish: medium, fresh, superbly fruity. Mangos and maracujas at the helm. Comments: an ace by Cadenhead, but let me issue a warning, it is dangerously drinkable.

SGP:741 - 88 points.

Off to Mauritius…

Labourdonnais 10 yo 2010/2021 (51.9%, Liquid Treasures, Mauritius, refill butt, 353 bottles)

Labourdonnais 10 yo 2010/2021 (51.9%, Liquid Treasures, Mauritius, refill butt, 353 bottles) Four stars
In Mauritius, there is Labourdonnais and there's the rest. It is a fairly new distillery and what I've already tried was rather French-style, made from pure cane juice. Colour: white wine. Nose: soft, well in the style of other rums from the Indian ocean, rather on bananas, Fanta and syrups, then Berocca, absinth, caraway, eucalyptus and lemon curd. With water: isn't this simply chartreuse? Mouth (neat): fun stuff, rather medicinal, with some fennel seeds, lemon, caraway, aniseed, even gentian… With water: liquorice, lemon, aniseed, fennel, carrots, turmeric, celeriac… Finish: medium, on similar notes. Ginseng and peat smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: very nice and fresh, what an unusual drop! I'd have almost said 'cachaça'. A shameless 11,400km-wide error, mind you, not particularly proud of myself.
SGP:662 - 85 points.

We shall insist…

Labourdonnais 2010/2021 (60.7%, Sample X, Mauritius, 296 bottles)

Labourdonnais 2010/2021 (60.7%, Sample X, Mauritius, 296 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: totally on saccharose, grass and fresh bark. That's the high strength, I would suppose, so... With water: balsa wood, more fennel, model glue, bidis, pistachio syrup; patchouli… Indeed, this one too is rather unusual. Mouth (neat): same lovely herbal and fruity notes. More celeriac, fennel, lime, aniseed, wormwood, touch of chlorophyll… With water: almonds, natural glues, lemongrass, more celeriac and celery, spearmint, aniseed… Finish: medium, fresh, more mentholy, with a little myrtle and grapefruit liqueur. Comments: some sides were reminding me of Madeira's agricoles, I have to say. I am surprised, most rums from Mauritius I could try so far have been very boring sugar bombs de la muerte, while this is fresh, unusual indeed, and lovely. It's less earthy and smoky than the Liquid Treasure, having said that.

SGP:662 - 85 points.

Why not Panama?

Panamanian rum 14 yo 2006 (59.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R9.8, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, Treacle Thyme, 247 bottles, 2021)

Panamanian rum 14 yo 2006 (59.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R9.8, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, Treacle Thyme, 247 bottles, 2021) Two stars and a half
From the Varela Bros. aka Hermanos Varela operations, where they also produce Abuelo. Colour: gold. Nose: pencil shavings, fudge, salted caramel, vanilla, wee whiffs of fern, coconut. With water: butter, fudge, madeleines, sponge cake and biscuits. Mouth (neat): very sweet. Acetone, limoncello, rose syrup, grenadine, tankerloads of custard. With water: a tad more herbal and grassy. Lime syrup. Finish: medium, more on lime and lemon, but the body remains a little thin. Comments: certainly more interesting than the officials from the same plant. I mean, from the same distillery.

SGP:730 - 79 points.

French Antilles 2020/2021 (56.2%, Single Barrel Selection for The Whisky Exchange, Grand Arôme, Port cask, 179 bottles)

French Antilles 2020/2021 (56.2%, Single Barrel Selection for The Whisky Exchange, Grand Arôme, Port cask, 179 bottles) Four stars
A one-year-old grand arôme, that's pushing it a wee bit, no? And where does this come from? Colour: gold. Nose: all right, all right, this is great, very estery (grand arôme, so a dresser), full of new IKEA stuff, glue, plywood, olives and very heavy and heady liquorice. As I sometimes say, I hate it that I love it. With water: fresh teak wood, brine, coal tar and glues. Amazing nose (hate it that I'm writing this). Mouth (neat): fabulous rotting bananas, eucalyptus, starfruits and liquorice. I feel shame. With water: desperately awesome. Someone's salted and smoked strawberries while we weren't watching. Finish: not that nice anymore, perhaps a tad vulgar. I'm glad I could find something bad to say. Comments: La Réunion? Do they know that's not really part of the French Antilles? But who cares? Very lovely drop indeed, despite the shambolic sweetish finish. Pfff…

SGP:662 - 86 points.

Enmore at Diamond 19 yo 2002/2021 'EHP' (51%, Nobilis Rum, Guyana, 181 bottles)

Enmore at Diamond 19 yo 2002/2021 'EHP' (51%, Nobilis Rum, Guyana, 181 bottles) Three stars
Colour: straw. Nose: strawberry gums and drops, Red Bull, marshmallows, bubblegum vodka, vanilla… Enmore, really? With water: custard and butter cream, cane juice, vanilla ice cream, blancmange, banana... Mouth (neat): the sweetest, roundest, fruitiest Demerara there ever was. Pineapple syrup all over the place, plus a wee slice of the smallest gherkin. With water: cane juice, touch of praline, nougat, popcorn… The sweetest, lightest Demerara ever? Finish: medium, rounded, on vanilla and white nougat. Comments: the wooden continuous Coffey still in action, all lightness and softness. Pretty nice, not quite a fan though.
SGP:640 - 80 points.

Port Mourant at Uitvlugt 30 yo 1990/2021 'PM' (50.5%, Nobilis Rum, Selected by Versus, Guyana, 169 bottles)

Port Mourant at Uitvlugt 30 yo 1990/2021 'PM' (50.5%, Nobilis Rum, Selected by Versus, Guyana, 169 bottles) Five stars
The marque was 'PM'. Very deep hopes here. Colour: light gold. Nose: amazing. Smoky garam masala, curry, cedar wood, Buddhist temple, epicea needles (Picea abies), pencil shavings, yew, gingerbread… This nose is stunning and that's a fact. With water: lovely, with new sneakers, new electronics, gherkins and olives, muds, green oranges, lime leaves, menthol…  Mouth (neat): astounding lemony and mentholy arrival, then verbena, wormwood, and myriads of tiny herbal tones, genepy, borage, salty oyster plant… Having said that, a piney woodiness would tend to try to take over after one minute or so, let's see what will happen once proper H2O's been added… With water: awesome citrusy saltiness. Never add too much water to these drops, better not enough than too much. Finish: rather long, on tar and seawater. Comments: this old one may have reached its optimum a few years ago, but it's still splendid, no doubts whatsoever about that. It crushes the Enmore, but that should have been expected.

SGP:462 - 90 points.

A very quick one, just for the road…

Caroni 1998/2021 (58.2%, The Whisky Jury, cask #26, 275 bottles)

Caroni 1998/2021 (58.2%, The Whisky Jury, cask #26, 275 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: a softer Caroni, with some chocolate, mocha, sawdust, walnut shell and just one black olive. With water: chocolate and pinecones. It really is a easier Caroni. Mouth (neat): much bigger, tighter, more compact than on the nose. Salted nuts and acidic coffees, plus black and bitter chocolate. With water: very good but down, salty but with a thinner body. Tea tannins, white chocolate. Finish: medium. Sugar cane, not much else. Very light tar. Comments: as we all know, there are various kinds of Caronis; this might well be one of the lightest. As they say in Putin's army, nothing to write home about.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far


Mars 19, 2022





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Six Ardmore
As I've often mentioned on these pages: I'm a fan of Ardmore. It remains a bit mysterious to me why it isn't more popular. After all, it's a characterful make that has largely resisted a more modern 'technological' profile and remains, at its best, quite a soulful malt. It's also generally pretty affordable, which is a rarity nowadays.


On the other hand, it can be a little undefined and inconsistent at times; Serge occasionally describes it as 'thin'. So perhaps it is destined to remain somewhere in the murky hinterlands of 'interesting but overlooked'. It's also not paid much attention by owners Beam-Suntory - either a blessing or a hinderance depending on your point of view. What I know is that it remains the original 'peated mainlander' and is a malt I'm always happy to try. Indeed, I think it still produces a pretty idiosyncratic and distinctive make while many around it have long-since homogenised. 



Ardmore 9 yo 2011/2021 (57.6%, Watt Whisky, bourbon barrel, 238 bottles)

Ardmore 9 yo 2011/2021 (57.6%, Watt Whisky, bourbon barrel, 238 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: mashy, sooty and with quite a bit of coal dust, plaster, wet wool and chalk. It's not an immediately peaty one, which many of these ex-Laphroaig matured ones tend to be. Overall rather more on typical Ardmore farminess. With water: quite saline with bath and mineral salts. Smoked bacon, wood ashes and more impressions of oily sheep wool. Mouth: ok, very peaty! Blade like ashes, lemon juice, salt water, olive brine and medical things like gauze and antiseptic. Still farmy though. With water: briny, lemony, ashy and peppery. Nodding more towards Islay than Huntly now. Finish: long, more lemons - preserved in brine this time - wood ashes, white pepper and seawater. Comments: leaving aside this debate about whether these ex-Laphroaig batches are technically blended malts or not, I think the net result is actually excellent whisky. I find it funny that these stocks aren't more popular. Hopefully some will be kept until greater ages, feels like they will be really superb around 18-20yo. This one was excellent.
SGP: 465 - 86 points.



Ardmore 11 yo 2009/2021 (57.6%, Lady Of The Glen, refill barrel, 216 bottles)

Ardmore 11 yo 2009/2021 (57.6%, Lady Of The Glen, refill barrel, 216 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: this one is richer and more buttery. A thicker and creamier smokiness, nicely sooty, some honey roast parsnips, mashed turnip with black pepper and even a tiny impression of haggis (feels like there should be more haggis in whisky, discuss…) Gets maltier, smokier and a little dustier now. With water: some mustard powder, coal tar soap and seawater now as it gathered some purity and precision. Mouth: rathe sharp, salty and punchy with frazzled bacon pieces, peat smoke, plaster, iodine drops and more of these sheep wool and coal scuttle impressions. Hessian and smoked olive oil as well. With water: more of these dusty, smoky, sooty vibes. Like sticking your head in the old wooden malt bin at Ardbeg. Still rather on hessian and creamy smoke. Finish: medium in length, these coal smoke and roast root vegetable tones are back. Comments: very good, same comments as above, although I preferred the definition of the Watt bottling by a notch. 
SGP: 555 - 85 points.



Ardmore 11 yo 2008/2019 (59.4%. Hunter Laing 'The Bookinist', refill hogshead + 10 month Latour-Martillac finish, 216 bottles)

Ardmore 11 yo 2008/2019 (59.4%. Hunter Laing 'The Bookinist', refill hogshead + 10 month Latour-Martillac finish, 216 bottles)
Chateau Latour-Martillac not to be confused with Chateau Latour. Ardmore + red wine is a pretty scary proposition in my book… Colour: rose gold. Nose: there is Ardmore in there, threatening to emerge from beneath some prickly red fruit jams and preserves. Hints of coal smoke, honey-cured ham and maraschino cherry. It's quite a pleasant nose but feels a little disconcerting… With water: more enjoyable with water, some nice notes of hessian, cod liver oil and mead - feels a bit more integrated here. Mouth: not too sure about this one. The wine and the peat elements are too jarring for me. There is this jammy and slightly balsamic aspect from the wine on one side but I'm afraid I don't find it particularly integrated with the peat, which feels quite separate and jarring. With water: as on the nose it becomes a tad more 'cohesive' with these nicely leafy notes and some fir wood and cherry cough medicines. But still, this red wine Vs peat thing is hard work. Finish: on the shorter side, getting a tad rubbery, jammy and sooty now. Comments: As I've said many times before: wine finishes aren't my cup of tea. If they are your cup of tea I'd say you are safe to completely disregard my notes. 
SGP: 554 - 75 points.



Ardmore 19 yo 2002/2021 (55.2%, Caora, cask #319, refill barrel, 141 bottles)

Ardmore 19 yo 2002/2021 (55.2%, Caora, cask #319, refill barrel, 141 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: this is more like it, pure Ardmore. All on soft farmyard earthiness, coal smoke, mud, sheep wool, aged mead, heather honey and soft medicinal embrocations. I have a soft spot for this profile of subtly peated distillate. With water: rather mustardy, heathery and waxy now - reminiscent of some 1970s Banffs in some ways. Mouth: nicely peppery attack on arrival. More coal, more honeys, heather beers, rye bread spread with salty butter and touches of aniseed and liquorice. Plenty going on to enjoy here. With water: perfectly balanced between aniseed, wee wood spices, heather smoke, coal embers and honeys. Finish: good length, more heather, honey, sweetish beers, breads and herbal medicines. Comments: I know Ardmore isn't for everyone, but I'm very much a fan. It remains a pretty old school and idiosyncratic make. This one is top class! 
SGP: 564 - 88 points. 



Ardmore 23 yo (55.1%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #901281)
I can't find an image or any other info for this one online, so I suspect it may not be 'out' yet. Colour: gold. Nose: similar profile to the Caora but only more honeyed, medicinal, concentrated and with this feeling of 'syrupy' peat. Herbal cough medicines, hessian and smoked olive oil, also with this slightly umami and earthy streak - really a style unto itself is Ardmore. With water: more on hessian, dried heather flowers, a touch of carbolic acidity and these typical Ardmore sooty vibes. Mouth: pretty peaty actually! Lots of herbal-tinged smoke, wood smoke, bonfire embers, coal tar soap, lanolin and a rather dry waxiness. Honeyed as well with impressions of heather honey and aged mead. Still this syrupy textural impression about the mouthfeel as well. With water: lovely mouth-coating weight and texture, wonderful honeyed sweetness, olive oil, gorse flower and a little eucalyptus. Finish: long, lightly mentholated, medicinal, some herbal teas and ointments. Comments: these late 1990s batches are really showing superbly now. Quietly soulful whisky that's distinctive and totally charming. The opposite of modern, technological styles. 
SGP: 654 - 90 points.   



Ardmore 23 yo 1985/2009 (51.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #66.29 'Kippers and Kabanos in a Kennethmont Kiln', refill hogshead, 221 bottles)

Ardmore 23 yo 1985/2009 (51.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #66.29 'Kippers and Kabanos in a Kennethmont Kiln', refill hogshead, 221 bottles)
Some other casks in this batch of 1985s by the SMWS have been excellent in my view, I believe this was one of the last ones they did from this lot… Colour: bright straw. Nose: different again. We're really going back to a more purely farmyard and earthy style of Ardmore. Lots of coal tar smoke, wet sheep wool, linens, chalk, plaster and anthracite embers. Ardmore really seems to be the only whisky that expresses coal and peat in total equilibrium sometimes. Also hessian, bouillon and root vegetables slathered in olive oil. It's probably a style that's quite divisive, but I love it! With water: vase water, hand lotion, motor oils, brake fluid, cigarette papers and wood embers. Charismatic but rather a mish-mash of influences. Mouth: a lovely mix of oils, plaster, chalk, soft but thick peat smoke, mechanical oils, toolbox rags, waxed canvass and some rather greasy medicinal impressions. Funky stuff! With water: lovely texture now! Oily, honeyed, waxy, medical and perfectly peaty and thick! Finish: long, getting more deeply smoky, tarry, medicinal and herbal with peppery warmth and mineral oils. Comments: extremely left-field, pretty old school and undeniably kooky and funky whisky. Probably pointless and difficult to score as some would go way higher than me, while others would probably have no time for this at all. As it's my birth year, and I really like it, let's say a big, fat… 
SGP: 574 - 89 points.




More tasting notesCheck the index of all Ardmore we've tasted so far


Mars 18, 2022


Revising my Glenfiddich


Just one or two regular expressions that we do have to try every five years or so. Self-imposed rules, those are the hardest indeed. Let's kick this off with an apéritif, as usual.

'As a tribute to the first connoisseurs who brought back what the Scots were really enjoying at home' (French ad, 1985)

Glenfiddich 'Special Old Reserve' (40%, OB, Pure Malt, UK, +/-1985)

Glenfiddich 'Special Old Reserve' (40%, OB, Pure Malt, UK, +/-1985) Four stars
It is for these kinds of bottles that with the Malt Maniacs, we started to use the acronym 'NAS'. Indeed, No Age Statement. We've only ever tried this triangular expression at 43% vol., so this is a first indeed. By the way, the tube states 'Special Reserve' while the bottle would rather use the wording 'Special Old Reserve'. Goes to show how meaningful those terms are. Colour: light gold. Nose: these Glenfiddichs always make you think of barley and overripe apples and pears at first. Always, this is no exception. Then there would be some metallic touches, some mashed grains and vegetables, a feeling of light peat that wasn't uncommon in Glenfiddich, and just greengages, both preserved and as jam. Ripe plums that fell to the ground. Mouth: it's hit-or-miss with these bottles but this is hit. Awesome fresh barley and malt, chef's apple pie, pilsner, earth, teas, leaves… Very very good, and not even thin at 40% vol. No wonder they became #1. Finish: not even short. Lovely jams and teas, with an earthy and very remotely smoky aftertaste. Comments: the thing is, at that time we would have tended to underestimate both Glenfiddich as 'Pure Malt' and Johnnie Walker as 'blended Scotch', simply because they had become extremely dominant in the market. But when we try those old bottles today, honestly, we can only laugh at ourselves…
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Good, that's sorted.

Glenfiddich 21 yo 'Reserva Rum Cask Finish' (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Glenfiddich 21 yo 'Reserva Rum Cask Finish' (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars
There used to be a 21 'Gran Reserva' in France just last year, but it seems that its disappeared. The one we're having on the tasting desk just now is rather called 'Reserva Rum Cask Finish'. Some gentle minds would tell you that this one spent its last four months in casks that had formerly sheltered some rum from Sancti Spiritus, which is located in the middle of Cuba. It's true that the 21 had also been called 'Havana Reserve', which may have displeased a certain administration. Colour: gold. Nose: Cuban rum is light, so I wouldn't swear I'm finding any obvious rumness in this one. Having said that it's a pleasant drop on the nose, light indeed but nicely fragrant, with some heather honey and some nectar, dandelion and other yellow flowers (always rich in sweet nectar).  Perhaps a touch of orangey rum, after all. Nice. Mouth: this time the 40% are problematic, they make the whisky thin and drying, with a tea-ish-ness that should have been avoided at 21 years of age. Cold tea, a touch of burnt caramel, some leafiness… Nosedives after just ten seconds, which is regrettable since the core seems to be pleasantly aromatic and well-composed. Nice marmalade and muscovado sugar. Finish: short. A shame, again, the core is nice. Notes of pink bananas, great bananas being a very Cuban thing indeed. Comments: this bottling regime has become obsolete. How many excellent well-aged whiskies are still being slaughtered like this?
SGP:341 - 81 points (85 guaranteed at 44 or 45% vol.)

I think we'll have an IB…

Wardhead 1997/2020 (52.1%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired II, 132 bottles)

Wardhead 1997/2020 (52.1%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired II, 132 bottles) Four stars
Quite a few Wardhead 1997 have popped out in recent years, Wardhead being the name of 'teaspooned', thus vatted, Glenfiddich-based blended malt. But did you ever spot anyone carrying teaspoons at any Scottish whisky facility, except at tea-time? Colour: straw. Nose: they're all a little rustic and grassy, peely, on apples and green pears, then lager and a little sourdough. No exception here. With water: fresh bread, a little plaster, oats, chalk, porridge sweetened with honey… Mouth (neat): malt whisky exactly au naturel, with some barley, soft liquorice, apple juice, apple pie, ale and orange zests. Perhaps for barley freaks. With water: it swims extremely well on the palate, gaining wideness and assertiveness (please explain, S.) Even more sweet barley and ales, which I find lovely. Finish: medium, very barley-y and kougelhopfy (you're hopeless, S.) Almonds and pistachio syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: it took its time but water helped a lot, esp. on the palate. Well done, Mahalia Jackson! (because she's Mahalia Jackson on the label, is she not? Sarah Vaughan? Ella?)
SGP:451 - 87 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glenfiddich we've tasted so far


Mars 17, 2022


Some Irish for St Pat's

Every year on March 17, everybody's celebrating St. Patrick's Day, a.k.a. St. Guinness, but although I haven't really checked that (my God, 20 years) I don't think we've already done that on little WF. It's never too late, they say, but let's do this randomly and see how far we'll manage to swim…

Drumshanbo 'General Release' (43%, OB, Single Pot Still, Irish, +/-2020)

Drumshanbo 'General Release' (43%, OB, Single Pot Still, Irish, +/-2020) Three stars
From a proper new distillery, Shed Distillery, and made from a mashbill containing malted barley, barley, and oat. So it is 'single pot still', but probably not 'pure pot still'. It is a first on WF but indeed, there are many these days. Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh butter spread all over fresh bread, with whiffs of linseed oil in the background, then some rather soft spices from the wood, around soft paprika perhaps. Wee touches of apple and walnut peel. Very pleasant, elegant nose. Mouth: rather wood-led, I was about to add 'of course', but all in all balance was achieved, thanks to a nice breadiness. Notes of quince tarte and sunflower oil and seeds. Finish: not that long but nicely spicy, with cloves nailed into an orange. Oaky/bready spiciness in the aftertaste, plus salmiak. Comments: really very fine, it's just that the 43% vol. make it a tad weak. Ish.

SGP:451 - 81 points.

Perhaps one of those famous pure pot still whiskeys…

Redbreast 12 yo (40%, OB, single pot still, Irish, +/-2021)

Redbreast 12 yo (40%, OB, single pot still, Irish, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
I haven't tried the 12 since… hold on, 2010! (WF 84 back then). And hold on again, this is a 'single pot still' as well, while I remember older bottles used to display 'pure pot still'. Oh well, maybe that's the same, and maybe oat is allowed. Colour: light gold. Nose: certainly 'pure pot still' as far as its style is concerned, which I would describe as 'gently metallic, slightly cereally and delicately tropical'. In other words, mango and maracuja juice kept in a copper jar. I have to say this style has grown on me over the years and I certainly enjoy these notes of eglantine tea, or rosehip. Or, in French, gratte-cul (which makes your bottom itch – ha, the French.) Mouth: sure we'd have preferred a higher strength but other than that, it's a lovely whiskey indeed, soft, with some acacia honey plus stewed peaches, orange salad with olive oil, a very soft fudge, and a slightly weaker middle. The finish comes a little early… Finish: and it's rather short, but these flower jellies are excellent. Poppy jelly, soft honey, redcurrant jam… Comments: great delicate juice, very recognisable, just a tad thin on the palate. But it's true that there is a C/S version too… Score unchanged, shall we say.
SGP:530 - 84 points.

Glendalough 'Double Barrel' (42%, OB, Irish, +/-2021)

Glendalough 'Double Barrel' (42%, OB, Irish, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
I believe this is grain whiskey. It's been finished in oloroso. Colour: light gold. Nose: extremely funny! New rubber boots, pine smoke, sage and tarragon, orange skin, charcoal, bandages, rhubarb juice, then a growing graininess, with some candies, perhaps lavender sweets… Indeed, great fun here, this is absolutely not what I had expected. Mouth: exactly not what I had found in its nose. This is much lighter, all on sweets, with just curry-like touches and some juniper from the wood. Say 90% grain whisky plus 10% gin. I suppose it was that gin-ness that I had detected on the nose. Finish: medium and even more on sweet gin. Comments: should we call this style a ginsky? Now I'm totally sure there is no gin inside (and neither is there any juniper). Good fun anyway.
SGP:531 - 78 points.

Since we were having grain…

Single Grain 10 yo 'Batch 2' (48%, W.D. O'Connell, bourbon & rye series, 2021)

Single Grain 10 yo 'Batch 2' (48%, W.D. O'Connell, bourbon & rye series, 2021) Two stars and a half
This one was bottled for Germany, Luxembourg & the Netherlands (Europe, right) and is said to be Cooley, so Greenore I suppose, which is Cooley's grain if I'm not mistaken. Colour: white wine. Nose: mashed turnips, moussaka, custard and marshmallows, then maize bread, barley syrup and pumpkin seed. Not too sure this time (other W.D. O'Connell having been extremely convincing). Mouth: for grain freaks for sure. Thinnish distillate, all the rest being perfect (vanilla, leaves, fruit peel, IPA). Saccharose. Finish: short, totally cask-dominated, not in a bad way. Sugar syrup 'aged' in great wood. Comments: I know many friends will love this, it's just not for this malt enthusiast. Who's the Irish alter-ego of David Beckham?
SGP:720 - 78 points.


Single Irish Whiskey 19 yo (46%, W.D. O'Connell, PX Series, cask #144104, 348 bottles, 2021)

Single Irish Whiskey 19 yo (46%, W.D. O'Connell, PX Series, cask #144104, 348 bottles, 2021) Four stars
A drunken little bird with a strange accent told me this was from Cooley's too. Colour: gold. Nose: massive mangos, gueuze lambic, orange wine (it's pretty fermentary) and nectarines. Not much to add, except that I totally love this. In my book, only 10% of the orange wines are worth it, but when they are, they are (bravo, S.!) Mouth: fermenting tropical fruits (do you really need a list) plus rooibos and earl grey. Tends to become a little leathery, having said that, that may have been the PX cask. Orange wine made and grown in new French oak. Finish: rather long and much spicier. No more fruity extravaganza here, this has become leafier but this baby's fruity heart beats still. Comments: a little complicated this time, it is not one of those in-you-face fruity Cooleys and that's probably the PX, which, I agree, sounds a little counterintuitive. They say one cannot change his own nature. Great drop, still.

SGP:561 - 85 points.

We could try another potential fruit bomb by W.D. O'Connell …

Single Malt Irish Whiskey 13 yo 2008/2021 (59%, W.D. O'Connell, oloroso sherry butt, 294 bottles)

Single Malt Irish Whiskey 13 yo 2008/2021 (59%, W.D. O'Connell, oloroso sherry butt, 294 bottles) Four stars
This should be Bushmills. Well, it is Bushmills. Colour: gold. Nose: class act. It is firmer than the Cooley, with fruits that are not, this time, trumpeting all over the place while singing some of the Pogues' best (hard to do, I know). Fruitcake, balsa wood, green tea, then sawdust… I would suppose water will do it much good. With water: linseed oil and grist. Not a fruit bomb at all. Mouth (neat): oily arrival, with lemony barley at the power of ten. A feeling of unreduced limoncello. With water: no, no jams and no jellies, rather all kinds of fruit peelings and then white peaches. Finish: long, rather on barley, beer and cider. Comments: the Colley was much fruitier, but quality was the same in my book. Excellent middle-aged Irish al natural (despite the finishings).
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Perhaps some Cooley again…

Cooley 20 yo 2001/2021 (52%, Liquid Treasures, for Singapore, barrel, cask #3145, 175 bottles)

Cooley 20 yo 2001/2021 (52%, Liquid Treasures, for Singapore, barrel, cask #3145, 175 bottles) Five stars
Another funny label. When we started this madness, you would only have found A. stags, B. pipers, C. thistle, D. nada, E. Mel Gibson, F. Jim Clarke or Jackie Stewart. Quite. Colour: light gold. Nose: grapefruit, Chablis, passion fruits, and repeat. Perfect. With water: weissbeer and grapefruit juice, plus sourdough. I'm not sure you could do greater than this. Mouth (neat): fruit bomb alert. Pink bananas, papayas, mangos, passion fruits and granny smith. From Chablis to Sancerre, or from chardonnay to sauvignon blanc. Immaculate palate. With water: a little rounder, sweeter… Do not add more than one drop of water, if I may. Other than that, this is pure sauvignon blanc. Finish: long, perfect. Comments: we've long been hoping some distinguished whiskey bottlers would add Rory Gallagher to their labels. Please! Brilliant blues… I mean Irish malt anyway.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

Holy Rory, what a Cooley! Let's change style, with some Midleton blend…

Midleton 'Very Rare Release 2013' (40%, OB, blend, Ireland)

Midleton 'Very Rare Release 2013' (40%, OB, blend, Ireland) Four stars
We utterly adored the 2022 the other day (WF 91) while some earlier vintages had been a little, say unnoticeable in our little book. What's great is that Pernod/Irish Distillers have sent samples of some of their earlier vintages along that 2022, so, thanks to them. Believe me, it is extremely unusual that some Distillers would mail you some of their older stuff. Isn't the industry beginning to see the light? Colour: gold. Nose: looks like I haven't been paying attention all those years. Perhaps because of those lousy 40% vol…. Barley, melons, fresh vanilla pods, peaches, acacia blossom, wee whiffs of wood smoke… This is extremely elegant and delicate, let's just hope it won't nosedive on our palates…  Mouth: the main problem here is that you could down litres of this. The arrival is perfect, rather on precious fruits, apples, jujubes, perhaps goji, also soft honey, nougat… But the 40% start to feel after just twenty seconds, actually it's lacking muscle. And yet, what a luminous drop! Finish: short, sweet, honeyed. Pastries in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm sure I'm not the only one to dream about these being bottled at 46% vol. Perhaps even within I.D. Anyway, glorious drop, even if the 2022 is on another planet.

SGP:641 - 87 points.

Let's put an end to this with some older malty fruit bombs, if you please…

Teeling 28 yo (43.1%, OB, for Rudder, Japan, rum cask, cask #10704, 2020)

Teeling 28 yo (43.1%, OB, for Rudder, Japan, rum cask, cask #10704, 2020) Five stars
Colour: very pale white wine, perhaps the palest muscadet ever. Nose: as usual the rum doesn't feel much, what we're getting being rather a whole, generous, luscious east-west fruit salad. Bananas, pink bananas, pears, greengages, papayas, guavas, vine peaches… In fact, this is just totally glorious. Mouth: same. Puréed fruits, fruit salad, compotes and smoothies… Pears, peaches, bananas, and since we're often mentioning wine, we'll say an old Graves blanc from a great vintage. What they now call Pessac-Léognan, while I'd go as far as mentioning Laville, or H-B blanc. Alternatively, a good Bouscaut Blanc would do the trick just as well. Rum? What rum? Finish: medium, magnificently fruity. Comments: a true 'wine malt', I could have mentioned Condrieu just as well, crazy viogniers, or why not mad sémillons? Both worlds are merging with these kinds of whiskies.

SGP:741 - 91 points.

Under those circumstances, we'll have more rum…

Teeling 25 yo (50.7%, OB, for Bresser & Timmer, rum cask, cask #100132, 2021)

Teeling 25 yo (50.7%, OB, for Bresser & Timmer, rum cask, cask #100132, 2021) Four stars and a half
Let's do this fast and quick. Colour: white wine. Nose: firmer, thicker as well, greasier, oilier, more on sunflower oil, perhaps peanut paste, with a tiny metallic touch (remember that copper that we found in Redbreast 12?) then patchouli and mangos. With water: towards herbal teas, rosehip once more, orange blossom water, bergamots… No no no, I've promised I would not mention combava anymore. Mouth (neat): indeed, a whole fruit salad and a blend of honeys. Not sure it needs any water but since we've already filled the pipette… With water: more citrus yet. Grapefruit, citron, lemon caviar, combava (what?) … Finish: medium, immensely fruity, and since we've mentioned wine before, this time we'll say small-grain muscat. Comments: as sweet as a Carole King song.
SGP:741 - 89 points.

That's it, happy St. Pat's!

(Thank you KC!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Irish we've tasted so far


Mars 16, 2022