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Whisky Tasting


Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild




Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2023 - Part 1

February 2023 - part 2 <--- March 2023 - part 1 ---> March 2023 - part 2


March 14, 2023


A few Caol Ila including our 800th


Caol Ila is #1 at Whiskyfun, Bowmore being #2 and Highland Park #3, as far as numbers of different expressions go. It's true that Caol Ila is almost always good and surely plentiful, which is good timing. Let's go in search of our 800th version…

(Those big fellows at Caol Ila - WF Archive)



Caol Ila 'Distillers Edition 2022' (43%, OB)

Caol Ila 'Distillers Edition 2022' (43%, OB) Three stars
Just like Lagavulin, Caol Ila DE has lost its age and vintage statements, but it's kept its finishing in 'Moscatel seasoned American oak casks'. Remember, you can't season Scotch but you may season the casks. Never loved this DE too much, peat + moscatel rather sounding like coffee + mustard to my ears, but some have been more than acceptable. Colour: pale gold. Nose: just like last time we tried a CI DE, in 2017, I'm having the impression that they haven't pushed the Moscatel too much, no bad news indeed. Having said that it is extremely soft, with touches of kelp and beach sand, plus whiffs of butter fudge and, indeed, some kind of cooked sweet wine. Mouth: a smoky and fudgey arrival, with some good salt and brine. Then some kind of drier Madeira-like wine, and indeed some sweeter moscatel. Less dissonant than I had feared. Finish: medium, first on fudge and toffee, then with a little salted liquorice. Iodine, earth and tobacco in the aftertaste. Comments: what's good is that it remained pretty 'Caol Ila'. What's more, it may be young, but Caol Ila is good when young, is it not.  
SGP:545 - 82 points.

More slightly inexplicable finish…

Caol Ila 13 yo 2009/2022 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Sassicaia wood finish, 3550 bottles)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2009/2022 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Sassicaia wood finish, 3550 bottles) Two stars and a half
This one was finished for two years in casks of super-Bordeaux blend from Tuscany, what could go wrong? Could we rather have proper Sangiovese next time? Let's just hope it wasn't first fill. Colour: gold. Nose: we're okay, the wine's been kept at bay, the smoke speaks out, and so do the crabs, langoustines and oysters. Not to mention all the ashes and seaweed. In short, this is Cola Ila, not a lousy oaky cassis and cherry juice. Mouth: the oak feels on the palate. Too many spices for me, bay leaves, peppers, leaves, leather, cherry stems, peach leaves… Finish: same for a rather long time. More leather and leaves, while the aftertaste is very peppery. Comments: some lovely sides, others don't really work. Peat and red wine, that's the most unnecessary combo in my book (next to chocolate and mustard). Sometimes I ramble on, I know.

SGP:555 - 78 points.

More lower strengths…

Caol Ila 2011/2022 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, small batch, Kirsch exclusive, batch #1, 1011 bottles)

Caol Ila 2011/2022 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, small batch, Kirsch exclusive, batch #1, 1011 bottles) Four stars
Aren't all designs becoming Victorian? What does that say about the whisky industry? About our society? Colour: straw. Nose: I think they excel at these kinds of bottlings, well-carved small batches, younger whiskies… In this case it starts with some mercurochrome and some fattish waxy smoke, and would go on with apple peelings, fresh walnuts, fresh almonds, crushed hazelnuts and just grist. Mouth: awesome and singular. Touches of fresh branches, clematis, pineapple eau-de-vie (a tricky juice to make, believe me), then some obvious wood (cedarwood, sawdust…) CI's ashy smokiness keeps ruling all that. Finish: rather long;, fruity (wine gums, pineapple), with some sweet oak impact. A rooty side in the aftertaste (gentian). Comments: charming, it's just that some freshish oak feels a little bit on the palate. No problems at all, oak's much better than silly wines, if you ask me.
SGP:645 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo (59.9%, Cut Your Wolf Loose, hogshead, cask #119096, 283 bottles, 2022)

Caol Ila 12 yo (59.9%, Cut Your Wolf Loose, hogshead, cask #119096, 283 bottles, 2022) Four stars and a half
Some DNVB Caol Ila, why not! Nah it's 'almost' vertical. Colour: white wine. Nose: tincture of iodine, nail polish, cucumber water, oyster, ashes, olive oil. Welcome, all. With water: lovably clean, totally on the original spirit. Mouth (neat): sweet, perfect, epitomically young CI. Bananas, ashes, smoke, lemons, prawns and seawater. Rather perfect. With water: when it's ueber-clean like this, you cannot quite beat a young Coal Ila. Just leave them alone. Finish: rather long, superbly clean, full, perfect. Comments: a good example of a young natural Caol Ila that can fight a young natural Bowmore and win. High-precision make, with excellent balance.
SGP:456 - 88 points.

That was a little short, but let's go on…

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2022 (59.9%, Buds and Barrels, 143 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2022 (59.9%, Buds and Barrels, 143 bottles) Four stars
Always these funny labels, although some war-themed ones such as this one would be a tad more, well, debatable. Colour: white wine. Nose: another clean, briney and coastal one, even if the varnish is a little loud at 60% vol. Quick, water. With water: seawater and notes of white asparagus. Mouth (neat): massive young CI, extremely typical, meaning excellent, even if there are zillions of such casks rested in Scotland. Which will remind us that scarcity and quality are totally uncorrelated notions in Scotch whisky. With water: very nice, a bit young and sweet. Marshmallows. Finish: medium, ashy, a little camphory. Much brine and ashes in the aftertaste. Comments: some say Caol Ila is the Volkswagen of Islay whisky. Which I find extremely stupid, no comment.
SGP:545 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 15 yo 2006/2022 (53.3%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired, 200 bottles)

Caol Ila 15 yo 2006/2022 (53.3%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired, 200 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one is sporting the portrait of our dear old friend Geert Bero. Presto, 25 more points! Drawing done by another good friend, Hans Dillesse. Presto, 25 + 25 more points! Colour: white wine. Nose: this is the afficionados' way, 'as pure  as possible!' Mercurochrome, seawater, paint thinner, fresh apple juice, crabs and oysters, plus of course, ashes. With water: always loved fresh bark, white asparagus, raw salsify, new wool and 'Islay mud'. Mouth (neat): totally, embarrassingly perfect. As we sometimes say, this is a blade that cuts you into two halves of exactly the same sizes, with millimetre precision. With water: gentler, rooty, earthy, yet clean and salty. Finish: very salty. Comments: some good folks say Caol Ila is a malt that's made solely by computers (like, Commodore, Radio Shack or Amstrad, I would suppose). And?
SGP:456 - 89 points.

Caol Ila 2013/2022 (58.7%, Signatory Vintage, for LMDW Singapore for whisky.sg 2nd Anniversary, sherry butt finish, cask #3)

Caol Ila 2013/2022 (58.7%, Signatory Vintage, for LMDW Singapore for whisky.sg 2nd Anniversary, sherry butt finish, cask #3) Four stars and a half
An extravagant young peat-and-sherry monster, as it appears, but let's remember Signatory are pretty good at doing sherry monsters. Colour: dark coppery amber. Nose: it is a rather rounder one, with some sweet and aromatic pipe tobacco, some prunes, some mirabelle jam, a touch of sweet mustard and some Pim's by LU. Right, that's a little French biscuit, take genoise, add a layer of orange jelly, cover with chocolate, and voilà. With water: a little leather, some tobacco smoke, a drop of artichoke cordial, another one of mustard and honey sauce (which is actually a little coastal). Mouth (neat): sure it is heavy, but this unusual honeyed sweetness mingled with ginger and turmeric seems to work, while the smoke isn't that massive. Or is it hiding somewhere? With water: perfect, water makes wonders. Love these earthy tones that remind me of the glorious old 15 yo  'golden jug'. It's got much more 'pure CI', with some brine, oysters, seawater, green walnuts…  Finish: very long, sweet and jammy when neat, much more coastal and briney when reduced. Comments: never, ever try these without ever adding some water, coz swims like Michael Phelps. Superb little baby.
SGP:566 - 88 points.

Back to bourbon, perhaps… with our 800th tasting note for a Caol Ila! (more or less, it's all counted manually you know…)


Caol Ila 14 yo 2008/2022 (52.4%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon barrel, cask #304738, 198 bottles)

Caol Ila 14 yo 2008/2022 (52.4%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon barrel, cask #304738, 198 bottles) Four stars and a half
In theory… Colour: white wine. Nose: pure youngish Caol Ila from a moderately active barrel, rather on oolong tea and mercurochrome at first, then cider apples, oysters, ashes and tangerine fruit-paste, which is another guilty pleasure of mine, just like quince – and by the way, there's some quince too in there. With water: smoked wine gums and barbecued marshmallows. Mouth (neat): it's really fruity, even more on quinces and tangerines than it was on the nose. A rather perfect salty, smoky and citrusy combination when neat, with just a little white pepper in the background. With water: more classic young Caol Ila, totally flawless. A little herbal tea, dog rose, honeysuckle, lime tea… Finish: the quinces and tangerines are back. A touch of banana and guava too, probably from the barrel. Comments: another superb one. Sure, there are trillions of casks of young to middle-aged Caol Ila over there, but it is always a great joy to try any of them. Rarity makes price not quality, as they say.
SGP:656 - 88 points.

Right, let's try a last one, something really good just to celebrate that pretty perfect 800th Caol Ila. Hold on, perhaps a blend?...

Old Rarity (86.8° Proof US, OB, Bulloch, Lade & Co., Munson G. Shaw New York, blended Scotch, 4/5 quart, +/-1955)

Old Rarity (86.8° Proof US, OB, Bulloch, Lade & Co., Munson G. Shaw New York, blended Scotch, 4/5 quart, +/-1955) Five stars
First time I'm trying this version for the US of A. We had tried an older one, bottled for the UK circa 1945/1950, by appointment to King George VI, which had been totally stunning (WF 94). This very one was already bottled 'by appointment to The Queen'. No need to add that Bulloch & Lade's Old Rarity should contain a lot of Caol Ila as the Distillery used to belong to those blenders, before both went to the DCL. Colour: very deep gold, almost amber. Nose: absolutely stunning, with abundant soot and old polishes, the expected camphor, old engines, some very old Chartreuse and Bénédictine, a little patchouli, beeswax, old books and magazines, old attic, spearmint, even mothballs (well, just one), dried flowers… We're close to old White Horse and Mackie's Ancient Scotch/Brand! But many blends used to be smokier, that's probably why quite a few people would still say that Scotch whisky's main trait is 'smoky'. Mouth: the strength is perfect (43.4% vol.) while at first, this baby would shelter more bouillons and broths than, well, any bouillons and broths. It stays on cooked zucchini and cauliflower for a short while, gets then more honeyed and with more dried fruits (figs first, as often), before it would turn peatier, sootier, saltier, more coastal and more medicinal (mildly so). In short, more 'Old Caol Ila'. There's also a little sweeter tar, as in some old 'hygienic' liqueurs and elixirs that used to cure any ailments. Finish: smoother, easier, more on jams and marmalade. Extremely moreish. Brine and smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: absolutely splendid. Whether there was any grain whisky inside remains to be seen, we'd have to try to check Bulloch & Lade's old blenders' books but not sure they have them at Diageo's Archive.
SGP:564 - 93 points.

I know, a blend kind of won this wee session, but it's wasn't just any blend, was it.

(Cheers Geert!)

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


March 13, 2023


Two or three Edradour 2011


Love, love, love (and love) Edradour, Pitlochry's little duck that became quite an eagle within just two decades. Let's have two, or maybe three…

Master and fan at Edradour in 2007. This cask was particularly good! (WF Archive)




Edradour 10 yo 2011/2022 (46%, Signatory Vintage, The Un-chillfiltered Collection, cask #481)

Edradour 10 yo 2011/2022 (46%, Signatory Vintage, The Un-chillfiltered Collection, cask #481) Four stars
Most certainly ex-fresh sherry, according to the colour. One question remains open: is this an independent bottling or is it an official one? Colour: brown amber. Nose: classic earthy and chocolaty sherry. Liquid chocolate, really, plus walnut wine and damp earth, basement floor, sticky toffee pudding and coffee liqueur. These batches are well-known, no wonder. Mouth: rich, easier at 46% than some counterparts at full strength, yet rather peppery at first, with some green peppercorn and touches of bone-dry fino, then the expected chocolaty extravaganza, then walnuts, dried fruits and some pipe tobacco… Finish: a tiny hint of Edradour's trademark leatheriness, plus tobacco and liquorice. Rather clove in the aftertaste. Comments: a very oloroso-y dry Edradour, rather similar to the old official 10 years old from the 1990s, only ten times better (remember the scale is logarithmic). Whisky is magic.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Edradour 10 yo 2011/2022 (60.10%, OB for Navigate World Whisky, second fill Châteauneuf du Pape, cask #396, 268 bottles)

Edradour 10 yo 2011/2022 (60.10%, OB for Navigate World Whisky, second fill Châteauneuf du Pape, cask #396, 268 bottles) Four stars
Careful, this was fully matured in Châteauneuf (think heavy grenache in majority; unless it was white Châteauneuf), but great news, it was refill. The colour will tell us more. Colour: gold (not pink, hurray!) Nose: no heady red fruit and berries, no heavy jams, rather some cassata, Lyons' praline tarte, perhaps touches of bananas flambéed? But it's strong, so… With water: a little hay at first, then indeed, preserved cherries, then cereals, brown ale, chocolate, a little damp oak, milk chocolate… I don't find it winey and that makes me happy. Mouth: feels natural, punchy, tighter than usual, with almonds, stems and stalks but then again, 60%+… With water: it takes water very well, shooting lovely grassy spices, leaves, cigarette tobacco, zests as well, touch of old wood... Finish: long, more on spicy cakes, banana cake, hochicha tea (roasted)… And hurray, still no obvious red berries and fruits! Totally love them, just not in my whisky. Comments: a lovely bottling for South Africa; the popes were right back in the 14th century. No, that would be too long.

SGP:461 - 87 points.

Edradour 10 yo 2011/2021 (60.4%, OB for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, first fill Marsala hogshead, cask #83, 400 bottles)

Edradour 10 yo 2011/2021 (60.4%, OB for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, first fill Marsala hogshead, cask #83, 400 bottles) Three stars and a half
Marsala this time, and first fill at that. But there are several kinds of Marsala, Marsala being Italy's (rather Sicily's), sherry, in a way. Let's see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: a little blocked, but that's the high alcohol I'm sure. Some fudge, wine fudge, quince paste (a sin)… With water: white chocolate and bergamot cream, some unexpected whiffs of eucalyptus and camphor, then old barrel, damp old wood… Mouth (neat): take plums and bananas, let simmer with pepper and much chilli, add gelatine, let cool down. There. Oh and add a lot of ethanol. With water: gets very spicy. Big pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg clove, allspice… Well, spices. Finish: long and extremely spicy. Comments: rather a little mental. It started almost smooth and got then spicier than phaal curry. Quite.
SGP:571 - 84 points.

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


March 12, 2023


  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!

Simply more rum
(sun- glasses needed)

Climbing up the ladder, as we almost always do..

(French magazine ad, circa 1937)



Thoreau (40%, OB, blended spirit, +/-2022)

Thoreau (40%, OB, blended spirit, +/-2022)
Comes with unlikely stories and statements as well as a fluo label that would hurt your eyes. Where have I put my sunglasses? Many people have already tried to blend various spirits and come up with a kind of meta-drink that would have conquered the world. Rums, whiskies, applejacks, wine brandies, even teas, even wines… Naturally, everyone was having a first at their times but I haven't witnessed any success yet (which always translates into 'no batch #2'). This time they've dared mixing 70% rum from Guatemala (holly Suzy!…) with 30% young cognac VSOP (phew!) Let's see whether they have murdered that little cognac or not… It's all good fun anyway and at 40% vol., it cannot be too serious anyway. Colour: gold. Nose: hello? Some buttered popcorn and distant echoes of cane juice. Extremely light. Mouth: I think I'll go read a book. Finish: short and sugary. Empty aftertaste. Comments: not repulsive (it couldn't be) but I believe this is the lightest and emptiest spirit since Glenkinchie's Jackson's Row. Having said that, I rather think this was some kind of prank by students. Good one, fellows, you made my day.

SGP:710 - 50 points.
I'll try this one again, could be that something wasn't right

Bologne 'Gold' (40%, OB, Guadeloupe, rhum ambré, +/-2022)

Bologne 'Gold' (40%, OB, Guadeloupe, rhum ambré, +/-2022)
This is agricole, aged for only a few years. Perhaps two? I'm not well-acquainted with Bologne, I believe the name remains a little obscure. Colour: gold. Nose: not an extravagant spirit either, but there is a delicate cane and some pleasant whiffs of hay in the midst of some hot summer. Dried flowers, perhaps a pinhead of varnish and paint… It's whispering rhum… Mouth: a little honey, pancake sauce, triple-sec, then some lime and lemon that lift it, but it remains very light and quasi-unnoticeable. Finish: short, rather on sweet apples and with a drop of icewine (which became a Canadian thing lately). Comments: it's really light. I doubt it's meant for sipping while discussing Heidegger and Nietzsche.

SGP:530 - 65 points.

Saint James 'VSOP' (43%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2022)

Saint James 'VSOP' (43%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
We've tried many Saint James, including some extraordinarily old ones, but never this little VSOP. It's good that they would bottle at 43%. vol., as the last percent always make all the difference says the wise man. Colour: amber (probably coloured). Nose: reeks of caramelly agricoleness, with some flowers (hibiscus and ylang-ylang, also simpler dandelions) and some liquorice, ripe bananas, butterscotch, some soft wood… It's very commercial, in the best sense of that word. Mouth: rum's Dalmore, if I may. Oranges, caramel, liquorice, triple-sec, chocolate, toasted oak, roasted peanuts… In short, no quibbles and no complains. Finish: medium, a tad more on the oaky side but also with some good meatiness. Beef jerky. Toffee and chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: smartly made. Classic easy, but certainly not dull agricole. Good presence, rather in the style of their excellent 12 yo.

SGP:462 – 83 points.

Martinique Rhum 4 yo (58%, FRC, small batch, 2022)

Martinique Rhum 4 yo (58%, FRC, small batch, 2022) Four stars
I don't think it says it is agricole, maybe is it traditionnel? This baby was fully matured in the tropics, in French oak. Colour: dark amber. Nose: young rums and rhums need to breathe a lot, especially when bottled at nearly 60% vol. Some chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate toffee, walnut stain, dark caramel… I think water is needed. With water: some metal polish, that old kettle (no, no names), plus chocolate just all over the place. Visiting a chocolate factory, then a working cooperage. Mouth (neat): it's heavy and hot. Toffee and pepper. With water: you have to be careful; it is not the best swimmer ever. Keep it at 50%+ and you'll enjoy this chocolaty sugarcane and the massive loads of muscovado. And the toffees. Finish: long, with once again this intriguing little metallic touch. Comments: some very chocolaty extravaganza made in Martinique. I'm wondering if you couldn't blend it with fresh cream and make some superb alexandra-like cocktail with this young boy.

SGP:451 - 85 points.

Off to Guyana…

Uitvlugt 24 yo 1997/2022 (46.6%, Dràm Mor, Guyana, cask #14, 141 bottles)

Uitvlugt 24 yo 1997/2022 (46.6%, Dràm Mor, Guyana, cask #14, 141 bottles) Four stars and a half
An unusually light strength here, I think we caught a break. Colour: gold. Nose: iron shavings, shoe polish, spent engine oil, olive oil, gherkin juice and just a little vanilla, this feels like home indeed. Forgot to mention rotting bananas (naturally). Mouth: this salty make always wins. More olives, capers, fried bacon, anchovies (anchoïade) and this glue-y side, varnishes, then peppered lemon juice. Finish: long, mentholy, with more liquorice as well. Some eucalyptus, inhalation oils and pastis. Comments: probably from the Port Mourant double wooden pot still, which was to be moved from Uitvlugt to Diamond distillery later on, in the year 2000. Excellent.
SGP:453 - 88 points.

To Jamaica...

Great House Distillery 13 yo 2007/2021 (66.1%, The Duchess, Jamaica, cask #18)

Great House Distillery 13 yo 2007/2021 (66.1%, The Duchess, Jamaica, cask #18) Five stars
The name Great House, a little bird told me, suggests this would be Hmpdn. In no way could this be bad news, Hmpdn clearly being the Rrdbg of rum. Colour: light gold. Nose: high marque, super-long fermentation, carbon paper, brake-pad dust, varnish and vinegar, glue, new Chinese plastics and just green and black olives. With water: rotting things and more new plastics, varnishes, olives and pickled wakame. Mouth (neat): massive. Lemons carbon tar gherkins cucumbers and olives. With water: these whacky rotting fruits. Like rotten oranges, fermenting plums and all that. And more nasty oily plastics yet. Finish: very long, gherkins-dominated, almost a little sadistic. Concentrated lime juice and rotten bananas in the aftertaste. Comments: not needed, we'll all get a break.

SGP:463 - 91 points.

Why not some very old Long Pond?

Long Pond 38 yo 1983/2022 (52.5%, Distilia, The Golden Age of Piracy, Charles Vane, Jamaica, cask #8, 108 bottles)

Long Pond 38 yo 1983/2022 (52.5%, Distilia, The Golden Age of Piracy, Charles Vane, Jamaica, cask #8, 108 bottles) Four stars and a half
Some Long Pond that would be almost 40 years old? How's that even possible? Thanks to continental ageing I would suppose. As for that Charles Vane fellow, he was a British pirate busy with attacking French ships (bad) and British ships just as well (better – hey I'm joking!) Colour: full gold. Nose: the freshness is incredible. You do still smell the cane fields, the fresh molasses, this aniseed and this fennel, and even these brand new vinyl records, why not Bob Marley's as he had only left this world two years earlier, in 1981. No ganja, though. With water: superb, with some diesel oil, machine grease, plus a little parsley and lovage. Some very vegetal tarriness. Mouth (neat): flabbergasting, even 'a tiny bit too strong' after 38 years. No signs of over-ageing whatsoever, having said that it's rather low-ester Long Pond, certainly no TEC-*. Some wonderful pineapples, as syrups, liqueur and just jams. With water: it may have started to lose a little knack, after all, which can't be too surprising. More sweet grasses and citrus, less phenolic tars. Finish: medium, perhaps even a tad short. I believe this fab old rum is about to say goodbye now, after 38 years. Comments: a bit bell-shaped, which is very normal after all. There's certainly an emotional contribution to the global assessment here, but after all, let's remember the Long Pond 1941/1999 by Gordon & MacPhail that was still easily fetching 92 points after 58 years in wood.

SGP:652 - 89 points.

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


March 10, 2023


Little Duos, today Glen Moray

A little OB and a little IB, without any hullabaloo, dance, song or fanfare. That's the kind of wee session we like to do…

At Depaz in Martinique (photograph zananas-martinique)



Glen Moray 'Rum Cask Finish' (40%, OB, +/-2022)

Glen Moray 'Rum Cask Finish' (40%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars
A finishing done in casks of rhum Depaz, a well-know agricole from Martinique that happens to belong to the same owners as Glen Moray's, namely the large French spirit group La Martiniquaise. Colour: white wine. Nose: you do feel both. Glen Moray is a fine, but not very powerful malt whereas Depaz is pretty expressive, which would explain why you do indeed feel both spirits, as if they had been blended together in a, well, a blender. Having said that, the malt is soon to have the upper hand, with some bread, porridge and beer. So not exactly a tuxedo julep (some cocktail that I have never actually tried, to be honest). Mouth: I find this pretty good, but I do prefer both Glen Moray and Depaz al natural. There's some leafiness, a little burnt caramel, some roasted peanuts, some black nougat, a little muscovado and a touch of chicory coffee. The 40% vol. don't help, I have to say. Finish: a little short but pleasantly roasted and nutty. More black nougat, more roasted nuts, some chocolate. Comments: it been pitching and it's been swaying at times, but in the end I think it's a very fine dram. Malt whisky from Martinique – or rhum from Speyside.
SGP:541 - 81 points.

Glen Moray 14 yo 2007/2022 (52.4%, Dramcatcher, bourbon barrel, cask #6211)

Glen Moray 14 yo 2007/2022 (52.4%, Dramcatcher, bourbon barrel, cask #6211) Four stars
To be able to catch some drams has been a dream of ours for decades, has it not. Let's check this new baby from our friends in Switzerland… Colour: straw. Nose: much, much deeper into anything malty and chalky, with some paraffin and lamp oil, cider apples, green pears, porridge… It is very typically Glen Moray as nature intended (if you will). With water: bonbons coming out, bubblegum, marshmallows… Also more chalk yet, after a short while. Mouth (neat): massive notes of fruit peel, grass, more paraffin and porridge, more chalk as well, drops of grapefruit juice… With water: very good. IPA, fruit drops, green tea… Finish: medium, on similar tones of fruity beers and artisanal cider. Comments: pure malt whisky. Lovely green fruits, breads etc. Classic.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

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


March 9, 2023


Little Duos, two finished Tormore 12 years old

With a friendly nod to the new owners who seem to be very busy at Tormore.

In Sauternes (photograph Sauternes-Barsac)



Tormore 12 yo 2011/2023 (55.1%, Lady of the Glen, Sauternes barriques finish, 214 bottles)

Tormore 12 yo 2011/2023 (55.1%, Lady of the Glen, Sauternes barriques finish, 214 bottles) Four stars
This brand new baby was finished for over six months in Sauternes. It's true that sweet wines don't sell too well these days, and that climate change makes them difficult to produce anyway (unbalanced, not enough acidity etc.) So here's a new market, perhaps, building bespoke casks for the whisky industry. Colour: straw. Nose: the sweet wine really feels, but we've already seen that Sauternes works well. Having said that, Tormore being a fruity malt, this would rather be double-fruity (quite), with some very particular notes of lemongrass and spearmint in the background. Other than that, it is apricot tarte galore. With water: touches of copper, metal polish, patchouli, dried rose petals, then plain oranges… Mouth (neat): double—fruity indeed. Tons of raisins and figs, then earl grey and a little green pepper. Not sure this is French oak, though, unless it was a proper château barrique. Not too sure. With water: yeah Sauternes + Tormore almost feels a little pleonasmic, on the other hand the combo just couldn't clash. Very good raisin cake, fresh panettone (I know this is not the season) and more apricots. Could be the sémillon. Finish: medium and really honeyed this time. Comments: almost apricotine aged in wood. I find this very good, given that it's not really a finishing, rather prolonged maturation (some personal comments, right).
SGP:641 – 86 points.

Tormore 12 yo 2010/2022 (59.3%, Watt Whisky, rested in ex-rye cask)

Tormore 12 yo 2010/2022 (59.3%, Watt Whisky, rested in ex-rye cask) Four stars
14 months in ex-rye wood, but no tar and no feathers. Well, let's see… Oh but was it American rye? Canadian? (yeah I know they could be the same) or English? German?... The whole world is distilling rye these days. Colour: pale gold. Nose: they are really mastering the concept of in-cask blending (my own words, please don't propagate). Once again, Tormore works extremely well in this unusual context and what I rather get when it's not reduced is a feeling of rooibos tea with some vanilla. Also buttered fudged and caramelised popcorn. No dissonances whatsoever this far. With water: doughs, speculoos, leaven, crème brûlée, pickled ginger, rice pudding… Good fun. Mouth (neat): wonderful. It's true that I'm a sucker for good rye. Spicy vanilla and jams, touch of lavender and salty liquorice, black pepper… With water: better yet. Some kind of ginger + pineapple + vanilla + malt cocktail. Finish: medium, on very much the same combination. Only the aftertaste would be spicier, with zests and cinnamon. Comments: very well done. I'm not fond of the concept but I rather love the result. So, who am I?...
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Looks like young Tormore is a great base for creative finishings. We're not talking PX and basta, right. So let's celebrate with a wee bonus from the boxes…

Tormore 25 yo 1984/2009 (58%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 216 bottles)

Tormore 25 yo 1984/2009 (58%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 216 bottles) Three stars and a half
Why I had kept this one for so long, I couldn't tell you, it's not exactly one of those utter references that we like to preserve for future encounters. Colour: light gold. Nose: typical fruity Tormore, rather on plums and ripe apples, with some lovely honeys, beeswax and even pollen. That always works in my book. Mead and old Sauternes indeed (explains why I thought the Lady of the Glen was pleonasmic). With water: I'm not sure water does it much good, it is becoming a tad muddy and strangely earthy. Cancel water! Mouth (neat): liqueury and more citrusy, tighter on the palate, with bitter touches (zests, pepper) and some cane juice. With water: this time water makes it sweet and a little syrupy. Barley syrup, honey drops… Finish: medium, with some pepper and spicy bread. A little mead, drying grape pips and cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: some high ups and a few downs.

SGP:551 - 84 points.

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


March 8, 2023


Two Solid Springbank Sextets,
second set


Command post at Spirngbank Distillery, circa 2005
Not quite the International Space Station. (WF Archive)


Let's stay in the ethers, with the eagles. Say with the white-tailed sea eagles and the bald ones (which are not exactly the same, apparently).



Springbank 14 yo 2002/2017 (58.4%, OB, Duty Paid Sample, Warehouse 3, fresh sherry hogshead, rotation 873, 2002)

Springbank 14 yo 2002/2017 (58.4%, OB, Duty Paid Sample, Warehouse 3, fresh sherry hogshead, rotation 873, 2002) Four stars
Remember each bottle is different (picture for illustration purpose only) in this series, as they're all drown from individual casks. Which also means that this note is even more anecdotal than usual. Colour: brown amber. Nose: indeed, these batches. Chocolate and struck matches, lamp oil, coal tar, a little sour wood, bags of black currants, coffee liqueur, marrow, varnish, game, concrete dust… This is certainly not one of the clean ones. With water: English mint sauce, mutton, parsley, various bouillons, several raisins. Mouth (neat): a salty and peppery broth, very potent, pretty sour at first but coffee and chocolate (and gunpowder) would soon add some Springbank fatness. Not my preferred style but still one of the very good ones for sure. With water: it takes water well but really starts to resemble some middle-aged ex-1st-fill sherry Ben Nevis. Lemons keep it afloat. Finish: long and, this time, a little odd. Fanta and Schweppes Lemon, Campari and Kahlua, no less. Comments: it's always a fight in you glass when you stumble upon 1st fill sherry Springbank (or indeed, Ben Nevis, Clynelish, HP, Benromach and others…) Now some action is always welcome.
SGP:572 - 85 points.

Springbank 27 yo 1994/2022 (47%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 251 bottles)

Springbank 27 yo 1994/2022 (47%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 251 bottles) Five stars
Looks like the Sponge wanted to tell us that it's really what's inside the bottle that counts. Colour: chardonnay. Nose: chardonnay. I am not joking! Some nice blanc de blancs from the Côte des Blancs, plus some gooseberries, granny smith, some fresh butter, apple juice, candle wax, a cup of celeriac juice, one of carrot juice, just a little custard, and the signature white asparagus that sometimes – not often – appear in civilised Springbanks. Let's put this straight, this could have been Clynelish just as well. Mouth: it was not quite a nosing whisky, the palate's having it. Fantastic roots and waxes, tart green fruit (the same apples, greengages, kiwis) and this extraordinary chalkiness that would remind us of some great… terroiry chardonnays indeed. Limestone, do you hear me? I've had a little Auxey-Duresses the other day… that's all I'm saying! In any case, Sponge or not Sponge, this palate is perfect. Finish: rather long, very elegant, with a few medicinal touches and even a little fennel and aniseed. Comments: I adore this one on the palate. I'm glad I could order twelve palettes before the word was even out. I wish.

SGP:462 - 92 points.

Springbank 26 yo 1995/2022 (51.1%, WhiskySponge, refill American oak hogshead, 249 bottles)

Springbank 26 yo 1995/2022 (51.1%, WhiskySponge, refill American oak hogshead, 249 bottles) Four stars and a half
So plain vs. sherry as I understand it. Colour: straw. Nose: not automatically greater, just because it's ex-US oak. I would say it's even a tad less elegant, more 'sweet and bonbony', with more jelly babies and mango sweets. I would suppose water will unleash the cavalry… With water: what a gentle Springbank! Isn't it rather Hazelburn? Now the white asparagus is there, blancmange, vanilla cake, fresh white bananas, wet plaster... Mouth (neat): indeed it is a notch fatter than the 'sherry', but that could be the higher strength. Some flinty limoncello. With water: nah you can't really resist this zesty, clean, simple, leafy side of Springbank, even if his one will remind us that after all, Campbeltown is not that far from the Lowlands. Green apples. Finish: medium, very fresh, on orchard fruits. Lovely little saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm sure many friends will have preferred this one over the 'sherry'. Could be that the latter was more for wine freaks but anyway, both are great bottles.

SGP:541 - 89 points.

Drum roll please, here's that intermediary bonus I had promised yesterday…

Kintyre 1891-1920 12 yo (40%, Eaglesome ltd., Campbeltown Commemoration, miniature, +/-1990)

Kintyre 1891-1920 12 yo (40%, Eaglesome ltd., Campbeltown Commemoration, miniature, +/-1990) Five stars
Just found this one in the stash. Level was unusually high, while these are usually flat dead these days. Even if it is labelled as a 'vatted malt whisky', rumour has it that it was pure Springbank. You would have found all old Campbeltowners within this commemorative series, such as Dalintober, Dalaruan, the original Burnside, Lochruan, Riechlachan, and Kintyre Distillery indeed, but sadly, it appears that they only ever did miniatures. Colour: golden amber. Nose: yes, pure beehivey Springbank, full of honeys and overripe fruits, apples, figs, dates… Then biscuits and rice pudding (full of gorgeous caramel). Funny touches of sweet mustard. Mouth: fantastic, extremely bright, even a little brutal at first. I cannot believe that this was bottled at 40% vol. Fat caramel, cane sugar, some sooty oils, tobacco, many dried fruits, some game (grouse, naturally) and salty caramel; millionaire shortbread, tarry butterscotch… It sure reminds me of some old official 12s, but rather those at 100 proof or 57% vol., which is amazing. Finish: astonishingly long. Comments: I do confirm, it is (well, was) a miniature, without the slightest metallic or cardboardy tones. What's sure, having said that, is that it never, ever saw the light; because remember, light is the true enemy.

SGP:562 - 90 points.

Good, we've had some fantastic 1966 Local Barley yesterday, today let's try some 1965s and then perhaps an even older one…

Springbank 25 yo 1965 (46%, Duthie for Samaroli, Flowers, 75cl, 480 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo 1965/1990 (46%, Duthie for Samaroli, Flowers, 480 bottles, 75cl) Five stars
There used to be another pretty fantastic 1965 at Samaroli's, a 23 yo in the "Ageing Monography" series. But this should be something else yet… Colour: deep gold. Nose: to me these 1965s are rather more floral than the 1966s but this wee observation has been drawn from only a dozen expressions, so it hasn't got any scientific value (naturally). There's certainly a marvellous sherry behind this one, with the obligatory walnuts, a rather obvious mentholy side,  some sesame oil, some nougats of several kinds, touches of genever and some orange marmalade. The oak really behaved and would have rather mingled with some cedarwood, cigar boxes etc… Mouth: immediately candied and jammy, but with much elegance and finesse (a lot of French words in English tasting vocabulary – in mine at least, ha). Notes of kumquats, orange zests dipped into chocolate, heather honey, earl grey, beeswax, walnut cake covered with marc icing… I'm even finding touches of old rhum agricole, but don't great old spirits tend to converge indeed? Experienced blind tasters, please report back!  Finish: pretty long, with an incomparable freshness and more candied fruits, and with echoes of Jamon Iberico in the distance. Comments: no doubt, the level is extremely high but let's remember Silvano Samaroli was a Springbank aficionado. You can feel that in his bottlings that have almost all been as wonderful as each other.
SGP:651 – 94 points.

Springbank 31 yo 1965/1996 (44.7%, The Bottlers, cask #2628)

Springbank 31 yo 1965/1996 (44.7%, The Bottlers, cask #2628) Five stars
New whisky folks might want to learn that The Bottlers was the indie-bottler branch of Raeburn Fine Wines in Edinburgh, a little house that used to fill cognac bottles with the greatest malt whiskies, which used to more or less reign supreme on our lists (when we still had time to build and update lists, so in the 2000s). I could never quite understand why they stopped doing those bottlings, maybe because they couldn't find any casks that were up to their standards anymore? Come on! Colour: gold. Nose: how elegant! Somewhat austere in the beginning, with ripe apples, quinces, the fruit of the service tree – we call it cormier, fab when overripe; whiffs of balsawood, cedarwood, a little orgeat syrup, then ferns and mosses, old stumps, mushrooms… A true old Springbanks from the woods, austere, almost an hermit trying to escape the thirsty masses (that's us). Mouth: amazing but once again it wouldn't engage at first, you really have to show your credentials. At the very most we would mention oranges, a few plums, a few drops of mead, a small glass of old Sauternes that would have digested all its sugars, plus a few sultanas to add some smoothness. Perhaps some honey drops? Finish: a few oaky tones and some dryer herbal teas make it lose one point, but The Bottlers, this is not vengeance! Still, we want more whiskies of yours… Comments: to be honest, all these Springbanks distilled in the 1960s are part of the very best whiskies in the world and I sometimes feel it is inappropriate, impolite and vulgar to try to decide between them. But while we are at it…
SGP:551 – 93 points.

A last old glory, while hoping that the Distillery will manage to release such utter wonders again. Even if I know trying to carbon-copy your glorious past is pretty tricky to do (same at Bowmore, Macallan and others).

Springbank 29 yo 1962/1992 (46%, OB, sherry)

Springbank 29 yo 1962/1992 (46%, OB, sherry) Five stars
Aficionados would tend to nickname this series 'white label big golden S', which, we agree, is not extremely creative. 1962 is not a very common vintage, but Samaroli had a stunning Ord, for example. Cadenhead too had some very good ones in their legendary 'black dumpy' bottles (more creativity yet). As for Springbank, there were official 30 and 32 yo, but I believe this 29 is particularly rare. Colour: mahogany. Nose: a dazzling depth and a profile that's totally metanoiacal, transcending any notions of origin, category, original ingredients and even age. Nutshell, this could be some very old rum, armagnac, cognac, or even a calvados, but that just doesn't matter, all those notions being rather pedestrian (I'm jesting). Or there, it could be some very old palo cortado from the 19th century, why not! Granted, it's a little massive, even slightly rustic if I may, but we love it. Cigars, prunes, oyster sauce, pipe tobacco, molasses..; Well, you see. Mouth: very rich, oily, just as massive, but with a marvelous roundness, as if it were a very old Spanish or French rancio (Grand Roussillon, Rivesaltes, Rasteau, Banyuls, Maury…) We're also close to the style of some old Macallan indeed, possibly to the 1962 Campbell Hope & King. Not the 25 1962 Anniversary, that one was lighter. Anyway, enough nostalgia, we have more and more prunes, coffee liqueur, tar liqueur, tobacco, hoisin sauce… Finish: very long, drier but more syrupy at the same time. The impression of having some bit of pipe tobacco in your mouth. Comments: an old whisky that humbles the taster and will almost decide for itself on the score. In short, the taster only serves as a foil for the whisky here.
SGP:661 – 95 points.

(Thank you Tim, Ryan and the Whisky Mag & Fine Spirit and Golden Promise super-crews)

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


March 7, 2023


Two Solid Springbank Sextets,
first set (for Wayne Shorter)


Springbank 'in its own juice', circa 2005 (WF Archive)
We say the older pots make the best soups.


Some recent ones and some older bottlings. Will include at least three 21 years old, we promise.


Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (55.9%, OB, batch #23, 2021)

Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (55.9%, OB, batch #23, 2021) Five stars
The great news here is that this is 100% ex-bourbon. Granted, many ex-sherry Springers have been utterly splendid, but some have been a little more, say uncertain (s*****r). Let's see… Colour: straw/white wine. Nose: this is what a few fine folks dislike in Springbank, whilst we do love it, soot and metal polish. A lot of moss too, paraffin, old tools and greases, perhaps a few wood shavings from a carpenter's, stale seawater, certainly a little soap and lady's hand cream, some mustard and horseradish, wasabi, petroly riesling… No complains whatsoever this far. With water: paraffin and turpentine up, with clearly some saponification that will last for at least one minute. No problems, this is fun. Mouth (neat): exceptional salt and concentrated lime juice, a few drops of aguardiente to make a wee mojito, some amaro (Montenegro and such), some greasy and sooty matters, some pepper, radish… With water: gets rootier, I'm getting quite some gentian and more bitter drinks, Underberg-style. More salt too. Finish: very long, with this wee austerity that we always love in young natural Springbank. Lemon, perhaps a shot of salty dog? Comments: in the same class as the dazzling – and yet cheaper - 10 yo. This session starts well.

SGP:562 - 90 points.

More bourbon glory please…

Springbank 21 yo 2000/2021 (45.2%, North Star Spirits, refill barrel, 238 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo 2000/2021 (45.2%, North Star Spirits, refill barrel, 238 bottles) Five stars
North Star have had quite few fab whiskies from the Springbank galaxy recently, but we had never tried this one. Colour: straw. Nose: we're tasting time here, 100%. In truth this is exactly the official 12 + 9 years, really, which I find spectacular as this goes to prove that indeed, you can taste the years. No no no, this is not just cheap drunk philosophy! Amazing beeswax, a few exotic fruits, the same Italian bitters (amaro) but with more bitter vegetables and roots inside (angelica, artichoke), while the whole would be softer and even easier than the 12, thanks to more vanilla and even mangos. Fantastic drop on the nose. Mouth: cancel that gibberish, this is as tight and even biting as Springbank can get, with profusions of grapefruits, artichoke, pepper, salty waxes and oils, bitterer marmalade, manzanilla (yep I noticed this was bourbon)… While I cannot get that Italian amaro (tautology alert I would suppose) out of my head; you know, Montenegro. So good! Finish: long, superbly bitter, sooty and waxy, with the grapefruits and artichokes lying in wait . Oysters, lemon, salt and pepper in the aftertaste, classic. Comments: just tremendous. Let it breathe a wee bit.

SGP:562 - 92 points.

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, 'Headley G Wright', for Taiwan, +/-1992)

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, 'Headley G Wright', for Taiwan, +/-1992) Five stars
I believe this one came after the 'John Mitchell' and 'Archibald Mitchell' versions of the 'parchment label' 21. Colour: light amber. Nose: absolutely, older, softer Springbank, more on beeswax, honey and just metal polish at first, then many fruit wines and dried fruits, especially figs. Some strong heather honey too, those old coins we keep mentioning (pennies), then some liquorice and a little bouillon. Typical old Springbank, they keep evolving in your glass for ages. Quite some paraffin too, even a little shoe polish. Su-perb. Mouth: it's closer to the newer ones on the palate, with more soot, mustard, brine, marmalade, bitter vegetables, roots, etcetera. Dryer than expected, in that sense, although tropical fruits do slowly wake up too, together with a little apricot and peach skin. Mentholated mangos and raisins, does that exist in real life? Some muscovado too, Demerara sugar, eucalyptus and oranges, camphor… Finish: medium, very waxy, with rather a lot of mead and old sweet wines that got dry. Indeed, Sauternes and compadres. Comments: another magnificent, transitional Springbank. What I mean is that I have the impression that it's sitting well between the luscious 1960s and the tighter 1990s.

SGP:651 - 92 points.

Springbank 21 yo 1966/1987 (46%, Samaroli, 408 bottles, 75cl)

Springbank 21 yo 1966/1987 (46%, Samaroli, 408 bottles, 75cl) Five stars
Perhaps not the most well-known Springbank by Samaroli but naturally, collectors know it well. Remember 1966 was a seminal vintage at Springbank… and elsewhere. Colour: gold. Nose: no-quibble, immediately sublime, with some distant tar smoke and burnt tyres from times gone by, then lady's day cream, suntan lotion and old furniture polish, old library, old books… Some very discreet oakiness, with hints of sandalwood and coconut shell.  Mouth: pretty powerful for 46% vol., first fruity and even a tad 'sweet' (quince paste), then a little oakier again, with some strong black tea, bitter chocolate and cinnamon cake. Touches of old banana skin, not unseen in whiskies that are a td oaky. Finish: rather long, with a grassy tannicity (herbal tea, chamomile) and yet a perfect balance. Some green bananas and an earthy side in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps not the most obvious of all 1966s, despite its irresistible nose, possibly because of some wood that's been a little loud. Having said that, we remain extremely close to the top in my book.

SGP:551 – 92 points.

Why not stay in 1966 and summon two of the Yardbirds?

Springbank 31 yo 1966/1997 'Local Barley' (53%, OB, Bourbon, cask#486)

Springbank 31 yo 1966/1997 'Local Barley' (53%, OB, Bourbon, cask#486) Five stars
One of my greatest regrets in my whisky life has always been not to have been able to taste all these. Yet! Colour: gold. Nose: the higher wattage is having an immediate impact, while we're starting this fully on quince paste, mirabelle jam and bergamottes sweets from Lefèvre-Lemoine's in Nancy (I believe it's time to restore those to favour). Then we find a little salted butter caramel, some pretty tannic honey (chestnut and compadres) and a few touches of old wood, old book… With water: some paraffin, some church candles, some pine wax… Mouth (neat): the oak is very present on the palate, as well as notes of old bourbon of high quality (Old Fitzgerald), some custard, dates filled with marzipan, abundant candied fruits, a few burnt walnuts… With water: herb tea, infusions, green tea, all that a tiny bit oversteeped; that's the oak that keeps expressing itself in a beautiful manner. A camphory side and some crème de menthe. Finish: long and constantly improving, which is not very common, in my opinion. Superb return of all candied fruits, cherries, orange zests, and even angelica. The signature is even more on menthol. Comments: these Local Barleys have always been softer and more docile than their offspring which is rather more rustic (shall we say). But it's true that they were also much older. Everything was as expected and quite logically, our humble score will be appropriately high.
SGP:651 - 93 points.

Last one…

Springbank 31 yo 30 yo 1966/1996 'Local Barley' (51.2%, OB, Bourbon, cask#474)

Springbank 30 yo 1966/1996 'Local Barley' (51.2%, OB, Bourbon, cask#474) Five stars
It is to be remembered that these Local Barleys, as their name suggests, have all been distilled from barley grown on Sir Paul's Mull of Kintyre's. On that subject, there will be a wee surprise here tomorrow (not related to Sir Paul, related to Kintyre!) Colour: gold. Nose: I believe all the ex-bourbon LBs are a notch simpler than their sherried counterparts, but on the other hand and in return, they would have displayed a magnificent fruitiness, often focused on mirabelles, quinces, sweet little citrus and jujubes, with sometimes, as is the case here, a few camphory and mentholy notes that would add even more depth. A little cough syrup, eucalyptus… With water (just one drop): salted butter caramel, that insane Breton cake called kouign aman (50% butter), hints of honeysuckle, acacia flower fritters…  Mouth: magnificent, impressively pure, without a single sign of any somewhat superfluous oak this time, only a little mint and liquorice in the background. Medlars, overripe apples, candied fruits, panettone, orange blossom, oriental pastry… With water: some crystallised citrus, ala old Clynelish. Can't beat this. Finish: rather long, combining mint with eucalyptus and all those crystalised fruits. Nothing you could do against this, should you ever want to. Comments: totally superlative, wonderfully balanced, in line with the greatest old Springbanks. Only a few ex-sherry can be even superior, but certainly not all of them (in my own opinion, as always).
SGP:651 – 94 points.

So tomorrow another sextet of Springbank of the same ilk, plus that little surprise I have promised.

(Thank you Tim, Ryan and the Whisky Mag & Fine Spirit and Golden Promise super-crews)

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


March 6, 2023


Whisky shtuff

Eleven magical brews, uncertain mixes and secret juices, as they come out of the boxes, shelves and parcels…




Zaubertrank (46%, Signatory Vintage and The Whisky Druid, blended malt scotch, 2022)

Zaubertrank (46%, Signatory Vintage and The Whisky Druid, blended malt scotch, 2022) Four stars
Zaubertrank means 'Magic Potion' in high-German (and in any kind of German). Colour: gold. Nose: Doritos Sweet Chilli Pepper, smoke-and-chilli beef jerky and lapsang souchong at first, then rather fumes (say an old Harley, preferably a shovelhead) and a large variety of apples. Never stops getting gentler and better polished then. Mouth: I find it a little bizarre that this would be totally Scottish, I'm rather reminded of some smoked efforts from Mittelleuropa, but never mind, it's cool. Unless they finished it all in mezcal? Many more bits of smoked and chilli-flavoured beef jerky and biltong, some dried pineapples, tarry liquids, salted liquorice, lime juice, pipe tobacco… Finish: long and tarry. It's 'as if we've just swallowed an ashtray', as we used to say when chain-smoking was not frowned upon yet. Dear Helmut Schmidt! Comments: pretty unlikely but the fun is immense.

SGP:566 - 85 points.

Islay Mist 10 yo (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2022)

Islay Mist 10 yo (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2022) Four stars
Crikey, they should really change the name, it's even worse than that famous yet fictional blend of Talisker with Oban. For long, Islay Mist has been some kind of lighter Laphroaig, but I think things have changed, let's see… Colour: light gold. Nose: very nice, not grainy, without any heady vanillin or coconut, it's rather subtly smoky and coastal, albeit not really medicinal. Touches of bacon, whelks, clams, fresh almonds, a little grapefruit, some of that age-old lapsang souchong tea, some hay smoke (wonderful in new cuisine)… What a lovely nose! Mouth: quite possibly the best current young blend out there. Touches of bananas and mangos, coastal smoke, mercurochrome, ashes, more smoked tea yet, some brine… Finish: surprisingly long, but that's the power of the peat. Comments: just checked that I had tried many Islay Mist but never a 10. Great surprise, but there's 'probably' 50% Laphroaig inside.
SGP:555 - 85 points.

While we're having Distillers' blends…

Naked Malt (40, OB, blended scotch malt, 'extra-matured in naked first fill sherry casks', 2022)

Naked Malt (40, OB, blended scotch malt, 'extra-matured in naked first fill sherry casks', 2022) Three stars and a half
This label-less new one by Edrington is said to be a blend of Highland Park with Macallan. Sounds good, but what is a 'naked first fill sherry cask'? Can it be naked if it's not new/plain/virgin oak anyway? But granted, there is no official denomination anyway. Colour: gold. Nose: we've already noticed a few times that HP and Macallan did tango well. First and foremost, this is almost pure fig cake (naked fig cake, ha), with some baklava, sultanas and just a dollop of honey plus one of orange blossom water. Very, very lovely nose (for less than 30€ mind you). Mouth: more dried figs, fig cake, fig wine, fruitcake (full of figs), then cherry liqueur made in Burgundy (guignolet) and some Demerara sugar. Notes of brown beer too. Finish: medium, a tad molassy, with some oaktree honeydew and a slightly cardoardy aftertaste, which is very often the case at just 40% vol. Comments: this is where I should rant because of the low strength, and claim that they should have bottled it at 46% vol. Very, very fine.

SGP:641 - 83 points.

Black Bottle 'Andean Oak' (46.3%, OB, blend, alchemy series, 2022)

Black Bottle 'Andean Oak' (46.3%, OB, blend, alchemy series, 2022) Two stars and a half
This is just a finishing in that new 'Andean oak', which Mount Gay in Barbados also use. Apparently, it's no particular species, it's just white oak that's grown in the Andes, so rather at higher altitudes, which should have made the grain tighter. I suppose this baby's not quite carbon-neutral then. Colour: light gold. Nose: pretty soft and shy, with some brioche, crushed bananas, overripe apples and then tiny whiffs of peat smoke. Those would come together with some tarte tatin and quince crumble cake which, even if they don't sing El Condor Pasa (S., come on) are adding some singularity, if not anything Andean. Mouth: it's having some trouble after the rather unctuous Naked Malt. This one is much spicier, peppery, with a curious cinnamon + smoke combination that makes it a little bitter. Some green walnuts do that too. Some bitter zests. Finish: medium, a tad new-oaky, spicy. Some marmalade. Comments: pretty modern, you get the oak flavouring, which never a hit at Château Whiskyfun. Some other aspects are pretty pleasant.

SGP:562 - 78 points.

SRV5 8 yo (48.5%, Thompson Bros., blended malt, 2022)

SRV5 8 yo (48.5%, Thompson Bros., blended malt, 2022) Four stars and a half
This stems from a continuous, perpetual 'living' vat, which some lovely Scottish friends would call 'a solera' (lol). £29 ex VAT, by the way, that's a steal. Colour: straw. Nose: fresh and fruity, not void of any Clynelishness if you ask me. Custard, mirabelles, melons, olives, Campari, paraffin, peat smoke and tinned gherkins. There. Mouth: very punchy, I would have said 55%, not 48.5. Good fresh fruits, apples, gooseberries, grapefruits, touch of shoe polish, olives again, garden smoke (grass, hay) and more paraffin. This could have been a single malt just as well. Finish: long, a little sweeter, even a wee tad sugary or liqueury, but indeed that would be limoncello. Aftertaste: a bunch of practical jokers may have thrown a bottle of mezcal and one of Jamaican rum into the vat, far into the night, while everyone was sleeping. Comments: totally love it, but what does a chunk of colonne créole do on the label?

SGP:563 - 88 points.

Highland Journey (46%, Hunter Laing, blended malt, +/-2022)

Highland Journey (46%, Hunter Laing, blended malt, +/-2022) Three stars
How do you define the style of the Highlands? Is it Ben Nevis or is it Glengoyne? Or Blair Athol? Or Pulteney? A little bit of everything? Colour: white wine. Nose: apple juice, greengages, sweet bread, more apple juice, cider, oats, grass… Mouth: firmer, good, grassy, young. More cider, pear cider, then branches and a little sawdust and cinnamon. Rather closer to Blair Athol on average, I would say. The 46% vol. always work a treat. Finish: medium, a little gritty, with a green tannicity. Comments: not Brora 1972 but it beats Simon & Garfunkel hands down. I mean, that Andean Black Bottle.

SGP:461 - 80 points.

Hebridean Journey (46%, Hunter Laing, blended malt, +/-2022)

Hebridean Journey (46%, Hunter Laing, blended malt, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: it is not a heavy peater, on the contrary I find it rather saline, coastal and on white and yellow fruits, somewhat ala Bruichladdich. More apples and pears, also some peaches and some melons, all that with this feeling of sea breeze emanating from your glass. A touch of brine too – or there, seawater. A lovely style. Mouth: there is a little salty smoke (beach bonfire, smoked kippers) but there's also quite some pepper, as well as green peppercorn and green apples. Some astringency. Finish: rather long and even more peppery, this time in the style of some lighter Talisker. Growing peat smoke and some horseradish in the aftertaste. Comments: this baby went from virtually unpeated to almost a wee peat bomb. Good fun, and in fun, there is whisky. I should have tried this one right after the Islay Mist.

SGP:464 - 84 points.

Saturnalia Sponge 20 yo (47.2%, WhiskySponge, blended malt, 868 bottles, 2021)

Saturnalia Sponge 20 yo (47.2%, WhiskySponge, blended malt, 868 bottles, 2021) Four stars
Boy aren't we late once more. Colour: full gold. Nose: mirabelle jam, lighter maple syrup, brioche, cornflakes (Golden Grahams) and a large basket of overripe apples at first, then more raisiny sherry, sticky toffee pudding, walnut wine, tobacco and black fruitcake (very moist, with a lot of heavy rum inside). Mouth: straight on honey and apple liqueur at first, then more on 'chewing your cigar' and prunes, in an armagnac kind of way. Cracked pepper and also vieille prune (prune in French is not prune, it's plum, prune is pruneau; de nada). Finish: medium, sweet, pretty rich, yet clean and easy. Molassy honey and chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: excellently jammy. Bas-armagnac, I would say (S. it says blended malt, capeesh?)
SGP:651 - 87 points.

St Bridget's Kirk 8 yo 'Batch #4' (48.9%, Hannah Whisky Merchants, blended malt, Amarone finish, 145 bottles, 2023)

St Bridget's Kirk 8 yo 'Batch #4' (48.9%, Hannah Whisky Merchants, blended malt, Amarone finish, 145 bottles, 2023) Four stars
A wise friend once said that the only red wine that's heavier than amarone is called a magnum. What's more, this baby spent no less than two years in first fill amarone wood. Ans yet, the whisky's not red, or even pink(ish), it's only... Colour: apricotty. Nose: no heavy cherries de la muerte or raspberries del inferno, rather a soft, caky nose, with just a little guignolet and crème de cassis from Dijon. Some triple-sec too, cassata, banana jam, and the expected raisins. Mouth: it is sweet. Loads of blood oranges (which I love and cherish), cracked pepper, melon cream, banana foam, orange drops, cloved, a small glass of lemonade and another one of ginger tonic, Italian bitters… I'm sure you could use this in a posh Spritz. Finish: long and spicier. Honey and more blood oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: blood oranges will save the world. Love this unlikely baby because of all those blood oranges. Mind you, amarone!

SGP:751 - 85 points.

Velvet Fig 25 yo (42.3%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, sherry casks, 5000 bottles, 2020)

Velvet Fig 25 yo (42.3%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, sherry casks, 5000 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
There's been an excellent Velvet Fig NAS back in 2014 (WF 86). Now with an age statement, that's the way! Colour: bright gold. Nose: when beeswax is coming through, you know you're in for a treat. Honey too, of course. Add wonderful juicy sultanas, precious apples and oranges, some milk chocolate, touches of fresh mint, a little tobacco, a wee coastal side, some delicate sherry (let's be honest, that's not always the case in Scotchdom)… Well you do feel that some high-class components have been assembled to form this one. Mouth: absolutely excellent, with a perfect coastal firmness, bizarrely some hints of cognac and armagnac this time again, many dried fruits and many honeys, and above all, a lot of elegance. This, would have deserved a crystal decanter! (that comment was so very un-Serge, S.) Wait, forgot something… figs, of course! Finish: medium, sweet and rounded but with a perfect, rather tight backbone. And in the aftertaste, guess what, black pepper and… figs! Comments: extremely good. I should have tried it earlier.

SGP:651 - 89 points.

Ding-dong, last one!...

Blended Malt 34 yo 1988/2022 (47.4%, Spheric Spirits, blended malt, refill hogshead, cask #10, 336 bottles)

Blended Malt 34 yo 1988/2022 (47.4%, Spheric Spirits, blended malt, refill hogshead, cask #10, 336 bottles) Four stars and a half
This cask was bought from Ben Nevis Distillery and came from old 'blending stock'. Possibly some vattings that had been further matured to reach a certain age, in any case it seems that this was not one of those Ben Nevis that were blended at birth from in-house malt and grain (they had stopped distilling grain earlier). But if it's well Ben Nevis, it's pre buy-out Ben Nevis (Nikka stepped in only in 1989). Colour: gold. Nose: not pure Ben Nevis, unless it was made with much gentler specs than usual. Vanilla, flowers, light honeys, croissants, biscuits, chardonnay, chamomile and honeysuckle, lime tea… You could believe his is Glenmo, serious. Mouth: very fine, honeyed and floral, with ripe white and yellow fruits (plums, apples, pears) and a handful of small golden raisins, then green bananas, guavas and touches of citron. Orange blossom honey. Finish: medium, with a gentle spiciness from its age. Don't we all get bitterer? (of course not!) Some gentle cinnamon in the aftertaste, as well as even more apples, even granny smith. Comments: a silky, fresh old malt. Was it really blended or is it actually a gentle old single Highlander? I would suppose we'll never know…

SGP:641 - 89 points.

March 5, 2023


  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!


A few more rums

The caney tide keeps rising and more and more indies are stepping in, slowly changing the landscape from the top of the pyramid.

Wonderful old colonne Savalle at Savanna (picture Distillerie Savanna)



New Grove 'Bourbon Cask' (40%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2022)

New Grove 'Bourbon Cask' (40%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2022) Three stars
From Grays Distillery. The disease is striking the world of aged rum too, with fewer age statements and more talking about wood and casks. A little depressing in my opinion… Colour: gold. Nose: not that depressing after all, it is a fine rum on the nose, with some firm spiciness that would hint at the French West Indies. Some vanilla and light honey, possibly from the bourbon casks, honey drops, a floral side (dandelions – never mow and never weed, keep them for the bees!)… No, it's really pleasant. Mouth: some freshish oak feels a little bit but other than that, it's pretty pleasant indeed, on honey and maple syrup, then a little ginger and cedarwood. Pancake sauce. Finish: medium, rounded, not too oaky, with some fresh pollen this time as well as the expected custard. Some tea in the aftertaste (oak). Comments: probably very young – or they would have told the age – but really fine. No detectable added sugar.

SGP:541 - 80 points.

Something new on WF…

Offrian 8 yo (40%, OB, Panama, +/-2022)

Offrian 8 yo (40%, OB, Panama, +/-2022)
Made at Las Cabras (makers of Cana Brava) and aged in charred American oak. Naturally, this is a molasses/column set-up. Should we have hope? Colour: light gold. Nose: very shy, slightly grassy, pretty silent. Some fruit peel perhaps, but that's pretty it. I'm reminded of young Havana Cub. Mouth: very light and sweetened (although not in Bumbu/Don Papa amounts). Not much to add, this is pretty weak in my opinion, and certainly not a sipper. Once again, young Havana Club springs to mind. Finish: almost none, only some sugar and a little Cointreau. Comments: not totally detestable, but I find it boring to death and having some plain sugar remaining on your palate is always a very nasty feeling. Worse than Coke in that respect (but I suppose you could mix them together!)
SGP:730 - 40 points.

There, an idea, try conventional vs. organic, what do you say?..

Neisson 'Profil 105' (54.2%, OB, Martinique, agricole, ambré, +/-2022)

Neisson 'Profil 105' (54.2%, OB, Martinique, agricole, ambré, +/-2022) Four stars
These ambrés are usually very young, two or three. The 'profil' here refers to the way they have charred their casks, in this case the latter were new and refill American oak. They use other profils too, 107, 62 etc. Oh, and Neisson always ranks highly at Château WF. Colour: white wine. Nose: very lovely, very fresh, full of honeysuckle and elderflowers, with a little olive oil and just fresh cane juice. Low oak impact, but you do feel it's there and would have brought some kind of extra-oiliness. With water: mown lawn and samphires. Olive oil. Mouth (neat): a notch brutal, but very citric. You'd almost believe they've blended sauvignon blanc with granny smith and lime. A touch of sorb spirit, another one of artisanal cachaça. With water: it's getting very subtle, on tiny white and yellow berries, more flowers as well… And just apples. Finish: just more of that grassy and floral profile. Comments: awesome given its just an 'ambré'.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Neisson 'Profil 105 Bio' (53.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, ambré, +/-2022)

Neisson 'Profil 105 Bio' (53.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, ambré, +/-2022) Four stars and a half
What I don't quite know is whether this is a follow-up bottling of the Profil 105, this time fully organic (bio means organic, in case you didn't know) or if it's an organic variant. What I've seen though is that the price for the regular 105 is rather like 50€, while that of this Bio is rather 80€. Sure I could drop an email to Neisson, but time is short… and we are thirsty. Colour: white wine, slightly darker. Nose: more ethanol here, wood alcohol, antifreeze (joking), agave juice, varnish, less roundness… It is very different and I doubt that's the fact that it's organic, is it. Pretty acetic, almost kind of bacterial. Which, naturally, we like, ha. With water: new electronics, rubber, olives, varnish, cane juice… perfect! Mouth (neat): very powerful again, rich, olivey, even tarry… With water: this one reminds of some artisanal Cuban aguardiente that you could get under the cloak – if you are kind and do not behave like a big fat capitalist (ha). Very good, with some lovely rubber, but don't drown it. Lemon juice and root vegetables. Finish: long, really grassy. Do they grow olive trees in Martinique? Comments: frankly, there is no reason why an organic version should be organoleptically better. This is simply not the same rum. Love this drop.
SGP:461 - 89 points.

Go for the organic! In the meantime, while we're in French territories…

La Réunion 19 yo 2003/2022 (67.2%, The Duchess, cask #5)

La Réunion 19 yo 2003/2022 (67.2%, The Duchess, cask #5) Five stars
La Réunion suggests either Rivière du Mât or Savanna. Right, everybody says it's Savanna. The name The Duchess is a seal of quality, unless she would be the Duchess of Sussex, naturally (but we're republicans, not out business). Colour: dark amber. Nose: it's full of walnut stain, pipe tobacco, old varnish, the darkest, strongest chestnut honey, and an avalanche of ganache (chocolate and raspberry in this case). Some very old, sooty and flinty oloroso too. With water: that's funny, some sugarcane and some shoe polish coming out, esters, rather black olives this time, albeit in moderate amounts, and a serious amount of liquorice and chocolate. Mouth (neat): careful, it tears you apart. Very heavy juice, all you would detect is some bitterer marmalade. No chances taken… With water: the best part, it becomes very tarry and salty, and ridden with precious tobaccos, cold meats and walnuts. Nocino! Finish: very long, thick, saucey. Chocolate and say sauce. Something floral in the aftertaste, perhaps borage? Comments: in France when you say rum/rhum, everybody thinks Martinique or Guadeloupe, but La Réunion, a.k.a. l'Île Bourbon, should never, ever be overlooked. Now, where did they find this cask?! They are very rare, I think.

SGP:563 - 90 points.

Would'nt we do some Jamaicans?

Hampden 2012/2022 'HLCF' (59.5%, Samaroli, cask #10)

Hampden 2012/2022 'HLCF' (59.5%, Samaroli, cask #10) Five stars
Remember the marque HLCF, unless I'm wrong once more, means 'Hampden Light Continental Flavour', so 500 to 700 g esters/HLPA. Bah, in my book there is not light Hampden anyway, unless you drown it down to, say 12% vol. But who would do that? This one was bottled in Scotland. Oh, forgot to say, when we tried all marques as whites, on January 1 this year, HLCF has been my favourite. I must be a very continental guy. Colour: gold. Nose: not an ester monster, but it could be that the nearly 60% alc/vol do block it. Whiffs of seawater, tar, liquorice and olives. As usual indeed. With water: cassis buds, geranium, even tomato leaves, varnish, a little garlic, olives, gherkins, new Pirellis, car battery… (so basically, a Tesla)… Mouth (neat): oh gooood. This make is boringly irresistible. We'll be content with mentioning lemon juice, brine and liquorice. With water: just a perfect Hampden. Finish: same. Dazzling lemon + salt + olives + tar combination. Comments: stunning and dangerous. Silvano had sold his company a long time ago, way before he sadly passed away (well, obviously), but I believe he would have been rather a little proud, perhaps secretly, of this one bearing his name. Note to self, look for the HLCFs…
SGP:463 - 91 points.

Last call…

Jamaican Rum 12 yo (64.3%, Secret Cask, octave sherry cask finish, cask #1021, 2022)

Jamaican Rum 12 yo (64.3%, Secret Cask, octave sherry cask finish, cask #1021, 2022) Five stars
Secret but said to be Hmpdn. It's funny how we don't need vowels, no? Colour: straw. Nose: acids, ammonia, acetone, varnishes and glues, that suggests a 'high mark' of Hampden (to say the least), but between us, it could be high-ester Monymusk or Long Pond just as well. The thing is, at 64.3%, we won't try to find out for too long… With water: brand new IKEA stuff, more UHU and Pattex, kerosene and fermenting pineapple. Mouth (neat): very high, possibly C<>H or <DOK, really. I'm sure you know that you spell <> 'diamond', which I find charming. Next, 'honey, I brought you a diamond!'… A true Mr Bean moment and divorce down the road… With water: fab. No ideas if that wee octave had any actual influence on this more than massive Jamaican rum,  maybe it did. What's sure is that the end result is rather frightening. Positively frightening. Finish: very long. Tarred oysters and mussels in the end, really. Comments: a whirlwind of glues, varnishes and rotting greens. Always warn your guests before pouring, this is almost pure nail polish. Say Dior (same owner as Ardbeg, ha).
SGP:463 - 91 points.

Wouldn't we have a little room for one more?...

Jamaica WP 2015/2022 (55%, LMDW Singapore, Rum of The World, cask #WP15CA96)

Jamaica WP 2015/2022 (55%, LMDW Singapore, Rum of The World, cask #WP15CA96) Five stars
Aged for four years on location, then in France in an ex-Caroni cask (BTW, many untasted Caronis soon on WF). Now, WP doesn't mean Work in Progress, that should rather mean Worthy Park, what do you think? Colour: gold. Nose: I love Worthy Park, it is always a tad softer than Hampden in my book, rather a little closer to the best smoky malt whiskies, and this is a fine example. Smoked fudge and tarred butterscotch, a little rhubarb, stewed, apples of all kinds, fresh branches and walnuts… A true Caol Ila of Jamaica, I would say. With water: more brine, seawater, oyster juice, but also more ripe apples and pears. Mouth (neat): splendid. Peppered pears, custard and praline, liquorice ice cream (a killer), some kind of smoked tarte tatin… There's some kind of charming unstable equilibrium between smokes/tars and fruit jams/compote. Rather fascinating. With water: it goes on, on this thin line. Which marque could this be? WPL? WFM? Finish: not terrifyingly long but easy, smooth, with a lovely liquoricy aftertaste. Comments: splendid. Water's optional here.

SGP:552 - 90 points.

Rums, especially the Jamaicans and the agricoles, are really creeping into the 90+ category at WF Towers and will soon rule it, even more so if you only consider recent bottlings. Where are the 'official' Scottish distilleries? Living in the past or too busy with silly woods and wines? Fortunately there are the indies… And in rum those nasty, made-up, overpackaged start-up rums by smart 'brandbuilders' straight from London Business School. Take the money and run... My advice is, if you ever spot a bottle of rum youy've never heard of and that looks like it's been designed in 1910, run in the opposite direction! Peace.

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


March 4, 2023





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Talisker and Lagavulin times three
Two of my favourite names and always happy to have them on the tasting table. Although, being ruthlessly honest, if I had to save one of the two distilleries, it would be Talisker. Hopefully we never have to make that decision…


Talisker 10 yo 2009/2020 (48.4%, Douglas Laing 'Old Particular', cask #DL14410, refill hogshead, 376 bottles)

Talisker 10 yo 2009/2020 (48.4%, Douglas Laing 'Old Particular', cask #DL14410, refill hogshead, 376 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: yeasty and full of sheep wool, lemon juice, chalk and beach pebbles. Very coastal, nicely sharp and very much all about the raw ingredients. A deconstructed OB 10yo? Mouth: excellent! Salty and lemony with a light leafiness, rather a lot of peppery Talisker DNA, quite peaty and full of seawater and a rather gruff coastal power. Finish: good length, back on the yeasty notes, quite sooty and with a slightly ashy and salty peat flavour. Comments: very good, really like a stripped back and souped up official 10yo in some ways, I suspect this is the sort of bottle that will really shine with 20+ years in glass.
SGP: 365 - 88 points.



Talisker 8yo 1988/1996 (45%, Milroy's of Soho)

Talisker 8yo 1988/1996 (45%, Milroy's of Soho)
Milroy's now a very hip and fun bar and shop - run by some excellent people - where you can buy highballs on tap. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: rather ironically, this is also quite like a stripped back, more naked and simplified version of the official 10yo, only an old map label 10yo from c1990 with this much greater emphasis on soft green fruits, herbal teas, more delicate coastal notes and this more gentle, velvety peppery quality. Lovely, simply and charming nose. Mouth: brilliant distillate, pure coastal freshness along with many light herbal notes, smoked teas, citrus oils, eucalyptus and dried green fruits. An encroaching peppery and peaty vibe that brings power from behind. Finish: long, fruity, glowing with perfectly dry and salty peaty notes and more Talisker peppery impressions. Comments: I love the evolution in this one and interplay of fruit, coastal and peaty qualities. Stunning, naked, distillate-forward Talisker.
SGP: 465 - 90 points.



Talisker 2000/2011 (45.8%, OB 'Distiller's Edition', TD-S: 5NZ)

Talisker 2000/2011 (45.8%, OB 'Distiller's Edition', TD-S: 5NZ)
Finished in Amoroso sherry casks for two years, I've found the DE a little changeable over the years, although I probably haven't tasted that many of them to be fair. Colour: pale amber. Nose: a very well done sherry integration with earth, peppery peat smoke, soft shades of tar, liquorice and tobacco and an underlying fruitiness that incorporates dried dark and exotic fruits and things like quince and some green ginger wine. Mouth: more fruity that other batches that I recall, lots of marmalade, orange oils and hints of smoked olive oil, natural tar extract, hessian and umami notes such as soy sauce and miso. I find it pretty excellent actually, nice peppery warmth and good balance between sherry and peat influences. Finish: medium, tarry, peppery, peaty and showing a nice balance between drier smokier qualities and some sweetness. Comments: I often overlook these DE Taliskers as I find it hard to get past the 10 year old, but some batches really can be great.
SGP: 565 - 88 points.



And to Islay…



Lagavulin 8 yo (48%, OB, -/+2022)

Lagavulin 8 yo (48%, OB, -/+2022)
I remember really liking this one when it came out, very happy to see that it seems to have settled in as part of the core range. A wonderfully 'old fashioned' type of bottling in terms of age, age statement and maturation profile. Price seems to also be pretty fair. Colour: white wine. Nose: fermentary and green on apple peelings, malt vinegar and smoked sea salt. Pure and rather rugged distillate with plenty of ashy peat smoke, lemon juice and mercurochrome. Mouth: you can see shades of the 12yo SR bottlings here, with all this monolithically sharp and hefty peat smoke, gentian eau de vie, more vinegar and brine notes and also big hits of kippers slathered in lemon juice. Finish: good length and with a deeper, drier and sharper smokiness. Some capers and green olives in bring which brings a nice feeling of dirty martini to the aftertaste. Comments: its simpler than I recall, but it still has monolithic and chunky peaty charm aplenty. Very nice that this rather uncommercial, or niche, style would still be embraced by the owners.
SGP: 367 - 88 points.



Lagavulin 26 yo (44.2%, OB Special Releases 2021, PX and oloroso sherry seasoned casks, 7542 bottles)

Lagavulin 26 yo (44.2%, OB Special Releases 2021, PX and oloroso sherry seasoned casks, 7542 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: a soft but deep and leather peat smoke with a lot of sherry influence involved, which brings out rather a lot of impressions of pipe tobacco, salted liquorice and tar resins. It actually reminds me rather a lot of the old OB 12yo green glass bottlings from the mid-1980s. Some salted almonds, a rather dusty peaty note and classical aromas of dunnage and hessian. Mouth: soft and gentle but with an unfolding and richly sherried peat smoke flavour that is both chewy in texture and drying towards saltiness and earthiness. Various medicinal roots, herbal teas and more of these classical camphor, hessian and black tea notes. Very good, but perhaps just lacking a little power or assertiveness here or there. Finish: good length, deeper and drier peat smoke flavours once again, with some cured meats, tar extracts and iodine. Comments: in some ways, this is a fusion of sherry and peat flavours that is pretty old school Islay and that I usually just adore, but on the other hand it does feel slightly underpowered. It's entirely possible I'm overthinking it - it's an extremely delicious and moreish .

SGP: 466 - 88 points.



Lagavulin 16 yo 'White Horse Distillers' (43%, OB, 75cl, -/+ 1990)

Lagavulin 16 yo 'White Horse Distillers' (43%, OB, 75cl, -/+ 1990)
Another bottle of this old glory that I opened recently. I'll make this one snappy as I've already recorded notes for two similar era White Horse 16 year olds on these pages before. And we are expecting a very similar outcome this time… Colour: gold. Nose: yes, stunning old school Islay peat that is deep, fat, drying, herbal and full of roots, earthiness and various types of interesting and complex teas. Also medicines. And, of course, also some wonderfully subtle green and exotic fruits. Stunning! Mouth: just exquisite! A glorious expression of complex, multi-layered peat flavours, along with wee touches of coconut, hessian, tobacco leaf, medicinal herbal impressions such as wormwood and wintergreen, then also iodine and old school tar liqueurs. Pure gracefulness, class and charm! Finish: stunningly long, salty, resinously herbal and full of perfectly crisp, drying and earthy peatreek. Comments: 'nuff said! Score unchanged.

SGP: 447 - 93 points.





March 3, 2023


In the little-names-big-whiskies series…

Today Braeval!

You might have noticed that even if the general public doesn't give a fudge, we tend to favour the little names at WF. Indeed we're doing every effort to try as many Strathmills, Mannochmores, Allt-A-Bhainnes or indeed, Breavals as we can.

Tea at The Balmoral in Edinburgh (Rocco Forte Hotels)

Why? Mainly because surprises are always good with those names, while they can only be bad with, say Springbank, Bowmore or Clynelish. See what I mean? And we love surprises (yeah, even if the public or Google do not give a rouble).



Braeval 7 yo 2014/2021 (53.4%, The Whisky Agency, for AABC Stores, Port hogshead)

Braeval 7 yo 2014/2021 (53.4%, The Whisky Agency, for AABC Stores, Port hogshead) Two stars
Some 7 year old Braeval by one of the best Indies in this world, this must have something very special… Colour: gold. Nose: mud and mustard, forgotten parsnips, ginger mints, caramel, hay wine, butter pears… This sure is a little intriguing. With water: cabbage and bay leaves. Well, this is certainly very different. Mouth (neat): pepper, cardboard, Putin's own bison vodka and some very bitter tea. Very difficult at this point. With water: phew, water surely makes it better and would bring out oranges and pink grapefruits. But it remains a difficult whisky in my book. Finish: long peppery and mustardy. Reminds me of Fettercairn before they started to improve the make (big time). Comments: I've heard this was experimental as that it was made, matured and selected by some kind of A.I. Very funny, very odd, not 'too' bad.  Peace and love.

SGP:262 - 75 points.

Braeval 26 yo 1996/2022 (53.1%, Whisky Age, hogshead, cask 85162, 228 bottles)

Braeval 26 yo 1996/2022 (53.1%, Whisky Age, hogshead, cask 85162, 228 bottles) Four stars
Ouch, this is a Christmas edition, once again we're as slow and late as a snail on Ardbeg Scorch. Colour: gold. Nose: goody good pastries and ripe apples, quinces and pears. To sum it up, this is simply liquid tarte tatin and banana cake. With water: indeed, banana cake and custard pie, murican cheesecake, croissants, scones… Mouth (neat): excellent. It is, in fact, some kind of fatter Glenlivet, classically malty and cakey, full of ripe orchard fruits, soft spices and pastries 'from The Balmoral'. You should really go to The Balmoral in Edinburgh and have your five o'clock tea there, it's as if both Harry Lauder and Sean Connery could turn up any time. Oh, and Mister Bean. With water: more pepper and more marmalade. After all, that was to be expected. Finish: long, greener, more on green peppercorn perhaps. Bitter lemon marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: all very, very fine. Lovely hogshead, but we know that there are some stunning sherry butts flying around… Braeval take sherry good.

SGP:551 - 85 points.

Braes of Glenlivet 26 yo 1994/2020 (50.2%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 150 bottles)

Braes of Glenlivet 26 yo 1994/2020 (50.2%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 150 bottles) Four stars
I think I've got a hunch… In general, these 1994s were good. And indeed, we're late as ever (sorry Martin). Colour: gold. Nose: the spirit started to decompose. No doom and gloom, no worries, what I meant is that it started to become fractal, with many more tertiary flavours. Such as old Meursault, overripe golden, mead and chouchen, gorse, elderberry liqueur, quinces, several herbal teas… With water: with toffee apples and coconut balls, we're at the fair. Some acacia honey spread over sweet maize bread. Mouth (neat): pretty perfect, with a fizzy side (ginger tonic) and some rounder, cakier flavours as well. Perhaps a tad leafy. With water: all good indeed. Citrus chiming in, always for the better. Finish: tends to become leafier. The end is not the best part (that's very philosophical, no?) Comments: just very good. Some parts were a tad more fragile, others just perfect.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

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


March 2, 2023


Little Duos, today Longmorn

Glad to have a little more Longmorn on the tasting desk, especially the most recent inception of the official 16. Too bad they had priced it too high (in my opinion) when they first launched that one, I remember many enthusiasts have been waiting for it with guns in their pockets and little goodwill elsewhere, just because of that.


That was when every whisky company was wanting to have its Macallan (including Macallan, ha).



Longmorn 16 yo (48%, OB, +/-2022)

Longmorn 16 yo (48%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars
I last tried this 16 – in its former livery – in 2013 and thought it was good but a little weak (WF 80). This newer one's been matured in first fill bourbon, refill bourbon and European oak sherry casks. Classic caskbill, in other words. It's to be said that we've been looking for Longmorn's flabbergasting 'old-school' fruitiness for ages, so maybe is today our day?... Colour: gold. Nose: rather cinnamon and oranges at first, which is a very nice combo, then rather a lovely range of classic western fruits, apples, pears, plums, prickly pears, medlar (said to be anti-ageing, I've heard Stallone loves them), plus green bananas from the oak and some kind of vanilla + tea combo from Starbucks's. I mean, from American oak. Perhaps a little shy globally, but elegant. Mouth: more power on the palate, more oak as well. It's clearly wood-driven in fact. Teas, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa, white pepper, straight sawdust… Oranges and apples keep it afloat, having said that. Quite some ginger. Finish: a little short and dry. Green apples, Japanese green tea, even bean curd… Comments: absolutely good, but rather too oak-driven for me. Next time I'm sure, around 2033.
SGP:461 - 80 points.

Perhaps this Italo-Scottish older indie… Sounds like rugby, no?

Longmorn 28 yo 1973/2001 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry hogshead, cask #3970)

Longmorn 28 yo 1973/2001 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry hogshead, cask #3970) Five stars
Good age, good vintage, good distillery, good bottler, what could go wrong? Colour: mahogany. Nose: mint and old walnuts plus big black raisins, you'd almost believe we're in Malaga. But we're moving to Modena then as there are whiffs of old Ferra… I mean, balsamic vinegar, certainly some metal polish, old copper coins (I still have an old penny book I had brought back from America), and then some wonderful old-school hot chocolate, made with proper grated chocolate. Hints of chives and lovage. Meraviglioso, formidabile, prodigioso and stupendo (I think they got it, S.) Mouth: starts as liquid dark honey blended with old navy rum, goes on with the mandatory walnut wine, and ends up with some excellent old-style cream sherry. Say some V.O.R.S. Finish: medium, honeyed, greatly antique. Walnuts, raisins, sherry, rum, and more chocolate yet in the aftertaste. Some cough medicine too. Comments: an awesome sweetish old Longmorn. Longmorn always loved sherry and not my business but could be that Longmorn needs sherry. I mean, full sherry maturation. Esplendido (that's not Italian, S.!)

SGP:651 - 91 points.

(Thank you Tom)

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


March 1, 2023


Another trio of Dalmore


Looking for oranges while trying to forget about the 'price record' stunts… And while thinking of the flathead stills. By the way, no more indie Dalmore around, that's a shame as thanks to them, you could try the make 'al natural', which is always a good idea when the distillate's as classy as Dalmore's.

Dalmore's lovely Commer truck in 2013 (WF Archive)



Dalmore 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2022)

Dalmore 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2022) Four stars
Another expression that we 'follow'. Last time that was in 2016 (WF 84, good score) and I believe a 7 years gap is perfect. Colour: deep gold. Nose: Dalmore, we've always loved this make, even when they were burying it under silly sweet sherries and whatnot. Frankly, it's a magnificent nose, with just the right amounts of orange juice, menthol, bitter chocolate and earthy coffee. The balance here is utterly perfect. No, I get no obvious 'spirit caramel'. Mouth: have they not further improved the recipe? Jaffa cakes all over the place, tangerines, citron liqueur, herbal teas (rosehip), chocolates of all kinds, truffles, ganaches, and in the background, ideas of cigars plus echoes of black tea Assam-style, Finish: not too long, but with reminiscences of the best old Cragganmores, for reasons I couldn't explain. Comments: great surprises happen, even with overworked old names. Just forget about anything even remotely 'lifestyle'.

SGP:551 - 87 points.

Dalmore 'King Alexander III' (40%, OB, +/-2022)

Dalmore 'King Alexander III' (40%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars
This one's way too expensive given that it's a very pedestrian NAS. No NAS should go over £100 or you're only paying for the marketing. No, not even for the stories now that they can use ChatGPT. Colour: amber. Nose: we're far from the mush fresher 15, with less of the trademark chocolate and oranges, and rather more fudge, caramel, struck matches and old teas. Not quite a fan this time. Mouth: a little better, more liqueury, but it's lacking the 15's high definition. Molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup, all this is a little cloying, you'd almost believe they've dosed it up, although that cannot be. After all, it's not rum! Finish: short, drier, a little cardboardy and on English breakfast tea. Comments: let's not exaggerate, it's a very fine dram, but the price is a little pathetic (250€ or something - but of course). Earlier batches have been better in my book.
SGP:551 - 80 points.

And we're having this…

Dalmore 10 yo 2008 'Madeira Finish' (46%, OB, +/-2018)

Dalmore 10 yo 2008 'Madeira Finish' (46%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
Another humble finishing, while I don't think they've told us about the Madeira. It's true, there are so many different kinds of Madeira! Now, in my meagre experience, Madeira tended to work better than many other fortified wines. Colour: full gold. Nose: typical mustardy sauce, with sour cream, cabbage water, cigars, turmeric, asparagus, plastics, fumes, leather… Indeed you could call it 'Mr A Little Dirty'. Nice spicy marmalade in the background, plus obviously a vinous side. Mouth: seriously, it's fine, sweet and mustardy, with some ginger and some marmalade, some pepper, some sour fruits (green apples) and fresh walnuts. Tarte tatin too (say that quick). Finish: long, on walnuts, honey, marmalade and pepper. The aftertaste is even more peppery and with a little honeyed curry or something. Comments: not very necessary, I would say, but they did it finely. As long as they do not start to tackle all Alsatian varietals… Have they already done primitivo/zinfandel, by the way? We can't wait (insert updated vision of Dante's inferno here).

SGP:551 - 83 points.

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


WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

February 2023

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Bowmore 1997/2022 (53.2%, Berry Bros. & Rudd for Kirsch Import, sherry butt, cask #79, 515 bottles) - WF91

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Port Ellen 12 yo 1970 'Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky' (57G.L., Duthie's for Samaroli, 75cl, +/-1982) - WF96

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Bowmore 'Legend' (40%, OB, +/-2020) - WF85

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Château de Gaube 58 yo 1963/2022 'NAS' (46.3%, Decadent Drinks, Bas-armagnac) - WF92

Serge's thumbs up this month:
Yuza 'First Edition 2022' (61%, OB, single malt, 2022) - WF88

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
A.H. Riise 'X.O. Reserve' (40%, OB, cask #9) - WF35

February 2023 - part 2 <--- March 2023 - part 1 ---> March 2023 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Kintyre 1891-1920 12 yo (40%, Eaglesome ltd., Campbeltown Commemoration, miniature, +/-1990)

Longmorn 28 yo 1973/2001 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry hogshead, cask #3970)

Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (55.9%, OB, batch #23, 2021)

Springbank 21 yo 2000/2021 (45.2%, North Star Spirits, refill barrel, 238 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, 'Headley G Wright', for Taiwan, +/-1992) 

Springbank 21 yo 1966/1987 (46%, Samaroli, 408 bottles, 75cl) 

Springbank 30 yo 1966/1996 'Local Barley' (51.2%, OB, Bourbon, cask#474)

Springbank 31 yo 1966/1997 'Local Barley' (53%, OB, Bourbon, cask#486)

Springbank 29 yo 1962/1992 (46%, OB, sherry)

Springbank 27 yo 1994/2022 (47%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 251 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo 1965/1990 (46%, Duthie for Samaroli, Flowers, 480 bottles, 75cl)

Springbank 31 yo 1965/1996 (44.7%, The Bottlers, cask #2628)

Old Rarity (86.8° Proof US, OB, Bulloch, Lade & Co., Munson G. Shaw New York, blended Scotch, 4/5 quart, +/-1955)

La Réunion 19 yo 2003/2022 (67.2%, The Duchess, cask #5)

Great House Distillery 13 yo 2007/2021 (66.1%, The Duchess, Jamaica, cask #18)

Hampden 2012/2022 'HLCF' (59.5%, Samaroli, cask #10) 

Jamaican Rum 12 yo (64.3%, Secret Cask, octave sherry cask finish, cask #1021, 2022)

Jamaica WP 2015/2022 (55%, LMDW Singapore, Rum of The World, cask #WP15CA96)