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Whisky Tasting


Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild




Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2023 - Part 2

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


March 31, 2023


Little Trios, today treated and extreme Strathmill

As you possibly know, we're fond of those little names and try to taste them as often as possible. Yeah I know everyone wants Lagavulin or Ardbeg (according to WF's figures), but it's going to be Strathmill today, mind you! Strathmill and quite some wine, as is fashionable these days…




Strathmill 11 yo 2011/2022 'The Mill in the Shallow Glen' (59.8%, Brave New Spirits, Cask Noir, STR white wine barrique, cask # 803200, 294 bottles)

Strathmill 11 yo 2011/2022 'The Mill in the Shallow Glen' (59.8%, Brave New Spirits, Cask Noir, STR white wine barrique, cask # 803200, 294 bottles) Four stars
Remember STR means shaven, toasted, recharred. Which reminds me of some old friends the next morning, really, even if that would rather be 'shaven, toasted, recharged' in that case. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: buttercream, charcoal, maize cream, beech ashes, baguette, pinecone smoke,  wash, porridge… With water: more on chalk, clay, washing powder, porridge, lime juice… Mouth (neat): bursts with muscat, gooseberries, grapefruits, white currants, pears, granny smith and Timut pepper. Reminds of some white wine from Kent. With water: they almost recreated old Bladnoch! Lovely tense citrus and green apples. Finish: rather long, fresh, lemony and with even more apples. Dry artisan cider. Comments: very modern, very well made. Proper wood technology in action. As long as it tells its age, I am more than fine.

SGP:651 - 85 points.

More wine…

Strathmill 20 yo 1995/2016 (52.7%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, château 'Lafitte', 258 bottles)

Strathmill 20 yo 1995/2016 (52.7%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, château 'Lafitte', 258 bottles) Two stars
Cadenhead used to write it 'Lafitte', while Pauillac's 1er grand cru is named 'Lafite' or Lafite Rothschild. It's been uncertain whether it was 'The Lafite' or rather any other smaller château named 'Lafitte' indeed, but it's been confirmed later on that it was well the great 'Lafite'. It's true that some sister casks had been a little difficult in my book. This wee Strathmill has spent 7 years in that ex-Lafite barrique. Colour: deep gold. Nose: nope. Mushrooms stewed in some dusty raspberry wine, leaves, washing powder, leatherette, cassis buds, green pepper, bleach… Tough juice on the nose. With water: a little nicer. Sardines, tar, old tobacco, paint… Mouth (neat): urrgh. Butterscotch, raspberries, liquorice, cassis, tar, strawberries, jalapenos, capsicum… With water: once again water rather improves it, but it remained plain weird, sweet, dusty and tarry. They may have had to STRise the barrique. Finish: long, on overripe strawberries, plasticine and more tar. Sulphury, even sulphurous aftertaste. Comments: great fun but fun that comes at a cost. I'm not sure they ever made more of these, for some good reasons…
SGP:572 - 70 points.

Redemption please, with an old one from the stash…

Strathmill 1976/1999 (52.1%, MacKillop's Choice, cask #4256, 398 bottles)

Strathmill 1976/1999 (52.1%, MacKillop's Choice, cask #4256, 398 bottles) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: raw, on porridge and grist, cider apples, cut grass, dark chocolate, Swiss cheese, tapioca, vegetable peel… I believe contemporary bottlers would have boosted this one using PX or any other seasoning casks, but it seems that Lorne MacKillop decided to keep it close to mother Nature, back in 1999. With water: rather acetic. A little ammonia, overripe apples, porridge, flour, baker's yeast… Mouth (neat): tough baby, but with obvious charms. Where else would you find old woods, lime, yoghurt, paprika, paper dust and carbon combined like this? It's even improving, with some 'dusty' citrons and some salty seaweed. Good fun, even if it's rather butyric and feinty. With water: better, but still rather dusty. Paper, ink, paraffin…  Finish: rather long, drying, waxy and leafy. Comments: no indies keep doing these kinds today, but I rather love it, it's like people my age who now like disco. Kind of. Let's not exaggerate... I'm afraid guilty nostalgia is about to strike…

SGP:551 - 82 points.

(Thank you Lucero and Tomislav)

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


WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

March 2023

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Macallan 25 yo 1997/2023 'Symington's Choice' (55%, Signatory Vintage, 1st Fill Oloroso butt, cask #12/4, 660 bottles, 2023) - WF93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Springbank 29 yo 1962/1992 (46%, OB, sherry) - WF95

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Dumbarton Rock (46%, Dràm Mor, blended malt, 2023)  - WF87

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Jamaican Rum 12 yo (64.3%, Secret Cask, octave sherry cask finish, cask #1021, 2022) - WF91

Serge's thumbs up this month:
White Heather 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2023) - WF86

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Offrian 8 yo (40%, OB, Panama, +/-2022) - WF40

March 30, 2023


Jura rum, PX and clean

The indies used to have some fantastic older Juras until just one or two years ago, but it seems that those times too are gone. The owners too do not seem to have some great old juice these days, but we can always count on the Scots' sense of innovation and creativity. Like, doing a rum finish…

Willie Tait and Manager Mickey Heads in action at Jura, 2006 (WF Archive)



Jura 'Islander's Expression No.1 Barbados rum cask' (40%, OB, travel retail, 2022)

Jura 'Islander's Expression No.1 Barbados rum cask' (40%, OB, travel retail, 2022) Three stars
Isn't £72.00 very expensive, given this one's lack of age statement and the low strength? Plus, rum's a little cheaper than malt whisky, is it not? Colour: pale gold. Nose: hold on, we have a nice, fruitier nose here, the alliance of pears with bananas, plus molasses honey and custard. Some pleasant breadiness in the background, grist, weissbeer, leaven, with just hints of the trademark soot, walnuts and mustard. Well done as far as the nose is concerned. Mouth: indeed it doesn't seem that it's lost all of its Juraness, since some softer mustard and some bitter walnuts are still there, but indeed there is a little candy sugar, perhaps sugarcane juice, banana skins… But it's still very 'whisky', I'm not sure you could immediately detect the rum in there. Rather pleasant but lacking a little more oomph. Those 40% vol…. Finish: a little short, perhaps. And perhaps with more rumness. Some sawdust in the aftertaste. Comments: a relatively good surprise. Rummakers are using whisky casks whilst whiskymakers are using rum casks, all is well.

SGP:641 - 81 points.

Jura 'The Road' (43.6%, OB, Cask PX20, +/-2022)

Jura 'The Road' (43.6%, OB, Cask PX20, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
Love that only road on Jura! But this is another PX finish, although they say it was 20 years old PX. Mentioning the age of the wine while keeping that of the whisky undisclosed is pretty smart, is it not. Low ABVs with decimals are always smart too. Colour: gold. Nose: very Jura on the nose, sootier than the 'rum', more mustardy, leafier, gently sour and fermentary, at times almost in the style of Fettercairn. Fudge and treacle toffee in the background, plus a little wood smoke. Nice nose! Mouth: really nice, really Jura, this time with more walnuts, leather, tobacco, marmalade, salty caramel, bitter beer, cinnamon mints… The extra-3.6% really help a far as the body's concerned. Finish: rather long, very typical, with a PX that keeps behaving. A little wood smoke, salt, lemon marmalade, tobacco and leather. Only the aftertaste is a little drying, ashy, with more sawdust. Comments: an even better surprise, as long as you're looking for some Jura character.
SGP:452 - 84 points.

Let's turn to the indies for a clean Jura that tells its age…

Jura 11 yo 2011/2022 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, casks #451, 883, 884, first fill and refill bourbon barrels, 944 bottles)

Jura 11 yo 2011/2022 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, casks #451, 883, 884, first fill and refill bourbon barrels, 944 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: paraffin, lamp oil, mash, soot, ashes, grist, brioche dough, parsley and chives, spinach, pepper, then a little more fresh oak. Apart from notes of green bananas, we wouldn't quite find any fruitiness, but this is the profile we've been expecting, very 'close to the spirit'. Forgot to mention mustard. Mouth: pure sooty, sour, sharpish, peppery, leathery, salty Jura, very fermentary. Beers, dry white wine, lemons, yoghurt, artichokes, ashes… Whats not to like? Finish: more of all that. This one goes to show that the Distillery did not alter the make or try to make it easier and more consensual. At least not until 2011. Only the aftertaste is sweeter, on cassata, marmalade… Comments: I really like this 'Jura as in Jura' a lot. Thank you James Eadie, there aren't many around.

SGP:452 - 86 points.

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


March 29, 2023


Six lovely Glen Ord from The Black Isle

In my opinion some Glen Ords have been some of the greatest malt whiskies ever bottled. Think original Samarolis and think the official 28/30s in their charming silkscreened square bottles. Let's do this at random and start with a bottling for France (a country currently still doing romantic strikes and demonstrations for tourists, since 1968!) …

The famous old desk of the Excise Officer
at Ord Distillery (WF Archive)



Glen Ord 12 yo 2010/2022 (53.2%, Thompson Bros., for Le Gus't France, refill hogshead, 120 bottles)

Glen Ord 12 yo 2010/2022 (53.2%, Thompson Bros., for Le Gus't France, refill hogshead, 120 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: deep paraffin, broken branches, fresh mushrooms, beeswax and sawn beechwood, plus green bananas. Awesome barley-y oiliness. With water: oh nougat, sweet maize soup, barley syrup, church candles, melon skins… Mouth (neat): terrific sweet-not-dull maltiness. More raw green bananas, sweet carrots, liquorice wood, melons… With water: what a fab waxy texture. There's also a small aromatic wineyness, around viognier perhaps…  Finish: medium, subtle, nuttier. Hazelnut liqueur and nocciolo cordial. Comments: I'm not even sure Glen Ord's malt is malted at Glen Ord Maltings. Should be, but remember the older ones were malted in the now-closed Saladin box operation. Glorious whiskies and if I remember well, Brora's malt was done there too. Top-notch young Ord, this starts well.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Ord 11 yo 2010/2021 (53.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, Cognac cask finish, 252 bottles)

Ord 11 yo 2010/2021 (53.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, Cognac cask finish, 252 bottles) Three stars
Two years in an ex-cognac hogshead. A cognac hogshead? Never seen any hoggie in the Cognac region, I'm afraid. Colour: white wine. Nose: small berries, overripe peaches, barley syrup, gooseberries, a little sage, then cappuccino. With water: peaches and mirabelles. Mouth (neat): I'm not too sure this blending was necessary; the cognac's peaches and sultanas would tend to steal all the light. With water: more mirabelles, peaches, a few sultanas. Finish: medium, a little more herbal. Comments: very good but I prefer Ord al natural, with its perfect, waxy, deeper maltiness. Ord + Cognac = a very unnecessary combination, if you ask me, but yeah, it's very good. Just superfluous (unless this Ord was a wreck prior to finishing, which I doubt).
SGP:641 - 80 points.

Glen Ord 9 yo 2012/2022 (43%, LMDW, Artist Collective, first fill bourbon barrels, 1,920 bottles)

Glen Ord 9 yo 2012/2022 (43%, LMDW, Artist Collective, first fill bourbon barrels, 1,920 bottles) Four stars
Some natural Ord at an easy strength and with a wonderful MoMA-level label, what could go wrong? Colour: white wine. Nose: fully distillate-driven. White cherries, sauvignon blanc, green gooseberries, lemon blossom honey and granny smith. No quibblings. Mouth: exactly. Oozes of fresh and lemony smartness, with a little lime blossom and honeysuckle, mirabelles, bergamots, fresh figs and chamomile tea. Finish: there, a little beeswax. Then assorted preserved plums and a touch of green banana. Comments: as I said, 'exactly'. The mirabelles were the queens of the show.

SGP:651 - 85 points.

Glen Ord 10 yo 2009/2020 (53.3%, Hidden Spirit, refill sherry, cask #GO0920, 270 bottles)

Glen Ord 10 yo 2009/2020 (53.3%, Hidden Spirit, refill sherry, cask #GO0920, 270 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: branches and beeswax, peaches, toasted brioche, scones, nougat, white chocolate, a little wood smoke, panettone… With water: sameish., perhaps a little grassier. Mouth (neat): good, fresh, cakey, with buttered pears and plums, some fudge, apple compote, mead… With water: fruit skin and peel, banana skin, a drop of chartreuse… Finish: medium, rather peely. Nectarines. Grittier, greener aftertaste. Comments: do not add too much water, it's not the greatest swimmer on earth.

SGP:561 - 84 points.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 15 yo (54.2%, OB, Special Releases 2022)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 15 yo 'The Enchantress of the Ruby Solstice' (54.2%, OB, Special Releases 2022, Elusive Expressions) Three stars
Lovely bottle with some kind of mermaid, would go well for suntan lotion too. No, really. I hope the wood treatment remained kind of moderate, because I think I have noticed that they've been cranking them up with last year's SRs. For example, this is ex-bourbon (good) and wine (bad) casks. Wine casks, wazzat? What is 'a wine cask'? Could we remain focused on the whiskies? Colour: gold. Nose: cask-driven. Vanilla, cakes, Nutella, macchiato. Starbucks whisky. With water: more Nutella. I just hope no orang-outangs have been harmed along the process. Mouth (neat): good for sure but indeed, there is a lot of Nescafé and Nutella. With water: roasted hazelnut and more Nescafé. Finish: medium, very dry, pretty oaky. Comments: I can't quite see how and why this would be 'Rare and Exceptional', but indeed it is rather 'Fair and Okay'. Now I've heard they'll soon launch new expressions of Ord that will be much closer to the Distillery's brilliant own character, in the vein of the magical official 28 and 30 of old. Unless I've been dreaming once more… … …  
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Last one please, let's choose a potential winner…

Glen Ord 1996/2011 (53.3%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #2171, 310 bottles)

Glen Ord 1996/2011 (53.3%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #2171, 310 bottles) Four stars
So many great whiskies within this range! Their 1999s were excellent, but this is an earlier bottling that's been sleeping in WF's rooms for years and years. After twelve years of waiting, time to crack it open, don't you think? Colour: some of the whitest white wine. Nose: not a lot happening to be honest, perhaps some white chocolate, surely stearin, fresh hazelnuts, butter cream, popcorn… Let's dig deeper. With water: yeah engine oil and hurray sesame and pistachio oils. It is to be remembered that textures are extremely important, on the nose too. Mouth (neat): excellent, pure raw Glen Ord, punchy, a tad burning, full of polishes and cereals, very waxy, with oils (sesame, sunflower) and just beeswax, with a drop of limoncello. Amen and awafe. With water: don't drown it or you'll harm the lovely waxy structure. Oh well, just don't add any waters. Finish: long, very clean on oily grains. Comments: some very proper, cool, perfect, authentic Ord that's not been murdered with silly wines and woods. Cheerio Thomas!

SGP:462 - 87 points.

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


March 28, 2023


Aberlour of the hour

No, not particularly proud of that headline either, but at least we now know that ChatGPT wouldn't have done any better. Aberlour is another favourite of mine and luckily, the Distillery has released quite a few new ones. Let's try a wee bunch but first, a little apéritif…

(Picture, Malt Maniacs Craig, Davin and Krishna filling our own bottle at Aberlour Distillery in 2002)




Aberlour 2010/2020 'White Oak' (40%, OB, France)

Aberlour 2010/2020 'White Oak' (40%, OB, France) Four stars
Matured in American white oak casks and done for France, even the label is in French mind you. Now I remember the 2009/2019 had been pretty difficult, with a very dominant oak. Let's do this one quickly then. Colour: gold. Nose: no, they improved it a lot. A lot of cornflakes, vanilla pods, scones and shortbread, young bourbon, dandelions, pancake sauce… I'm very positively surprised. Mouth: incredibly cakey, soft, on fudge and panettone, apple crumble, biscuits, more shortbread, more cornflakes (ours is Golden Grahams), popcorn, a little tea… Finish: a little short but clean and cakey, with good honey then. Génoise, sponge-cake… Comments: phew, one of the little pleasures of life. And I forgot to mention white chocolate. Eminently drinkable and in this context, the 40% pose no problem.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Aberlour 18 yo 'Double Sherry Cask Finish batch No.001' (43%, OB, , +/-2023)

Aberlour 18 yo 'Double Sherry Cask Finish batch No.001' (43%, OB, , +/-2023) Four stars
This one's very new and looks like the finishing craze stroke again. I tried the earlier 18 only in January this year but liked it a lot (WF 86) even if it was wounded by some original sin as they had done it at 50cl. This new one, at 70cl, has been finished twice, although I couldn't tell you whether that was simultaneously or successively. Classic set-up anyway, PX + oloroso. Colour: amber with orange hues. Orange hues suggest spirit caramel but I doubt they would have done that here. Nose: gentle, with more sherry than in the white oak, naturally. Although the vast majority of sherry casks are white oak too, it has to be said. Some cognac, many raisins, bags of dried goji berries, figs and dates, a little orange juice, zwetschke tart, clootie dumpling, treacle toffee pudding… Very clean, absolutely lovely, but as we all know, with these profiles it'll happen – or not - on the palate. Mouth: so easy. Aberlour's fruitiness, more zwetschke, preserved peaches in abundance, blood oranges, apricots, raisins, chocolate liqueur, fudge, a touch of lemon to keep it fresh and lively… Finish: medium, citrusy, fresher and brighter. Allegro. Millionaire shortbread in the aftertaste. Comments: this one's extremely dangerous. Never pour more than 2cl in your glass at any time, and never refill before your (or your guests') glass is totally empty, or you won't control anything.

SGP:641 - 87 points.

A few A'bunadhs that we haven't tried…

Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #67' (59.8%, OB, Spanish oloroso butts, 2020)

Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #67' (59.8%, OB, Spanish oloroso butts, 2020) Four stars
We'll never manage to try them in order, we've already tasted the very good, subsequent batch #69 back in 2021 (WF 86). Typical French bordel. Colour: gold. They've got much lighter in colour than earlier batches. Nose: some rather delicate sherry, as the colour suggested, some metal polish, even some soot, then fresh plums (damsons) and cigarette tobacco, plus wee whiffs of brand new wellies. With water: a lot of chocolate, greengage jam, and more chocolate yet. Mouth (neat): super-good, sweeter and more liqueury than other batches (triple-sec, mandarine), then literally invaded by chocolate and 'soft' rubber. Other than that, more tobacco and more old walnuts from the sherry. With water: tops. Some mint and other herbs, even a drop of green chartreuse. No, any chartreuse, let's not push the envelope. Finish: the mint keep it fresh, if not refreshing. Liquorice. Lovely citrus in the aftertaste. Comments: great batch of A'bunadh 'sherry', sweeter and easier than #69. And than #66. There are othr kinds of A'bunadh but let's be patient…
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #71' (61.5%, OB, Spanish oloroso butts, 2021)

Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #71' (61.5%, OB, Spanish oloroso butts, 2021) Four stars and a half
How many batches do they do per year? Three? Four? Colour: pale gold (lighter than #67). Nose: less classic sherry, more greener walnuts, hay, herbs, sesame oil, herbal tea… It's almost as if they had refilled some butts with this batch, but I'm not saying this is not a style that I enjoy as well, on the contrary. But it is a little strong… With water: hold on, wax? Lemons? White asparagus? Like this a lot, but I wouldn't have said 'A'bunadh'. I suppose that's the whole point of doing batch bottlings… Mouth (neat): very good, really tight, grassy, tart, almost acidic, with a lot of concentrated lemon juice. It's hard to believe this was sherry, unless it was fino or manzanilla. But the walnuts give it away. With water: closer to #67 but still tighter, brighter yet, zestier… Inadvertently biting into some grapefruit (late in the night and after a few drams too many, obviously). Finish: terrific, zesty, even refreshing. I promise I won't mention Sancerre again (tsk-tsk). Comments: A'bunadh aficionados will find this one a little deviant – A'bunadhs ought to be sherry monsters, right. I'll beg to differ, I love this zestier style, despite the touches of pineapple that I found later on.

SGP:561 - 88 points.

Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #75' (60.9%, OB, Spanish oloroso butts, 2022)

Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #75' (60.9%, OB, Spanish oloroso butts, 2022) Three stars and a half
We're still in 2022, we'll never manage to catch up I'm afraid. Colour: full gold this time. Nose: back to… chocolate. I mean, cocoa. But it's begging for water this time, happy to oblige. With water: a little metallic, a little muddy, more on grist this time, barley, chocolate, bread, walnuts as usual… Some kind of amontillado of A'bunadh, perhaps. I'm wondering if this batch hasn't been caught between two stools, so to speak. Mouth (neat): huge, grassier, kind of dirtier (but if it's not a little dirty it's not malt whisky, right?) and a little brutal. So… With water: butterscotch, liquorice, tea, plus something clearly grassier and more rustic. Finish: long, malty, raw and rough. Comments: the others were rather high-definition A'bunadhs, while this one is rather more, yeah, robust and rustic. For your hipflask! (the one bearing skull and bones – or a made-up Celtic motif).
SGP:561 - 84 points.


Aberlour 'A'bunadh Alba batch #007' (58.9%, OB, +/-2023)

Aberlour 'A'bunadh Alba batch #007' (58.9%, OB, +/-2023) Four stars
James Bond's own batch. I've only ever tried Alba once, I think it was the first batch, and thought it was excellent (WF 86). Now I've already informally tried this new batch - with great food- and thought 'wow!' This is fully ex-bourbon oak, hence the name 'Alba'. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's also a good option to keep your distillate as clean and naked as possible when it's first-class. Terrific apples, gooseberries, green pears, kiwis, greengages, white cherries, green bananas… However, it would never move towards easy Haribo-like notes. They know how to stand. With water: viognier. I'm sorry I'm mentioning wine pretty often, but either I write 'viognier', or I'll need to list dozens of aromas, starting with white pineapple, guava… No, enough! Mouth (neat): superb, incredibly fruity, dead on target, with pears and grapefruits. Perfect with fruity desert, yes I speak from experience. With water: sure it's simple, even very simple, even very, very simple, but this immense fruitiness is irresistible. Finish: medium, ueber-fruity, with even a little varnish. Comments: a fruit bomb. And who cares if it was made in a lab (which it was not, of course). In truth this is very Aberlour, many ueber-fruity malts would be geared toward tropical/exotic fruits (do you really need names?) but in my book, only two of them are fully 'western-orchardy'. Both belong to Pernod, they are Longmorn and… Aberlour.

SGP:741 - 87 points.

A last one please… and back to age statements! (because even when good, NAS sucks, right…)

Aberlour 21 yo 1998/2023 (48.1%, OB, for The Whisky Lodge Lyon , 2nd fill American oak barrel, cask #17769, 84 bottles)

Aberlour 21 yo 1998/2023 (48.1%, OB, for The Whisky Lodge Lyon , 2nd fill American oak barrel, cask #17769, 84 bottles) Four stars and a half
I know the numbers don't add-up, but who cares, especially when we have both good age and proper refill on the tasting desk. Frankly, first fill or, even worse, virgin, are mega-tiring. Colour: white wine. Nose: olives, mezcal and Jamaican rum, in infinitesimal amounts. Otherwise waxes of all kinds (sunflower first) and root vegetables, white teas, subtle herbs, some fresh croissant (this is another French bottling after all), plus marzipan and Mozartkugeln (Lyon to Salzburg, that's only 865km and a 9h15 drive – rather 47h45 with a Tesla – no, of course not). Mouth: class Aberlour. Small white berries, elderberry eau-de vie, gooseberries, a little paraffin, many herbs, fruit and vegetable peel, holly, lime, granny smith… Finish: long, fatter, waxier yet. Comments: I would recommend pouring this chilled, with good caviar or gravlax. It's a fabtastic naked Aberlour, too bad there are only 84 bottles (probably none left at time of writing). Life isn't fair.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

It's sad that we'll probably never manage to try all the A'bunadhs, but I think we'll get over it.

(Thank you Pierre and team!)

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


March 27, 2023


  Happy International Whisk(e)y Day!

(The original Whisky Day. No one ever tried to make any money from this one!)

Today, let's raise a glass to Michael Jackson and please help fight Parkinson's Disease!


Indeed, International Whisky Day is historically the first ever of such days and certainly the only un-commercial one. It's always remained very low-key since its first online inception in 2008 (based on an idea by our friend Hans Offringa and done here on WF without fanfare) and then its first event 'in the flesh' that took place in the Netherlands in 2009. International Whisky Day simply celebrates the life of whisky writer extraordinaire Michael Jackson (1942-2007), who was born on this very day, March 27.

So, this year again, at Whiskyfun we thought a good way of paying tribute to 'Emjay' would have been to try whiskies from his favourite Distillery, which was Macallan (that used to show in some of his scores!) Especially one of the rarest of them all, the Macallan 50 years old 1928 'Anniversary Malt', which I had never tried before. I've just checked my 2004 copy of Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion (the 5th edition) and couldn't find his comments and score for that old glory, but I've noticed that he had scored the record-breaking (£1.5Mio, 2019, Sotheby's) Macallan 60 yo 1926/1986 'Fine & Rare'… 80 points, while commenting that it was 'dominated by the wood'. Gulp and gasp, to think that there is some of that 1926 in 'our' 1928… As for old malts whiskies in general, the great writer had also noticed that 'given that most whiskies do peak a decade or two earlier, it is not reasonable to expect the performance of malts in their 30s, 40s, or 50s to be of the very best'. So, while I'm not sure I'd fully agree with him (but who am I) I say enough with silly pricings for just any old juices!


I would add that what Emjay really liked in Macallan was certainly the result of the Distillery's original set-up from WWII and onwards (Golden Promise barley, several yeasts not just one, direct firing and first-fill sherry butts, first seasoned with musto, sometimes paxarette, then oloroso…) Besides, I don't remember having heard or read what he used to think of the first 'Fine Oaks', there's none of those in his 2004 Companion either. But he sure would have liked the fact that owners Edrington just bought 50% of Sherry makers Grupo Estevez (think Valdespino).

But good, let us proceed now, with two recent official NAS, perhaps one undisclosed indie (there are several running about), one brand new disclosed indie, and then that famous and now incredibly pricey 50/1928.



Five Macallan for International Whisk(e)y Day and for Michael Jackson



Macallan 'A Night On Earth In Scotland' (43%, OB, released for Hogmanay 2022)

Macallan 'A Night On Earth In Scotland' (43%, OB, released for Hogmanay 2022) Four stars
It seems that this rather expensive NAS was mainly matured in American oak, including bourbon barrels. I would dare to say that I really like the name of this expression, which reminds me a bit of François Truffaut, don't ask me why. There had already been a 'Night on Earth' in late 2021 but I never tasted it. Colour: gold. Nose: it reminds me a bit of the early Fine Oaks, with a rather simple but nicely floral and fruity nose. I find a lot of jasmine and orange blossom, maybe even rose petals, then simply apple and pear juice, vanilla, honeysuckle, acacia honey, and then a plum tart sprinkled with cinnamon. As it should be! Nice nose. Mouth: a light and quite elegant Macallan, rather close to a Balvenie we will say, with vanilla, tarte tatin, quince cake, ripe mirabelles, and barley sugar. I find it very consensual and certainly far from the 'historic' Macallans. Perhaps there is a bit of sherry in it, but it is very discreet. Some sultanas, perhaps. Finish: rather short but fresh and playful, fruity, mainly on apple pie. A light honey is back on the retro-olfaction. Comments: nothing to say, it's good! No comments on the prices, which make absolutely no sense (but you said no comments!)

SGP:541 - 85 points.

The next one should be weirder...

Macallan 'Inspired by Intense Arabica' (44%, OB, Harmony Collection, 2022)

Macallan 'Inspired by Intense Arabica' (44%, OB, Harmony Collection, 2022) Three stars and a half
No age statement once more. I have one question, how could a whisky be inspired by some coffee? I would understand if it had been inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, or by Johann Sebastian Bach, John Coltrane or Jimi Hendrix, or by a great chef, or by a famous philosopher, or by Boris Johnson (just kidding). But by coffee? Or did they simply try to somehow copy the aroma profile of coffee? Let's see, shall we... Colour: deep gold. Nose: it's the sherry that comes through first, in the amontillado style perhaps, then we have burnt wood, lots of cocoa, plenty of toffee, some hints of cloves, black nougat, and... Turkish coffee! With its grounds and all that. Behind it all, apple pie once again, and even more chocolate. Mouth: it's good, it's a bit like the 'Night' but with more oxidative sherry, walnut stain, dark chocolate and toffee, but the whole remains dry and even slightly drying, with quite a lot of over-infused black tea, which gives it a tannic aspect. Finish: not very long but really dry. A bit of wood smoke and even more black tea, straight from the samovar. The sherry is back on the retro-olfaction, with a bit of marmalade. Comments: not bad at all but probably not Bach, Coltrane or Hendrix, after all. I preferred the freshness of the 'Night'.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Let's move on to the independent bottlers, one being secret, the other 'revealed'. We shall start with the secret one...

Speyside Blended Malt 30 yo 1992/2022 (51.6%, Liquid Treasures for The Antelope Macau, refill butt, 520 bottles)

Speyside Blended Malt 30 yo 1992/2022 (51.6%, Liquid Treasures for The Antelope Macau, refill butt, 520 bottles) Four stars and a half
No last-minute tampering with this baby, it seems to have spent its entire life in a traditional way, in its second-fill butt. And it was a little bird that confided to me that it could well be a Macallan, a little bird that seemed to have all its wits about it but who, of course, could still be mistaken. And I believe, if I'm not mistaken myself, that this is the first time I've tasted a spirit bottled exclusively for Macau... Colour: gold. Nose: very fresh and fruity at the beginning, complex and aromatic, with a lot of elegance and a sherry that has managed to remain discreet. I find a lot of quince and mirabelle plums, juicy sultanas, a little camphor and menthol (thanks to the long years in the cask!), then some simpler things, such as hay and apples, for example. Maybe not exactly an endurance runner after all, but still very nice. With water: apple and plum juice, with a little cinnamon. Mouth (neat): a lot of apple compote, fruit jelly (surprising at 30 years), ripe plums, oranges, with a touch of chalk and always quince. The years don't show, I imagine that the honourable butt hadn't been filled only once before. With water: barley and agave syrup, and even more apple and quince compote. Finish: not extremely long but nicely herbaceous and fruity. Hay wine, an excellent drink that our Vosges neighbours prepare when they have nothing else to do. Comments: really in the style of several other blended malts of the same origin that I have tasted before, but I cannot formally confirm what the little bird whispered in my ear. Greatly excellent but maybe not totally grandiose, and vice versa.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

And now, a real first-fill by Signatory Vintage, brand new and beautiful...

Macallan 25 yo 1997/2023 'Symington's Choice' (55%, Signatory Vintage, 1st Fill Oloroso butt, cask #12/4, 660 bottles, 2023)

Macallan 25 yo 1997/2023 'Symington's Choice' (55%, Signatory Vintage, 1st Fill Oloroso butt, cask #12/4, 660 bottles, 2023) Five stars
The whisky is almost as dark as the label! Here is a brand new range from Signatory, very high-end, with some pretty extraordinary names like Laphroaig, Bowmore, and indeed, Macallan. The prices seem high, but I'm sure it's worth it and not just marketing hype. At least it's not another NAS with a fancy name and story, straight from ChatGPT or Wikipedia. Colour: coffee. Nose: a pretty wonderful dry sherry, full of Havana tobacco, prunes, dried dates, old walnuts, and hoisin sauce, with an extraordinary fermentary and even slightly acetic side (old balsamic vinegar). We're a bit in the territory of a very old Ténarèze, or of the best of the Macallan 'Gran Reserva' from back in the day. With water: it becomes rather more elegant, almost slightly austere, with a very "grand chocolate from a great house" side. I always find it amusing to hear my Swiss, Belgian, Italian, Spanish or French friends claim that they make the best chocolates in the world. What if it were the Scots, perhaps even Scots from Pitlochry? Mouth (neat): creamy, goes down easily! Well, almost, there's still a lot of thickness, a syrupy texture, liquorice and pipe tobacco, a bit of tar, lots of dried prunes, Corinth raisins, precious molasses (if it existed), then peppermint and very chocolatey toffee... With water: it peacocks and goes fractal, with lots of spices, dried fruits, organic matter, and various old liqueurs. Alright, let's finish it, we don't have all day... Finish: long as a day without bread and indeed, rather on very damp pumpernickel, chocolate, and competition fruitcake (we have the winner). Comments: a real hit, after Signatory's sublime range of '30th Anniversary Bottlings' of three or five years ago. Come on, let's store it in its bottle for twenty more years to try to reach 95/100, then we'll talk about it again. What's sure is that this is Macallan as in 'Macallan', that is to say In compliance with what is written on the label of the bottle that follows...
SGP:661 - 93 points.

Oops, I think I trapped myself, the next one might suffer a bit due to the strength difference. So let's wait for a good twenty minutes...
Here we are, back again...

Macallan 50 yo 'Anniversary Malt' (77°proof US, OB, Berman Imports Los Angeles, twist cap, 500 bottles, 750ml)

Macallan 50 yo 1926-1928/1983 'Anniversary Malt' (77°proof US, OB, Berman Imports Los Angeles, twist cap, 500 bottles, 750ml) Five stars
£50.00 back in 1983. Provenance is impeccable. The lovely blurb on the label is the same as that of the more common 25 yos Anniversary, including the reference to 1982's Gold Medal in Madrid and the promise of 'one of life's few genuinely incomparable experiences'. Globally, what they wrote at that time goes to prove that brands may change their minds over time. This label for the USA is different from the European version but the bottles are the same. First, as it really went under-underproof, which was still legal in the UK (the limit was at 65°proof UK, so 37.15% vol.), the American label is bearing the mention 'DILUTED Scotch Whisky', which is probably technically wrong as I doubt anyone's ever added any water to this old glory.

By the way the strength of the European version if of 38.6% vol., so indeed 77°proof US (actually 77.2°proof). What would I add, well, other aspects are delightfully weird here, such as the age statement, which is '50 years old' instead of 'over 50 years old' on the UK version. Indeed this is actually a vatting of three casks, two from 1928 and one from 1926, not a 'single vintage', so it is technically rather 54 or 55 years old, as it was bottled in 1983. As a matter of fact, the label for the USA does not actually mention any vintage. The labelling rules in America were really different from the European ones in 1983, as it seems! But let's try this glory now, if you agree...

Rare example of an old label for some Scotch whisky bottled at 65° proof UK (from Ainslie's label book, Diageo Archive)

Colour: dark red amber. Nose: Here we are immediately transported back in time, to old libraries, damp cellars, dusty attics, antique shops, traditional grocers, and the fracas of time... There are many old papers but also a tremendous amount of very, very ripe citrus, especially oranges. There is an old Italian vermouth side (our Italian friends will tell us that all vermouths are Italian, but really not sure about that), I am thinking for example of the 'Montenegro' that I rather like, even if it is far too sweet. In short, this old Macallan is almost an antique orange liqueur at this point. In the background, we will find an avalanche of dried fruits, especially dates, but also a quite incredible freshness. The low ABV is not even noticeable on the nose; In truth, I am thinking of a very old bottle of Bénédictine, we are a little in that universe. Maybe also a little old mead. I love it, of course, obviously, unquestionably... Mouth: Oh! The most wonderful old dust of all old dusts, fantastic old nuts, cocoa powder, and above all a lot of very old wines, from Burgundy to Bordeaux and back, with mushrooms, a little pepper, piperade, a lot of old waxes, a lot of old honeys (did you know that honey is the organic matter that best preserves and is even quasi-eternal?)... All this tends to become philosophical, we simply leave the territory of simple organoleptic analysis, a bit like when we taste a wine from the late 19th or early 20th century. Between us, it almost tastes like a very old Margaux, but shhh... Finish: Not very long of course, but soft and fruity again, with a return of these ripe citrus that we found on the nose. However, the old Margaux returns in the aftertaste, together with a slightly dusty cocoa, and old woods of all kinds. I thought I would find a bit of smoke at this stage, but I find none. Who cares. Comments: None. For what purpose? Wondering about the value of this wee whisky in hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling? Boring question. Cheers Michael Jackson! Happy International Whisky Day!
SGP: 341 - 93 (vulgar) points.

PS: If slightly overdone Celtic flutes do not bother you too much, I would advise you watch this lovely little 8-min movie by The Macallan.

(And grazzie mille, caro Diego!)

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


March 26, 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 little bag of little and big rums

Whiskyfun in Cuba (WF archive). Click here for a free wallpaper!
Remember the good old times of free wallpapers?


I promise we'll have a super-large bag of cognacs next Sunday, some extremely old! But in the meantime, this is another rum day…



Boukman 'Botanical Rum' (45%, OB, Haiti, spiced rum, +/-2022)

Boukman 'Botanical Rum' (45%, OB, Haiti, spiced rum, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
This is not anything by Chanel, it seems that this is Haitian clairin enhanced with various local botanicals and 'wild barks', and not sweetened. Sounds good, after al!, especially since the main label urges us to 'Listen to the voice of freedom rising in our hearts'. We're all game! Colour: gold. Nose: between absinth, rooibos tea, aquavit and gin. Certainly not unpleasant, but perhaps a little uncertain, or at least hard to categorise, should we need to do that. I wouldn't shout 'rum!' Mouth: it's not sweetened but it feels a little sweetened. This time we're flying between gentian cordial (Suze, Avèze), genepy, verbena liqueur, vermouths, wild carrots, caraway (aquavit indeed), gingerbread, cinnamon, chocolate, butterscotch, and unknown herbs. Forgot to mention citrus, which is big in there. Finish: medium, nice, even more citrusy. Citric gin aged in oak, with some vanilla. Comments: I don't quite know what to make of this drink. I really enjoy some sides, I'm just wondering how, where and when I would sip this intriguing concoction.
SGP:472 - 78 points.

Eminente 7 yo 'Reserva' (41.3%, OB, Cuba, 2022)

Eminente 7 yo 'Reserva' (41.3%, OB, Cuba, 2022) Three stars
A newish brand out of Cuba. Never saw it last time I was there, but it's true that that was five or six years ago. Perhaps a tad overpackaged and thus pretty un-Cuban, but there, let's see what gives, the truth lies in our glasses… Colour: deep gold. Nose: there's this profile that's pretty much on stewed vegetables and that indeed reeks of Cuba (think Sancti Spiritus). Notes of new plastics, new iPhone (but who would need that), artichokes, turnips and parsnips, fresh cane, asparagus… Those are all things I like, mind you. Great that it wouldn't smell of pineapple liqueur, unlike so many new brands. Mouth: feels really honest, not made in a lab, with delicate notes of sweet vegetables, sweet potato, carrot cake, fennel and dill, light citrus, angelica… All good, if a little too light on your palate. Finish: short, but what we get is clean, on lime, fennel and aniseed. Eggplant. Comments: respect, Your Eminence!
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Something completely different…

Skeldon 24 yo 1997 'SWR' (48.4%, S.B.S. for France, Guyana, 213 bottles, +/-2022)

Skeldon 24 yo 1997 'SWR' (48.4%, S.B.S. for France, Guyana, 213 bottles, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
I've always been believing that the only 'available' Skeldons had been distilled in the 1970s. What I gather now is that Skeldon Distillery stopped 'burning' in 1960 already, and that Uitvlugt and then Diamond went on making some 'Skeldon' in a Savalle column. The marque SWR means 'Skeldon William Ross', but I don't know if that Savalle still they've been using had originally been at Skeldon. Isn't Demerara complicated? Colour: deep red amber. Nose: varnish and new wardrobe straight from that famous Swedish maker, plus peonies, apricot jam, old bourbon (from Buffalo Trace), zwetschke tart, butterscotch and toffee, plus Nescafé, candy sugar and mocha. Mouth: it's a jammy rum, full of flower jellies too, ridden with ganaches and fruity chocolates just as well, toasted oak, roasted peanuts and more bourbon and Nescafé. It's actually a pretty light Demerara, rather geared towards marmalade and chocolate after a while. Finish: short to medium, with something, err, Cuban and bourbon-like!. But please no politics … Thinks old Havana Club, or perhaps some Travellers? Some chocolate. Comments: I was expecting something a little heavier and deeper, but it's still very, very good. Intriguing and really worth it.

SGP:551 - 84 points.

Enmore 29 yo 1992/2022 (58.4%, Rum Sponge, Guyana, 244 bottles)

Enmore 29 yo 1992/2022 (58.4%, Rum Sponge, Guyana, 244 bottles) Five stars
This baby partly aged in the tropics, then in Europe. The colour alone is pretty enticing. Colour: red amber. Nose: you have to bow, you cannot fight back. Menthol, Port Ellen (right), Blue Mountain coffee, plus varnish and hashish (S., down with rich rhymes!) With water: rather sublime. Onion soup, tar, liquorice, tobacco, nail polish, black olives, etc. And washing powder (true). Mouth (neat): extra-special. Petrol for two-stroke engines, plasticine, aniseed, Schwartzwalder cake, kirschwasser, black toffee and liquorice… With water: I find it exceptional, or is it just me? And it's even rather drinkable. Finish: long, a tiny tad drying and tannic, but after all, it's 29 year old rum. Great notes of old pineapple cordial in the aftertaste, plus liquorice. Comments: good fun, the label would make you believe that this is an easy sipper to down around the pool in the midst of summer, while it's rather a beast for late night tastings near the fireplace. This is misleading advertising, Mister Sponge! But it's true that this Enmore is so good…
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Let's jump to Jamaica…

New Yarmouth 27 yo 1994/2022 (57.1%, Precious Liquors, Lime House, Jamaica, cask #2211, 292 bottles)

New Yarmouth 27 yo 1994/2022 (57.1%, Precious Liquors, Lime House, Jamaica, cask #2211, 292 bottles) Four stars and a half
Caution is requested, in my short experience these little New Yarmouths can make for the most extreme Jamaican rums ever bottled. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a little hard to decipher but at this high strength, that's more than normal. Earthy oranges? Some broom too, white melon, ylang-ylang, iris… What's sure is that there's tons of liquorice allsorts. With water: more varnishes, also more custard, honeys, glue (our trustworthy UHU), new plywood, stuff from IKEA's… (not the meatballs that they make out of visitors who never found their way out). Mouth (neat): sandalwood, nectarines, blood oranges, peppermint liqueur (Get), liquorice wood, cinnamon liqueur… With water: some sweet chemicals, varnishes, polishes, fruity molecules, aldehydes, acetates… The thing is, I like this a lot. Finish: long and varnishy. Lovely! Some welcome olives in the aftertaste. Comments: it was not monstrous at all, after all. Careful with the amount of water you're adding.

SGP:662 - 88 points.

Perhaps a Clarendon…

Clarendon 21 yo 1999/2020 (56.2%, Flensburg Rum Company, Jamaica, 257 bottles)

Clarendon 21 yo 1999/2020 (56.2%, Flensburg Rum Company, Jamaica, 257 bottles) Four stars and a half
Remember, Clarendon means Monymusk, and the other way 'round. Colour: straw. Nose: this one's pretty elegant, rather on roasted sesame oil, linseed oil, then vine peaches, agave, engine oil, lanolin, lady's moisturiser, green bananas… Many subtler aromas in there, lovely. With water: white asparagus and preserved palm hearts. Tell me about something unusual! Mouth (neat): excellent, very salty and very fruity. Those small white pineapples, stewed in seawater (and why not?) and with some avocado juice and orange quarters. Something clearly smoked. It's unusual, I've never tasted 'this', it is very awesome. With water: back to a fairly lighter classic petrol + olives + rotting fruit combination, certainly not unseen in Jamaica. Finish: long, with more citrus. Olives and lemons, brine, some varnish. Comments: this note was short but the rum is big, yet superbly balanced and not 'extreme'.

SGP:652 - 89 points.

Good, a wee Caroni and we're done.

Caroni 23 yo 1996/2019 'The Last' (61.9%, Velier, 5,522 bottles)

Caroni 23 yo 1996/2019 'The Last' (61.9%, Velier, Trinidad, 5,522 bottles) Five stars
With the wonderful colonne that looks like Notre-Dame on the label. This from 24 barrels, aged in Trinidad till 2008, then at Diamond until bottling. Now the question would remain, 'the last what?' Colour: reddish amber. Nose: chocolate first, then acetone, balsamico and ratafia, then olive oil and salted liquorice. Let's not forget that this was bottled at 61.9%. Some greases and a bag of black olives. With water: we tamed it, it became gentler, most obedient, pretty soft. Mind you, it's still not Bacardi. Yeah, or Bumbu or Don Papa, Pernod's and Diageo's new darlings (a move that I still cannot fathom). Mouth (neat): ripe wild strawberries, liquorice, wine vinegar, model glue, rotting oranges, olives of all kinds, tar liqueur and nail polish remover. Not that we'd drink that on a daily basis, mind you. I mean, nail polish remover. With water: menthol, liquorice, brine, olives, tar, and even more liquorice. No subtleties, but it's perfect. I've often noticed that large small batches do erase those subtleties (say north of 15 casks) while on the contrary, true small batches, like 3-5 casks, do highlight them. Only a personal feeling, mind you. Finish: long, tops, sweet, easy. Soft liquorice all over the place. Comments: it rather tastes like 'a great official bottling'. Of course it is/was excellent.

SGP:563 - 90 points.

(Thanks Klaus and Rob)

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


March 25, 2023





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Ardbeg (in case I die)
I am getting married in May, and this weekend is my stag do. They say life should be about moderation, which follows that on occasion you should have excess - and I would be lying if I said that I was not expecting some 'modest excess' this coming weekend. In fact, as you read these notes, I may already be dead. 


With that in mind, and just in case, let's make today's post both suitably excessive and celebratory!
Ardbeg will forever hold a special place in my heart, it was where I had my first whisky 'job' back in 2005 and 2006 when I worked as a tour guide during my summer breaks at university. The official 10 year old remains one of my very favourite flagship official bottlings, and one of the all-time classics as well - even though many of the funny NAS ones are a bit 'woodish' and unlikely in my view.
Today though, let's simply bathe in the old glories that built the behemoth. With one or two aperitifs, naturally… 

Old Jug at Ardbeg, 2006. Nah it was already empty. (WF Archive)







Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, 1 litre 'For Duty Free Sale Only', L22244ML14 52)

Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, 1 litre 'For Duty Free Sale Only', L22244ML14 52)
I find the L codes rather muddling sometimes, given this is one of the old foil caps that spin, I would guess this is a 2002 rotation? I'm sure there are many L code warlocks out there who will give us a more accurate reading… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this reeks of early 90s Ardbeg, and is exactly how I remember the 10yo from those years when I was tourguiding at the distillery. Lots of sharp, chiselled peat smoke, lemon rinds in brine, smoky grist and wort aromas and yeasty tangs. Gorgeous distillate, that does something more intriguing with peat smoke than just pure ash and seawater. Mouth: deeply fat, tarry and full of seawater, tarred rope, iodine and wet pebbles. Mineral salts and softer, slightly herbal-accented peat smoke underneath. Some preserved lemons too! Finish: long, salty, tarry and full of gutsy, fattened peat smoke! Comments: not all the early batches were terrific, and in fact I think there's arguably higher average quality and consistency in the 10yo today, but this one is a total winner. I had a 2003 bottling at 89, but this one edges it I feel. Feels only right to bring this one along with me this weekend… 
SGP: 367 - 90 points.



Ardbeg 22 yo 2000/2022 (53.4%, The Whisky Exchange 'Celebrating 50 Years', barrel, 243 bottles)

Ardbeg 22 yo 2000/2022 (53.4%, The Whisky Exchange 'Celebrating 50 Years', barrel, 243 bottles)
There's a new and extremely impressive set of bottlings out from The Whisky Exchange celebrating the fact that Sukhinder and Rajbir have been selling fine bevvy since they were in short trousers. Other casks in this parcel have been generally excellent if occasionally on the woody side in my experience, but let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: a little tight at first, on some dusty oak, smoked mushrooms and then these very lovely olive oil and tar resin combinations, also fir wood and other resinous and aromatic things. The peat feels as though it has begun that lovely sub-dividing journey into many smaller, tertiary complexities. With water: putty, wormwood, old ointments, furniture waxes and that oh so classical tarred rope. Mouth: wonderfully on pine wood resins, natural tar extracts, green herbal liqueurs and things like dried mint, eucalyptus and smoked herbs. Blind you might even think of a particularly heavy Talisker with all these nicely assertive peppery and coastal aspects that come through secondarily. With water: still on herbs, peppery notes and tar, but with more peat and wood spice together now. Camphor and hessian touches too start to emerge. Extremely good! Finish: long, spicy, tarry and full of these wood oils, resins and herbal extracts. Comments: excellent, probably my favourite of this parcel of barrels thus far. And rather a different take on Ardbeg which is fun. 
SGP: 566 - 91 points. 



Ardbeg 10 yo 1999/2009 (57.5%, Chieftains Choice for German Chieftains Society, cask #114, barrel, 228 bottles)

Ardbeg 10 yo 1999/2009 (57.5%, Chieftains Choice for German Chieftains Society, cask #114, barrel, 228 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: superbly briny, limey and lemony! Also charred grapefruits, crisp peat and bonfire smokes, smoked sea salt and pure tar! With water: old hessian cloth, lapsing souchong tea, iodine and cough syrup! Stunning purity and power. Mouth: like drinking kiln smoke eau de vie! Wonderfully dense and tarry smoke with smoked oysters, soy sauce and black olive paste. Recalls some similarly aged 70s distilled Ardbegs. Becoming increasingly medicinal and tarry with time. With water: lots of salted liquorice, seawater, camphor and even more tarry rope vibes! Old creel nets and pickling juices mixed with lemon oil! Finish: very long and densely on pure tar, kiln peat smoke, raw seawater and lemon juice. Comments: deadly! 
SGP: 467 - 92 points.



Let's get serious… 



Ardbeg 25 yo 1976/2002 (53.5%, OB, for Velier, Single Cask, sherry butt, cask #2396, 492 bottles)

Ardbeg 25 yo 1976/2002 (53.5%, OB, for Velier, Single Cask, sherry butt, cask #2396, 492 bottles)
I have great memories of when about half a pallet of the now fabled 1972 single cask for Velier came back from Italy to the distillery. Fun was had. Colour: amber. Nose: pure tar, old rope and iodine! If you distilled 1970s Ardbeg you might get 1976 Ardbeg… what makes these bottlings so special is that immense distillate paired with some sublime and outstanding salty old sherry casks. Really focussed on the most intense salted Dutch liquorice, polished shoe leather, salted treacle, umami peat smoke billowing from the kiln and aniseed distillate with tiny notes of paprika and smoked fennel. The power, concentration and immensity are just amazing. With water: it adds a fruitiness now with dried citrus peels and spiced marmalades, smoked dark teas, camphor, fir wood resins and eucalyptus mixed with black olive brine. Mouth: dense, tarry, feels like the texture of hessian in the mouth, an almost granular combination of smoked sea salt crystals and peat ashes. Menthol extracts, wormwood, natural tar, seawater and smoked mead. So much going on and with such fantastic power and precision of flavour. The saltiness combined with the deep and raw peat flavour is breathtaking. With water: a totally glorious, cohesive whole. All flavours and satellite aspects of this profile fuse into one perfect blob of '70s sherried Ardbeg'. Finish: hugely long, on salted almonds and walnuts, anchovy paste, black olive, further tar extracts, bitter dark chocolate with smoked sea salt and the finest cured meats. A masterpiece in sherry and peat, with an aftertaste that glows with crystallised citrus fruits and smoked teas. Comments: A whisky where so much is happening simultaneously that it is really impossible to pin it all down and provide more than a collection of cluttered snapshots of what is happening. I would argue that these single casks from Ardbeg helped to alter the direction and pace of whisky culture; tasting this again now, it's not hard to understand why. Monumental, swaggering and utterly brilliant whisky. 
SGP: 567 - 94 points.  



Ardbeg 30 yo 1975/2006 (40.9%, OB, cask #4699, bourbon, 121 bottles)

Ardbeg 30 yo 1975/2006 (40.9%, OB, cask #4699, bourbon, 121 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: the naturally low abv reveals a lot of the undercarriage of this historic distillate here. Many softer things that feel like they had a lot to do with peat smoke in the distant past, things like bergamot, lightly smoked teas, wintergreen, cough syrups and some very fragile ancient herbal liqueurs. Also dried rose petals oddly enough. One of the most delicate 'old' Ardbegs I would say. Mouth: again, very much of delicate herbal ointments, medicines and liqueurs. Some tea tree oil, camphor and suggestions of resinous fir woods and a rather extractive hint of peat. Finish: medium, lightly peaty, sappy, still very herbal and teaish with some wee leathery touches in the aftertaste. Comments: probably would have benefitted from being bottled around 10 years earlier. I wonder, was this one of those casks that got 'visited' rather regularly in the warehouse by - ahem - 'tourguides'…? 

SGP: 455 - 86 points. 



Ardbeg 29 yo 1975/2005 (44.7%, OB for Islay Festival 2005, cask #4719, ex-fino hogshead, 188 bottles)

Ardbeg 29 yo 1975/2005 (44.7%, OB for Islay Festival 2005, cask #4719, ex-fino hogshead, 188 bottles)
I remember very well this one came out as a pair with an ex-oloroso 1975, I think I preferred this one at the time, but I don't have the Oloroso to hand to compare. Colour: deep gold. Nose: I am sure this has evolved since bottling. I do not recall it being this syrupy and herbal and rather liqueurish. Stunning notes of salted almonds and liquorice, an oily vibe to these ancient peat notes, lemon verbena and eucalyptus! Stunning and with beautiful poise and concentration. Mouth: wonderfully salty, herbal and cohesive on arrival. Like some old gentian eau de vie mixed with green Chartreuse. Putty, pine wood oils and camphor galore! There's a simplicity in some ways, but when the flavours are this glorious and this direct and beautiful, that's an asset. Finish: long and fantastically salty, herbal, resinous and tarry! Comments: probably a little more 'evolved' than I remember it after being freshly bottled. A stunningly salty, Fino-accented old Ardbeg.
SGP: 367 - 92 points. 



Ardbeg 31 yo 1974/2005 (51.8%, OB for UK, cask #2751, bourbon, 141 bottles)

Ardbeg 31 yo 1974/2005 (51.8%, OB for UK, cask #2751, bourbon, 141 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: I am sure all these old OB single casks from these years are evolving positively in glass. The sense I have, once again, is of greater concentration and alignment around these stunning herbal, tar resin and liqueur qualities. This one brings to mind much, much older bottlings of peated malts from decades previous, such as 1940s bottled 10yo Highland Park for example, with these deeply tarry, earthy and stunning complex peat aromatics. With water: gains remarkable complexity with impressions of shoe and metal polishes, soy sauce, umami seasonings, tarred wood and touches of peach and grapefruit. Mouth: the earlier Provenance bottling but plus extra layers of syrupy peat, pepper, wormwood and tar liqueur. Iodine, tiny sooty notes, earthy wood smoke and camphor. Huge whisky and totally stunning! With water: still hugely punchy, resinous and salty, but also fattier now and more decisively on menthol tobacco, camphor and pepper. Finish: long, hugely tarry and salty, with a kind of drying, waxy peat that glows in the aftertaste. Comments: at times rather brutal or even monolithic, but this is a deadly serious and utterly magnificent old Ardbeg that's still a smouldering athlete at 31 years. 
SGP: 368 - 93 points. 



Ardbeg 31 yo 1974/2005 (52.1%, OB for Oddbins, cask #2752, bourbon, 133 bottles)

Ardbeg 31 yo 1974/2005 (52.1%, OB for Oddbins, cask #2752, bourbon, 133 bottles)
After I finished at Ardbeg for the summer in 2006, I came back to Glasgow and worked at Oddbins - where there were still bottles of this one on the shelf and managers scratching their heads about how on earth they were going to sell them. Oddbins is another name that holds a very special place in my heart with many great memories of my time there - case of Super Bock anyone…? Colour: deep gold. Nose: a saltier one! Pure, vivid coastal freshness, with smoked sea salt, wet driftwood and beach bonfire smoke drifting all throughout. Quite amazing the distinct separation between these two sibling casks. With water: amazing evolution, towards tarmac and pickled shellfish stuffed into the pocket of a mothballed old Harris Tweed jacket - sorry, I came over all SMWS there! Mouth: funny how it cleaves closer to its sibling here, with these wonderfully syrupy herbal tones, cough medicines, aniseed, fennel, old tar liqueurs and iodine drops. Molten salted liquorice with gentian eau de vie! Huge whisky, once again! With water: settles into bog standard, huge 70s Ardbeg brilliance. Tars, concentrated and peppery peat, wood smoke and various herbal ointments, liqueurs and smoked teas. Finish: in the words of George Harrison: long, long, long! With many hessian, medicines, tar and sooty peat notes. Comments: I prefer its sibling's more profound, no nonsense power and precision, but this is still high flying, glorious old Ardbeg. 
SGP: 467 - 92 points. 



Ardbeg 32 yo 1974/2006 (54.5%, OB for Germany, cask #3326, bourbon, 110 bottles)

Ardbeg 32 yo 1974/2006 (54.5%, OB for Germany, cask #3326, bourbon, 110 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: a level even higher. Once again intense power and precision, but also bringing in those utterly gorgeous syrupy and herbal liqueur qualities by the warehouse load. Brimming with notes of spearmint, eucalyptus, dried out old tar liqueur, iodine, mothballs, roof pitch, salted almonds and hot brake pads! Rather dazzles your nostrils with 'Ardbeggy stuff'. There's also feelings of stunning aged dry whites such as chenins or rieslings. And let's not forget hessian and some gloriously pure and subdivided old peat smoke. With water: crystallised citrus fruits, smoked olive oil, putty, shoe polish and more of these outstandingly sharp and chiselled dry white wine vibes. Mouth: immediate, mind melting and orgasmic. Staggeringly salty and with an intensely powerful combination of peat and tar. Some kind of peat molasses with lemony kipper juice, pure iodine and lashings of camphor, lamp oil and earthy peat smoke once again. One of those whiskies you could spend all day just listing ideas of flavours as they pop into your brain. With water: a deep, resinous and highly complex smokiness that involves many kinds of smoked tea, dried herbal notes, umami seasonings such as Maggi, iodine again - more of everything really. Did I mention tar? This whisky has well and truly grabbed the wheel - where the hell are the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: outrageously and almost embarrassingly long, salty, tarry, immensely peaty and utterly perfect! Comments: there are experiences to be had at the KitKatClub or the Berghain that are less extreme than this. A whisky that is almost more about the sheer force of physical experience than just flavour. 

SGP: 478 - 94 points. 



Ardbeg 31 yo 1973/2004 (49.3%, OB, cask #1143, bourbon hogshead, 216 bottles)

Ardbeg 31 yo 1973/2004 (49.3%, OB, cask #1143, bourbon hogshead, 216 bottles)
This one was released at the distillery and it's another that I remember very clearly arriving. I remember we opened the first bottle to try it and were left pretty speechless at the time. This was in the days when about 30% of each cask would generally find its way into 'tasting stock'. Colour: bright straw. Nose: I think the 1973s always got a little lost in the 'noise' surrounding the 74s, 75s and 76s, which is a shame as I think you could say it's the fruitiest of those vintages and capable of being every bit as stunning. That's certainly the case here with gorgeous layers of seawater, grapefruit, smoked olive oil, those familiar tars and wood resins and pristinely crisp salty and mineral notes. We cannot help but think of perfectly mature, great dry white wines again. I would finally add there's a gorgeous underlying sootiness to this one as well. Mouth: the concentration and cohesion is just gorgeous and so immediate! Fat, oily, luxurious peat smoke, studded with black pepper, iodine drops, bandages, citrus fruit piths and peels, powerful notes of tar extracts and beautifully intricate herbal teas and liqueurs. A profile that feels rather like an 'old Ardbeg montage'. With time it gets tarrier, ashier, fatter and more mineral with this stunningly fresh and brittle saltiness. Finish: über long and stunning once again, with a powerful resurgence of these extremely chiselled, mineral and precise and dry white wine notes that make you think of chenin blanc or Sancerre. Comments: I'm so pleased to be able to try this one again, many great memories. And it remains indisputably a brilliant old Ardbeg that both stands apart from, and measures up to, those more celebrated later vintages. 
SGP: 467 - 93 points. 



We'll do these final two out of order if you don't mind, for reasons that I think will become pretty apparent. 



Ardbeg 1964/1996 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseur's Choice')

Ardbeg 1964/1996 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseur's Choice')
Let's remember, the 1960s at Ardbeg could be quite a different - although not necessarily inferior or superior - kettle of malt from the 1970s. Colour: pale amber. Nose: very much '1960s Ardbeg' in that this is a softer but rather 'darker' style of peat smoke. Quilted, deep, drying and herbal with a wonderfully resinous and salty accent from the sherry, then roots, tar, peppery phenols and softly earth tobacco notes. Some soft liquorice and smoked fennel seeds beneath all that. Even at 40% these old Ardbegs can be so impressive. Mouth: dense, sooty, peppery and drying peat smoke. Although here the 40% starts to feel slightly problematic. It is still nicely herbal, softly spicy and rooty with an undeniable 'old style Ardbeg' flavour, but perhaps just a little lacking in power. The sherry component brings some slightly fruitier notes of orange throat lozenges and smoked citrus teas. Finish: a good length with a rather treacle-y peat smoke quality, more peppery notes, a little soft waxiness and star anise. Comments: on an emotional level, this is a thing of fascinating fragility and slightly faded beauty; on a technical level it has undeniably been diminished by the bottling strength. The main thing you cannot help but wonder upon tasting these old G&M CC bottlings is: what was it like at cask strength… ? 
SGP: 554 - 89 points. 



Ardbeg 30 yo 1967/1997 (50.3%, Signatory Vintage for USA, cask #1141, oloroso sherry butt,  510 bottles)

Ardbeg 30 yo 1967/1997 (50.3%, Signatory Vintage for USA, cask #1141, oloroso sherry butt,  510 bottles)
Colour: mahogany. Nose: perfect integration of sherry and peat, which has formed a single and poetically beautiful identity that is simultaneously singular, but also immensely complex. If you wanted to really try and pick it apart you could mention such things as: root beer syrup, various medicinal herbs and roots, wormwood, camphor, sawn rosewood, furniture oils, pipe tobacco, soy sauce and an increasingly assertive, stunning salinity that involves salted almonds, salted liquorice and musty, funky dunnage earthiness. With water: cherry blossom, ancient tar liqueur, smoked sea salt studded in the darkest of chocolates - you get the picture. Mouth: a whisky that plays tricks. An immediate blast of syrupy, chocolatey, smoky sweetness, that does a screeching handbrake turn towards deeply earthy, drying notes of cured meats, tobaccos, walnut liqueur and fir wood resins. One of these perfect examples of peat existing in a myriad of sub-divided, fragmented and tertiary forms. Quite frankly, it's astonishing, it shouldn't work, or arguably even exist, and yet, here we are. With water: I don't really know what to say, just perfection. Finish: seemingly endless and verging on phantasmagoric. Comments: a philosophical whisky, put upon this earth to help you better understand beauty (ok, ok, get a grip Angus!). 
SGP: 477 - 96 points.



As I am sure you are all thinking after that very high flying flight, I am in need of some corrective punishment. After all, today's post is about excess, is it not? Let us therefore paddle with redemption in the shallow, yet undeniably murky waters at the other end of the 100 point scale…



Glenforres 12 yo 'All Highland Malt' (43%, OB, 1980s)

Glenforres 12 yo 'All Highland Malt' (43%, OB, 1980s)
Supposedly this is Edradour, from before Mr Symington took it over and 'adjusted' things for the better. Colour: pale gold. Nose: damp grains, cardboard and a suggestion of soapy dishwater. Also some plastic and plasticine impressions. Bad feelings here… Mouth: most definitely dreadful. Dishwater and detergent and hot plastic and wet cardboard. Some sweetness and some sort of mildly putrid honey in there too, but we are really reaching to find some - any - kind of redeemable feature. Finish: short in some ways, but there is just this most horrid soap in the aftertaste. Abusive and just foul. Gargling the dishwater from a Scout camp. Licking pigeon shit off a rusty Volkswagen bonnet. Comments: really, unequivocally, impressively atrocious whisky; it must take real talent to produce such a monstrosity. At times you think it isn't as bad as it is, but then it just kinds of sets in and becomes fully awful. Induces ennui to coagulate in your soul like gristle. 

SGP: 430 - 15 points. 



Hugs and eternal gratitude to KC, and the great people at the Golden Promise bar in Paris! 



Heartfelt thanks also go to Steffan for that Glenforres.



But I think most of all, I'd like to say thank you to Jackie Thomson - who has done, and continues to do, far more for Ardbeg than a whole garrison of pimply marketeers and an entire internet's worth of hyperbolic tasting notes combined.



Have a bonnie weekend, one and all!  




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


March 24, 2023


Little Duos, two unusual Tomintoul

Remember, Tomintoul is 'the gentle dram'. Now I remember I had once camped near the Distillery (like 40 years ago) and got eaten to the bones by zillions of midges that were anything but 'gentle'. Little f*****s!
(Photograph Tomintoul Distillery)




Tomintoul 12 yo 2010 (58.4%, Watt Whisky, Ruby Port finish, 282 bottles)

Tomintoul 12 yo 2010/2022 (58.4%, Watt Whisky, Ruby Port finish, 282 bottles) Three stars
Isn't ruby a gentler kind of Port indeed? Colour: rosé wine. Nose: sorcery! What they really got right is that they're using softer, gentler malts indeed, rather than big boys like the peaters, Ben Nevis or else, to do their finishings. It is a good way of avoiding any clashes. Anyway, we're nosing a fresh fraisier cake (génoise sponge, cream, strawberry syrup and fresh strawberries, plus sometimes roasted bits of pistachios) plus indeed some pinot noir rosé. Some cracked pepper, which works extremely well with strawberries anyway. With water: grenadine syrup and cloves, with some sour wood. Less obvious when reduced. Mouth (neat): not that easy, some bitterer spices seem to be fighting the strawberries and all that happens right on your tongue. With water: nicer, sweeter, easier. Blood oranges big time, plus indeed grenadine and, I would say, prickly pears. Finish: medium, sour, sweet and spicy. Reminds me of cherry stem tea. Comments: the trick would be to be able to do a finishing without using any wood. Let's send a letter to the SWA… Anyway, the new Tormore ex-rye is in a whole different league, I think.

SGP:651 - 82 points.

Hey, we were having a 1972 in the boxes! (not in the shelves – but does that matter)…

Tomintoul 40 yo 1972/2012 (48.5%, Maltbarn, bourbon)

Tomintoul 40 yo 1972/2012 (48.5%, Maltbarn, bourbon) Four stars and a half
Remember, 1972, vintage of the century. But there are several vintages of the century within each century; if you listen to the Champagne makers they've already had a good dozen since the beginning of the current one, and it is accelerating, it's truly a miracle! Yeah, yeah… Colour: gold. Nose: subtle notes of mead and pollen, gianduja, milk chocolate, all-flower honey, dandelions, then sultanas, arrack, dried figs… I have to say anything containing dried figs wins in my book. Awesome nose, firmer than those of the 1960s vintages that were rather more fragile. Mouth: the figs are having the lead, and those figs are starting to ferment. It is an unusual feeling. Some orange wine too (I mean wine made out of oranges), some curious hints of silver (spoon), and just more mead. Finish: medium, a little fermentary, with a little ginger and bitter beer. It is almost as if the whisky had started to re-ferment (which cannot happen, we agree). Comments: great fun. The nose was pristine, the palate a tad more, say uncertain, but it's a wonderful old whisky, indeed great fun in your glass.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

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


March 23, 2023


No way to decide between them! Bowmore 30 OB vs. 25 IB

Only two of them today, but not just any Bowmores. We'll start this wee session with the lightest of them, the very recent 30 years-old, then we'll have Signatory's latest 'Symington's Choice'. Deal?

Bowmore 25 yo 1997/2023 'Symington's Choice' (55.9%, Signatory Vintage, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2422, 616 bottles) Oh, 25 years, let's check if my theory stands… 1997 is a 'famous' vintage at Bowmore, but rather mysteriously, I've never tried any from Signatory's racing stable, while they've had many of them. Colour: gold. Nose: much more medicinal and coastal, and rather on lime and grapefruit. I find it just a little blocked, but that may be both the high strength and bottle shock, as this baby was bottled just one month ago. Or am I exaggerating the effects of bottle shock? I'm sure water will unlock it anyway… With water: it does. Much more chalk (Sancerre indeed), bandages, some funny vegetables (salsify!) and some sage, seaweed (wakame), and yeah, sauvignon blanc. That's tomato bush, elderflowers, asparagus, flints, gooseberries, and indeed, drumroll… Mangos! Mouth (neat): powerful and very coastal indeed, very salty, sancerrey as I sometimes say, with oysters and lemons dancing a jig on your tongue. Sharp smoke and ashes, plus just tiny hints of orange juice. Some strong green tea and some walnut skins too, that may be the sherry. With water: I've checked the label carefully and it does say 'Bowmore' and not 'Sancerre'. How bizarre… It's also got hints of mezcal and Jamaican rum ala Hampden. No, seriously! Finish: long and very chalky and indeed, maritime. Oysters and lemon plus chalk and a little cut grass. A little capsicum in the aftertaste. Comments: both Bowmores were very different, but as far as quality goes, it is a tie, which is not something we weren't expecting. SGP:466 - 91 points.
David Turner, Distillery Manager (WF Archive)



Bowmore 30 yo 'Release 2022' (45.3%, OB, 2,556 bottles)

Bowmore 30 yo 'Release 2022' (45.3%, OB, 2,556 bottles) Five stars
Made by Distillery manager David Turner, who would sit right between Jorma Kaukonen and Marie Curie in my personal Pantheon. This is a blend of ex-sherry hogshead and ex-bourbon barrel Bowmore that doesn't come cheap at around 3,000€ a bottle (but barley got expensive, mind you). My dear mother would say that's 100€ per year of maturation, but she never quite realised that the prices of whisky were inexplicably exponential depending on its age. Colour: amber. Nose: all the ripe mangos and aromatic honeys you would dream of, you would almost believe this was distilled in the 1960s. Beyond that, some dried kelp, sandalwood, moss, some black tea that you would nose straight from its box, surely some peppermint and something medicinal (a pack of cough lozenges), then rather a lot of dark chocolate. These notes of black loose leaf tea are spectacular. Perhaps Golden Monkey? Mouth: all the tropical fruits are on stage now, mangos of course, also passion fruit, blood oranges, guavas, plus that black tea we were mentioning, some pu-her too, some coffee, more dark chocolate, some pipe tobacco… It's not really as fat as, for example, the Black Bowmores, but there are some similarities. The best piece of news is that no violet or lavender seems to have been involved (I didn't say laundered!) in this rather perfect mix. Finish: medium, even more of those teas, also on tannic honeys such as chestnut, not to mention the famous Italian 'corbezzolo' from Sardinia (harvested from arbutus or strawberry trees). Ever tried that bitter honey? Pepper, smoke and bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: we've seen in most peaters (especially Laphroaig and Bowmore) that exotic fruits would come out after a good 25 years in wood or say 10 or 12 years in wood plus 30 or 40 years in glass. It's a glorious transmutation of peat, shall we say rather empirically. It's a superb Bowmore, Mum.
SGP:664 - 91 points.
P.S. I was having an open Seadragon but I just noticed that it had gone flat! A shame, I'd have loved to do some comparisons 'in-vitro'.

And now the new Signatory…

Bowmore 25 yo 1997/2023 'Symington's Choice' (55.9%, Signatory Vintage, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2422, 616 bottles)

Bowmore 25 yo 1997/2023 'Symington's Choice' (55.9%, Signatory Vintage, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2422, 616 bottles) Five stars
Oh, 25 years, let's check if my theory stands… 1997 is a 'famous' vintage at Bowmore, but rather mysteriously, I've never tried any from Signatory's racing stable, while they've had many of them. Colour: gold. Nose: much more medicinal and coastal, and rather on lime and grapefruit. I find it just a little blocked, but that may be both the high strength and bottle shock, as this baby was bottled just one month ago. Or am I exaggerating the effects of bottle shock? I'm sure water will unlock it anyway… With water: it does. Much more chalk (Sancerre indeed), bandages, some funny vegetables (salsify!) and some sage, seaweed (wakame), and yeah, sauvignon blanc. That's tomato bush, elderflowers, asparagus, flints, gooseberries, and indeed, drumroll… Mangos! Mouth (neat): powerful and very coastal indeed, very salty, sancerrey as I sometimes say, with oysters and lemons dancing a jig on your tongue. Sharp smoke and ashes, plus just tiny hints of orange juice. Some strong green tea and some walnut skins too, that may be the sherry. With water: I've checked the label carefully and it does say 'Bowmore' and not 'Sancerre'. How bizarre… It's also got hints of mezcal and Jamaican rum ala Hampden. No, seriously! Finish: long and very chalky and indeed, maritime. Oysters and lemon plus chalk and a little cut grass. A little capsicum in the aftertaste. Comments: both Bowmores were very different, but as far as quality goes, it is a tie, which is not something we weren't expecting.
SGP:466 - 91 points.

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


March 22, 2023


A tiny bag of blends
(some pretty harmolodic)

Blended malts or blended Scotch. In truth not many of them are reaching Château WF's doorstep but we like them because they allow us to do relaxed tasting sessions. Easier ones, at least, than 'eight Dailuaines' or 'seven Mannochmores'. Cool, zen, peace…

Recommended reading ->


The Hive (46%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, +/-2022)

The Hive (46%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
We've never tried this simplified NAS, the ones we've tried were the 8 yo, the 12 yo and some 'Batch Strength' versions. Batch Strength #2 had been wonderful (WF 87). Besides, we're suckers for anything related to bees and hives while in that respect, the new label is spectacular. Colour: white wine. Nose: all on honeysuckle and dandelion, plus apple juice, gooseberries, greengages, preserved peaches and, indeed, a little light honey, perhaps acacia. Remember, never get rid of dandelions, the bees need them in spring. Mouth: some extremely fine sweet and easy young malt whiskies from Speyside. Apples and peaches, plums, a little orange blossom water, drops of Cointreau or Grand-Marnier, indeed some honeyness (but many malts shelter honey) and some sweet malt, IPA, molasses honey… One could pour this over his/her pancakes for breakfast. Finish: medium, more honeyed yet. Comments: I'm wondering what bees would think. Did you know that they enjoy alcohol and that some plants even let their nectar ferment to better attract our little friends? But their favourite drink is… pastis.

SGP:651 - 84 points.

White Heather 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2023)

White Heather 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2023) Four stars
Billy Walker and gang, when they bought Glenallachie, also got this legendary old brand the Aberlour folks had been taken care of in the 1950s and 1960s. Those old square bottles of White Heather, with their white labels and even when young (5, 8)  were just stunning and up there with the very best blends ever bottled. This new White Heather shelters different whiskies, naturally, but the proportion of malt remains very high (47%). The Northern Highlands are having the upper hand. The whole has been finished for three years – so rather second maturation - in active casks (PX, oloroso, virgin American oak).  Colour: apricot gold. Nose: malty indeed, and rather in the stye of the lovely Hive, with some honey, pancake sauce, even icewine, sweet flowers (buddleia, mullein, white clover…), a little sweet rum, some raisins, triple-sec… and guess what, no obvious grain. But grain's pretty silent anyway, is it not. There's a little Islay inside but I do not get it (while some charming person at the parent company doesn't seem to get it either). Was it Bunnahabhain? Bruichladdich? Mouth: still malty, very classic, on more pancake syrup, butterscotch, millionaire shortbread, vanilla cake, marzipan and macaroons, nougat, beeswax (here we go again)… And just a tiny salty tang that may, or may not, suggest some 'peat'. Finish: medium, rather more coastal indeed. A little ginger, honey, and something a little Orkney-y. Lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: love blends when the grain don't feel at all – and when the woods behaved, which was the case here. Super good. We'll try a bunch of Glenallachies soon, by the way.

SGP:651 - 86 points.

Caisteal Chamuis (46%, OB, Blended Malt, +/-2022)

Caisteal Chamuis (46%, OB, Blended Malt, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
This is a blend of +/- peated malts from Islay, Skye and Orkney, including some from parent Distillery Torabhaig, the whole finished in First-fill bourbon barrels for… well not too sure what for (S.!) Castle Camus (Caisteal Chamuis in Alsatian, I mean local Gaelic) used to be the Macleods' fortress on Skye. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: young smoke, young pears, kelp and fumes, plus some bacon and some smoked kippers, graphite, pencil shavings and tiny touches of suet. Some meadow honey coating the whole composition. Mouth: I'm deeply sorry, but it's got a Talisker side (seawater, coal, pepper, brine) while there most probably isn't a single drop of Talisker inside. A few wee pink olives, some brine, gherkins, more pencil shavings, ashes, lapsang souchong, smoked fish… I certainly do enjoy this. Finish: long, smoky, with this ash-led development that would rather remind us of CI. Comments: not too complex, but excellent.
SGP:456 - 84 points.

Caisteal Chamuis 12 yo (46%, OB, Blended Malt, +/-2022)

Caisteal Chamuis 12 yo (46%, OB, Blended Malt, +/-2022) Four stars
Another one by Mossburn, owners of Torabhaig. This baby was finished in oloroso sherry casks (why?) and could not, since it's 12, harbour any Torabhaig, naturally. Colour: gold. Nose: nice, as they say in whisky tastings. Fatter than the NAS, with some paraffin and even lamp oil, some brine (olive, gherkin, capers), mosses and garden herbs, then apple juice and tobacco ashes. Touch of mint and lemon in the background. Pretty east-coast (of Islay). Mouth: rather powerful, with this classic trio peat + lemon + brine/seawater. The sherry remains discreet (no big first fill oloroso) and at times you would believe it was rather some gentler manzanilla. Some granny smith too, lemon oil, iodine… Would you please pass the oysters and the langoustines? Finish: long, this time rather remind me of some young peater from Mull. Probably not. I like the salty and almost rieslingy aftertaste. Perhaps a few green walnuts, was this that oloroso? Comments: just excellent too, a very nice composition.
SGP:466 - 85 points.

Dumbarton Rock (46%, Dràm Mor, blended malt, 2023)

Dumbarton Rock (46%, Dràm Mor, blended malt, 2023) Four stars
Another very lovely bottle, gone are the days of thistles, bagpipes and deer. And this is not, mind you, some grain whisky from Dumbarton Distillery, as the name would rather refer to the city where those lovely folks at Dràm Mor are located. Colour: light gold. Nose: oatcakes, shortbread and wild herbs, plus some leaven bread, fresh croissants (being French, I can't live without croissants), and baguettes to boost (same comment). A pretty subtle fresh oakiness in the background, with some sourdough bread too. Which I love. Mouth: simple and exactly right. High-precision malty and bready composition, with some battelman/bettelmann, tart apples and greengages, plus a little grapefruit marmalade and some quince jelly. A drop of rooibos tea too. Finish: medium, on similar notes, plus slightly undercooked breads and cakes (my favourites), and just a big smile because of the extremely fair price (£29.99, is that even possible?) Comments: careful, this babe is rather arousing. Thumbs up.

SGP:551 - 87 points.

A last one please…

Peatside 12 yo 2010/2022 (55.9%, Single Cask Collection, blended malt, PX sherry cask, cask #3302, 304 bottles)

Peatside 12 yo 2010/2022 (55.9%, Single Cask Collection, blended malt, PX sherry cask, cask #3302, 304 bottles) Three stars and a half
Hold on, this might not be an actual blend. Too late, Kate… Colour: gold. Nose: no peaty explosion at this point, rather some burnt kougelhopf and a little gunpowder. Burnt raisins. I think we'll add water right away… With water: totally on raw chocolate. Seriously, this is bottled chocolate. Mouth (neat): well, sherry and peat. Huge bacon, struck matches, crude chocolate, oversteeped smoked tea, leather, 'gulping down the ashtray'… …  Good fun, it's more dissonant than Ornette's wildest, if that rings a bell. Harmolodic whisky, got to love that. With water: bay leaves, ginger, artichokes and even more raw chocolate. Finish: long. Boiled lapsang souchong and hot chocolate forgotten on the stove. Comments: peat and PX, the most burlesque association in whisky in my book. The thing is, we love chocolate at WF.
SGP:366 - 83 points.

March 21, 2023


Little Duos, today Oban love


A small secret piece of Oban's wormtub (WF Archive)

There is a brand new official limited edition Oban, only available at the distillery and named 'The Macleans Young Teddy'. We're going to taste it right away, but as a sparring partner, we'll have a 14-year-old from a relatively recent batch. Let's say within five years (unfortunately, we don't have any other more recent Oban in the reserves of Whiskyfun!) We love Oban, especially its wormtub on the roof (more or less on the roof).

Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2017)

Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2017) Four stars and a half
The last batch of 14 that I tasted was from around 2016 (we're still as ahead of schedule as ever, you see). That one was superbly delicious (WF 88). Colour: golden. Nose: this 14 is quite beautifully maritime, with quite a lot of dried seaweed, oysters, driftwood that has just arrived on the beach, then some notes of leather and mild mustard, quite typical. I also find crushed and wet slate, as well as shellfish and some citrus notes. I've always loved the freshness of these Obans, especially as this one seems less marked by wood, and perhaps by spirit caramel, than versions from ten years ago. Mouth: mustard, brine and peppery orange marmalade, here is a perfect Oban. We also find some notes of tobacco, salt, fresh nuts and touches of cardamom and perhaps even fresh coriander. The relatively light alcohol degree is never a problem, quite the contrary. Finish: medium-length, very coastal, rather smoky, with more bitter oranges and even a few drops of fino. Only the retro-olfaction is slightly woody and drying. Comments: exactly as I expected. It seems to me that Oban's whisky is no longer as well-known these days, perhaps because the distillery is really small? One should not underestimate it. As they say at Dior, j'adore!
SGP:562 - 88 points.

Let's go, let's taste the latest one...

Oban 'The Macleans, Young Teddy' (50.8%, OB, Distillery Exclusive, 4,542 bottles, 2023)

Oban 'The Macleans, Young Teddy' (50.8%, OB, Distillery Exclusive, 4,542 bottles, 2023) Four stars and a half
There had already been an 'Old Teddy' but I don't think I've ever tasted it. This new edition has been finished in palo cortado and oloroso casks. Colour: pale gold. Nose: we're not too far from the 14, this new NAS being just a little fruitier and even downright sweet on the nose. I find quite a bit of fudge and toffee, salted butter caramel, and once again those seaweeds straight from the ocean. Or from Northern Ireland. With water: we're even closer to the 14-year-old, with these mustardy notes rising to your nostrils, along with a bit of mentholated tobacco (Kools, menthol snus...). Mouth (neat): once again, this is sweeter and fruitier than the 14, rather on juicy tangerines and apples, although the coastal side is never absent. Sweet draught cider. With water: very good, very close to the 14. Let's say the 14-year-old with a bit of apple juice. Everything else is very nicely salty and lightly peppery, with some nuts and a bit of mustard. Exactly what we expected. Finish: quite perfect. Comments: a very, very pretty variant that strays very little from Oban's usual style. I won't complain, but what's certain is that we would like more expressions from Oban, in the style of that extraordinary 32-year-old from about twenty years ago (WF 93, no less). There's no reason to attribute a different score than that of the 14, only the sweetness is more prominent here.

SGP:652 - 88 points.

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


March 20, 2023


Little Duos,
today Lagavulin OB vs. IB

As it says. There are very few indie ones while I have just never heard of that Offerman gentleman, beyond Lagavulin circles. Who is he? Shall we need to ask some AI?  

At Lagavulin Distillery in the mid-2000s (WF Archive)


Lagavulin 11 yo 'Offerman Edition' (46%, OB, charred oak, 3rd Edition, 2022)

Lagavulin 11 yo 'Offerman Edition' (46%, OB, charred oak, 3rd Edition, 2022) Three stars and a half
Mr Offerman is some kind of very talented comedian, apparently, but he's practically unknown in Alsace and in France, so let's focus on the whisky… Having said that, since this is a '3rd Edition', that fine fellow should really be very well-known somewhere. Perhaps on Islay? Colour: light gold. Nose: starts with banana foam, dried pineapple cubes and guava syrup, which suggests charred oak indeed. Very gentle, pretty un-Lagavulin so far. Notes of daiquiri then, while the famous smoke's starting to slowly take over (phew!) More charred things, coconut, maize syrup, then flowers (elderberry, acacia beignets), marshmallows… I'm not hundred percent sure Lagavulin and heavy char do tango well, actually. A little sweet on your nose. Mouth: the smoky spirit is fighting back, but the syrupy sweetness has not said its last word yet. More marshmallows, wine gums, dried fruits (especially coconut, papaya and pineapple), vanilla liqueur… Finish: medium and very sweet. Comments: I like it, I like anything Lagavulin anyway, but this one rather reminds me of the neighbours' 'Select' or 'An Oa'. In short, it's not exactly necessary in my book. Oh and not sure heavy charring really belongs to Scotch whisky anyway. As Dilbert used to say, 'Innovation? You go first!' While others used to say that being in the wind was the ambition of a dead leaf. Okay, okay…

SGP:745 - 84 points.

Islay (40%, Lombard for Blooming Gems, +/-2020)

Islay (40%, Lombard for Blooming Gems, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
It's not that they wouldn't tell you much about this wee whisky, they would just tell you nothing. All we know is that this is Lagavulin. Blooming Gems are some wee, pretty low-key indie bottlers from France, focusing on quality. Yeah I know they all say that (as we used to say, if they all bottle only the best, where goes the rest?) By the way, I'm glad to try some fairly recent stuff from Lombard's, their Jewels of Scotland range was great! Colour: with burnt tyres and coal tar, this could not not be Laga. With dried kelp plus oysters and scallops 'from the bay', there's even less doubt. No problems at all with the low strength, we're pretty much within the style of the early Finlaggans or of the early disclosed Lagavulins by the same Vintage Malt Whisky Co. In short, lovely juice. Nose: Mouth: terrific, with good rubbers, tars, salty liquorice lozenges, oysters, seawater, a little tobacco, a few walnuts, some lemon juice… Excellent. Finish: medium, salty, even more on the trademark Lagavulin tar and rubber. This adorable 'Lagavulin' feeling in the aftertaste, think early 16s. Comments: nah, of course we'd have preferred 46, 50 or even 57% vol., but this sure is some juice de la muerte.
SGP:467 - 89 points.

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


March 18, 2023





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
A trip to Ireland!

For once, a title that is literal and not only figurative, as I am off on a family trip to Galway to celebrate my sister, Eilidh's, 30th birthday this week - which also happens to fall on St Patrick's day. So why not a dedicated Irish Whiskey session, let's hope for a lot of easy drinkers and an abundance of tropical fruits!


Egan's Endeavour Irish Single Malt (46%, OB, -/+ 2022)

Egan's Endeavour Irish Single Malt (46%, OB, -/+ 2022)
Triple distilled apparently and reportedly hailing from Tullamore Distillery. The wood recipe is also a little terrifying: virgin oak, sherry and imperial stout casks were all apparently deployed… Colour: bright straw. Nose: I actually find this rather pleasing, mashed banana mixed with breakfast cereals, a little golden syrup and some honey. Fresh and easy so far, if a little simplistic. Mouth: also surprisingly good, on this same theme of mashed banana, toasted brown bread, breakfast cereals and a little runny honey. Simple, but the ABV gives the right sense of weight and the sweetness doesn't feel intrusive or overly oak-doped. Finish: short, light, flowery and fine. Comments: to think, I had my pistols on the table for this one, as Serge would say. But actually, it's a perfectly fine and humble wee drop. I'm always wary of these hyper-retro designs, but this one is ok.

SGP: 541 - 81 points.



Teeling Small Batch (46%, OB, -/+ 2022)

Teeling Small Batch (46%, OB, -/+ 2022)
Malt and grain, finished in rum casks. In Scotland would we call this a 'single blend'? Colour: bright straw. Nose: indeed, grainier and more mashy, closer to the raw ingredients and with rather a lot of beery notes, such as stout and shilling ales. Mouth: ok, I get the rum here rather assertively now. Also the grain. I find this a little challenging I'm afraid with these rum notes that spill over into acetone. Some fruitier components after a while though, which is a slight recovery. Finish: short, slightly on milky tea and more sweet rum. Comments: I find it a bit rummy and a bit grainy for my tastes I'm afraid.

SGP: 440 - 77 points.



Ok, enough prevarication, a classic please…



Redbreast 12 yo (40%, OB, -/+ 2022)

Redbreast 12 yo (40%, OB, -/+ 2022)
A long time since I tried this one… Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes, brown bread, copper coins (old thruppeny bits in a leather coin pouch), wee whiffs of engine oil, old toolboxes, waxed jackets and then more precise notes of green and yellow fruits. A highly specific style and character that remains reassuringly distinctive here. Mouth: same feeling of distinctiveness straight away. Lots of brown bread, dark beers and grains, muddled with overripe yellow fruits, fruit salad juices and touches of mineral oil and sandalwood. I don't even mind the 40% here, as there's a sense of oiliness about the palate that carries everything just perfectly. Finish: medium, on wood saps, tobaccos, more mineral oils, metal polish and slightly sharper green fruit notes such as gooseberry. Comments: I am immediately left feeling disappointed that I don't have any other Redbreasts to try in this session. I'm also not too sure this recipe hasn't been improved in recent years. Still a benchmark and a true classic.

SGP: 540 - 87 points.



Irish Single Malt #1 13 Year Old 'Batch 3' (46.8%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1726 bottles)

Irish Single Malt #1 13 Year Old 'Batch 3' (46.8%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1726 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: cut grass, glazed orchard fruits, pears in syrup and sharper notes of gooseberry and lemongrass. Also a nice chalky touch underneath. All very good and as expected. Mouth: easy, slightly naked and on raw cereals and hints of sweetened porridge. Still these nice grassy elements, but more floral here, some bailed hay, some linen cloth and hints of pollens. Very light and perhaps a notch simplistic. Finish: short, grassy, citric and with a feeling of citrus vitamin tablets in mineral water. Comments: dead easy and probably perfect for some kind of Irish highball type concoction, or over ice in summer? Just a bit on the simple side otherwise, but then simple is not bad thing sometimes.

SGP: 440 - 83 points.



Irish Single Malt #2 15 Year Old 'Batch 6' (50.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1900 bottles)

Irish Single Malt #2 15 Year Old 'Batch 6' (50.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1900 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: a firmer style, more on shoe polish, freshly malted barley, warm grist and plain porridge. But also some nice notes of crushed flower stems and lemon rind. With water: lovely, develops on honeycomb, papaya and tiny herbal touches. Very elegant. Mouth: that firmer profile translates nicely to a rounder, more honeyed affair on the palate. Lovely notes of green melon, yellow plum and gooseberry. With water: similarly juicy but with more fruity and floral abundance now. Still this nice sense of maltiness adding backbone. Finish: medium, on shoe polish, a warming peppery note and hints of young calvados and cut green apple. Comments: this is approaching my preferred style of Irish: fruits overlying cereals with charm and balance.

SGP: 541 - 85 points.



Irish Single Malt #2 16 Year Old 'Batch 5' (50.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 990 bottles)

Irish Single Malt #2 16 Year Old 'Batch 5' (50.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 990 bottles)
Same distillery, so I suppose we are in for a similar experience…? Colour: pale gold. Nose: indeed this is similar, but it's even more assertive with crystallised honey, crushed flowers, pollens, soda bread and various exotic fruit juices. There's also this slightly green note that suggests New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - which I often associate with 'Irishness' in whisky. With water: leafier and grassier, pressed flowers, dried pollen notes, vase water and lemon barley water. Mouth: sweeter, oilier in texture and more directly on tropical fruit juices, mango pulp and herbal touches such as wintergreen and marjoram. Very good! With water: becomes ever so slightly waxy with these wee touches of shoe polish, plain cereals and lightly peppery notes. Nice sense of texture and fatness about this one. Finish: good length and really doubling down on these grassy and peppery qualities. Comments: very good and feels extremely 'Irish', which feels like a stupid copout - sorry about that.

SGP: 551 - 86 points.



Teeling 15 yo 2006/2022 (57.8%, OB for The Duchess, cask #6210, virgin Amburana Brazilian hardwood, 216 bottles)

Teeling 15 yo 2006/2022 (57.8%, OB for The Duchess, cask #6210, virgin Amburana Brazilian hardwood, 216 bottles)
Brazilian hardwood sounds terrifying, also was it sourced sustainably? Hopefully no rainforests were further harmed in the making of this whiskey? Colour: pale gold. Nose: ha, a very funny mix of glue and coconut that immediately makes you think of rum. Seriously, pure coconut milk on the nose, perhaps with some touches of gorse flower and lemongrass too - but that could just be the suggestive power of the coconut at play! With water: the coconut cools off now, leaving more room for cereals, mashed banana and a glimmer of honey. Mouth: more coconut milk, more lemongrass, more coconut flavours, stuffing a whole Bounty bar in your mouth and washing it down with coconut water! Some hints of lime leaf, caraway and tea tree oil as well. With water: as on the nose it becomes more honeyed and cereal drive, feels like water washes away some of the more assertive oak-derived flavours. Finish: quite long, on sweetened coconut now, lime again, more honey and a bit of grippy oak spice hanging around in the aftertaste. Comments: kind of impossible to score. It would appear that Brazilian hardwood + Irish Single Malt = mild green Thai curry. I'm some people would adore this, but I find it a tad mono-dimensional, although I'm not sure it's flawed. Let's just remain boringly safe…

SGP 661 - 78 points.



Irish Single Malt 18 yo 2002 (51.7%, Club Qing 'Fairy Tale Series', cask #3354, bourbon barrel, 227 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 18 yo 2002 (51.7%, Club Qing 'Fairy Tale Series', cask #3354, bourbon barrel, 227 bottles)
I believe these batches are most probably Cooley. Colour: pale straw. Nose: waxed lemons, all kind of citrus fruits, bay leaf, hints of thyme and then some very classically notes of cut grass and flowers in vase water. With water: displays a touch of spearmint along with some herbal teas and white flowers. Mouth: lemon barley water, tiny notes of cough syrups and then sweet breakfast cereals with nice background notes of exotic fruit salad juices. With water: goes more towards the cereal components now, a little drier over all, more peppery and more on breads and shoe polish. Finish: medium, some nice subtle flavours of citrus and exotic fruits in the aftertaste. Comments: simple another very good early 2000s Irish single malt, just loses one or two points in the finish for me.

SGP: 541 - 86 points.



Irish Single Malt 1993 25 yo (50.8%, Club Qing 'Undine Reserve', barrel, 119 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 1993 25 yo (50.8%, Club Qing 'Undine Reserve', barrel, 119 bottles)
Love the label on this one. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it's one of those ones where the exotic fruits have gone almost into hyper-overripeness and start to take an estery and funky vibe that makes you think of some kind of Irish diet-Hampden! Only here you are reminded of the origins by layers of sweet flower honey and tiny notes of shoe leather and waxiness too. Quite stunning! With water: wonderfully on crushed nettles, green and exotic fruit teas, flower honeys and mango jam! Mouth: note as exotic as on the nose, more fruit juices, waxes, orange cordial, sweet aged dessert wines, notes of coconut and cedar wood. Complex, syrupy in texture and showing a highly mature style. With water: greengage, lemons, limes, herbal jellies and pure honeycomb now. A tang of wood spice and an impression of aged honey liqueur. Finish: medium, on honey and pure exotic fruit jellies. Comments: one of those casks that seems to have gone low in volume but retained a good natural strength and displays a spectacularly concentrated profile as a result. Pure Irish fruit juice of high order!

SGP: 651 - 90 points.



Cooley '11 yo' 1992/2019 (53.4%, Cadenhead's for Campbeltown Malts Festival, barrel)

Cooley '11 yo' 1992/2019 (53.4%, Cadenhead's for Campbeltown Malts Festival, barrel)
The story here is that the cask was moved to Scotland in 2003 and, according to Irish law, the extra maturation years didn't count, which is why they bottled it as an 11 year old, even though it's closer to 27yo. Colour: pale gold. Nose: yes! Superbly syrupy and exotic with honeys, plum jam, coconut and hints of aged dessert wines. There's also exotic fruit teas and dried mango, a classically exotic and gorgeous profile. With water: sweeter and more on coconut creme brûlée, hibiscus flower, lime cordial and sweet exotic fruit pulp. Mouth: slightly mentholated, herbal, a nice waxiness about the texture and these rather fat notes of malt extract, dried and crystallised exotic fruits and sweet flower nectars. I also find a nice medicinal side such as cough syrups and wee hints of herbal ointments. Rather more robust than some other Irish malts of similar vintage - the Campbeltown microclimate perhaps? With water: juicy fruit chewing gum, flower honey and a delicate waxiness. Finish: good length, some softer notes of sweet coffee, chocolate limes and sweetened herbal teas. Comments: extremely pleasurable and totally deadly old Irish whiskey. A great and clever pick by Cadenhead for their festival.

SGP: 651 - 90 points.



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

Teeling 25 yo (50.7%, OB for Bresser & Timmer, cask #100132, rum cask, bottled 2021)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: acacia honey, grass and exotic fruits! Beneath that more subtle touches of shoe and metal polishes, guava jam and pineapple juice. With water: more scented and things like sandalwood and dried exotic fruits and fruit teas - some dried flowers too. Mouth: a little more oily and peppery than expected, leaner and with a mechanical side that combines well with these further notes of metal polish. Then the fruits push forward very nicely with banana chips, mango and pureed papaya. With water: superbly juicy and fruity now but still with this nicely peppery and grassy quality too. Superb! Finish: medium, slightly sappy with some resinous fir wood notes, loads  more fruits too. Comments: gorgeous, just a little extra complexity would nudge it over the 90 line.

SGP: 751 - 89 points.



Teeling 28 yo (43.7%, OB for Seek The Ultimate and Rudder, cask #10704, rum cask, bottled 2020

Teeling 28 yo (43.7%, OB for Seek The Ultimate and Rudder, cask #10704, rum cask, bottled 2020)
Colour: white wine. Nose: grasses, gooseberry, honeysuckle and passion fruit! Then flambeed banana, exotically fruity rum cocktails and lovely aromas of crushed nettles and tropical fruit teas. Totally luscious! Mouth: sweeter than expected and more on coconut, crushed nettles, lemongrass and exotic fruit salad gunge. Simple but cohesive and gorgeously juicy and fruity! Finish: medium but still hugely fruity with a little more focus on lemons and limes. Comments: a perfect medley of exotic fruits and those more oily and mineral touches that seem the hallmark of the greatest Irish Whiskeys.

SGP: 741 - 90 points.



Teeling 28 yo (44.1%, OB for Whisky Lustre, cask #10681, rum cask, bottled 2020)

Teeling 28 yo (44.1%, OB for Whisky Lustre, cask #10681, rum cask, bottled 2020)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: more rum focussed but it really works with this big waft of exotic fruit juices and coconut water. Then also things like lemon verbena, lime curd and nettle tea. I even find a hint of waxiness that seems to sit alongside these more familiar metal polish impressions. A gorgeous and subtly shifting aroma that keeps everything captivating. Mouth: more big rum cocktail and exotic fruit vibes, also bandages and medicines that feel as though they have come more from the rum aspect. Lovely interplay between these aspects and then more typical flavours of crystallised and dried exotic fruits such as papaya and guava rather specifically. Finish: long, peppery, warming and full of glowing fruits. Comments: the rum component was louder here, but I actually think this is a rare occasion where it really works harmoniously with this gloriously fruity make. I also love these grassier and more nettle-y edges that are reminiscent of some great dry white wines.

SGP: 751 - 91 points.





March 17, 2023


Some Glenturret, some peat and some Portuguese wine

I've heard several times alreadfy that Lalique's restaurant at Glenturret Distillery was out of this world, but we're here for the whisky…



Glenturret 10 yo 2012/2022 'Ruadh Maor' (57.3%, Dràm Mor, Portuguese red wine barrique finish, cask #222, 268 bottles)

Glenturret 10 yo 2012/2022 'Ruadh Maor' (57.3%, Dràm Mor, Portuguese red wine barrique finish, cask #222, 268 bottles) Three stars and a half
Touriga Nacional? It seems that this is a peated Glenturret. Colour: blush wine. Nose: big peat plus cherry stem tea and some eucalyptus tea too. With water: it is not as dissonant as expected, despite these ripe strawberries floating around. Mint tea. Mouth (neat): good unorthodox fun. Grassy smoke and cherry liqueur and green peppercorns and leather and leaves. Good power. With water: cranberry juice this time. Finish: rather long, on salted and smoked cranberries. I agree this sounds weird, but it rather works in my book. Comments: one of the (very) few red wine + peat combinations that rather function, I would say. Peated Glenturret is unusual in the first place, anyway.
SGP:665 - 83 points.

Glenturret 10 yo 2012/2022 'Ruadh Maor' (58.7%, Dràm Mor, Refill white Port hogshead finish, cask #220, 308 bottles)

Glenturret 10 yo 2012/2022 'Ruadh Maor' (58.7%, Dràm Mor, Refill white Port hogshead finish, cask #220, 308 bottles) Four stars
The question is: is a Refill white Port hogshead finish still a finish? Colour: pale gold. Nose: very fresh and maritime, rather ala Bruichladdich, with some paraffin then, white peaches, chalk and 'new cigars', including the ashes and the ashtray. With water: around some wet limestone and some fresh plaster. Mouth (neat): works! Citrons, zests, lemons, a tight green smokiness, some salted lime juice (and tequila, if you like), plus notes of bear garlic or something. With water: goody good. The white Port added a kind of unctuous sweetness, but not too much of that. Some elder syrup and more green and peppery kind of smokiness in the background. Finish: rather long, tense, citrusy, salty. Custardy aftertaste. Comments: excellent, clean and zesty. White wine is always better and refill even better (in my book).
SGP:665 - 86 points.

Perhaps an older bottling? (you may expect some wackiness and uncertainty)…

Glenturret 15 yo 1986/2002 (54%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 312 bottles)

Glenturret 15 yo 1986/2002 (54%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 312 bottles) Four stars
Those were hit-or-miss, let's fasten our seat belts… Colour: light gold. Nose: typical, with burnt waxes, soot, artichokes, mustardy oils and leather. The nearest drink would be an old dry Madeira wine. With water: some menthol plus riesling plus crushed chalk plus mustard. Would you believe this works? Mouth (neat): one that worked. Pepper, mustard, honey sauce, sauce 'à la diable', grapefruit juice. With water: gets leafier. Finish: rather long, typically Glenturret from those years and rather on the right side of that very idiosyncratic 'style'. Grapefruit in the aftertaste. Comments: they've poured grapefruit juice and mustard into the cask while everybody was busy elsewhere. I say brainwave, quite.

SGP:462 - 86 points.

(Thank you Tom!)

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


March 16, 2023