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Hi, you're in the Archives, May 2012 - Part 1

April 2012 - part 2 <--- May 2012 - part 1 ---> May 2012 - part 2


May 14, 2012


Tasting three bitter royals from the Highlands

There's a new old official Glenury Royal at very high strength, probably a good excuse for having two other royals as aperitifs, an official Lochnagar and a Brackla by G&M.


Lochnagar 12 yo (70° proof, OB, 75.7cl, 1970s) Five stars An old version of this well-known official. 75.7cl equals 26 2/3 FL.OZS. Please note this one was named Lochnagar instead of Royal Lochnagar. Colour: straw. Nose: extremely old style, that is to say mineral, flinty and tarry. A lot of paraffin, linseed oil, motor oil, then touches of gueuze beer and apple compote as well as whiffs of fresh mint and dill. Classic and really beautiful and… out of fashion. Sadly! Mouth: amazingly rich at 40%, mineral again, oily, peppery, beautifully bitter. To tell you the truth, it's got something of Old Clynelish. Some salt, more rocks, cardamom seeds, pine sap… Really superb. Finish: amazingly long, pleasantly bitterish, with a wild, very mineral, peaty and pretty salty aftertaste. Comments: a huge surprise. The current Royal Lochnagar 12 is good whisky but this older version just came from another planet.  Let's try to unearth the remaining bottles! SGP:273 - 90 points.
Brackla Royal Brackla 1970 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, old map label, +/-1990) A 1970/1986 has been a tad weak (WF 70) a few years ago. Colour: gold. Nose: starts curiously smoky and medicinal. Aspirin tablets, waxed paper, burning plastic, antiseptic, and then tons of cut grass. Very austere, very dry, with something of Tio Pepe. Also brine, sea water… A strange nose, interesting but not very sexy. Mouth: same 'chemical' profile, plastic-like, kind of burnt. Parma violets, cologne, pomegranates and burnt herbs. A little difficult… Finish: rather long but very bitter and acrid. Chlorophyll, Underberg, our beloved artichoke liqueur (yes I know…) Comments: intellectually interesting, organoleptically wrecked. Erm… SGP:172 - 65 points.


Glenury Royal 40 yo 1970/2011 (59.4%, OB, refill American oak, 1,500 bottles) Five stars There used to be an excellent 1970 in the Rare Malts series that I had called "a mini-Talisker" back in 2005. Well well well… Anyway, these bottles are beautiful, rather 'anti-bling' if you see what I mean. Colour: gold. Nose: we're much closer to the Lochnagar than to the Brackla, although this baby starts more on leather and walnuts, with unexpected whiffs of capers and samphires. Very peculiar, must come from the oak. Then more wood smoke, dark toffee and coffee, chocolate… Easy nosing at such high strength. Yet, with water:  ho-ho, we got very close to the Lochnagar now. This one has just a little more humus and aniseed. Swims like a champ. Touches of maraschino coming through after a few minutes. Mouth (neat): Cointreau and coffee, with some cured ham in the background. Sounds weird? It isn't, quite the opposite… The oak does a large part of the job but it does it well, imparting notes of cedar wood, cigar, bacon (a lot!) and really a lot of bitter chocolate. Yet it's not drying or bitter, not at all… And it's surprisingly drinkable at such high strength. With water: gets sweeter and rounder although the oak never gives up. Great notes of gentian and other rooty/bitter  stuff. Finish: long, with more mint and cough lozenges from the oak. The chocolate is back in the aftertaste, together with lemon zests and more mint. After Eights? Comments: I think it's very difficult to keep an old whisky balanced when the oak's quite loud but this baby is a success in this respect.  And frankly, at around £500, it's kind of fairly priced for an OB. Recommended unless you hate oak. SGP:372 - 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a little fun with a band that's not The Rolling Stones, rather Holland's The Bintangs. They're playing Ridin' on the L&N and you would swear you could hear Kieff and Mick. Please buy the Bintangs' music.


May 11, 2012


Tasting two Auchentoshan from Bordeaux


Auchentoshan 1999 'Bordeaux Cask Matured' (58%, OB, +/-2011) Two stars and a half This one was fully matured in Bordeaux wood, not sure it was first fill though. Colour: gold, apricoty. Nose: well, this one does not quite scream ‘claret!’ or ‘cab!’ at first nosing, although it’s not 100% Scotch malt whisky. Indeed raspberries and blackcurrant are soon to get quite loud and so are blood oranges and marmalade, which gives the whole a feeling of sangria. Olé! Star anise, cinchona, Schweppes… Frankly, this isn’t unpleasant, it’s just, well, something else. With water: the spirit manages to say something now. Traces of barley water, yeast and bread. Mouth (neat): bubblegum, pepper and ginger. Strawberry drops, Jell-O, raspberry eau-de-vie, juniper berries, caraway seeds. Very weird if you ask me, this premix is even less ‘Scotch’ than before. Sponge cake. With water: becomes ultra-sweet and sugary. Not whisky, candy. Finish: long, as if you had three or five strawberry drops in your mouth. Comments: this is not why I’m into whisky, it’s more a matter of mixology in my opinion. Having said that, it’s a pleasant, flawless cocktail. SGP:850 - 78 points.


Auchentoshan 1988 'Bordeaux Wine Finish' (52.4%, OB, 2009) Three stars This one spent only eight years in bourbon and then twelve years in Saint-Julien (probably Lagrange as it belongs to Suntory). More than just a finish if you ask me, it spent more time in Bx barrels than the 1999… Colour: apricoty. Nose: we’re more or less in the same territories. Maybe this is a little less sweetish/fruity/bubblegummy, and a little more on cut grass and leaves. More green tannins, more mint. With water: old wine cellar, old wood, mushrooms, Seville oranges and cinchona. Roots. Mouth (neat): creamy, rich, extremely liqueurish and jammy. Sweets and deserts, squash, pomegranates, cranberry juice and green pepper… With water: again, grassier and more complex than the 1999. More earth, farmy notes, spices, mint, liquorice… Finish: long, gingery, spicy. Bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: I think this one is better balanced, although it’s still very unusual Scotch. Well, is it really Scotch? SGP:651 - 80 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: I know this is very un-Whiskyfun but after thirty-five years, I've listened to Pavlov's Dog's Julia again this morning, and, well, I felt like a teenager again. I'll try not to do this again... In the meantime, please buy Pavlov's Dog's music.


May 9, 2012


Tasting two rare ones from William Grant’s

A Balvenie that’s rare because it’s an independent bottling and a Kininvie that’s rare because, well, there's been very few bottlings of Kininvie so far.


Balvenie 16 yo 1973/1989 (46%, Dun Eideann, cask #3488) Two stars and a half This baby also existed as a 'straight' Signatory Vintage bottling. Colour: gold. Nose: a rather farmier, less creamy, more metallic version of Balvenie although the notes of ripe plums and apricots are well there, together with some acacia honey and quite some vanilla crème. Becomes more and more custardy after a few minutes, rounder, sweeter,  more honeyed and… more Balvenie. Well in the lush style of the early 1970s now. Nectar and pollen. Mouth: it's rather simpler, grassier, much less luscious, rounded and sweet than expected. The oak's maybe a tad loud (sawdust, flour) and it just seems to block the 'inherent fruitiness', making the whole frankly tea-ish although there seems to be some nice notes of fresh oranges in the background. Finish: medium long, drying, pretty tannic. In other words, plankish. Comments: pretty great nose, rather unbalanced palate, we know that song. SGP:461 - 77 points.


Kininvie 'Hazelwood Reserve' 17 yo 1990/2008 (52.5%, OB, sherry, 500 bottles) Three stars and a half There are very few bottlings of Kininvie. You had an indie Aldunie a long time ago, then an off-commerce 15 (WF 75 but other Maniacs liked it much better), and then this 17 and maybe one or two others. BTW, Kininvie doesn't seem to distil much these days. Colour: deep amber. Nose: starts very chocolaty and, just like the Balvenie, rather metallic. Tin box, water, limestone, then more plum eau-de-vie and strawberries,  a little hay, dried mushrooms (boletus powder),  flor, walnuts… It changes fast, with the fino-ish notes getting more and more obvious (not saying it was fino wood of course). Interesting!  With water: more dry sherry, which I like. Mouth (neat): nice attack, nervous and fruity, maybe a tad spirity, with a sweeter sherriness and something slightly kirschy. Then more bitter oranges and ginger. The whole is rather rough but quite pleasant. With water: swims well! More classic marmalade and dried fruits (figs), as well as white pepper and turmeric. The oak's more obvious too but it's a nice one. Cinnamon. Finish: medium long, with more chocolate, oranges, white pepper and cinnamon. Spicy aftertaste,  cocoa powder. Comments: it's more than all right, but I think the oak did a large part of he job. Needs water but what's sure is that I like it better than the older 15yo. SGP:551 - 83 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Morrocan-Algerian star Chaba Zahouania sings Goulov Limma (that was also on the OST of Bertolucci's f The Sheltering Sky). Please buy Chaba Zahouania's music.


May 7, 2012


A few 1966s for our 8,000th

So there’s this newish old Loch Lomond 1966 that I had previewed the other day, very unusual whisky! But which other whisky or whiskies should I bring together? Sadly, I have no other old Loch Lomond at hand… Oh, why not other oldies from the same vintage then?

Loch Lomond 1966

Loch Lomond 1966/2011 (40%, OB, 1640 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: as unusual as I remember. A kind of funny mixture of stewed apples with a little almond oil and something a little metallic that hints at Irish pot still. Then much more hay, gasoline, old books and then the fruits are back, rather more on greengages. The little problem is that it never stops becoming more cardboardy after a few minutes. Overripe apples. Mouth: sweet and light, sappy, oily… It’s extremely drinkable in truth, very easy, with more tropical fruits (papayas) and a few very soft spices. Cinnamon cake? Sadly, it becomes a little weak and the middle lacks body, although it remains pleasant. Finish: shortish but clean. Passion fruits and papayas with a little grated ginger and coconut. Comments: very quaffable,  between grain and malt, and very cheap (approx 150€ if I’m not mistaken). What’s very pleasant is the very discreet oakiness, we’ve seen many oldies that were much, much oakier. SGP:531 - 85 points.

Good, what we could do now is go down south… While staying in 1966!

Bladnoch 1966

Bladnoch 23 yo 1966/1989 (43%, Signatory, cask #2674-76, 900 bottles) Four stars and a half Granted, this one isn’t quite as old as the Loch Lomond… Colour: Nose: we’re not too far as far as styles are concerned, and this Bladnoch isn’t as citrusy and zesty as younger versions. It’s actually quite tarry, oily, leathery, sooty and globally mineral, kind of old school and more ‘Highlands’ than ‘Lowlands’, provided regions make sense (maybe they used to make more sense back in 1966?) Mouth: superb! Fatter, oilier, zestier, creamier and incredibly big at just 43% ABV. We’re really close to the old OBs for Italy (the famous ‘Torinos’). Wonderful notes of olive oil, gingerbread, liquorice, chartreuse… Too bad there’s a wee soapiness in the background, that will prevent it from getting an ultra-high mark in my book (dura lex sed lex – isn’t that a tad too serious?) Finish: long, slightly metallic now and in that sense not that far from the Loch Lomond. Comments: plenty of body! SGP:651 - 88 points.

Where shall we go now, provided we’ll stay in 1966? Maybe north along the coast and try to find something funny? (yes I know, there’s nothing south of Bladnoch anyway ;-))

Ben Nevis 1966

Ben Nevis 42 yo 1966 (40.6%, The Maltman, cask #1776) Four stars and a half Don’t we know that we could expect just anything from an old Ben Nevis? (remember they were using washbacks in… concrete!) Colour: full gold. Nose: hey hey, it’s certainly not one of those whackwobbly old BNs, quite the opposite! It’s half mineral/waxy, half fruity, with tropical leanings I’d say. Sesame oil (a faint smokiness) and bananas, wax polish, eucalyptus, green oranges and vetiver, wulong tea… Frankly, it’s a beautiful, very complex and very subtle nose. The question is: will the palate stay the course? Mouth: ah yes, beautiful! Sure it’s no powerhouse but it’s perfectly herbal and waxy, developing on banana skin, honeydew, cough syrup and various herbal teas. Maybe lime tea, also oranges. Drops after ten seconds, but that was to be expected. Finish: short but still quite beautiful. Chamomile and dry oak in the aftertaste. Comments: not enough oomph to make it to 90 but it’s a solid 89. SGP:651 - 89 points.

All right, this is what we’re going to do: try as many 1966s as needed until we find a 90+. Agreed? And why not go on with another Ben Nevis, a very legendary one this time…

Ben NEvis 1966 SMWS

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1966/1989 (55%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #78.1) Three stars That’s right, the very first Ben Nevis by the SMWS, with a twist cap if you please! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s interesting that we would find the same kind of mineral/waxy notes as in the ‘new’ Maltman, only with more powa of course. Graphite oil, Barbour grease, fermenting grass, leather, then more lime and diesel oil, Riesling-style… We’re very far from the well-known sherried old Ben Nevis here, it’s a very interesting spirit. With water: we got even closer to the Maltman. Very nice whiffs of lovage and parsley, maybe not-to-ripe persimmon. Okay, maybe not. Mouth (neat): Ben Nevis’ wackiness is back and I must say this is a little unlikely. Grapefruit drops and cut cactus? Lemon squash and coriander? I don’t quite know what to think, this extreme zestiness came unexpected. So, with water: Finish: bizarre, very bizarre. Some kind of unaged tequila with a good layer of dust and cardboard. Very chalky. Comments: great, great nose but unlikely palate in my opinion. Old Ben Nevis are always fun. SGP:562 - 82 points.

So no 90+ yet, let’s go on with these 1966s… Sadly, we haven’t got any 1966 Glenlochy so let’s leave town and head east. Next stop: Royal Brackla, just east of Inverness.

Brackla CAD

Royal Brackla 26 yo 1966/1991 (56.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Three stars and a half Isn’t it always comforting when Cadenhead tells us that a particular malt was matured in an oak cask? Colour: gold. Nose: ultra-grassy, spirity, austere… Then fruitier but it’s only apples, apples and apples plus touches of bubblegum. Probably a case of high alcohol locking the whole. With water: indeed, it’s amazing how water just unlocks the spirit, although I would say it became extravagantly aromatic. In fact, it got very farmyardy, which happens more often than never. Mouth (neat): sharp, powerful and frankly difficult at this point. New kirsch just running from the still, cachaça… With water: typical old Highlander, that is to say a grassier, waxier Speysider. Ah, generalisations! Finish: long, with an unexpected saltiness. Comments: not an easy one, this baby. It’s from the extreme countryside, so to speak. SGP:351 - 84 points.

Hmm... Maybe a Caperdonich?

Caperdonich 1966

Caperdonich 30 yo 1966/1996 (53.4%, Signatory, sherry, cask #133, 212 bottles) Four starsProbably a fairly sure bet, this baby’s sister casks have been quite brilliant (there’s not only 1972 at Caperdonich’s!). Colour: amber. Nose: it’s all on orange liqueurs and tobacco at first nosing, with much fewer rubbery touches than in other bottlings and quite some ginger instead. Tonic water, a little ham, Corinthian raisins, leather, cigars… It’s moderately sherried and all that works well so far. With water: the rubber comes out, together with quite some hay, farmyard, a little mud, more leather… Mouth (neat): hmm… Maybe it’s a notch too aggressive now, too bitter, too tannic… With water: ah yes! Now we’re talking! Bitter oranges, rhum agricole, more tobacco, old Armagnac, old Cointreau, a little strawberry jam, oloroso, liquorice… Finish: long, always with that bitterness, oranges, cinchona… And something slightly chemical in the aftertaste. A little sulphur? Comments: very good but really needs water and, well, I wouldn’t swear it’s worth 90. It’s probably not, in fact. SGP:461 - 86 points.

All right, the next one will be our 8,000th, so let’s bring in the heavy artillery...


Tamnavulin 35 yo 1966 (52.6%, OB, for Japan, Matthew Forrest, Cream Sherry Butt, cask #3807, 472 bottles) Five stars Colour: amber with red hues. Nose: bags of prunes, wheelbarrows of sultanas and truckloads of plum and strawberry jams. Then a superb development on cigars, ham, cedar wood and Seville oranges. Ultra-classic, mega-nice. With water: rocks and leather, metal polish and old rancio. Brilliant. Mouth (neat): yes, a perfect sherry monster, akin to the best Macallans, Glendronachs or Glenfarclas. Chocolate, coffee, prunes, raisins, orange liqueur, pepper… And not the tiniest flaw. Probably from a genuine sherry butt. With water: the most exquisite chocolate filled with the most precious liqueurs. Finish: very long, chocolaty, fruity, jammy. Comments: again, ultra-classic old sherry ‘monster’ (not monstrous at all actually). Scotland’s best cognac! The great late Matt Forrest sure knew how to select a cask of whisky! SGP:651 - 92 points. (with heartfelt thanks to Arno, Ho-Cheng, Konstantin and Marcel)
SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

Eight thousand. So what?
So those were our 8,000th complete tasting notes for this lousy little website called Whiskyfun. But nothing too serious, nothing to celebrate I believe, nothing to be twitterised or facebooked, just another meaningless stage.

Having said that, maybe we could take this opportunity to have a quick update on what’s happening these days with this little dinosaur of a whisky website called Whiskyfun. More than ever, I’m amazed by the fact that our figures are still rising after all these years and despite very, very modest ‘social’ integration (no comments allowed - yes I know – and very little ‘self-linking’ on either forums, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Well, almost none.) 


Indeed the number of visits is up 15.60% wrt last year since January, with some distilleries rising much faster than others as far as searches are concerned: Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Clynelish, Glendronach, Benriach, Tomatin, Mortlach and Old Pulteney. I think that goes to show that the new malt aficionados tend to think ‘wider’ and do not only focus on the very big names, kudos to them. Also that many launchings or re-launchings in the last ten years seem to have succeeded among the ‘learned’.  Yup that may be us.

As far as WF’s visitors are concerned, the major European countries are up but the largest rises come from Japan (+26.53%), China (+176%!) and Singapore (+43%) as well as from most Eastern-European countries. As for the unique visitor from the Vatican that we had two years ago, I’ve seen that he never came back. The ways of the Lord are impenetrable.

  Chinese whisky
According to WF's Department of Linguistics, this should mean 'whisky' in Chinese. If not, apologies to our friends!
Next milestone: WF’s 10th Anniversary in July, just after the Malt Maniacs’ 15th that twenty-six of us will celebrate in Scotland in June.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: something very cool today, and I think I've already posted it, he's ex-Pulp Richard Hawley and he sings The Ocean (from the fab Cole's Corner). That's good retro! Please buy Richard Hawley's music...


May 6, 2012

Tasting a few Bourbons including a rare old one
Hudson Hudson Whiskey ‘Four Grain Bourbon’ (46%, OB, +/-2011) Three stars I found a batch from 2007 quite good despite its extreme youth, and I’ve heard it improved ‘quite seriously’ since back then. Time to check that… Colour: amber. Nose: sweet oak all over the place, with loads and loads of vanilla and café latte and then touches of ginger and cardamom, with distinct hints of rye. Mars bar. It’s very simple but it’s flawless, unless you really need complexity. Ah well… Mouth: rich, sweet, highly extractive. A very nice oak liqueur but you really have to like that. Drambuie, maple syrup, ginger liqueur and then more maple syrup (and ginger). Finish: long, on the same flavours, more or less. Caraway seeds and ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s quite extreme and very oaky/spicy, but absolutely not drying or plankish. In other words, a good oak liqueur… SGP:651 - 81 points.
Four Roses Four Roses 'Small Batch' (45%, OB, +/-2011) Three stars It’s the first time I try this baby. Colour: deep gold. Nose: as oaky as the Hudson but less rounded and sweet, more on pencil shavings and sawdust. Then more roasted nuts, walnuts, dried grated coconut, whiffs of roses and patchouli, tea and plain plank. Certainly not un-nice but I think the oak’s a little too loud for a Scotch aficionado. More and more juniper berries after a few minutes. Why not! Mouth: punchy, rich, wider, more complex than on the nose. More fruits such as pineapples and bananas, with bags of sweet spices from the oak. White pepper. Finish: very long, with more honey but also more white pepper, especially in the aftertaste. Cardamom. Comments: I’m wondering if bourbons aren’t more ‘palate’ whiskies while Scotch might be more ‘nose’ whisky. Just wondering… Forget about that… SGP:571 - 80 points.
Eagle Rare Eagle Rare 17 yo (45%, OB, +/-2011) Three stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: smoother and rounder again, actually closer to the Hudson than to the Four Roses. I get honey, maple syrup, vanilla and many soft spices, cardamom, star anise, sweet ginger, a little rum… And after a few minutes, more freshly roasted coffee beans, fresh croissants (breakfast!) and orange cake plus some kind of aromatic grass. Is that agave? A complex nose but it shouldn’t be rushed, I think. Mouth: rich, as extractive as the others but also fruitier, more lively, with more marshmallows, gingerbread, even bubblegum, orange zests… I like the way it becomes sappy/resinous after a while, with more eucalyptus, green tobacco, leather, pine liqueur… It’s entertaining whisky. Finish: long, with more notes of old wood and leather, herbs, white pepper… Maybe not its best side. Comments: I think this is very good. I’m no bourbon lover – although I do like my bourbon from time to time, provided it’s not over-oaked – but I’d happily buy a bottle of this – one day. SGP:661 - 83 points.
Usually, when I taste scotch whiskies that are certainly good but not thrilling in my view, I try to find an old glory to have a better lasting impression. Maybe we could do that as well after these very nice, but not terrific bourbons (again, in my views)?… Like this baby?...
Old Southern Home Old Southern Home 6 yo (100 US Proof, OB, +/-1945) Two stars and a half From registered distillery No 68 which, according to what I could find on the Web, could have been the Old Taylor Distillery that was sold to the National Distillers Corporation in 1935 and stopped operating in 1972. Not too sure because sources are discordant. Colour: amber. Nose: very different from more modern bourbons, that is to say much less sweet and oaky and rather more on herbal and even mineral notes, which makes it a little Scotchier, so to speak. There’s even a feeling of peat smoke, imagine! Then ham, pear compote, plums, light coffee, cognac, stout beer… Also a very nice earthiness arising, humus, dead leaves… Interesting nose but that does not mean the palate will as nice. Let’s see. Mouth: an avalanche of coffee and roasted nuts, the whole being drier than modern bourbons, probably rougher and grittier (so to speak). Also more orange liqueur, early grey tea, bergamots and, once again, a little smoke. Good whisky but it remains a little rough around the edges despite the long time in glass that should have mellowed it.  Finish: medium long, more honeyed. Touches of strawberry jam and marmalade in the aftertaste, as well as a little coconut that makes it more modern. Comments: good but kind of mundane. It seems that his baby didn’t lose much during its +/-60 years in glass! SGP:552 - 78 points.
Detail Bottom of back label. Does this ring a bell to anyone? Please drop me a mail.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: between Bach, Schubert and traditional Azeri music, Aziza Mustafa Zadeh plays and sings a wonderful Star Dance (from her album 'Contrasts') Please buy Aziza Mustafa Zadeh's music...


May 4, 2012


Tasting old Japanese blends

Time to have some old Japanese blends today, with two babies that I had never carefully assessed before. Very curious about the Taketsuru I must say…

Hibiki 21

Suntory 21 yo 'Hibiki' (43%, OB, +/-2011) Three stars and a half Some recent versions of the 17yo (WF 82) and, above all, 30yo (WF 91) have been much to my liking. Colour: full gold. Nose: starts rather grassy and herbal, with touches of sugarcane and humidor, then more sandalwood and incense. It’s rather less smooth and silky than expected and keeps developing on more herbal notes and even a little artisan cider. Quite some white pepper too and then more leather and ginger. Quite a lot happening in this one. Mouth: typically un-Scotch, so to speak, with these notes of mint and eucalyptus tea on top of some apple peelings, cider apples (there’s a sourness) and dry spices. Then more cardamom and white pepper plus overripe peaches. Fried zucchini flowers. Finish: medium long, with more sour notes. Pleasantly sour notes (white wine?) Dry spices again in the aftertaste as well a something slightly metallic. Black pepper. Comments: perhaps it lacks a little definition but of course, it’s excellent whisky. SGP:441 - 84 points.


Nikka 35 yo 'Taketsuru' (43%, OB, 1000 bottles, +/- 2008) Five stars A blended malt, made out of the oldest barrels from the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries. The 21 was quite excellent in my opinion (WF 85). BTW, I believe this baby’s ten times more expensive than the Hibiki 21. Colour: pale amber. Nose: we’re not that far from the Hibiki 21 but this is more fragrant, more tropical. Stewed mangos and moist pipe tobacco, passion fruits, then a little rancio, old cognac, thuja wood and then quite some humus, moss, old wine cellar, roses… Very elegant, very subtle, with a perfect balance and no ‘straight oak’ that I can smell. After fifteen minutes: more fresh orange cake and a lot of earl grey tea. Old sauternes? A little wood smoke as well. Mouth: excellent attack, lively, not overoaked, more ‘Scotch’ than the Hibiki – not that it matters, mind you. Bergamots, marmalade, more earl grey tea, guavas, ripe plums and a little cardamom and cinnamon at the spice department. Obvious touches of turmeric as well, very nice if you like that. The oak tends to become louder over time (green tea) but it remains gentle and ‘polished’. Finish: not very long but as clean and fresh as malt whisky can get at 35 years of age. Chamomile, mint and cinnamon plus touches of raspberries. Comments: a little more punch would have been welcome on the palate and that’s where it loses one or two points. An excellent 90 nonetheless! SGP:552 - 90 points. (with thanks to Konstantin)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: one of the most elegant jazz pianists ever, Kirk Lightsey, plays Wayne Shortter's Fee Fi Fo Fum (that's on 'Lightsey 1'). Please buy Kirk Lightsey's music.


May 2, 2012


Tasting Talisker 10 and a worthy sparring partner

Talisker 10 yo is a whisky I like to follow year after year, just like true Bordeaux lovers like to follow this or that château, vintage after vintage… And this time, I think I’ve found a very, and I mean very worthy (official) opponent!


Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, +/-2012) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: it seems that Talisker 10 gets smokier and smokier, drier and drier and ashier and ashier. We won’t complain. So little fruits here, at least at first sniffs, rather a feeling of barbecue on the beach (next to a seaweed bonfire), with then some rather unusual herbs, between sage and thyme or maybe even ramsons. Then the usual sootiness and more seaweed and brine. Check! Mouth: lovely, absolutely lovely although a notch simpler now. More fruits (oranges, lemons) and maybe a little less pepper than before, but both the expected smokiness and saltiness have materialized on our palate. Salted grapefruits and seafood. Check. Finish: not extremely long, as often with Talisker in my experience, but clean, perfectly salty, lemony and smoky. Check. Comments: check. Beats anything in this price range. SGP:466 - 90 points.

Talisker 34

Talisker 34 yo 1975 (45.1%, OB, cask #4982, 250 bottles, 2011) Five stars One of the sensations of the end of last year! Colour: full gold. Nose: vorsicht! It’s an example of these old peaters that get their smokiness kind of transmuted into tropical fruits of all sorts, without losing any coastality. I’m sure you understand me, don’t you. Red olives (brine with chillies), kumquats, mangos, well-matured cigar, old chardonnay (no modern junkish oak bomb), Spanish ham, fresh butter, leather polish, more spices (I cannot not think of something Chinese although I couldn’t tell you what exactly), a little raw wool… It’s all very, very complex but sometimes, the palates can be tired with this kind of nose that goes into many directions. Let’s see…

Mouth: ah well, what’s really striking at first sips is that we aren’t far from the 10, not far at all. That should please any whisky lover! Actually, in no way you would tell this baby is more than three times older, although it is more complex of course – but just a notch. Profiles are very similar, in fact, this one just goes to eleven on all accounts, except plain and pure peatiness. Although, on second thought… In short, no ‘tired old glory’, rather a vibrant, nervous, very dynamic Talisker. The absolute wonders of high quality refill wood! Finish: unusually long (but not interminable), with a very zesty combination of salt and lemon in the aftertaste – rarely to be found in such old peaters in my experience. Comments: of course they wouldn’t have bottled just any cask at this price (around 1,500€ with a little paraphernalia such as useless tumblers and a silly Titanic-shaped box if I’m not mistaken). Well, it’s almost worth the price if you have the dough. Having said that, I believe Scotch will have reached its promised land when they’ll manage to sell great old whiskies for high prices without all the junk they feel they have to rig out the ‘nectar’ with. Crystal, plywood, diamonds, silver, pewter… I’m sure stellar whiskies, just like the best wines, don’t need all that scrap! Or do they really need those crutches? Ah well… SGP:566 - 94 points. (thanks Ho-Cheng)


Whiskyfun fav of the month

April 2012

Favourite recent bottling:
Glenlochy 31 yo 1980/2012 (53.1%, Signatory, hogshead, cask #3021, 164 bottles)  - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Glen Cawdor 32 yo 1951 (46%, Samaroli, 120 bottles, +/-1983) - WF 95

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Caol Ila 1982/2011 (56.4%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6514)  - WF 92

MUSIC - Recommended listening: another crazy ultra-boppy piece called Etude Diabolique (diabolical study) by king of baritone sax Pepper Adams. That was on Reflectory (1978), with Rolland Hanna, Billy Hart and George Mraz. Birdesque! Please buy Pepper Adams' music.


April 2012 - part 2 <--- May 2012 - part 1 ---> May 2012 - part 2

heck the index of all entries:
Nick's Concert Reviews



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Lochnagar 12 yo (70° proof, OB, 75.7cl, 1970s)

Glenury Royal 40 yo 1970/2011 (59.4%, OB, refill American oak, 1,500 bottles)

Nikka 35 yo 'Taketsuru' (43%, OB, 1000 bottles, +/- 2008)

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, +/-2012)

Talisker 34 yo 1975 (45.1%, OB, cask #4982, 250 bottles, 2011)

Tamnavulin 35 yo 1966 (52.6%, OB, for Japan, Matthew Forrest, Cream Sherry Butt, cask #3807, 472 bottles)