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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild



Hi, you're in the Archives, May 2022 - Part 1


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


May 13, 2022


Little Duos, today Glen Moray
13 yo

A short, easy, probably pleasant little session.


Glen Moray 13 yo (52.6%, Jack Wiebers for Switzerland, 2022)

Glen Moray 13 yo (52.6%, Jack Wiebers for Switzerland, 2022) Four stars
This one's about 'Der Schaufelraddampfer Stadt Luzern'. Your turn, I'm listening… Colour: straw. Nose: certainly a fatter, waxier Glen Moray, with more depth, more Clynelishness, more oils than in others. Other than that, we do find Golden Grahams, biscuits, a wee tarte tatin and just cut apples, which is rather more 'Glen Moray' indeed. With water: eminently barley-y and beerish. Mouth (neat): just perfect. IPA, chamomile, hops, marmalade, mead and barley syrup. Once again a wee waxiness. With water: enter marmalade and orange-based bitters. This is no joking matter, it's a great dram! Finish: rather long, still fat and a little waxy, with a wonderful barleyness. Comments: the formerly humble Glen Moray clearly caught the pack in recent years, this is just yet another proof.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Glen Moray 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.3%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 212 bottles)

Glen Moray 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.3%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 212 bottles) Four stars
We're in lovely Austria this time. Colour: straw. Nose: this was to be expected, all these distilleries have become extremely consistent and first fill bourbon is first fill bourbon (bravo, S.!) What I mean is that this is obviously very close, full of barley, scones, cornflakes, peanut oil, sweet beers and apple cakes. And once again, were finding a citrusy hoppiness. With water:  water does wonders, there's even some kind of grassy smokiness arising here. Some moderate garden bonfire. Otherwise, pilsner und, I mean and apple peel. Mouth (neat): same whisky as the Jack Wiebers. I mean, probably not the same barrel, but the juice is the same and it is perfectly fat, barley-y and pretty waxy. With water: totally excellent. Pure Seville orange-driven barleyness. Yes, should that even exist. Finish: long, waxy, with a braw sweet barleyness. Aye! Comments: perfect malt whisky. A different score wouldn't make any sense.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

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


May 11, 2022


An umpteenth little trip around the world
Starting from France, as usual…

Aïkan 2017/2022 (63%, LMDW, Version Française, rhum cask)

Aïkan 2017/2022 (63%, LMDW, Version Française, rhum cask) Four stars
As I understand it, this is sourced new make (probably from Rozelieures, a great distillery in Lorraine) that's been shipped then aged in fresh oak, then finished in some ex-rhum cask, all that in Martinique and all that within four or five years. It is meant to be some kind of cross-breed, or meta-spirit. It's true that after all, if you may age rum in Europe, you could as well age whisky in the Caribbean. Colour: gold. Nose: totally meta. It's very strong but I would say the rum is having the upper hand this far. Cane honey. With water: I believe the rum is still dominant, but the whole's very pleasant, well balanced, with growing honeyed notes, then some fresh oak that's geared towards pumpkin, resins and fresh nuts. This works well. Mouth (neat): once again, the rum's the leading party. Salty olives, nougat, cinnamon… But it's very strong indeed. With water: excellent surprise. A floral side, waxes, touches of pineapples, bananas flambéed, liquorice… and butterscotch! Finish: rather long, a little salty. A little orange blossom water. Comments: very smart in-cask blending. Remember Martinique is part of France, so this remains fully French whisky. Great creative idea and excellent results at just 4 or 5. Scotland needs to buy (or invade, since that's the rage of the season) a tiny island in the Caribbean, so that they could do just the same…

SGP:562 - 85 points.

Ho-ho, wait, watch this…

Tullamore D.E.W. 'XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish' (43%, OB, Ireland, blend, +/-2021)

Tullamore D.E.W. 'XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish' (43%, OB, Ireland, blend, +/-2021) Two stars
Some NAS blend that's seen some rum. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I would say it is not very fair to have this one after the Aïkan. It is extremely light, with rather touches of pure pot still, faint echoes of bananas and guavas, some hay, dandelions, perhaps rose petals… Very light, but not unpleasant. The palate will tell… Mouth: back to regular Irish blends, light, with woody touches, overripe fruits (rather apples) and, perhaps, a hint of overripe banana. A little meadow honey, sweet maize bread… Finish: short, rather sweeter, mellow. Bits of banana, apples, plus a little honey. Comments: a fine little blend that won't do any harm. Strictly nothing to do with the much more ambitious Aïkan.

SGP:630 - 76 points.

Back to the continent…

Wave Distillery 3 yo 'Race 1' (46%, Bottles & Legends, Belgium, 400 bottles, +/-2021)

Wave Distillery 3 yo 'Race 1' (46%, Bottles & Legends, Belgium, 400 bottles, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
We've already had one at 50% that was also sporting an old Porsche. It's been excellent, pretty much of Carrera quality (WF 87). Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: perfect gristy malt, full of breads and cakes, plus ripe apples and pears. I know that was short but balance is perfect and I could really drive this. I mean, sip this. Mouth: the youth feels a lot on the palate (pears…) and this is actually almost new-make. But it's new-make of high quality, fully on the ingredients, with no off-notes whatsoever. Finish: medium, on williams pears. A little beer, a little melon, a little peach. Comments: great young drop, in all simplicity.

SGP:631 - 83 points.

Further north…

Millstone 1996/2017 'American Oak' (52.3%, OB, Zuidam, Netherlands, American oak hogshead, Special #12, 301 bottles)

Millstone 1996/2017 'American Oak' (52.3%, OB, Zuidam, Netherlands, American oak hogshead, Special #12, 301 bottles) Five stars
Love the very crazy Millstones, and love this mention on the label even more: 'Grain milled by Dutch windmills'. Was the barley smoked with dried tulips? Or… with stuff from A'dam? By the way, this is well a single malt. Colour: deep gold. Nose: ah this one is not crazy, it's classic fattish ex-bourbon malt whisky, full of bananas, mangos, vanilla and panettone, then candlewax and a little moss. With water: fermentary notes, high-end beers and breads, more wax (bordering 'good soap')… Mouth (neat): totally excellent, full of stewed tropical fruits. Rather bananas and guavas this time again, also blood oranges, with a few bits of pipe tobacco, some citrusy hops, IPA, and pink pepper. Drop of cough syrup, eucalyptus and myrtle liqueur… As good as these get. With water: even better. Superb range of citrus fruits, especially pink grapefruits and citrons.  Finish: long, fat and fruity. There's some body and some texture in there. Comments: people should talk more about Millstone. Frankly, this is magnificent and would beat most of the Scots fair and square. But peace… (and love)… Regardless, very impressed.

SGP:641 - 90 points.

Further north…

Myken 4 yo 'Bädin Stout Intervention 2022' (47%, OB, Norway)

Myken 4 yo 'Bädin Stout Intervention 2022' (47%, OB, Norway) Four stars
Whaaaattt? I stumbled upon Myken (an Arctic Single Malt from a tiny island) thanks to Jonny at Berry Bros'. I remember I had been rather a little impressed. It appears that this very one was made using some circumvolutory proceedings involving beer casks. And why not? Colour: white wine. Nose: for die-hard bread and cakes lovers. I'm clearly part of that crew. Barley, barley, barley, barley and barley, plus gentle yeast and some very well-mannered oak. Mouth: excellent! Gingerbread, cinnamon cake, liquorice, caraway-flavoured spirit, plus barley, barley, barley and barley. The wood was smartly handled, there's probably a lot, but you do not quite feel it as such. All right, there is a rather stunning breadiness. Finish: long, spicier, with more ginger and caraway. Sweet juniper and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: it could not quite fight the Millstone, but the Millstone is 15 or 16 years older. No more words, I'm simply a fan of this kind of breadiness. Oh and I'll have to check that Bädin thing…

SGP:462 - 87 points.

A last one, from Yorkshire… And perhaps more stuff with beer (we always need some kind of logic, you understand…)

Filey Bay 'Batch #1' (46%, OB, England, IPA finish, +/-2021?)

Filey Bay 'Batch #1' (46%, OB, England, IPA finish, +/-2021?) Three stars and a half
An IPA finish? Oh hell, why not, given that it was some IPA from their own group of companies, Wold Top Brewery, near Filey, north of Hull. Colour: straw. Nose: I think I do nose some bananas, pineapples and tangerines, which could well stem from that IPA. The rest is extremely easy, soft, rather fruity and uncomplicated. Hope they won't make me persona non grata if I add that I'm finding something Irish to this. Mouth: all these well-founded new distilleries are doing things seriously. This has blood oranges and pink grapefruits, Timut pepper, ripe apples, and a handful of marshmallows and jellybeans and babies and crocodiles and little sugar Jesusses (imagine we keep making those in our neck of the woods, amen). Finish: long, sweet, bonbony, but with good malty body. No worries, this is not grain whisky. Comments: very good. Not sure when this was bottled, having said that.
SGP:741 - 84 points.

(Merci encore, Nicolas!)


May 10, 2022


Back to the Isle of Jura

I promise we won't quote George Orwell (well, you just did, S.)

Some excellent melon à queue rouge from the eponymous Jura region of France, highly recommended!

Jura 'French Oak' (42%, OB, Special Woods Series', +/-2020)

Jura 'French Oak' (42%, OB, Special Woods Series', +/-2020) Two stars and a half
A humble NAS that is, as I understand it, an ex-bourbon Jura finished in French oak. Colour: gold. Nose: typical 'Madeira-like' Jura plus some caraway-y spices and green walnuts. I'm rather fond of this profile, but I also know that the devil is on the palate with such set-ups. Mouth: some dissonances indeed. Yoghurt, cinnamon, walnuts, sour fruits, mustard, a clear dusty side, a wee feinty aspect (not unusual)… Some cardamom seeds as well. Finish: medium, rather on grapefruits and white pepper. Comments: some dissonances on the palate, in my opinion, but some sides are clearly interesting and even good. Nice nose.

SGP:361 - 78 points.

Jura 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Jura 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
We rather liked this one last time in 2018, with its fino-y, mustardy Juraness. Colour: dark straw. Nose: not the same floor, so to speak. It does not look like Jura's make needs more spices. Very nice whiffs of fresh almonds and walnuts, certainly some fino and/or manzanilla, a wee sooty side, perhaps some cider apples (let's call them calvados apples if you don't mind), plus a little brine and thyme essence. Pretty fond of this nose. Mouth: Jura's dryness is obvious, but we're certainly in a higher league after that NAS. Salty white wines, tobacco, fino sherry, soft mustard, walnuts… Finish: medium long, on similar notes, with just a little more sweetness. Comments: I have to say it is rather troubling that the whisky of Jura would resemble some wines of Jura (un-ullaged savagnins) more and more. Troubling and charming.

SGP:462 - 84 points.

Jura 12 yo 'The Bay' (44%, OB, 1l, +/-2020)

Jura 12 yo 'The Bay' (44%, OB, 1l, +/-2020) Three stars
As I understand it this one spent its whole life in ex-bourbon barrels, and was then flash-finished in - could we have a John-Bonham solo please? – Pedro Ximenez! We're all amazed, I know. Remember, PX is the mayonnaise of whisky. Or perhaps its ketchup. Colour: full gold. Nose: struck matches, gas, burnt eggplants and used fireworks at first (you could call this 'smoke' if you like), then some kinds of rubbery raisins. Mouth: much nicer on the palate, with some sugarcane juice, PX indeed, molasses, jams, crystallised citrus (perhaps bergamots), honey… A thick mouthfeel here, as if there had been 'quite' some PX left in the casks. Finish: rather long, rather nice, with even a feeling of peat as could be seen on the neighbouring island. Or in peated Juras, of course. Comments: just forget about the nose and go straight to the palate. I prefer the 10, having said that.
SGP:652 - 81 points.

Perhaps some older indies…

Jura 30 yo 1990/2021 (47.2%, Artful Dodger, hogshead, cask #9005283)

Jura 30 yo 1990/2021 (47.2%, Artful Dodger, hogshead, cask #9005283) Four stars and a half
These batches do have an excellent reputation. Colour: straw. Nose: typically crisp coastal and fino-y nose, subtle, with fresh bitter almonds, manzanilla this time again, fresh butter, beach sand, leaven, mustard and then bitter beers. I've got strictly nothing against this profile; as a matter of fact, I love it. Mouth: it's got all of Jura's lovable flaws, I would say. It is a little feinty, a little soapy, a little sulphury, a little too much on paraffin as well, and yet I find this perfect. How would I put it, do you know the band The Stranglers? They have a bass player, Jean-Jacques Burnell, who's often a tad behind (the anti-Jaco, if you will), which creates a very distinctive, very powerful sound that many people just love. Oh my, I doubt this was the place… Please forgive me. Finish: long, with even more of those lovely 'flaws'. Salt, soap (or saponin), mustard, resins, walnuts, paraffin, sour ale… Comments: long live the small flaws in whisky! They create variety and fun, bravo!

SGP:562 - 88 points.

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.5%, Sansibar, 10th Anniversary, sherry cask, 246 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.5%, Sansibar, 10th Anniversary, sherry cask, 246 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: classic. Smoked marshmallows, sour cherries, gueuze, almonds, bone-dry chardonnay, more chardonnay, even more chardonnay… Well I cannot get chardonnay of Jura out of my head now. They have a varietal that's called red-tail melon (melon à queue rouge) which is, indeed, a chardonnay. Wonderful wines, highly recommended. This wee whisky too, by the way. Whiffs of bell pepper and stalk, which works extremely well in this context. Mouth: absolutely splendid. Magnificent chalky citrus, with this faint smoky side, almost basaltic. I think I'll say no more, but you could have this with food. On 'poularde demi-deuil', perhaps? Chez Bocuse or Mère Brazier in Lyons. But once again, this ain't the place, sorry. Finish: long, fat, on some of the most splendid chardonnays. Citrusy aftertaste, which always works. Comments: wow wow wow.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

Ite session est.

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


May 9, 2022


Strolling around Japan

Just a few blue chips and heavy hitters, including the new shining star (according to this little taster)… And we'll keep this rather 'high-profile' for once, if you don't mind…

Robert Motherwell (1915 - 1991) Black Cathedral, 1991 - Artcurial


Shizuoka 2017/2021 (58.5%, OB for Whisky Concerto Hong Kong, ex-bourbon, cask #2017-128)

Shizuoka 2017/2021 (58.5%, OB for Whisky Concerto Hong Kong, ex-bourbon, cask #2017-128) Four stars and a half
Colour: full gold. Nose: just the right amounts of acetone, nail polish remover, black olives, rotting fruits (right, fermenting fruits) and sponge cake. Very high-definition, yet with a wonderful small tertiary/dirty side, as expected (Japanese friends, please don't take umbrage when I use the word 'dirty'!) . With water: sweet mustard, manzanilla and Cuban cigars. Mouth (neat): absolutely perfect, you do not even need to factor this baby's age. Granted, there are perhaps a few too many oak spices, which is normal in this context, but these lovely tobacco-y, varnishy and slightly buttery (buttercream) notes are awesome. I've heard tobacco ice cream did exist; well I haven't tried that yet but I would imagine that would taste like this wee Shizuoka. With water: gets sweeter. A little more oak coming through, Finish: long, with some oaky sourness, more tobacco, more green pepper too, propolis, resins… The bitterish finish might be this baby's marginally weaker spot. Comments: rather terrific but water's not easy to handle here. I'll need to put my hands on a Japan-made electronic pipette.

SGP:462 - 88 points.

To the north, to Chichibu, west of Tokyo…

Chichibu 2013/2020 (59%, OB/Ichiro's Malt for Whisky Mew, Japan, bourbon barrel, cask #2463, 209 bottles)

Chichibu 2013/2020 (59%, OB/Ichiro's Malt for Whisky Mew, Japan, bourbon barrel, cask #2463, 209 bottles) Five stars
With a cat on the label, obviously. We have a mouser at WF Towers that looks just the same, she's a girl and her name is… Soba! I'm not joking. Colour: light gold. Nose: exactly as we were expecting it to be (no, really) with once again some high-definition maltiness, this time cleaner yet and with a wonderful mango-y cake-iness. Touches of patchouli and Indian bidis, bananas, a touch of shoe polish, a little menthol… With water: you do feel the make's slight fatness. Sunflower oil, some beer, a wonderful yeasty side, grist… Mouth (neat): immediate and obvious. Some yellow chartreuse, green bananas (not the other way 'round!), a lovely bitterness, fruit peel, fresh walnuts… at times you could believe it was ex-fino sherry, but it is well bourbon. With water: some fruity sweetness popping out. Banana foam, perhaps? Some papaya too, then greener fruits. Oh, yes, touches of green tomatoes? Those are so good… Finish: rather long, still on that sweetness. Even marshmallows in the aftertaste. Comments: just impeccable. They just never disappoint when the cask was not a very odd one.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Hold on, that Shizuoka was made in a Karuizawa still, was it not? So, towards Karuizawa, which isn't far from Chichibu. Just around 100km, to the northwest…

Karuizawa 1973/2008 (56%, OB, Martin's Selection for Norway, American oak sherry butt, cask #6249, 342 bottles)

Karuizawa 1973/2008 (56%, OB, Martin's Selection for Norway, American oak sherry butt, cask #6249, 342 bottles) Five stars
I've only tried a 1973 once, #1607, which had become the Supreme Winner at our Malt Maniacs Awards in 2013. WF 93, right. We'll try to keep this short and sweet… Colour: copper amber. Nose: the most fantastic combination involving mint (and assorted closely related aromas) and tropical jams (and assorted closely related aromas). Should we start a list? Good, quinces, mangos, teak oil, crushed Brazil nuts, figs and prunes filled with marzipan, very old cognac, charcoal smoke, muscovado sugar, fermenting figs, liquorice, cough medicine, cigars, Spanish ham, honeycomb… Seriously, better stop here, this list would be endless… What's more, this baby keeps changing over time… So, with water: it's not the first time that I'm finding some old-Springbankness in an old Karuizawa. Sooty honeys and myriads of affiliated aromas, in a fractal way as we sometimes say (sadly not often enough). Complex tobaccos, which reminds me of Benson & Hedges and Dunhill's shops in London, in the good old days. Mouth (neat): perhaps a notch more rustic on the palate, with a little hay and compost, some crude chocolate too, all the rest being an expected bed of roses, with pretty much the same flavours as on the nose. It would just not stand still, with many dried fruits, honeys, a tiny smokiness, probably a little more sherry (tobacco and walnuts), a wee medicinal side, eucalyptus, camphor, mint, liquorice… In truth it's got pretty much everything. And yet, it is a little 'rustic'. With water: I can't seem to get mid-1960s Springbank out of my head. Mead, cognacs, honeys and tobaccos. Some pine needles, fern and moss in the background. Finish: same combination, for a long time. Only the aftertaste is a little oakier, a little gritty, a little bitter, a little drying. Or I would have considered a 94. Comments: it feels good.
SGP:662 - 93 points.

To Nikka's Yoichi Distillery, west of Sapporo…

Yoichi 1991/2009 (58%, OB, Nikka Single Cask Malt, for La Maison du Whisky, warehouse No.15, virgin oak, cask #129374, 453 bottles)

Yoichi 1991/2009 (58%, OB, Nikka Single Cask Malt, for La Maison du Whisky, warehouse No.15, virgin oak, cask #129374, 453 bottles) Four stars and a half
I already tried this one more than ten years ago, but I'm dead sure that further bottle aging did much good to it. Dead sure. Colour: full gold with red amber hues. More or less, typical of virgin wood. Nose: I knew it (that's enough bragging for now, S.), this is full of sauna oils, sandalwood and cedarwood, eucalyptus, camphor, menthol, cough drops, then caraway and star anise, a little lemon balm, fresh-sawn pinewood, some soft varnishes… With water: the fruitiness on top. That would mostly citrons and oranges, while the piney, herbal notes would remain very restless in the back. Mouth (neat): what a beauty! It's sweet, jammy, full of candied fruits, dried orange zests, with a little bitter (good, Campari), touches of ginger, then these big mentholy notes, with some chlorophyl, fir bud liqueur, verbena, Jäger… With water: well, that unleashed more spicy oak, as if much more bottle aging was actually needed to reach a very high score. It's true that the oak was massive in the first place. Finish: long, with more mentholy oak. Comments: a feeling of mizunara; was it mizunara?
SGP:572 - 89 points.

And now to Suntory's Yamazaki Distillery, south of Kyoto…

Yamazaki 2009/2019 'The Essence of Suntory Whisky' (56%, OB, Japan, Spanish oak)

Yamazaki 2009/2019 'The Essence of Suntory Whisky' (56%, OB, Japan, Spanish oak) Four stars
It seems that this was virgin Spanish oak. The label is utterly splendid, for once a bottle that even non-whisky friends (and family) could marvel at without wondering what's wrong with you… I mean, with us. Colour: cedarwood. Nose: cedarwood. And blood oranges, quetsche pie with cinnamon, muscovado sugar, a little onion jam… It's not that oaky this time, but you never know… With water: cigar humidor, oranges and cloves, Stolle, marmalade, brown sugar… Mouth (neat): are we sure there was no sherry involved? A lot of sweet oak (deep charred?) and stewed apples, with once again a lot of muscovado sugar. A family-pack of speculoos. With water: old Pedro and a drop of crème de menthe. I'm really not sure that there would be any PX in there, but I've never encountered such as sweet ex-virgin European oak whisky. As far as I can remember… Finish: rather long, sweet, jammy, with some sweet liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: intriguing and yet excellent. If I wasn't holding this, I would add 5 points just for the marvellous Robert-Motherwell-like label. He's one of my favourite painters, in case you were wondering.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

(Domo arigato, Hideo, Olav and Peter S!)

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


May 8, 2022


A crazy rum session because
it was about time


Map of Guadeloupe from an old Air France magazine ad


Rums have been piling up while we were busy with brandies. Time to have a few beasts, randomly and with an open heart. Only the apéritif won't be chosen at random (or it wouldn't be a proper apéritif)…

Dictador 'Claro - 100 Months Aged' (40%,  Rum, Colombia; +/-2021)

Dictador 'Claro - 100 Months Aged' (40%,  Rum, Colombia; +/-2021) Two stars
This well-aged baby (100 months = more than 8 years, as far as I can tell), is filtered after maturation, probably through some sort of charcoal, to catch that particularly pale colour while retaining the flavours, supposedly. Reminds me of all those 'light' whiskies in the 1970s… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: cellulose, a little paint thinner, sugarcane syrup, vanilla sugar… All that is extremely unobtrusive, you would really believe you're nosing cane syrup. . Mouth: akin to the fairly nice rhums they're having in Madagascar. Very light, smoother than smoothness, with touches of sugarcane indeed (check!) plus vanilla and some kind of wood varnish. It is really whispering and gets almost silent after around thirty seconds. Finish: almost non-existent. A little fruit alcohol, fantasy kirsch… Well, anything. Almost cane vodka. Comments: do not get me wrong, this is not horrendous at all, it's just, I believe, the lightest rum I've ever tried. All you need is a few ice cubes, Steely Dan and a swimming pool. I find it better than an earlier version from 2014.

SGP:210 - 70 points.

Random mode activated…

Mauritius Diamonds 7 yo 2015/2022 (64.8%, Alambic Classique Collection, Mauritius, cask #20025, 181 bottles)

Mauritius Diamonds 7 yo 2015/2022 (64.8%, Alambic Classique Collection, Mauritius, cask #20025, 181 bottles) Four stars
In theory, this could/should be the excellent Labourdonnais, but that's just a wild guess. I'm also glad to see that Alambic Classique keep firing on all cylinders. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a fresh agricole style, already complex despite the scarily high strength. A little burnt fudge, some tin, roasted peanuts, coconut liqueur, barbecued marshmallows… But then again, almost 65% vol., so let's not push our luck any further. With water: touches of vegetables (wee cabbage), metal polish, asparagus, cane juice, plasticine, new fir needles, grapefruit, a little seawater… It's a very unusual style for sure. Mouth (neat): a little shoe polish again, olive, lime, even a feeling of cachaça… But then again, 65%. With water: the best part, very vegetal, on high-class green tea, fennel, celeriac, liquorice wood… Finish: both a tad thin and pretty long, not a contradiction mind you. More roots and vegetables, parsnips for example… Comments: a very unusual style, much less 'obvious' than other recent distilleries, but really full of charms. Forgot to mention a drop of pastis in the aftertaste.

SGP:562 - 85 points.

Random mode temporarily inactivated…

Chamarel 2014/2021 (55%, OB for LMDW and Navigate World Whisky, Mauritius, Highveld Aging Series, oloroso, cask #B30, 664 bottles)

Chamarel 2014/2021 (55%, OB for LMDW and Navigate World Whisky, Mauritius, Highveld Aging Series, oloroso, cask #B30, 664 bottles) Three stars and a half
Matured for six years in Mauritius, then one year in South-Africa. This is pure pot-still distillation from sugarcane juice. Colour: amber. Nose: a fan. Feels much older, displaying wonderful hardwoods, polishes, toffee, chocolate, cigars, walnut stain, molasses (I know), earth, liquorice, cedarwood, coffee, camphor, roasted pecans… And much more. Rather riche and playful this far and you do feel that it was top oloroso. With water: touches of soy sauce coming out, hoisin… That's nice! Mouth (neat): this time there's a sweetness that feels a little 'pushed' but it's true that we've found this coffee-liqueury side in several Mauritian rums. Triple-sec, Kahlua, black chocolate, oloroso dulce perhaps… With water: water brings some welcome dryness, more tobacco, menthol, walnuts (from the oloroso I suppose), cocoa powder rather than coffee liqueur… That's all better news. Finish: medium, a tad salty and olive-y, which is great. Fermentation. Comments: a much rounder, sweeter Mauritian after the Alambic Classique, but water works well.
SGP:651 - 83 points.

Random mode reactivated…

Panamanian Rum 15 yo 2004 (62%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R9.7, 'Patacones with Pikliz', second-fill bourbon barrel, 229 bottles)

Panamanian Rum 15 yo 2004 (62%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R9.7, 'Patacones with Pikliz', second-fill bourbon barrel, 229 bottles) Four stars
The only word I was knowing of in the nickname here was 'with'. Colour: deep gold. Nose: ten times more coffee liqueur in this one! Plus easter eggs, sugar-coated peanuts, cotton candy and, err, Bailey's Irish cream. With water: oh nice! Light cigars, walnut oil, a drop of oyster sauce, bagasse, tangerines about to start to begin to smell foul (wonder-foul!) Mouth (neat): huge sweetness, huge cane syrup as well. Plus a petroly side that, as far as I can remember, I had never found before in rums from this region of the world. With water: super good, despite some excessive sucrosity here and there and touches of cologne. Finish: medium, sweet, a tad liqueury but the core remains of high grade (given that this is a Panamanian). Comments: I suppose this was Don José. I'm not sure anyone could do much better within this style.

SGP:730 - 85 points.

Bonne Mère 6 yo (59.6%, Sample X, Rum Mercenary and Kintra, Guadeloupe, 242 bottles, 2021)

Bonne Mère 6 yo (59.6%, Sample X, Rum Mercenary and Kintra, Guadeloupe, 242 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
This is 'rhum de sucrerie' or 'industriel', distilled in Sainte-Rose from molasses rather than cane juice. They used to produce the brands Delisle and Palmier. While not exactly part of the aristocracy of Guadeloupe or Martinique, these rhums can really deliver. Think Le Galion. Colour: gold. Nose: great fun! Citron and tangerine liqueurs, plus plain cane juice and a touch of aniseed. Very straight, pure, and pleasant. With water: even nicer! Wonderful whiffs of wormwood, genepy, verbena… All things that do not, as far as I can tell, grow in Guadeloupe. Mouth (neat): totally excellent and much more than just a filler. Once again, this is pure citron and tangerine liqueur, just probably better than citron and tangerine liqueur. Fennel seeds and celery in the background. Awesome freshness. With water: grassier, with olives, carbon, engine oil and liquorice. Fantastic. Finish: medium long, fresh, rather on mint, aniseed and liquorice. Salty absinth in the aftertaste. Comments: I think this is a first. Wonderful pure drop, very well caught, 'Sample X'.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Random mode inactivated…

Domaine de Courcelles 1972/1973/2008/2009 'Grande Réserve' (58%, OB, Guadeloupe, for Rhum House Winterthur)

Domaine de Courcelles 1972/1973/2008/2009 'Grande Réserve' (58%, OB, Guadeloupe, for Rhum House Winterthur) Five stars
These were the very last batches of Courcelles. There were different variants, at 42% (WF 90), 47% (WF 91), 54% (WF 91), plus this stronger one at 58% vol. that we haven't tried yet. It is ex-molasses as well, so rhum de sucrerie, made with the ex-Courcelles stills that had been moved to Sainte-Marthe after Courcelles Distillery was closed in 1964. These stills have then been in use only from 1964 to 1972. No ideas where they went after 1972, but I'm sure true rum experts could tell (please advise!) Just to make things clear, this was distilled in 1972, put into oak in 1973, casks disgorged in 2008, bottles filled in 2009. Colour: amber. Nose: you could really believe this is a very old agricole – or a very old Yquem. Flabbergasting pralines, chocolate, prunes (tons and tons), sloe, natural rubber, dried porcini and morels, tiny drops of rose and orange blossom waters, sandalwood and incense… But prunes are having the upper hand this far. With water: same, no changes. Mouth (neat): it's One and its myriads, would a bad poet say. Salted caramelised prunes. Oh, what a oneness (calm down, S.) With water: very old Yquem, once more. Caramel, mushrooms, apricots, quince, roasted nuts and, again and again, tons of prunes, plums of Ente, quetsche…. Finish: perhaps the weaker part because of touches of alcohol/ethanol, but we're nit-picking, it's still within the first decile, and easily. Comments: almost 93.  Probably the best within all the Courcelles 1972. Hope we haven't tried them all, having said that.
SGP:641 - 92 points.

Random mode reactivated…

Plantation Barbados WIRD 1986/2022 (55.1%, West Indies Rum Distillery, Barbados, Extreme Series V, 286 bottles)

Plantation Barbados WIRD 1986/2022 (55.1%, West Indies Rum Distillery, Barbados, Extreme Series V, 286 bottles) Five stars
Mind you, this one is 34 or 35 years old. It is molasses rum, batch-distilled at the West Indies Rum Distillery, aged for 34 years in ex-bourbon in the tropics, then finished for one year in a 'Ferrand cask' – I would suppose that's ex-cognac. I would also suppose that last part is a gimmick, like the umbrella in the boot of any Aston Martin, which does not make them any faster or more reliable. Ha. Colour: gold. Nose: I'm not sure we've ever been this close to pure olive oil. And to old books and magazines, with a lot of old paper and ink, obviously. New-sawn plywood, sauna oils, a tiny bit of onion chutney, perhaps… With water: who remembers carbon paper? Also leather polish, old cars, old garage… Mouth (neat): you need to bow. Luminous citrus, marginally acetic, very faintly smoky (coal) and fermentary (chen-pi). With water: rather exceptional and somewhat in whisky territories. The oak starts to feel (was it already before the finishing part?) but at 35 years of age, there's strictly nothing to quibble about. Finish: medium, with some parts that do feel a little Jamaican. Brine, olives, tar… Comments: no 'sweetness' or 'dosage' as they call that funny practice whatsoever in this old WIRD, Any honest, candid taster will bow, I think. I certainly do, and we know that it wasn't easy after the Courcelles '72. Well done, trap thwarted!

SGP:562 - 91 points.

South Pacific 17 yo 2003/2020 (58.6%, The Rum Cask, Fiji)

South Pacific 17 yo 2003/2020 (58.6%, The Rum Cask, Fiji) Four stars and a half
What's a little strange is that our very good friends in Germany would have finished this entrancing (probably) Fijian rum in a 'Jamaica JNY cask'. I would be offended. Colour: gold. Nose: these Fijians are not very well known but they do deliver, with their smoky dried herbs and teas, the banana skins, drawing gum, leatherette, plasticine, camphory oranges, these whiffs of petroly and smoky hard cheese (see what I mean? Like some very old roqueforts)… With water: first rainwater after two months of drought, tarmac, olives and tinned bamboo shoots… Mouth (neat): very excellent, but is it the Fijian or is it Jamaica? Smoked and salted mangos marinated in olive oil. With water: super good, really. More smoky olives, rotting mangos, Swiss cheeses, carbon and rubber… Finish: long, salty, olive-y, with a little plastic and rubber. Which I find pretty Fijian. Comments: lovely, but careful with H2O. What's a 'Jamaica JNY cask', by the way?

SGP:463 - 88 points.

Enmore 30 yo 1998-1990 'Alpha & Omega' (51.6%, Jack Tar, Guyana, casks #42, 40, 55, 251 bottles)

Enmore 30 yo 1998-1990 'Alpha & Omega' (51.6%, Jack Tar, Guyana, casks #42, 40, 55, 251 bottles) Five stars
A multi-vintage offering with a very constructivist label. I hope we'll soon be able to quote Russian art freely and lightly again. Colour: amber. Nose: very unusual, very lovely. Pine and thuja woods in the end of a hot summer day, caraway, cedar, cloves, borage, more cedarwood, even more cedarwood, eucalyptus wood, more thuja, more cedar, more eucalyptus, pencil shavings… I find this wanzenig (couldn't find a proper word in English). With water: extraordinary, otherworldly woodiness. Visiting any of Leonardo's workshops, in Italy or France. Mouth (neat): sublime. Maracuja, cedar and eucalyptus, all synchronised to perfection, like the Bill Evans Trio (whatever). With water: not sure it needed any water. Water's almost an interloper in this game. Finish: I'll dare say that we're in early 1970s Ardbegs territories. Aren't the greatest old spirits about convergence? Salty, tarry… Only the aftertaste is a tad bitterer, on propolis. Comments: what a session today! Now let's be fair, the tougher finish and aftertaste made it lose one %. Dura Lex etc.
SGP:373 - 92 points.

We may be going overboard at this point, but is this Whiskyfun or is it only a pansy lifestyle blog for sissies? (diving to even lower lows now, S….)

J.Bally 1949 (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 75cl, 1980s)

J.Bally 1949 (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 75cl, 1980s) Four stars
An amazing old bottle from the Plantations Lajus du Carbet, in Martinique. This very rhum z'habitant was already labelled as 'agricole', even if the proper appellation (AOC) was only given in the year 1996. Now let's be honest, the oldest vintages are not always the best, my favourite Bally being the 1960 (which, very incidentally, is also my own year). Colour: deep amber with bronze hues. Nose: very dry, almost oloroso-y, with rather a lot of chocolate as well as a little pinewood. Espresso and a drop of fir liqueur, plus one drop of nocino (green walnut). Drops of meaty sauces as well, dry gravy… That's a lot of drops, eh. Mouth: a little jumbled, very meaty, bouillony, cardboardy, salty, dry… It's almost like some old bone-dry Madeira (remember Madeira has also got an agricole appellation!) Tends to become more cardboardy and salty over time, this is almost some kind of condiment for sashimi. Finish: medium, ultra-dry, oxidized, oloroso-y indeed. Beef stock and caramel in the aftertaste, not a bad feeling mind you. Comments: intellectual old rhum. Let's be honest, it couldn't fight the Enmore, the WIRD or the Courcelles.
SGP:361 - 85 points.

That's ten, what a session again! Thank you everyone, there will be more soon, much more…

(Merci Nicolas!!!)

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


May 6, 2022


A trio of Kilkerran

Hoi Sin
After those terrific Springbanks we tried right yesterday, I thought we could have another go at sister Distillery Glengyle and their make 'Kilkerran'.

Thank you Madame Li at the Baguettes d'Or in Strasbourg >


Kilkerran 8 yo 'Cask Strength Port Cask Matured' (57.9%, OB, 2022)

Kilkerran 8 yo 'Cask Strength Port Cask Matured' (57.9%, OB, 2022) Four stars
In my book, Port is never an obvious choice, with red berries of all kinds that may clash with any potent distillate. But as always, there are many exceptions and we'll keep an open mind, even if the colour is pink as, well, pink as flamingos. Colour: good news, it is not pink as flamingos, it's just apricoty. Nose: not obvious indeed, the combination generating huge notes of cedarwood (new humidor, pencil shavings) and peppered blood oranges, then morello cherries, strawberry-flavoured yoghurt, Fruit Loops, peonies… Kilkerran's character is not totally offset, having said (the lead in the pencil shavings!) With water: some kind of yeasty brioche with goji berries and cranberries, plus rather a lot of liquorice (allsorts). Mouth (neat): rather hot, on sour red fruits, driven by cherries, also pencil shavings once more, Szechuan pepper and proper pepper, then the dirty smokiness that we enjoy so much. All that does not really clash, having said that, it seems that the cask (a pipe?) was pretty clean. With water: water works extremely well. Don't strawberries and pepper really get on together? Finish: long and clean, with more fruits, ashes, peat and pepper. Straight Port and raisins in the aftertaste. Again, no clashes. Comments: very good, no doubt at all, it's just that I largely prefer bourbon and sherry, which always feel less 'flavoured' to me.

SGP:664 - 86 points.

Speaking of sherry…

Kilkerran 8 yo 'Cask Strength Sherry Cask Matured' (58.1%, OB, 2022) Four stars and a half
There's been an excellent ex-re-charred oloroso back in 2019. Colour: gold with copper hues. Nose: this one's clearly smokier in appearance, but it's got just as much pencil shaving. On the other hand, it's displaying this wonderful meatiness that could also be encountered in many sherried Springbanks, towards dried beef, bresaola, Grisons meat, or beef jerky (with a little chilli). Also much more earth, more dirtiness, more chocolate, mole sauce, mocha, nocino, hoisin sauce, barbecue sauce (Tennessee-style)… With water: rather more of all that, especially more earth, as well as geraniums. Mouth (neat): we're closer to the Port, with some red berries once more (where do those come from?) and a lot of pepper (once again, both Szechuan and 'proper'). Otherwise loads of pipe tobacco, cherry liqueur (Heering), raspberry ganache… The peat is clearly louder than in the Port. With water: both fatter and drier, which is perfect. Asian sauces of all kinds - I could exist off nothing but that for the rest of my life. Thai, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian… Well, all of them. Finish: rather long, this time with some citrus chiming in, peppered marmalade, black cherry jam (I think I've already written lines about those from the wee village of Itxassou, in the French pays basque.) Classic earthy and lemony smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments:

SGP:564 - 88 points.

And speaking of bourbon…

Kilkerran 11 yo 2009/2021 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles)

Kilkerran 11 yo 2009/2021 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles) Five stars
One should always watch what's cooking at W.M. Cadenhead's… Colour: white wine. Nose: some much tighter, cleaner, simpler wood and a distillate that can express itself freely this time. As a consequence, this is a rather simpler whisky, but this remains my preferred style and this time again, we're reminded that Campbeltown is close to Islay. Mud, chalk, wool, iodine, hessian, peat smoke, seashells… Not much tar, having said that. I find this absolutely impeccable. With water: emphasis on hessian and wool. And new Harris tweed. Mouth (neat): winner. Lemon, peat, chalk, sourdough, plasticine, salt, ashes… Another little blade. One day we'll do a proper Kilkerran vs. Longrow session. With water: the lemons in the lead this time, plus a drop of fish oil and seashells. Randomly… clams. Finish: not eternal but with more wax, lemon and smoked fish. Saltier aftertaste. Comments: a wonderful little peater with a perfect fatter body and rocking lemons and seashells. Simpler pleasures, that is what we all need in these troubled times. One or two extra-points just because of that.

SGP:455 - 90 points.

(Thanks KC)

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


May 5, 2022


Four Springbank and a wee rant

Randomly and in good faith. I've heard many good people complain about the fact that Springbank was getting expensive. Well, I remember some magazine or newspaper, around twenty-five or thirty years ago (wasn't it The Times?) had stated that Springbank was THE 1er Grand Cru Classé of Scotch Whisky. What's a little distasteful these days, having said that, is seeing stinky flippers making money with Springbank's blue and yellow charity bottling for Ukraine. I'm not saying the Distillery can do anything against that, all I'll say is that any profits that are generated should go to Ukraine, not into the pocket of any miserable, disgusting and pathetic excuse for a human being whose mother was a hamster while the father was smelling of elderberries. Anyway…

This wee advert from 2003 was particularly clear,
Springbank is for drinkers, not for flippers!


Springbank 10 yo 'Local Barley' (51.6%, OB, 15,000 bottles, 2021)

Springbank 10 yo 'Local Barley' (51.6%, OB, 15,000 bottles, 2022) Four stars and a half
This baby was actually bottled in December last year. It was made from Belgravia Barley (do they grow barley in central London??? – good one S.) It is 100% ex-bourbon and was bottled at some kind of reduced strength, apparently. What's sure is that it's the lightest LB so far – apart from the older LBs that had been distilled in the 1960s. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's one of those very sooty and sour ones, starting with a lot of solvent, acetone, then we have lemon juice, a feeling of gin, bags of grist and many small berries. This is almost holly eau-de-vie! With water: sauerkraut, seawater, engine oil and a new 3-pack of pencil erasers (back to school). Mouth (neat): a little gentler on the palate, but very chalky, sooty and lemony, well in our preferred style. One cannot change his own nature. With water: exceptional, in the style of the regular 10, which we always just love. Some green pepper and salt. Finish: long, peppery, then salty and lemony. Comments: nothing to throw away. Do not over-water.
SGP:362 – 69 points for all cupid, shameless flippers (please switch to cryptos!), 89 points for all good people (like us!)

A quasi-OB please…

Springbank 10 yo 2011/2021 (55%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles, autumn 2021)

Springbank 10 yo 2011/2021 (55%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles, autumn 2021) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: same whisky, honestly. Perhaps a tad fatter and a notch more mineral, but that may be the extra 3.4% vol. With water: exceptional sourdough, grist and porridge, sake and fino, genever, raw wool… Mouth (neat): different this time, a tad dirtier than the LB, with more fermentary notes, sour cream, yoghurt, chalk and clay, and this feeling of ashes and carbon dust. With water: all things lemons taking over, together with a lot of chalk, white beers, leaven bread and just, well, yes, lemons. Finish: long and vertical, chiselled. Another perfect blade. Comments: stunning purity and body. 1er Grand Cru Classé stuff, my dear, and surely a smart move by W.M. Cadenhead. The new Local Barley was just a distraction (ha!)

SGP:452 - 91 points.

We could have an old one now, what do you say?

Springbank 28 yo 1992/2020 (42.8%, Sansibar for Japanwhisky, bourbon, 204 bottles)

Springbank 28 yo 1992/2020 (42.8%, Sansibar for Japanwhisky, bourbon, 204 bottles) Five stars
Lovely label with some koi fish, which are almost as expensive as Springbank. Colour: white wine. Always the perfect colour for Springbank. Nose: an ideal counterpoint after the CAD. It is the same whisky, just eighteen years older. It's lost a little oomph, but it won more complexity and subtleness, and even more elegance. Perfect chalky, sooty, fermentary, gristy notes, then rather less lemon than in the young ones, and more camphory and medicinal notes. Iodine, mercurochrome, oysters, ointments, peat smoke… In the end, it is almost like if Campbeltown and Islay had moved closer back in 1992. Plate tectonics, maybe? Mouth: indeed, you would be forgiven for saying this is an older Islay. Tight lemony smoke, cough syrup, kippers, grapefruits, brine, ashes, touches of passion fruits, oysters, plasticine, bitter almonds… This is troubling. Finish: not too long but wonderfully tertiary. Many smaller coastal and resinous notes, and a little sesame and fish oil in the aftertaste. 90% sesame, 10% fish (phew!) Comments: just wonderful. Those vintages weren't easy when they were young, but this is really magnificent and goes to prove, once more, that time is whisky's main ingredient.

SGP:563 - 91 points.

(I've done a quick and dirty vatting with Cad's 10 and Sansibar's 28 and now feel like I'm Dr Bill.)

Please an old OB and we're done… Oh, didn't we mention the 1960s when we were talking Local Barley?...

Springbank 1967 (46%, OB, for Taiwan, 750ml, +/-1995)

Springbank 1967 (46%, OB, for Taiwan, 750ml, +/-1995) Five stars
This is not the famous 27 yo or 28 yo 1967 'Big golden S', it doesn't state any age or bottling year on the labels. Unless that's all in Chinese… In theory, this should be a bed of roses… Colour: gold. Nose: there are not massive differences between 'modern' and 'older' Springbanks, while there are at many other famous Distilleries, as we all know. It's true that their equipment hasn't changed since the Flintstones. In this very case, we do detect similar coastal notes as in the Sansibar, perhaps a little less ashes and soot, but that could be some sherry casks.. Now what's rather typical of these 1960s and even early 1970s Springbanks is this superb honeyness. Heather honey for sure, pollens, nectar, then raisins and dried apricots, old late-harvest white wines, the best sweet Tokaji…  Mouth: we'll keep this short. All things honeys, plus moist cakes (biscuits in champagne), raisins of all kinds – never too sweet – then a meatiness (sweet ham) and various old herbal liqueurs. Wormwood, star anise, spearmint, verbena, lemon balm and all those small pleasures of life. Finish: medium long and unexpectedly mentholy, with even more verbena as well. Lemon, some sweet earthiness and some chartreuse in the aftertaste, with a little salt, and then a honeyed final signature. Comments: a few touch-and-goes, as often with old bottles, but as expected, this was a glorious old Springbank. 1er Grand Cru Classé of Scotland, indeed.

SGP:662 - 92 points.

More Springbank soon, stay tuned.

(With thanks to the Burlet gang and to Ryan)

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


May 4, 2022


Crazy Ardbeg

It's always hard to build a coherent line-up with such makes, given that some are NAS (no age no vintage), while some are older vintages bottled at a young age, some are of good age but very strong, while others yet are just powerhouses. So let's simply try, while keeping all factors in mind. And forget about the NFTs… First, the mandatory apéritif, an old youngster at a very low strength…

Saucy French ad for Morteau sausages. Yes it's real.


Ardbeg 13 yo 1972 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Meregalli Monza, +/-1985)

Ardbeg 13 yo 1972 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Meregalli Monza, +/-1985) Five stars
This is what we used to call 'the brown banner label'.  I believe the stunning 13 yo 1974 is a little easier to find these days, just like the 13/72 Sestante, but I could be wrong. Hope this little one won't be too fast (because of Meregalli 'Monza', yeah right, S.) Colour: full gold. Nose: it's obvious that it was a mistake to have this as the apéritif. These drops remind us why some became fans of Ardbeg, some way before a certain 'writer' started to promote the freshly bought brand as if there were no tomorrow, in the mid to late 1990s. This has strictly nothing to do with any recent Ardbeg, NAS or not, be it natural or pumped-up with woods or wines, even if we keep writing that 'Ardbeg will always be Ardbeg', which is true in a way. But let's build a short list of aromas, let's say old coal tar, old hessian bags, dunnage, those famous tarry ropes, almond paste (an important member of the choir), bicycle inner tube, overripe apples rather than citrus, old engine oils, benzine, then all things sea fruit, from whelks to oysters. I'd even quote sea urchins, and certainly kelp. Mouth: incredible feeling of peat-smoked fruit paste (quince, pear) and just an avalanche of tarry notes, in all their guises. And some citrus this time. Finish: surprising long and rather on camphor, ointments, seawater and smoked oysters. Ashy quince jelly in the aftertaste. Comments: G&M have had some utter stunners from 1972, including these ones and of course the Broras. We could have written a tasting note as long as a month of Sundays, but this was only the apéritif.

SGP:468 - 94 points.

That was unfair to the others, we're way too high and fast, that's our mistake, our mistake maxima… I'm afraid we'll have to row upstream… Let's find something as young and bottled at a low strength as well…

Ardbeg 12 yo (43.9%, Jack Wiebers, bourbon cask, 120 bottles, 2022)

Ardbeg 12 yo (43.9%, Jack Wiebers, bourbon cask, 120 bottles, 2022) Four stars and a half
The label and back label would tell you a lot about an old paddle steamer from the River Elbe, but really not much about this wee whisky. Love this very engaging and friendly German bottler anyway. Colour: gold. Nose: not the same whisky at all, but that was to be expected. This is thicker and rather less complex, rounder as well, but with a very nice citrusy side and some 'really good smoke' and iodine. Perhaps a little less different from the other heavy peaters from Islay than it used to be in the past. Mouth: probably more Ardbeggian on the palate, more on tar and ashes, more of coastal elements as well, with our beloved whelks (dead whelks, naturally) and bits of 'good rubber'. Finish: longer, more robust and saltier than the glorious 13. Some peppery and medicinal notes in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent at just 12 and at barely 43% vol. The peat was less 'fat' than in the o13/72 by G&M.

SGP:457 - 89 points.

Ardbeg 'Ardcore' (46%, OB, general release, 2022)

Ardbeg 'Ardcore' (46%, OB, general release, 2022) Three stars
I could almost believe Jamie Reid did the label here (remember, Sex Pistols, Never Mind The Bollocks and so on). What's really cool is that this one seems to be fully ex-bourbon, and so was not botoxed or siliconised. Colour: white wine (hurray). Nose: very new-makey and full of pear spirit. Then sour caper brine, solvent, and bags of ashes and burnt plastic. It feels extremely young and it is having trouble after the Jack W. and, of course, G&M's glorious 13yo. Mouth: once again, this feels extremely young. More pear eau-de-vie, raw ashes, drop of brine, a little citrusy and syrupy fatness (our friend the limoncello), morello juice… I would have called this one 'Work In Progress', as some did with Kilkerran. Finish: rather long, raw, this time on kirschwasser, more pears and even high-column rum. Comments: really fine, but not essential . I've tried the 'Ardbeg Consumer Club version' or however they call it (I'm joking) informally and liked it much more.
SGP:646 - 81 points.

You mean a Committee Release?..

Arrrrrrrdbeg! (51.8%, OB, Committee Release, ex-rye cask, 2020)

Ardbeg 'Arrrrrrrdbeg!' (51.8%, OB, Committee Release, ex-rye cask, 2020) Three stars and a half
It was time. More NAS but Mickey Heads is on the label, which is almost as good (actually better) as a vintage + age. The use of rye casks is obviously a gimmick, but after all, why not. Don't Doritos do some rye-flavoured tortilla chips too? (you wish)… Colour: straw. Nose: great fun, really. A lot of smoked sausage and bacon, cigar ashes, some lime and rhubarb, exhaust pipes (two-stroke engine, say old Kawa), then apple pie. I'm fine with this nose. With water: more ashes and smoked sausage. Do you know Morteau's? Also turmeric and ginseng powder. Peppered olives. Mouth (neat): good raw very smoky and peppery and ashy. Very robust and getting drying. Some sweet bread too, buckwheat, tequila…  With water: fruits coming out, even pineapples, otherwise pears and apples. The rye becomes more obvious. Finish: rather long but a little indistinct. Would you smoke some fruit bread? Very ashy and drying aftertaste. Comments: good but now I remember why I hadn't written any tasting notes before.

SGP:556 - 83 points.

Back at the indies'…

Ardbeg 16 yo 2004/2020 (59.8%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, for HNWS & Whisky Lovers HK, hogshead, cask #17912, 99 bottles)

Ardbeg 16 yo 2004/2020 (59.8%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, for HNWS & Whisky Lovers HK, hogshead, cask #17912, 99 bottles) Five stars
Rather a micro bottling but we've already tried it  - informally – and were thrilled. Colour: light gold. Nose: feels like the best of the official core range in the best years. Evident, with everything great, from peat to vanilla throughout citrus. In the background, hints of paraffin, hand cream, even shampoo, fresh almonds and walnuts, various oils, mercurochrome, engine oil… etcetera. With water:  oh hurray, old-style Ardbeg! Wonderful oils, tars, ointments, oysters… Mouth (neat): this is the best part, this palate is fantastically zesty, blade-y, salty and lemony. As we sometimes say, it would cut you into two identical pieces – in a rather Uma-Thurman way. With water: and it did. Wonderful. Finish: long, extremely sharp in an extremely thrilling way. Long story short, superb smoky lemons.  Comments: the smoke is perfect too. Awesome echoes of the G&M (I'm comparing them again as we speak).
SGP:467 - 92 points.

Back on the track, back on the OBs…

Ardbeg 19 yo 'Traigh Bhan' (46.2%, OB, batch 'TB/03 -10.10.01/21.BL', 2021)

Ardbeg 19 yo 'Traigh Bhan' (46.2%, OB, batch 'TB/03 -10.10.01/21.BL', 2021) Five stars
This is ex-American oak and oloroso sherry casks. According to the label, Colin Gordon was already the manager when this was bottled. Angus already tried this baby on WF and liked it a lot last year (WF90). There, data computerised (eh?) so let us proceed… Colour: light gold. Nose: this is the most porridgey of them all, the most fermentary, and probably the closest to Nature. Raw wool on Islay (wandering on the Oa), chalk, mud and sheep dung, sourdough, sour fruit juice (white cherries, gooseberry juice), grist and wash… This is the first one that really smells of 'touring the distillery' (at 1am, valinch in hand). Mouth: gets drying almost instantly, but all the rest is pretty perfect. Extremely dry indeed, fino-y (Ardbeg in fino always worked well), then with mentholy lemons and medicinal potions of all kinds. The best of the 'newer' Ardbeg style, in my opinion. Finish: long, very dry, a little austere but very 'Ardbeg'. Comments: the dryness is a little surprising but I just love this kind of Ardbeg. It's just that I can't seem to remember what 'Traigh Bhan' was supposed to mean. Whiskies and their names!
SGP:357 - 90 points.

Good, we've had six, let's push it to, say eight and say goodbye. Oh did we mention fino?... We've also got a first fill 'ex-Côte-Rotie' but I say we'll try that one around the year 2057, if you would agree. So, fino…

Ardbeg 2013/2021 (60.9%, OB, 2nd fill manzanilla butt, cask #272, 671 bottles)

Ardbeg 2013/2021 (60.9%, OB, 2nd fill manzanilla butt, cask #272, 671 bottles) Five stars
I think this is for Germany. Remember a manzanilla is a fino matured in Sanlùcar. If you mature a fino elsewhere, it won't be a manzanilla. A manzanilla does not need to be have been harvested in or around Sanlùcar, the name's only related to the place where they mature the wine. Oh and I'd kill for a good bottle of manzanilla; as a matter of fact, I'll be there next week. Anyway… Colour: deep gold. Nose: bacon and smoked sausage again, as in the 'Arrrrrrrdbeg!' (that was not a name for grownup enthusiasts, was it). Active wood, roasted bananas, sandalwood perhaps, and really a lot of bacon. No manzanilla-y notes yet, but 60.9% is high. With water: heavy smoked grist, carbon, ink, old magazines, walnuts, mustard indeed, unpacking new electronics… Mouth (neat): high-power smoky and slightly mustardy arrival, then a drying and very ashy development, full of barbecued bacon… But it is too strong for me (S.!) With water: it's amazing that it would have become this manzanilla-y. Wonderfully salty, mustardy and walnutty, it's just that it doesn't swim too well, so please handle your pipette (or coffee spoon) like Karajan, not like Keith Moon. Finish: long, rather acidic, with a lot of citrus popping out, especially bitter oranges. We're well in Andalucía. Obvious oak spices in the aftertaste, the cask was rather active. Comments: we knew this was going to be rather superb.
SGP:457 - 90 points.

Good, we said 'eight'. Why not a very old one then…

Ardbeg 32 yo 1967/1999 (47.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry cask, 185 bottles)

Ardbeg 32 yo 1967/1999 (47.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry cask, 185 bottles) Five stars
The owners have missed the 1960s completely (only lousy efforts have been made – white gloves, come on!) but neither Signatory Vintage nor Douglas Laing have been as conspicuously absent. Having said that, I've never tried this one, neither formally nor informally. Colour: dark bronze. Really, it is virtually green (greener than the green Springbanks, if that rings a bell). Say as green as olive oil, really! Nose: it is not surprising that you would find a few similar aromas as in the G&M 13/72, especially rubbers, tyre inner tubes, then rather mushroom cream (truffle), some kind of old style oils and polishes (what we were having in my time in the French army), stewed rhubarb at the fruit section, a blend of pipe juice with 'secret Chinese medicine', baijiu (really, not making this up, I swear), prunes, dried figs, longans, hoisin sauce… Pure madness. Patches, nails in the cask? You say patches AND nails? Mouth: it is incredible that it would be this green. The taste is a little funny, I have to say, not exactly 'rotten' but you do feel that something is not exactly right, perhaps. Something metallic indeed, bitters, tobaccos, very old oloroso, salty liquorice, turpentine and eucalyptus… Now the heart is beating steady and strong, this is not a foul old Ardbeg at all, it's just 'different' and makes you reconsider your tasting paradigm (what? No way!) Finish: while it got even greener, or so it seems… More metallic notes, various old embrocations, liqueurs and unknown liquids, oils, dried fruits, baijiu indeed… Comments: you can't quite score this. Crazy colour, crazy drop. I've never seen any spirits as green as this – not talking about green chartreuse, naturally. Camouflaged whisky, almost.

SGP:475 - 90 points.

I'm sure there is no Ardbeg crazier than that one. So at ease, you may smoke! What's sure is that we do keep loving Ardbeg, even if those NAS annual special/committee/limited/whatever releases seem to have become the mocking events of the season.

(Many thanks, Hideo, Jens and Sebastian!)

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


May 3, 2022


Little Duos, today Littlemill 1989

Remember those late 1980s – early 1990s indie Littlemills that took maltdom by storm a few years back, together with some 'secret Northern Irish' from similar vintages that were total fruit bombs too? Well, apparently, there's more…

Littlemill 31 yo 1989/2021 (48.7%, Whisky Mew, Carsten Ehrlich & Hideo Yamaoka for Bar Barns & The Mash Tun Tokyo, hogshead, cask #171, 223 bottles)

Littlemill 31 yo 1989/2021 (48.7%, Whisky Mew, Carsten Ehrlich & Hideo Yamaoka for Bar Barns & The Mash Tun Tokyo, hogshead, cask #171, 223 bottles) Four stars and a half
There's a lot of data on the back label but it's all written in Japanese, which is normal mind you. Anyway, gentlemen, if I may say so, start your mangos and your bananas!… (and don't get me wrong.) Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, indeed, some wonderful fruity notes, 2/3 tropical and 1/3 from temperate orchards. As expected, mangos and bananas, plus guavas and papayas (expected as well), plus very ripe pears and plums, then a little custard and a wee grassy touch that'll prevent this baby from getting too much over the top, as far as fruitiness goes. I just can't see who could be against this. Mouth: it is not impossible that the citrusy part of this extravagant basket of fruits would have grown even larger over the years from, say 25 to 30 years old. In any case, there are more tangerines and grapefruits in this, and rather less, err, bananas. Some passion fruits for sure, as well as, perhaps, a little more fresh oak/green tea. Quite some custard too. It was most certainly the right time to bottle this, if I may humbly say so. Finish: medium, with more grapefruit pips and liquorice wood. Comments: it is rather fascinating to witness the advent of a tipping point in a longer maturation. Great fruity drop, in any case.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Littlemill 32 yo 1989/2022 (55.2%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 216 bottles)

Littlemill 32 yo 1989/2022 (55.2%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 216 bottles) Five stars
This is some pure Whisky Agency. I mean, it is The Whisky Agency for The Whisky Agency. Oh well, I know what I'm trying to say. Colour: light gold. Nose: this time again, a little more mentholy and piney tones have wormed their way into this extravagant fruity combo. A little more chalk too, for the better as usual. Other than that, passion fruits, mangos and pink grapefruits are running the show. With water: chalk is further up, in a Sancerre kind of way. Mouth (neat): pure citrusy goodness, plus maracuja. Not much to add, this has remained perfectly fresh and zesty. With water: once again, some chalk chiming in, even aspirin and matcha tea powders. Geared towards limeness. Finish: really long, sharp, extremely well carved. Very lemony aftertaste. Comments: this one reminds you that Littlemill was a Lowlander. Some sides were reminiscent of Rosebank and even St. Magdalene.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Brilliant Littlemills, both of them, as expected.

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


May 2, 2022


Three Tullibardine or Four

We had been rather impressed with some new Tullibardines a few weeks ago, especially with their lovely new 15 years old. So, this is a little follow-up session, with two OBs and one IB or two. (photo Michael Kramer)


Tullibardine 2005/2020 'The Murray' (46%, OB, Double Wood Edition, The Marquess Collection, 17550 bottles)

Tullibardine 2005/2020 'The Murray' (46%, OB, Double Wood Edition, The Marquess Collection, 17550 bottles) Four stars and a half
No worries here, 'double wood' does not mean it's been finished in any kind of way, it is just a vatting of bourbon and sherry. Colour: gold. Nose: distinctive whiffs of ripe bananas, patchouli and eucalyptus at first, then mead and touches of white vermouth and well-aged chardonnay. Nothing against that, at all. Also a little wood smoke and very small touches of caraway, cinnamon and cloves. Mouth: once again, a distinctive style, with rotting tropical fruits upfront (that's a good thing, mind you!) plus liquorice and a wee tar. A little banana wine, as they sometimes make in the West Indies, touches of cedarwood, marmalade, walnuts from the sherry,  little coffee, a little cocoa… This one's really complex. Finish: medium, spicier since this is all ex-first fill, but balanced and never drying. Juicy Fruit, juniper, cinnamon and a little mint, or a dollop of cough syrup. Comments: less a surprise than last time. I believe it's incredible how they upgraded this name, from Economy on Aeroflot (a few decades ago) to First Class on Singapore Airlines.
SGP:661 - 88 points.

Tullibardine 2008/2021 'The Murray' (56.1%, OB, Cask Strength, The Marquess Collection, 17550 bottles)

Tullibardine 2008/2021 'The Murray' (56.1%, OB, Cask Strength, The Marquess Collection, 17550 bottles) Four stars
This seems to be fully ex-bourbon, so we should get even 'closer to the spirit', even if it was 1st fill bourbon. Colour: white wine. Nose: perhaps less eccentric than its bro, more on classic vanilla, brioche and biscuit, apple pie, mirabelles, peanut oil, rhubarb… No ripe bananas and old Meursault this time, this is simpler and 'cleaner'. With water: even more so. Apple tarte, vanilla cream, hops and the usual drop of limoncello. Mouth (neat): sweet, fruity, on yellow and orange wine gums and IPA. There. With water: once again, apple tarte, vanilla cream, hops and the usual drop of limoncello (that was lazy at best, S.) Finish: medium, sweet, refreshing, rather on apples and lemon liqueurs. Hints of vanilla and sawdust in the aftertaste. Comments: totally excellent, just much simpler, more elementary than its brother.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

And now, the IB…

Tullibardine 13 yo 2007/2021 (52.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 160 bottles)

Tullibardine 13 yo 2007/2021 (52.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 160 bottles) Four stars
Maltbarn already had some excellent Tullibardines. Colour: white wine. Nose: we're obviously close, but this one has a few more sour notes, some chardonnay, some porridge, some sourdough, even some wood smoke… It is actually a wee tad bigger, but would remain very close to the second Murray. With water: some café latte, limoncello, croissant and a little fresh sawdust. Oak, naturally. Mouth (neat): it is now the same whisky, really. Same wine gums, hops and apple pie. With water: a carbon copy of The Murray Cask Strength. How very funny (BTW, it is not 'Jim' Murray – although I would rather like to see The Broom, The Nouet or The MacLean, not to mention The Jackson). Finish: same. Comments: same. This doesn't happen often but good news here, the whiskies are excellent.
SGP:651 – 86 points.

And a bonus dram…

Tullibardine 26 yo 1973/2000 (49.6%, Signatory Vintage, sherry, cask #2401, 278 bottles)

Tullibardine 26 yo 1973/2000 (49.6%, Signatory Vintage, sherry, cask #2401, 278 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: imagine some lemon tarte with meringue, a little butter cream, honeydew melon, whiffs of thyme tea and pine resin, yellow chartreuse, a touch of stearin, a wisp of elderflower syrup… And then just assorted grapefruits, with only echoes of cardboard, or a bunch of old magazines. Delicate, marginally uncommon, lovely. Mouth: probably more 'deviant', not for the worse this time at all, even if it got frankly grassy and cardboardy, with also notes of amaretti, bitter almonds... Same fruits as on the nose, but rather their peel than their flesh. Zests, amontillado, a wee saltines manzanilla-style... Finish: pretty long, with some burnt and bitter herbs plus some paraffin, which is much better than it sounds. More bone-dry amontillado. Comments: a very good fighter, atypical and now a little out of fashion. Not for the nostalgic whisky enthusiast!
SGP:461 - 87 points.

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


May 1, 2022


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


Yet another bunch of very lovely armagnacs

Armagnac clearly on the rise at Château Whiskyfun (French branch). Armagnac, when sourced carefully, can be a constant source of joy, with many less cut corners than with malt whisky, if you ask me. Less NAS, PX, STR, less flavouring, less unnecessary branding and marketing stunts… The problem is that there's probably 100 times less armagnac on the market, but still, let's have a good wee bunch... (picture, duck confit with pommes sarladaises)

Domaine de Martin 2007/2021 (49%, Darroze, Bas-armagnac, Unique Collection)

Domaine de Martin 2007/2021 (49%, Darroze, Bas-armagnac, Unique Collection) Three stars and a half
A very wee Domaine in Hontanx and a combination of baco, ugni blanc, colombard and folle blanche. That's all of them, no? Darroze are very good at offering small domaines as well as larger-batch glories, such as a 50 yo 'Grands Assemblages' that I had found extremely expressive around five years ago (WF 93). Colour: full gold. Nose: oh, meats, patchouli, menthol tobacco, teak oil, propolis, gentian, mezcal, walnut stain, Seville oranges… With such a nose the palate could be an utter wreck. Unless… Mouth: of course not, but boy is it thick and heavy. More resins, chestnut and pine honeys, propolis indeed, very heavy molasses, then some kind of earthy triple-sec, liquorice and caramel, heavy mead…  Finish: very long, still thick and heavy, syrupy, piney, honeyed… Comments: most certainly excellent, but I'm finding it a tad tiring because of its extreme, very robust thickness. Even water wouldn't quite work (I've tried). You could almost call this navy armagnac.

SGP:661 - 83 points.

All right, all right, let's try to pull the parachute…

Domaine Séailles 2006/2022 (57.5%, OB for armagnac.de, Ténarèze, cask #100)

Domaine Séailles 2006/2022 (57.5%, OB for armagnac.de, Ténarèze, cask #100) Four stars
From a very tiny estate in Mouchan in the Gers. But naturally, 'pull the parachute', well done. 57.5%, that's most probably higher than the strength of what was running from the wee column… Unless it was batch, I believe you can do batch too in armagnac. Colour: golden amber. Nose: pure fruit creams, syrups, jams and liqueurs. Melons, peaches, quinces, mirabelles, grape, then acacia honey, muscat, Sauternes… With water: oh, rose petals, gewurztraminer, litchis, more quinces, perhaps hibiscus… Mouth (neat): all pleasure, with the same sweet fruits plus touches of liquorice and mild blond tobacco. With water: herbal teas and some cinnamon-like spices chiming in. A little oak/bark too. Finish: rather medium, leafier, with a good feeling of 'the countryside down there'. I agree that's a lousy descriptor. Comments: very good, with proper sweet and leafy rusticity.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Séailles 20 yo 2000/2021 (54%, Grape of the Art, Ténarèze, cask #19, 195 bottles)

Séailles 20 yo 2000/2021 (54%, Grape of the Art, Ténarèze, cask #19, 195 bottles) Four stars
Grape of the Art, love it. This is pure ugni blanc. Colour: bright amber. Nose: you'll find a similar jammy fruitiness, but also more tobacco (Camels) and fudge. A little hash, perhaps. Water is needed to sort this out… With water: bingo, varnish, acetone, peach liqueur, fudge, Demerara sugar, molasses, tyres… One thick baby for sure, but it works. Mouth (neat): rather massive, concentrated, very 'Ténarèze' (as far as this humble aficionado can tell), with some heavy toffee, chocolate, chestnut purée, a little tarry and earthy liquorice… No, let's say that, it IS pretty 'Ténarèze'. With water: moves towards pine, thyme and turpentine. We're rather fans, despite the obvious rustic side. Right, maybe because of the obvious rustic side. Finish: long, a tad smoother, but also more mentholy and chocolatey. Thin mints from the Gers. Comments: high-power Ténarèze, full of rusticity and charm.

SGP:561 - 87 points.

Château Arton 2011/2022 'La Flamme' (50.5%, OB, Haut-armagnac)

Château Arton 2011/2022 'La Flamme' (50.5%, OB, Haut-armagnac) Four stars
Haut-armagnac is not that common. The house Arton seems to be promoting the idea that armagnac is about wine rather than about 'brandy'. They even claim that 'armagnac is not brandy'. We shall not argue, we love both wine and brandy. This is pure ugni blanc. Colour: gold. Nose: aromatic, rather on triple-sec, mint, liquorice and pine needles at first sniffing. Gets then a little more floral (ylang-ylang?) and even on hay and meadow flowers. There is some subtle lightness to this one. Chamomile tea. With water: oh perfect, with some spent motor oil, pistachios and olive-filled focaccia. Really. Mouth (neat): extremely good, at a perfect strength, starting slightly acidic if not a notch acerbic, with some big citrusness (pink grapefruits) and then mints and small herbs and flowers. Half a drop of absinth. With water: careful, water flattens it. Not a good swimmer. Finish: medium, with a bigger leafy side. Comments: please no water in this one! Otherwise, it's perfect. #armagnacisnotbrandy.

SGP:451 - 86 points.

Domaine de Danis 2002/2022 (49.5%, OB, armagnac, pièce #78)

Domaine de Danis 2002/2022 (49.5%, OB, armagnac, pièce #78) Four stars
We're in Castelnau d'Auzan this time, and this is pure folle blanche. The domaine is located in a part of the Gers that's bordering the Landes. Should be Bas-armagnac, no? Colour: full gold. Nose: easy in the best sense of that word, certainly lighter than the Ténarèzes that we just tried, and in a way (don't shoot), cognacqy. Peach jam, sultanas, vanilla fudge, wee whiffs of wood smoke, melon liqueur… In short, all nice and rather easy so far. Mouth: super good, easy, fruity, yet firm, with many apples and oranges, apricots, touches of honey, a wee rustic earthiness, and possibly a little grapiness towards the finish (feeling of marc and grappa). Finish: medium, still a tad grappa-y, but that's no bad news at all. Pace! The aftertaste is a tad more woody and resinous, in a perfectly all-right manner. A little coffee in the after-aftertaste. Comments: another excellent drop from the Gers.

SGP:651 - 85 points.

Update: they're actually located in a sandy part of Ténarèze. Thank you Sascha.

Domaine Cutxan 1997/2021 (41.9%, L'Encantada, Bas-armagnac, cask #21, 402 bottles)

Domaine Cutxan 1997/2021 (41.9%, L'Encantada, Bas-armagnac, cask #21, 402 bottles) Four stars
100% baco this time. I'm still trying to recover from the Pouy by L'Encantada that we've had a few weeks ago. We're in Cauzabon in the Gers this time, where they have a magnificent old church called 'Eglise de Cutxan'. So we shall expect some pretty spiritual armagnac… Colour: amber. Nose: drat, late-harvest Pinot Gris and honeysuckle. Sometimes you do not need a lot of literature (literature!) to express what you feel about a particular spirit. Mouth: another one that would make you think of a great very old cognac. Peach syrup, mints, noble mushrooms, grilled herbs, quince liqueur, Szechuan pepper, touch of ham, vetiver, wormwood… Well, these scribblings are simple but this armagnac is very complex, if a tad fragile. Needs your time and needs your attention. Finish: medium, with a little coffee liqueur, perhaps. Some grittier peach tea in the aftertaste. I mean peach leaves. Comments: not the big/bold side of armagnac for sure, and time may have taken its toll as they say, but I'm finding this fragility extremely charming.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Castarède 1984/2020 (40%, OB, Bas-armagnac)

Castarède 1984/2020 (40%, OB, Bas-armagnac) Four stars and a half
This is obviously old-school armagnac. Proof, they bottled it at 40% vol. Now we've had some awesome folles blanches by the house Castarède, but this might be a little different. Colour: amber. Nose: exactly armagnac as we used to know it. I mean, you wolf down foie gras, then a confit de canard with pommes sarladaises, all that with some good Madiran and Bergerac, and then you have a few glasses of… this. Good, easy, yet complex terroiry armagnac, on mushrooms, coffee and chocolate, prunes, raisins, tiny touches of lees, menthol, and then more earthy and mushroomy smells. Damp, musty old cellar. Mouth: excellent, thick and light, heavy and thin, grapey, wonderfully sour, acetic, raisiny… Notes of gravy, Worcester sauce, English brown sauce… This is truly old-school. Better not imagine what would have happened, had they bottled this at 46% vol. instead of a slightly embarrassing 40%. Finish: medium, meaty, with prunes, currants and umami. Comments: what a spirit! It reminds me of some old Macallans, or of a wonderful Porsche with the smallest engine they were having. Yeah and sob. Seriously, this at 46 or 50% vol. would have made for one of the best brown spirits in the world. Stunning and frustrating.

SGP:462 - 88 points.

A last one for la route…

Baron de Lustrac 1975 (40%, OB, Bas-armagnac, +/-2020)

Baron de Lustrac 1975 (40%, OB, Bas-armagnac, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
I don't know exactly why, this bottle is to be found just everywhere on the Zweb. It seems that it is a brand that's rather geared for export and it also seems that is was particularly big in, ach, err, Russia. Remember our former great friends R.u.s.s.i.a.? Colour: golden amber. Nose: all fruity easiness, stewed apples and peaches, whiffs of pine resin and needles, cherry liqueur, sultanas, more cherries yet… Mouth: the 40% feel, it is a little thin and dry, but the core remains fine, if a little leafy and peely. A good but lightish armagnac, I would say. Ripe apples, peaches and pears. Finish: short, thin, tea-ish. Pass… Coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly a good one, nice to sip after a heavyish meal, but I would say it's lacking substance. Plus, the finish was clearly too dry and drying.

SGP:341 - 77 points.

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


WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

April 2022

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Longmorn 48 yo 1969 (44.4%, La Distillerie Générale, 2nd fill hogshead, cask #22717, 372 35cl bottles) - WF91

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Highland Park 1980/2013 (47.8%, Malts of Scotland for Der Feinschmecker, 1st fill oloroso, cask #MoS N°FS 7) - WF90

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Benromach 10 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021)  - WF87

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Adrien Camut 'Le Siècle' (40%, OB, The Auld Alliance and Colheitas, calvados du Pays d'Auge, magnum, +/-2020)  - WF92

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Ardbeg 'Fon Fhoid NFT'  - WF00 (but we were joking)

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



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ardbeg 13 yo 1972 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Meregalli Monza, +/-1985)

Ardbeg 16 yo 2004/2020 (59.8%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, for HNWS & Whisky Lovers HK, hogshead, cask #17912, 99 bottles)

Ardbeg 19 yo 'Traigh Bhan' (46.2%, OB, batch 'TB/03 -10.10.01/21.BL', 2021)

Ardbeg 2013/2021 (60.9%, OB, 2nd fill manzanilla butt, cask #272, 671 bottles)

Ardbeg 32 yo 1967/1999 (47.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry cask, 185 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.5%, Sansibar, 10th Anniversary, sherry cask, 246 bottles)

Kilkerran 11 yo 2009/2021 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles)

Littlemill 32 yo 1989/2022 (55.2%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 216 bottles)

Springbank 1967 (46%, OB, for Taiwan, 750ml, +/-1995)

Springbank 28 yo 1992/2020 (42.8%, Sansibar for Japanwhisky, bourbon, 204 bottles)

Springbank 10 yo 2011/2021 (55%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles, autumn 2021)

Chichibu 2013/2020 (59%, OB/Ichiro's Malt for Whisky Mew, Japan, bourbon barrel, cask #2463, 209 bottles)

Karuizawa 1973/2008 (56%, OB, Martin's Selection for Norway, American oak sherry butt, cask #6249, 342 bottles)

Millstone 1996/2017 'American Oak' (52.3%, OB, Zuidam, Netherlands, American oak hogshead, Special #12, 301 bottles)

Enmore 30 yo 1998-1990 'Alpha & Omega' (51.6%, Jack Tar, Guyana, casks #42, 40, 55, 251 bottles)

Plantation Barbados WIRD 1986/2022 (55.1%, West Indies Rum Distillery, Barbados, Extreme Series V, 286 bottles)

Domaine de Courcelles 1972/1973/2008/2009 'Grande Réserve' (58%, OB, Guadeloupe, for Rhum House Winterthur)