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

       
 

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

 

May 31, 2022


Whiskyfun

Two young
high-flying Mannochmore

Another slightly obscure Distillery (no references to Loch Dhu here, I promise) that we like to taste every once in a while, even if it's not a pretty one. Mind you, it was built in 1971, while Edward Heath was the PM, and has then been working rather intermittently for many years. (The Telegraph)

Mannochmore 11 yo 2010/2021 (55.7%, Fable Whisky, Chapter Five, Hound, hogshead, cask #4880, 308 bottles)

Mannochmore 11 yo 2010/2021 (55.7%, Fable Whisky, Chapter Five, Hound, hogshead, cask #4880, 308 bottles) Four stars and a half
No further comments about these original labels that we like so much. Colour: white wine. Nose: hyper chalky and lemony, totally raw, with some cut grass then. As we often write – maybe too often – it's got the purity that's to be found in Sancerre's purest sauvignons blancs. As we also sometimes write, it would cut you into halves (enough, S.) With water: raw wool, new sweater, plaster, fern, porridge…. Mouth (neat): a little hot and spirity at this point, but there's almost no need to add any water to find out about what's going to happen once water's been added (gee…) With water: pretty perfect, full of lemon liqueur, with green tea, more chalk, sourdough bread and green orange. Once again, wonderful purity.  Finish: rather long, on pretty much the same notes. This hogshead was a quiet star. Comments: there was a 12 yo 2008 by Fable Whisky that was even better in my opinion, but this one's almost perfect. To be cellared for sure.

SGP:551 - 88 points.

Mannochmore 13 yo 2008/2022 (53.6%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 203 bottles)

Mannochmore 13 yo 2008/2022 (53.6%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 203 bottles) Four stars and a half
I find it rather interesting that The Whisky Agency would have bottled a young Mannochmore; I would suppose something's been happening with this barrel. Colour: light gold. Nose: obviously similar, but this one's also got waxes and oils, on top of the lemony chalkiness. Avocado flesh, wee whiffs of cold hibiscus tea… With water: paraffin, lady's hand cream, citron and lemon, chalk… Mouth (neat): amazing. All-fruit cocktail (citrus first, also papaya and mango) with a little grated ginger on top of it. Not even the tiny touches of coconut become a problem. With water: pure fruity goodness, this one takes you straight to Kuta beach. Finish: rather long, fruity, superb, with maybe, I said maybe, a little too much coconut from the barrel. Nit-picking again. Comments: good, I'd have gone to 90 without the coconut. Dura Lex, sed Lex.

SGP:641 - 89 points.

These ones are proper star killers, I don't see any first-names from Speyside capable of beating them at a similar age.

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

 

May 30, 2022


Whiskyfun

Around the world with malts that really need water
Let's kick-start this from France, as we like to do. That's more environment-friendly anyway, is it not, next time we may even start our journey  from Alsace.

Alfred Giraud 'Intrigue' (51.7%, OB, France, 2021)

Alfred Giraud 'Intrigue' (51.7%, OB, France, 2021) Four stars
This lavishly presented and expensive bottle (just south of 400€) shelters sourced malt whisky matured in ex-cognac and ex-Bordeaux blanc. Apparently, the Distillerie de Saint-Palais, located more or less between Cognac and Bordeaux, is supplying at least some of the malts. The latter started making whisky in 2016, so this should be young and most certainly cask-driven. Having said that, all Alfred Giraud I could try have been pretty much to my liking. Colour: gold. Nose: some fresh oak, some herbal teas (chamomile) and certainly a vinosity that would have rather imparted notes around blood oranges and citrons. Touches of eucalyptus. With water: it just loves water, gets rounder, less vinous, more on cakes (some slightly burnt) and tiny herbs. Mouth (neat): even more citric vinosity than on the nose. A sémillon-less Pessac? It's not often that table wine and malt would go this well together. With water: once again, water would offset a large part of the vinosity and make this clean and bright, and even more citrusy. And now I'm finding touches of sémillon, go figure! Pure sémillons are not easy to find, but some are really worth every effort. Finish: medium, perfectly well adjusted, citrusy and caky. Touch of clove and cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: it was still a tad rough (and vinous) around the edges when unreduced, but a few drops of water just fixed it all. Excellent.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

To London, baby…

Bimber 2018/2022 (59.5%, C. Dully Selection, England, virgin oak barrel, cask #320, 141 bottles)

Bimber 2018/2022 (59.5%, C. Dully Selection, England, virgin oak barrel, cask #320, 141 bottles) Four stars and a half
You know what to expect with these crazy un-wined Bimbers, only pure, sweet, fruity, unquestionable goodness. Colour: gold. Nose: as expected, it is a little hot and ethanoly at first sniffs, while as expected, it would then reach mango, coconut, lemon balm and vanilla territory. With water (the viscimetry is immense): subtler elements chiming in, stewed damsons, fresh mushrooms, grapefruits, wormwood (or absinth), IPA, Szechuan pepper, vanilla cake… Mouth (neat): total limoncello aged in sweet oak, with just a little green pepper. But we haven't added any water yet… With water: perfect, if not immensely complex this time. More limoncello, lemon curd, a little icing sugar (we'd tend to add marc de gewurz to the mix), orange zests… I believe these ex-barrel Bimbers, whether virgin or not, are always unstoppable. Finish: medium, on lemon tarte with meringue and bits of zests. Comments: forgot to mention angelica.

SGP:741 - 88 points.

To Wales…

Penderyn 9 yo 2012 (59%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Wales, ex-bourbon hogshead, #128.18, 'Dragon's Lipstick', 271 bottles)

Penderyn 9 yo 2012 (59%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Wales, ex-bourbon hogshead, #128.18, 'Dragon's Lipstick', 271 bottles) Three stars and a half
Very interesting, although rather sadly finished in a 1st fill ex-ruby Port barrique, lipstick indeed. Colour: suspiciously salmony. Nose: bizarre. Litres of rosehip tea, a faint sulphur, strawberry jam, peonies, also pumpernickel and other moist breads… With water: water works. Strawberries have been toned down and various cakes are taking over.  Mouth (neat): wild-strawberry liqueur, cherry liqueur and blood oranges over some malt whisky. Kriek beer. Having said that, there is some kind of balance and I wouldn't say it is too winey… With water: once again, water makes wonders, reducing the Port's impact and allowing some gristy barleyness to come to the front. No sulphur whatsoever. Finish: rather long. Once again, too sweet when neat, nicely fruity and cakey when carefully (yeah, of course) brought down to approx. 45% vol. Comments: I've been very afraid for a while…

SGP:751 - 84 points.

To Yorkshire…

Filey Bay 2017/2021 'Sherry Cask Reserve #2' (46%, OB, England, 2000 bottles, 2021)

Filey Bay 2017/2021 'Sherry Cask Reserve #2' (46%, OB, England, 2000 bottles, 2021) Three stars and a half
This baby was fully matured in first-fill Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. I believe I've only tried Filey Bay once, but thought it was very good. Now, PX, you know… Colour: deep gold with copper hues. Nose: good fun, with a lot of shoe polish, plasticine, even metal polish, and then the usual PX tones, with bags of raisins, prunes, heavy honeys, pipe tobacco and a tiny drop of very old balsamico. Mouth: very sweet, extremely PXed, I'd even say a little Malaga-y, if I may. Almost dessert whisky, with some sides that would remind us of some rather highly obscured rums. Some El Dorados spring to mind, Diplomaticos… You know what, we'll try the water trick once more. With water: I knew this would work, even at +/-40% vol. Coffee coming out, chocolate, old armagnac, more prunes… Very good. Finish (reduced): balanced and Jerezian, whatever that means. Walnut wine and espresso in the aftertaste. Comments: at Château Whiskyfun it is uncommon to add water to a spirit that was bottled at 46% vol. I'm glad we did.

SGP: 651- 84 points.

And now, drumroll and rejoicings please, there is a new whisky country on little Whiskyfun, Korea!...

Kimchangsoo 2021/2022 (54.1%, OB, Korea, PX sherry, 336 bottles)

Kimchangsoo 2021/2022 (54.1%, OB, Korea, PX sherry, 336 bottles) Four stars
This baby whisky is stemming from the city of Gimpo, which lies southwest of Seoul. It's properly Korean, not sourced elsewhere (kss-kss, Japan). They're using two tiny pot stills (800l and 500l) and local ingredients, although this very batch would have been made with heavily peated Scottish barley. Interestingly, the ABV is rather low given the very young age (it's not whisky yet in Europe), but it's to be known that according to Korean laws, you cannot fill a cask with spirits above 60% vol. This lovely bottle was released just last month in Korea. Anyway, after K-pop, here's K-malt! Colour: deep gold. Nose: a large teapot full of lapsang souchong, some old walnuts (that's the PX), some metal polish, a large bag of cloves and caraway, plus whiffs of fresh-sawn hardwoods. Perhaps cherrywood? Awesome tarry oils in the background. With water: gets much more fermentary, yeasty, bready, with even whiffs of cheese. Ointments, then dried apricots. Really different and rather brilliant. Mouth (neat): very sweet, very spicy, pretty smoky. What's great here is that it does feel 'Korean' (as far as I can tell after many meals and drinks at Korean restaurants, which I love, including their plum wine ;-)). There's a rather high concentration, I would say plums and pomegranates, lapsang souchong once more, rather a lot of thyme liqueur, and quite possibly some spicy European oak. Water should loosen it a wee bit… With water: lovely, water brings out very special spices and some obvious notes of fat mezcal. This comes unexpected. Finish: very long spicy. Sweet peppers, cinnamon mint, smoke… Bell pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: what's a little troubling is that the nearest whisky I could think of would be some of the St Kilians aus Germany. Bah, it's rather a new style, probably a little avantgarde, perhaps even a little artsy. Very glad it exists, it's great and it widens our horizon.

SGP:566 - 87 points.
 

May 29, 2022


Whiskyfun

  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!

 

 

Supersonic Cognacs, or another verticale, in two parts

We've had rather a lot of rum and armagnacs these past Sundays, so it is cognac time again. This could be a rather long session, even if we'll select only very high-flyers, so I would say we'll do it in two parts… As a for our traditional apéritifs, how about this, before we start to go down the vintages?... (Picture Musées de la Ville de Cognac, Braud Christian)

 

 

Prunier 10 ans d'âge (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2020)

Prunier 10 ans d'âge (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2020) Three stars
The old négociants house Prunier created this blend of only four to six different cognac. They were founded even before Glenturret (1775, allegedly), that is to say in 1769. Colour: rich gold with orange hues (might suggest E150). Nose: very fragrant, rather on maple syrup, juicy sultanas, preserved peaches, apricots and mirabelles, then a touch of liquorice and nougat. In the background, clear whiffs of menthol and thyme honey. A relative simplicity makes for an asset here. Mouth: much more floral on the palate, a little acidic as well, with touches of Seville oranges and some kind of orange-flavoured icing. Would tend to become a little leafy and grassy too, almost a wee bit bitterish. Green tannins. It's to be said that a low strength never helps. A tiny feeling of soap as well. Finish: medium, leafy, slightly leathery and even malty (extracts). Comments: a very fair warm-me-up. We're not really used to these ranges.

SGP:451 - 80 points.

Fanny Fougerat 2011 'Marin' (40%, OB, Fins Bois, 1050 bottles, +/-2020)

Fanny Fougerat 2011 'Marin' (40%, OB, Fins Bois, 1050 bottles, +/-2020) Four stars
An interesting composition, with a rather young fins bois that was finished in French oak that had spent one year at an oyster-farmer's on the isle of Ré before coopering, which should have made those casks rather 'coastal'. It's to be noted that the isle of Ré itself is part of the appellation 'bois ordinaires' in Cognac. Colour: white wine. Nose: as we sometimes say, the problem with knowing about stories is that you cannot not feel them when you try the spirit. This is, indeed, rather coastal, somewhat ala Bruichladdich. Green melon skins found on a beach on the Atlantic (true personal story), notes of stalk and pips, plums both fresh and tinned, paraffin, a touch of 'good' rubber (inner tubes), a little shoe polish… This sure isn't your average cognac. Mouth: definitely meta, tight, really malty this time, grassy, even kind of bready, geared towards spicy orange zests and dry sherry, with also notes of or marc that do respond to the stalks and pips that were in the nose. A very pleasant wee tight and fresh cognac (could we use the word wee with cognac?). Finish: not that short despite the low strength, and, drumroll, rather a little salty indeed. The aftertaste is a tad bitterer. Comments: meta indeed, so pleasantly a little hybrid, and indeed a little malty. Probably a great apéritif too. Didn't find the oysters though.

SGP:462 - 86 points.

By the way, you could wonder if it wouldn't have been easier to use ex-whisky barrels, why not ex-Laphroaig for example, which is what more and more Scots are doing these days (which we call in-cask blending, the wettest the cask, the better, right…) But good news, that's not allowed in Cognac, all you could use is new oak, refill cognac, or ex-wine, which is a new trend we're fine with, as long as they're transparent. Indeed, sherry is wine.
Now, you could use some ex-Laphroaig hogsheads and call it brandy instead of Cognac, I would suppose… Anyway...

Normandin-Mercier 'Très Vieille Grande Champagne' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, for Cerbaco Australia, +/-2021)

Normandin-Mercier 'Très Vieille Grande Champagne' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, for Cerbaco Australia, +/-2021) Five stars
A joy to a little Frenchman to taste a French spirit that flew back from Australia. I've seen some of these 'Très Vieille Grande Champagne' by Normandin-Mercier being advertised as having spent more than one century in the 'chais'. They do also seem to promote the use of refill wood, for longer agings and subsequently, a higher complexity. Exactly what many Scots should do as well again, if you ask me. By the way, sure we could have waited before trying this old glory within this line-up, but at 40% vol, better safe than sorry. I mean, early than too late. Colour: bronze amber. Nose: liquid for the Gods. Flabbergasting flowers and ripe fruits. I mean, all of them, from all continents. To keep this short, I would say this translates into some kind of all-flower honey of extremely high extraction. And with these tiny meaty touches here and there, I cannot not think of G&M's oldest Glen Grants, as I just tried two of them. Glorious, very poetic nose, even wondering if this wasn't wartime cognac, as we have this little saying here, that goes like 'wartime cognacs were the best because the women made them'. But perhaps has this become a sexist remark? Mouth: what a relief that it hadn't been flattened-down by reduction, even if we would dream of a higher strength. Heather and linden honey, definitely a lot of rancio, chestnut honey, some sweet ham, touches of molasses, surely some tobacco, miso, a drop of brown beer (whoops, another crime a lese-majesty!) Really moves towards pipe tobacco over time. Probably dark tobacco, which was what people were smoking when this was distilled. Finish: not very long – it couldn't be very long – but superbly right between honeys and bouillons. Dry aftertaste, which is totally normal. Comments: fairly staggering very old grande champagne. We'd love to know a little more about 'what's inside', rather than speculate aimlessly!

SGP:561 - 92 points.

Naturally, we've gone too high already, but we'll manage, let's just have cognacs by great houses…

Vallein Tercinier 33 yo LOT88/2022 (47%, Maltbarn, Bon Bois, 142 bottles)

Vallein Tercinier 33 yo LOT88/2022 (47%, Maltbarn, Bon Bois, 142 bottles) Five stars
Remember, in theory, Fins Bois > Bons Bois > Bois Ordinaires. In practice, I could never, ever reproduce or validate this old ranking when trying the cognacs. Having said that, I insist, I'm extremely far from being an 'expert'. Colour: gold. Nose: typical Bon Bois. I am joking! Now, I'm finding some lovely mentholated and liquoricy fruits, in fact some kind of complex fruit salad seasoned with liquorice, mint and honey. Emphasis on melons and papayas. Behind that, some delicate fresh herbs, sorrel, dill, parsley, coriander… Actually, this is a perfect nose, rather well in the style of Vallein Tercinier, including those of their much older vintages. We're even reminded of the superlative 1965s in a way… Mouth: stands firmly on its feet after the old Normandin-Mercier. Rather more tropical than other makes more on, mangos and pink bananas, melons, also honeys and juicy dried fruits (mainly high-class raisins from selected sources). Oranges and more honey, sublime liquorice. Perfect focus here, it tastes like it speaks (we'll explain that later…) Finish: rather long, lovingly compact. Marmalade, liquorice and honey, no other trio works better. Orange blossom water in the aftertaste. Comments: almost a fruit bomb, beautifully compact rather than actually complex, which works just as well in my little book. And 'drinks too well'.

SGP:641 - 90 points.

Let's go further down the vintages…

No.73 Héritage (54.6%, J. Grosperrin for Passion for Whisky, Petite Champagne, 2022)No.73 Héritage (54.6%, J. Grosperrin for Passion for Whisky, Petite Champagne, 2022)

No.73 Héritage (54.6%, J. Grosperrin for Passion for Whisky, Petite Champagne, 2022) Five stars
As we said, only our preferred houses. Oh and 1973, that's the year of that utterly stunning FZ gig in Sweden while Jean-Luc Ponty was still on board. Check 'Dupree's Paradise 1973' on YouTube, but first, back to this wee Petite Champagne from the same year… Colour: full deep gold. Nose: it is not explosive but we know that's the strength. I would say high levels of alcohol may block brandies a little more than whiskies (at the same ABVs). Cake à l'orange, Jaffa cakes, raisins and dried figs, rather a lot of black nougat and cappuccino… But it really calls for water. With water: that worked. Old Meursault and crushed bananas, warm praline, warm raisin rolls, lemon balm, with honeysuckle and acacia flowers in the background… Luminously fresh. Mouth (neat): no blockage on the palate, this is almost monstrous, with tons of marmalade and orange blossom water. Huge, massive arrival and a development to match, extremely potent and flavourful, on tons of orange-blossom honey. Spectacular. With water: it remains a little tightly focussed on citrus, especially anything oranges including orange blossom honey. That too is an asset, there's just nothing even remotely out of place in the way. Finish: same. Comments: sublimely simple, like a Miro, but please place your bottle under lock and key.

SGP:641 - 91 points.

Looks like we've reached cruising speed (on a German autobahn)…

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 68-72' (66.6%, Wet Drams, Grape of the Art, Fins Bois, cask #21, 276 bottles)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 68-72' (66.6%, Wet Drams, Grape of the Art, Fins Bois, cask #21, 276 bottles) Five stars
A +/-50 years old Fins Bois for Germany that comes with good details, such as the fact that it was distilled integrally from ugni blanc, in a 12hl pot still, by Monsieur André Porchet, and aged in a dry cellar. As for this devilish strength of 66.6% vol. after so many years, it might just go to prove that indeed, it was a very dry cellar. Inferno! Forgot to say, I love this label. I say bottles should help decorate our homes, not generate any visual pollution and make our lounges look like a Disney shop (apologies, friends). Colour: deep gold. Nose: acetone, ammonia, then hot caramel and rum. But no worries yet… With water: needs time… There, liquorice coming out, herbs, fern and moss, fruit peel, banana skin, melons, also some damp chalk, clay, green tea, then more honey, cakes… Oh come on, we don't have all the time in the world…  Mouth (neat): herbal syrups? Chartreuse elixir? Once again, that's the strength… With water: goes from these chartreuse-y, earthy notes to a glorious mentholy and liquoricy fruitiness – within a good fifteen minutes. Finish: extremely long. Comments: they should deliver this bottle with a free bottle of Vittel and a good pipette. And a good book since it's so slow… Almost a DIY old cognac; a superb one if you take your time.
SGP:461 - 90 points.

Godet 1970/2017 (43%, OB, Petite Champagne, for Japan, cask #FB0021, 132 bottles)

Godet 1970/2017 (43%, OB, Petite Champagne, for Taiwan, cask #FB0021, 132 bottles) Five stars
They say cask strength but are really 43% 'cask strength'? Could be! The house Godet's located in La Rochelle, on the shores of the Atlantic. Curious to try some cognac selected by some Japanese experts (namely the company 99 Bottles Co., ltd) Colour: pure gold. Nose: whether you agree or not, 43% is easier and friendlier than 66.6%. Exceptional acacia honey, dandelions, golden sultanas, preserved mirabelles and Sauternes. That's more or less it, but I love this easy, fresh, aromatic nose. Mouth: alert! Warning! This drinks too well! Incredible easiness, between Sauternes indeed and a sweet Jurançon, or even something by Alois Kracher. Hope those stunning wines will make a comeback soon. So, syrup in your glass, nectar, honeys, orange liqueur, precious meads… This is not cognac, it's liquid sin. Amazing toasted brioches in the background, with a drizzle of maple syrup and apple wine. I mean, Canadian frozen apple wine, another sin. Finish: medium, clear, fresh, immensely aromatic and, as we say in Alsatian, 'rutschig'. Comments: rutschig just means that it drinks too well. They should add warning stickers to the bottles.
SGP:741 - 91 points.

Good, since we're in 1970…

Maison Tribot 'V.70 A.51' (50.3%, Old Master Spirits, for Australia, Grande Champagne, 120 bottles, +/-2021)

Maison Tribot 'V.70 A.51' (50.3%, Old Master Spirits, for Australia, Grande Champagne, 120 bottles, +/-2021) Five stars
So 51 years old, vintage 1970. I think it is the first time I'm trying a cognac from this old little house Tribot, all that thanks to some friends in Australia. Colour: deep gold. Nose: some firmness here, hints of calvados, then leaves and stems, then golden raisins, then honeys and various dried and preserved fruits. It never stops getting fruitier and more aromatic. Awesome notes of peaches and apricots, fresh, overripe and preserved. Superb development, from slightly tough to almost extravagant. With water: hold on, what a beautiful herbal unfolding! Parsley and coriander, then tins and coins, apple peel, dunnage and damp cellar, touch of camphor, marrow, white truffle, cigar ashes, a tiny drop of aged balsamico… Wow, a few drops of water unlocked a whole new world of aromas! Mouth (neat): I don't think this needs any water this time. Wonderfully caky and gritty at the same time, then on liquorice and tobacco, with a touch of menthol. Oh there... With water: no, water is crucial, it would unleash strictly all honeys and dried fruits of the creation. Finish: medium, honey, peaches, oranges. Comments: not many aged spirits can beat this these days. Old Macallans are in sight (1950s). One thing though, do not forget to add a few drops of H2O, even if it was bottled barely above 50% vol.

SGP:651 - 93 points.

Good, let's stop this on a super-high note. What a session! Next Sunday we'll go further down the vintages, way down… See you, à la prochaine.

(Mille mercis Dani, Emile, Hideo, Nicolas)

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

 

May 28, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Two Tamdhu
We are fans of Tamdhu here at Whiskyfun - especially Tamdhu in good quality sherry. Today we'll have the recently launched official 18 year old alongside an older sparring partner…

 

Tamdhu 18 yo (46.8%, OB, 2022)

Tamdhu 18 yo (46.8%, OB, 2022)
A brand new official 18yo that has been 'exclusively matured in sherry oak'. On the surface this ticks many boxes and Tamdhu usually pairs very well with sherry, so… Colour: amber. Nose: leafy and milk-chocolatey to begin, soft notes of praline, toasted almonds, walnuts, marzipan and dark fruit cake with a wee suggestion of pine needles. All extremely classical, easy and impressively reminiscent of some older batches of the old OB 15yo from the 1980s in some respects. I get the feeling the ABV is also doing some heavy lifting here… Mouth: excellent power on arrival. Sultanas, leathery vibes, suet, cellar earth, wine must and just a few darker wood spice tones such as clove and nutmeg coming through. Feels like the European oak component has a slightly more assertive voice on the palate. Nicely chewy and weighty in the mouth with still quite a few sultana and boozy dark fruit cake flavours. Finish: medium-long in length, darker notes of coffee grounds and black tea, along with a touch of mushroom powder and aged calvados. Comments: this one works very well in my view. A proper ABV combined with a sherry profile that really harks back to slightly older school sherry cask flavours without leaning heavily on this 'seasoned' very wood-forwards style. Could effortlessly line many crystal tumblers across the land come Christmas time - or is that ridiculously old fashioned of me? Anyway, an excellently composed, eminently quaffable drop I think.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.

 

 

Tamdhu 1973/2008 (56.0%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Reserve', cask #3230, 1st fill sherry butt, 481 bottles)

Tamdhu 1973/2008 (56.0%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Reserve', cask #3230, 1st fill sherry butt, 481 bottles)
We poured this one for this year's Whisky Show Old & Rare sherries whiskies tasting - it was a hit! Colour: orangey amber. Nose: yup! Quinces, chocolate caramel sauce, hessian cloth, kirsch and all the usual suspects: figs, sultanas, tobacco etc… there's also a rather elegant honeyed side along with some aged balsamic. With water: much leafier and mulchier, on gingerbread, tobacco leaf, turmeric, cloves and date molasses. Outstanding, rich, old style sherry! Mouth: wonderful concentration of sticky dark fruits, wormwood, herbal tonic wines, exotic fruit teas and crystallised citrus peels. Superb resinous profile and thickness on the palate. With water: broader and more complex. Also a little drier and quite a bit spicier now with black pepper, cinnamon, mustard powder and dried herbs. Some mentholated qualities emerging too. Finish: long, elegantly spicy, bitter herbal vibes, teas and more things like balsamic and rancio notes. Comments: a brilliant old school sherry cask and top class Tamdhu distillate. You just need to enjoy this rather spicy profile - which I certainly do.
SGP: 562 - 91 points.

 

 

 

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

May 27, 2022


Whiskyfun

A quintet of rather loco little Fettercairns

Another rising star. Well, it is at Château Whiskyfun, at least. Many indies are having some young Fettercairn these days, which I'm finding just very cool as the make is anything but boring.

Fettercairn 9 yo 2009/2018  (59.5%, WhiskyPeter, hogshead, 5 bottles)

Fettercairn 9 yo 2009/2018  (59.5%, WhiskyPeter, hogshead, 5 bottles) Four stars
A very tiny outturn here but it's true that we've already tried some whisky of which there was less than half a litre in existence. On the other hand, it was a Malt Mill (would you please stop bragging, S.?) Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a little hot and really all on butterscotch and maize syrup, but it's true that we're almost at 60% vol. Lovely nougat and not much of Old Fettercairn's usual wackiness. Water may change things… With water: gingerbread and fresh pumpernickel! Well, all kinds of seeds and nuts, plus a little mint. Mouth (neat): oh lovely! Wood-smoked pears, pipe tobacco moistened with armagnac (guilty as charged) and more nougat, with a dollop of lemon syrup. With water: lovely maltiness, once again a little less unusual than other Fettercairns, with notes of blood oranges in the background. Finish: long, cakier. Walnut cake and a hint of coconut. Comments: I've tried some other very young Fettercairns that had been rather more 'unready' than this one. Now, where are the other 245 bottles?

SGP:551 - 86 points.

Fettercairn 11 yo 2007/2019 (55.7%, Infrequent Flyers, hogshead, cask #801506, 303 bottles)

Fettercairn 11 yo 2007/2019 (55.7%, Infrequent Flyers, hogshead, cask #801506, 303 bottles) Three stars and a half
I've always found this series intriguing, but I haven't tried many. While no pilot, driver or captain would ever drink anymore, it's cool to find their vehicles on whisky labels. No? Colour: white wine. Nose: textbook pure sooty/smoky first nosing, with an acetic and sour development that cannot not make us think of a famous distillery in Campbeltown. A little earth and even compost. With water: indeed, leatherette, stearin, new 33rpm records, garden peat and cigars. Mouth (neat): good. Pure Highland malt with something extra, namely burnt butter, oils and waxes, plus some cracked pepper and cloves. This is the kind of unusualness that we were expecting. With water: gets in line. Marmalade and cake. Finish: rather long, saltier, a little burnt and gamey in the end. Dry aftertaste on cocoa powder, plus salt. Comments: proper Fettercairns should be challenging and a little hard to follow.

SGP:461 - 84 points.

Fettercairn 14 yo 2006/2021 (52.9%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #107662, 189 bottles)

Fettercairn 14 yo 2006/2021 (52.9%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #107662, 189 bottles) Three stars
From our friends in lovely Mozartland. I say their contribution to mankind cannot be overestimated – and I remember well that little Puch that I used to ride, many, many moons ago. Colour: straw. Nose: tough baby at this point. Plastics and polishes, green apples, rhubarb, grass… Water should help. With water: waxes are brought in, some butter too. Not too sure… Mouth (neat): pretty good malt with a dry and oily base, plus some coconut and vanilla from the barrel that may feel, to be honest, a little importune. Let's dig deeper… With water: I think I'm bad at handling these ones. For starters, it would seem that I just cannot find the right amount of water. Fettercairn can be a real pain in the neck! Seems that I've unleashed tons of plasticine, there. Finish: medium, rather nicer, with some sour fruitiness. Rounder, sweeter aftertaste. Comments: perhaps not a malt for control freaks. And not sure Fettercairn and 1st fill do tango very well. There, that's just a personal opinion.

SGP:551 - 80 points.

Another try…

Fettercairn 16 yo 2005/2021 (53.2%, Morisco Spirits, sherry cask, 72 bottles)

Fettercairn 16 yo 2005/2021 (53.2%, Morisco Spirits, sherry cask, 72 bottles) Three stars and a half
Another micro-bottling, but macro-spirits may be found in micro-bottlings, precisely. Colour: gold. Nose: this is closer to the officials, with more fermenting fruits, rotting bananas, earths and roots, Madeira and mustard, even horseradish, leather, bay leaves… In short, this is Fettercairn. With water: compost and damp earth, then fresh concrete. Appropriately loco. Mouth (neat): impeccable chemical and rotten arrival, then lemon liqueurs and jelly babies. Tobacco. A fight in your glass. With water: calms down but those chemical tones keep looming in the back. Finish: rather long, jammier. Plastics and burnt herbs in the aftertaste. Comments: indeed, loco Fettercairn. I insists, Fettercairn never gets boring.

SGP:562 - 83 points.

I think we need a well-aged conclusion.

Fettercairn 24 yo 1995/2021 (53%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead, 20 bottles)

Fettercairn 24 yo 1995/2021 (53%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead, 20 bottles)
Another tiny outturn! There's an intriguing 'Error 502' mention on the label, so let's proceed with caution… Colour: golden green straw. Nose: I don't know. Some rotting bananas, evading mangos, vanishing pears, some weird tobacco (Turkish?), some artisanal mead for sure… Well, litres of artisanal mead. And God knows that proper drinkable artisanal mead is not easy to make (believe me, I've tried). With water: old butter, cider apples and almond paste. And artisanal mead. Mouth (neat): oh, no… This is too difficult, fizzy, extremely drying, we're crunching some mocha beans. I think the engaging brothers are pulling our leg this time. With water: better for three seconds, then just impossible. Haribo's Tagada Strawberry gummies and crunching pipe tobacco. Pipe tobacco should be smoked, not eaten. Finish: medium, okay at first, then terribly drying. Comments: good fun with this one. To be poured to friends you wouldn't like to ever see again. Bad gateway indeed, I think I'll need a bottle or three – but may I have a discount?
SGP:462 – (unscorable) points.

More Fettercairn pretty soon...

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

 

May 26, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Trios, today Glen Garioch

banana
First the official 12 that we keep following, then two (much) older indies that may, or may not, showcase pink bananas…

 

 

Glen Garioch 12 yo (48%, OB, +/-2021)

Glen Garioch 12 yo (48%, OB, +/-2021) Four stars
Aren't we all expecting to come across the utter glory of the 1971-1975 Glen Gariochs again? Who's lost the recipe? Anyway, we keep following this 12 and try it almost once every three or four years. Make that five. Colour: gold. Nose: hey? Nice roasted honey cake and notes of engine oil, exhausts, strawberry jam, blood orange jam and prickly pears. I remember I really liked a '2016' but this is nicer yet, fat, assertive, just not as phenolic and wide as 1970s batches, despite an obvious sooty side. Perhaps did they finally find the old settings in a drawer? (yeah right). But didn't Louis XIV say that nothing grand was ever made within one day? Mouth: I'd swear we're moving towards 1970s grandeur. Fab mangos, smoky peppers, tangerine paste, oils, pomegranate jam, Szechuan pepper, citric hops (IPA), and just lemons… Pretty brilliant, this. Finish: long, tropical and slightly peaty. Superb citrusy aftertaste. Comments: I could be dreaming (chasing myths, you know) but I have the impression that GG's glorious days are about to be back. Fantastic tropical fruits and firmness.

SGP:652 - 87 points.

Glen Garioch 31 yo 1990/2021 (53.9%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 201 bottles)

Glen Garioch 31 yo 1990/2021 (53.9%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 201 bottles) Five stars
I've heard this shouldn't be too bad (another euphemism on WF). I seem to remember these early 1990s batches were full of western garden fruits, especially all kinds of apples and plums. Colour: full gold. Nose: hey it's strong! A slightly waxy appleness indeed, rather some greener fruits, green bananas, greengages, gooseberries, plus some limestone and fresh rainwater. With water: new sweater, washing powder, limestone, raw wool, camphor, rubbed mint leaves, all things that are just perfect. What we haven't found in a Sponge bottling yet is a note of… sponge. Mouth (neat): absolutely excellent, paraffiny and citrusy. A touch of icing sugar. I say no more, let's try it with water… With water: at its best, jammier, wider, with liquorice allsorts, mango syrup, pink bananas, peppermint, touch of hops, banana foam… Finish: rather long, wonderfully fruity, jammy, with a honeyed signature. A funny drop of Jamaican rum in the aftertaste, as well as, perhaps, a drop of old Bushmills. And why not? Comments: good, I was wrong once more, this has both western orchard fruits and tropical ones. Perhaps the work of time on a good hogshead. Brilliant and incredibly fresh, these casks could easily go to 50 or much more.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

Glen Garioch 32 yo 1988/2021 (47.9%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, hogshead, 138 bottles)

Glen Garioch 32 yo 1988/2021 (47.9%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, hogshead, 138 bottles) Four stars and a half
We need to remember to thank all these great business types that are willing to part with their own 'private' stocks and reserves, but it's true that the industry's always been very altruistic. Controversies only on postcards please. Colour: full gold. Nose: narrower, tighter, kind of more pungent than the Sponge, with more chalk and bread dough, beyond similar bananas and apples. Other than that, you feel it's slowly getting candied, in a way, and more piney. Whiffs of myrtle and fresh-sawn eucalyptus wood, even new teak wood. New sauna. Mouth: some piney woods creeping in, but also some stunning sultanas and dried goji berries. Guavas, pepper, apple peel, raw artisan cider, borage and sorrel… This one's anything but 'obvious', and really needs your attention. Nothing is granted here, it is almost avantgarde whisky. Kind of. Finish: long, a little prickly, but wonderfully fruity and leafy. Small berries. Comments: this one leads you by the nose, both literally and figuratively. It needs time.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

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

 

May 25, 2022


Whiskyfun

157 years of Glen Grant in only three whiskies

Liz
There are whiskies you don't even need to taste to form your opinion, provided you've got a little experience up your sleeves. I mean, under your belt.

That's certainly the case with some 1950s Glen Grant by Gordon & MacPhail, all you need to know about is the colour, maybe the A.B.V %, and presto, you could do your own mental cinema and align descriptors as if on parade, while only wondering a bit about the relative weights of the main clusters. Meatier or fruitier? More 'marmalade' or more 'raisins'? Oh and closer to 90 or closer to 95? The rest is just for sport… So let's do some sport, with first a wee warm-up lap.

Glen Grant 1997/2020 (52%, Caora, cask #23806, 225 bottles)

Glen Grant 1997/2020 (52%, Caora, cask #23806, 225 bottles) Four stars
Most probably some all-natural middle-aged Glen Grant, full of cakes. Colour: light gold. Nose: class. Bread, barley, chalk, brioche dough, then lemon juice and granny smith. With water: a little custard and white chocolate. Banana cake and Belgian waffles + maple syrup. Basically, it got rounder. Mouth (neat): excellent pure, lemony arrival, once again geared towards chalk and dough and green apples after that. Immaculate. With water: this time it wouldn't really become cakier, it's just even more on lemons, zests, peel and angelica. Beautiful drop, extremely pure (you already said that, S.) Finish: medium, with the much expected notes of limoncello. Comments: top-notch fresh Glen Grant. Well, I prefer the German expression, 'Spitzenklasse'. It's true that Caora are located in Solothurn, in Alemannic Switzerland. Hoppla!

SGP:651 - 87 points.

To Gordon & MacPhail's… What's really remarkable is that they aren't content with releasing another glorious Glen Grant from the 1950s, they have two! A 1957 for Mr George (Urquhart) and a 1952 for The Queen (Windsor). I'm totally sure these ones too, together with a recent 1948 for Premier Whisky Hong Kong and that 1956 for LMDW's 65th, will be part of the small cohort of the very best whiskies of the two last years (together with Aldi's Glen Marnoch, LOL…)

Glen Grant 64 yo 1957/2021 'Mr George Legacy Second Edition' (56.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, first fill sherry butt, cask #3438, 298 bottles)

Glen Grant 64 yo 1957/2021 'Mr George Legacy Second Edition' (56.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, first fill sherry butt, cask #3438, 298 bottles) Five stars
Without further ceremony… Colour: brown amber. Nose: I'm not sure we've ever been this close to very old armagnac. Starts with some wonderful chocolate and ganache, gianduja, gradually moves towards mocha and macchiato, with also wee whiffs of coconut water, goes then towards Schwarzwald cake (cherries, chocolate) and juts black tea and cigars, but never, ever gets meaty. There, we've already got an answer to our virtual questions. With water: indeed, very few meaty tones (perhaps Grisons meat, since we've been to Switzerland?) rather tar, cigars, and simply even more chocolate. Perhaps a drop of smoky 'whiskey' sauce. Crushed pine needles. Mouth (neat): oh, thin mints! Plus maracuja coulis over chocolate fondant and prunes. Or there, prunes in old armagnac. Pine resin, caraway and cloves in the background. This one's pretty tight and focused this far, to say the least. With water: oranges and more piney things popping out. I know there is some kind of short-drink where you would blend triple-sec with crème de menthe. Curiously refreshing. A tiny touch of fresher oak – they may have changed the bung recently (ha!) Finish: rather long, more on spicy marmalade, quince jam, a little pepper and juniper (oude genever), while some raw chocolate and a little coconut cream would sing in the aftertaste. Comments: assertively immaculate, without the tiniest flaw and with a very well-behaved oakiness.

SGP:561 - 92 points.

Glen Grant 70 yo 1952/2022 'Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II Edition' (52.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, first fill sherry butt, cask #381, 256 bottles)

Glen Grant 70 yo 1952/2022 'Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II Edition' (52.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, first fill sherry butt, cask #381, 256 bottles) Five stars
An incredible bottle! We fondly remember G&M's 'Silver Jubilee' bottlings, especially that glorious Highland Park 1952/1977 (WF 94). I also remember that 2012's Glen Grand 1952 'Diamond Jubilee' had been a little more fragile (WF 88). Colour: full gold. Nose: gentler, mellower, more floral and more honeyed, more herbal, probably subtler and more elegant than the 1957. I find it rather bizarre that my poor French mind would rather think of Helen Mirren (who played the Queen in cinemas) than of the Queen herself. A whole bouquet of meadow flowers, also simple dandelions, acacia, acacia honey, beeswax, quinces, mullein flowers, golden sultanas… This is amazing, I would have thought it would be one of those stunners distilled in the early 1970s. 1972 anyone? With water: more quince and more spearmint, woodruff, wormwood, honeydew… Mouth (neat): game set and match, I would say I like this subtler one even (a little) better than the superb 1957. You would almost believe it was made by bees (why not Buckingham's?) as I'm finding massive amounts of beeswax, honey, pollen, pinewood and then some bitterer propolis. Chewing heavier chlorophyll gum. With water: a salty miso-y touch over mead and orange sherbet, plus all of the usual honeyed cortege, and an old apple. Finish: long, still bright and fresh, almost refreshing! Lovely honeyed and mentholy aftertaste, with an expected lingering pepperiness. Very black tea. Comments: probably the youngest-tasting 70-years-old spirit I've ever tried, including cognacs, armagnacs and calvados. To The Queen, To Helen Mirren (they will never let me enter the country again), and to the great folks at Gordon & MacPhail (I'll go through Scotland then!)
SGP:651 - 93 points.

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

 

May 24, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little trios, today three young wee Glencadam

The aging of Sauternes (Sauternes-Barsac)

 

A humble official NAS, a young official finished in Sauternes, and an explosive independent. Fine with you?

Glencadam 'American Oak Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2022)

Glencadam 'American Oak Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Just an NAS entry-level drop for warming-up purposes, although you would never know… Are they still making the humble 'Origin', by the way? Colour: gold. Nose: porridge, sourdough, vanilla and sawdust. I repeat, porridge, sourdough, vanilla and sawdust. Plus ripe apples and some cut grass. Mouth: good, barley-y and malty, a little sour (apples) and otherwise on pear cake and more vanilla. Finish: medium, grassier, even more on beers. Always the same feeling of sawdust in the aftertaste, plus a handful of Ricola sweets. Comments: any single malt, or whisky for that matter, bearing the word 'reserve' would be a little average, don't ask me why. No exception here, but it remains a find little drop – when there's no older Glencadam.
SGP:341 - 78 points.

Glencadam 13 yo 2008/2021 'Réserve de Sauternes' (46%, OB, Sauternes Cask Finish, 3,042 bottles)

Glencadam 13 yo 2008/2021 'Réserve de Sauternes' (46%, OB, Sauternes Cask Finish, 3,042 bottles) Four stars
Finished in Sauternes casks, so obviously in French oak. Sauternes wood often works, provided no massive sulphur was burned prior to shipping. Barrels/barriques having contained sweet wines such as Sauternes would tend to rot faster, which is why you could find more sulphur in such second-hand casks. I've nosed some newly shipped Sauternes barriques while on Islay, a long time ago, and they were massively sulphury. 'When are you going to rinse them?' did we ask. 'Rinse them out? Are you crazy, do you know the price?'...  Indeed, a long time ago… Colour: straw. Nose: perhaps this chalkiness? Otherwise cakes, barley, orange zests, touch of paraffin, vine peaches, quinces, a wee mustiness… I'm not really getting the wine, no big apricots or roses or litchis, and no botrytis either! Not obligatorily bad news. Whiffs of IPA. Mouth: good for sure, fruitier, this time, with apricots indeed, oranges and tangerines, Jaffa cakes, heather honey, drops of ginger tonic… Would tend to become even more citrusy over time, which is obviously fine. You would have believed this was ex-verdejo rather than ex-Sauternes. Spanish Rueda. Finish: good length and a clean, orangey path toward an oakier and bitterer aftertaste and just a handful of orange drops. Comments: clearly successful. Now, to know about the Château in Sauternes…

SGP:641 - 86 points.

Please an indie…

Glencadam 10 yo 2011/2022 (61.5%, Signatory Vintage for Kirsch Import, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #800115, 226 bottles)

Glencadam 10 yo 2011/2022 (61.5%, Signatory Vintage for Kirsch Import, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #800115, 226 bottles) Four stars
This one might be a little rocket-fuel-like. Colour: straw. Nose: a lot of chalk and hay, porridge, flour, limoncello and, well, ethanol! I'm not saying you do feel raw alcohol, I'm just saying this is very strong. With water: lemon sherbet and perhaps what we call 'a colonel', which is lemon sherbet drizzled with vodka. Right, drown in vodka. Mouth (neat): very acidic, with a mentholated, piney oakiness behind these massive limes and lemons. We could add some proper rum and voilà, the strongest mojito ever made! With water: incredibly lemony, very tight, with some yuzu, perhaps. Or other wee tart citrus fruits. Finish: very long and just as lemony. Lemon sweets. Did they distil lemons? Finish this in an ex-limoncello IBC? Comments: time to add that I'm a sucker for anything lemon. Spectacular young Glencadam but then of course, should you not be too much into lemons…

SGP:651 - 87 points.

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

 

May 23, 2022


Whiskyfun

Four Talisker

The newer 10, one of the oldest 10s, a recent 25 and the brand new 27, how does that sound?

Magazine ad,
circa 2003

 

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, French market, +/-2022)

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, French market, +/-2022) Five stars
With a funny bilingual label, both in English and in French. For example, it says both 'aged 10 years' and 'vieilli 10 ans'. Some other parts do not translate too well, as the double meaning of 'Made By The Sea', for example, cannot quite be achieved in French. Anyway… Colour: gold. Nose: we're having that full-blown salty pepperiness, complemented with a lot of old hessian, very sour doughs, just raw smoked malted barley, and ashes diluted in fino – or something like that. Wonderful dryness and no compromises with woods that I can detect. Mouth: totally excellent, as Talisker as Talisker ever was, salty, peppery indeed, sour, and rather on the usual citrus as far as fruits are concerned. Lovely ashes too, plus this feeling of quaffing a wee glass of seawater. Finish: long, beautifully tight, salty, and as close to proper manzanilla as any whisky ever was. To think that they probably haven't used a single butt of manzanilla here, not even fino. Comments: I don't think Talisker 10 ever went away, but there have been rumours. Assuming those rumours were founded, well, it's back. Oh and we'll reiterate our long-standing supplication, the world needs a Talisker 10 Cask Strength!
SGP:457 - 90 points.

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, 1l, +/-1989)

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, 1l, +/-1989) Five stars
This one's bearing  the oval quaich emblem of United Distillers' early Classic Malts. These Taliskers were a little softer and fruitier than today's, but batches did vary indeed. Plus, OBE may have changed this one, let's see…  Colour: Rolex gold. Joking. Nose: I was right (that's lame, S.) this has more fruits, more bananas, mangos, maracuja, sour apples, also smoky bread, doughs, porridge (we know B&Bs up there that would never serve you any porridge without a nip of a peater inside), then herbs soup, with some sage, coriander, tarragon… What a beauty, really! We used to claim that time deconstructs peat to wonderful results, and this is just another example. There's even an equation, peat + time = mango. Right… Mouth: just superlative. Let's keep this short, imagine some sorrel soup, plus carbon dust, tar, pepper, cockles, lemon, coriander, walnut skins and… hey, manzanilla! A very salty manzanilla. Finish: long, not tired in any way, and just f…. stunning. Please excuse me. Comments: one of the greater batches. I've often wondered if they weren't pouring their best vattings into those 1l bottles for duty-free. Proper duty-free shops, not today's gloomy spaces where special prices go like +50%-20%. Stunning drop.
SGP:565 - 93 points.

Talisker 25 yo (45.8%, OB, Netherlands import, +/-2022)

Talisker 25 yo (45.8%, OB, Netherlands import, +/-2022) Five stars
On the label, they went from 'The Only Distillery On The Isle Of Skye' to 'The Oldest Distillery On The Isle Of Skye'. Right, provided you're successful, always change as little as you can, and only if you must. No, not much to say about the newish 'torn label'. Colour: gold. Nose: discreet, almost absent after the first-class tenners. Whiffs of old Sancerre, grapefruit juice, perhaps cucumber water, perhaps some kelp… It is curiously evanescent, really. I would suppose it'll all happen on our palate. Mouth: yess, now we're talking. This time the 25 years do not feel, this is as bright and fresh as the new 10, with some seawater, grapefruits, manzanilla (hurray) and perhaps, this time, a little tobacco, walnut wine, amatriciana sauce, and a cardamom plus pepper plus cumin combo that's working very well. Finish: pepper, salted cider and seawater, for a rather long time. I also feel that we should mention our good friends the whelks. Comments: 10 or 25, committed to the same struggle. Talisker is about the distillate; nothing can please me more.

SGP:466 - 90 points.

And the brand new one…

Talisker 27 yo 'Elements' (58%, OB, Distillery Exclusive, 2,000 bottles, 2022)

Talisker 27 yo 'Elements' (58%, OB, Distillery Exclusive, 2,000 bottles, 2022) Four stars
I'm not sure we wanna know that this baby was 'triple cask-matured'. OK while we're there, it was matured successively in refill casks, then heavily-charred casks, then old European oak puncheons. But indeed, modern whisky is like mortadella, I'm not sure we'd want to know how they make it ;-). Colour: full gold. Nose: seemingly thick and very compact, but at 58% vol. it is hard to get to the finer details. Some fresh vanilla-ed oak and blond turon. No Atlantic wildness this far. With water: some seawater indeed, old hessian, dunnage, green smoke (just a concept, really), as well as our beloved raw wool. Green pepper. Mouth (neat): the sweetest of them all, and that's the wood. Heavy notes of sweet pepper and ginger liqueur. A little rough and tough, but that may be the strength. High sweet peppers for sure. With water: looks like we tamed it, even if the woods are still at the helm. More oak spices, ginger, cinnamon, over-infused green tea, even forgotten kombucha, cold tea… That's all the wood. Finish: long, even greener. Green tannins and peppers plus fruit peel. Comments: a very lovely dram for sure, but this is where personal preferences really come into play. I'll always prefer my whiskies al natural rather than tuned, while this is almost a hot rod dragster.

SGP:566 - 86 points.

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

 

May 22, 2022


Whiskyfun

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

 

Rums, starting with an odd one

Starting with a rather weird old apéritif that we were having deep in a deep box.

Van Der Hum (31%, OB, South Africa, +/-2000)

Van Der Hum (31%, OB, South Africa, +/-2000) Four stars
Glups, for many years, that is to say since I got this bottle, I've been considering this was 'Van De Rhum', so rhum, so rum. Looks like I was wrong once more, as apparently, this is actually a liqueur made with brandy, tangerines and herbs. In short, this is anything but rum. Bah, since we opened it… Colour: red brown. Nose: it's pretty much cola liqueur. Lemon, cola, caraway, ginger, juniper. Emphasis on cola and lemon. Why not!? We're talking proper cola soda, from a proper glass bottle. Mouth: love it. Yes, Serge speaking. Deep colaness, ginger and caraway, lemon and grapefruit, fennel seeds, liquorice, morello cherries, wormwood… The herbal part has been crafted with art and skill – South African monks, I would suppose? Finish: long, not too sweet given that this is a liqueur, with an awesome citrus and all herbs and spices singing in unison in the aftertaste. Comments: when you do whacky drinks, there are moments like this. Hope Van Der Hum still exist – and that they're doing double magnums. Yes, Serge still speaking.
SGP:670 - 86 points.

Good, let's do rum, randomly…

Foursquare 15 yo 2005/2021 (58%, Distilia, The Golden Age of Piracy, Barbados, cask #105, 262 bottles)

Foursquare 15 yo 2005/2021 (58%, Distilia, The Golden Age of Piracy, Barbados, cask #105, 262 bottles) Three stars
The golden age of piracy, that's right today, no? Bezos? Zuck? Tim? Colour: deep gold. Nose: typical, partly columny (fragrant peonies, dandelions) and partly heavy (cane honey, millionaire shortbread, blond turon…) Some varnish too, water is needed. With water: whoops, water rather locks it. Hay, crushed canes… Mouth (neat): a feeling of cabinetmaking (whatever) and truly loads of varnish. Water's more than needed here, it's crucial. With water: grassy and bonbony. Reminds of those lollipops that the Mexicans are making with agave juice (and, err, worms-that-are-not-worms). Green pepper. Finish: long and grassy. Not easy. Comments: indeed, this one was curiously grassy and austere. Very good – it is Foursquare after all - but I'm not too sure.

SGP:361 - 82 points.

Versailles 15 yo 2003/2019 (57%, Milano Rum Festival, Guyana, 270 bottles)

Versailles 15 yo 2003/2019 (57%, Milano Rum Festival, Guyana, 270 bottles) Four stars and a half
This was bottled by our good friends in Milano to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moonwalk. Good idea, that's how we are all walking anyway after we've had a good few Demeraras… Colour: light gold. Nose: this Versailles was distilled at Diamond. It's full of gasoline, spent engine oil, and just paraffin. With water: olives chiming in, some seawater, old boats, clay, tar… Mouth (neat): huge, salty, ashy, bitter, rather extreme. Somewhat in the style of some Clarendons. With water: got it! Grapefruits, olives, the bitterest liquorice, tar, and just seawater. Say the Mediterranean (pushing this a wee bit now). Finish: very long, salty, with the usual 'plastic wax' component and some tinned English gherkins in the aftertaste (God save the Queen!) Comments: totally excellent, if a little extreme and a tad too unpolished for someone who remains mainly a whisky enthusiast.

SGP:464 - 88 points.

Haven't we just mentioned Clarendon ?

Clarendon 14 yo 2007/2021 (58%, Sansibar and Shinanoya, Jamaica, barrel, 304 bottled)

Clarendon 14 yo 2007/2021 (58%, Sansibar and Shinanoya, Jamaica, barrel, 304 bottled) Three stars and a half
So a Germano-Japanese bottling. Lovely label, by the way. Remember Clarendon is Monymusk, and conversely. Colour: deep gold. Nose: some Clarendons have been a little too extreme to me, almost like if you would just crunch peppercorns. This one does display rather a lot of varnish and acetone at first nosing, also benzine, then rather crushed bananas and strawberries. Fruity molecules toying with us! With water: more sugarcane, orange cordials, caraway, liquorice and clove. You would almost believe someone's added a few bottles of Jaeger to this cask, while no one was watching. Mouth (neat): very heavy, extremely tarry and full of varnish and even salt. A feeling of potassium. Very high impact, not unlike other Clarendons that I could try recently. With water: still very huge. Black olives, very tarry liquorice, cedar shavings, high-strength peppermint liqueur… Finish: very long, even saltier and olive-y. Keeps biting you in the aftertaste. Comments: I find these more brutal and, perhaps, unbalanced than most Hampdens or Worthy Parks, but within this tougher, ultra-dry style, it sure is a finer example…
SGP:275 - 84 points.

Undisclosed Nicaragua 16 yo (55.3%, Sample X, 247 bottles, 2021)

Undisclosed Nicaragua 16 yo (55.3%, Sample X, 247 bottles, 2021) Three stars
This baby by Kintra and The Whisky Mercenary. Probably from Compañia Licorera (Flor de Caña). Colour: light amber. Nose: at the other end of the spectrum, as this is extremely soft and sweet, yet not exactly 'empty'. Lovely whiffs of fresh-roasted peanuts, pancake sauce, little sugar eggs, soft molasses, milk chocolate, coffee liqueur… With water: rather varnish and fresh sawdust popping out. Pencil shavings. Mouth (neat): really sweet, with an oak that's bringing a large part of the flavours, especially vanilla, toasted cake and nougat, as well as cinnamon and nutmeg. With water: a few acidic touches (grapefruits, orange drops) and an oakiness that keeps leading the pack. Finish: medium, with some orange peel and more fruit drops. An oaky bitterness in the aftertaste. Comments: a very good one within a style that's not exactly part of my favourites.

SGP:650 - 81 points.

West Indies Rum Distillery 14 yo 2007/2022 (58%, Plantation Extreme, Barbados, 2856 bottles)

West Indies Rum Distillery 14 yo 2007/2022 (58%, Plantation Extreme, Barbados, 2856 bottles) Three stars
I'm not sure I've really understood yet why these must be finished in ex-cognac wood, but it's true that this one's older brother, the recent WIRD 1986/2022 from Plantation's, has been very much to my liking (WF 91). Colour: gold. Nose: a very light one, it seems, almost Cuban-style. Hay, yellow melon, a very tiny drop of brine, a hint of vine peach (from the cognac casks?)… With water: some grassiness, otherwise much lightness. Mouth (neat): orange wine aged in oak, with a little varnish, curaçao, cane juice… With water: same. All things oranges and sugarcane running the show, with sides reminding me of French rhum de sucrerie – or rhum industriel. Finish: medium length. A little aniseed. Feels 100% ex-column, but I would need to double-check that part. Correction, there's some batch-rum in the mix. I wouldn't say that feels much. Comments: fascinatingly close to the Nicaraguan, just a tad grassier.

SGP:650 - 81 points.

Please, a heavier one… But a mystery at this point.

Caroni 'Employees 6th Release Blend #4' (66.8%, Velier, LMDW, Trinidad, +/-2022?) Five stars
Got to love this 'employees' series that's reminding us of Bruichladdich's own efforts back in the 2000s. Having said that, we haven't got any pictures of this one yet, all we know is that this label is 'green'. Should we get more information, we'll ammend acordingly. Colour: amber. Nose: oh, smoked nougat and chocolate! Plus the usual spent engine oil, tarmac, olives, menthol and liquorice. All as expected. With water: why is this nose this brilliant? We need an explanation! Apparently, someone's smoked some all-vitamin fruit juice. Mouth (neat): extremely thick, but even at this insane strength, this is utterly brilliant indeed. Pink bananas, guava juice, liquorice and diesel oil, perfectly synchronised. With water: gets piney and tarrier, and probably a tad less fruity. No problemo. Finish: extremely long, which ain't too good for our wee session. Death seat after this one! Comments: a monstrous Caroni. You would have thought the best casks had been bottled a long time ago. So, either that was not true, or they're very bad at checking casks. I would lean toward the first option. Now we need to see a bottle…
SGP:663 - 92 points.

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

 

May 20, 2022


Whiskyfun

Doing new grains, uncluding Inverphroaigs, Hampgordons and Cambwoods

Let's do that, randomly. How would you sort out grain whiskies anyway, by age? By Distillery? By strength? By main ingredient?

North British 2006/2021 (50.5%, Whiskay, 223 bottles)

North British 2006/2021 (50.5%, Whiskay, 223 bottles) Two stars
Were they still using exclusively maize at North British Distillery, in 2006? Not too sure. What's sure is that this is a very funny anti-Brexit label, when you move your bottle the two parts of a broken heart (UK and EU) do stick together again. Whether there's another hidden message behind the choice of North 'British', I don't know. Colour: white wine. Nose: typical young grain, not unpleasant but pretty silent, with a lot of nail polish and kirschwasser. With water: more of all that, plus a lot of mercurochrome (to heal the wounds of Brexit?) and a little vanilla. Mouth (neat): varnish, glue, vodka, kirsch. With water: some cellulose coming out, bark, vanilla, sawdust… Finish: medium, ethanoly, vodka-y. Comments: love Whiskay, love their other bottlings, love the funny ideas behind this label, but I'm just not fond of young grain whisky, while in my book, any grain that's younger than say 30 is 'young grain'. Having said that ans as I just wrote, they may have chosen this one because it's full of mercurochrome – to heal the wounds of Brexit! Vary smart, on second thought…

SGP:331 - 75 points.

Let's insist…

North British 10 yo 2011/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky)

North British 10 yo 2011/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky) Two stars and a half
What's good is that the prices for these are very fair. Colour: gold. Nose: obviously similar, with just a little more cake and vanilla, and consequently, less varnish and mercurochrome. I'm also finding a little fresh maize, but I think North British had already switched to other grains when this one was distilled. Not 100% sure… With water: a little buttercream, which is not unpleasant. Mouth (neat): this one is sweeter, more on saccharose. Vanilla sugar, bubblegum… With water: you would almost believe this is Havana Club or Bacardi. I said almost… Finish: medium, sweet, with more vanilla sugar, a little melon syrup, and, this time, a few drops of mercurochrome indeed. Comments: I do not think I've ever found any young single grain that's really been to my liking. So, it's me…

SGP:431 - 77 points.

Do we try this a last time?... With more oak?

North British 13 yo 2007/2021 (62.3%, WhiskyPeter, virgin oak barrel)

North British 13 yo 2007/2021 (62.3%, WhiskyPeter, virgin oak barrel) Two stars
Let's proceed with caution, now it seems that the virgin oak was heavily charred, so maybe are going to find some kind of bourbon… Colour: straw. Nose: in the style of the Watt W. Vanilla, maize, varnish. With water: fruit peel, grass, alcohol. Mouth (neat): very sweet, bubblegummy, extremely vodka-y. Vodka flavoured with bubblegum and a few bits of bison grass. With water: some oaky sourness. Finish: a little more vanilla in the vodka. Comments: these juices are really not my thing, and I can tell you that I've been trying hard for decades. Perhaps go see a whisky doctor?
SGP:441 - 75 points.

Let's try another young one, but from another Distillery…

Invergordon 12 yo 2007/2019 (64.6%, WhiskyPeter, virgin barrel finish, cask #300857, 224 bottles)

Invergordon 12 yo 2007/2019 (64.6%, WhiskyPeter, virgin barrel finish, cask #300857, 224 bottles) Three stars
We've had good luck with Invergordon in the past, but those were usually both old whiskies and ex-oloroso. Let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: it's a rounder, cakier drop, with more brioche, raisin rolls, shortbread… Also banana. In short, a maltier grain, should that make any sense. With water: a pineyness and some spearmint from the wood. That works. Mouth (neat): simply more flavourful than the NBs, with more coconut, vanilla, barley sugar, lemon tarte… No feeling of vodka this time. With water: it is still grain, but I have the impression that it is a little fatter, I was about to write 'malty', while the wood was good and active. Mint and pineapple, for some kind of Cuban cocktail. Finish: medium, sweet clean, fruity, tropical. Perhaps a stronger pina colada? Well the pope knows more about cocktails than your truly. Comments: this one goes down nicely.
SGP:730 - 82 points.

I suppose more Invergordon is the way…

Invergordon 32 yo 1990/2022 (52.8%, Alambic Classique, cask #22022, 158 bottles)

Invergordon 32 yo 1990/2022 (52.8%, Alambic Classique, cask #22022, 158 bottles) Four stars
Wait, there is a trick here, this one was finished for 5 full years in an ex-Hampden cask! So in heavy Jamaican rum wood, although we wouldn't know whether it was a very funky Hampden, or just one of the low-ester kittens. Colour: gold. Nose: of course. This is more a blended rum, I'm not sure the grain whisky has anything to say here. Not that we're complaining, this is lovely, delicately petroly and olive-y, with a little engine oil and anchovies in brine. Anchovies in Invergordon! With water: carbon paper and a little camphor. Mouth (neat): indeed, a very good blended rum, with overripe bananas, olives; liquorice and a little acetone. With water: perhaps a tiny smidgen of Invergordonness. This soft vanilla? Finish: medium, salty and petroly. Salted liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm all for transparency but I'm wondering if it wouldn't have been even funnier when our German friends, on this label, would have kept quiet about the finishing. Surprise surprise!  

SGP:552 - 85 points.

Another one by Alambic Classique. A Neisson finish, I hope…

Invergordon 47 yo 1975/2022 (50.3%, Alambic Classique, cask #22023, 128 bottles)

Invergordon 47 yo 1975/2022 (50.3%, Alambic Classique, cask #22023, 128 bottles) Five stars
No, this one was 'matured in an ex-Laphroaig Islay Whisky barrel'. Forty-seven years in a Laphroaig barrel! This is extremely intriguing, to say the least. Colour: gold. Nose: how would I put this. Imagine a low-level bottle of Bonfanti or Cinzano 10, should that ring a bell. Hessian, gentian (in the front!), slightly stale mango liqueur, that famous beach bonfire (almost extinct here), celeriac and fennel… With just one drop of water: all things medicinal, bandages, embrocations, camphor… Mouth (neat): superb! Even if this would rather be celeriac eau-de-vie by Jean-Paul Metté himself, aged in good oak. I mean, flavour-wise. With water: a fantastic, delicate earthy, rooty development. I cannot not think of Suze. Do you know Suze? Now there are better options, check for instance Distillerie du Grandmont's Amer Gentiane. Finish: even more gentian. Comments: some people would claim that pasta with foie gras is not proper pasta. I still prefer pasta with foie gras, or Invergordon with Laphroaig. Great in-cask blending here but once again, I'm wondering whether this wouldn't have been even funnier if they wouldn't tell us on the label. Very smart. Now, we're the empty cask?

SGP:563 - 90 points.

Invergordon 49 yo 1973/2022 (40.3%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 191 bottles)

Invergordon 49 yo 1973/2022 (40.3%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 191 bottles) Five stars
This one might be a notch fragile, but we did make a short break after that excellent Inverphroaig. Colour: gold. Nose: I think we already wrote quite a few times that Invergordon was the maltiest grain whisky out there, and this is just another good example. Frankly, this could have been Glenlivet, for instance. Superb honeys and beeswaxes, tarte tatin, fresh raisin rolls, dried figs on location (in Turkey), dried jujubes and rambutans, honey biscuits… It is utterly incredible that no oak would have taken the helm after so many years and with a spirit at such a low strength. Old Sauternes. But at 40+, beware the palate… Mouth: there is a little green and drying oak (tobacco, chlorophyll, English tea) but frankly, it is still well-integrated and would not dominate these awesome notes of ripe apples, subtler honeys, figs and jujubes, and above everything this old Sauternes that went drier over the decades. No graininess, no coconut, no simplistic vanilla. Finish: not even short, still subtle, rather on tarte tatin and mead. Comments: two 90s in a row. See I'm no anti-grain activist?

SGP:551 - 90 points.

I'd happily try a last old Invergordon, before we quickly check a few other grain distilleries…

Invergordon 49 yo 1972/2021 (44.4%, Maltbarn, bourbon)

Invergordon 49 yo 1972/2021 (44.4%, Maltbarn, bourbon) Five stars
No signs of a finishing in ex-Brora, Springbank or Lagavulin here… A finishing in an ex-mezcal clay jar, would that be legal? (if you don't tell ;-)? Colour: full gold. Nose: this time it's very old bourbon, with some cellulosic varnish, rye, maize and vanilla, chestnuts, touches of maple syrup, old books, furniture polish (old library), old Jag… Mouth: how is it possible that we would strike another 90? Even if this one's a little simpler at first, that is to say more on wee sweets, it would then unfold on subtle old teas and dried fruits. Rosehip, wild rose, also arrack, oriental pastries (orange blossom), Turkish delights… Finish: perhaps a tad shortish this time, but nicely honeyed and meady. Do you say 'meady'? Comments: complex and subtle. I like it that they wouldn't have waited until it's 50, like any 'brand' would have done.

SGP:551 - 90 points.

And so we said other Distilleries…

Cameronbridge 46 yo 1974/2021 (40.1%, The Whisky Agency for Heads & Tails Canada, hogshead)

Cameronbridge 46 yo 1974/2021 (40.1%, The Whisky Agency for Heads & Tails Canada, hogshead) Five stars
40.1% vol.? I would suppose they've been monitoring this wee cask day and night… Colour: gold. Nose: it hasn't got the depth and structure of the Invergordons, on the other hand there's an extremely delicate combination of subtle cake doughs, sesame and peanut oils, vanilla, and possibly a little coconut water. Notes of preserved peaches and ripe starkrimsons. Mouth: ah, the bees! Mead, nectar, honeys, pollens, all that mezza-voce, plus a little pineapple, green liquorice and a pinhead of turmeric. Incredible body at 40.1%, but it's true that 40.1 'natural' and 40.1 'reduced' are two different things. Finish: not even short, on honeyed pineapples, with a little spearmint and liquorice in the aftertaste. A hoppy and happy feeling. Comments: you'll believe we're being lazy, but believe me, this is just another proper 90. On the other hand, 'they know what they're doing'.

SGP:641 - 90 points.

Do we say two Cambusses?

Cambus 30 yo 1991/2021 (52.3%, The Whisky Cask)

Cambus 30 yo 1991/2021 (52.3%, The Whisky Cask) Three stars and a half
Seminal grain Distillery, DCL, closed 1993, now cooperage. Capeesh? Colour: gold. Nose: I rather like them when they're a little acetic like this, a little sour, on fermenting fruits (plums, cherries), even lime juice, even sour cream. With water: even more of all that, Pils beer, hops, sour cherries, pine smoke, capers in brine. Mouth (neat): ex-malt cask? In general, grain whiskies were filled into new casks to season those before they would be filled with malt. That's the older orthodoxy. It's rather fatter than expected, really leafy and sour, with a curious smokiness, even a feeling of peat. With water: cigars, a peppery smokiness, notes of sour guavas, riesling, gherkins… Finish: medium, on the same flavours. The cask had contained a smoky malt before, it seems. Comments: we're far from any ethanoly, coconutty, light grain whisky. Really worth trying.

SGP:362 - 84 points.

Cambus 33 yo 1988/2022 (47.6%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, octave finish, cask #3325, 280 bottles)

Cambus 33 yo 1988/2022 (47.6%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, octave finish, cask #3325, 280 bottles) Four stars
This baby was finished in octave casks having previously contained Linkwood and Glen Elgin. So the new orthodoxy, first malt, then grain, as malt is more and more about wood. Colour: light gold. Nose: wee whiffs of baby vomit at first, then rotting pineapples, then green walnuts, pipe tobacco, tomato leaves, banana skins. Singular, shall we say. Mouth: you do feel the malts, as this is thicker, frankly barley-y, with a little coffee and various liqueurs. A drop of Malibu (we'll survive) and two drops of ginger liqueur, plus some sweet cider. We'll also have to mention limoncello. Finish: medium, with an oaky sourness that's absolutely not unpleasant. A varnishy side too. A drop of coconut and apple vinegar in the aftertaste, then high-class cider. It's not often that the best side of a whisky would be to be found in its aftertaste. Good fun here. Comments: from what? to yeah! within a few minutes. A wilder grain.

SGP: 371- 85 points.

Another session that went to eleven. Good grainy night (in Georgia)!

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

 

May 19, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Glen Esk

Glen Esk a.k.a. Glenesk a.k.a. Hillside, in Montrose, closed in 1985, one of the mothers of VAT69 and one of the most obscure distilleries that 'they' have closed in the early-to-mid 1980s, after it's changed its name many times. Who remembers Glen Esk? Us! To think that there's even been some official Glenesk, such as a good 12 years old. On and even that it's been owned by Ben Nevis and Lochside owner Joseph Hobbs at some point. It has now become a malting plant.

Glen Esk

Glen Esk 26 yo 1974/2000 (52.7%, Signatory Vintage, cask #89, 238 bottles)

Glen Esk 26 yo 1974/2000 (52.7%, Signatory Vintage, cask #89, 238 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine/straw. Nose: this greasy kind of mineral oiliness that's certainly not to be found in most of today's malts. Graphite oil, sunflower oil, some kind of lemon chalk, grist, those raw wools that very few modern malts still own, lemon and rhubarb tartes, and then, trumpet please, quince jelly! With water: amazing citrons and fresh marzipan. Mouth: absolutely masterly, with a wonderful straight lemonness, more oily and woolly things, then a growing spicy minerality, with a drop of mint cream. Fantastic. With water: on lemony waxes. Finish: long, yet tart, yet oily and almost fat. A salty tang towards the end. Superb. A very tiny taste of glass (OBE) in the aftertaste but that is nothing. Comments: almost everybody's forgotten about Glen Esk. Let's try to keep the flame alive for a few more years, if you please.

SGP:561 - 90 points.

Hillside 28 yo 1971/2000 (51.4%, Signatory Vintage, Silent Stills, Japan import, cask #1508, 242 bottles)

Hillside 28 yo 1971/2000 (51.4%, Signatory Vintage, Silent Stills, Japan import, cask #1508, 242 bottles) Five stars
Remember this lovely series that used to come with a bung (or was it a piece of the cask?) and a miniature? Colour: gold. Nose: this one's rather more assertive but just as chalky, perhaps even more metallic, with a little suet, ham, Barbour grease and other unusual and pretty tertiary notes. A growing waxiness, ski wax… With water: a tad rounder than the 1974, with some meringue over the lemon tarte this time. Mouth (neat): very similar, just 'cleaner' and even tighter this time. Almost a Scottish mojito, with tighter lemons. Wonderful, and wonderful texture by the way. With water: even more lemony waxes than in the 1974. Awesome, imposing elegance, all on well-aged spirit rather than on anything woods or wines. In other words, this is almost only flavoured with time. Finish: long and as waxy, lemony and fat as before. Almost undistinguishable from the 1974 at this point. Comments: glorious once more. I hope more Glen Esk will cross our path, and would add that I'm dead sure that these bottles do get better over time. Stunning examples of perfect bottle aging (from 85/86 to 88 and then 90 over twenty years).
SGP:561 - 90 points.

(Thank you Hideo!)

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

 

May 18, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, Today Cardhu

Well, actually a trio since we just found another nice old one in Limburg. Anyway, the third Cardhu today will the only remaining Special Release 2021 that we haven't tried yet.

Magazine ad, mid-1960s. The golden age of advertising.

Cardhu 12 yo (40%, OB, UK, 75cl, +/-1978)

Cardhu 12 yo (40%, OB, UK, 75cl, +/-1978) Four stars
One of those excellent Cardhus straight from John Walker & Son in Kilmarnoch. Yep. Colour: full gold. Nose: cakes all over the place, fudge, toffee, milk chocolate, Nutella (apologies), nougat, with touches of pancake sauce and 'old tinbox'. Some stronger sweet and malty beer, I would say. A little ham. It's fatter than the current Cardhu 12 for sure, but not 'that' different on the nose. Mouth: exactly what would almost always happen when you try some much older versions of the heavy sellers ('livet 12, 'fiddich, 'morangie, Macallan…), these whiskies were simply fatter and deeper on the palate. Sure parts of those differences should stem from good OBE, but still, even at 40% vol. the texture was oilier, the scope of flavours was wider, and they would have teased the smokier, earthier and fatter edges of said scope. Finish: a little short(ish) but neither cardboardy nor dusty. Some sweet meatiness in the aftertaste, and even a little honey. Perhaps a little spirit caramel too but who cares, after so many years. Comments: no two batches were exactly the same, but this was clearly one of the better ones. Yes, despite the 40% vol.
SGP:452 - 87 points.

Cardhu 12 yo (43%, OB, Simon Frères France, 75cl, +/-1978)

Cardhu 12 yo (43%, OB, Simon Frères France, 75cl, +/-1978) Five stars
This is the Cardhu we used to sip when I was a student in France. Basically, we were only having this and Glenfiddich anyway, as far as I can remember and as far as malts were concerned. Indeed France was not quite Italy. What, you say it still isn't? Colour: straw. Paler batch, good news. Nose: much tighter, more on hay and grasses, citrus, damp earth, waxes, lemon, plasticine… You could almost believe this would have been Clynelish. Seriously! Mouth: holy featherless Prime Minister! This is incredibly dense, waxy, oily, earthy and lemony and you could almost believe it is some kind of shochu. Anyway, some fermentary notes of sake, lemon lime and yuzu, chalk and barley, touches of umami (like), paraffin… And, err, Clynelish. Finish: not eternal but still pretty long, with a wonderful waxy sourness, lemons, chalk, etc. Comments: not the first time I'm stumbling upon a 90er amongst these old Cardhus. Now once again, not all batches are of the same quality, even when bottled at 43 rather than 40% vol.

SGP:452 - 90 points.

Cardhu 14 yo 2006/2021 'The Scarlet Blossoms of Black Rock' (55.5%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends)

Cardhu 14 yo 2006/2021 'The Scarlet Blossoms of Black Rock' (55.5%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends) Four stars
This baby was finished in wine casks. I do notice that this has become an obsession at many a distiller and that un-finished, natural malt whiskies are slowly becoming exceptions. Same in the tea or potato crisps businesses, would we add… Even at Pringles'! Colour: white wine. Nose: as expected, this is much lighter and fruitier than the old expressions, much more on pears and gooseberries, leaves (sauvignon blanc) and anything from our friends Haribo's. Fine and literally lighter, despite the extra-12 or 15%. With water: marshmallows and liquorice allsorts, plus greengage gin. Excuse me? Indeed, greengage gin does exist (soon on WF!) Mouth (neat): good, modern, fresh and fruity, much easier than the old guys, but probably more unquestionable. Jellybeans, marshmallows, pear liqueur, acacia honey and rambutans. With water: very good easy modern unsherried Speyside-style, fruity, syrupy, easy and very drinkable. The wine doesn't feel 'as wine'. Finish: medium, syrupy, a tad more on citrus and stems. A drop of rose liqueur, perhaps? Comments: I would suppose you can't quite call a Special Release 'rather a mass-pleaser', but, well, there, I just did.

SGP:641 - 85 points.

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

 

May 16, 2022


Whiskyfun

We could do some Tormore

Good idea!

Tormore 10 yo 2010/2021 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 287 bottles)

Tormore 10 yo 2010/2021 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 287 bottles) Four stars
'Rested in an ex-Islay cask', yet another new concept, and probably the personal dream of many an old whisky enthusiast. Colour: straw. Nose: the peat is rather moderato, but it feels. Salsify, Jerusalem artichoke, touch of gentian, wild carrots, celeriac, garden bonfire… You just cannot not think of a lighter Ardmore here. With water: a little oilier and more on lamp petrol, gun oil perhaps… Mouth (neat): much more power, much more expression than on the nose. This feeling of smoked oranges, for example, plus a little varnish and mercurochrome. Definitely antiseptic. With water: we're now clearly on Islay. Salt, lemon, smoke, clams. More proof that peat's one ultra-dominant ingredient. Finish: long, rooty, peaty. It is 'a peater'. Comments: more Torfmore than Tormore if you ask me, but only germanistas will understand this. A bit of a mutant, or simply actually a blended malt rather than a single. Well made for sure, having said all that.

SGP:554 - 85 points.

Perhaps another 'peated' Tormore

Tormore 2011/2018 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills, bourbon barrel)

Tormore 2011/2018 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills, bourbon barrel) Three stars and a half
Indeed this one says 'peated'. Jean Boyer are one of the pioneers of single malt in France. Remember their former company 'Auxil', while also thinking about you, Jean-Marie. Colour: white wine. Nose: these one's even more Ardmore-ish. Think peaches and light coal smoke, ripe apples, plus ointments and perhaps drops of fino sherry. Yes I know this was a barrel. Mouth: just very good, easy and not that easy, smoky, slightly medicinal, with notes of smoked salmon and a little rosemary, plus just some brine. The light strength works well but I know Jean Boyer have always been good at careful reduction, French-style. Never in one go! Finish: medium, salty. Kippers and capers. Comments: these in-cask blends remain a little disconcerting, but in the end, the end-result (bravo, S.) can be extremely okay.

SGP:453 - 83 points.

Can we have some proper Tormore please?

Tormore 30 yo 1988/2019 (42.1%, The Whisky Agency for The MaltCask, Hong Kong, hogshead)

Tormore 30 yo 1988/2019 (42.1%, The Whisky Agency for The MaltCask, Hong Kong, hogshead) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: there, tobacco leaves, chamomile, williams pears, subtle teas (Wulong), asparagus, eggplants, a little butter, pistachios, touches of suet, peanut butter, sesame oil… This one has got very tertiary, possibly a little un-focused, but wonderfully complex, not unlike an old chardonnay. Mouth: meads and honeys, soft sakes, touches of fish oils, old sultanas from an old tin box, fish oil, old mead, calvados… This is very tertiary indeed, and rather a movie than 'a picture'. An ongoing series, never exactly focused and coherent (think Netflix stuff) but just lovingly addictive in the end. Finish: medium, with a salty touch, plus buttered apple cake and, hold on, bits of anchovy in brine. Comments: loco, thrilling, adventurous. Love it a lot, but what happened to this hogshead?

SGP:562 - 89 points.

Can we have, I mean, just cake and fruits?

Tormore 21 yo 1988/2009 (64.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, 169 bottles)

Tormore 21 yo 1988/2009 (64.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, 169 bottles) Three stars
An early TSMOS. I don't think we've ever tried this crazy one, please fasten your seatbelts. Colour: light gold. Nose: holy featherless crow! New wardrobe straight from IKEA's, praline, fresh halva, sunflower oil, white chocolate and varnish. With water – and with a huge viscimetry: barley, grist, paper, flour, oatcakes, pancake dough and porridge. Perfect breakfast. Mouth (neat): tough and rough at this strength. A little glue-ish. With water: there, tight fruits, lemons and apples, jellybeans (only the lemons), varnish, rhubarb… Still tough and rough, despite the tiny touches of coconut and vanilla. Finish: long but really tart. A muscadet of malt whisky – but indeed, there are a few great muscadets. Comments: some appealing sides, but it remained a tough boy all along. Perhaps whisky for whisky lovers who love a fight.

SGP:561 - 82 points.

I think we might need this one at this point, and then sign off…

Tormore 10 yo (70 proof, OB, UK, 75.7cl, +/-1970)

Tormore 10 yo (70 proof, OB, UK, 75.7cl, +/-1970) Four stars and a half
This is the UK version, not one of those old Italian ones for Dreher. Remember, Italy = 43GL or %, which is just always better than UK's 70proof or 40%. IN theory. You might have noticed the similarities with the old Laphroaig labels here, but indeed at that time, Long John's Tormore used to belong to brewers Whitbread. Colour: straw. Nose: 70proof or not, there's some body here, a stunning metallic/tropical side indeed (you cannot not think of old Laphroaig in that respect), and the most flabbergasting honeys and waxy meads you could think of. Very old Yquem? Superlative 'lighter' nose.  Mouth: oh, mangos, honeysuckle, dried jujubes and gojis, dried figs of all kinds, plus a nutty, slightly smoky smokiness (but of course) that would remind us of botrytised wines. Who's mentioned Yquem before? Finish: not that long; expectedly, but wonderfully on all kinds of dried fruits, including the most pedestrian raisins. Comments: great old drops that seem to remain a little unnoticed at auctions. Ha, auctions.
SGP:541 - 89 points.

(Gracias, KC and Tim)

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

 

May 15, 2022


Whiskyfun

  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!

 

Malternatives: three Burgundians

Very insane drops by Bourguignons. I would suppose three will be enough… And we'll do this quickly…

Très Vieux Marc de Bourgogne 7 yo (51%, SAB'S, Speyside bourbon cask, +/-2021)

Très Vieux Marc de Bourgogne 7 yo (51%, SAB'S, Speyside bourbon cask, +/-2021) Four stars
We've already tried some glorious liquids from SAB's, but what's this cookery? Proper marc aged in ex-Bourgogne wine pieces and finished in an ex-Speyside bourbon cask. This might be the equivalent to quad axel in figure squatting, so what could go wrong? Colour: light gold. Nose: once marc has started growing on you, you're virtually dead. Flabbergasting glues, almonds, asparagus, eggplants, kirsch, varnishes and nail polish remover. What a nose. With water: more glue, asparagus, and salsify while we're at it. Mouth (neat): ultra-grassy and varnishy. Exactly proper dry marc, with glues, varnishes, fruit stones and crazy herbs. With water: there, civilisation. Raisins, dried jujubes and sorbs, and a drop of chardonnay. Just any chardonnay. Finish: long, with even more glue, fruit stones, amaretti, cherries… Comments: I have to say I haven't noticed anything 'Speyside'. A tough and good spirit, extremely close to nature.

SGP:461 - 85 points.

Très Vieux Marc de Bourgogne 7 yo (51%, SAB'S, Peated Islay bourbon cask, +/-2021)

Très Vieux Marc de Bourgogne 7 yo (51%, SAB'S, Peated Islay bourbon cask, +/-2021) Four stars and a half
No no no no no no no, marc de Bourgogne finished in an Islay cask? Sacrilege and utter folly! But I'll keep an open mind (remember Frank Zappa, minds are like parachutes, they only function when, etc….) Colour: gold. Nose: no. Jumbled, medicinal, sour, with notes of rotting roots. On green tomatoes, geraniums, with gamey smells, old seafood… I'm really not sure. With water: the brave marc is taking over. Bye-bye Islay. Mouth (neat): this time it rather works. The stalky side of the marc combines well with the peat smoke, but it would generate a very exotic feeling that would rather connect us to another continent. Say Indonesian Gudang-garam cigarettes? With water: water makes utter wonders. The drop became lovely, wonderfully earthy, citrusy, nervous, vibrant… Some proper witchcraft here. Listen, this is totally unlikely, but it works! Feeling like we're at Dr Frankenstein's now…  Finish: long and good. Nots of bacon. Comments: right. Great spirits do connect indeed, you just need to be the go-between, and to use proper water to do that. We needed time, but we're very impressed. Hold on, is this really marc de Bourgogne finished in an ex-Islay cask? Really?
SGP:453 - 88 points.

Please, back to orthodoxy…

Marc de Bourgogne 1995/2015 (45%, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti)

Marc de Bourgogne 1995/2015 (45%, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) Two stars and a half
This probable glory was bottled on July 15, 2015, so right after French National Day. These are extremely expensive because they stem from la Romanée-Conti, but to tell you the truth, the reputation of their marcs remains a little average. I say there are no sacred cows in spirits! Colour: amber. Nose: there's rather less depth than in the SAB's, but there is a cognacqy side, notes of dried fruits, roasted raisins, a little caramel, fudge, tarte tatin… It is very all right, there's even a wee rubber that would add some depth… Oh well let's check the palate… Mouth: sure it's very good, but it's kind of mimicking cognac. I'm not saying that's done on purpose, not at all, but I do prefer either the grittier, more rustic marcs de Bourgogne, or simply the proper cognacs by good houses. Raisins, grass, touch of rubber… Well, all this is a little unnecessary. No, indeed, there are no sacred cows in spirits, I'm afraid. Finish: medium, a little kirschy. Comments: a very good drop but in truth, this is pretty disappointing, it's not 'rustic' enough and too rounded. Mind you, it is la Romanée-Conti! Having said that, I've heard later vintages were much better.

SGP:541 - 79 points.

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


 

 
   
 


Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Cardhu 12 yo (43%, OB, Simon Frères France, 75cl, +/-1978)

Glen Esk 26 yo 1974/2000 (52.7%, Signatory Vintage, cask #89, 238 bottles)

Hillside 28 yo 1971/2000 (51.4%, Signatory Vintage, Silent Stills, Japan import, cask #1508, 242 bottles)

Glen Garioch 31 yo 1990/2021 (53.9%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 201 bottles)

Glen Grant 70 yo 1952/2022 'Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II Edition' (52.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, first fill sherry butt, cask #381, 256 bottles)

Glen Grant 64 yo 1957/2021 'Mr George Legacy Second Edition' (56.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, first fill sherry butt, cask #3438, 298 bottles)

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, 1l, +/-1989)

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, French market, +/-2022)

Talisker 25 yo (45.8%, OB, Netherlands import, +/-2022)

Invergordon 47 yo 1975/2022 (50.3%, Alambic Classique, cask #22023, 128 bottles)

Invergordon 49 yo 1973/2022 (40.3%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 191 bottles)

Invergordon 49 yo 1972/2021 (44.4%, Maltbarn, bourbon)

Cameronbridge 46 yo 1974/2021 (40.1%, The Whisky Agency for Heads & Tails Canada, hogshead)

Caroni 'Employees 6th Release Blend #4' (66.8%, Velier, LMDW, Trinidad, +/-2022?)

Godet 1970/2017 (43%, OB, Petite Champagne, for Taiwan, cask #FB0021, 132 bottles)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 68-72' (66.6%, Wet Drams, Grape of the Art, Fins Bois, cask #21, 276 bottles) 

Normandin-Mercier 'Très Vieille Grande Champagne' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, for Cerbaco Australia, +/-2021)

Vallein Tercinier 33 yo LOT88/2022 (47%, Maltbarn, Bon Bois, 142 bottles)

No.73 Héritage (54.6%, J. Grosperrin for Passion for Whisky, Petite Champagne, 2022)

Maison Tribot 'V.70 A.51' (50.3%, Old Master Spirits, for Australia, Grande Champagne, 120 bottles, +/-2021)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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