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Whisky Tasting


Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild




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

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


May 14, 2023


Another Rum Sunday

Starting with some un-ambitious little apéritifs, as usual…

Kawa's glorious two-stroke engines... (photo Stuff)



Bacardi 4 yo 'Anejo Cuatro' (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2022)

Bacardi 4 yo 'Anejo Cuatro' (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2022)
I have to say I find the current Bacardi packaging pretty lovely. Having said that, the 10 yo 'Gran Reserva Diez' that we tried earlier in April had been really weak (WF 68). Drinkable, but very weak… It's not impossible that this little 4 would be brighter and fresher, let's see. Colour: gold. Nose: it's really not un-nice, perhaps a little metallic at first, but with niceish whiffs of Cointreau and muscovado, overripe pineapple, cane syrup, crème brulée… It is not an eternal nose of Maggot-brain quality, but yeah, I find it pleasant. Mouth: no, cancel all that, it's very weak and sugary, with some burnt sugar, bitter herbs, stale Coca-Cola, over-sweetened tea… It's really hard to drink at room temperature, I would suppose it should not. Finish: not that short, which is bad news. Some rather ugly sweet bitterness. Comments: literally hard to swallow. Perhaps in a Puerto Rican coffee?
SGP:550 - 40 points.

I think we've got a few old Cuban Bacardis in the boxes but we'll try them later.

William Hinton 3 yo (45%, OB, Madeira rum, agricole, 2022)

William Hinton 3 yo (45%, OB, Madeira rum, agricole, 2022)
Made by the Engenho Novo Distillery and properly agricole, remember the Portuguese island of Madeira does, just like Martinique, own a proper appellation agricole, as long as the rums are made in the 'agricole way' of course. We've already tried some excellent 'O Reizinho' from Madeira. Colour: gold. Nose: woof, a whiff of sulphur and 2-stroke fumes at first (old Kawasaki, deadly at any speed they say, right), plus some new leatherette and some cassis and strawberry liqueur. It is really something else, with some dominant notes of red wine barrel. Notes of wild syrah too, French marigold... Mouth: very unusual, with rather a lot of strawberry liqueur again, plus some pepper. Some rooibos tea too, perhaps cherries, and always these sulphury touches. Finish: medium, sweet, a little reductive. Pepper liqueur and bison vodka in the aftertaste. Comments: interesting, but really challenging, as if some wines inside went to eleven.

SGP:651 - 65 points.

Anacona 'Gran Reserva Rum' (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2022)

Anacona 'Gran Reserva Rum' (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2022) Two stars
One of the numerous newish brands that are lavishly packaged. Did you notice? In rum as in whisky, the more recent the brand, the more retro the packaging. Colour: gold. Nose: pleasant, rather caney, not liqueury this far, with some good honey and a curious maty touch. Malt spread (just a pinhead). Mouth: quite good! No sugary blast, rather a light profile, in the style of the Bacardi but with much, much less sugar. Sill a little too flat and undemanding. Finish: short, a little sweeter, not cloying. Comments: an acceptable young rum from DomRep, shall we say.

SGP:430 - 72 points.

Let's talk…

Hampden 6 yo (44%, Secret Cask, Jamaica, American Bourbon cask, 2022)

Hampden 6 yo (44%, Secret Cask, Jamaica, American Bourbon cask, 2022) Four stars
It's 'smooth and flavourful', and some single pot still rum, naturally. What could go wrong?  Colour: straw. Nose: classic petrol, shoe polish (blue, and why not?), olive oil, overripe pineapple and bananas, liquorice, and indeed rather a lot of softness. Not a <DOK at 65% vol., all right. Mouth: curiously bonbony, liqueury, with much more pineapple than usual in the attack, then we have the expected salted liquorice and olives. A little capsicum and juniper too. Finish: long, salty, tarrier, with a little more varnish too. Pineapple drops in the aftertaste. Comments: probably rather low-marque, but at Hampden, low-marque doesn't mean low-rum at all, if you see what I mean. I agree with what they wrote, it's rather 'smooth and flavourful'. And excellent.
SGP:662 - 87 points.

Zuidam 10 yo (52.8%, F.R.C., Dutch Windmill Collection, Netherlands, virgin oak, 184 bottles, 2022)

Zuidam 10 yo (52.8%, F.R.C., Dutch Windmill Collection, Netherlands, virgin oak, 184 bottles, 2022) Three stars
Last time, everybody made fun of me because I had mistakenly inserted one of these Dutch rums into a whisky session, which pretty much damaged my ego. No, not really. Colour: full gold. Nose: first some fragrant notes of lady's perfume, rose petals, ambergris, even musk and ylang-ylang, then apricot cake, a touch of cedarwood, incense, ripe mirabelles, touch of oak… With water: more straight oak coming out. Mouth (neat): good fun. Oak spices, turmeric, ginger, maple syrup, apricot liqueur, mirabelle jam (utter sin, that)… With water: both even fruitier (jelly babies, grenadine) and oakier. Cinnamon mints, sucking the tip of your pencil (at school)… Finish: rather long, oaky. Comments: probably a little too spicy, I would suppose the cask had been a little too active. Still superior rum from the land of the windmills.
SGP:560 - 80 points.

Saint James 14 yo 2007/2022 'Les Ephémères Lot n°7' (54.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, American oak, 2,720bottles)

Saint James 14 yo 2007/2022 'Les Ephémères Lot n°7' (54.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, American oak, 2,720bottles) Four stars and a half
In theory… Colour: amber. Nose: wandering throughout some meadows very early in the morning in the month of May, while bees and other pollinators haven't harvested all the flowers' nectar yet.  Superlative smells! Plus fresh-sawn hardwoods, quince jelly, patchouli and vanilla fudge, as well as whiffs of fresh varnish, nail polish remover, and just earth. Dazzling nose. With water: I would say it changes a lot. Perhaps a little more varnishy (please note that I'm using Evian, as the local shop ran out of my usual Vittel – tough life). Mouth (neat): this one too is a tad on the oaky side on your palate, but 14 years in the tropics is a lot. On the other hand, we've got tons of puréed fruits, bananas, pineapples, williams pears, papayas, plus some tar and some liquorice. With water: yess! Pine resin, camphor, apricot eau-de-vie, a very faint acetoney touch… Finish: long, more piney yet, with a very liquoricy signature. Comments: grand rum by Saint James.

SGP:652 - 89 points.

Long Pond 22 yo 2001/2023 'LPS' (56.3%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon barrel, 101 bottles)

Long Pond 22 yo 2001/2023 'LPS' (56.3%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon barrel, 101 bottles) Five stars
All boxes ticked here. LPS suggests 'high medium esters' (or medium high esters?), so around 500 grams per HLPA. Colour: straw. Nose: classic petrol, new scuba diving suit, olive brine, mentholated grapefruits, tarmac and 'new Volkswagen'. Choose your model. With water: more earthy brine. Pickled mushrooms, as they make in Italy. Mouth (neat): we love these kinds of ester counts, at any Jamaican distilleries. It's still extreme rum, but it won't immediately smash your head, even if I'm finding really a lot of chilli in this one, even if it's not obligatory of the 'XXX-end-of-the-world' grade in the Scoville heat chart. With water: chilli in brine! Or chilli liqueur, which you can make yourself but please be extra-careful, or it'll 'make holes in your jeans', as they say. Finish: very long, gentler, still briney, a little bouillony. Leeks, onions, miso, umami etc. More varnish and glue in the aftertaste. Comments: really, some chilli-led Jamaican. I love this but you've been warned.
SGP:572 - 90 points.

Time to have a last one that may manage to 'climb over' that Jamaican chilli sauce…

Uitvlugt 31 yo 1990/2022 (52.6%, Precious Liquors, for Whisky Gallery Global, Guyana, cask #35, 205 bottles)

Uitvlugt 31 yo 1990/2022 (52.6%, Precious Liquors, for Whisky Gallery Global, Guyana, cask #35, 205 bottles) Five stars
I believe this one stems from the original Savalle 4-column still, but it is all very, and I mean very complicated, with conflicting data everywhere. I think we'll be content with just trying this old baby… Colour: gold. Nose: roses, hardwood, sauna oils, paraffin, beeswax, honeysuckle, nougat… This is extremely complex, you could list billions, I mean millions of aromas. Such as acacia flower fritters, French toasts... With water: … balsa, cedar, incense, softer varnishes, cigarette tobacco… Mouth (neat): bah! Pencil shavings, coal tar, UHU glue, wood varnish, walnut stain, bags of pepper… This is not some easy rum. I repeat, this is not some easy rum. I repeat again this is not (S., please!) With water: no, please not water. It's like when you pour lemon juice on an oyster, it is retracting. No to H2O here. Finish: long, sweeter, rounder. Soft wood spices. Lovely salinity in the aftertaste. Comments: some adorable old Demerara rum, with some charming fragilities here and there.
SGP:552 - 90 points.

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


May 13, 2023





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Five Dornoch
This is probably the first time I've had the opportunity to do a proper wee Dornoch session and put a bunch of them side by side. It's worth reminding ourselves of the essentials, which is that Dornoch Distillery is owned and run by Phil and Simon Thompson, and they've been busy deploying some decidedly old school techniques to make some deeply charismatic young whiskies these past few years. I keep saying to people that I feel positive about the future of Scottish single malt whisky, and Dornoch is absolutely one of the main reasons for that positivity.


Dornoch 4 yo 2018/2022 (55.5%, OB, cask #54, 1st fill 100L ex-bourbon cask, 178 bottles)

Dornoch 4 yo 2018/2022 (55.5%, OB, cask #54, 1st fill 100L ex-bourbon cask, 178 bottles)
Distilled from Plumage Archer barley using liquid brewers yeast for fermentation. Colour: bright straw. Nose: bailed hay and cut grass mixed with fresh breads, hoppy ales and some very trebly citrus notes on top. Indeed, given a couple of minutes it really begins to develop along these grapefruit and lemon angles. With water: getting more detailed now, showing aromas of green tea, yuzu, crushed nettles, lemon and hawthorn. In fact, there's an increasing undergrowth/greenery/earthy vibe emerging. Mouth: sharp and prickling with this rather chiselled yeasty quality. Sourdough starter, Gueuze beer, aniseed distillate and touches of putty, ruby ales and a little tarragon. With water: greener, sharper, an encroaching acidity and these nicely tart notes of gooseberry and kiwi. A wonderfully vibrant and punchy fruitiness! Finish: medium, with an unexpected dovetail towards sweeter qualities, still nicely citrus and yeasty though. Comments: some hybrid whisky that involves the modern and the old school in a very 'new' way.

SGP: 551 - 87 points.



Dornoch 5 yo 2017/2023 (58.2%, OB, cask #33, 1st fill bourbon octave, 88 bottles)

Dornoch 5 yo 2017/2023 (58.2%, OB, cask #33, 1st fill bourbon octave, 88 bottles)
Also Plumage Archer barley and liquid brewers yeast, but this time a smaller and theoretically more active cask. Colour: pale gold. Nose: definitely creamier and with a more assertive suggestion from the cask. Touches of American cream soda, more obvious bready notes, roasted aubergine and things like limoncello, weed and new world IPAs. With water: surprisingly floral, more on grasses, hops, greenery, more marijuana and going towards star fruits and mango. Mouth: probably caught at exactly the right time, the wood is spicy and vocal, but it balances well with all these green and hoppy fruity vibes! Rather exotic, lots of crushed nettles, grass, muddled green herbs and some notes of tonic water and ginger tea. With water: pure and rather vivid cereals up front now, then citrus rinds with lots of pith, some more basic beery and bready vibes and also a touch of waxiness. Finish: medium with a lot of bright cereals and some more of these tart green fruit impressions. Comments: this one develops impressively with water. Makes me think these casks as refills in 4-6 years should yield some pretty stunning results.

SGP: 561 - 88 points.



Dornoch 5 yo 2017/2023 (58.4%, OB, cask #14, 1st fill bourbon octave, 91 bottles)

Dornoch 5 yo 2017/2023 (58.4%, OB, cask #14, 1st fill bourbon octave, 91 bottles)
Same recipe once again, so we are hunting for small details of difference. In theory… Colour: gold. Nose: ok, the same, but more of everything, in also fruitier globally. It goes towards this superbly gelatinous fruitiness with suggestion s of overripe green and yellow fruits, slightly drier exotic fruit tea notes, some exotic hardwoods with their resins, mango lassi, crystallised fruit peels and some lovely heathery and honey notes too. Frankly, superb! With water: a brighter and more complex fruit profile now that more explicitly involves exotic, green and garden fruits. Crisp green apple, kiwi, lime and guava jam. I find the reduced nose really terrific. Mouth: superbly grassy, limey, peppery and full of sharp citrus and green fruits, fruit acids, shoe polish vibes and waxes. Really going towards a fatter and fruitier style now I would say. With water: great now with water! Superb fatness, oiliness and thickness of texture, pulpy fruit notes, more specifically exotic notes and more of these funky weed notes. Finish: long, creamy, hoppy, lemony and oily. Juicy fruits, waxes and a touch of camphor. Comments: It's hard to envisage in what direction this character will go if left for 10+ years, or from larger casks for that matter? But the feeling is that a highly distinctive and rather different distillery character is emerging in these bottlings.

SGP: 651 - 89 points.



Dornoch 5 yo 2017/2022 (59.06%, OB, cask #10, 1st fill bourbon octave, 80 bottles)

Dornoch 5 yo 2017/2022 (59.06%, OB, cask #10, 1st fill bourbon octave, 80 bottles)
From that early era when they were doing 'Rare Malts' tribute strengths on the labels. No doubt destined to become hyper collectable! Colour: gold. Nose: almost the same as cask 14, which is perhaps where this sort of tasting is inevitably going to become slightly more challenging. I would say this one just becomes slightly more mentholic and minty in its aromatic profile. With water: creamy, more minty, sappy and full of hops, citrus peels and now also coconut and gorse flower. Mouth: similarly juicy and fruity, but here this is spicier and more hoppy and even slightly more bitter with more influence from the cask in terms of stronger brewed tea notes, pithy citrus rinds and cereals. Richer beery notes like heather and shilling ales too. With water: juniper tea, lanolin and grassy and nettley notes. More focussed on greener vibes with these richer polished notes in the background. Finish: medium, on camphor, beers, wood saps and hops. Comments: I think there's a whisper more wood in this one, but it's otherwise very similar and excellent.

SGP: 561 - 88 points.



Dornoch 5 yo 2017/2022 (59.6%, OB, cask #4, 1st fill bourbon octave, 86 bottles)

Dornoch 5 yo 2017/2022 (59.6%, OB, cask #4, 1st fill bourbon octave, 86 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: very similar, but what is nice here is a more pronounced floral aspect, more cupboard spices, cereals, beers and general sense of fatness and weight about it. Still quite a few pin-sharp lemons and nettles sloshing about in there though. With water: much more aromatic and on subtle dry citrus peels, flowers, ointments and bread dough. Mouth: globally a spicier example where the cask has a slightly louder voice. But this is very nicely balanced by these familiar hoppy, weedy and green fruity notes. Then those slightly funky beery vibes with dried flowers once again. With water: putty, camphor, waxes, ointments and many dried fruits and teas beers. All of the above but broader, more complex and with a fatter, spicier feeling in the mouth. Finish: long, peppery, waxy and with crystallised fruits and fruit teas. Comments: this once just keeps developing and becoming more and more impressive as it goes along.

SGP: 661 - 89 points.



If you ask me, Dornoch Distillery's emerging hallmark characteristics are: nettles, funky weed, citrus fruits, beers and grassy/olive oil vibes. But, tasting these, the most important thing that I take away is the impression that these whiskies have soul - not just technical prowess!





May 12, 2023


Some Tullibardine

Great progress at Tullibardine, in my humble opinion, even if quite a few are now flavoured with wine or very active oak, which will always mask, block or alter any distillates. Even Ardbeg! So, imagine, three casks…

(Dominic Lockyer)




Tullibardine 2008/2022 'The Murray Triple Port Cask Finish' (46%, OB, The Marquess Collection)

Tullibardine 2008/2022 'The Murray Triple Port Cask Finish' (46%, OB, The Marquess Collection) Two stars and a half
What's a triple Port cask? A cask thrice the size? Three casks successively? Three different Port casks simultaneously (like ruby, tawny, vintage or else)? Now I feel I need to add that I've previously tried an excellent Tullibardine 'Double Wood' in this collection (WF 88), so let's not fear… Colour: apricot. Nose: pretty leafy and vegetal, spicy, a little leathery, while strawberries and cassis are soon to burst out. It reminds me of some ex-Bordeaux whiskies and I'm not the hugest fan of this style, even if it would tend to improve over time (grenadine, brioche, dried goji berries). Mouth: the Port feels too much for me and makes the whisky sweeter than necessary. Strawberry jam, cherry jam… Now technically speaking, this is probably flawless. Finish: medium, very sweet, with some salinity in the background. Fig jam. Comments: in my book this is a different category. Taste and colours…
SGP:751 - 78 points.

Tullibardine 5 yo 2015/2020 (65.7%, Brachadair, ex-Koval cask, cask #9900483, 132 bottles)

Tullibardine 5 yo 2015/2020 (65.7%, Brachadair, ex-Koval cask, cask #9900483, 132 bottles) Three stars and a half
This ultra-young monster was fully matured (well) in a Koval cask. Really curious about this one… Now I remember Dram Mor were having another 5 yo that was very good but is was ex-sherry. Colour: straw. Nose: allspice, ras-el-hanout, mud, rain pit, pumpkin bread, mustard… Some beast, apparently. With water: some barley sweetness, ginger wine, oak-aged gin, cardamom… Mouth (neat): all sweetness, wine gums, marshmallows and just syrups. A little pink pepper and more mustard. With water: spicy bread coming out, together with limoncello. This surely works. Finish: long, spicier again, peppery, with some nutmeg, cinnamon mints, a wee feeling of charcoal, even some raisins… A lot happening in this finish. Limoncello again in the aftertaste, grapefruit juice... Comments: pretty great work with this wee cask, but which kind of Koval was it?
SGP:661 - 83 points.

Another very young one…

Tullibardine 2010/2016 (60.2%, Lombard for Blooming Gems, cask #652655, 242 bottles)

Tullibardine 2010/2016 (60.2%, Lombard for Blooming Gems, cask #652655, 242 bottles) Three stars and a half
No signs of an odd wood treatment here, let's see… Colour: almost as white as water, hurray. Nose: pears, gooseberries, grass, mashed turnips, porridge, medicinal alcohol, kirschwasser. Sure it is a little new-makey but it does reek of honesty, whatever that means. With water: as good as these young spirits al natural can get. Melons, still a little hottish eau-de-vie, not that much grass and perhaps a little ink and paper. New magazines. Mouth (neat): wonderful barley sweetness, plus mirabelle, pear and quince eaux-de-vie. And it doesn't even burn, thanks to a little vanilla, perhaps. With water: barley eau-de-vie, plus a little lemon and pear juice. Finish: long, grassier again. A tiny touch of coconut in the aftertaste, plus more melons. Comments: sure it cannot be Clynelish 1972 at just 6 or perhaps even 5, but it's lovely in its, well, its honest, frontal nudity.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Tullibardine 13 yo 2006/2020 'Glory to Ukraine' (54.1%, SingleMalt.pl, 1st fill oloroso sherry hogshead)

Tullibardine 13 yo 2006/2020 'Glory to Ukraine' (54.1%, SingleMalt.pl, 1st fill oloroso sherry hogshead) Four stars
A Polish bottling supporting their neighbours in Ukraine. I believe we're all neighbours. Colour: gold. Nose: a yeastier, wilder version of Tullibardine, rather full of grass, bark, leaves, with a little varnish and pear eau-de-vie. After one or two minutes, some easier, more peaceful notes do appear, shall we say. A little muscovado, rum, raisins, walnut cake… With water: yeastier, more fermentary, with some leaven, baker's yeast, ale… Mouth (neat): excellently mustardy and fruity at the same time, you would believe it was a Madeira cask. Bitter oranges, marmalade, touch of pesto, basil, pepper… A littler coal dust, perhaps. With water: nuttier, with even more walnuts, more 'dust' as well, this bitterness that we used to find in young Springbank 20 years ago, a salty touch, some paraffin… Finish: rather long, with more green walnuts, some mustard, some bitterness… Comments: a very typical Tullibardine. It's a different malt whisky, certainly not mainstream. Very good drop, for Ukraine!
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Last one, old one…

Tullibardine 32 yo 1989/2021 (49.4%, Acla Da Fans, bourbon hogshead)

Tullibardine 32 yo 1989/2021 (49.4%, Acla Da Fans, bourbon hogshead) Four stars
These older ones can be even more 'different', or 'idiosyncratic'. Colour: gold. Nose: this time sweet vegetables are playing the first parts, pumpkins, carrots, beets… In the background, some fresh-sawn wood, potting soil, a little coconut milk, almond milk, plantain, bamboo shoots… Mouth: tougher, dustier, pretty cardboardy, very chalky… an obvious feeling of papier mâché. Having said that, it's getting more citrusy then, with a lot of lemon and lemongrass. Improves at breakneck speed, it's really a two-step Tullibardine. Lemon cake, lemon curd (lemon Danish), grapefruit curd, lemon pepper seasoning, orange zests…And just a little sawdust. It could have been boosted at some point. Finish: rather long, on many lemony spices. The names escape me. Rather ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: a walking miracle, really.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

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


May 10, 2023


WF's Little Duos, today Glen Spey again

One of those smaller names that we always love tasting and that often hide many surprises. Let's remember that Glen Spey's stills are fitted with purifiers that are supposed to increase reflux, thus making a lighter spirit. Now Ardbeg is fitted with purifiers too, but I don't think they're always on. Do they still use them? Weren't they broken at some point?

Glen Spey
Glen Spey Distillery in Rothes (geograph.org.uk)



Glen Spey 11 yo 2010/2022 (57.4%, James Eadie, 1st fill bourbon hogshead, cask #804713, 323 bottles)

Glen Spey 11 yo 2010/2022 (57.4%, James Eadie, 1st fill bourbon hogshead, cask #804713, 323 bottles) Three stars and a half
We've often noticed that James Eadie were excellent wood technologists who would manage to produce something extremely palatable out of some moderately entrancing distillates. And yet they never reek of PX, extreme vanillin or simply sawdust/plank juice. Colour: gold. Nose: really on mashes, turnips, beers, leaves (fig, tomato) and capsicum. Not a very easy nose shall we say, but water may help. With water: rhubarb peelings, parsnips, artichoke, a little low wine… Mouth (neat): a little hot, with some very tart lemonness and some grass juice. Grass juice used to be all the rage in the 1980s and 1990s, there were even bars. Not too sure what happened. With water: there, we tamed it, some sweetness coming out (green pears), also even more grass, green pepper, grape skins, sorrel… Finish: rather long, still very grassy, very 'Glen Spey'. The aftertaste is rather on vanilla indeed, and sweet beer, IPA, grapefruit… Comments: not an easy baby, I would say. The hogshead had a lot of work to do.

SGP:371 - 84 points.

Let's try an older ex-refiil… This one is new!

Glen Spey 32 yo 1989/2022 (60%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 114 bottles)

Glen Spey 32 yo 1989/2022 (60%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 114 bottles) Five stars
Vincent Van Sponge on the label. Imagine the Sponge had to bring this one down from 65% to 60%, after 32 years in wood. I would suppose it was stored in Kentucky (doubt it, ha) or pretty high in a modern racked warehouse, just below the roof. Those 114 bottles were all what was remaining in this 'hot cask'. Ah, yes, remember, in hot and dry climate, water evaporates faster and alcohol goes up, while in cold and damp ones, alcohol evaporates faster and the strength goes down. Well, more or less. Colour: gold. Nose: there certainly is a grassy and mashy side to this older one, but frankly and even if they decided to reduce it a wee bit, it's still hot and a little brutal or unpolished. Let's bring it further down, even if some softer touches of green bananas and melon skin are starting to pop out. With water: fruit bread! And many fruit peelings, greengages, bananas, pears, gooseberries, apples, white peaches… Touches of mashed carrots and turnips too. Mouth (neat): ha, distilled IPA! I'm reminded of Brewdog's cold-distilled beer, but of course this is way better, if indeed, too hot. Lime and lemon fighting each other. With water: there, civilisation. Tight lime, spearmint, yuzu and those wee beasties the finger limes (we grow our own at WF Towers), the whole getting then softer, more on puréed mangos for example. It's great fun to work on this one with your faithful pipette, it shouldn't be rushed as all the fruits would only join bit by bit. Finish: medium, fruity, getting frankly tropical. Lime fighting back in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, but again, take your time.

SGP:661 - 90 points.

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


May 9, 2023



WF's Little Duos,
today two Singletons

Remember 'The Singleton' is a kind of umbrella brand that would gather official Dufftown, Glendullan, Glen Ord and, formerly, Auchroisk. I believe, but I'm not sure, that their Flora & Fauna counterparts have been discontinued. We'll have both a young one and an old one today, but not, perhaps for the first time, from the same distillery. I suppose you have to adapt to change…

Domaine des Bernardins, probably our favourite Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (Twil) >>




Singleton of Dufftown 15 yo 'Fruity Decadence' (40%, OB, +/-2022)

Singleton of Dufftown 15 yo 'Fruity Decadence' (40%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
There was an earlier version with another livery, which was rather palatable in my opinion. Colour: gold. Nose: extremely fruity, in the style of a young Sauternes, or Monbazillac (or Ste Croix du Mont, Cérons or else, Asti…). It's even got rather a lot of fresh muscat (small grains), Beaumes de Venise, even Alsatian muscat. Then honey, orange blossom, rose petals, apricot, tinned lychee… And toasted bread. Very appealing and much less 'slutty' (sorry, I know, but I don't think this classic descriptor has been cancelled yet…) that you would think. Mouth: same massive dose of muscat wine. Did they use ex-muscat casks? Some sweet apple juice too, apple liqueur, mirabelle liqueur, even pineapple, plus icing sugar and even a wee feeling of aspartame. Finish: rather short but that's the low strength. Very sweet. Comments: possibly an excellent 'category access' malt whisky. Any friends who would usually find whisky too harsh will probably enjoy this one. Wondering about the casks they've been using…

SGP:731 - 83 points.

PS: I love the blue-tinted glass that Diageo often use. It reminds me of very old wine bottles, particularly in Champagne; that were used during the war because glassmakers couldn't supply perfectly white bottles. They're superb and the colours never exactly the same.

And now, let's dive into plain and pure metanoia...

Singleton of Glen Ord 40 yo (55.4%, OB, Epicurean Odyssey, 2023)

Singleton of Glen Ord 40 yo (55.4%, OB, Epicurean Odyssey, 2023) Four stars and a half
A very crazy new bottling that's connected to 'Sensorial maximalism', a new neuroaesthetic theory on how to achieve exceptional gustatory experiences. All right. To achieve that, they've re-racked this whisky for some additional 28 years of maturation and then finished it in Diageo's own ex-Zacapa XO and ex-Zacapa Royal 'solera' rum casks. Sounds pretty Warholian, doesn't it, they even call that some 'deliberate enhancement'. Let's see what happens… Colour: deep gold. Nose: first, it's malt whisky, it's not some kind of trans-world, trans-category spirit so far. Second, it's full of Jaffa cakes, gianduja, Corinthian raisins, indeed moscatel (this time), very old PX or VORS and prunes. There's even some white chocolate, then touches of hoisin sauce, American barbecue sauce… Now after ten minutes, I would agree this is rather 'out of the box', without killing the whisky. We all know Ord is a fantastic distillate and the very idea of dumping some old one into Zacapa was frightening, as was the idea of letting Mr Bean alone with a Whistler. With water: butter pie, apricot cake, some English tea, hazelnut paste (we said no brand names)…  Mouth (neat): it's seriously 'double-sexed' this time, but rather towards very old PX or cream sherry, or indeed VORS. I do not find any of Zacapa's usually insane amounts of sweetness, but there is some precious chocolate that should have been generated by the encounter. Hoisin is back too, mango jam is coming out, while our beloved big black raisins would be ruling the whole thing. With water: careful, as with any old whisky, too much water will make it too drying and let notes of pencil shavings and oversteeped tea come out. Other than that, I'm finding some spicy raisin bread, plus rather a lot of cinnamon. Finish: a little sweetness coming out indeed, as well as a small molassy side. We're clearly 'trans-category' at this point, but I'm not finding it too Zacapa-y.  Comments: next, molecular malt whisky! Read my lips! Seriously, I find this 'deliberate' experiment excellent and surprisingly dry, I'm just wondering what rum geeks would/will think.

SGP:651 – 89 points.

PS: I find it just a little bizarre that while people drink fewer and fewer sweet wines, there's more and more of them in our whiskies or rums, flavourwise. No?


May 8, 2023


A short set of Lowlanders to celebrate the slow reawakening of Rosebank



Rosebank Distillery in the mid-2000s (Caper 13) and today (The Falkirk Herald)


Rosebank Distillery in Falkirk, closed by UDV/Diageo in 1993 because it had become too expensive to maintain (short version, sorry). The stills and other bits of copper had then been stolen by the end of 2008, which didn't prevent Glengoyne's Ian Mcleod from buying the premises in 2017, with the aim of reinstalling new stills and restart the Distillery, which should happen anytime soon as they've just 'been given provisional licence 'ahead of opening', according to the Falkirk Herald, which we read daily (yeah right). We'll have a rare old version of Rosebank to celebrate, which we'll have to call 'Old Rosebank' in the future, I suppose, just as we use the terms 'Old Clynelish' or even, for example, 'Old Caol Ila'. We'll add two other Lowlanders for due comparison, an old indie St Magdalene that we haven't tasted yet and then a brand new Littlemill. And perhaps a bonus?


Rosebank 15 yo 'Unblended single malt ' (50%, OB for Peck – Milano, Zenith Italia import, +/-1980) Four stars and a half
There was also a 'white label' 15 years old imported by Zenith at that time. Peck being a kind of Fortnum & Mason in Milan, if you like (with apologies to our Italian friends); they were also having other own versions of official Rosebank. Colour: straw. Nose: as I remembered the 15 white label, that is to say rather hot, rough and spirity at first nosing, even rather feinty and sooty, which was a little un-Rosebank. Some iron shavings, carbon dust, old copper, suet, then rubbed grapefruit zests but no obvious fruitiness. Water should make it friendlier… With water: a lovely brioche filled with raisins and flavoured with a lot of orange blossom water. You're right, that could be the definition of panettone, another icon of Milan. Mouth (neat): the nose was a little scary when unreduced but this massive, peppery and citrusy palate works much better, even if soot and even ashes do abound. Lots of zests, some vegetables (especially stewed leeks and asparagus, also parsnips and turnips), plus perhaps a wee taste of glass/light as well as these metallic touches that you'll often find in old Cadenhead Dumpies. With water: excellent, a tad dirty(ish), still sooty and peppery, ashy, with some lemon juice and brine. It's getting unexpectedly salty. Finish: long, with some mint tea and bottled lemonade, plus more ashes and soot. Some mead in the aftertaste. Comments: just like the one that follows, and even if it was triple-distilled, Rosebank was not really a 'gentle and soft' Lowlander in my book. But granted, I haven't tasted hundreds… I hope I will after the 'new' Rosebank comes to age.

SGP:361 - 88 points.

St. Magdalene (Linlithgow) 14 yo 1982/1997 (58.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

St. Magdalene (Linlithgow) 14 yo 1982/1997 (58.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Five stars
We've already tried a good dozen different '82 St. Magdalene by Cadenhead, all good-to-great despite their keroseney profiles, but I've never tried this very one. Get ready (while thinking of Elon M.) Colour: white wine. Nose: I'm not sure we've ever been this close to a blend of white mezcal and Jamaican rum. Oh, and kerosene. There's an incredible fatness behind those (rapeseed, marrow) and also various herbs, starting with parsley and tarragon. Brilliant. With water: we were expecting olives and there are olives. Good boy. Mouth (neat): adorable, fantastic, marvelous. Massive menthol, marrow indeed, fish oil, lemon, a little glue, pencil eraser, a feeling of Barbour grease, embrocations. You would believe it goes in all directions, but it does not, it is actually very focused, honestly. With water: incredible fatty salinity plus lemons and grapefruits. Exceptional drop that takes water better than pastis or tea. Finish: flabbergasting, between a 1920s chartreuse (whatever) and some vegetable soup prepared by a Michelin *** chef. With some marrow inside! Comments: I think I have to hold my horse. An extraordinary St. Magdalene and sadly, a style that's disappeared, just like we miss green glass for single malt. But I'm sure some new distillers will try hard to make something similar, we can't wait can we.
SGP:462 - 93 points.

Time to tackle a brand new bottling…

Littlemill 33 yo 1989/2022 'The 26 #9' (50.1%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 37 bottles)

Littlemill 33 yo 1989/2022 'The 26 #9' (50.1%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 37 bottles) Five stars
A micro-bottling, more or less the half of an octave, but as they say rather hearteningly, 'small outturns, big whiskies!' Colour: light gold. Nose: these vintages of Littlemill have always had something 'Irish' and this is no exception, you could easily believe it is an old Bushmills. Or some kind of improved pina colada at cask strength, with some pineapple juice, orange, papaya, mango and coconut. Pretty irresistible. With water: an adorable wee saltiness popping out, some damp earth, beach sand, fruit peel, bark, fresh mushrooms… You see, these Littlemills are not only about 'fruit'. Mouth (neat): perfect, getting a tad fatter than the ones that were bottled at +/- 20-25 years of age, full of more tropical fruits, this time more on citrus than on coconut. Perhaps also a little more banana and, indeed, tangerines. No complaints from WF Towers. With water: once again these salty touches, more lemon, seaweed… Almost like some dry and fruity chenin blanc, will you bring the oysters? Finish: long, fatter yet, this time with more vanilla, sweet breads and indeed, a little coconut again. Guava-y signature. Comments: these batches seem to stand longer agings with panache and grace. This wee one is particularly exceptional, and it was tricky after the St. Magda!

SGP:651 - 91 points.

Let's go for the bonus…

Auchentoshan 24 yo 1998/2022 (48.9%, Sansibar, Finest Whisky Berlin, bourbon barrel, 151 bottles)

Auchentoshan 24 yo 1998/2022 (48.9%, Sansibar, Finest Whisky Berlin, bourbon barrel, 151 bottles) Four stars and a half
The indies carrying the flag, the officials being pretty much oak/wine-boosted lately, a disease that's spreading all over Scotland, like wildfire. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's an austere Auchentoshan, more in the style of the St. Magdalene than in that of the Littemill. Rocks and pebbles, paraffin, apple skins, citron peel, a drop of cologne, mashed peas, lamp oil, plantains and green bananas, some lighter white rum…  It is really intriguing and very 'serious', I'm very curious about the palate… Mouth: capeesh, everything was on the palate. Zwetschke eau-de-vie, mirabelles, sweet pinot gris (excuse me, grauburgunder), mullein and elderflower syrups, sugarcane juice… I believe it could take a few drops of H2O. With water: even better, zestier, grassier as well, with more edge so to speak. More elderflower as well, Saint-Germain liqueur, some gentian… Finish: pretty long, getting even better. Parfait amour, orgeat, more Saint-Germain (no I don't get any monies), with an even rootier aftertaste. Comments: it took its time, but every minute was worth it.

SGP:461 - 88 points.

No, sorry, no Glenkinchie, see you.

(Merci, Nicolas)


May 7, 2023


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


Rums of the world


What a lousy headline! We'll never catch up anyway, as rum is literally exploding at Habitation Whiskyfun… Today we shall visit Fiji, La Réunion, Panama, Belize, Trinidad and Jamaica. Not bad.



Isle of Fiji (40%, Plantation, Fiji, +/-2021)

Isle of Fiji (40%, Plantation, Fiji, +/-2021) Two stars
Some young rum from the South Pacific Distillery, I would suppose, finished in cognac wood. Perhaps a little unlikely, let's hope it's not too sweet, we know they make excellent dunder-stye rum at that distillery. Colour: white wine. Nose: some typical diesel oil, olive brine and crushed rocks, with a layer of pineapple liqueur all over it. That creates some funny dissonances, but let's check the palate… Mouth: we're okay, it's been sweetened up but that's not unbearable, even if once again, some dissonances have been generated. Notes of copper, silverware, plus indeed pineapple liqueur. Some kind of readymade cocktail, perhaps. Finish: the heavy sugar really calls for ice now, it's getting tough even if it's not quite sickly sweet. Comments: not sure the Fijian had anything to win here. Now I could quaff this, provided we've got piles of crushed ice. And good friends. And a swimming pool.

SGP:730 - 70 points.

Savanna 5 yo (43%, OB, La Réunion, +/-2021)

Savanna 5 yo (43%, OB, La Réunion, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
This is 'traditionnel', so molasses rather agricole-style cane juice. Savanna is high in my book. Colour: gold. Nose: pretty easy, rather on oranges, zests, Jaffa cakes, light caramel, blancmange, bananas… It is light, but no quibbling. Mouth: touches of petrol, as always with Savanna, tiny bits of olives and gherkins, then clear vegetal notes, zucchini soup, cucumber water, plus some petroly sugars, very pleasant. Finish: medium, a little tarrier. Excellent balance. Liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: we're not used to have Savanna at 43% vol., but I have to say that rather works, even if it's certainly not a grand arôme.

SGP:452 - 83 points.

Oh, we were having this older Don Pancho…

Don Pancho 21 yo 1996/2017 (50%, Sansibar for Slainte, Panama, 285 bottles)

Don Pancho 21 yo 1996/2017 (50%, Sansibar for Slainte, Panama, 285 bottles) Two stars and a half
I know, Panama, scary. This is from Las Cabras, where they make difficulty sweet rums (Offrian, Cana Brava) but also much better batches that some good indies will them catch just for us. This is, or rather should be an example. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: burnt sugars, molasses, garden earth, tomato leaves, tamarind jam... hey hey, this is rather nice. With water: this is funny, we're finding notes of old solera casks, oloroso, musty cellars… Mouth (neat): it's been liqueured-up for sure but as some herbal liqueur in the Jägermeister style, it rather works, but you have to stand all this sugar… Bitter caramel, heavy herbs and roots, pine resin… With water: gets just lighter while the sugar/caramel will never vanish. Finish: medium, getting difficult because of the sugar. Comments: not quite for us, I would say, but I've got quite a few friends who'll just love it.
SGP:720 - 78 points.

Travellers 14 yo 2006/2021 (65.6%, malt grain & cane, Belize, Rum of the World, 252 bottles)

Travellers 14 yo 2006/2021 (65.6%, malt grain & cane, Belize, Rum of the World, 252 bottles) Four stars and a half
A collaboration with La Maison & Velier, aged in the tropics, then in the future tropics. Right, in Europe. Given the strength, let's be extra-careful. Colour: amber. Nose: lovely Travellers, a tad petroly and varnishy at first, then on bananas flambeed and tarte tatin. Some pancake sauce too, but at 65%, no chances should and would be taken… With water: no changes! Mouth (neat): very good, deeper and more on liquorice and even tar than other Travellers. Absolutely excellent this far, but again, careful… With water: awesome, full, coherent, focused, on banana jam and maple syrup. Very oily mouthfeel, more 'rhum' than 'ron' in my humble book. Finish: very long, on 'liquid Mars bars' (see what I mean) and cane honey. Ever tried cane honey? It would never feel 'sugared-up' and I doubt it was. Comments: possibly the best you could do within that famous 'Spanish' style. I absolutely love this one, even if it is ex-multiple-high-columns. I should have tried it earlier.
SGP:641 - 88 points.

By the way, did you see that Belize is looking at ditching Charles as their head of state to become a republic?

An antique now… Quite.

Caroni 17 yo 1996/2013 (63%, Velier, Trinidad, 1460 bottles)

Caroni 17 yo 1996/2013 (63%, Velier, Trinidad, 1460 bottles) Five stars
Heavy Caroni by Velier, what could go wrong? Angel share > 80%, whole maturation at the distillery, and the first release of a vintage 1996. Colour: deep red amber. Nose: fresh-sawn hardwoods, cellulosic varnishes, blood oranges, glue, coal tar and cedarwood. Plus a lot of ethanol. With water: and theeeere, olives, more varnishes, pine needles, eucalyptus wood, fresh tarmac, cedarwood, oranges, cigars, petrol, cough medicine… Just totally first-class. Mouth (neat): catches your tongue and wouldn't let it go. Varnish and brine, 50/50. And pliers. With water: phew, we got it back, while some sumptuous brine and liquorice juice would start to rule everything. Finish: long, curiously fresh and mentholated, beyond all the tar ad liquorice. Perfect saltier aftertaste. Comments: I'm not sure the 'tropical style' always works better than the continental one, beyond politics and romanticism, but in this very case it sure did. As long as you're not afraid of a little glue in your spirits. I'm sorry I've been ten years late with this one (of course I'm not).
SGP:464 - 91 points.

Right, if Hampden is the Ardbeg of Rum, (heavy) Caroni sure was the Port Ellen. Right, let's move on… while staying in Trinidad.

T.D.L. 2003/2012 (62.7%, The Whisky Jury, The Many Faces of Rum, Trinidad, refill barrel, cask #4, 250 bottles)

T.D.L. 2003/2012 (62.7%, The Whisky Jury, The Many Faces of Rum, Trinidad, refill barrel, cask #4, 250 bottles) Five stars
Trinidad Distillers Limited, a.k.a. Angostura. We've tried some superb ones already, others having been more 'pop music'. I know what I'm trying to say. Colour: amber. Nose: absolutely ravishing, with both tarry/olivey/petroly notes and many ripe or even rotting tropical fruits, including bananas of all sizes and colours. Even those wee blue ones! The combo works stunningly. With water: we're getting into mangos and passion fruits. Next step is paradise. Mouth (neat): glorious. Spruce resin, pink grapefruits, all-vitamins fruit juice, tar, clove, peppermint, liquorice, parsley, borage, oxalis, propolis… That propolis part would then grow bigger and bigger, leading to some heavier liquorice and pine resin. No problems. With water: loses points now because of the heavy, drying resins, but it's true that we were very high. Oh come on… Finish: long, with more resins yet, bitters, propolis indeed, mint drops, PulMoll pastilles... Right, I believe that's a French thing. Comments: holy Suzy, there sure isn't/wasn't only Caroni; on the other hand I'm not sure I've ever encountered such an 'Angostura'.
SGP:663 - 90 points.

Last one. Didn't we say 'Not a session without a Jamaican?'...

Clarendon 26 yo 1995/2022 (57.1%, The Auld Alliance and Precious Liquors, Jamaica, cask #433941)

Clarendon 26 yo 1995/2022 (57.1%, The Auld Alliance and Precious Liquors, Jamaica, cask #433941) Five stars
Remember, Clarendon is Monymusk. This one was aged for 21 years in the tropics, then on the continent. Which continent?  (oh come on, S.) Colour: full gold. Nose: this is like when you try your first Bordeaux after having wandered throughout all other wine regions in the world, it studently feels like home. Sharper varnishes, black olives, walnut stain, liquorice lozenges, earths, olives, charcoal, pine needles… With water: a little more fruity sweetness, more earth as well, crushed slate, clay, limestone… Mouth (neat): very dry, resinous, tarry, it's like if you've just wolved down a family pack of salted liquorice, more or less. With water: brilliant, the saltiest of them all today. Now someone's thrown approx. ten kilograms of liquorice into this cask and while they were at it, they've also poured one bottle of Enzian schnapps. And for good measure, the little rascals have also added a bottle of tar liqueur. Finish: long, saltier, perhaps a tad narrower than the makes from other Jamaican distilleries. Not too sure. Comments: none, it's just excellent and very Jamaican.

SGP:563 - 90 points.

Oh and apparently, Jamaica too wants to become a republic!!

(Merci encore, Nicolas)

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


May 5, 2023


A third flight of recent Scottish cats including some bonus Holyrood Madness

Indeed we could not wait any longer but there won't be a fourth flight. I mean, not anytime soon. By the way, when we write 'Scottish cats', we're absolutely not hinting at Clynelish or Brora! Now, didn't we mention InchDairnie only yesterday?

Only Hollywood, not Holyrood madness, but
should you enjoy both classic bop and some
rather Parkerian alto sax, I firmly recommend
this 1980 album by Richie Cole.



InchDairnie 5 yo 2017/2022 'Finglassie Small Batch #01' (46%, Rest & Be Thankful, Islay whisky cask, oloroso sherry butt finish, 4,998 bottles)

InchDairnie 5 yo 2017/2022 'Finglassie Small Batch #01' (46%, Rest & Be Thankful, Islay whisky cask, oloroso sherry butt finish, 4,998 bottles) Three stars and a half
A finishing may not be the perfect way of having a good grasp of a virtually unknown new distillate, but there, they must have had good reasons. Same comment about that maturation in some 'Islay Whisky Cask', it seems that there was some cooking done here! Having said that, the InchDairnie 'Strathenry' by the Whisky Barrel that we tried last year had been very much to my liking (WF 86). Colour: white wine. Nose: some softer Laphroaigness – not sure it's Laphroaig though – with whelks, bitter almonds, fresh putty, some softer brine, lupin brine, iodine and a little green walnut. A very gentle, simple, very pleasing peater. Mouth: nothing to complain about, this is some fresh smoky blen…, I mean single malt. More softer brines, some lemon juice, a few wine gums (citrus), some seawater, the expected oysters, cough syrup, mint lozenges… Very fine. Finish: fruitier and 'younger'. Smoked pears, drop of the usual limoncello. Comments: they almost recreated Laphroaig 'Select', but this wee InchDairnie surely has more knack. I'm not totally sure this wasn't some peated distillate in the first place, that they would have further 'smoked' using those ex-Islay casks, as Ardmore sometimes do. In any case, that worked despite the very young age.

SGP:555 - 84 points.

Dalmunach 6 yo 'The Wulver' (60%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Scottish Mythical Creatures, American oak, 2023)

Dalmunach 6 yo 'The Wulver' (60%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Scottish Mythical Creatures, American oak, 2023) Four stars
Remember Dalmunach is the name of the new Distillery that Pernod built in lieu of Imperial. Wolves after cats. I would add that the first Dalmunachs I could already try have been a little immature, but indeed they were extremely young, so that was to be expected. No surprises about the fact that TWE have this first OB, given their ties with Pernod. Colour: white wine. Nose: it was a bold move to bottle this at 60%and without any very obvious activated maturation/finishing, but of course we won't complain, on the contrary. Let's say granny smith, gooseberries, kiwis and raw green rhubarb. No, not the pink/purple one. Indeed it's all a little 'green'. With water: some grist coming out, a little more vanilla, fresh croissants, and various fresh orchard fruits that would, indeed, remind us a little bit of… Imperial. Have they recycled a part of the old equipment? Mouth (neat): pure raw malt, very tight, with a lot of grass and green fruits, plus a touch of barley syrup, honey and a drizzle of coconut water. We're reminded of some indie ex-refill Glendullan and Glen Spey that we tried the other day. With water: there, we tamed the Wulver, it became as gentle as a lamb and as fruity as a fruit salad. Preserved mirabelles and greengages laying their cards. Some soft meadow honey too. Finish: medium, very fruity when reduced. Comments: truly very good when al natural, but water and pipette are mandatory.

SGP:661 - 85 points.

Glasgow Distillery 5 yo 2017/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, sherry butt, 2016 bottles)

Glasgow Distillery 5 yo 2017/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, sherry butt, 2016 bottles) Four stars
We've already tried such a sherried Glasgow, it had been excellent, pure distilled Mars bar (joking). Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, it's rather all on cake, millionaire shortbread, Mars bars, roasted raisins and chocolate cake. Tiny whiffs of gunpowder and pine shavings. With water: a giant walnut cake for a whole rugby team, plus this usual little mushroomy/leafy/earthy side that's often to be found in sherry – and, consequently, in sherried whiskies. Some fresh tobacco too. Mouth (neat): sweet and rich, yet certainly not flabby. Big oranges and tangerines, plus toffee, orange blossom, baklavas and dried figs. Also black nougat, halva, Turkish delights… Did they find this cask in Istanbul? With water: further improves. Marmalade, chocolate, caramel, prunes, sweet gravy, raisins…  Finish: medium and much more meady and honeyed. A little pear liqueur and bergamots. Comments: good sherry, good whisky, that's a well-known, if a little outdated saying.

SGP:651 - 86 points.

Dornoch 4 yo 2018/2022 (58.7%, Thompson Bros., first fill bourbon octave, cask #99, 85 bottles)

Dornoch 4 yo 2018/2022 (58.7%, Thompson Bros., first fill bourbon octave, cask #99, 85 bottles) Four stars and a half
The ones we tried yesterday and the day before yesterday have been extremely good. I know I shouldn't say 'surprisingly good' because that could sound a little negative, which would take the cake, but yeah, sorry Phil and Simon, there's been some element of surprise. Colour: full gold. Nose: and please, don't hold it against me but I'm finding an American side to this one, this time again. American craft malt whiskey, naturally. Baking spices, dried bananas, butterscotch, touch of varnish, fresh focaccia, bitter oranges, some soft curry and saffron, perhaps a little bear's garlic, a small-size pack of banana foam… This one's truly very complex. With water: more classic butterscotch and varnish, williams pears... Mouth (neat): spice + fresh fruit combo, fresh ginger, turmeric, peaches, zucchini flower fritters, paprika… Wow wow wow. With water: becomes creamy, with notes of rye too, syrups, almond cake, oak and eucalyptus spices, sweet curry... Finish: rather long, with more or less the same flavours. Spicy honey, stolle and speculoos in the aftertaste. Comments: just proof that rather-cask-led whiskies can be pretty sublime too. And that octaves can work too. Extremely impressive – well, I am impressed.

SGP:651 - 89 points.



Bonus: the Bub Project...

Dave and Arthur The Antiquarians at Holyrood Distillery.


Good, some Holyrood madness now, before we officially declare that we're done with our tour of 'new' Scotland. Our friends Arthur (M) and Dave (B), a.k.a. the Liquid Antiquarians, have recently done a very unusual experiment at Holyrood Distillery, using an old recipe for what's called 'bub'. Think 'hopped dunder' or 'hop muck', but it's not that, it's something else. What's best is that you first watch their dazzling video if you haven't yet… In the meantime, I'm filling my glasses, while thanking LMDW, since those utter losers at DHL France have failed to deliver our first parcel… So, on the tasting table we've got both a control version, which wasn't bubbed, and a bubbed version, a set-up that I find pretty scientific for antiquarians (modest wink).

Holyrood 2023 'Bub Project – Control' (60%, OB, The Liquid Antiquarian Bub Project, new make, chevalier barley) Four stars
Chevalier, that's brilliant! I so loved their Spirit Drink made out of chevalier last year (WF 89). Colour: white. Nose: deeply bready, fermentary, yeasty, magnificent even at 60% vol. It reminds me of some high-class young Champagnes, but they don't sell those in this condition. You're right, neither do whiskymakers. Peach wine. With water: deep doughs and muds, williams pear eau-de-vie, touch of rye, fresh pumpernickel and, above everything else, tons of the two main kinds of quinces, apple-shaped and pear-shaped. Exceptional. Mouth (neat): awesome. How could you improve this? But 60% is a little too strong, I believe professionals would bring it down to… approx. 25% vol. We won't, we'll be content with +/-45%. With water: becomes a little sugary, which is normal I suppose. I find it extremely difficult to reduce it properly, you'd probably need some kind of electronic device fitted with last-generation AI. Melons, apricot liqueur… Finish: it's tough. Awesome when neat but too strong, then rather flatter when reduced. Comments: it's a job, is it not. But this is just a control…

Holyrood 2023 'Bub Project' (60%, OB, The Liquid Antiquarian Bub Project, new make, chevalier barley) Four stars and a half
They've used East Kent Goldings hops to make the bub. Colour: white. Nose: it is less fermentary and rather fruitier, but do not expect anything around citrus or else. It is not IPA-style hoppy whisky. As a matter of fact, I did distil many litres of hopped malt beer myself many moons ago and came up with a very fruity distillate. But bub is not simply hops… With water: no wait, it's rather drier than the control this time, more vegetal, more on peelings, and chalkier as well. Did the bub kill the quinces? Some pine nuts too, sunflower seeds… Mouth (neat): holy Molly, it's the other way 'round on the palate, which is wilder and deeper here, and even more fermentary. You would almost believe there was some kind of mossy peat in use. With water: I vote for the bub! Still sweet, but more complex than the control after similar reduction, with more fermentary notes, sweet breads, citrus skins, and... quinces. Quinces will save the world. Finish: long, with grapefruits chiming in. Grapefruits will make sure the world was saved by the quinces. Oh and apricots will finish the job. Lovely apricots in the aftertaste, and even a little umami sauce. Comments: hops too moves in mysterious ways, it seems. I'm sure beer freaks would enjoy this even better than I do.

So, umami, I mean bub all the way. Next, various hops – may I suggest Alsatian hops? We make the best in the world (but of course) and 95% of the French production takes place in Alsace. Mind you, even the poshest Californian breweries are using Alsatian hops, seriously! Now, I would suppose that discussions must be held with the Scotch Whisky Association, but I'm sure our dear friends the antiquarians have already gathered enough proof that bub was hundred percent 'traditional'. What's sure is that it's more traditional than ex-tequila casks, but I said nothing. Great fun all around, fantastic venture Arthur and Dave!


May 4, 2023


Second flight of recent Scottish cats

The Nc'Neans we've had yesterday showed a lot of potential, sadly they had been dumped into rather unlikely wine casks (a.k.a. whisky's main prosthesis these days, sadly not quite removable). Let's simply try again…

Brioche aux Pralines de Lyon
(La Brigade des Gourmets)



Nc'Nean 2018/2022 'Batch No.18' (46%, OB, 5,040 bottles)

Nc'nean 2018/2022 'Batch No.18' (46%, OB, 5,040 bottles) Three stars
Right, bad luck, it's 2/3 ex-STRised red wine, now STR doesn't obligatorily make the whiskies winey, it often doesn't in my experience, so there is hope… Colour: straw. Nose: indeed, no obvious wine, but there are berries, probably rather elder, also peach syrup and orange blossom honey. Some Californian IPA. Well,  a style of beer that was to be found in California back in the days, but the whole world seems to be making this style today. Then a little sweet bread and some vanilla. Fine, soft, fruity, with also quite some hay. Mouth: very sweet, clearly 'flavoured'. Szechuan pepper, tangerine, oranges, hay wine, the usual cinnamon and ginger, some herbal teas (rooibos, peach leaves), vanilla and zests... Finish: medium, sweet, with more citrus, which always works, I think. Comments: clearly fruitier than the only earlier batch I've tried, which was #7. Pretty 'modern world', very cask-driven, certainly well made.

SGP:551 - 82 points.

And now to Edinburgh, with the crazy experimenters…

Holyrood 'Aged New Make Spirit 04' (50%, OB, First fill European oak Port hogshead, Belgian ale yeast, cask #376, 2022)

Holyrood 'Aged New Make Spirit 04' (50%, OB, First fill European oak Port hogshead, Belgian ale yeast, cask #376, 2022) Two stars
A lot of details on the label, mainly about what was used and what happened before filling into wood, which I find very refreshing and, in a way, innovative (even if they've then used Port). Like, fermentation lasted for 6 days (they say 144 hours, which is much more of course). It was aged for 262 days, so roughly 8 months. Oh and we had loved their white experiments with different barleys. Colour: blush wine (ouch). Nose: raspberry eau-de-vie and kirschwasser aged in oak, plus pinot noir rosé. I find this lovely, but it may be to whisky (or baby whisky) what Kriek is to Belgian beer, almost off-category. Brioche or tarte with red pralines, a delicacy you'll find in the city of Lyons. With water: green spices, from the European oak I suppose. Capsicum, green pepper… Mouth (neat): good, but not too sure about all these eaux-de-vies, raspberry, kirsch… With water: gets sweeter, closer to some raspberry liqueur. Finish: rather long, very 'red berries', more towards cherries perhaps, Heering, indeed Belgian Kriek beer… Comments: off-category for sure. Spiced whisky, as in 'spiced rum'. Not sure what to say. Check some much higher Holyrood right tomorrow.
SGP:760 - 75 points.

Ardnamurchan 5 yo 2016/2021 'The AD/05:21 Venture Release' (55.1%, OB, sherry octaves, 348 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 5 yo 2016/2021 'The AD/05:21 Venture Release' (55.1%, OB, sherry octaves, 348 bottles) Four stars
A few sherry octaves, later married together in a hogshead, so the opposite of a finishing I would say. Colour: gold. Nose: oak and sherry feel (octaves, remember) but it was a happy marriage. Dried figs, goji berries, raisin rolls, panettone… With water: it takes water extremely well, does not get oakier, it's rather geared towards Stolle, fruitcake, with some kind of sweet earth, dates… Mouth (neat): pretty thick, with sweet and spices tones, a lot of cardamom and clove, fig jam, treacle toffee, some pancake sauce… With water: once again water works very well. Some kind of sweet spiced crème brûlée, with bags of raisins inside. You would also think of some very fresh kougelhopf or, indeed, panettone. Finish: medium, really on dried fruits. Balance is perfect. Comments: got to love this anti-finishing expression, rather in cognac's spirit (in some way).

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Ardnamurchan 2016/2022 'AD/02:16' (57.8%, OB, Poland Exclusive, Spanish oak oloroso hogshead, cask #66, 335 bottes)

Ardnamurchan 2016/2022 'AD/02:16' (57.8%, OB, Poland Exclusive, Spanish oak oloroso hogshead, cask #66, 335 bottes) Four stars and a half
It is a peated expression. Colour: amber. Nose: very sooty and earthy, with notes of old garage full of old cars and old oils and greases. Lovely touches of walnuts and old leather, with a little capsicum and bay leaves. A lot of old things in a young whisky! With water: more soot, spent oil, old concrete… Mouth (neat): pleasantly heavy, with some coffee-schnapps, liquorice, tar, more sootiness, charcoal, coffee, small dried figs, triple-sec… Despite this heaviness, I find it particularly drinkable when unreduced. With water: becomes a little sweeter, with more fruitcake, figs, raisins, then saltier chutneys (as touches)… Not very smoky at this point. Finish: rather ling, even more on some lightly smoked fruitcake. Cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: absolutely doskona?y. That should be 'perfect' in Polish.

SGP:554 - 88 points.

Off to the Isle of Lewis…

Abhainn Dearg 10 yo 'X' (46%, OB, +/-2022)

Abhainn Dearg 10 yo 'X' (46%, OB, +/-2022) Four stars
This is all self-made, with own barley from Lewis, own maltings using peat from the island and so on… So one of the very few real own-estate whiskies in this world. Now, we haven't tried Abhainn Dear since… 2011. Feeling shame. Colour: white wine. Nose: huge breadiness, not much smoke, a lot of porridge, bags of husk, some lamp oil, paraffin, light shoe polish, then kelp and floated wood, samphires, brine… Well it loves oxygen and would never stop developing, it is a very good surprise. Early makes had been a little uncertain in my book. Mouth: very singular, with a feeling of smoked seaweed, some kind of tarry porridge, certainly ashes, and an obvious salinity. All that combines well with some 'normal', clean and wineless wood. Finish: medium, smoky and salty. Wakame and nori in the aftertaste, with some lingering fermentary notes. Comments: great surprise, it really is a singular style. I'm really glad I could try this distillery that's been kind of flying under my radar for so long. Excellent. Postscript: I don't think they've been using wine!
SGP:455 – 87 points.

Isle of Raasay 'Peated Ex-Rye' (63.5%, OB, Na Sia Single Cask series, first-fill ex-rye, 2022)

Isle of Raasay 'Peated Ex-Rye' (63.5%, OB, Na Sia Single Cask series, first-fill ex-rye, 2022) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: it is toasted bread with smoked porridge galore! Some lovely sour brine too, but indeed it is a little strong. No chances taken… With water: everything porridge indeed, grist, draff, a little buttermilk, wash… Not too sure I'm getting the rye in this context, but indeed we could mention rye bread. Indeed. Mouth (neat): excellent, very punchy, with once again a lovely sourness (sour cream) and, perhaps, a little raw aguardiente. With water: pink grapefruits popping out, in full majesty. The background is a little sooty and ashy and makes it all a notch drying. Finish: long, fresh, salty, with more grapefruit and more ashes. We sometimes called this 'fairly ashtray-y'. Roots in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, very 'craft'. Very impressive young make, 'as good as good bread', as we say in French.
SGP:565 - 88 points.

To the mainland, for another little Dornoch…

Dornoch 5 yo 2017/2022 (55.9%, Thompson Bros., first fill bourbon octave, cask #13, 72 bottles) Four stars and a half
Those speedy bourbon octaves make me think of a Lotus Seven, I don't know why. Colour: full gold. Nose: oh, candied citrons, cardamom, mangos, curry, limoncello, golden sultanas, sour bread, lemon marmalade, fennel seeds, carrot tops, dill, tarragon, sage… There are so many things in there, and yet there is this feeling of oneness. I hate to say that I'm surprised. With water: entrenches itself behind some sweet farmhouse bread(s), with bits of apricot, raisin or figs inside… Mouth (neat): extravagantly citrusy and spicy, but thick and a little heavy, and elegant and refreshing at the same time, which makes for the most dangerous combo in the world. Please use only very small glasses and don't let anyone fill them up for you. With water: this time again I'm finding some kind of Americanness, and I'll dare mention Westland once more, with full apologies to all parties. Finish: rather long, still fresh, still dangerous. The little cask was 1st-grade. Those breads in the aftertaste. Comments: wasn't it even one of the very first casks they filled?

SGP:651 - 89 points.

Good, the next ones are not really 'new cats' but they do stem from recently built distilleries…

Ailsa Bay 10 yo 2011/2021 'Paddy's Milestone' (54.6%, The Duchess, blended malt, bourbon, cask #801404, 213 bottles)

Ailsa Bay 10 yo 2011/2021 'Paddy's Milestone' (54.6%, The Duchess, blended malt, bourbon, cask #801404, 213 bottles) Three stars and a half
It doesn't actually say it is Ailsa Bay, but that little bird we're well-acquainted with told me that… Well it's on the website, actually. Why the owners wouldn't let bottlers use this name, I don't quite know; Ailsa Bay, until now, has never quite been a new Lagavulin, has it. Remember they started distilling in 2007. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: soot, stone dust, pears and porridge. It's rather narrow, as I remembered it. Not unpleasant. With water: white peaches, plaster, damp oatcakes. Mouth (neat): very sweet, and indeed you could mention limoncello, pear liqueur and ashes. Very narrow again, but consequently, rather ultra-precise. With water: sugar coming out. Barley syrup, corn syrup… It almost deconstructs itself when watered down. Finish: medium, sweet, even more on corn syrup and, for that matter, corn whisky. Smoked, naturally. Cough drops in the aftertaste. Comments: a very curious smoky dram from the Lowlands that really improves with some breathing. Rather a lone voice in the world of whisky, I would say.

SGP:643 - 84 points.

Oh well, while we're at it…

Kininvie 'Aldunie' 24 yo 1997/2021 (48.9%, The Whisky Blues, Taiwan, barrel, cask #1511, 171 bottles)

Kininvie 'Aldunie' 24 yo 1997/2021 (48.9%, The Whisky Blues, Taiwan, barrel, cask #1511, 171 bottles) Four stars
This time it is officially a blended malt, a.k.a. a teaspooned malt. William Grant's Kininvie started distilling quite some years before their Aisla Bay, in 1990, so it is absolutely not a 'new cat' anymore, it's just that there isn't much around. It's said to be at the core of the very successful Monkey Shoulder blended malt. I would add that it's pretty impressive that they would have foreseen and anticipated a reversal in the whisky market, with so many Distilleries slaughtered just a few years earlier. Colour: gold. Nose: a very nice cakey and fruity malt, typically 'Dufftown' I would say, with overripe apples, ripe apricots, dandelions, some pollen, preserved peaches and nougat. Very very nice! The cask added touches of pinewood, eucalyptus and camphor, which is even nicer. Is Kininvie a rather fat spirit? I don't really know it, I have to admit. With water: some mint and some chalk, which makes for a rather perfect development. Mouth (neat): very nice (indeed) fruity syrups, with peaches and blood oranges on the front. Juicy Fruit, meadow honey, puréed peaches… Not a bready , malty malt whisky indeed. With water: all sweetness, with just a little malt in the distance. Some marshmallows, icing sugar, little sugar eggs (we're late), cream eggs, poppy sweets… Finish: medium, supervised by those preserved peaches, peach syrup, peach liqueur… Comments: probably my favourite Kininvie. Not that we've tried hundreds, mind you.

SGP:641 - 87 points.

We were also having other new cats, including some of that new InchDairnie a.k.a. Finglassie, as well as Holyrood's (and Dave and Arthur's) Bub experiment, but there's no rush, we'll try them later. Perhaps right tomorrow, cheers.


May 3, 2023


A first flight of recent Scottish cats

We've been wanting to do this for months! Now is the time… I believe we'll soon add some of the newer Distilleries to our index and not treat them as if they were part of one single bag anymore. Look, we've been spending decades without any new distilleries, except, I believe, Arran and Kilchoman, so we may have remained a little rusty in that respect. Oh and Kininvie, Aiisla Bay, Roseisle...

Nc'nean Distillery, Morvern peninsula (Trip Advisor)

But if it all goes well, we'll manage to try some Dalmunach, Nc'nean, Holyrood, Lochlea, Dornoch, Glenwyvis, Ardnamurchan, Kininvie, Abhain Dearg, Raasay, Ailsa Bay, InchDairnie and Glasgow Distillery within three days. Yes, I know some are actually not that recent.



Lochlea 'Fallow Edition 1st Crop' (46%, OB, 9,000 bottles, 2022)

Lochlea 'Fallow Edition 1st Crop' (46%, OB, 9,000 bottles, 2022) Two stars and a half
We're almost in Kilmarnock, in the Lowlands. This was matured in oloroso sherry butts, so it's not 'al natural', but let's see. The first two Lochleas we've tried have been showing potential, as they say in politics. Colour: deep gold. Nose: fumes, struck matches, then blackberry jam, prunes, fresh mushrooms, truffles… Mouth: better on the palate, I think, rounded, full of raisins, grenadine, overripe strawberries, sweet ale… It is a little thick and unpolished, but this sweetness rather works. Fig jam. Finish: medium, sweet, more on fig jam, also dried dates. Comments: there was a little sulphur on the nose, the palate was very sweet. I'm surprised it was oloroso, I would have said PX or even moscatel. My bad.

SGP:741 - 78 points.

Nc'Nean 2018/2022 'AON' (57.1%, OB, STR red wine, cask #18-294, 309 bottles)

Nc'nean 2018/2022 'AON' (57.1%, OB, STR red wine, cask #18-294, 309 bottles) Three stars and a half
We're opposite of Tobermory now. Talking geography, of course. Aren't STR casks becoming a little boring, as everyone seems to be using them these days? Was that Michel Rolland… err, I mean Dr Swan's aim? Colour: gold. Nose: rocks and breads, that's very fine. Then a little cassis (buds) and green peppercorn, biscuits, clay… With water: back to barley, chalk, earth and wool. Phew! Mouth (neat): the wine cask feels, even if it had been STRised. Bay leaves, strawberries, more cassis, cherry stems, some sour fruits… With water: a little softer, just as fruity but less leafy. Good news. More fig jam then; I have the impression that STRification generates notes of fig jam. Finish: medium, still a little flavoured but fine in my book. Sour fruit wine in the aftertaste, perhaps redcurrant wine? Comments: it feels like the cask had been 'lightly' STRised, with some lighter charring, or I believe you would have had less winey notes. Anyway, still rather high-class hybrid young whisky.
SGP:651 - 83 points.

Nc'Nean 'Quiet Rebels Lorna' (48.5%, OB, 2022)

Nc'nean 'Quiet Rebels Lorna' (48.5%, OB, 2022) Three stars and a half
Apparently, this time they've used Scotland's new darling, pineau des Charentes casks. I'm still not getting why they would all make great efforts to distill some awesome juices out of perfect barleys and yeasts using superb stills, only to dump the result into any cheapo wine casks (pineau is not exactly wine, but there). Does Scotch whisky really need this much wine these days? What's the rationale? Have proper barrels and hogsheads become unattainable? Colour: white wine. Nose: fruity, a little porridgey, with crushed bananas and overripe apples and pears. The pineau behaved, this far. Mouth: sweet, certainly good, and hybrid indeed. Premix cocktail, grapes, cognac and whisky. Finish: rather long, sweet, a tad more citrusy. Comments: in my book, this is totally un-terroiry, or say pretty internationalistic. Now, indeed it's very good, no doubt about that. Thank you, dear Charentais!

SGP:741 - 83 points.

Dornoch 4 yo 2018/2022 (56.65%, Thompson Bros., cask #118, 79 bottles)

Dornoch 4 yo 2018/2022 (56.65%, Thompson Bros., cask #118, 79 bottles) Four stars and a half
This time we are in Dornoch, north of Inverness and south of Brora, very roughly. Awesome pocket Distillery. Colour: gold. Nose: it is earthy, it is spicy, and please excuse me, it's got something American. We're talking American malt of course, Westland and all that. I'm not surprised, well, I AM surprised, this has mangos, pomelos, Thai lemongrass, brown bread, a bit of turmeric, a little gentian, some sourdough… I say no more. With water: all on breads and spices. Mouth (neat): excellently limey and spicy. Ginger, lemongrass, green curry, breads, grapefruits, coriander… With water: even better. Citron and lemongrass, plus a little paprika, beyond the ginger and turmeric. Finish: long, zesty, refreshing, with roots. Sweet radish, perhaps. Comments: I don't know about the wood the brothers have been using here, but I don't think is was any loco wine wood.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

If I want wine in my whisky, I can do it myself, all right?

Dornoch 4 yo 2018/2022 (56.3%, Thompson Bros., 1st fill bourbon, cask #97, 82 bottles)

Dornoch 4 yo 2018/2022 (56.3%, Thompson Bros., 1st fill bourbon, cask #97, 82 bottles) Four stars
Good, we know this was a bourbon octave. Colour: light gold. Nose: more on sawdust, perhaps, polenta, vanilla… Nothing really particular here, so far. With water: plantains, celeriac, shoe polish (yep), sourdough. Mouth (neat): very good, very zesty, with just a little varnish, otherwise coriander leaves and lemon zests. Massive spicy citrus. With water: just more of that, plus golden sultanas. Sultanas from a bourbon cask, that's right. Finish: medium, easy, more honeyed now, but those sultanas haven't quite given up. Mandarine liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: marvellous, it's just that I enjoyed the bready cask #118 even better, because I totally love bread. Who doesn't?

SGP:651 - 86 points.

Glenwyvis 2018/2022 (46.5%, OB, bourbon and refill oloroso hogshead, batch #2/18, 8,000 bottles)

Glenwyvis 2018/2022 (46.5%, OB, bourbon and refill oloroso hogshead, batch #2/18, 8,000 bottles) Three stars
We're not that far from Dornoch. I mean, we are, but we're still north of Inverness, in fact, north of Dingwall. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather yeasty, with a little sawdust, porridge, marshmallows and banana foam. A very faint briney touch in the background, plus hints of pears and pineapple, which would usually come with… youth. Mouth: youthful indeed, a little sour, a little rough, with good oak spices, otherwise lemon and kiwi juices. Finish: long, with rather a lot of 'green' oak. A little yogurt and some tinned anchovies (yes) in the aftertaste. Comments: still in its infancy, but one more point for not having dumped it into any silly wine casks. No, some oloroso hogshead, although not traditional in any ways in the Jerez region, is not a silly wine cask in my book.
SGP:551 - 80 points.

More new cats tomorrow…


May 2, 2023


A few older indie Glenrothes

We're trying to further 'specialise' some of our sessions to avoid any death-seat effects and cruel dilemmas. For example, imagine you've got a 10 at 60% vol. and a 30 at 43% vol. Which will you have first? I don't think there's any easy answer, unless you would just avoid that kind of situation, which is what we'll try to do today, as there are so many Glenrothes around…

(Malt Maniacs at Glenrothes Distillery, 2003. Left to right, Serge, Craig, Krishna, Davin, Ronnie Cox, Johannes and Mrs Craig - maltmadness)



Glenrothes-Glenlivet 22 yo 1996/2019 (50.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 942 bottles)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 22 yo 1996/2019 (50.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 942 bottles) Four stars
This from three bourbon hogsheads. Angus already tried this one but we shan't have a look at his note. Colour: straw. Nose: it's a bourbon that feels a bit like sherry, with roasted raisins, walnut cake and a faint meatiness. It's otherwise pretty malty, with some Ovaltine, touches of Nescafé, ale… All that in a style that's close to that of the officials. And yet, indeed, it's ex-bourbon (from three casks, at that). With water: virtually no changes, perhaps some marzipan and lighter fruitcake. Mouth (neat): very good, close to the OBs once more, malty, with many roasted nuts, even walnuts indeed, some toffee, crème brulée, orange cordial, a drop of yellow chartreuse… With water: walnut wine, barley syrup, pistachio nougat, roasted pecans… All good things. Finish: medium, malty and cakey. Comments: we need to talk to those three casks. Well, that was 2019… too late.

SGP:561 - 87 points.

Glenrothes 23 yo 1997/2021 (51.3%, DramCatcher, hogshead, cask #715773)

Glenrothes 23 yo 1997/2021 (51.3%, DramCatcher, hogshead, cask #715773) Four stars
Wasn't 1997 a good vintage everywhere in Scotchland? Colour: white wine. Nose: classic cakes, scones, muffins and shortbread, with some custard this time, plum jams, and then herbal teas in all their guises, chamomile first, as often. With water: more grassy touches, hay, flower compost (just a tiny bit), then Ovaltine again, cappuccino, a tiny drop of Maggi… Maggi is very important at WF Towers and part of the three essential resources. Electricity, whisky and Maggi. Right. A tiny touch of coconut in the balkc or the back. Mouth (neat): very good indeed, just as malty as the Cadenhead, with more fudge and toffee this time, millionaire shortbread, roasted peanuts, chestnut honey, tartes and cakes, crème brulée once more… With water: just excellent, with more butterscotch and cider. Finish: medium and just as malty and cakey as Cadenhead's 1996. Comments: great drops, these slightly uncomplicated Glenrothes.

SGP:561 - 87 points.

Good, 1996, 1997…

Glenrothes 23 yo 1998/2022 'The 26 #1' (52.2%, Maltbarn, sherry cask, 47 bottles)

Glenrothes 23 yo 1998/2022 'The 26 #1' (52.2%, Maltbarn, sherry cask, 47 bottles) Five stars
From Maltbarn's small-parcel line. Small outturns, excellent whiskies, as we've already noticed. And this, is sherry! Colour: deep gold. Nose: holy Molly, this is something! Litres of nail polish remover, a lot of balsamico, much more compost this time, some glue, more acetone yet… This is almost high-ester whisky, mind you. Well, it's going to be hit or miss, but things are already calming down, it seems. With water: not quite, its geared towards manzanilla now. And towards sherry vinegar. Mouth (neat): huge, high-concentration varnish, something ammoniacal, onion soup, toffee… It is almost 'bacterial' but we do know that bacteria (and batteries, ha) are part of our future. But some acetic sting in whisky? Really? Was it in the sherry? With water: splendid now. Walnuts, seawater, vinegar, varnish. Finish: rather long and extremely manzanilla-y. Comments: this slightly trans-genre baby was frightening at times, but in the end of the day, I love it. Is this reproductible, Martin? I mean, willingly?
SGP:362 - 90 points.

Glenrothes 1995/2022 'Over 25 years' (55.5%, Artist by La Maison du Whisky, #12, first fill sherry butt, cask #6983, 448 bottles)

Glenrothes 1995/2022 'Over 25 years' (55.5%, Artist by La Maison du Whisky, #12, first fill sherry butt, cask #6983, 448 bottles) Five stars
This is LMDW's rather posh line. Colour: dark amber. Nose: you would really believe this is an OB. Some ultra-classic sherry coating a slightly-lighter-Speysider, all on kougelhopf (with those burnt raisins and almonds on top) and small herbs from the garden (parsley in the front). The walnuts are always in the job too, toffee as well, brownies for sure, chocolate guaranteed… The only thing that's not quite in there and that you would find in the older OBs is honey. With water: almost no changes, perhaps flints? Mouth (neat): meaty sherry! Spanish jamon and mushrooms, truffles, morels, old rancio wine, liquorice, a little gunpowder, drops of balsamico, drops of amontillado… With water: tons of green walnuts, herbs, a drop of tabasco, Worcester sauce, tobacco, black raisins, earth… We're clearly in Jerez. Finish: rather long, more mineral, with some gunpowder once more, plus marmalade and dried porcini. Comments: relentless and unstoppable, worthy of a big 'fishbowl' glass. When is Jerez' Sherry Festival again? Ah, yes, on the first Saturday of September. This one is clearly more 'Jerez' than 'Speyside'.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Back to the hoggies'…

Glenrothes 36 yo 1986/2022 (41.4%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #860002131, 203 bottles)

Glenrothes 36 yo 1986/2022 (41.4%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #860002131, 203 bottles) Five stars
This one should be a prima ballerina. Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, all softness, honeys, old chardonnay (great old Chablis from the left bank, my favourite premier cru being the moderately known Côte de Léchet), with some elegant pear liqueur, ripe apples, some acacia honey, barley syrup, pink banana, mirabelles… It is rather a whisperer, or a chamber music quartet shall we say. Mouth: love this fragility, herbs, herbal teas, with a little cinnamon, peaches, pomelos and melons, a little porridge, lemongrass, a quarter of a drop of cough syrup, a wee cup of verbena tea, plus that famous tea in the Sahara (what?) With pine nuts! Finish: medium, subtle, gentle, more honeyed towards the aftertaste. Some pink grapefruit syrup. Indeed, it whispers but it's still got a lot to tell us. You could sip this while smoking a nargileh. Comments: exactly the opposite of LMDW's massively sherried Glenrothes. Yet the score is the same.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Glenrothes 36 yo 1986/2022 (45.6%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon hogshead, cask #2125)

Glenrothes 36 yo 1986/2022 (45.6%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon hogshead, cask #2125) Five stars
More watts, this should work a treat. It's really incredible that they would have found these old casks, and between us, pretty surprising that the Distillery wouldn't have bought them back, as so many big names do. But shh… Colour: white wine. Nose: once you've got Chablis in your head, and provided it's a great Chablis and not some large-volume coconut juice by some cave cooperative, you cannot escape it. Chardonnay, vanilla, subtle yeast, focaccia, sourdough, light honey and even lighter mead, mirabelles, quinces and bananas, drop of passion fruit juice… Mouth: extremely close to the Jury's, just a notch more potent. Granny smith, peach skins, verbena, wormwood, woodruff, pink grapefruit… It's pretty incredible that it would have remained this fresh after 36 years, the glories of refill I would suppose. Finish: rather long, with more passion fruit, grapefruit and a little beeswax. Grassier and spicier aftertaste, with some cinnamon, saffron and nutmeg. After all, this one's 36. Comments: we're on a stroll, this is a strike.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Good, we're good, but we could have a little official as the last one, don't you think?

Glenrothes 1971/2003 (42.7%, OB)

Glenrothes 1971/2003 (42.7%, OB) Five stars
We adored these bulky bottles when they first came out. Also, it feels very good to know that this one was approved exactly on March 3, 2003. But will the officials regain full control here? Colour: full amber. Nose: the golden years. All nuts, all roasted, and all honeys. Wonderful nougats, turons, then dried figs and dates, drops of mint cordial, a little metal polish, pipe tobacco, muscovado, mocha, coffee liqueur, marrow soup, zucchini flower fritter, French toast… Mouth: superb, complex, shock-full of raisins of all kinds and of sweet wines, Rivesaltes, Sauternes, rancio, pineau… I'm not sure I've ever found this many raisins in any whisky, not even in PX or moscatel-finished ones. But this time it feels totally natural. The dried figs are sumptuous too. Finish: medium, a tad sweetish perhaps, but fresh oranges are soon to come to the rescue. Very honeyed and meady aftertaste. Comments: I am sorry, but this will be the fifth 90-Glenrothes in a row. After all, this wonderful old OB did not manage to defeat the indie 1986s, but it's been tight.

SGP:651 – 90 points.

Beautiful group shot by Glenrothes, but it's true that our pre-selection had been rather draconian. If you will... But I'll give up now, see you next time.

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


May 1, 2023


WF's Little Duos, today two young indie Ardbeg

So, no bizarre finishings or wood sorcery today, rather, we hope, this immaculate distillate in its purest, unadulterated form. Well, we'll see…

Picture, bunch of friends at Roland Puhl's
a.k.a. the MARA Cellar, early to mid 2000s.




Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 2009/2023 (53.3%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired, Whisky Icons, Roland Puhl, 250 bottles)

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 2009/2023 (53.3%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired, Whisky Icons, Roland Puhl, 250 bottles) Five stars
It says 210 bottles but that's a misprint. They've also quoted Roland Puhl (R.I.P.): 'a robust dram but excellent gulp', which, according to high-ranked persons who are very close to the bottlers, would make it clear that this was Ardbeg. Roland Puhl was the co-founder of the seminal whisky shop 'Malt Rarities' a.k.a. MARA, which in turn originated Limburg's very famous Whisky Fair 'where more whisky has flown than water in the nearby river Lahn' (but don't quote me). Roland was a formidable human being. Colour: white wine. Even the colour makes you think of 'beg. Nose: sublimely pure indeed, with massive iodine, chalk, seaweed, this funny coastal plant that we often find in Ardbeg, samphire, then oysters and these tarry ashes that leave little doubt indeed. Totally crystalline, our favourite style. With water: this is where white wines are kicking in, especially the most petroly rieslings. Plus the expected bandages, embrocations and ointments, although I wouldn't call it 'medicinal'. Mouth (neat): this famous feeling of having mistakenly wolved down the content of an ashtray around 4 in the morning, plus some mercurochrome, white pepper, green lemons (not lime) and just seawater. Also white currants. It's a blade. With water: geared towards ultra-tight, salty fino sherry. Finish: very long, still ultra-tight, never losing focus. Salted lemon juice, oysters, ashes etc in an aftertaste that would leave your mouth fresh as baby's, despite all the smoke and ashes. Comments: these are why we believe Ardbeg remains one of the grands crus of Scotch malt whisky. I'm sure Roland is happy.
SGP:467 - 92 points.

Perhaps an earlier indie as today's sparring partner, as I don't think many modern OBs would stand a chance against that secret 2009…

Ardbeg 9 yo 1990/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 372 bottles)

Ardbeg 9 yo 1990/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 372 bottles) Five stars
One of the early OMCs and certainly one of the youngest. We've already tried this one when it came out, but we've never published any tasting notes on WF, so let's revisit it if you don't mind, after a good twenty years of bottle aging. Colour: white wine. Nose: a little 'sweeter' and a little more medicinal, more camphory, with metallic touches and whiffs of beach sand at low tide. I believe there is a little (good) OBE in action, these kinds of camphory notes give it away. The slightly metallic ones too. This is probably not a 9 years old anymore, after all shouldn't we call it a 9+23 years old?! With water: seawater and tincture of iodine, tiny touch of marrow and suet. Mouth (neat): it remained a little rough on the palate, peppery, hot, spicy, and quite fat. Sunflower oil… But lemons and grapefruits are magnificent. Chilli and ashes, 'that ashtray', kelp, seawater… Seriously, it's super perfect and I'm dead sure it improved over the years in glass. With water: lemon and brine in majesty. It keeps improving. Finish: sublime fattish fish oil and lemon liqueur, plus seawater. Comments: I never wrote any proper note but I did score it 87/100 twenty odd years ago. I'm sure it's gained 4 points since back then, this is absolutely not a 9 years old Ardbeg anymore. I mean, organoleptically speaking. Buy the great whiskies young and cellar them!

SGP:557 - 91 points.

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


WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

April 2023

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Shizuoka 2019/2023 (50.4%, OB for Whiskay, Warrior Series, ex-bourbon, cask #2019-528, 51 bottles) - WF 91

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Glen Grant 59 yo 1955/2014 (60.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells for LMDW, refill sherry hogshead, cask #845, 78 bottles ) - WF 94

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Maclean's Nose (46%, Adelphi, Blended Scotch, 2023) - WF 88

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Mauxion 1900/2022 (48.2%, OB for The Purist, bons bois, 42 bottles) - WF 94

Serge's thumbs up this month:
Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Secale'
(57%, OB, France, single rye, 782 bottles, 2023) - WF 89

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Don Q 'Anejo' (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2021) - WF 65


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



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ardbeg 9 yo 1990/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 372 bottles)

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 2009/2023 (53.3%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired, Whisky Icons, Roland Puhl, 250 bottles)

Glenrothes 1971/2003 (42.7%, OB)

Glenrothes 23 yo 1998/2022 'The 26 #1' (52.2%, Maltbarn, sherry cask, 47 bottles)

Glenrothes 1995/2022 'Over 25 years' (55.5%, Artist by La Maison du Whisky, #12, first fill sherry butt, cask #6983, 448 bottles)

Glenrothes 36 yo 1986/2022 (41.4%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #860002131, 203 bottles)

Glenrothes 36 yo 1986/2022 (45.6%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon hogshead, cask #2125)

Glen Spey 32 yo 1989/2022 (60%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 114 bottles) 

Littlemill 33 yo 1989/2022 'The 26 #9' (50.1%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 37 bottles)

St. Magdalene (Linlithgow) 14 yo 1982/1997 (58.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Caroni 17 yo 1996/2013 (63%, Velier, Trinidad, 1460 bottles)

Clarendon 26 yo 1995/2022 (57.1%, The Auld Alliance and Precious Liquors, Jamaica, cask #433941)

Long Pond 22 yo 2001/2023 'LPS' (56.3%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon barrel, 101 bottles)

T.D.L. 2003/2012 (62.7%, The Whisky Jury, The Many Faces of Rum, Trinidad, refill barrel, cask #4, 250 bottles) 

Uitvlugt 31 yo 1990/2022 (52.6%, Precious Liquors, for Whisky Gallery Global, Guyana, cask #35, 205 bottles)