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Whisky Tasting

 

Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
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Hi, you're in the Archives, May 2024 - Part 1
 
 

April 2024 - part 2 <--- May 2024 - part 1 ---> May 2024 - part 2

 

May 14, 2024


Whiskyfun

Some young Aberfeldy and Pitilie

Aberfeldy

Dewar's Aberfeldy Distillery (Dewar's)

 

Let's not forget that the true name is now 'Dewar's Aberfeldy Distillery'. I quite like this place; it's always amusing to discreetly listen to the comments of tourists and realise that we enthusiasts sometimes seem a bit lofty. "A bottle of whisky over £100, are they maaaaad?!"

 

 

Aberfeldy 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2023)

Aberfeldy 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2023) Three stars
Frankly, these 40% vol. do make it feel a bit cheap, although the bottle itself is quite lovely. We also very much appreciate that no finishing has been imposed on it. I hope we are not mistaken. Colour: light gold. Nose: an array of cereals and honey, then sultanas and a hint of orange juice. Simple, effective, pretty, light. Perhaps not enough to write a novel about... Mouth: really very light, a bit sweet, with a pleasant arrival but a sudden drop. Slightly herbaceous and rather thin, actually. Previous batches seemed a bit more, let's say, robust. Finish: short, more spicy, with more cakes, cookies… But it becomes dry and overly focused on tea and cardboard after that. A pity. Comments: let's not exaggerate, it's really a nice malt, but I think independents would have done something with a bit more presence. We shall see…
SGP:441 - 80 points.

Aberfeldy 10 yo 2013/2024 (48.2%, Signatory Vintage, Small Batch #10, 1st fill oloroso sherry butts)

Aberfeldy 10 yo 2013/2024 (48.2%, Signatory Vintage, Small Batch #10, 1st fill oloroso sherry butts) Four stars
From this notable new series from Signatory... Colour: gold. Nose: well, here we are. Superb leather, tobacco, and green walnuts, then all kinds of raisins and a lovely touch of armagnac from a skilled producer. Armagnac is always crafted by skilled producers, anyway. Very fine sherry. Mouth: powerful, with a bit of wood (spruce, cedar) and plenty of prunes and nutmeg. Then blood oranges, peppers, cardamom, and even a hint of curry. Finish: long, more on bitter chocolate and clove. Water isn't really necessary, but one feels inclined to try it: not much change, except for a bit more tobacco and allspice, then some cocoa powder. Comments: there's a hint of 'modern' work with active or reactivated casks, but it's a success.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Aberfeldy 10 yo 2013/2023 (48.5%, Decadent Drinks, Equinox & Solstice, 2nd fill barrel)

Aberfeldy 10 yo 2013/2023 (48.5%, Decadent Drinks, Equinox & Solstice, 2nd fill barrel) Four stars
Closer to you, my distillate... Colour: white wine. Nose: obviously, this is my preferred style, close to the juice, the barley, the undulating fields, the gentle climate, the kindness of the people, the softness of the Midlands… A Parisian patisserie at 6 AM, with fresh croissants, pain aux raisins, crispbreads, and macarons of the day. And madeleines, of course. Magnificent nose, pure and precise. But why am I only tasting it now? Mouth: very close to the official bottling, yet it remains taut throughout, with green tea, meadow honey, apple cake, and cinnamon biscuits... The palate might not quite reach the level of the very fine nose, but it's still very good. Finish: fairly long, close to barley and ripe apple. Comments: Aberfeldy is perhaps not a 'wow!' malt, but it's a very lovely distillate, and here's the proof. There are also some fine Dewar's around at the moment, but we scarcely have the space to sample large-batch blends. Whiskyfun is cursed…
SGP:551 - 85 points.

And now, let's have a gentle laugh... We used to, think that the number of distilleries in Scotland was exploding, but in fact, they're just multiplying the names of each one. Just kidding.

Pitilie 9 yo 2015/2024 (54.8%, Dràm Mor, 1st fill Buffalo Trace barrel finish, cask #247, 240 bottles)

Pitilie 9 yo 2015/2024 (54.8%, Dràm Mor, 1st fill Buffalo Trace barrel finish, cask #247, 240 bottles) Four stars
The label tells us that this was distilled at 'Aberfeldie Distillery'. It's worth noting that there once was a 'Pitillie Distillery' in the vicinity, near Pitilie Farm on the Pittilie Burn (thanks to scotchwhisky.com, one of the finest websites ever!). Oh, the intrigue of names and double consonants… Colour: white wine. Nose: it's almost the same whisky as the Equinox, which is good news. We remain very close to fresh barley, apple, ripe plums, and brioche dough… With water: pear and a hint of banana liqueur. A familiar molecule, isn't it? Mouth (neat): vanilla, caramel, and plenty of butterscotch, with a peppery layer. With water: little change, except more honey and apples. Lovely freshness, a touch of chalk. Finish: long. Apple, cinnamon, barley, brioche. A hint of lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: same territory as the 2013 'Decadent'. I'm not dead sure these are malts that we'll remember all our lives, but what's sure is that they are really very good.
SGP:551 – 85 points.

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

 

May 13, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's little duos, today indie Balblair ex-refill bourbon

Did you see that Distillery Manager John MacDonald just left Balblair, after almost twenty years of service? We rarely publish this kind of stuff but I remember well when we first visited Balblair, he had been so cool with us… a good twenty years ago, even if I'm not sure he was already the Manager. Cheers John MacDonald! Sadly we haven't got any new OB up our sleeves, but these wee IBs will do.

John MacDonald

 

 

Balblair 9 yo 2013/2023 (57.1%, A.D. Rattray for WhiskyFacile, refill bourbon barrel)

Balblair 9 yo 2013/2023 (57.1%, A.D. Rattray for WhiskyFacile, refill bourbon barrel) Four stars
Should we expect an avalanche of bananas, mangoes, plums, ripe peaches, and muscat berries, or is this little one still a bit too young for that? Let's see... Colour: white wine. Nose: it's still a bit warm and alcoholic at first, with a hint of varnish and fresh sawdust, but it develops well, even if we never really move towards exotic fruits. Apple, pear, green plums, white peaches... With water: as often, it's the fresh bread that stands out more, sourdough, pizza dough... We like that. Mouth (neat): the arrival is fruitier than on the nose, with a whole pack of liquorice allsorts and lemon soft sweets from Haribo's. There's again a bit of new fruit eau-de-vie, varnish, and glue, but that doesn't bother us. With water: little change, probably more liquorice, which calls for a slight salty touch. Finish: quite long, young, fruity, nervous, still tight as a thong (as my friend Philippe S. would say – tsk tsk). Comments: some aspects remind us of a distillery not very far away, further north along the east coast, but rather without its proverbial wax. Excellent young Balblair.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Balblair 26 yo 1997/2023 (54.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Kirsch Import, refill bourbon barrel, cask #1884, 153 bottles)

Balblair 26 yo 1997/2023 (54.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Kirsch Import, refill bourbon barrel, cask #1884, 153 bottles) Four stars and a half
Let's see if the exotic fruits have come through with time... Colour: pale gold. Nose: well, there aren't that many differences, we remain on orchard fruits, fresh pastries, pears, custard... Alright, there are a few small bananas and indeed, some notes of passion fruit emerging. Oh, and lemon balm, orgeat, citronella, a bit of damp garden soil, and also vervain... It's very nice. With water: that typical side, on multivitamin fruit juice, banana, mango, orange, papaya, pear... Mouth (neat): really a pure Balblair this time, with a marked citrus side, yuzu, passion fruit, and that slight chalky side of a great Sauvignon Blanc from a limestone terroir. That said, it seems a bit younger than 26 years. With water: pure Balblair, very fresh and fruity. Finish: good length, a hint of mint and eucalyptus and liquorice. Everything is very good. Comments: it's amazing, it reminds a bit of certain aspects of the old Balblair 10 years from G&M, those at 40% vol. which went down faster than well-chilled Coca Zero. But this 1997 is a thousand times superior, even if it's not quite on the level of the great 1966 official ones from a few years ago. I'm referring to the ones John MacDonald poured us.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

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

 

May 12, 2024


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!

More cognacs and armagnacs (cream of the crop only)

Since it's Sunday. Next Sunday, it will be rum again, unless we pour some mezcals, old genevers, or other alternative spirits. We'll see... In any case, today we decided to do all this completely at random.

Current campaign for Armagnac. The aim was 'to reinvent and rejuvenate its image', as it's always, invariably been since at least Methuselah. Got to love them!

Armagnac

 

 

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'L'Organic Folle Blanche L.XIII' (49.6%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2024)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'L'Organic Folle Blanche L.XIII' (49.6%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2024) Four stars
The last batch went very well. I remind you that folle blanche is supposed to be a much more quality grape variety than the others, but its post-phylloxera grafting may have weakened it and it remains quite rare. Well, that's what I seem to have read somewhere. This baby is ten years old. Colour: golden. Nose: it's aromatic and a bit oily, somewhat like a malt, with a very nice balance between the fruits, or rather the fruit peels (peach, apple) and the floral infusions like chamomile and orange blossom. A bit of slightly underripe mashed banana. I'm re-reading my notes for the previous version, we're very close. Mouth: a lot of liquorice, with touches of salt, still that fairly oily and slightly herbaceous side, then raisins and that famous orange blossom, earl grey, Turkish delight, etc. But it remains tight and quite nervous, despite the rather remarkable oily aspect. Could they have added some Golden Promise? Finish: quite long, with a return of salty liquorice. Almost a bit of beef jerky at the end. Teriyaki flavour, please. A bit of mint at the very end. Comments: it also takes water very well and becomes even more liquorice-led (indeed, with an artisanal pastis side, if you like).
SGP:562 - 86 points.

Fanny Fougerat 'Iris Poivré XO' (40%, OB, Borderies, 7500 bottles)

Fanny Fougerat 'Iris Poivré XO' (40%, OB, Borderies, 7500 bottles) Four stars
It's quite a statement to bottle such a baby at 40% vol. That might mean 'our ancestors have always done it this way and we don't care much about trends'. If that's the case, we applaud it! By the way, 'iris poivré' means 'peppered iris' (I think they had gotten that, S.). Colour: straw. Nose: it's quite soft and indeed floral. We find liquorice and violet, orange blossom, wisteria, honeysuckle, and especially a lot of green earl grey tea (earl grey exists in both black and green, did you know?). Also, a bit of patchouli, which gives this lovely cognac such a fresh, hippie side. Yes, really. Mouth: it's fuller than expected, always fresh and close to nature (flowers, shrubs, damp earth) and with a very, very slightly muscaty side, but that's not uncommon in young cognacs. Pear cake covered with cinnamon. Finish: not so short, always fresh. Some touches of service tree liqueur and a bit more liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, but at 40% vol. the WF drinkability index is very high. So, caution is required...
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Well, these two young cognacs have really done their job. Right, let's go down…

Daniel Bouju 'Lot 60 Un Toast à L'Amitié' (50.4%, OB for Geert Lagast & Raf De Ruysscher, 2023)

Daniel Bouju 'Lot 60 Un Toast à L'Amitié' (50.4%, OB for Geert Lagast & Raf De Ruysscher, 2023) Five stars
So, 1960, baddest year for wine, good year for Man (yeah right). More cognac smuggling by our dear Belgian friends. I hope Ursula v/d L. will do something eventually. In my meagre experience, Boujus tend to be dark and heavy (ish). Colour: coffee. Nose: hold on, is this old Ténarèze? Very old Brandy de Jerez? 1950s Glen Grant by G&M? Macallan 'Gran Reserva'? Could we see the papers? Prunes, coffee liqueur, very old cream sherry, ultra-fresh pipe tobacco and forty tonnes of the blackest and juiciest big fat Corinthian raisins. That's what we get. With water: awesome prunes, treacle toffee pudding, Christmas cake… Mouth (neat): heavy indeed, but not exactly stuffy or cloying. Huge liquorice, crazy PX, then menthol and another 40 tonnes of those Corinthian raisins. What's troubling is that it would remain elegant and drinkable. With water: it does stand water and the oak never really comes to front stage. Perhaps a tad more grapey, teaish… Well water is unnecessary. Finish: awesome without water, if a tad armagnacqy. No probs, contrary. Chocolate and prunes. Comments: I shouldn't have added water – when you see what's happening with Nestlé's waters these days - but it's a very great, very Bouju-y (as far as I can tell) cognac.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

To Armagnac country…

Dartigalongue 1981/2024 (45%, OB, Bas Armagnac)

Dartigalongue 1981/2024 (45%, OB, Bas Armagnac) Five stars
This one was just bottled in April, we got it straight from Nogaro in the Gers. Naturally, Nogaro is famous for its armagnacs, but also for its grand-prix-level motor races, their 'Circuit Paul Armagnac' being known just everywhere on this planet. Quite. As for 1981, that's Kim Wilde, of course. Colour: deep amber. Nose: this is where armagnac meets cognac, had you said this was an old Borderies or something, I wouldn't have cried 'wolf!'. Superlative overripe peaches, all-flower meadow honey, soft molasses (cane), a tiny touch of black truffle, praline, pistachio nougat, then more oldness (pine resins, black tea) but this remains fresh and oh-so lively. Mouth: much more on wood, but it's all under control and we know it's a proper style down there. Litres of black tea (remember, black Assam), a lot of bitter chocolate, cigars, pine needles, a little thyme oil, terpenes, turpentine… And we just love this, as we keep remaining way below the limits. This menthol + chocolate combo that's coming out now is perfect. That's right, After Eights, thin mints. Finish: long, clearly piney now, with a small side remining us of Greek retsina wine, and that works. Varnish. Comments: These quite woody old armagnacs can stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth, as they say, but that's absolutely not the case here. Wonderful bottle, superbly traditional, reminding me of my Sunday meals at my grandfathers'. Next step, doing laps at the Nogaro circuit in a Bugatti Type 35. One must have goals in life.
SGP:561 - 91 points.

Hontambère 1983 (54.2%, Grape of The Art, Ténarèze, cask #G4, 2023)

Hontambère 1983 (54.2%, Grape of The Art, Ténarèze, cask #G4, 2023) Four stars and a half
As I understand it this is Pouchégu, sourced by Hontambère, bottled by Grape of The Art. So be it. Colour: copper amber; Nose: relatively light, rather on incense, cedarwood, chicken broth and apricots. Unusual 'fusion' combo but some menthol is gathering the troops after a short while. With water: chocolate all around, plus dried fruits (apricots, pears). The chicken have gone. Mouth (neat): some oak for sure, more cedarwood, tobacco, pinewood, very black tea Russian-style, the blackest chocolate and the blackest coffees… With water: it's become fruitier, almost a little jammy. Spiced jams, orange and ginger… Finish: rather long, gently rustic, with more coffee and chocolate. Touch of camphor. Comments: perhaps the most armagnacqy of them all. In truth I used to have, in my remote family, an old grandpa who used to raise fighting bulls and armagnacs, for sports. He was owning many casks of Ténarèze that used to be a little bit like this one. He was still riding his motorbike at the age of 90 and eventually died just before reaching 100. The family keeps drinking his old Ténarèzes. Why am I telling you this?
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Aurian 45 yo 1977/2024 (45.2%, Armagnac Sponge, Decadent Drinks, Bas armagnac, 156 bottles)

Aurian 45 yo 1977/2024 (45.2%, Armagnac Sponge, Decadent Drinks, Bas armagnac, 156 bottles) Five stars
Monsieur Sponge is back. Colour: copper. Nose: it's a fruit compote, with ripe cherries, deep red peaches, a hint of caramel, geranium flowers, peonies, and garden compost. It's obviously very beautiful and certainly a tad rustic. Mouth: it's even better on the palate. The pretty obvious woodiness acts like a crown of diamonds around an emerald or a sapphire (you're exaggerating there, S.) More cooked red fruits, chocolate, rosemary, liquorice, a few cloves, touches of tar, a few drops of tomato sauce... Finish: long, very beautiful, almost fresh but always with those notes of cooked fruits. Indian spices (red tandoori). Comments: one can only wonder why most armagnacs age so much better than malt whiskies. We'll have to interview The Sponge on this subject.
SGP:661 - 90 points.

Grande Champagne 'n°19.74' (49.4%, Malternative Belgium, Private Bottling)

Grande Champagne 'n°19.74' (49.4%, Malternative Belgium, Private Bottling) Four stars
I don't have a photo of this bottle, so I'm putting up a portrait of Thijs van Leer, the singer of Focus in 'Hocus Pocus', around 1974. A crazy thing, give it a go if you've never heard it (that is, if you're under 60). I'd like to add that I have a very high opinion of the work of Malternative Belgium, it reeks of well-maintained telomeres and neurons in good working order. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this time we're not going for complexity, there's apple, honey, and hay. It's just that the proportions are perfect. Mouth: it's very funny, once again it's a very compact old cognac, almost simple, with apples and a bit of lemon and peppermint. In fact it's almost an abstract cognac, a Miro or Calder of French brandy. Finish: same. Comments: I like it really a lot, but I may have missed a few parts.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Un petit dernier…

Le Noble 'Lot 68' (45.2%, Malternative Belgium & The Whisky Jury, Grande champagne, 129 bottles, 2023)

Le Noble 'Lot 68' (45.2%, Malternative Belgium & The Whisky Jury, Grande champagne, 129 bottles, 2023) Five stars
From a 'bouilleur de cru', so probably an individual. It's true that in France, we need to produce a large part of what we consume, coz we wouldn't want to run dry (even if we're already #1 export market in volume for Scotch – but we drink a lot of the nasty stuff). Colour: full amber.  Nose: and what an individual. This is peach-led, which is the #1 kind of arrival with anything cognac or even wine brandy, then we have ripe apricots, mirabelles and quinces. A few amaretti and macaroons. Mouth: some tannicity sure feels, peach skin, cedarwood, pear peeling, heavier Darjeeling.. but balance was preserved. It's in the background that tea and oak tannins seem to be having a blast, but they'll never actually get through. Finish: rather long, rather fresh, rather peachy. More mint and black tea in the aftertaste. Comments: 1968, that was In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, right? In any case, I 'd believe bottling old cognacs or armagnacs really means knowing how to play with the limits. Sexiest work there is, no?
SGP:651 - 90 points.

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

 

May 10, 2024


Whiskyfun

Ardnahoe, Strathearn and other New Scottish Cats

Here we have the first official Strathearn, the first Ardnahoe as well, and a few other young distilleries and variants. The world of Scottish whisky continues to evolve (now, that's a useful comment, S.!)

Ardnahoe Distillery on Islay (Ardnahoe)

Ardnahoe

 

 

Glenwyvis 2019 '2023 release' (46.5%, OB, 12,000 bottles)

Glenwyvis 2019 '2023 release' (46.5%, OB, 12,000 bottles) Three stars
Straight from Dingwall, a majority of ex-bourbon, plus some refill and '17%' (that's right) wines. You can't make Scotch whisky without table wine these days, I suppose there must be a new rule about that at the honourable SWA. I had thought the 2022 edition was really good (WF 80). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: I find it extremely barley-y, full of Weetabix, then mashed carrots, cut apples and plums. A good few tinned greengages too. Mouth: a tad rough, which is normal, with fruit peel, lemon zests, some muesli, more cereals, and something globally pretty tangy. Moves towards mirabelle plums and oranges, a very nice move for sure. Finish: long, tart, grassier as almost always, with green pears. The aftertaste has a lovely lemonness.  Comments: perhaps not quite on par with the awesome 2018 by Berry Bros. from last year but very solid young drop. Next step would be honeys and waxes, see you in a few years.
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Perhaps a butt…

Glenwyvis 2018/2024 (61.5%, OB, Kirsch exclusive, 1st fill oloroso sherry butt, cask #243, 671 bottles)

Glenwyvis 2018/2024 (61.5%, OB, Kirsch exclusive, 1st fill oloroso sherry butt, cask #243, 671 bottles) Four stars
We're in Germany. Colour: full gold. Nose: not that huge at this very high strength, but you do get pencil shavings and cocoa, as well as some kind of candied ginger dipped into orange syrup. Neat and tidy this far. With water: oranges are having the upper hand. Awesome old triple-sec, Grand-Marnier, Cointreau, Mandarine Impériale and all that. Rather less tannicity than feared, hurray. Mouth (neat): big, oak-spice-driven, apparently. Full of cinnamon mints and ginger. Awesome triple-sec + mango syrup combo in the background, but no chances taken, with water: almost no changes this time, it is a tad gritty, tea-ish and kind of tannic. On the other hand, this lovely citrus keeps it afloat and all remains well. Finish: long, spicy, zesty, fresh. The cedarwood is back in the aftertaste (a.k.a. pencil shavings) together with some peach liqueur. Comments: did I not miss the oloroso part? The 'obvious' oak never was a problem. Very, very nice young drop.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Since we're talking about Germany, just a few thoughts on this year's stunning Whisky Fair in Limburg. It's wonderful to see so many old friends again, and there are increasingly more new whiskies, although they are mainly from very young distilleries from around the world or names like Linkwood, Teaninich, Benrinnes, or Secret Orkneys that are 10 years old and bottled by young, vibrant, enthusiastic and sometimes pretty new independent bottlers. Very good indeed! However, what slightly worried me was the abundance of grey hair within the audience, including mine; it almost felt like being at a Stevie Nicks gig. Are the younger generations a little less interested in whisky? Or is it simply a matter of prices now being far too high? This trend is also apparent in the wine industry. Let's move on…

Strathearn 'Inaugural Release' (50%, OB, 2024)

Strathearn 'Inaugural Release' (50%, OB, 2024) Four stars
From a combination of virgin, bourbon and sherry casks, around 7 years old on average. Perthshire's quasi-pocket distillery Strathearn now belongs to Douglas Laing. We've already tried two or three indie youngsters, they were good. Colour: light gold. Nose: bread and pastry dough plus candied fruits. Simply perfect. Right, that was a bit short, so say panettone, sourdough bread, rhubarb juice and bamboo shoots. How does that sound? With water: fresh brioche straight from the baker's. Lovely breakfast. Also a closed pack of cigarettes (how about Gold Leaf?) Mouth (neat): mango, beeswax, more rhubarb, golden syrup, pancake sauce, green tea (Gunpowder) and pink grapefruit. Great idea to have waited quite bit longer before releasing a first official, well, release. With water: water pulls out sweet roots. Gentian, carrots, all complex flavours that are highly desirable in my book. Finish: long, rather more on milk chocolate and some slightly gingered orange juice. Touch of fresh turmeric in the aftertaste. Comments: awesomely complex at this age. TBH we visited the distillery while it had just been built and the tiny gear had been a little, let's say, frightening. Mea culpa, much impressed today.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Strathearn 10 yo 2014/2024 'Dramton Abbey' (57.1%, Thompson Bros., private bottling, 100l sherry cask)

Strathearn 10 yo 2014/2024 'Dramton Abbey' (57.1%, Thompson Bros., private bottling, 100l sherry cask) Four stars and a half
So, with a dozen friends including The Sponge, a Fiddler and the Thompsons, we got the keys of the distillery ten years ago and could make our own malt whisky under our own specs, with no distillery owners, manager or workers in the way! It's almost been as if we only had to leave the keys under the doormat when leaving. Thank God we were having M.D. (that's Master Distiller) Simon Thompson with us. This is the end result, ten years later. Colour: deep gold. Nose: right between some middle-aged rhum agricole, straight bourbon and fresh estate cognac. The sum of it all generates this… dazzlingly cakey malt whisky. As someone once sang, maybe I'm amazed. Love the parsley in it! With water: classic malt, with some ale, cakes, chocolate, tobacco, menthol, camphor and just a little rainwater and damp chalk in the background. Mouth (neat): tiny citrus and even tinier herbs, plus many variations on ginger and the usual turmeric and cinnamon. With water: superb. Fifty percent fir honey, fifty percent proper marmalade and fifty percent assorted oriental spices and rosewater. That's more than one hundred percent but indeed, it's big whisky. Finish: long, superbly jammy, candied and spicy. Peppered fig jam or something like that. Comments: clearly oriental in some way. We won't score this baby but rest assured that any numbers would have been pretty high. Regarding my own role in this work, I believe I butchered two or three old Alsatian Lieder and told a few pointless jokes during the heating. You see, that worked.
SGP:651 - (-) points.

Ardnamurchan 7 yo 2016/2023 (58.1%, OB, for Switzerland, 1st fill PX sherry hogshead, cask #838, 324 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 7 yo 2016/2023 (58.1%, OB, for Switzerland, 1st fill PX sherry hogshead, cask #838, 324 bottles) Four stars and a half
Ardnamurchan has now truly become a part of the landscape of great Scottish malts, with its splendid west coast aspect. Well, I don't always understand everything on the labels (AD/09:16, is that a reference to battleships?) but that's probably just me. Hoppla… Colour: full gold. Nose: someone has kilned a banana cake and then drizzled it with chestnut honey and mint-liquorice sauce. There's a very subtle, rather pleasant composted fruit aspect to it. With water: much the same, but with just a few hints of pea cream. Or take Ninon cream, quite an incredible thing. I'll see if I can find you the recipe… Mouth (neat): creamy, cheerfully medicinal, minty and lemony, with plenty of thyme (you have to like it, I personally love it) and some sultanas. The PX has remained refined. With water: we add some orange marmalade and a bit of ginger. Very classic. Finish: long, focused, always on this marmalade. Comments: superb, even if the PX seems to have slightly diminished some of the peatiness. It's true that PX can be overpowering, but here, we are well within limits.
SGP:654 - 88 points.

Ardnahoe 5 yo 'Inaugural Release' (50%, OB, 2024)

Ardnahoe 5 yo 'Inaugural Release' (50%, OB, 2024) Four stars and a half
The first one! Ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso sherry casks. To keep us waiting since the first distillation at Ardnahoe (they're situated between Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila) in 2018, Hunter Laing have been deliciously bombarding us maltheads with old Caol Ila, Laphroaig, Bunnahabhain, Bowmore, and even some very high-quality Port Ellen under their 'The Kinship' label. So frankly, we could have waited a few more years. Hey, just kidding. Colour: gold. Nose: it's very much pure Islay, perhaps leaning more towards the south shore than the east shore in style. But if I remember correctly, there's also a magnificent Celtic cross up there not too far from the east coast. Here the smoke is pronounced, slightly acrid (like a back-drafting fireplace), but there's a rather specific fruity combination right behind it. I'm not sure if it will be found in future bottlings, but I detect blood orange mixed with apricots and a few tomato notes. I love it when a bit of tomato comes through in a malt whisky. Even tomato bush. Brilliant. With water: not much development, maybe a bit more brininess, olives, pickles… Mouth (neat): very pure, crystalline, less oily and broad than the nose might suggest, hence a bit closer to its southern neighbour. Langoustines, oysters, granny smith apples, sea bream ceviche with lime and mint (why not?) plus green pepper and a touch of mint tea. A slight Jamaican rum aspect too, which is amusing. It's a 'good mood' whisky. With water: really, really good. In fact we're still a bit in the territory of an Islay distillery that starts with the same first three letters. Finish: same, although this time there's a more medicinal aspect coming through. Comments: it seems they really sought the DNA of Islay, rather than a more unique but perhaps more 'pretentious' and 'deviant' style. I find that clever. It's very, very, very good. And I like it that it's not NAS. I think we'll have more Ardnahoe soon.
SGP:467 - 89 points.

It's quite incredible how much Islay has changed. We will soon be republishing an old interview with a distillery manager that we conducted in 2004. You'll see just how amazing it is!

Many more young cats very soon…

 

May 9, 2024


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Tamdhu and Duich

Tamdhu

 

One OB vs. one IB, both sherry. Classic short line-up…

 

 

Tamdhu 14 yo 'Ambar' (43%, OB, travel retail, oloroso, +/-2021)

Tamdhu 14 yo 'Ambar' (43%, OB, travel retail, oloroso, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
Ambar means amber in Spanish, I believe it does too in English, but only with a Cockney accent. Not too sure whether this is full maturation in oloroso or only a finishing, not too websites seem to agree on that. It's to be noted that newer expressions seem to carry a vintage statement, but not this very one. Colour: more golden than 'ambar', but no worries. Nose: classic softness, with breakfast honey and dandelions, nougat, ripe plums… Well it does not feel like first fill oloroso (even speed-seasoned oloroso wood). A tiny whiff of fresh mint, caramel, orange blossom water, oriental pastries, a handful of juicy golden sultanas… Really nice and easy. Mouth: a touch of newer oak, pepper, cinnamon… Then more Speysidey nutty sherry, overripe apples, marmalade, cakes… And more oriental pastries. I'll dare add that it's sitting somewhere between young Glenrothes and Macallan (both OBs). These humble 43% do work. Finish: medium, rather sweet, a tad liqueury. Plum liqueur and a spoonful of molasses 'honey'. Comments: like this umpteenth variation on the most classic sherry theme rather a lot. Very easy whisky.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

Duich 8 yo 2016/2024 (57.2%, Dràm Mor, 1st fill PX hogshead finish, cask #30369, 230 bottles)

Duich 8 yo 2016/2024 (57.2%, Dràm Mor, 1st fill PX hogshead finish, cask #30369, 230 bottles) Four stars
Right, it seems you can no longer be a self-respecting Scottish distillery unless you have your own alternative name (trade name). It's quite chic, isn't it? But anyway, enthusiasts end up knowing them all. In any case, 'Duich' is the trade name for Tamdhu. I hope it's not pronounced 'douche'. Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh, we're having a good laugh, as this is full of cellulose varnish and wood glue on the first nosing. Sawdust from fir, thuja, yew, spruce… Then it transforms into amyl diacetate, so pineapple and pear, then moves on to small herbs and roots. Wild carrots remain my favourite. A rather mad Duich on the nose, the exact opposite of the official one. With water: adds a touch of coconut milk and new leather, plus, indeed, dry PX. Mouth (neat): massive, robust, a bit spicy, very concentrated, more on citrus marmalades and jams this time. Quite a bit of ginger and turmeric from the wood. With water: almost enough to spread on our toast. Between bitter orange marmalade and candied ginger. Finish: endless, spicy, and still very marked by bitter citrus, but also the liqueurs made from these same citrus fruits. Comments: another madness from Dràm Mor. With this kind of fairly extreme drop you can't become jaded with whisky, even if it's a bit scary from time to time, like a roller coaster. Oh well, see what I'm meaning.
SGP:571 - 87 points.

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

 

May 8, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today Glenlivet old young and recent old

The kind of game we like, especially with Glenlivet. Or Glen Grant. This brings us to that recurring cruel dilemma: should we first sample the oldest one, which is of a lower strength, or the younger one, which is of a higher strength? We have never really found the perfect answer, so let's start with this venerable 12-year-old that will serve as a prestigious aperitif...

'The Glenlivet Just Slightly Out Of Reach'. An ultra-classic advertising angle. (Print ad, 1986)

Glenlivet

 

 

Smith's Glenlivet 12 yo 1958/1971 (70°proof, OB for Peter Dominic ltd., sherry wood, cask #2483 and 2484, 26 2/3 ozs)

Smith's Glenlivet 12 yo 1958/1971 (70°proof, OB for Peter Dominic ltd., sherry wood, cask #2483 and 2484, 26 2/3 ozs) Four stars and a half
We had tried a 1967 for Peter Dominic that had been flabbergasting (WF 93). Peter Dominic was a London wine merchant that, apparently, had been bought up by IDV (J&B, Gilbey's) so then, I think, GrandMet before this Glenlivet was bottled. The Peter Dominic company had also written 'Everybody's Wine Guide' that you can still find online. It's now become a 'non-trading company'. Colour: full gold. Nose: It's the elegance of these old Glenlivets that strikes first, featuring hints of rosewood, aged tobacco, old floor wax, and beeswax, then a burst of freshness, especially from very ripe apples and praline. A charming and subtle aroma, not unlike an old Sauternes that has already shed nearly all its sugars. Mouth: Quite dry, leaning towards the sultanas from an old tin box (a personal quirk), but with a touch of cardboard, chicken broth, a bit of salt, mint sauce (typically British!), and hints of honey or mead syrup. There's a slight metallic edge, probably some Old Bottle Effect, but the whole remains fresh and eminently enjoyable. Finish: Not as short as you might think, with a sort of broth and honey mix. A superb aftertaste of fine honeys. Comments: Typical of a great whisky from an old bottle. The 70 proof/40% ABV aren't exactly the best for keeping well for centuries, but in my humble opinion, it's still very, very good.
SGP:552 - 88 points.

Glenlivet 32 yo 1990/2023 'Lost in Time' (62.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, refill hogshead, cask #27277, 132 bottles)

Glenlivet 32 yo 1990/2023 'Lost in Time' (62.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, refill hogshead, cask #27277, 132 bottles) Five stars
I deeply like it that they would have let the distillates sing within this newish series, instead of burying them under heavy oaks and wines, as is the latest fashion in whisky. Well, I might have written this somewhere before. Colour: gold. Nose: superb tension, focusing on cider, fresh barley, and green tea. Not much else, but that's normal for such a wild strength at 32 years old. Long live the refills! With water: it stays very close to the barley, earth, dark beer, cider apple, in short, the countryside. A few crumpled mint leaves add to the mix. Mouth (neat): this wild tension returns, more lemony this time but also with honey and linden tea and coriander leaf. It pinches the tongue a bit but we like that. Yes, indeed. With water: perfect, with the diabolical duo of granny smith apple and lemon, then several honeys and honeydews. It's high precision and somewhat returns to the profile of very old Glenlivets that hadn't been fully crafted in sherry. At least, that's how it seems to me. Finish: long, always fresh, vibrant, precise, and remarkably and gloriously simple. Class, in a word. Comments: a magnificent series that in terms of profile, takes a bit of a contrarian approach to what else is happening in the competition. Well, it might not be a very 'mainstream' expression.
SGP:561 - 91 points.

(Thank you mucho, Logan !)

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

 

May 7, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today young Cardhu

Back from Andalusia where we enjoyed some excellent PX 'seco' from Malaga (I wouldn't swap a good bottle of dry PX for a crate of 'dulce' PX), and where Cardhu appears to still be quite a strong brand, just as in France. Let's therefore try a little couple of young Cardhus...

(Magazine ad with some teaser, 1980)

Cardhu

 

 

Cardhu 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2023)

Cardhu 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2023) Two stars
We've last tried this fairly common and lightish expression in 2017 (WF 75). Earlier 'white label' bottlings from the 1970s and 1980s (8 yo, 12 yo) were something else. Colour: light gold. Nose: it's easy to imagine why it's a long-standing success in Spain and France, this is a nice 'apéritif' nose, rather fresh, with some cut apples and a little agave syrup. Fresh pack of Fruit Loops, then even more fresh apples, also apple compote, pack of orange drops... Mouth: a little hard to understand after the pleasant nose. Light bodied. Some bitterer grasses, mashes, bonbons, oversteeped green tea, macha tea, touches of bitterer zests… I would suppose this baby really needs a few ice cubes. Finish: a little nicer, with some toasted oak, chocolate, mocha, nutmeg… Some parts of this finish remind me of modern young Macallan. Oakier aftertaste, teas and herbal teas… Comments: score almost unchanged. We'll try it again around 2019 – maybe.
SGP:241 – 74 points.

Cardhu 12 yo 'Wine Cask 200th Anniversary' (40%, OB, 2023)

Cardhu 12 yo 'Wine Cask 200th Anniversary' (40%, OB, 2023) Two stars and a half
Indeed, Cardhu is 200 this year in 2024, however, it is not immune to the affliction that has been affecting most Scottish malts for the past two or four years: the massive use of table wine (We're not talking about fortified wines like sherry, are we?). Having said that, our friends in Scotland don't stop improving their methods, so we're no longer safe from an excellent surprise. Oh and looks like this is full-maturing, or at least a 3 years-and-1-day finishing (so indeed maturation). Colour: apricot. So, red wine. Nose: loses you quick. You do get crushed berries, peonies, flavoured pipe tobacco (cherry-seasoned), but you also find butterscotch and treacle toffee, which just everyone is finding pretty nice. Including this humble little taster. Nutshell, we're between a moist fruitcake and some no-less moist gingerbread.  Mouth: quite some action despite the low strength, with chocolates filled with raspberry and pear liqueur, lots of cherry, or cherry pastries, speculoos, chocolate turrón (as I mentioned we're just coming back from Spain), and a bit of coffee... In short, it's like a cocktail or premix, but it's rather well done. Finish: quite long, with these even more pronounced cherry notes, followed by a bit of thyme honey and peppermint candy. Comments: I must admit I prefer this unlikely concoction to the shy recent standard 12-year-olds. Happy 200th anniversary, Cardhu.
SGP:551 - 79 points.

Quick bonus: we just found this one in one of the boxes…

Cardhu 'Gold Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Cardhu 'Gold Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2015) Two stars and a half
One of the first renditions of this very humble NAS. At 40% ABV and without an age statement, one shouldn't expect any of Beethoven's symphonies, right. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very close to the 12. Having them side by side is making this obvious, this is just a little more modest and immediately grassy and on green tea. I like both noses, but we know that the devil is rather lurking on our palates… Mouth: rather unexpectedly, I like this one a little better than the 12, but it's still a little weak, tea-ish, slightly bitter, with fruit peelings rather than flesh. A little white chocolate, which appeals to the child within us all. Finish: a little short, grassy, but not unpleasant. Bonbons and touches of pepper and gin in the aftertaste. Comments: we hope for a special version at a higher proof soon!
SGP:651 - 77 points.

Well, it seems that the wine-boosted version was the favourite. I may need to see a doctor...

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

 

May 6, 2024


Whiskyfun

What would you think of another little trip kind of around the world?
And we set off from France, as usual…

 

 

A Roborel de Climens 'Finition Tourbé #0001' (46%, OB, France, Cuvée Ephémère, +/-2023)

A Roborel de Climens 'Finition Tourbé #0001' (46%, OB, France, Cuvée Ephémère, +/-2023) Four stars and a half
A truly unique culinary approach, yet this creativity is also part of the charm of these editions. It's a French malt, aged for 30 months in French oak barrels, then refined for 6 months in a Sauternes cask (Doisy Daëne, actually a Barsac, but Barsac is a type of Sauternes s you know), and then 12 months in a peated Islay cask. What a recipe! Colour: pale gold. Nose: of course, it's the peat that dominates, as expected. However, there is a nice balance with notes of quince from the Sauternes, as well as hints of honey and chamomile. The combination offers a somewhat camphor-and-menthol aspect which, I wonder, may stem from the peat + Sauternes mix. It's fresh, lively, even poetic. Mouth: I didn't expect it to work so well on the palate, and I wouldn't hesitate to compare it to a young Kornog Sauternes cask from quite a few years ago. Some salt, Williams pears, a bit of salted butter caramel, a more subdued honey side but with more tangerine, maybe that's the sémillon. Looks like Doisy Daëne is almost entirely sémillon. Finish: quite long, fresh, still slightly salty, this time with also some smoke and camphor, plus those pears. Comments: I wasn't too keen on the idea at first, but I absolutely love the result. Almost like molecular whisky à la elBulli. I hear it has become a museum?
SGP:653 - 88 points.

The English Company 11 yo 'Batch 1' (46%, OB, England, bourbon, 2466 bottles, 2022)

The English Company 11 yo 'Batch 1' (46%, OB, England, bourbon, 2466 bottles, 2022) Three stars and a half
Some say there will soon be sixty (60) distilleries making whisky in England alone. Colour: pale gold. Nose: It's soft, with acacia honey, lemon balm, the coconut from the bourbon cask, the vanilla from the same origin, tarte tatin, pistachio... All of this is really pretty, elegant, gentle, easy... Mouth: The influence of the cask is quite pronounced, starting off very well with apple, beeswax, and fresh mint, but then becoming a bit more tart, with notes of peach skin, cherry stems, nutmeg, white pepper... Finish: medium length, balanced between woody and yellow fruits and honey notes. Grapefruit in the aftertaste. Comments: It's really well done, it's just a pity that the woody notes are a bit too pronounced, like in an overly steeped, very good tea.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

The Oxford Artisan Distillery 2019/2023 (54.5%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Collective #1 The Pioneers, rye, England, hogshead, cask #21)

The Oxford Artisan Distillery 2019/2023 (54.5%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Collective #1 The Pioneers, rye, England, hogshead, cask #21) Three stars and a half
We've already tried some excellent rye from Oxford. Colour: white wine. Nose: right, cereals, rye, wormwood, fennel, chalk and old-school anise-driven Eastern-European 'Kräuter Likör'. Some lamp oil too, paraffin oil… There's something dry and less bready than we would have expected. With water: bowls and bowls of caraway and cumin. Shall we call it aquavity?  Mouth (neat): anise bread, pine needles, varnish and paint, bitter herbs… And Dantziger Goldwasser. Do you know that dazzling liqueur? With water: once again this very herbal side that's very dominant. More anise bread – also anis bredala as we say here. This is almost Christmas. Finish: long. Caraway, aniseed, rye bread, four and chalk. Comments: I'm not sure I'm getting everything here, but it's a mighty dram for sure.
SGP:471 - 84 points.

Bimber 2017/2023 'Imperial Stout Beer Finish' (56.8%, OB, England, LMDW, cask #259, 257 bottles)

Bimber 2017/2023 'Imperial Stout Beer Finish' (56.8%, OB, England, LMDW, cask #259, 257 bottles) Four stars and a half
In a way, for whisky, which is essentially distilled beer, finishing in beer casks could make more sense than in wine casks, right? Not too sure about my theory though... Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah there we have it, tapioca and polenta, white chocolate, rice pudding, very smooth sake, marzipan, orange... It's really amusing and pretty. Especially since I'm not sure I've ever tasted an Imperial Stout. With water: a hint of gunpowder, it's then very yeasty (baker's yeast), followed by cocoa and rather heady flowers. For example, lilies (royal ones, ha). Mouth (neat): It's really very good, just a bit strong. The unexpected freshness makes you think you could sip it like a spritz, but not at all. With water: very surprising and very good. Lots of clementines, Suze, verbena from Velay, all of that works very well. Finish: the same. Comments: the only problem is that it doesn't bring back the dark beers I used to drink when I first went to Scotland over forty years ago (yeah). Mackeson Stout for example - I used to believe it was Scottish, ha, I'm just realising it wasn't as we speak. But this slightly mad Bimber makes for a rather fantastic achievement.
SGP:652 - 88 points.

English beer, they say…

Filey Bay 'Porter Cask' (50%, OB, Spirit Of Yorkshire Distillery, Special Release, England, 2000 bottles, 2024)

Filey Bay 'Porter Cask' (50%, OB, Spirit Of Yorkshire Distillery, Special Release, England, 2000 bottles, 2024) Four stars
I'm sure I never, ever tried a Porter. They say they've been using Rip Curl beer. I thought Rip Curl were rather famous for their bikinis, no? But long live co-branding, I prefer Rip Curl to Bentley or Aston (when it comes to co-branding, we're not talking cars). Colour: pale gold. Nose: once again it's a little subdued, with cocoa, wheat bran, toasted cereals, then green banana and apple. It's pretty pleasant. With water: soft, with notes of brioche, biscuit. Vanilla and honey. Mouth (neat): it works very well on the palate, more so than on the nose, it's more expressive. White and yellow fruits, peanut butter, mirabelle plum liqueur... However, its youthful character is also evident. With water: simply don't add water, or if you do, just a tiny drop. Finish: medium, with hints of cake, chalk, cocoa. Comments: it's very well done. All that's left for me is to find some Rip Curl Porter, although I doubt we can get that in France. We tend to prefer surfing.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Perhaps a little German…

St. Kilian 'Rich & Smoky' (46%, OB, Germany, peated, +/-2023)

St. Kilian 'Rich & Smoky' (46%, OB, Germany, peated, +/-2023) Three stars and a half
They've used some Scottish peated malt (54ppm) and matured the distillate in 70% bourbon and 30% sherry. They're using Scottish pot stills too, no Müller or Holstein (we've got nothing against Müller or Holstein, naturally). Colour: pale gold. Nose: the malt may well have lost quite a few ppms in transit, but it is still a clean, Scottish-inspired, so coastal, apple-and-lime-driven malt, with lovely medicinal, mentholated touches and the expected oysters and langoustines. Behind that, apples and peaches. Mouth: it's more on 'sweet ashes', plums, lemon and mint cordial, chalk, paprika, saffron… It's a tad soft, I believe they may have wanted to bottle this at 50% instead. Just an idea. Notes of crayons. Finish: medium, brighter, with more ashy lime and peated apples. Something like that. Seawater, manzanilla and one olive in the aftertaste. Awesome finish. Comments: it is not Port Ellen but I really like it. I really believe a few extra-watts would do it much good.
SGP:656 - 83 points.

Good, someone tells me we've got room for a last one…

St. Kilian 2019/2022 'Signature Edition Eleven' (46.2. OB, Germany, 8340 bottles)

St. Kilian 2019/2022 'Signature Edition Eleven' (46.2. OB, Germany, 8340 bottles) Four stars
Matured in Jack Daniel's barrels (brokered by Keith Richards, I suppose).  Colour: white wine. Nose: pure barley and ripe apples, plus touches of pastry dough, grist, a tiny touch of eucalyptus, sauna oil and some rather delicate peat smoke. This cannot be ex-54ppm peat, and the Jack behaved. Very nice. Mouth: simple barley eau-de-vie with some smoke and ashes. The thing is, we enjoy simple barley eau-de-vie with some smoke and ashes. As well as little plums, plasticine, salty mussels and grey pepper. Finish: rather long, very pleasant, with some crème de menthe and eucalyptus cordial, plus ashes and just ripe apples. Comments: the difficulty lies in the fact that one can't help but compare these young peated whiskies from the continent to the great whiskies of Islay. Therefore, we must try to remain 'neutral', acting as if one has never tasted peated whisky before (I know, it's really hard). In any case, I am very fond of this well-balanced St. Kilian.
SGP:555 - 85 points.
 

May 5, 2024


Whiskyfun

 

Quickly, some cognac and armagnac
(a somewhat cursed session)

These aged wine brandies continue to win the hearts of whisky enthusiasts. Today, however, we will avoid the somewhat stereotypical verticals, especially since the common practice of storing in demijohns, although making a lot of sense, often prevents having a very precise notion of the age of these spirits. A 1960 might actually be much younger than another from 1980... unless, of course, all the data are provided by the bottlers, which is increasingly common. Anyway, we love them! But let's start with a quick little aperitif...

Folle Blanche
Folle Blanche
(Jules Troncy, 'Traité général de viticulture', 1901)

Oh by the way, the news this week reported that Campari has just bought the Courvoisier cognac brand for over a billion euros, while the house was previously owned by Suntory Global Spirits (formerly Beam-Suntory). That said, it's not the type of cognac we try often at Whiskyfun; we much prefer cognacs from own estates or high-quality small négociants/éleveurs. Anyway, moving on (but still, over a billion euros!)

 

ABK6 'VS' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne , +/-2023)

ABK6 'VS' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne , +/-2023) Two stars and a half
This is likely the youngest of the cognacs from the Abécassis/ABK6 house. Sometimes advertised as a blend by some merchants, but my bottle clearly states 'Grande Champagne'. Of course, it could still be a blend from different Grande Champagne areas. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a hint of grape stems, sultanas, vanilla, liquorice allsorts, peach skins, and a bit of cane syrup. It's quite fresh, with no detectable caramel or woodiness, and maybe there isn't any. Mouth: rather pleasant, a bit sweet, then herbaceous. A note of thick-skinned grape berry. There's some cane syrup, but unfortunately, the overall experience dips a bit afterwards and becomes somewhat weak. It lacks presence, despite a liquorice aspect. Finish: short, still a bit herbaceous, with grape berry notes, even a hint of muscat. Liquorice returns in the aftertaste. Comments: on the other hand, this very young cognac is marketed as a cocktail component. I always find this rather diminishing for an aged spirit (not the use in cocktails but making it a marketing angle). Still, it remains a very decent cognac.
SGP:451 - 77 points.

 

Giboin 2003/2024 (46.5%, OB for Passion for Whisky, Fins Bois, cask #602, 120 bottles)

Giboin 2003/2024 (46.5%, OB for Passion for Whisky, Fins Bois, cask #602, 120 bottles) Four stars
A very nice estate in the Borderies, but this time it is a Fins Bois as they also own vines in that Cru. Already a nice age for a Fins Bois, these cognacs are usually 'swallowed' by the younger large-volume cognacs. But good houses are bottling some superb 'single' Fins Bois these days. Colour: deep amber. Nose: a very pretty nose, featuring brown sugar, maple syrup, dark nougat, then a blend of very ripe exotic fruits, figs, and a tiny hint of rubber, which, in reality and in this context, adds structure. There's also a bit of icy mint. Mouth: quite robust this time, with a mix of spices, caraway, then that famous dark nougat, and notes of black tea leading to a fairly pronounced woodiness. Roasted almonds and chestnuts too. Finish: rather long, with a bit of glue, a slight bitterness that suits it well (still that black tea, some pronounced pepper) and chocolate stuffed with orange jelly in the aftertaste. Yes, in the Dalmore style, if you will. Comments: The woodiness is quite prominent but reasonable in this somewhat rustic yet very high-quality cognac. To take on a picnic?
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Domaine d'Espérance 2003/2024 (48.4%, Grape of The Art, Bas-aramagnac, cask #60, 257 bottles)

Domaine d'Espérance 2003/2024 (48.4%, Grape of The Art, Bas-aramagnac, cask #60, 257 bottles) Five stars
100% baco hybrid here. The domain is located in Mauvezin-d'Armagnac, just east of Labastide while we've already had a rather grand official Espérance 2001 earlier in February (WF 90). So, there's hope (oh, good one S.! Pff…) Colour: gold. Nose: the absolute opposite of the Giboin cognac, with lots of fresh orchard fruits, not necessarily all fully ripe but this adds even more complexity. 'Of course' there are mirabelles, apples, nectarines, apricots... Then, I find plenty of notes from old agricole rum, especially the floral aspect (ylang-ylang). In the end, we find those wonderful sweet yet dry white wines (you see what I mean) from the South-West of France, like Jurançon moelleux. Mouth: nice tension on slightly salty apple at the start, with a lovely acidity, (this time it's a dry Jurançon!) and powerful honey, like oak honeydew. Nougatine then adds some roundness, followed by sweet liquorice. Still maintaining a very nice tension in the background, this Armagnac can be enjoyed like a wine (but in smaller quantities, don't get me wrong). Finish: long, beautiful, sweeter, balanced, driven by liquorice and honey. Comments: extremely good.
SGP:641 - 90 points.

Amusingly, this Armagnac was smoother and more civilised than the previous cognac. Let's continue…

Domaine de Poutëou 21 yo 2001/2023 (48.6%, Alabat, Bas-armagnac, cask #340, 250 bottles)

Domaine de Poutëou 21 yo 2001/2023 (48.6%, Alabat, Bas-armagnac, cask #340, 250 bottles) Five stars
We're in the very same region here, in Lannemaignan this time. These young independent bottlers really take great care with their labels and are not afraid to break the mould, making them closer to the new wave vintners. Honestly, it's fantastic; traditional dressings in Scotland, France, or elsewhere can sometimes be so dull and formulaic they could make a brick cry. Colour: amber. Nose: leans towards caramel, fudge, nougat, popcorn, maple syrup, pancake sauce, then quince jelly, peppermint, cider, followed by dandelions, lilies, wisteria (mine are in bloom at WF Towers, forcing me to close my windows each time I taste, it's that powerful. Really.) Then again touches of agricole rum. A very pretty nose, classic and balanced, without harshness. Mouth: the slight roughness of the Armagnac country adds structure to this avalanche of citrus and, I insist heavily, agricole rum. I swear, there's a Neisson-like aspect! Slight varnish, bananas, liquorice, Earl Grey. Finish: the same. A magnificent finale, both soft and taut, very moreish. They should really make magnums (ha). Comments: it's also true that we are at the heart of where it's delightful.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

We're heading back to the Cognac region...

Godet 24 yo 1999/2024 (47.1%, OB, Petite champagne, single cask, Spring 2024 Edition)

Godet 24 yo 1999/2024 (47.1%, OB, Petite champagne, single cask, Spring 2024 Edition) Five stars
100% ugni blanc. It is said that the Godet house is the second oldest in all of Cognac, founded in 1588 in La Rochelle (rugby and sailing fans ahoy). They therefore surpass Bowmore, Glenturret, and Littlemill simultaneously in this regard. For a bit of trivia, the French word 'godet' can also be translated as 'wee dram' in Scottish. Colour: brilliant gold. Nose: starts with wood polish and dandelion flowers, then ripe peaches and quince jelly, followed by acacia and elderflower, then meadow honeys and nectars, and finally a twenty-year-old Sauternes from a balanced vintage. Add a bit of maple syrup and orgeat, and you have a nose that is quite compact—in the sense of being coherent—and rather magnificent. Mouth: the wood tickles immediately but is followed by fresh mushrooms (not the kind of mushrooms that are a flaw), then small herbs (verbena, chocolate mint) and candied citrus. Finally, canned peach drizzled with honey adds its traditional juicy touch. Finish: medium length, more liquorice-like, with some wood spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg) and a bit of clove. A slight salty hint in the aftertaste, which always adds dimension. Comments: another rather splendid offering, to a degree likely to attract whisky enthusiasts. In any case, it works for the one at the keyboard. Excellent 'wee dram'.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

It seems we are on a streak of 90s...

Dartigalongue 1992/2024 (46%, OB, Bas-armagnac)

Dartigalongue 1992/2024 (46%, OB, Bas-armagnac) Five stars
This one was just bottled in April by the famous house from Nogaro in the Gers. Colour: copper. Nose: it's a more traditional armagnac, with more chocolate, pipe tobacco, coffee, marmalade, prunes, darjeeling, rancio, old Maury, PX, old vintage Port, a little wood smoke, morels, beef bouillon… To be honest this is almost immediate post-WW2 Glenlivet. Hope I'm not ruffling any feathers here. Mouth: exactly. Very old-school, oak-forward (no flaw, a proper style), full of black tea, bitter chocolate, coffee-schnapps (you choose the schnapps), sloe spirit, umami sauce, old stout, sorrel soup, plus indeed those mushrooms. Probably the style that many Scots have tried, sometimes successfully, to recreate by using very active sherry casks. Finish: it is at this stage that the difference becomes very marked, with a rustic and very grapey side characteristic of these very traditional Armagnacs. Wood is very present in the aftertaste, but I insist, it's a style, not a flaw. Comments: so, a Speyside from Gers or an Armagnac from Speyside? Alright, let's stick to the label. The score won't surprise you…
SGP:371 - 90 points.

Lhéraud 'Lot 70/23' (51.9%, Le Gus't, Petite champagne, 178 bottles)

Lhéraud 'Lot 70/23' (51.9%, Le Gus't, Petite champagne, 178 bottles) Four stars
Well, the very Macallany Lhéraud 78/23 by Le Gus't had fetched… 90 indeed, back in March. Is this some kind of positive curse? The 90-curse? I swear I'm not making this up. Indeed this should be a 1970, great vintage in southwest France. Ah, Latour '70! Colour: golden amber. Nose: It leans closer to old bourbons, with vanilla and aged varnish, then a whopping fifty tonnes of mirabelles, and perhaps even a hint of mirabelle brandy. This aspect is really astonishing but of course, if you love mirabelle as much as I do, you'll be in heaven. Quite a bit of praline as well. With water: it becomes a bit more herbaceous, more on fruit peels, even wine lees. Mouth (neat): a lot of stewed fruits, still with mirabelles, as well as apples and pears, quince, nougat, marzipan with kirsch, and always a bit of varnish. Bergamot too. There are people who despise bergamot but I will never understand them; I adore bergamot. Swiss-style apricot brandy. With water: this time it stays fruity, but you'll have to settle for a drop or two of water. Finish: long, quite green, herbaceous. It's like a young cognac! Green pepper. Comments: this one, excellent though it is, gave me more trouble. It must be me... It remains a great old cognac. That said, it relates to the vintage effect; I had tasted some 1970 Pauillacs which, indeed, took a long time to shed their harsh and closed side.
SGP:571 - 87 points.

Let's move on to the era of The Doors, Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Léo Ferré, Jacques Brel...

Arbellot de Vacqueur 'Lot No.67' (52.4%, Through the Grapevine, LMDW, Bons Bois, 2023)

Arbellot de Vacqueur 'Lot No.67' (52.4%, Through the Grapevine, LMDW, Bons Bois, 2023) Five stars
A little Cognac house I had never heard of before, but then again, I am probably to Cognac what Donald trump is to the clavichord. Useless. Colour: copper amber. Nose: varnish, preserved peaches, acacia honey, hessian, camphor, eucalyptus. With water: sublime earthiness. Visiting an old temple in Nepal, an old wine cellar in Burgundy, a mushroom farm in the Loire Valley, a fir forest in Scandinavia... Mouth (neat): a marvellous earthy and phenolic character, packed with mushrooms, glue, acetone, varnish, even sweet vinegar, mango brandy (a very special thing), olive oil... It has gone wild and we love that. With water: magnificent. Sandalwood and cedar, old cigars, earth and wet moss... Finish: medium length, heavily leaning towards moss, algae, and roots. Comments: the only problem is that it is almost impossible to dilute them properly. Unlike most whiskies and some rums, these spirits tend to 'snap' as soon as you add just one drop of water too many—a kind of threshold effect. That said, we totally love this very earthy 1967 Arbellot de Vacqueur. And we have overcome the Indian sign...
SGP:462 - 91 points.

 

Domaine de Baraillon 1963/2023 (45%, OB, Bas-armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1963/2023 (45%, OB, Bas-armagnac) Four stars
More from the fauve sands. This is a tirage from October 2023. I've nosed it before and I believe it is an unusual Baraillon. Colour: copper. Nose: It's very 'cooked' on the nose, almost like a fruit sauce with prunes and perhaps red wine, maybe Madiran since we're in the region. Indeed, it's very 'tannat', with a gamey edge. Quite astonishing, it also brings to mind a Cahors (Cahors was very heavily hit by hail three days ago—sending courage their way!) Behind all this are some wild herbs and, frankly, garlic cep mushrooms. Lautrec garlic is the best. We're truly in the region; only the duck breasts and foie gras are missing. Mouth: pronounced wood, mint, very dark chocolate, substantial pepper, unsweetened coffee, game, cloves, dried parsley... And a magnum of the most extreme red Madirans. I recommend Château d'Aydie; it's inexpensive and superb, but it needs time in the cellar. In any case, we have a Baraillon that is truly unlike any other. Finish: it begins to recover but it's a bit late. Still a lot of bitter chocolate, barely saved by Seville oranges and strong mint. Comments: what an unusual Baraillon...
SGP:271 - 85 points.

One last one... Much older...

François Voyer 'Lot 28 Le Sourire' (41%, Malternative Belgium, Grande champagne, demi-john, 2023)

François Voyer 'Lot 28 Le Sourire' (41%, Malternative Belgium, Grande champagne, demi-john, 2023) Five stars
It seems this demijohn was bottled on Belgian National Day, which, to my great surprise, does not coincide with the International Day of Shrimp Croquettes (I.D.S.C.). Note that this Cognac was distilled 95 years ago, the year one of our heroes Horace Silver was born. Colour: copper gold. Nose: what splendour! We do not know the age of this Cognac, at least not when it was transferred to the demijohn, but the person who oversaw this process must surely have been a genius. Incredible ancient peach liqueur, Atlas honey (the best in the world), argan oil, very old green Chartreuse, similar Bénédictine, precious figs, saffron cream... But what splendour indeed! Mouth: one might have thought it would be a bit fragile on the palate, but not at all. Incredible citrus and small aromatic herbs, a hundred different honeys, three drops of orange juice, sweet woodruff syrup, peach liqueur again and again, a bit of sweet mint... Finish: yes, and it's truly regrettable. But what follows the finish of a great cognac is always a great cognac (please cut the crap, S.) Comments: unbelievable. 1928, that's when The Kellogg–Briand Pact was signed in Paris, it was the first treaty which outlawed 'aggressive war'. No comment.
SGP:551 - 93 points.

Yes, I've noticed that we've ended up doing this session vertically. We just can't help it, is it serious, Herr doctor?

(With thanks to the Whisky Kingdom and other friends)

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

 

May 4, 2024


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland


Oban through the years

We don't often get a chance to do a proper session with Oban, so I'm looking forward to this one, trying new Obans always feels like a little bit of a treat. I'm a big lover of west highland malts generally, and Oban is up there with the best in my view.
Angus  

 

It's a characterful make that manages to be complex and often rather challenging without reliance on peat. It's one of those robust and full-bodied profiles that you can find at Ben Nevis or Clynelish in that respect, and similar to those two names, it's not a whisky for beginners. Finally, I would also say that the standard 14yo is one of my immediate go to drams if it's on the gantry in a bar. Anyway, let's proceed and go backwards today if that's alright? Oban is one of those rare names that you can do old to new or vice versa without too much upset in my experience. We'll do these first two side by side, which is a head to head I've always wanted to do!

 

 

Oban 12 yo (43%, OB, cut decanter bottle, Italian import, 1970s)

Oban 12 yo (43%, OB, cut decanter bottle, Italian import, 1970s)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: mustard powder, dry waxes and beach pebbles! Love this profile that speaks to exactly that type of profile I was alluding to in the intro: robust and charismatic, but without much peat. Having said that, there is a tiny, fractal suggestion of peat in the mix here. Lovely gentle coastal quality, and a few crystallised exotic fruits emerging with a little time. Mouth: amazing power at only 43% and in an undeniably silly decanter bottle for decades. A lot of assertive salty and peppery qualities, very saline, very drying and really punchy! Dry waxes, mustard once again, some gentian, some liquorice root and some herbal bitters. Whisky for serious, brooding grown-ups! Finish: long, superbly warming, peppery, salty and mineral, with sandalwood and wee impressions of gorse flower and dried papaya in the aftertaste. Comments: I adore these old bottles, they are impressively powerful and display a profile that's pretty distinctive, even amongst other old style whiskies of the era. The one distillery that keeps popping into my head when trying this is Banff, with is frequently mustardy/waxy profile.

SGP: 363 - 90 points.

 

 

Oban 12 yo (70 proof, OB, decanter bottle, UK, late 1970s)

Oban 12 yo (70 proof, OB, pear shape decanter bottle, UK, late 1970s)
Colour: pale gold (a shade darker!) Nose: very close, but a broader waxiness and perhaps a little more peppery than mustardy. Otherwise this is really the same profile, similarly enchanting coastal vibes, tiny inclusions of peat and a wonderful sense of 'fulness'. Mouth: you do notice the loss of those three extra degrees of alcohol here, but it doesn't really impact the quality or the overall profile I would say. Just that this is rather more creamy, while still being generally very saline once again, very peppery, on cupboard spices, brittle waxes, cooking oils and I would say a notch more dry peat. Still excellent! Finish: still a good length if ever so slightly shorter, and I would say similar if a tad fruitier and more towards medicines in the aftertaste. Comments: top class, old school Oban and very similar to the older version, I just thing those extra 3 degrees of alcohol - as is so often the case with these old official bottlings - make a noticeable difference. Now, we're still very close in terms of quality and character. These bottlings are super fun to dissect in a tasting glass, but personally, these are my ideal tumbler whiskies of an evening when in the mood for a dram.

SGP: 463 - 89 points.

 

 

Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, circa 2000)

Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, circa 2000)
Colour: gold. Nose: softer and fruitier than the older ones, more on green fruits and yellow flowers, but this subtle sense of peppery and waxy backbone with hints of mustard powder are still there. Also these robust cooking oil notes and gorse flower - it's generally rather more floral I would say. Mouth: same impression of a rather challenging and powerful make where that power is all about coastal notes, drier more saline qualities, peppery once again, very delicate medical notes, some herbal teas and mineral oils. Finish: medium, more herbal tea notes, some orange peel, wee sappy touches and sandalwood impressions once again. Comments: this is excellent as well, although not quite up there with the old 12s in my view. Conversely, I also think that more recent batches of the 14yo are even better, and often up at that same 90 point level. Someone with more time (and cash) than me, should put together an Oban 14 vertical one day, it's always a fascinating bottling to follow.
SGP: 451 - 86 points.

 

 

Oban 10 yo (57.1%, OB 'Special Releases', 2022)

Oban 10 yo (57.1%, OB 'Special Releases', 2022)
Called 'The Hidden Paradise of Black Rock' and featuring a purple rabbit - no doubt in reference to the charming little bay where Oban locals enjoy micro-dosing LSD. This has undergone a secondary maturation in ex-sherry and Amontillado seasoned casks. Colour: straw. Nose: once again, rather fruitier than the older ones, although it does have that Oban 'weight' about it, which is pleasing. Goes on with some putty and waxy notes, pineapple and a wee hint of caraway. With water: saltier, leaner, tougher and more oily and mustardy. Maybe the soul of Banff really does reside in Oban these days. Mouth: very nice Oban fatness with peppery and mustardy warmth, a hint of pickled tarragon, some seawater, lemon rind, putty and then more sherried aspects such as green walnuts and almonds. With water: leathery, still pretty salty and fatty, some pancetta, thick olive oil, crushed aspirin and heather ale. Finish: good length, going back towards light waxes, sweet honeys, breakfast cereals and dried flowers. Comments: I am a huge fan of Oban, and I don't want to complain too much about any new bottling of it because it's always a pleasure to try a new one. But, and I appreciate I am not the general target consumer here, couldn't we pretty please just have 10yo 100 proof refill wood Oban OB in the standard Oban bottle? I mean, all you'd have to do would be to change the '14' to a '10' and the '43%' to '57.1%'. Oh, and the whisky, you'd need to change that as well. But seriously, I'm not kidding, Oban deserves its own Lagavulin 12 treatment so to speak… 

SGP: 462 - 87 points.

 

 

Oban 11 yo 'Batch 3' (53.9%, OB 'Hand Filled Distillery Exclusive', bourbon, 575 bottles, 2023)

Oban 11 yo 'Batch 3' (53.9%, OB 'Hand Filled Distillery Exclusive', bourbon, 575 bottles, 2023)
Colour: white wine. Nose: if there were such a thing as salty bubblegum (perhaps there is?) this is it! All manner of crushed greenery, flower stems, parsley and vase water, alongside crushed seashells, beach sand, pebbles, mineral salts and white coastal flowers. Love this nose, wonderfully bright, fresh and evocative. With water: develops decisively towards beach sand, yellow and white flowers with their pollens, sandalwood and a gentle waxiness. Mouth: an ever bigger arrival than the 10yo SR! Same tension between the sweeter and creamier components such has pineapple, gorse flower and coconut, and these fantastically salty and pure aspects that recall bone dry Manzanilla, green olive and aniseed. Once again this feeling that Oban is a powerful and rather challenging whisky at heart. With water: creamy in texture, on various shades of pepper, camphor, hessian and peppery, grassy olive oil. The mustard is also back with a vengeance! Finish: long, salty, waxy, peppery and still a little creamy and sweet at the same time. Comments: smart, excellent, fun and very high quality Oban - this sort of juice should really be a standard high strength 10yo bottling in my view (I know, I know, shut up Angus!) You just have to like your whiskies punchy and a little intellectual, which, thankfully, I do!

SGP: 461 - 88 points.

 

 

Thank you to Stefan and to James (and his Mum!)

 

 

 

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

 

May 3, 2024


Whiskyfun

WF's Little Duos, today indie Tomintoul

Tomintoul

Tomintoul Distillery (Tomintoul)

 

Isn't Tomintoul 'The Gentle Dram' becoming pretty rare these days? We'll only have two of them today, two indie bottlings, one of them being quite ancient. Rest assured that we'll always try to keep flying these little flags…

 

Tomintoul 16 yo 2005/2021 (57.9%, Old Master Q Series, Hong Kong Whisky, 1st fill sherry hogshead, 345 bottles)

Tomintoul 16 yo 2005/2021 (57.9%, Old Master Q Series, Hong Kong Whisky, 1st fill sherry hogshead, 345 bottles) Four stars
Old Mater Q seems to be a rather famous comic character throughout Asia. Colour: gold. Nose: typical leafy sherry, with both old and green walnuts, tomato leaves, cherry stems, then a little varnish and kirschwasser, then more toasted cakes, roasted peanuts, a little curry and mustard… In fact it would never stop improving and getting more complex. Give it time. With water: walnuts, turmeric, saffron and pipe tobacco all over the place, with an amontillado-y side. Mouth (neat): really punchy, with rather more varnish, cherries, bay leaves, a little leather, some juniper, walnut wine and nocino… Well it does beg for water. With water: it got even spicier, with more juniper yet, coriander seeds and cardamom, ginger, cinnamon mints… A little toffee and fudge appearing after many minutes, together with a little burnt caramel and butterscotch. Finish: very long, tight, spicy. A little feeling of very-high-strength gin, some bitter orange in the aftertaste. Comments: very good but this is not a gentle dram. I repeat, this is not a gentle dram.

SGP:461 - 85 points.

Tomintoul 2001/2012 (53.9%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #12010, 298 bottles)

Tomintoul 2001/2012 (53.9%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #12010, 298 bottles) Four stars
This from the older boxes. Was about time. Colour: light gold. Nose: starts with a little paraffin, lemon zests, passion fruit sherbet, some very pleasant beeswax and some kind of smoky oil. Lamp oil, perhaps. It would then become a little more herbaceous, with also some porridge and bread dough. Nice nose this far, I have to say. With water: peaches and garden bonfire this time. Burning hay. Mouth (neat): it's pretty leafy and smoky on the palate, a little sour too (more passion fruit). Rather a lot of pink pepper, grapefruit juice... With water: it's good, fruity, tropical, very moderately smoky. Peaches poached in vanilla-flavoured syrup plus a little white chocolate. Finish: medium, fruity. Always a little herbal smokiness and some passion fruit. Comments: I'm having the impression that there's a little good OBE already. It's extremely different from the 2005 but just as (very) good.

SGP:653 - 85 points.

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

Wgiskyfun 101

  Enhance the joys of nosing

I would like to stress the importance of sniffing your spirits by placing your nose at the centre of the glass, as usual, but also both on the top of the opening/rim as well as the bottom, regardless of the size of your glass. Indeed, the lighter molecules rise and glide along the top of the glass, while the heavier molecules creep along the bottom. Don't miss them out! If you haven't already been doing this, give it a try, you'll see, you will gather at least twice as many aromas. Just this simple little tip will repay the incredible sum you are charged for your annual subscription at Whiskyfun ;-). De nada.

Nose
 
 

May 2, 2024


Whiskyfun

Quite a batch of Linkwood, part two

Linkwood 2

The new and part of the original Linkwood (geograph)

Because we really had a good number of them... Sadly no pre-WW2 G&M at the moment... By the way, you'll recall that there were two Linkwood distilleries from 1971 to 1985, somewhat similar to what happened at Clynelish/Brora. In any case, the original distillery ceased operations in 1985, so only vintages from before that year could originate from the original Linkwood.

 

 

Linkwood 12 yo 2010/2022 (57%, Whiskyschiff Luzern, oloroso, cask #300180, 240 bottles)

Linkwood 12 yo 2010/2022 (57%, Whiskyschiff Luzern, oloroso, cask #300180, 240 bottles) Three stars
The price was 100 Swiss francs. I believe this baby was bottled by Brave New Spirits/Cask Noir. Whiskyschiff Luzern, of Whisky Ship Lucerne, is one of the wee festivals I try not to ever miss, year after year. Colour: amber. Nose: a little old-skool, nutty and with many raisins, cakes, figs, a little ham… All nice, if not mindboggling. With water: fine. Easier dry sherry, walnuts, orange skin, gravel… Mouth (neat): a bit rough, on leaves, ginger, green peppercorns… It's pretty wild, as wild as the Lucerne lake when the wind blows (and the ships are pitching). With water: good, sweeter, but still rather gingery. Ginseng, honey and propolis – all said to cure everything. Finish: long, leafier. Comments: very good little Linkwood, it's just that the yearly festival in Lucerne is even better.
SGP:561 - 82 points.

Since we're in Switzerland… (well we aren't far, actually)… By the way it's good that them Swiss-made whiskies are anything but neutral. But back to Linkwood…

Linkwood 9 yo 2011/2021 (56.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Switzerland, 1st fill bourbon barrel, #39.212, Sweet and Sour Candy Shower, 194 bottles)

Linkwood 9 yo 2011/2021 (56.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Switzerland, 1st fill bourbon barrel, #39.212, Sweet and Sour Candy Shower, 194 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: barley sugar and syrup, pack of small easter eggs, muesli – after all, we're near the Alpes – and sweet vanilla (icing sugar). With water: same. Fresh lemon cake. Mouth (neat): very syrupy, creamy, on green apple liqueur and, well, limoncello. And more barley syrup, plus indeed some tart young riesling from where there's not much sun yet. With water: everything lemon drops, candies, bonbons, creams and liqueurs; plus some green grass. Finish: long, ultra-simple, but good. More green apples in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps a tad anecdotal, but it sure is a pretty good very young… hold on, what's the name of the distillery again?
SGP:661 - 83 points.

Linkwood 10 yo 2012/2023 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch #AW23, recharred hogshead, 1,291 bottles)

Linkwood 10 yo 2012/2023 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch #AW23, recharred hogshead, 1,291 bottles) Four stars
From three hogsheads, apparently. Yes we have the numbers. Colour: white wine. Nose: aren't they master at this. Creamy banana liqueur, vanilla, barley syrup, apples and citrons, cassata, family-pack of marshmallows. Mouth: perfect. Lemons and apples, barley, very soft mentholy oak, cream eggs, Haribo bears, babies and crocodiles, focaccia bread. Finish: amaretti chiming in, limoncello (what else) in the aftertaste. Comments: no comments. This is boringly well constructed and, given the price, just irresistible. I do not want to sound like a Tiktoker, but this is better that hundreds of whiskies that they sell for times this price. £37.50, just saying.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Linkwood 10 yo 2013/2023 (51.1%, Dalgety, oloroso finish)

Linkwood 10 yo 2013/2023 (51.1%, Dalgety, oloroso finish) Three stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: the finishing seems to have worked out, as we're finding a large pecan pie and around 1,547,458 tons of butterscotch. Which we just love, who doesn't. With water: cheesecake, carrot cake, caramel sauce, fudge, and maple syrup. Who would be against this. Mouth (neat): shortbread, Cointreau, soft liquorice and some saltier one (salmiak), all that with perfect strength, mouthfeel and backbone. With water: the finishing feels a little more, there's more leafiness, touch of leather, cherry stem tea… But there are also figs coming to the rescue. Finish: medium, a tad leathery when watered down. Better save water. Comments: indeed, no need to add any waterz at 51.1%. Please abstain from reducing it, in other words don't do what I did. Mea Culpa.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Linkwood 10 yo (56.8%, Dràm Mor, 1st fill bourbon finish, cask # 303762, 243 bottles, 2023)

Linkwood 10 yo (56.8%, Dràm Mor, 1st fill bourbon finish, cask # 303762, 243 bottles, 2023) Three stars
Could we not have some knackered wood finish, as they do in Cognac? I mean first active wood, and then proper aging in, well, maturing vessels rather than flavouring ones? Colour: gold. Nose: of course this works. Banana bread, croissants, raisin rolls, vanilla fudge, shortbread… With water: some paraffin, some engine oil, some brake fluid… I was not expecting this. Now the cakes are soon to strike back, with more croissants. A we or are we not French? Mouth (neat): pretty good, despite a bitterish piney touch that should go away as soon as we add water. And why wait… With water: back to barley (B2B). Finish: nice maltiness. Comments: maybe not totally earthshattering, but good drop for sure.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

We might be losing steam, but the heart remains willing…

Linkwood 10 yo 2011/2022 (52.2%, The Whisky Exchange '50th Anniversary', refill hogshead + bourbon barrel, 870 bottles)

Linkwood 10 yo 2011/2022 (52.2%, The Whisky Exchange '50th Anniversary', refill hogshead + bourbon barrel, 870 bottles) Three stars and a half
I had thought folks would celebrate their 50 years with some 50 years-old spirits, no? That's certainly what a did myself, my friends would have killed me, should I have poured them some young stuff from some slightly mundane distilleries… Having said that, I've seen that Angus liked this one rather a lot. Colour: white wine. Nose: sucrose, light honey, honeysuckle, white clover, blancmange. Very gentle. With water: cold earl grey tea. Mouth (neat): seriously good, if pretty 'usual'. It's true that there might be millions of such casks resting over Hadrian's Wall. Well, there are. Lemon zests, green apples, IPA. With water: good, easy, malty with apples at the helm. Finish: same. Comments: did I ever tell you the joke about this Chef who always cooks with whisky?
SGP:551 - 84 points.

In the own words of Mr Iggy Pop, I'm a little bored, but we shall go on because this is our duty.

Linkwood 9 yo 2012/2022 (47%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, Spirit of the Forest, dechar/rechar hogshead, cask #315423; 383 bottles)

Linkwood 9 yo 2012/2022 (47%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, Spirit of the Forest, dechar/rechar hogshead, cask #315423; 383 bottles) Four stars
Dechar/rechar, OMG! The bottle is lovely. Colour: pale gold. Nose: banana skins, fudge, croissants, grist, a few ashes. Mouth: seriously, it's very good. I'd love to learn about what's been lying in the hoggie before it got decharred/recharred. Ardbeg? In any case it is a great mutant Linkwood, malt whisky for X-Men, lemony and smoky. Finish: long, creamy, lemony and kind of peaty. Comments: more in-cask blending that worked a treat, much to our despair. IA malt.
SGP:653 - 86 points.

Linkwood 11 yo 2010/2021 (56%, Hong Kong Whisky, Art Series, refill sherry butt)

Linkwood 11 yo 2010/2021 (56%, Hong Kong Whisky, Art Series, refill sherry butt) Three stars and a half
They're all more or less 10 years old, because you know what whisky salesmen used to say, 'no ten, no deal'. Unless your name starts with an 'M', or an 'A' if you're on charming Islay. Colour: gold. Nose: soft sherry, vanilla, shortbread, ripe banana, vanilla cake, vanilla cream; nougat… With water: some beeswax, but it's become shier, globally. Some pine resin. Mouth (neat): but very good, powerful, a little leafy and tea-ish. Quite some ginger. I think water is really needed on the palate. With water: right, but it's one of those excellent fillers. In other words, there's plenty. Finish: medium. Grist and popcorn. Comments: good drop for sure.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Linkwood 2010/2022 (48.9%, The Firkin Whisky Co., bourbon, virgin French oak & Madeira, cask #SC28)

Linkwood 2010/2022 (48.9%, The Firkin Whisky Co., bourbon, virgin French oak & Madeira, cask #SC28) Four stars
What is this sorcery? Colour: gold. Nose: very nice, no denying, some Danish pastries, vanilla cream, Golden Grahams, light meadow honey (early season), Canadian ice wine, frozen apples indeed… This is all nice and pleasant and civilized and consensual (I suppose). Seriously, very nice nose, rather honeyed. Mouth: very good, malty, fresh (bags of apples) and then pleasantly herbal. Some teas, verbena, rooibos, earl grey, all that with a good dollop of honey inside and around. Finish: rather long, with some curaçao, young calvados, more honey, more orange liqueur… Only the aftertaste is a little sourer. Comments: these sessions are tough because the base distillate is not very characterful. But why am I telling you this?
SGP:651 - 86 points.

We have room for one more, but no more then. I think we're going to give up whisky and get into horticulture, at least then we'll be certain to find the roses that Michael Jackson was so fond of. On that note, and since Linkwood has been replicated since, I'm not even sure that the Linkwood MJ was enjoying came from the same stills as the delightful drams we're tasting together these days. Come on, one last one, while tipping our hats to Michael Jackson…

Linkwood 14 yo 2008/2022 (53.7%, Alistair Walker, Infrequent Flyers for HNWS, PX sherry hogshead, cask #804811, 336 bottles)Linkwood 14 yo 2008/2022 (53.7%, Alistair Walker, Infrequent Flyers for HNWS, PX sherry hogshead, cask #804811, 336 bottles)

Linkwood 14 yo 2008/2022 (53.7%, Alistair Walker, Infrequent Flyers for HNWS, PX sherry hogshead, cask #804811, 336 bottles) Four stars
So looks like we're in Taiwan again. Colour: full copper amber. Nose: oh, ripe mirabelle plums and quince jelly, is this even beatable? And all these golden juicy sultanas, these whiffs of beeswax, of chestnut honey… We're certainly reminded of a distillery in Dufftown that starts with a B. I mean, its name. With water: ripe plums, ripe plums, ripe plums. A tiny metallic touch too (old coins, old copper wire and stuff). Mouth (neat): rather a lot of candied fruits, dates, pears, figs, also spices, curry, cinnamon, nutmeg… It's not that it is very strong, but it feels pretty strong. Or is it me who's feeling weak? With water: awesome at first, even if some bitterish, drying herbs were awakened too. Peppered chartreuse, not too sure after all. Finish: long and similar. Rather herbaceous, bitter aftertaste. Comments: good, even very good, but once again reduction has gotten tricky.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Right, that's it then, we're going to retreat to a monastery where all they'll serve us is fresh water from the nearby spring. The ultimate dream (as I write these lines). And they have heavenly WiFi.

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

 

May 1, 2024


Whiskyfun

Quite a batch of Linkwood

It's true that there are many of them. For a long time, Mortlach and Linkwood have been similarly available, especially from independent bottlers (G&M, the Italians) but in recent years, Mortlach has been premiumised by its owners and has become somewhat rarer amongst independents, while Linkwoods have become increasingly plentiful. Brand policies, what can you do... Well, we're going to taste these Linkwoods, all fairly young I believe, a bit randomly, as they come...

Linkwood
Linkwood's old kiln (Anne Burgess, geograph)

 

 

Lindowie 16 yo 2007/2023 (54.3%, The Whisky Cask Company, PX sherry, 281 bottles)

Lindowie 16 yo 2007/2023 (54.3%, The Whisky Cask Company, PX sherry, 281 bottles) Four stars
That starts off well, a Linkwood under a pseudonym ! Looks like it's got nothing to do with the city of Lindow in Poland. Actually this baby spent thirteen years in bourbon, before someone decided to transfer it to PX for three further years. Colour: gold. Nose: I don't think you could be more on vanilla, pastry dough, apple juice, raw malt and raw barley (right the other way 'round). I'm not sure anyone would say 'PX'. With water: some paraffin, sunflower oil, touch of unscented soap… Children having extra-washed their hands, see what I mean? Mouth (neat): more winey touches, from the PX I'm sure, otherwise more high-malt beer, oak, apple peel… It is a tad tannic and bitterish, but no prob. With water: all good, really on cider and plum juice. A few bitter herbs coming through, raw plum spirit… Finish: medium, with hood balance, average in the best sense of that word. Comments: the PX behaved.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Linkwood 11 yo 2010/2022 (53.2%, Valinch & Mallet, Young Masters Edition, cask #134, 550 bottles)

Linkwood 11 yo 2010/2022 (53.2%, Valinch & Mallet, Young Masters Edition, cask #134, 550 bottles) Four stars
Obviously from a butt or a puncheon, given the outturn. Colour: gold. Nose: slight flintiness at first, then walnuts and fumes. Pecan pie, peanut butter, sourdough, proper pizza dough (not Domino's)… With water: even nicer. Praline, roasted peanuts, and clearly notes of amontillado. Mouth (neat): ah very good. Trappist beer with walnuts and the expected touch of mustard. Then old dates and figs bought in a souk, slightly oxidized but sooooo good. With water: impeccable. Nutty, peppery, fino-y (mustard, ashes, old walnuts) with a hint of some kind of sour curry sauce. Not too sure about that part. Finish: long, spicier but balance was kept all along. Comments: for lovers of very dry sherry who aren't afraid of a feeling of a bit of 's'. Almost 88.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Linkwood 2008/2022 (56%, Or Sileis, cask #WG768E, 285 bottles)

Linkwood 2008/2022 (56%, Or Sileis, cask #WG768E, 285 bottles) Four stars
A wee kitten as a prima ballerina on the label, seems that cats are really having it good in Taiwan. After all, they do bring luck – well ours do at WF Towers, just not to birds and mice. Colour: full gold. Nose: a very clean one, on sweeter American oak, nougat and popcorn, ripe bananas, ditto papayas and mangos, and as much vanilla as expected. With water: l-i-m-o-n-c-e-l-l-o. Mouth (neat): very soft and sweet, just perfectly composed, this time more on citrus, marmalade, citron liqueur and just pepper liqueur. Very creamy texture. With water: pretty perfect, in all its simplicity. Finish: medium, a tad syrupy, in a good way. Tangerine liqueur this time, perhaps. Comments: I remember Michael Jackson used to find roses in Linkwood. So yeah, forgot to mention rose liqueur.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Linkwood 13 yo 2010/2023 (55.9%, DH Global Spirits, Connoisseurs Dram, new wood, cask #306750, 358 bottles)

Linkwood 13 yo 2010/2023 (55.9%, DH Global Spirits, Connoisseurs Dram, new wood, cask #306750, 358 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: this time we're all on cakes, scones, muffins (while he thought he was man – nod to FZ), Danishes, almond croissants and vanilla fudge. It is faultless. With water: a basket of pink grapefruits, I would say. Mouth (neat): it may be new oak, and indeed you do feel some extra spices, especially white pepper, but it was probably well-charred as nice bananas and oranges are keeping the lead here. Very nice citrus, touch of eucalyptus and pine (that's that new wood). With water: sweeter yet, rounder and nicely citrusy. Think of all kinds of liqueurs our Italians friends would make out of citrus fruits. Limoncello, clemencello, orangecello, tangerinecello, violoncello (ooh that's funny, S. Next time, you're fired). Finish: medium and awesomely liqueury and citrusy. Comments: almost too good, see what I mean? Oh, forget…
SGP:651 - 88 points.

While we're in Asia…

Linkwood 15 yo 2008/2023 (51.7%, Maltbarn for Shinanoya Japan, sherry, 146 bottles)

Linkwood 15 yo 2008/2023 (51.7%, Maltbarn for Shinanoya Japan, sherry, 146 bottles) Four stars and a half
Maltbarn can pull a 90 just like that. Shinanoya too. Colour: straw. Nose: the glory of a youngish Speyside of great quality, matured in a sherry cask that really behaved. Brioche, a few sultanas, sourdough, overripe apples, some Wulong/Oolong tea, barley syrup, some acacia honey, fresh wisteria in the morning (before the bees have plundered all flowers – love bees), also touches of mullein (same comments about bees). With water: fresh croissants from a real bakery. Good morning. Mouth (neat): just perfect young Linkwood, with some toasted oak, bread and pastries. Triple-sec and a little ginger tonic. Two or three lemon drops. With water: more on citrus. Candied lemon slices. Finish: medium, fresh, with more vanilla and not that many raisins. Comments: perhaps not 90, let's not exaggerate, but we're pretty close. Class.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Linkwood 10 yo 2011/2022 (52.5%, The Cooper's Choice, bourbon cask, cask #303532, 318 bottles)

Linkwood 10 yo 2011/2022 (52.5%, The Cooper's Choice, bourbon cask, cask #303532, 318 bottles) Four stars
It's splendid, The Cooper's Choice maintains the tradition that in the matter of Scottish malt whisky, the years are referred to as "long years". Ten long years… We find that charming, don't we? Alas, they forgot to add 'unhurried'. Colour: pale gold. Nose: as we expected it, full of vanilla, soft beers, muesli, cakes, plus grist and husk… How natural is this? With water: the same. Cassata, nougat, a hint of pine sap… Mouth (neat): just sweetly very good. Sweet barley, orange liqueur, hops, a little ginger beer… Well it seems that this barrel was just a tad 'grittier' than the others today. With water: it loves water, gets liqueury in a great way, displays oranges and tiny bitter herbs, as well as bitter almonds, orgeat and all that. Finish: rather long, more citrusy and even creamier. Shall we mention limoncello again? Comments: excellent drop.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Linkwood 10 yo 2013/2023 (56.9%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, LMDW New Vibrations, hogshead, cask #303792, 310 bottles)

Linkwood 10 yo 2013/2023 (56.9%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, LMDW New Vibrations, hogshead, cask #303792, 310 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: it's an interesting one because there is a medicinal aspect, as if this hogshead had previously sheltered a coastal peater. Some ointments, a drop of mercurochrome, some roots (carrots, turnips)… And probably not a huge Linkwoodness – should that exist. With water: who did the stencilling for this cask of Highland Park? I am joking. Well, half-joking. Mouth (neat): indeed, a feeling of blended malt, with 5 to 10% peat. Some menthol, a little salt, ashes, lemons… This is very good. Just not very Linkwood (and he insists). With water: it's getting even better, this excellent in-cask blended malt. Finish: long, a little salty, lemony, slightly peaty. Comments: you're right, they may have done some lightly peated batches at Linkwood, in 2013. Anything is possible. Great, intriguing little drop.
SGP:563 - 87 points.

I think we'll be content with eight Linkwood today and shall go on tomorrow. So our #8 will be an older one, for a little panache…

Linkwood 30 yo 1993/2023 (50.2%, Hunter Laing, Platinum Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 205 bottles)

Linkwood 30 yo 1993/2023 (50.2%, Hunter Laing, Platinum Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 205 bottles) Five stars
Shall we find Michael Jackson's roses?... Colour: white wine. Very pale, that's good news, this should be time-driven. Nose: oh, flowers indeed, honeysuckle, acacia, freesia, pansy, almond flowers… And indeed a lot of nectar, honey, some almond milk, pistachio syrup… Long story short, it all went tertiary while remaining very close to meadows, fields, Mother Nature… With a drop of water: citrus emerging, as well as small berries once you've crushed them, sorb, holly, sloe… All a little almondy. Mouth (neat): exceptionally good, I believe we found our 90, despite all this natural rubber and wax in the way. And all these almondy notes. With water: fresh fruits coming through, especially guavas. A tiny ueber-gingery touch. Finish: medium, with a perfect fresh fruit + small berries + all things almondy combination. Comments: excellent, and not yet fragile. An old natural Linkwood somewhat suspended in time.
 SGP:561 - 90 points.

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

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

April 2024

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Glen Grant 1958/2023 'Mr George Legacy Fourth Edition' (56.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, first fill sherry butt, cask #3818, 376 bottles) - WF 95

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Milton Duff 12 yo 'Pluscarden Valley' (61.1%, Sestante, 75cl, 1980s) - WF 95

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Ardnamurchan 6 yo 2017/2024 (58.6%, OB for The Maclean Foundation, bourbon barrel, cask #80, 243 bottles)  - WF 90

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Uitvlugt 31 yo 1991/2023 'Time Travel' (59.25%, Jack Tar, Guyana, cask #32) - WF 93

Serge's thumbs up this month:
Shizuoka 2018/2024 'KS + WS' (46.3%, OB, Japan, for Sushi + Soul, peated, bourbon octave, cask #287) - WF 91

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Naga 'Anggur Edition' (40%, OB, Batavia Arrack, Indonesia, +/-2022)  - WF 40

 


April 2024 - part 2 <--- May 2024 - part 1 ---> May 2024 - part 2


 

 
   
 


Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Linkwood 30 yo 1993/2023 (50.2%, Hunter Laing, Platinum Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 205 bottles)

Arbellot de Vacqueur 'Lot No.67' (52.4%, Through the Grapevine, LMDW, Bons Bois, 2023)

Aurian 45 yo 1977/2024 (45.2%, Armagnac Sponge, Decadent Drinks, Bas armagnac, 156 bottles) 

Daniel Bouju 'Lot 60 Un Toast à L'Amitié' (50.4%, OB for Geert Lagast & Raf De Ruysscher, 2023)

Domaine d'Espérance 2003/2024 (48.4%, Grape of The Art, Bas-aramagnac, cask #60, 257 bottles)

Domaine de Poutëou 21 yo 2001/2023 (48.6%, Alabat, Bas-armagnac, cask #340, 250 bottles)

Godet 24 yo 1999/2024 (47.1%, OB, Petite champagne, single cask, Spring 2024 Edition)

François Voyer 'Lot 28 Le Sourire' (41%, Malternative Belgium, Grande champagne, demi-john, 2023)

Le Noble 'Lot 68' (45.2%, Malternative Belgium & The Whisky Jury, Grande champagne, 129 bottles, 2023)

Dartigalongue 1981/2024 (45%, OB, Bas Armagnac)

Dartigalongue 1992/2024 (46%, OB, Bas-armagnac)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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