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Hi, you're in the Archives, November 2011 - Part 1

October 2011 - part 2 <--- November 2011 - part 1 ---> November 2011 - part 2


November 14, 2011


Four Jerezian 2001 Bunnahabhain

Bunnahabhain 2001

Some very good batches of sherried 2001s are floating around us…

Bunnahabhain 2001/2011 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry wood) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not the usual Bunnahabhain, this is much bigger and much more farmyardy at first nosing, before it switches towards more peaches and a little crème caramel. The sherry grows bigger as well, with some walnuts, leather and then some rather big whiffs of caraway and juniper berries. Unusual and very nice. Mouth: nervous dried fruits and spices. First apricots and cinnamon, then more toasted bread and orange marmalade. Breakfast whisky? And the notes of juniper and cumin are back. Finish: medium long, sweet, with more dried figs and some cloves and leather in the aftertaste. Comments: I really like this, it’s balanced and the sherry isn’t overpowering. SGP:441 - 85 points.
Bunnahabhain 10 yo 2001/2011 (49.2%, Liquid Sun, refill sherry, 227 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: this one is a little more buttery and leathery but other than that it’s just as farmy as the W&M. Also a little more red berries and then a little more dried fruits, toffee and gingerbread. So, it’s less unusual and rather more sherried, although both whiskies are very similar globally. Mouth: even more similar, we’re very, very close now. Maybe a wee tad more earthiness or maybe not. Finish: same, with only a little more pepper. Comments: same. SGP:441 – 85 points.
Bunnahabhain 10 yo 2001/2011 (50%, Liquid Treasures, refill sherry hogshead) Four starsColour: gold. Nose: same as above, almost. A tad more mineral and grassy, maybe… Or maybe not. Maybe a little more mint as well? Mouth: same feeling, it’s all very, very close and any big differences could well be tricks of your mind. Maybe a little more liquorice as well, maybe… Finish: same. Maybe more spices… Comments: same. SGP:441 – 85 points.
Bunnahabhain 9 yo 2001/2011 (55.8%, Signatory, sherry butt, cask #1763, 575 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: blimey, it’s the same all over again. Even the higher strength doesn’t manage to make any differences… Okay, maybe a little more rubber… or maybe not. Mouth: crikey, the same happens on the palate. Same whisky, more or less, even with water. Finish: same. Comments: that was a useless tasting session! What was also striking was the fact that strengths didn’t change much to our overall sensations… SGP:441 - 85 points.



Christmas Special: six whisky books to ask Santa for

The next best thing after a great bottle of whisky is a great book about whisky and as Christmas is approaching, I thought I’d publish a short list of a few recent books I’ve been enjoying a lot. In no particular order, they are:
whisky books

The World Atlas of Whisky by Dave Broom. It’s Dave Broom, so concept, knowledge and writing are of the highest orders.

Bourbon & Blues by Hans Offringa. After Whisky & Jazz, Hans tells us many wonderful things about two passions of ours.
Malt Whisky Yearbook 2012 (various writers). Ingvar Ronde’s yearly tour de force.
La Dame de Pierres by Virginie Reisz. In French, the story of ‘new’ Bruichladdich told by… the distillery. The most poetic book about whisky since… forever. Well done Virginie.
Drinking Japan by Chris Bunting. Chris is a fountain of knowledge. A book that’s also an obligatory read just before flying to Japan (maybe even in the plane?)
Cutty Sark, The Making of a Whisky Brand (various authors). Frankly, these books about brands can be boring. This one isn’t at all, it’s even quite fascinating and the photographs are wonderful.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: don't we all need something quiet and peaceful these days? So let's listen to Curved Air's ex-keyboardist and guitarist Francis Monkman and his Guitar Interludes (from his superb OST for 'The Long Good Friday'). Please buy Francis Monkman's music, thanks.

Francis Monkman

November 12, 2011

SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

The nature of whisky scores, forget about political correctness

A few weeks ago, the very excellent Dave Broom gave a no less excellent interview to Oliver's dramming.com, in which he gave his feelings regarding scores. I pretty much agree with all he says, especially with the fact that scores, when provided, should never be dissociated from some complete tasting notes because “(whisky) cannot be reduced to a simplistic scoring system”. So true!

So yes, scores can be evil and often generate many unpleasant drifts. Score inflation to please distillers, justify wages or generate today’s holy grail, ‘buzz’. Or scores given without any justification (complete tasting notes!) or without any experience. Or scores presented as something else than simply ‘opinions’ – or better yet and as Dave said, ‘informed opinions’.  A score is an opinion, it cannot be a judgement, nor a measure of anything but an opinion.
Having said that, I think that contrarily to popular belief, using a large scale such as the ‘100-scale’ is rather more humble and honest than, say the ‘5-star-scale’. I know that’ll sound oh so un-PC by today’s standards, but please look at it this way:

If you’re using very broad categories, such as 5 stars, you have to be very good to be sure that one whisky deserves *** and not ****, because between *** and ****, the gap is huge. With any scoring system, it all happens around the borders and that’s why, by the way, tasters who only use stars usually end up using halves or even quarters, which is basically the same as a large 100-scale. Frankly, I really believe the 100-score allows more nuances, maybes, rathers and quites. It also allows the taster to ‘fail a bit’, scoring a whisky 83 instead of 82 or 81 or 85 for any reason. No big deal, we’re not machines and no sane reader will understand that ‘86’ really means ‘clearly better than 85’, while **** IS clearly better than ***, don’t you agree?

As for the ‘scores or no scores at all’ debate, I believe it’s all a matter of preference. I’m absolutely not against tasting notes that do not include scores but as far as I’m concerned, I’m afraid I do not expect WF’s distinguished visitors to read wheelbarrows of unlikely gibberish to guess which Laphroaig I liked best – although the advantage of a no-scores policy is that you’ll probably ruffle much less feathers, which can be useful if you want to become the new King of Scotland. All whiskies are good in their own ways, and basta. Easy!
Anyway, I know all this is highly controversial and that my takes are probably politically incorrect, but since I’m mad enough to keep scoring my whiskies, I should probably tell you a little more about those scores.
Obviously, my scores are personal and reflect my own tastes. Again and again, only opinions and opinions are related to tastes. Just to give you one example, I’m not keen on red wine finishes and will tend to give them low ratings because I think they’re often unbalanced, and because the malt/red wine combination just doesn’t click on my palate, so to speak. That also means that when a red wine finishing imparts little red wine notes to the spirit, my scores will likely be higher. Same when an unusual balance has been found. But all that also means that if you do like the red wine/whisky combination, which is perfectly fine of course, you should simply not follow my scores for those whiskies!  It’ll be the same at the other end of the scale, I do often like the greasy/grassy/mineral style of some old Highlanders from refill wood (blending stock), and will tend to give them high scores, so if you do not like that style, beware! Staff
Staff organising tasting flights at WF Towers. No, not all will be tasted within the same session!
Same with gunpowder or struck matches, I’m not against a little gunpowder in my whisky. Same with caramel, as much as I don’t like the concept of adding colouring agents to aged spirits, whisky that contains a little caramel does not put me off, unless you can really ‘feel it’ (supposedly). As my compadre Davin always says, the first Black Bowmores were (probably) caramelised, and they were very fine drams. Same with loads of other old glories. Would they have been even better without caramel? Not impossible but can perfect whisky be even more perfect?
Having said that, I think I never published what I really mean with my scores, and maybe now’s the time…
100: free spot for hope.
95-99: absolutely stunning, a legend.
93-94: absolutely stunning, but there might be even better versions somewhere.
91-92: stunning, complex, balanced, with something extra (the wow factor!)
90: perfect, complex, balanced, but little ‘wow!’
88-89: almost perfect but maybe not totally complex and/or balanced.
86-87: maybe not totally perfect but very good and a good example of the make/brand. Not the tiniest flaw. Mature.
85: very good and very satisfying, but there are quite a few even better ones around in the same category. Mature. Maybe very minor flaws.
82-84: very good but can be a tad immature or unbalanced. Or a little uninteresting. Or have minor flaws.
80-81: good stuff no doubt, pleasant but maybe forgettable.
78-79: still good, loyal stuff but rather uninteresting.
75-77: drinkable, rather honest but has some moderate flaws. Blandness is a flaw.
70-74: drinkable but bland, simple, uninteresting. Can also have one or two obvious flaws.
60-69: there are quite a few obvious flaws but it’s still kind of drinkable.
50-59: at least one very major flaw (burnt notes, chemicals, stale…) but some other aspects can still be bearable. Sometimes of historical interest ;-).
25-49: obviously very flawed, and the flaws make it hard to swallow.
1-24: one shouldn’t be allowed to sell this. Many flaws, repulsive.
0: free spot for despair.
NB: all terms I used (such as good, stunning, perfect, drinkable, honest…) are only personal opinions and remain related to my own tastes and experience. Please always remember that as written in the warning I have put on WF’s main page a while back, “What I write about whisky is not the gospel but is based on my personal experience and feelings, with no pretentions to be the truth. Therefore, it is not recommended that you buy the whiskies I review without first having tried them yourself.” I insist, WF isn’t a buying guide, it’s just a personal tasting diary. Many people claim that they prefer to follow their own tastes, rather than anybody else’s opinions. That is bleeding obvious if you ask me, and I believe not doing so would suggest a pathological lack of self-confidence! Unless you just cannot find a sample/dram of the said whisky, of course, but in that case you could always stick with whiskies that you can try or that you already know before you buy a bottle (or a case).  Or you like surprises, which can sometimes be even better. ;-). Or you still trust a few honest, experienced whisky tasters… After all, I certainly bought quite a few great bottles that Martine Nouet, Dave Broom or other MMs, for example, had scored favourably before. Santé! - Serge
PS: you may also read or reread ‘Tasting: how to make your inherent subjectivity a little more consistent.

November 10, 2011


Malternatives, four Demeraras from Guyana at super-high strength

Four recent bottlings for Velier’s Luca Gargano, all fully matured in tropical climates and not partly in the UK or the rest of Europe. We’ll rank them by ascending strength and not age if you don’t mind. You’ll find more about these Demeraras there.


Blairmont 1982/2011 (60.4%, OB, Velier, cask #10542) Four stars Distilled in a French Savalle still (google is your friend). Colour: amber. Nose: it’s not one of these very rich and sweetish rums. Starts on espresso and sultanas and gets then rather mineral and grassy, with also touches of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar as well as a little putty or plasticine. Also notes of Coca Cola (from a glass bottle) growing bigger and bigger. With water: more balsamico and even ham, beef jerky… More sultanas as well. Quite beautiful. Mouth (neat): heavy, thick, woody, creamy and not difficult… All kinds of raisins and a little honey, varnish as well as an unexpected saltiness. With water: more cough syrup and more dried fruits. Excellent. Finish: long, flawlessly fruity and honeyed/liquoricy. Comments: warning, this is much too drinkable ;-). Anyway, I like it much more than a Blairmont 1991 that I found too oaky. SGP:651 - 87 points.


Albion 1986/2011 (60.6%, OB, Velier, cask #10546) Five stars Distilled in a coffey still. I love Albion! Colour: amber. Nose: ah, Albion! More complex and, above all, much more phenolic than the Blairmont. Think motor oil, turpentine, tar liqueur, tyres, molasses and then rosehip and lilac. What a profound nose! With water: even more of all that and wheelbarrows of liquorice. I love this tarry profile. Mouth (neat): it’s fruit syrup in the attack (lemon, oranges, cranberries) then liquid tar and sap. Some pepper too, cloves… Again, I love this even if it’s rather simpler than on the nose. With water: cough syrup plus cough syrup and a lot of cough syrup. Add a few cough drops… Finish: very long, on the same notes, more or less. A phenolic, resinous aftertaste. Comments: big stuff and I cannot not think of some old Ardbeg ex-first fill sherry, all things considered. SGP:662 - 91 points.


Enmore 1995/2011 (61.2%, OB, Velier, casks #7104 to 7111) Three stars and a half Distilled in a single pot still. Colour: amber. Nose: this one is both more vegetal and more earthy. Also quite some tar again, then green bananas and eucalyptus, mint, touches of rubber, then something slightly meaty (chicken stock)… With water: parsley on bouillon and quite some wood smoke. Mouth (neat): strong, first citrusy, then woody and leathery, with bags of liquorice as well. A tad hard, let’s add water: it became rounder and sweeter. Oranges, lemon drops and a little ginger. Finish: long, with rather more oak now. Reminds me of some strong bourbon at this point. Comments: less extreme than the Blairmont and the Albion, but pretty much to my liking. SGP:561 - 84 points.


Diamond 1996/2011 (64.6%, OB, Velier, casks #7080 to 7084) Three stars Distilled in a Coffey still. Diamond is the distillery that shelters all the old stills from Enmore, Albion, Uitvlugt, Port Mourant and so on… Colour: amber. Nose: something very different yet again (who said all rums were the same?), this is closer to ‘commercial’ rums in a certain way. Raisins, sugar cane, bananas flambéed and heady notes of molasses or honey sauce. Some spearmint as well. With water: more spearmint, sugar cane, bananas… Indeed it’s a tad more ‘commercial’ than the others. I should rather say more mainstream, shouldn’t I. Mouth (neat): too strong. A lot of mint and… cough, cough… turpentine… With water: the oak comes out and it’s even more bourbonny than the Enmore. Pencil shavings (or did you chew on your pencils at school?), nutmeg and cinnamon. The  more sweetness, pineapples… Finish: rather long, on tinned pineapples, a little coconut and those oaky notes again. Cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s very good, it’s just that the others were fantastic. SGP:651 - 80 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: no, frankly, was there anything that Sarah Vaughan couldn't sing? Not even Ivan Lins' big hit The Smiling Hour.... That was on 1979's 'Copacabana' LP. Please buy Sarah Vaughan's music!


November 9, 2011


Mixed bag, five more old Speysiders


Tomintoul 44 yo 1967/2011 (41.5%, Liquid Sun, bourbon, 156 bottles) Four stars There were some stunning 1966s (Douglas Laing, Jack Wiebers) but other than that, I don’t think I’ve come across many super-great old Tomintouls… Colour: pale gold. Nose: what’s impressive at first nosing is the freshness at such old age, even if it’s no aromatic bomb (like other distilleries can become with age). Having said that, what’s really pleasant here is the way many resinous notes mingle with some light honey and fruit jams. Reminds me of some old style Chartreuse and of some herbal teas that we do brew for Christmas in Germanic countries (with aniseed, cinnamon, liquorice, orange peel, cloves…) Also hints of old wine cellar. Let’s see whether the palate is dead or not. Mouth: no obvious acridness although it’s woody whisky, which is normal. Earl grey tea and orange cake, then plum pie with a lot of cinnamon powder. Touches of honeydew and finally, quite some liquorice wood. Finish: not very long and rather spicy but not excessively drying, which is almost a miracle. Some mint as often. Comments: much to my liking even if the years start to show on the palate (sticks a bit your tongue onto your palate, as we sometimes say after having tasted too much young Pauillac). SGP:371 - 87 points.


Tomintoul 43 yo 1968/2011 (43.8%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, bourbon hogshead, 78 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’re obviously quite close to the 1967, even if this one is a notch fruitier and jammier, and rather less herbal and ‘sappy’. That means a softer wood influence. There’s also more citrus fruits, oranges, tangerines, then a little passion fruit… Very lovely, this!  Mouth: richer and creamier than the 1967, with an oakiness that’s maybe better integrated. Also more citrus fruits yet again, orange zests, green bananas, cardamom, cinnamon and finally, mint and liquorice. Finish: medium long, a little drying as expected. Green tea. Comments: a notch more to my liking than the 1967, maybe because of the orange zests on the palate and because the tannicity is tad less pervasive. SGP:461 - 88 points.
Right, let’s try a much younger Speysider now… Sort of.


Macduff 38 yo 1973/2011 (47.8%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: richer and rounder than both Tomintouls, and rather more complex as well. More leathery notes, then more honey and dried fruits such as figs and bananas. Also a farminess arising, hay, grass smoke (I mean, garden bonfire, eh) and then some fresh and very wonderful notes of dill. Gravlax? ;-). Mouth: rich and rounded and, above all, much, much less dry/oaky than the old Tomintouls. Honey, pine sap, quinces, liquorice, Cointreau, then more spices, pepper, strong mint… Finish: the oak comes out more but the whole is fairly long, with more orange zests, lemon marmalade and liquorice. Comments: excellent, even if it hasn’t quite got the same ‘sexiness’ as some Caperdonichs or Benriachs of similar age. Or Glen Grant? We’ll see… Perfect body and just the amount of oak that allows it to fetch 90 in my wee book. SGP:551 - 90 points.

Glen Grant

Glen Grant 38 yo 1972/2011 (48.2%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #8235, 148 bottles) Five stars Some great GGs in 1972, and some less great ones. Colour: gold. Nose: it could be one of the great ones. Perfect honeyness, with anything from a beehive. Honey, wax, pollen, propolis, wood… I’m a sucker for this style, that’s all I can say. Mouth: greatest news, it’s not oaky at all, and develops quietly on the same flavours as in the nose, honey and all that. The oranges and a little mint, which could suggest the finish will be oakier… Finish: it is oakier but everything’s under control. Medium long, on pepper, plum jam, cinnamon and honey. Comments: maybe not the most complex beast ever but as I said, I’m a sucker for this style. The only problem is that you could down a bottle… inadvertently. SGP:541 - 91 points.
I did mention Benriach, didn’t I? So time to try one if you don’t mind…

Benriach 1971

Benriach 40 yo 1971/2011 (49.8%, OB, hogshead, cask #1947, 229 bottles) Five stars The big vintages at Benriach were 1968 and 1976. 1971? I think this is terra incognita to me… Colour: gold. Nose: all right, it seams that this is a marginally shier version of a 1976. Passion fruits, check. Mangos, check. Tangerines, check. Spearmint, check. Grapefruits, check.  Guavas, check. Mead, check. Enough said. Mouth: wham! Explosively fruity, with the same fruits as in the nose plus a little vanilla fudge and milk chocolate. Not whisky, a full-bodied sin. Finish: long, citrusy, with some fresh spices coming through. Green cardamom. A little green oak in the aftertaste. Comments: much too drinkable. Only the minimally oaky aftertaste will prevent me from going over a score of… wait… SGP:761 - 93 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: swinging bagpipes? Francis Mounier and his Occidentale de Fanfare play Le Vigilant. More 'cross' than that does not exist. Please buy Francis Mounier's music.

Francis Mounier

November 8, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Bowmore again, old and young
I believe the distillery that’s most impacted by vintages or periods is Bowmore. We’ve already done some interesting pairings in this ‘Time Warp’ series (1999 SMWS vs. 1971 Sestante, Tempest 2 vs. 1970 Signatory…) so why not go on today, with an even wider time gap this time: approx 35 years!

Bowmore tempest

Bowmore 10 yo 'Tempest' (55.6%, OB, first fill bourbon, Batch #3, 2011) Four stars Pffff, I’ve barely tried batch #2 and batch #3 is already here. Tell me about a lazy taster… Colour: white wine. Nose: ouch! This is punchy, spirity and immensely smoky, almost aggressive at first nosing. What’s just as spectacular is the way it calms down after a few seconds, becoming kind of smoother, delicately smoky, moderately briny and just a tad medicinal. Okay, I’m exaggerating but it seems smoother – at least less monstrous - than previous batches. Let’s try it with water… With water: a plate of oysters. A huge plate of oysters. Mouth (neat): ah yes, as usual, it’s a compact profile. Simple but very perfect, on only three main flavours: brine, peat smoke and vanilla. Maybe that’s not much, but the balance is absolutely perfect. With water: as usual, becomes creamier, with the oak’s sweetness coming more to the front. The peat got bigger too. Finish: long, rather more medicinal this time, and very, very briny. Quite some lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: same ballpark as batch #2, even if this #3 might be a tad smoother and rounder when undiluted. Everything is relative. Simple but excellent modern Bowmore. SGP:457 - 87 points.

Bowmore birds

Bowmore 1964/1987 (46%, Moon Import, The Birds 1, Sherry hogshead, cask #1546, 240 bottles) Five stars This is 100% legendary. Bowmore 1964 (think the blacks, the fino/olroso/bourbon, the Bicentenaries…) and Moon’s first ‘Bird’ series… With a pedigree like that, what could happen? Colour: gold. Nose: it’s smooth and mellow at first nosing (don’t we sound like an old Chivas Regal advert?), not whispering but a little reserved, elegant, far from the extravagant blacks or even bicentenaries.  Many very ripe tropical fruits but again, not of the ‘wham-bam’ kind. Mangos and beeswax, passion fruits and almond oil, oranges and oyster juice, guavas and sour cream… All that mingles together and gives us something unexpectedly delicate, with a restrained smokiness. An old Bowmore that’s rather ‘white tie’, if you see what I mean… Curious about the palate I must say…. Mouth: sweet Jesus! It’s the same that happens on the palate, albeit with more oomph. Much more oomph… A tropical fruit salad with the noblest spices and a little seawater sprinkled all over it. Excuse me, but that’ll do. Finish: long yet ethereal, tropical lace with a spicy/smoky ostinato… Comments: a Botticelli (c’mon, S., you can do better). Only the relative lightness on the nose will prevent me from going to 95+. SGP:745 - 94 points. (and heartfelt thanks Mr. Luc)

Caol Ila 1984

BONUS: Caol Ila 26 yo 1984/2011 (57.4%, Signatory for LMDW, hogshead, cask #6259, 217 bottles) Five stars Some great ones and only a few duds in this vintage. My favourite 1984 Caol Ila so far: a 23yo by The Whisky Society (WF 91). Colour: gold. Nose: fresh butter and soft peat at first nosing, then brine and cigar ashes. That was only the start, as we get more fruits after that, mainly overripe apples and touches of pears and peaches as well as tinned pineapple. Also whiffs of exhaust fumes and walnut liqueur flying around… Not just the average Caol Ila (but Caol Ila isn’t average anyway). With water:  as often with Caol Ila, touches of green olives and brine do arise. That’s nice! Also more almond oil and marzipan (also often in Caol Ila). Mouth (neat): big briny and lemony attack on a bed of custard, ginger and walnut skin. The peat is loud yet distinguished and the whole is complex, becoming sweeter and rounder after a few seconds, then smokier and drier again. In other words, a ‘cinematic’ CI… With water: perfect, creamy, smoky and sweet at the same time. Smoked lemon marmalade and a kumquatty side. Finish: rather long, balanced, smoky, briny and slightly fruity (rather marmalade). Some green tea in the aftertaste. Comments: there are many excellent well-aged Caol Ilas and this baby certainly is one of them. Maybe a notch fruitier than others. SGP:556 - 90 points.

Why not try another bonus Caol Ila… But with a very different style. Quite the opposite, in fact…

Caol Ila 1997

Caol Ila 1997/2011 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, Hermitage Wood Finish, 800 bottles) one star and a halfI’m a bit scared here, I do not like red wine finishing and as much as I love the best syrah/shiraz wines, I’ve almost never had malt whisky finished in red wine casks that I really enjoyed. And I’m afraid it’s been even worse with peated whiskies… Freud, are you here? Colour: apricot. Nose: ahem, no, that doesn’t work for me. The combination created some cheesy, buttery, sulphury and truffle-like notes. I love truffles but not here. Other than that, we have peonies, blackcurrant jam and some strange sour notes. Cider? Mouth: same, sweet and sour, with notes of stale Guinness, black pepper and tarry fruit jelly (you’re right, that doesn’t exist but there might be a reason why that doesn’t exist ;-)). Finish: medium long, a notch more to my liking because of the notes of liquorice allsorts. Comments: I’m afraid I don’t like this style at all. No big deal since G&M have also so many great ones and even quite a few total stunners these days!… SGP:644 - 69 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: I was at a nice little John Cale gig in Strasbourg last week, where the younger members of the attendance were expecting some Velvet Underground. Come on!. And almost 70, really!? Let's have Save Us (from Circus Live) and then buy all of John Cale's music.

John Cale

November 7, 2011


A mixed bag of 6 Lowlanders. Well, Glenkinchies and Littlemills


Glenkinchie 12yo (43%, OB, +/- 2011) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: neat but curiously spirity, a tad hot at 43%. A little lavender (flowers, not soap) and touches of aniseed on a bed of apple compote, almonds, orange juice and porridge. Pretty pleasant nose. Mouth: rather light attack, on apple juice and lager beer, then more fruits, sweets, roasted nuts and a little barley sugar. Gets grassier over time and maltier as well. Cornflakes? Finish: short, relatively dry, leaving your mouth as clean as a baby’s. Comments: I think I like this a notch more than earlier versions. Probably still no first-rate malt but it’s mucho quaffable in my opinion. Typical 80. SGP:351 - 80 points.


Glenkinchie NAS (59.3%, OB, Distillery only, +/- 2010) Four stars Colour: amber. Nose: big, with a very leafy, fino-ish profile, then grass and ‘old wood’ (which is nice). Then more and more fresh walnuts and almonds, leather, more leaves, cherry stem tea, buds, vin jaune from Jura, branches… An intense, dry nose. Mouth: we’re much closer to the style of the 12 plus yet again some dry sherry-ish notes, walnuts, then more bitter oranges, a little kirsch. Having said that it’s very hot so water is needed. With water (while the nose got earthier, as usual): creamier, more peppery, very spicy and even a tad mustardy. Horseradish, cloves, then oranges and maybe quinces. I like this, it’s very big for Glenkinchie (although the wood may have done all the work here). Finish: very long, very spicy. Moroccan spice combo. Comments: as I said, this is probably the biggest ‘Kinchie I ever tried. SGP:262 - 85 points.
And now the newish Littlemills…


Littlemill 20 yo 1991/2011 (54.8%, Part des Anges, 136 bottles) Four stars and a half As you may know, Part des Anges is a small French bottler. They have quality stuff. Colour: straw. Nose: whiffs of scented soap at first nosing, then many more citrus fruits and a pleasant combination of waxy and grassy notes. Develops more on red berries, strawberry syrup and orange drops. Very nice, very fresh fruitiness. Mouth: creamy, rich, fruity and very, very nervous. An avalanche of lemons and tangerines and hints of earth and roots, a combination that does give it a mentholated side that’s fairly unusual. Then more pepper and ginger. Finish: long, lemony and spicy. Comments: a very zesty, very nervous dram. High quality Littlemill (but where have all those great casks been hiding?) SGP:651 - 88 points.

Littlemill JWWW

Littlemill 20 yo 1990/2010 (53.6%, Jack Wiebers, Old Train Line, bourbon) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: richer, wider and straighter than the 1991, with more wood influence as well, vanilla, a little butter… Other than that the profile is very similar, it’s only got a little more oak. In fact, I think I liked the 1991’s freshness in the nose a notch better but this 1990 is great anyway. Mouth: almost the same palate as the 1991’s, with only a little more oak and maybe added touches of green bananas. Finish: again, a notch rounder and richer than the 1991, but again I liked that one’s zestiness a tad better. Just a tad. Comments: SGP:551 - 87 points.

Littlemill PD

Littlemill 22 yo 1989/2011 (51.5%, The Perfect Dram and LMDW, sherry wood, 244 bottles) Three stars Colour: deep gold. Nose: much drier, much less aromatic and fruity than both the 1991 and 1990. More pencil shavings too, walnuts… Well, one can feel it’s a great nose, it’s just that it’s a little shy after the lemony fruit bombs that we just had. After a few minutes: more precious old wood, leather, teabags, Havana tobacco, flints, just whiffs of gunpowder (well, a gun)…  It’s complex. Mouth: funny how it’s got something Japanese, it could Yamazaki and I’m not joking. Was this re-racked at some point? Oak, tea, ginger and cinnamon, then more tangerine drops, orange marmalade and ripe plums but the gingery side fights back and it becomes immensely gingery. Do you like ginger? Anyway, a rather strange profile for a sherry cask… Finish: long, gingery, peppery, very dry. Little fruitiness left. Comments: unusual. Great at some point but otherwise a little too gingery and oaky for this humble taster. Purely a matter of taste, as always, I know some Maniacs who would adore this. SGP:362 - 80 points.

Littlemill MOS

Littlemill 22 yo 1989/2011 (52.8%, Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #2511, 325 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: deep gold. Nose: a fruitier version, rounder, more on fruitcake, raisins, then passion fruits, mango chutney, jams… It’s certainly sexier than the previous one but maybe a notch less elegant. Yep, splitting hairs yet again, both noses being globally similar. Mouth: more depth, more roundness and more dried fruits and tangerines but once again the whole is a little oaky and peppery for me. Having said that the citrusy side does manage to come through a little more this time, and the whole does improve over time. Finish: funny how the lemon managed to tame the wood. A long finish, peppery and lemony. Cardamom. Comments: another beast. These sherried Littlemills were excellent but again, I must say I like the zesty ‘naked’ ones better. SGP:462 - 84 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a sweet and sultry version of Early autumn by Anita O'Day (with Marty Paich's orchestra). Please buy Miss O'Day's music.

Anita O'Day

November 6, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Old young and new old Ballantine's

Time gap this time: around 70 years or even more...


Ballantine's (no ABV, OB, +/-1930) A very old no age statement bottling for Malaya including Singapore, so clearly pre-war. Low level. Colour: bronze, probably tinted by the metal cap. Nose: light but fragrant, starting with a little metal polish and chestnut cream, developing much more on humus, earth, fresh mushrooms (saffron milk-caps, I’m not making this up, I just ate some two days ago, very unusual smell and taste), a little turpentine and then whiffs of old book store and liquorice wood. It whispers but it’s not dead, not dead at all. Mouth: very, very light but not completely dead. The level was low so it’s clearly not Ballantine’s as it used to be but it’s drinkable. Tobacco and mushrooms with hints of bitter chocolate and orange marmalade, all that being very light. Finish: very, very short. Comments: more historical than ‘good’ on the palate while the nose was very pleasant. Probably not ‘scorable’. SGP:120. and thanks, Ron!

Ballantines 17

Ballantine's 17 yo (43%, OB, +/-2011) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: much more ‘big’ than the oldie, obviously, closer to grain, hay and grass at first nosing, then with quite some cedar wood, tobacco and tea with notes of dried flowers, orange zests and wood smoke in the background. There’s also a little cough syrup, almond oil, chalk… It’s relatively complex. Mouth: relatively nervous, on bitter oranges and tea, with some peat, liquorice and pepper, cough syrup again, hints of kumquats... Very nice attack but it loses steam after that and becomes dry and rather cardboardy. Finish: rather short (not as short as the oldie’s, mind you), dry, more on green tea and grass. Cocoa powder. Touches of peat in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s a very good blend and I like it even a little better than earlier batches, but I feel it lacks body and, above all, length (and I’m doing this with a fresh palate and no I haven’t eaten chilli con carne one hour ago). SGP:342 - 79 points.

Ballantines 30

Ballantine's 30 yo (43%, OB, +/-2011) Four stars Colour: full gold. Nose: this is different and, most amazingly, much closer to the old one, with these whiffs of old books, old herbs liqueurs and metal polish, then moss and mushrooms. There’s also more oak, obviously, vanilla custard, cinnamon… And then mead, old roses and Turkish delights (very vivid). Rather beautiful! Mouth: bigger, richer, sweeter and fruitier than the 17. Starts with tinned pineapples and apricots and goes on with pomegranates and cinnamon from the oak. There’s also a little honey, aniseed and touches of rancio (and sherry), then more oak. Just like the 17, it becomes a little dry after a while, a little light… but it remains pretty excellent. Finish: medium long, a notch smokier. Bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: again, it’s no big whisky but it’s complex and beautifully balanced. SGP:451 - 85 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: an entertaining collection of bop figures at the pinao by Matthew Shipp. It's aptly called Bop abyss and it's on the CD 'Symbol Systems'. Please buy Matthew Shipp's musci.

Matthew Shipp

November 4, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Tasting two deviant Americans plus an antique

Let’s have a bit of fun today, with two very unusual American whiskies. Why unusual? Because one is a new batch of the infamous Wasmund’s while the other one is a cognac-finished bourbon. Ha, politics!


Wasmund’s 42 mo – yeah that’s 3.5 yo -  (48%, OB, Copperfox, Virginia, +/-2011) Three stars To be honest, I hated the first edition of this young wood-chipped brew and used to make fun of it but I’ve heard good things about the newest batches. Let’s see what gives… Colour: amber. Nose: unusual, very unusual, but certainly much less repulsive than the old version. There’s some earth, humus and soaked grains at first nosing, a good dose of ginger, caraway and cloves and just touches of lavender sweets and bitter oranges. Frankly, this is pleasant. Mouth: sure it’s a fairly strange concoction, with some oak extracts a bit too much in the forefront, but the ‘difference’ makes it interesting and even good. We have the same spices as in the nose plus lemon and orange drops, the whole displaying a pleasant sweetness that is perfectly balanced by the spices. Finish: long, with more fruit drops. Even grenadine! Just a faint soapiness in the aftertaste. Comments: what a huge surprise! A whiskey that’s gaining a lot of ground in my opinion. SGP:652 - 80 points.


Parker’s 10 yo ‘Heritage Collection’ (50%, OB, Heaven Hill, cognac barrel finishing, 2011) Four stars This baby was finished for six month in cognac barrels from the well-known quality house Frapin. Colour: deep amber. Nose: like all these bourbons at high strength, it’s fully wood-driven in my opinion, starting with whiffs of fresh varnish and developing more on vanilla, coconut, broken branches and earth. Goes on with some maple syrup and touches of bananas as well as, finally, notes of raisins that may come from the cognac. All that is unexpectedly soft. Mouth: extremely sweet and rounded, with notes of many cocktails (punch, Mai Tai…) and something of rum rather than cognac. Then a lot of barley sugar (yeah I know it’s mainly rye), gingerbread and toffee. A rather big spiciness, ginger and cloves again. Finish: long, a little hotter and, indeed, slightly grapy. Comments: a tad sweet for my taste but otherwise quite perfect. I’ll have to ask bourbon experts if they manage to detect the cognac. Anyway, vive la difference! SGP: 551- 87 points.

I don’t know, I feel like we should have something even more ‘heritage’ now. Such as some prohibition-era bourbon?

Old Mock

Old Mock 18 yo 1916/1933 (100 Proof, OB, A. Ph. Stitzel, whiskey) Four stars and a half A funny old flat bottle that was sold during prohibition, under the ‘For Medicinal purpose only’ condition. According to the back label, sale or use for any other purposes would have caused heavy penalties to be inflicted. Don’t we like it in 2011? As for the dates, I don't know how they were doing their maths at the time... Colour: dark amber. Nose: amazing, truly amazing. This could be modern bourbon – and some great one – even if it was actually distilled around 1915. A lot of coffee, roasted chestnuts, pine sap, turpentine, toffee, honeydew (rather make that chestnut honey), then more dried meat, beef jerky, Grison meat, lonzo… and more coffee. Amazing freshness, probably thanks to the original 100° US Proof (50% vol.).

Mouth: a miracle. Imagine this was distilled almost 100 years ago! If I had to draw the main differences between this and the few modern bourbons I could try, I’d say this is probably heavier on caramel and toffee/fudge, and lighter on wood extracts/vanilla. Were they allowed to use refill wood back in those days? Develops on more mint and liquorice, the body being huge. A little banana flambéed as well as, maybe – or quite possibly – quite some notes of rye. Finish: extremely long, more on raisins, orange liqueur and maple syrup. Comments: amazingly, if not flabbergastingly (what?) complex. Well worth 89 in my book, and that’s not because of its antiquity. SGP:661 - 89 points. (and heartfelt thanks to Ron at RareWhiskySite)


MUSIC - Recommended listening: appropriately slow, this. It's Allen Toussaint and the West End Blues. Please buy Allen Toussaint's music. PS it's on 'The Bright Mississippi', a highly recommended record!

Allen Toussaint

November 3, 2011


Seven youngish naked Speysiders plus one

Glen Grant

Glen Grant 'The Major's Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2011) Two stars and a half Let’s see if this no-age-statement (aka, in whisky speak, ‘the youngest whisky in this batch is too young for us to tell you’) baby is a major reserve as well ;-). Colour: straw. Nose: what I always liked in the young Glen Grants was that while they can be a tad bland and too light, they’re good examples of straight ahead maltiness. This one is no exception. Also overripe apples and a little liquorice. Really does the job so far. Mouth: again, this is perfectly all right despite a slight cardboardy side. I like the notes of strawberries. Too bad it tends to become really too light and a tad tea-ish after a few seconds. Finish: short but clean and, again, pleasantly malty. Apples and caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: probably not major (I’m sorry, Major!) but very all right. SGP:331 - 78 points.


Linkwood 11 yo 2000/2011 (46%, Duncan Taylor, NC2) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: hot and pleasantly perfumy at first nosing, with the trademark notes of roses being spectacularly obvious in this version, almost bordering soapiness (not in a bad way at all). Also quite some vanilla and barley sugar. Mouth: very sweet, more on apple compote and bottled apple juice (say Minute Maid - whatever), then light honey, sugar cane and more barley sugar. Pleasant spicy backbone (cloves and quite some nutmeg). Finish: medium long, with these perfumy notes back in the game. Comments: roses are Linkwood’s main marker in my own experience but they aren’t always easy to detect. Here, they’re very obvious, a very classic example. SGP:541 - 82 points.


Benriach 15 yo 1996/2011 (54.3%, Single Cask Collection, bourbon hogshead, 311 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s very interesting how close to the Linkwood we are here. Same kind of floral notes, albeit less on roses and rather more on jasmine. Also nice notes of sultanas, then dried figs, before much more vanilla arrives as well as a little apple juice once again, sponge cake, rum baba... Globally quite custardy, I’d say. Mouth: sweet and fruity, maybe a tad kirschy. Pear and pineapple drops, vanilla, gooseberries, then pepper. It’s not round, rather nervous. Becomes zesty, lemony after a moment. Finish: long, with more and more lemon and pepper. Comments: a fresh and clean youngish Benriach from a fairly lazy cask in my opinion. Nothing wrong, it’s simply close to the original distillate. Which is nice! SGP:541 - 84 points.


Caperdonich 17 yo 1994/2011 (46%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: we’re extremely close to the raw materials here, which, in a sense, is great. I really mean malted barley and yeast, then anything you could find in a farmyard. Hay, grains, earth, flowers (it is a tad geraniumy but not in a bad way)… And whiffs of cleaned rabbit hutch. Then crushed mint leaves and a little warm milk. So natural! Mouth: it’s much more on the fruity side now, with some fructose, lemon, plum spirit and quite some pepper. Maybe touches of rubber and apple peelings. Finish: medium long, grassier and a little gingery. Pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: ah, Nature! SGP: 451 - 82 points.

Macduff 9

Macduff 9 yo 2002/2011 (50%, Liquid Treasures, dailydram.de, refill sherry) Three stars It seems the bird on the label is a puffin, aka sea parrot if I’m not mistaken. We’ll soon learn more from whisky labels than from stamps. Colour: white wine. Nose: another one that’s very ‘natural’ but it’s obviously got (a little) more cask influence. Barley sugar and caramelised apples, then more porridge and just touches of tangerines and blood oranges (from the sherry?) Behind all that, a little wood smoke and the same whiffs of hay that we had from the Caperdonich. Mouth: rounded, sweet, very close to fruit eau-de-vie. Could be aged mirabelle spirit or better yet, sloe spirit (but not gin!) Finish: quite long, with oranges and a slight burnt/bitter note in the aftertaste. Cloves. Comments: another youngster that’s already very quaffable. SGP:541 - 80 points.

Longmorn 14

Longmorn 14 yo 1997/2011 (50%, Liquid Treasures, dailydram.de, bourbon hogshead) Four stars With penguins this time. Colour: white wine. Nose: and yet another very natural, pretty ‘naked’ Speysider, all on apples and farmy elements. A lot of hay, peelings, porridge, fresh wood (broken branches) and then interesting coastal notes – or maybe rather brine. A lot of cut grass too. Mouth: Longmorn’s class speaks out now, the fruitiness is bigger and wider. Oranges, cherries, gooseberries and peaches. Much to my liking! Finish: long and spicier, as almost always. Pepper and cloves. Comments: it’s great to be able to taste whiskies that have seen only pretty lazy wood because when the original spirit is/was first class, it can sometimes be all for the better. SGP:551 - 85 points.


Imperial 15 yo 1995/2011 (46%, Signatory, Un-Chillfiltered, hogshead, casks #50310-50311, 737 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: hurray! A complex spirit, more phenolic than its bros, waxier and, above all, earthier. Muesli, porridge, humus, grass, mint and apples. I know regions don’t mean much but I have the feeling it’s rather more ‘Highlands’ than ‘Speyside’. Mouth: again, this is top notch malt whisky. Same flavours as in the nose plus liquorice, ginger and honeydew plus a little cough syrup, plus, plus, plus... Finish: long, rich, citrusy and beautifully waxy. Comments: buy this bottle, I don’t think it’s expensive. SGP:552 - 88 points.
Okay, let’s have a last one, but it won’t naked, it’ll be from first fill wood…


Glenburgie 1997/2011 (45%, Gordon & MaPhail for LMDW, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #8549) Four stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: full blown leathery and ‘gunpowdery’ sherry this time, with truffles, struck matches and dried mushrooms and in this case it’s rather ‘good’ sulphur in my opinion, because it’s not overpowering. Goes on more with notes of balsamic vinegar, chocolate, prunes and soy sauce as well as walnuts. Becomes truly beautiful after our olfactory bulbs have done their fine-tuning duties. Mouth: amazing notes of mushrooms, big marzipan, liquorice and pipe tobacco plus some very old sweet fortified wine (all right, sweet oloroso) and then quite some salt and leather. Walnut wine. I must say it’s an unusual profile, very close to some old sherry. Finish: long and extremely walnutty. Comments: excellently unusual, in fact, it’s almost like some very strong manzanilla of high quality. SGP:562 - 89 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: two old violinists extraordinaires, Stéphane Grappelli and Joe Venuti, playing their Venupelli Blues. That could have been Grapputi I guess... Please buy their music. (picture Bob Clarke)


November 2, 2011


The funkiest new whiskies from Campbeltown, 3 Springbank and 3 Glen Scotia

Let’s have a bunch of recent Springbanks and Glen Scotias today… We’ll have the youngsters first and take it very easy, so that the higher strengths do not kill the shier oldies…


Springbank 9 yo 2001/2011 (57.1%, Cadenhead, Demerara cask) Four stars and a half A brand new one, sorry no picture yet, this one will come with the fall releases. Colour: straw. Nose: modern Springbank here, with that old fashioned but oh-so-lovable greasy, mineral and slightly buttery profile combined with a little candy sugar (very ‘agricole’ here, although the original Demerara was probably molasses-based). I must say it’s got a strangish, very unusual profile bordering on Kellogg’s Honey Loops sprinkled with motor oil (any brand!) Sounds weird and is weird, but beautifully so.

Mouth: ha! Even weirder but it works. Hard to describe… A big lemony side for sure, then a whole plate of kippers, litres of brine, these unusual phenolic notes that are very ‘modern Springbank’, maybe a little plasticine, putty, salted almonds… The rum is noticeable but it hasn’t got anything to do with the well-known biggish Demeraras, it’s just a, well… an underlining. Finish: medium long, sweet yet nervous, on lemon and almonds with some tar in the aftertaste. Salmiak. Comments: super quality at such young age – and it’s extremely entertaining, which may always grant one or two more points when you try a lot of whiskies. If you’ve already got everything, you should really buy this. SGP:463 - 88 points.


Glen Scotia 11yo 1999/2011 (58%, Cadenhead, red wine cask, 276 bottles) Four stars An improbable pedigree, don’t you think? Colour: apricot. Nose: well, it sounded improbable but there’s a small miracle happening here: balance has been found. Really a miracle, it’s not winey at all, it’s not yeasty, it’s not dirty-ish and it’s not bubblegummy. So, what is it? Well, it’s very Highland-Parkish (S., you’re a barbarian), with notes of heather honey, sea water, oranges, beeswax, leaven, gingerbread and tobacco. Great nose, yes Serge speaking. Mouth: right, right, the raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants are well there this time, crouched in the shadows, but I wouldn’t say it’s ‘winey’, rather pleasantly orangey and then peppery. Very peppery in fact, there are even chillies and a lot of nutmeg. Also liquorice. Nice palate, but a notch less ‘wow’ than the nose. Finish: rather long, more on lemon and Demerara sugar, and always quite some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: surprising, to say the least. So, filling whisky in red wine wood can really work, after all… SGP:552 - 86 points
While we’re at it, what will happen with full maturing in a Port cask? Let’s ask Springbank…

Springbank Port

Springbank 15 yo 'Cask Strength' (51.7%, OB for Glen Fahrn, Switzerland, Port, +/-2011) Two stars This was fully matured in a Port cask, not just finished. Colour: red amber. Nose: another bizarre one, all on clay and metal polish this time. And leaves (peach tree). Very, very strange… Let’s wait… Ah, a little vase water appearing now, wet clothes… then bursting herbs, first parsley, then dill. Having said that, there’s always a lot of metal polish, or notes of aluminium saucepan. Cider apples. Mouth: strange, very strange… Plastic? Putty, iron, leaves, plasticine. Vitamin C tablets. Strange. Finish: long, a little more on oranges, with a peppery aftertaste yet again. Comments: kind of nasty and wacky. It’s fun because it’s so ‘different’ but this time, I’m afraid it’s not my cup of tea at all. I believe Springbank’s big personality wouldn’t mingle with just ‘anything’. But again, it’s a fun whisky – and to our Swiss friends, check Glen Fahrn’s own bottlings, they’re brilliant! SGP:262 - 75 points.
I think we need a ‘normal’ Springer now…

Springbank 18

Springbank 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2011) Four stars and a half I think, but I’m not 100% sure, that this is the latest version of the 18, bottled this year (as some cool Springbank rep told me at London’s Whisky Show). Colour: pale gold. Nose: perfect, on sultanas, putty, motor oil, pine sap, ashes, grass and just a little bacon – not deep-fried! As with the previous batch, it’s no big whisky and it has rather less oomph than older versions, but it’s wonderful. Mouth: excellent, briny, zesty and salty. More so than the earlier versions. Also green tea and orange liqueur. Finish: long, on exactly the same notes. Cherry sweets and green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: we need a version of the 18 at full proof. Signed: a well-wisher. SGP:453 - 88 points.
And now two old Scotias…


Glen Scotia 33 yo 1977/2011 (49.1%, Prestonfield for LMDW) Five stars There’s already been some smashing whiskies under the ‘Prestonfield’ banner! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a style that I enjoy a lot in old whiskies, when we’re mainly on almond oil and other old oils, saps and strange fluids. Turpentine, linseed oil, liquid tar, then hessian, seaweed and… cannabis. I swear I’m not making this up. Gets more and more coastal after that. Mouth: a punchy beast, salty, obviously ‘coastal’ yet again, dry… Ashes and cinnamon, then shellfish, maybe just a little cardboard, samphire, salted anchovies… Becomes smokier after a few seconds, a bit ala Caol Ila. Finish: long, clean, salty. Some grapefruit and cardamom in the aftertaste – as well as a little cough syrup. Comments: can this be Glen Scotia, really? A very great bottling anyways, and quite a surprise. SGP:254 - 90 points.

We’ll make a little break before we try the last one, because it’s a very light one… Or it should be.

Scotia TWA

Glen Scotia 38 yo 1972/2010 (40.1% The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, bourbon hogshead, 92 bottles) Five stars A micro bottling… But maybe a mega whisky? Colour: gold. Nose: sure it’s not big, sure it’s even a little too subtle and whispering, but it’s beautiful, complex, and maybe more akin to some great old white wine. That means some very discreet muscaty touches as well as hints of kumquats, mead, sultanas, almond paste, orange blossom and just a little sandal and cedar wood. Truly beautiful but as you know, after such a nose the palate could be completely off or ‘too loose’. Mouth: yeah well, the beast isn’t completely dead. There’s some drying oak in the attack, which is normal, but the soft and honeyed fruits soon manage to regain control. It’s all a tad more tropical than in the nose, with papayas, bananas (delicate), touches of passion fruits, maybe longans… And after all that, a little bergamot and blood oranges. Finish: short but clean and, amazingly, not quite drying or tea-ish. Comments: a survivor. I couldn’t go above 90 because of the relative weakness on the palate but it’s a very worthy 90 in my book. And I’d be curious to know if 92 bottles is all what was left in the hogshead… SGP:431 - 90 points.
Whiskyfun fav of the month

October 2011

Favourite recent bottling:
Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2011
(55.5%, The Whiskyman, 120 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite older bottling:
Isle of Jura 1966/1986
(50%, Duthie for Samaroli, cask #1943, 180 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:

Longrow 18 yo
(46%, OB, 2011) - WF 92

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Nancy Wilson with George Shearing (who passed away this year at 91) in 1961. It was on their wonderful album ' The Swingin's Mutual!' and it's the standard The Nearness Of You. Please buy Nancy Willdon and George Shearing's music.

Wilson Shearing

November 1, 2011


(too long for Twitter! ;-))

For Movember, grow a moustache and/or...

... buy this superb bottle!

Every year some cool people within the whisky community support Movember, a charity that raises money ‘against’ prostate and testicular cancer. Not only do they grow a moustache (well, some already sport moustaches) but they also do special bottlings, such as this brand new oloroso-ed official Glenfarclas bottled at 53% vol (a 2002), which I already tried and liked a lot (no score yet but do we need scores for this magnificent kind?) The price is very fair: £39.95 of which £10 will be directly transferred to Movember but warning, there were only two casks involved so I think it’s safer to be quick… You may order this lovely bottle at Master of Malt.

October 2011 - part 2 <--- November 2011 - part 1 ---> November 2011 - part 2

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



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

Albion 1986/2011 (60.6%, OB, Velier, cask #10546)

Benriach 40 yo 1971/2011 (49.8%, OB, hogshead, cask #1947, 229 bottles)

Bowmore 1964/1987 (46%, Moon Import, The Birds 1, Sherry hogshead, cask #1546, 240 bottles)

Caol Ila 26 yo 1984/2011 (57.4%, Signatory for LMDW, hogshead, cask #6259, 217 bottles)

Glen Grant 38 yo 1972/2011 (48.2%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #8235, 148 bottles)

Glen Scotia 38 yo 1972/2010 (40.1% The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, bourbon hogshead, 92 bottles)

Glen Scotia 33 yo 1977/2011 (49.1%, Prestonfield for LMDW)

Macduff 38 yo 1973/2011 (47.8%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams)