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Hi, you're in the Archives, November 2015 - Part 1



October 2015 - part 2 <--- November 2015 - part 1 ---> November 2015 - part 2


November 12, 2015


A retro-verticale of Pittyvaich

We’re going on with our exploration of Diageo’s Special Releases, and today it’s going to be the most ‘obscure’ of them all the Pittyvaich. Another distillery we don’t know a lot about, having only tasted… wait, only 15 of them! Pittyvaich was closed in 1993, and demolished in 2002. Apéritif please…

Pittyvaich 28 yo 1979/2007 (54%, Duncan Taylor, Rarest of the Rare, cask #5636, 175 bottles)

Pittyvaich 28 yo 1979/2007 (54%, Duncan Taylor, Rarest of the Rare, cask #5636, 175 bottles) Two stars and a half We’ve had sister casks, they’ve been a little bizarre, perhaps. Colour: gold. Nose: do you like fresh paint and ink? And burnt grass? Paraffin? Leatherette? Mineral sulphur? Cooked beer? With water: dust, chalk, wet clothes, and a faint meatiness. Grisons meat, perhaps (dried beef). Mouth (neat): very unlikely indeed. Burnt cake, orange squash, raw eau-de-vie (tutti frutti), a curious feeling of lemon powder… Perhaps more malt whisky ‘for research’? With water: a little more to my liking, a little fruitier and fresher, on oranges. Saves it. Finish: quite long, bitterish. Bitter oranges, cardboard. Comments: really, more for researchers. A style, as they say. SGP:362 - 78 points.

Pittyvaich 25 yo 1989/2015 (49.9%, OB, Special Release)

Pittyvaich 25 yo 1989/2015 (49.9%, OB, Special Release) Four stars Like the minimalistic design. Let’s hope the whisky won’t be in keeping with this style. Colour: straw. Nose: the style is there again, with some ink and chalk, but this time it’s cleaner, without any feinty/yeasty or bitter notes. Leather and porridge, candle wax, then something very ‘funny’, Provence herbs. Rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, even pine needles. And a little ham in the background. Mouth: really funny indeed, quite pungent, grassy, waxy, with a fizzy side (lemonade) and then pine needles again. Basil liqueur. Yes, that exists. Finish: medium, always ‘funny’, between lemon and fresh mentholated herbs, as well as a little dill or fennel. Comments: did I tell you I found this baby funny? A forgotten style, I don’t know of any other distillery that still makes it like this. I even find it really good, but its ‘unlikeliness’ may be part of that judgement. SGP:361 - 85 points.

Pittyvaich 14 yo (54.5%, James MacArthur, Fine Malt Selection, 75cl, +/-1990)

Pittyvaich 14 yo (54.5%, James MacArthur, Fine Malt Selection, 75cl, +/-1990) Three stars No vintage on this older bottling, but it’s probably mid-1970s. Colour: straw. Nose: well in the style of the SR, only tighter, and rather smokier. That would be coal smoke. Other than that, same whiffs of a forest in Provence, pinesap, thyme… All that. And ink. With water: it’s the chalk that comes out. Mouth (neat): a bit extreme, very grassy, herbal, lemony, and chalky, always with this bitter background. Very oily mouth feel, some very characterful malt whisky. With water: orange drops! But also a discreet chemical/sulphury touch. Very old school, I can see why some blenders would choose this to add body and texture to some otherwise dullish blend. Finish: quite long. Waxes, oranges, chalk, a drop of turpentine. Comments: it’s Bell’s that used to operate Pittyvaich, not sure if it was ‘top dressing’, though. A whisky worth trying, for sure, and I really enjoyed some parts of it, hence my good score. SGP:371 - 82 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Pittyvaich I've tasted so far



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November 11, 2015


Another Japanese extravaganza

Right, this is partly an ‘excuse session’, as there’s yet another new Karuizawa, and as in true WF fashion, we ought to have a few other Japanese whiskies for the sake of due comparison (always remember, only comparison is reason). Which means that we’ll first have other Japanese whiskies… And perhaps even other stars!

Togouchi 18 yo (43%, OB, world blend, +/2014)

Togouchi 18 yo (43%, OB, world blend, +/2014) Two stars and a half Whisky by Chugoku-Jozo Distillery but it seems, according to reliable sources, that this is actually a blend of Scottish malt and Canadian grain. So, only the bottle’s very ‘Japanese’. We first had Togouchi a few years back, and found it relatively good but a little unlikely (WF 78). Colour: gold. Nose: some grassy oak, some apples, and a touch of cinnamon. Perhaps peaches as well, but not too sure, then a curious feeling of cooked vegetables plus almonds. Some porridge. Mouth: not bad at all, it seems that they improved the recipe. A little dusty/oaky, perhaps, with more cooked apples, then cake, malt, marzipan, and grass. More and more green oak and green tea. Finish: rather short, with a discreet saltiness. Salted porridge and green apples. Comments: pretty okay, too bad it’s so expensive here in France (more than 100€, ahem). I like it rather better than earlier batches. SGP:351 - 79 points.

Yoichi (43%, OB, Japan, +/-2015)

Yoichi (43%, OB, Japan, +/-2015) Two stars and a half No age, 50cl., great packaging, hefty price. Welcome to malt whisky 2.0. Colour: deep gold. Nose: warm, nutty, vanilla-ed, custardy, malty, oaky. Sponge cake, plum jam, sweet oak, honey. It’s simple, of course well made, and certainly not unpleasant. Let’s only hope this is no oak liqueur on the palate… Mouth: yeah well, the oak feels a bit, with a drying leafiness rather than ‘vanilla-ed pina colada’ as seen elsewhere, while the body’s a little thin. Toasted oak, green tea, white pepper, a little cardboard, and little fruits. Finish: a little short, oaky, with a touch of salt, smoke, and more sawdust in the aftertaste. Comments: the oakiness is a little surprising. That they would have tried to speed-up ageing using new or rejuvenated oak would make sense, but then we’d have found more vanilla, I suppose. A little mysterious. Acceptable. The nose was nice. SGP:361 - 77 points.

Yawn yawn yawn…

Suntory 'Royal' (43%, OB, Japanese blend, +/-2015)

Suntory 'Royal' (43%, OB, Japanese blend, +/-2015) Three stars and a half Our friends at TWE call this ‘a superb entry-level Japanese whisky’. Well, at £90 a bottle, I certainly hope it’s not too ‘entry-level’. BTW older batches of Suntory Royal were said to be full of old Bowmore, but that may have changed. Colour: orangey gold. Nose: this is troubling, there is quite some peat. Bowmore or Hakushu? This is actually a rather great nose, a bit ala old Highland Park, with depth and complexity. Waxy oranges, leather, sea air, heather honey, tobacco, earth… Mouth: totally old-style blend. Leafy, grassy, rather smoky indeed, leathery, with Seville oranges, a little brine, liquorice, gentian (hurray), a mineral side, some soot… And green bananas. I’ve seen here and there that some good people were thinking this is light whisky. Certainly not! But perhaps is that a matter of batches?... Finish: okay, it’s not long, but this mineral and malty grassiness works very well. Very old school. Some salt in the aftertaste. Comments: an excellent blend, I think. And to tell you the truth, a surprise. SGP:362 - 84 points.

Shinshu Mars 3 yo 2011/2014  'Komagatake' (57%, OB, Japanese malt, 5200 bottles)

Shinshu Mars 3 yo 2011/2014  'Komagatake' (57%, OB, Japanese malt, 5200 bottles) Four stars This baby ex-sherry cask and American white oak cask. Absolutely love it that they proudly state ‘aged 3 years’ on the label. I must add that the ‘Revival’ version ad been much to my liking in April this year (WF 85). Colour: deep gold. Nose: of course it’s young, and of course the casks have done a large part of the job, but if you’re not firmly against custard, you’ll enjoy this. White chocolate, praline, vanilla, malt bar, honey, maple syrup, cake. You see what I mean. With water:  raw malt, lilies, perhaps a touch of cooked cabbage (I’m not saying sulphur, not all), a pleasant mustiness… Smells a bit of spent lees at times. Dead yeast? Mouth (neat): yes. There’s an honest youth in this, some café latte, some buttered popcorn, some Virginia tobacco, some salted butter caramel (in Breton fashion), and an oaky grassiness in the background that puts it straighter – or it would have become too smooth/rounded. With water: very good. Earthy, grassy, pleasantly beerish, with a little mandarin to add pleasures… Finish: long, and really salty. Where does this salt come from? From the oak? Comments: only one word, smart. SGP:552 - 86 points.

Talking ‘bout smart people…

Chichibu 2010/2014 'Chibi Daru' (53.5%, OB, Japanese malt, 6200 bottles)

Chichibu 2010/2014 'Chibi Daru' (53.5%, OB, Japanese malt, 6200 bottles) Four stars Ex-quarter casks. Hope the oak won’t dominate this baby, but I do trust these makers… Colour: full gold. Nose: hold on, we aren’t far from the Mars at all. This Chicihibu’s just a little more floral, and a little less grassy. Perhaps. A notch rounder, better polished, and then a little more mentholy. Patchouli, incense… In a way, it’s a little more ‘Japanese’. With water: pink grapefruits aplenty. Love pink grapefruits. Mouth (neat): excellent. Full, immediate, very satisfying, all on sweet barley and ‘moderate’ tropical fruits. Guavas, for example, and tinned pineapples. I find this extremely good. With water: becomes creamy, fruity, with, once again, pink grapefruits. Finish: quite long, oily, syrupy (but that’s good syrup). Pink grapefruits, really. And green tea. Comments: the result of a lot of care, and of little marketing. Marketing 101: make the best product you can. Then, market it. But who am I? No, seriously, it’s like at winegrowers’, the ones who make the best are the stars. Simple. All the rest is utter codswallop, and no army of brand ambassadors (love you lasses and lads) will manage to alter that simple equation. In the short run, perhaps, but in the long run, never. Ooh I need a last dram… And let’s make it that new Karuizawa I was talking about… SGP:561 - 87 points.

Karuizawa 1980/2015 (61.6%, OB, The Whisky Show)

Karuizawa 1980/2015 (61.6%, OB, The Whisky Show) Four stars Picture of a mock-up bottle. It does look a bit ‘Kim Jong-il’, doesn’t it. Colour: mahogany. Nose: never has any whisky been this close to an old cognac at cask strength. Raisins, peaches, rancio. And then, rather a mineral/medicinal development, with some tiger balm, bandages, and antiseptic (touches). Which you can find in old cognac too. We all know that old spirits converge, don’t we. With water: Vicks Vaporub! Not the first time we’re finding this in Karuizawa. That means menthol and eucalyptus galore, plus lemongrass. Mouth (neat): starts clean, on oranges and flints, and gets then more mineral/medicinal again. Drinking mercurochrome and liquid clay. That’s meant to be good for your stomach, mind you. I mean, liquid clay, not whisky at 61.6% vol.! Numbs your lips a bit. With water: becomes very mentholy. Crème de menthe, salted liquorice, menthol snuff… You need to be acquainted with this style. The problem might be that it does not swim too well, while it’s really too hot when undiluted. Or maybe buy an electronic pipette? Finish: very long, salty and mentholy, really extreme. Drinking a blend of seawater and mint eau-de-vie. Or perhaps overcooked manzanilla. Comments: love it because it’s so extreme. Extreme whiskies are any taster’s joys, because they’re anything but boring. On the other hand, as far as organoleptical science is concerned, this is almost pure heresy. You’ll find in this one any compound that ends with –ol. SGP:373 - 85 points.

Yeah I know, sounds a bit like a passing of the torch from Karuizawa to Mars and Chichibu. Could be…

More tasting notes Check the index of all Japanese I've tasted so far



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November 10, 2015


Exploring Glenlivet at Cask Strength

Glenlivet again. That’s good. The new #1 malt in volume. But first, an aperitif, as usual, and let’s make it high strength as well…

Glenlivet 15 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, +/-1990) Glenlivet 15 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, +/-1990) Three stars An all-time classic at 100°proof (UK). Colour: gold. Nose: you don’t even need to bring your glass to your nostrils to smell a lot of overripe apples. Harvesting apples in an orchard. In the background, a little clay. Other than that, yeah, apples and apples. I like apples, but I doubt this little Glenlivet will keep the doctor away… With water: a funny medicinal touch. Effervescent aspirin tablets, perhaps. Mouth (neat): amazing, even more apples, with oranges added into the basket. A little maple syrup, a touch of vanilla and caramel… In fact, this is liquid tarte tatin, not something that’s unusual with Glenlivet. With water: gets a little more honeyed, but there’s also more cider. We’re far from Calvados, though. Finish: medium, always on apples. Green apples. Cider apples… Comments: one of these very fine whiskies that made many whisky drinkers discover the pleasures of high strength. SGP:551 - 82 points.

Similar age and strength, only official…

Glenlivet 16 yo 1988/2005 (58.1%, OB, Chivas Bros., Batch #GL 16 004, 50cl)

Glenlivet 16 yo 1988/2005 (58.1%, OB, Chivas Bros., Batch #GL 16 004, 50cl) Three stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s amazing how close we are to the G&M. Same feeling of cut apples, plus a touch of chalk. Not much else I’m afraid, but this works. A kind of unpolished Glenlivet. With water: same slightly medicinal notes as in the G&M. Concrete, aspirin. Mouth (neat): quite raw, strong, with again apples, cider, young Calvados, a touch of caramel, and some grass. Roughish. With water: smoother of course, more honeyed. Stewed apples, tarte tatin, chalk, a little white pepper, a touch of orange. Finish: medium, on, guess what? Apples! Comments: a tad rougher than the G&M. Needs water. SGP:551 - 81 points.

Glenlivet 19 yo 'Tom a Voan' (54.1%, OB, single cask edition, cask #42705, 2015)

Glenlivet 19 yo 'Tom a Voan' (54.1%, OB, single cask edition, cask #42705, 2015) Four stars and a half A single cask with an age but no vintage, that’s a bit bizarre… Colour: deep gold. Nose: this seems to be a case of a newer bottling being nicer than its older siblings, which doesn’t happen every day. Very pleasant honeyed freshness, some fudge and malt, light raisins, apples (of course), maple syrup, then cigarette tobacco and ‘sweet’ leather. Something floral as well (lime tree). Very nice! With water: really very nice. Orange blossom, earl grey, artisan apple pie, honeydew… Mouth (neat): really very good, sweet and softly sherried, very honeyed, with raisins and a touch of mentholy earth. Perhaps a touch of rancio as well, then more grassy, chlorophilly notes. With water: a little praline and chocolate, and also more grassy tea. Swims very well. Finish: medium, as almost always with Glenlivet (when it’s not heavily sherried). Drinking earl grey while eating apple cake (with your old auntie). Comments: classic and classy Glenlivet, and it’s very ‘Glenlivet’. SGP:651 - 88 points.

Glenlivet 18 yo 1996/2015 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, first fill sherry butt, cask #83266)

Glenlivet 18 yo 1996/2015 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, first fill sherry butt, cask #83266) Four stars This one should have more sherry, that’s why we’re having it now. Colour: dark amber. Nose: not my first lovely middle-aged sherried Glenlivet by Signatory Vintage. This one’s moderately gamy/meaty, but it’s got tobacco and smoked teas, plus a molassy rumness and a touch of mint. A Jamaican-Andalusian Glenlivet? Sort of. Really like the oranges and the toffee-ed raisins. Mouth: perfect. Pipe tobacco, orange liqueur, drops of Demerara rum, overripe apples, then more drying chocolate. Van Houten’s old cocoa powder. Nice grassy tropical fruits. Mango skin, perhaps? Finish: medium, a wee tad drying, but the grassy/orangey freshness works well. A touch of ham and drying oak in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, as expected. Only the slightly drying finish didn’t please me as much. SGP:462 - 86 points.

More new sherried Signatory please…

Glenlivet 19 yo 1995/2015 (58.1%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength, sherry butt, cask #166951, 526 bottles)

Glenlivet 19 yo 1995/2015 (58.1%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength, sherry butt, cask #166951, 526 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: dark amber. Nose: this one hasn’t quite got the cleanliness of the 1995, but it’s got many grasses and herbal teas. Hay, dog rose, hawthorn, orange blossom… All that on a bed of prunes and raisins that make it a little armagnacky. Plus chalk and fresh cement. After a few minutes, loads and loads of chocolate. With water: tobacco, as almost always. Water very often brings tobacco out of heavy sherried whiskies, in my experience. Mouth (neat): rich, very chocolaty, orangey, with a rather old-school sherry influence, and a salty tartness in the background. A salted Mars bar or something, minus all this deadly sugar. With water: hurray! Fresher, with more orange juice and marmalade. A mineral touch as well, between gunflints and chalk. Finish: quite long, leathery and chocolaty. Leaves your palate relatively clean, which can’t be said all the time. Comments: probably first fill. High quality. SGP:552 - 88 points.

Oh well, even more sherried Signatory please…

Glenlivet 33 yo 1981/2015 (52.2%, Signatory Vintage, for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry, cask #9468, 154 bottles)

Glenlivet 33 yo 1981/2015 (52.2%, Signatory Vintage, for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry, cask #9468, 154 bottles) Five stars Older and refill, this might work. Previous sister casks had been excellent, and rather fairly priced, which is the case again by today’s standards (£199). Colour: gold. Nose: smells official. I know, a rather stupid comment, but I mean it. Apples and chalk, raisins and clay. Not much else to say. With water: a little humus and mushrooms, which I always love in my whisky. Chives? Mouth (neat): love it. Apples, cigarette tobacco, tea, leather, walnuts from the sherry, some cinnamon… Balance is achieved, the strength is perfect, it goes down well, it’s quite complex… We’re approaching the 90-mark in my book. Water will decide… With water: check. Honey, ripe apples, oranges… Finish: medium, clean, fresh, complex. Custard, honey, apple cake, earl grey, wulong…. Comments: it’s the balance that’s impressive. Some sherry, but not too much sherry, and the Glenlivetness that’s still there. The wonders of refill sherry! SGP:451 - 90 points.

We could almost try a last one. Are you game?...

Glenlivet 18 yo ‘Hand-Filled’ (50.7%, OB, cask #2, 2014)

Glenlivet 18 yo ‘Hand-Filled’ (50.7%, OB, cask #2, 2014) Four stars and a half A bottle filled at the distillery by my friend Tomislav. You can’t beat the taste of friendship. Colour: gold. Nose: this one reminds us that Glenlivet doesn’t always need sherry. Sunflower oil, apples, acacia honey, dandelions, malted barley, custard, pollen… It’s well-aged Glenlivet au naturel, in all its glory. With water: perfect! Ex-bourbon soft fruits and cakes and honeys. Very soft, delicate, and well, perfect. Mouth (neat): coating and vanilled, then fruitier than fruits, with a feeling of Haribo’s best and all kinds of tinned fruits. Even litchis. With water: grape pie, acacia honey, custard, lemon curd, Danish pastries, sunflower oil, pollen… Spring is here! (did it occur to you that we’re in the midst of November, S.?) Finish: medium, soft, elegant, honeyed, fruity… Tea in the aftertaste, both green and black. Comments: we’re bordering perfection. Thank you, Tomislav! SGP:551 - 88 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glenlivet I've tasted so far



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November 9, 2015


Today Dailuaine

We’re going on with our exploration of this year’s Special Releases by Diageo, and today it’s going to be Dailuaine’s turn. It’s not a distillery I’m extremely familiar with, although I’ve already tried some very good ones. But let’s kick this off with a little aperitif, as usual…

Dailuaine 16 yo 1997/2013 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, casks #10178-10179, 739 bottles)

Dailuaine 16 yo 1997/2013 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, casks #10178-10179, 739 bottles) Two stars and a half I’ve tried a pretty good 15 yo in the same series. Colour: white wine. Nose: totally on malted barley, with also sweets and sweet ale, plus tinned pears. Whiffs of baker’s yeast, and a faint waxiness that makes it rather fatter than others. Mouth: a feeling of quaffing concentrated ale, and I cannot not not think of Brewdog’s famous cold-distilled beer. Slight prickliness, something burnt/malty, bitter oranges. Not a light and easy one! Some cloves as well, cinnamon cake, nutmeg… Finish: rather long, very malty, slightly burnt. Comments: I find this one good, for sure, but a tad difficult because of this feeling of very strong beer. Unless, of course, you love very strong beer. SGP:461 - 78 points.

And now a post-apéritif…

Dailuaine 17 yo 1996/2014 (51.9%, Archives, hogshead, cask #10607)

Dailuaine 17 yo 1996/2014 (51.9%, Archives, hogshead, cask #10607) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: very same style as that of the Signatory, with just a little more citrus and more vanilla. Other than that, same-ish waxiness, malt, and notes of fruity hops. Well, Californian IPA. A little lemongrass. As they say in whisky blogging, ‘nice!’ With water: some linseed oil, grapefruit juice, and muesli. Swims well. Notes of fresh brioche, near-yeasty. Mouth (neat): it hasn’t got this burnt malt, it’s rather got oranges and honey, plus tangerines. And, indeed, sweet malt. Pleasant fatness on your tongue, it’s pretty oily malt whisky. With water: a touch of coffee-schnapps. Choose your coffee, choose your schnapps. Finish: rather long, malty, a wee tad burnt just like the Signatory. Oranges are back in the aftertaste. Comments: all fine. Excuse me, all nice. SGP:551 - 83 points.

And the new SR…

Dailuaine 34 yo 1980/2015 (50.9%, OB, Special Release, 2952 bottles)

Dailuaine 34 yo 1980/2015 (50.9%, OB, Special Release, 2952 bottles) Four stars and a half This baby ex-refill American oak. BTW, these came with a magnificent little black book full of trivia, and I’ve just learned that Dailuaine welcomed the very first pagoda roofs in Scotland, in 1889. Knowledge is power! Colour: gold. Nose: yessss, a beehive! I’m not sure why or when these very obvious notes of beeswax, pollen, nectar and ‘delicate pinewood’ do occur, but I just love them. What’s sure is that they’re never to be found in young whiskies – let alone NAS, ha-ha. So plenty of honeyed notes, honeydew, pinesap, mead, overripe pears, then rather tangerines, a touch of cardamom, rosehip… I’m all for this! With water: more towards Seville oranges, a little ginger, some polished wood, and Alsatian bredala (Christmas cookies). Rather less beehivy notes. Mouth (neat): a touch of fizzy wood, with lime, pepper and ginger, then a honeyed development, rather around eucalyptus honey, and perhaps a drop of mojito. Really. The honey really coats all this. With water: once again, water makes it spicier and rather less honeyed. Ratafia, orange cordial, ginger cookies… Finish: medium, with spices and a return on sweet barley. Comments: impeccable old Dailuaine. SGP:561 - 89 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Dailuaine I've tasted so far



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November 8, 2015


Sunday Malternatives, more rum at random

Really at random, so we might come across ugly sugar bombs… or fabulous stars from Jamaica, Guadeloupe or Trinidad! Let’s see… (yeah, really, totally at random)… Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

Espero 'Reserva Exclusiva' (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2015)

Espero 'Reserva Exclusiva' (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2015) one star and a halfOuch, the Dom Rep… I’ve had one with a different label (orange instead of green). That one wasn’t bad. Colour: gold. Nose: not much. Smells sweet, with bananas, corn syrup, light honey, tinned fruits, sweet mouthwash for kids, strawberry jam… Mouth: a liqueurish rum. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that anyone will notice that this isn’t a straight spirit. Very syrupy, full of sugar, with notes of Fanta and Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit. Dissolved jelly babies. Now, I find it better than Don Papa (which ain’t that hard to do if you ask me). Finish: medium, extremely sweet and syrupy. Feels flavoured, but there are flavours of sugarcane. I know, that’s the i. Comments: there’s much worse, but as a possible malternative, it’s very lousy. And unbalanced. SGP:720 - 68 points.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

St Lucia 11 yo 2002/2013 (52.6%, Duncan Taylor, cask #5)

St Lucia 11 yo 2002/2013 (52.6%, Duncan Taylor, cask #5) Three stars and a half Ouch, this is genuine pot still rum from St Lucia Distillers, not some sweetened/flavoured ethanol. Tell me about contrasts… Colour: pale gold. Nose: total cane-ness, phenolic, olive-y, rubbery in a good way, herbal, mineral, with some eucalyptus and plenty of aniseed and liquorice… What’s not to like? We’ve tried an official one called ‘1931 Second Edition’ which was really nice, but not this nice. Mouth: indeed, great work by Duncan Taylor. Very salty, extremely salmiaky, quite huge, and actually more on salted liquorice than the most extreme Trinidadians or Jamaicans. Perhaps not for beginners – but I am a beginner. Love the saltiness. Finish: extremely long. Touches of rose jelly and Turkish delights, otherwise it’s totally on salted liquorice. Comments: doesn’t go in for subtleties. Beastly! SGP:651 - 83 points.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

Guyanan Rum 10 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, +/-2014)

Guyanan Rum 10 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, +/-2014) Two stars A shame that we wouldn’t know which ‘style’ of Demerara rum this is, but on the other hand, the official El Dorados are sweetened so a more natural one is welcome. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s rather light style Demerara, close to the cane, without much salty/phenolic things. In fact it’s almost Cuban. Sunflower oil, a little sugar, cut grass, fresh walnuts… In fact it’s rather delicate. Most probably column. Mouth: indeed, it’s sweet and light, with rather unusual notes of barley sugar, plain Demerara sugar, orgeat, confectionary, marshmallows… The lightest side of Demerara. Finish: rather short, with  touch of paint/putty. Nougat and sweet nuts. Comments: the lighter side of Demerara indeed. Not the most interesting to malt drinkers, I’d say. SGP:540 - 76 points.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

St. Lucia Distillers '1931 First Edition' (43%, OB, St. Lucia, 80st Anniversary, 2011)

St. Lucia Distillers '1931 First Edition' (43%, OB, St. Lucia, 80st Anniversary, 2011) Three stars This is funny, we just had another St Lucia – and we already tried the second edition, bottled in 2012 (WF 80). Colour: dark amber. Nose: very rich, full of sugar liqueur, caramel, and maple syrup, but this kind of works. Dried bananas, molasses, a touch of plastic, perhaps. Toasted pastries. The jury’s still out… Mouth: thick, rather oaky, but quite nice, with fairly complex flavours, chocolate, bananas, liquorice, honey… I’m reading my notes for Edition 2 and that one was a little lighter and more herbal, perhaps. This one’s really rich. Some liquorice and mint. Finish: medium, saltier. Liquorice and honey, apricot jam… Comments: not my favourite style, but should I intellectualise this baby (yeah right), I’d say it’s probably excellent. Probably not sweetened. SGP:652 - 82 points.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

Worthy Park 8 yo (43%, Bristol Spirits, Jamaica, 2015)

Worthy Park 8 yo (43%, Bristol Spirits, Jamaica, 2015) Four starsOh, a Worthy Park! We’ve recently had some by Rum Nation – Wilson & Morgan that were superb. Colour: gold. Nose: extraordinary nose! Rocks, oils, salt, gherkins, olives, tar, Barbour grease, fermenting hay, fennel, menthol… Let’s only hope it won’t be a little thin on the palate, because of the low strength. Mouth: what a spirit. Earthy and sooty, with dust and gravel, ashes, a feeling of coal or pencil lead, black olives, salted liquorice, seawater, perhaps mussels… The spirit is just perfect, and at 50% vol., it would be even more perfect. Finish: long despite the strength. Salty, almost vinegary aftertaste. Comments: what a distillery! What a distillate! SGP:462 - 86 points.


Angostura 12 yo '1824' (40%, OB, Trinidad, +/-2014)

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

Angostura 12 yo '1824' (40%, OB, Trinidad, +/-2014)
Two stars Crikey, not much luck this time. Column still rum from molasses. Colour: deep amber. Nose: hello? Is there somebody? Very light, honey sauce, caramel… ‘Ideas’ of PX. Perhaps herbal teas. Raisins and vanilla. Mouth: sweet and light. Goes down well. Raisins. Light. Perhaps a little boring and weak. Finish: short, sweet, easy, raisiny. Orange syrup. Burnt sugar and maple syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: did we just have some rum? Not unpleasant, just very unnoticeable. For mad mixologists, I imagine. Hello? SGP:530 - 71 points.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

Deadhead 6 yo (40%, Mexico, +/-2014)

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

Deadhead 6 yo (40%, Mexico, +/-2014)
Two stars A funny bottle. It’s a blend of pot still and column rum, not too sure about the origins. Not too sure it’s about the content anyway. Colour: pale gold. Nose: sugar, herbal tea, honey, a touch of maple syrup. Sweet stuff, it seems. Quick… Mouth: not too sweet, good news. Teas, ashes, a tad dusty, notes of overripe apples. A rather good blend, it just lacks body. Peaches, perhaps. Finish: short, a little sugary. Mint and apple juice. Comments: we’ve seen much worse. The bottle’s funny. Let’s move on. SGP:540 - 70 points.

A last one. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

Zacapa ‘Solera 23 Etiqueta Negra' (43%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2014)
Ouch. The successor to the Black Label, discontinued in 2004, which I did not like, which was a fake 23 years old, but that’s kind of legendary. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: not much. Molasses, coffee, dried bananas, a little cardboard. Mouth: thick, cloying, ridden with sugar. Caramel and corn syrup. Thin body. Finish: short, dusty, sweet. Papaya jam and marmalade in the aftertaste. Banana purée. Comments: extremely weak, needs ice. Totally unbalanced. Not worth of our time. Bwaah… SGP:720 - 40 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Rums I've tasted so far



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November 6, 2015


Long leash Clynelish, Part Two

We’re going on with Clynelish. Yesterday we’ve liked the expensive new Special Release a lot (WF 90) but maybe shall we find one’s that’s even more to our liking, let’s try…

Clynelish 21 yo 1992/2014 (49.8%, La Maison du Whisky, Jam Session #3, bourbon hogshead, cask #1510/9)

Clynelish 21 yo 1992/2014 (49.8%, La Maison du Whisky, Jam Session #3, bourbon hogshead, cask #1510/9) Four stars and a half Jazz and Clynelish, a great sounding combination, am I not right? And the Vanguard/Blue Note style label just clicks on me. Great pastiche work, not far from my favourite recent whisky label. Now in my experience, 1992 was lighter, less waxy vintage, let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, this is rather akin to neighbouring Glenmorangie at first nosing, only a tad grassier. Apple compote, baked oranges, gooseberries, a little olive oil, husk, brioche… So indeed a lighter, more elegant style. For your lounge rather than for the hipflask. Mouth: a notch more ‘Clynelish’, with touches of wax indeed, but other than that, it’s a rather light, slightly oily, fruity and barleyish malt whisky. Orange and apple cakes, drops of maple syrup, a floral side… It’s greatly balanced and greatly elegant, just not totally ‘Clynelish’. Finish: yeah and as that sometimes happen, the finish just proves me wrong. In this case, there’s much more salt, and much more grass than in Clynelish’s lighter neighbours, up there. And the aftertaste is very Clynelish, and just wonderful. Salty butter, waxes, orange skin, and tobacco. Comments: superb, and interestingly different. Very complex whisky. SGP:452 - 88 points (98 for the label!)

Clynelish 18 yo 1996/2014 (52.7%, The Whisky Agency, for Taiwan, refill butt, 360 bottles)

Clynelish 18 yo 1996/2014 (52.7%, The Whisky Agency, for Taiwan, refill butt, 360 bottles) Five stars The Whisky Agency, long time no see! Colour: gold. Nose: do you know Rudolph Lindt? Did you know he was the manager at Clynelish around 1996? Only half joking, this is as chocolaty as whisky can be. We’re not talking oloroso-ed dark chocolate, we’re talking Lindt’s milk chocolate, creamy, buttery, soft, and rather nutty/vanilled. I’m not a huge fan of sherried Clynelish, but I have to say these refill casks can make wonders. Very nice touches of gunpowder, dried mushrooms, and tobacco. So far so nice. With water: great. Mushrooms and ev’rything that comes with them. You know, pine needles, earth, mud, moss, parsley… Yes, parsley! Mouth: wow, excellent! Some parts remind me of the old 1965s and 1966s by Cadenhead for Italy, with this stony, gamy, and leathery style. Perfect bitter oranges in the background, and always this salty touch. And rocks, stones, and gravel. Impressed. With water: yess. Tobacco, earthy pu-erh tea, bitter oranges, and a touch of ginger and Campari. Finish: perfect, long, with more pepper and ginger, perhaps two raisins, and always this waxy smoke. Very mentholy retro-olfaction, which is cool. Toothpaste ;-). Comments: I often find sherry and Clynelish don’t sing in tune, but when they do, the end result can be magnificent. That’s the case here, even dear Ornette would have approved. SGP:362 - 91 points.

Sherry and Clynelish, let’s try again, and go to the extremes…

Clynelish 16 yo 'Darkness' (54.9%, Master of Malt, Oloroso Cask Finish, 2014)

Clynelish 16 yo 'Darkness' (54.9%, Master of Malt, Oloroso Cask Finish, 2014) Four stars It is to remember that this slightly unlikely brew got great silver at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2014. All 100% blind, no categories that give everything away. You know, like Skye, 10 yo, 45.8% and all that. Yeah, blind tasting… Excuse me? We’re running late? I know, I know… Colour: pale amber, so not that dark, hehe… Nose: cigars. And cigars. Plus cigars. And perhaps a little tarmac, soot, old walnuts, and fresh concrete. Forgot to mention dried porcinis and Grisons meat – or Bresaola. With water: hay, mud, cured ham, tobacco, saltpetre, more hay. Mouth (neat): I hate it that I quite enjoy this heavy, slightly stuffy concoction. Bitter chocolate, walnut wine, oloroso indeed, tobacco, bitter oranges, pickled ginger, pepper, leather… With water: same, only a notch grassier, with a limy backbone. Finish: long, and quite curiously, fresher and zestier, with more lemons. Comments: excellent. Once again, sherry+Clynelish worked. Maybe be was I totally wrong… SGP:462 - 87 points.

Clynelish 18 yo 1997/2015 (53.3%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, Tokaji wood, cask #6493)

Clynelish 18 yo 1997/2015 (53.3%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, Tokaji wood, cask #6493) Four stars and a half Okay I’ll say it, some of the worst (excuse me, my least favourite) whiskies I’ve ever tasted had been matured, or rather finished in Tokay/Tokaji. There’s no sweeter wine than Tokay, and while the best ones are fabulous, others are just too sugary and cloying, in my opinion. Which will just wreck a 1974 Ardbeg, if you ask me. But let’s move on… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not in the nose that problems occur. In this case it’s quite lovely, rounded and sweet, like nosing your mirabelle jam while having breakfast early in the morning. Or something like that. Having said that it’s not the Clynelishest Clynelish ever so far. With water: f***k, this works. More overripe mirabelles, plus some chamomile tea and ‘nosing a 500g-jar of all-flower pollen’. Mouth (neat): LOL! You get the Tokay, and mirabelles, and zwetschke, and maybe even quince jelly, plus maybe even some honeycomb – which does, indeed, include some wax – but I would not hope anybody would say ‘this is Clynelish’. Except the good people at Wilson & Morgan, of course. But if you like mirabelles – and golden sultanas - you’ll like this. With water: gets thick as the thickest jam. It’s silly, I think I never experienced this, to this extent. Where’s my silver spoon? Eating mirabelle jam while your spouse isn’t watching… What’s great is that no oaky off-notes are playing the killjoys, so all is fine. Finish: long, and curiously lighter, with some lemonade. I’m not saying this is light whisky. Comments: please give me a minute to gather my thoughts... Good, I hate it, and I love it. In fact, I hate it that I love it, but the lack of Clynelishness will prevent me from going to 90 and north. So (ha, the Italians)… SGP:751 - 89 points.

Another go at a 1992, and let’s make it strong!...

Clynelish 22 yo 1992/2014 (62.1%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, 190 bottles)

Clynelish 22 yo 1992/2014 (62.1%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, 190 bottles) Four stars Wait wait wait, I owe you another quote from Black Adder. How about this one: ‘There hasn't been a war run this badly since Olaf the hairy, King of all the Vikings, ordered 80,000 battle helmets with the horns on the inside.’ Right, I may have published that one before. Colour: gold. Nose: I’m sure Olaf The Hairy would have approved, since I’m sure this would kill any enemy. There is a waxy/fruity Clynelishness, but other than that, this would just send you to the Whallalha (however that thing is spelled). With water: ci-vi-li-za-tion! Quite. Honeycomb, overripe apples, cakes, grapefruit jelly. Some limestone too, but I wouldn’t call this ‘a mineral Clynelish’. Mouth (neat): it’s great. Someone’s pouring liquid wax into your throat. I couldn’t tell you much more, but it’s a great feeling. And now excuse me, but I need to add water… With water: exactly the same feeling of sipping Glenmorangie as with the jazzy 1992. Apple pie covered with honey and butter cream. Finish: quite long, very fruity, very orchardy. Oily feeling, like if you just drank sunflower oil. Comments: so not very Clynelish, but very good, smooth, malt whisky. Yep, when diluted. SGP:551 - 85 points.

By the way...

Advent Calendar

since we’ve just tried one excellent Clynelish by Master of Malt, I’ve just got an idea (oh, no!) Indeed, I guess we’ve all got several friends and family whom we’d like to convert to the wonders of whisky, but we all know that presenting them with a good bottle is extremely tricky. Will they enjoy this Ardbeg or that Clynelish, given that they’re beginners? There’s nothing more embarrassing than to notice that the bottle you presented them with last year is still standing in the drinks cabinet, 2/3 full (yeah, and YOU drank that third). On the other hand, as a connoisseur, you just wouldn’t want to give them one of these smooth, easy-easy whiskies that we hate, just because they’re too easy, precisely. So, what to do?
I think a great idea would be to present them with a very smart Advent Calendar that we could make ourselves using our own stash and cheap baby socks or something. Or, alternatively, order the ones that some good people such as Master of Malt are making since a few years, plus a great book such as the Malt Whisky Yearbook, or Dave Broom’s World Atlas of Whisky, to add knowledge to pleasures. I’ve got Master of Malt’s current Whisky Calendar, for example, and tore it apart for the sake of research – I know, I do not respect anything – and to check all what’s inside. I have to say it’s well composed, very well composed, and it is not a basic set at all, it’s even rather ‘advanced’. For example, on Dec 1, you have Gl… No I won’t tell you. And on December 24, wow! Really, wow! Only little problem, since it’s an Advent Calendar, you can’t quite use it as a Christmas gift. Unless you do your gifts early in the season, ‘for good reasons’. I’ll probably do that myself.



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November 5, 2015


Long leash Clynelish, Part One

Yeah well, I’m still awaiting my long overdue Lousiest Headline Web Award! I’ll keep trying, I’ll keep trying… But back at the ranch, have you seen that there will be some major work done at Clynelish Distillery, especially on the mashtuns and washbacks? That means that our beloved ‘shoebox distillery’ will be silent for a good ten months next year. So let’s try to get ahead, but not with a genuine verticale. Indeed, one of the whiskies, by no means least, is NAS, and with NAS, you can’t do a verticale! And neither may you do an horizontale! But first, an aperitif…

Clynelish 1997/2013 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogsheads)

Clynelish 1997/2013 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogsheads) Three stars and a halfLet’s remember that G&M have long been the only ones to really carry the new Clynelish flag, with their famous ‘orange and brown’ label. The old official cream label was containing ‘old’ Clynelish. Colour: straw. Nose: I don’t know if that’s pure magic, but these bottlings by G&M are the closest to the ‘old’ Clynelish indeed, with a grassy, sooty, very mineral smokiness that’s not often to be seen elsewhere these days. That makes it a tad unsexy, especially given the rising porridge and leaven, but lovers of old skool Highlanders should love it. Earth. Mouth: very old style indeed. Ashes and soot again, on wholegrain bread, tobacco, and bitter oranges, plus even more salt than usual, and always this feeling of strong ale. Rather raw and, yes, unsexy. Finish: quite long, with the trademark citrus and wax coming out. Comments: I love it, but I know some folks may find it difficult and a little too austere. Not me. SGP:362 - 84 points.

Clynelish 18 yo 1996/2014 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6824)

Clynelish 18 yo 1996/2014 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6824) Four stars I remember a superb sister cask by BBR last year (#8783, WF 90) but that one was CS. Colour: straw. Nose: the base profile is the same, but this one’s rather brighter and fruitier, with a little more citrons and oranges on top of plenty of candle wax, then soot and ink, plus fresh almonds, wet sand, and touches of hessian and menthol. An old bag that was used to carry mint leaves, perhaps? Mouth: prototypical Clynelish from those years. Lemon, a touch of salt, an acridness, soot, wax, some earth, cider apples, roots… Need I say more? Finish: long, tense, a little angular, in a good way, leaving roots, salt, and earth on your tongue. Comments: this could have been bottled at CS if you ask me. Typical. SGP:363 - 87 points.

Clynelish 1997/2015 'Redcurrant Jus' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 300 bottles)

Clynelish 1997/2015 'Redcurrant Jus' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 300 bottles) Four stars and a half These SMWS-like names always make me laugh. They add some fun to these otherwise rather austere packages. And I often find the whiskies quite superb, let’s see. Colour: pale gold. Nose: the cask was more active, which imparted more roundness and fruitiness. Which, in turn, would rather lead to the early-to-mid eighties at Clynelish, if you see what I mean. A tropical touch, passion fruits, lemons, was, lemon balm… And rather less sooty, grassy, or mineral notes. Mouth: sweet Vishnu, this is much to my liking. Blinded, I’d have said 1982 or 1983, really.  Citrons, vanilla, beeswax, a touch of raspberry jelly (okay, redcurrants, if you like), then more coastalness, especially touches of salt and seashells. Finish: long, with some kind of waxy lemon pie, with some custard. Comments: impeccable, with just the right amount of oak influence. SGP:562 - 88 points.

So, there is this new official Special Release, NAS. Not knowing when to have it, let’s have it now.

Clynelish 'Select Reserve 2nd Edition' (56.1%, OB, Special Release, 2946 bottles, 2015)

Clynelish 'Select Reserve 2nd Edition' (56.1%, OB, Special Release, 2946 bottles, 2015) Five stars Despite it being NAS, I had enjoyed last year’s version quite a lot (WF 88). Now the lovely little book about these SRs states that it’s ‘at least fifteen years’, which virtually makes it a 15 yo, ‘and often far more’. They have used several types of cask – too long to mention – but the colour does not suggest first fill sherry. Colour: pale gold. Nose: there is a little vanillin at first nosing, but no coconut. And then, indeed, a combination of various periods of Clynelish, blended together with care. It’s almost as if you had vatted the BBR and the Wemyss that we just tried. Mangos and passion fruits, all things citrus, wax and paraffin, a drop of honey, some hay and some damp earth, some tobacco, a little menthol yet again… In truth, this nose is beyond reproach. With water: some mud and some seaweed coming out. Mouth (neat): watch it! Starts smooth, so you may want to down a good sip, but it’s very strong! Lemon skin, waxes again, a lot of lemongrass, green tea, a great bitterness (around grapefruits), and more and more salt. A grassy smokiness. With water: becomes sauvignony, like many 1995-1998s are. Or rather, manzanilla-like. Walnuts, a drop of seawater, a touch of mustard. I juts couldn’t be against that. Finish: long, grassier, limy and salty. A great margarita made in Sutherland. Comments: it seems that it’s sharper and better chiselled than last year’s version. Which leads to this fact: I like it even better. Too bad it’s too expensive (£550) SGP:462 - 90 points.

A last one today, but we’ll soon go on…

Clynelish 19 yo 1995/2015 (57.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #932013, 254 bottles)

Clynelish 19 yo 1995/2015 (57.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #932013, 254 bottles) Four stars Priced at less than a fifth of the price of the new Select Reserve. Colour: straw. Nose: there’s a sucrosity in this nose, but that won’t last, since it’s rather a tense, slightly yeasty, pretty organic and medicinal Clynelish that rises to your nostrils. Tincture of iodine, green tobacco, fern and moss, wet chalk, lager beer… Maybe is that the high strength? With water: smoother, with more fruits. Blood oranges, perhaps. Also the expected wax, and various tiny berries – or rather the spirits made thereof. Sorb, holly, elderberries… Mouth (neat): huge, sharp like a blade, with unexpected notes of blackcurrant fruits and buds, possibly from the alcohol. Let’s see… With water: great, but earthy, chalky, slightly bitter and herbal, with less fruits than expected. An austere Clynelish. Finish: same-ish, with this medicinal side once again. Not unlike a lightly peated Laphroaig. No, not Laphroaig Select! ;-). Comments: perhaps more for the Jansenist Clynelish lover. SGP:362 - 87 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Clynelish I've tasted so far



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November 4, 2015


Caol Ila, quite a few, part two

So, more Caol Ila, sailing towards our 500th. Of course I’ll make sure that our 500th will be a pre-extension expression (that’s probably the worst alliteration ever, S.) But in the meantime…

Caol Ila 10 yo 2005/2015 (56.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, for McWhisky, 233 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2005/2015 (56.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, for McWhisky, 233 bottles) Three stars McWhisky.com are an online retailer. Colour: white wine. Nose: raw, fresh, young, extremely coastal sweet peat, with a medicinal side. Tincture of iodine, antiseptic. That’s all, folks. With water: some raw barley, beach sand, a little ink. Perhaps new plastic pouch at the supermarket – but those are now streng verboten. Say leatherette. Mouth (neat): sweet peat. I’d call this ‘minimal’, but it hasn’t got any flaws. With water: nice seawater and lemon juice, plus smoked water. Of course you can smoke water. Finish: medium, a tad grassier. Spearmint? Comments: a good young soft Caol Ila. Does the job and does it well. SGP:555 - 82 points.

Caol Ila 10 yo 2004/2015 (60.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, sherry butts)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2004/2015 (60.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, sherry butts) Three stars and a half A vatting of four casks. Colour: straw. Nose: the sherry’s light. Some sucrosity, gravel, grass, mint… It’s quite strong, so… With water: simple, easy, straightforward. Not one that will revolutionise Mankind, but it’s fine. Mouth (neat): very thick, clean, salty, zesty, with a honeyed roundness. Is that the sherry? Love its almondy side. Lemon-flavoured marzipan coated with Demerara sugar. Or something like that. With water: nice salty touch. Green olives, salted marzipan, smoked fish. Finish: medium, sweet and salty. Comments: very good. You don’t need an essay, do you? SGP:556 - 83 points.

Port Askaig '100° Proof' (57.1%, Specialty Drinks, +/-2015)

Port Askaig '100° Proof' (57.1%, Specialty Drinks, +/-2015) Three stars Now what’s 100° proof exactly? 56.9%? 57.0%? 57.1%? Colour: white wine. Nose: yep, but moderately expressive when undiluted. With water: bandages, barley sugar. Mouth (neat): excellent young sweet peat. Extremely simple, very good (says the guy who just wouldn’t stop pestering people with stories about complexity). With water: tinned fruits, fructose, peat smoke. Finish: rather long, narrow, simple, good. Comments: a tad binary, perhaps, but good (so that would be 1, I suppose). SGP:546 - 82 points.

We might need older CIs, such as this one, from a great vintage…

Caol Ila 25 yo 1990/2015 (54.3%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, oloroso finish, casks #4707-4708, 408 bottles)

Caol Ila 25 yo 1990/2015 (54.3%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, oloroso finish, casks #4707-4708, 408 bottles) Five stars A five-year finishing, that’s a little more than a finishing, while not quite being a double maturation. Shouldn’t we call this a finuration? Nah, not particularly proud of that one. Colour: amber. Nose: sherry plus peat is a hit or miss combination. This would rather be hit, but that’s no surprise, since W&M have already had quite a few great oloroso-ed Caol Ilas. So, roasted nuts, bitter chocolate, gunpowder (not in a sulphury way at all), old coal stove, and just ‘a gun’. With water: whacky, in a great way. Swiss cheese, Havana cigars, soot. Mouth (neat): oh, excellent! It hasn’t lost its sharpish peatiness, but it’s gained this leathery chocolatiness from the sherry. It’s also got citrus and salt, all for the better. With water: perfect. Smoky hot chocolate and orange liqueur. Finish: medium to long, with added notes of benzine and burnt cigars. Herbal liqueur in the aftertaste. There, Unicum! Comments: very well done. Wilson e Morgan are becoming masters of this style – not that they weren’t already quite good. SGP:466 - 90 points.

Even older ones please…

Caol Ila 30 yo 1984/2015 (50.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #5, hogshead, 205 bottles)

Caol Ila 30 yo 1984/2015 (50.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #5, hogshead, 205 bottles) Five stars New stuff by the good people at Signatory Vintage bottled for the good people at LMDW in Paris. Now 1984 was a very lousy vintage in Bordeaux… (WTF?) Colour: gold. Nose: that’s the problem with well-aged Caol Ilas, they’re unsurprisingly nice. Seashells, lemon liqueur, resinous peat (putty-like), marzipan, almond oil, carbon paper, old books, a touch of rubber (new wellies)… With water: younger! So not a grandma at all, all it needed was a little water (and not cream sherry…) Mouth (neat): just bloody good, as they say on Islay. Big, peaty, salty, citrusy, oily, a tad sappy, getting grassier (green walnuts)… It’s quite youthful given its age. Could as well have been 15 years old. Finish: ooh, lemons and citrons come out, together with more sharpy almondy aromas. Barley water, putty, linseed oil, all that. The peaty remains heavy. Comments: thirty years, do you mean, fifteen plus fifteen? Because this is bright and youthful. And absolutely excellent. Loved the almondy side. Almost a peat monster. SGP:457 - 90 points.

Okay, more 30…

Port Askaig 30 yo (45.8%, Specialty Drinks, +/-2015)

Port Askaig 30 yo (45.8%, Specialty Drinks, +/-2015) Five stars Loved the one at 51.1% (WF 90) and loved and earlier one at 45.8%, circa 2009 (WF 90). So this might get a tad boring… Colour: pale gold. Nose: an under-Ardbeg, not meaning it’s inferior, not at all (and hey, do Ardbeg have 30 yo whisky these days anyway?) but this combination that involves citrus, sap, almonds, and anything coastal and medicinal, is just irresistible. In fact, a great green tea from Yunnan (single wild tree et al) could nose just like this. But great teas are more expensive, mind you. Mouth: great, grassy, smoky, salty, a little green and gritty. Green apples and fresh walnuts. The nose made me think I could go up to 91, but I’m afraid this relatively rough palate will prevent me from doing so. But it’s great. Finish: indeed it’s great. Lemon, sap, hessian, soot, salmiak… Comments: Caol Ila ages gracefully, like an actress. I mean, it can taste younger than it is, and this is another fine example. SGP:467 - 90 points (I agree, bo-ring).

But we’re afraid of nothing…

Caol Ila 31 yo 1983/2015 (48.1%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, cask #5294, 255 bottles)

Caol Ila 31 yo 1983/2015 (48.1%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, cask #5294, 255 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: old herbal liqueurs, old papers, long-forgotten herbal liqueurs (I insist), mouth wash, cactus, chlorophyll, today’s newspapers, fresh paint, parsley… It’s a rather herbal one, apparently. Also chicken soup, and not much smoke. But do we really need smoke? Mouth: yeah well. It’s young, it’s fresh, it’s even kind of immature, with herbs and grasses and green spices. On the other hand, there’s this feeling of fresh putty and paint that’s so lovely. Let’s call it ‘resinous’. Finish: medium, leafy, sappy, herbal. Comments: if I say I like the Port Askaig 30 a little better, are they going to shoot me around Borough Market? Could I still have this funny ale they’re pouring over there (the name escapes me)? SGP:456 - 88 points.

A very last one… Coz eight’s enough! And let’s make it a young one…

Caol Ila 2003/2015 (57.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, for Ramseyer, first fill bourbon, cask #302237)Caol Ila 2003/2015 (57.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, for Ramseyer, first fill bourbon, cask #302237)

Caol Ila 2003/2015 (57.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, for Ramseyer, first fill bourbon, cask #302237) Three stars and a half To be honest, there are young Caol Ilas that taste older than older ones. And the other way ‘round (ooh my head). Probably a matter of cask. Colour: straw. Nose: raw, vegetal, with potato peelings and a lot of muesli and porridge. Mashed potatoes. At least, we remember that there’s grain inside. With water: wet textile, wool, and dogs. Don’t care about you dogs, I prefer cats. Mouth (neat): pears and earth, plus tobacco and ginger, plus plasticine and smoked almonds. Sometimes, youth is an asset. With water: pears coming out, brine, apple and lemon juices… Finish: very fine, but you just can’t avoid the feeling that there are hundreds of thousands of such casks sleeping over there in Scotland, however good. Salty aftertaste. Comments: good. Many are good. It’s an industry, ya know. No offense, I hope. SGP:466 - 83 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Caol Ila I've tasted so far



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November 3, 2015


Caol Ila, quite a few

More Caol Ila, starting with an ultra-young one that should be as close to the raw distillate as a… spirit receiver. No, not too sure about that one either.

Caol Ila 5 yo 2008/2014 (46%, Douglas of Drumlanrig, refill hogshead, cask #10569, 409 bottles)

Caol Ila 5 yo 2008/2014 (46%, Douglas of Drumlanrig, refill hogshead, cask #10569, 409 bottles) Three stars and a half They’ll soon sell us barley plus yeast ;-). Colour: white wine. Nose: pure, clean, immaculate. Totally Caol Ila. Ashes, almonds, smoke, crabs, seaweed, white peaches, barley. Mouth: embarrassingly perfect. I’m dead sure this is too young, but the zesty peatiness manages to offset the (probable) feinty notes that must be there, but that you just won’t detect. I mean, I imagine. Perhaps touches of bananas? I some way, it reminds me of the 5yo Taliskers by the same bottlers (in other series). The purity does the job – and who needs complexity in that case? Finish: medium, sweet. Can you smoke sugar? Limy and mentholy aftertaste. Comments: I do not think a 5 years old whisky can get better than this. SGP:456 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2015)

Caol Ila 12 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2015) Four stars Another one that we’re trying to follow almost every year. Colour: pale straw. Nose: a longer ageing seems to have imparted more mineral notes, as well as a ‘wider’ coastalness. Iodine, seaweed, bandages, fresh baguette (dough), then rather citrus, as expected. Lemons, grapefruits, a little wet chalk. Bonfire on the beach. Mouth: hey, this burst and roars, and it’s not afraid of the stronger 5yo at all. In fact I find more smoke, more ashes, and more medicinal notes, and while re-reading my notes for last year’s version, indeed I just cannot understand why some folks would call this a ‘lighter peaty Islay’. Agreed, it’s not extremely fat on your palate, but it’s shock-full of peaty/ashy flavours. Even at 43% vol. Finish: long, with a perfect balance between coastal smoke and zesty fruitiness. The aftertaste is very ashy. Comments: up one point. Bargain. SGP:356 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 'Moch' (43%, OB, +/-2015)

Caol Ila 'Moch' (43%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a halfI’m really wondering if they’re selling much of this in France, or in French-speaking Belgium, Canada, or Switzerland. Because as I may have written before, moch/moche means ugly or awful in French. But I haven’t found it moche when I first tried it a few years ago (WF 83). Colour: straw. Nose: I’m glad we’ve had the 5yo before, because this is so similar that they’re almost undistinguishable. This Moch is perhaps a tad ashier, and a notch less fruity. But after two minutes, it’s the other way ‘round. Mouth: indeed. Somewhere between the 12 and the 5yo. Ashes, smoke… The smoke’s a tad acrid, perhaps, but I guess that was the plan. Plenty of soot. Finish: medium, sooty, ashy, with a little lemon liqueur in the background. Comments: perhaps a tad monolithic after the lovely 12, but it does the job. But wouldn’t it be possible to name it ‘Joli’ for France? ;-) SGP:346 - 83 points.

Port Askaig 16 yo (45.8%, Specialty Drinks, 2015)

Port Askaig 16 yo (45.8%, Specialty Drinks, 2015) Four stars and a half A vatting of sherry and bourbon casks. Obviously, we have no proof that this is Caol Ila. Neither should the strength suggest this is Talisker. Colour: gold. Nose: ‘when I smell green olives, I’m happy’ used to say a Provençal writer of noble London descent. The fact is that this nose is superb, with something antiquated that would hint at the 1970s on Islay. New scuba diving suit, ink, garden bonfire, smoked fish… And olives! Mouth: perfect. All of the above plus a touch of mocha, maybe from the sherry casks. Extremely well composed. Finish: long, both elegant and full. Salty marzipan, brine, coffee toffee. Sadly, no more olives. Assertive (as they used to say in Palo Alto), very ashy. Comments: an impressive composition, true to the distillery. Loved the oily profile, some parts remind me of the first Ten that Ardbeg had after Glenmo had bought the distillery. You know, ‘introducing Ten years old’… SGP:447 - 89 points.

Caol Ila 17 yo 'Unpeated Style' (55.9%, OB, 2015)

Caol Ila 17 yo 'Unpeated Style' (55.9%, OB, Special Release, 2015) Four stars This is the brand new unpeated-but-still-a-little-peated ‘Highlands Caol Ila’. More ‘less peated than normal’ than unpeated according to previous batches, but let’s see… If there’s no peat at all, it’ll die anyway after the Port Askaig. Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, this is rather lightly peated. I’d love to hear Diageo’s blenders on when they first got these batches. So, this is getting rather complex, with herbal teas, eucalyptus, damp earth and leaves, a touch of liquorice wood, old boughs… It’s only after a good three minutes that lighter and fruitier notes come through Around barbecued marshmallows, perhaps. With water: gets herbal and rather mentholy. I find it grassier than the earlier 14, for example. Now I love these waxy tones, the paraffin, the linseed oil… Mouth (neat): really tastes like some Glenkinchie into which someone would have poured a little ‘regular’ Caol Ila. Herbs, mint, banana sweets, pineapple drops, melissa… With water: not at all, S. Fatter, more ‘Highlands’, and much more on citrus. Some salt coming through. Takes water very well. Finish: medium, with an unexpected smoky return. More salt in the aftertaste. Perhaps ‘ideas’ of bay leaves. Comments: very very good, just a little hard to follow. That’s me, obviously. A malt unlike any other. SGP:652 - 85 points.

We’ve got bags of other new Caol Ilas, but let’s have a very last one for today… We might go on tomorrow…

Caol Ila 12 yo 2003/2015 (58.1%, Adelphi, cask #301266, 285 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2003/2015 (58.1%, Adelphi, cask #301266, 285 bottles) Two stars and a half Adelphi had a great sister cask in 2013 (#301261, WF 88). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s an almondy one, which I love. Opening a pack of smoked almonds. Plus seawater, citrons, ‘good’ rubber, green tobacco, and flints. With water: some green oak coming out. Not too sure… Noses a bit like some ‘craft’ Caol Ila made by some mad craft American distiller (between two trials, haha). All these spices… Mouth (neat): a leafy sucrosity and plenty of green spices. This is not for everyone, if I may, there’s a lot of spicy oak extracts in there. Cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, bitter almonds, walnuts… You have to like this. With water: definitely, it’s about to lose its Caol-Ilaness. A cask that was more active than Lady Gaga on acid. Finish: long, with green tannins and spices. Comments: Adelphi often like to offer monstrous whiskies – in a good way. This is one of them, and it really is spectacular. As if they’ve used new octaves. It’s just not very Caol Ila anymore, in my very humble opinion. SGP:476 - 78 points.

More Caol Ila tomorrow. I have the feeling that we might taste our 500th Caol Ila in the coming months…

More tasting notes Check the index of all Caol Ila I've tasted so far



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November 2, 2015


Impressive Brora and Brora

Today is Brora day at WF Towers, which is pretty much the same as St. Serge Day. The cute little book that came with the Special Releases this year states that the new Brora 37 is a 1977, not sure that’s written on the label. Which leads to this question: which sparring partner? Well, I’m afraid we haven’t got any other 1977 at hand, so the nearest Brora I could find is this fairly recent 1978 by G&M. As far as Brora’s concerned, in case you haven’t already, you could browse these humble little pages I had done ten years ago.

Brora 1978/2013 (46% Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, lot #RO/13/05)

Brora 1978/2013 (46% Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, lot #RO/13/05) Five stars Last year’s Special Release, a 35 years old, was a 1978. It was just fab (WF 93). But this one’s been reduced – strange habit – so things may be a little different. Colour: bronze amber. Nose: whaaat? But his is perfect! Immediately tertiary, with no primary or secondary notes at all (malt, oak, sherry…), rather an avalanche of greases and waxes for starters, then a lot of tobacco, teas, engine oil, old chartreuse, old car engine (Bakelite, old rubber) and the largest collection of mushrooms ever. Our dear old pu-erh tea, and it’s flying high. Impressed, despite a very moderate smokiness. Mouth: the oak’s perhaps a little more noticeable, and this is not your usual Brora (as far as Brora can be usual), since all what we’re getting in the arrival is a lot of smoked meat and ham. So this Brora is very bacony, before more oranges and tar take the lead. Some salt, some chocolate, a sooty side... We’re not very far from G&M’s 1982s, but I like this one better (but maybe less than G&M’s stunning 1972s!) Perfect mouth feel, 46% vol.’s never been a bad strength, in fact. Finish: quite long, very chocolaty, with touches of prunes, some salt, and more oranges and bacon. Probably sherry casks! Perhaps refill… Comments: I have to confess I was a bit scared, but this is absolutely terrific. SGP:454 - 93 points.

Brora 37 yo 1977/2015 (50.4%, OB, Special Release, 2,976 bottles)

Brora 37 yo 1977/2015 (50.4%, OB, Special Release, 2,976 bottles) Five stars High expectations, high expectations… Especially since the 35 yo bottled in 2013 was a 1977 as well, and fetched a well-deserved 95 points mark in my little book. Colour: gold. Nose: Brora seems to be indestructible. I can well imagine in 2037, on Whiskyfun, a 65 years old 1972 Special Release being tasted. Stocks are said to be low, but they always said that, and they still managed to vat around ten casks this year. The result is amazing, curiously softer than the G&M and more herbal, more coastal as well, and perhaps a little smokier too. Less sherry for sure, so less tobacco and chocolate. There are the trademark farmy touches (hay), then oysters and chartreuse, then more resinous notes, between pinesap and artisan absinth. Astounding complexity, as expected. With water: superb sappy oil extracts. Old candle, linoleum, bandages, embrocations, verbena, wormwood… and mud. Mouth (neat): huge, ashy, almost drying, in a good way. This one reminds us that 1977 was still a peaty year at Brora. More absinth, tarry smoke, liquorice, salted fish, with a mouth feel that’s becoming oilier and creamier. Touches of salted chestnut honey, which gives it a Chinese side, in a way. Huge whisky. With water: exceptional. Dry, coastal, liquoricy, herbal, both fat and chiselled. The best cough syrup ever. Finish: perhaps not extremely long, but all these herbs, liquorice and cough drops just work in sync. It’s the freshness that’s most impressive. Comments: one of 2015’s grands crus, no doubt, together with some of the Karuizawas. Hey, next time, could someone sell a blend of Karuizawa and Brora? You could call it either Karuibrora or Brorazawa. I’m sure that would make it to 97 points if it’s well made, serious. Hint, hint, John Glaser… In any case, this one beats last year’s in my book. SGP:465 - 95 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Brora I've tasted so far


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback




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November 1, 2015


Malternatives on Sunday,
a verticale of vintage Bas-Armagnacs

There are similarities between Armagnac and Scotch whisky, especially the use of vintages, if not ages. But in Armagnac, they do not try to sell NAS or NVS for more money. Less information leads to lower prices in Gascony, mind you. Isn’t that fairer? But we’ll only try vintage Armagnac today, from three well-reputed houses. Hurray!

Domaine de Charron 2003/2015 (50.5%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine de Charron 2003/2015 (50.5%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Four stars This little Domaine only mature their Armagnacs in new French oak, and always bottle at cask strength. Quality-oriented, obviously. Colour: amber. Nose: you instantly understand that you’re in front of some quality spirit, even if it’s got a wee ‘international’ style because of some whiffs of toasted oak. Perfect notes of sultanas, panettone, white chocolate, then rather stewed white peaches, covered with some coffee and chocolate sauce. And a touch of earth for good measure. With water: oh great, tertiary notes! We’d love to see more tertiary notes in new malt whiskies. Rancio, tobacco, cough syrup, perhaps a touch of umami (yes, in the nose)… Mouth (neat): absolutely excellent, and a bit ‘meta’ again, with suggestions of rhum agricole and malt whisky beyond the prunes and the raisins. A touch of old PX or even Sauternes, and always this toasted oak. With water: fudge, malt, toasted bread, roasted raisins. Finish: quite long, a tad gritty as young Armagnac should be, with some coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: this session starts extremely well. A genuine malternative – well, it’s more to my liking than many malts. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Château Garreau 1998 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2014)

Château Garreau 1998 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2014) Two stars and a half Picture without the vintage. The good people in Armagnac are so laid-back and sometimes ‘unconcerned’ that it’s almost impossible to find acceptable pictures of their bottlings on the Web. This one’s also got one flaw that’s to be seen almost everywhere down there: a very low strength. Colour: dark amber. Nose: more classic Armagnac, straight on prunes and raisins, plus cake and roasted chestnuts. I enjoy these touches of wood smoke, and even the wee notes of bacon (that’s recently become highly carcinogenic, apparently). A style that my father used to enjoy, and before him my grandpa, and before him my… Mouth: yeah, even after a long break, it suffers a bit after the stronger Charron, and indeed it’s more classic Armagnac, with a grapy side, more prunes, tea tannins, stewed fruits, a touch of honey… Perfectly acceptable, just not extremely interesting. Finish: a bit short, becoming drying. Rosehip tea, perhaps? Some caramel. Comments: my father, and before him my grandpa, and before him my grand-grandpa would have liked this. I find it a tad un-modern. SGP:551 - 78 points.

Another try at Garreau, perhaps?...

Château Garreau 1996 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2014)

Château Garreau 1996 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2014) Three stars and a half Colour: deep brownish amber. Nose: rounder, more chocolaty, more roasted, more cake-y. Roasted pecans, roasted raisins, brioche, then orange blossom and a little lemon balm, which is lovely, then a touch of earthy rye that comes together with a little old wood. I really like this nose, let’s hope the palate won’t be too flabby… Mouth: not! Excellent, starting with orange marmalade, and going on with some orange zests covered with chocolate, perhaps watermelons and strawberries, then a funny touch of moscatel. Great maturity, good body. Finish: medium, quite fruity, with some depth. Oranges, a little honey, sultanas. Comments: a sipper. You could watch just any stupid TV show with this in hand. Even Jeb Bush talking about France. Yeah, this Armagnac is that good. SGP:641 - 84 points.

Back to Charron…

Domaine de Charron 1995/2015 (48.9%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, cask #52)

Domaine de Charron 1995/2015 (48.9%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, cask #52) Four stars and a half Colour: bright amber. Nose: perfecto. Oranges, quinces, orange blossom, oak vanilla, mango chutney, stewed peaches, sultanas, ripe mirabelles. Very fruity, perfectly fresh and balanced, extremely seductive (and yet absolutely not whorish). This will be quick. Mouth: the oak imparts hints of well-matured bourbon, but there’s also a little cooked wine, Marsala, then cinnamon cake, stewed peaches, golden raisins, a touch of chocolate… It’s the freshness that’s really impressive here. Finish: rather long, fresh and fruity, with touches of pencil shavings, vanilla, and more stewed peaches. A drop of mint essence in the aftertaste – for the road. Comments: totally a malternative. Like old-style Macallan? You may try this! (for a fraction of the price). SGP:651 - 88 points.

1994 please…

Domaine Lous Pibous 1994/2015 (53.7%, L'Encantada, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine Lous Pibous 1994/2015 (53.7%, L'Encantada, Bas-Armagnac) Five stars Some pure folle blanche, selected by some crazy young independent bottlers down there in Gers. We’ve already tried some gems from them. Cask strength, no filtration, no colouring… Colour: dark red amber. Nose: this one’s rounder and thicker, apparently. More rich honey, prunes, raisins, jams and marmalades… Before some very lovely floral notes arise, such as lilies, perhaps. I’m asking you, who needs some sherried Speysider when you can buy this? (ooh, I can hear some flak coming my way)… With water: some fresh oak, then putty, whiffs of grass smoke, cigars, earth… Shall e call this one ‘the malt killer’? Mouth (neat): exceptional. Brilliant jammy fruitiness (oranges, quinces, plums) with a citrusy underline, and just the right amount of honey and maple syrup. And agave syrup. Man this rocks. With water: it’s one of these spirits that can be both ultra-focussed and complex. Adore these oranges, the fine spices, the herbal touches… Finish: long, appropriately drier and grassier. Leaves your palate clean! Comments: very impressed. In this case, it’s not a malternative, malt is becoming a brandinative (hey?), just like it was one century ago. SGP:651 - 90 points.

But was that the vintage? Let’s find out…

Domaine de Charron 1994/2015 (49%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine de Charron 1994/2015 (49%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Four stars and a half I believe Charron do baco. Again, genuinely cask strength, no additives… In short, as Dame Nature intended. Colour: deep amber. Nose: oh great, we’re having a fight between L’Encantada and Charron. It’s Ali vs. Frazier! Once again, this style is a tad more ‘contemporary’, with more vanilla and oak, but everything mingled to perfection. Exceptional roasted nuts of all kinds, herbs, rubbed orange skin, walnuts, quinces, apricots, tobacco, a wee bit of ham again… I find this totally exceptional. Also rosewood, linoleum, wax polish… A killer, a killer. Mouth: the oak’s a notch loud, perhaps (black tea, menthol) but since oranges, mandarins, and quinces are soon to join in the dancing, it’s a happy ending. Pepper, cinnamon, even a little tar, roasted peanuts… The body’s perfect. Finish: long, with an oak that gets loudish, but that’s not uncommon in Armgnac. Loses one or two points. Comments: magnificent Armagnac once again, but the Los Pibous had the upper hand in the finish, because of a better-integrated oak. Or maybe is it another case of folle blanche defeating baco? A close call. SGP:661 - 88 points.

Good, we’ve got two other L’Encantada on the table, plus an older Garreau at 40% vol. What would you do? I agree, have the lighter one first… (thank you!)

Château Garreau 1985 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2010)

Château Garreau 1985 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2010) Four stars40%? I promise we’ll do this carefully, slowly, respectfully… Colour: very dark amber. Nose: not one to rush indeed. Delicate, whispering, perhaps a little sweet/honeyed, with an obvious rancio at this age, a drop of sweet old balsamico from Modena, some pipe tobacco, and a growing earthiness, between damp peat and mushrooms. Very soft, elegant and complex, perhaps a little fragile. I’m sacred now… Mouth: yes and no. Yes for the perfect prunes, raisins, and old sweet wine (all of them, really, even old Port, PX, moscatel, Sauternes, Alsatian late harvest, whatever)… and rather no because of the low-energy, the almost dilettante way in which this baby sends you its flavours. What a shame, this is glorious spirit. Murderers! (hey, I’m joking). Finish: not that short and not that thin, mind you. Superb honeyness. Comments: mixed feelings. The spirit is simply exceptional, truly exceptional. But the body’s thin at times, which is highly frustrating. Look, this at 50% vol. would deserve 90 in my little book. Perhaps even a little more. Please, please… SGP:551 - 85 points.

Domaine Del Cassou 1992/2015 (46.4%, L’Encantada, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine Del Cassou 1992/2015 (46.4%, L’Encantada, Bas-Armagnac) Four stars Colour: bright amber. Nose: a pastry shop. Croissants au beurre, fresh Danish, then sultanas. I find it a little simpler than the Los Pibous, rounder for sure, and more on sweet things. Brioche, raisins, hazelnut liqueur, tinned apricots, dried figs… And just a huge bag of sultanas, plus a large plate of dates. The softer and rounder side of Armagnac, I’d say. The Auchentoshan of Gascogne. Mouth: indeed. The body’s perfect, and its got oomph and zing, but the core remains round and sweet. Marc de Bourgogne (or Marc de Gascogne?) plus a little honey, a feeling of Calvados, and pears. The backbone’s quite grassy though, around apple peeling. Finish: medium, rather grassy, with something very ‘artisan’. Wait, pot still Armagnac? That can’t be! But I’m no Armagnac expert, as everybody very well knows… Comments: great, while others are just greater. That’s what’s great with indie bottlers, they can have various styles and please just anyone. SGP:561 - 85 points.

And he insists…

Domaine Del Cassou 1988/2015 (42.1%, L’Encantada, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine Del Cassou 1988/2015 (42.1%, L’Encantada, Bas-Armagnac) Four stars Probably refill wood, according to the colour. Ah they wanna play! Colour: gold. Nose: yeah, very funny. Is this Armagnac? Or is it a blend of Kilchoman, Mezcal, Jamaican rum, and Octomore? All that married in a manzanilla cask? Or was that Château-Chalon? And why did you add vase water, seawater, and asparagus juice? In short, what is this? Mouth: sweet Vishnu, what a spirit! I really don’t know where we are. Perhaps on a different planet? Grassy, phenolic, earthy, malty at times, agave-y at other times… Should this be malt whisky – and I’m sure no blind-taster would tell you it’s not – you’d say a blend of Clynelish, Pulteney, and a waxy/meaty one. Say Lochnagar. Some bottled joke. Finish: long, grassy, briny. Olives in Armagnac, is that possible? And salt in the aftertaste? Only the (subtle) raisins may give it away. Comments: sure we can take a good joke. Of course it’s Armagnac,  but should we ask them to do it again, I’m almost sure they couldn’t. Coz this is bottled luck, or a Martian’s whisky. SGP:462 - 87 points.

It’s all becoming esoteric, better stop now. Zurtruflgn jsghakdh iofkksbn! That means ‘see you tomorrow!’ in southern Martian.


Whiskyfun fav of the month

October 2015

Favourite recent bottling:
Karuizawa 30 yo 1984/2015 (61.6%, OB, LMDW, sherry cask, cask #8838)  - WF 94

Favourite older bottling:
Strathisla 1963/2003 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail) - WF 91

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2015' (56.8%, OB) - WF 92

Favourite malternative:
Rémi Landier ‘Héritage Coupe N°2’ (45%, OB, Cognac, Fins Bois, 2015) - WF 90



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October 2015 - part 2 <--- November 2015 - part 1 ---> November 2015 - part 2



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Brora 1978/2013 (46% Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, lot #RO/13/05)

Brora 37 yo 1977/2015 (50.4%, OB, Special Release, 2,976 bottles)

Port Askaig 30 yo (45.8%, Specialty Drinks, +/-2015)

Caol Ila 30 yo 1984/2015 (50.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #5, hogshead, 205 bottles)

Caol Ila 25 yo 1990/2015 (54.3%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, oloroso finish, casks #4707-4708, 408 bottles)

Clynelish 'Select Reserve 2nd Edition' (56.1%, OB, Special Release, 2946 bottles, 2015)

Clynelish 18 yo 1996/2014 (52.7%, The Whisky Agency, for Taiwan, refill butt, 360 bottles)

Glenlivet 33 yo 1981/2015 (52.2%, Signatory Vintage, for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry, cask #9468, 154 bottles)

Domaine Lous Pibous 1994/2015 (53.7%, L'Encantada, Bas-Armagnac)