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Hi, you're in the Archives, November 2015 - Part 2



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


November 30, 2015


A few Aberlour

All officials.

Aberlour 12 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Aberlour 12 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (40%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a half This is a lighter brother of the 12 yo Un-chillfiltered that’s bottled at 48% vol. and that I really like. Colour: gold. Nose: fresh, malty, and kirschy at first nosing, with an almondy side, some notes of fruit stones (yeah, kirsch and plum eau-de-vie), then rather more leather and earth. I find it rather complex and, again, fresh. Whiffs of sour dough, fresh bread… That should be the malt speaking out. Mouth: easy and malty again, very coherent with the nose, but with more spices. Very fine body, closer to 43% than to 40% vol. The sherry takes off after five seconds, with raisins and prunes. Fruitcake and chocolate, and perhaps one Mon Chéri. Do you know Mon Chéri? Finish: medium, drier and a little rougher, with cloves and cinnamon. Gingerbread, perhaps. Comments: really very fine, not unlike a civilised, gentler A’bunadh. And it’s not expensive at all! SGP:451 - 84 points.

Aberlour 16 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Aberlour 16 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (40%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars A newish version, sadly bottled at 40% vol., which I rather find cheapish. Colour: amber. Nose: a typical vegetal and leafy sherry, which I find a little too leathery after the 12. Quite some sour dough again. I think I enjoyed the nose of the 12 better. Mouth: ah, now we’re talking. Bitter oranges, raisins, walnuts, Christmas cake, these notes of kirsch and damson plums again, a touch of honey. It is a wee tad weakish indeed, I’d say bottling this high quality whisky at 43% would have been smarter. But who am I? Finish: medium long, lovely, on oranges and chocolate, with a hint of leather again. Comments: perhaps not what I would have called a nosing single malt. I’m still a little more in favour of the 12. Savings, at last! SGP:451 - 82 points.

Aberlour 14 yo (48%, OB, for The Whisky Lodge Lyon, first fill sherry, cask #3455-WL, 2015)

Aberlour 14 yo (48%, OB, for The Whisky Lodge Lyon, first fill sherry, cask #3455-WL, 2015) Four stars and a half This one just bottled for an excellent whisky shop in Lyons/Lyon, which you just shouldn’t miss when in the former Capital of the Gauls! They also have a very nice selection of rums (more about those later). Colour: gold. Nose: we’re well in the same family, with this typical leafy leather, but it’s also got more fragrant notes, such as flowers (dandelions, peonies) and heather honey ala old HP. Also lovely hints of turpentine and linseed oil, then the expected raisins and plums, plus walnuts. ‘Light’ first fill sherry. Mouth: beats the others fair and square, but that was to be expected. Starts with some peppery malt, goes on with bitter oranges and ‘soft’ raisins, and keeps unfolding with small earthy touches, mushrooms, a touch of ginseng, a little gentian… That’s all very nice. Finish: long, and zestier, more reminiscent of some indie unsherried Aberlours. Oranges, pink grapefruits, white pepper, perhaps one bay leaf. The spicy leather is back in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s rather big, and very Aberlour. Very well selected, but I guess it’s not going to be easy to get this baby outside France. SGP:451 - 88 points.

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



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November 27, 2015


Glenmorangie Dornoch and friend

It’s more than time we have the newer Glenmorangie, named after a famous hotel up there (I’m joking), and then a worthy sparring partner by another name…

Glenmorangie 'Dornoch' (43%, OB, amontillado finish, 2015)

Glenmorangie 'Dornoch' (43%, OB, amontillado finish, 2015) Two stars and a half No age statement and a hefty price (75€), so you need stories (‘encapsulates the essence of the Dornoch Firth’) and a wine finishing, here amontillado sherry, which is more or less a fino that ended its life as an oloroso. Colour: light gold. Nose: light and fresh, rather grassier than the usual Glenmorangies, and closer to the raw malt, which suggests a young age. A touch of vanilla from some American oak, and perhaps walnuts from the sherry, plus a smidgen of fresh mint. Lightish whisky, but it’s whisky anyway ;-). Mouth: oranges, lemons, oak, cider apples, some barley syrup, a little fudge, and some custard. Some literature mentions smoke, but unless I’m getting smoke-blind, I’m hardly getting any. A little apple pie. The body’s rather bigger than I had thought when nosing it, but the whole remains pretty harmless. Finish: medium, creamier, typical American oak signature. Comments: more than fine, but the excellent recent Tusail was way above this rather innocuous one in my book. The fresher and less oaked regular Ten as well. SGP:441 - 79 points.

Westport 1997/2014 (48%, Wilson & Morgan, blended malt, sherry butts, casks #3358-59)

Westport 1997/2014 (48%, Wilson & Morgan, blended malt, sherry butts, casks #3358-59) Three stars and a half As you may know, Westport is the name of a ‘teaspooned’ Glenmorangie, so a blended malt that’s almost a single, but you can’t tell. Colour: full gold. Nose: there’s much more orangey sherry in this one, and rather less custardy vanilla. Some tobacco and walnuts, which is typical, and then a fruity brightness, with more oranges and something like curry powder, possibly from some active wood. Nice nice nice, not a sherry bomb. Refill butts? Mouth: starts with some tea and these notes of kirsch that sometimes come from refill sherry, then leather from the same source, perhaps a little cardboard/flour, then the very same oranges as in the nose. The strength is perfect. Finish: rather long, with traces of pencil shavings, some walnuts, some leather, and some bitter oranges. Comments: this baby could have been an official, as I do seem to find notes of ‘wood technology’ in it. But it’s very good! SGP:451 - 84 points.

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



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November 26, 2015


Two very sherried NAS Macallans

Will there be some magic? Won’t tasting these expensive Macallans that carry no age statement be like driving a great sports car without knowing the size of the engine and the number of cylinders?

Macallan 'Rare Cask' (43%, OB, +/-2015)

Macallan 'Rare Cask' (43%, OB, +/-2015) Four stars One of these very embarrassing newish NAS bottlings, ridden with stories about oak and sherry – and laudatory adjectives – but in fact, it’s all a thick smokescreen of claims, there’s nothing certain. Only the price ‘may’ tell us where it sits, and the price is £190. But can you trust a price tag? Colour: amber. Nose: an earthy and slightly smoky sherry that reminds me of the older 8 or 12, with raisins, kirsch, Seville oranges, chocolate, chestnut honey and then cinnamon, cloves, mint, and nutmeg. It doesn’t feel very old, but I’d call this ‘classic’. Mouth: indeed, the older 12+. Quite a lot of bitter oranges and honey in the arrival, then this very peculiar toffeeness plus Corinthian raisins, pipe tobacco, liqueur-filled chocolate, and a touch of vanilla fudge. Millionaire shortbread. Good body. Finish: medium, very well balanced I have to say, rather on marmalade this time. Honeyed and moderately spicy aftertaste. Comments: seriously, I think this is very good, and probably much more ‘Macallan’ than other newish bottlings. Great work, only the price is a little, well, you know what a mean. SGP:451 - 87 points.

There’s high-end, and there’s higher-end…

Macallan 'Remix Remixed' (58.9%, OB, Masters of Photography, Asia Travel Retail, first fill sherry, cask #15245, 500 bottles, 2013)

Macallan 'Remix Remixed' (58.9%, OB, Masters of Photography, Asia Travel Retail, first fill sherry, cask #15245, 500 bottles, 2013) Five stars Bottled to celebrate the 75th birthday of Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama. As has been seen elsewhere (at Balvenie’s, for instance) it’s always a little awkward to learn about the cask #, but not about the age and/or the vintage. Colour: coffee. Nose: ah! Full-blown old oloroso, whiffs of pencil shavings (just wee whiffs), bags of black raisins, then a myriad of tinier ‘tertiary’ aromas, black cigars, pipe tobacco, mushrooms, fig liqueur, mushrooms and earth, earthy tea, old wine cellar, some menthol, cough syrup, ‘a forest after the rain’… And all that. Black cherries. I find this exceptional. With water: stunning! Porcinis, Cuban cigars, cocoa, mocha, raisins, dark honey, parsley (I love parsley in my sherried whiskies)… What a nose, what a nose. Mouth (neat): crikey, this is great! It’s one of these Macallans that tend to resemble the greatest old armagnacs, and in fact we’re extremely close. Tasting this blind would be a tad tricky, to be honest. The sherry’s so thick that there might be more grapes in this than in any wine brandy ;-). But it’s truly exceptional. What’s the age again? With water: absolutely gorgeous, the very essence of oloroso maturing, with prunes this time, more raisins, more marmalade… So reduction made it rather sweeter. In the background, a little sandalwood, and even a touch of incense. Reminds me of the best old heavily sherried Yamazakis at some point. Finish: very long, drier again – which is great – and rather more on coffee-schnapps. That would be the greatest schnapps in the greatest coffee, of course. Comments: long story short, this is very, very impressive. Only small problem, buying one of these will cost you around 3,000€, it seems. If you’re very wealthy, I wouldn’t say that’s not money well spent. Now, what’s the age again? SGP:561 - 93 points.

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

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback




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November 25, 2015


Not enough Kilchoman on Whiskyfun,
he said

It’s one of our most distinguished readers who’s recently noticed that we haven’t tried any Kilchoman since… Ages! Well, not quite, that was in March of 2015, but still, time to remedy the situation, with a little panache (hopefully)…

Kilchoman ‘Machir Bay 2014’ (46%, OB, 2014)

Kilchoman ‘Machir Bay 2014’ (46%, OB, 2014) Three stars and a half I had found the 2013 version a little sweet, but let’s see… This is a vatting of ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso casks. Colour: white wine. Nose: there is a sucrosity indeed (opening a large bag of marshmallows) but on the other hand, the coastal peat – lime combination works very well. What’s quite impressive is the purity in this, even if that’s also what makes it a little simple. Mouth: sweet ashy peat. Brine, almonds, lemon squash, lemon drops, perhaps two sultanas (not more) and faint liqueury side indeed. Barley sugar. That ought to be the short sherry finishing. Finish: rather long, clean, with some lime and some lemon, and always this sweet roundness. Many ashes as well. Comments: it’s a little mezcaly, in fact. I think I like it better than the 2013. SGP:537 - 83 points.

Kilchoman ‘Loch Gorm 2015’ (46%, OB, 2015)

Kilchoman ‘Loch Gorm 2015’ (46%, OB, 2015) Five stars A vatting of ex-oloroso butts and ex-sherry hogsheads. Colour: amber. Nose: much, much dirtier than the Machir, and you see, we love dirt in our whiskies. Soot, damp gravel, saltpetre… In fact it’s got something of Longrow, which just can’t be bad news. Cigar ashes, smoked fish, brine, new plastic, engine oil, moss… All great! Mouth: oh very excellent! Same dirty side, ashes, sooty things, bitter oranges, plenty of salt, brine, our beloved olives, a touch of caramel and raisins, caraway… Well I guess I don’t have to oversell it. Finish: quite long, extremely well constructed, always appropriately dirty, a little leathery, citrusy (cleans the dirt), ashy… Comments: it’s a winner in my book, and it’ll join the same cluster as Benromach 10 and Kilkerran Bourbon. I should have tried it earlier. SGP:457 - 90 points.

This goes too fast, way too fast… Oh wait, we had an earlier Loch Gorm! Silly me…

Kilchoman ‘Loch Gorm 2013’ (46%, OB, 2013)

Kilchoman ‘Loch Gorm 2013’ (46%, OB, 2013) Four stars I believe it was a 2007. Colour: gold. Nose: its softer, leafier, more polished, and in a way, more ‘Caol Ila’. Fresh walnuts and apple peelings. Perhaps a little more engine oil as well? Mouth: excellent as well, but perhaps a little more mono-dimensional than the 2015. A little more towards sappy and soapy tones, putty, plasticine… But very excellent it remains. Finish: long, lemony, salty, always with a little putty. Or putty-like flavours. Comments: you got it, I liked the 2015 edition rather better. But the 2013 was lovely too. Great work in the Rhinns of Islay! John MacLellan is a magician. More proof that you can be ultra-competent while being the sweetest and the humblest person on earth. Gives you faith in Scotch again! SGP:457 - 87 points.

Kilchoman '100% Islay 5th Edition' (50%, OB, 2015)

Kilchoman '100% Islay 5th Edition' (50%, OB, 2015) Three stars and a halfA vatting of the 2009 and 2010 vintages, supposed to be lightly peated. The barley was entirely grown on the estate, so this is much more ‘single malt’ that others. Just saying. Colour: white wine. Nose: it hasn’t got the brightness and the high impact of the Loch Gorms, and perhaps is it a little wishy-washy in comparison, despite the higher strength. A gentler one, and you have to nose much deeper to get the eucalyptussy side as well as the unexpected tangerines. The jury’s still out… Mouth: much, much better! This ain’t no nosing whisky, everything happens on the palate, with some kind of smoked and salted bread, some salted peanuts (as Dizzy would have said), and a mix of fresh butter and… Oysters! A touch of mezcal that I already had found in the Machir. Finish: medium long, salty and almondy. A touch of putty. Salty margarita in the aftertaste. Comments: philosophically, I like this better. Organoleptically, the Loch Gorms rule big time! SGP:445 - 84 points.

We’ve got another 100% Islay, a single cask!

Kilchoman 2009/2014 (55.2%, OB for De Tongerse Whiskyvrienden and Massen, Luxembourg, 100% Islay, PX finish, 218 bottles)

Kilchoman 2009/2014 (55.2%, OB for De Tongerse Whiskyvrienden and Massen, Luxembourg, 100% Islay, PX finish, 218 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: dark amber. Nose: leather this time, as well as Virginia cigarettes (unlit). Plus some hay, manure, anything from a farm (that’s good timing, isn’t it), chocolate, and a little Barbour grease. Mud. With water: feels sweeter. Raisins and earth. Mouth (neat): simply very excellent. Powerful, ultra-lemony, and quite spicy, with a sherry that never quite gets in the way, even if some raisins are to be found, somewhere, sometime… No, wait, in fact, after just a few seconds, the PX speaks out and you just have to like that. Walnuts and raisins. To be honest, this is getting a little ‘too much’ for me. With water: PX everywhere. Finish: PX everywhere for a pretty long time. Comments: PX freaks will kill for this. As for this very taster, I love Luxemburg, and the people behind this bottling, and the Rhinns, and Islay, and the world… But this is a little too much. Sincere apologies, friends. SGP:635 - 77 points.

Kilchoman 2009/2014 (59.3%, OB, for Whisky Circle Pinzgau, Austria, PX finish, cask #379/2009)

Kilchoman 2009/2014 (59.3%, OB, for Whisky Circle Pinzgau, Austria, PX finish, cask #379/2009) Two stars and a half And he insists… Colour: gold. Nose: more Kilchoman, less PX, it seems. It’s also a little more mineral, let’s see… With water: mud, smoked malt, barnyard… And little PX furia. Refill? Careful rinsing? Mouth (neat): really punchy, citrusy and even citric, with the PX’s sweet raisins kept at bay. Balance is kept s well. There’s also a funny medicinal side, not unlike some artisan cough syrup that would contain plenty of peppermint and sharp lemon. With water: all good. Earthy, rooty, smoky… Even if the raisins are getting a little more talkative. Finish: long, a little sweeter. Not the best part. Comments: extremely fair, and many will love this, rightly so. It’s just a little too sweet for me, even if it’s less extreme in that respect than the Luxembourgian. Have I already told you how much I loved Luxembourg? And Austria? SGP:546 - 79 points.

And yet, he insists…

Kilchoman 2009/2014 (58.3%, OB, for Abbey Whisky, PX finish, cask #285/2009, 270 bottles)

Kilchoman 2009/2014 (58.3%, OB, for Abbey Whisky, PX finish, cask #285/2009, 270 bottles) Two stars and a half I agree I’m mad, but while we’re at it… Colour: dark gold. Nose: ah, this one’s shy, in comparison. Blood oranges, lemon juice, wet sand, a moderate peatiness… With water: perhaps salted almonds, but other than that, it remains a little introvert. Not obligatorily a bad thing, mind you. Mouth (neat): all fine, there’s even less raisins, and rather more citric and floral tones? Lavender bonbons (no FWP, before you ask), seawater, smoky lemons, bitter oranges… With water:  smoked oranges? Finish: rather long, sweet and briny. Comments: I’m not 100% sure Kilchoman – or any other peater – tangos very well with PX. Oh and really, I love Luxembourg. But then again, that’s just one man’s opinion. SGP:546 - 79 points.

Even more PX finish? Are there are some limits to malty insanity?…

Kilchoman 2010/2015 (58.3%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange, PX finish, cask #679/2010, 262 bottles)

Kilchoman 2010/2015 (58.3%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange, PX finish, cask #679/2010, 262 bottles) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: I don’t know. As often with very young whiskies, it’s not in the nose that things happen. Well, this is fine. A feeling of young Demerara rum, perhaps. Candy sugar, you see. With water: farmier. That’s nice. Mouth (neat): it’s very okay. They may have managed to improve the recipe between 2014 and 2015. Still not quite my style, and there are still many dissonances as far as I can tell, but this is rather more… fulfilling? (what a waste of kilobytes and time, S.!) With water: no, wait, this kind of works. There’s an odd sweetness remaining, but this feeling of, wait, salted and honeyed roasted almonds is pleasant. Finish: medium, with some mint. Amongst the salted raisins. Comments: very okay. Oh, did I tell you that I’d love to buy a house in Luxembourg, and end my life there? (but not drinking PXed peaters, that’s for sure)… SGP:545 - 80 points.

So, more PX finish… No, I’m joking, let’s get serious…

Kilchoman 2010/2015 'The Trilogy' (60.6%, OB, for LMDW, sherry butt, 642 bottles)

Kilchoman 2010/2015 'The Trilogy' (60.6%, OB, for LMDW, sherry butt, 642 bottles) Three stars and a half I hope this is no PX finish, let’s pray… Our Father, who art in Heaven… Colour: gold. Nose: fine. Peat and walnuts, some leather, some tobacco, and no f**** raisins! H.u.r.r.a.y.! With water: fine, clean, almondy, relatively rounded… Hessian, cough syrup, oyster juice, and then more and more plasticine. Playful ;-). And marzipan. Mouth (neat): bye-bye raisins indeed. Sharp and whistle-clean, almost angular, very lemony, with a feeling of peated kiwis. There. With water: very very good. The youth shows, but this is bright and the sherry is rather minimalistic. Coz, in my opinion, sherry on young peaters can make it all apocalyptical. Like mustard in coffee. Finish: quite long, quite good, balanced, rounded and nervous at the same time… Comments: a very good bottle for sure, but I miss that thing that they managed to get in Loch Gorm. Come on, what’s the secret? SGP:456 - 83 points.

Time to have a very last one for the road… Quickly!

Kilchoman 2007/2014 (60.4%, OB, for Whisky in Leiden, Holland, cask #239/2007)

Kilchoman 2007/2014 (60.4%, OB, for Whisky in Leiden, Holland, cask #239/2007) Three stars Early distillate, that’s cool. And bourbon, that’s cool, gives us a break. Colour: white wine. Nose: ultra-raw, kind of chemical, hyper-grassy, super-austere. Water may be needed. With water: young raw peat, good provenance. Mouth (neat): it’s strong, but it’s kind of excellent. Sweet peat, with a lightish body but an easiness that’s most appealing. As long as you can stand 60+% vol. With water: yeah, very good, simple, narrow, sweet, with good smoke and good lemons. Finish: long, simple, peaty, vegetal. Sweets in the aftertaste. Comments: very fine for sure, I’d say it just needs ten more years in ‘moderate’ wood. SGP:456 - 81 points.

Will that be enough? ;-)

(and thanks Pieter and gang!)

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



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November 24, 2015


The new Deverons

Macduff used to be sold as ‘Glen Deveron’, but the malt was just rechristened ‘The Deveron’, I couldn’t tell you why. In France, Glen Deveron’s always been relatively ‘budget’, but some versions had been pleasantly light and kind of refreshing.

The only scary aspect of these new babies by Bacardi is their strengths. But let’s see, some great work has already been done on Craigellachie or Aberfeldy… Oh, and Brackla… BTW I find the packaging stunning.

The Deveron 10 yo (40%, OB, France only, +/-2015) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: it is a light, slightly smoky, and very toasty/malty whisky, a wee bit in the style of Aberlour 10 yo, with also raisins, overripe apples, a touch of mint and a touch of honey. A little harmless so far, but blend drinkers may find this is a nice stepping stone towards the amazing world of single malts (hey, you’re sounding like a 1980 brochure, S.!) Mouth: light, easy, but not weak – and neither is it dull – with good maltiness, a touch of orange liqueur, a drop of honey, a spoonful of raisins, and just a wee bit of cardboard. The body’s a bit thin, though, but the profile is very pleasant. Malt that tastes like malt. Finish: a little short, on toasted bread and raisins, plus more malt. Comments: all fine, only the thinness will prevent me from going up to 80+. SGP:341 - 79 points.

The Deveron 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: why would we, as Frenchmen, rather have the 10 as an exclusivity? This has more depth, more complexity, more elegance, more herbs, peelings, green tea, flowers, bread… But it remains a little light and, well evanescent. Mouth: ah, more character! It’s even got a coastal side, with this funny blend of metal and seaweed, plus a very excellent phenolic side that’s sometimes to be found in older HPs or even Pulteneys. Herbal teas (I can think of rosehip and honeysuckle). Cauliflower dumplings. Very very good old style! Finish: a bit short again, and getting drier as often, but at least you’re remembering you just had some very good malt whisky. Comments: I’ll say it, this is a huge surprise. The world of thirsty men and women NEEDS a full-strength version of this!!! I’m almost about to start an online petition. SGP:352 - 85 points.

The Deveron 18 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015) Four stars This just cannot be better than the 12, especially since it was bottled at 40% as well (tsk tsk). Colour: gold. Nose: ho-ho! Oils. Sunflower, grape pips… And fresh walnuts, cider apples, graphite oil, a touch of furniture polish… Well, on the palate, this could be quite glorious – or weak and cardboardy. I know, some breathless suspense yet again… Mouth: a cruel dilemma. Do I like this better than the 12, because of these raisins and other dried fruits? Or do I prefer the 12, because it’s more old-skool and less consensual? Honey, malt, ripe apples, brioche, raisins… Indeed, that’s to be seen elsewhere, while the 12 was more idiosyncratic, so to speak. The jury’s still out. Finish: medium, rather more candied than the others. Raisins cooked in honey and apple juice, plus some cinnamon. Comments: totally excellent. Just a little more oomph, please! SGP:451 - 85 points.

Good, one indie Macduff and we’re done. These new Deverons gave me faith and hope!

Macduff 24 yo 1989/2013 (53.3%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, sherry, 516 bottles)

Macduff 24 yo 1989/2013 (53.3%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, sherry, 516 bottles) Four stars I know, I already tasted the 26 yo bottled this year in the Authentic Collection, but you see, sometimes we just don’t do things in order at WF Towers. Agreed, an understatement. Colour: amber. Nose: more Christmas-cake-y than the most Christmas-cake-y of all Christmas cakes. Dried pears, bananas, figs, raisins, dates, angelica, sour cherries, all that on a bed of scoria and bitter chocolate. O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine… Ach, excuse me. With water: … Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit, Nein auch im Winter… So yeah, fir wood and needles! Mouth (neat): that Macduff takes sherry well is well known, but in fact, in this case, things got rather less fruitcake-y than usual. Black pepper, bitter chocolate, strong black tea, peppermint… With water: a spicy grog… O Tannenbaum, wie oft hat schon zur Winterszeit ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut… O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum… Finish: mulled wine! Oranges, cinnamon, raisins, star anise, vanilla… Comments: another sherried one that makes you speak German. This baby gibt Mut und Kraft zu jeder Zeit! SGP:561 - 87 points.

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



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November 23, 2015


Four Ardmore

We’ll sort them by ascending strengths.

Ardmore 1996/2013 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling)

Ardmore 1996/2013 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling) Four stars and a half A well-know label. In my experience, G&M’s Ardmores are usually rather softer than the officials – let alone most other indies. Colour: gold. Nose: softer, perhaps, beautiful, for sure. Maybe the mildest and roundest ‘expression’ of a mentholated peatiness, covered with manzanilla sauce and a few herbs, such as sage, parsley, and wild thyme. And some soot. There’s an old-Ardbegness in this. Mouth: excellent, truly excellent. G&M have selected this bottle, among others, to demonstrate that wood’s paramount (or something like that). Well, I’m sorry, but this one just shows that a great distillate’s even ‘more paramount’. In a way, this is like a record and a stereo. You could own the greatest McIntosh tube amp, it’ll never make Justin B. sound great. While Coltrane through the cheapest Samsung set will still sound fab imho. Well, am I not the king of crappy analogies?… Finish: quite long, super-balanced, marvellously peaty and citrusy. Comments: I think this is way better than older semi-official Ardmores by G&M. Yes you may see that as a buy signal. If you like. SGP:455 - 88 points.

Well, I had thought that baby would have made for a nice apéritif, but it’s been much more than that. Fail!

Ardmore 24 yo 1990/2015 (48.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #66.67, 2nd fill sherry butt, 148 bottles)

Ardmore 24 yo 1990/2015 (48.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #66.67, 2nd fill sherry butt, 148 bottles) Four starsSorry, no picture, so I’ve put one of the Distillery’s control desk (taken in 2014, but could have been 1974 ;-)). Colour: pale gold. Nose: a very peaty Ardmore again, and in truth we’re very close to the G&M, this is just a little sharper, more mineral, and earthier. There’s a touch of menthol too, and probably cigars. Top notch. Mouth: bang! Earthy mint, green apples, more tobacco, some kind of sweet oil, citrons, wulong tea, and then more and more eucalyptus. Mouthwash and chlorophyll-and-mint chewing gum. And I really fin it excellent. A little sweetness in the background, as often with Ardmore. Peaches? Finish: quite long, very minty and piny, which is perfectly balanced with more lemon. This sugariness in the aftertaste is a little less thrilling. Comments: another beauty. Only the aftertaste was less brilliant. SGP:475 - 86 points.

Ardmore 1993/2015 (49.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for Whisky-Online, cask #5750, 176 bottles)

Ardmore 1993/2015 (49.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for Whisky-Online, cask #5750, 176 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: oh, some smoky eucalyptus again! A touch of coconut in the background, some barley water, broom, vanilla, an earthy smoke, then vin jaune from Jura, fino sherry (but this is no sherry cask), and wet gravel after the first rain after a long sunny period. Mouth: it was a great American oak, which imparted lovely tropical notes, especially mangos and passion fruits that give it a Bowmore-y side. Then an eucalyptussy (apologies) smoke and these touches of white peaches that I often find in Ardmore. I find this extremely good, both ‘authentic’ and easy. In other words, malt whisky for your friends – and for you. There aren’t that many of them. Finish: quite long, zesty, smoky, well-chiselled. The aftertaste remains fresh and fruity. Comments: this one’s hard to resist. Everything’s just very perfect, which grants a 90-points score in my little tasting book. SGP:655 - 90 points.

Ardmore 14 yo 2000/2014 (58.3%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, barrel, cask #217)

Ardmore 14 yo 2000/2014 (58.3%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, barrel, cask #217) Four stars Colour: white wine. This should be sharp. Nose: it’s the closest to the distillate of them all, which the colour already suggested. Raw smoke, barley, smoky porridge, wet gravel again, soot, no fruits. Austere, but exceptionally well defined. With water: even more austere, even more on smoked porridge, soot, stone dust, ashes, floorcloth… Mouth (neat): little oak influence – if any – and a rather huge mentholated smokiness poured onto green apples and not-too-ripe peaches. Ziiiiing! A bitterness (small cider apples). With water: there, a few fruits. Green bananas, white peaches again (and again), and a little barley sugar. Finish: quite long, with ashes and ‘shy’ tinned fruits. Some white pepper in the aftertaste. The oak stating to argue. Comments: I love this diehard style, but I agree, it’s perhaps not for just everyone. SGP:454 - 85 points.

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



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November 22, 2015


A randomised rum session on a Sunday

Should we start to avoid the sugary ones from now on? It’s true that they tend to be depressing… But since we’re still learners, maybe we shouldn’t yet.

Jamaica 5 yo (43%, Compagnie des Indes, +/-2015)

Jamaica 5 yo (43%, Compagnie des Indes, +/-2015) Three stars and a half A blend of different styles of Jamaican rum, aged in first fill bourbon oak. This may rock… Colour: straw. Nose: ooh, a session killer. Sure it’s young, and sure the strength isn’t high, but this Worthy-Parkness just, well, rocks. Olives, tar, engine oil, petrol, sugarcane, the sweeter and rounder notes of not too ripe bananas, cauliflowers, candy sugar… The whole remains approachable, and even kind of easy. That’s good. Mouth: less defined and extreme than fully dundery Jamaicans, and perhaps rounder than I had thought given the nose, but certainly fine, and closer to the cane. A little plum spirit, banana purée, and raisins. Not big, not light either. Finish: medium, with touches of salt, liquorice, bananas, and just one olive. The name’s Bond… Comments: whall we call this a beginner’s Jamaican? Very well composed, in any case. SGP:652 - 83 points.

Okay, we won’t choose the next one at random…

Jamaica 'Private Stock' (43%, Wray & Nephew, Soffiantino import, Italy, +/-1970)

Jamaica 'Private Stock' (43%, Wray & Nephew, Soffiantino import, Italy, +/-1970) Four stars and a half Wray & Nephew are an old distilling and blending company based in Kingston, Jamaica. Their White Overproof Rum is very famous, but this is much older rum. A rare bottle! Colour: coffee. Nose: its not a heavy Jamaican, or perhaps not anymore. Rather a complex old spirit that could as well be an old cognac or an old malt whisky. Say a 1950s Laphroaig ex-first fill sherry after 40 years in a bottle. Some mud, concrete, menthol, old oloroso, pipe tobacco, prunes, tar, turpentine, chocolate… Yes, all that. Really very curious about the nose… Mouth: slow, then fast; light, then thick. What’s striking is all this liquorice, this is almost liquorice spirit. Some tar as well, then a feeling of peat, touches of lavender sweets, grandma’s secret old cordial (make what you want out of this), cinnamon, and more and more liquorice. Liquorice really is the keyword here. Amazing – but you have to like liquorice. Finish: long, a tad drier and more tannic, with dried mushrooms on top of all this liquorice. Comments: I had never thought mushrooms and liquorice would go so well together. Ha! A moving old bottle, thank you Francesco. SGP:572 - 89 points.

Look, I think we’ll stay in Jamaica…

Blackwell ‘Black Gold’  (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2015)

Blackwell ‘Black Gold’  (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2015) Two stars This brand is blended by Wray & Nephew, but I doubt we’ll reach the same heights.          Colour: reddish amber. Nose: there isn’t much after the oldie. Perhaps molasses, a touch of earth for sure, some hay, some chocolate… Not unpleasant, just a little shy. So not very rasta! Mouth: starts a bit like the old W&N, which is very promising, but massive doses of sweet caramel, corn syrup, and toasted oak are soon to take over. That doesn’t taste very natural, somebody may have added ‘something’ to this, although it never gets sickly sugary. Finish: medium. Plenty of dried bananas, some caramel, a touch of coffee. Werther’s Originals and milk chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: very okay, but I guess ice is needed. Or a Jamaican beach. SGP:630 - 72 points.

Worthy Park 7 yo 2007/2015 (53%, Compagnie des Indes, Jamaica, cask #WP42, 265 bottles)

Worthy Park 7 yo 2007/2015 (53%, Compagnie des Indes, Jamaica, cask #WP42, 265 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: rather smoother and rounder than other young Worthy Parks (remember the Wilson & Morgans?) and much more on herbal teas, such as lime tree, orange blossom, and then vanilla. That’s a little bizarre, not unpleasant at all, but a little bizarre indeed. With water: we just opened a can of pineapple. Mouth (neat): new oak? Very oily mouth feel, with quite a lot of vanilla, syrup, then indeed, these phenolic notes that were expected. Pickled fruits and olives – but more fruits than olives. Pineapples and pepper. With water: same, even rounder and fruitier. Excellent, just a little disconcerting. Finish: medium, very smooth. Fruit syrups. Comments: so they make several kinds of distillate at Worthy Park? Not only phenolic olive bombs? SGP:651 - 85 points.

And a last one, and let’s make it a great one…

Monymusk 1979 (46%, Moon Import, 10th Anniversary, Jamaica, 1990)

Monymusk 1979 (46%, Moon Import, 10th Anniversary, Jamaica, 1990) Five stars A rare old bottling of Clarendon aka Monymusk for those magicians down there at Moon Import’s. Colour: white wine. Nose: the phenols are back. This is true ‘dunder’ Jamaican rum, with a lot of sugar cane juice (they distil molasses, but usually add fresh sugarcane juice), some carbon paper, our beloved olives, a lot of earth, bananas starting to rot, a little burnt sugar, and a few drops of both engine oil and diesel oil. Also superb whiffs of fern after the rain. Mouth: exceptionally Islay. It’s been discussed whether the Islay of rum was la Guadeloupe, Jamaica, or Trinidad. I’d tend to say Jamaica. Overripe apples and bananas covered with seawater, liquid liquorice, and of course, olive oil. Unbeatable. Finish: long, exceptionally balanced, between this salty side and the smoother tarry bananas. And let’s not forget the olives. Comments: happy anniversary, Moon Import! (I may well be a little late, apologies…) SGP:653 - 90 points.

(Thank you Francesco)

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



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November 20, 2015


Amrut galore

You see, we have standards, I did not dare writing Amrut galore in Bangalore. This little session for our very good friend Gordon, who’s an Amrut freak, and who’s recovering from a recent ‘accident’. Dear Gordon, to your good health!

Amrut 'Spectrum' (50%, OB, 1000 bottles, 2015)

Amrut 'Spectrum' (50%, OB, 1000 bottles, 2015) Four stars and a half This funny baby was first matured in bourbon wood, then finished in bespoke barrels made out of five different oaks (we won’t quote them all, the list is too long). I feel I’m hering my favourite cabinetmaker talking ;-). Colour: dark amber. Nose: a sweet sherry influence, with plenty of raisins and milk chocolate beyond Amrut’s usual clean and fruity profile. Mangos and figs, then a little coffee. Some very discreet tobacco as well. Lovely nose – I often use the word lovely, but this IS lovely. With water: smoking a Cuban cigar while crunching chocolate and drinking mocha. Mouth (neat): the sherry and the newish oak are playing first fiddles here, then the leather and the bitter walnuts from the same sources. Crystallised ginger, dried dates, nutmeg, coriander, then more juicy raisins. PX? Solid body. With water: a little more spicy oak. Bitter oranges, more walnuts, and rather more ginger as well. Finish: rather long, a tad ‘greener’, which is better. Bitter chocolate in the aftertaste, as well as a touch of green peppercorns (French oak). Comments: unquestionably excellent. You feel the various oaks, and that worked. I’ll keep a few cls for my cabinetmaker. SGP:561 - 88 points.

Amrut 4 yo 2011/2015 (59%, OB for Whisky-L Taiwan, Port pipe, cask #2714-A, 380 bottles)

Amrut 4 yo 2011/2015 (59%, OB for Whisky-L Taiwan, Port pipe, cask #2714-A, 380 bottles) Four stars and a half Stating a young age, bravo! Hoppla, ten more points (I’m joking). Colour: amber. Nose: some smoky tobacco, and plenty of it, plus blackcurrant buds and caramelized oranges. Quite a lot of leather and, dare I say, curry as well. With water: dried kelp, hessian, more leather. An irrefutable nose, even if it’s not extraordinarily complex. Mouth (neat): very creamy, citric, and peaty. It is a peated Amrut indeed. Sweet mustard, mandarin liqueur, bitter chocolate, and plenty of nutmeg. A little feeling of rhum agricole, perhaps. Goes down very well at this high strength, water’s almost superfluous. With water: some spicy oak coming out, a feeling of European oak, not too sure… Finish: rather long, leathery, curiously salty (does peat trigger salt? Discuss…) Comments: high level again, in a very different style. Different styles, same scores. SGP:366 - 88 points.

Amrut 2009/2015 (62.8%, OB for Whiskybase, bourbon, cask #3434, 150 bottles)

Amrut 2009/2015 (62.8%, OB for Whiskybase, bourbon, cask #3434, 150 bottles) Four stars and a half We’ve already had some great 2009s in the past! Colour: gold. Nose: you know what, there’s good vanilla and there’s bad vanilla. The former is natural, and smells like some high-end pods from Madagascar or La Réunion, while the latter rather smells like some cheap confectionary, or Starbucks’ wackiest brews. We’re having the former here, and it comes with tropical fruit, rather towards guavas and, perhaps, bananas. Tea with milk, like our friends the English like it. With water: ho-ho-ho, another world! Thousands of teas and aromatic herbs are popping out one after the other, all this is quite spectacular. Wormwood, verbena, dill, lemongrass… And many others. Perfect. Mouth (neat): it’s certainly got a bourbony side. The oak’s quite dominant, but it’s sweet and not drying. Beneath that oaky cover, some oranges and mangos, all for the good and the better. With water: less oak, more lemony herbs. Like, eh, lemongrass. Finish: long. There might be some lemon tree wood, but I’ve never tasted lemon tree wood, so I couldn’t tell you. Comments: this one loves water. And it needs water, and then… SGP:551 - 89 points.

This one should be similar…

Amrut 5 yo 2009/2015 (62.8%, Single Cask Nation, 1st fill bourbon, cask #2635, 162 bottles)

Amrut 5 yo 2009/2015 (62.8%, Single Cask Nation, 1st fill bourbon, cask #2635, 162 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: it is similar, very similar. Perhaps a tad more towards marshmallows than vanilla, but other than that… With water: we’re not experiencing a herbal explosion this time, it would rather go on with these fine artisan marshmallows, plus a few tinned fruits including tropical ones. An east-meets-west fruit salad. A touch of eucalyptus. Mouth (neat): extremely crisp, lemony, and tropical. I’ve had some young Rosebank at super-high strength that was a bit like this. Adelphi had a great one, for example. In fact there’s rather less oak than in the Whiskybase, but other than that, we’re close. With water: same, just easier. Excellent. Finish: long, perfectly acidic, citrusy, clean, and sauvignony. A touch of fennel in the aftertaste. Comments: we’re within a very narrow field with all these excellent Amruts! SGP:651 - 89 points.

Amrut (61%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, sherry cask finish, cask #BA2015/21, 370 bottles)

Amrut (61%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, sherry cask finish, cask #BA2015/21, 370 bottles) Four stars Blackadder are the very indie specialists of Amrut. Colour: gold. Nose: same kind of territories again, with a sherriness that’s extremely discreet. Perhaps half a walnut? Perhaps roasted peanuts? And do roasted peanuts even belong to the sherry category? A touch of custard too, natural vanilla… All that. Rather less tropical fruits. With water: a wee bit of stuff ending with –ol from the wood. Terpenol? Mouth (neat): excellently fruity again. Lemons and raisins, with a very perfect balance. Very sexy palate! With water: gets sappy again, almost resinous. Turpentiny, do you say that? And that works. Finish: long. Some kind of high-strength mojito with plenty of mint. Comments: perhaps a little less ‘obvious’ than the OBs, but still very, very high-class for sure. SGP:561 - 87 points.

And a last one…

Amrut 5 yo (56.5%, OB, exclusive for Taiwan, oloroso, cask #3823, 600 bottles)

Amrut 5 yo (56.5%, OB, exclusive for Taiwan, oloroso, cask #3823, 600 bottles) Four stars What a wonderful tiger on the label! Which reminds us that anything beautiful is dangerous… Yeah right. Colour: dark amber. Nose: oh! So they bottled a stunning old oloroso and called it Amrut. Smart move… With water: exceptional raisins, nuts, tobaccos, teas, earths… Mouth (neat): I’ve never, ever, encountered some malt whisky that was this close to perfect sherry. It’s not whisky flavoured with sherry, it’s sherry flavoured with whisky. And that works! Now, who’s the gentleman who was supposed to rinse the cask? ;-). With water: amazing sherry indeed. Sweeter than the ‘average’ oloroso though, as if they had added a few drops, I mean, litres of PX. The whisky’s rather anecdotal. Finish: it’s where things tend to deteriorate, there’s a sweetness that makes it a little liqueury. Comments: I started with around 91, but the palate once reduced, plus the sweetish finish made it lose a handful of points in my book. But it’s spectacular! SGP:651 - 86 points.



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November 19, 2015


Laphroaig, six of them

So a few Laphroaigs at random, both appropriately aged or sneakily NAS-ed, from various provenances. I’m sure you don’t need more literature, do you? Let’s start with the Adams family…

Laphroaig 'Brodir batch #002' (48%, OB, Port Wood Finish, +/-2015)

Laphroaig 'Brodir batch #002' (48%, OB, Port Wood Finish, +/-2015) Two stars NAS plus a Port finish, that sounds like a Barry Manilow – Justin Bieber duo. But you never know… Colour: salmony. Nose: well, not quite the utter disaster I was fearing. I don’t like it at all because of these feelings of, say strawberry-flavoured lapsang souchong, but I think I’ve encountered Port-finished Laphroaigs that have been even worse. The good news is that the strawberries and other berries from the Port tend to vanish. And yes, before you ask, I’m a sucker for great Port, just not in my whisky. Mouth: no way. I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just wondering who needs this. Blood oranges, raspberries, wasabi, mustard, liquid smoke. Hey watch it, don’t throw up over your keyboard or over your brand new Samsung or iPad Air! Finish: medium, hesitating, uncertain. The aftertaste is a little nicer, not just because you know it’s over. Comments: a rather poor thing if you ask me. But remember, only one man’s opinion! Come on, Laphroaig! SGP:646 - 70 points.

We need compensation… Maybe this…

Laphroaig 18 yo (48%, OB, +/-2015)

Laphroaig 18 yo (48%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a half I haven’t formally tasted the 18 since it came out in 2009, but I had liked it quite a lot at that time (WF 87). It was replacing the old 15, but it seems that it’s now replaced with the new 15. Go figure. Colour: gold. Nose: starts with some sawdust and vanilla, which is a little disconcerting, but everything is soon to fall into place. A mild smoke, some autumn leaves, some seawater, a little bacon, hessian, seaweed, pu-erh tea, humus… It’s not big, it’s even a little shy and fragile despite the rather high strength, but I do enjoy this delicate nose quite a lot. I find it classy. Mouth: oh very good, chiselled, complex, elegant… There’s a little newish oak again, like at first nosing, but these salty bacon and kippers, plus the smoked tea, plus the touches of tropical fruits that hint at the distillery’s more glorious ages are most appealing. The whole’s just a little simple. Finish: medium long, with ideas of mangos indeed. Comments: very very good, I think, just somewhat lacking inspiration, oomph, and complexity. As if some re-racking in newish bourbon oak had occurred at some point. Not too sure. SGP:456 - 84 points.

Oh well, while we’re having officials…

Laphroaig 32 yo (46.6%, OB, 5,880 bottles, 2015)

Laphroaig 32 yo (46.6%, OB, 5,880 bottles, 2015) Five stars All sherry matured, this one. There’s been some fantabulous all-sherry Laphroaigs in the past, let’s hope this newish baby will manage to hold a candle to its glorious predecessors. 1967/68 or 1974, anyone? Colour: dark gold. Much lighter than the official pictures suggested. Nose: ah, yes. New tyres and benzine, flints, fresh walnuts, a touch of black truffles (I know that suggests sulphur, but not quite), embrocations and tiger balm, menthol, rather very old Sauternes than oloroso, bicycle inner tube, a touch of raisins, a curious hint of rancio… And no obvious smokiness. Love this nose. Mouth: Laphroaig! A perfect phenolic maelstrom, complex, rich, yet very elegant… I’ve read lukewarm reviews, but I’m relieved, since I’m finding this pretty perfect. Medicinal as it should be, almondy, perfectly gassy (in a way), with the expected tropical fruits (maracuja) and these smoked apples that do not exist in real life, but are very Laphroaig. And here come the seashells, the oysters, the mint drops, our beloved whelks, tincture of iodine… Well, true Laphroaig. Love it, really, love it… Finish: the true level of a malt whisky is to be found in its finish, said a friend whose name escapes me. This finish is perfect. Comments: frankly, this is a relief. This baby’s almost worth its heavy price tag (around £1,000), and I find it very cool that they didn’t propose it in one of those very stupid and very useless decanters that can be seen elsewhere. SGP:456 - 92 points.

Now, perhaps a few indies for good measure?...

Laphroaig 1994/2015 (46%, Coopers Choice, 1st fill sherry, cask #3441, 690 bottles)

Laphroaig 1994/2015 (46%, Coopers Choice, 1st fill sherry, cask #3441, 690 bottles) Four stars From a butt according to the outturn. Colour: deep gold. Nose: hold on, this is pretty similar, we aren’t far from the official 32! That’s probably the sherry speaking, and it speaks well. Smoked raisins, seawater, damp hessian, a little mud, wet rocks, that famous walk on the beach at Machir bay… That’s all pretty perfect, if not really ‘explosive’. Mouth: classic and classy salty smoky slightly eucalyptusy Laphroaig, with this leafiness (apple peelings, fresh walnuts) and then more and more salt. I guess you could call it briny. There’s some lemon too, as expected. Finish: long, on iodine, oysters, and a little pipe tobacco. Remains relatively clean despite it being first fill sherry. Grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: impeccable sherried Laphroaig that tends to become just a little too dry. Just a little – and just one man’s opinion. SGP:457 - 87 points.

Laphroaig 12 yo 2002/2015 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill butt, cask #11511, 332 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 2002/2015 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill butt, cask #11511, 332 bottles) Four stars and a half This is young, this should be fresh. Colour: gold. Nose: yes it’s fresh, lively, without too much raisiny sherry, and with a lot of sea air, seashells, seaweed, and, well, anything from the sea. Some fresh almonds too, which I always find perfect. A little rubber, perhaps, in a good way, putty, fresh paint… It’s a rather kilny young Laphroaig.  No water needed, I think. Mouth: yess! Perfect arrival, whistle-clean but with an added roundness from the sherry, more almonds, more seawater, and only a moderate medicinal side. I find this absolutely excellent, and more or less in the style of the official 10 yo CS. Have to try newer batches of that one, by the way. With water (you see, procedures…): there, bandages, damp wool, barley water, liquid smoke… All very perfect. Finish: long, salty, smoky, extremely Laphroaig. Comments: that the indies now always beat the officials of similar ages is a bit troubling, isn’t it. This was just another example. Very well done, Hunter Laing! SGP:357 - 89 points.

Laphroaig 16 yo 1998/2014 (49.1%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, for HNWS, refill hogshead, cask # DL10579, 300 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: the sharpest, the cleanest, the most on iodine, salted almonds, and wet wool of them all. Olives. In short, the wildest and the most ‘natural’. Little oak influence. Mouth: well defined, precise, focussed, ultra-clean, chiselled, perfect. Salt, lemon, one small slice of pineapple, and a few drops of white Jamaican rum and artisan mezcal. Meta-spirit, in other words. Why the owners can’t come up with such bottlings still baffles me. Maybe are they too busy talking about oak and wine? Finish: long, zingy, ultra-clean, perfect. Refill’s the king, first fill’s the jester. Comments: it’s to be wondered why the distillers have so little faith in their distillates, and are so busy with stupid oak and wines. A kind of disease? A lack of self-confidence? Or do they own the forests? SGP:357 - 90 points.

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

(thank you Patrick!)



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November 18, 2015


Dalwhinnie day

Isn’t it strange that despite the fact that everybody likes Dalwhinnie, it’s become so difficult to find variants of the popular 15 yo? Excuse me? What’s Winter’s Gold? ;-) Well there were never many of them, but G&M had some, for example, as well as their affiliated Italian distributors/importers. Bah, let’s not complain, there’s a new Special Release. But first, a newer batch of the 15…

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2015)

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. It’s lost a bit of colour, it seems. Nose: these typical notes of hay, wild all-flower honey, overripe apples, and freshly malted barley. Softer than the Highlanders, bigger than the usual Speysiders… The floral notes make it rather delicate, though. It seems that this is a very nice batch. Mouth: very malty, with quite some caramel and toffee, and again these notes of hay, very typical. Then honey, damson plums, toasts, a large apple pie (tarte tatin), and oranges. Really enjoy this toffee-ish maltiness. Finish: medium, fresh, still malty. Honey and toffee in the aftertaste, with a grassier and slightly smokier signature. Comments: indeed, a good batch. Less soft than what some people usually think of Dalwhinnie. SGP:452 - 83 points.

Dalwhinnie 25 yo 1989/2015 (48.8%, OB, Special Release, 5,916 bottles)

Dalwhinnie 25 yo 1989/2015 (48.8%, OB, Special Release, 5,916 bottles) Five stars This baby ex-refill American oak hogsheads. There’s been another 25 back in 2012, a 1987, and I had loved it (WF 89). Colour: pale gold. Nose: totally au naturel! That means we’re rather finding raw barley, orchard fruits (gooseberries, white peaches, mirabelles), some fresh butter, and then ideas of fresh croissants early in the morning. There’s a little honey as well – breakfast honey of course. It’s only after a good five minutes that more smoky notes take off, as well as some fresh walnuts. It’s really funny that we’re getting closer and closer to some well-matured manzanilla. I mean, well-solera-ed. Mouth: a fatter, bigger version of the 15, but we’re well within the same family. Walnuts/manzanilla, plus green apples, not-too-sweet honey, Seville oranges, and a smoky maltiness. Also more and more custard, cornflakes… Finish: medium, rather smokier, very malty, a tad spicier as well. Dry cereal bars. Comments: totally one for the breakfast. A perfect exercise de style that lets the distillate sing. Ah, refill! SGP:562 - 90 points.

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



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November 17, 2015


Glenlochy and friend

This is going to be terrible and horrible. We always try to taste whisky alongside siblings or remote partners, but never alone. It’s like tango, you just cannot tango alone! And yet, there is this old Glenlochy just in, while I haven’t got any other Glenlochy in my miserable sample library. Shall we try it ‘in solo’, with shame and anger? Or shall we find a partner? We’ll see…

Glenlochy 39 yo 1965/2004 (46.3%, Jack Wiebers, Old Train Line, cask #706, 194 bottles)

Glenlochy 39 yo 1965/2004 (46.3%, Jack Wiebers, Old Train Line, cask #706, 194 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: reeks of olden times, when whisky was made by man and not machines, and when computers were only used for true science or by governments. Wonderful notes of butter cream and citron liqueur, cantaloupe melons, rosehip tea, lilies (have you noticed that modern whiskies have lost their floral scents?), and ripe apricots. Reminds me of a rare spirit the Swiss make – that would be forbidden in France because of prussic acid – called apricotine. Not that our dear Swiss friends seem to be in badder shape than us! Same with the Swiss franc, by the way, ha-ha. Mouth: the oak’s a little loud, sure, but other than that, we’re witnessing the most wonderful invasion ever. Quinces, plums, obscure citrus, unknown stone fruits, long forgotten small berries… The complexity is unheard of – again, despite a rather invasive oak – and this is like listening to an original recording of Charlie Parker. Sure the sound isn’t the best ever, but the player was. Are you following me? Finish: the oak is taking over, and that was to be expected after 39 years in wood. But this is like a painting by an old master, it might get a little bituminous, but the style remains eternal. Comments: I’m sad I had decided, a long time ago, that any whisky that would carry only minor flaws couldn’t fetch 90 points. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Good, do we need a sparring partner? Or perhaps we could check Johannes’s great map of all distilleries and find a neighbour? Hey, why not Ben Nevis? Let’s try to find an old one.. rummage rummage… No, wait, rather another closed distillery, same vintage, same year of closing… (how do you like this ‘live’ feeling?)… OK, let’s rather select this:

Glen Mohr 26 yo 1965 (56%, The Prestonfield, cask #202, 1200 bottles, +/-1991)

Glen Mhor 26 yo 1965 (56%, The Prestonfield, cask #202, 1200 bottles, +/-1991) Four stars How they managed to get 1,200 bottles from one single cask, I don’t know. But it’s Glen Mhor, dear Valentino Zagatti’s favourite distillery! Get ready for some wackiness… Colour: amber. Nose: strange, very strange. Rum and Cointreau, coffee liqueur, pastis – yup, tequila - yep, old cognac - oui, chocolate liqueur… What is this? The jury’s still out. With water: some kind of old herbal liqueur made by old monks in an old monastery where they don’t even know that Cameron’s the PM. Not that that would change anything. Mouth (neat): chartreuse and chocolate liqueur, 50/50. Or, now that I know Unicum, well, Unicum. As Scottish as a Senegalese fish dish, I’d say. Sour raisin liqueurs, raki, arak… Where are we? Certainly not in Inverness, if I may… With water: I’m lost. Bénédictine? Finish: quite long, with more raisins and, luckily, rather less herbs. Old sweet wine, cranberry sauce with game. Comments: this is Glen Mohr, so some reverence is due. Having said that, not everything from the past is great. Think the Rubettes, think the Osmonds. But let’s not be too harsh, some sides were very great. SGP:562 - 86 points (for History).
Pete McPeat and Jack Washback




Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: the very stunning piano of Don Pullen. Track: In the Beginning. Please buy his music...

November 16, 2015


Fluctuat Nec Mergitur

Paris is a wonderful city, where I spend quite a lot of time. One of my daughters and my son live there. My daughter actually lives 200m away from the Bataclan, and had left Paris for Alsace less than one hour before the events took place. My son was 5min away when the other tragedies in Paris’ 10th arrondissement occurred. They’re both safe. So is my brother, he who often goes to the Stade de France. But he was in Brussels that night. Our family was lucky but the times are pretty depressing. On the other hand, while it’s hard to find much fun in any ‘stupid hooch’ just now, I do have the feeling that we shouldn’t change our habits here in France, or in any other harmed country.
That is why we won’t stop publishing our little tasting notes. But today, it’s going to be only one whisky. A French one. A Parisian whisky. Because you know, fluctuat nec mergitur (the motto of the city of Paris, meaning more or less ‘tossed but not sunk’.)

Distillerie de Paris 'Aged Malt Spirit' (42%, OB, France, 2015)

Distillerie de Paris 'Aged Malt Spirit' (42%, OB, France, 2015) Three stars This is not whisky yet, and while it’s not new make anymore, I believe it hasn’t spent more than a few months in some small bespoke ‘magical’ casks that this tiny yet skilful distillery have ordered from some high-brow French coopers. Seguin-Moreau if I remember well, not too sure.I also believe this baby was distilled in January this year (around the Charlie events, imagine), so let’s assume it’s more or less nine months old.

As for their still, it’s a sparkling new Holstein that really looks like a straight-8 Bugatti engine! Colour: pale gold. Nose: to tell you the truth, I had feared the Holstein would have done too much ‘purifying’, and made soulless grain whisky even from the best malted mash. And yet, what I get is rather a feeling of malted rye, with a lovely breadiness, touches of gentian and ginger, perhaps a few drops of chartreuse, and certainly a little fennel, caraway, and wormwood. So, this isn’t Ardbeg, and neither is it Macallan, but I find this bready freshness impressive. Really impressive. Mouth: the oak’s a little more obvious, with a harshness, but rather than the usual pencil shavings and vanilla/coconut (boo), it’s sweet spices that are dancing on your tongue. White pepper, poppy seeds, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon… Yet again, a feeling of spicy rye, but I believe this is barley. Finish: rather long, peppery (I cannot not think of Gorilka vodka at this point), with rather more earth. Earth always makes whisky better. Comments: I doubt you could do much better out of a Holstein and nine months. Plus, this is Paris! And they avoided both the dreadful vanilla that’s infesting so many young (NAS) whiskies elsewhere these days, and the liquid bubblegum that other Holsteiners are churning out these days. Well done, Paris! SGP:462 - 80 points.



Block Today: CHANSON. Performer: Zaz. Track: Paris sera toujours Paris. Please visit her website and buy her music...

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



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Ardmore 1993/2015 (49.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for Whisky-Online, cask #5750, 176 bottles)

Dalwhinnie 25 yo 1989/2015 (48.8%, OB, Special Release, 5,916 bottles)

Kilchoman ‘Loch Gorm 2015’ (46%, OB, 2015)

Laphroaig 16 yo 1998/2014 (49.1%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, for HNWS, refill hogshead, cask # DL10579, 300 bottles)

Laphroaig 32 yo (46.6%, OB, 5,880 bottles, 2015)

Macallan 'Remix Remixed' (58.9%, OB, Masters of Photography, Asia Travel Retail, first fill sherry, cask #15245, 500 bottles, 2013)

Monymusk 1979 (46%, Moon Import, 10th Anniversary, Jamaica, 1990)