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Hi, you're in the Archives, Nowember 2016 - Part 1



October 2016 - part 2 <--- November 2016 - part 1 ---> November 2016 - part 2


November 14, 2016


Two new young Balblair

You may expect some fresh garden fruits…

Balblair 2005/2016 (46%, OB)

Balblair 2005/2016 (46%, OB) Three stars and a half It seems that this is the first official release of a 2005. I had found the latest 2003 of the same age a little disappointing, that is to say a little immature (WF 78). Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s certainly young, pretty au-de-vie-ish, with many pears and almondy cherries. Soft kirsch. Now it’s really cool to be able to taste some almost-new-make, and we do have to applaud the fact that the owners did not bury it under tons of vulgar coconutty oak to make it more ‘mature’ (ha!) Mouth: hold on, this is much nicer! True barley eau-de-vie, with this lovely breadiness that we like so much, and some very soft spices on apple compote and plum jam. This, is very nice. Finish: medium, barleyish, bready, and a little Slivovitzy (apologies). Comments: these young babies are no nosing whiskies, but I have to say this is perfect eau-de-vie de barley on the palate. Plus, it reeks of honesty – loved it that there was so little vanilla. So, kudos! SGP:541 - 83 points.

Balblair 2000/2014 (53%, OB, exclusive to Switzerland, cask #0575)

Balblair 2000/2014 (53%, OB, exclusive to Switzerland, cask #0575) Four stars Indeed, a single cask for our good friends (and neighbours) the Helvetians. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s the 2005, only at a higher strength, with a little more minerality. Apples, pears, clay, barley. With water: and moist bread. Greengages. Mouth (neat): truly excellent. Even more ‘barley eau-de-vie’ than the 2005, but with a deeper earthy side, some rhubarb and kiwi, and touches of green pepper. Perhaps a little tinned pineapple, one of the distillery’s markers in my book. With water: and here come the citrus fruits. Grapefruit and lemon Jell’Os, orange drops, lemongrass. Finish: medium, fruity, bright, refreshing. In other words, more-ish. Comments: probably one of the most ‘natural’ malts out there. A very excellent young Balblair, in all its naked glory. SGP:541 - 87 points.

(Et merci, Franco)

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



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November 13, 2016


The search for malternatives
The Cognac month, partie trois

Let’s go on with our little exploration of possible malternative Cognacs, while trying to further up our game… In general, the larger brands as VS, VSOP or XO are rather weak in my opinion, so we won’t have many of them. Perhaps one or two, in a few weeks… Perhaps…

Léopold Gourmel ‘Âge du Fruit’ (41%, OB, Cognac, +/-2015)

Léopold Gourmel ‘Âge du Fruit’ (41%, OB, Cognac, +/-2015) Two stars and a half This is the one that sits right between the Premières Saveurs (WF 79) and the Âge des Fleurs (WF 85). It’s around ten years old. Colour: gold. Nose: pears and honey are playing first fiddles here, and raisins and marzipan second fiddles. Also stewed peaches, as usual, and touches of maple syrup. I find it very well balanced, and without any caramely notes, so very ‘natural’. Mouth: good presence, starting with caramelised pears this time, then going on with more bitter oranges and gingerbread, with a rather grassy background. Perhaps a touch of smoked bacon? Finish: medium, with more bitterish fruitiness. Zests. Grass in the aftertaste. Comments: not a round and smooth Cognac at all, it’s even rather raw. I’d have called it ‘grass age’ ;-). Âge des Fleurs was much more to my liking. SGP:461 - 79 points.

Daniel Bouju ‘Brut de Fût Royal’ (60%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2015)

Daniel Bouju ‘Brut de Fût Royal’ (60%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2015) Four stars and a half One of the first domaines (own estate) that started to appeal to malt drinkers, quite some years ago. The fact that they went for cask strength with some of their expressions may have been one of the reasons. 100% ugni blanc. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: starts with burnt cakes and brioches, molasses, and prunes, which gives it a wee armagnacqy side. Goes with concentrated maple syrup, and perhaps a drop of Demerara rum, old Port Mourant style. We cannot be against that, can we. With water: lovely whiffs of menthol and pinesap, then a complex blend of apple and pear juices. Quite perfect, this. Mouth (neat): rather sweet, and fruity/ calvadossy this time. Baked pears with litres of molasses, Demerara sugar, and liquid liquorice. Tobacco. And yet, it’s not ‘heavy’, quite an achievement. With water: swims extremely well. Marmalade and liquorice plus drops of old PX. Finish: long, still sweet yet dry, and dry yet sweet. Are you following me? Very liquoricy aftertaste. Comments: in a way, this is an A’bunadh of Cognac – and a perfect malternative. Well done, Daniel Bouju! SGP:551 - 88 points.

Perhaps another cask strength…

Rémi Landier ‘Réserve de la Famille’ (52%, OB, Fins Bois, LMdW 60th Anniversary, Lot No.62, cask #001)

Rémi Landier ‘Réserve de la Famille’ (52%, OB, Fins Bois, LMdW 60th Anniversary, Lot No.62, cask #001) Five stars As often with Cognacs, names such as ‘lot No.62’ suggest that it is, actually, a 1962 vintage, but we can’t be sure. Now it should be a more than 50 years old Cognac! Colour: deep gold. Nose: quite sublime, with this rather peculiar blend of varnishes and all molecules ending with –ol that are sometimes to be found in very old aged spirits. Terpenol, eugenol, rockandrol… (ha). What’s behind this artillery rather revolves around damp earth, moist pipe tobacco, and rum-soaked Corinth raisins. With water: marvellously balanced and elegant, with a delicate rancio and stewed white fruits with some honeydew and touches of cedar wood. Perhaps a little incense as well. The –ols almost disappeared. Mouth (neat): it’s the freshness that’s really impressive, as well as these notes of tangerines and nectarine that are so, well, so fresh. There’s a chenin blanc quality to this. With water: takes water very well. Tarte tatin, liquorice, drops of artisan cider, and cigar tobacco. And always these unexpected tangerines… Finish: rather long, a touch spicier, with some cough syrup and eucalyptus drops. Rather some beeswax and cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: an impressive old Cognac, with a rather magnificent freshness. Rejoicing. SGP:651 - 90 points.

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 65’ (46%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2015)

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 65’ (46%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2015) Five stars I believe it’s bottled at cask strength. We’ve already tried some Lot 65 at higher strengths, and they’ve been stunning, especially one that was bottled at 57.7% around six years ago (WF 95, yep). As usual, the name suggests this is a 1965 vintage. Colour: deep gold. Nose: all shock full of tropical fruits, from mangos to papayas and from pink bananas to passion fruits. You’d almost think this is a blend of Lochside 1966 with Clynelish 1972. Really! Mouth: goes down too well, this is one hazardous old Cognac. Stunning passion fruits with touches of verbena and wormwood. Please appelez la brigade anti-cognacporn tout de suite. Finish: long and exceptional. Rhubarb and ripe gooseberries, plus always these mangos and, perhaps, a few mushrooms. But those would be Caesar's mushrooms, the best of the best. Comments: sublime, as expected. The freshness alone is flabbergasting, while the profile would make me think of some Bowmore from the very same vintage. SGP:751 - 93 points.

It’s going to be hard to find an even better one, unless an even older Vallein-Tercinier?...

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 56’ (41.2%, OB, Cognac, Petite Champagne, 2015)

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 56’ (41.2%, OB, Cognac, Petite Champagne, 2015) Five stars Isn’t it a little strange that they did not wait until this year to bottle this old glory, so that it would have been a 60 years old? Some Scots would have done that, for sure ;-). Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather less ‘direct’, less extravagant than the 1965, and more on sweet/fruity herbal teas. Cedar wood, honeysuckle, elderberry blossom, Timut pepper… There’s also some celery, some black earth, some mushrooms, some old Pu-erh tea, some spearmint… In fact, it’s astoundingly complex, with a dazzling freshness and no over-woodiness whatsoever. Impressed again. Mouth: the most fantastic herbal tea ever. Some kind of herbal blend that cures everything, with an earthy side, some liquorice wood, grapefruit, very old riesling, sultanas, a drop of baiju, and perhaps even Japanese sake. Fabulously complex. Finish: long and more on citrus, grapefruits and mandarins, and a very delicate tannicity. More Timut pepper. Comments: yet another very glorious Vallein-Tercinier. This is lace. Would dethrone many Scottish malts that some are trying to sell for ten times the price (yeah, the ones in those cumbersome decanters that even Gaga would find inelegant). SGP:661 - 93 points.

(Thank you Pieter)

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



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November 11, 2016


Reduced service, one single Wolfburn

I know I ought to always do comparisons, but I’ve only got one new Wolfburn in WF’s library, and I just couldn’t find a fitting sparring partner. Well I could have, but I’m lacking inspiration today… And the other new cats I’ve got are all new makes or almost-new makes. 0h well of well oh well…

Wolfburn ‘Aurora’ (46%, OB, sherry casks, 2016)

Wolfburn ‘Aurora’ (46%, OB, sherry casks, 2016) Three stars and a half It’s the third Wolfburn I’m trying. I’ll soon have to add a new page to WF’s index of distilleries.  Colour: straw, so ex-refill, which is great. Nose: it hasn’t got the smoky side that was in the first Wolfburn, this is much easier, perhaps lighter, pretty much in the style of some young Speyside. Or, there, Bruichladdich. Touches of melons and peaches, apple cake, raw barley, pears, and muesli. Really gentle and, as they say in brochures (not theirs!), caressing. Mouth: solid, very good young malt whisky, with a lovely honeyness at first, then many soft fruitcakes, apples, pears, a touch of rye, and a very subtle earthiness. There’s also some fresh pollen, I think, and a spoonful of creamy vanilla. Vanilla liqueur? As for the sherry, its influence is rather minimal, and it’s the distillate that’s doing the talking. Sometimes you think they rather used first fill bourbon. Good anyway! Finish: medium, with a little barley water and always a little pollen. More towards grains and flowers than towards fruits. Comments: a bottling that makes a lot of sense since it stresses, I believe, the distillate’s style rather than anything related to the casks. That’s very honest, and very good. SGP:541 - 83 points.



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November 10, 2016


Alpine whisky

Domaine des Hautes Glaces is one of the best news that happened to the whisky world in recent years. In a way, what they’re doing is the right opposite of what the whisky industry as a whole is heading to, that is to say less transparency, less information, less traceability, and more branding and lifestyle/experience. Whenever I hear the word ‘lifestyle’, I take out my gun - right, I have no gun - and feel the need to issue a BS alert! Which is obviously not the case today…

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 4 yo 2011/2016 ‘Tekton’ (52.1%, OB, France, 271 bottles)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 4 yo 2011/2016 ‘Tekton’ (52.1%, OB, France, 271 bottles) Four stars This is pure own-estate single malt. It’s been aged in a cask of Saint-Joseph from the Rhône Valley, but we don’t know whether it was red or white Saint-Joseph. What we know is that everything was organic, from barley to bottling. Colour: gold. Nose: very dry, very cerealy, very nutty, and the wine was most probably white, and dry. Tobacco, dry herbal teas, wallflowers, artisanal mustard, then more turpentine and pinesap, possibly from the cask. Some smoke too (pine wood smoke). Very austere, and quite beautiful. With water: some very dry ale. Barnyard and walnut skins. Mouth (neat): yeah. A feeling of rye, some ginger, some sloe, juniper, caraway, wholegrain bread… And many more spices, including aniseed. Sometimes you would think your crunching some Alsatian cookies called anis bredala. And mendiant (beggar’s cake). With water: amazing how it got sweeter and creamier, with raisin cakes and a touch of cinnamon mint. Echoes of that wee distillery on the other side of the planet, their arch-alter ego Westland. Finish: long and superbly bready. Less spicy, and rather smoother than expected. Smoky aftertaste. Comments: a dry wonder. It’ll become a true grand cru of whisky, provided they manage to keep some casks for further aging. SGP:462 - 87 points.

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 2011/2016 ‘Ceros’ (53.3%, OB, France, rye, 2016)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 2011/2016 ‘Ceros’ (53.3%, OB, France, rye, 2016) Four stars and a half This own-estate organic rye was matured in ex-vin jaune cask. As you probably know, vin jaune from Jura is akin to fino sherry, except that it’s neither fortified nor solera-ed. And it’s savagnin instead of palomino. BTW I already adored last year’s edition of Ceros (WF 88). Colour: pale gold. Nose: even drier and more austere than the Tekton, as dry as a vin jaune indeed. Remember vin jaune hasn’t got the slightest amount of sugar, it’s bone dry. Other than that, we’re having a perfect gingery ryeness, some earth, and some roots. Turnips and beetroots, perhaps turmeric. With water: some ashes, burnt bread, and bitter orange skin. Mouth (neat): amazing, with some lemon, some dry burnt Demerara sugar, and something close to tequila. And above all, some perfect bread. The lemony side keeps it much fresher. With water: gloriously fresh and deep. Touches of chestnut honey, perhaps. Finish: long, on gingerbread. Comments: gotta love this subtle crafted spiciness. SGP:561 - 89 points.

PS: I don’t quite know what to think about the fact that the Domaine des Hautes Glaces was just, apparently, bought by Rémy Cointreau (they also own Bruichladdich). The news broke out after we did this petite tasting, we’ll see…



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November 9, 2016


A little trio of Benriach

Two finished ones, one natural one. Ha, nature!

Benriach 17 yo ‘Pedro Ximenez’ (46%, OB, +/-2016)

Benriach 17 yo ‘Pedro Ximenez’ (46%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars A finishing, naturally. Our friends in Scotland are using more and more PX these days, it’s a quick way of changing a spirit’s profile. But there will soon be more Pedros than Jocks over there… Colour: apricot. Nose: a little vinous and rubbery at the same time, before it becomes fruitier, around Xmas cake and red berry jam. A little gunpowder, but also more and more leathery raisins and gingered marmalade. I find it pretty pleasant. Mouth: pleasant indeed, I’m even finding a Benriachy fruitiness behind the PXed layer. Raspberry jam, raspberry-filled chocolate, some sweet peppered chocolate, more raspberries… Finish: medium, on just the same flavours. Comments: I think it’s a finishing that’s honest and loyal. Above the Rioja Wood from a few years ago. SGP:641 - 82 points.

Benriach 21 yo ‘Tawny Port’ (46%, OB, +/-2016)

Benriach 21 yo ‘Tawny Port’ (46%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars and a half Tawnies are usually rather oxidative and sweet at the same time. They’re rather the basic Port wines, but they may get quite good when old. Colour: apricot. Nose: curiously drier, leafier, and perhaps more indefinite than the PX at first nosing, but then there are these touches of blackcurrant buds, leaves and simply berries that, in my experience, is often to be found in Port-finished whiskies. Mouth: rather good! Nothing scary in this one, it’s all well rounded and balanced, with blood oranges, marmalade, and yup, blackcurrants and a little ginger. Or, speculoos. A wee gin-y side. Finish: medium, with a little more white pepper and nutmeg. Comments: very fine, IMHO. No clashes this time. SGP:551 - 83 points.

Benriach 26 yo 1990/2016 (50.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #030143, 152 bottles)

Benriach 26 yo 1990/2016 (50.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #030143, 152 bottles) Four starsBenriach au naturel this time. Colour: straw. Nose: more room for the distillate, as expected, and in this case it’s a ‘western’ Benriach, without much tropicalness, rather assorted apples, pears, and plums. Perhaps a touch of varnish as well, but that works much better here than on Kim K. With water: peaches! Mouth (neat): very good, very well balanced between the same ‘western’ fruits and a leafy barleyness, plus oranges. Stylish, not sexy, but that’s what we enjoy. With water: gets creamier, with a little more custard as well. Tinned peaches, and the usual oranges. Barley syrup coating the whole. Finish: medium, with a few more spices and leather/leaves. Comments: simply perfect and perfectly simple. SGP:551 - 85 points.

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



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November 8, 2016


Seven Glenrothes

For reasons I’m not aware of, the indies seem to have much more well-aged Glenrothes than the owners do these days. Let’s have some…

Glenrothes ‘Bourbon Cask Reserve’ (40%, OB, +/-2016)

Glenrothes ‘Bourbon Cask Reserve’ (40%, OB, +/-2016) Two stars A very humble little NAS, formerly named ‘Alba Reserve’ (I believe), that further scares me with these notes on the label: ‘character, coconut and vanilla’. That could be an example of what I sometimes call the Nutellafication of Scotch malt whisky, but at least there’s no palm oil in Scotch, and no added sugar. GMOs? Not too sure… Colour: straw. Nose: malted barley, porridge, bread, leaven, custard, beer, oak. No excessive vanilla and coconut, what a relief… Mouth: tastes young, barleyish, porridgy again, malty, with some sawdust. Not sure the oak had enough time to mingle with the distillate. Apple juice. Finish: short, beerish. Custard and sawdust in the aftertaste, but little coconut indeed. Phew! Gritty green tea in the aftertaste. Comments: not too bad, but it's probably nothing to write home about. Doesn’t break the three legs of a duck, as we say in France. SGP:341 - 76 points.

I think we’ll need the indies, which happens more and more often I have to say, not only with Glenrothes of course…

Glenrothes 1997/2016 ‘Blossom Nectar’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 325 bottles)

Glenrothes 1997/2016 ‘Blossom Nectar’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 325 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: there are similarities and differences. The main differences are that it’s rather more mineral, chalkier, and grassy. I do not get much blossomy stuff, but may is that me. What’s sure I that it’s more mature than the OB, and that it’s now lost any excessive porridge-y/ yeasty notes. Mouth: fruitier, brighter, and more potent than the OB. Apple sweets, Spanish green apple liqueur, white pepper, a little barley syrup, perhaps white cherries… Fizzy orange sweets. Now the whole remains a little rough. Finish: again, rather grassier and more peppery than other (very good) Glenrothes by Wemyss. Comments: I think I missed the flowers. Me, a romantic? Wait, perhaps rose petals in the nose? As they say, if you keep looking for them, you’ll find them… SGP:451 - 81 points.

Since we’re having some Wemyss…

Glenrothes 1993/2014 ‘Kumquat Cluster’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 730 bottles)

Glenrothes 1993/2014 ‘Kumquat Cluster’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 730 bottles) Four stars You see, some Dutch friends keep pulling my leg because I sometimes use kumquats in my modest tasting notes. Look, if the bottlers themselves use them, why couldn’t I? Yours sincerely, etc. Colour: white wine. Nose: start with intriguing whiffs of peat, as if this was an ex-Islay butt. Certainly some tequila or mezcal! That’s strange and funny, and certainly not unpleasant. Beyond that, some grapefruit skin, white fruits, a glass of genuine dry cider (not the awful sweetened stuff they pour you in some pubs), and a wee metallic side that, once again, is very pleasant, if rather un-Glenrothes. Mouth: really unusual, and really to my liking. Some peat again, bitter oranges, polishes and waxes, and perhaps some earthy turnips. That could be the peat. Finish: medium, a tad fizzy again, ginger wine, oranges… And there, perhaps kumquats. No, no tulips. Comments: very singular. At some point, you could have believed this was one of John Glaser’s creations. SGP:452 - 86 points.

All right, Wemyss…

Glenrothes 1988/2015 ‘Spiced Rum Baba’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 388 bottles)

Glenrothes 1988/2015 ‘Spiced Rum Baba’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 388 bottles) Four stars And rum now! Colour: dark gold. Nose: more sherry influence, as the colour suggested. Walnut wine, mild cigars, marmalade, gingerbread, raisins, caraway, and touches of aniseed or fennel. Some salted butter fudge as well. Very nice combo so far… Mouth: really really to my liking, orange-driven at first, then getting spicier, and never, ever heavy, fattish, or cloying. Ginger (is that the spiced rum) and more marmalade, with a soft curry-y side. The strength is perfect, 46% is really an ideal strength in many cases. Finish: quite long, drier as often, going more toards bitter chocolate, while the curry’s still there. A good friend just sent me some chilli chocolate from New Zealand, which I found excellent. We’re more or less in the same category here (but this Glenrothes is a little easier, Paul ;-)). Comments: we’re making good progress, aren’t we. SGP:461 - 87 points.

Glenrothes 11 yo 2004/2015 (46%, Hepburn’s Choice, sherry, 341 bottles)

Glenrothes 11 yo 2004/2015 (46%, Hepburn’s Choice, sherry, 341 bottles) Three stars and a half A wee young Glenrothes by Hunter Laing. Colour: deep gold. Nose: very metallic and walnutty, so with much sherry influence, some big earth and some big tobacco. Rather ‘amontillado’, I’d say. Teds to get very earthy, damp garden peat, humus… Mouth: some salted fudge is talking first, then some kind of all-spice mix, pepper, sweet mustard… And lastly, walnuts and more pepper. Plus, naturally, Seville oranges. Finish: rather long, with litres of walnut wine, liquorice, and a little ultra-dry white Spanish wine that they make down there. Isn’t that Verdejo? Comments: rather unusual, it’s not quite a sherry monster, but it’s one of the Spanishest malts I’ve tried this year. Me gusta. SGP:361 - 84 points.

Glenrothes 12 yo 2004/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, #DL11170, 490 bottles) Three stars and a half It’s not surprising that ‘Hunter’ and ‘Douglas’ would issue similar casks, as DL’s inventory was split between them at some point. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a slightly fresher style, without any metallic side this time, and rather the usual nuts, raisins, tobacco, and marmalade. In fact, this one’s rather more leathery, I’d say. A little curry powder again. Mouth: same comments. A little simpler, more straightforward, and certainly more leathery and mustardy. A little more gingery oak, in the style of many a young American craft whiskey. So yeah, more wood impact, as if this was re-racked in new quarter casks – but I doubt they would have done that. Finish: long, spicy. Marmalade, ginger, and pepper. Comments: me gusta tambien. SGP:461 - 83 points.

A last one for the road…

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 14 yo 2002/2016 (57.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 14 yo 2002/2016 (57.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch) Four stars Yes, them again. I also wanted a fresher Glenrothes, and according to the… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: fresh butter, yellow flowers, and orchard fruits. Gooseberries, greengages, apples… The high strength may block it a bit… With water: sweet malt, fresh marzipan, barley water, cherry juice. Mouth (neat): a candy store, as they say in America. Fizzy drops and assorted jelly candies, plus quite some fresh apple juice and, hold on, could this be Red Bull? It’s certainly a little Schweppesy as well… With water: more sweets – and less Red Bull. Orange drops, sweet apples. A drop of Fanta in the aftertaste. Finish: medium, fresh, very fruity. Comments: it’s not Orcadian, it’s orchardian. I know, I need sleep. SGP:641 - 86 points.

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



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November 7, 2016


Ben Nevis, four of them

That’s interesting, I remember fifteen years ago, not many people were caring for Ben Nevis. And then, it became a hidden gem. And now, it’s become many people’s favourite. Well, one of the favourites. It’s true that Ben Nevis is a characterful whisky, and that blandness, homogenisation and uniformity kill.

Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2016)

Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2016) Four stars Long time not tried this baby, if I’m not mistaken. The packaging is so reassuringly unchanged (when did Pétrus or Yquem last change their packaging?) but I remember older bottlings were rather ridden with caramel. It’s not always the case that you may ‘feel’ caramel, but in the latter case, you really could. But… Colour: gold. Earlier BN10 were really dark. Nose: fusel oil, paraffin, iron, and green walnuts, what’s not to enjoy? And then, eucalyptus, coal smoke, and raw malt, plus a touch of passion fruit that I had never found before. In Ben Nevis 10, that is.  Mouth: what’s the distance between Fort Williams and Campbeltown? Because there is a Springbankness to this, these fatty oils and waxes, this metallic leafiness, the coal tar… Now what’s not in Springbank are these curious chocolaty lemon biscuits and the triple-sec. All that makes this a singular malt whisky. Loud applause please! Finish: rather long, and rather orange-forward. Comments: I’m pretty amazed, Ben Nevis 10 is becoming a star! Let’s just hope they won’t do any silly rebranding/repackaging. SGP:551 - 87 points.

A lot of good things happening on the West Coast! Let’s try another 10 yo…

Ben Nevis 10 yo 2006/2016 (51.3%, Le Gus’t, Selection VI, sherry, cask #3, 763 bottles) Ben Nevis 10 yo 2006/2016 (51.3%, Le Gus’t, Selection VI, sherry, cask #3, 763 bottles)

Ben Nevis 10 yo 2006/2016 (51.3%, Le Gus’t, Selection VI, sherry, cask #3, 763 bottles) Four stars763 bottles? That’s a butt! Colour: amber/caramel. Nose: used gunpowder and walnut wine. You see what I mean. Then cigars and burnt bread. With water: umami, soy sauce, more walnuts. And even more walnuts. Mouth (neat): quite a bomb! Erm, so to speak. Gunpowder and rather bitter oranges this time, artichoke liqueur, more old walnuts, cream oloroso (you may still find bottles at flea markets), and spinach cooked in beef sauce. Not quite Marmite, but… With water: careful, don’t add too much water, not all sherry monsters like water anyway, that can make them lose their stride. Gets very dry, very oloroso. Finish: rather long, with oranges and cloves now. Another touch of leather in the aftertaste. Comments: this is funny, this baby reminds me of many an old official Ben Nevis. I mean, the sherry bombs. Classic and very good – if you like this style, of course. I do. Same high level as the OB. SGP:361 - 87 points.

Ben Nevis 18 yo 1996/2015 (48.9%, Bar du Nord, refill hogshead, 150 bottles)

Ben Nevis 18 yo 1996/2015 (48.9%, Bar du Nord, refill hogshead, 150 bottles) Five stars This by some crazy Swiss. Not sure I get everything on the label, but I’m finding it rather Plonk & Replonk-ish. Check them out, I’m a fan! Colour: white wine (uh-oh)… Nose: there, this Springbanky metallic minerality again. There’s even some lapsang souchong tea and quite some coal, new engine, sunflower oil… And behind that, greengages and other ‘shy’ plums. Mouth: splendid naked westerner. I’ve got a disease, I can’t avoid thinking of Campbeltown today! Orange zests, oils aplenty, silver spoon, black pepper, even horseradish, bitter chocolate, raw rhubarb… And even a salty touch, mind you. Finish: medium, dry, mineral, saline, and even smoky… Comments: nonante points in my book. A very great dry/austere Ben Nevis. SGP:362 - 90 points.

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2015 (50.1%, Whisky-Fässle)

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2015 (50.1%, Whisky-Fässle) Four stars and a half Fair prices, excellent selection, cool people, and great passion. What could go wrong? Colour: bronze. Nose: it’s rather got this kind of tropical transmutation (my god my English is bad), around metallic tropical fruits mingled with engine-y notes. A blend of passion fruit juice with engine oil and mint sauce, perhaps? Apologies… And flints. With water: swims like a champ. Savagnin and damp black earth. Mouth: characterful and very spicy/chocolaty. Sour cream, sour fruits (not too ripe mangos?) and chicken soup. There’s always something happening with Ben Nevis, and while I’m sure some whisky orthodoxes would find a few flaws, I find this as funny as an Italian softporn movie from the late 1960s. With water: gets very leathery. Extreme walnuts as well. Totally oloroso-ish, which the colour had not quite suggested. Finish: quite long, as long as you don’t add too much water. Comments: only minor flaw with these styles, you wouldn’t quaff more than one glass at a time, because they can get a little tiring, in my opinion. Totally non-commercial whisky (but you should buy a bottle!) SGP:362 - 89 points.

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



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November 6, 2016


The search for malternatives
The cognac month, partie deux

Remember Vallein-Tercinier won it last week, not unexpectedly, while Rommel’s cognac had been… well, flat dead, not unexpectedly either. Let’s see what we can find today…

Léopold Gourmel ‘Bio Attitude’ (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2015)

Léopold Gourmel ‘Bio Attitude’ (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2015) Two stars A young Fins Bois VSOP that’s totally organic. And of course, there are no additives, no caramel, no boisé… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s got a feeling of young fine, which is fine (oh c’mon, S.), with some apples and a touch of citron, then rather kiwis and plums. Almost forgot to mention the usual yellow peaches (and vine peaches). Mouth: I find it a notch yeasty and beerish at first, like if it was a young ex-refill Speysider. I’d even swear I’m finding barley! Then rather apples and nectarines, with a wee touch of earth. A little rough and, dare I say, immature. Finish: medium, and even more young Speyside-like. Comments: I’ve had some ex-hogshead 8yo Aberlour was not dissimilar. May need ice. SGP:451 - 76 points.

Maxime Trijol 2000/2016 (44,3%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, Through The Grapevine)

Maxime Trijol 2000/2016 (44,3%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, Through The Grapevine) Four stars This is cask strength Grande Champagne from one of the best small Cognac houses. I have little doubt that more and more indie bottlers from all over the world will further push many kinds of malternatives in the coming years. Arrogance is never good on the long run (I know what I mean). Colour: dark gold. Nose: some good rubber and sulphur at first nosing, which suggests a rather fat spirit, then green apples and some unexpected phenolic and sappy notes. Earth and tobacco, green tea, gooseberries, plantains… The opposite of a full-blown fruity and exuberant cognac. So yeah, it’s rather dry. Mouth: aggressive in a good way, vibrant in an even better way, and becoming fruitier and fruitier, all around tropical fruits and, guess what? Peaches! I’ve rarely found this much guavas and papayas in one cognac. No caramely notes and no toasted oak this time. Finish: long, pleasantly sharp and fruity, with a perfect freshness. A wee rawness that makes it very ‘artisan’. Yeah, craft. Comments: totally and plainly malternative. SGP:651 - 86 points.

Coutanseaux Ainé ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2015?)

Coutanseaux Ainé ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2015?) Five stars This one’s a Grande Champagne. It’s difficult to find some information about the house Coutanseaux, but it seems that’s it got a super-high reputation and what’s more, I’ve seen that the Wellesley Hotel in London was pouring a 1767 Coutanseaux for around £9,000 a measure. Too bad it’s not a 1776, our American friends would have loved it. Colour: amber. Nose: epic and sublime. Walnuts, honeydew, cigar tobacco, fresh pollen, dried figs, dates, orange blossom, bergamots, maraschino, natural marzipan, genuine gingerbread (like containing 50% honey or more)… A truly amazing nose, this should be old and contain quite some ‘pardise’ cognac. Mouth: in keeping with the nose, with dates and figs, raisins, honey cake, pecans, a tobacco-like rancio, old oloroso, more walnuts… It’s all becoming drier, towards bone-dry Madeira, which is the kind of development I just cherish. Finish: medium and dry, on more oloroso, tobacco, bitter chocolate… While some lighter touches of marmalade are lifting the aftertaste. And raisins! Comments: this one’s quite extraordinary, I have to say. To think that I had never heard of Coutanseaux before… SGP:651 - 91 points.

Well, we may require big guns if we want to go on…

Petite Champagne 1958 (40%, Jean Grosperrin, cognac, lot No 146, 100 litres, +/-2008)

Petite Champagne 1958 (40%, Jean Grosperrin, cognac, lot No 146, 100 litres, +/-2008) Five stars The Grosperrin family are simply the kings of indie single cask cognac. They are extremely hard to beat! Colour: amber. Nose: a style close to that of the Coutanseaux, only with a little more freshness, and more fresh fruits, and consequently, less dried ones. Amazing oranges and raisins, cigarette tobacco, plums, lemon honey, then leather polish, a touch of camphor, a fabulous coastal side, with even ‘ideas’ of oysters, and perhaps wee touches of latex. Drops of Corsican citron liqueur, totally love that. Pace e salute! Mouth: you would never guess this was reduced and bottled at 40%. Starts superbly grassy and even tannic (green apples), and unfolds on dried bananas, raisins, peaches of course, and a touch of tobacco, just like on the nose. Isn’t it great when a palate just mirrors the nose? Provided the nose was great, you’re right. Finish: medium, just a wee tad tannic, but otherwise just perfect. Orange zests dipped into bitter chocolate. Oranges again in the aftertaste, which, once again, lifts the spirit. Comments: I believe we should not be so haughty as to declare that one was better than the other. SGP:551 - 91 points.

Good, how are we going to get out of this? Will Vallein-Tercinier help us again?

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Très Vieux Cognac Fins Bois’ (47%, OB, cognac, 2016)

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Très Vieux Cognac Fins Bois’ (47%, OB, cognac, 2016) Four stars and a half A marriage of Fins Bois distilled between 1938 and 1941 and kept in wood since back then. Isn’t it great that you-know-who did not quaff it all between November 1942 and August 1944? As you probably know, Fins Bois represents the largest part of the cognac appellation, so around 45% of the region. Colour: deep gold. Nose: not big, not very immediate, and in that sense a little shier than both the Coutanseaux and the Grosperrin. On the other hand, it’s rather subtler, with some sunflower oil, candle wax, fresh almonds and hazelnuts, whiffs of hay and farm earth, perhaps a tiny bit of beetroot… It’s not too ‘rancioté’ (I don’t know if there’s a word in English, rancioted, perhaps? Rancioated?) Raisins and other dried fruits only make it after a good five minutes, but the whole remains grassier and drier than the others’. Mouth: surprisingly fresh and fruity, and even rather pungent after around 75 years in wood. It roars and even bites, even if the rather high ABV helps in that respect. Green tea, fruit peelings, marmalade, nutmeg, cinnamon, then the expected dried fruits (sliced pears, dried apricots), and quite a bag of cocoa powder. Yet, it never becomes dying, strictly speaking. Finish: longer and rougher than the others. Cider, chocolate, bitter oranges, peppermint. That’s the oak. Comments: a living miracle! It’s probably not totally perfect – how could it be after 75 years – but we’re amazingly close. I mean, to perfection. Oh and I’m happy to report that we’ll have more Valleins next week, so stay tuned. SGP:461 - 89 points.

(Merci Max and Pieter)

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



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November 4, 2016


Glenallachie vs. Craigellachie reloaded

Crikey! A few weeks ago, I had a Glenallachie to taste and couldn’t find any other yet-untasted Glenallachie in WF’s sample library, so I chose a Craigellachie as the sparring partner, just for rhyming purposes. Just a few days later, some newish Gordon & MacPhail came in, including… a Glenallachie and a Craigellachie! Timing is everything, do they say in drumming…

Glenallachie 1999/2015 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon)

Glenallachie 1999/2015 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon) Four starsColour: white wine. Nose: typical easy fruity unsherried Speysider. Not a lot to say, except that it’s very nice, easy, and fruity. Apples, barley syrup, pear cake, cherries, light honey (acacia), and only a drop of custard… Mouth: simply very good, flawless, middle-aged Speysiders, with orchard fruits, sweet barley, and honey. All that is perfectly balanced, and I would happily have a few cls for breakfast. On weekends! Finish: a little short but clean, barleyish, and lightly honeyed. A limony side in the aftertaste, always welcome. Comments: this one doesn’t need a lot of literature, it’s all pleasure and simplicity, without the caramelly background that can be found in large –volume brands stemming from the same region. Why do you always need names? ;-) Excellent and recommended. SGP:541 - 85 points.

Craigellachie 1997/2014 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon)

Craigellachie 1997/2014 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon) Three stars and a half Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s rather less immediate, and less fruity than the ‘achie, and rather more herbal and grassy, as well as slightly earthy. So a tad more ‘Highlands’, while the ‘achie was a notch more ‘Speyside’. Almonds, cut flowers, agaves, and a wee rooty side, which I always adore. Between turnips and gentian roots, I’d say. Mouth: its smoky and coastal, which suggests that the previous fill was some kind of Islayer. One cask is enough to impart this kind of smokiness, even in a rather large batch. Now do I like this? Sure I do, but the Glenallachie was more immaculate, and perhaps more terroiry (please don’t shoot). Finish: medium, smoky, with a little fried bacon. No good for our arteries… Comments: seriously, this is very good stuff again. Drinks very well, and it’s got these funny ‘asperities’. I still liked the Glenallachie a little better. SGP:452 - 84 points.
Pete McPeat and Jack Washback



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November 3, 2016


A few Laphroaig, again

Only 359 Laphroaigs so far on little Whiskyfun. Not quite the leader anymore, I think Bowmore is at 411 and HP at 374! Some catching-up to do, perhaps…
PS: yeah and Caol Ila at 459 (thanks Igor).

Lp7 (52.8%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2016, 50cl)

Lp7 (52.8%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2016, 50cl) Four stars and a halfIndeed, we have no proof whatsoever that this is Laphroaig, but we know that the bottlers’ mind is clean, and that this couldn’t be some, say, some Lagavulin Palo. Colour: pale gold. Nose: ultra-very simple. Laphroaig and rather active oak. So peat, antiseptic, seawater, and ginger. I’m all for Japanese-Finnish minimalism, but we may be touching the limits of malty simplicity. Let’s see… With water: peat. Really very minimal. Mouth (neat): elementary indeed. The problem is that while there aren’t many different flavours in this wee ‘phroaig, what it does, it does it to perfection. Lemon juice, seawater, smoked water. You know the stuff they use on supermarket so-called ‘smoked’ fish or charcuterie. With water: more sweetness. Sweet apricots? Something reminds me of the peatiest Ardmores. Finish: indeed. Smoked almonds, ashes, and limoncello. Marzipan galore in the aftertaste. Comments: millimetric spirit, so much for imperial measures. I so hate it that I like such a simple malt whisky so much! SGP:458 - 89 points.

Laphroaig 19 yo 1995/2015 (46%, High Spirits, Life is a circus)

Laphroaig 19 yo 1995/2015 (46%, High Spirits, Life is a circus) Five stars The ever elegant and true pioneer of whisky Nadi Fiori, of Intertrade fame, keeps bottling some wonders every once in a while. Let’s check this newish one… Oh and Nadi, assuming life is a circus indeed, let’s hope it’s a circus maximus! Colour: white wine. Nose: smoked almonds and burnt papers at first sniffings, then the most subtle combination of medicinal aromas with kind-of-smoked-vegetables. Salsify? Wee artichokes? Some green pepper for sure, a little greenish ginger, Fernet-Branca… Mouth: excellentissimo, smoother than modern Laphroaigs, so rather leaning towards the great old ones, with some smoked fish, smoked almonds, and some dry citrus fruits. Forgot to mention oysters. Finish: medium for Laphroaig, but oh-so elegant. Smoked fish, lemon, and drops of maraschino. Wonderful dry aftertaste, bordering Château-Chalon quality. Comments: Laphroaig rather à l’ancienne, still one of the complex vintages. SGP:567 - 90 points.

Laphroaig 17 yo 1998 (52.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #122010, 287 bottles)

Laphroaig 17 yo 1998/2016 (52.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #122010, 287 bottles) Three stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: tobacco, leather, gingerbread, and bags and bags of nutmeg. Where does all this nutmeg come from? May we meet the cask? With water: I’ll tell it like I feel it, this is an official bottling done by some indies. Wood up, spirit down. Mouth (neat): bold and big, dominant, on sweet lemon, ginger-and-nutmeg, and all the usual smoked/medicinal areopagus. Thick mouth feel. With water: really, it feels official. Lemon, wood spices, burnt bread, wood smoke, mercurochrome. Finish: same, for a rather long time. Comments: I do not know what to think. Love everything, the people, the distillery, and even this wee Laphroaig. It’s just lacking… magic. Feels industrial, which is totally surprising. Or is it me? To think that I enjoyed the much younger (in theory) Lp7 so much better! SGP:557 - 80 points.

Laphroaig 18 yo 1997/2016 (XX%, Berry Bros for LMdW’s 60th anniversary)

Laphroaig 18 yo 1997/2016 (52.2%, Berry Bros for LMdW’s 60th anniversary) Five stars **** them. Some friends said this baby was the best Scotch whisky of Whisky Live Paris 2016. **** them! Good, I used to agree, but I only tried it ‘casually’, until today. Time to get more official. ****** ****! Colour: straw. Nose: some kind of Nepalese specialty. Butter and smoked and burnt herbs, plus lemongrass and burning coal. Plus geranium flowers. Oh *** ***! With water: I mean, ****! Eucalyptus wood smoke, a night in Courchevel, and a day on Islay. I mean, on Islay, not just at the ******* distilleries. Mouth (neat): immaculate, pristine, chiselled by Michelangelo himself, peaty/smoky/salty Laphroaigness. This is Laphroaig for ******* purists. Count me in. With water: when almonds come in, we’re up for a treat. One of the best kind-of-recent ******* Laphroaigs I could try. Finish: lace and whisky. Hold on, wasn’t that an Alice Cooper LP? And one of the badder ones? Comments: I’ve heard that they’ve hired staff from Patek Philiipe to distil and mature this. No, seriously, I’ve seen that on Weibo, so must be true. Oh **** them all. SGP:357 - 92 points.

Is it reasonable to go on?...

Laphroaig 16 yo 1999/2016 ‘An apothecary shop on the shore’ (52.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #29.180

Laphroaig 16 yo 1999/2016 ‘An apothecary shop on the shore’ (52.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #29.180, 264 bottles) Four stars I’ve heard the god people at the honourable SMWS were smoking the same cigarettes as those of Wemyss. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is more on grass and wood smoke than on peat smoke, and I find it rather oak-driven, with butter and vanilla touches. Isn’t it a little shy? It’s getting hard after the f***tastic BBR… With water: not many changes. Metallic almonds? Mouth (neat): still simple, but more assertive, easy/sweet, and then very medicinal. Ashes, lemon, ashes, lemon, ashes, lemon… and cough syrup. Pepper and chillies in the background. With water: no quibbles, this is very good, especially since some tropical fruits are coming out. Sweeter oranges? Also gingery spices. Finish: long, with more spices from the wood. Saltier aftertaste. Comments: tastes rather ‘official’. Perhaps a wee tad, say, hollow? Modern? SGP:467 - 85 points.

Good, shall we allow Cadenhead to have their say? You know, those  despicable Campbeltowners that are (almost) singlehandedly managing to keep the whole category afloat? And to appeal to the (very) few enthusiast that are seeking honesty (ouch), transparency (utter horror), fairness (that’s for fairy tales, mate), authenticity (what?) and, well, truthness. Yeah I know that word doesn’t quite exist…

Laphroaig 18 yo 1998/2016 (55.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 204 bottles)

Laphroaig 18 yo 1998/2016 (55.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 204 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: well, it has a few pencil shavings at first nosing, then brine and smoked oils. Sesame? Then embrocations, Vicks VapoRub, seawater, and green olives. Green olives work in any spirit, and by the way, I’m planning to rechristen this terrible website as ‘greenolivefun.com’. With water: ooh! Those wet dogs (how much do we owe you, dogs?) and these woolly scents… Old floor cloth? Mouth (neat): terribly good, disappointingly unusual (caraway and aniseed in Laphroaig?) and incorrectly vegetal. Someone may have added gherkins to the mash. All that gives this little Laphroaig a mezcaly side that we can only applaud. Hey hombre! With water: impressed. Gherkin brine, limejuice, kippers, ashes, repeat. Finish: long and angular. That’s enough. Comments: pub whisky, as Dr Feelgood used to play pub rock. The saltiness is immense and almost philosophical… salt of life… SGP:358 - 91 points.

(Doug, Greg, Mark, Paul, ***** you all!)

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



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November 2, 2016


A few Bowmores, again

There is a new – and last – Black Bowmore 1964 that was introduced on Halloween at £16,000 a skittle, but we haven’t got it, and that is why we’ll rather try a 1963. There. We might add a few other unusual Bowmores to this wee flight, we’ll see…

Bowmore 25 yo 1963/1989 (43%, Hart Bros, Auxil, France, 75cl)

Bowmore 25 yo 1963/1989 (43%, Hart Bros, Auxil, France, 75cl) Five starsI’m having this ultra-rare oldie first because I’ve already tried it (informally) and because I know it’s pretty fragile. I didn’t say weak. Colour: gold. Nose: ah well, it’s like most Bowmores from the 1960s, they are ugly when the bottle was just opened, and will need quite a few days to open up. But then, well… In fact, this one reminds of when my excellent friend Krishna had brought some Indian mangos to Europe. So, mangos. Not mangos that ripened (supposedly) in containers on a ship. And maracujas, pink grapefruits, concrete dust, beach sand, and the tiniest bit of pineapple. In fact, this is no very complex whisky, but any mango lover will just adore it. Are you a mango lover? Mouth: yeah, indeed, the bottle had just got opened when I first tried it, but now that it could breathe for a few weeks, it simply became splendid. Mangos, as you guessed it, more passion fruits, citrons, blood oranges, mandarins, lavender honey (which does not taste like lavender mind you), Timut pepper (ever tried that Nepalese pepper? It’s incredibly fruity), a touch of tamarind perhaps, a little strawberry jam… What an amazing fruitiness! Finish: short to medium, just a tad more on tobacco, but otherwise, it’s still a whole tropical fruit salad. Comments: excuse me? Peat? No, no peat in this old Bowmore. I guess it got all transmuted into all those tropical fruits. Oops, forgot to ask you to call the anti-maltoporn brigade again. SGP:741 - 93 points.

Well, let’s simply try another rare old one…

Bowmore 21 yo ‘500 Years of Scotch Whisky’ (43%, OB, Islay blended Scotch whisky, 6000 bottles, 1994)

Bowmore 21 yo ‘500 Years of Scotch Whisky’ (43%, OB, Islay blended Scotch whisky, 6000 bottles, 1994) Three stars and a half A rather intriguing bottle, as it clearly says that it’s a blend, while the Bowmore brand and other parts of the whole marketing shebang (silkscreened design…) have been used. What’s sure is that if it’s a blend indeed, or even a blended malt, they couldn’t do this anymore. Now rumour has it that it is Bowmore, with just a few litres of Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch thrown in. Colour: gold. Nose: intriguing indeed, since it’s not typically Bowmore. For instance, there’s little tropicalness, and rather a combination of honey, chocolate, praline, and cakes. Some green tea as well, earl grey, green tobacco, a wee bit of rusty tin, then rather some oldish leather, old polished furniture, a touch of camphor… It’s quite complex indeed, and while I do not find any Auchentoshan, there could well be some early 1970s Glen Garioch. Not bad news! Mouth: hesitates for a few seconds, just before a peppery and smoky blast occurs. It’s to be remembered that Glen Garioch was peaty back then! So rather not a Bowmorian peat here, rather a combination of farmy and coastal peats. Yeah. Also Glen Garioch’s leathery side, and Bowmore’s tropical fruits. I have to say it loses you a bit, but it’s certainly very good. Perhaps a little too much paraffin? Finish: rather long, and rather more both tropical and topical. So Bowmorian. Mango chutney and milk chocolate. Sadly, the aftertaste is a little soapy. Comments: a strange dram, really. You can’t help trying to analyse it, while you just shouldn’t and rather enjoy it ‘for itself’. Or, they could have called it ‘The Jolly Old Fellows’ 21 Years Old Blend’ instead of ‘Bowmore’. Oh well… SGP:552 - 84 points.

I agree, we’ve had enough oldies, let’s try some new stuff…

Bowmore 13 yo 2002/2016 (51.5%, Hart Bros)

Bowmore 13 yo 2002/2016 (51.5%, Hart Bros) Five stars This should be fiery… Colour: gold. Nose: home! Perfect modern Bowmore without any excessive carpentery (I’m sure you see what I mean), no obvious wood, and no obvious wine. Amazing medicinal smokiness, bandages, camphor, seawater, dried kelp, and all that. And no vanilla/coconut that get in the way. Mouth: we all know Bowmore are making one the very best malt spirits out there since around twenty years. When the bottlers let that malt sing, and do not use silly wood, you’re in for a fantastic serenade. What’s more, some of the 1960s’ tropical fruits are back since around the year 2000, and this baby’s another very fine example. You got it, I quite like this wee bottle. Finish: very long, peaty, with grapefruits and oranges, plus more pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: crikey, forgot to add water once again. Never mind, this is pretty brilliant when naked, in my opinion. After 25 years since you bottled that first Bowmore, you did extremely well again, Hart Brothers! SGP:557 - 90 points.

Bowmore 25 yo 1990/2016 ‘Pagliacci’ (49.6%, Silver Seal)

Bowmore 25 yo 1990/2016 ‘Pagliacci’ (49.6%, Silver Seal) Four stars and a half Our very good friends at Silver Seal are going on with their musical series, this time with Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci. I can’t wait to see which malt they’ll choose for Stockhausen or Frank Zappa. Yeah or Pixie Lott. To the whisky connoisseur, 1990 was the vintage when things started to improve again at Bowmore, after the very embarrassing 1980s. Colour: straw. Nose: strange. I mean, I don’t quite know. We’re at some crossroads, with a slightly soapy, perfumy, and rotting-orange-y side, as well as a more straightforward, peaty, coastal, and ‘pure’ side. It’s as if someone had vatted together a cask of 1982 and a cask of 2002. Really. And that created something like, say some new leather polished with some Christian Dior hand cream. Mouth: phew! This palate looks on the brighter side, with some lemony seawater and then an avalanche of citrus (won’t quote them all, we’re running on a small budget) Plus many peppers. Great palate, sharp, zesty, and excellently well-chiselled. Finish: long, and lace-y. Carved in peat and sea salt. Drizzles of lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: let’s be honest, I did not care too much for the nose – even if it tended to improve while breathing – but the palate was just entrancing. Oh well, just don’t nose and drink twice. SGP:755 - 88 points.

Since we were talking about the 1980s…

Bowmore 1989/2016 ‘Barbecue Mango Salsa’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 234 bottles) Bowmore 1989/2016 ‘Barbecue Mango Salsa’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 234 bottles)

Bowmore 1989/2016 ‘Barbecue Mango Salsa’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 234 bottles) Four stars Barbecue mango salsa? I’d like to know what brand of cigarettes they’re smoking at Wemyss’ marketing department. Oh no, you don’t tell me that’s rather gin-and-tonic, like everywhere else in the whisky industry! Anyway, let’s try this 1989 – and I need lights and sirens! Colour: straw. Nose: smoky marzipan, hand cream, beach sand, old seaweed, paraffin, fusel oil, carbon paper, damp magazines. Mixed feelings, but we weren’t expecting this much… Mouth: it’s okay, it’s okay! We’re on the good side, the perfumy (you thought whore-ish, I didn’t) notes are kept to the minimum, and the almondy, salty, lemony and coastal ones prevail. Let’s not forget the epitomical kippers and smoked salmons. Finish: medium, unexpectedly clean and, well, clean, with good peat and good white pepper. And grapefruits. Almond paste in the aftertaste. Comments: nothing to complain about, this is a 1989 that is rather leaning towards the 1990s. Like! Now, where is this barbecue mango salsa?... Where?... And what is barbecue mango salsa, by the way? SGP:554 - 86 points.

(Merci Marlène)

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



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November 1, 2016

Whiskyfun fav of the month

October 2016

Favourite recent bottling:
Brora 38 yo 1977/2016 (48.6%, OB, Special Release, 2,984 bottles) - WF 95

Favourite older bottling:
Port Ellen 24 yo 1979/2004 (56.8%, Signatory Vintage, cask #6773, 541 bottles) - WF 91

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2016' (57.7%, OB) - WF 92

Favourite malternative:
Hampden 2000/2016 (54.9%, La Maison du Whisky, Jamaica, Transcontinental Rum Line) - WF 92

October 2016 - part 2 <--- November 2016 - part 1 ---> November 2016 - part 2



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Ben Nevis 18 yo 1996/2015 (48.9%, Bar du Nord, refill hogshead, 150 bottles)

Bowmore 25 yo 1963/1989 (43%, Hart Bros, Auxil, France, 75cl)

Bowmore 13 yo 2002/2016 (51.5%, Hart Bros)

Laphroaig 19 yo 1995/2015 (46%, High Spirits, Life is a circus)

Laphroaig 18 yo 1997/2016 (52.2%, Berry Bros for LMdW’s 60th anniversary)

Laphroaig 18 yo 1998/2016 (55.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 204 bottles)

Coutanseaux Ainé ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2015?)

Rémi Landier ‘Réserve de la Famille’ (52%, OB, Fins Bois, LMdW 60th Anniversary, Lot No.62, cask #001)

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 65’ (46%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2015)

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 56’ (41.2%, OB, Cognac, Petite Champagne, 2015)