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Whisky Tasting




Hi, you're in the Archives, November 2018 - Part 1


October 2018 - part 2 <--- November 2018 - part 1 ---> November 2018 - part 2


November 14, 2018


A wee bag of anonymous Speysiders

Rumour has it that most stem from a famous family-owned distillery that’s located rather in the middle of Speyside, not far at all from Cragganmore. Most will be old, so you may expect some very high scores (and no I'll never apologise)...

A Fine Christmas Malt 17 yo (58.7%, The Whisky Exchange, 1800 bottles, 2018)

A Fine Christmas Malt 17 yo (58.7%, The Whisky Exchange, 1800 bottles, 2018) Four stars
My, is it Christmas already? Colour: gold. Nose: starts a tad brutal and hot for Christmas, grassy, kirschy, with notes of lees (possibly from sherry wood), then gingerbread and beef bouillon with parsley, and sour apples. Gets then meatier by the minute, with even more soups, stocks, broths and consommés. With water: even meatier. Beef marrow and porcinis with chives and parsley. Mouth (neat): a rather fatter spirit indeed, composed with sour cherries, plum eau-de-vie, liqueur-filled chocolate (how Christmassy indeed), and notes of blackcurrants. The whole’s perhaps a little rustic, pleasantly so. With water: cranberry sauce, duck, sour cherries, lime juice, green walnuts. This is one for your (sterling silver) hipflask. Finish: rather long, mostly on blackcurrants and sour cherries, with these meaty notes remaining in the aftertaste. Comments: a very nourishing malt whisky, I would say. I’m very fond of this classic ‘hardiness’.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Unicorn 30 yo 1988/2018 (43%, CWS China, Myths and Legends, First Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt, cask #22, 630 bottles)

Unicorn 30 yo 1988/2018 (43%, CWS China, Myths and Legends, First Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt, cask #22, 630 bottles) Five stars
Unicorn? A word that's currently invading the whisky world, have you noticed? Colour: amber. Nose: classic old-style sherry, rather on walnut cake and beef stock at first, getting then a little earthier and almost smoky, ala old Macallan. Perfect earth and mushrooms, Cuban cigars, and artisan liquorice. A bit austere, but wonderfully so, this is almost perfect. With water: Caesar's mushrooms stewed with fresh garlic in a wonderful sherry sauce. Are you hungry yet? Mouth (neat): exceptional arrival, on a mixture of menthol and raisins, which works just perfect. Then dry black chocolate, more tobacco, and certainly some kind of tarry marmalade. Perfect indeed. With water: a perfect swimmer, this one could cross the Atlantic. Rather herbal than fruity, and certainly loaded with walnuts and, perhaps, pistachios. Wonderful tarry oranges and tangerines, dried ones. Finish: long and appropriately orange-y. Marmalade, old triple-sec etc. Comments: fabtastic old style Speysider, totally in the style of some famous older 15 yos , just a wee tad more, say heavy? Brilliant nonetheless.
SGP:462 - 92 points.

Speyside 42 yo 1976/2018 (45.2%, Sansibar and Acla, Moments in Scotland)

Speyside 42 yo 1976/2018 (45.2%, Sansibar and Acla, Moments in Scotland) Five stars
Each label is different here, which is a wonderful idea. Colour: dark gold. Nose: this will be very quick, this is simply one of those brilliant old Speysiders that are shock-full of honeys and ripe plums on the nose. Unquestionable and consensual. Mouth: very excellent, even if it’s probably not the most sumptuous of them all. Orange blossom and honeysuckle teas, honeys, milk chocolate, soft sultanas, and ideas of Cognac. Preserved peaches. Finish: medium, superb, a little more on oranges, with wee mentholy touches on the background. Superb finish, gains one more point at this point! Comments: these old babies are eminently drinkable. Very high pleasure/cl ratio here, don’t miss these before the supply is definitely depleted.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Speyside Malt 1977/2018 (46.3%, Maltbarn, sherry cask)

Speyside Malt 1977/2018 (46.3%, Maltbarn, sherry cask) Five stars
Probably yet another enchanting selection by Maltbarn, people who do not only have some of the nicest labels on their bottles. Colour: amber. Nose: of course. Earthy chestnuts and honeys plus ripe mirabelles and quince jelly at first, then massive amounts of beeswax and chamomile tea. A feast under your amazed nostrils. Mouth: wonderful, of course, just a notch grittier, more tannic, more mentholated and simply drier, but anything in the background is just superb, quinces, figs, honeydew, cakes, beeswax, rosehip tea, dates... It's also relatively light (yet not thin at all, mind you), which would make it even more dangerous. Finish: medium, perfectly balanced, just rather very mentholy. Tea in the Sahara, in other words, with roasted pine nuts on top of that. Comments: what a series of casks and vintages!
SGP:561 - 90 points.

These two were bottled last year but they weren’t yet available until today:

Speyside Region 42 yo 1975/2017 (49.8%, Sansibar, Fazzino)

Speyside Region 42 yo 1975/2017 (49.8%, Sansibar, Fazzino) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: this is a rather unusual, rather zesty and ‘nervous’ profile at first nosing, with freshly squeezed oranges and some lemon balm, although some complex notes of beehive are already showing up, little by little. Those are signs of good great age! So we’ve got both the vibrancy of youth and the complexity of maturity here. Love these notes of pollen, heather honey, and this rather perfect and slightly vinous sourness. Riesling, perhaps. After two minutes, more and more marzipan and chocolate, perhaps that’s Mozart kugeln. Mouth: really punchy, less soft and smooth than other older Speysiders, with rather grapefruits this time, a touch of lime-flavoured yoghurt, and then various spicy herbs and roots (thyme, ginger, turmeric) before more classic honeyed notes make a comeback. They would come together with dried figs. Finish: long, with some spicy marzipan, a wee touch of green oak that do keep it zesty and lively. Bitter oranges and turmeric in the aftertaste. Comments: a fighting old Speysider that’s packed with action.
SGP:461 – 90 points.

Speyside Region 43 yo 1973/2017 (51.3%, Sansibar, Fazzino)

Speyside Region 43 yo 1973/2017 (51.3%, Sansibar, Fazzino) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: starts with subtle whiffs of upholstery, furniture polish, old cigars, cedar wood, and the usual suspects, figs and dates. Then we’d rather find praline, pistachio marzipan, and lovely earthy tones, touches of humus, little mushrooms… With water: opens up like bindweed in the morning and becomes wonderfully honeyed. Some poached pear topped with acacia honey and perhaps a small glass of Sauternes. A little menthol as well, camphor, subtle ointments… Mouth (neat): this is a softer one after the 1975, but it’s also very citrusy and tropical. Amazing notes of blood oranges, pink grapefruits, and small guavas. Guavas can be restless and mischievous fruits. Goes on with lemon and orange honeys, and a drop of chartreuse plus a little mint liqueur, possibly from the wood. Impeccable. With water: we’re going towards teas, green pu-ehr, green earl grey, bergamots, with a touch of cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg from the cask. Mind you, forty-four years old. Finish: long, with some mead and a little ginger. Caramelised oranges and peppermint in the aftertaste. Comments: this oldie still roars and shows no signs that it has tired of aging for more than four decades.
SGP:461 - 91 points.

We've got many more but we'll have them later...


November 13, 2018


Bowmore, au naturel or not

I’m wondering why Bowmore remains so controversial… In my little book it’s just one of the greatest distillates on earth – but then again, I think it hates wine and odd woods, and that many freaky whiskies have been created by not keeping the distillate as pure as possible. But then again, there were also quite a few dazzling sherry monsters…

Bowmore 17 yo 2001/2018 (53.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 270 bottles)

Bowmore 17 yo 2001/2018 (53.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 270 bottles) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: porridge and oxtail soup, really. Feels like refill sherry but I doubt it is, what’s sure is that many meaty, soupy and bouillony notes are dancing under your nostrils. Other than that, we find kelp smoke, seawater and oysters, which was expected. A little curry as well, less expected. With water:  hessian, brake fluid, engine oil. Veedol’s our favourite at WF Towers. Mouth (neat): too good. It’s almost as if the 1960s were back, with these tangerines and mangos mixed with smoked tea and kippers. Wonderful palate, rather fatter than usual. With water: exceptional smoked mangos and maracujas and papayas and pink grapefruits, with some smoked salmon to boot. Only flaw, it would only take a few drops of water, or it would start to taste like some used tissue. Quite. Finish: long, perfect, sharp and vertical. Rather fruitier than usual, in fact. Comments: we may have screwed it up, we should have started this with a lighter Bowie.
SGP:456 - 90 points.

Bowmore 22 yo 1996/2018 (50.4%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #1371, 210 bottles)

Bowmore 22 yo 1996/2018 (50.4%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #1371, 210 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s more vegetal, more on sour beers, porridge, dairy cream, that old tweed jacket, that rainwater, crabs, scallops, fern, autumn leaves… With water: a touch of Jerez vinegar, some ripe peaches, roasted peanuts, green tea… Mouth (neat): ah, perfect. Mango juice, grapefruit, anchovy brine, kippers, grapeseed oil, seawater… With water: salty grasses, sauvignon blanc, ultra-dry champagne, grapefruit juice, brine, gentian eau-de-vie… Finish: rather long, sour, but with an extremely pleasant tropical fruitiness… Would love to try this when it’s become, say, 30 years. A future new Sea Dragon? I’m even finding infinitesimal touches or rosewater in the aftertaste. Comments: this make is as fantastic as it used to be, assertive yet complex and delicate.
SGP:455 - 91 points.

Bowmore 15 yo 2001/2018 (55.3%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #8, sherry butt finish, cask #108, 679 bottles) Four stars
Again, they are rounding off the age statements with this series (so no typo here, but thanks anyway!) Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a relatively discreet sherry, rather of the fino kind (walnuts), which goes well with the very smoky and ashy distillate. Now that treatment may have offset a bit the coastal side, and since we’ve just tried a bunch of Ballechins, well, this Bowmore does remind me of Ballechin. Some mint tea. With water: Provence herbs and metal polish. Grandma’s old copper kettle. Mouth (neat): unusual. Sweet mustard, gin, mango chutney, smoked fish, candied tangerines, and quite a lot of caraway. Did someone pour a bottle of aquavit into the cask? I mean, on purpose? With water: rounder, sweeter, almost a tad syrupy. Caraway liqueur, lapsang souchong, Finish: rather long, with these sweet spices… Comments: I prefer the purer ones but this one sure was well crafted.
SGP:655 - 85 points.

Perhaps another 2001…

Bowmore 15 yo 2001/2017 (58.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, for SCSM China, refill hogshead, cask #11547, 299 bottles)

Bowmore 15 yo 2001/2017 (58.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, for SCSM China, refill hogshead, cask #11547, 299 bottles) Five stars
More purity again, I suppose… Colour: white wine. Nose: as pure and fresh as Bowmore can be, this time with a lot of seawater, oysters, peat and seaweed smoke, fresh almonds, and lemon juice. Another millimetric Bowmore (I know, our beloved metric system…) With water: branches, burning fresh wood (acrid smoke), linoleum, leatherette… Mouth (neat): lemons, grapefruits, clams, angelica, roots, peat, kippers… And touches of papayas, just like in the Cadenhead. With water: perfect pure middle-aged Bowmore. Lemons, cider apples, brine, kippers, smoke… And all the rest. Finish: long, tense, crisp, and pretty mineral. Comments: a little less fruity than the Cadenhead after all, but quality’s equivalent.
SGP:456 - 90 points.

Since we’re in China…

Bowmore 20 yo 1997/2017 (54.4%, OB, for CWS China, sherry cask, 231 bottles)

Bowmore 20 yo 1997/2017 (54.4%, OB, for CWS China, sherry cask, 231 bottles) Four stars and a half
Who’s mentioned Bowmores that were sherry monsters just a few minutes ago? Colour: between coffee and walnut stain. Nose: guess what, I’m finding coffee and walnut stain, how bizarre. Then balsamico, chocolate (mole sauce), Bovril, soot, tar, prunes and pipe tobacco. Indeed, colours affect our minds, but anyway, this sherry monster’s rather heavy, which was to be expected, but within reason I would say. With water: some metal polish coming out, silverware, engine oil, new tyres and sneakers, new electronics… Mouth (neat): pretty extreme and thick – thicker than the Black Bowmores. A lot of tar, once again this bitter woodiness, bags of prunes, artichoke liqueur, raw coffee,  Maggi, salted liquorice and duck sauce. A lot of duck sauce, of course. This baby does not do things by half, mind you. With water: chestnut soup and cocoa, more prunes, mashed Jerusalem artichokes, a drop of salted balsamic vinegar, black tea… Finish: long, with a feeling of prune juice kept in oak cask, with a spoonful of blackcurrant jelly and half a drop of soy sauce for good measure. Strong black tea in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather spectacular heavily sherried Bowmore. Extremely good, only the aftertaste was a tad tannic for this taster. Just a tad.
SGP:555 - 89 points.

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


November 12, 2018


Eight indie Glenrothes

Sadly and for very obscure, almost Brexity, or rather Kafkaesque reasons, looks like the new official age-stated versions will never reach WF's doorstep. But that's not very important, as we've got dozens and dozens of excellent indie expressions of this lovely distillery... Let's have a good few of them, and do that kind of randomly, for more fun. Ha, gotta love PR agencies.

Glenrothes 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill sherry, cask #12758, 327 bottles)

Glenrothes 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill sherry, cask #12758, 327 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: a nutty sherry that really reminds me of the OBs, you would also believe you're nosing a pack of Mars bars. Also Ovaltine, chocolate, roasted peanuts, Corinthian currants, and toasted brioche. As nice as it gets. Mouth: classic sherried Speysider, extremely cake-y and nutty, with some butterscotch, toffee, more roasted nuts and Mars bars, brownies, other chocolate cakes, and then even more of all that. Café latte. Finish: rather long, on exactly the same notes. Hot chocolate, Ovaltine... Comments: ultra-classic cake-y sherry. Another session that starts well.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Glenrothes 9 yo 2008/2018 (53%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, 234 bottles)

Glenrothes 9 yo 2008/2018 (53%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, 234 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: Glenrothes rather au naturel, always with a lot of cakes and pastries, as well as chocolate, custard, buttercream, halva and peanut butter... Then orange and lemon squashes, which adds brightness and zing. With water: bread and hay. Mouth (neat): good, really, breadier, with oranges, grapefruits... Not sure I ever noticed that Glenrothes could be this citrusy. With water: excellent, on malty orange cakes. A wee bitterness as well (strong green tea). Finish: long, malty, with apple peel and Seville oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: some all good malty malt whisky.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenrothes 11 yo 2006/2018 (53%, Valinch & Mallet, sherry butt, 120 bottles)

Glenrothes 11 yo 2006/2018 (53%, Valinch & Mallet, sherry butt, 120 bottles) Four stars
Colour: amber. Nose: shoe polish, phosphor, batteries, walnut wine, chocolate cake, Ovaltine, pipe tobacco. There. With water: old rancio, walnut wine, English brown sauce, one pinhead of Marmite. Mouth (neat): a thick sherry, ridden with prunes, black raisins, liquid chocolate, tobacco and, as usual, walnuts. Almost forgot to mention marmalade, as well as traces of strawberry sweets. With water: chocolate sauce, caramel cream, old Banyuls or Maury, roasted pecans, molasses, etcetera. Finish: long, still thick, on caramel and prunes. Demerara sugar. Comments: liquid desert. You could pour this over vanilla ice cream.
SGP:641 - 86 points.

Glenrothes 13 yo 2004/2017 (59.4%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular for SCSM, China, sherry butt, cask #11932, 244 bottles)

Glenrothes 13 yo 2004/2017 (59.4%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular for SCSM, China, sherry butt, cask #11932, 244 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: red amber. Nose: oh lovely! Oranges and sultanas, Jaffa cake, mocha, glazed chestnuts, Sauternes (and some of the best, Raymond-Lafon springs to my mind), mole sauce, manuka honey, with an awesome wet-earthy touch that adds some freshness. Beautiful and complex despite the younger age. With water: earth, tar, leather, parsley. Much drier once water's been added. Mouth (neat): really big but not as thick as I had thought, a little eau-de-vie-ish, with a lot of bitter oranges, cinchona, ginger-flavoured chocolate, and the usual walnuts. With water: some rubber coming out, which happens pretty often. Some meats as well, asparagus, artichokes, raw cocoa... Finish: long, meaty. Comments: one sherry monster that's got bumps and hollows. A fighter!
SGP:362 - 83 points.

Do we go on? Game? Okay but we'd need a cleaner one...

Glenrothes 19 yo 1997/2017 (59.4%, Liquid Treasures, Angkor Faces, refill butt)

Glenrothes 19 yo 1997/2017 (59.4%, Liquid Treasures, Angkor Faces, refill butt) Three stars
Superb, but what do Angkor faces have to do with whisky? Not too sure about this general trend that's to be seen everywhere these days. Do we have to expect a sewing-machines series? Canadian slippers labels? An adjustable-wrenches collection? Colour: white wine. Nose: yep. Despite the label (guys, I was just joking) the nose is pretty perfect, fresh, on white chocolate, apricots, apple pie, praline, nougat and cassata. With water: a slightly sulphury nuttiness comes out. Mouth (neat): perfectly malty and cake-y, with hints of coal, roasted herbs (thyme), roasted walnuts, and distilled damsons. Sloe eau-de-vie, or rather vieille prune. Do you know vieille prune? With water: a tad raw, rubbery and herbal. Loses points. Finish: long and a tad harsh, leafy and leathery. Comments: really good but it rather dislikes water. Even cats like it more.
SGP:361 - 80 points.

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 20 yo 1997/2018 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, sherry butts, 1524 bottles)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 20 yo 1997/2018 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, sherry butts, 1524 bottles) Four stars
That would be three sherry butts. Colour: amber. Nose: this one's coffee-led. So mocha and latte, then toffee, butterscotch, praline, tobacco, and various roasted nuts. With water: coffee toffee everywhere and full-on. Mouth (neat): the power of actual small batches. Crystallised mandarins, coffee liqueur, pipe tobacco, black honeys, amarone, maraschino. With water: touches of used matches, otherwise marmalade and chocolate plus soft Thai chilli sauce. It got drier. Finish: long and a tad gingery. Comments: not as rounded and chocolaty as I had thought, and not as coffee-ish either, but good it remained, all along.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Glenrothes 20 yo 1996/2017 (53%, Cask & Thistle for SCSM China, hogshead, 330 bottles)

Glenrothes 20 yo 1996/2017 (53%, Cask & Thistle for SCSM China, hogshead, 330 bottles) Four stars and a half
Ah, bourbon now! It'll make a nice vacation, don't you think? Colour: white wine. Nose: less demonstrative, obviously, but brighter, fresher, and much cakier. Soft custard, kougelhopf, mirabelles, muesli, milk chocolate (Lindt's creamiest - a sin), and perhaps pear cake. With water: but this is superb! Fresh quinces and jujubes, what could beat this? Mouth (neat): extremely good malty, barley-y, tense and rather citrusy palate. Pink grapefruits and bananas, that's vacations indeed. With water: really very good, with bright orchard fruits such as apples, pears and greengages. It is almost refreshing. Finish: medium, perfect, on paler fruitcakes, if you see what I mean. Dried pears and blood oranges in the aftertaste, a combo that I always like a lot. Comments: it seems that we're approaching the 90-mark.
SGP:541 - 89 points.

Good, let's try to find a 90+ before we call this a proper tasting session...

Glenrothes 43 yo 1974/2018 (49.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry puncheon, cask #18440, 276 bottles)

Glenrothes 43 yo 1974/2018 (49.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry puncheon, cask #18440, 276 bottles) Four stars and a half
Indeed this is the new livery for G&M's Private Collection. As you may know, the capacity of a puncheon is pretty similar to that of a butt, the puncheons being just a tad dumpier, but sizes vary and some puncheons are actually a little smaller. Colour: amber. Nose: ah, this one's got what's only to be found in older whiskies, that is to say a huge complexity. In this case, we're finding various honeys, nuts, and dried fruits. Frozen apples and grapes (ice wine), old cognac, puréed chestnuts (you may check the Ardèche's), Tokaji wine (aszu)... But really, puréed chestnuts are running the show here. Mouth: tenser than expected, with a touch of sour oak, walnuts, dried figs, some cider and mead, and some cinnamon rolls. The nose displayed a wider complexity, but that's totally normal. Finish: rather long, our iced apples being back. Canadian apple ice wine, or would that be ice cider? Comments: very, very close to perfection. The nose was perfect, that's for sure.
SGP:541 - 89 points.

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


November 11, 2018


A little bag of cognac to celebrate the Centenary of the Armistice of 1918

We could as well have had spirits from many other countries, naturally. Indeed, on the morning of 11 November 1918, the guns fell silent in France and were replaced with the pops of the corks. Peace!

Camus ‘Borderies VSOP’ (40%, OB, Borderies, 2017)

Camus ‘Borderies VSOP’ (40%, OB, Borderies, 2017) Three stars and a half
This one is ‘single growth certified’, something that may be redundant with its Borderies appellation, but would we care? Colour: rich gold. Nose: it does nose a little young, but it’s got wonderful raisins and dried apricots and quinces (rather quince jelly). There’s also this faint pinesap/eucalyptus touch from the wood, as well as a delicate earthiness. Rather class so far, let’s just see if the minimal strength doesn’t pull it down. Mouth: sure a little more power would have been welcome, but on the other hand it’s a rather characterful cognac, quite resinous again, with complex raisins and dried figs. Also this earthy touch again, always an asset. Finish: rather long but a touch rougher again, this ought to be young cognac. A tad too young, perhaps. Resin in the aftertaste. Comments: some excellent cognac, would love to try these batches after ten more years of aging. I find it much better than the house’s more regular VSOP ‘Elégance’.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Paul Giraud ‘Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017)

Paul Giraud ‘Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017) Four stars
The wee French independent bottlers Old Brothers had a fabulous Paul Giraud last year (WF 90). Colour: gold. Nose: a tad more floral than the Camus at first, then more mineral, almost waxy. Graphite oil? Also some very perfect notes of peaches, both fresh and tinned, a side that I always just adore in cognac – provided it’s there, naturally (S.!) Mouth: indeed it is a fruitier, tenser and tighter style of Cognac, much closer to the fruits, with an abundance of peaches. Let’s say it’s more vertical, while the Camus was more horinzontal. Finish: medium, fresh, fruity. Touches of ripe Williams pears, perhaps – beyond the peaches. Comments: wonderful fruity cognac, just the low strength is a little, well, low. 40% should be interdit now, 42% are already much better in general. IMHO.
SGP:650 - 85 points.

Back at Camus?

Camus 11 yo ‘Île de Ré’ (49%, Through the Grapevine, La Maison du Whisky, 2018)

Camus 11 yo ‘Île de Ré’ (49%, Through the Grapevine, La Maison du Whisky, 2018) Four stars
This is single-vineyard cognac from the island of Ré, in the Atlantic. We’ve already tried several official Île de Ré by Camus, they had been very good.  Colour: pale gold. Nose: do we really find a few coastal notes? Perhaps, in any case this is more austere, drier, closer to lees and stems, and frankly not very aromatic. Apples. But in whisky, this kind of nose may lead us to fantastic palates, so let’s see… Mouth: certainly more rustic than the official Camus, more on fruit eaux-de-vies (pears, damsons), stems, leaves… On the other hand there’s something akin to peat smoke (say 5ppm, ha), as well as a grassy minerality that’s not unseen in Scotchland. Some assorted leaves and peels. Finish: long, grassier than any official cognac. Which, in a sense, would make it more of a malternative, I suppose. Lemons in the aftertaste. Comments: a little raw, but it’s a beautiful style that would please lovers of characterful malts.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

… and within the very same series…

Vallein Tercinier 1987/2018 (49.1%, Through the Grapevine, La Maison du Whisky, Bons Bois)

Vallein Tercinier 1987/2018 (49.1%, Through the Grapevine, La Maison du Whisky, Bons Bois) Four stars and a half
The name that’s already conquered many a whisky enthusiast, including this very one. Colour: full gold. Nose: but how and why do they always do this? Immediate pleasures, immense balance, stunning honeyed fruitiness, and, well, there. Citrons, heather, pollen, mirabelles, all that with an impeccable freshness and yet all the complexity that only comes after proper aging. In this case, that’s forty years, mind you! It’s to be noted that this baby’s ‘brut de fût’, so natural cask strength. Mouth: good, perhaps is there a little too much resinous wood at this point (and cannabis resins etc.) but on the other hand, that’s not unseen in old cognacs and no one will tell it is a flaw. After and underneath that, the usual wonderful fruits, cider apples, gritty pears, peaches, greengages… So there is an acidic side that just works beautifully. Finish: long, tart, citrusy and green. Comments: you could almost say this is the equivalent of a very old Rosebank – should this be whisky. It’s just a little more rustic.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Oh while we’re at VT’s…

Vallein Tercinier ‘Lot 90’ (49.7%, OB, Grande Champagne, for Flask, USA, 2018) Five stars
One of the several inceptions of those famed Lot 90s. Sorry, no pictures at hand. Colour: gold. Nose: Demerara sugar, crystallised peaches, butterscotch, chestnut honey, melon jam, quinces, cassata, orange blossom water, baklavas… Etc., etc., etc. Irresistible, as expected. Mouth: ‘strordinary, slightly gritty once more (apple peels), slightly mentholy, then wonderfully tea-ish (pu erh), with hints of those superb dried tangerine peels that they have in China (Chen Pi, a stunning thing I’ve just discovered thanks to my friend Gene). Many candied fruits as well, citrons, angelica… And even drops of yellow chartreuse. Finish: long, fruity, clean, honeyed, bright and above all, very fresh. Comments: I know, hardly a surprise.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

Vallein Tercinier ‘Lot 70’ (52%, OB, Petite Champagne, for Flask, Ryan and T5C, USA, 2018)

Vallein Tercinier ‘Lot 70’ (52%, OB, Petite Champagne, for Flask, Ryan and T5C, USA, 2018) Five stars
Colour: amber. Nose: and there come the mushrooms, the old rancio, the cigars, the old Sauternes, the cedar wood, the dried longans, the prunes, the dates, the sage, the parsley, and all the rest. I would say it’s impossible to resist this, you could spend hours with your nose above your glass without even feeling the need to put a few drops into your mouth. But duty is duty, let’s still do that… Mouth: a tough call between… no no no, this is brilliant even if it started a tad tannic and ‘black’ (tea), mangos started to pop out after just three seconds, together with tangerines, peaches, heather honey, pomegranates, and apricots. Not much to add, this is immaculate and it could well convert any teetotaller, seriously. Finish: medium, superbly fresh and fruity, rather all around mangos and peaches. Only the aftertaste is a tad bitterer, with some propolis and black tobacco. Comments: all things considered, let’s state that both the 90 and this 70 will share the same score in my book. They never fail you at V-T.
SGP:661 - 92 points.

Merlet ‘Assemblage N°2’ (44.3%, OB, Sélection Saint Sauvant, 2016)

Merlet ‘Assemblage N°2’ (44.3%, OB, Sélection Saint Sauvant, 2016) Five stars
This one is a blend but the house has got a good reputation. There’s some young cognac inside but also some very old Fins Bois from the year 1948. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re rather all on blond tobacco and plums at first nosing, then the expected ripe peaches, and then some very complex and fragrant hints of vetiver, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, and probably linden flowers, which could get a little heady but that’s not the case at all here. A very complex and subtle nose, very elegant. Mouth: rather sublime, extremely well balanced, you can feel that some proper Maître Assembleur has been working on this (indeed, A.K.A. Master Blender). Superb apricots, mirabelles, heather honey, marmalade, then a touch of liquorice and tobacco again, maraschino, rancio, marzipan… The freshness is impressive. Finish: medium, still fresh and fruity, perhaps just a notch jammier. No problemo, on the contrary. Comments: some cognac session today, don’t you think? It’s true that we’ve carefully avoided any entry-level boisé-ed stuff.
SGP:650 - 90 points.

A last one for the road…

Distillerie Charpentier 45 yo (60.8%, Cadenhead, Petite Champagne, 262 bottles, 2018)

Distillerie Charpentier 45 yo (60.8%, Cadenhead, Petite Champagne, 262 bottles, 2018) Four stars and a half
More of those Distillerie Charpentier that Cadenhead are having. I have to say earlier bottlings had been wonderful (the 35 was out-of-this-world at WF 92 points), but indeed, the very high strength is quite unusual. Careful with this cognac, Eugene (pfff…) Colour: full gold. Nose: right, okay, I understand. Bourbon, vanilla, butterscotch, icing sugar, hints of varnish. So, with water: tiny elements are appearing, pine needles, mutton suet, apricots, iodine (early landed, matured in Campbeltown?), dried beef, marrow, dried porcinis… I have to say it takes water very well and you may even drown it – if you can – it’ll still be alive. Mouth (neat): too strong, but you do feel that something’s happening underneath this thick layer of ethanol. With water: the best use of water indeed. Olive oil, oranges, apricots, honey, raisins… I wouldn’t say it’s extremely complex, but in its relative simplicity, it’s perfect (Nietzsche, come out of this poor body!) Finish: long, feeling younger. Comments: it is utterly excellent cognac indeed, but should you have said it’s a 12 yo, I wouldn’t have cried foul.
SGP:550 - 88 points.

(Many thanks Jay!)

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


November 10, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Three Macduff
Let’s try to provide some theoretical yin to last week’s yang...


Macduff 11 yo 2006/2018 (55.2%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead, 240 bottles) Macduff 11 yo 2006/2018 (55.2%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead, 240 bottles)
Colour: light gold. Nose: some creamy, modern vanilla, custard made with marsala wine, a little pine sap, some coconut milk and a few green and orchard fruits such as ripe green apples, bananas, pears etc... very nice, if a little simplistic perhaps. Although, over time the fruitiness does intensify in a pleasing fashion. With water: not a huge change, still nicely fruity, a touch of creme caramel perhaps. And a tad more spicy. Mouth: spiced custard this time. Muesli, some freshly chopped herbs, slightly more tart fruit notes such as cider apple and gooseberry. A touch of mead perhaps. With water: more syrupy and gloopy in texture which I like. Some spiced plum cake drizzled with golden syrup and hints of nutmeg, hot cross buns and toasted sunflower seeds. Finish: good length, slightly earthy and leafy, nicely lemony, raw malt, cereals and wee bready notes. Comments: All very good, clean, fruity young malt whisky. A little boring perhaps but beyond that it’s tough to find flaws.
SGP: 451 - 81 points.


Macduff 23 yo 1974 (43%, Hart Brothers, +/-1997)

Macduff 23 yo 1974 (43%, Hart Brothers, +/-1997)
Colour: gold. Nose: this comes across as some kind of rather lovely mix of jasmine tea, hibiscus jam and quince jelly. A touch of soot underneath with light waxes, heather honey and sandalwood. Underneath there is a suggestion of some slightly floral soap but it’s faint. Also getting some plasticine and soft clay after a little time. Mouth: strangely flat and a little empty. It’s not ‘unclean’ by any measure. Just a little hollow. Some gritty concrete notes, lightly jammy fruits, some cardboard, a few lightly stale cereals. Strange but not totally unconvincing. Finish: pulls things back a little bit with some sweet fruit curds, lemon oils, waxes and various herbal teas. A rising glint of slightly sour wood in the aftertaste however. Comments: A funny one. A pleasant nose and a decent, if short, finish, but a bit of a chasm in between.
SGP: 441 - 76 points.



Macduff 16 yo 1978/1994 (55.8%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection) Macduff 16 yo 1978/1994 (55.8%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection)
Colour: white wine. Nose: another of these granitic, brutal old Cadenhead selections from the 1990s. Concrete, chalk, ink and carbon. But, also some more expressive qualities underneath such as fermenting hay, lemon oils, pink grapefruit and things such as fruit sherbets and bath salts. A very curious and entertaining mix of ‘stuff’. Condensed milk, lime, aspirin, cola cubes and icing sugar. Weird but fun. With water: spicy sugar water, prune eau de vie, sweetcorn custard and cardboard soaked in Gueuze beer (no, I don’t know either). Mouth: what is this madness! If you took cement, mixed it with cheap tropical fruit juice, chopped in some pork and sage sausages and then threw it down a hill in a lead-lined barrel you might approach whatever this is. Seriously loopy whisky. There’s pear drops, savlon, medical balms, rubbing alcohol, turmeric, orange peel with extra pith and almond oils. No idea what to make of this. With water: extremely peppery and hot. But there’s also these very high notes of light, syrupy green and exotic fruits. Some banana essence, lime zest, kiwi and lemon jam. Acid drops. Rhubarb and custard. Baking soda. Chewing a cactus... Weirdness! Finish: long, incredibly sharp, acidic, almost salty, a spoonful of carbolic acid while sucking the end of a AAA Duracell. But also still these persistent fizzing sherbet-esque fruity tones. Comments: I’ve no idea how to score this. It isn’t technically great, but nor is it an abomination. Just a totally bonkers glass of cask strength madness. Highly recommended if you cross paths with an open bottle. (But maybe no more than 2cl...)
SGP: 551 - 78 (utterly meaningless) points.


Thanks Dirk - I think...  



November 8, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Wednesday at Springbank


Springbank 22 yo (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy, bottled late 1970s) Springbank 22 yo (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy, bottled late 1970s)
Colour: gold. Nose: polished woods, herbal resins, white fruits, a few pressed wildflowers, citrus fruits and light minerals. Beautifully elegant, light, some fragrant wood ashes, mushroom powder, wormwood and camphor. Aromatic and seductive old malt whisky. Mouth: wonderfully rich, coastal and waxy. Bunches of dried herbs, sea salt, preserved lemons, lime zest and a very distant, wispy peatiness. Some light oiliness as well such as sunflower and rapeseed oils. Finish: long, leathery, resinous, heather honey and salty beach pebbles. Comments: a rather lush old 1950s Springbank that displays some beautifully polished and coastal qualities and supple fruitiness throughout.
SGP: 762 - 92 points. 


Springbank 32 yo 1967/1999 (44.6%, Cadenhead Chairman’s Stock, 228 bottles) Springbank 32 yo 1967/1999 (44.6%, Cadenhead Chairman’s Stock, 228 bottles)
Colour: light amber. Nose: highly polished furniture. Masses of jasmine tea, beeswax, leather, pot pourri, cedar wood, damp tobacco and wood spices. There’s a milk chocolate sweetness as well, some crystalised citrus peels, aged Cognac and things like golden sultanas, aged sauternes and menthol extracts. A zippy coastal note beyond all that as well. Beautiful and expressive old whisky that is very much aromatically alive and kicking. Mouth: soft wood spices, some spicy tannin, sea salt-infused bitter chocolate, green and various herbal teas, mineral oils and dried mint. There’s black pepper and lapsang souchong as well. In time there’s more spiced honey, incense, crystalised fruits and lamp oil. Excellent although bordering on too old. Finish: long, leathery, waxy, polished, lots of strong exotic teas, some spiced damson jam and some old Calvados. Comments: the nose was superb, the palate looses one or two points for tiredness, but it’s still a luscious and expressive old Springbank.
SGP: 661 - 90 points.


Springbank 10 yo (57.6%, OB, Sutti Import, early 1980s) Springbank 10 yo (57.6%, OB, Sutti Import, early 1980s)
Colour: light gold. Nose: pure minerals, oils, tropical, green and citrus fruits. Many clean and punchy notes of beach pebbles, soot, crushed sea shells, lemon oils, tiger balm, lightly ashy peatiness and a generous and abundant waxiness. With water: sunflower oil, old workshops, fragrant peat, lemon wax, shoe polish and medical/lightly tarry aspect. Fab! Mouth: massively chiseled, punchy and full of petrol, waxes, bright white fruits, white flowers, soft tarry notes, camphor, chicken stock and cool menthol qualities. Wee tertiary notes of white pepper, herbal peat and wood smoke. Huge and deeply impressive. With water: lots of coal tar soap, earthiness, raw coastal notes, dried seaweed, herbs, subtle wood resins and chalky notes. Finish: long, ashly, limey, earthy, cough medicine, tar and salty coastal freshness. Comments: I’ve always loved these old high strength bottlings from this series and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. Massive freshness, punch, precision and complexity. High satisfaction.
SGP: 563 - 93 points.


Springbank 10 yo 1974/1984 (56.7%, OB, Sutti import) Springbank 10 yo 1974/1984 (56.7%, OB, Sutti import)
Colour: light gold. Nose: much more narrow and straight than the non-vintage. More concentrated on fragrant coastal complexities. Sea greens, gorse, earth, coal dust and some light notes of medicine and diluted antiseptic. There’s also chalk, lemon infused salts and limestone. With water: gets more floral, towards blossoms, geraniums, daisies and, in time, a little more earthy peat smoke. Mouth: rich and waxy but also more towards bath salts, sea air, beach pebbles, chalk, lime zest, tar extracts and soft medical notes once again. White pepper, new leather, carbon paper, squid ink and hessian. With water: coal dust, soft waxes, canvas, tea tree oils and dusty malty notes like raw grist and dry cereals. Finish: medium - long. Some liquorice, salty flatbreads, sourdough, lemon bonbons, herbal bitters and cough mixtures. Comments: Still excellent but overall it’s lighter and not quite as thrilling as the non-vintage version.
SGP: 352 - 90 points.


Springbank 1965-1993 (50.6%, Adelphi) Springbank 1965/1993 (50.6%, Adelphi)
Yet another exercise in optometric labelling by Adelphi. Colour: light amber. Nose: the oldest and most sublime box of cigars you can imagine. Some quince jelly, raisins and sultanas mixed with ancient cognac, flambeed banana, sweetened herbal cough medicines and many tropical fruit jellies. Medical tinctures, baked green fruits and various precious teas. With water: gets spicier, more bready and starts to display a tiny leathery peat note. Mouth: s.u.p.e.r.b! A perfect blend of herbs, tobaccos, teas, precious waxes, hardwood extracts, menthol resins, crystalised, dark, exotic and glazed fruits of all shades. The wood is perfect, spicy and supportive but never dominates and there’s still a glimmer of Springbank coastal vigour. With water: spices, fruit jellies, exotic teas, mirabelle, ointments, wood resins - utterly majestic. Waxy anthracite, pineapple syrup, cocktail bitters, sharper and more pointed wood spices and black pepper. Finish: long with good tannin, hibiscus, rosewater, Turkish delight and more things like quince, jasmine tea and fruit salad. Comments: Unusually I prefer the palate over the nose on this majestic old Springbank. All we need is for someone to make this kind of whisky again please!
SGP: 672 - 93 points.


Springbank 31 yo 1963/1994 (52.3%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Sherrywood) Springbank 31 yo 1963/1994 (52.3%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Sherrywood)
Serge already recorded notes for this one back in 2013, but I don’t think another crack at it will hurt... Colour: black coffee. Nose: the thickest, darkest shoe polish on ancient leather. Ancient, salty Boal Madeira, molten salted liquorice, maraschino cherries, expensive Manhattan cocktails, strawberry wine, walnut extracts, herbal bitters, cloves, mulling spices, black pepper-spiced biltong and various game meats. Bewilderingly complex; the kind of nose you can just get lost in for hours. Myriad red and dark fruits, simmering espresso, preserved fruits glazed in honey and golden syrup, herbal toothpaste, precious hardwood resins and graphite oil. Totally astonishing and requiring immediate assistance from the anti-maltoporn brigade (if these past two days have proven one thing, it’s that these guys don’t have a Campbeltown office!) With water: an embarrassment of exotic spices, oils and dark fruit compotes. Also soy sauce, mint jelly and dried lavender. Mouth: walnut wines, old pinot noir, super dark chocolate, sea salt, black cherries, wild strawberries and black truffle oil. Some earthy strong tea, black pepper, eucalyptus extract, tea tree oil and blueberries. With water: earthier, peatier, sootier, more waxy, more spicy, more fruity. Just, more... Finish: An endless, lazy ramble along the shoreline, past the farmyard, between the spice racks, the medicine jar and the fruit market. Please call the anti-mal... oh fuck it. Comments: this young padawan cannot disagree with his master on this occasion, Obi-Wan Kesergie had it right at...
SGP: 563 - 95 points.


And that’s the end of another incredible whisky trip in Scotland. Great bottles paired with greater friends. Not to mention visits to some deservedly legendary distilleries which reaffirm why Scotch Whisky remains a thrilling, pleasurable and intellectually nourishing pursuit when enjoyed in the right company at the right locations. Eternal thanks to the wonderful, funny, knowledgeable and hugely passionate staff at Dornoch Distillery, Dornoch Castle Hotel, Fiddler’s Inn, Edradour, Signatory, Glen Scotia, Springbank and Cadenhead. While it’s true that we tasted many expensive, rare and incredible whiskies this week. We also ate hearty and delicious Scottish food. Drank some world class Scottish beers. And, perhaps most importantly, tried more than enough great new official and independent bottlings which affirm that Scotch Whisky is alive and kicking as a drink and in possession of an exciting future. Take time to look, explore and do a bit of digging and there is much to discover and love out there.




Eternal thanks to Jon, Phil, Simon, Jonny, Olivier, Emmanuel, Hitomi, Jeroen, Marcel, Hans, Tomas, Helen, Hideo, Misako, Aaron, Billy, Patrick, Geert, Eiling, Luc, Herr Kruger and Sebastian. You all officially rock!

Finally, it was a great shame that Serge could not join us on this trip. He has been missed! Thankfully we found a last minute replacement...




November 7, 2018



More crazy notes from our whiskysexual correspondant in Scotland and our pals. Pure madness again, this seems to be getting out of control!




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Tuesday at Cadenhead
With my deepest apologies...




Bruichladdich 25 yo 1958/1984 (92 US proof, Cadenhead Dumpy)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1958/1984 (92 US proof, Cadenhead Dumpy)
Bruichladdich stopped peating their whisky in 1960 so this is one of only two known examples of Bruichladdich distilled when it was still producing a traditional, peated Islay malt. The other being another Cadenhead Dumpy. Some awed hush please... Colour: white wine. Nose: Sadly this is a fake. It has apparently been refilled with 1964 Bowmore. It possesses this same combination of exotic, pure, mineral-flecked tropical fruits and background wispy peat smoke. There’s crushed sea shells, beach sand, limpets, dried seaweed, diluted petrol, aged ointments and delicate farmyard inflections. Wee hints of oily sheep wool, boiler smoke, light tarry notes, medical embrocations, gauze and graphite oil. Astonishing freshness, gentle medicine, oils, ripe fruits, lemon peel, melon, iodine... Gah! I’m getting lost in this aroma! This kind of pink sea salt and mineral salt mixture. Then plenty grapefruit, passion fruit and guava. Spectacular! Mouth: if you could distil pure minerals, bath salts and flints then drizzles them with tropical fruit syrups and jellies then you might alight on something like this. Plenty coastal notes, fresh seashore characteristics, menthol oils, petrol, old riesling, dried oregano and thyme, then something akin to orange oils and even - I’m almost sorry to say - some kumquat. Finish: long, getting ashier, drier, more mineral, more fragrantly smoky, more smouldering bracken, tar extract, sea water, lime juice, oyster sauce and even some kippery notes. Comments: Despite what I said about this alluding to 1960s Bowmores, the global character is really its own thing, which I find perhaps the most pleasing aspect. It has wee similarities here and there to Bowmores, Laphroaigs and even other Bruichladdichs but in the end, it emerges as its own style. The most thrilling thing of all though, is that it is genuinely brilliant whisky. Very fresh, pure, fruity, punchy, peaty and complex. We are all very happy.
SGP: 765 - 93 points.



Caperdonich-Glenlivet 12 yo 1965/1977 (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy) Caperdonich-Glenlivet 12 yo 1965/1977 (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: some rather strange notes of show polish, new leather and herb-infused olive oil to start. There’s also some OBE mixed in with all that which re-enforces the impression of that old ‘Cadenhead Dumpy’ style. Aspects like metal polish, plum jam, fruit preserves, prunes, a touch of cow sheds and some background sootiness. Certainly improves with time to breathe and wake up a little bit. In time there’s a nice, supple herbal quality, leathery notes, bovril, camphor and linseed oil. Mouth: nice texture. Very oily, syrupy and with some light cereals, soft green fruits, more linseed oil, candle wax, chopped dates, dried tarragon, mushroom powder and damp cellar earth. Finish: longish, rather sooty, metallic, earthy, mushroomy and oily. Comments: This one creates some disagreements between everyone about quality. It does indeed have some metallic and slightly OBE aspects, however, it does evolve rather beautifully given time and patience. Let’s tread the tightrope between generosity and caution...
SGP: 461 - 85 points.


Convalmore-Glenlivet 16 yo 1962/1979 (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy) Convalmore-Glenlivet 16 yo 1962/1979 (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy)
Colour: light gold. Nose: sooty waxes, white pepper, flowers, medical embrocations, metal polish, cough medicines, lemon rind and delicate mustard seed notes. Polished, gently waxy, light stone fruits and extremely attractive. A rather textbook example of old style highland malt whisky. Mouth: herbal liqueurs, waxes, citrus jellies, dried mint, tiger balm and mineral oils. There’s some sooty malt in the background but this is largely about the waxes, oily textures, gentle citrus qualities and this coal hearth sootiness that seems to pervade everything. Finish: long, drying, dusty malt bins, lemon skins, olive oil and camphor. Comments: Another superb old Dumpy and another superb old Convalmore. What’s not to love?
SGP: 572 - 90 points.


St. Magdalene 20 yo 1964/1984 (46%, Cadenhead Dumpy) St. Magdalene 20 yo 1964/1984 (46%, Cadenhead Dumpy)
Colour: light gold. Nose: fantastic richness. Oily, salty butter, many waxes, herbs, resins, soot and after a short while many, many subtle fruits. Lots of white stone fruits, citrus peels, crystallised fruits, mineral oils and many various dried herbs. Some black pepper, green tea, greenhouses, eucalyptus oils, menthol tobacco and dried wildflowers. Extremely beautiful! Mouth: minty, leafy, earthy, sooty, mushroomy, full of herbal oils, citrus peels with their pith, resins, ointments, precious hardwood extracts, dried thyme. There’s touches of cornflour as well, melon, dried guava, lamp oil, hessian sack cloth, waxed canvas and tea tree oils. Finish: long, drying, salty, leathery, waxy and full of grassy olive oil, marjoram, top notch grappa and pink grapefruit. Comments: A sublime old St Magdalene. Yet another example from this sadly lost distillery which really feels more like an old school highland make than a lowlander in the traditional sense. The definition of poise, balance, elegance and length.
SGP: 561 - 93 points.


Glen Grant-Glenlivet 21 yo 1957/1978 (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy) Glen Grant-Glenlivet 21 yo 1957/1978 (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy)
Colour: white wine. Nose: big, punchy, mineral, chiselled and with these light, fruit-accented waxes. Some medical tinctures, very soft heather honey notes, cloves, crisp cereals, lime zest and hessian. There’s some very delicate farmy notes as well, hints of hay loft, sheep wool and old workshops. Some salty lemons, almond oil and engine oil. Wonderful and abundant freshness, precision and purity. Mouth: many bready notes, spices, yeasty aspects, citrus-infused waxes, dried herbs, lambic ales, rye spice, pine cones, toasted sunflower seeds and caraway. Superb, bright, fruity and waxy precision. A total glory of a dram! Finish: long, lemony, yeasty, bready, floral and full of light citrus and white fruits. Some ink, chalk and lime zest. Comments: Superb old school Glen Grant. What a brilliant distillate.
SGP: 661 - 93 points.


Highland Park St Magnus Label (circa mid-1970s) Highland Park St Magnus Label (circa mid-1970s)
A very strange, rare and obscure bottling that no one seems to know much about. From appearances it looks to be a semi-official licensed bottling of Highland Park in the Cadenhead livery. There’s no info on strength, vintage, age, bottling date or much of anything at all beyond a rather beautiful St Magnus label on the old Cadenhead dumpy bottle. Let’s try it... Colour: deep amber. Nose: Oooft! Stewed prunes, salty old sherry, heathery peat, salted butterscotch, walnut oils, game meats, stewed fruits and wet sods of earth. Reminiscent of many of these old official sherried HPs from the 50s-70s. Salted mixes nuts, dunnage, soy sauce, sultanas soaked in cognac and a little fatty trace of peat. Mouth: big, dry, earthy sherry. Masses of coffee, bitter chocolate, dark fruits, cocoa, dried herbs, mushroom powder, smoked game meats, black truffle oil, mint tea and things like red liquorice, old leather and mutton. Pretty epic! It’s straightforward but clean, potent and displaying a totally superb sherry characteristic. Although, what I love most is that the HP personality also remains undimmed. Finish: long, earthy, nutty, salty, sherryish, lots of dark fruits, old sweet wines that start to become dry and leathery, meaty and mineral qualities. Comments: undoubtedly some wonderful old HP. I wish I knew more about the story behind this crazy old bottle...
SGP: 672 - 92 points. 


Highland Park 21yo (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy, Mario Rossi import, bottled circa late 1970s) Highland Park 21yo (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy, Mario Rossi import, bottled circa late 1970s)
This is most likely a 1956 or 1957 HP as Cadenhead bottled a few from those vintages also. Colour: deep gold. Nose: another level of textural, fatty, peat-infused waxiness. Sublime herbal liqueurs, menthol, minerals, beach pebbles, fruit extracts, citrus oils, medicines. A style of whisky that is utterly disappeared from contemporary bottlings. Poetic stuff! Mouth: stunning! A myriad amount of herbs, ointments, peats, waxes, oils, earthy notes, soots, roasted nuts, cured meats, various fruit oils, wood extracts, wormwood, tar, minerals, dark fruits. It’s hard to pinpoint specific things as it keeps evolving and changing so much. Please call the anti-maltoporn brigade immediately. Finish: outrageously long, rich, herbal, waxy; the character of herbal, earthy Orcadian peat which is just so distinctive, evocative and utterly sublime. What’s so wonderful is that it gives you such a sense of place, this kind of combination of aromas and flavours really only seems to exist in these old Highland Parks. Specifically the pre-1960s ones. Comments: What’s to say about such a thing? A liquid poem. Also, the peat was utterly sensational.
SGP: 773 - 95 points.


Oban 21 yo 1963/1984 (46%, Cadenhead dumpy) Oban 21 yo 1963/1984 (46%, Cadenhead dumpy)
Colour: gold. Nose: metal polish, soot, salted almonds, hessian, fruit stones, soft waxes, white mushrooms, gooseberry, lime jelly and many background, rising salty and coastal aspects. Gets fresher and more citrusy with time. Wee tertiary notes such as old tool boxes, engine grease, carbon paper, hay loft, wax paper and mirabelle eau de vie. Lovely! Mouth: superbly fatty and salty. Lots of salty peanuts and cashews, lemon jelly, quince paste, rosewater, some very subtle mango notes and hints of bay leaf, stock, sack cloth and lamp oil. Finish: medium-long. Rather waxy, dry, mineral and towards white flowers, beach pebbles and stone fruits. Comments: Excellent old Oban, a tad on the soft side at times but it compensates with excellent complexity and subtlety.
SGP: 472 - 91 points.


Bowmore 16 yo (46%, Cadenhead Dumpy, Mario Rossi import, -/+ 1985) Bowmore 16 yo (46%, Cadenhead Dumpy, Mario Rossi import, -/+ 1985)
Colour: white wine. Nose: Simcoe hops, fresh grapefruit, bath salts, preserved lemons, Um Bongo mixed with brine, passion fruit juice, mango chunks, newspaper ashes, mercurochrome and other medical tinctures. Unbridled coastal freshness, excessive tropical fruits, a grassy mix of nettle leaf, olive oil and New Zealand Sauvignon. We are encroaching upon anti-maltoporn brigade territory. Mouth: as my friend Jonny says on these occasions, “Fuck my arse!” A majestic mix of sea water, raw lemon juice, lime oils, crushed sea salt, kippery smoke, more fruit-infused brine, camphor, children’s sweetened cough syrup and smouldering peat embers. A touch of bready sourdough starter, lemon sherbet, lapsang souchong, gravadlax and green peppercorns in brine. Finish: Long, warming, full of intensely hoppy IPA, lemon peel, dried mango, pineapple syrup and sultanas, peat smoke and iodine. Comments: Outrageously delicious old Bowmore. Pure 60s style and devastatingly, almost upsettingly drinkable. Only a sight shred of ashiness in the finish prevents me from going higher.
SGP: 864 - 93 points.


Laphroaig 13 yo 1967/1980 (46%, Cadenhead Dumpy, Sherry Wood) Laphroaig 13 yo 1967/1980 (46%, Cadenhead Dumpy, Sherry Wood)
Probably no need to remind everyone that the stocks for this bottling were the sibling casks that were used for a later 15 year old example and the legendary 67 Samaroli Laphroaig as well. Expectations are pretty high... Colour: light amber. Nose: an outrageously fat and greasy coastal profile. A whole fishing harbour full of smoked mussles, capers, black olives, anchovies, sardines and tar all mixed up with brine, sea water, lemon juice, peat-infused waxes and many tertiary aspects such salty raisins, old leathery sweet wines, menthol tobacco ashes, preserved lemons, boiler smoke, coal hearths and a stray hospital spilling frothy medicines everywhere. Antiseptic mixed with black olive tapenade, new leather shoes, iodine tabs, TCP, old school cough syrup and a kind of grizzle, raw, metallic peat smoke. As you may have guessed, we have long since passed the point of calling the anti-maltoporn brigade. There are so many stunning and complex little characteristics in this whisky that we should really just declare it an aromatic masterpiece and move on to the palate... Mouth: tar matured in a rum barrel, blood orange pith, greasy smoke, boilers, car engines, silage, fermenting hay and lemons, salt-cured meats and notes of frying bacon smoked mead. This is grizzly, fatty, greasy, huge and also complex. The kind of whisky that commands your attention and kind of controls you. There’s a salty, dry old Madeira note, some kippers, some fishing nets, medicines and over time there’s also these deep, crystalised and dried tropical fruit notes. A kind of fruit mix with nuts, salt and various oily medicines. Yet again, this is the kind of taste you could wax lyrical about all night long. No wonder these 67 Laphroaigs have such a ridiculous reputation. Finish: endless, leathery, meaty, fatty, greasy peats, salty lemons, dried herbs, liqueurs, fruit syrups, wood extracts, gloopy medicines and some rather lean and chiselled minerals. And yet, ultimately, also harmonious and balanced. Utterly stunning! Comments: In this day and age it feels somewhat embarrassing to write such a tasting note given how scarce and generally unobtainable this sort of bottling is, however, I also feel it would be disingenuous to not record praise where it’s due. And it is certainly due here. A truly thrilling and also remarkably different whisky. I’d also add that it diverges somewhat from the 15yo version and the Samaroli in quite a distinctive fashion - these leathery, salty, farmyard and fishing port notes are just blinding. Whisky for the ages.
SGP: 797 - 97 points.



November 6, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Monday at Signatory
and Edradour
We actually tried considerably more whiskies than are recorded here, but, alas, I am only human. And perhaps more to the point, to write notes for every single one of them would be beyond shameful. What should be noted is that we had an incredible afternoon and evening at Edradour in the company and hospitality of Signatory. A whisky night for the ages...


Tamdhu 27 yo 1961/1989 (45%, Signatory Vintage, cask #4338, 250 bottles) Tamdhu 27 yo 1961/1989 (45%, Signatory Vintage, cask #4338, 250 bottles)
Colour: Light amber. Nose: a well polished, spruced and sexed up beehive. All manner of luxurious waxes, pollens, wild flowers, nectars, precious hardwood resins, exotic teas, some bitter chocolate, a touch of jasmine and a little green pepper bite. There’s rancio in there too, draped around some fig jam and boxes of expensive old vintage cigars. Mouth: ah good! It’s still fresh. There’s more tobacco and dried mint leaf. A few glimmers of fresher tropical fruits as well: mango, guava and a little citron as well. A tad too easy to sip away at - superbly pleasurable in other words. Lots of quince, subtle earthiness, some metal polish, various aged ointments, cough medicine, lanolin, more waxes, honeycomb, soot. A whole parade of textbook, delicious, aged malt whisky hallmarks. Some raisiny and old cognac notes as well. Finish: perhaps not the longest and maybe it starts to become a tad too drying, if we’re nit picking. There’s still wax, earth, rancio and lightly salty sherry aspect keeping everything extremely enjoyable though. Comments: Once again, old Tamdhu proves to be pretty special juice. Looses a little steam and one or two points in the finish but it’s still a wonderful and rather moving old glory. Not to mention a bewilderingly rare bottle as well I suppose. Anyway, still a solid...
SGP: 562 - 91 points.


Highland Park 30 yo 1988/2018 (49.7%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #755, hogshead, 220 bottles)
Highland Park 30 yo 1988/2018 (49.7%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #755, hogshead, 220 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: waxy cedar wood, honeyed oatmeal, soft heather ale, light dried herbs and gentle garden fruitiness. There’s a wee Orcadian coastal edge creeping in as well. Extremely pleasurable and elegant. Tiny glimmers of Orkney peat in the distance. Mouth: Superb! Wonderful soft peat smoke, fragrant waxes, beach pebbles, sandalwood and even some rather sublime tropical fruits. Hessian, camphor, a little lemon blossom. Evocative and pretty wonderful. Finish: long, lemony, fragrant mineral notes, sea salt, blossoms and herbs. Comments: Straightforward, delicious and beautifully elegant old HP!
SGP: 562 - 92 points. 


Mosstowie 45 yo 1973/2018 (51.6%, Signatory 30th Anniversary, cask #7622, refill sherry butt) Mosstowie 45 yo 1973/2018 (51.6%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #7622, refill sherry butt)
Colour: rich white wine. Nose: Sweet Vishnu! This is some very old yellow Chartreuse! Intensely green, fruity, herbal, sweet and full of pollens, honey, yellow flowers, quince jelly and things like cannabis oil and wormwood. Totally thrilling nose. With water: becomes more menthol rich, notes of pipe tobacco, hessian, olive oil, marzipan and dried tropical fruit mix. Mouth: green banana, a cavalcade of golden sultanas, pineapple, precious hardwoods, herbal extracts, ointments, waxes, tinned fruit syrups and lemon jelly. Silly whisky. With water: a wee nibble of mustardy wood, resinous crystalised fruits, white pepper, sweetened medicines and more of these wonderfully extractive herbal aspects. Finish: Long, spicy, lemony, nicely drying and a huge, echoing fruitiness. Comments: A total stunner. By some distance the best Mosstowie I ever tasted.
SGP: 851 - 92 points.


Glen Mhor 26 yo 1966/1993 (51.6%. Signatory Vintage, cask #4554, 230 bottles) Glen Mhor 26 yo 1966/1993 (51.6%. Signatory Vintage, cask #4554, 230 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: grassy, slightly greasy and full of this ‘Invernessian’ funk. Some porridge, concrete, cardboard and baked vegetables. But also waxes, carbon paper, soot, coal tar soap and oily farmyard notes. It seems to have been a polarising dram in tonight’s line up; some people thought it was ‘tough’ and some thought it was ‘more enjoyable than they thought. I can understand both perspectives. With water: more leafy qualities, milk chocolate, dry tobaocco, dusty milk bottle sweets and green wood. Mouth: yes, this is tough. Greasy tobacco leaf, sweaty cheese rinds and things like lime oil, boiler smoke, caraway and sour mint leaf. There’s also this waxy and milky side along with buttery toast, salty butter and more sour aspects. With water: still a tad tough and unforgiving, but still possessing some pleasing aspects of mustard powder, spice and a splash of cough medicine. Finish: medium length. Lots of caraway, curry leaf, peach stones and some cardboardy dryness. Comments: Like so many Glen Mhors, it is indeed a tough whisky. There are many attractive aspects, but it remains tough.
SGP: 462 - 82 points.


Clynelish 28 yo 1971/1999 (53.9%, Signatory Vintage, cask #2707, 285 bottles) Clynelish 28 yo 1971/1999 (53.9%, Signatory Vintage, cask #2707, 285 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: big, emphatic waxiness, petrol, olive oil, old riesling and salty butter on toast. Some truffle oil, soot, fermenting mead and some lighter bright fruit notes such as lychee, white flowers, green apple and hints of top notch grappa. With water: a whole meadow of wildflowers, pollens, herbs, honey, waxes, heather ale and toasted cereals. Majestic whisky! Mouth: superb power and delivery. A huge surge of waxes, pine resins, herbal oils, some very light peaty notes, natural tar, greengage, honey and sandalwood. Just brilliant old school Clynelish! With water: spiced wax, menthol tobacco, ointments, coal dust, wood resins, marc de gewurz and bright white fruits. Finish: Long, sharp, dry, earthy, waxy and herbal. Many bitter citrus peels emerging in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m afraid we have struck yet another spectacular old Clynelish!
SGP: 672 - 93 points.


Laphroaig 27 yo 1967/1994 (49.8%, Signatory Vintage, cask #2955, 182 bottles)

Laphroaig 27 yo 1967/1994 (49.8%, Signatory Vintage, cask #2955, 182 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: some pretty intense and typical exotic fruitiness. Also resinous citrus, IPA, gloopy medicines, lemon thyme, wet beach pebbles, hessian and sheep wool. Metallic, oily and full of textural peat, lime zest, anchovy paste, mango puree and sharp citrus juices. Pretty brilliant whisky. Mouth: big herbal resins, oily peat smoke, hessian rags, tropical fruit jellies and syrups and notes of hops, old rope, tar and gentle old medicines. Straightforward, clean and superbly beautiful old Laphroaig that pretty much epitomises this 1960s style. Finish: long, drying, leathery, acrid peat smoke, flints, beach pebbles, minerals, coal smoke and pithy citrus rinds. Comments: Terrific old Laphroaig. Not as brilliant or crazy as some of the casks in this series, but isn’t that pretty much splitting hairs?
SGP: 774 - 93 points.




November 5, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Port Ellen Pitstop at Fiddlers
Despite a hail of wasps and leaping salmon we somehow managed to fight our way into Fiddler’s Inn at Drumnadrochit for some fine drams and truly excellent food. Thankfully the great Speyburn mines were open for business. And what’s great about staying at Fiddlers is that if you want a discount all you need to do is threaten to leave a bad review on Trip Advisor. Consider that an exclusive Whiskyfun tip.


Sennachie 30 yo single malt (43%, William Brown & Sons, bottled circa 1980) Sennachie 30 yo single malt (43%, William Brown & Sons, bottled circa 1980)
A rare, strange and frustratingly obscure bottle that everyone likes but no one seems to be able to agree on... Colour: gold. Nose: pin sharp grapefruit, lemon juice, tropical fruit juices, herb infused incense, lime zest, light olive oil notes, citrus fruits, soft waxes and pine resins. Over a little time it goes more towards cut grass, eucalyptus oils and hints of soot, nutmeg and blood orange. Quite amazingly intense fruits and freshness. Some people are saying Bowmore but, on the nose along, I would really go more towards an old style Speyside such as Longmorn. Mouth: again this big, rich, fatty, fresh fruitiness strikes first. An abundance of citrus oils, ripe tropical fruits, waxes, tiny metal polish notes, a few medical tinctures and green tea. Mirabelle, green banana, fruity cough medicine, lime cordial and elderflower syrup. I still feel the ‘Longmorn-ey’ qualities. The intensity of the fruit and this wispy, elegant, hugely exotic character is undeniably spellbinding. Finish: could be longer but still hangs around with these drying tropical notes, peach stones, some tannin and light camphor notes. Comments: A real find. Totally surprising and really deliciously fruity old malt whisky. It feels to me like an old Speysider but who knows when you think that this was almost certainly distilled in the 1950s. A tad short in the finish but it’s a small criticism when the fruit is so brazen and abundant throughout.
SGP: 741 - 91 points. 


Port Ellen 11 yo 1981/1993 (46%, Cadenhead Original Collection) Port Ellen 11 yo 1981/1993 (46%, Cadenhead Original Collection)
Colour: white wine. Nose: as our new friend Herr Kruger says: “the unmistakeable devastation of sandy peat notes”. And seeing as he imported over 130 bottles of this one to Germany I feel he is probably a decent authority on the subject of this bottling. Elsewhere we’re finding some really beautiful waxy lemon rind, many fresh, crisp cereals, dusty malt bins, coal smoke, mint tea, scallops frying in bacon fat and some very pure, clean medicinal notes. We’re not far away from the famous Scottish Wildlife Port Ellen 10 year old by Signatory. Many softer background notes of white flowers, beach pebbles and crushed seashells. Harmonic and beautiful. Mouth: wow! A truly emphatic and all-encompassing mouthfeel. Oily, waxy, greasy and yet also clean, lemony, peaty, naturally sweet and malty. Some chopped parsley mixed in olive oil with natural tar, rope and capers. There’s also brine, petrol and mineral oil. Fantastic stuff! Finish: Super long, hefty and starting to move towards this slightly natural dirtiness that Port Ellen so often displays. Fermenting lemons, iodine and old fish nets. Comments: Yet another nail in the coffin of that old horseshit about Port Ellen being crap when it was young. A totally beautiful and thoroughly charming young PE.
SGP: 575 - 92 points.


Port Ellen 16 yo 1983/1999 (43%, Cooper’s Choice, VA.MA import)Port Ellen 16 yo 1983/1999 (43%, Cooper’s Choice, VA.MA import) Port Ellen 16 yo 1983/1999 (43%, Cooper’s Choice, VA.MA import)
Colour: gold. Nose: grains cooked in olive oil with brine and lemon juice. It goes on with peppered mackerel, smoked salmon with horseradish and some freshly grated black pepper. African mustard oil, fragrant earl grey tea and some red fruit-infused teas as well. Very subtle and elegant, although perhaps that may have something to do with the strength. But the aroma does indeed possess this really soft coastal characteristic, lots of fresh sea air, salty beach wood and dried seaweed. Mouth: oily medicines, fisherman’s boots, mercurochrome, vapour rubs and smoked earthy notes. More towards a classical, latter era Port Ellen style on the palate. Some kippery notes, smoky grist, boiler smoke and tarry rope. Finish: long, full of dirty lemons, salty seaweed, green olives in dirty martinis, chalk and crushed aspirin with iodine. Comments: very good Port Ellen. Not as thrilling as the 11 year old but still excellent, dependable and classical in style.
SGP: 475 - 89 points.


Port Ellen 24 yo 1975/1999 (43%, Signatory Vintage, cask #1761, 362 bottles)

Port Ellen 24 yo 1975/1999 (43%, Signatory Vintage, cask #1761, 362 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: beautifully fragrant, all on smoked lavender, pressed wildflowers, German smoked beers, cured game meats, various precious ointments, old medicinal liqueurs, tar resins, toasted pine cones and a beautifully sharp, peppery peaty quality. Chiselled and direct but also broad, complex and very expressive. Mouth: even at 43% the peat feels really big, fat and almost like it quilts the palate in a big, boggy, peaty blanket. In amongst it all there’s preserved lemons, sardines in brine, cooked artichoke, lime oils and pink sea salt. Straightforward, pure and brilliant! Finish: Long, lemony, ashy, briny, peppery, oily and wonderfully peaty. Comments: Short and sweet. A great wee Port Ellen. Always a pleasure to see how these 1980s and 1970s vintages differ from each other and to kind of ‘listen’ to the voice of the distillate as it evolved over the years.
SGP: 576 - 91 points.



Ardbeg 1974/1983 (59%, Samaroli, 2400 bottles, sherry) Ardbeg 1974/1983 (59%, Samaroli, 2400 bottles, sherry)
I know that Serge already tried this one a couple of times on Whiskyfun, but three times the charm I suppose... Colour: amber. Nose: intense, high-spectrum peat notes. Masses of pure tar extract, pine resins, salt crusted old rope, fishing nets, camphor, warehouse mould, raw sea salt, sheep wool, black olives and paraffin. Massively intense, salty, pure and extremely powerful. Further notes of anchovy paste, raw oysters, fermenting lemon juice, dunnage, salted blood oranges and hessian rags soaked in kerosine. With water: a glimmer of fruit emerges. Citrus fruit rinds, antiseptic, medicines, green chartreuse, caraway and a big muttony, farmy, sheep wool aspect. Mouth: Oooft! Massively peaty! Peat with the texture of foie gras. Meaty, fatty, oily and full of raw sea water, briny olives, sardines, smoked mussels, kelp, petrol and smoked wax. Massive whisky! With water: cured ham, smoked honey, old mead, raw iodine, TCP, mouthwash, herbal toothpaste, smoky aspirin (if such at thing exists) and a clean rubber note. Gets drier, harder, more peppery, more peaty and displays more greasy boiler smoke and smoked fish notes. Amazing and immense! Finish: Pretty endless! The most grisly, intense, fatty and peppery manifestation of peat you can imagine. Makes Octomore taste like Speyburn with a limp!
SGP: 589 - 93 points.



November 4, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Saturday: Clynelish & Assorted Deliciousness
During a very enjoyable trip to Clynelish we were fortunate enough to try the legendary Giaccone 12 year old rotation 1971 in the old Clynelish warehouses. Such a joy to try a personal favourite so close to its home. We also learned that the work on the old distillery is progressing well and that they are about to start rejuvenating the original stills and, perhaps most exciting of all, the floor maltings will be put to use again. Roll on 2020... in the meantime, let’s record some more assorted notes.


Speyburn-Glenlivet 18 yo 1975/1993 (46%, Cadenhead Original Collection)
Speyburn-Glenlivet 18 yo 1975/1993 (46%, Cadenhead Original Collection)
As the old saying goes: ‘It’s not a whisky tour until someone cracks a Speyburn...’ Colour: white wine. Nose: crisp, clean and naturally sweet cereals. Bailed hay, grass, chopped herbs, white flowers, some citrus peels and a few stone fruits. Easy, elegant, fruity and somewhat disappointingly - although unsurprisingly - good. Develops a lovely mineral side that moves towards a light waxiness. Very good! Mouth: again this natural sweetness is abundant. Lots of hay, buttery cereals, watercress, mineral oils, white fruit syrups, gooseberry and a touch of hessian and sunflower oil. Finish: medium in length, some cod liver oil, more cereals, buttery toast, trail mix, marzipan. Excellent. Comments: “Probably the best Speyburn ever!” says Geert. You wouldn’t believe...
SGP: 641 - 89 points.


Longmorn 10 yo (43%, OB for France, -/+ 1980) Longmorn 10 yo (43%, OB for France, -/+ 1980)
Serge already tried this one a few years ago and wasn’t impressed. Since then I was always curious to try it myself. Colour: light gold. Nose: lots of metal polish, soot, lemon oils and generally good OBE qualities. Continues with a few copper coins, some oily rags, some kumquats (Marcel isn’t in the room just now) and notes of lychee and kiwi which feels a little more classically Longmorn. Gets a little drier and more towards polished notes and crystalised fruits. Mouth: Good! Nice punchy delivery. Waxy, some gritty minerality, more polish, more waxy fruits, lemon oils, dry grist and some red cola cubes. Finish: long, waxy, lemony, oily and pleasantly drying. Comments: I wonder if there are different batches of this one? Or perhaps the sample Serge wrote notes for was contaminated? Who knows. Anyway, I find it very lovely.
SGP: 561 - 87 points.


Bowmore 36 yo 1966/2002 (43.20%, Duncan Taylor Peerless, cask #3306, 201 bottles) Bowmore 36 yo 1966/2002 (43.20%, Duncan Taylor Peerless, cask #3306, 201 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: as expected, this is an absolute embarrassment of tropical fruits, exotic fruit syrups, herbal extracts, hoppy IPA, lime, passion fruits, mango, papaya, guava, green banana, star fruit and coconut water. There is peat in there but it’s almost like the most delicate background web of wispy smoke holding the whole thing together. Totally stunning! Anti-maltoporn territories! Mouth: top quality cannabis mixed into a smoothie with fresh tropical fruits. A splash of very old medicine, old yellow chartreuse, precious ointments, dried tropical fruits, salty beach pebbles, sandalwood and an increasing camphory and waxy quality. Finish: rather soft but the fruits, minerals, fragrant beach woods and herbs all hang around for an absolute age. Comments: Yet another stunning 60s Bowmore. A flavour and style which just screams brilliance and class. Total filth!
SGP: 753 - 93 points.


Dalmore 15 yo 1963/1978 (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy) Dalmore 15 yo 1963/1978 (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a very ‘dumpy’ style. That is to say: waxes, hessian, olive oil, minerals, chiselled and petrolic. A riesling drinkers whisky. And, in this case, a riesling makers whisky as well, given that this bottle came from Olivier. Wee touches of crisp, waxy cereals, sunflower oil, dried thyme, canvas and chalk. Develops along a rather chiselled, precise and slightly austere line. However, the profile is globally very lively and compelling. More cereals and muesli emerge in time along with grapefruit pith and lemon peel. Mouth: mustard seeds, slightly smoky barley, pink lemonade and salted liquorice. Indeed, the coastal aspects are louder and more vivid on the palate with these notes of sardines in oil, dried seaweed and miso broth from some excellent ramen. White flowers and tart gooseberry as well. Lovely! Finish: Long and full of salty, brittle minerals, mineral oils and sharp white pepper with a little fresh lemon juice. Comments: Yet another terrific old Cadenhead Dumpy. Extremely close to the distillate. A pure and beautiful old school Dalmore, delightfully un-ruined by wine cask bollocks.
SGP: 662 - 91 points.


Tamdhu 17 yo (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy, 1970s)

Tamdhu 17 yo (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy, 1970s)
Colour: white wine. Nose: sublime waxiness. All waxes, carbon paper, old inkwells, light natural tar, pine cones, mineral oils, old Loire chenin and lamp oils. A beautifully deep, textural and layered aroma. The kind that just screams ‘old style malt whisky’. It possesses  this ‘Cadenhead dumpy’ style again, but then I suspect that character we associate with these dumpies is really just the general character old style malt whiskies from the 50s and 60s that went into these bottlings. Marvellous stuff! Mouth: superb richness and fatty waxiness. Lots of pepper, wormwood, cannabis oils, herbal extracts, menthol resins, cloves, olive oil and juniper berries. Not intensely complex but the flavours are beautifully precise, composed and balanced. Pure joy! Finish: Long, leathery, peppery, waxy and full of garden and white fruits. Comments: as our filthy Dutch friends like to say ‘heel lekker’!
SGP: 672 - 92 points. 



Glenlivet 12 yo (45.8%, OB, 1960s) Glenlivet 12 yo (45.8%, OB, 1960s)
Colour: light gold. Nose: these old style Glenlivets have this rather fat, pine needle quality I find and this one really shows it in spades. Peppery, fatty, waxy and with this glistening, syrupy fruitiness. Bright, juicy, full of various shades of citrus, different oils, herbal resins, sheep wool, tropical fruit salad, herbal toothpaste and menthol cigarette tobacco. Just a totally different world of character and style compared to today’s Glenlivets. It’s bottlings such as this one which makes me increasingly feel that you could almost consider all distilleries ‘closed’ distilleries to some extent. Mouth: full of precious oils, resins, herbal extracts, menthol, soot, camphor, cedar wood and dried mint. Develops a wonderfully rich and natural sweetness that hinges around glazed fruits, children’s cough syrups and mint liqueur. Finish: long, citrusy, waxy, full of orange oil, dried herbs, heather honey, wildflowers and a little caraway. Comments: these old Glenlivets are really pretty dreadful. I wouldn’t recommend you buy them. I hear they are particularly full of carcinogens...
SGP: 661 - 91 points.


Longmorn 29 yo 1972/2001 (45%, Blackadder, cask #1097, sherry hogshead, 272 bottles) Longmorn 29 yo 1972/2001 (45%, Blackadder, cask #1097, sherry hogshead, 272 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: it’s a big, leathery and meaty style of sherry but also clean and with a dense fruit and nut quality underneath. Guinness cake, pecans, walnut oils, tropical fruit compotes, lamp oils, furniture waxes, precious hardwood resins and notes of strong jasmine tea. Pot pourri, old calvados and various expensive tobaccos. Beautifully complex, fruity old style sherry. Mouth: superbly leathery, resinous fruity and earthy with more abundant toasted nuts, walnut wines, old pinot noir and stewed dark fruits. These soft notes of gingerbread, dried mango, golden sultanas and dried apple rings are ridiculously luxurious and delicious. Finish: long and moving towards a soft, dense earthiness, bitter chocolate, cured meats, black pepper and lemon wax. Comments: Super, uber, mega-lekker! I believe the great artist Hans Dillesse uses this as a base layer for some of his more expensive commissions.
SGP: 761 - 93 points.


Not sure to what extent American Whiskey’s count as Malternatives, but it’s Sunday and this is the best I can do Whiskyfun I’m afraid...  


American Medicinal Spirits Co. Distillery 5. Spring 1916 - Fall 1933 (100 US proof, 50%, OB) American Medicinal Spirits Co. Distillery 5. Spring 1916 - Fall 1933 (100 US proof, 50%, OB)
Colour: rosewood. Nose: deep, intensely polished and brimming with incense, pot pourri, orange bitters, cloves, liquorice, dry wood spices, cola cubes and fruity red chilli heat. There’s also this medicinal aspect as well, a kind of concentrated, very spicy cough medicine. Given time it unfolds with notes of mint leaf, old pipe tobacco, unlit cigars in cedar boxes, blood oranges and some soft notes of caraway. Really beautiful. Not just an emotional old whisky, but aromatically majestic and technically brilliant. The kind of aroma that makes you realise just how spectacular and idiosyncratic American whiskey is when its at its best. A style you just cannot replicate anywhere else I think. Mouth: the level in this one was pretty low but you still feel the power and the sinew of the distillate and the quality of the wood even after so many decades in that tiny half bottle. Orange oils, sharp spices, textural citrus fruit pastes, rinds and oils. Menthol tobacco, leather, very distant dried herbal aspects and a sooty, earthy and almost greasy quality. More of these cough medicine notes, boot polish, bay leaf, strong black tea and an intensely peppery, clean wood spice quality. Finish: long, earthy, sooty, camphory, waxy, peppery and wonderfully spicy. Big, echoing mulled spice notes. Some chamomile and herbal teas. Hardwood resins. Comments: I know shamefully little about American Whiskey but I feel that I know enough to recognise the level of balance and complexity and power in this wee slice of liquid history. An embarrassingly pleasurable whiskey.
SGP: 681 - 90 points. 


Four Roses (OB, bottled circa 1915) Four Roses (OB, bottled circa 1915)
A very old bottle with no label, only a beautiful bottle with all the details moulded in glass. One of the lines in the top of the bottle states that the mould was approved in 1914 so we know it was bottled after time and almost certainly prior to prohibition. Colour: gold. Nose: Oooft! Powerfully sooty and polished. Really a departure from the wood-driven style of American bourbons we are generally used to. It’s almost a distillate driven style with these notes of dried apple peel, limoncello, herbal cough syrups, buttery toast, mirabelle and caraway. Some fresh breads, sweet biscuits, citrus peels and earthy camphor notes. Quite remarkable and totally beguiling. Mouth: soft, but also textually rather oily and buttery. Notes of oatmeal, honey, toasty pastries, old citrus liqueurs, strawberry syrups, clove oils, muscovado sugar, meat stock and savoury pastries. Finish: not the longest but very orangey and full of lemon oils, dusty barley notes and various sugar syrups. Comments: a real surprise. Not as thrilling in terms of pure pleasure as the Medicinal Spirits Co bottling, but a really instructive and unusual glimpse into American distilling history. I never tried an old American whiskey that was so driven by the distillate over and above the wood. There is wood and there is sweetness, but it’s manifest in an entirely unusual way. I suspect it’s very young.
SGP: 551 - 83 points.


Rrewco Rye Whisky Spring 1917 - Spring 1932 (100 US proof, 50%, OB) Rrewco Rye Whisky Spring 1917 - Spring 1932 (100 US proof, 50%, OB)
Interesting to note the European spelling of ‘whisky’ on this one. Colour: deep amber. Nose: another intense aroma that’s full of polished spices, shoe leather, deep, unctuous wood resins and beyond that the aroma is riddled with dark fruits, orange peels, citrus rinds and camphor soaked canvas rags. The nose is really intense but it’s undeniably thrilling and terrifically spicy. The spice is simmering, poised, clean and beautifully polished and clear. Cinnamon, liquorice, cloves, ointments and tar. The level in this wee pint bottle was higher and the freshness really sings loud and clear as a result. These rye spice notes are just wonderful. Mouth: the strength is more balanced than the nose would suggest. Lots of spiced oils, paprika, dried herbs, pumpernickel bread, lime zest, soot and old ink wells. Many orange bitters, oils and zesty notes as well - blood orange, grapefruit pith, tar liqueur, old rope and some kind of old natural tar liqueur. Immense, potent and crazy whisky. Perhaps bordering on too bitter and spicy, but that may well be my palate. It’s still brilliant. Finish: long, drying, earthy and packed with black pepper, herbal teas, ointments and cough medicine. Mighty stuff! Comments: I can understand why some would find this bordering on too intense but it’s a beast that’s well worth taming and spending time getting to know. This kind of intense, poised, impactful spiciness is the kind of character and flavour in whiskey which is a real rarity in my opinion. A glimpse into a long-vanished past.
SGP: 692 - 91 points.


I think one more wee dram and that’s probably enough for today...  


Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, rotation 1971) Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, rotation 1971)
The legendary Clynelish alluded to at the top of this wee tasting article. Old school, original Clynelish distilled in the late 1950s and bottled in 1971 at full strength. It might be worth noting that the first time I tasted this whisky was at Whiskyfun HQ in Turckheim some years ago, it had a pretty profound affect on me at the time and still resonates to this day. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s another level of purity, freshness and precision. The kind of power and intensity that goes beyond such descriptions as ‘austere’ or ‘tough’. This is a pretty brutal and uncompromising whisky, but it possesses a character that defies such easy or neat categorisations. There is a fruitiness there. It’s white, tart, clean and bright. A mix of lychee, blossoms, honey, various nectars, pollens and waxy citrus rinds. The intensity is just spectacular. Anyone that finds themselves presented with the opportunity should endeavour to try this whisky if they can. It and its siblings are really the ultimate and emblematic examples of what great Scottish malt whisky derived from the character of its raw ingredients and distilling and brewing human skills should be. There are technically better whiskies out there, but there’s something about this one which remains truly profound and speaks meaningfully about what good whisky can and should be. With water: fragrant flint smoke, sunflower oil, anchovies in brine, olive oil, wood ash, molten candle wax. Astonishing! A depth of aroma that’s truly compelling. Mouth: wax dissolved in petrol. White flowers. Salty beach pebbles and old wood. Embrocations. Salty butter. Many, many beautiful tertiary things. Anti-maltoporn brigade on speed dial if you please. Although, sometimes I think it does these sorts of whiskies a disservice to not describe them properly and do them true justice. Myriad flinty, mineral and waxy aspects and complexities all twirling and dancing together. Intense, powerful and assertive yet also balances and harmonic. With water: tiny edges of mustard heat, white pepper, watercress. A broad, fatty slick of waxes, pine sap, herbal resins, oils, camphor, pitch, tar and waxed canvas. Anti-maltoporn brigade etc, etc... Finish: long, as you might imagine, a slow, unwinding snake of petrolic waxes, tar, peppers, oils, white fruits, flowers and pollen. Astonishingly beautiful whisky! Comments: In an attempt to make up for all that flowery verbiage above, all I’ll say is that this deserves its reputation and it is a special and remarkable whisky. It is not only delicious and brilliant on a technical level, it also says a lot about what Scotch whisky can be as a drink in its own right. It’s an ideological whisky if you will. And a successful one at that I’d add.
SGP: 682 - 95 points.



November 3, 2018



A good bunch of friends are currently in Scotland for one of those whisky-fuelled trips we’re doing each and every year. Sadly, I couldn’t go this time, but our own Angus is there and will report, ‘weather permitting’.




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Friday: Dornoch & Hideo’s 60th Birthday
As seems to happen once every year or so these days, a bundle of us have gathered in Scotland to celebrate whisky, friendship and general nonsense and good times. This year is a loosely themed tour that will encompass Signatory, Cadenhead, Dornoch Castle and Fiddler’s Inn. But before all that, we kick off with a night of varied and remarkable drams in honour of our great friend Hideo’s 60th birthday. (May include dead parrots and engorged lobsters)


Teacher’s Highland Cream (bottled -/+ 1920, driven cork) Teacher’s Highland Cream (bottled -/+ 1920, driven cork)
A rather beautiful bottle with a sadly destroyed label but an excellently intact capsule. Old Ardmore ahoy... Colour: deep gold. Nose: sharp, punchy, diesely and metallic. The kind of old school blend aroma that really takes you to another era. There’s a grubbly, appley scent of grain in there, but it’s generally swamped by greasy, grisly, earthy malt whisky characteristics. A whole chimney of accumulated soot, grime and damp soil. Hints of truffle mustard, copper coins, metal polish, ancient ointments and long-dried mixed herbs. What’s most impressive is that, even after all these years, it still feels fresh and punchy on the nose. The alcohol really feels undimmed. Mouth: like you turned soot into some kind of cordial! There’s even notes of long dried wildflowers, citrus rind, olive oil, throat lozenges, metal polish and cough syrup. Some ancient herbal liqueurs and various umami notes such as shoe polish, roast nuts, old teas and old, crusty leather. Finish: medium in length but rather bitter in a good way like sharp, herbal cocktail bitters, old paper, metal filings and liquorice. Comments: the school teachers had it good in the 1920s it seems!
SGP: 362 - 89 points.


Islay Mist (70 proof, bottled 1960s, short ‘Laphroaig’ cap) Islay Mist (70 proof, bottled 1960s, short ‘Laphroaig’ cap)
A rare and rather enticing bottle that should contain a significant ‘chunk’ of old Laphroaig... colour: gold. Nose: a greasy mollusc just rode a smoked salmon into battle! (says Jon!) Jon also says that there are some rather powerful, Laphroaig-derived characteristics but they are somewhat buried underneath grain, bottling ABV and time. I can’t say I disagree with this assessment. But... give it time and it really starts to reveal and spectacular fattiness. It’s big, greasy, oily and possessing of a pretty sumptuous peatiness that really alludes to older, 1960s style Laphroaig. Even at 40% you get a real sense of what immense whiskies are sloshing about in the depths of this one. Mouth: drier than expected. Really earthy, sooty, rooty and herbal. Almost acrid with this dryness but it’s also hugely impressive with the amount of peat that’s in there. There’s also a really impressive lack of OBE; there is a lick of old bottle metallic quality but it’s really buried under this tarry, camphory peat. Quite immense for 40%. Finish: Good length. Not the longest but still hugely peaty - like the blast of air from a hot, smoky kiln. Also salty, resinous and dryly herbal. Comments: An undeniably thrilling whisky. It’s hard sometimes to separate yourself from the legend of such old brands like Islay Mist. However, on this occasion the quality measures up in my opinion. Very hard to detect much grain, if any, in the mix after all these years.
SGP: 376 - 91 points.


Springbank 30 yo 1962 (46%, OB for Japan, dark sherry, +/-1992) Springbank 30 yo 1962 (46%, OB for Japan, dark sherry, +/-1992)
Needless to say, this is a rather ridiculous and legendary bottling. Expectations are rather lofty... Colour: Walnut, almost brown. Nose: I mean, it’s almost just the most pure and spectacular VORS Oloroso sherry. Salty, nutty, earthy, meaty, fatty... everything you can think of in this style. It moves back and forth between wee tertiary aspects such as bitter, chilli-infused chocolate, sharp woody spices, earthy exotic teas, sandalwood, precious hardwoods and the best and freshest espresso. But, in all honest, it’s really a job for the antimaltoporn brigade. We are approaching a rare kind of perfection; it’s upsetting in as many ways as it’s chillingly brilliant. Mouth: cured meats blitzed with intensely spectacular coffee; salty liquorice; marmite; umami paste; walnut wine; bitter herbal liqueurs and a superbly intense earthy/spicy mixture. These old Springbanks are really another galaxy of quality. I’d say call the antimaltoporn brigade but, in all honesty, I’m not sure their equipment has been sufficiently upgraded post-brexit to deal with this level of insanity in whisky. Finish: as endless, nutty, earthy, exotic, bitter, chocolatey and riddled with old school teas, coffee, salty meat and crystalised fruits as you might imagine. Comments: What’s really to say? A Springbank for the ages...
SGP: 672 - 95 points.


Laphroaig 21 yo 1980 (48.8%, Kingsbury, cask #61, barrel, 229 bottles, +/-2001) Laphroaig 21 yo 1980 (48.8%, Kingsbury, cask #61, barrel, 229 bottles, +/-2001)
Colour: light gold. Nose: a light and citrussy kind of smoke. Really a mix of old style tropical Laphroaig with more chiselled, mineral-centric modern style examples. Mineral salts, soy sauce, fish sauce, miso and lime juice. The fruits gain intensity with air time. Eventually you get a more exuberant profile that displays mango, preserved lemons, olive oil and things like guava, clove oil and metal polish. A rather beguiling character of Laphroaig that dances between eras in a way that is at times frustrating but also undeniably charming. Mouth: more lime, more tropical fruits but also more saltiness, more beach pebbles, more things like salted fish, fresh oysters, tutti frutti, pineapple syrup, ointments and antiseptic. The texture feels bigger than the ABV in a way which is again rather deceptive and beguiling. A mysterious Laphroaig in a long dark trench coat. Finish: long and all on green and black olives in brine, capers, lemon juice, tropical fruit juices, iodine, peat smoke and black pepper. Comments: I can understand why some people would find this one frustrating or somewhat obtuse. However, to my palate it’s a charming and rather fascinating dram that straddles two distinct eras of this great distillery in a pretty exemplary way.
SGP: 567 - 92 points.


Longrow 1973/1988 (50%, Samaroli Fragments Of Scotland, 648 bottles)

Longrow 1973/1988 (50%, Samaroli Fragments Of Scotland, 648 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: what’s really remarkable about this one, and indeed many of the 1970s Longrows, is this peculiar and compelling combination of purity and fattiness. A sensation of salinity, taughtness, oily seaweed and, on the other hand, a big, textural, almost greasy style of peaty distillate. Boiler smoke, farmyard, smoked oysters, fermenting soy sauce, old hay and sooty fire hearths. Underneath there’s a bewildering array of more subtle complexities. Notes of salted lemon, bacon fat, brine, green olive, shoe polish, hot metal coins, smoked chalk, iodine, antiseptic and salty olive oil. The kind of whisky that pins you in its spotlight. Mouth: perhaps what’s most obvious is that it has been bottled at a perfect strength. Everything feels in its place. It’s texturally fat, oily, slick and poised. While at the same time the peat is engrossing, greasy and at points brutal. In between it all there’s herbs, teas, citrus peels, shellfish, minerals and earthy and sooty qualities. Amazing whisky! Finish: Superbly long, salty, clean, medical, sharp, citrussy, lightly fruity and bright. A masterclass! Comments: I’ve tried this whisky more than a few times now. While it obviously has a strong reputation, I think there’s a chance it remains even slightly underrated. It’s really one of the great Longrows in my humble opinion.
SGP: 476 - 93 points.



Yamazaki 24 yo 1979/2003 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #119.2, ‘A night a the opera’, Mizunara oak) Yamazaki 24 yo 1979/2003 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #119.2, ‘A night a the opera’, Mizunara oak)
Something of a legendary bottling in Japanese whisky circles. Colour: amber. Nose: extremely polished in a way that only old Japanese whiskies seem to be able to achieve. A combination of beeswax, herbal resins, pipe tobacco, cough medicine, precious hardwoods, exotic teas, crystalised fruits, old mead and new leather. Quite remarkable levels of concentration and intensity. In time there’s fruity red teas, jasmine and dried pot pourri. With water: hugely sooty, fatty, greasy and spicy. Hot smoked paprika, cloves, turmeric and lapsang souchong. Amazing stuff! Mouth: an immense but at the same time controlled and luxurious waxiness, simmering wood spices, mulled cider, chamois leather, camphor, hessian sack cloth and all manner of oils, resins, candle wax, soot, herbal liqueurs and dark fruits. There’s also black coffee, lime zest and various cured, spiced meat notes. With water: hugely dense dark fruits. Quince, spiced prunes, black olives, masses of syrupy coconut, exotic spices and many precious hardwood shavings. Huge intensity, spice and complexity. Finish: loooooooong! Poised, sharply spiced fruits. An abundance of black pepper, ointments, fir liqueur, toasted pine cones and various intense wood saps. Comments: On a theoretical level, it is perfectly understandable why this is a hugely well-respected and legendary bottling. Thankfully that also holds true on a personal level; what a terrific, immensely concentrate and flavoursome whisky. Although, I’d hazard it’s the Yamazaki rather than the Mizunara that’s weaving the most profound magic here...
SGP: 662 - 93 points.



November 2, 2018


More characterful Ben Nevis for more pleasure

Ben Nevis, there are more and more good ones around, we won’t complain, not much to add…

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2018 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 12518, 168 bottles)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2018 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 12518, 168 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: ooh it’s a dirty one, acrid, sooty, ashy, with notes of rotting vegetables, feints, old yoghurt, butter, moss, ink, forest floor in November (and why not?)… All lovely things, if you’re into those sorts of things, naturally. With water: a notch cleaner, also more cereally, we’re almost nosing porridge mixed with clay. Mouth (neat): it’s much fruitier, acidic, extremely lemony, tart, almost pungent. Chewing lemon peels (which is meant to be extremely good for our health, I’ve heard). With water: brilliant now. Lime and limestone, how fitting! Finish: rather long, wonderfully mineral and citrusy, with these very wee Bennevisy ‘dirt’ in the background. Comments: probably not for our old uncles who drink Macallan at 43% vol., but there, I’m a fan.
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1991/2018 (55.3%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #8, sherry, cask #2375, 561 bottles)

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1991/2018 (55.3%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #8, sherry, cask #2375, 561 bottles) Four stars and a half
Remember, with this series they’re rounding off the ages, so indeed you’re right, this baby’s older than just 25. Colour: straw. Nose: epitomically Ben Nevis, that is to say dirty, fabric-y, porridge-y, with some walnuts as well, some soot, old basement, vase water, moss, that forest floor with assorted mushrooms and autumn leaves, a drop of Jerez vinegar and old oloroso, etc. With water: not a lot of changes, I would say. Oyster mushrooms are very obvious to me. Saponin too. Mouth (neat): fantastic, and clearly sulphury, while that would be some plain asset in this context. Some gin (I know I have to apologize for mentioning gin on a so called whisky blog), plus oranges, chalk, paraffin, lemon… Totally brilliant in my book (but then again, our old uncles would probably disagree). With water: careful with water, that would make loads of bitter grasses come out. But with a few drops, it’ more the waxiness that gets enhanced. Finish: long, really waxy now. Oils, sooty things, mushrooms, tarmac, bitter grass… Comments: approaching perfection here.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1998/2017 (50.5%, Cask & Thistle for SCSM, marsala finish, cask #9895, 310 bottles)

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1998/2017 (50.5%, Cask & Thistle for SCSM, marsala finish, cask #9895, 310 bottles) Four stars
SCSM means Single Cask Single Malt (why complicate matters?) These cool people are in China, mind you! Colour: amber. Nose: the marsala worked well, more or less in a madeira way, if I may. So we’re having walnuts and a touch of mustard, then some fino – or even manzanilla – that complement Ben Nevis’s mineral and almost garage-y style well. Actually they do tango, which is not very surprising. With water: wet rocks, concrete, fresh walnuts, mushrooms… Mouth (neat): good, wine and whisky being on the very same path (who said for once, who?) Manuka honey, sweet mustard, tobacco, leather, and always lorryloads of walnuts. The wine feels sweeter than I thought, though. With water: indeed, sweeter, but it would never become dreadfully PX-y, if you see what I mean. Finish: pretty long, tobacco-y. We’re talking cigarette tobacco. Comments: very good, whisky and wine did not kill each other this time. Semi sweet marsala then?
SGP:552 - 87 points.

Look, it appears that we’ve got another one from these Chinese friends…

Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996/2017 (52.8%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, for SCSM, refill hogshead, 205 bottles)

Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996/2017 (52.8%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, for SCSM, refill hogshead, 205 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: a more crystalline Ben Nevis, but with all its typical attributes, meaning soot, rocks, flints, lime, concrete, mushrooms, then tulips (shy flowers, in other words), perhaps… etc. Wonderful pureness. With water: broken branches, leaves, green tea… Mouth (neat): absolutely wonderful, not many words needed here (I know, a relief). Tangerines, passion fruits, rocks, leather, plasticine, grass. With water: same, more or less. More tropical fruits than usual, but don’t get me wrong, this isn’t Bowmore 1966. Finish: medium, citrusy, with a waxy side. Star fruits, perhaps, and maybe white peaches? Comments: approaching the 90-mark in my book yet again. Good work everyone ;-)!
SGP:652 - 89 points.

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


November 1, 2018


A good few Edradour

If there’s one distillery that ‘got way better’ over the recent years, that’s well Edradour. Twenty years ago we used to avoid them, while today we’re most happy to be able to do such a wee session. Let’s see what we have…

Edradour 2008/2018 (57.9%, OB, first fill sherry butt, cask #8, 515 bottles)

Edradour 2008/2018 (57.9%, OB, first fill sherry butt, cask #8, 515 bottles) Four stars and a half
Who’s not doing vintage designs these days? But yeah, it’s rather lovely. Colour: mahogany. Nose: works. Cuban cigars, walnut wine, flints, chocolate, Bovril or Viandox or even Maggi, old pu-erh tea, caraway cordials, Spanish ham, old balsamico, parsley, marrow quenelles… Well, you see, this seems to be a very nourishing dram… With water: some beef bouillon with some chives, thyme, and parsley. And a large spoon. Mouth (neat): yep, old-school sherry monster, full of pipe juice, caraway indeed, sloe, cloves, ginger cookies, leather, black cigars (I cannot not think of Italian Toscano cigars), then a lot of blackcurrant jam, blackberries, fiery young Nuits-St-Georges… With water: back to saltier elements, soups, broths, bouillons, herbs, stock cubes, wine, caraway… Finish: long, chocolaty, with a wonderful salty and long-tail (I know) aftertaste. Comments: extremely very good young Edradour. The butt did a great job, the old-fashioned way.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

More first fill then, please…

Edradour 10 yo 2005/2016 (55.9%, OB, first fill sherry butt, for Taiwan, cask #52)

Edradour 10 yo 2005/2016 (55.9%, OB, first fill sherry butt, for Taiwan, cask #52) Three stars and a half
This baby from a certain ‘Warriors Series’ that sounds a tad HP-y to me. Colour: dark brown amber. Nose: a tad silkier, rounder, fruitier, more chocolaty, but maybe easier, perhaps better balanced. Having said that there’s quite some balsamico too, that Bovril, soups, and such. Perhaps miso. With water: more straight malt, raisins, rather in a Speyside way. Cake. Mouth (neat): good, less ‘soupy’ than the newer 2008, sweeter, fruitier, less spectacular. Cherry liqueur, kirsch, milk chocolate, ginger… With water: good, certainly, just not as spectacular as the 2008. Shouldn’t have had that one as #1, I tell you. Raisins. Finish: medium, raisiny, good, pleasant, rather easy. Comments: very clean for Edradour, you may have thought it was Glenlivet.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Edradour 11 yo 2004/2016 (59.2%, OB, first fill sherry butt, for Taiwan, cask #476)

Edradour 11 yo 2004/2016 (59.2%, OB, first fill sherry butt, for Taiwan, cask #476) Four stars
More fearless warriors… Colour: amber. Nose: all on cake this time, kougelhopf, panettone, brioche… Then a few earthy herbs indeed, a touch of camphor that you could have noticed in earlier Edradours (but in a wackier manner), then more eucalyptus, banana leaves, lapsang souchong, pinewood smoke… Some Ballechin involved here? In any way? With water: what? Could we see the papers? Coal tar everywhere. Mouth (neat): indeed there is a smokiness, and some tarmac, Laphroaig or something, camphor… And some dry ‘smoky’ sherry. Someone should do some kind of genetic analysis on this one. With water: indeed. And it’s good, but it’ll just lose you. Finish: long and smoky, pleasantly sour in some kind of Thai way. Comments: bordering the blended malt category. Unless this is Edradour+Ballechin, I would suppose that would still be a single malt?
SGP:453 - 85 points.

Edradour 22 yo 1995/2018 (54,2%, OB, for Whisky L Shanghai, Oloroso finish, 661 bottles)

Edradour 22 yo 1995/2018 (54,2%, OB, for Whisky L Shanghai, Oloroso finish, 661 bottles) Three stars and a half
It’s not exactly a finishing, as this baby spent 13 years in the second cask. So say double-maturation? Colour: mahogany. Nose: indeed, it does not feel like it’s just a quick finishing, at all. We’re rather on walnut cake, pecan pie, assorted roasted nuts, then touches of humus and mushrooms, cedarwood, cough drops (ever heard of Pulmoll?), a little menthol, embrocations, tiger balm (dear Chinese friends, save the tigers!)… With water: nice nuts, cakes, croissants, and hints of hand soap. Mouth (neat): this is pre-Signatory distillate, and indeed you do feel it’s a little dirtier, less coherent, and less bright, but the re-racking worked pretty well. Earthy chestnuts, caramel sauce, a touch of soap (typical – the Seagram  days). With water: don’t. Finish: medium, while you would swear you just had three Mars bars. Comments: very good, but I prefer newer vintages.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Oh let’s have a last one. We’ll have a few Ballechins another day…

Edradour 9 yo 2006/2015 (46%, OB, Barolo hogsheads, 2275 bottles)

Edradour 9 yo 2006/2015 (46%, OB, Barolo hogsheads, 2275 bottles) Two stars and a half
So you say someone actually bought hogsheads and some Barolo in bulk, and made some ‘Barolo hogsheads’? Or did someone else re-cooper some actual Barolo botti or barriques? Knowing that Barolos have to stay for at least 18 months in wood? Well, this is all a bit shady… Colour: not red, not even pink, and hardly amber. Nose: not winey, which is good in my book. No Nebbiolo that I can detect – but I’m no Nebbiolo expert, which is a shame – and rather some kind of orange cake, raspberry milkshake, and perhaps a few marshmallows. I think this is rather fair. Mouth: fine. Pepper and raspberries, blueberry muffins, gingerbread, strawberry yoghurt, touches of green pepper, malt, toasted brioche, biscuits… Not exactly dissonant, but I wouldn’t say it’s totally ‘a whole’ (good one S.) Finish: medium, a tad grape-ier this time. Comments: not my cup of malt, but this winesky isn’t bad at all, in my opinion. It’s just that I would prefer one glass of Edradour plus one glass of Barolo. Or the other way ‘round.
SGP:551 - 78 points.

(Thank you Derek, Greg and Paul)

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


Whiskyfun fav of the month

October 2018

Favourite recent bottling:
Rare Ayrshire 44 yo 1974/2018 (53%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, bourbon barrel, cask #2606, 122 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite older bottling:
Pittyvaich-Glenlivet 16 yo 1977/1994 (60%, Cadenhead) - WF 85

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Talisker 8 yo 2009/2018 (59.4%, OB, Special Release, first fill American oak hogsheads) - WF 91

Favourite malternative:
Domaine de Baraillon 20 yo (42%, OB, Claverie, Bas-armagnac, +/-2015)  - WF 90

October 2018 - part 2 <--- November 2018 - part 1 ---> November 2018 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Bowmore 17 yo 2001/2018 (53.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 270 bottles)

Bowmore 15 yo 2001/2017 (58.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, for SCSM China, refill hogshead, cask #11547, 299 bottles)

Bowmore 22 yo 1996/2018 (50.4%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #1371, 210 bottles)

Speyside 42 yo 1976/2018 (45.2%, Sansibar and Acla, Moments in Scotland)

Speyside Malt 1977/2018 (46.3%, Maltbarn, sherry cask)

Speyside Region 42 yo 1975/2017 (49.8%, Sansibar, Fazzino)

Speyside Region 43 yo 1973/2017 (51.3%, Sansibar, Fazzino)

Unicorn 30 yo 1988/2018 (43%, CWS China, Myths and Legends, First Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt, cask #22, 630 bottles)

Merlet ‘Assemblage N°2’ (44.3%, OB, Sélection Saint Sauvant, 2016)

Vallein Tercinier ‘Lot 90’ (49.7%, OB, Grande Champagne, for Flask, USA, 2018)

Vallein Tercinier ‘Lot 70’ (52%, OB, Petite Champagne, for Flask, Ryan and T5C, USA, 2018)