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Whisky Tasting




Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2023 - Part 1

October 2022 - part 2 <--- November 2022 - part 1 ---> November 2022 - part 2


November 14, 2022


Japan-bound today

Quite. Kicking this off with a little blend as an apéritif… We'll have a rare digestif at the end.
(picture, Shirakawa Distillery - found at Nonjatta, naturally)




Hatozaki (40%, Japan, blended, +/-2022)

Hatozaki (40%, Japan, blended, +/-2022) Three stars
'Aged up to 12 years' according to their French website. Ha! There's also a distillery, Kaikyo, where they are supposed to do the… blending. We've already tried the Pure Malt and it was okayish (WF 77), but if this is fully Japanese, I for one am from Planet Mars. Colour: white wine. Nose: very light but not unpleasant, with touches of smoke, earth, beer and fresh bread, with a hoppy side. At least it is not ridden with caramel, coconut or vanillin. Mouth: it is a good young blend, for sure. Same comments, not caramel and no excessive graininess, rather bread, malt, touches of williams pear, apple pie, and a very light smoke. Finish: good length, saltier and slightly smokier yet, with green apples in the aftertaste. And a little hop again. Comments: the very circumvolutory literature on all websites is nicely done, or how to make everyone believe it's distilled in Japan without ever claiming it is. Pretty good copywriting in that respect, and a pretty, pretty good blend at that (I'm afraid). I think I like it better than the pure malt.

SGP:342 - 80 points.

Miyagikyo 'Discovery – Aromatic Yeast' (47%, OB, Japan, 4800 bottles, 2022)

Miyagikyo 'Discovery – Aromatic Yeast' (47%, OB, Japan, 4800 bottles, 2022) Four stars
According to the very honourable whisky experts at La Maison du Whisky, Nikka have used some special yeast that would have helped aromas of peaches and apricots to develop in this very limited NAS edition. Let's check that… Colour: gold. Nose: how do we get those peaches and apricots out of our head… Let's say that would rather be peach wine, 'un-ullaged' savagnin from Jura (or lighter manzanilla if you like), chalk and grist, hoppy beer (double-IPA, ha), a few rose petals… We're bordering gewurztraminerness, but after all, savagnin and gewurz' do belong to the same family. Mouth: peach tarte or apricot cake? They caught me! You do feel it is not an old whisky, and the wood certainly does a larger part of the jobs (drum and bass), but pink pepper (Szechuan) and, once again, a strong IPA do still sing and play lead guitar. Finish: rather long, on the same flavours. Sweeter aftertaste… apricot jam? Comments:very good.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Yoichi 'Discovery – Aromatic Yeast' (48%, OB, Japan, 4800 bottles, 2022)

Yoichi 'Discovery – Aromatic Yeast' (48%, OB, Japan, 4800 bottles, 2022) Four stars
Too late, I've read the description again, this time it's a story about yeast generating Ginjo sake-like aromas. Incidentally, I love sake… Colour: light gold. Nose: the Miyagikyo was rounder, cleaner and leaner, this one's more fermentary indeed, with a pretty unusual combination that would blend smoked fish, menthol, those peaches again, and indeed sake and shochu. The menthol wins it in the end and brings eucalyptus along. Mouth: some would call it Ardmorian, perhaps. Very grassy, with some peach leaves (can't seem to get peaches out of my head) and a little rubber, plus that peat smoke, and some vegetal earth, mushrooms, some mustard, dry Madeira… Some Ardmore indeed, but also Fettercairn or Glenturret. Some action in there. Finish: longer than the Miyagikyo's, smokier 'of course, spicier, peppery, mustardy. Some smoky liquorice in the aftertaste, as well as a little salt and mint this time again. Comments: excellent, less civilised, more tertiary than its brother – or do we say its sister.

SGP:563 - 86 points.

Perhaps some of Mars's Komagates with their funny 'aging cellar' angle…

Komagate 4 yo 2017/2022 'Shinshu Aging' (61%, OB, LMDW exclusive, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #3705, 195 bottles)

Komagate 4 yo 2017/2022 'Shinshu Aging' (61%, OB, LMDW exclusive, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #3705, 195 bottles) Four stars and a half
Shinshu, or Mars Shinshu, is where Komagate is distilled, which means that this was matured where it was distilled. Colour: gold. Nose: fat and powerful, tense, pure, rather all on natural vanilla and ripe bananas, plus guavas and oranges. But no chances taken at 60+, I mean 63%+, let's add water… With water: pure lace, totally high-definition lemony vanilla, plus humus, fresh mushrooms, chlorophyll and touches of spearmint. Mouth (neat): the zesty purity that we also find in ex-bourbon Chichibu. Citrons, vanilla, lemon drops, barley and a little ale. We're about to mention IPA again… With water: there, this stunning earthiness again, some un-vulgar coconut, meadow honey, sesame, edible pansies, vegetal earth… Finish: drops of tonic water and turmeric, green Wulong, chartreuse (just what's needed), otherwise vanilla, barley and honey. A little coconut again in the aftertaste. Comments: not even 5. This is almost embarrassing…

SGP:551 - 89 points.

Komagate 5 yo 2016/2022 'Yakushima Aging' (61%, OB, LMDW exclusive, Antipodes, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #2063, 188 bottles)

Komagate 5 yo 2016/2022 'Yakushima Aging' (61%, OB, LMDW exclusive, Antipodes, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #2063, 188 bottles) Five stars
Ouch, 50ppm peat! Yakushima is located in the extreme south of Japan. Colour: full gold. Nose: good Golly, once again there is this purity, which the Yoichi did not quite achieve. Massive pine smoke, new Wellies, massage balm and sauna oils, and literally tons of eucalyptus syrup. This comes handy and perfect against this year's flue, I say. With water: emphasis on eucalyptus and sauna oils. High-precision nose, once more. Mouth (neat): incredible. Take Ardbeg 10 at C/S, take some older Port Ellen 10 at C/S, and blend away. Add crème de menthe. With water: not too sure about that crème de menthe, but I stand by my blend. Finish: long, on the same combo. Comments: wait, Ardbeg 10 C/S at the indies, say 150€. Port Ellen 10 C/S at auctions, say 2,500€. 150 + 2500 = 2650/2 = 1,325€. I say this very young Komagate comes cheap.

SGP:467 - 90 points.

After Shinshu and Yakushima, naturally, there is… Tsunuki!

Komagate 5 yo 2016/2022 'Tsunuki Aging' (60%, OB, LMDW exclusive, Antipodes, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #5183)

Komagate 5 yo 2016/2022 'Tsunuki Aging' (60%, OB, LMDW exclusive, Antipodes, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #5183) Three stars and a half
20ppm peat this time. The only little thing I'm not really getting is why you would use such different makes if your aim was to showcase the differences that various aging locations would have imparted to your malt whisky. But I suppose there's something I've missed… Wrong logic, perhaps. Colour: deep gold. Nose: yeah, it's somewhat in midstream on the nose, not totally a peater, not an un-peated either, it is almost as if they had blended peated with unpeated. Don't get me wrong, it's still very lovely, but I'm not a total fan of smoked bananas. Unless… With water: new rubber and eucalyptus. Bananas stewed in retsina and mint syrup… Yeah well… Mouth (neat): it works much better on the palate, but it remains a little odd. Mentholy spices, rubber, mint and lemon, something sour-sweet… This is curious. With water: more camphor, and then the core distillate is seizing the helm. We're relieved. Phew! Finish: long, mentholy, rubbery… Some ginger and… rum in the aftertaste. Comments: beware, this one's highly reactive to water, so extremely difficult to assess properly. We'd probably need 25cl (of this whisky), 2l (of water) and a whole afternoon to do that. What's sure is that we tried these Komagates in the wrong order. Expectedly, the 50ppm killed the 20ppm. Pff, ppms…  

SGP:565 - 83 points.

A last unusual Japanese please… We'll have a bunch of new Chichibus next time.

Shirakawa 1958/2022 (49%, OB, Japan, 1500 bottles)

Shirakawa 1958/2022 (49%, OB, Japan, 1500 bottles) Five stars
Shirakawa Distillery, which used to belong to Tomatin's parent company, Takara Shuzou, was located in the Fukushima province and started producing malt whisky, strictly for blending, in 1951, until 1969. You may buy a bottle for £25,000; mind you, that's only the price of a Chinese electric car or of a double espresso in Zurich. It is clearly the 'oldest' Japanese single malt ever bottled, now it was sheltered in a stainless steel tank when they found it, not too sure when the casks were disgorged. What's sure is that this is both the only and the oldest Shirakawa ever bottled. All right, and the youngest, there, if you like. Colour: gold. Nose: starts with wee resins and really a lot of copper and silver polish, pinecones, verbena, beeswax, tiny drops of turpentine, fern, camphor… In truth it would then unfold like an eagle spreading its wings, with many dried fruits, oils, herbs… In fact, there's everything.  Mouth: some slightly scary resins at first, but that was nothing, once again it would unfold very gracefully, becoming extremely complex, on dried fruits, herbs, figs, you name them… Finish: incredibly long, with perhaps just a touch of old wax and cardboard. Some very elegant fruitcake and some more savoury, umami-y, amontillado-like touches in the aftertaste. Comments: the true miracle is perhaps not that they found a stash of Shirakawa, it's that it would be this good. Now, perhaps is that the reason why some Japanese gentleman, a long time ago, decided to keep this batch and to save it from the thirsty blenders. In the glass, it is perhaps not totally different from some old Macallans distilled around similar years.
SGP:662 - 91 points.

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


November 13, 2022


Another rum Sunday at WF Towers


With more and more whisky bottlers delving into rum as well, no wonder we're really getting spoilt for choice. First, our ritual little apéritif…
(picture, Mhoba Distillery, Malalane, South Africa)




Cartavio 18 yo 'XO' (40%, OB, Peru, +/-2022)

Cartavio 18 yo 'XO' (40%, OB, Peru, +/-2022) Two stars
We've tried another XO around ten years ago, which had been rather not too bad in our book; at least not totally a sugar bomb (WF 78). Let's see… Colour: brown amber. Nose: rather a mix of corn syrup, triple-sec, prickly pear liqueur and Frappuccino, which I'm not finding unpleasant at all. Some raspberry liqueur too, Mandarine Napoléon, cassata cream… At least it's not as monolithic as other sweet rums (pineapple and banana liqueur, and basta cosi). Mouth: nah, it is sugary, rather cloying, and a little hard to swallow without ice (and/or lime juice). Strawberry liqueur this time… Wait, maybe with champagne, to make some kind of kir royal al sugarcane? We'll try that… later on. Finish: long but way too sugary. To wash down with Perrier. Comments: I must have been in a jolly good mood back in 2013. That or they used to make them a little less cloyingly sweet. Still rather good.

SGP:730 - 75 points.

Villa Rica 23 yo 'Single Barrel' (40%, OB, Mexico, +/-2022)

Villa Rica 23 yo 'Single Barrel' (40%, OB, Mexico, +/-2022) Three stars
The word 'single' is always magic. I've never tried Villa Rica, but I've often had good surprises with Mexico's Mocambo, especially with some of their barricas unicas, precisely. Colour: dark amber. Nose: a little molassy too but you do not really feel it's all concentrated liqueurs and syrups. We're rather nosing some moist fruitcake, with emphasis on figs, then coffee and nocino, as well as a little (sweet) vieille prune. A good surprise is still possible, let's see… Mouth: yeah, good fun, we're rather on an old V.O.R.S. sherry, with dark honeys and molasses, homemade coffee liqueur, walnut wine, muscovado sugar, turon… They should bottle this at a higher strength, despite the sugars it is a fine, pretty complex 'ron'. Finish: rather long, on more old cream sherry, coffee liqueur, and walnut wine. Chocolate and coffee in the aftertaste, with a caney touch. Comments: good Spanish-style rum, really a good surprise and no 'sticking of the tongue to the palate' this time.

SGP:731 - 81 points.

Off to the isles…

Foursquare 15 yo 2005/2021 (60.2%, Malt, Grain & Cane, Barbados, bourbon, 267 bottles)

Foursquare 15 yo 2005/2021 (60.2%, Malt, Grain & Cane, Barbados, bourbon, 267 bottles) Four stars and a half
This baby from Singapore, where they know their rum. Colour: dark gold. Nose: starts with whiffs of dried coconut, warm praline and puff pastry, then there's more milk chocolate and millionaire shortbread. No toughness despite the high ABV. With water: some metallic touches (copper, old coins) and some lighter earth, then macaroons, more coconut, halva and oriental pastries (honey, orange blossom, almonds)… Mouth (neat): very typical self-blended Foursquare, with oranges and nougat, cane syrup, triple-sec… Feels sweet but I'm sure that's the high ABV. With water: on honey and cane honey, plus earl grey and other, more precious teas. Darjeeling, perhaps? Finish: medium, caney, with more millionaire shortbread and more cane syrup. Perhaps a few drops of sweet PX in the aftertaste. Comments: it is a very good high-definition, cakey and honeyed Foursquare, excellently balanced. Well done everyone.

SGP:641 - 89 points.

Oh well…

Foursquare 16 yo 2005/2021 (59.9%, HNWS Taiwan, Barbados, bourbon barrel, cask #41, 265 bottles)

Foursquare 16 yo 2005/2021 (59.9%, HNWS Taiwan, Barbados, bourbon barrel, cask #41, 265 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: dark gold. Nose: as expected, we're very close, with similar notes of milk chocolate, grated coconut, orange blossom, earl grey, shortbread, toasted hazelnuts… With water: a notch drier, earthier, with more herbal teas, chamomile, green tea with coconut oil (do not shoot!)… Mouth (neat): perhaps a notch hotter, but certainly full or oranges as well, orange liqueur(s), thick cane syrup, rich nougat… With water: same as its brother this time, they're identical, which is great news indeed. Same cane honey, sweet wine PX-style (from Montilla), black tea… Finish: same. Very pleasant, not thick, leaves your mouth (almost) fresh and ready for… another glass of the same. Comments: that's what we call a very moreish Foursquare, if you ask me.

SGP:641 - 89 points.

Foursquare 2006/2022 (60.6%, Swell de Spirits, Wonders of the World, Barbados, 387 bottles)

Foursquare 2006/2022 (60.6%, Swell de Spirits, Wonders of the World, Barbados, 387 bottles) Five stars
Also a good feeling here… This baby's spent 14 years in the tropics, mind you, so will it have earned that GI that seems to be in the pipe? Colour: light amber. Nose: this is a little different, probably more exotic as far as fruits go, with some ultra-ripe mangos (don't touch, a spoonful of the juice alone would wreck your Armani suit forever), maracuja, ganaches, golden sultanas, jasmine, guava, elderflowers… There's something in there… With water: indeed, it's rather less cakey than the 2005s, and brighter as a consequence. More tropical fruits and all the syrups, liqueurs, cordials and cocktails you could make out of them. Mouth (neat): closer to the 2005s but rather less 'sweet', and fruitier and fresher instead. Mango and orange syrups with touches of liquorice. But-it-is-strong… With water: a little earth coming through, perhaps tobacco, tiny echoes of mint, eucalyptus and camphor… Finish: long, fresh, citrusy. Comments: could have been a Balblair. I am joking, but I love it.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Off to pastures new…

Mhoba 2017/2022 (64.8%, Navigate World Whisky, South Africa, bourbon, 158 bottles)

Mhoba 2017/2022 (64.8%, Navigate World Whisky, South Africa, bourbon, 158 bottles) Four stars
Single estate pot still rum from South Africa, bottled for a South African company, that's all very enticing. Remember we've already tried a Mhoba by LMDW a few weeks ago, and thought it was excellent. Colour: gold. Nose: benzine, olives, tar, new rubber, drop of ammonia, crushed olives… We know this song, it's one of our favourites. With water: some gentler caneyness is fighting back at approx. 45% vol. Mouth (neat): salty, acetic, briney, tarry… Take tumbler, crush olives, add lime juice, add a drop of liquorice essence, stir, et voilà. With water: ah perfect, sitting exactly between a 'funky' Jamaican and a more 'civilised' agricole. Funny how water works with this wee Mhoba. Finish: long, a little sweeter, a little rounder. An acetone-y touch in the aftertaste, those must be the Jamaican genes. Comments: very, very impressive. To think that only three months ago, I had never heard of Mhoba. But then again, I'm no rum expert, and shall never be.

SGP:463 - 87 points.

Uitvlugt 24 yo 1997/2022 (46.9%, The Whisky Jury for Sips Bar, Guyana, refill American oak barrel, cask #7, 211 bottles)

Uitvlugt 24 yo 1997/2022 (46.9%, The Whisky Jury for Sips Bar, Guyana, refill American oak barrel, cask #7, 211 bottles) Four stars and a half
The Sips Bar, love that name! It's located in Antwerp, Belgium. Colour: white wine - probably European aging. Nose: pure lime juice, anchovies, sardines and olives, then a little carbon dust, seaweed, oysters, ink and light ashes. A lot of distinction and elegance in this one. Mouth: I believe the lower natural strength made the liquorice stand out on the palate, while the 'funkier' elements (petrol and such) went to the background. This is an unusual combination, some kind of liquoricy and salty honey, with custard, poured over dried apricots and plums. Well, something like that. No one will ever manage to reproduce this! Finish: medium, soft, indeed rather on soft liquorice and… perhaps pear cake? Comments: always an utter joy to come across a fairly deviant dram of anything. The thing is, it is both different and excellent.
SGP:553 - 88 points.

A last rum for the road. Wait, didn't we say 'not a rum session without a Hampden'?

Hampden 12 yo 2010/2022 'HLCF' (61.9%, OB for LMDW, Jamaica, cask #78, 231 bottles)

Hampden 12 yo 2010/2022 'HLCF' (61.9%, OB for LMDW, Jamaica, cask #78, 231 bottles) Five stars
It's amazing all the Hampdens that La Maison are having this year. A shame that they also have thirty-six starving dobermans and fifty Chechens armed to the teeth guarding their warehouse. The marque 'HLCF' indicates 500-700 grams ester/HLPA, so pretty high but not the highest. To be honest, we've never found any straight relation between those marques and the perceived funkiness in the glass, if I may use that expression. Colour: gold. Nose: minimalistic but brilliant arrival on the nose, with tarry olives, 2-stroke petrol and a lot of lovage. First time I'm finding this much lovage in Hampden, or in any rum for that matter. Now remember, 61.9%. With water: gym socks and pony saddle, then dried litchis, jujubes, rambutans, raisins… Mouth (neat): evident. Rotting pineapple, acetone and ammonia, fermenting fruits (not durians, or assam durian, I swear) and tapenade mixed with carbon and rubber (bits of tyre). With water: superbly fermentary, bacterial would we add, and yet roundly fruity. Finish: long, on some fruitcake moistened with… Hampden (that's smart, S.!) Comments: splendid Hampden, fruitier than usual. Hate to go with the pack but all the new ones are splendid anyway, with pronounced differences and yet a house style that's always there.

SGP:653 - 91 points.

Adios for now.


November 12, 2022





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Bruichladdich, Ledaig and Laphroaig
A bit of a mixed bag today, but these three names are usually pretty dependable in my book…


Bruichladdich 8 yo 2013/2022 'Islay Barley' (50%, OB, 75% American oak, 25% ex-wine casks)

Bruichladdich 8 yo 2013/2022 'Islay Barley' (50%, OB, 75% American oak, 25% ex-wine casks)
Colour: straw. Nose: hay, barley, freshly baked breads, buttered oatcakes and lighter green fruit notes such as cut apple and gooseberry. Also a slightly coastal edge and some feelings of pollens and beers. I don't detect much in the way of wine influence thankfully. With water: sandalwood, beach pebbles, oatcakes plain cereals and soda bread. Mouth: nicely balanced between honeys, wood saps, hoppy IPA, pollens, grass and some herbal teas. Also lots of fresh breads along with some citrus rinds and light peppery notes too. I like it plenty, but I recall previous batches being a bit more 'immediate'. With water: lemons, limes, more beers, grist and green tea with lemon. Finish: medium and perhaps a tad oaky here and there, but still with some of these nice green and citrus fruits coming through. Comments: I'm not sure what the wine casks brought to the proceedings here, but I definitely prefer the earlier fully bourbon matured examples. Not that this isn't very fine and easy to sip young Laddie!
SGP: 561 - 84 points.



Bruichladdich 10 yo 2011/2021 'Biodynamic' (50%, OB, 1st fill barrels, 5000 bottles)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2011/2021 'Biodynamic' (50%, OB, 1st fill barrels, 5000 bottles)
Distilled using biodynamically grown barley harvested in 2010 from Yatesbury House Farm in England. So, not 'terroir' but something equally fascinating… Colour: bright straw. Nose: wonderfully fresh and rather exuberantly on barley extracts, fresh cereals, cooling wort, lemon barley water and this impression of lemon washing powder but not in a soapy way - if you get my drift. It's also nicely starchy with linens and that lovely 'laundry drying by a seashore' vibe. Modern and rather impeccable. With water: more citrons, waxy lemon rinds, new leather, sandalwood and gorse flower. Still superbly fresh and vibrant. Mouth: surprisingly tense and chiselled. On chalks, linens, putty, white flowers and mirabelle eau de vie. A rather 'crunchy' impression of freshly kilned barley, the natural sweetness of malt extract and that familiar impression of many various beers and freshly baked breads. With water: malty, bready, naturally sweet and now perhaps a little more peppery with new world hops, nettles and fennel seed. Finish: good length, on sea salt crisp, dried rosemary, lanolin and lemon oil. Getting more coastal now I feel. Comments: I couldn't tell you what the biodynamic component is bringing to this, but I am left with the same impression I often get when trying these young, modern, fully ex-bourbon matured Bruichladdichs. That this is top class, impeccably made modern Scottish single malt whisky that has been made with care and skill using top quality ingredients. I tend to prefer the Islay barleys and especially the Bere barley editions, but this one is extremely fine and of similar style and pedigree. A style that's really about freshness I think.
SGP: 551 - 88 points.



Bruichladdich 29 yo 1991 (41.2%, Club Qing 'Scary Tales', cask #3037, hogshead, 216 bottles)

Bruichladdich 29 yo 1991 (41.2%, Club Qing 'Scary Tales', cask #3037, hogshead, 216 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: lovely and extremely classical! All on ripe melons, honey, guava, kiwi and wee hints of gooseberry and lime. One of those noses that makes you see 'green' in your mind's eye. Some subtle notes of herbal tea and white peppery underneath. Overall, a very gentle but charmingly expressive nose. Mouth: again we are firmly in classical Laddie territory, lots of overripe green and garden fruits, some mashed banana, green apple, a little tart gooseberry and some lemon rinds in green tea. Soft, elegant and still rather close to the raw ingredients with wee hints of sweet cereals and malt extract. Finish: medium, a little sappy, some muesli, persistent green fruitiness and a little runny honey and flower pollen. Comments: the epitome of Bruichladdich's elegance, fruitiness and charm. Just a little more oomph here and there would have propelled it higher. But it's still one of those perilously easy and pleasurable malts to sip away at.
SPG: 641 - 88 points.



Ledaig 10 yo 2010/2020 (53.7%, Valinch & Mallet 'The Spirit Of Art', cask #700414, bourbon & sherry, 648 bottles)

Ledaig 10 yo 2010/2020 (53.7%, Valinch & Mallet 'The Spirit Of Art', cask #700414, bourbon & sherry, 648 bottles)
Seemingly some kind of sherry finish. Colour: ruby/mahogany. Nose: a sharp and salty fusion of sherry and peat that prickles with some tart red berry fruits but is also highly dominated by soy sauce, Maggi and nori. Extremely salty and heavily on the saltiest of Dutch liquorice, natural tar resins and drying beach kelp. Also add to the mix some hessian and dried smoked chillis. A beast! With water: more tar, wood resins, smoked paprika, cured meats with smoked chilli and more of this wonderfully sharp and zingy red fruitiness. Mouth: same feeling of quite brilliant saltiness that immediately brings to mind lashings of soy sauce, anchovy paste, smoked mussels and oysters in their brine and then earthier things such as liquid tar, camphor and creel rope. Only thing is the mouth feels textural a little lighter than expected but in a very pleasant way, it's nicely syrupy and easy on the gums, which may be to the softer ABV? With water: brilliantly tarry and salty with some sweeter undercurrents now and also a thick and encroaching peatiness. Finish: long, densely peaty, tarry, full of smoked dark fruits, bitter chocolate, smoked sea salt and umami seasonings. In the aftertaste I find some more grizzly smoky impressions that feel a little more like the modern Ledaig distillate coming through. Comments: what sorcery is this? More specifically, what sort of sherry cask was this finished in, and for how long? I'm also guessing it was probably not flushed before re-racking, although now I sound like a playground gossip. An extremely good young Ledaig that marries together the two forces of sherry and peat with aplomb and in a way that recalls some of the great sherried Ledaigs on the early 1970s. I find it extremely impressive and very fun! Bottle ageing should probably deliver a couple of extra points in around 20-30 years I'd hazard…
SGP: 576 - 89 points.



Ledaig 15 yo 2006/2022 (54.7%, The Whisky Exchange 'Whisky Show 2022', cask #13, sherry butt)

Ledaig 15 yo 2006/2022 (54.7%, The Whisky Exchange 'Whisky Show 2022', cask #13, sherry butt)
Colour: amber. Nose: there's a few of these teenage sherried Ledaigs around at the moment and, I have to say, I generally find them excellent. This one is no exception at first: lots of BBQ coals and smouldering wood embers. Then roof pitch, antiseptic, aniseed and smoked cocoa powder. A sherry and peat combo that dances with class and precision! With water: softer peat smoke, that goes more towards kiln air tinged with farmyard things, sheep wool oils and a gentle mineral aspect. Mouth: big, hearty and tarry with lots of very chiselled, salty and dry peat smoke. Dried kelp, tarred rope, burnt toast, paprika, aniseed distillate and herbal toothpaste. Also some top notch black olives in brine along with anchovy paste and salty liquorice. Globally a very salty style I'd say, that makes you think of some excellent bone-dry Amontillado. With water: brine, tar, pickling juices, roast coffee beans and lashings of German rauchbier. Finish: long, very tarry, on aniseed and salted liquorice again with that sharper peat flavour again in the aftertaste. Some smoked teas as well. Comments: for those that enjoy them big, powerful and without frills or nonsense. I like it a lot, perhaps just a notch more complexity would have nudged it higher for me.
SGP: 467 - 87 points.



Ledaig 20 yo 1997/2017 (59.9%, Kingsbury 'Or Sileis', cask #800109, hogshead, 243 bottles)

Ledaig 20 yo 1997/2017 (59.9%, Kingsbury 'Or Sileis', cask #800109, hogshead, 243 bottles)
Colour: pale amber. Nose: a softer style of sherry, one that's much earthier and 'darker' with a meatiness and funkiness that is almost dirty, but not sulphuric. Many game meats, but I'm particularly thinking of top class Iberico ham, salted almonds, bacon jam and smoked walnuts with drops of Maggi and tar liqueur. I'm enjoying this more and more as it goes along. With water: many dried herbs, more meats with impressions of bouillon, various gravies and Bovril. Also smoked teas and English mustard powder. Mouth: superbly concentrated and oily, with that familiar wave of tar, smoked olive oil, pickling juices, camphor and many tiny wee notes of ointments, iodine and TCP coming through loud and clear. Also some wood saps, salt-baked root vegetables and herbal mouthwash. With water: very much on herbal cough syrups, antiseptics, iodine, TCP and a feeling of concentrated meat stocks and smoked dark teas. Excellent concentration and power while also nicely complex. Finish: long, earthy, nicely drying, salty, tarry and peppery with squid ink, pickled tarragon and iodine in the aftertaste. Comments: I would say it strikes a perfect balance between all the various chunky and muscular components. You just have to like your sherry rather earthy, drying and 'chunky' . I think it works very well in this instance, probably due to the solid age.
SGP: 477 - 90 points.



Ledaig 25 yo 1997/2022 (52.6%, Club Qing for Thea Tung, cask #800056, hogshead)

Ledaig 25 yo 1997/2022 (52.6%, Club Qing for Thea Tung, cask #800056, hogshead)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: fatty, greasy and fermentary smokiness! Pure Ledaig gunge that invokes greasy toolboxes, smouldering sheep wool and various medicinal ointments, pickling juices and quite a lot of farmy stuff like silage and damp bailed hay. A rather sooty and flabby smokiness emerges as well over time. With water: smoked teas, smoked oatmeal, camphor, tiger balm, iodine, smelling salts and putty - quite the box of tricks! Mouth: sharper and more chiselled than on the nose, with kelp, smoked sea salt, iodine and engine oils. Although, globally this is still a very 'dirty' in the good sense whisky. Extremely greasy, fat, oily and farmy with a kind of heavily peated waxiness. Like eating the contents of the Tobermory low wines and feints receiver with a dessert spoon (I imagine). Probably quite a divisive style but I really like it how fun it is. With water: still persistently fatty and greasy, but now incorporating preserved and fermenting lemons, bandages soaked in seawater, mineral oils, smoked yoghurt, olive oil cut with pickling brine and anchovies. Finish: long, tarry with a big, greasy peaty vibe, smoked olive oil and more tar and greasy phenolics. Comments: a crazy whisky, that actually makes you think of a strange love child of Ardmore and Lagavulin that you'd keep in the attic and only let out at Halloween. Seriously though, this is no doubt a divisive whisky and very hard to score. But I really like it, so…
SGP: 477 - 88-ish points.



Back to Islay…



Laphroaig Cairdeas 'Warehouse 1' (52.2%, OB, 2022)

Laphroaig Cairdeas 'Warehouse 1' (52.2%, OB, 2022)
Fully matured in bourbon barrels inside Laphroaig's Warehouse 1. Remember, you aren't a proper Islay distillery these days unless you have a world famous warehouse… Colour: pale straw. Nose: very fresh and coastal and zippy at first nosing. This rather typical modern Laphroaig ashiness, but there's also some brighter tones of citrus, coal smoke and embrocations. Perhaps a little ink too, and in time some more hallmark notes of iodine and TCP. Bish bash bosh, very good. With water: pure olive brine with lemon juice and mercurochrome now. Mouth: rather limey up front, lime and lemon curds, acidic grapefruit juice, green peppercorns in brine and anchovy paste. Very salty and vividly coastal. Laphroaig seem good at this kind of uncomplicated, gutsy and highly evocative profile for their larger batch festival releases. At least, when they aren't tinkering with ridiculous amounts of silly oak doping. With water: a notch more complexity now with a more intricate smokiness, some salted liquorice and smoked teas. A little herbal too. Finish: quite long, ashy, smoky, briny and showing iodine, TCP and bandages once again. Comments: simple, probably quite young and certainly humble. But at the same time this is excellent core distillate that still possesses quite a definite distillery character. The kind of juice you could easily guzzle on a summer evening on Islay, while simultaneously applying it to your bare skin in an attempt to fend off the midgies. Only thing I'd say is that, even if the youngest component is 5yo, why not simply add an age statement to a bottling like this?
SGP: 357 - 86 points.



Laphroaig 18 yo 1990/2008 (56%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 240 bottles)

Laphroaig 18 yo 1990/2008 (56%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 240 bottles)
Reasonably high expectations here… Colour: straw. Nose: many elegant things. Coal smoke, bandages, squid ink, umami paste, pink grapefruit and various subtle ointments and touches of gentian. With time this sense of roots and medicines becomes more dominant, also more bandages, gauze and waxy citrus rinds. With water: smoked olive oils, preserved lemons in brine, pickled mussels and grapefruit again. Lovely but maybe just ever so slightly simple. Mouth: nice sense of controlled power upon arrival. Lots of seawater and salty liquorice but shored up by a soft and thick smokiness, tangy peat, white pepper and touches of fish sauce and anchovy butter. Some dried seaweed and nori as well. With water: a lovely fatness comes out now, oilier and thicker in texture with a deeper and drier peat smoke flavour. Kelp, tarry rope and iodine all coming through. Finish: long, ashy, briny, full of smoked olive oil, pickling juices and lemon oils. Comments: emblematic of this era and extremely good. Maybe just lacking a little complexity, which would have propelled it past the 90 mark.
SGP: 367 - 89 points.





November 11, 2022



The Time Warp Sessions,
today raw Speyburn

A session sponsored by Fiddler's Highland Restaurant, The Green Mainstreet, Drumnadrochit, Inverness IV63 6TU, United Kingdom. That'll be a beer, Jon.

Speyburn 12 yo 2009/2021 (51.8%, Alambic Classique, bourbon barrel, cask #21013, 142 bottles)

Speyburn 12 yo 2009/2021 (51.8%, Alambic Classique, bourbon barrel, cask #21013, 142 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: as raw and natural as malt whisky can be, that is to say totally on 'barley eau-de-vie', lager, kirschwasser, bison vodka, artisan cider and granny smith. No makeup whatsoever. With water: some chalk and fresh plaster, raw wool, cider apples… Mouth (neat): distilled lager. Believe me, I've done that quite some years ago. Porridge, gooseberries, apples, cider, kirshwasser, and only distant echoes of vanilla. With water: barley, apples, stewed rhubarb, sweet bread. Millimetrically seminal, shall we shamelessly add. Finish: medium, malty, a notch grassier but always very eau-de-vie-ish. A little lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: not earthshattering, should we add 'of course', but extremely likable. Pure malt.
SGP:451 - 83 points.

Speyburn-Glenlivet 15 yo 1975/1991 (63.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Speyburn-Glenlivet 15 yo 1975/1991 (63.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Five stars
Reassuringly 'matured in an oak cask', as always. Always better said. We've stumbled upon quite a lot of perfect rocket fuel within this series, let's see… And by the way, it's to be noted that there was also a stunning 'black dumpy' bearing exactly the same data, but not sure it was the same batch. One of the best Speyburns ever bottled. Colour: white wine. Nose: there are many similarities, around apples and eau-de-vie, but there are also extra-layers of waxes, metal polish and limoncello, plus some old chartreuse. With water: incredible, taking water gracefully. Fresh paint, more limoncello, chalk, some camphor, old cough syrup, Bénédictine… Were some monks running Speyburn Distillery in 1975? Mouth (neat): burns a bit but you do feel that this is going to be perfect, with an incredible oily texture that doesn't only come from the high ethanol. Some sublime old-school herbal liqueurs kept in stoneware, plus chalk and, indeed, homemade limoncello. Every tried grapefruitcello? Or pompelmocello? (not sure that's the real name). With water: amen. More chalky pompelmocello (just checked Google, that's an actual name!) Finish: very long, with even more herbs and citrus, waxes, honeys, eucalyptus… Comments: it could well be that it was the same liquid as that that was in that stunning black dumpy 1975/1991 at 63.1%. Terrific Speyburn by Cadenhead. Excuse me, Speyburn-Glenlivet.
SGP:571 - 92 points.

(Many thanks, Tomek!)

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


November 10, 2022


Highland Shhh, quite a few…

So, secret Orkneys and consorts, of which there are hectolitres around. Shall we find a Scapa? In our wildest dreams, we would stumble upon a Stromness…




Whitlaw 9 yo 2013/2022 (59.2%, Signatory Vintage for La Maison du Whisky, Plume, first fill sherry, 671 bottles)

Whitlaw 9 yo 2013/2022 (59.2%, Signatory Vintage for La Maison du Whisky, Plume, first fill sherry, 671 bottles) Four stars
The name of this lovely series being plume, which means feather in French, we cannot not wonder whether this will be featherlight or not. Doubt it. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: some extremely chocolaty sherriness. Imagine we would be nosing a family pack of Mars bars. Indeed, caramel, chocolate, and that kind of mousse, plus black nougat, peanut brittle and halva. With water: red apples and a little pepper and carbon dust. Some heavy sour wine, old cellar, dunnage… Mouth (neat): it is a liquid Mars bar. Werther's Originals and black turon are playing around as well. With water: excellent, with once again, more earthiness and pepper. Finish: long, more savoury. Gravy, chocolate sauce… Leathery aftertaste. Comments: I'm not sure I would have said 'HP', as the sherry was really heavy, but it is a very fine dram. Impressive changes when you add water.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Orkney 11 yo 2011/2022 (50%, Thompson Bros., 406 bottles)

Orkney 11 yo 2011/2022 (50%, Thompson Bros., 406 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: lovely, as expected, full of grist and chalk, wool and mud, apple peel and juice, seawater and crabs, and certainly some peat smoke, way in the back. With water: more apple peel and more seaweed, I would say. More raw wool too, right after sheep shearing on Orkney or Islay. Mouth (neat): more coastal, more mezcaly, peatier than your average HP, with green olives, smoke, oysters and capers. Disconcertingly excellent. With water: a pretty peaty batch. More salt, smoke, oysters and chalk than usual. Finish: same. Wonderful freshness and tightness. Comments: ah, there, I'm seeing that this baby was finished in an ex-Caol Ila cask, so it's in-cask blending. Nothing against that kind of short-circuit, as long as the end result is as good as this. I think Douglas Laing were having a 'Double-Barrel' that was a bit like this.

SGP:454 - 87 points.

Orkney islands 14 yo 2008/2022 (60.8%, Fadandel.dk, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #12, 321 bottles)

Orkney islands 14 yo 2008/2022 (60.8%, Fadandel.dk, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #12, 321 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: you couldn't do this with most Scottish malts, bottling some virtually unaged quasi-newmake and come up with something pretty lovely, albeit raw and rustic. Having said that, there isn't much happening but that may be the high ABV. Mind you, almost 61%. With water: not too sure… Chalk and porridge and mud and grist for sure, but beyond that… White cherries? Mouth (neat): sweet barley, some earth, some smoke, some lemon, some cider apples, some chilli. With water: we've finally unleashed the HPness, with tangerine skins, zests, citrusy honey, chalk… Finish: long, classic ueber-young HP. It takes it because it is HP. Comments: a good example of a make that may have needed reduction, down to 50 or even 46%, if I may. Forgot to say, I like it rather a lot.

SGP:462 - 83 points.

Orkney 15 yo 2007/2022 (59.7%, North Star Spirits, oloroso hogshead, 328 bottles)

Orkney 15 yo 2007/2022 (59.7%, North Star Spirits, oloroso hogshead, 328 bottles) Four stars and a half
I don't know why I cannot get Northern Lights by the band Renaissance out of my head whenever I try some whisky by North Star Spirits. Check it out, Annie Haslam has got one of the greatest voices in rock and roll. De nada. Colour: gold. Nose: it's a moderate, gentler sherry monster, rather on softer walnuts, walnut cake, pecan pie, mocha and espresso, black nougat… All that elegantly, almost diminuendo. With water: mud and grist, ground malt, earth, even game, mushrooms (horns of plenty) and Italian black cigars (Toscano ans such). Mouth (neat): a fighter on the palate, but that's the strength. Raw kirsch, bitter walnuts and leather… Well at least it's truly oloroso-y. With water: yeah, there, mud, earth, chewing your cigars, drinking walnut cordial, sipping extreme moka… Finish: as long as a day without bread, with a lot of black malt, black Belgian beer (I remember a Rochefort)… Comments: huge. Love it but it is a little unromantic (wha-a-at?) And I agree Renaissance could get a little schmaltzy.
SGP:362 - 89 points.

Secret Orkney 2007/2022 (50.8%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired)

Secret Orkney 2007/2022 (50.8%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired) Four stars and a half
Sukhinder Sing on the label here, while another one bearing a much lousier so-called whisky personality whom I know only too well, a Glentauchers, came out at the very same time. Go for Sukhinder! Colour: light gold. Nose: back to the purer, more crystalline ones, at times you could almost believe they've used fresh cane juice. Sea breeze, beach sand, kelp… It is a pretty maritime HP. With water: plastics and varnishes, Woolite, baker's yeast, porridge, in short, an all-natural HP. Mouth (neat): class, lemons, zests, menthol, gentian, barley, samphires… With water: better yet, a tad rounder, more candied, with zests, angelica, dried pears… Finish: medium to long, with more smoke, straight peat, smoked kippers… Did we move to Islay? Comments: awesome, if a little swirling and fluttering here and there. Something may have happened prior to bottling.

SGP:452 - 88 points.

Orkney Islands 15 yo 2007/2022 (52.3%, Maltbarn for 15th anniversary of EPower, Japan, bourbon cask, 143 bottles)

Orkney Islands 15 yo 2007/2022 (52.3%, Maltbarn for 15th anniversary of EPower, Japan, bourbon cask, 143 bottles) Five stars
There's a constant, albeit thin stream of great bottlings stemming from Maltbarn. Quality over quantity, I would suppose (well, that's what I've noticed). Colour: white wine. Nose: pure, crystalline, coastal, peely, paraffiny HP. The ones we like best, unless we're talking old glories. With water: holy Molly! A Chinese laundry and a lot of plaster. Mouth (neat): salt, lime juice, cider apples, seawater, olive brine, wax and, err, well, mezcal (insert Carlos Santana's rendition of A Whiter Shade Of Pale here – another earworm). With water: perfect, as long as you wouldn't add too much water. Best friend, worst enemy, remember. Gets saltier. Finish: long, salty, chiselled, calling for a plate of oysters. Comments: a bladey, unsexy, austere HP, the ones we like best. But remember, personal taste etcetera.

SGP:362 - 90 points.

Orkney Single Malt 13 yo 2007/2020 (51.3%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead)

Orkney Single Malt 13 yo 2007/2020 (51.3%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead) Four stars and a half
Only ducks and no duds, that could be Whisky-Fässle's motto. Our favourite ducks in the business. Colour: white wine. Nose: immediate. That honey, those herbs, this citrus. This will be quick. With water: wool, grist, chalk, granny smith, white peaches, heather. Mouth (neat): nothing to argue about. Lemons, chalk, green apples, paraffin… With water: some salt, lemon, green apples, a little smoke, oysters… In truth this is one of the saltiest HPs we've tried this week. And we've tried many. Finish: rather long, clean, salty… Comments: but whether duck or goose, what a distillate! Also one of the best.
SGP:452 - 89 points.

A Secret Orkney 16 yo 2006/2022 (48.2%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon hogshead, 150 bottles)

A Secret Orkney 16 yo 2006/2022 (48.2%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon hogshead, 150 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: one of the most fermentary ones, all on leaven, fresh bread, baker's yeast, new sweater, ink, drawing gum, linseed oil and new Tesla. I agree I need to apologise, new Porsche would be better, but there's much less plastic in Porsches. With water: closes down. No waterz please. Mouth (neat): tight, citrus-led, pretty hoppy, pungent. With water: No waterz please. Finish: rather long, citrusy, salty and herbal. Comments: this one was hard to control. Another case of the whisky being the boss, I mean, f***!. Tough baby that's playing it close to the vest.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

They're all excellent, the spirit speaks out, only whacky red wine casks or other winey oddities for lazy distillers marketers could put an end to this rather perfect stroll.

Orkney 16 yo 2006/2022 (57.1%, Thompson Bros. for Milroy's of Soho, refill hogshead, 280 bottles)

Orkney 16 yo 2006/2022 (57.1%, Thompson Bros. for Milroy's of Soho, refill hogshead, 280 bottles) Four stars
Wallace and Jack's Milroy's of Soho was, and still is the seminal place for whisky in London. I mean, whenever we used to fly to London, and instead of the British Museum or Harrod's, we would have first taken a black cab to Milroy's (and, let's be honest, to the nearby Vintage House). Colour: white wine. Nose: more austere, paraffiny, grassy, leafy HP. Certainly not the easiest this far. With water: yeast, dough, grist, porridge. Elementary HP. Mouth (neat): no, sweeter, fruitier, very waxy, still a little brutal but that's the strength. With water: success, we've unleashed plums. Finish: rather long, grassy, with a saltier aftertaste. Comments: one of those austere HPs. We love them at WF Towerz, but we agree they're not consensual at all. They're very tough babies, be warned.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Orkney 16 yo 2006/2022 (57.1%, Orkney Sponge, refill hogshead, 342 bottles)Orkney 16 yo 2006/2022 (57.1%, Orkney Sponge, refill hogshead, 342 bottles)

Orkney 16 yo 2006/2022 (57.1%, Orkney Sponge, refill hogshead, 342 bottles) Four stars and a half
The Whisky Sponge on Orkney. Colour: light gold. Nose: panettone, dough, crushed banana, grist, fresh white bread, strawberry yoghurt. Strawberries are playing a rather interlope game with malt whisky, just wander around Port Ellen Maltings and you'll notice. With water: white toasts. It wouldn't really expand; water may be superfluous here. Mouth (neat): powerful, citrusy, pleasantly bitter, hoppy, peppery. With water: back to great HPness, with citrons, grist, chalk, doughs, and salty elements. Peppered langoustines, perhaps? (although that would lead to murder and desolation). Finish: long, salty, doughy; this one too is an HP that's got its eyes on the Isle of Islay. Comments: the huge saltiness is impressive. Quite possibly one of the saltiest Highland Parks we've tried this far.

SGP:462 - 88 points.

Further down the vintages…

Secret Orkney Distillery 17 yo 2004/2022 (49.4%, Whisky Nerds, butt, cask #13, 248 bottles)

Secret Orkney Distillery 17 yo 2004/2022 (49.4%, Whisky Nerds, butt, cask #13, 248 bottles) Four stars
Isn't all this becoming silly? I mean, a secret Orkney Distillery? Something by Putin? Loukachenko? Kim Jong-un? King Charles III? Colour: gold. Nose: another pretty austere one, grassy, on fern, parsley, agave juice, grapefruit skin… With water: there, raw wool, chalk and porridge. And waxed paper, and cold candles. Mouth (neat): grassy and waxy, salty, peppery, really big. With water: dry, slightly cardboardy, gristy, faintly muddy. Finish: medium, dry, slightly cardboardy, with strawberries in the aftertaste (again!)  Comments: all right, all fine, close to our nature.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

A last one please, down to the roaring nineties…

An Orkney 21 yo 1999/2021 (53%, The Whisky Agency for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, bourbon hogshead, cask #7033, 242 bottles)

An Orkney 21 yo 1999/2021 (53%, The Whisky Agency for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, bourbon hogshead, cask #7033, 242 bottles) Four stars and a half
A Lorraine Cross on a whisky label, why wouldn't we applaud? Colour: light gold. Nose: there's this perfect moment when ripe bananas would chime in, together with a high-pitched lemonness. As we're rather into musical analogies, let's say stuff by the band Pavlov's Dog.  Under 60? Check that. Whaff. With water: not quite worth it, water doesn't add anything to this already great combination. Mouth (neat): so very good, stunningly leafy, teaish, spicy, herbal… But indeed it needs water now. With water: yeah good, very elegant, with small herbs, even smaller berries and fruits, resins, waxes…  Finish: long, piney, grassier, austere, intellectual (wie bitte?) Comments: yeah, it's an intellectual Highland Park, somewhere between Wittgenstein and Nietzsche (wie bitte?)

SGP:462 - 88 points.

Wait, couldn't we have a very last one, since we're here?

Orkney 22 yo 1999/2022 (47%, Thompson Bros. for Bar Shamrock and Heather Honey, Japan, refill hogshead, 188 bottles)

Orkney 22 yo 1999/2022 (47%, Thompson Bros. for Bar Shamrock and Heather Honey, Japan, refill hogshead, 188 bottles) Four stars and a half
I truly admire these young folks, the Thompsons, the Sponge, Jonny and others, as only ten years ago, nobody up there in Scotchland used to even remotely care about anything related to Scotch whisky. To our amazement, everything was only about vulgar, multinational-wide, nasty, inelegant, dirty, stinky, no-morals business. But things they are changing… Colour: white wine. Nose: candle smoke, sunflower oil, baguette (that's proper bread, no?) plus grapefruits and just fresh-mown lawn. Kelp on the beach and damp plaster. Mouth: a tad difficult, salty, very fermentary, peppery, lemony, grassy, tough… And perfect. You just have to like them extremely grassy, peppery, rooty, tough, Jansenist, almost masochistic and barely explainable. No surprise that some friends in glorious Japan would have selected this very tough baby. Finish: yeah, as I said. Comments: who said whiskies had to be easy and even (sometimes) woreish?

SGP:262 - 88 points.

Pretty much grouped fire this trime again - no surprise. As we used to say, CU.

Oh by the way, just noticed that that one was my 18,000th whisky review. Not that that's very important, is it. -S.


November 9, 2022


Quite a few disclosed Highland Park

We wrote 'disclosed' because there are many more 'Secret Orkneys' or 'Whitlaws' or 'St Magnus Delights' or else around these days. But we'll try some of those later… (picture Sigrid Storràda, wikipedia)




Highland Park 'Cask Strength Batch 3' (64.1%, OB, 2022)

Highland Park 'Cask Strength Batch 3' (64.1%, OB, 2022) Three stars and a half
This brand-new baby that was bottled at rocket fuel strength, just like its predecessor will you say, is ex-first Fill sherry American and European oak. Colour: gold. Nose: it is a meaty, grassy, slightly metallic sherry, which makes it really rustic and robust on the nose. Now at 64% vol., anything will be robust. With water: only few changes, it remains grassy, slightly fermentary, with some ale, walnuts, some raw chocolate, ham… It is less honeyed than last year's C/S. Mouth (neat): sweet and pungent at the same time, with some leather, hay, walnut skins, puréed chestnuts, cured ham, peppery oak… Robust and rustic indeed! Water is absolutely obligatory in this context. With water: there, the fruits are coming out, first bitter oranges, then bitterer apples, plus some triple-sec and always these walnuts, as well as bitterer vegetables, around our good friends the artichokes and eggplants, not to mention Baldrick's turnips. Finish: long, still leathery and a little bittersweet. Some welcome raisins in the aftertaste. Comments: I like my HPs more al natural, but this one's good for sure, if a little rustic and robust indeed. For the hipflask with a skull, bones and an Harley logo.
SGP:452 - 83 points.

Highland Park 13 yo 2008/2021 'Sigrid Storràda' (66.5%, OB, for Poland, first fill European oak sherry butt, cask #2530, 652 bottles)

Highland Park 13 yo 2008/2021 'Sigrid Storràda' (66.5%, OB, for Poland, first fill European oak sherry butt, cask #2530, 652 bottles) Four stars and a half
Brought back from the very excellent Whisky Live Festival Warsaw, a single cask for lovely Poland. As for the strength, no comments, I may just call my lawyer before we proceed… By the way and according to wikipedia, Sigrid Storràda, a.k.a. S´wie?tos?awa (968-1014) was a Polish-born queen of Sweden and Denmark. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: hectolitres of walnut wine and stain in your glass, plus similar amounts of coffee, as well as some damp black garden peat. That's pretty all this far, because I wouldn't try 'too hard'. But with water: long story short, it is a double espresso with a few drops of armagnac. Say the Gascon way (50% coffee, 50% armagnac). Mouth (neat): black Corinth currants, prunes, tamarind jam, ganache, pipe tobacco, more walnut wine, Fernet Branca… Those sorts of things. With water: back to civilisation, with honey, raisins, chestnut purée, touches of chilli, marmalade… and armagnac indeed. Very good, but you really need a pipette. Finish: long, drier, rather on unsweetened coffee, pipe tobacco, clove and bitter chocolate (Wedel's, naturally). Some saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: we had a blast in Warsaw a few days ago. This is just a tiny, yet excellent example, a dark HP that never stopped improving in the glass and that took water without flinching. Cheers Piotr and Jarek, and na zdrowie!
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Highland Park 30 yo (45.2%, OB, 2667 bottles, Spring 2019)

Highland Park 30 yo (45.2%, OB, 2667 bottles, Spring 2019) Five stars
We've never tried this batch, however we've tried many earlier 30s, all bottled at 48.1%. Always stunning stuff in my book, but let's see how this one will survive the sherry monster from Poland... Colour: gold, so a rather lighter colour given the age. Nose: subtle and delicate, rather on branches, leaves, herbs and vegetal oils, as well as mosses, fern, fresh mushrooms, pinecones and nuts. Fresh-crushed hazelnuts, almond milk, some hay, perhaps one tiny cigarillo, then old manzanilla, seawater, and perhaps one tiny drop of raspberry liqueur in the end. Good fun, that. Mouth: some resemblances and some differences. There's this subtle leafiness that would include resins and tobacco, but also more fruits, around apricots and quinces, coated with the trademark heather honey. That part is rather reminiscent of Highland Park of old. Tends to become earthier after a short while, and then we're back on manzanilla, walnuts, tobacco and pine resin. Finish: raisins chiming in, old rancio, and stronger honey such as chestnut. Comments: you do feel the oak and yet it never gets oaky. Excellent old-style Highland Park that you could have with food, such as foie gras. Or perhaps Parmesan cheese? But beware, it goes down fast and as some friends would say, 'it would tend to evaporate faster than others'.
SGP:452 - 90 points.

After the 30, there's the 40…

Highland Park 40 yo (43.2%, OB, Spring 2019)

Highland Park 40 yo (43.2%, OB, Spring 2019) Five stars
The last official HP 40 I've tried had been bottled around 2008 (WF 91 despite a generous amount of oak). Let me salute Sir Martin of Highland Park, a great man of whisky and the best ambassador any whisky brand could ever dream of. Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh! There are echoes of the 1960s, of 'the' John Goodwin, of the St Magnus labels, of the black dumpies round black labels… Do you see what I mean? That would translate into this very specific, some would say idiosyncratic, kind of honeyed meaty fruitiness that you wouldn't find in any other makes. Old Sauternes, preserved peaches with a little mint, old mead, earthy charcuterie, softer tobacco, chartreuse and verbena liqueur, with also a little caraway (but caraway may stem from the wood, we shall see…) Mouth: when tasting them, always remember that very old spirits are very old (bravo, S.!) Some moist fruitcake (Alsatian beerawecka), some very delicate teaishness that's bordering on, well, old oak, old sweet wines, marsalas, malagas… Several honeys, not just heather or clover, old cognac (but again, remember old malts and old brandies do tend to converge), dried fruits and jams, figs, sultanas… It is just dazzling and would just never falter, at any moment. Finish: perhaps not the longest ever, but it's aligning dried fruits and old sweet wines as if on parade. Comments: no surprise here, it is perfect Highland Park. Some would say that we're having the one-million times cheaper official 10 yo at WF 90, which is true, but they're discontinuing that 10 yo. Good things never last.
SGP:551 - 92 points.

Shall we add some indies, and do that retro-vertically?...

Highland Park 20 yo 1997/2018 (55.8%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, refill hogshead, cask #HL 14625, 286 bottles)

Highland Park 20 yo 1997/2018 (55.8%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, refill hogshead, cask #HL 14625, 286 bottles) Five stars
We shall expect something tenser. A 18 yo 1997 (HL 12099) had been splendid (WF 90). Colour: gold. Nose: exactly. Sunflower oil, stearin, wool, engine oil, oyster shells, chalk, suet, grist… You see. With water: more chalk, grist and wool, less of the rest. More porridge too, this is some perfect breakfast drink (rather than champagne or sekt, as they do in eastern Europe). Mouth (neat): apple juice, lemon juice, lime juice, rhubarb juice, tangerines, grapefruits, two raisins, one dollop of heather honey. With water: what a distillate. Water makes it fatter and brings out more honey and beeswax as a consequence. Finish: long, both tight/vertical and rather fat, which is pretty much oxymoronic, I agree. Comments: one of these whiskies you could score without even opening the bottle. Make + vintage + bottler + wood, that's almost all you need; but I hereby solemnly swear that we'll never do that, cross my heart.
SGP:552 - 90 points.

Highland Park 10 yo 2011/2022 (64.2%, The Whisky Blues, hogshead, cask #15, 261 bottles)

Highland Park 10 yo 2011/2022 (64.2%, The Whisky Blues, hogshead, cask #15, 261 bottles) Four stars and a half
Awesome label here; the pedigree doesn't sound too bad either, but isn't this just another lethal strength? Let me call my lawyer back…  Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it's a killer, it's extremely close to the distillate, while we all know that the distillate is perfect. Wax and grist and seawater and lemon and stuff. We shan't go on, we need our nose. With water: mezcal, chalk, seawater, oysters, varnish, grist, porridge. Enough said (even if lemons are missing). Mouth (neat): extraordinary rocket fuel. Elon M. should have bought Highland Park instead of Twitter. With water: top five distillate, no doubt, while there's a funny Cynelishness in here. Granny smith, paraffin, lemons (there) and bitterer leaves in the background. This is where it's missing the 90-mark. Finish: long, a notch spirity, but otherwise perfect. Barley sugar. Comments: could be that this one should have gone to 12 or 15, it is still a wee tad wobbly. But, yeah, brilliant distillate, maybe to be cellared for 30 additional years?
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Maybe a last one…

Highland Park 5 yo 2015/2021 (59.7, Joecy and Or Sileis, oloroso octave, cask #565B)

Highland Park 5 yo 2015/2021 (59.7, Joecy and Or Sileis, oloroso octave, cask #565B) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine, so no first fill oloroso for sure. Nose: some younger yet HP, so probably more immature, at a pretty high strength. Wool, porridge, chalk, flour, bakers' yeast, fresh baguette and leaven bread. With water: mud, chalk, porridge, wool, iodine, beach sand, rainwater, carbolineum. Mouth (neat): classy distillate, fruitier here, with cherry drops, Kriek, oranges, marshmallows, varnish… Much youth for sure. With water: same. Finish: rather long, kirschy, eau-de-vie-ish. Comments: great distillate, bottled when a little too young if you ask me. But better wait than dump into very active wood (STR or else) when the spirit is this classy (but that's not my business, naturally)…

SGP:551 - 83 points.

Next time, secret ones!

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


November 8, 2022


Little duos, today Deanston once more

Deanston is one of those names that we love to try pretty often, probably more so than bigger names that don't always have much to say. Because remember, we try whisky, we don't try labels (yeah yeah)…



Deanston 21 yo 2000/2022 'Organic Whisky' (50.9%, OB, 2784 bottles)

Deanston 21 yo 2000/2022 'Organic Whisky' (50.9%, OB, 2784 bottles) Four stars
Organic malt whisky matured in organic bourbon casks and finished in organic fino sherry casks. Probably not something very easy to do, especially with ex-solera sherry – unless that would have been 'anada' (single vintage) sherry instead. Colour: deep gold. Nose: there's really a lot of fino, as if the finishing casks had been 'extremely wet'. But naturally, that could not be. Basically, that translates into chalk and walnuts, bone-dry, almost acidic white wine, apple peel, a little curry, a little mustard, and a little fudge. The fino's having the lead guitar, on the other hand we just loooove good fino. With water: a curious sulphur-like touch at first, then old Jerez vinegar, musty old cellar, curry indeed, miso, malt extracts and a lot of chalk. Mouth (neat): huge fino indeed, plus pepper, heavy marmalade, chutneys, dried pears, and walnut wines and liqueurs. You could have said 'this is nocino', amigo. With water: back to maltiness, liquorice, amontillado rather than fino, chocolaty walnuts, chalk… Finish: very long, very bitter-sour, with walnuts running the show, for good. Comments: feels a little unnatural here and there, but Nature is sometimes overrated (what???) What's sure is that it is very Jerezian and probably not for everyone. I'm on the right side. By the way, I remember a 2013 'The Union Exclusive' that was also organic and ex-fino, and very good too (WF 85).

SGP:372 - 87 points.

Back to… nature.

Deanston 13 yo 2008/2022 (57.7%, Whisky Age for Whisky Picnic Bar and O'my Bar, bourbon barrel, cask #185, 179 bottles)

Deanston 13 yo 2008/2022 (57.7%, Whisky Age for Whisky Picnic Bar and O'my Bar, bourbon barrel, cask #185, 179 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: it is almost hilarious, in a good way of course, to try such a pure, immaculate malt after a much more, say made-up counterpart. It's almost as if Iggy Pop's brother were a clergyman, well, I mean, you get the idea. So, pure apples, pears, barley, beer, bread and vanilla, plus cut celeriac and gentian. With water: more beer, paraffin, bread, nut oils… Mouth (neat): pure pear cider, plums, biscuits, assorted fruit drops, sweet beer, vanilla, drops of barley syrup, toffee apple, boiled sweets… With water: more bitter leaves, Campari, ginger, turmeric… Rather bizarrely, water made it bigger. Finish: rather long, sweeter and fruitier when neat, leafy and bitterish when reduced. Mezcaly aftertaste (when reduced). Comments: Distillers would have asked for more selling points (read woods, wines etc.) They would have been wrong, it is an excellent malt..

SGP:551 - 86 points.

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


November 7, 2022


In search of the perfect Aberfeldy

There Serge, that is a proper headline!



Aberfeldy 15 yo 'Napa Valley' (43%, OB, batch #2922/B, +/-2022)

Aberfeldy 15 yo 'Napa Valley' (43%, OB, batch #2922/B, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
It's hard not to laugh, to me at least. Apparently, someone's decided that it would be a good idea to finish a 15 yo Aberfeldy, probably just fine, in some 'Cabernet Sauvignon wine casks from the Napa Valley'. And French oak, I suppose.  I mean, beyond the tastes, imagine the carbon footprint. Do they then export this to San Francisco? To Sausalito's bourgeoisie, you say? Colour: apricot. Nose: naturally, they are not stupid (of course they aren't), you do not feel the red wine upfront, you rather get fruitcakes, dried apricots, then heather honey and, indeed, some strawberry jam and marshmallows. At this point, we're still fine (even if I'd love some regular Aberfeldy instead)… Mouth: starts okay, then falls apart, killed by red berries and oak spices. Blackcurrants, never such a good idea in whisky, if you ask this very humble little taster. Clafoutis, Mon Chéri, green pepper, leaves, cherry stems… Pass. Finish: medium, leafy, bitterish, some chocolate in the aftertaste kind of saves it, though. Those Mon Chéri again. Comments: it's not that it's utterly bad, it's that it's not needed. But then again and again, only one man's opinion.
SGP:651 - 79 points.

Aberfeldy 18 yo 'Tuscan Red Wine' (43%, OB, batch #2922/A, +/-2022)

Aberfeldy 18 yo 'Tuscan Red Wine' (43%, OB, batch #2922/A, +/-2022) Two stars
Phew, they're on a stroll! Tuscan, that would mean either Sangiovese (great), or Bordeaux blend a.k.a. Super-Tuscan (bad, well just watch the movie Mondovino again). Now on the label, there is a drawing of a little cask that says 'Bolgheri', which suggests a Bx Blend ala Sassicaia indeed. Bad news, I never managed to finish a bottle of Sassicaia… Or of Ornellaia for that matter… Colour: apricot. Nose: this time again, it starts gently, on cakes, brioches, crema catalana… But fruity teas and red berries are approaching. Some earthiness too, which I find nice. All in all, a nice nose, not too winey. Not winey at all, actually. But careful… Mouth: let's remain honest, this is okayish at first, even if the whole's unbalanced and too spicy. Everything goes pear-shaped after that, disjointed, bitter, and un-Scotch. Finish: medium, unpleasant, bitter, sour. Comments: makes illusion for a few seconds, then falls apart. Why do so many brands torture and torment their own makes like this these days?

SGP:451 - 72 points.

The good news is that you can always count on the indies…

Aberfeldy 7 yo 2014/2021 (57.7%, Cut Your Wolf Loose, refill hogshead, 266 bottles)

Aberfeldy 7 yo 2014/2021 (57.7%, Cut Your Wolf Loose, refill hogshead, 266 bottles) Four stars
Some fun, at last! Aren't we also tired of faux Victorian designs? Colour: white wine. Nose: there, some barley, some bread, some cakes, some shortbread, some butterscotch, cappuccino, mocha, latte… Everything! With water: same, almost. Mouth (neat): it instantly kills the two red-wined OBs, but that was to be expected. Then we have panettone (panettone, back on WF!) and cornflakes, mead, honey cake, makrouts, Turkish delights, pistachio nougat, candied bergamots… With water: very good, malty, fresh, a tad bitter here and there, perhaps. Some ale and some liquorice wood. Finish: long, otherwise not particularly noticeable, but it does call for the next dram (of the same whisky). Comments: malt whisky as in malt whisky, and Aberfeldy as in Aberfeldy, not as in lousy self-appointed Super-Tuscans. Oh forgot to say, and I'm quoting some PR here, 'each bottle is labelled with custom artwork by London-based graffiti artist Tom Blackford. The labels depict a 'rambunctious' seagull dressed in 'informal attire'. Well, as long as it's fun…
SGP:551 - 86 points.

November 6, 2022


Quite a few more rums

At random, as always, and starting with a wee apéritif, as often…



Batavia Arrack 'By The Dutch' (46%, OB, Indonesia, finished in Cognac, +/-2022)

Batavia Arrack 'By The Dutch' (46%, OB, Indonesia, finished in Cognac, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Nicknamed 'The World's First Luxury Spirit' (by the owners, while we had thought that was Dalmore), this Indonesian rum distilled from molasses in pot stills is stemming from the island of Java. This baby's said to be 8 yo, while 'Batavia' is Jakarta's ancient name. Some say they use some ex-red rice yeast but I'm really not sure. Colour: white wine. Nose: somewhere between a Cuban and a cachaça, I would say, with an herbaceous lightness that's certainly not unpleasant, plus some liquorice wood and bits of sawn pinewood. I find this pleasant. Mouth: same grassiness, notes of cane juice indeed, the whole being very dry, then evolving towards something like… moutai? Not too sure. It is not your 'average' rum for sure. Finish: medium, with a salty touch and, indeed, echoes of sake. No, really. Comments: it is not a very bold rum, but I would guess some single casks selected by good bottlers would be interesting to try. Who would take up the challenge?
SGP:351 - 77 points.

French Antilles 2021/2022 'Grand Arôme' (57%, S.B.S.)

French Antilles 2021/2022 'Grand Arôme' (57%, S.B.S.) Four stars
White rum, ex-molasses, what's called 'rhum industriel' and not agricole. Grand Arôme means high-esters, in this case around 500g/HLPA. This should stem from Le Galion in Martinique. Colour: white. Nose: these very typical whiffs of fresh glue (UHU) and gherkiny varnishes, moving towards high pineapples and even strawberries. Acetone would tend to dominate after a few seconds, but bizarrely, we enjoy acetone in our spirits. With water: some dirtiness, around old fruits rotting in earth, plus some juniper. Much, much nicer than that sounds. Mouth (neat): really between acetone/glue and very aromatic fruits, indeed pineapples, peaches, plus some brine and the obligatory green olives. Touches of aquavit (you would have thought this would rather belong to the Batavia arrack). With water: anchovies coming out, more olives, some fermented fruits (plums) and a drop of miso. Finish: rather long, with fermented tropical fruits at the forefront and those salty glues and varnishes in the back. Comments: everybody's thinking agricole whenever we're talking Martinique, but these 'industriels' can be rather superb too, especially when 'grand arôme' indeed.

SGP:552 - 86 points.

Australian Rum 10 yo 2012/2022 (66.9%, Swell de Spirits, ex-bourbon, 368 bottles)

Australian Rum 10 yo 2012/2022 (66.9%, Swell de Spirits, ex-bourbon, 368 bottles) Four stars
This baby, most probably a secret Beenleigh, has been first spending 6 years in Oz, then 4 years in the UK. We've already had some superb Beenleigh, let's hope this is Beenleigh indeed. Colour: gold. Nose: this feeling of 'a bourbon of rum', with some vanilla, coconut, cakes, and really a lot of ethanol. No chances taken at WF Towers, my friend. With water: coconut and vanilla running the whole show, plus baked bananas. Quite some fudge too. Mouth (neat): just half a drop… Well, the expected and obvious pears, butterscotch, pineapple liqueur… With water: good, with touches of genever perhaps, aniseed too, caraway, then rather floral tones, viognier and pinot gris, pomegranates… Finish: medium, with a little green tea, more viognier, a drop of pineapple juice, rosewater… The aftertaste is the nicest part, with a lovely liquoricy earthiness and even a touch of mint. Comments: not a top Jamaican, but the evolution is fascinating, it would never stop gaining depth and, well, earth. But is it really Beenleigh? Shh, that's a secret.

SGP:641 - 85 points.

T.D.L. 13 yo 2008 (61.15%, Thompson Bros., Trinidad, Error 502, cask #SR22062, 82 bottles) Four stars and a half
Bad gateway, apparently, but there were only 82 bottles. Colour: amber. Nose: very much on fudge, toffee and butterscotch. All right. With water: black garden earth (a little compost), liquid sponge cake, a little marmalade, agave syrup, white chocolate, a little natural rubber… Well there's something very appealing in this one. With water: awesome earthiness. Mouth (neat): it is unusual, but this salty earthiness mingled with praline and coconut butter is not unpleasant at all. We see no obvious errors this far. With water: like it! Some acetone in this one too, some bitterish clove, very bitter chocolate, mint essence, heavy liquorice… And earth. Finish: long, saltier. Black olives. Comments: pst, between us, it's almost as if someone would have poured a few litres of heavy Caroni into this wee cask, while no one was watching. Love this one, even if it's a little deviant here and there. Shh…
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Penny Blue 2009 (55%, OB for Kirsch Import, Mauritius, whisky cask, cask #203, 132 bottles, 2022)

Penny Blue 2009 (55%, OB for Kirsch Import, Mauritius, whisky cask, cask #203, 132 bottles, 2022) Three stars
From Médine distillery, said to be the oldest 'living' distillery in Mauritius. What's a whisky cask, exactly? Colour: gold. Nose: on squash, cane honey, crushed roasted hazelnuts, oranges liqueur… With water: a relatively light caneyness. Do you say caneyness? Mouth (neat): superb arrival, on pear peel and rhubarb, getting tighter by the minute, complex, with lemons, tangerines, khaki… With water: would tend to backpedal, becoming lighter in style. Not sure it needs water. Finish: medium, a little sweet. Some saltiness in the aftertaste, some tequila too. Comments: it's lighter than I would have thought. Very good, but perhaps little frustrating here and there, because of that lighter body. There is also an ex-sherry, but we'll have it later.

SGP:551 - 81 points.

Oh, why not this possible glory…

Enmore 32 yo 1988/2021 (48.1%, Rum Sponge, Guyana, 201 bottle)

Enmore 32 yo 1988/2021 (48.1%, Rum Sponge, Guyana, 201 bottle) Five stars
I agree, we took our time. Love the half-Aztec, half-Mayan label. Colour: gold. Nose: model glue, anchovy paste (a lovely Portuguese thing), peppermint, some tar, tapenade (really a lot), caraway bread, fennel seeds, and fresh rubber. Say new scuba diving suits. It is a fascinating nose, I find it extraordinary. It's an interesting unpolitical debate that we should have one day, tropical aging vs early landed. Mouth: frankly, it is an extraordinary spirit, even if some sides have become a little extreme over the years (burnt plastics and salted tar, you see). Vegetables, artichokes, grapefruit skin, glue (again and again), seashells (razorfish?), moussaka, tapenade, aioli (garlic sauce), paraffin… It's all rather incredible and, in truth, reminiscent of some very old fino sherry. Ah, there, forgot to mention walnuts. Finish: long, on similar notes, globally. Tar, salt, glue, olives, anchovies… Etcetera. Comments: thirty-two years! It's magical Enmore. Probably the Versailles still, if you ask me.
SGP:463 - 91 points.

Such an Enmore called for more old Enmore…

Enmore 30 yo 1990/2021 (53.8%, Nobilis Rum, 213 bottles)

Enmore 30 yo 1990/2021 (53.8%, Nobilis Rum, for Caksus, 213 bottles) Five stars
Remember the Versailles wooden pot still was moved from Enmore to Uitvlugt around 1994, then to Diamond Distillery when Uitvlugt was closed in its turn. But it was still at Enmore when this was distilled (marque VSG). Colour: lighter gold. Nose: it is the same rum, more or less. I would say there's even more fennel seeds, caraway, mint, glue… Brilliant, just brilliant. Mouth: a tiny notch less complex than the Sponge, but also a touch fuller and more assertive (as they say when they don't know what to say). Finish: indeed, it's a little straighter, but frankly, we're splitting hairs once more. These Versailles at Enmore are part of the most fantastic rums ever made by human entities, in my opinion. Comments: I've read that the wood that was used when they built this legendary wooden pot still was greenheart, a.k.a. chlorocardium rodiei. It's said to be very durable and resistant to most insect attacks. Fantastic!

SGP:463 - 91 points.

Remember our latest motto, not a session without Hampden!

Hampden 12 yo 'DOK' (63.7%, OB, LMDW, cask #11, 168 bottles)

Hampden 12 yo 'DOK' (63.7%, OB, LMDW, cask #11, 168 bottles) Five stars
At Hampden, DOK is the marqua maxima. DOK means from 1500 to 1700 grams esters per HLPA; It is insane. Colour: gold. Nose: dead animals, gherkins, cucumbers, Chinese glues, and probably prickly pears, which are making it much gentler, rather unexpectedly. With water: no, really, let's be honest, it is splendid spirit, probably the greatest baijiu we've ever nosed (ooh that's smart, S.)  Mouth (neat): drinking a pot of glue blended with green lemons (well, the juice made thereof), seawater, assorted fermented fruits and diesel oil. With water: a tad gritty now, but we shan't care. Finish: long and salty, tarry, rubbery, Ardbeggian (with apologies to whom this may concern). Comments: king o' rum and that's just a confirmation.

SGP:563 - 91 points.

Wouldn't we do a quick Long Pond before we call this a tasting session?

Long Pond 3 yo 2019/2022 'STCE' (60%, Habitation Velier, LMDW, Jamaica, 1800 bottles)

Long Pond 3 yo 2019/2022 'STCE' (60%, Habitation Velier, LMDW, Jamaica, 1800 bottles) Four stars
550 to 700 gr esters/HLPA, I think. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is a gentler one, floral and herbal at first, fragrant (ylang-ylang) and only then more olive-y and spicy. Big notes of juniper, cumin and fennel. A lot of freshness, this is almost Jamaican pastis. With water: some menthol and plywood, plus pencil shavings. A lot of pencil shavings. Mouth (neat): young and a tad oaky(ish) but the core is noble, rather citrusy, kind of smoky, and only marginally gluey. Growing caraway notes in the background. With water: the pencil shavings are back, but it's all under control, so not fear the cedarwood effect. Finish: rather long, with some zests, liquorice, menthol and tar. Not an unseen combination, I agree. Some cedarwood in the aftertaste. Comments: the youth feels, but it's a marvellous young rum. Yep, daiquiri-ready, if you like.

SGP:562 - 86 points.

November 1, 2022


Little Duos, today Glenrothes OB

Several old Glenrothes are in the pipe, let's say this is a warm-up lap…



Glenrothes 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022)

Glenrothes 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022) Four stars
One of these newish vintage-less official Glenrothes. Loved the old 'vintages' even if some years or dates were sometimes a little hard to understand. I mean, those dates of 'approval'… Colour: gold. Nose: toffee with some sunflower and even a drop of olive oil, then a large pecan pie, roasted peanuts, milk chocolate and a Mars bar. Not obligatorily a deep-fried one. A good slice of walnut cake too, from some good sherry I would presume. Mouth: very nutty, very Glenrothes OB. More toffee and roasted pecans, then coffee liqueur and dark chocolate, with touches of cracked pepper. I find it relatively dry. Finish: medium, spicier, on cinnamon and cloves. More bitter chocolate and coffee, as well as burnt nuts plus marmalade and thin mints  in the aftertaste. Comments: very well composed, with a prominent amontillado-y sherry. Not saying it was amontillado, having said that.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Glenrothes 22 yo 1995 (57.6%, OB, LMDW, Antipodes, 593 bottles, 2022)

Glenrothes 22 yo 1995 (57.6%, OB, LMDW, Antipodes, 593 bottles, 2022) Four stars
The numbers are a little mysterious here, but it's true that LMDW would tend to like to play with them, always rounding them down – when they do. Well I know what I'm trying to say. Colour: deep gold. Nose: there's this official Glenrothesness again, blending toffee with chocolate and coffee, millionaire shortbread, a little charcoal, more roasted nuts, Linzertorte, then Schwarzwald cake, with a double amount of kirschwasser. With water: same combination, only with even more toffee, then some beef jerky and Mozart Kugeln (chocolate and marzipan). Mouth (neat): huge and lovely, sheltering all Jaffa cakes already baked this year, plus indeed some kirschwasser. I know this is 'only' 57.6%, but it rather feels like it's 65%. With water: still punchy, still a little hot, but the responsiveness is awesome here, and so is all the marmalade and chocolate. Finish: pretty long, while I wouldn't dare mention Mon Chéri. Whoops, I just did. Comments: this one's ready for Christmas. Great, potent Glenrothes.
SGP:451 - 87 points.


WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

October 2022

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Tomatin 45 yo 1976/2022 'Warehouse 6 ' (46%, OB, hogsheads, casks #32+33, 350 bottles) - WF92

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
St Magdalene 19 yo 1979/1998 (63.80%, OB, Rare Malts) - WF94

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Ardbeg 10 yo 'Ten' (46%, OB, +/-2022)  - WF91

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Vallein Tercinier 'Rue 34' (42%, OB, for LMDW, Antipodes, Grande Champagne, cask #034, 50 bottles) - WF94

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Abuelo XII anos 'Two Oaks' (40%, Panama, +/-2021)  - WF60

October 2022 - part 2 <--- November 2022 - part 1 ---> November 2022 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Highland Park 20 yo 1997/2018 (55.8%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, refill hogshead, cask #HL 14625, 286 bottles)

Highland Park 30 yo (45.2%, OB, 2667 bottles, Spring 2019)

Highland Park 40 yo (43.2%, OB, Spring 2019)

Orkney Islands 15 yo 2007/2022 (52.3%, Maltbarn for 15th anniversary of EPower, Japan, bourbon cask, 143 bottles)

Speyburn-Glenlivet 15 yo 1975/1991 (63.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Komagate 5 yo 2016/2022 'Yakushima Aging' (61%, OB, LMDW exclusive, Antipodes, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #2063, 188 bottles)

Shirakawa 1958/2022 (49%, OB, Japan, 1500 bottles)

Enmore 32 yo 1988/2021 (48.1%, Rum Sponge, Guyana, 201 bottle)

Enmore 30 yo 1990/2021 (53.8%, Nobilis Rum, for Caksus, 213 bottles)

Foursquare 2006/2022 (60.6%, Swell de Spirits, Wonders of the World, Barbados, 387 bottles) 

Hampden 12 yo 2010/2022 'HLCF' (61.9%, OB for LMDW, Jamaica, cask #78, 231 bottles)

Hampden 12 yo 'DOK' (63.7%, OB, LMDW, cask #11, 168 bottles)