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

 

November 30, 2022


Whiskyfun

Strathisla 10 - 15 - 20 - 25 - 30

A kind of session we very rarely do, a proper single-Distillery, single-Bottler verticale. Well, it was just too tempting and Strathisla is a great make. Kudos to La Maison du Whisky for having bottled these five Strathislas simultaneously, they remind us of that 'Millennium' series by Springbank. Right, in a way…

(Photograph, Lepista Nuda, Jardiner Malin)

Lespista

 

 

Strathisla 10 yo 2012/2022 (62.2%, Artist by LMDW, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #209668, 210 bottles)

Strathisla 10 yo 2012/2022 (62.2%, Artist by LMDW, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #209668, 210 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: sure it's a little numbing at such high strength, but you do get full baskets of both red and green gooseberries, as well as granny smith, greengages, white peaches (not too ripe) and just cider and clay. Very fresh and youthful. With water: some roundness now, around custard and barley syrup, as well as the expect porridge and, of course, croissants au beurre. Are we in Paris here or not? Mouth (neat: extra-punchy, but if you're careful enough, you'll find stewed rhubarb and once more, gooseberries. Granny smith apples are there too, and probably a little agave juice as well. With water: some fresh barley speaking out, some tiny herbs too, especially wormwood. It's almost as if some special envoy from LMDW would have poured a bottle of absinth into the cask before bottling. Not a bad idea, that! Finish: medium, very fresh, still very much on gooseberries and rhubarb. A little clay is back in the aftertaste. Comments: pretty immaculate, with some extremely well controlled wood that really behaved. We're pretty high already – a figure of speech.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Strathisla 15 yo 2007/2022 (62.7%, Artist by LMDW, first fill sherry butt, cask #205217, 553 bottles)

Strathisla 15 yo 2007/2022 (62.7%, Artist by LMDW, first fill sherry butt, cask #205217, 553 bottles) Four stars and a half
I would suppose there's been some debate between those who would have liked to pick only bourbon barrels, and those who preferred more variety. The latter won, apparently, on the other hand, Strathisla and sherry form another seminal combination. Colour: amber. Nose: oh! The high ABV blocks it a little bit but you do get old copper (kettle), metal polish, walnuts, tobacco, eucalyptus smoke (to be experienced in Corsica), blood oranges. I may be wrong but all that bodes extremely well for a relatively young whisky, I can't wait to add water. With water: bits of meat (bresaola, Grisons meat) and drops of spicy liqueur, with a little juniper and clove inside. Some shoe polish too. Mouth (neat): heavy, on butterscotch and fruity varnish, strawberries, tamarind, kirschwasser, roasted bitter almonds… I think it really needs water. With water: winner. Spicy and sweet, with fruitcakes and oriental pastries, but without any flabbiness. It's tight and it knows it (what?) Finish: long, a little more on walnuts, bitter tobacco, amontillado, and indeed a little clove. Comments: did the same gentleman (or lady!) from LMDW pour a bottle of very old genever into this one, after having dealt with the ten? I find it pretty exceptional (nose 90, palate 88). To cellar for twenty years and presto, 90+.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Strathisla 20 yo 2002/2022 (55.4%, Artist by LMDW, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #27057, 192 bottles)

Strathisla 20 yo 2002/2022 (55.4%, Artist by LMDW, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #27057, 192 bottles) Four stars and a half
Back to bourbon (well observed, S.) Showing the back label this time. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is fascinating to compare this one with the 10, as you would experience exactly the effects of ten extra-years of maturation. Same core, on ripe gooseberries and greengages, or even preserved greengages, but with an added layer of shortbread, banana cake, vanilla, honeysuckle, acacia flowers... It's also to be said that 55% do work much better than 60+, in my humble opinion. With water: classic ex-bourbon, rounder than the 10, much cakier as well, with some sunflower oil, nougat, roasted pumpkin seeds and pears poached in Sauternes. Mouth (neat): oh sweet and tart, I think I'll need mentioning limoncello, as well as more greengages, also mirabelles, our beloved quinces, williams pears, perhaps a wee bit of banana foam… With water: seems to tighten, which I find interesting and certainly pleasant, as it gets zestier, with some tangerines beyond the mirabelles and pears. Finish: Comments: this other excellent one really reminded me of a Distillery in Dufftown that starts with a B. Certainly not a bad reference.
SGP:651 – 89 points.

Strathisla 25 yo 1997/2022 (50%, Artist by LMDW, refill hogshead, cask #78844, 269 bottles)

Strathisla 25 yo 1997/2022 (50%, Artist by LMDW, refill hogshead, cask #78844, 269 bottles) Five stars
Colour: light white wine. Nose: brilliant exposé, really, you really get the wee earths and tertiary elements that appear after many years of aging, while another brilliant idea was to select a shier cask for this 25. Lovely whiffs of young ale, cider apples, lime blossom, spicier mushrooms (pied bleu mushrooms – lepista nuda, they're growing now in the Vosges mountains), some fermentary notes too (yoghurt), dough, chalk… you would almost believe this is a Highlander, but in a way, it is. With water: chalk and wool chiming in, always a great sign in my book. Mouth (neat): absolutely superb, getting mentholy, almost phenolic, with quite some liquorice wood, gentian, otherwise muscat and melons at the fruit section. Lemon marmalade too, a thing that I just adore but that's not easy to find in Alsace (while post-Brexit, it would come heavily taxed if I tried to get me some from sweet U.K.) Why are governments only making our lives more complicated and never simpler? With water: indeed, ginseng, chalk, green pears, grapefruits, and perhaps sorb eau-de-vie? Finish: medium, pure, with a few dried fruits, papayas, perhaps bananas… While the background would remain beautifully chalky. Comments: fantastic and very smartly selected. I don't think that special envoy from LMDW poured anything 'extra' into this very cask.
SGP:561 - 91 points.

Strathisla 30 yo 1991/2022 (42.3%, Artist by LMDW, refill barrel, cask #1014, 146 bottles)

Strathisla 30 yo 1991/2022 (42.3%, Artist by LMDW, refill barrel, cask #1014, 146 bottles) Five stars
Hurray, they've chosen a refill barrel to cap this wonderful little verticale off. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: woo-ooh… Some beeswax this time, paraffin, wee whiffs of caraway and poppy seed bread, then eucalyptus and spearmint, then lime blossom and Wulong tea (blue-green tea), then fresh-cut hay and citron liqueur (plus touches of myrtle). Something clearly Corsican here. I bow to this nose. Mouth: ho-ho-ho. It's not oak that's joining in, it's sandalwood, or fir, myrtle indeed (I know myrtle is an acquired taste, but this is perfect), then bitter oranges, walnuts, yellow chartreuse, verbena, perhaps a little rubber of high quality, oils, balms, even a drop of seawater… Finish: medium, with more oils, chlorophyll and propolis, bitter almonds,  also blancmange, perhaps. Comments: at times you would have believed it was an old peater. Or did this barrel use to shelter a peater before they re-filled it, in 1991? In any case, it is a brilliant, slightly more 'resinous' than usual old Strathisla. Smart selection, if you ask me.
SGP:462 - 92 points.

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

 

November 29, 2022


Whiskyfun

New world tour

Because there's more and more whisky all over the world, and more and more good whisky as well. As usual, we'll take off from France…

Rozelieures 'Origine Collection' (40%, OB, France, +/-2021)

Rozelieures 'Origine Collection' (40%, OB, France, +/-2021) Three stars
This is Rozelieures' core bottling. The Distillery is located in Lorraine, very close to Alsace. The reputation is good. They've been bottling this expression for a good fifteen years. The prices remain fair, they do not behave as if they were thinking they are producing whisky's Romanée Conti (because some do indeed). Let's add that they've also started malting their barley themselves. Colour: gold. Nose: some freshness, pears, apples, plums, then custard and softer raisins. It's not complicated but it works effortlessly, shall we say. Some peach as well, a little hay, fresh almonds, fresh walnuts, plus a little candlewax.  Mouth: rather drier than expected, malty, a little oaky. A little green pepper, apple peel, green tea. Finish: not too long but the maltiness is back, a few raisins, walnuts and bits of peach as well. Comments: grassy, does the job. Some higher-echelon Rozelieures have more cachet, having said that, no surprises here. What's sure is that this 'Origine' has not been pump)up in any sorts of way.
SGP:351 - 80 points.

To Korea!

Kimchangsoo 2021/2022 '02' (48.7%, OB, South Korea, 2022)

Kimchangsoo 2021/2022 '02' (48.7%, OB, South Korea, 2022) Four stars
We've already tried another Kimshangsoo this year, it had been absolutely excellent (WF 87). This one is new, and indeed not whisky yet upon European laws. It's stemming from the city of Gimpo and was made from 100% Korean Barley and 100% Korean oak. No lousily sourced whiskies here! Colour: gold. Nose: a wonderful freshness. This baby's bursting with pears and jujubes, really a lot of old pu-her tea and, as a consequence, damp earth and humus, plus muscovado, butterscotch, liquorice and liquid caramel. It is much softer than that earlier bottling of Kimchangsoo that had been bottled at 54.1%, but I believe it's as complex. This liquoricy caramel is quite something, rather love it. Mouth: very creamy texture and rather a lot of lemony, piney and mentholy wood, perhaps even thuja. Not a profile we're accustomed too, or perhaps at some American craft distillers? Some heavy herbal tea, with also some thyme and rosemary, sweetened with some very powerful and aromatic honey. Our favourite, chestnut! Finish: long, still rather spectacular, with some chocolate, mead, and some kind of juniper liqueur, perhaps. The aftertaste is rather on those 'lemony, piney and mentholy woods' that were already in the attack on the palate. Comments: to think that Kimchangsoo is a one-man operation! I'd bet that's not going to last like that… Read Kim's moving story at 88bamboo. Fantastic spirit, in all senses of that word.

SGP:561 - 87 points.

To England…

Oxford Rye 2017/2022 'batch 7 - Easy Ryder' (50%, OB, England)

Oxford Rye 2017/2022 'batch 7 - Easy Ryder' (50%, OB, England) Four stars
Made from 'Heritage Grains', or so it says on the label. We've already tried a few excellent ryes by the Oxford Artisan Distillery, now why an 'Easy Ryder', I'm not too sure, beyond the play on words. Should we start to sing 'Corn To Be Wild'? (ooh S., better drop it right away). Colour: gold. Nose: love it, as expected. Model glue, almonds, manzanilla, rye bread, touches of lavender and violet (sweets), drops of Danish aquavit… With water: gingerbread and more rye bread. Mouth (neat): even more model glue, varnish, paint, then spices and indeed lavender, as well as pumpernickel and almonds. Oranges in the background are adding some freshness, and obviously some fruit. With water: it could happen that water would have made some a little too oaky for us, but that's not the case this time, water would rather push the oranges (and violets) forward. Finish: rather long, rootier and earthier. Gentian and ginger – and oranges. Comments: excellent batch; Peter and Dennis (and Jack) would love it. Please one at 80% vol. so that we can pour it into our old Harleys…
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Let's stay in England…

Cotswolds 2017/2022 (OB, England, for the French cavistes, charred virgin oak, cask #1157, 255 bottles)

Cotswolds 2017/2022 (OB, England, for the French cavistes, charred virgin oak, cask #1157, 255 bottles) Four stars
I'm afraid we do not have the ABV and couldn't find it anywhere. We'll add it when we can. Colour: full gold. Nose: probably high. Crème brûlée, custard, sunflower oil. With water: some saponification, let's wait… … … zzz… Good, spring flowers and fresh fruits coming out, citrus blossom, magnolia perhaps… Plums and green apples wrt fruits. Mouth (neat): rich and oily, with some mangos, in the style of some Bs from London or Cs from Japan. Some green tea. With water: some delicate sweets, artisan marshmallows, jellybeans, more apples, both green a white/yellow… Finish: a curious note of rye (not from that Oxford Rye!) and pineapple sweets. Something between young fresh muscat and viognier. Comments: they are really mastering these charred new oaks. Only twenty years ago, everyone in Scotland would have cried wolf! Right, this is not Scotland at all… But this is an excellent modern single cask.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Why not Denmark, as we've been mentioning aquavit…

Copenhagen Distillery 'RAW Edition Batch No.2' (51.6%, OB, Denmark, 2022)

Copenhagen Distillery 'RAW Edition Batch No.2' (51.6%, OB, Denmark, 2022) Four stars
This new baby – new to me – was distilled from local barley and aged in virgin oak. The back label also states that they have a 'distinct process' at Copenhagen Distillery. This one was finished in sherry cask (which ain't too distinct, is it). Nice cubic bottle. Colour: full gold. Nose: a lot of raw chocolate and burnt wood, fresh-roasted coffee, then prunes and drops of raw armagnac (Ténarèze). Seems heavy, without being heavy, if you see what I mean, with chocolate at the helm. They could almost call it 'chocolate shock' (S, please…) With water: chocolate shock indeed, plus a drop of Maggi and one of old balsamico. Some apricots in the background are adding some freshness. Mouth (neat): more craftiness, this time with full black raisins and even more chocolate, plus clove and a little smooth and gentle capsicum. I'm reminded of some Australians (or rather Tasmanians). Feels like STRised Port or PX wood. No? What's sure is that that worked out. With water: the spices are coming out, but gently. And always a lot of chocolate, and coffee. Finish: wonderful, with new flavours coming to the front, Ovaltine, more clove, aquavit (wink, wink), juniper, caraway, and even a little umami spray. Indeed, umami sprays are available. Comments: surprise. A proper craft movement is really taking off all over the world, let's just hope that Pernod and Diageo are not going to buy them all.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Who's mentioned Tasmania, who? We've got several Hellyers Road but let's choose the cleanest and tightest of them all (in theory…) as this will be our last whisky today.

Hellyers Road 14 yo 2007/2022 (58.5%, OB, for LMDW, Australia, bourbon barrel, cask #7260.17, 167 bottles)

Hellyers Road 14 yo 2007/2022 (58.5%, OB, for LMDW, Australia, bourbon barrel, cask #7260.17, 167 bottles) Four stars and a half
Back to bourbon wood. We've already tried many Hellyers Road that we've just adored, but as shipping is becoming so costly (on all accounts), I'm wondering if the best remote distillers, such as Hellyers Road, shouldn't start to organise franchised distilling in Europe or elsewhere, as brewers do. Would that be doable? (No worries, I'm wearing my bullet-proof vest, and sorry if I sound Euro-centric, it would work both ways). Colour: light gold. Nose: oh, banana wine! And condensed milk, starfruit, guava (big) and wormwood (big as well). Moves then towards vanilla essence and those chocolaty stouts that crazy brewers are sometimes making, as well as manioc. Crazily unusual – I doubt you could franchise the making of this. With water: sour fruits everywhere, plus a lot of beeswax and of the craziest IPAs. Mouth (neat): immense pineapple and banana with white chocolate, vanilla and chenin blanc. Huge. With water: so singular! Chocolate chiming in, otherwise the same crazy fermentary fruitiness. Finish: long, a tad gentler, more on vanilla and cakes. Moist banana and pear cake in the aftertaste, fino and rustic flours in the aftertaste (wood). Comments: mad whisky. This sour fruitiness is incredible, I think I love it – but it's no consensual whisky.
SGP:761 - 89 points.

Good, we've tried several extremely extractive (pff…) malts today. We'll try to go gentler next time, see you.

 

November 28, 2022


Whiskyfun

Long time no world tour!

Mind you, we're not the Rolling Stones…
Let's kick this off from France, as we often do.

Heriose 'Le Classique' (46%, OB, France, 2022)

Heriose 'Le Classique' (46%, OB, France, 2022) Three stars and a half
A new single malt whisky by Maison Boinaud in the heart of the Cognac region, where more and more fine folks are thinking (and making) whisky. Most, if not all, are using their Charentais stills, although I'm not sure they're not disconnecting the 'chauffe vin' or wine heater or pre-heater, which is the big bowl that's located between the still and the worm tub. Anyway, let's try this little Heriose… Colour: white wine. Nose: very spirity at first, which is an asset I find, as it means that no one's tried to 'aromatise' this very young whisky with any boisterous casks. And indeed, it would then rather display a lot of barley and fresh bread, honeysuckle, acacia beignets, some custard, custard tarte, mirabelles, then rather young leaves and fern. Tiny whiffs of fig leaves. In short, malt whisky au naturel. Mouth: totally au naturel. Some sweeter beers, barley indeed, more custard and acacia honey, apple pie, a little cider as well, and only a faint grittiness from the oak, in the back of the back. Finish: medium, on similar flavours and a little muscovado. A little cider again in the aftertaste. Comments: at last, a very young malt that no one's ever tried to pump-up using STR or virgin or PX or whatever. Already excellent, while it's probably only 3 or 4. As our friend and #1 French whisky writer Christine once told me, watch the Cognaçais!
SGP:441 - 83 points.

Next stop, America…

Rabbit Hole 4 yo 2017/2022 (54.1%, Distillerie Générale, USA, Bourbon Heigold L17K24, #4, Antipodes, half bottle)

Rabbit Hole 4 yo 2017/2022 (54.1%, Distillerie Générale, USA, Bourbon Heigold L17K24, #4, Antipodes, half bottle) Three stars
We'll soon do a very large American session, so take this as an apéritif. This young bourbon shelters 70% maize, 25% rye and 5% malted barley. The Distillery is located in Louisville, KY, while Distillerie Générale is an 'inhouse trans-category IB line' (my words) owned by Pernod Ricard. Which simply tells us that Rabbit Hole belongs to Pernod Ricard (since 2019, as it appears). Colour: gold. Nose: some spicy oak, rye, a little lavender, a drop of cologne, juniper, clove, nutmeg… while it would then become softer by the minute, towards soft liquorice, meadow flowers, panettone (here you go again) and cinnamon rolls. Works. With water: the oak coming to the front, hardwoods, thuja wood… Mouth (neat): punchy and spicy, not without oak at first (to say the least), then rather on some kind of liquorice and lavender blend. With water: back to rounder pastries, while the rye feels a lot while it would only count for one quarter of the mashbill. Tends to be become drying, but also nicely citrusy (small stuff, yuzu and bergamots and such). Finish: rather long but it's become frankly plankish. I would suppose you shouldn't add any water to it. Comments: good young American whisky but I liked the purity of the young Heriose better. The finish was difficult here.
SGP:461 - 80 points.

To Japan…

Akashi 3 yo 2019/2022 (62%, OB, Japan, Eigashima, Selected by Stefan van Eycken & Hideo Yamaoka, 1st fill bourbon, casks #101857+58)

Akashi 3 yo 2019/2022 (62%, OB, Japan, Eigashima, Selected by Stefan van Eycken & Hideo Yamaoka, 1st fill bourbon, casks #101857+58) Four stars and a half
Some heavily peated Akashi (50ppm peat in the malted barley) selected by two engaging whisky luminaries and high-connoisseurs, while we've just seen that the label was featuring Yoshitoshi's 'The Ghost of Wicked Genta Yoshihira Attacking Namba Jiro at Nunobiki Waterfall'. That's exactly what I had thought… Colour: white wine. Nose: an extremely medicinal smokiness, very singular, which would almost make Laphroaig feel like Glenkinchie in comparison. That plus some lemon in abundance and some oysters and seawater, and wee smells of horse saddle. With water: water brings the barley to the front, and tames the horses, so to speak. Mouth (neat): very straightforward, very smoky, salty, medicinal again, but getting then rounder, with pastries and, perhaps - but that's probably my mind playing tricks - moshi. With water: bitter almonds, lapsang souchong and more sweetness. Moshi again?? Finish: rather long, a tad minimal perhaps, but remember it is only 3. Comments: superb ultra-young distillate. It's important not to score or rate any 'potential' and to focus on what it is at time of tasting, but I would say the potential is massive.

SGP:467 - 89 points.

Back to Europe (of course it is)…

The Lakes 'Whiskymaker's Reserve No.5' (52%, OB, England, 5,500 bottles, 2022)

The Lakes 'Whiskymaker's Reserve No.5' (52%, OB, England, 5,500 bottles, 2022) Four stars
No.1 was good, No.2 was very good, and No.3 was very good as well. I may have missed No.4. In any case, this No.5 was aged in oloroso, PX and red wine casks, which to me, sounds a bit like Blue Öyster Cult and their three guitars (plus bass) rather than Hendrix OR Page. Are we boomers or not? Colour: very deep gold. Nose: the casks had been well taken care of, we get no screeches or wrong notes, rather a jammy unfolding with blackberry jelly, molasses and maple syrup, raspberry ganache or truffles (chocolate) and pecan pie. Some floral tones coming out too, such as iris and lilac, plus jasmine, and then rather a lot of various halvas, pistachio, peanut…. With water: not that massive, which is not a bad thing. Pumpernickel. Mouth (neat): coffee, raspberry eau-de-vie and cartloads of chocolate. Then fudge, a little orange squash, and a lot of praline, nougat and, yeah, halva. Good creamy texture. With water: a savoury, salty, nutty side popping out, is that the oloroso taking the lead? Finish: long and spicier, as expected. Lemons plus rather a lot of ginger, nutmeg and turmeric. A little mocha in the aftertaste. And chocolate! Comments: I find it excellent; it avoided all the pitfalls of this kind of set-up. Three guitars and all…
SGP:661 - 86 points.

Since we're doing extractive ones…

Milk & Honey 2018/2021 'Grumpy Dram' (59.4%, OB, Israel, Liron Aizik Shai Gilboa, Craignan Red Wine Cask, cask #2018-0713, 267 bottles)

Milk & Honey 2018/2021 'Grumpy Dram' (59.4%, OB, Israel, Liron Aizik Shai Gilboa, Craignan Red Wine Cask, cask #2018-0713, 267 bottles) Four stars
Pst, ladies and gentlemen, in good spirits and you know how much we love you, between us, is 'Craignan' some kind of Israeli wine, or isn't it actually 'carignan' the red grape varietal? Just writing this before a few dozen good people start to look for Craignan… Colour: blood orange. Nose: blood orange. Seriously! Then chocolate and old woods, some mustiness, a gamey side (fowls, venison), coffee, a few struck matches, green pepper and even gazpacho, mushrooms, undergrowth… At times you would believe this is old pinot noir, rather than carignan. Now if you tell me that there's a Craignan Estate where they do pinot noir… With water: miso and Bovril! Mouth (neat): rather spectacular, creamy, liqueury, this time rather on crème de cassis, with also a little genever and caraway. Some thick bready notes too, around pumpernickel once more. With water: more spices jumping out, plus those blood oranges. Oranges and clove. Finish: long and chocolaty. Well-ripened damsons in the aftertaste. Comments: another slightly bombastic construction. Probably the best you could do with these kinds of cask – and this funny varietal I won't mention again. Pace e salute.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Good, since we're doing funny casks, let's fly to India…

Amrut (61.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, India, Ex-Jura cask finish, cask #BA33-2021, 201 bottles)

Amrut (61.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, India, Ex-Jura cask finish, cask #BA33-2021, 201 bottles) Four stars and a half
Not so fast, this looks brilliant but was the Ex-Jura cask from the Isle of Jura, Scotland, or did it come from the Jura region of France? Malt whisky of vin jaune? I'm not even sure we'll find out, as in some cases, Jura's whiskies and those vins jaunes, Château-Châlon or even simple savagnins grown under veil/flor can share some traits (mustard, walnuts, green apples, curry and such). Oh well let's try it, we'll ask the guilty parties later on… Colour: gold. Nose: we'll never be able to tell. Mashed potatoes, mashed carrots, mango jam (that's Amrut), earth, iris, hyacinth, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, sourer doughs, apricot cake… No we can't tell! With water: some medicinal touches, ointments, indeed a little mustard… Mouth (neat): it is extremely Amrut. The sweetness would suggest this was indeed Jura the whisky. More mangos, papaya, guava juice… And bananas. Not much proper Juraness, unless that would have been one of those fantastic 21 yo that they were having two or three years ago. With water: typical cedar and sandalwood, plus mangos. Finish: long, with marshmallows and banana foams. How very Amrut. Comments: top Amrut, top drop, and another unresolved (for now) mystery.
SGP:751 - 89 points.

Why not stay at Amrut's for our last one today?

Amrut 8 yo 'Little Greedy Angels' (50%, OB, India, Chairman's Reserve)

Amrut 8 yo 'Little Greedy Angels' (50%, OB, India, Chairman's Reserve) Four stars
I would not know when this little sister of the Greedy Angels 12 yo was bottled, even if they were having it at The Whisky Show in London this year, while I had never seen it before. But remember, no proven data means no data. We should tell a few politicians, don't you agree? Colour: full gold. Nose: some fruity smoke, unless that would be some smoky fruits. It's very unusual, much unlike those old peaters that were wonderfully fruity as well (Bowmore, Laphroaig). Think a blend of lapsang souchong with green earl grey, plus half a glass of the trademark mango juice. Very curious about what water will do to it… With water: rather sour fruits, citrus, yuzu again… The smoke is becoming more furtive.  Mouth (neat): barbecued marshmallows and, indeed, that blend of lapsang souchong with green earl grey tea. Or a smoky daiquiri on steroids. With water: very good, despite a peat that sometimes feels slightly out of place, as it does in several 'new' smoked Speysiders, for example. But I'm really nit-picking once more new, it's a lovely dram. Finish: long, more on custard and masked pumpkin. The mango-y smoke returns in the aftertaste, together with some green tea and sesame oil. Comments: almost talking in morse code, with a peat that goes on and off and on and off. Unusual, fun and very good.

SGP:665 - 87 points.
 

November 27, 2022


Whiskyfun

  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

Top of French fines

Well, only cognac today. All things considered, I prefer to use the word 'fine' for cognac or armagnac, rather than the word 'brandy', which some good people seem to use either loosely, or whenever they mean to sound pejorative, like in 'cheap brandy'.

(Picture, poster by La Malulo Factory in La Rochelle)


Oleron

Grapediggaz 'VSOP' (46.3%, Wu Dram Clan and Kirsch Import, cognac, 2022) Grapediggaz 'VSOP' (46.3%, Wu Dram Clan and Kirsch Import, cognac, 2022)

Grapediggaz 'VSOP' (46.3%, Wu Dram Clan and Kirsch Import, cognac, 2022) Four stars
It says that this baby is stemming from the Vallein Tercinier Cellars, and that it is a 'natural product without bullshit'. I find all that a little pleonasmic, no? Colour: light gold. Nose: the fresher side of cognac, without any additives or any kind of obscuration (there, more pleonasms), starting with juicy peaches and some fresh mint leaves, and going on with some soft liquorice and a little earth, before it would start to dab at modern pink-banananess, complemented with juicy raisins and a very minimal amount of fresh oak. A little custard tart. The very best side of modernity in cognac. Mouth: very coherent, fresh, with more peaches, mint and liquorice at first, then a little lemon, which is pretty uncommon in cognac, in my meagre experience. Then various cakes, the usual raisin rolls, a chunk of mirabelle tarte, and just a good glass of proper pinot gris. Finish: medium, still very fresh, with some quince jelly this time. A little liquorice and vanilla are back in the aftertaste. Comments: warning, drinkability index very high here. To be honest, I wouldn't touch 95% of all the VSOPs you could find in shops, but this one's rather 'VVSOP' (very, very special – or superior - old pale).
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Grapediggaz 'XO' (46.3%, Wu Dram Clan and Kirsch Import, cognac, 2022)

Grapediggaz 'XO' (46.3%, Wu Dram Clan and Kirsch Import, cognac, 2022) Four stars and a half
No, VSOP or XO are not exactly 'NAS', they do stand for minimal ages. VSOP = minimum 4 years, XO minimum 10 years. Naturally, all houses claim that their own are much older. In the case of Vallein Tercinier, I would tend to believe them. Colour: gold. Nose: more rounded, more on various pastries and cakes, and whilst the VSOP could make you think of some malt whiskies at times (at times!) this XO is rather geared towards rum (at times!) Some honeys at first, some cane juice, some riper peaches this time, some earthy liquorice, quinces, ripe greengages, then stolle (cake) and a little tobacco. The bananas too have ripened. Mouth: pretty much in the same style as that of the VSOP, that is to say full of fresh aromatics, juicy fruits and all sorts of cakes that would shelter raisins (including kougelhopf, naturally). It's just got more honey, including chestnut honey, one of our favourites. Finish: rather longer than the VSOP, with some roasted nuts this time, as well as several dried fruits in the aftertaste. And a little liquorice this time again. Comments: like them almost equally. I've just noticed that the prices for both were extremely fair, while Christmas is around the corner. Need I say more? (I receive a token for each bottle they sell, and against 50 of those tokens I'll get a Grapediggaz baseball cap, against 100 tokens a T-shirt.)

SGP:641 - 88 points.

We're now expecting a Napoléon by Grapediggaz. But in the meantime…

De Luze 'Infini' (40%, OB, cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2022)

De Luze 'Infini' (40%, OB, cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2022) Five stars
An extremely prestigious crystal decanter by Saint-Louis and a blend of very old cognacs by De Luze in Angeac, up to 100 years old. Some say that the neck is cased in 24carat solid gold. The juices stem from Domaine Boinaud, now owners of De Luze, while Domaine Boinaud gather no less than 430ha of vines in Grande Champagne, making them the largest independent estate in the Cognac region (thanks for all the data, Glenfahrn!) Colour: apricot. Nose: very soft, almost whispering, rather a sum of many smaller aromas, including floral ones (dandelions, acacia, wisteria, honeysuckle), some nougats (black, white, pistachio, almonds, hazelnuts…), many soft honeys (clover, acacia, sunflower…)… In the background, some subtle old wines, such as that Reliquia by Barbadillos that we cracked open just two weeks ago, plus the usual suspects prunes and chocolate. This nose is absolutely wonderful, as expected, just give it time. But who would rush such an old glory? Mouth: citrus! Which is amazing. Tangerine jam, triple-sec, Jaffa cakes, kumquats and bergamots… The touches of old wood, combined with those citrusy notes, could make you believe that your tasting the rarest earl grey around. Precisely, there's also some orange blossom water, many subtle herbal teas, and while there would be some super-old wine on the palate as well, that would rather be a very old Sauternes than that sherry that we found on the nose. Why not the greatest château! We won't mention all the dried fruits, the list would be endless. The 40% vol. do work, by the way, even if we would have preferred 45%, but I suppose 45% are extremely hard to fetch in Cognac (and in a wet cellar) when the spirits are this old. Finish: right, it cannot be very long, but at least the oak never gets in the way, you wouldn't even actually mention black tea. Love the aftertaste on sultanas and tangerine marmalade, as well as the touches of Szechuan pepper. Comments: I wasn't expecting this much citrus, that's fantastic. Some of these extremely old cognacs have started to nosedive, but that's absolutely not the case here. As for the price, it's around ten times lower than those of similar Macallans or Dalmores. Indeed, It is all a matter of perspective.

SGP:651 - 91 points.

We've been too low down the vintages, let's try to right this ship…

Prunier 'Lot 51' (58%, OB, wine4you 10th anniversary, Grande Champagne, 2021)

Prunier 'Lot 51' (58%, OB, wine4you 10th anniversary, Grande Champagne, 2021) Five stars
Nowhere does it say that this is a 1951. Colour: red copper. Nose: just as sublime, only a tad more for the countryside (no crystal decanter, you see), with more straightforward fruits, tobaccos, hardwoods and polishes. Including metal polish, rust remover and olive oil! Plus blood oranges, ripe figs, and Figolu biscuits. If you don't know Figolu, well, you should. The most beautiful side of rusticity, shall we say. With water: figs and raisins in abundance, then humus and mushrooms, even a little compost. Mouth (neat): high-power arrival, with varnish, orange zests, pepper, then hay and leather, apple peel, blood oranges… To think that this was probably distilled more than seventy years ago, it is almost a yearling when not reduced. With water: a perfect little monster incredibly fresh and rocking for its age. There's even some coffee. Finish: long, a notch grassy and earthier, otherwise on marmalade and fruitcake. Something reminiscent of patchouli and rose petals in the aftertaste, perhaps its feminine side (if I may, of course cognac is gender-neutral). Comments: in my book, this is simply of the same very high level as that of De Luze's Infini.
SGP:661 - 91 points.

Le Notoire (44.8%, Fanny Fougerat, très vieux fins bois, hors-série, 680 bottles, 2022)

Le Notoire (44.8%, Fanny Fougerat, très vieux fins bois, hors-série, 680 bottles, 2022) Five stars
This is a blend of +/- 40 years old fins bois from Saint-Bris-Des-Bois in the Charente-Maritime. Le notoire means something like 'the well-known', not exactly 'the notorious'. Nothing to do with 'le notaire' (the solicitor – although French solicitors have a reputation for drinking a lot of cognac; well they used to). Colour: gold. Nose: these 'bois' are a little more restrained, less exuberant than the Champagnes, probably more on grasses, apples, plums, gooseberries, green tea, also, in this case, grapes, muscat, lilies, jasmine, liquorice wood, with perhaps a drop of rosewater…  and wait, Turkish delights. We're almost in Istanbul now. Mouth: blasted, I can feel another 91 coming. You would almost believe this is a Clynelish, with citrons and beeswax, some lemongrass, melissa water, the usual raisins (not quite to be met in Clynelish), then liquorice and a drop of absinth. It is a perfect palate, fresh, complex, very elegant, well-mannered, redolent of long walks… in the Charente-Maritime. Finish: medium, class, fresh, elegant, balanced to perfection. Comments: the Grosperrin folks already convinced me that there were glories to be found amongst the ordinaires, bons and fins bois, this is just some super-proof. I'd add that the price for this +/-40 is scandalously low and that Christmas is the 25th of December.
SGP:551 - 91 points.

There, just for fun, we could try a middle-aged bois ordinaires by Grosperrin…

Bois Ordinaires 18 yo (51.5%, Jean Grosperrin, Lot 917, 2022)

Bois Ordinaires 18 yo (51.5%, Jean Grosperrin, Lot 917, 2022) Four stars and a half
Watch this one, it is a Bois Ordinaires from the Isle of Oléron, which lies off Rochefort if you will. It stems from a very small estate that stopped its activities in 2007. They say old cognacs from the isles are 30 times rarer than Grandes Champagnes of similar ages, so indeed, this is a rarity, kudos to Grosperrin (and Fanny Fougerat, and probably the house Camus and others) for keeping the flame alive. Colour: deep gold. Nose: one engaging baby (in the old days we would have written 's**y'), rather on nougats, preserved peaches, very soft liquorice, barrelled chardonnay, plus the compadres mirabelles and quinces, for sure. Almost forgot to mention tarte tatin. This is anything but ordinary, so far. With water: but-this-is-a-chardonnay. Bring it down to 13% vol. and presto, you've got a Meursault (without any guarantees). Mouth (neat): pretty much in the style of the Grapediggaz XO, just with more knack, oomph and zing. It is almost a little hot, while there are a few oak spices (ginger, nutmeg) flying around. With water: gets gentler, civilised, more on honey, cake, rum baba, sponge cake, cheesecake (we add raisins!)… Finish: medium, fresh, perhaps less 'different' at this point. Those light oak spices remain in the aftertaste. Comments: I've seen this came from a dry chai/warehouse, which would make the spirits a little drier and spicier, as I understand it. Nonetheless, it's another rather fabulous cognac, and a rare one at that. Price? Pff…

SGP:551 - 88 points.

Since we're having our favourite houses today (which is the very definition of a favourite house, no?)…

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'L.64 - Le Cognac de Claude' (47.4%, OB, Grande Champagne, 377 bottles, 2022)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'L.64 - Le Cognac de Claude' (47.4%, OB, Grande Champagne, 377 bottles, 2022) Four stars and a half
A single cask gathered at Mr Claude Duluc's in Touzac. It is very moving to read these small growers' stories, which the house Pasquet collects and keeps for posterity. Not many houses do that! Now whether this was really distilled right in the middle of the Beatlemania, I don't know. Colour: very deep amber. Nose: this one's extremely floral, aromatic, very clean, very seductive, with peonies and orange blossom, then rose petals and guavas, mangos, a little black nougat (still warm), pecan pie (still warm as well), botrytis, late-harvest gewurz, old muscat… Well, you see. Exactly the opposite of the very lovely 'Bois' that we just tried. Mouth: it's fruit juice. Say cassis, mango, cranberry and pomegranate, all kept in wood. There is a little oak indeed, perhaps towards rosehip tea, then ripe apricots and oranges, that gewurz VT yet again, Sauternes (especially sémillon), and more and more rosehip tea. This huge fruitiness balances the old oak very well here, I'm sure they could keep chatting together for hours in your glass.  Finish: medium, with that balance preserved all the way till the end of the aftertaste. Comments: this cognac is a tightrope walker. Was Claude a tightrope walker in his young days?
SGP:751 - 89 points.

Last one today, another Grande Champagne that may have known The Beatles…

Jean Fillioux 'Lot N°63' (44%, Through The Grapevine, Grande Champagne, 543 bottles)

Jean Fillioux 'Lot N°63' (44%, Through The Grapevine, Grande Champagne, 543 bottles) Four stars and a half
A famous house in Juillac, with a fairly large estate (25ha). This one should almost be 60, but you never quite know, when they don't tell you, whether the spirit has been spending all its life in wood, or if it was, partially or totally, transferred to demijohns at some point. Colour: dark amber. Nose: this time the oak speaks first, with a lot of liquorice, heavy and heady floral notes (peonies and roses), cedar and pine woods, sandalwood and incense, then we're moving towards chestnut and thyme honeys, varnish, walnut wine, old PX, hoisin sauce, prunes, even a little Marmite… Well, it's pretty thick on the nose, but there are no heavy tannins at this point, so perhaps is it just 'a desired style'. Mouth: rather in the style of the Pasquet, with rather a lot of wood, only balanced with jams and liqueurs instead of fruits this time. Blackberry jelly, crème de cassis, our beloved Austrian plum-filled chocolates, or even that incredible thing they also make in Austria, called 'Styx', which is 'dark chocolate filled with poppy, plum jam and muskateller brandy.' I'm quoting from their website ('a desirable sweet temptation'). It is also a little vinous (merlot, rancio, more PX…) So all in all, a spectacularly heavy cognac. Finish: very long, piney, jammy. Some vieille prune, some heavy honey, some cherry liqueur, and perhaps drops of a muscular red Bourgogne. A Nuits-Saint-Georges, for example. Strawberry jam in the aftertaste; no, really. Comments: very wonderful, although a little tiring. Tiring, but truly wonderful.
SGP:761 - 88 points.

You couldn't climb over that one. Cheers.

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

 

November 26, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Ten Imperial
Imperial is a name that's gathered a heftier reputation since the distillery's demise - wasn't it ever thus with closed distilleries? There's many tasty examples around from the 1990s vintages at the moment, many of them thanks to this large parcel that Elixir Distillers are slowly digesting, but of course also various notable other indy examples too. We'll have ten of them today, so expect to see the words 'wax' and 'honey' repeated liberally throughout the rest of this post…

 

Imperial 'Marriage' 28 yo (40.8%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', a marriage of five bourbon barrels, 600 bottles)

Imperial 'Marriage' 28 yo (40.8%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', a marriage of five bourbon barrels, 600 bottles)
I'm always a fan of small batch bottlings like this, although low ABVs such as this can sometimes be problematic… Colour: pale gold. Nose: as expected, pure waxes, honeys, pollens, sheep wool and various tinned fruits in syrup. Some graphite and tea tree oil as well. Has this lovely profile that sits between resinous and gloopy in terms of how its fruitiness presents. I also find old shoe leather and mineral oils. A simple but satisfying nose. Mouth: there is some fragility here, which was to be expected, which brings a slightly brittle and drier edge to the palate. A slightly dusty waxiness, some mustard powder, dried out honeycomb and touches of citrus pith and fennel seed. Attractive and charming, but a little tea-ish and soft at the same time. Finish: short, delicately medical with lanolin and then chamomile tea, pollens and a little malt extract. However, it tends to become a little too drying for my taste. Comments: elegant, charming and easy - just a little fragile and drying.
SGP: 451 - 83 points.

 

 

Imperial 22 yo 1998/2020 (48.4%, Club Qing 'The Gambler' for Rudder & Club Qing, cask #103929, 182 bottles)

Imperial 22 yo 1998/2020 (48.4%, Club Qing 'The Gambler' for Rudder & Club Qing, cask #103929, 182 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: lively and fresh, one of those ones that goes more decisively towards fabrics, sun lotion, snapped twigs, potting sheds and vase water. Also hints of strop leather and tiger balm. Natural but also rather big and well-structured. A wee glimmer of mint tea with honey. Mouth: more classically on waxes, honeys, pollens and olive oil, a nice balance between sweet and dry aspects, then wee impressions of yellow fruits and herbal wines. Lovely and superbly sippable at this ABV. Finish: medium, back on raw ingredients, yeasty bread dough, breakfast cereals drizzled with honey and an impression of crushed oatcakes. Comments: a nicely naked and well-chiselled Imperial. Another one that makes you really think of Clynelish, and just what a lovely and impeccable distillate Imperial was.
SGP: 461 - 88 points.

 

 

Imperial 23 yo 1997/2020 (45.4%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #2798, bourbon barrel, 151 bottles)

Imperial 23 yo 1997/2020 (45.4%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #2798, bourbon barrel, 151 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: gently honeyed at first with some impressions of hand cream, putty, sandalwood, lemon barley water and mineral oils. A fresh and nicely fatty distillate at a good age. Goes on with a little linseed oil and camphor, also we dollop of lemon marmalade. Mouth: good balance with some sweeter cereal and citrus tones against slightly bitter herbs, peppery warmth and wee medicinal touches such as tiger balm and lanolin. Also a drop of cod liver oil and hessian. Finish: medium, a little minty and herbal with grassy and lemony touches, also still nicely waxy and oily. Comments: easy and delicious, like the majority of these 90s batches of Imperial. Similar story to these parcels of 90s Ben Nevis in my view.
SGP: 552 - 89 points.

 

 

Imperial 26 yo 1996/2022 (51.5%, The Whisky Exchange 'The Whisky Show', cask #1053+1189)

Imperial 26 yo 1996/2022 (51.5%, The Whisky Exchange 'The Whisky Show', cask #1053+1189)
Sadly I couldn't make the show this year, turns out having a baby is quite time consuming… Colour: gold. Nose: this one has a slightly sappier and greener profile up front. Crushed flower stems, pollens, vase water and mead, then shoe polish and damp hessian. Narrower, tenser and more powerful, which I rather enjoy. With water: lemon verbena, tea tree oil, hardwood resins and wee touches of orange sherbet and dried mango. Mouth: yes! Big syrupy fruit salad juices with olive oil and a superbly fat waxiness that incorporates mead, camphor and putty. Wonderful notes of lemons and limes in syrupy form, yellow flowers and their nectars, cedar wood and softer medicinal tones. Superb! With water: oranges, limes and lemons with waxes, pollens and some exotic fruit teas. Just great! Finish: good length, a little leaner, more bitterly herbal and on honeycomb and pepper now. A touch of eucalyptus in the aftertaste. Comments: top notch! A wonderful wee small batch composition and showing a great balance of sweetness, spice and nicely fat distillate.
SGP: 662 - 90 points.

 

 

Imperial 24 yo 1995/2019 (42%, Valinch & Mallet, cask #20-2402, bourbon barrel, 181 bottles)

Imperial 24 yo 1995/2019 (42%, Valinch & Mallet, cask #20-2402, bourbon barrel, 181 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: immediately bright, fresh and citric with many fresh cereal and freshly malted barley impressions. Natural sweetness, feelings of summer, bailed hay, barley water, lemon cordial and these gentle but clear background waxy and honey notes. In keeping with the best of these 90s Imperial batches so far. Mouth: gorgeous medley of sweet barley sugars, waxes, pollens, honeycomb and the feeling of sweetened olive oil and breakfast cereals dusted with icing sugars. Natural, well matured malt whisky that is still full of the raw ingredients but manages to balance that with more mature complexities such as waxy and honey flavours. It's just lacking a tiny bit of power at this strength, but otherwise extremely pleasurable. Finish: a little short here, but still very freshly on barley, cereals, caramelised oatmeal, lemon rinds and a little waxiness. Comments: very typical Imperial and a totally scoff-able drop that would probably evaporate unfeasibly fast if you had a bottle in the house. Just lacking a wee bit of power in the finish, otherwise a certain 90 pointer.
SGP: 551 - 89 points.

 

 

Imperial 25 yo 1995/2021 (50.1%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #7845, bourbon barrel, 165 bottles)

Imperial 25 yo 1995/2021 (50.1%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #7845, bourbon barrel, 165 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one feels a little shy, on softer earthy and peppery notes, wet leaves, cocoa and a little flower honey. A leaner and slightly more organic profile. Some sandalwood, lemon rind and gorse flower coming through as well. I don't detect the usual waxier notes so far. With water: pressed flowers, hand cream, lanolin and various fabrics like hessian and oily toolbox cloth. Also a touch of soot and green tea. Mouth: those familiar waxes and honeys are more clearly present here but it still feels like a slightly lighter take on this Imperial profile. Sappier, more fir resins, pot pourri, bitter marmalade and touches of clay and ointment. With water: feels drier, a little more brittle and also more peppery and warming now. More teas, dried flowers, linens, ink and some rolling tobacco. Finish: medium, again quite drying and peppery, some gritty waxiness and a few traces of honey. Comments: all very fine, but I think it suffers from comparison with some of its neighbours. The drier side without the balancing honey sweetness that many of the others display.
SGP: 451 - 87 points.

 

 

Imperial 25 yo 1995/2021 (53.6%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #7851, bourbon barrel, 142 bottles)

Imperial 25 yo 1995/2021 (53.6%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #7851, bourbon barrel, 142 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: a more weighty and assertive style that's more about concentrated honeys, medicines and waxes. Also dried heather flowers, vase water, ink and putty. A fatty and distinctly full-bodied distillate at a perfect age. There's also sandalwood, coconut and hessian coming through now. A style that makes you think of Clynelish in many ways. With water: a slightly more savoury profile now that incorporates pastries, white bread and lightly hopped IPAs. Waxed canvass and cedar wood. Mouth: excellent arrival, precisely waxy, honeyed, slightly salty, notes of sandalwood, camphor, putty and also dustier notes of pollens, citrus rinds and wormwood. With water: outstanding now, on eucalyptus resins, mentholated tobaccos, salted honey, aged mead and mustard powder. Blind you might have said an old Banff. Finish: long, peppery, mustardy, waxy and with some nicely drying notes of fruit teas, pithy citrus rinds and a few more dried flowers. Comments: above 50% seems to be where these Imperials really shine, this one was outstanding, tastes like it could have been distilled 20-30 years previously.
SGP: 662 - 91 points.

 

 

Imperial 24 yo 1995/2020 (53.9%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland' for Kensington Wine Market, cask #7850, bourbon, 148 bottles)

Imperial 24 yo 1995/2020 (53.9%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland' for Kensington Wine Market, cask #7850, bourbon, 148 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: gorgeous once again, on linseed oils, fruity waxes, pulpy exotic fruits, mineral oils and sandalwood. Also those familiar layers of honey and flower nectars. Perhaps a slightly neater and more compact profile, but still hugely pleasurable and elegant. With water: leaner, drier, sootier and more on minerals, stones, dried out and crystallised honeys and subtle notes of ales and cloves. Mouth: same feeling of precision waxiness with peppery warmth, cedar wood, linseed oils, dried exotic fruits such as papaya and mango, then some desiccated coconut and various teas of the green, herbal and fruit varieties. With water: a lovely, easy fruitiness now that incorporates kiwi, lime and star fruit. Some runny honey and a few drops of yellow Chartreuse. Finish: good length, warming, delicately medicinal, herbal and with mineral oils and camphor. Comments: same terrific quality juice, I just preferred the slightly more abundant and 'energetic' style of cask 7851 by a notch.
SGP: 561 - 90 points.

 

 

Imperial 29 yo 1991/2020 (45.7%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #280, bourbon barrel, 194 bottles)

Imperial 29 yo 1991/2020 (45.7%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #280, bourbon barrel, 194 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: softer and behaving almost like some aged dry Riesling of Chenin, with these honey on toast vibes, oils, waxes, dried lemon thyme, mineral oil notes and a feeling of waxed canvass and dried out old ointments. A more subtle and shy take but still with many charms.  Mouth: juicy and on fruit salad flavours, heather honey, a little bubblegum and then impressions of yellow flowers and their nectars, mango lassi and lemon-infused olive oil. Excellent, but perhaps lacks a little of the assertiveness of character that the 95s seem to have, whether that's age or production style I couldn't tell you. Finish: medium, peppery, a little sappy and with dried exotic fruits and herbal teas. Comments: another excellent one, but again just a tad on the soft side to nudge past the 90 mark.
SGP: 551 - 88 points.

 

 

Imperial 30 yo (54.8%, Elixir Distillers 'Director's Special', bourbon barrel, 140 bottles)

Imperial 30 yo (54.8%, Elixir Distillers 'Director's Special', bourbon barrel, 140 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: honeys, dried exotic fruits, these lovely soft and malleable waxy impressions and then wee touches of leather, tree bark and cedar wood. Sappy, sharp and even slightly mustardy. Everything precise and in its place with an overarching impression of elegance and poise. With water: cooking oils, salted honey, wood resins, pickled fruits and aniseed. Mouth: big arrival, same honeyed profile as on the nose but it's more medicinal and almost salty here. Lapsang souchong tea, herbal extracts, mineral oil, wee sooty touches and camphor. Big, fatty and swaggering old school malt whisky! Quite a few tertiary wee notes such as hand cream, hibiscus and lemon verbena. With water: excellent concentration and power, citrus liqueurs, crystallised honey, camphor, tea tree oil and beeswax polish. Finish: long, earthy, drying waxiness, warming peppery notes and some ideas of spiced breads and hessian. Comments: I can see why they would isolate this cask for something a bit more 'Special', it certainly stands apart with this more powerful profile that is a tad drier, bigger and more assertive. Although, it does kind of demand you sit up and pay attention.
SGP: 462 - 90 points.

 

 

 

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

 

November 25, 2022


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila by the bucketful, part four and hopefully last

 

In truth we were having a secret goal, which was to try our 800th Caol Ila before the end of the year. I think we shall succeed… In the meantime, more wine (and Caol Ila, ha)…

Smoked Oysters

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (48%, Artist Collective, LMDW, recharred wine cask, 1388 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (48%, Artist Collective, LMDW, recharred wine cask, 1388 bottles) Four stars
The label's been done by painter Yanis Khannoussi, but the wine, no ideas… Colour: light gold. Nose: not so much wine, but recharring probably did offset any obvious wineyness, while we're having a rather perfect young and fresh Caol Ila under our nose, with ashes in abundance and a good basket of fresh almonds. You may add the right amount of camphor and naturally, some seawater. Mouth: a tad sour in a good way, with lemon and apple juices, a curious touch of mustard, the expected saltiness, and the no-less expected oysters. These 48% vol. always work well as far as, well, strengths are concerned. Finish: medium, very briney. More oysters, ashes and zests. Comments: were those Champagne casks? I'm asking because Champagne with oysters always works well.

SGP:556 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2022 (59.1%, Artist Collective, LMDW, refill sherry butt, 1191 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2022 (59.1%, Artist Collective, LMDW, refill sherry butt, 1191 bottles) Four stars
Two butts have been used here. Right, peat and sherry, let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: hottish and rather fermentary, doughy, with the expected old walnuts and miso hiding a part of the Caol-Ilaness here. This is an intriguing nose… With water: even more old walnuts, earth, dried porcinis, menthol tobacco (Mum's Kools), whiffs of verbena and wormwood… Mouth (neat): big peppery and leafy smoke, over some thick marmalade. Some cedarwood too (or remember when we were sucking our pencils at school or elsewhere). With water: touches of leather, salty cockles, more walnuts and more marmalade and bitter oranges. Finish: long, with more marmalade (lovely in this context) and seashells. Walnuts in the aftertaste, as almost always with unsweet sherried peaters. Comments: you would have thought it would have been one of those very leathery 'sherry' peaters, but the butts behaved. This one too is excellent.
SGP:556 - 86 points.

How consistent aren't they all indeed? Let's go one, but this won't be exactly wine…

Caol Ila 2013/2022 (47.2%, Dumangin & Fils, ratafia champenois finish)

Caol Ila 2013/2022 (47.2%, Dumangin & Fils, ratafia champenois finish) Three stars
Picture of another bottling by Dumangin. Actually, the label tells us that this young Caol Ila was 'double barreled' in ratafia champenois casks. You may remember, since we've already tried a few very good whiskies that had been treated like that by the Champagne House Dumangin, that ratafia is grape must fortified with eau-de-vie such as marc de Champagne. It's an old-school apéritif that's currently gaining traction again. Colour: pale gold. Nose: once again, this seems to work, the ratafia having seemingly cooled down everything, rounded the malt off, and generated notes of the moistest panettone (since we're entering high season). In short, liquid panettone, how great is that? Also raisin rolls, the ratafia has really tamed the peater. Mouth: perhaps a little wilder, with walnut skins and leaves fighting back, green pepper, juniper and cloves, acidic coffee… Still lovely, but I liked the smoother nose better. Finish: rather long, leafy. Some raisins back in the aftertaste. Comments: using Caol Ila has probably proven a little trickier than double-maturing Bushmills, for example (WF 87).

SGP:664 - 81 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2012/2021 (55.3%, Thompson Bros., for The Netherlands, refill hogshead, dechar/rechar hogshead, 257 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2012/2021 (55.3%, Thompson Bros., for The Netherlands, refill hogshead, dechar/rechar hogshead, 257 bottles) Four stars
Does the colourful seal on the label refer to Dornoch or rather to The Netherlands? Colour: straw. Nose: almost no curry, ginger or allspice here, but indeed some soft wood smoke, beyond the peat, as well as banana foam, custard and marshmallows. Al that sweetness remains under control, this is well a proper Cola Ila, with a lovely coastal freshness too. With water: it reacts very bizarrely to water. Vinegar, gherkins, fermenting fruits, a little ammonia… I find this funny! Mouth (neat): a little ginger and turmeric this time, shrimps with green peppercorn (a lovely Thai dish), barbecued bananas, caraway… And a little salt, baked oysters, drop of triple-sec… With water: no bizarre behaviours this time, rather a rounded and medicinal smoke. Pretty awesome. Finish: medium, with some kind of smoked tropical cake, or something… A drier aftertaste, perhaps flour, or tapioca. Comments: feels a little 'lab' here and there, but the lab did a perfect job. New-world methods I suppose, well, that's what's going on now…

SGP:666 - 87 points
(devilish drop).

Time to have a last one (cross my heart…)

Caol Ila 16 yo 2005/2021 (56.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Selected by Or Sileis, refill sherry hogshead, cask #17600501, 400 bottles)

Caol Ila 16 yo 2005/2021 (56.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Selected by Or Sileis, refill sherry hogshead, cask #17600501, 400 bottles) Five stars
There's been a very wonderful 2005 G&M for TWE last year (WF 90). Colour: straw. Nose: there, more proof that Caol Ila takes aging extremely well, and that 15 years represent a milestone for any given cask. All these 8, 9, 10 or even 12 are well and good, but they can't beat a 15, let alone a 16. Old ointments, bandages, almond cream, sauvignon blanc, lime juice, pine ashes, passion fruits (hey hey), oysters… Good feelings this far. With water: wool and chalk chiming in, classic and class. Mouth (neat): ooh! Salty crème brûlée and crème de menthe, the obligatory limoncello, mango chutney, smoked salmon… Better cut this story short. With water: impeccable, on smoked oysters and lemon. Finish: rather long, extremely well balanced and ultra-classic. Comments: Caol Ila as in Caol Ila, an unbeatable dream of a middle-aged peated malt whisky.

SGP:466 - 90 points.

I believe that's 32 Caol Ila altogether. No duds and a wonderful consistency, but as always, au naturel works better. My take.

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

 

November 24, 2022


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila by the bucketful, part three

Not even sure it's going to be the last…

(Picture, Château d'Arsac, Margaux)

Arsac

 

 

Caol Ila 15 yo 2006/2021 (55.3%, Alambic Classique, Special Vintage Selection, bourbon barrel, cask #21015, 263 bottles)

Caol Ila 15 yo 2006/2021 (55.3%, Alambic Classique, Special Vintage Selection, bourbon barrel, cask #21015, 263 bottles) Five stars
I think we'll remember that flabbergasting Port Ellen 31/1969 by DL for Alambic eternally (WF 95). You read that right, 1969. Colour: gold. Nose: ooh, it's gentler one, softer, on cakes and croissants, coconut balls, marzipan… Was that the barrel? With water: there there there, metal polish, old toolbox, fino sherry (I know it was a barrel)… Mouth (neat): high-class immediately. Lime honey, Meursault, seaweed, smoked kippers, some banana wine, beeswax… With water: superb. More Meursault, smoky elements of life (what?) and crushed ripe fruits, bananas, quince, apricots… Some smoothie, I can tell you. Finish: loud applause. Lovely balms and ointments. Comments: the magic of the fifteen years. Only time can do this (I know I'm hammering away at that…)

SGP:565 - 90 points.

So more 15 please…

Caol Ila 15 yo (54.6%, Cadenhead, Online Tasting Week, bourbon hogshead, 2021)

Caol Ila 15 yo (54.6%, Cadenhead, Online Tasting Week, bourbon hogshead, 2021) Four stars
I've heard this one was extra-tight. Colour: white wine. Nose: almonds, whelks, clams, softer rubber, mutton suet, bacon (or culatello, thanks again Massimo), then rather coal dust and brake pads. With water: aromas from the nearest woods, in this case fern, mosses, oak leaves and pine needles. Mouth (neat): very acidic, a little astringent, ultra-grassy for sure, on citrus peel and Himalaya salt (I'm not trying to be smart, it's very specific, no, really). With water: totally lemon and grapefruit, zests, flesh and juices. Finish: back to salt and mercurochrome, plus olive brine. Some unexpected varnish in the aftertaste. Comments: awesome, but perhaps a tad demanding.

SGP:366 - 86 points.

The Sponge had two at the same time…

Caol Ila 18 yo 2003/2022 (53%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, '54', 273 bottles)

Caol Ila 18 yo 2003/2022 (53%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, '54', 273 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: a delicate one, with first carnations, then waxed papers and beach sand. Some 'clean' engine oil, paraffin, drawing gum and fixing fluid. Then a little chenin blanc, in a pretty Savennières kind of way. With water: back to waxes, paraffin, and even a little butter, probably from the hogshead. Better yet, proper mashed potatoes, 50% potatoes and 50% butter. Mouth (neat): subtle brines and Timut pepper, more oils, seawater, oysters, pink grapefruits… This is just awesome. With water: the butter is back but in small amounts, otherwise granny smith, lime, and the greenest gooseberries ever, wrapped in carbon paper or something like that. Finish: good length, classic salty CI of good age. Comments: if 15 yo mean better balance, 18 yo mean rising complexity. Let's not believe the corrupted whisky revisionists (I weight my words) who would like you to believe that wood/wine = time. Good grief, never!
SGP:466 - 89 points.

Caol Ila 18 yo 2003/2022 (53%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, '55', 248 bottles)

Caol Ila 18 yo 2003/2022 (53%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, '55', 248 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: a little more oak influence, more coconut and vanilla, shortbread, softer oils… While the back remains more or less the same, unsurprisingly. With water: not too sure, perhaps has it gotten a little more acidic this time? Turning back. Mouth (neat): more oak influence indeed, but this time that would rather translate into more sour fruits, overripe apples, quince jelly… With water: yes, brighter, more on brine and yet more on oak. Finish: rather long, sour-sweet and salty-smoky. Vanilla and resinous tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: these two babies have given us a hard, yet pleasurable time. More proof that comparison is reason, even if that makes you pull your hair out at times. Thank you, Sponge.

SGP:556 - 88 points.

Perhaps back to crazy younger ones, just to make sure…

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2021 (54.8%, The Whisky Cask Company, Bordeaux cask, cask #900043, 332 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2021 (54.8%, The Whisky Cask Company, Bordeaux cask, cask #900043, 332 bottles) Three stars and a half
Matured, or finished in a Château d'Arsac cask, Arsac being a fine largee-volume cru bourgeois in Margaux (108ha). Colour: apricot. Nose: whether Arsac or Château-Margaux, the end result is the same, you're getting raspberry liqueur mingled with smoked seawater. In this very case, and since scones and muffins would be chiming in, we'll declare that it rather works. There. With water: liquid cake, kougelhopfs, Schwartzwalder, pipe tobacco, well, you see, no serious machine… Mouth (neat): total winesky but I'm not against this. Liquorice and strawberries, liquorice allsorts, cherry cake, the moistest panettone… With water: same. I'm sure you could bring it down to 5% vol. and still come up with the same results. Finish: more pepper. Comments: I had thought this would be a sledgehammer. Not my preferred style, but they did rather well. I mean, Margaux and malt whisky, imagine!

SGP:765 - 83 points.

The thing with peat and wine is that peat in itself has already become a way of aromatising malt whisky (nobody burns peat to malt barley anymore, except in very few proper kilns). So peat + wine means superposed aromatisation, really a tricky stunt to handle if you want to avoid any 'Hawaiian Pizza Effect' (HPE, yet a new silly acronym!) Or PAVWC (Pasta Alle Vongole With Cheese; if our Italians friends ever catch you doing that, you're dead). Anyway, let's go on…

Caol Ila 10 yo 2012/2022 (51.1%, Adelphi, cask #302779, 256 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2012/2022 (51.1%, Adelphi, cask #302779, 256 bottles) Four stars and a half
I've still got good eyes and yet I cannot seem to find the kind of cask on the minimalistic, quasi-Soviet label. Well, according to the colour, it is not a fourth-fill barrel… Colour: brown amber. Nose: fudge and caramel, exhaust (NOT sulphur), Ovaltine, copper polish, old walnuts and beef jerky. Looks like the cask had something to say. With water: the previous content too. Chlorine, walnuts, sorrel soup (love that mucho)… Mouth (neat): extremely thick, as if we were having pipe tobacco on canapés. Heavy dried prunes too, the craziest Ténarèze, morels, and three tons of old walnuts (we're not talking rock and roll here). With water: bresaola and Grisons meat, also prunes, more prunes, and even more prunes. Finish: long and thicker yet, concentrated, rather on cassis and blackberry jellies. Some old-style Jell-o when we weren't adding enough water, remember? Comments: Phineas Taylor Barnum's very own bottle of, what was it again? That's right, Caol Ila. Loved it!

SGP:466 - 88 points.

Probably the opposite…

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.2%, Duckhammer's Rare & Fine Spirits for We Dram Clan and Whisky Jace, hogshead, 121 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.2%, Duckhammer's Rare & Fine Spirits for Wu Dram Clan and Whisky Jace, hogshead, 121 bottles) Four stars and a half
Phoo, who's the actual bottler, who's bottling what and for whom, who's the distributor, it's all getting a little complicated at times, at least we know who's tasting it (barely). Colour: white wine. Nose: millimetric tincture of iodine, seawater, new rubber, almonds, ashes and oysters. Classic young CI so far. With water: same, plus damp earth and raw wool. Mouth (neat): just tight smoky seawater and apple and lemon juice. Extremely bright, getting medicinal. With water: no-quibble oysters, lime juice, seawater and cough syrup (drops). Finish: long and appropriately smoky, with more lemon and green apples. Some kind of greasiness in the aftertaste, perhaps even wool – not that we're eating sweaters mind you. Well, we did at school, in a way. Also brine, as always. Comments: possibly the brightest (and simplest?) Caol Ila we've had within these three days. It's just that it's the style we like mucho mucho.

SGP:466 - 88 points.

Good, two more and we're done with Caol Ila, until the year 2037. Quite.

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (56.8%, Fable Whisky, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, barrel, cask #313845, 304 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (56.8%, Fable Whisky, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, barrel, cask #313845, 304 bottles) Five stars
Love it that they would have added a portrait of President Putin to the label. Now we've already tried a sister bottling, cask # 309952, and just loved it (WF 89). Colour: straw. Nose: crisp and pristine, with first lemons and vanilla, then smoke and seawater, then olives and oysters. They may have hundreds of thousands of such casks over there, we'll always love them. Both the whiskies and the people! With water: new fabric, wool, chalk, seashells, iodine… Mouth (neat): rhubarb juice, seawater, lime juice, oysters, ashes, plain smoke, pepper. With water: lovely unexpected herbs, parsley, basil, coriander, also borage and sorrel… I just adore this! But it is bone dry… Finish: long and back to lemons, sage, oregano, and vin jaune from Jura. Comments: exquisite young Caol Ila, this time totally flawless. Whether there's been some sorcery behind this or not, I don't know, but all what counts lies in your glass. Amazing young Caol Ila, ready for the metaverse (of course not, I was joking, they can stick it up… etc.)
SGP:567 - 90 points.

And so a last one, let's make it an old one. My God, we haven't even delved into the 1990s yet, mind you. Shame, shame, shame…

Caol Ila 32 yo 1990/2022 (51.5%, OB, Casks of Distinction, Wu Dram Clan, Pierrick Guillaume and The WhiskyNerds, refill American oak hogshead, cask #6223, 181 bottles)

Caol Ila 32 yo 1990/2022 (51.5%, OB, Casks of Distinction, Wu Dram Clan, Pierrick Guillaume and The WhiskyNerds, refill American oak hogshead, cask #6223, 181 bottles) Five stars
The final bouquet, in other words. We've got a few other old CIs yet-to-taste, but they're all unavailable in shops and so they can wait, according to WF's unpublished yet official set of rules. BTW, Pierrick Guillaume was the manager at Laga and CI. Colour: gold. Nose: amazing what Caol Ila can generate when it ages, such as so many kinds of oils (pumpkin first, then sunflower and grape pips), and flowers (geranium), and fats (lardo di Colonnata), and nuts (pecans, almonds), and old things (books, furniture, waxes...) What it hasn't quite got anymore is smoke, having said that, I would suppose it got transmuted in some way. The kind of gentleness that only proud old malts can display. With water: as almost always, more wool, chalk, also soft figs (the big ones) plus overripe apples and beeswax and mead. Mouth (neat): great old wine territories. Eucalyptus, chalk, acacia beignet, orange cordial, Fernet… The texture is rather incredible, almost muscular this time. With water: careful with that pipette, Odette! Indeed this is not pastis and I'm not sure anyone should add any waters to this ole glory. Lovely nut skins yet, walnuts, but some bitterish woods in the back, some tea tannins coming to the surface, and bitterish leaves and stems popping out. Conclusion, no water ought to be added here. Finish: long and lovely when neat. Adios, water. Patchouli, lime tea, smoked salmon, yuzu, caviar… Comments: hard to taste. In truth it is a little f****r that does whatever it wants and that literally hates water, blistering barnacles! Blundering bazooka! Orang outang! Cercopithecus! Vegetarian! Miserable molecule of mildew! Sycophant! Putin! Steam roller!...

SGP:466 - 92 points.

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

 

November 23, 2022


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila by the bucketful, part two

Always with young ones, which really abound these days… The last one yesterday was a 2010 for LMDW, so let's start this with another 2010 for LMDW. They have a huge catalogue this year…

Olives

 

 

Caol Ila 12 yo 2010/2022 (56.8%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, for LMDW, Antipodes, Moscatel finish, cask #311735, 270 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2010/2022 (56.8%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, for LMDW, Antipodes, Moscatel finish, cask #311735, 270 bottles) Four stars
A moscatel finish, how to say… Let's see if this will be a sweet bomb. Colour: deep gold. Nose: no proper sugarganza, rather pencil shavings and mead, then big, fat, moist golden raisins, as well as gorse and wisteria. We're still around self-restraint but you do feel that things could… explode. With water: they never do, this remains kind of gentle, well-mannered, with more mead, touches of fruity cognac, and just a hint of mustard and tobacco, which would rather make us think of… Madeira. Mouth (neat): the sweet wine feels much more on the palate and comes with some kind of smoky curry and chutneys, plus bucketloads of rich honey. And yet, it's not cloying in any way. Mind you, it's neither Don Papa nor Bumbu. With water: some sugar coming out, muscovado, some sweeter beer, and perhaps some moscatel. Finish: medium, with the smoke and ashes coming to the front now. They took their time. Also clove and nutmeg. Comments: I feared too much.

SGP:666 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (54.8%, Thompson Bros. for Nickolls & Perks, dechar/rechar wine hogshead, 298 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (54.8%, Thompson Bros. for Nickolls & Perks, dechar/rechar wine hogshead, 298 bottles) Three stars and a half
Isn't it crazy what they do to casks, and to whiskies. Quasi-STR. Colour: gold. Nose: oh, a floral Caol Ila, with also broken branches, asparagus peel, pickled ginger (bring the sushi), sandalwood, Szechuan pepper…  Something's clearly different in there. Also coastal oranges, I mean oranges and seawater. With water: oh, back to normality, with the trademark ashes, citrus, seawater and oysters. Ointments in the background. Mouth (neat): very unusual. Much green smoke and cedarwood, so pencil shavings, turmeric and ginger, perhaps a little pineapple (dried)… With water: rather more pineapples, grapefruit, and some biggish ginger and turmeric. Eucalyptus in the aftertaste. Finish: long, very spicy. Comments: very nice variant, a wee bit like the official Distillers Edition, but bigger.
SGP:555 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo 2009/2022 (56.3%, Whisky Sponge, second fill sherry butt, 374 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2009/2022 (56.3%, Whisky Sponge, second fill sherry butt, 374 bottles) Four stars and a half
A unicorn, according to the label. A 12 years old unicorn? Actually, they say it is a 'cooonicorn'. All right then. Colour: deep gold. Nose: the sherry was still pretty active the second time, but tobacco and walnuts can do no wrong to whisky. The rest is at its best (shh), with seawater, oysters, citrus, camphor and tiger balm. With water: need a little time to settle down. Oh super, old coins, copper polish, dried meats, walnut wine, ale, fino sherry… Mouth (neat): excellent, if just a tad spicy/oaky (what a second fill indeed!) Salty lemons, seashells, a little ginger and nutmeg, bitter oranges… With water: excellent. Triple-sec plus walnut wine and seawater, with a little sage and liquorice. Works. Finish: long, even spicier. They say second fill, but it feels like a softer first fill. Anyway… Comments: what this one's really got, and that many didn't quite display this far, is balance. And probably more fruits.

SGP:656 - 88 points.

Aila Col 2009/2022 (56.3%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #Twj-Islay-2001-2, 338 bottles)

Aila Col 2009/2022 (56.3%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #Twj-Islay-2001-2, 338 bottles) Four stars and a half
Okay, is this pure cocketry or are they, indeed, going to have to use silly or secret names for Caol Ila too? But after all, The Whisky Jury also did an 'Eye Land Pork'… Colour: straw. Nose: it's a pure one that won't need much literature. Sunflower oil, lemons, oysters, ashes, seawater, three olives (per glass, James). With water: and cucumber juice? Mouth (neat): basic but the base is very high. Salty lime juice, ashes, gherkins, some fatness (suet) and spiced kippers. With water: touches of maracuja and banana in addition. Finish: long, balanced, on more of all that, with oranges and cloves in the aftertaste. Comments: we may have reached another plateau. A 9 and a 12 are not the same thing, whichever the wood.
SGP:656 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2021 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Kirsch Import, refill sherry butt, cask #317885, 849 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2021 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Kirsch Import, refill sherry butt, cask #317885, 849 bottles) Four stars
850 bottles out of a single cask, even at 46%, that's well done! Colour: white wine. Nose: sunflower oil and olive oil, plus anchovies and whelks, plus almonds and wood and coal ashes. Very OB-ish, very nice, refreshing, easy. Mouth: very dangerously drinkable. Brine, ashes, citron juice, olives, kippers, seashells, granny smith, drop of crème de menthe. Finish: rather long, saltier and ashier yet. Lovely caipirinha-y signature. Comments: these should come with a warning. You say they do?

SGP:556 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2020 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 14251, 338 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2020 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 14251, 338 bottles) Four stars
It's an old particular, but it's not particularly old. Right, right. Colour: white wine. Nose: same style as that of the SigV, fresh, coastal, with some oils, seashells, a little tar, ashes, brine, oysters, lemon juice, sauvignon blanc… Mouth: even more so, but I would tend to like this one a little better yet, for it's greener, more on granny smith, wakame, extreme oysters (open sea), and olives. Olives will save the world and bring peace everywhere. Finish: rather long, with a salty manzanilla-y character. Only the aftertaste is a tad bitter and a little too much on bark. Comments: great drop, only misses the 88-line because of the aftertaste.
SGP:566 - 87 points.

Asta Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (52%, Asta Morris, sherry butt, cask #AM141, 732 bottles)

Asta Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (52%, Asta Morris, sherry butt, cask #AM141, 732 bottles) Four stars and a half
Belgians adding frogs to their labels, we've seen it all now. We'll start to add shrimps to ours! Just one question, if they ever bottle a Bowmore in the near future, will they name it 'Asta Martin'? Colour: straw. Nose: not a first fill butt. It's pure, albeit fattish, paraffiny Caol Ila, with some notes of mirabelles (hey?) and then seashells and tart apple juice. With water: exactly where a young Caol Ila should stand in my book. Lemons, citrons, brine, white beer, fresh bread, smoke, oysters… Mouth (neat): excellent, with excellent citrus, some icing sugar, excellent limoncello, and excellent honey. Not too sure where and why all this sweetness, but it's lovely. With water: indeed, excellent, super-tart and zesty, salty, and yet with a fatter, oilier fruitiness. I'm afraid we'll have to mention limoncello once more. Finish: rather long, salty and sweet. Green pepper, wax, seawater... Black pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: bordering the 89-line. Excellent young Caol Ila.
SGP:656 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.5%, Smuggler, bourbon hogshead, cask #310478, 312 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.5%, Smuggler, bourbon hogshead, cask #310478, 312 bottles) Four stars
We're in Switzerland this time; hoppla grüezi! Remember, we say we Alsatians are Belgians who never made it to Switzerland, unless that would be just the other way 'round. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: gooseberry and green apple juice, wool and chalk, almond paste, leaven and baker's yeast, gherkin brine… Not much wood influence to say the least, while I hear no complains (from my part). With water: fully on raw wool. Mouth (neat): tight and tense, hyper-vertical (the Jungfrau, I tell you), all on brine and lime juice, mezcal, seawater… With water: careful, it would cut you. Raw kirschwasser, more seawater, carbon and ink, ashes aplenty, salty doughs… Finish: long and ultra-tight. Comments: eau-de-vie de peaty barley plus granny smith. Not the easiest Ci around, but hab' ich gern. I mean, I like it rather a lot.

SGP:456 - 87 points.

Why not an OB before we call this a session…

Caol Ila 14 yo (53%, OB, The Four Corners of Scotland, Distillery Exclusive, 2022)

Caol Ila 14 yo (53%, OB, The Four Corners of Scotland, Distillery Exclusive, 2022) Four stars and a half
This exclusive baby was matured in refill and freshly charred hogsheads. The Four Corners are Glenkinchie, Caol Ila, Clynelish and Cardhu. Colour: white wine. Nose: another purer Caol Ila, with some paraffin yet again, carbon, new leatherette, apple juice, gentle smoke (this time), almonds, and rather less coastal elements, perhaps because of those 'freshly charred hogsheads'. But there is rather a lot of cough syrup. With water: linseed oil, wool, Barbour grease, new wellies and porridge. Prettish Scottish, no? Mouth (neat): awesome salty sweetness, with some tropical fruits from those fresh-charred hoggies – probably – and many oysters and many lemons. Excellent. With water: terrific, saltier yet, with olives stuffed with almonds or anchovy paste. I mean both, but separately. I know what I'm trying to say. Finish: long, more on ashes and olives. Comments: fantastic drop, another one to cellar for, like twenty years. Quasi-90. Who blended it?
SGP:457 - 89 points.

Nine, that's a good number. But we may have a third CI session soon, they've been really piling up…

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

 

November 22, 2022


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila by the bucketful

A figure of speech, naturally, but we have got really big ambitions today, given that I've been neglecting my CIs lately… But let's see what we have and try to find an easy youngster as our apéritif…

Samphire

 

 

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (45%, Samaroli, The Whisky Barrel 15th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #315282, 490 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (45%, Samaroli, The Whisky Barrel 15th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #315282, 490 bottles) Four stars
The label's named 'Lord of The Isles', which reminds us of something… Colour: very pale, almost white. Nose: getting to the core, with some pretty almondy kirschwasser, tincture of iodine, a little engine grease and probably more oysters than in the ocean. That almondy kirschiness is rather huge. Mouth: salt, oils, whelks, almonds, paraffin and bitter apples. Very dry and actually rather fino-y. 'En Rama', naturalmente… Finish: long, dry, almost bitter (well, with notes of bitters) and tarry. Propolis. Comments: another wee Caol Ila that's anything but 'a softer Islay'. Austere, with very few fruits, not even citrus, except zests. Big, big smoke.

SGP:367 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (55%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, LMDW Antipodes, first fill sherry butt finish, cask #104, 646 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (55%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, LMDW Antipodes, first fill sherry butt finish, cask #104, 646 bottles) Four stars
Some first fill sherry finish on a young CI; as some would say, 'glups!' Colour: deep amber – office coffee. Nose: toffee and pipe tobacco, plus metal polish, cardboard and beef jerky, but even if 55% vol. is not that high, it's a bit too powerful. With water: the toffee remains the boss but the peat is chiming in, together with bitter herbs and a whole bag of pine needles, some raw wool, turmeric, pipe tobacco again... Mouth (neat): massive fudge and malt bars (Ovaltine bars, Mars bars as well). Huge and calling for water… With water: still heavy, you could use it as a sauce (Worcester or Tabasco) or, alternatively, make your own oloroso by adding two spoonfuls to any glass of white wine. Right, I haven't tried that but if you do, please report back, thanks. Finish: long and rather all on black toffee and more beef jerky. Comments: pretty beastly.

SGP:456 - 85 points.

Can we have a gentle one please?

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (57.3%, The Whisky Show 2022, hogshead)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2013/2022 (57.3%, The Whisky Show 2022, hogshead) Four stars
The label's got a secret message, which would be 'Climate Crisis, What Are We Doing?' Perhaps should we drink wine or water instead of anything distilled? Colour: pale gold. Nose: I'm starting to wonder if these 2013s aren't a little young, because this one too is a tad rough around the edges. But other than that, everything well in place, seawater, oysters, zests, even olives... With water: and wool, chalk, mud, touches of leather (which would go away after 12 years, I'd wager). Mouth (neat): ultra-classic lemony and salty smokiness, with some bitter apples and green tea. With water: young Caol Ila as in young Caol Ila. Some grassy, bitterish herbs and leaves in the background. Finish: long, salty, a little more medicinal and always very leafy. Comments: it seems that these 2013, all very good of course, are not blessed with an abundant fruitiness, are they.
SGP:366 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 10 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, +/-2022)

Caol Ila 10 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, +/-2022) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: these ages take reduction particularly well, this has much more sea breeze, lemons, crabs, seaweed, beeswax, olive oil… Mouth: indeed, this is pretty perfect, salty, briney, with more oysters, many more smoky and tarry ashes than in the biggish 2013s, seawater… Finish: medium, a tad grassier now, with a salty aftertaste. A very salty aftertaste. Comments: It's not that I always need easiness and approachability, but in the case of very young Caol Ila, I believe this profile, although not the grandest ever, is welcome. And good for making smoky Scotchitos (Caol Ila, lime juice, barley syrup, Perrier – proportions are up to you). Say 85+ for this wee one.
SGP:456 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 10 yo 2012/2022 (56.7%, Thompson Bros. for Royal Mile Whiskies, rejuvenated hogshead, 270 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2012/2022 (56.7%, Thompson Bros. for Royal Mile Whiskies, rejuvenated hogshead, 270 bottles) Four stars
Rejuvenated = dechar + rechar here. Colour: straw. Nose: you do feel custard, vanilla cream, that's the rejuvenation. Caol Ila takes it well. Then brine, lime, seashells, coal tar, ointments, seaweed… With water: old fabric (old tweed), old magazines, paraffin, dunnage, swimming pool, and certainly less vanilla, as if water had eradicated the effects of that rejuvenation. Mouth (neat): excellent, with citrus upfront this time, then bitterer herbs, ashes, green pepper, some green curry perhaps… With water: a few bitter herbs, some limes and lemons and grapefruits, salt, cracked pepper, and a tiny drop of that stronger chartreuse, which they call 'Elixir Végétal'. Stuff for grown-ups, I tell you. Finish: long, on similar notes. Comments: another fighter. Bonus point for the citrus.

SGP:466 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2022 (57.58%, Whisky Nerds, sherry hogshead, cask #5846, 326 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2022 (57.58%, Whisky Nerds, sherry hogshead, cask #5846, 326 bottles) Three stars and a half
Who remembers chalkboards at school? They were much more reliable than iPads, if you ask me. Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of flints, limestone, even sulphur stone at first, then sour wine, preserved artichokes, sauvignon blanc (which I often find very Coal Ila), then the flintier-and-yet-fat Meursault you could think of. With water: raisins, barbecue lighting fluid, even lighter fluid (or ol' Zippo), more flints… Mouth (neat): once again it would start with a little sulphur, let's say leathery raisins, then open up with some cigarette tobacco and hoisin sauce. Then we have even more raisins. With water: good fun with this pretty mineral and yet very raisiny sherry cask. Finish: long, more on tobacco and tarry tea. Sooty aftertaste, with also notes of eggplant. Comments: probably not for everyone, but there were only 326 bottles anyway. A tiny notch deviant, perhaps.

SGP:566 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 2010/2022 (57%, Swell de Spirits, Wonders of the World, rum cask finish, cask #1902, 360 bottles)

Caol Ila 2010/2022 (57%, Swell de Spirits, Wonders of the World, rum cask finish, cask #1902, 360 bottles) Four stars
Caol Ila and rum, clash or not clash, what do you think? Let's see… Colour: white wine. Nose: earth, humus, seashells, olive oil, new blue jean, musty old wine cellar, fresh plaster… Well, no clash this far, on the contrary… With water: well, it does 'nose' like if the rum was a Jamaican, or a Trinidadian, perhaps. Which means that there couldn't be any clashes, both profiles being kind of close, in a way. Earth and smoke and brine and olives, you know. Mouth (neat): a wee soapiness at first but that was very fleeting, then rather salty lemons and smoky capers. Did anyone ever try to smoke capers? Not even in Italy? With water: citrus and wool, samphires... Finish: long, very briney, tight, much more vertical than I had thought when I did read 'rum cask finish'. Comments: very smart duet.
SGP:466 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask #HL16013, 240 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask #HL16013, 240 bottles) Four stars
Can you call it an 'Old Malt Cask' when the malt's this young? Right, I suppose the cask itself was old… Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: immaculate, with new kirschwasser, whelks again, clams, seawater, linseed oil, new tyres. What's not to like? With water: new sweater, rainwater, wool… Mouth (neat): very fresh, millimetric, lemony, salty, ashy. Gherkin brine. With water: excellent, with lemons jumping into your glass. Other than that, we have more chalk. Finish: medium, saltier. One oyster in the aftertaste. Comments: young fresh untouched Caol Ila (as nature intended, shall we add). They're very good too.

SGP:556 - 86 points.

A last one, we shall go on another day…

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2022 (56.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, for LMDW, refill bourbon hogshead, #53.410, 'Smoked Sea Salted Liquorice', 270 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2022 (56.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, for LMDW, refill bourbon hogshead, #53.410, 'Smoked Sea Salted Liquorice', 270 bottles) Four stars and a half
That The Society would do such exclusive bottlings is new to me, but all powers to La Maison Du Whisky here. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: crystal clear sweet smoky nose full of ripe apples, lapsang souchong, smoky custard and marzipan. Rather feels like 15, if you ask me. I mean 15 years old. With water: pure wool, chalk, ashes, lime and oysters. This is extremely 'Caol Ila'. Mouth (neat): very close to the OBs, with more citrus this time, more freshness, some fennel seeds, wasabi, seawater, brine… And green olives. Hoppla, as we say over there. With water: winner. Iodine and medicinal stuff. Finish: one that cuts you into two halves, as we sometimes say. Totally bladey. Comments: high-definition Caol Ila, as in 'Caol Ila'. No prisoners.
SGP:457 - 88 points.

What we notice is that even when they're wildly different, young Caol Ilas remain pretty consistent. But as we just said, we shall go on another day, because there's plenty more where those came from (as Pearl Bailey used to sing)…

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

 

November 21, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

November 20, 2022


Whiskyfun

  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

This is Sunday, here's yet another bag of rums

There's plenty and we shan't complain. Let's kick this off with a wee apéritif, as usual…

Belize

 

 

Carùpano 12 yo 'Reserva Exclusiva' (40%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2022)

Carùpano 12 yo 'Reserva Exclusiva' (40%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
We've only ever tried Carùpano 6 yo, which was a Reserva 'Especial' rather than 'Exclusiva'. Adjectives are the salt of marketing. Now that 6 was rather cheapish (WF 70). Colour: dark gold. Nose: no wait, this is very all right, very rounded, chocolaty, with some rum baba, bananas flambéed, raisins, fresh-crushed cane juice, fudge and caramel, and just Rowntree's best. Mouth: really, it's kind of okay, you do find the cane, bananas, pineapples, light molasses, cappuccino, Viennese coffee… There is some sugar for sure, but it's been done with moderation. Finish: a tad short, rather honeyed, with some more cane juice and candy sugar. That's it, they've used candy sugar. Comments: no quibbles, it's rather fine sweet rum, just a little wobbly in the knees, if you see what I mean.

SGP:630 - 77 points.

Mauritius 12 yo 2010/2022 (53.4%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams, Port cask)

Mauritius 12 yo 2010/2022 (53.4%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams, Port cask) Three stars
This stems from Grays Distillerie, a name that I had bever heard of before (which doesn't mean much, I agree). Now that Port thing is scary. Colour: Port. No really, Port red. Ruby, if you like. Nose: huge Port, even if this isn't pure touriga nacional. It is some in-cask blend of rum with Port, simple as that. Not saying that doesn't work, having said that, both drinks even seem to tango well together. Peonies, raspberry liqueur, blackberry jam, ganache, Mon Cheri, molasses, strawberries stewed in Demerara syrup, guignolet, Nuits-St-Georges… With water: even more sweet red wine. Towards amarone at times. Mouth (neat): cherry jam with indeed some muscovado, cinnamon, star anise, more raspberries and blackberries, Port, pinot noir… With water: there's even this gamey side of Pinot Noir. Yeah I know Port is not made out of Pinot Noir. Finish: long, sweet, Port-like. Cherry stems and leaves in the aftertaste. Clafoutis. Comments: the Romans were having it right when they called the drink 'vinum'. In my book the Port was louder than the rum. Good fun, we just need to find a name for these in-cask premixes. Seriously, it worked.
SGP:740 - 82 points.
Update
: Grays is New Grove, thanks Rowald

Travellers 2007/2022 (64.6%, l'Esprit, Belize, cask #BB 19, 258 bottles)

Travellers 2007/2022 (64.6%, l'Esprit, Belize, cask #BB 19, 258 bottles) Four stars and a half
Long time no Travellers from Belize on little WF. The honourable bottlers remind us that this is single-estate rum. That's a proper origin! Colour: amber. Nose: fudge and nougat at cask strength ;-). Scones, cane juice, biscuits, pumpernickel, shortbread, toffee… With water: a very delicate rubber coming out, some leaves and hay, dried flowers, tangerines, beeswax… It is all delicate indeed, elegant, you would have said 'feminine' back in 1995… Mouth (neat): oranges and caramel… These Travellers are reminiscent of Foursquare, they're just a notch lighter. But no further chances taken at almost 65% vol. With water: very good! A velvet hand in an iron glove, would we say. Delicate cakes, ginger biscuits, madeleines, Jaffa cakes, some tangerine marmalade… Finish: medium, rather on nougat and Bailey's (apologies). I would guess you could make some kind of Alexander out of this Travellers, no? Comments: take your time, don't rush it, be ready for murmurs and subtleties, and it'll grow on you. I think I forgot to mention puréed chestnuts (with vanilla, whipped cream and meringue).

SGP:441 - 88 points.

Let's quickly check if I was right when I was mentioning Foursquare…

Foursquare 2002/2022 (52%, l'Esprit, Barbados, cask #BB 8, 198 bottles)

Foursquare 2002/2022 (52%, l'Esprit, Barbados, cask #BB 8, 198 bottles) Five stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: boy was I wrong, but that's because this is a Foursquare that's giving pride of place to its ex-pot still component. Green oranges, capers and olives, gentian, varnish,  fermenting bananas, linseed oil, cigar smoke… Well, we love it but it is simply not a prototypical Foursquare. Un-self-blended Foursquare, or simply a higher proportion of pot still? With water: plastics and waxes, new sneakers, new iPhone (fool!)… Mouth (neat): yeah right, a Jamaican Foursquare. Pure pot still, with tar, olives, liquorice, rotten, ach, well, rotting fruits, varnish, sake and shochu, even baijiu… Tell me about a spirit of the world! With water: smoked bananas, olives macerated in coal tar, pickled bits of grapefruit… Finish: long. Takes water extremely well. Comments: we've been fooled. This is like trying Port Charlotte while thinking it was Bruichladdich, see what I mean? They'll get a letter…

SGP:553 - 90 points.

T.D.L. 22 yo 2000/2022 (57.5%, Swell de Spirits, Private Garden n°1, Clos des Spiritueux, Trinidad, 356 bottles)

T.D.L. 22 yo 2000/2022 (57.5%, Swell de Spirits, Private Garden n°1, Clos des Spiritueux, Trinidad, 356 bottles) Five stars
15 years in Trinidad, then 7 years in the UK (so most under Boris). T.D.L. means Trinidad Distillers Limited, so pretty much Angostura. Colour: full gold. Nose: not bold, but very floral and honeyed. Rum made by bees, in other words. Some pomegranates and prickly pears, pink bananas, clover honey, dandelions, wisteria, bits of mango, and first and foremost, preserved peaches, which would lead to… fresh old cognac. This is rather fascinating, to tell you the truth. You travel fast with this one. With water: feeling even more obvious. Glorious. This simply cannot only be TDL, let alone Angostura under another name. Im-pos-si-ble. Mouth (neat): very intriguing. Some sorcerer may have blended away various spirits, perhaps Rosebank plus TDL indeed, plus a fruity Bons Bois, plus a drop of Ténarèze to add oomph and knack. Smart work (but hey officer, this is fiction!) With water: I say no more. Some cane reminds us that there's rum in there. Finish: medium, jammy, complex, floral (floral finishes are uncommon)… Peaches in honey are dancing in the aftertaste. Comments: Mr Swell, we need to talk. This is not only a joke ;-).

SGP:641 - 90 points.

Good, let's rather have one from a small island and then call this another proper rum session.

Fiji 21 yo 2001/2022 (62.2%, La Maison du Whisky, Antipodes, cask #51, 213 bottles)

Fiji 21 yo 2001/2022 (62.2%, La Maison du Whisky, Antipodes, cask #51, 213 bottles) Four stars and a half
Love LMDW's conceptualisation every year, in 2022 it is all about 'antipodes'. Well, Fiji sure lies in the antipodes of France. Excellent rugby, by the way, while this should stem from the very good South Pacific Distillery, in Lautoka. High hopes here, Fiji sure is the Jamaica of the… antipodes. Colour: amber. Nose: when patchouli and tar meet, together with olives and liquorice. A bit strong, to say the least, but you would believe you're in Monymusk/Clarendon. With water: ink, damp magazines, coal dust, turpentine, varnishes, and of course olives. Smoked olives. Mouth (neat): excellent glue, varnish, very heavy pine resin and something reminiscent of nail polish (with strawberry flavour). With water: anchovies and peaches chiming in. Finish: long. Comments: we've heard whenever the Fijian rugby players would catch and kill an enemy, they would then dump him into the Distillery's muck pit. Or is that only rumours? Great, great estery rum nonetheless, one of the best in the world.

SGP:563 - 89 points.

I just wanted to check something, quickly…

Worthy Park 'Select' (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2022)

Worthy Park 'Select' (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2022) Four stars
Never forget that Worthy Park is single-estate rum. Who else is truly single-estate in rum? And in whisky? (pff, ROTFALOL…) This WP is the simplest expression of WP there is, but WP is WP. Right, enough acronyms, let's just hope Worthy Park Select has nothing to do with Laphroaig Select… Colour: gold. Nose: we would have loved more oomph, but they sell this for way less than 30€. Lovely notes of linoleum, ink, brine, olives, paint… While indeed, and that was what I've been feeling in the first place, it is very similar to the Fijian (and conversely). Mouth: just very good, not even light, oily and olive-y, with good grittiness, overripe bananas, a feeling of diesel oil, nutmeg and pepper, very salty oysters (of open sea), olive oil… Finish: perhaps not exactly the best part, but that's more than normal at 40% and with this kind of profile. Just ask Laphroaig Select. The aftertaste is a little hazy and out of sorts, but there. Comments: class, this cheapish entry-level WP, just take another sip before the finish.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

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

 

November 19, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Mixed duos again
A pretty varied mix today, with a couple of interesting old bottles thrown in for good measure.

 

Ardnamurchan 5 yo 2015/2021 (52.5%, North Star, bourbon, 247 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 5 yo 2015/2021 (52.5%, North Star, bourbon, 247 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: heather honey, lilies heavy with pollen, vanilla creme brûlée and even a few drops of youthful Sauternes. Given time I also find herbal notes and impressions of old mead, it starts to become even rather medicinal too. A really lovely nose so far. With water: more flowers, pastries, honey, green apple and hints of heather and gorse flowers. Mouth: a pretty active cask no doubt, but the sweetness manages to feel quite natural and full of flower nectars, pollens, lemon custard and more impressions of various dessert wines. Add to that some eucalyptus, clover and more flower honey. Then it's on chunkier notes of stout beer, freshly baked breads and tiger balm. With water: jelly beans, crushed nettles, tinned pineapple and things like malt loaf, milk chocolate and juniper. Finish: good length, some hints of coffee and cocoa along with more sweet nectars and breads. Comments: really impressive! An active cask but a charismatic distillate that matches it perfectly. Great selection by North Star and great work by Ardnamurchan.

SGP: 562 - 88 points.

 

 

Ardnamurchan 5 yo (53.5%, The Whisky Exchange 'April Fool', 1st fill bourbon barrels, 1575 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 5 yo (53.5%, The Whisky Exchange 'April Fool', 1st fill bourbon barrels, 1575 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: it may be the 'large batch' effect here, but I find this one a little less defined and globally a little drier. Still a lot of focus on breads and beers but without so much honeyed richness.  Flower stems, grassy olive oil, some juniper and hops. With water: apple pips and cider apple funkiness with lanolin and citrus teas. Mouth: ok, here the sweetness arrives loud and clear, that wonderful Ardnamurchan 'honeyed' quality that seems to straddle many of their bottlings. Also a feeling of some peat in the mix, tea tree oil, aniseed, hints of antiseptic and herbal mouthwash. Then more familiar pollens and beers. With water: fatter, waxier, more beers, citrus oils, spiced marmalade and a little camphor. Finish: medium, some slight but warming oak spiciness, pumpernickel, heather ales, herbal teas and mead. Comments: a chunkier and slightly more tricky take, but this is still excellent and ballpark same high quality. I just prefer the unashamed exuberance of the North Star cask by a notch.

SGP: 462 - 87 points.

 

 

Strathmill 11 yo 2011/2022 (58.7%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #80587501, wine barrique + PX octave finish, 54 bottles)

Strathmill 11 yo 2011/2022 (58.7%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #80587501, wine barrique + PX octave finish, 54 bottles)
A Strathmill matured in a wine cask with a PX octave finish! Please allow me to quickly update my last will and testament. Also, when your first instinct is to just use copy and paste, you know you are in the realms of the world's longest cask numbers… Colour: orangey amber. Nose: jams, preserved fruits in syrup, sultanas, date loaf and caramelised muscovado sugar. Very nice so far… With water: develops a lovely note of mango, then damson jam and a hint of prune and fig roll. Mouth: extremely sweet and featuring a myriad of fruit chutneys, pomegranate molasses, strawberry jam and even a feeling of youthful Ozzy shiraz! Let's add water… With water: feels slightly more cohesive with water, still very sweet and even a bit cloying but this style certainly has its fans. Just a bit intense for me. Finish: surprisingly long, with a more of these big sweet and jammy notes, nut also a glimmer of bread and beer too. Comments: the LOTG guys are really becoming quite clever with these highly technological re-rackings and cask jugglings. I don't think there's any Strathmill DNA left, but then did Strathmill ever really possess any DNA or personality to begin with? Probably the perfect make on which to conduct these kinds of crazy double maturations / finishes. This is too much for my taste, but if you like them sweet and supercharged then you may do your best to find one of the mere 55 bottles that exist… Hard to score, as ever.

SGP: 641 - 82ish points. 

 

 

Strathmill 21yo 1994/2016 (52.1%, OB 'Casks of Distinction'. cask #3230, hogshead, 180 bottles)

Strathmill 21yo 1994/2016 (52.1%, OB 'Casks of Distinction'. cask #3230, hogshead, 180 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: funny stuff, a mix of green herbs, mashed vegetables, cooking oils and some savoury impressions of things like cooking stocks and roast potatoes. Has something I would characterise as slightly old school about it, these wee notes of ink, aspirin and mineral oil make you think of older, distillate driven malts. With water: going now towards vase water, more mineral oils, sunflower seeds, scrunched newspaper, dried herbs, crushed ivy and wet grains. Mouth: continues in the same vein as the nose, vegetal and mineral qualities but also now rather a lot of shoe polish, lanolin, plasticine and ink. Even things like vinyl and motor oil come to mind. Very curious and certainly not boring! With water: rather pure and distillate driven now. Really focussed on flints, mineral oils, new leather, pepper, even salty notes coming through. It's an extremely specific and un-sexy style, but also very charming. Finish: good length, rather herbal, white pepper, dried flowers, carbon paper, canvass and white tea. Comments: I can see why they would have chosen this cask, it's got plenty charm to go around, you just have to enjoy these very specific, distillate driven styles. Feels like the kind of whisky Cadenhead would have bottled as pure petrol at eye-watering strength in the early 90s, only now refined by additional decades in similarly naked wood. One of the more interesting Strathmills I'd say.

SGP: 461 - 87 points.

 

 

Isle Of Jura 8 yo (70 proof, OB, -/+1975)

Isle Of Jura 8 yo (70 proof, OB, -/+1975)
One of the early official bottlings for the UK market that should date to somewhere around 75-78 I suspect. An old fashioned but rather charming label. Colour: pale gold. Nose: overripe exotic fruits, oily toolbox rags, slightly rotten funky peels and a good slug of bouillon stock! Funky and fun, in typical Jura fashion, but also with this very definite, almost bacterial fruitiness that puts this firmly in the '1960s Jura' category in my book. Mouth: nice fruits, waxes, olive oil, preserved lemons in brine, some mineral salts and herbal touches. But also some OBE with these more vegetal and metallic sides, although I wouldn't say it's too extreme or distracting. You can tell this is fantastic and really charismatic distillate, it's just a little let down by the 40% ABV - as ever was thus the case with these old bottlings. In time I also find more of these pulpy, overripe exotic fruits and some big notes of smoked teas such as lapsing souchong. Finish: medium and nicely herbal, medical, slightly leathery, towards old toolboxes again and with a slightly resinous, sappy note. Comments: very old school whisky that is slightly let down by a low ABV and some old bottle effect, but it manages to stay the course and is extremely fun and a rather moving wee window on the past. At a more muscular bottling strength this would probably sail past the 90 mark I suspect…

SGP: 552 - 87 points.

 

 

Jura 1975/1994 (53%, Scotch Malt Sales for Japan)

Jura 1975/1994 (53%, Scotch Malt Sales for Japan)
Another old bottle from Scotch Malt Sales that is very scarce over here in Europe - sorry, Britain! SMS had many amazing selections over the years, although some mid-70s Juras can be a tad unlikely… Colour: gold. Nose: one of those undeniably old school profiles that makes you think of waxes, clays and paraffin. Some ointments, plasticine, carbon paper and sooty coal hearths. Many similarities with the old 8yo OB, but just less overtly fruity I'd say, to me that's the key difference between 1960s and 1970s Jura. Also touches of metal polish and peppery watercress. With water: still nicely peppery and waxy, goes towards shoe polish, cupboard spices and a touch of aniseed now. I also find it slightly more coastal. Mouth: same feeling, lots of soft waxes, overripe orange peels, impressions plasticine, soot and graphite oil. It's also going more mechanical towards WD40 and bike chain grease. Still these wee overripe fruity components do add some balance though. Funky stuff. With water: works very well with water, the fruitiness takes on a slight exotic tinge, there's more honey, the waxes persist and it feels a little more rounded and cohesive. Finish: medium with heather honeys, waxes, pebbles and mineral oil. Also still some lingering feelings of metal polish and olive oil. Then a little tea-ish in the aftertaste. Comments: old school and charismatic stuff undoubtedly. Although, at times I'm also reminded of some of these early 90s batches of Jura which have been with the indy bottlers recently. Jura clearly makes a fun and funky distillate, it's a shame that popular perceptions of it haven't quite absorbed that.
SGP: 462 - 87 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 9 yo 2012/2022 (54.5%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #306693, hogshead + sauternes finish, 278 bottles)

Blair Athol 9 yo 2012/2022 (54.5%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #306693, hogshead + sauternes finish, 278 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: I think sauternes and whisky usually work very well and that's the case here for starters, lots of figs, damsons, cigar humidors, digestive biscuit and runny honey. With water: red fruit teas, quince and jasmine flower with a little more of these milk chocolate and sultana notes. Mouth: sweet but also rather earthy and again with things like sultan, unlit cigar, walnut wine and even a little camphor and brown bread. With water: now we're firmly into caramel wafer territory, along with roasted pecans, more brown bread but spread with treacle this time, and a rather funky earthiness. Finish: good length, earthy, herbal bitters, dark chocolate, espresso and more tobacco. Comments: a finishing that works very well I think, especially if you enjoy this particular funky/earthy/sweet profile.
SGP: 651 - 85 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 8 yo (80 proof, OB 'Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd', UK, -/+ 1960)

Blair Athol 8 yo (80 proof, OB 'Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd', UK, -/+ 1960)
There's some batch variation as this livery was used for quite a while, but quality is usually very high in my experience. This was a bottle I opened for the Old & Rare virtual show tastings earlier this year. Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely fatty and mineral, immediately makes you think of similarly aged old Clynelish bottlings with all these notes of bouillon, animal fats, marrow and herbally-tinted waxes. Then it goes more towards medicines, hessian cloth and shoe polish. What I love with these old bottlings is how the higher ABV really helps to minimise the more tricky aspects of OBE. This one has some old bottle qualities but they're rather elegant and add to the complexity of the profile. Mouth: soots, metal polish, natural tar and still many of these greasy and oily old mechanical toolbox vibes. Also suet, marrow and olive oil galore with a big slug of old school cough syrup! Just terrific! Finish: long, medicinal, some sweet tar extracts, long aged herbal liqueurs and hints of slated honey and aged mead. Comments: pure old school wax juice! These whiskies are always so worthwhile re-visiting because they just remind you so powerfully, every time you taste them, the flavours and styles that have disappeared from Scotch whisky as a drink. Nothing tastes like this anymore.

SGP: 463 - 92 points.

 

 

Thanks to Cicada!

 

 

 

 

November 18, 2022


Whiskyfun

Top of Strathmill, a triplet of sherried ones

Always an utter joy to taste these underdogs, but are there any underdogs left in Scotland? I believe not. We'll first have a fairly young one, then too oldies.
(Picture The Press and Journal that reminds us that in 2014, flash flooding caused the River Isla to burst its banks and trapped three Strathmill workers inside the main building. They had to be rescued by boat)

Strathmill

 

 

Strathmill 15 yo 2006/2022 (60.5%, Signatory Vintage for whic, Edda, finished in first fill sherry butt, cask #4, 679 bottles)

Strathmill 15 yo 2006/2022 (60.5%, Signatory Vintage for whic, Edda, finished in first fill sherry butt, cask #4, 679 bottles) Four stars
I don't know who Edda is, but he sure looks a little scary. Which is not the case of this wee Speysider, despite the almost murderous strength. Colour: reddish mahogany. Nose: a family pack of Mars bars and half a glass of blueberry eau-de-vie, then loads of chocolates macerated in stout, with drops of old balsamico added to the mix. Add the obligatory walnut wine and you've got a picture of this nose (as far as I can tell). With water: even more chocolate, plus some thick old rum and a little chicken bouillon.  Mouth (neat): very oily texture. Syrupy start, on chocolate and thick honey sauce, getting then rather saltier and meatier. American-style barbecued ribs, I would say. With water: some very heavy stout, infused with raw cocoa and those blueberries again. Finish: long, rather on chocolate and balsamico. Touch of pipe tobacco and oak in the aftertaste (shavings). Comments: is it customary to mix chocolate and balsamico, dear Italian friends? (please no shoot!)
SGP:661 - 87 points

Strathmill 32 yo 1990/2022 (54%, Skene Whisky, butt, cask #1635)

Strathmill 32 yo 1990/2022 (54%, Skene Whisky, butt, cask #1635) Five stars
Colour: white wine. It was a very, say sylphlike butt. Nose: extremely pure, without any proper sherry notes, and we shan't complain about that, rather with fruit peel and moderate flowers, perhaps even tulips and pansies, and some crystalline maltiness. We always like these because they let the fine work of time shine through. Very delicate floralness, small white berries, a slightly hoppy side, a little chalk… With water: fresh croissants, acacia flowers (almost none this year, sob…) and brioche dough. Mouth (neat): absolutely excellent, barley-y, with apples, pears and oranges, greengages, pilsner, and a very soft oakiness. Notes of elderberry and mullein syrups, which I just adore. With water: even better. Drops of green apple liqueur, Champagne, preserved peaches and soft beers. Lovely honeyed touch, way in the back. Finish: not too long but perfect, on sweet doughs and beers. Comments: Strathmill! Very smart cask selection here, if I may.

SGP:551 - 90 points.

Strathmill 1990/2022 (54%, Swell de Spirits, Field Trip #3, refill sherry butt, 80 bottles)

Strathmill 1990/2022 (54%, Swell de Spirits, Field Trip #3, refill sherry butt, 80 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: this sometimes happens, this is almost, if not exactly the same marvellous old Strathmill as Skene's. You could always find tiny variations, but that would be your mind playing tricks and turns. So, whether I'm right or wrong, I shall declare that it is the same cask, which might have been shared. Which would suggest that there wasn't only one smart whisky company, there were two of them. Mouth: same comments even if these may have also been very close sister casks, like identical twins. But doubt it… Finish: same. Perhaps a little more lemon in this one? I'm dreaming… Comments: a long time ago, a very smart friend who was suspecting a case of shared cask, and to make sure they were the same whiskies indeed, blended the contents of his two Riedels together and only then jumped to conclusions. But that was very, very late at night… Anyway, kudos Mr Swell de Spirits, it is a fantastic Strathmill indeed; and indeed, the dragonfly on the label suits it well.

SGP:551 - 90 points.

… no more underdogs around indeed, big brands, watch these!

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

 

November 17, 2022


Whiskyfun

Another mixed bag of Scottish blends and disguised singles

There's more, as many more good parties seem to be willing to build their own brands without relying on existing Distillery names (whose owners are becoming more and more reluctant anyway). Anyway, let's play this randomly, for more fun…

(Photograph Morgan Motor Company)

Morgan

 

 

Angel's Whisky (46%, Loza Dzentelmenow, Poland, blended malt, +/-2022)

Angel's Whisky (46%, Loza Dzentelmenow, Poland, blended malt, +/-2022) Four stars
Brought back from lovely Warsaw; It was whisky or pierogi, well whisky travels better, but I love pierogi too (rather steamed or boiled than fried for me, thanks). Colour: gold. Nose: barley field, Fruit Loops, pecan pie, apple pie, caramelised popcorn, white nougat, maple syrup, butterscotch… you got it, it is a wonderful malty, cakey malt whisky, a malt a little, if I may,  but I'm probably wrong, in the style of BB&R's own compositions. Mouth: excellent all-rounder, with good power, honeys, more butterscotch, sweet malt, fudge, marmalade, drops of light stout… I don't think you could make them any more 'classic' than this. Finish: medium, on honey, marmalade, and just malt indeed (Ovaltine/Ovomaltine). Comments: we could all quaff double-magnums. It's good that they wouldn't do double-magnums (you say they do?)
SGP:551 - 86 points.

BB&R, he said…

Speyside Reserve (44.2%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, blended malt, +/-2022)

Speyside Reserve (44.2%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, blended malt, +/-2022) Three stars
Is orange the new white? That would be good for little WF, ha… Colour: white wine. Nose: a slightly grassier composition on the nose, with also a touch of sulphur (nothing too extreme). Lovely mead and honey beyond that, and Kellogg's cornflakes. Mouth: this time again it is a little grassier than the Angel's, with a little more paraffin too (related to a little sulphur here?) and a little burnt cake, brown toasts, a hint pf artichoke… Finish: medium, on similar flavours. Comments: I had thought this would be rounder and more consensual. It's pretty good, but I'm not sure I'd down a double-magnum this time.

SGP:462 - 80 points.

N.A.S 30 yo (45.1%, Decadent Drinks, blended malt, sherry wood, 2022)

N.A.S 30 yo (45.1%, Decadent Drinks, blended malt, sherry wood, 2022) Five stars
NAS stands for Notable Age Statement, while the Malt Maniacs, many moons ago, would have started using that acronym that the whole industry just adores rather for 'No Age Statement', which we keep doing at Whiskyfun. Good, what we know is that this old blended malt does shelter many cask ends from Signatory Vintage's, some pretty older than just 30. Colour: deep gold. Nose: good one, not only does the whisky here nose old, it does also feel 'old-school', as if they had rebottled old bottles, if you see what I mean. I'm dead sure that's not what they've done, but you do find old waxes and oils, polishes, old silverware and old tools, marrow and suet, old wines, old woods, old embrocations, balms, old wardrobe in an old attic… And all that. Mouth: you would really believe this is an old bottle, really. Such as one of those early dumpies by CAD… Something metallic, some saltiness, ointments, cookies from an old tin box, old wines, raisins, old books and dusts, old tobacco… This play with age and time is really something. There's even old triple-sec in the background. Finish: not that long but sooty, with resins and raisins, more older wines… Only the aftertaste has got a little 'too much' cardboard, but we're splitting hairs. Comments: couldn't some old malt that you would further keep in demijohns for quite a few decades share this kind of profile? Let's make things clear, I love this one, it is a very smart bottling, a new bottle for people who like old bottles, how smart is that indeed? Like a Morgan car. Now, please Mr Decadent Drinks, reproduce this profile….
SGP:552 - 91 points.

Secret Highland 21 yo 2000/2021 (52.3%, HNWS Taiwan, single malt, Madeira, cask #1459, 288 bottles)

Secret Highland 21 yo 2000/2021 (52.3%, HNWS Taiwan, single malt, Madeira, cask #1459, 288 bottles) Four stars and a half
Right, this could be Clynelish, or Glenmorangie, or Macallan, or Highland Park, or many other names. It's that since this has met with Madeira, it's not even sure that the Distillery would stand out, let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: meow. Pilsen beer, beeswax, lime blossom, hops, raw wool, porridge, iron fillings, mangos and grapefruit skins, chicory coffee, tangerines, cappuccino… I find it ravishing. With water: humus, mushrooms, greenhouse earth, heather honey, clay, mud… Mouth (neat): first grade or above. Stunning citrons, wax, etc. With water: some salt! Anchovies, olives… This is intriguing, could be HP too, jeez! Finish: long and briney. Waxed olives. Comments: forgot to say, it seems that the spirit has fully digested the Madeira. In theory, the custom is rather to label hidden Highland Parks as 'Orkney' (and variations) or Whitlaw, or Man of Hoy, or else. The jury will never come back in. Still, should be the wildcat's malt.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Old Perth 1996/2021 (55.8%, Morrison Distillers, Vintage Collection, blended malt, sherry, 936 bottles)

Old Perth 1996/2021 (55.8%, Morrison Distillers, Vintage Collection, blended malt, sherry, 936 bottles) Four stars and a half
The last Old Perth I've tried was an NAS 'Number 4' from 2016. Pretty good, but this should be something else, mind you this is 25 (you're right, or 24). Colour: amber. Nose: cherry stem tea, smoked meat, roasted nuts, black toffee, black tobacco, bitter chocolate, espresso… In short, it is rather heavily oloroso-y this far, with also some smoke and metal. With water: also patchouli, bidis and eucalyptus. Pretty peace and love, that, while that's just what we need these days. Mouth (neat): very rich, tight, rather exclusively on bitter chocolates filled with lemon liqueur – or something like that. Thin mints too, morello cherry liqueur, nocino, possibly Bowmore, and just really a lot of bitter chocolate. This is for chocolafficionados! With water: long, chocolaty, smoky, with a salty and coffeeish aftertaste. In general, salt + coffee is a vomitive combo, but not in this case! Finish: very long, fully on oloroso and stout beer. And chocolate. And smoke. And brine. Comments: just another one that I love, with its heavy stoutness (is that a word?) Such a shame that they cannot tell too much about the contents…
SGP:373 - 89 points.

Secret Highland 21 yo 2000/2021 (53.7%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds Series, sherry hogshead, 150 bottles)

Secret Highland 21 yo 2000/2021 (53.7%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds Series, sherry hogshead, 150 bottles) Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: with this leafy and leathery sherry, it's even harder to be sure about the original make. Having said that, I'm thoroughly enjoying those leaves (cherry, peach) and the massive notes of pipe tobacco. With water: muddy, farmyardy, leafy, with some wood smoke and a little burnt sulphur. Mouth (neat): cherry wine, grapefruit juice, herbal teas, some gunpowder, tobacco… With water: artichokes, chocolate, spent matches, sour wine, and miso, perhaps… Finish: medium, with this sour minerality. Comments: it was a 'leafy' sherry cask. Still very good, but I think I'll have to try this one again, in my book it doesn't exactly match this bottler's extremely high reputation. Or it's just me. In either case, their Secret Highland 12/2007 had been rather extraordinary (WF 90).

SGP:472 - 80 points.

Ding-a-ling, a last one…

Single Cask Blended Scotch Whisky 48 yo 1974/2022 (45.7%, The Maltman, HNWS 17th Anniversary, refill sherry hogshead, cask #15, 165 bottles)

Single Cask Blended Scotch Whisky 48 yo 1974/2022 (45.7%, The Maltman, HNWS 17th Anniversary, refill sherry hogshead, cask #15, 165 bottles) Four stars and a half
So, as it is a single cask, what I gather is that this baby was possibly blended at birth, or sometime between 1974 and 2022, or that it's technically a single malt and administratively a blend that cannot tell its name. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: whenever I find black olives and Cuban cigars in any nose, I'm simply happy. Dried figs too, dates too, very old cognac too, old rancio too, very old Sauternes as well, and puréed chestnut equally. Mouth: the theory that old spirits converge is proven once more, this could have been an old rum just as well and very seriously, I would have said 'one of those old Domaine de Courcelles from La Martinique'. Or an old cognac, just a tad unpolished. Wonderful figs, old sweet wines (old rancio again), prunes aplenty, tobacco, and no proper grain whisky that I can detect, but it's true that you had those old ex-sherry Invergordons that were pretty much malt-alike. What's sure is that this is not a very blendy blend. Finish: medium, all on dried fruits, sweet wines, and just raisins. Ready for Christmas. Comments: I've tried it again, close your eyes and you're on a beach in Martinique, glass of 'très, très, très vieux' in hand (while listening to Kassav', try 'Syé Bwa').

SGP:651 - 89 points.
 

November 16, 2022


Whiskyfun