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Whisky Tasting


Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild




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

October 2023 - part 2 <--- November 2023 - part 1 ---> November 2023 - part 2


November 14, 2023



The New Japanese Sessions, Session Four, Kanosuke

I might be mistaken, but from here, Kanosuke seems a bit like the new Shizuoka, which was the new Chichibu, which was the new Hanyu… Etc. I believe there are already 'new Kanosukes', but we'll see that later, if you don't mind. Kanosuke was built in 2017 by shochu makers Komasa Jyozo in the Kagoshima prefecture, it's said to be the only Japanese distillery that's located directly on a seashore while apparently, among its major investors there is a small company called… Diageo.



Kanosuke 'Mellow Land' (48%, OB, 2023)

Kanosuke 'Mellow Land' (48%, OB, 2023) Three stars and a half
Aged in sherry casks and especially in re-charred American white oak barrels. These were previously used to age 'Mellowed Kozuru' shochu, a flagship product of the family. Colour: pale gold. Nose: nice, with notes of brioche, fresh white bread, acacia honey, very ripe banana, white tea... This pastry aspect is very pleasant, especially as there is also a bit of pine sap and fresh mint. Very, very pleasant, but of course, it's not a Ludwig V.B. symphony. Palate: pretty sweetness, slightly fermentative, with a hint of white pepper, a few touches of oak sawdust, of course vanilla, cinnamon, a tiny bit of nuts, touches of nougat, and caramel... The woodiness is not completely mingled yet, but that's not a problem. Finish: medium length but fruitier, with oranges, kiwis, and passion fruit. Almond nougat s the signature. Comment: very nice sweetness in this well-crafted young malt.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

Kanosuke 3 yo 2019/2022 (61%, OB, Singapore Edition, bourbon barrel, cask #19170, 190 bottles)

Kanosuke 3 yo 2019/2022 (61%, OB, Singapore Edition, bourbon barrel, cask #19170, 190 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: wonderful notes of a bakery-pastry shop at five in the morning, with dough ready to go into the oven, already baked croissants and rolls, lots of vanilla, a bit of orange blossom water, grated orange zest... Superb! With water: the same, and also oriental pastries, angel hair, makrouts, gazelle horns... Palate (neat): magnificent cask, with everything needed. A bit of sawdust, sure, but all the rest is perfect, the orange zest, kumquats, chocolate, small breads... With water: it speaks. Small oranges complemented with a bit of liquorice and violet. It reminds me of a gin I liked very much, but whose name I have forgotten, alas! I'm really not a gin boy. Finish: medium length but fresh, with more marmalade and sweet spices. Touch of tequila. Comment: just excellent. I don't think it can be done better at three years of age. The extraction has been perfectly controlled, but not sure it can be done on very large batches.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Kanosuke 3 yo 2019/2023 (60%, OB, Exclusive for Tiffany's New York Bar, Hong Kong, 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry and 2nd Fill Bourbon, cask #19069, 255 bottles)

Kanosuke 3 yo 2019/2023 (60%, OB, Exclusive for Tiffany's New York Bar, Hong Kong, 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry and 2nd Fill Bourbon, cask #19069, 255 bottles) Five stars
Not too sure how they used two different casks to produce a single one; was it a finishing? A marriage? Colour: dark gold. Nose: perfect, here are varnish, wood glue, walnut stain, fresh paint, coconut liqueur, toffee, sweet liquorice, Swiss milk chocolate, a bit of myrtle, a bit of polish, roasted chestnuts and peanut butter, burned wood... All of that works to perfection. With water: a box of cigars and a bit of smoked ham. Palate (neat): a bit aggressive, but that's normal. Green tannins and pepper, cough lozenges, liquorice, bitter orange, Italian bitters (I'll let you choose the brand)... With water: perfect. Leather, mint, oranges, nutmeg, liquorice, green walnut, touch of mustard... Finish: long, even more so on the nuts, it's probably the sherry. But of course, it's the sherry. Comment: I almost feel ashamed to give such a score to such a young Japanese but taste it and you will understand. Peace!
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Kanosuke 4 yo 2017/2022 (58%, OB, for AF Trade Limited, Hong Kong, Sherry butt, cask #17011, 583 bottles)

Kanosuke 4 yo 2017/2022 (58%, OB, for AF Trade Limited, Hong Kong, Sherry butt, cask #17011, 583 bottles) Four stars and a half
So Kanosuke's first year. Love this line on the label: 'Founded in 1883 established in 2017'. The prices are very high on the secondary market it seems, there must be a reason, but let's not be influenced. Of course not. Colour: dark amber. Nose: yes of course, turron, black nougat, pecan pie, roasted peanuts, milk chocolate, hazelnut paste (no brands please) and a bit of new rubber. Everything is very fine, madame la marquise. With water: dried figs, of all sizes and from all countries. And longans, rambutans, dates... Palate (neat): it's perfect. Corinthian raisins in their glory, then fudge, caramel, mocha, coffee liqueur, liquorice and mill pepper. It's very high precision, it almost becomes annoying. With water: the more water you add, the more you move towards sultanas, Turkish delights and orange cake. Finish: quite long but without major changes this time. Maybe some tannins, grape skin... Comment: it lost some of its momentum towards the finish, becoming a bit drying or even tannic, but it remains very high. Beautiful beast!
SGP:662 - 88 points.

Kanosuke 3 yo 2019/2023 (50%, OB, Artist Edition #002, Pedro Ximenez sherry butt)

Kanosuke 3 yo 2019/2023 (50%, OB, Artist Edition #002, Pedro Ximenez sherry butt) Four stars and a half
Could the world of whisky, the whole world over, sometimes do without this damned PX that invades everything? OK, exaggerating once more, let's calm down. We also learn that this baby aged in a warehouse called 'Tadazu'. But at three years old, does that really matter? Colour: dark amber with red highlights. Nose: all in on marzipan and candied cherry. Plus a few dried grapes, prunes, and little dried figs. It's magnificent, but it's very slightly, okay let's say it, slutty. Just a tiny bit. With water: no, thanks to the moist earth that comes out, as often after adding water. Palate (without water): but yes it's very good. Lots of pepper and chocolate, with a Mexican side, again cherries, Smyrna raisins, Nescafé... And, well, old PX from Malaga. It's very reminiscent of what was called in the old days, 'Malaga'. With water: it's really very good, I'm afraid. The peppers, in particular, are quite magnificent. Finish: long this time, all in on the chocolate, rancio, prunes, pepper... Comment: since we are among ourselves, I think they have benchmarked the famous Yamazaki 'Sherry', the Vintage 1984 for example, but also the annual NAS editions. I wouldn't swear to it, but we are close. Oh yes, they are annoying at Kanosuke.
SGP:761 - 89 points.

Rest assured; we will stop there. But we will have more Japanese very soon…

Of course, they make very technical whiskies in Asia. But by loudly proclaiming that terroir does not exist and that it's all about the wood anyway, haven't the Scottish leaders kind of started to saw off the branch they were sitting on? They should be careful not to get beaten at their own game, not in volume of course, but in terms of quality...

(Merci mille fois, Lars)

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


November 13, 2023



The New Japanese Sessions, Session Three, Chichibu

There's always been some tight relationships between La Maison du Whisky and Chichibu, not to mention other high-class Japanese operations. We can only applaud, what's more, the number of Chichibu in their new pre-holiday selections this year is just incredible, as you will see... Meanwhile, we're still hoping we'll soon try Chichibu Number 2… In any case, I believe we are going to taste more and more Japanese whiskies at little WF...



Chichibu 'Paris Edition 2023' (49.5%, OB, for LMDW, New Vibrations, 2,100 bottles)

Chichibu 'Paris Edition 2023' (49.5%, OB, for LMDW, New Vibrations, 2,100 bottles) Five stars
A tribute to Paris' most famous general stores, with five different labels, this one here being Le Bon Marché on the left bank (Rive Gauche). Now the whisky's always from the same vatting of nine casks. Colour: straw. Nose: chalky from the start, with a very slight hint of polish, then fresh mint, wood glue, green fruits, gooseberries, green apple, then a bit of fresh smoke and vanilla. A very slight medicinal side, with iodine and a bit of Tiger Balm. It's the freshness that is just perfect, as is the balance. Palate: much more powerful on the palate, with an almost aggressive attack, very herbaceous, almost salty, with cigar ash and lime. It's very tense, I really like it, it almost feels like a very great but very young sauvignon blanc, with the right amount of flint and limestone. A bit of watermelon rind, melon, fennel, pea pod, cucumber water... Finish: long, even saltier, clearly peaty, vegetal and lemony. The aftertaste is slightly mentholated, with also a little bit of mango. Comments: the whole is more complex than what this short note could express. Complex and pure at the same time. I find it quite magnificent, but yeah, that was expected.
SGP: 563- 90 points.

Chichibu 7 yo 2015/2023 (63.3%, OB, LMDW Selection, heavily peated, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #4701, 192 bottles)

Chichibu 7 yo 2015/2023 (63.3%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, heavily peated, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #4701, 192 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: very powerful, truly on mercurochrome and wet chalk, but at this alcohol degree, it can't burst with aromas. In fact, I'm not sure if Chichibu is filled at 63.5% vol., but if so, the Japanese angels haven't really been greedy over these seven years. With water: even more wet chalk, peelings from garden fruits, a lot of iodine, inhalations (eucalyptus), virgin wool, new sweater, tweed, plus some touches of palm heart. It's a bit slow to open up but it becomes magnificent. Palate (neat): hefty, salty, peppery, and on pear candies. Water is necessary. With water: much more immediate, on lemon juice, chalk, with a silver spoon side and, once again, some well-made sauvignon blanc. A lot of smoke but it remains elegant, all showing some perfect rectitude. Finish: long, a bit more tropical, with more citrus and especially a lot of ash. Comments: a perfect counterpoint to the Paris Edition, which was more complex while this 7-year-old is more on the ashes, a bit more monolithic. But we love it, of course.
SGP: 466 - 89 points.

Chichibu 9 yo 2014/2023 (61.9%, OB, LMDW Selection, 2ndt fill bourbon barrel, cask #3094, 177 bottles)

Chichibu 9 yo 2014/2023 (61.9%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, 2ndt fill bourbon barrel, cask #3094, 177 bottles) Five stars
Done with Propino barley. I had never heard of Propino barley, imagine! Let's see if the magic of second fills will work again this time. Colour: white wine. Nose: A wonderful tension right from the start, with immediately a bit of verbena and chartreuse, Bénédictine, small citrus fruits, vetiver, and honeysuckle, a bit of green curry, sorrel, and dill, green orange... It's as if this wonder was composed by a perfumer, from the house Hermès, for example (it's the green orange that does that). With water: it rounds out, the vanilla stands out, a bit of banana unveils itself, but it retains that ultra-precise side, with now added earthy and camphor notes. Palate (neat): explosively citric, one might say, even the numerous spices, hark back to citrus, especially the Timut or Szechuan peppers. That said, it remains a bit burning but it's only the alcohol. With water: a slight softening but the liveliness remains. Barley sugar and apricot jam bring roundness. Finish: long, more supple, on fruit salad, with mint leaves and pine honey. Banana in the background. Comments: a Chichibu that is quite tropical overall despite the fact that it's only a second fill cask. I find it excellent.
SGP: 651 - 90 points.

Chichibu 2014/2022 'Akatsuki' (63.4%, OB, LMDW, bars & restaurants exclusive, bourbon, cask #3405, 2023)

Chichibu 2014/2022 'Akatsuki' (63.4%, OB, LMDW, bars & restaurants exclusive, bourbon, cask #3405, 2023) Five stars
Concerto barley and long fermentations here (80 hours). It is unpeated. Akatsuki means dawn. You can go taste this little wonder at The Golden Promise bar by Salvatore, in Paris, but otherwise, it will be hard to find elsewhere, like its brother Tasogare. Colour: pale gold. Nose: there it is, of course, purely on barley, citrus, and all things from the limestone family. Calcite, flint, etc... But be careful with the high degree! With water: sublime development, very pure yet very complex. Sage, oregano, Thai basil, pink pepper, a bit of caraway, verbena (could that be a Chichibu specialty?), fresh rhubarb, guava, blood orange... It's immaculate. A little fresh barley and mint play in the background. Palate (neat): totally exotic, on mango and papaya, with just a bit of pepper, prairie honey, and clay. It bites a bit but again, it's the alcohol. With water: similar, over a beautiful exotic fruit salad drizzled with a bit of honey and sprinkled with some fresh mint. Finish: long, fresh, tropical but also on granny smith, with these little herbs that tickle you again later on, mint, dill, coriander, sage... Comments: formidable, we move up to an even higher category in my little system...
SGP: 661 - 91 points.

Chichibu 2014/2022 'Tasogare' (64.2%, OB, LMDW, bars & restaurants exclusive, peated bourbon, cask #3560, 2023)

Chichibu 2014/2022 'Tasogare' (64.2%, OB, LMDW, bars & restaurants exclusive, peated bourbon, cask #3560, 2023) Five stars
Made from Concerto barley too, but this one had been peated to 50ppm this time. Tasogare means 'twilight'. Let's see if this is the twilight of the gods. Colour: pale gold. Nose: cold ashes in a fireplace, or perhaps in a pipe, a garden fire (that's been banned for a long time), always wet chalk, clay, slate, iodine dye... and a lot of ethanol. As a result... With water: it doesn't change much, a bit of fresh tar, more somewhat acrid ashes, a feeling of fresh chlorophyll, then quite a bit of camphor and eucalyptus, finally several types of mint, peppery, icy, etc. Palate (neat): barbecued banana, green pepper, and a lot of lime. Ashes and bitter cocoa powder bring a certain astringency. It grows, it grows... With water: you could really call this exotic smoke, as if they had used dried banana peel and old bagasse. It works! Finish: long, livelier, and fresher, which always works very well. A very, very slight salty side, like in that other drink we adore and often mention, the manzanilla from Sanlúcar de Barrameda! There are even two or three little pink olives, those that are so sweet, you know... Comments: magnificent, just a little less philosophical than the dawn. It's true that I am becoming more of a morning person as time goes on...
SGP: 554 - 90 points.

Well, after this very superlative quintet (but we expected that), let's move on to the bizarre, if you please.

Chichibu 8 yo 2015/2023 (62.8%, OB, LMDW Selection, Japanese wine cask, cask #12508, 274 bottles)

Chichibu 8 yo 2015/2023 (62.8%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, Japanese wine cask, cask #12508, 274 bottles) Three stars and a half
The wine here is 'Koshu', a pink grape that's rather common in Japan and that, here, comes precisely from the Chichibu region as it seems. At least there is a geographical link; they didn't just import barrels from Sauterne, Barollo, or Saint-Jullien, or from the Cotes Roties (big kisses to our Scottish friends who still have a bit of progress to make in terms of wine spelling). Colour: gold. Nose: I couldn't recognise Koshu, but in any case, you can't say that this nose is very winey, although at such a degree, there isn't much that would come through anyway. Orange cake and white pepper, plus a bit of wood, let's say. With water: the balance is more fragile and changing than in the sumptuous and very coherent bourbon versions. A bit of cabbage, leek, tomato leaves, then clove, apple peel, fig leaves, fine lees... It's really not bad at all. Palate (neat): well it's very good, but this time the winey side comes out a bit, with very light sulphurous touches, grapefruit peel, a few grape seeds... But the alcohol remains the boss at these degrees. So... With water: sweet-peppery. Grenadine syrup and black pepper, pink berries, allspice, a slight fern side... Finish: long, herbaceous, spicy. A peony and clafoutis side then, cherry liqueur, then sweet bread dough. Comments: I am reassured, I expected much worse, much more dissonant from this amusing Winechibu.
SGP: 561 - 84 points.

One last one for the road…

Chichibu 6 yo 2016/2023 (63.1%, OB, LMDW Selection, second fill sherry hogshead, cask #6959, 289 bottles)

Chichibu 6 yo 2016/2023 (63.1%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, second fill sherry hogshead, cask #6959, 289 bottles) Four stars
Some Propino barley (first time I'm hearing about Propino barley – I'm joking) and some proper oloroso sherry. Colour: dark gold. Nose: the distillate fades slightly, which is normal, in favour of a sherry that is very much on cakes, dry rum, and fresh walnut, without any oxidative or meaty aspect. It remains very pure for the moment, but let's see what water will do to it. With water: it's a rather surgical sherry, precise, almost of watchmaker-like quality. It doesn't go off in all directions, it stays on the walnut cake, tobacco, bitter chocolate, and, indeed, the oloroso. Palate (neat): it seems very good on the palate, without dissonances, with rather bitter oranges, nuts, and a bit of leather and pepper. With water: a small umami side, but that might just be my mind playing tricks on me. More lemon than in other sherry-heavy whiskies, perhaps it's the distillate that holds. Finish: it's in the finish that it becomes more complex, with hops, polish, still green walnut, bitter oranges, little herbs, various and varied berries... Comments: excellent, if not quite in the same league as the great Chichibu ex-bourbon (or white oak etc.)
SGP: 462 - 87 points.


  By the way, the four very colorful 'New Vibrations' versions were created by the famous Tokyo designer artist Katsumi Komagata who mainly works with folded and layered cut paper. There's often this kind of 'art studio' feeling with La Maison du Whisky's own bottlings or own selections, with their catalogues as well. We say whisky's always better with art.

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


November 12, 2023


  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!


It is rum day again


At Isautier, La Réunion (Isautier)


There have really been a lot of interesting new rums in the past few weeks, but we're going to start with a little aperitif, as our tradition dictates...


Roble 12 yo 'Ultra Anejo' (40%, OB, Venezuela, Single Vintage, +/-2023)

Roble 12 yo 'Ultra Anejo' (40%, OB, Venezuela, Single Vintage, +/-2023) Two stars and a half
This one's been granted the 'Ron de Venezuela' DOC, although I'm not sure about what it takes to obtain it. According to websites that know much more than us about rum, it was distilled in a 5-column still, and matured in bourbon and PX. Roble means 'oak'. You got it, this shouldn't quite be about the original distillate. Colour: dark amber with copper hues. Nose: a lot of dark chocolate, cigar tobacco and black tea, plus a few dried Corinth raisins. Some molasses and a little plum spirit too (vieille prune). Hershey's 'Exotic Dark' with blueberries and açais. A little onion soup. Very pleasant nose, but as always, the devil may be waiting for us on the palate… Mouth: it's sweet, but it's well done. No excessive sugar, rather more plums and chocolate, prunes macerated in armagnac (pruneau à l'armagnac) and all that. It does not feel excessively Venezuelan but it's good. Some cane honey. Finish: long, more on coffee liqueur and chocolate again, but that plum eau-de-vie is striking back in the aftertaste. Venezuelan Slivovitz. Comments: very good surprise, really, not one of those sugar bombs for sure.
SGP:640 - 79 points.

Let's go double the strength, mere mortal!

Isautier 13 yo 2008 'L'Audacieux' (79.5%, OB, La Réunion, LMDW Edition, 2023)

Isautier 13 yo 2008/2023 'L'Audacieux' (79.5%, OB, La Réunion, LMDW Edition) Four stars
I am not well-acquainted with Isautier, neither am I used to such strengths, the only other one I could think of was Austria's Stroh '80' (how many alpine chalets have already exploded because of it?) and two or three bourbons, particularly George T. Stagg I believe. Notably, Isautier also has a reduced version of this juice, offered at a very slender 58% ABV. Hmm-hmm... Good, my lawyer tells me I can go on... Colour: deep gold. Nose: some soft notes of leaves, bananas and pure sugarcanes, apparently, plus a feeling of heavy pastis here and there. It is true that we hold our glass about 30 cm from our nose, or nearly so. With water : it has become very smooth, fresh, very balanced between the bananas, brown sugar, hay, and yellow flowers. There is clearly more texture than in the multi-column rums of America. Mouth (neat): it works, and it's rather very 'agricole', marked by liquorice, varnish, and pepper, even though in reality it's a 'traditional' version of Isautier, so distilled from molasses and not cane juice. With water: it's really good, with a gentle woodiness, maple syrup, chestnut honey, a few salty notes, kouign-amann from the end of Brittany... Finish: medium when brought down to +/-40% vol., always balanced, with bananas flambéed and some soft spiciness. Once again, some salinity in the aftertaste. Comments: good, it was not as terrifying as the strength suggested. Excellent drop, one million times better than Stroh '80', if they still make that one. Great rhum traditionnel.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Next flight to Maurice…

Penny Blue 2011/2022 (55%, OB, Kirsch Import, Mauritius, sherry, cask #238, 216 bottles)

Penny Blue 2011/2022 (55%, OB, Kirsch Import, Mauritius, sherry, cask #238, 216 bottles) Three stars and a half
Penny Blue is made at Médine Distillery, the brand having been launched by Berry Bros. & Rudd. I've heard they also make some excellent cane vinegar, but I've never tried it. It is molasses rum. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: it's very floral from the start, with some crazy lilies, orange blossom, elderflowers... Then we have very ripe plums, mirabelles, oranges indeed… It is highly aromatic, highly floral. With water: more towards cakes, chocolate muffins, with touches of curry in the background. Mouth (neat): a dry Mauritian, no syrups in the way, rather a lot of citrus, ripe passion fruits and liquorice. With water: please just one or two drops. Geared towards more spices, including oak spices, cloves, cinnamon, caraway, some liquorice wood as well… Finish: pretty long, with a little sweetness now, Demerara sugar, and chestnut honey, one of the most tannic of all honeys in my book. Comments: these Penny Blues too seem to be improving, I remember an earlier version (XO) had been much sweeter, but that was ten years ago.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

Nicaragua 25 yo 1998/2023 (57.1%, Valinch & Mallet, The Spirit of Art, cask #16, 188 bottles)

Nicaragua 25 yo 1998/2023 (57.1%, Valinch & Mallet, The Spirit of Art, cask #16, 188 bottles) Four stars
More lovely labels, this time it's a painting by Giacomo Modolo called 'Redemption Run'. Not 'Rum'. We would suppose this one's stemming from Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua, that is to say Flor de Caña. Colour: deep gold. Nose: twenty-five years, mind you. Lovely varnishes and polishes, praline, pecan pie straight from the oven, really a lot of maple syrup, molasses honey (cheaper pancake sauce), fresh-charred wood, tobacco, ristretto coffee… With water: macchiato and soft nocino. How Italian is that. Mouth (neat): not that much on the sweet side, and not that thin as far as the distillate's concerned, but full of grassier honeys (fir, perhaps white clover too) with some tropical sticky toffee pudding. Which, naturally, doesn't exist to my knowledge. With water: a little sucrosity beyond more oak and some pineapple juice. Careful with water. Finish: medium, rather on tropical fruit juices, with a little coconut and pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: not my favourite style but within this style, it's probably one of the best I've ever tried. I mean my favourites. Loved the coffees.
SGP:750 - 85 points.

Why not a young Guyanese?

Demerara Distillers 6 yo 2017/2023 (64.79%, The Nectar of The Daily Drams, LMDW New Vibrations, Guyana, bourbon barrel)

Demerara Distillers 6 yo 2017/2023 (64.79%, The Nectar of The Daily Drams, LMDW New Vibrations, Guyana, bourbon barrel) Four stars
A self-blend from Diamond, involving both pot still and column rums. I suppose you could call it a Diamond just as well, no? Colour: gold. Nose: petrol and dandelions, I would say, plus fino sherry (I've noticed it was bourbon) and walnut wine. Rather a lot of burnt woods, pine cones, chestnuts, even acorns, then more petrol yet… With water: I would say the salty, tarry, petroly side is having the upper hand. Was this one blended at birth? Mouth (neat): lovely oneness, after all it's a self-blend. The core is not that heavy but the coating does the job, with tar, anchovies, oysters, olives and whatnot. It burns a little bit, at, err… 64.79%. I'm sure that's the extra 00.09% vol. With water: saltier. Seawater, liquorice and tar. Finish: long, on similar salty and liquoricy notes. Comments: we're not that far from, say a 20 yo Uitvlugt, honestly, it's just a tad less bold. Navy rum, upgraded.
SGP:463 - 87 points.

Since we are in Guyana…

Guyana 23 yo 1999/2023 (51.5%, Hidden Spirits, The Wild Parrot)

Guyana 23 yo 1999/2023 (51.5%, Hidden Spirits, The Wild Parrot) Five stars
I hope it's not going to become a trend in rum too, hiding the names of the distillates because either you have no clues (pretty uncommon) or because you've been told by brokers or brand owners you could not display it. Please, please no secret Port Mourants, Enmores or Uitvlugts! Unless they're blends, naturally… Colour: pale gold. Nose: dazzling. Almost an old Caol Ila aged in a barrel of oil. Stupendous bitter almonds, new Barbour raincoat, new car, olive oil, bakelite, smoked granny smith (eh?), whelks and clams, beach pebbles… With water (not necessary, but there): a little green chartreuse, a little aquavit, caraway, juniper berries… Mouth (neat): grand, and this time it is old Laphroaig. Smoke and mangos, old ointments, balms, salted liquorice, balsawood… Terrifyingly terrific. With water: perfection. Gets wonderfully dry, herbal, with those bitter almonds returning. Some lemon balm. Finish: medium, very dry, ashy, smoky, wonderful. Olive oil and a little sage in the aftertaste. Comments: what a perfect, most elegant beauty. Sorry about those useless Scottish analogies but remember this is a whisky 'blog'.
SGP:373 - 92 points.

We might need a Hampden as the last one, it's our go-to signature. Side note, where's Worthy Park?

Hampden 5 yo 2018/2023 'The Younger – LROK' (47%, OB, 300cl)

Hampden 5 yo 2018/2023 'The Younger – LROK' (47%, OB, 300cl) Five stars
Lighter Hampden from a double-magnum, how does that sound? They had done it before, this is the newer expression. Remember LROK means 200-400gr/hlpa esters, which is very high but pretty low for Hampden. As they say, it's not linear anyway. Colour: light gold. Nose: indeed it's not linear, this is smoky, carbony, petroly, with many rotting fruits, some rice vinegar (any, really), one litre of proper riesling and two litres of seawater. It is pristine. Mouth: a lighter marque, but of course. Salted liquorice ad nauseam, Mediterranean seawater (said to be saltier), black olives rather than green ones, touch of rotting pineapple and a tiny bit of pretty old parmesan cheese. Oh, and glues and varnishes. Finish: long but not stuffing. Glue, olives, tar, rubber. Comments: this size of bottle is rather for bartenders, apparently. Well, how do you become a bartender? So good…
SGP:364 - 90 points.

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


November 11, 2023



Notice. On this November 11, armistice day, we are taking advantage of the slot of Angus, who is having a break, to get a bit ahead because we have massive quantities of rum to taste in the coming weeks. And we're not complaining... On that note, Angus will join us in a few days at Château Whiskyfun, and we have planned a very short duo tasting, but one like you've never seen before, neither here nor elsewhere. Seriously. Peace.


  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!


It's rum madness

Hooray, I have finally completely recovered from Whisky Live Paris. Yes I know, it's been fifteen days already, but actually, it's not so much Whisky Live that's the problem, it's the Cocktail Street that follows where they serve you hundreds, what am I saying, thousands of versions of daiquiris, just to give you an example. Neisson daiquiri, Hampden daiquiri, Santiago daiquiri, Caroni daiquiri... Anyway, you see the problem, you're basically redoing all the rums you've tasted during the day, but in their daiquiri version. And believe me, all resistance is futile. Finally, here we are again, ready for more rums. As for daiquiris, we'll see about that at Whisky Live 2024, God willing...

Another mad invention they have at LMDW



Depaz 'Cuvée Victor Depaz' (41%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2022)

Depaz 'Cuvée Victor Depaz' (41%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2022) Four stars
Depaz is good rum. Colour: gold. Nose: very aromatic, very much on cane syrup and just cane juice, then moist marzipan (with rum inside) and a combo maple syrup + manuka honey. Some earthy incense then, ylang-ylang, lilies of the valley, a little menthol, half a glass of sauternes… Indeed, it is extremely aromatic, but it would never get heady. Mouth: very amusing arrival, with an unusual spicy earthiness, rather a lot of cinnamon (raw and as liqueur), ripe pineapple, liquorice, gewurztraminer and sauternes, lichees, a little caramel…. In a way, there's so much happening that you would believe it was a good idea to keep it a 41% vol. Finish: medium, on similar notes of incense, oranges, sweet white wine, honey, rose pastries, Turkish delights… Caramel and fudge in the aftertaste. Comments: really a lot happening. Probably the most boisterous side of agricole. Having said that, you can have Depaz at 55% vol. too.
SGP:760 - 85 points.

Kaniché 'XO Double Wood' (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2023)

Kaniché 'XO Double Wood' (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2023) Three stars
Aged in bourbon and finished in cognac wood and in the Cognac region by Maison Ferrand. Nose: it's pretty dry, rather on coffee and chocolate, with a few leaves, orange zests and just English black tea. The whole is light. I would add a little leather and some orange water to this description. Mouth: a little sweetened, with some liqueur, not much body, a little caramel, coffee liqueur… It's actually not that sugary, but the thinness is a handicap. Finish: short, sweet, on more coffee liqueur. Comments: very light, feeling more like 35%. Not exactly bad, but it would need barrows of crushed ice and a slice of lemon. And a small paper umbrella. And Kid Creole. And the Coconuts.
SGP:420 - 60 points.

Off-Road Rhum 'Series #03.1' (49%, Vagabond Spirits, Marie-Galante, agricole, 200 bottles, 2023)

Off-Road Rhum 'Series #03.1' (49%, Vagabond Spirits, Marie-Galante, agricole, 200 bottles, 2023) Four stars and a half
Two barrels from Bielle, submerged in the ocean off the coast of Brest in Brittany, where they remained underwater for about ten months. Upon retrieval, each barrel had lost 10 degrees alcohol (for example, one of them went from 45% to 35%). The two barrels were then blended, and it is now hoped (by us) that the salinity of Bielle has been further increased by the Atlantic. Colour: gold. Nose: Bielle, only with more olives, liquorice, fir wood smoke,  otherwise lavender and violets, cinnamon, karite butter, Demerara sugar… I'm not sure it's on the nose that the most 'oceanic' impact is to be felt. We've already tried a few 'floated casks' from wrecked ships, or even bottles that had sunken hundreds of years earlier, it was never the nose that had changed the most, provided the juices had remained potable. Mouth: and voilà, seawater and rum. Not too sure how the exchanges occurred, probably with some kind of osmosis, but I totally love the end result, even if it is a little extreme, with a lot of salt starting to play with your lips. But I'm sure Bielle was the right choice. Don't do this with Diplo! So, we have black olives all over the place, perhaps urchins (really, urchins), some smoky cane, salted fudge, salted butterscotch, sour wines, drop of retsina, umami sauce for sure, smoked kippers, oyster sauce… Well, I'm afraid it grows on you. Finish: rather long, ultra-dry, salty, liquorice-y, still cane-y. Comments: crazy stuff that would rock your world, especially if you love your rums bone-dy. It really grows on you, I think I'll drink more with some Belgian shrimp croquettes.
SGP:373 - 89 points.

We can imagine distilleries that would build barrel pools, all filled with saltwater to various degrees. Honestly, I've also tasted submerged wines, and it wasn't great. But this is something else, especially if you like salted liquorice. Let's move on...

Well, since we had a strange Barbadian, let's try another one, more classic...

Doorly's 14 yo (48%, OB, Barbados, +/-2023)

Doorly's 14 yo (48%, OB, Barbados, +/-2023) Four stars and a half
Doorly's is one of Foursquare's brands. Colour: amber. Nose: not the first time that I have the impression that by using molasses and blending column and pot still, they often manage (not saying that was their goal) to create some kind of 'agricole' rum. This one's got the same kind of waxy polishes, slightly salty, almost olive-y touches, the slightly heady floralness, the crème brûlée, the tarte tatin, these slightly 'burnt' touches, this earthiness… Now, yes I know Barbadian rum existed way before the French started to make agricole rum, thanks to Napo and the British navy (or the other way 'round). Mouth: excellent, bold, salty, full of liquorice and smoke, cigars, burnt caramel, varnish and olives, some lavender (sweets), aniseed, caraway and cloves… I'm wondering if you wouldn't achieve some rather similar results if you would let some yellow chartreuse age for a decade or so in active wood. Like, in a proper ex-solera manzanilla butt. Seriously, I find this Doorly's just perfect and, perhaps, a little 'funkier' than the Foursquares. But not too sure about that part… Finish: long, with a little pepper, one olive, some orange juice and some caraway. Comments: I even like the blue parrot on the label. Is that an ara? What would the rum world do without parrots? In any case, this Doorly's was extremely convincing.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

We're going to make a big leap from Barbados to... Thailand. We can afford it, we don't use any kerosene (but it's true that sometimes there are notes of kerosene in our spirits).

Chalong Bay 'Lunar Series' (60.7%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, Thailand, Shochu cask, 2023)

Chalong Bay 'Lunar Series' (60.7%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, Thailand, Shochu cask, 2023) Five stars
Pure cane juice. To think that not so long ago, the Thai state was prohibiting any spirits bottled at above 40% vol. I also remember the first Chalong I tried really impressed me – at 40% vol. Colour: white wine. Nose: pure fermentary cane wine, vesou, pears, cherries, Jerusalem artichoke eau-de-vie (worth trying), varnish, diesel oil, drop of ammonia, lemon, even formic acid… May sound horrible but I just love all this. With water: rotting pineapples and bananas, that's just brilliant. Mouth: insane earthy cane, citrus, capers, tar… With water: immaculately salty. Oysters, olives, lime, lemon, grapefruit, yuzu, liquorice… Finish: long, incredibly clean, some total 'clear line spirit'. Comments: I'm not 100% sure I got the shochu part. Mea maxima Culpa. The rest I adored.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Renegade 2 yo 2021/2023 (55%, Habitation Velier, Grenada, 3,000 bottles)

Renegade 2 yo 2021/2023 (55%, Habitation Velier, Grenada, 3,000 bottles) Five stars
From the double-retort pot still. It's always a very good sign when the sleuths at Velier choose a new distillery to add to their catalogue. Even if in this case, there is no notion of micro-terroir or single-farm as the official versions generally advertise. Well, anyway, it's always your tasting glass that is right. Colour: or. Nose: noooh! Who made this? Who did the vatting? Who decided to add black olives, Danish salty liquorice, gherkin brine and rotting animals of all kinds? And pipe smoke? With water: a lot of petrol and, guess what, kerosene. And these magical olives. Mouth (neat): pot still major. Crayons, engine oil, salty tar, rotting mangos, glues… With water: more glue, acetone, seawater, rotten zwetschke, samphire… Finish: very long, petroly, salty. Rotting fruits in the aftertaste. Bottled gasoline. Comments: the wilder, more Jamaican (if you will) side of Renegade. Our first indie Renegade and the most brutal of them all so far. It's all a little punk here, is it not.
SGP:454 - 90 points.

Good, a little Jamaican and we call this a session…

Hampden 'Great House Distillery Edition 2023' (57%, OB, Jamaica)

Hampden 'Great House Distillery Edition 2023' (57%, OB, Jamaica) Five stars
This is a blend of various vintages and marques. In a way, this would be their 'château' expression. We haven't got enough room or slots for every vintage, but we did try the 2020 and thought it was utterly brilliant (WF 91). Colour: gold. Nose: natürlich. Yeasts, gherkins, olives, benzine, glue, carbolineum, creosote and tar. With water: a few gentler notes, such as rotten bananas and natto (a tiny bit), otherwise high-bacterial stuff. Mouth (neat): higher marques at the forefront, with massive amounts of glue, varnish, acetone, vinegars and just 'gritty stuff'. Not one single fruit, flower or even vegetable, it's all about whacky things and petroly stuffs. With water: a little ginger tonic (that's right) otherwise olives and bone-dry riesling. Finish: same. Long, salty, acetic, very dry, still a little hot. Some pink grapefruit in the aftertaste (hurray). Comments: I don't know why I love this, I think I should get a doctor.
SGP:363 - 91 points.

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


November 10, 2023



The New Japanese Sessions, Session Two, Shizuoka

Today we'll do a Shizuoka special, checking both still-styes they have. After mash bills and cask bills, can we now start to talk about still bills? Would come handy also with rum distilleries that do pot still, 'creole style' columns and others, up to huge multi-columns… But that would need the distillers to be as transparent as their new makes, ha…



Shizuoka 2019/2023 (50.5%, OB, Whiskay, Mecha Series, Mars, non-peat, KS still, ex-bourbon, cask #218-529, 235 bottles)

Shizuoka 2019/2023 (50.5%, OB, Whiskay, Mecha Series, Mars, non-peat, KS still, ex-bourbon, cask #218-529, 235 bottles) Five stars
We've tried some of Whiskay's Warrior Series of Shizuoka and they've all been nothing short of excellent. This other series is dedicated to a wider theme: the universe! In this very case the Karuizawa still has been used (KS). Colour: white wine. Nose: high-precision crystalline dough, leaven, chalk and lemon, with these touches of varnish and acetone that we always love. Then hints of peaches plus apricot and cherry stones (kirschwasser). With water: more acetone, nail polish remover, gummi bears, and even a hint of Red Bull (but it is incomparably better than Red Bull, including for your health – well not too sure about that). Mouth (neat): not much to say, except that it is a tad hot at first, then very fermentary. Notes of rotting bananas and mangos, plus once again a feeling of varnish and apricot and peach syrups. Forgot to say, it's pretty brilliant. With water: even doughier.  Baker's yeast, green bananas, very fresh kougelhopf… In short, Danish pastry (joking). Finish: rather long, with a little williams pear spirit, almonds, this varnish, paint… A little mint in the aftertaste (crème de menthe). Comments: sadly the Karuizawa 1999 we tried just yesterday was ex-sherry, I'd have loved to compare the distillate and see if we could recognise the still. Hmmm…
SGP:552 - 90 points.

Quick try, the same cask as new make…

Shizuoka 2019/2019 (63.9%, OB, Whiskay, new make, KS still, cask #218-529)
This one was filled on the very day it was distilled, on May 11, 2019. I think they only did a handful of small 20cl bottles, but I could be wrong. We learn that the yeast they've been using was Pinnacle (dry distiller's yeast). Colour: white. white. Nose: what's striking if this bacterial side, with the kinds of ester that you could also find in a lighter Jamaican rum. The casks would then erase these, I suppose. With water: williams pear spirit first, and kirschwasser once more. Mouth (neat): very good, you could sip it as the best white rums. Or perhaps do a Japan mojito? With water: raw earthy barley, yeast, some brine, heavy salted porridge, real ale… Finish: same. Comments: we shan't score this, mind you, but we liked it a lot.

It's truly fascinating to see how an active enough barrel will filter your spirit and smooth out some edges. The industry will tell you that it only removes the flaws, of course. But yes, of course…

A smaller cask, perhaps…

Shizuoka 2019/2023 (60%, OB, Hong Kong, KS still, ex-bourbon octave, cask #2019-511, 44 bottles)

Shizuoka 2019/2023 (60%, OB, Hong Kong, KS still, ex-bourbon octave, cask #2019-511, 44 bottles) Four stars and a half
A similar set-up, but a small octave instead of a regular ASB. Colour: straw. Nose: speaking of varnish and nail polish remover… Well I suppose water should be added right away. With water: good one, we almost recreated the previous one. This one is just a little more extractive indeed (candied ginger and cinnamon cake), and that may be exclusively thanks to the smaller cask. Mouth (neat): very punchy, seemingly rather extractive indeed (a lot of vanilla) but frankly, it burns a little bit. With water: awesome spices, softer Madras style, sweet and sour sauces with fried bananas, custard, and certainly less of that infernal 'varnish and acetone' combo. Less kirschwasser too. Finish: long, rather rich, spicy, Indian-style. I mean Indian cuisine (friends, I now there are so many of them) and not exactly Indian whisky. Comments: love it, I just loved the tighter, pure bro. even better. A little better.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Shizuoka 'Pot Still K imported barley 1st Edition' (55.5%, OB, 100% imported barley, 3,000 bottles, 2022)

Shizuoka 'Pot Still K imported barley 1st Edition' (55.5%, OB, 100% imported barley, 3,000 bottles, 2022) Four stars
I have to say the 'Japanese barley' version did not impress me that much back in July (WF 83), it was a tad spiely. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's rather grassy an a little medicinal (bandages). Rather a lot of camphor too, then eucalyptus pastilles, sauna oil, thyme oil…  This should cure a cold. Then stones, pebbles and sands of many kinds, oyster shells, limestone, plaster… With water: it moves towards full chalkiness, with a little fennel. Mouth (neat): very smoky. This is almost some peat-smoked green chartreuse. Good fun. With water: excellent! Slightly evocative of ultra-fresh sake, then young Islay (first distillery from Port Ellen, on the shore). That should be the medicinal side. Finish: rather long, peaty, ashy, with some lemony fatness. Shall we mention that Italian lemon liqueur once more? Comments: imported barley! It reminds me of the old story of the Scottish chef who goes to a restaurant in Paris. He orders smoked salmon from Scotland, the best he's ever eaten! At the end of the meal, he goes to talk to the cook and asks why his salmon is so much better than his own in Scotland. The French chef replies: 'Oh but that's because our Scottish salmon is imported!'
SGP:564 – 87 points.

Shizuoka 'United S 1st Edition' (50.5%, OB, 100% imported barley, 3,000 bottles, 2023)

Shizuoka 'United S 1st Edition' (50.5%, OB, 100% imported barley, 3,000 bottles, 2023) Three stars and a half
So united stills, thus a blend of their ex-Karuizawa and wood-fired pot stills. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's very nice, but it falls a bit into the usual category, with croissants, fresh brioche, damp herbs, some wildflowers, vanilla, a bit of sesame oil, and the hummus that goes with it... At the risk of exaggerating a bit, it comes close to Glenmorangie. With water: the vanilla comes out more, as do the herbal teas, the woodruff, the chamomile... Mouth: no, not Glenmorangie, let's not overdo it. A bit of sweetness, pepper and yeast, then strong (Trappist) beer, oranges, a bit of sawdust, a few Indian notes once more, mild curry... With water: a nice progress, towards the oranges and the spices for mulled wine, a bit of ras el hanout... Finish: quite long but very spicy, which erases the distillate a bit. Pepper, cumin, nutmeg, even juniper... Bitter oranges as a signature. Commentary: very good of course, but I find that the casks mark this magnificent distillate a lot. They should never have let us taste their new makes or their 1 or 2-year-olds!
SGP:561 - 84 points.

I believe that Shizuoka's single casks, especially the private ones, and even the new makes or quasi-new makes, display sharper, more idiosyncratic characteristics than their larger batches, which are inevitably a bit more homogenised in terms of profile. That must be a bit tricky.

Next up, either Chichibu or Kanosuke, we'll see… Eenie meenie…

(Merci Bert and Lars!)

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


November 9, 2023



The New Japanese Sessions, Session One (includes an intruder)

I believe Japanese malt whisky has transitioned from a category dominated by two or three groups to a real patchwork of new brands and distilleries, some rather questionable regarding the real origins of their spirits, others entirely cutting-edge and deeply respectful of Japanese values of authenticity and purity as we know them in the West. Mars, Chichibu, Shizuoka, Kanosuke... What's certain is that we're never bored with them! I think we're going to taste a lot, but we'll take it step by step, five by five. Speaking of which, why not start with this one, just for fun...



Glenmorangie 'A Tale of Tokyo' (46%, OB, 2023)

Glenmorangie 'A Tale of Tokyo' (46%, OB, 2023) Four stars and a half
Indeed it doesn't belong here, ha-ha. As I said, just a little 'Japanese' joke. This is a marriage (lovely term) of whiskies aged in mizunara (for a finishing I suppose), bourbon and sherry casks. Just a few years ago, we weren't thinking there would be so many of these 'rare' mizunara oaks that distillers are so fond of these days. Mind you, even Chivas Regal use them; Japan sells. Colour: straw. Nose: a fresh, citrusy Glenmorangie, with some chalk and clay, cider apples, lime and, perhaps, hints of fresh-sawn pinewood. Small quantities of liquorice allsorts and coconut balls. Mouth: very good, very juicy, very fruity, pretty much within its regional style. I know that's controversial but despite very different equipment, especially the stills, both neighbours Dalmore and Balblair are also producing this fresh and fruity style as long as no heavy sherry's involved. Juicy fruit, all-vitamin juice, melons and peaches, limoncello, orange brioche, small bananas, just a little spearmint too (is that the mizunara?)… Finish: not too long but clean and fruity. I would try to pour half a glass over some lemon sherbet, I'm sure that'll work. A little acacia honey in the aftertaste. Comments: dazzling Glenmorangie, I'll buy a bottle or three. Yes, despite the fact that it's NAS. Is it not?
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Good, some real Japanese now. Real, really?...

Masahiro 'Pure Malt' (43%, OB, Japan, sherry and bourbon, +/-2023)

Masahiro 'Pure Malt' (43%, OB, Japan, sherry and bourbon, +/-2023) Three stars and a half
It says 'Masahiro Distillery' on the label, but it is a blended malt. Dear Japan… Having said that, it seems that all malts involved were distilled in Japan indeed, and not sourced abroad. Masahiro is a real Okinawan distillery that belongs to the owners of Akashi, Shin Group. Colour: white wine. Nose: gorgeous fresh and floral nose on lichee, elderflowers, gooseberries, buttercup and jasmine, with a very soft vanilla. Enough malty dough behind all that. Mouth: youthful, acidulated, lemony, with green pears, granny smith, some lemon mint, yuzu… The 43% vol. are working very well in this context, even if it would tend to lose a little steam on your palate. Slight yeastiness. Finish: medium, citrusy, with candies, getting a tad drier and very faintly oaky then. Comments: joyful whisky. What's more, I've heard it's only 3…
SGP:641 - 83 points.

Since we're on Okinawa…

Kanekou 'Okinawa Whisky' (43%, OB, Shinzato Distillery, Japan, +/-2022)Kanekou 'Okinawa Whisky' (43%, OB, Shinzato Distillery, Japan, +/-2022)

Kanekou 'Okinawa Whisky' (43%, OB, Shinzato Distillery, Japan, +/-2022) Three stars
A blend of wheat, malt and rice whisky, as I understand it. I think they make the rice whisky (Ryukyu) and source the others, but I could be wrong here. Colour: white wine. Nose: another one that's nice, maltier, with toasted brioche, warm croissants in the morning, notes of apricots, pistachio and almond creams, and perhaps a little shochu indeed. No complaints, this is perfectly clean and soft. Mouth: there are obvious similarities with the Masahiro, a feeling of hoppy beer, IPA, lemons and pears, before it would take the sweeter and rounder route, towards ginger cake and various rolls. Pleasant fermentary side. Finish: medium, with more sweet yet tight beer, citrusy hops… It's getting sweeter by the second, towards barley syrup and limoncello. Comments: it's flirting with heavier sake at times, but this one too was surprisingly good. Having said that I would drink it slightly cold.
SGP:630 - 82 points.

More names from Okinawa I had never heard of…

Kujira 8 yo 'Ryukyu Whisky' (43%, OB, Japan, +/-2023)

Kujira 8 yo 'Ryukyu Whisky' (43%, OB, Japan, +/-2023) Two stars
This baby from Shinzato too, just like the Kanekou. This time it is pure rice whisky, fermented with both distiller's yeast and koji. Technically, it's grain whisky. Colour: straw. Nose: something else. Vase water, sake, carbon dust, old newspapers, whiffs of stale beer… It's very intellectual, it reminds me at times of Brooklyn's Môtô whisky. Mouth: right, indeed you could intellectualise this – you could intellectualise anything – but I find it too tough, too deviant, with an odd sweetness that would just block any subtler sake-like notes. Fermenting plums? Long-forgotten Samurai's drop? Finish: medium, on sweetened horseradish perhaps, a strange ide indeed. Bizarre syrups. Comments: entirely me, I'm sure some friends would love it. Existentialists, for example. We shall remain fair with our score, as it's all a matter of style (probably) and tradition (I'm sure).
SGP:562 - 70 points.

We'll have some Shizuoka next time, while as you know, they have a Karuizawa still. In the meantime, perhaps a new Karuizawa indeed?

Karuizawa 19 yo 1999/2018 (60%, Artist by LMDW, Spirits Shop Selection, sherry butt, cask #877, 180 bottles, 2023)

Karuizawa 19 yo 1999/2018 (60%, Artist by LMDW, Spirits Shop Selection, sherry butt, cask #877, 180 bottles, 2023) Five stars
One of the very last vintages, as Karuizawa stopped working in 2000. A bottling straight from Taiwan that was not released immediately after disgorging, I suppose. Colour: coffee. Nose: a little varnish, then a lot of coffee indeed, a lot of heavy pu-her (first waters), a lot of walnut stain, a lot of beef jerky (teriyaki flavour) and surely some Bovril and homemade gravy. Forgot to mention prunes and, naturally, old armagnac. All 'black' aromas. With water: massive chocolate, plus umeshu and hoisin sauce, plus bacon, plus linoleum, plus old exhaust pipes. So very Karuizawa! Mouth (neat): I never found these vintages extraordinary but I'm sure they were too young when most came out. This is something else, we're closer to the 1980s, but the sherry is massive. Litres of walnut wine, old sherry, prune juice, black raisins, coffee liqueur, some pipe tobacco… It is really thick! With water: sweet liquorice just in every corner, plus caraway, pepper and clove as well as an obvious sootiness. Finish: it's becoming saltier, as in salted liquorice, there's some soy sauce, black turon, then chewing tobacco. Some very old Banyuls and once again some caraway in the aftertaste. Comments: these late-1990s vintages were brilliant too, after all, we just had to wait. Remember, patience is not only the road to wisdom, it's also the path to greater spirits. No?
SGP:662 - 91 points.

Tomorrow, Shizuoka.

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


November 8, 2023


A triple duo, a real SmöKy session

That would be Smögen from Sweden and Kyrö from Finland, plus Kornog from France, for good measure. Does this make any sense? Course not. Is this Whiskyfun? Yes it is (I know, yet more lousy introductory words). In any case we'll have two of each, all smoky, starting with the 'lightest'. Get ready…




Kyrö 'Wood Smoke' (47.2%, OB, Finland, malted rye, 2023)

Kyrö 'Wood Smoke' (47.2%, OB, Finland, malted rye, 2023) Four stars
A new expression made from 100% malted Finnish rye, smoked using alder wood, distilled in pot stills and matured in a combination of ex-bourbon, French oak and new American white oak barrels.  Colour: pale gold. Nose: do you enjoy bready whiskies as much as I do? Well this is super-bready (reminds me of the band Genesis, oh forget). Think of a lot of menthol essence, bags of juniper berries, the fumes from an old Kawasaki, some new linoleum, a little capsicum, and indeed some huge loaf of rye bread that's spent a little too much time in a wood oven fired with pinewood. In truth I can't remember having ever smelled alder smoke, so I couldn't tell you about it. Mouth: it's navigating between whisky and genever, really, which I enjoy. More grapefruit on the palate, violets and lavender from the rye, even a feeling of sweet buckwheat, then rather straight oak and just ashes. Finish: rather long, much fresher than you would think, clean, ashy, smoky, with some juniper and touches of coriander seeds. Saltier aftertaste, with a little liquorice and tar. Comments: probably the perfect drink to have with gravlax. Just chill it a wee bit. Rye is growing on me, and it seems that smoked rye is next. You couldn't even call it a malternative, as it was malted too.
SGP:564 - 87 points.

Kyrö 'Peat Smoke' (47.2%, OB, Finland, malted rye 2023)

Kyrö 'Peat Smoke' (47.2%, OB, Finland, malted rye 2023) Four stars
Once again, 100 % Finnish malted rye, this time smoked over Finnish peat. They advertise the fact that they're using freshwater peat and that they smoke the rye once it's been dried and not during kilning, but I'm not sure that's unseen in modern Scotland, for example, quite the contrary. Anyway… Colour: straw. Nose: darker, so to speak, more on burning wood, quite curiously (I would have said this was the wood-smoked version), and with more juniper too, moss, chestnut wood, walnut stain… And perhaps a bit of coal. A little less ooh-ah than the Wood Smoke. Mouth: some kind of bitter vermouth at first, dry amaro, with some artichoke liqueur, all that before olives and capers kick in, for glory. I wasn't utterly convinced by the nose but this salty palate is perfect. There's even notes of high-ester Jamaican rum, would you please be so kind and remind me what the distance is between Finland and Jamaica? By swimming? Finish: long, more citric. Olive, lemon, smoke, juniper, burnt wood. Comments: I still like the cleaner and straighter 'Wood Smoke' a little better, but with gravlax, etc., etc. etc. …
SGP:465 - 86 points.

So, this leaves us with two Smögens and two Kornogs. Smögen is usually a little fatter, but let's let the ABVs decide on what will be next… It'll be Connors vs. Borg anyway… Or there, Noah vs. Wilander.

Celtic Whisky Distillerie (Kornog) 2016/2023 (52.7%, Swell de Spirits, Wonders of the World, France, PX + bourbon, 92 bottles)

Celtic Whisky Distillerie (Kornog) 2016/2023 (52.7%, Swell de Spirits, Wonders of the World, France, PX + bourbon, 92 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: minimal PX assaults, just a whiff of gunpowder, otherwise it's a super-clean, very coastal Kornog, extremely elegant, with vine peaches and tangerines, lime, a handful of redcurrants, a little Thai basil and only half a drop of soy sauce. Cigar ashes in an ashtray (obviously). With water:  more tar and rubber, new winter tyres (that's the season)… Mouth (neat): same feelings, a faint what the… sentiment at first because of the traces of PX, then some much purer, cleaner, more coastal development, with a lot of lime and lemon plus a growing tarry smokiness and some seaweed. Touch of fresh rubber. With water: it loves water. Peaches and citrus chiming in again, plus some burnt raisins. Finish: long, spicier, fatter. A drop of sweet capsicum liqueur. Comments: utterly awesome, it's just that I like the purer, more natural Kornogs even better.
SGP:466 - 85 points.

Kornog 'Saint-Ivy 2023' (57.7%, OB, France, Brittany)

Kornog 'Saint-Ivy 2023' (57.7%, OB, France, Brittany) Five stars
A yearly expression, Saint Ivy (Breton for Yves) being one of the most famous saints in Brittany. I have to say that the last Saint Ivy I had tried was the 2018 expression, which had been superb in my book (WF 89). Colour: white wine. Nose: pure, crystalline Breton smoke, with still some fermentary elements, ale, touch of juniper once more (from a rather active oak I presume), then many things from the sea, starting with fairly fat oysters, then kelp, beach sand, old fisherman's net, those tarry ropes, a small bit of floated pinewood… With water: lovely. Glue, bitter almonds, more seawater, chalk and wool, and indeed those old fisherman's nets. The blue ones. Mouth (neat): pure yet rather sweet and fat. Lemon, seawater, tar, liquorice, lemon drops, one small green banana. With water: more herbs, bitters, salty olives, small pickled lemons, ashes, brines… It is a big Kornog. Finish: long, always with this purity despite the complexity in there. Comments: by Ivy, what a great bottle of Kornog! A shame that they never produced a lot of it, at least not in the early days, when I was visiting the distillery while on holidays in Bretagne. Forgot to mention a slight acridness in the aftertaste, some kind of peppery and mentholy smoke. Big boy holy Kornog, top of France this far, together with DHG, but some are getting close...
SGP:467 - 90 points.

Off to Sweden…

Smögen 9 yo 2013/2023 (54.3%, OB, Sweden, LMDW, Twin Barrels)

Smögen 9 yo 2013/2023 (54.3%, OB, Sweden, LMDW, Twin Barrels) Five stars
Optic peated to 50ppm.There's a story about this being bottled at 95 proof 'Sykes', which I find a little chicky-micky but probably done in good spirits. A little nostalgia can't be bad when, on the other hand, you do ultra-clean contemporary minimalistic labels. Right, right… Colour: white wine. Nose: pure chalk, clay, acids, peat, mercurochrome, green lemons, a little tarragon and oyster plant, greengages… Mind you, it's as millimetric as the label. With water: a new sweater, a new coat, new trousers, socks, jacket, pair of boots and off you go. So a lot of wool and a little leather. Mouth (neat): a blade, as we often say. Ultra-tight and tense, rather grassier, very smoky, very ashy, and with some celeriac and gentian roots. A little Masala. Swedish masala, ha. With water: perfect. Lemon zest and a few peas. Finish: long, on ashes and Tic Tacs. Love their baseline that would work with Smögen too: 'Refresh the moment and unleash your creativity'. Comments: just another grand Smögen, really.
SGP:467 - 90 points.

Let's further refresh the moment and unleash our creativity…

Smögen 9 yo 2014/2023 (59.8%, Wu Dram Clan, 1st fill ex-Four Roses barrel, cask #14, 222 bottles)

Smögen 9 yo 2014/2023 (59.8%, Wu Dram Clan, 1st fill ex-Four Roses barrel, cask #14, 222 bottles) Five stars
Smögen's famous lighthouse on the label. Colour: white wine. Nose: spirits at around 60% vol. or more, are, in my book, much harder to nose than those at, say 56-58% vol. In this very case, we're getting rather more acetic varnishes than expected, some acetone, wood glue, chamber patch glue, pear eau-de-vie… With water: immaculate salty, lemony, mineral beauty. Mouth (neat): another high-precision Smögen, this is almost a Patek Phillipe whisky. We could even borrow their own old tagline while we're at it, 'You never actually own a bottle of Smögen, you merely look after it for the next generation.' I agree all this is silly, let's move on… Spicy doughs, seawater, lots of ashes, lemon zests, grassy smoke, gherkins, seawater… I'm finding this just totally magnificent. With water: blade-y. Finish: long, tight, lemony, chalky, smoky, salty, very high-def. Comments: a cavalry sabre. That would be the Swedish cavalry, naturally.
SGP:567 - 91 points.

Oh well, we could take a little bonus whisky, don't you think… Nothing to do with the smoky trio Kyrö – Kornog - Smögen, but it's from the north as well… as seen from Alsace, that is.

Millstone 7 yo 2016/2023 (53%, Dràm Mor, Netherlands, 1st fill oloroso hogshead, cask #2636, 330 bottles)

Millstone 7 yo 2016/2023 (53%, Dràm Mor, Netherlands, 1st fill oloroso hogshead, cask #2636, 330 bottles) Five stars
Zuidam's Millstones, although sometimes extreme and even shocking, are just like any Frank Zappa recordings, never boring. Colour: full gold. Nose: a large pack of Werther's Originals, a box of Xmas toffees, a kilogram of liquorice rolls, some sticky toffee pudding, some Nescafé and a box of thin mints (After Eights). With water: no changes, perhaps a little more black turon here and there, roasted peanuts, thicker maple syrup… Mouth (neat): insane coffee, chocolate and liquorice, all mingled together. Plus a drop of mint oil, then a growing saltiness, very spectacular. No Bruges lace, so to speak, but the job is done and very well done. With water: there, more salty touches, bouillons, soups, Thai things, Vietnamese stuff, Indonesian food… All of this is perfectly tuned and then leads to more pepper. Finish: long and rather peppery indeed. Sweeter and meatier aspects are back in the aftertaste. Chocolate. Comments: It's just the opposite of the Smögens or Kornogs in terms of style, but I find this totally baroque and extroverted side simply fantastic. Excellent choice, Dràm Mor. Extra points just because of this baroque side. Zappa playing baroque, that would have had a certain charm.
SGP:652 - 90 points.

November 7, 2023



WF's Little Duos, today Aberlour sherry vs. bourbon

We shall have a new A'bunadh, but as usual, we're a bit lost and always two or three batches behind. But remember that Aberlour is very famous in France, where it ranks among the top malts in terms of sales. For once, my fellow countrymen are consistent in their choices…

French magazine advert for Aberlour, 1995. 'Wallace Milroy
and his peers decided to elect Aberlour before even having swallowed a single drop'. And then, we wonder why
whisky awards have such a bad reputation.



Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #74' (60%, OB, Spanish oloroso sherry butts, 2022)

Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #74' (60%, OB, Spanish oloroso sherry butts, 2022) Four stars and a half
I just noticed that we already tried batch #75, see how it goes? But remember, NAS was cool when there were only a few of them, including A'bunadh, Glenfarclas 105 and the various inceptions of the 'As We Get It'. Colour: gold. Nose: whoops, not really a fan of this one on the nose, there's some leafy dough, a little leather, bitter almonds, turnips, orgeat… Not really your well-sherried malt, I suppose water will help. With water: oh it does, as we're now in front of five kilograms of Swiss milk chocolate. Or Toblerone. Mouth (neat): roasted malt and raisins, some dark chocolate, allspice, pecan tarte… This is much nicer. With water: very good now, what a recovery. Chocolate bars, cornflakes, thick muscat, black raisins, sherry indeed, clafoutis, sticky toffee pudding, millionaire shortbread… Finish: same, for a long time. Lovely maltiness, chocolate and roasted nuts. Comments: incredible, I was watching the counter go up gradually, from let's say 78 to this well-deserved 88. Take your time!
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Alright, let's admit it, the next Aberlour is mainly the one I wanted to taste today, the A'bunadh was just a sparring partner…

Aberlour 21 yo 'Crafted Small Batch No.1.3' (47.4%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, Limited Release, First Fill American Oak, 2023)

Aberlour 21 yo 'Crafted Small Batch No.1.3' (47.4%, OB, LMDW New Vibrations, Limited Release, First Fill American Oak, 2023) Five stars
Aberlour loves bourbon. I remember when we visited the distillery with the Malt Maniacs about 20 years ago, all we were talking about was sherry, and the opportunity to bottle a bourbon cask on site seemed simply extraordinary. The same went for Macallan, by the way; how times have changed! Colour: white wine. Nose: Aberlour's proverbial fruitiness popping out instantly, with gooseberries and pink grapefruits just all over the place. Incredible. Also some cassis (really a lot), cranberries, granny smith, then aromatic white wines, viognier, gewurz, muscat… Holy featherless crow! Mouth: hi-class extreme cassis-led fruitiness, with just a hint of coconut that quickly passes by. Phew. Also fruity peppers (Szechuan), tangerines, watermelon, apples… A real fruit salad, with just a hint of peanut butter that will add a bit of texture and richness. Finish: long, on a mix of top-notch eaux-de-vie. A little coconut wine signing off in the aftertaste. Comments: what a classy natural Aberlour!
SGP:641 - 90 points.

There have been a lot of high-quality malts lately, which is just great (let's just avoid mentioning the prices, okay?)

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


Wgiskyfun 101


Collector Bottle (definition)
A very good bottle that was originally not intended/advertised for collectors and that you should have bought while it was on the market.


November 6, 2023


WF's Little Duos,
today more young Pulteney

We love tasting Pulteney, which is becoming more than just 'the next distillery going north along the coast from Brora'. Unfortunately, there aren't that many, but the good news is that it seems to me that there is now less wood in the younger official versions. That, we applaud wholeheartedly.

Wick Harbour (caithness.org)



Old Pulteney 12 yo 2012 'Flotilla' (46%, OB, 2023)

Old Pulteney 10 yo 2012 'Flotilla' (46%, OB, 2023) Four stars and a half
Totally ex-American oak. I found it so good and so balanced, after some previous versions more on sawdust and vanillin, that I placed it among my 'best of show' during the 'masterclass' we did with Dave B. at Whisky Live Paris this year. We always have a good laugh when doing these things with Mr. Broom. Colour: pale white wine. Top. Nose: we are really by the sea, it's not just some vague advertising pitch thrown on labels by marketeers from Wick or London. Sea spray and seaweed thus blend with a very subtle vanilla, which combines perfectly with wet chalk, baker's yeast, unleavened bread, and white beer brewed in town by the last local hipsters. A few notes of smoked fish, followed by some vanilla fudge. Mouth: very fragrant, powerful, smoky, spicy, salty, citrusy... I think that if we start to find more of such Pulteney, we can soon organise a large comparative session between them and Clynelish. It's good to have goals in life. I also really like these notes of dill, watercress, and sorrel in the background, on top of the lemon. Finish: rather long, still slightly fatty but otherwise perfectly centred on oysters and lemon. Some fresh spices in the aftertaste, as well as a few little Easter eggs in sugar. Not very sure about our timing here, ha. Comments: not much to add. For a ten-year-old, let's say it's pretty impressive.
SGP:651 – 89 points.

That said, the second one is even younger...

Old Pulteney 9 yo 2011/2021 (47.5%, Càrn Mòr, Strictly Limited, bourbon barrels, 678 bottles)

Old Pulteney 9 yo 2011/2021 (47.5%, Càrn Mòr, Strictly Limited, bourbon barrels, 678 bottles) Four stars
I imagine that we are very close to the heart of the distillate here, unless poorly raised barrels were used, let's check this... Colour: pale white wine. Another good news. Nose: here is an even more austere version, which gives pride of place to sea breezes, in the style of a manzanilla. I would swear that someone replaced my Pulteney with a Gitana or a Solear while I had my back turned. Green walnuts, light curry, seaweed, mild mustard, samphire, crushed slate, albariza (that's Sanlucar's typical chalky soil)... Suddenly, turpentine comes in and shakes everything up, but we really like it. Here is a young and proud distillate! Mouth: we are very close to the official, it's just a bit more disordered, rustic, fermentary... The pepper contends with sea salt and overripe apples, with mustard, and even some notes of pickles in jars. The sea is more on the cliff side than the beach side, if you see what I mean. Also, something that reminds us of laundry powder, but rest assured, we don't eat that every day. Finish: long and much more on lemon zests and chalk, followed by an growing salinity. Comments: well, seriously, it's extremely good too, it's just a bit more rustic, wilder than the official one. In fact, it's very close. I think Pulteney is making a thunderous comeback, but it remains to be seen if this taut style is sufficiently mainstream. But why should it be, after all?
SGP:561 – 87 points.

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


November 5, 2023


  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!


Yet another bag of eight rums

We'll kick this off with a little Ecuadorian, just because we haven't tried many of them yet. Only three, mind you; hope it's not a sugar bomb…

Distillerie Papa Rouyo, Goyave, Guadeloupe (Papa Rouyo)

Papa Rouyo



Romero & Sons 'Solera Especial' (48%, OB, Ecuador, +/-2023)

Romero & Sons 'Solera Especial' (48%, OB, Ecuador, +/-2023) Three stars and a half
They say it is un-dosed, it's nice to see this new selling point gaining traction in South America. This baby stems from one of those nifty advent calendars containing miniatures, not too sure it's also available as a full bottle. Colour: white wine. Nose: a pretty vegetal body, in the style of some cachaças I would say, with notes of asparagus and celeriac, wild leek, fermentation, then lime and lemon, bison grass vodka, bamboo shoots… I find this most pleasant and very un-Spanish, as far as styles are concerned. Mouth: sweeter and much rougher, a little liqueury although not 'sweetened up' indeed, apparently. Some roots, leaves, some lemon, tart wild cherries, some fatness that would suggest they've used pot stills… It actually improves over time, getting elegantly grassier over time, towards lemongrass and, perhaps, Thai basil. A little coriander too. Finish: rather long, more fermentary, with lemon and coriander,  as well as several roots including, drum roll, gentian. Comments: very good surprise! Glad I could try this one, thank you Mr. Calendar, I doubt it would have crossed my path otherwise. Let's watch Ecuador's Romero family in the coming years…  
SGP:462 - 83 points.

Dos Maderas 'PX 5 + 5' (40%, OB, blend, +/-2023)

Dos Maderas 'PX 5 + 5' (40%, OB, blend, +/-2023)
We've tried an earlier expression ten years ago and thought it was a little low-average, not bad but very sweet (WF 74). The packaging has changed since back then.  It's also lost its 'rum' appellation, they now call it a 'spirit based on rum'. They've used rum from Barbados and Guyana and then double-aged it in the Caribbean and in Spain, where they seem to have PXed it. Bah... Colour: deep amber. Nose: prunes, coffee, raisins, chocolate and molasses, williams pears. Mouth: indeed it's rather a liqueur, rather cloying, hard to enjoy at room temperature. Coffee liqueur, thick moscatel and, indeed, PX… I think we're going to shorten our suffering. Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, Diageo's Don Papa and Pernod's Bumbu, both former rums, are even sweeter and stuffy. Finish: raisins, mosto. Comments: over vanilla ice cream, why not. Looks like I liked it better ten years ago, but they may have changed the recipe.
SGP:720 - 55 points.

Alright, let's stop hurting ourselves…

Appleton Estate 'Signature' (40%, OB, Jamaica, 2023)

Appleton Estate 'Signature' (40%, OB, Jamaica, 2023) Four stars
A blend of column and pot still rums of various ages, minimum 5 years. It is very fairly priced. They were having several Appletons at WL Paris but my capacity being limited by nature (what?) I chose to try only one, this Signature, which surprised the awesome people at their booth. Remember, the closer to the core of the distillate, the better! Colour: pale gold. Nose: don't get me wrong, Appleton is very Jamaican of course, but I believe this young baby is more 'Jamaican' than their older expressions. Love these oranges and mangos topped with a little varnish, olive oil, liquorice and just fermented cane juice. I find it perfect. Mouth: excellent, slightly 'funky' (are we still allowed to use that word?), pretty smoky and pleasantly rubbery, with once again a little olive oil, varnish, liquorice and tar. Some putty too, a feeling of fresh paint… Finish: not that long but clean and saltier now. A little brine, liquorice, mango chutney, vanilla… Perfect indeed. Comments: for less than thirty French euros, we really don't hold back our pleasure.
SGP:562 - 86 points.

Papa Rouyo 2022/2023 'Vibrasyon' (63.6%, OB, Guadeloupe, ex-cognac casks, 2023)

Papa Rouyo 2022/2023 'Vibrasyon' (63.6%, OB, Guadeloupe, ex-cognac casks, 2023) Four stars
Some new rhum agricole from Guadeloupe, made in a new micro-distillery everyone's already raving about. It was built by a gathering of cane planters and this is their first proper 'aged' (well, barely) brown rum, while they've also raised and bred some awesome aged white rums kept in stainless steel tanks. Colour: white wine. Nose: sure it is a little hot and a bit dominated by vanilla at first, but you do feel the fresh cane juice here, even at, cough, 63.6% vol. Oh and these notes of lemon and pineapple… But no chances are taken at Habitation WF… With water: a pure expression of sugarcane juice, with some lovely earthiness, palm heart, lemon, vine peaches (does that come from the cognac wood?)… Mouth (neat): stunning. Hyper-zesty cane and lemon tangoing to perfection. Crazy. With water: deeper into earth, olives, liquorice, grapefruit, pears, vanilla, quince… Finish: long, zesty, ultra-clean, very caney, with touches of jasmine tea and lemon balm water. Comments: I believe they should also do an easier version at, say 46%. Awesome fresh agricole, I can't wait to see it age and prosper.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

A.F.D. 12 yo 2010/2023 (58.8%, Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, Dominican Republic, bourbon barrel, cask #42, 259 bottles)

A.F.D. 12 yo 2010/2023 (58.8%, Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, Dominican Republic, bourbon barrel, cask #42, 259 bottles) Four stars
Pasting what I had written about another, excellent AFD by the Watts, A.F.D stands for Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos, a very large operation that's started distilling in 2010 and that's supplying several large Dominican brands. Colour: pale gold. Nose: light rum, not thin though, rather on cakes and, indeed, cane juice rather than the molasses it had been made with. Some dried coconut and a little maple syrup. With water: no further changes, this is obviously not a very 'congeneric' rum. Mouth (neat): good, sweet, rather thick, syrupy in a good way, well indeed it is almost cane syrup. Then aromatic herbs, rosemary, mint, lemongrass… With water: rather better, this time with preserved fruits, apricots perhaps, touches of rose jelly and litchee, dried goji berries… Finish: medium, sweet, going on as it started. What's most spectacular is the very clean and citrusy aftertaste that rather lifts it. Comments: not really mindboggling at first but as we progressed, the lemons took over and almost transformed it. Best of high columns, let's say.
SGP:541 - 85 points.

Neisson 2018/2023 'Vevert' (54.6%, OB, Martinique, agricole, Straight from The Barrel, cognac cask, cask #88)

Neisson 2018/2023 'Vevert' (54.6%, OB, Martinique, agricole, Straight from The Barrel, cognac cask, cask #88) Four stars and a half
'Vevert' refers to one of their wet warehouses (82% hygrometry). Don't keep your Picassos there. Colour: deep gold. Nose: I think it'll need water. Not that it's closed but I find a bit too much vanilla and coconut for now. Well, either we add some water right away, or we start a series on Netflix and wait... Okay, we're adding water. With water: opens up like an oyster, displaying ylang-ylang, potting soil, banana skin, shea butter and cappuccino. If you take a deep breath, you may also find some Christmas herbal tea and a little camphor. Mouth (neat): lush, liquorice-like, earthy, floral, with a lot of bergamot and violet sweets. Also a little coffee with some Chinese anise inside, which sounds a little 'Starbucks', I agree. With water: gets drier, with more earthy liquorice, tight grapefruits, gentian tea, verbena tea… Finish: rather long, pretty sweet, with a lot of crème brûlée, triple-sec, heather honey and just cane syrup. Some coffee, cinnamon and cedarwood in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather complex cask that really needs your attention. Above all, don't try to taste it while watching a series on Netflix (while also reading a novel and playing a stupid online game on your iPad).
SGP:641 - 88 points.

Good, another one that may need water…

Caroni 24 yo 1998/2023 (61.6%, Distilia for Lion's Whisky, 10th anniversary, Trinidad, cask #1)

Caroni 24 yo 1998/2023 (61.6%, Distilia for Lion's Whisky, 10th anniversary, Trinidad, cask #1) Five stars
A little tip, perhaps, anniversary bottlings are usually of superior quality because no one would like to celebrate with something sub-standard. Makes sense, no? Colour: amber. Nose: those lethal smells that we enjoy so much in heavy Caronis. Nothing is normal here, it's all either rotten or rotting, full of petrol, horse saddle and sweat, fermenting plums, cigars and, probably, small dead animals. Like bacteria. With water: carbon, old books, old stove, pickled porcini and whatnot. Mouth (neat): eucalyptus wood infused with black olive brine, more petrol, coal tar, turpentine and just brake fluid and dust. With water: just perfectly great, its time you call the Anti-Rumporn Brigade. Finish: ultra-long, with some pencil lead, coal, ashes, black olives, plastic, salted liquorice… Comments: crazy and even better when Luca Gargano tells you the stories about Caroni. They should add a QR code to every label, which would link to some video of his. In the meantime, we're content with this dazzlingly rotten Caroni.
SGP:563 - 91 points.

Good, perhaps an old Guyanese before we call this a rum session…

Port Mourant 32 yo 1990/2023 (49.20%, Silver Seal, Guyana)

Port Mourant 32 yo 1990/2023 (49.20%, Silver Seal, Guyana) Five stars
The double wooden pot still, baby. Colour: dark amber. Nose: first fills the room with whiffs of wisteria and lilac, then mandarins and zwetschke, then black nougat in the making and roasted peanuts, then just earthy and petroly rum smells. And puréed chestnuts. We bow down. Mouth: it reminds me of some chocolate ganache made with puréed passion fruits and a little olive oil. Olive oil and chocolate is another one of my guilty pleasures. An acquired taste at first, then you just can't do without it anymore. But back to the rum, there's also some pipe tobacco, some walnut wine, some marmalade, some salty caramel and praline, some coffee-schnapps… Finish: really 'dark', with some coffee, some dark chocolate and three or four small black olives. The aftertaste is a notch biting, peppery… Comments: Massimo, owner of Silver Seal and Whisky Antique, likes his rums dark and profound; it's hard to say he's wrong. Ciao Massimo.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

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


November 3, 2023


WF's Little Duos, today more Glenfarclas



Glenfarclas 10 yo 2013/2023 (61%, OB for LMDW New Vibrations, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #2372, 303 bottles)

Glenfarclas 10 yo 2013/2023 (61%, OB for LMDW New Vibrations, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #2372, 303 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: dark gold. Nose: But it's magnificent! Quite different from the classic Glenfarclas sherry, leaning more towards the high-end calvados, with hints of kiwi, hay, even dried seaweed, damp earth, malt extract, and dark beer... It's truly distinct, somewhat tight, but rich on the nose. With water: it swims perfectly, you can dilute it down to 30% ABV, and it remains very expressive, with some rather unusual spices, and always that unexpected salinity, even more of that cut hay, dried flowers, cigarette tobacco, and cherry stem tea... Mouth: a lot of punch, malted barley, black cherry, ripe banana, nuts of course, and a bit of coffee fudge... With water: I can't tell if it's from an exceptional cask or if it represents a large stock from 2013, but in any case, this spicy bread aspect is magnificent. There's also a bit of woodiness and polish, indicating a rather active hogshead, which gives it a more modern character than usual. Finish: long, very spicy, woodier but still consistent, with even a certain freshness. Coffee, malt, and beer on the retro-nasal, as well as even more spiced bread. Comments: indeed, a modern style quite influenced by the cask, but we know that Glenfarclas' distillate can handle anything. The joys of direct heating, perhaps. In any case, an excellent quality-to-age ratio. No, I don't know the price.
SGP:562 – 88 points.

Glenfarclas 27 yo 1995/2022 (48.3%, OB for Wine & Spirits Digest, 200th issue, Taiwan, cask #2295, 278 bottles)

Glenfarclas 27 yo 1995/2022 (48.3%, OB for Wine & Spirits Digest, 200th issue, Taiwan, cask #2295, 278 bottles) Five stars
Our friends in this part of Asia have already proven many times that they have excellent tastes in spirits (but who am I to judge that) and consequently, that they had a particular fondness for Glenfarclas when it's heavily influenced by sherry, but not only that. Colour: gold. Nose: we find the softness brought by prolonged aging, with more blended aromas, a few notes of varnish nonetheless but also some esters of the most beautiful effect (have you ever noticed the secret muck pit behind the distillery?), followed by spiced bread, pear cake, overripe apples, notes of sweet wine, cider, nougat, almond cream... It's both deep and delicate, with also menthol touches that elevate it even more. Mouth: a magnificent combination of ripe citrus and mild spices, with a delicate woodiness. There's a certain jam-like quality but not overly so, pine sap, walnut wine, dried apricot, dried figs, almond paste, a bit of marshmallow... We finally find the elegantly powerful side of the 2013, but of course with a better integrated and more elegant woodiness. Finish: wery long, spicier, with hints of nasi goreng, coriander seeds, nougat, and tobacco. More candied ginger, tannin, and walnut in the aftertaste, with just a touch of black pepper and cloves as the signature. Comments: a Glenfarclas that is ultimately quite balanced, with a cask that is present but never overpowering, and a firm and almost muscular distillate that reminds us who is the boss in the end. We gladly bow down to this marvellous Glenfarclas.
SGP:661 – 90 points.

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


November 2, 2023


WF's Little (much extended) Duos, today young Glenallachie

What do you do when you cannot count on age? You count on oak. Having said that, I really appreciate that they display the ages, even when the whisky is very young, and that they don't take the lazy route with NAS and outlandish names and stories that would make even the most depressed existentialist laugh. Right.




Glenallachie 7 yo 'Hungarian Virgin Oak' (48%, OB, 2023)

Glenallachie 7 yo 'Hungarian Virgin Oak' (48%, OB, 2023) Two stars and a half
It doesn't say on the front label but this is only a finish. Hungarian oak is lighter and usually rather suitable for short to medium aging of wines intended for tasting soon after bottling. It is less spicy and tannic than French oak, for example. Colour: gold. Nose: nice fruits, with ripe apples, plums, touches of pineapples, marshmallows, biscuits, muesli… All gentleness but no excessive youth on the nose. Mouth: very easy, sweet, mildly spicy, with cream eggs and some limoncello, apple juice, plus a little sawdust, cinnamon, cedarwood… I find it really fine, even if the virgin oak feels a little bit, despite its inherent lightness. Finish: medium, oak-driven now, with aniseed, caraway, fennel and just green tannins. Comments: the fresh wood really started to come through in the finish, I found it a bit excessive but overall, it's a pleasant young whisky seasoned with oak. A shame that you cannot cancel the finish.
SGP:561 - 78 points.

Glenallachie 8 yo 'Scottish Virgin Oak' (48%, OB, 2023)

Glenallachie 8 yo 'Scottish Virgin Oak' (48%, OB, 2023) Two stars and a half
Once again, this is only a finishing. Scottish oak is said to be rather rare, since many old trees were cut down to make ships for the Royal Navy. I remember that Glengoyne released a 'Scottish Oak Finish' a long time ago, in 2005. I liked it back then (WF 87), but I'm sure no one would slaughter old oak trees in Scotland today, just for making slightly humble whisky casks. Must be a side-product, no? Colour: gold. Nose: not that far from American oak, that is to say with some vanilla, herbal teas, fresh broken branches, a few root vegetables, grist and husk... Mouth: more fruits and, once again, rather a feeling of American oak, with some neat vanilla and apples and plums. Jelly babies, marshmallows, IPA (which has become the same thing from a beer geek's point of view, I've heard). Finish: medium, sweet, less oaky than its Hungarian sibling, but with some zesty spices indeed. Lemongrass, cardamom, ginger… More peppery earth in the aftertaste. Comments: it's still not my thing but I find it rather fine, less an oak infusion this time. But I'm not sure I'd buy a double-magnum.
SGP:661 - 79 points.

Absolutely not my business, but I'm not totally sure you could do with European oak(s) all what seems to be working pretty well with American white oak. Right, I feel like we need another official Glenallachie, as a deserved high-quality bonus…

Glenallachie 15 yo 2007/2023 (57.2%, OB for Whisky Maniac, 5th Anniversary, PX puncheon, cask #6683, 716 bottles)

Glenallachie 15 yo 2007/2023 (57.2%, OB for Whisky Maniac, 5th Anniversary, PX puncheon, cask #6683, 716 bottles) Four stars
We have a good feeling this time. Colour: red amber. Nose: we're not crazy about PX, but yes, this time, it works perfectly, with an incredibly indulgent nose. Roasted raisins and nuts, millionaire shortbread, black teas, roasted chestnuts, fig cake, then mint leaves, pine needles, hoisin and earth. There's not only PX, there's more. With water: earthy figs and a working nargileh. Indeed, I think there is a Turkish aspect to this malt. Mouth (neat): a creamy arrival on your palate, with rather perfect spices this time, clove, liquid caramel, pepper liqueur, Christmas cake, pine resin and aquavit… You could have believed it would have become a little stuffy but that's not the case, pretty miraculously. Some bitterer gingerbread. With water: with speculoos, while it would get much drier, with some cocoa (I'll always remember those Van Houten tin boxes we were having as kids) and a feeling of moist pipe tobacco. Some kind of spicy orange cordial then.  Finish: long, spicier. Raw cocoa, mint and cinnamon drops, and pepper. The oak may be having the upper hand at this point. Comments: excellent, with a spicy and high-quality woodiness, but we would really like to taste a natural Glenallachie again one of these days. Even though it's true that the old official 12-year-old from thirty years ago, with its yellowed label, wasn't exactly a showpiece. To say the least.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Hold on…

Glenallachie 5 yo 'Meikle Toir The Chinkapin One' (48%, OB, 2023)

Glenallachie 5 yo 'Meikle Toir The Chinkapin One' (48%, OB, 2023) Four stars and a half
That's right, Glenallachie's own peater, in this case peated to 35ppm peat IN THE DISTILLATE (I've heard). This is how you should pronounce it: 'Mee-Kuhl Tor', Sounds like the name of a Norwegian doom-hard-black-metal band, does it not. Colour: gold. Nose: very modern, very cool, with lots of bacon, sauna oils, and new rubber. It's almost like visiting a car dealership with all these new tyres and all the spent motor oil gathered in the trays. There are many Speyside distilleries that have recently tried peat, including some previously managed by Billy Waller (Benriach), and most have achieved slightly average results in my opinion. That is not the case here, I really like this very... automotive profile. Cars and bacon, nice combination! Mouth: in keeping with this, but with new flavours like burnt lemon tart and worn-out dragster tyre. It's really quite fun; it's far from the first 'Chinkapin oak' from Glenmorangie, do you remember it? A totally non-coastal peat, it's a welcome variation for us. Finish: long and more lemony and spicy, that's the American barrel responding to the peat. Comments: It's a bit like the Fight Club, but indeed, it's fun. I think we're going to stop before we see who won, we don't have all night (nor a good litre of this crazy Meikle Toir) ahead of us.
SGP:467 - 89 points.

Glenallachie 5 yo 'Meikle Toir The Turbo' (50%, OB, 2023)

Glenallachie 5 yo 'Meikle Toir The Turbo' (50%, OB, 2023) Four stars and a half
The Turbo? You see, I told you, it's indeed a story about cars. That said, with 71ppm peat IN THE DISTILLATE, I'm not sure if this thing is really legal. Let's check that... Colour: amber. I'm not quite sure why this one would be much darker than its less peaty twin, but let's move on… Nose: well, someone bought a new pair of rubber boots and didn't find anything better to do than to throw them into the stove, and then add some acetone and motor oil. Should we call the police right away or should we wait a bit? Maybe these notes of cedar wood, wood glue, teak oil, and Barbour grease will save the day… Mouth: it's thick like oil but it also has some extremely enticing notes of candied citrus. In fact, there is a 'lab-made' feel to it, but honestly, we don't care, it works. A lot of wood smoke, beyond the peat, in the style of some deep-smoked fish from the far north. Pine smoke leading the way! Finish: very long, somewhat overpowering to be honest, I think we'll forget about the Strasbourg goose foie gras and the fine de claire oysters that we had planned for a starter after this resounding aperitif. We'll also give up on the Meursault, thank you Glenallachie, this is going to cost you! Comments: it's kind of a whisky to take with a grain of salt, in my opinion, and for that reason, I love it. I'm just waiting for the official release of the Jeroboams before ordering. Because, well, I need to sort out my circle of friends anyway.
SGP:569 – 88 points

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


November 1, 2023