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Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2011 - Part 1

September 2011 - part 2 <--- October 2011 - part 1 ---> October 2011 - part 2


October 14, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Caol Ila 1982, young and old
Toady we’ll play with Caol Ila yet again, both versions having been distilled in the same year but one having been bottled 16 years earlier. Warning, keroseny strengths ahead!
Caol Ila 1982 Caol Ila 12 yo 1982/1995 (63.8%, Milroy's) Five stars 63.8%, let’s fasten our seatbelts! Colour: pale white wine, almost white. Nose: it’s not easy to get something at first nosing, because of the high strength. Maybe a little barley sugar? Marzipan? Vicks Vaporub? Not much else but one can feel that something’s happening ‘underneath’. Water please! With water: wonderful. It’s still got these grainy/barleyish notes from youth, but all these oysters, walnuts, lemons, sardines (yes), black olives and cigar ashes make it, well, wonderful. Very classy spirit. Mouth (neat): will burn your lips and your throat but it’s worth it – almost. One of the crispest attacks I’ve ever encountered. Lime juice, fresh walnuts, oysters and truckloads of ashes, with a blend of icing sugar and salt playing with the tip of your tongue. Ah, yes, it IS full bodied ;-). With water: same, really, which is good news. I kept adding water until it reached around 30% and it never quite changed. Finish: long, very briny, salty. Tinned anchovies? Comments: a spectacular youngster. Old young sherried Caol Ilas are often stunning, but it seems that old young ‘naked’ ones can be just as stunning. SGP:457 - 91 points. (and thanks, Bert).
Caol Ila Glen Farhn

Caol Ila 29 yo 1982/2011 (59.3%, Glen Fahrn Germany, cask #759, 232 bottles) Four stars and a half I think these ‘themed’ labels are beautiful, but we don’t drink labels, do we? Colour: gold. Nose: it hasn’t got the freshness of the 12yo, but it’s relatively more expressive when unreduced, with a little lemon juice, brine, oysters, almonds and smoked salmon. Water again, please! With water: more grapefruit juice, fresh butter, lager, soaked grains, herbs (wormwood, dill)… Truly wonderful but I tend to like the youngster’s ‘vibrancy’ (and why not?) even better. Mouth (neat): superb! Rich, creamy, fruity, peaty, smoky, herbal, coastal… And so satisfying. Many of these 1979-1983 Caol Ilas become outstanding when they reach around 30 years of age, and this one is a good example. Superb lemony/smoky/ashy/briny tones. With water: smoked lemon juice with a dash of salt. Finish: long, smoky and very, very briny. Just a faint bitterness in the aftertaste. Comments: let’s keep it short and sweet: another one that’s excellent. SGP:366 - 89 points.

Longrow 18

BONUS: Longrow 18 yo (46%, OB, 2011) Five stars After the smashing version from 2008 (WF 92) this is the newest batch. Let’s try it… Colour: white wine. Nose: starts very fresh and fruity, rather without the expected smoky oiliness (make that an oily smokiness). Apples, gooseberries and rhubarb, plus fresh butter, marshmallows and custard. It’s only after quite a few seconds that the ‘usual’ sooty, greasy, mineral and musty notes do arise, as well as whiffs of beach sand, seaweed and those clean wet dogs that we all like quite a lot, don’t we? The peat smoke makes a late arrival, together with notes of walnuts and a little nutmeg. Globally a little fresher and cleaner than earlier versions – if I remember well. Mouth: explosively fruity and bitter at the same time. Bags of cider apples and walnuts, pepper, cardamom, poppadoms, ginger, a little green mustard and a little icing sugar… It’s really peppery, almost hot. Finish: long, with more smoke and bitter oranges. Comments: extremely high quality. I can’t see why I’d come up with another score (playing the wise guy?) SGP:445 - 92 points.

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October 13, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Isle of Jura 1976 and 1966
So there's a new vintage Jura, a 1976, and I thought it would be a good idea to try it with a 1966, which would make for a time gap of exactly 10 years as far as years of distillation are concerned. Am I good at math or what?

Jura 1976

Isle of Jura 1976/2011 'Feith A' Chaorainn' (46%, OB, 500 bottles) Five stars No, I don’t know how to pronounce feith a’ chaorainn either, but it seems that it means ‘the lands around the rowan’. Ah, Native American names! ;-). Colour: full gold. Nose: the whole nose screams ‘fresh American oak’ at first sniffs, with this bold combination of vanilla, maple syrup, fresh ginger and sawdust. Yet, it’s absolutely not bourbonny, rather very ‘islander’ – which isn’t always the case with Jura in my experience. Indeed, there’s some peat smoke, cigarette tobacco (is it still legal to quote tobacco?), moss and lemon zests, the whole getting even drier after that, with more shoe polish, fresh walnuts, touches of dill and fennel and then straight ashes, a bit ala Caol Ila. An interesting fairly austere version of Jura that’s got something of fino sherry. Mouth: ho ho ho, this is big whisky! Starts right where the nose stopped, on ashes and smoke, becoming wonderfully grassy and camphory after that, with also just as much tobacco and lemon zests. Superb grassy/smoky dryness. Keeps developing more on brine, olives, sweet mustard and salty liquorice, and after a few minutes you would think it’s a great Bowmore from the early to mid 1970s. Enough said. Finish: long, salty and very smoky, with a perfect grassy and sooty aftertaste (and quite some thyme and rosemary). Comments: it’s not a surprise, but it’s amazingly good whisky with a lot of character. An unusual but pretty fabulous Jura – but you’ll have to pay for this very high quality, since it carries a 645 Euros price tag. SGP:374 - 93 points.

Jura 1966

Isle of Jura 1966/1986 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, cask #1943, 180 bottles) Five stars A rare old version that was selected by Master Silvano Samaroli. It’s ex-sherry cask, so we’re expecting something quite big… Besides, we had a 1966/1996 by Signatory a while back and it was fabulous (WF 94). Colour: gold. Nose: very, very close to the 1976 at first nosing, albeit a notch more fragrant (lilies) and slightly more medicinal (camphor, antiseptic, balms). Other than that, we have the same fino-ish notes, walnuts, tobacco… Oh, and quite some old pu-erh tea, which is always a grace. No water needed. Mouth (neat): astoundingly medicinal! Actually, it’s almost too much and maybe a tad unbalanced. Litres of cough syrup, then an immense brininess, barrows of lemons and kumquats, salted anchovies and lime, green curry, lemon liqueur, cardamom and cloves, smoked fish (all kinds, kippers…) It’s really huge whisky. With water (just for fun): more, much more on salted cough syrup. More peat as well. Finish: extremely long, almost heavy. Comments: an hyper-oily old Jura, very extreme, very extravagant, very medicinal. Good medicine for sure! SGP:475 - 93 points.


BONUS: Chichibu 2008/2011 'The First' (61.8%, OB, Ichiro's Malt, 7400 bottles) Four stars The first official whisky from Chichibu in Japan, ex-bourbon barrels (Heaven Hill), launched at Whisky Live Paris. The distillery started distilling in early 2008 and I must say I already enjoyed the ‘newborns’. Colour: straw. Nose: there are whiffs of raw alcohol at first nosing, but that should be normal at such young age and high strength. After that, quite some vanilla and touches of lilies of the valley, then more grains (porridge, barley) and apple compote. The whole is very straight when neat. With water: some interesting mustardy notes come through (dare I say wasabi?), as well as more vanilla and maple syrup. Also orange cake, biscuits, acacia honey… Nice nose, nice nose… Mouth (neat): powerful and nervous, very estery, all on tinned pineapples, pear drops and touches of champagne. Then more vanilla and a little coconut. With water: even sweeter, smoother, creamier, very compact, with those nice mustardy notes once again as well as some barley sugar, bubblegum, tarte tatin and butter pears. Finish: long, a tad greener now. Green tea (dare I say macha?), vanilla, white pepper. Very clean aftertaste, fruitier again. Comments: impressive at just 3yo and already very drinkable. What I also enjoy is the fact that Ichiro does not seem to have tried to dope it too much by boosting the impact of newish American oak. SGP:641 - 85 points.

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October 12, 2011

Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions
Old mustardy Banff and older
If there’s one old distillery that used to be very unusual and that’s now gaining cult status, it’s well Banff, which some irreverent whisky lovers sometimes call ‘the old wasabi factory’. Let’s have two old Banffs today, with a time gap of only 8 years…

Banff DL

Banff 35 yo 1975/2011 (42.4%, Douglas Laing, Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 158 bottles) Five stars This one is brand new. I really loved a 1974 OMC bottled in 2007 (WF 91). Colour: straw. Nose: ah yes, Banff in its naked glory. It’s what’s great with refill wood, you can have an oldie that’s still fresh and flamboyant while it’ll have matured and become very complex. So, we have a wonderful range of citrusy and herbal notes here, lemon squash, many herbs such as fresh parsley, chives, dill or fennel, then more mineral touches (including aspirin tablets), damp chalk, simply cut grass and apple peelings, and lastly, the expected hints of horseradish/wasabi that are so peculiar. After 15 minutes: more notes of honeycomb, quince jelly, overripe plums… Very nice, very fresh nose but won’t the palate be a little tired? Mouth: not at all. The oak is under control while the oranges, lemon zests, kumquats and then ginger keep getting bigger and bigger. And then, yes, we have a little wasabi, pepper and mustard.  Finish: long, becoming very spicy now. Big pepper and mustard, as well as, yes, wasabi (hints…) Comments: a Banffian Banff, so to speak. Excellent and as Banff is getting rarer and rarer… But you have to like peppery and mustardy finishes. SGP:462 - 90 points.

Banff bottlers

Banff 31 yo 1967/1999 (46.3%, The Bottlers, cask #3114) Four stars Sister cask #3113 by the same bottlers was much to my liking (WF 90) so this cannot be bad… Colour: full gold. Nose: this is more mature, more ‘old’ than the DL, with more vanilla and café latte on top of some similar herbal notes. Also candied lemons, marmalade, mint, eucalyptus… then apple pie, wax polish, old furniture, maybe touches of varnish, smoked tea, spearmint… It’s all very complex! Also hints of Swiss cheese coming through after a few minutes (or even fondue)… But no gym socks! Mouth: the mustardy notes strike first this time, as well as a lot of pepper and that Japanese relish that I’ve mentioned quite a few times already today. In fact, this is rather more extreme than the DL on the palate, with also a little sour wood, overripe apples, strong tea, curry, chillies… There are some fruits - and some nice ones - underneath all that spicy extravaganza but they’re having a hard time trying to come through. Stewed apples? Also cough sweets, growing bigger. Finish: very long and immensely peppery and mustardy. Comments: well, you could use this baby to season many dishes, including Indian and Thai ones. A mega-spicy Banff, not the epitome of balanced whisky but I know quite a few whisky lovers who would kill for this. Not sure I would… SGP:373 - 87 points.

BONUS: two rather extreme 50 years old

Glenury 50

Glenury Royal 50 yo 1953 (42.8%, OB, 498 bottles) Four stars A well-known beast in a very elegant bottle, that I had never tried before. A crying shame… Colour: deep amber. Nose: starts with a superb combination of dark chocolate and prunes, with faint whiffs of old roses in the background. Goes on with notes of oxtail bouillon (or simply Oxo), thuja wood, roasted nuts, old balsamic vinegar, rancio and blackberry jam. All that is pretty elegant. Then more and more smoke and plasticine as well as notes of black pipe tobacco and pine sap. Also roasted pine nuts. Perfect balance and utter elegance here! Mouth: surprisingly fresh and fruity despite the obvious oakiness in the background. Cardamom, toffee and liqueur chocolates, then more plain dark chocolate, roasted pecans, our beloved nusswasser (walnut liqueur), quite some cinchona, Jägermeister, peppermint… I think it’s a perfect example of a whisky that’s got a huge wood impact but that remained balanced and, I must say, pleasant to drink. Finish: long, obviously drier but yet again, not excessively tannic or drying. Very nice signature on orange marmalade and pepper. Comments: sort of miraculous. One more minute in wood and it may have gotten a tad ‘too much’. Ahem. SGP:572 - 87 points.

Glenfarclas 1961

Glenfarclas 1961/2011 'Family Casks VII' (47.0%, OB, sherry, cask #1325, 108 bottles) Three stars and a halfAlready the 7th batch! Colour: coffee. Nose: frankly, this is the exact opposite of the venerable Glenury as far as old glories are concerned. It’s much heavier, much more typically oloroso, with loads of prunes and, well, dozens of fruitcakes, raspberry jam, strawberry jam, milk chocolate, Seville oranges and Demerara sugar plus the usual touches of bacon, wood smoke and coffee-schnapps. Yet, it’s certainly not cloying! Ultra typical old sherried Glenfarclas, but a true sherry monster? Let’s see… Mouth: you bet! Ultra-heavy wood and sherry influence, very extreme. Pipe juice, blackcurrant buds, cherry stems (and liqueur), grape pips and orange zests, all that at full strength. Also heavy liquorice. Takes no prisoners, as they say. Or maybe your tongue? ;-). Finish: extremely long, on the very same notes. Becomes almost cabernetty in the aftertaste (green pepper, blackcurrant). Comments: boy that one was extreme… Excuse me? Water? Yes I tried, that made it even woodier. The nose was very, very nice but the palate was, well, quite difficult. Now, if you’re looking for an extremely extreme sherry monster… SGP:581 - 84 points.

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October 11, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Clynelish 1972, five years later
Clynelish 1972… Those casks are getting old and it’s not 100% sure that some don’t become too oaky as they approach the 40 years of age. To make sure, let’s try one of those, and then a younger version…

Clynelish 1972

Clynelish 38 yo 1972/2011 (42.1%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #430341, 439 bottles) Five stars Already many fabulous Clynelishes from the TSMOS/Specialty Drinks racing team in the past… Colour: gold. Nose: well, all I can say is that this is very ‘Clynelish 1972’, and that it’s not tired on the nose. Beehive, yellow flowers and oranges, then more wax and a little patchouli, then flints, clay, iron and linseed oil. An absolutely perfect nose. Mouth: good attack, very lively, citrusy, typical, but the oak is sot of starting to take over indeed. It’s not that the spirit doesn’t manage to fight back but these notes of menthol and cinnamon are a wee bit too much. Just a wee bit… A tiny wee bit… Finish: medium length, a tad drying despite the beautiful notes of bitter oranges and mead that remain in the background. Pepper. Comments: right, it’s still a very wonderful whisky and it hasn’t lost its Clynelishness at all, but indeed we’re now slowly approaching the limits. I’m absolutely sure this was 92/93 points material five years ago… A great bottling nonetheless. SGP:562 - 90 points.

Clynelish 32

Clynelish 32 yo 1972/2005 (53.5%, Glen Master, cask #14354) Five stars A little known label… Let’s see how a younger 1972 Clynelish behaves… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a much flintier, earthier and grassier version of Clynelish 1972 at first nosing, but then the beautiful notes of oranges, honey and beeswax do arrive indeed. Wet rocks, kumquats… No fruit bomb this time, in fact it’s rather one of these Clynelishes that hint at Brora, although there’s little peat here. Oh well… With water: stunning development, seaweed, humus, oranges, game, morels, old books, beeswax… Need I say more? Mouth (neat): bang! Rich, crisp, extraordinarily waxy, mineral, citrusy… Big body and lots of oomph, it’s a true beast. With water: insanely 1972 Clynelish. Please call the anti-maltoporn brigade. Finish: very loooong… Comments: this is why I love these whiskies. They’re powerful AND hugely complex at the same time. Having said that, a touch of drying oak is already noticeable in the finish. No big deal here… SGP:653 - 93 points.

BONUS: two recent 45 years old

Almore Aurora

Dalmore 45 yo 1964 'Aurora' (45%, OB, oloroso sherry, 200 bottles, 2010) Four stars and a half These old Dalmores usually put me in a moral dilemma. On the one hand, they are insanely expensive… on the other hand, the ones I could try so far were also extremely good! Let’s check this one… Colour: amber. Nose: starts rather delicately, slightly subdued, almost shy… and elegant. It’s rather on the tarte tatin/honey side at first nosing, as well as on oranges and maybe a little tamarind chutney. There’s also a little musk, old roses, then touches of camphor, tiger balm… but only touches! Goes on with hints of rum baba, chocolate, bananas flambéed, roses again… even something slightly muscatty. Keywords: subtle elegance. Maybe a little feminine? (I’m sorry, ladies.) Mouth: once again, this baby is relatively soft, subtle and shy at first sips but it’s soon to become more talkative. What’s very nice as well is that the oakiness is obvious but intricately mingled with the fruits, first tangerines and oranges, then more candied quince, kumquats and bananas. Nutmeg and cinnamon complement the profile (oak) while the whole remains very slightly shy(ish). Finish: medium long, more on chocolate and green pepper. A tannicity in the aftertaste (apple pips and peelings). Comments: I like this Aurora quite a lot but my all time favourite Dalmore will remain the fantabulous 50yo from five years ago (WF 96). SGP:461 - 89 points.

Glenglassaugh 45

Glenglassaugh 45 yo (49.2%, OB, decanter, refill sherry hogshead, +/-2011) Five stars I loved the 40yo from two years ago (WF 92), let’s hope this baby will be in the same vein… Colour: amber. Nose: this is much punchier than the Dalmore, less delicately floral and fruity and rather more mineral and even a tad metallic (in a great way). Most interestingly, it smells a bit like some great whisky that would have spent many years in bottles. Develops on marzipan, a little leather, orange zests, old cognac, then whiffs of old wardrobe, unlit cigar, ham, maybe a little cardboard, old wine cellar, soot, aluminium (or mess tin…) I like this nose a lot but the palate might be trickier (with this kind of nose)… Mouth: no, this palate is lovely. Sure it’s not quite as complex as the nose – as almost always with these very old whiskies -  but the ‘feeling’ is excellent, rich yet very elegant, beautifully spicy, smoky and earthy, with also these metallic touches once again, mushrooms (morels, yeah, yeah) and then more tropical notes. Mango chutney, bananas flambéed (with rum, obviously), tinned pineapples… There’s also a little beeswax, then more black pepper and chilli… In fact, it’s quite complex on the palate as well! Finish: fairly long, a tad drier now, as always, a little leathery, grassy… And unexpectedly mustardy. Orange zests as well. Comments: great. Same very high quality as the 40yo and no excessive woodiness whatsoever. SGP:561 - 92 points.

PS: tomorrow we may have two 50yos...

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October 10, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Kitsch and classy Balvenie
This time it’s going to be two Balvenies, especially the brand new Tun 1401 batch #2. I liked batch #1 from last year quite a lot (WF 87). We’ll set the new one against an old 8yo that came in a very ‘funny’ presentation.

Balvenie 8

Balvenie 8 yo (70°proof, OB, leather label, triangular bottle, +/-1970) The bottle was shaped like a Grant’s or a Glenfiddich while the label was made out of leather (right, leatherette). Was Gary Glitter drinking Balvenie? Colour: white wine. Nose: this is very un-Balvenie, very dry, slightly metallic, with whiffs of dust and gravel (or mum’s old vacuum cleaner). It’s also very grassy and bizarrely mentholated. Peppermint, celery, dill, then caraway seeds and touches of cultivated mushrooms. Smells more and more like some mint liqueur… Mouth: oh well, it’s really weak, dry and quite bitter. Stale? Taste of light? Finish: short but with pleasant fruity afterglows. Apricots? Comments: lacks power but as always with these old bottles, that may come from glass ageing – unless, of course, we believe that whisky does not change once bottled. The nose was quite interesting. SGP:231 - 65 points.

Balvenie Tun

Balvenie 'Tun 1401' (48.1%, OB, batch #2, 2011) Four stars and a half Batch #1 came from six casks, batch #2 has used ten of them. Success success! Colour: deep gold. Nose: very Balvenie this time! Only wee touches of varnish at very first nosing, then a very wide range of fresh and candied fruits including the expected apricots and yellow plums, then more honeydew and yellow flowers, and lastly many beautiful fragrances from the sherry casks, such as raisins, figs, prunes and old Sauternes. Oh, and a little mint once again, and maybe a little ham. The whole is really, really beautiful and very complex provided you give it a little time. Mouth: it’s a very jammy Balvenie at first sips, with more or less the same notes as in the nose (plums, honey, sweet sherry), but it showcases more and more mentholated notes that make the whole fresh and lively. There’s also quite some spices from the oak but it’s all under control despite a wee sourness after twenty seconds. Cinnamon. Finish: long, beautifully balanced. Apricot jam with coriander and nutmeg. Comments: maybe one cask or more were a tad too oaky, hence the… oaky tones (clever, S.!) but the composition works perfectly well. In any case, I fell it’s rather better than batch #1. SGP:551 - 89 points.


BONUS: Glenugie 31 yo 1980/2011 (43.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #99.13, Refill bourbon hogshead, 'Exotic scenes in a Bedouin tent', 98 bottles) Five stars This baby was one of the many stars at London’s Whisky Show at Vinopolis this year. A great, great show with many outstanding whiskies (many more to come on whiskyfun!) Colour: gold. Nose: stunning! A wonderful elegance for a start, with a combination of musk, ripe peaches, linseed oil and… well, many other oils. There are also strawberries and quinces, Virginia tobacco, an unexpected beefiness (cold roast beef) and then high-end wu-long tea, mint, mangos, touches of anchovies (really), olives… What an incredible complexity! Mouth: creamy and fruity, very lively, a whole fruit salad with dashes of pepper and nutmeg from the oak. Enough said. Finish: long, with several aromas that we already had in the nose. Tea, mangos and pepper. Only the aftertaste is a notch too oaky/peppery for my taste. Comments: when Glenugie is (well, was) good, it’s extraordinary. Kudos to the Society for having issued this glory, that I could have scored even higher, wasn’t it for the slightly drying/greenish aftertaste. What a nose! SGP:572 - 92 points.

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October 7, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Light 1991 and 1966 Lochside
Ah, Lochside! The closed Springbank from the East could be beautifully fruity, especially in the famous vintages 1966 and 1981. Let’s try a middle-aged and an older one today. Time gap this time: 25 years.

Lohside 1991

Lochside 1991/2011 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice, refill bourbon barrel) Three stars G&M already bottled quite a few 1991s and some were very good (the ones for LMDW). Colour: straw. Nose: well, it’s not one of these very fruity Lochsides. It’s all rather discreet, a little grassy/flinty, with also notes of cut apples and hints of cologne. Also a little porridge, paraffin and wet cloth. ‘Nice’ but nothing entrancing so far… We’re not in 1981, let alone 1965 or 1966! Mouth: starts light, ‘averagely fruity’, with a little barley sugar and honey on oatcakes. Touches of overripe apples, grapefruits, then fresh walnuts and green tea, then a dash of white pepper. It’s perfectly all right but a little too light for this taster. Finish: short to medium, a little more lemony (which hints at earlier vintages). Comments: as I wrote, perfectly all right… And refreshingly drinkable. One to sip like that. SGP:441 – 80 points.

Lochside 1966

Lochside 21 yo 1966 (40%, Spirit of Scotland for Taverna degli Artisti, +/-1987) Four stars We’ve already tried several fabulous 1966s (Murray McDavid, Jack Wiebers, SMWS, Signatory…) BTW, as you may know, Spirit of Scotland is a brand/company owned by G&M. Colour: gold. Nose: once again, no big Lochside here, but maybe that’s because of the low strength. The whole is rather delicate, on stewed apples and peaches, with a little hay and soft honey in the background as well as whiffs of rose petals and maybe touches of musk. A whispering old Lochside… Mouth: more oomph, more tropical fruits than in the 1991. It’s not big but the fruitiness makes up for that. Grapefruits, oranges, touches of liquorice, marmalade and quite some soft spices in the background, especially cinnamon. Honey in green tea. Finish: shortish but clean and fruity (tangerines this time), with more green tea in the aftertaste. Also touches of violet swwets. Comments: rather light but very classy spirit that could have done with a higher proof. SGP:641 - 86 points. (and thanks, Gérard!)

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October 6, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Two rums with a hundred and ten years gap
Today we’ll do something that I’d have loved to do with Scotch, but it’s almost impossible so we’ll do it with rum: comparing spirits with a time gap of… more than 100 years. More like 110 years, actually…

Having said that, this little session is ‘just for fun’ as those rums have not been distilled at the same distillery… and not even on the same islands!

Rhum Rhum

Rhum Rhum ‘Liberation 2010’ (45%, PMG, 2010) Three stars and a half This aged rhum agricole has been distilled by Mr Capovilla at Bielle Distillery on the tiny French island of Marie-Galante, near Guadeloupe. This new brand is marketed by the tireless and very passionate Luca Gargano, of Velier fame. Colour: gold-amber. Nose: it’s some fresh oak that speaks first, with whiffs of pencil shavings and warm sawdust that are much pleasant, while blood oranges, mocha and touches of tamarind come a little later and make it fresh and ‘vibrant’, as they say. There are also hints of camphor and fern that are very ‘rhum agricole’ in my measly experience, as well as more and more pineapple liqueur and only touches of coconut. Beautiful freshness. Mouth: starts fruity and nervous, very different from most other young rhums or rums I could try. It’s almost a fruit salad and it’s much less ‘tropical’ than expected. Absolutely no ‘coconut and banana’ effect, rather baskets of butter pears, apples, yellow plums and very ripe gooseberries. Well, some pineapple and guava do arrive after a few seconds… The whole is very fresh and relatively light. Absolutely no thick and cloying aged rum. Finish: medium long, clean, with touches of rose jelly, Turkish delights and even gewürztraminer. High-end apple juice. Comments: an unusual rum, more elegant and complex than many. Certainly not for mixing! SGP:630 - 84 points.


Jamaican Pot Still 1892/1927-1992 (47.5%, Thomson & Company, Jacques, Switzerland, 30 bottles) Five stars This absolute rarity was bottled in 1927 and then rebottled in 1992, so technically, it’s a 35 years old. Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh wow! (excuse me). Starts emphatically, more on varnish and fresh pineapples, more ‘typical rum’ than the Rhum Rhum. Incredible notes of vegetables after that, maybe celeriac, or salsify… Then much more sultanas, date liqueur, coffee, tangerines, more pineapples, old polished wood, pipe tobacco (big!), liquorice… This is a huge surprise, the freshness is completely incredible. Lovable. Mouth: still amazing, rich, oily, on sugar cane, Demerara sugar (but it’s absolutely not too sweet), heavy liquorice, prunes, then these notes of vegetables yet again (rather black olives here), fruitcake… The liquoricy part never stops growing, and I love liquorice! Finish: very long and very liquoricy. Prunes. Comments: astounding, I haven’t tried many rums that were as good as that, not even from the best old Demerara distilleries. This would convert the most die-hard whisky enthusiast to the pleasures of rum, too bad there were only 30 bottles issued… twenty years ago. How many survivors? SGP:751 - 95 points. (Et merci beaucoup, Patrick).

PS: the fact that the Rhum Rhum wasn’t completely crushed by the stupendous old glory says long about its quality…
PPS: I swear my notes were not influenced by the vintage. It is utterly stunning stuff.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Bela Fleck and the Flecktones having funky Sex in a pan. Please buy the Flecktones' music!


October 5, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Old and young Tormore at 12 yo
La Maison du Whisky just selected two Tormores from G&M’s, a 1982 and a 1998. We’ll try the 1998 ‘against’ an old 12yo white label that’s pretty rare, the 10yo being more common (and excellent). Time gap: around 30/35 years…

Tormore 12

Tormore 12 yo (43%, OB, Rossi Import, mid-1970s) Four stars The recent official 12 yo blue label left me cold (WF 72) but the older Tormores could be stunning. Let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts just a tad dusty, which often happens with old bottles, but then it becomes beautifully malty and honeyed, with nice notes of orange marmalade, milk chocolate and herbal liqueurs in the background. A little mint, old cellar, rancio, liquorice… The whole is very expressive and one cannot not think of some old young Macallan. Mouth: wee metallic touches in the attack, then fresh acidic fruits such as lemon, kiwi, rhubarb… All that is coated with caramel and honey, orange liqueur, malt (Ovaltine) and marzipan. Excellent body and no weakness at all. Finish: medium long, even maltier, with quite some marmalade and toffee in the aftertaste, as well as a little peat and pepper. Comments: classic malty malt whisky (no that ain’t always obvious) of very good quality. SGP:552 - 86 points.

Tormore 1998

Tormore 1998/2011 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for LMDW, refill sherry hogshead, cask #1609, 346 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: we aren’t far from the oldie at first nosing, even if this has more vanilla, toasted brioche and mocha. Goes on with even more vanilla (fudge and custard) and toffee, with a little hay and leather in the background. Really nice and rounded, the vanilla not being akin to vanilla from bourbon wood at all. Mouth: creamy, rich, not too far from the oldie once again. Oranges, pepper and honey, it’s even a tad mustardy (wasabi notes from the wood). Also stewed fruits, apricots, apples… And always quite some pepper/wasabi. Raisins from the sherry. Finish: quite long, with the pepper coming more and more to the front. Comments: a full-bodied dram, very good in my opinion and rather old-style despite a fairly talkative oak. Same average quality as the old 12, not need to score it differently. SGP:551 – 86 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a little sexy funk jazz with David Axelrod - no, not the politician - and his Mucho Chupar (from 1974's LP 'Heavy Axe'). Please buy David Axelrod's music, thanks...

David Axelrod

October 4, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Two superb Highland Park
More Highland Park today… Don’t we all love HP? Time gap: around 25 to 30 years as far as years of distillation are concerned.

Highland Park 19

Highland Park 19 yo (43%, OB, Ferraretto Milano, mid 1980s, 75cl) Five stars A fairly rare old OB distilled in the glorious 1950s, we already had a great version for Germany, this is the Italian version. Not sure it’s a different batch… Colour: light amber. Nose: unmistakenly old HP, with the trademark whiffs of heather honey and that light, pleasantly soapy peatiness. By soapy I mean akin to high-end make-up remover, not cheap Palmolive. After that, we get oranges, tangerines, more honey, a little seawater, then whiffs of camphor, antiseptic and old books. Also a little ink. As often with these old HPs, the whole is incredibly complex and ‘wide’. Mouth: ah yes! A salty tang (as they say), oranges, honeydew, pine sap, marzipan, kumquats, then various herbal liqueurs, first verbena (Verveine du Velay) then rather Benedictine. Also liquorice and that famous smokiness… Quality’s high, extremely high. Finish: long, with more pepper. Tangerine marmalade and bitter oranges. Comments: superb old HP that could have sailed towards the 95 points, had it been bottled at around 48/50% vol. SGP:553 - 91 points. (thanks, Olivier!)

HP 1984

Highland Park 27 yo 1984/2011 (52.5%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon hogshead, 222 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: it’s quite striking that this one has got the ‘old’ HP style, maybe that’s why the bottlers selected it. Heather honey again, very vivid, roasted nuts, tangerine liqueur, wood smoke, a little limoncello, angelica, cough medicine, a little old oak (clean old barrel)… It’s all very wonderful I must say. With water: many herbs, spearmint, wild thyme, touches of ‘clean’ manure, hints of truffles (but absolutely no sulphur!)… Mouth (neat): big, nervous, lemony, rich yet sharp, peppery, smoky, citrusy, with an oily mouthfeel… The pepper gets louder and louder and so do the citrus fruits, what a duet! With water: same ballpark, it’s just, well, easier to quaff. Finish: long and lemony, with a superb peppery signature. And a little cardamom. Comments: I wasn’t entirely sure this one would manage to hold its own against the old 19yo OB. Well, it did, effortlessly. SGP:561 - 91 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: whether Tyondai Braxton, son of Anthony Braxton, has been listening to Magma a lot or not, I don't know, but the feeling is there. Let's listen to the slightly hysterical - in a good way - 'Uffie's Woodshop' and then buy all of Tyondai Braxton's music!


October 3, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Benriach 1976 and 1968
Frankly, bringing a young Benriach and one of those stupendous old glories together wouldn’t be fair, that’s why we’ll try two old glories instead if you don’t mind. Although we’ll have a time gap: 8 years!

Benriach 1976

Benriach 34 yo 1976/2011 (57,8%, OB, butt, cask #6942, 469 bottles) Five stars A new bottling from a sherry cask, which is slightly unusual with 1976. Will the sherry dominate? Colour: amber. Nose: first impression, it’s not as much as a flower-and-fruit bomb as other well-known 1976s, and it’s even slightly discreet at first nosing, maybe because of the high strength. I get something flinty, then quite some leather and tealeaves and then bitter oranges, espresso and bitter chocolate. There’re also prunes, a little tobacco (Havana!) and touches of cedar wood (the humidor for the cigars). In short, no true fruit bomb so far but that may come... With water: as usual with old sherried whiskies, more balsamic vinegar and more game. It’s even almost a tad acetic. Mouth (neat): unusual, but lovable. High oak extraction for sure (spices, cocoa and tannins all over the place), then the tropical fruits that start to come through (grapefruits to the front) and then litres of fairly dry cough syrup. Big orange marmalade too. A thick beast, really! With water: swims like a champ! Gets wider, more on oranges, more on grapefruits and more on herbal liqueurs. Shartroose! Finish: long, citrusy and quite bizarrely, not really oaky. Right, there’s a little black tea in the aftertaste… Comments: whilst it hasn’t got some other versions’ zestiness, it’s still a marvellous 1976 Benriach. And anyway, don’t we need variety and difference? SGP:661 - 91 points.

Benriach 1968

Benriach 37 yo 1968/2006 (48.6%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #2597, 262 bottles) Five stars After 1976, 1968 was another great vintage at Benriach… Colour: gold. Nose: all right, this is one of those tireless fruit bombs! Bursts with tropical fruits such as mangos, passion fruits and grapefruits, with a freshness that’s simply out of this world and that only Bowmore and Lochside could also display in the 1960s. Enough said, this is pure magic… Mouth: as often, there are a few slightly soapy touches at very first sips but then it’s simply an extravagant cavalcade of all sorts of tropical fruits and spices. Please call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: incredibly long and fruity. Comments: liquid pink grapefruits. Can we have more? SGP:841 - 92 points (but worth 94 without the faint soapiness in the attack)
Thank you Roel, thank you Billy.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Hayden Chisholm and The Embassadors playing a moody Sierra Alone (from 'Coptic Dub, 2009). Jazz or not jazz? Please buy The Embassadors' music...


October 2, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Glen Garioch 1994 and 1986
Not a wide time gap between these two babies but both are just out (more or less) so let’s try them. Curious about the mid-eighties version… Violets or no violets?

Glen Garioch

Glen Garioch 1994/2011 (53.9%, OB, batch No 32, North American oak barrels) Four stars It’s quite ‘funny’ that Glen Garioch has been following Bowmore’s path, glorious 1960s, excellent early to mid 1970s, then a drop (sometimes abysmal), and then some great spirit again from around 1990 on. Let’s check this new baby… Colour: white wine. Nose: starts quite hot, a tad spirity and all on fresh garden fruit, mainly pears and apples as well as greengages. Also a little pineapple drop and then more wet rocks or gravel, with an obvious flinty side, and lastly, more vegetal notes (fern, grass, earth, humus) and vanilla. With water: gets farmier, more on grains, barnyard, leaven and then peat… We’re close to the barley here, and that’s very nice in this context. Nice nose. Mouth (neat): much in line with the nose, pear drops, liquorice, cough drops, berries… (cranberries). Pleasant bitterness (strong green tea, peat). With water: becomes more compact, nicely so, with rather more oranges and touches of cloves. It’s a big, full-bodied dram. Finish: medium long, maybe even a tad short despite the mint, the liquorice and the pepper that are in the aftertaste. Comments: quite perfect youngish Glen Garioch, fresh, full and moderately peaty. We’re probably not back to the fab level of the 1960s and early 1970s yet but that may be coming… SGP:453 - 85 points.

Glen Garioch 1986

Glen Garioch 1986/2011 (54.6%, OB, batch No 11, North American oak) Two stars Not from ‘barrels’ this time according to the label, so maybe from hogsheads? Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts nicely on liquorice wood and vanilla but indeed, there’s more and more violetty tones plus something bizarrely chemical. Aspirin tablets? Also whiffs of farmyard and embrocations behind all that… It’s all a tad strange but it’s not as bad as it sounds, honest. With water: even more bizarre. Patchouli, old clothes (from the attic), a little mould, dried mushrooms, menthol… Its complex but it’s… well, strange. Old wine cellar. Mouth (neat): nah… orange drops, lavender sweets, touches of salt, grenadine… Same feeling as with many Bowmores from the same era. With water: liquorice, violet and lavender drops plus a touch of salt. Aha. Finish: medium long, even more on liquorice (and Parma violets). Grenadine again in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s a style that’s well defined these days. As always, a matter of taste – but I wouldn’t swap one single bottle of 1994 against six bottles of this 1986 against. Excuse me? No, not even twelve. SGP:742 - 76 points.
Whiskyfun fav of the month

September 2011

Favourite recent bottling:
Tomatin 34 yo 1976/2011
(48.7%, Liquid Sun, sherry butt, 366 bottles) - WF 91

Favourite older bottling:
Springbank 1965/1987 (60.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.10) - WF 95

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:

Bruichladdich 10 yo ‘The Laddie Ten’
(46%, OB, 2011) - WF 88

MUSIC - Recommended listening: no early Bob Dylan, this is one of the famous (and oh so seminal) 1928 Okeh recordings of Mississippi John Hurt. It's the Big Leg Blues. Please buy Mississippi John Hurt's music.


September 2011 - part 2 <--- October 2011 - part 1 ---> October 2011 - part 2

heck the index of all entries:
Nick's Concert Reviews



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Banff 35 yo 1975/2011 (42.4%, Douglas Laing, Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 158 bottles)

Benriach 34 yo 1976/2011 (57,8%, OB, butt, cask #6942, 469 bottles)

Benriach 37 yo 1968/2006 (48.6%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #2597, 262 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 1982/1995 (63.8%, Milroy's)

Clynelish 32 yo 1972/2005 (53.5%, Glen Master, cask #14354)

Clynelish 38 yo 1972/2011 (42.1%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #430341, 439 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 45 yo (49.2%, OB, decanter, refill sherry hogshead, +/-2011)

Glenugie 31 yo 1980/2011 (43.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #99.13, Refill bourbon hogshead, 'Exotic scenes in a Bedouin tent', 98 bottles)

Highland Park 19 yo (43%, OB, Ferraretto Milano, mid 1980s, 75cl)

Highland Park 27 yo 1984/2011 (52.5%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon hogshead, 222 bottles)

Isle of Jura 1976/2011 'Feith A' Chaorainn' (46%, OB, 500 bottles)

Isle of Jura 1966/1986 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, cask #1943, 180 bottles)

Jamaican Pot Still 1892/1927-1992 (47.5%, Thomson & Company, Jacques, Switzerland, 30 bottles)

Longrow 18 yo (46%, OB, 2011)