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Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2011 - Part 2

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


October 31, 2011


More old Peaters including a surprise

Bowmore 21

Bowmore 21 yo 1989/2011 (51.2%, QV.ID/Whiskysite.nl, bourbon hogshead, 96/134 bottles) Five stars A shared cask bearing two labels. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a Bowmore that starts rather farmy and moderately peaty. And, above all, with no French woman being involved, it appears (if you see what I mean). The coastal side arises only after a little while, but it’s getting bigger and bigger and we’re soon over a large plate of (smoked) oysters. I also enjoy the medicinal side (eucalyptus here) and the whiffs of linseed oil. Oh, and the touches of bacon. Obviously complex.

Mouth: purrrfekkt. Brine and lemon at first sips, then smoked kippers, oysters again, that Bowmoreish earthiness that sometimes shows up and then touches of tropical fruits that hint at much earlier versions of Bowmore. Terrific whisky. Finish: long, ultra-zesty. Peat and grapefruits with some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: this could have been distilled in the mid-1960s, put into a sealed, airtight stainless steel tank, filled in wood in 1989 and bottled this year. Definitely ‘old Bowmore’ and utterly lovable. SGP:456 - 92 points (and many thanks, Marc).

Linkwood Peated

Linkwood 24 yo 1987/2011 (54.6%, Liquid Sun, bourbon, 329 bottles) Two stars and a half What, a Linkwood among the peaters? Indeed, the label states ‘peated type’ and Linkwood may have done a wee run of peated whisky at the time. Or maybe it was an ex-Islay cask? Ex-Brora? Let’s try this very unusual Linkwood, is it really peaty?… Colour: straw. Nose: well, peaty it is, with a profile that, indeed, reminds me a bit of the peated Benriachs. I don’t think it’s a peatiness that can come from the cask alone. There’s some peated malt (‘visiting Port Ellen Maltings’), then some soot, apple peelings, garden bonfire (wet grass burning), saltpetre and then more burning grass. Mouth: it’s got more fruitiness, more sweetness, but also a curious feeling of… wait… smoked lemon juice? It’s all a little bitter and even rubbery after a while. Smoked tea and drops of Jaegermeister. Finish: long, much nicer in my opinion. The lemon becomes crisper. Comments: a curiosity, worth bottling for sure. Frankly, it’s not bad at all and in any case, I’m sure it’ll be useful at many 100% blind tastings. Only for that, it’s a priceless little bottle ;-). SGP:367 - 78 points.

Caol Ila

Caol Ila 30 yo 1981/2011 (50%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon hogshead) Four stars and a half 1981 was the year of that beautiful and very punchy official Flora and Fauna ‘Cask Strength’. Colour: straw. Nose: well, it’s quite punchy as well and certainly not ‘30yo’. There’s some lemon, quite some fresh butter, almonds, then a ‘green’ smokiness (bonfire) and then a combination of cough syrup and porridge. Again, it does not smell ‘old’… But very nice it is. Mouth: classic. Again, it’s not quite ‘old’ and it’s got a lot of lemon, ashes, apple peelings, walnuts and brine. It’s even quite nervous and keeps getting nicer, that is to say more citrusy, smoky and briny. As I said, classic. Finish: long, clean, zesty, beautifully smoky. Tarry aftertaste. Comments: I’m not sure it’s the most wonderful Cola Ila-esque nose ever but the palate was absolutely first class. SGP:356 - 89 points.

Special announcement - Not that it should matter but I've noticed that I just wrote our 300th tasting notes for a Caol Ila, Caol Ila being the first malt whisky to ever reach that unimportant milestone. The next ones should be Ardbeg, Highland Park and Bowmore. All right, can we move on? (but I'm glad it was an excellent expression of Caol Ila!)

Caol Ila

Caol Ila 30 yo 1981/2011 (52.9%, Liquid Sun, bourbon, 191 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: have you ever had an old Caol Ila that was reeking of… pina colada? I’m serious, this baby has a lot of pineapple juice mixed with rum, with a very moderate smokiness. There’s also a little white wine, then dairy cream, comté cheese, rhubarb… In short, it’s extremely unusual. Is it nice? Well, we’ll see, it could a funny old dram on the palate… or a disaster. Mouth: well, it’s not the same whisky. This is classic Caol Ila, displaying little age, with a great deal of lemon, ashes, apple peelings, walnuts and brine (yup, I just copied-and-pasted from the above). Finish: very long, clean, zesty. A little more bitter in the aftertaste but there are also lovely notes of oranges. Comments: it is extremely hard to score this baby. The palate is worth 90 in my book, while the nose was… ‘unscorable’. All right, I won’t score this for once. Ha, scores. SGP:366.

Port Ellen

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2011 (55.5%, The Whiskyman, 120 bottles) Five stars This recent selection by Dominiek Bouckaert is nicknamed ‘While my whisky gently weeps’. Dominiek seems to love the Rolling Stones. Colour: pale gold. Nose: interesting, very interesting. It’s not an explosive PE, it’s rather more in the style of last year’s official Special Release (I haven’t tried this year’s version yet), with many subtleties including some charcoal, bacon, smoked almonds, soot and touches of camphor, the lovely kind of camphor that comes out when peat ages well. Goes on with more citrus fruits and aromatic herbs such as rosemary, before a straighter peat starts to come out but never in an overwhelming way. Mouth: wow (the Belgians would say waoouuh). Creamy, liquid peat and lemon liqueur. Amazingly straight and ‘chiselled’. Enough said. Finish: interminable. Comments: another proof that Port Ellen ages extremely well and that some ‘straight fodder for blends’ can become stunning with age. Caterpillars and butterflies. SGP:457 - 93 points.


Ardbeg 20 yo 1991/2011 (48,4%, Malts of Scotland for Hotel Bero Ostende, sherry hogshead, cask #11003, 240 bottles) Five stars Hotel Bero have the best shrimp croquettes in Belgium. Sometimes they also have whisky. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s like smoking a Partagas while walking on a freshly tarred road. Seriously, it’s immensely dry and tarry. Tarry ropes, hessian, old car engine, garage, coal smoke, turpentine and bitter chocolate. All that isn’t quite ‘wham-bam’ but big it is, getting more and more chocolaty. Mouth: rich, half bitter/tarry, half fruity. Not that all that didn’t mingle, not at all. Orange cake and a little grenadine with some tobacco, aniseed, liquorice, rhubarb pie and orange drops, with the medicinal side in the background (pine sap and eucalyptus in this case). It’s not quite a big-bodied Ardbeg, which the relatively low ABV% already suggested, but I think it gained refinement and it has a total lack of any vulgar ‘ooh-ahs’. Well, I know what I mean. Finish: quite long and now I cannot not think of some mid-1960s Ardbeg. In fact, it’s got something of the ‘Very Old 30’, including the relatively light body. Comments: could this baby be the last of the Mohicans? One of the very last glimmers of old Ardbeg? SGP:367 - 91 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: wether the current social climate is as serene as in Jim Beard's piece called 'Social Climate' is to be seen, but I love his music, please buy iut.

Jim Beard

October 30, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Old and very old Strathisla
All right, today we’ll have a new 1965 Strathisla with another Strathisla, which will make for a time gap of exactly 28 years. But no, the other one won’t be a 1993, it’ll rather be a 1937… Let’s start with the latter, as it’s much lighter…

Strathisla 1937

Strathisla 1937 (70°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, Cinzano, Italy, +/-1970) Four stars and a half I’ve already tried a few (make that three or four) 1937s, all have been excellent even if they haven’t been quite as sumptuous as the Macallans or Mortlachs from similar vintages in my view. Colour: gold. Nose: just as expected, we have a very soft, very elegant and maybe slightly evanescent combination of wax polish, old orange liqueurs, tobacco and honey. Then a little more leather, marzipan, vetiver, wormwood and delicately smoked tea and lastly, a very subtle bouquet of flowers such as peonies and old roses. A little patchouli as well, pot-pourri… And maybe a faint earthiness (mushrooms). A very noble old spirit that really reminds me of some very old – and noble - cognacs. Mouth: impressive body after all these years, you would have thought it would have been partially gone. It’s not the case at all even if it’s no big whisky of course. Starts on bitter chocolate and maybe a wee dustiness, then we have earl grey tea, mint flavoured tea, liquorice wood, cake, speculoos (or gingerbread) and marmalade. Looses steam after one minute or two, which was to be expected, but there’s also a little peat and even some salt appearing, the whole becoming rather dry and surprisingly briny. Finish: short but rather clean, with now touches of lemon on top of the saltiness. A little chartreuse in the aftertaste. Comments: this graceful oldie is still in form after all these years, especially the nose! SGP: 442 - 88 points.

Strasthisla 1965

Strathisla 1965/2011 (48%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW Singapore, first fill sherry butt, cask #3473) Four stars and a half La Maison du Whisky in Paris have already had many fab old whiskies from G&M’s, this time it’s their Singaporean branch that’s at it. Colour: full amber. Nose: take a large copper pan and throw a good deal of sultanas, strawberries, prunes, blackberries, chocolate, blackcurrants, cinnamon, figs, cloves, dates, star anise, pepper and just a dash of tawny port. Add a little syrup made out of Demerara sugar. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for three hours, filter, add the best vodka at still strength you can find and presto, you’ve got something similar to this wonderful old Strathisla. Quite… Mouth: I won’t repeat the whole recipe but it would be similar, with maybe a little more pepper, capsicum and walnut skins. The whole is highly infused wit sherry, rather drier on the palate than in the nose. Finish: long, quite bitter and tannic now. Blackcurrant leaves. Comments: an extremely fine old Strathisla and a true sherry monster, maybe a tad too extreme in that respect to reach 90 points but it’s a very solid 89. Say 89.5 (I can hear you moaning, don’t worry, I was joking. No half measures, no half points!) SGP:462 - 89 points. (with many thanks to Patrick and Jeremy)


BONUS: Having a go at youngish Fettercairn

Fettercairn can be a strange dram, but it can take sherry very well. Try to find some old 1980s at 43% by Signatory Vintage, they were brilliant whiskies.

Fettercairn Fior (42%, OB, +/-2010) Two stars and a halfI think this one is the new entry-level Fettercairn. Colour: amber-orange. Nose: ah well, this is quite nice I must say. It’s an old-style sherried dram with some whiffs of gravels and other mineral notes, a leafy smokiness (garden bonfire), some caramel, honey sauce, treacle toffee and then more walnut liqueur, quite leafy and dry. And quite some cocoa. Again, I think it’s a nice, old-style nose. Dry sherry. Mouth: hmm, this is more difficult. I don’t know, it’s strange… Dry and drying, chalky, cardboardy… Hints of Parma violets. Now, it does improve after a few seconds, with more dry chocolate and touches of oranges ala Dalmore. Chocolate-flavoured toffee. Finish: medium long, chalky again and curiously ashy. Walnut skin. Comments: not quite a winner in my opinion but it’s way above the rather poor ‘1824’ that they had before. Having said that, I’m not too fond of the violetty notes on the palate. SGP:342 - 77 points.

Fettercairn 14 yo 1996/2011 (46%, Signatory, Un-chilfiltered Collection, hogshead, 4337, 385 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: as the colour suggested, this one is pure Fettercairn and that’s why it’s so interesting. Nice whiffs of burnt sugar, caramel again, touches of lamp oil or graphite, pencil lead, coal smoke… becomes a tad cheesy after that but that’s more than all right (Emmenthal). Also more apples and gooseberries, typical ‘un-aromatic’ fruitiness. Interesting. Mouth: it’s funny how close we are to the OB in style, apart from the sherry that the OB had. Same chalkiness, a bitter grassiness (or lemon peel), ashes, tobacco (chewing a cigar), ultra-dry cider… Having said that, there’s less violetty notes. Bitter oranges. Finish: rather long, curiously yeasty and very grassy and ashy. Comments: a strange distillate but it’s always interesting to try one of these slightly odd spirits, and for that we must thank Signatory, also because of the very fair prices.. SGP:442 - 78 points.

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October 28, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Benromach 1972 and 2001
The little Benromach distillery gathers more attention since Gordon & MacPhail took over quite some years ago – and despite the curent owners’ relative aversion to dog-and-pony shows. Time to have an old one that was bottled when G&M were ‘only’ indies wrt the distillery, and a new OB by the very same bottlers. Complicated? No worries… Time gap today: around 30 years.

Benromach 1972

Benromach 1972/1995 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, old map label) Two stars and a halfColour: gold. Nose: a nice, fresh, honeyed and delicately fruity nose, very traditional so to speak. I mean figs, ripe apples, dates, oranges, a little malt and honey and then just whiffs of toasted oak and vanilla. Sure it’s no powerhouse but it’s anything but, well, dead. Mouth: a tad weaker now, which often happens with these old ones at low strength, starting on tea and diluted banana juice and developing more on cinnamon and a little cardboard. Also caramel and then even more dry and drying notes, tea, roasted flour, a little cocoa. Touches of rose jelly (or Turkish delights) in the background, that doesn’t quite work in this context. Finish: short and a little too dry. Comments: a very nice nose but a palate that’s a little too weak and dry for this taster. Should be a piece of cake for the new one… SGP:331 - 78 points.

Benromach 2001

Benromach 2001/2010 (59.9%, OB, first fill bourbon, casks #87-91, 93, 94) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a very different beast, very powerful, spirity and medicinal (we’re talking antiseptic – not antisceptic). There’s some peat smoke, ashes, rocks, clay, roots, leaves and green apples but as I wrote, it’s powerful. Water is needed… With water: it got really wild, both coastal and farmy, somewhat ala Springbank. Farmyard, stable, kelp… In the background, more and more cough medicine, mint, camphor… Our beloved Vicks Vaporub? Mouth (neat): very punchy, young, much less smoky than on the nose but with more obvious wood influence (bitter ginger here). Green apples, liquorice wood, gentian roots, brine… It’s very potent malt whisky. With water: excellent, herbal, malty, rooty, quite smoky and just as wild. Finish: long, crisp and farmy at the same time, with a little salt in the aftertaste. Comments: I wouldn’t claim it’s a surprise but I would say this bottling is pretty much in the same ‘cluster’ as the recent young Springbanks (10 CS…), which can’t be bad news in my book. Worth trying – and buying – if you like that style. SGP:362 - 87 points.

Glen Moray

BONUS: Glen Moray 39 yo 1971/2011 (40.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #35.59, Refill bourbon hogshead, 'Arabian Nights', 74 bottles) Five stars Another star of London’s Whisky Show and another new bottling by the honourable society. I had another 1971 by DT and it was much too my liking but a tad drying (WF 85), let’s check this one. The very low ABV is a tad scary… Colour: gold. Nose: stunning nose, all on honeycomb, pineapple liqueur, old roses, dandelions, guavas and papayas, with perfect oaky foundations. Then a little more spearmint and honeydew… Lovable, very, very elegant nose, sophisticated but not fragile at all. Now, with these old whiskies, the nose can be superb and the palate weak and drying, as we all know only too well. Let’s see… Mouth: right, it’s not as emphatically fruity and fragrant as on the nose, and sure there’s a good deal of oak (and sure it does taste a bit too much like strong earl grey tea), but it’s still very pleasant, with touches of pink grapefruits coming through, maybe mangos... But there’s also a lot of cinnamon and tonic/cinchona. I think we’re touching the limits, but it’s more than all right since the nose was so fabulous. Finish: shortish, on green bananas and cinnamon. Comments: a magnificent nosing whisky, with a very decent palate considering the age and style. For once I’ll go to 90 instead of 87/89, just because of that nose. SGP:661 - 90 points.

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Larry TBird

October 27, 2011


A mixed bag of 8 Peaters

Caol Ila

Caol Ila 'Moch' (43%, OB, +/-2011) Three stars and a half I think I should try this odd new CI despite its strange name. You know, it’s like those trumpeting new brands that mean either ‘boll****’ in Spanish or ‘poo’ in Mongolian. In this case, Moch(e) means… ugly in French (and dawn in Gaelic, it seems). But never mind…  Colour: white wine. Nose: pure, crisp brine, eau-de-vie and peat smoke. Then more hay, ‘clean’ manure and pure peated malt as well as whiffs of lemon liqueur (that smells differently from pure lemon, maybe a little soapy). Relatively light and simple. Mouth: easy, simple, smooth peat and brine, then butter and ashes/soot. Finish: medium long, even more on brine and peat smoke. Comments: a simple, easy one but it works pretty well, even if I’m not totally fond of the nose. Certainly not Moche. SGP: 345 - 83 points.


Ballechin '6th Release' (46%, OB, matured in bourbon casks, 2011) Four stars After five versions that were fully matured in wine casks, some having been much to my liking, here’s a brand new ‘full bourbon’ version of the peated Edradour. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s crisp, very ‘naked’ peated spirit, with only a faint farminess this time. That means hay and grains, then ashes and soot ala Caol Ila but without the briny and coastal notes. Quite some marzipan and ‘good’ rubber as well. Rather crystalline peat, I’d say. Oh, and touches of strawberry bubblegum. Mouth: tons of ashes and bags of soot and coal this time, al that on only touches of garden fruits. Quite amazingly, this is as smoky as Supernova or Octomore – if I remember well. It’s even a tad acrid because of that. Finish: long, it’s liquid ash! Comments: raw, naked peat made in the Scottish Midlands. Really worth a try. SGP:247 – 85 points.

Bowmore OMC

Bowmore 10 yo 2000/2011 (58.4%, Douglas Laing for LMDW, Old Malt Cask, sherry butt, 516 bottles) Three stars These young sherried Bowmores can be stunning in my opinion… or a little offbeat. Let’s see. Colour: amber. Nose: dry and austere at first nosing, leathery, very leathery… Green cigars (like they make in Indonesia), peat, grass, black olives, liquorice, walnut stain, then anchovies in salt… The whole is extremely dry and, as I wrote, austere. It’ll all happen on the palate, I guess… Unless water will help… With water: nope. Same very austere profile. Mouth: bestial and even monstrous blend of briny, salty peat and dry bitter tobacco, tar and, again, black olives. Heavy pipe tobacco. With water: well, it does become a little rounder and sweeter indeed, marginally so. Finish: long, all on salted liquorice. Tons of that. Comments: a true beast, spectacular but maybe a tad tiring. Or am I getting old? SGP:267 - 82 points.


Bowmore 22 yo 1989/2011 (50.1%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, bourbon hogshead) Four stars At Bowmore, I believe 1989 could be extremely good or… totally offbeat. My favs so far: a version by Dewar Rattray and one by Blackadder, both WF 89. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s the opposite of the sherried 2000, a clean, crisp, briny, coastal Bowmore. Now, I wouldn’t say it’s very expressive, it’s even a tad silent, so to speak. With water: same. A little more marzipan and putty. Mouth (neat): it’s all happening on the palate. Again, it’s very crisp, clean, sharp and chiselled. Only three main flavours, but great ones: lemon, salt and peat. With water: again, just the same. Salty, smoky lemon juice. Finish: long, on smoky, lemony brine ;-). Comments: little cask influence in this one, which isn’t obligatorily bad. SGP:347 - 87 points.

Bruichladdich 9

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2002/2011 'Heavily Peated' (53.5%, Liquid Sun, bourbon, 279 bottles) Four stars and a half This cannot not be Port Charlotte, can it? It’s true that technically, the distillery is Bruichladdich, not Port Charlotte. Colour: white wine. Nose: straight peated barley, with this very clean and very mentholated profile. Almost cough syrup after a few seconds, and there’s also a lot of camphor or tiger balm. Maybe roots too. Mouth: gentian eau-de-vie! I’m not making this up, it’s really almost like pure gentian eau-de-vie, only bigger. Finish: very long, on… gentian (well done!), with a both lemony and kind of limy aftertaste. Comments: ueber-zesty and mega-gentianny (what?) Uncomplicated but absolutely wonderful. SGP:348 - 88 points.


Kilchoman 2006/2011 (60.5%, OB, single cask, bourbon, cask #244/2006) Four stars Yes, single cask bottlings are now red at Kilchoman. This one was bottled for Whisky Live Paris this year. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s ashier and smokier than the Port Charlotte, much more farmy too, and drier as well. Roots again but little gentian, clay, then lemon and oysters, a little soot, maybe exhaust fumes (from an Aston, not a Lexus, no need to say) and a very moderate brininess. Sure it’s young but it’s nice on the nose, even without water. Mouth: creamy, earthy, slightly acidic, closer to the PC this time because of the lemony side. It’s all very nervous, with even touches of white tequila and rum. Finish: long, a tad sweeter, with a peat blast in the aftertaste but also a little lemon and icing sugar. Comments: ultra-zesty and amazingly lovable at barely five years of age. SGP:447 - 87 points.


Kilchoman 2006/2011 (60.3%, OB, single cask, sherry, cask #323/2006) Two stars and a half Another one that was bottled for Whisky Live Paris, from a sherry cask this time. Colour: white wine. Refill? Nose: hmm… frankly, I liked the ‘bourbon’ version much better. These notes of bubblegum, sugarcane and marshmallows do not work too well with the peaty profile in my opinion, they make the whisky very newmake-ish so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly all right, it’s just that it’s having a hard time after the very zesty, very pure cask #244. Maybe the palate will be nicer? Mouth: not really. A lot of icing sugar and lime-flavoured Jell-O. A very strange sweetness in this context. Also notes of Fanta (don’t be scared, it’s not genuine Fanta – oh the horror!) Finish: long, still sweet and rather bubblegummy. More ashes, peat and soot in the aftertaste. Comments: oaky, I’ve been excessive with my notes, it’s a fine dram. It’s just that it doesn’t hold a candle to the beautiful bourbon version in my opinion. Remember, only opinions… SGP:637 - 78 points.


Kornog 'Taouarc'h Eilvet 11 BC' (46%, OB, bourbon, 687 bottles, 2011) Four stars and a half As you probably know, Kornog is the peated version of Glann ar Mor in Brittany. Doesn’t the name of this new bottling sound a tad Moroccan? (I’m joking) Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s funny how the notes of Juicy Fruit come out more as Kornog becomes older. What’s sure is that this new baby is very unusual, much less ‘an Islayer from Brittany’ than earlier batches in the nose. Also very interesting notes of bicycle inner tube and cranberry juice, Bakelite, then tinned asparagus, green olives, brine, rocks, clay, anchovies, old car (say… an MG?) … All that is very complex despite the young age. Mouth: very briny, very coastal… It’s as salty as some old Bowmore, this must come from storage (very) close to the Atlantic. The peat is beautiful, smoky, with notes of putty and bitter almonds in the background, orgeat, tallow, soot, ashes… Finish: quite long, very briny. Seafood? Comments: a very interesting bottling, showing more personality than earlier versions. The nose is still a bit young (at first sniffs) but according to the growing complexity, the future is bright for Kornog, provided the owners manage to keep a few casks for our future. Anyway, I love this, it’s peat with personality. SGP:547 - 88 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: she's one of the most fascinating jazz pianists, she's a WF favourite, her name is Jessica Williams and she's playing a wonderfully thrilling and sometimes very funny Japanese Folk Song (from her CD 'Arrival'). Please buy Jessica Williams' music!

Jessica Williams

October 26, 2011


Quick, four 1981 Karuizawa


The Karuizawa 1981/2007 (58.1%, OB, cask #103) was fab (WF 91) so deep expectations now… We’ll sort the bunch according to their colours, lighter first… And while old Karuizawas perform extremely well when you take your time, let's see what happens when you do that quick! ;-) (right, not too quick).

Karuizawa 1981/2011 (58.3%, OB for LMDW, cask #6207) Four stars Colour: full gold. Nose: powerful, leathery, with quite some humus and orange marmalade, then patchouli and a little eucalyptus. Mouth: rich, a tad kirschy, on orange marmalade and bitter spices. Quite some cinnamon. Maybe a tad brutal. Finish: long, very nervous. Comments: superb nose, the palate is a tad rough. SGP:572 - 87 points.

Karuizawa 1981/2011 (57.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #6256) Five stars Colour: full gold. Nose: similar to cask #6207 at first nosing but slightly less aromatic. More coffee too. Mouth: more complex this time, more spices, dried fruits, oranges, kumquats, cough syrup, tar, lapsang souchong… High quality. Finish: long, spicy. Bitter herbs in the aftertaste. Comments: much to my liking. SGP:562 - 90 points.

Karuizawa 1981/2011 (57.0%, OB for LMDW, cask #8309) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: this one is curiously coastal at first nosing, a tad briny. Also some fresh butter and mocha, leaves, hay… Wonderful sherry here. Mouth: creamy, rich sherry monster. Many jams, spices and herbs plus tobacco and leather. Finish: long, tarry. Roasted chestnuts and raspberry jelly, then green tea. Comments: more sherry than in the previous one but the same high quality. Very big whisky. SGP:662 - 90 points.

Karuizawa 1981/2011 (55.2%, OB for LMDW, cask #2634) Five stars Colour: mahogany. Nose: smells just like some very old pu-erh tea. Earth, humus, mushrooms, cured ham and sandalwood. Superb. Mouth: immense attack, very rich, hugely extractive, mentholated, sherried, herbal, earthy… Quite some cumin too. Finish: long, very earthy, peppery and herbal. Comments: this one will take no prisoners. What a lovely beast! SGP:662 - 91 points.

PS: sure we'll enjoy those beauties at a slower pace later this year...




MUSIC - Recommended listening: all right, all right, there might be too much jazz on WF these days, as a good friend just told me. So I hear you want more rock and roll? Will some good old Dr Feelgood do? Such as the 1977 hit Sneakin' Supsicion with Wilko's 'machine gun guitar' in full form? Please buy Dr Feelgood (and Wilko Johnson)'s music.


October 25, 2011


A mixed bag of 9 Highlanders

Balblair 2000

Balblair 2000/2011 (43%, OB) Three stars and a half Last year’s 2000 was good! I mean, I quite liked it (WF 83). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: sweet barley all over the place. And apple juice, barley sugar, light honey and… more barley sugar. Develops more on earl grey tea and just a little chalk, yellow flowers and vanilla. Simple pleasures… Mouth: much in line with the nose. Pure sweet barley, apple compote, vanilla and sweet ginger. Did I mention simple pleasures? Finish: medium long, with more vanilla and spices from the oak. Green and white pepper. The aftertaste is a tad drying but nothing serious. Oh, and very funny hints of tequila! Comments: sweet, easy and pleasant, close to the raw material (that would be malted barley). SGP:441 - 84 points.

Glencadam 21

Glencadam 21 yo (46%, OB, +/-2011) Four stars and a half Very curious about this one after the excellent 15yo (WF 87)… It should deliver! Colour: straw. Nose: starts austere, grassy and mineral, with whiffs of moss and then apple peelings and fresh walnuts. Becomes even grassier after a while, with also whiffs of chalk and clay. Certainly not a ‘commercial’ style! Mouth: a perfect earthy attack, with some gentian, ginger, other roots… Maybe raw turnips? Becomes a tad sweeter after a while but it remains austere. A bit of lemon too, raw barley, liquorice… I like this despite (or because of) its unsexiness. Ah well… Finish: long, even earthier. Comments: it seems that the owners have decided to take the ‘natural’ path. To do that you need a classy spirit in my opinion, and Glencadam is one of them. SGP:362 - 88 points.

Glen Albyn

Glen Albyn 1975/2010 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, licended bottling) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: typical ‘Inverness’ style, a tad shaky, waxy, mineral and a tad perfumy (roses). Tinned apricots. In the background, hints of bacon as well as Turkish delights. Unusual and rather complex. Mouth: starts on pears and pepper, then more pepper, roots and just touches of cardboard. Also marshmallows, which is unusual again (at 35 years of age!) Finish: medium long, earthier and rootier. Comments: again, a tad shaky but truly in the ‘old’ style. Lots of character. SGP:452 - 86 points.

Glen Ord 14

Glen Ord 14 yo 1997/2011 (50.4%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, 184 bottles) Three stars and a half These (relatively) young Ords can be both superbly fruity and kind of phenolic/smoky. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: indeed, it’s one of these barley oaked youngsters that display great notes of gooseberries, cherries, apples and then a little linseed oil and even coal. Becomes waxier over time, very pleasantly so. Mouth: explosively fruity, its almost great tutti frutti eau-de-vie. That means Williams pear, kirsch and Mirabelle on a bed of smoked tea, coriander and touches of wax yet again. Not complicated, but mucho drinkable. Finish: medium long, with the nice notes of tea more to the front, while the cherries are back in the aftertaste. Comments: textbook clean young Glen Ord. Tastes younger than 14 because of the lack of wood influence – which is very nice in this context. SGP:652 - 84 points.

Glen Ord 15

Glen Ord 15 yo 1996/2011 (48.8%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty much the same kind of fruity extravaganza, only a tad softer and a little less waxy. Probably even more on Williams pears, in truth. Maybe also a little mint. Mouth: same but this one has a little more lemon this time, as well as just a little beer and a faint earthy side. Very similar quality in my opinion. Finish: rather long, with a salty tang. Comments: all good, it’s a style that I like a lot. Very, very drinkable, provided you like garden fruits. SGP:642 - 84 points.

Glencadam 199

Glencadam 1990/2011 (56.6%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #5982) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re close to sweet barley here. Also some pleasant whiffs of cut grass, heather and a little jasmine tea… And then plain green tea such as green wulong. Clean, herbal, pleasant. Mouth: even more sweet barley, corn syrup, lemon liqueur and then hints of fresh green oak. Good body, the whole is very fresh. Finish: long, clean, on spearmint and lemongrass. Comments: a very fresh, sweet yet nervous Glencadam. Distillate driven, as they say – and another one that I like a lot even if it’s less complex than the new official 21yo. SGP:551 - 85 points.


Teaninich 1982/2011 (49.1%, Berry Bros & Rudd for LMDW, cask #7712) Four stars and a half I like BBR’s ‘retro’ label that they use for La Maison du Whisky. Everything’s retro these days anyway! Colour: straw. Nose: another old one that didn’t see heavy oak, as it does not smell like 30yo whisky at all. Having said that, that’s probably for the better here as it’s rather complex, very pleasantly almondy and floral at first nosing, then very herbal. That means pot-pourri, coriander, eucalyptus and pine needles, then more straight Vicks and tiger balm. Mouth: excellent attack, sweet and nervous, on white wine (sauvignon?) and quinces, then more herbs again, such as coriander, then wormwood and a little anise. The oak becomes a tad louder too but it’s extremely far from being ‘oaky’. Finish: long, maltier, with some lime and cloves in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s a different whisky, although all that isn’t ‘trumpeting’, so to speak. One not to hurry. Excellent nonetheless. SGP:462 - 88 points.


Lochside 46 yo 1965/2011 (52.3%, Adelphi, single blend, cask # 6778, 499 bottles) Five stars Just like at Ben Nevis, the former owners of Lochside (Mr. Hobbes) used to distil both malt and grain on the same location, which allowed them to come up with some genuine ‘single blend’. So this one is a blend of Lochside malt and Lochside grain that was ‘married at birth’, in 1965. Colour: deep amber. Nose: starts like some old quality bourbon, with a little varnish, coconut and banana, but switches towards strawberries and raspberries after a few seconds. Liqueur-filled chocolate, then more ham (Spanish bellota, and I’m not joking) and beef stock, mint tea, leather polish, old sherry, a little soy sauce… Well, it’s not ‘a blend’ as far as the nose is concerned, it’s more focussed than that. Quite brilliant! Mouth: a tad strange at first sips, there’s a lot of oak influence but it remained rather smooth and rounded, not unlike some old rums. Something clearly medicinal (cough medicine), then old Grand-Marnier, touches of lemon and lemongrass, a little ginger, liquorice, candied chestnuts… And then the same notes of liqueur-filled chocolates that we had in the nose. Also a liitle rancio, old cognac style. Finish: rather long, even more on liqueurs and chocolate, with a soft spiciness (cloves, cinnamon). Comments: very excellent. It’s not easy to tell this is a blend… nor pure malt whisky. More than just a curiosity anyway! SGP:661 - 90 points.


Glenmorangie 20 yo 1989/2011 (51.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #125.36, first fill bourbon, 'A tapestry of tropical tastes', 279 bottles) Four stars and a half Doesn’t the Society issue the best Glenmorangies? After that existential question, let’s try one… Colour: white wine. Nose: pure parsley liqueur! I know, that doesn’t exist – or shouldn’t exist – but there’s a lot of parsley indeed in this nose. Then more coffee and other typical bourbonny notes, vanilla, pencil shavings, then more earthy tones, humus, broken branches, a little butter, malted barley… It’s all quite vibrant, quite nervous, but I’m afraid I don’t get anything tropical so far. Mouth: pure fresh American oak but with excellent balance. That means maple syrup and vanilla, quite some lemon this time, barley sugar, pepper, coconut butter… Hold on, coconuts, that’s tropical indeed! The peppery side grows bigger by the minute (big tannicity) but the lemony sweetness is big enough to balance that. Finish: long, with more ginger now and always a lot of lime and lemon (which is tropical s well, I guess…) Comments: first fill American oak very well mastered. Top notch. SGP:741 - 89 points.

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October 24, 2011


A mixed bag of 11 Speysiders

Tomintoul 21

Tomintoul 21 yo (40%, OB, +/-2011) Three stars A new version of Tomintoul. Probably light, at 40% vol… Colour: gold. Nose: very soft, all on ripe apples and a little tea, butter and vanilla. Pleasant earthiness in the background, humus… Yes, pleasant… Mouth: great attack, it’s just that it lacks oomph! A shame because the profile is most pleasing, with something of Bunnahabhain… Nuts, ripe garden fruits, a little honey, a little liquorice… A little of many things but just ‘a little’. Finish: quite short but clean, malty, nutty. Apple peelings and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: fairly high quality… But at a strength that’s a notch too low by today’s standards. SGP:341 - 80 points.


Glenrothes 1995/2010 (43%, OB) Three stars and a half Not sure this baby was bottled in 2010, it was ‘approved’ in 2010. Aha. Colour: straw. Nose: starts curiously sweet and sour, very close to the barley, with porridgy touches, before it takes off with more honey, malt and tarte tatin as well as a pleasant mineral side (limestone). Mouth: straight on honey and sultanas this time, fudge, millionaire shortbread and then notes of ripe apples, roasted peanuts and even pecans. I like the palate better than the nose I must say. Finish: medium long, a tad more drying (apple peelings). Hints of stout in the aftertaste. Comments: a tad old style, which cannot be unpleasant. Nice maltiness. SGP:441 - 83 points.

Glen Grant 25

Glen Grant 25 yo (43%, OB, Rare Collection, 2011) Four stars This new baby from four sherry casks  - refills according to the very light colour. Colour: straw/pale gold. Nose: a nice, rather fragrant nose at first sniffs, on light honey, touches of menthol, melba toasts, apple juice and then a slightly moist oakiness (old wine cellar). There are also flowers (honeysuckle, verbena) and touches of eucalyptus. A fairly complex nose, unexpectedly  medicinal – no Laphroaig, though. Mouth: good body despite the low strength, but it’s also a tad drying and cardboardy, without the freshness that we had in the nose. Apple peelings, liquorice wood, green tea… And then the mint and eucalyptus are back, which is nice in this context. Ripe apples. Improves after the attack, becoming rounder and slightly fruitier. Finish: longer than expected, on liquorice and mint. Comments: I really like all the mint in this one, It’s not a typical Glen Grant in my opinion, you should try to try it – so to speak. SGP:561 - 86 points.

Benromach 30

Benromach 30 yo (43%, OB, +/-2011) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: another unusual, complex nose here. Starts on damp earth and touches of coriander, quite some tobacco (Camels?), honeydew, mead… Goes on with a little ham, whiffs of old books, wine cellar, mushrooms (oyster mushroom?) and a little peat smoke. It’s complex old malt whisky! Mouth: quite an attack on coriander and mint sauce, sweet ginger liqueur (fashion!), marmalade and aniseed. Then the earthiness is back, gentian, roots, ginger again… And a great body at just 43% vol. I enjoy this style. Finish: long, with even more candied ginger playing with your tongue. A little peat in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, and what’s more, I believe it’s fairly priced. SGP:362 - 90 points.

Linkwood 25

Linkwood 25 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, +/- 2011) Four stars I think these ‘licensed’ bottlings by G&M should never be overlooked, not only because they’re usually very fairly priced. Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes, triple yes! Wonderful floral and honeyed nose, a tad light but perfect as far as balance is concerned. I can’t help thinking of some official Glenrothes here. So honey, a little vanilla, roses, malt, whiffs of ‘old books in the basement’, liquorice wood… Very nice. Mouth: impeccable profile and good body, feeling more like 46 rather than 43%. Café latte, honey pie (you are making me crazy), black tea and just drops of mint liqueur. Finish: medium long, maltier and just a tad drier, sourer and leafier. Maybe the weak spot. Comments: goody good malt whisky, only the finish didn’t quite convince me. SGP:441 - 85 points.

Linkwood 91

Linkwood 1991/2011 (45%, Gordon & MaPhail, Private Collection, Côte Rotie Wood Finish, 1900 bottles) Frankly, this kind of ‘pedigree’ scares me. Syrah and malt, what kind of winesky will this be?  Colour: salmony (aargh). Nose: winy, obviously, although not properly syrah-ish. Moss, blackcurrant buds and herbal tea (hawthorn, maybe dog rose) then more earthy tones. Not repulsive of course, and even sort of pleasant because of its earthy freshness… Mouth: nope, that doesn’t work for me. Green, too vegetal, sour, lacking roundness and sweetness. Plain weird if you ask me. Finish: medium long, bitter, gingery, rubbery, peppery… Comments: well, G&M have so many utter stunners, I guess they need a few lame ducks, don’t they? Just for fun? Now, I seldom enjoy finishing with red wine anyway… SGP:371 - 65 points.

Macallan 2002

Macallan 2002/2011 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt) Two stars and a half A new livery for this well-known series by G&M. Nine years, I think it’s the youngest I ever tried. Colour: straw. Nose: aromatically impaired? Not quite but I wouldn’t say there’s much happening here. A bit of grass, a little grains, overripe apples, touches of vanilla, ideas of fruitcake, hints of honey… It’s all whispering and very discreet, but that should change on the palate. Mouth: it does, sweet barley and maple syrup, a little toffee and fudge, roasted nuts, honey, then a little herbal tea (eglantine) and marmalade. Finish: shortish, a tad more bitter and grassy. Comments: its pretty good whisky, it’s just that it doesn’t have much personality in my opinion. Very honest malt whisky, typical 78-point malt in my book. SGP:341 - 78 points.

Macallan 21

Macallan 21 yo 'Fine Oak' (43%, OB, 2011) Four stars Still ‘triple cask matured’ (European oak casks seasoned with sherry, American oak casks seasoned with sherry and American oak casks seasoned with bourbon) but now with a label seasoned with a genuine ribbon similar to what they had on much older bottlings (1938, anyone?). There would be much to say about all that but we haven’t gotten enough time these days… Better like that! Colour: gold. Nose: not very big, even a tad shy at first nosing and slightly cardboardy. Certainly some hay, oatcakes, light honey, touches of sherry… Then a little green tea, leaves, raw potatoes… It’s all rather discreet and relatively subtle. Mouth: I like it much better on the palate. More oomph, a faint winy side, a little toffee, hazelnuts, marzipan, marmalade, hints of wormwood, liquorice, orange cake… Then a little more oak but everything’s under control. Finish: medium long, with more spices from the oak. Comments: the nose is shy but the palate is appealing. I think this version of the 21 is nicer than the early batches. But it’s expensive (£150+)… SGP:441 - 85 points.

Glenlivet 73

Glenlivet 38 yo 1973/2011 (47.5%, The Whiskyman, 78 bottles) Five stars This is a new label by Belgian whisky and rock and roll aficionado Dominiek Bouckaert. Colour: gold. Nose: fresh and very ‘Glenlivet’, that is to say all on ripe garden fruits and then honey and a little mint. Keeps developing on more honey, beeswax, juicy ripe apricots and plums, well in the style of some other great old fruity Speysiders (Caperdonich 1972, Benriach 1976) albeit with little tropical fruits here. Becomes a tad mineral as well. Mouth: much in the same vein , with a little more oak, which is normal. Apple juice with honey, cinnamon an macha (tea powder). Finish: not too long but pleasantly honeyed. Green tea, mint. Comments: delightful old ‘naked’ Glenlivet. And a great nose! SGP:541 - 90 points.

Glenglassaugh 1968

Glenglassaugh 1968/2010 ‘The Manager’s Legacy’ (44.9%, OB, Bert Forsyth, refill butt, 300 bottles) Four stars The 1974 ‘Jim Cryle’ was fantastic (WF 92), so this ‘Bert Forsyth’ shouldn’t be bad either… Colour: deep gold. Nose: su-perb combination of precious leather, kumquats, pipe tobacco, honeydew, quince jelly and cedar wood. The oak’s getting bigger after a while, and it does display whiffs of dry herbal tea, but all that’s rather an asset in this context. Mouth: superb start, on figs and dates, but the oak is getting a tad too loud after a few seconds. I like the earthiness (and the green tea) notes but it’s all a tad too drying for my taste, and maybe not fruity enough despite the nice notes of blackcurrant and blackberry jams. Bags of dry spices and more and more dry walnut liqueur. Finish: quite long, dry, slightly bitter and green. Comments: right, all that may sound too negative, and indeed it’s still a wonderful old whisky, but it’s just that both the ‘Jim Cryle’ and the 45yo that we tried the other day were mucho superior in my view. Great nose, though. SGP: 371 - 86 points. Oh, and let’s have another old Glenglassaugh…

Glenglassaugh 76

Glenglassaugh 35 yo 1976/2011 ‘The Chosen Few’ (49.6%, OB, Ronnie Routledge, sherry, 654 bottles) Five stars A new series, let’s see what the very engaging Mr. Routledge has picked… Colour: deep gold. Nose: a rather unusual nose! Starts on all kinds of liqueurs, both herbal and ‘tropical’, with distinct notes of uberripe mangos, longans and then yellow chartreuse (no, certainly not the green one). Goes on with bananas flambéed, cured ham, Grisons meat, then dates and just faint whiffs of horse sweat and gunpowder. No, no sulphur whatsoever. Mouth: that’s where it all goes either bad or wrong with old whiskies, and in this case it all goes… perfectly well. Great combination of the same old liqueurs (dates, figs) with some mint, ginger, aniseed liqueur (make that quality pastis) and just a few drops of plum eau-de-vie (with a greenness – or is it marc de Bourgogne?) The whole is really potent and nervous. Finish: very long, with a little more ginger and pepper. Some green tea and grape pips in the aftertaste. Comments: probably a refill sherry cask. Quality is high in spite – or because – of the unexpected nervousness. SGP:561 - 90 points.

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October 21, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Isle of Jura 1988 and 1966
We had two stupendous Jura the other day and that called for more! Time gap this time: 22 years as far as years of distillation are concerned.


Isle of Jura 23 yo 1988/2011 (52.9%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon hoghsead, 201 bottles) Four stars There are/were quite a few indie 1988s around, lets check what the German wizards could select for us this time… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s grassy, it’s flinty, it’s slightly mentholated and it’s got these farmy/porridgy notes that are often to be found in Jura. Also leather, tobacco, a little cured ham… And then more and more Havana tobacco (unlit cigar). With water: a bigger farminess (hay) and quite a lot of bacon. Very amusing nose. Mouth (neat): rich, spicy and oaky, very nervous, with a good layer of oranges and grapefruits underneath. Pepper and liquorice, thyme, cardamom, bitter oranges… It’s very big whisky! With water: becomes very earthy this time, rooty, with notes of our beloved gentian. Liquorice sticks. Finish: long, earthy, spicy, rooty, pleasantly bitter… Suze at cask strength? (do you know Suze?) Comments: very entertaining, multi-dimensional and much to my liking. SGP:462 - 87 points.


Isle of Jura 32 yo 1966/1998 (50.6%, Signatory, Tenth Anniversary, cask #1485, 248 bottles) Four stars Casks #1868-1869 by Signatory have been fab, and so was that other 1966 by Samaroli that we tried a few days ago, so expectations are high here… Colour: gold. Nose: much milder and softer than the 1988 but the general profile is similar, with the same farmy/leathery touches as well as quite some menthol at first nosing. Becomes fruitier after a short while, with more tropical fruits and barley sugar. Passion fruits, ripe bananas, touches of marzipan… Quite beautiful but again, that was expected. It’s also got something of Irish pure pot still. With water: the fruity side got bigger. Tangerines and bananas all over the place. Mouth (neat): a very sweet fruit salad with bags of fresh pineapples and oranges plus that spiciness from the oak yet again. Pineapple and pear drops… A very faint soapiness in the background. With water: marshmallows and a little soap yet again. Finish: medium long, with more pepper from the oak. Comments: a fruitiness in the nose that reminds me of the great old Balblairs that were distilled in the 1960s. Sadly, the palate was a tad too soapy so this oldie won’t make it to a high score in my little book despite the stunning nose. SGP:751 – 85 points.

Clynelish 13

BONUS: Clynelish 13 yo 1998/2011 (51.7%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, bourbon hogshead, 214 bottles) Four stars Remember what Goethe said just before he died, “More Clynelish!” (right, he said “Mehr Licht!”) Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a very flinty and grassy one, with very little fruit and not even much wax this time. Apple peelings, fresh walnuts, rocks, clay, leather and shoe polish. Austere, but beautifully austere. With water: same, plus ‘a walk in the forest under the rain’ (make that moss, fern and mushrooms). Mouth (neat): well, all the fruits that weren’t in the nose are on the palate. Oranges, butter pears, juicy red apple… There’s also some kirsch and then litres of Williams pear eau-de-vie, with a dash of black pepper. Again, little wax and in that sense, it’s pretty un-Clynelish. With water: same again, water doesn’t change it much. Maybe a little more grass and a salty touch. Finish: long, half grassy, half fruity, with some pepper and nutmeg in the aftertaste. Comments: very good youngish Clynelish, a kind of variant. I don’t mean it’s deviant! SGP:652 – 85 points.

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October 20, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Lagavulin 1995 and 1988
I’m afraid Lagavulin became the rarest Islay malt as far as available expressions are concerned. The 16, the 12 CS, the DE and just a few ‘undisclosed’ indies… and that’s pretty all. Let’s have the latest DE today, we’ll try it with an older 1988 by Moon Import. Time gap, only 7 years.

Lagavulin DE

Lagavulin 1995/2011 'Distillers Edition' (43%, OB, lgv 4/499) Four stars and a half The Lagavulin DE usually is the best finished whisky in the world. I know, a bold statement but I mean it. Let’s see whether this new one remains in the lineage… Colour: amber. Nose: I think this is much more farmy than other recent batches, at least at first nosing. Rubber boots, manure, sausages, dried mushrooms, butter, sweat… Then more coastal notes indeed, seaweed, winkles… Then more soot and more… smoked sausages. A very bizarre one methinks… Mouth: indeed it’s different. Starts very earthy and rooty, kind of meaty again (cured ham) before the expected smoky/peaty and orangey notes start to unfold. It’s quite grassy too, tarry as usual, a little salty… And there, the sausages! No, no one is cooking sausages in the house just know (just in case you were wondering). Finish: we’re much closer to the ‘classical’ Lagavulin DEs now, with more salt, brine, peat, oranges and liquorice. Comments: this one was fun. Probably a little less elegant than earlier batches, but kind of funkier. SGP: 357 - 89 points.

Lagavulin Moon

Lagavulin 1988/2000 (46%, Moon Import, In the pink, cask #2029, 352 bottles) Five stars We’ve already tried the very ‘un-maritime’ – or terrestrial - cask #2028 seven years ago and we loved it (WF 90). Colour: white wine. Nose: ha, this baby starts just as funny as the DE, but very different. Huge grassy notes, asparagus (no sulphur!), maybe cooked leek, then a lot of soot, garden bonfire, car engine, motor oil, graphite, then fern, celeriac, even turnips… All that is only moderately peaty but highly unusual yet again. Very curious about the palate… Mouth: big bang at 46% vol. Huge salt, huge smokiness, no a gram of sugar or fruits, huge rooty, phenolic, tarry, ashy, salty, almondy notes… All that is very dry and most beautiful, should you like this rather austere style. Finish: very long, with even more ashes, roots, pepper, earth, smoke, touches of rubber, chlorophyll, fresh wood… Comments: an extreme style, even more extreme than the official 12yos (that are a tad sweeter in my opinion). SGP:268 - 90 points.

Talisker DE

BONUS: another new Distillers Edition Talisker 2000/2011 'Distillers Edition' (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 5NZ) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: a sweet, raisiny nose that becomes more leathery after a few seconds, with also touches of cigarette tobacco, whiffs of scented soap, a little brine and then orange marmalade. And green olives? Mouth: starts spicy, punchier than on the nose, on cardamom, lemongrass, a touch of rubber, green olives again, brine and notes of ashes. I think it’s rather less sweet than earlier batches on the palate despite the notes of marmalade that arise after one minute or so. Finish: long, pleasantly bitter, briny and smokier than before. Touches of pepper and salt in the aftertaste. Comments: keeps improving on the palate but I must confess I enjoy my unfinished Talisker a little more. This new batch is less sweet then earlier ones. SGP:455 - 85 points.
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October 19, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Caperdonich 1994 and 1968
We’ll go on a bit with this ‘time warp’ series and today it’s going to be Caperdonich again, with a rather recent 1994 (there’s not only old Caperdonich in life) and an old 1968. Time gap: 26 years if I’m not mistaken.


Caperdonich 1994/2011 (53.3%, Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #625, 232 bottles) Three stars I’ve had little young Caperdonich but a 1997 by French bottler Jean Boyer had been excellent in my opinion (WF 87). Colour: pale gold. Nose: fairly young, fruity, grainy and spirity at first nosing. Muesli and apples, oranges, kirsch and whiffs of hay. A little raw at this point, let’s add water. With water: becomes both more mineral and grassy. Remains a little raw. Mouth (neat): more assertive, peppery, kirschy. Stone fruit eau-de-vie, peach leaves (tea) and a slight rubberiness. With water: more or less the same. Maybe a little more apple peelings. Finish: medium long, on the same notes plus a little cinchona and ginger. Comments: very honest youngish/rawish Speysider. SGP:451 - 81 points.

Caperdonich Hart

Caperdonich 32 yo 1968/2001 (44.5%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection) Three stars Just like 1972, 1968 was a classic vintage at Caperdonich, but remember a ‘vintage’ in whisky is a different concept than vintages with wine. More to do with cask selection and technical tweakings than with climate and weather. Also with batches that are available or not… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s rather not one of these luscious and superbly honeyed old Caperdonichs. It’s rather thinner, pretty oaky and unexpectedly grassy. Also notes of butter, pine needles, turpentine and just touches of raisins and ripe greengages. A little average in my opinion, but maybe the palate will be stellar… Mouth: a fairly sweet and rounded attack, maybe a little sluggish, with a little ginger, pepper and raisin again. Goes on with sponge cake and custard, green tea, a little vanilla, a little mint… It’s pretty good but as an old Caperdonich, it’s suite disappointing. Finish: medium long, with more peppery oak. Comments: fair! SGP:351 - 80 points.

Clynelish 14

BONUS: Clynelish 14 yo 1997/2011 (59.1%, Adelphi, 260 bottles) Five stars We’ve already had several great 1997 Clynelishes, especially the official Manager’s Choice and a cask #4607 by David Stirk’s Creative Whisky Company (both WF 90). Colour: gold. Nose: waahh! Immensely grassy, mineral and austere at full strength, at least at first sniffs. Wet rocks, tree bark, orange peel, pepper, graphite oil, cut grass, mother-of-thyme… Not easy, not easy… With water: wax in all states, then a slightly Brora-ish farminess and fresh walnuts. An maybe kippers… Mouth (neat): oh yeah, a perfect one. Smashing freshness despite a huge body, with bags of wax, bitter oranges, pepper, mustard, roots (our beloved gentian, for example), lemongrass, liquorice wood… In short, very typical. With water: absolutely perfect Clynelish, juicy, waxy, herbal and slightly briny. Finish: long, with more brine, lemon and, well, Riesling. Comments: zoom, another 90-Clynelish! SGP:462 - 90 points.

Right, that one called for more Clynelish, maybe such as this brand new 1982 by Douglas Laing…

Clynelish 1982

Clynelish 28 yo 1982/2011 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, 238 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: you know what, it’s as if the extra 15 years of maturation didn’t count, at least at first nosing. Roughly the same profile as the 1997, even if it does go more towards a fruitier and more honeyed profile after a while. More beeswax, in other words, and less grassy notes. Keeps opening up after that, with more mead, humus, clay, honeydew, earth, roots… It’s all very superb now, very Clynelish from that 1982/1983 period that has no cause to be jealous of 1972/1973. Mouth: strong and firm, peppery, waxy, mineral and kumquatty. Great attack but quite bizarrely, it seems to lose a little steam while it becomes rather grassier and slightly bitter. And quite peppery. No big deal, though, it’s still very beautiful. Let’s see what happens with water… With water: hold on, this is nicer again, more lemony and herbal, with a bigger body. Swims like a champ! And I like these touches of verbena and chartreuse quite a lot. Finish: good length, the whole becoming even more herbal. The wax is back in the aftertaste. Comments: yes, it’s pretty excellent despite the weakness (should we rather say the absence?) on the palate when not diluted. SGP:562 - 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the very excellent French blower François Jeanneau plays a very lyrical piece called Aurore all by himself (from the 1977 LP 'Ephemere'). Please buy François Jeanneau's music.

FRancois Jeanneau

October 18, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Greatest Cardhu
There are very little different versions of Cardhu, let alone independent Cardhus so the news of a brand new 1984 by Duncan Taylor is, well, good news. We’ll try it ‘against’ an old 12yo OB. Time gap: around 15 years.

Cardhu 12

Cardhu 12 yo (43%, OB, Italy, screw cap, +/-1982) Four stars and a half Oddly enough, I think the earlier versions of the 'tall white label' bearing corks instead of screw caps were more common. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s not one of the dark sherried versions, obviously. It’s all on barley, wax, motor oil, a little metal, linseed oil and then touches of vanilla, chicken stock, soot, pitch and peat smoke. Not complicated but beautifully balanced, in an ‘old Highlands’ style that’s miles away from the current official Cardhus. Mouth: rich and oily mouth feel, very straight, peppery, smoky and mineral ala, yes, old Clynelish, developing on all kinds of oils yet again, wax, spices, herbs… Maybe a faint chalkiness in the background, or a little cardboard… What’s sure is that it’s absolutely beautiful, not too far from the old official Clynelish 12 white label in style. Finish: long, grassier and even more mineral at the same time. A crisp sauvignon blanc side. Comments: simply wonderful old style malt whisky, with no dull sweetness whatsoever. SGP:354 - 89 points.


Cardhu 26 yo 1984/2011 (54.4%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #2873) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: this has much more vanilla and sunflower oil at first nosing, raw cut grass, touches of lavender (nice ones) and then bags of all kinds of apples. It’s rather big whisky so far… With water: yes! Rocks, clay, lemon zest, cut grass, hay… Perfect profile now. Mouth (neat): coating and oily mouth feel, with a profile that’s closer to the old OB this time. A lot of lemongrass, grapefruits, wax, green fruits (kiwis?), then more ginger, coriander (Thai sauce), lemon balm… Quite superb! With water: even more so. The citrusy side gets even bigger… Also touches of white tequila or maybe cachaça. The whole is superbly nervous! Finish: long, still wonderfully grassy, mineral and citrusy. Comments: a winning Cardhu, so big, so lively! Highly recommended if you like this big sharpish style as much as I do. SGP:562 - 91 points.

Highland Park 1986

BONUS: Tasting two strange 1986 Highland Park from hogsheads


Highland Park 1986/2011 (50.7%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #2296, 234 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: starts slightly sour (apples), with notes of porridge, and becomes unusually medicinal after that. Aspirin tablets, ginger tonic, bandages, then damp clay and quite some violet sweets plus touches of lavender and chlorine. I must say it’s got something of the early 1980s Bowmores, which is very, very bizarre. With water: it became extremely mineral and grassy, in a fairly nice way. Well, in a better way. Also faint whiffs of horse dung (back to Nature!) Mouth (neat): so much better than on the nose! What’s striking is the huge peatiness for Highland Park, as well as the very rooty/earthy tones. Other than that, there’s a little lemon, oranges and, as usual, honey (of the slightly resinous kind, honeydew…) With water: all excellent now. Peat, cough syrup and soft spices plus more mineral notes. Finish: long, with more peppermint and a lingering peatiness. Peat always lingers, doesn’t it. Comments: it’s a strange HP, as if they had tweaked the equipment for some special peaty runs back in 1986. I’m not too sure about the nose but I loved the palate. SGP:274 - 85 points.

Highland Park 24 yo 1986/2011 (52%, Signatory, Cask Strength Collection, hogshead, cask #2276, 216 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: well, it is similar on the nose but the heavier vanilla seems to filter it out. Also more heather honey, caramel, fudge… But ginger tonic, lavender and plasticine are hidden behind all that. And violets! Strange batch… With water: more peat coming out, verbena, Chartreuse… A little damp cardboard as well. Mouth (neat): more or less the same whisky as the MoS. Rather more than less. With water: same, it’s even a tad more medicinal now. Strange beasts. Finish: long and a tad bitter. A 50/50 blend of Jaegermeister and Underberg. Don’t get sick! The aftertaste is quite salty. Comments: same kind as the MoS, just a tad more extreme on the palate. SGP:274 - 84 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: one of my favourite - and one of the most famous - pieces by Benny Golson, Whisper not, recorded live in Paris in 1958 by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, including Lee Morgan. It growls... Please buy the Jazz Messengers' music.

Art Blakey

October 17, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Sherried Glenfiddich 35 years later
There’s a new NAS Glenfiddich that was introduced at WL Paris. We’ll try it with an old independent 1964, which should make for a time gap of around 35 years or more as far as years of distillation are concerned.


Glenfiddich 'Malt Master's Edition' (43%, OB, sherry cask, 01/11, 2011) Three stars and a half Not full sherry maturing, rather a finishing according to the blurb on the label. Colour: full gold. Nose: niiiice! Starts all on roasted nuts, candied cherries and chocolate cake, with pretty great presence. Goes on with more violets and liquorice (no lavender!) before it becomes maltier (Ovaltine). Some fruitcake too and only wee touches of pear spirit in the background, as well as a pleasant flintiness. A good surprise so far. Mouth: round, with good body, sweet, starting with notes of mulled wine (cloves are very obvious) and juicy ripe cherries yet again. Then more and more oranges, light pipe tobacco and pepper. It’s quite peppery, in fact. Finish: medium long, more on Madeira and walnut notes. And those cloves yet again as well as just a hint of a saltiness… Malty aftertaste. Comments: the biggest official low-strength Glenfiddich I could try. A finishing that was very well done. SGP:541 - 84 points.

Glenfiddich Hart

Glenfiddich 44yo 1964/2009 (55.6%, Hart Brothers, finest Collection, Sherry Hogshead) Four stars There were quite a few indie 1964s around (Kingsbury, Hart Bros, JJ Hunter, Chieftain’s…) and whilst all were good, some were really ‘excessive’ as far as sherriness was concerned… Let’s check this one! Colour: espresso (a little scary I must say…) Nose: well, this could be some very old Demerara, or some very old cognac, or some very old armagnac. The ‘whiskiness’ (thus the Glenfiddichness – err…) has been absorbed by the sherry and the wood but mind you, the results are rather fantastic.  Fruitcake all over the place, tons of dried figs and dates, and just touches of bacon and balsam. Oh, and whiffs of clean old wine cellar, humus and fresh mushrooms. Superb. With water: same plus small berries, crushed sorb or even holly. Civet, game… Very old Chambertin (right, any Bourgogne). Mouth (neat): a thick as maple syrup or even honey, extremely creamy (you’d almost need a spoon to get it out of your glass), fruity for a while (fruitcake again) but becoming hyper-extractive, that is to say ridden with tannin notes, tar, mint liqueur and dry spices. In the background: redcurrant jelly, and a lot of it. Really extreme now, water’s needed yet again. I’m afraid it’ll… With water: nope, greatest of news, it did not become completely drying or tea-ish, it’s rather the fruitiness that came through (fresh raspberries, redcurrants). Finish: very long but it’s the wood and its previous content that win the fight in the end. Salmiak liquorice! Comments: extremely extreme sherry monster, spectacular but somewhat unbalanced. But can monsters be balanced? Great nose. SGP:472 - 87 points.

Let’s have a little bonus now, why not another old sherry monster such as the new…


Glendronach 40 yo 1971/2011 (48.5%, OB, PX sherry puncheon, cask #1436, 583 bottles) Four stars As you probably know, the size of a puncheon lies between a hogshead (240/250 litres) and a butt (around 500/600 litres). So, around 350 litres in theory but this one should have been much larger according to the outturn… Colour: red amber. Nose: starts very unusually, much on bacon and ham, a lot of nutmeg (rather un-sherry in my experience) and something slightly vinegary (honey vinegar, then the expected balsamico). Only then it develops on more classical notes of fruitcake, prunes, raisins and milk chocolate. Wait, there’s something else… Peking duck? The dipping plum sauce that goes along? All that is entertaining but unusual (I know, a pleonasm). Mouth: starts well, spicy and fruity, but the body’s slightly thin in my opinion. There’s quite some quince and plum jam rather than red berries, then golden sultanas (the very juicy ones), a little barley sugar, bitter oranges and pepper, a little juniper berries, sloe… I wouldn’t say it’s soft or shy, but it’s no sherry monster this time. As I wrote, it’s unusual… Finish: medium long, rather drier now, with a tannicity coming through. Eglantine jam? Nice notes of polished wood and tobacco in the aftertaste, but also a weird metallic side. Comments: very good, should I add ‘of course’, but I’ve had other official 1971s that were more to my liking (such as cask#423 from two years ago). SGP:561 - 86 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: what there's never any rap on WF?! Yeah well there's very little rap indeed but after a little 'external stimulation', let's post some by Speech Debelle. It's called Better Days and it's on 'Speech Therapy'. Please buy Speech Debelle's music...

Speech Debelle

October 16, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Old young and newish beastly Glen Scotia
It’s become hard to say bad or lukewarm words about any distillery these days because even the most obscure one has now got its passionistas and ‘white knights’ among the chatting whisky lovers. So I won’t… Time gap today: around 30 years or a little less…
Glen Scotia 5 Glen Scotia 5 yo (40%, OB, Gillies & Co, tall bottle, cork stopper, short neck, +/-1970) Three stars This is not the same version as the ‘olive green label’ that was to be bottled a little later if I’m not mistaken. Colour: straw. Nose: interesting, very interesting. Starts with something a tad too porridgy and metallic as often with these ‘old young’ bottles but it’s soon to display funny whiffs of manure, soaked barley and then fresh mint and coriander. Alas, there’s also quite some damp cardboard. And dried parsley or chives? Anyway, interesting… Mouth: starts unexpectedly peaty and peppery, ala Talisker, with a very big body despite the age, the low strength and all the time in glass. Sweet curry, Thai sauce, chilli and candied grapefruit, then more cardboardy/porridgy notes akin to what we already had in the nose. It’s not that it’s great whisky in my opinion but it’s spectacularly ‘peaty’. Gets more and more salty after that. Tabasco. Finish: very long, dry, peppery and very salty. Comments: a true beast, this humble little 5yo Glen Scotia from times gone by! SGP:265 - 82 points.
Glen Scotia 19 Glen Scotia 19 yo 1992/2011 (59.5%, The Whisky Cask, sherry cask) Two stars Colour: amber. Nose: aha, this one it’s the sherry that does the talking and it’s a rather ‘rotten/sulphury’ one at first nosing. I know, sounds horrible but it’s not, it’s just a style. Yeah. Rotting oranges (not yet rotten if you see what I mean), gravel, dried mushrooms, exhaust fumes, struck matches, maybe a little cabbage, kirsch and then quite some porridge again. Also more bacon and beef jerky. With water: more manure, leather, ham and chicken soup. Well… Mouth (neat): powerful, very sweet at first, then peppery and… very weird. Not unlike chewing a whole double-corona from Partagas’ (I imagine), then quaffing a double cup of beef bouillon, then wolfing down two bars of ultra dry bitter chocolate, then gulping bags of salted liquorice and black pepper… Yeah, all that is very extreme. With water: didn’t really calm down. Quite some salt coming through now. Finish: long, on more tobacco, bitter oranges, salt, liquorice and meat. Comments: is this totally flawed or is it not? The jury’s still out but we haven’t gotten all day, have we? Spectacular, in any case, and really worth trying – but not much to my liking. SGP:362 - 75 points.


BONUS: Scapa 17 yo 1993/2011 (56.1%, OB, Cask Strength Edition, cask #SC17004, 50cl) Four stars and a halfFrom an always interesting official series by Chivas Bros. Colour: straw. Nose: fresh and relatively light despite the high strength, mainly on butterscotch and vanilla at first nosing, then more on freshly squeezed oranges and light coastal notes (distant seaweed). Also hints of jasmine tea and a little cedar wood. With water: whiffs of pencil shavings, then more hay – a lot of hay – and apple compote (and peelings). Also a little old leather (old car seats). Mouth (neat): creamy and fruity, very ‘American oak’ this time, developing on vanilla, apples, maple syrup, barley sugar and a very wee saltiness. Very enjoyable! With water: now it’s really excellent, very fresh and fruity but with a good oaky backbone. A faint brininess. Finish: long, very well balanced, on stewed apples with cinnamon, liquorice and white pepper. Comments: American oak very well mastered, displaying an unexpected complexity. Superb wee coastal touches. SGP:541 - 88 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: if you're as much into repetitive music as yours truly and are not afraid of frenetic one-note tunes, have a go at Senegal's Aby Ngana Diop doing her Dieuleul-Dieuleul (recorded 1993). Ah, the Dakar sound! Please buy Aby Ngana Diop's music...


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

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



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

Ardbeg 20 yo 1991/2011 (48,4%, Malts of Scotland for Hotel Bero Ostende, sherry hogshead, cask #11003, 240 bottles)

Benromach 30 yo (43%, OB, +/-2011)

Bowmore 21 yo 1989/2011 (51.2%, QV.ID/Whiskysite.nl, bourbon hogshead, 96/134 bottles)

Cardhu 26 yo 1984/2011 (54.4%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #2873)

Clynelish 14 yo 1997/2011 (59.1%, Adelphi, 260 bottles)

Clynelish 28 yo 1982/2011 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, 238 bottles)

Glen Moray 39 yo 1971/2011 (40.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #35.59, Refill bourbon hogshead, 'Arabian Nights', 74 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 35 yo 1976/2011 ‘The Chosen Few’ (49.6%, OB, Ronnie Routledge, sherry, 654 bottles)

Glenlivet 38 yo 1973/2011 (47.5%, The Whiskyman, 78 bottles)

Karuizawa 1981/2011 (57.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #6256)

Karuizawa 1981/2011 (57.0%, OB for LMDW, cask #8309)

Karuizawa 1981/2011 (55.2%, OB for LMDW, cask #2634)

Lagavulin 1988/2000 (46%, Moon Import, In the pink, cask #2029, 352 bottles)

Lochside 46 yo 1965/2011 (52.3%, Adelphi, single blend, cask # 6778, 499 bottles)

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2011 (55.5%, The Whiskyman, 120 bottles)