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Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2015 - Part 2



October 2015 - part 1 <--- October 2015 - part 2 ---> November 2015 - part 1


October 30, 2015


Unlikely Glen Ord

Ord can be fabulous, as a certain 1962 by a certain Sig. Samaroli, or some official ‘squares’ already showed us. But it can also be, yeah, unlikely, too grassy, too mineral, too acrid, too austere… Or not, let’s see…

The Singleton of Glen Ord 'Signature' (40%, OB, sherry cask finish, +/-2015)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 'Signature' (40%, OB, sherry cask finish, +/-2015) Two stars A fairly recent official expression of Glen Ord, possibly at the bottom of the range since it’s NAS. I know, mildly infuriating comments by yours truly. Colour: deep gold. Nose: malty, with some burnt sugar and a touch of earth, plus some vanilla and sponge cake. Not earth shattering, but acceptable. Mouth: quite some spices, cardamom, white pepper… All that on a bed of cardboard and sawdust. A very grassy profile, pretty dry, probably from some rather active oak. What’s better is that a little orange liqueur comes through after a while. Finish: the grassy, spicy and rather ‘green’ oak hasn’t gone. Comments: not quite my cup of Glen Ord. It’s true that once you’ve tried the superb old official 28 and 30 in their square bottles, there’s no way back. SGP:361 - 74 points.

Another go at some Singletoned Ord…

The Singleton of Glen Ord 18 yo (40%, OB, sherry cask finish, +/-2015)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 18 yo (40%, OB, sherry cask finish, +/-2015) Three stars I really liked the 15 yo two years ago (WF 83), so this newer – I believe - 18 might be right up my alley. Colour: copper gold. Nose: less malty and oaky, but almost as dry as the NAS, rather on herbal teas this time. Eucalyptus, mint, pinesap, then bitter oranges and a combination of leather and tobacco plus walnuts that hints at sherry. A wee dustiness, perhaps? Mouth: ah, yes, Glen Ord! The strength is low but the spirit’s relatively fat, and fills your mouth with some kind of waxy orange liqueur, green tea, and quite some grass. Tree bark, fresh walnuts, strong honey, a metallic touch (silver spoon), and then a dry maltiness. Finish: medium, dry, maltier again. Like the aftertaste on honeydew. Comments: I think I enjoyed the brighter 15 even better, but this is fine. And seriously, the Victorian bottle looks terrific. SGP:451 - 81 points.

Let’s find a Glen Ord au naturel from WF’s older sample library…

Glen Ord 11 yo 1999/2010 (46%, Douglas Laing, McGibbon’s Provenance)

Glen Ord 11 yo 1999/2010 (46%, Douglas Laing, McGibbon’s Provenance) Two stars That’s spring distillation, in case that’s of any interest. Let’s see how this young naked Ord will behave after the OBs… Colour: white wine. Nose: a very faint touch of wood smoke, then cut apples, raw barley, grass. I repeat, cut apples, raw barley, grass. I do not seem to find anything else. Mouth: the Signature with more oomph, I’d say, and rather less wood. Perhaps a little shoe polish, as well as hints of wine gums. Other than that, I wouldn’t say we’ll remember this baby forever. Fulfilling body though, the strength is perfect. Finish: medium, grassier. Cut pears. Lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: not bad, but this may need to go into some cocktail created by some mad ex-Shoreditch hipster on Red Bull Shot. SGP:451 - 75 points.

Perhaps another 18?

Glen Ord 18 yo 1997/2015 (49.9%, Spirit Shop Selection and Sansibar, 179 bottles)

Karuizawa Glen Ord 18 yo 1997/2015 (49.9%, Spirit Shop Selection and Sansibar, 179 bottles) Three stars and a half The label, LOL! Well done guys, that’s funny indeed. Colour: pale white wine – and that wine has never seen any oak. Nose: extremely narrow, but that’s an asset here. Clay, lime, barley. I repeat, clay, li… Eighteen years in an oak cask, really? But as you know, we’re not quite against naked, straight, fully spirit-driven whiskies. Curious about the palate… Mouth: fantastic, because only the distillate speaks, a distillate that’s gained smoothness and fullness from age, not from wood (provided you could get that from wood, which remains to be debated). Oily start (sunflower oil), then barley water, acacia honey, williams pear, brioche dough, and grapefruit. Finish: rather long, even a bit hot, with some muesli. Comments: good, this baby rather tastes like 6 or 7 to be honest – which the pale colour already suggested – but it’s a great bottle to play tricks on your whisky buddies. Like, guess how old this is? SGP:551 - 83 points.

All right,  I hadn’t planned to try the official 15 today, since we’ve had it just two years ago, but just for the sake of research, let’s try a newer batch…

The Singleton of Glen Ord 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a half Colour: deep gold. Nose: yes, yes, and yes. It is the most Glenordian, with these pies and salads and jams. Made out of orchard fruits. Apples, plums, pears, apricots… There’s also some honey, orange blossom, lime blossom tea, honey… And almond oil. Like! (yes we’ll keep this short). Mouth: very good. Beats the official 18, no question. Waxy fruits and herbal teas, plus a perfect maltiness. Only the thinnish body’s a little frustrating, despite the wax, bottling at 40% should have become streng verboten. Finish: not that short. Malt, green tea, waxy fruits. Perhaps a little smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: don’t try this one before the NAS ‘Signature’, I say it as a friend. SGP:551 - 84 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glen Ord I've tasted so far



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October 29, 2015


A Lagavulin Quartet

Did you know that an explosion and a fire occurred at Lagavulin in 1952? Was that their way of celebrating Elizabeth II’s coronation? Okay, enough easy content, today we’ll have a few young ones, including the new Special Release and this year’s Feis Ile – which wasn’t that young. We’re only five months late, after all…

Lagavulin 16 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2015)

Lagavulin 16 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2015) Five stars I’m following Lagavulin 16 every year, which is actually totally useless, since I always find it very good (it always strikes 90+ in my book). But we stop at nothing… It’s also the whisky I’m always having when in bars or restaurants. We’ll try to be quick, but this baby usually chats a lot… Colour: dark gold. Nose: what the… did it improve? I’m finding it brighter, fresher, a tad fruitier and zestier than usual, with mandarins on top of the leather, tobacco, tar, walnuts, and smoked tea. And salmiak. Immediate pleasures. Mouth: same feeling, it’s a little sweeter, perhaps, with touches of oranges, then liquorice, olives, lime, lemon balm, and just a touch of green pepper. Leather. Some salt starts to play with your lips. Finish: pretty long, earthier, with some pu-erh tea, liquorice, and just a touch of some kind of smoked caramel. Salt and lime in the aftertaste, a bit ‘margarita’. Comments: faultless as ever. I would go to 90.5, should I be mad enough to do halves. SGP:467 - 90 points.

Lg5 (54.8%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2015)

Lg5 (54.8%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2015) Five stars No need to say that we have no proof whatsoever that this is Lagavulin. Could as well be some hyper-fortified manzanilla from La Gitana that would have matured on Islay (who needs appellations anyway). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: so very young Lagavulin! Starts with rhubarb, green pears, and cigarette smoke, broken branches, a little linoleum, and goes on with a touch of tequila, plus some seawater and freshly malted barley. Sour dough. Noses young and mature, if you see what I mean. With water: we’re at a baker’s. More dough, fresh bread, fresh pastries… And he’s using peat to fire the oven. Lovely whiffs of orange blossom as well. Mouth (neat): wham! A bit hot, but the sweetness makes it approachable. Orange sweets, eau-de-vie de poire williams, jelly babies, and many smoked things, with a leathery touch just like in the official 16. With water: impeccable return to the fundamentals. Sweet peat, Turkish delights, a little tar. Finish: long, with a sweet/grassy touch. Spicy fruits in the aftertaste (pears in syrup with cloves and aniseed). Comments: I’m starting to feel that this session will be embarrassingly homogeneous. SGP:548 - 91 points.

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2015' (56.8%, OB)

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2015' (56.8%, OB) Five stars Integrally ex-refill American oak. Who would be against that. This baby’s a hit everywhere every year, including at WF Towerz. Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re extremely close to Lg5, this official’s just got a little more malty/coffeeish notes, as if the wood was a notch more active, and a peatiness that’s a little more leathery/tarry, so a little heavier and less bright and lively. But the whole remains a bright and lively Lagavulin. Love these notes of earthy pear pie. Beach sand. With water: just more proof that Lagavulin Distillery and its people are doing the greatest job. What a pure, yet fat, yet bright, yet heavy, yet elegant smoky spirit. What I especially like at Lagavulin is the fact that it’s not only about peat. Mouth (neat): exactly the same feeling. A tad fatter and oilier. Barbecued marshmallows and sausages grilled over a bonfire. Ah, our boy scout days… Love this. Less wood, more spirit, that’s our motto. With water: what? Can you smoke and salt multi-vitamin fruit juice? And add chamomile, eucalyptus tea, and bits of bacon and kipper? Finish: long and warming, but remaining fresh, which is quite an achievement. Liquorice allsorts in the aftertaste, which reminds us of what Wise Pinkie MacArthur always says, ‘Lagavulin is sweet’. Also a little new oak, bizarrely. Pencil shavings. That can’t be! Comments: Lagavulin’s annual 12 is like Sticky Fingers, everyone should have it in his stash. And I like it just as much as the new Port Ellen ’83. SGP:657 - 92 points.

We could stop but we’ll have one more…

Lagavulin 1991/2015 'Feis Ile' (59.9%, OB)

Lagavulin 1991/2015 'Feis Ile' (59.9%, OB) Five stars Yes we’re late. But you may have noticed that there are only 365 days in a year. Ahem. This baby was ‘triple matured’ in US Oak, Pedro Ximenez, and oak puncheons. Was that, I mean, done successively, or a vatting? Sure I could find out, but let’s not lose any more time… Colour: pale gold. Nose: awawaow… It makes the youngsters nose… well, young in comparison. They have found a Broraness, I’d say. First wax, then all things from a deep forest, including moss, mushrooms, fern, pine needles, leprechauns (what?)… And long-forgotten natural turpentine, shoe polish, grandma’s walnut wine, grapefruit liqueur… There is a sherriness, but I find it appropriately minimal, with just a few raisins. All the rest just mingled with this superb spirit. With water: oh a medicinal side. Lagavulin’s hardly the most medicinal of them all on southern Islay, but this one does reek of ‘a gentle hospital’. Mouth (neat): look, and I swear I’m not making this up, this baby reminds me of an old no-age Lagavulin spring cap. The one with doctors’ advices on the label. Well I’m sure this one cures anything. Love the citrons, the menthol, the salty smoke, the cocoa, the notes of Campari (I know, no brand names), the shoe polish… With water: sparkling lemon wine! A bit surprising, but lovely. Islay’s spritz. Finish: rather long, clean, citrusy, smoky, salty, balanced… Only very, very, very tiny flaw, traces of pencil shavings in the aftertaste (sucking a pencil). Comments: wouldn’t there be room for a great 25 yo Lagavulin within each year’s Special Releases? SGP:557 - 93 points.

The new 12 and TWE’s Lg5 are today’s musts if you ask me. See you tomorrow.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Lagavulin I've tasted so far



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October 28, 2015


New Port Ellen Special Release
and Friends

Diageo’s new Special Releases are in, and as usual, I’ve been hesitating a lot. Start with the Port Ellen or start with the Brora? I seem to remember it was the Brora last year, so, it’s going to be the Port Ellen in 2015, which is a 1983, the distillery’s last year of activity. We’ll add a worthy sparring partner, but first, a lighter aperitif from the very same year.

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #627, 164 bottles)

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #627, 164 bottles) Five starsThis little baby was distilled on March 16, 1983, near the end. In my experience, 1983 was a superb vintage, both at Port Ellen and Brora. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh, a chalky one! Indeed it’s got this very mineral profile, with wet limestone, even new concrete, then superb notes of fresh almonds and bandages, before a little eucalyptus starts to come through, together with a little parsley. I find this superb, with a ‘wineness’ that I cherish. Not meaning that it’s winey, not a all, it’s just got a character that hints at the best chenins from Loire, or at some sauvignon blanc from Sancerre. My thing. Mouth: okay, only 46% vol., but boy this roars! Peppery ala Talisker, with a feeling of crunching smoked and salted almonds, then a massive pile of ashes and rather less medicinal stuff than in the nose. But some salt there is, as well as notes of some kind of peppered paraffin or something. A little lemon as well, but rather less than usual. Finish: it’s the iodine that lingers, while the pepper got a little gentler. Funny hints of sweet melons in the retro-olfaction. Comments: a very perfect aperitif, you just have to like them peppery. SGP:457 - 91 points.

Port Ellen 30 yo 1983 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, for LMDW, refill hogshead, 74 bottles, 2015)

Port Ellen 30 yo 1983 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, for LMDW, refill hogshead, 74 bottles, 2015) Five stars A mini-outturn this time, not too sure if that was all what was remaining in the hogshead or if it’s a shared cask. Colour: straw. Nose: we’re very close, obviously, but this one’s got a little less plasticine and minerals, rather less medicinal notes as well, and more coastal ones, including sea breeze, drying kelp, a plate of oysters, and all that. Would rather go on with lapsang souchong and PE’s trademark tarry side, as well as a little more citrus than in the Mo Or. More menthol as well. So far, so very nice. With a drop of water: perfection, balance, coastal elegance, and just ‘ideas’ of new tyres in an old garage. Mouth (neat): perfect combo, crystallised lemon + salted fish + cigar ashes. Some pepper again, then oils, rocket salad, some kind of bitter aperitif (well, bitters), and a drop of limoncello. All that keeps it rather fresh, and fruitier than others. No complaining. With water: all the same, just even louder, with a distinct thickness, as if someone had added glycerine. Not a problem, not a problem… Finish: quite long, bright, very coastal. Fresh almonds are back, together with touches of candied grapefruit. Perhaps drops of green wulong tea. And something medicinal, some kind of phenolic, smoky cough syrup… Comments: it’s such a thrill to be able to taste some new Port Ellen. Each and every time I fear it’s the last session we’ll ever do (not talking about older bottlings, we’ve got quite a stash that we haven’t tasted yet). SGP:367 - 93 points.

Port Ellen 32 yo 1983/2015 '15th Release' (53.9%, OB, 2964 bottles)

Port Ellen 32 yo 1983/2015 '15th Release' (53.9%, OB, 2964 bottles) Five stars Last year’s 14th Release, a 1978, was a little more, say fragile than other batches, with less immediate PE-ness (read tarry smoke) and more grassy elements (WF 91). This might be different… Colour: pale gold. Nose: back to the style of the Mo Or, with much chalk, stones, clay… The tar is back as well (old tarry ropes), and comes with some damp raw wool and hessian, funny hints of uncooked French beans (when our mother made us shell them), seaweed, perhaps whiffs of a wet dog coming back from the beach (I’m sorry, dogs), and lastly, pink grapefruits and cough syrup. Balance is utterly perfect. With water: drinking lemon juice while smoking a cigar and crunching fresh almonds, while walking on Port Ellen’s beach, while someone’s burning eucalyptus leaves somewhere in the neighbourhood (but why would they do that?) Mouth (neat): unusual! It’s fizzy and prickly like some Schweppes-Lemon, with touches of bitter oranges and, of course, lemons. A feeling of plasticine diluted in turpentine, then perhaps cinnamon mints. Rather big, as most 1983s are in my book. With water: notes of lemon tarte, with some meringue and some cinnamon. Add chlorophyll gum and perhaps one whelk. Finish: rather long but not massive, rather on plasticine, mint, pinesap, and lemon skin. Comments: I find it quite different from the previous releases, still excellent, and a little surprising at times. Especially the arrival on the palate. Another great PE for sure. I know, as a blogger, I should also write about the price. I won’t. SGP:367 - 92 points.


Port Ellen's still house



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October 27, 2015


Time Warp tasting, today Mortlach

Right, Mortlach. We’ve got hundreds of Mortlach yet to taste – no I’m not making this up – so let’s select these two with much care. How about one by the excellent and engagingly shy Signatory Vintage (we’re getting totally tired of loud brands, you know), and then we’ll see if we can find a very old one…

Mortlach 24 yo 1990/2015 (56.5%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt, cask #6079, 590 bottles)

Mortlach 24 yo 1990/2015 (56.5%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt, cask #6079, 590 bottles) Four stars Even if it’s third fill – all for the better if you ask me – a sherry butt is still a sherry butt, right? Colour: straw. Nose: sulphur. And I mean, not candles or wicks like can be used in sherry casks, pure clean sulphur from the distillate. And that is lovely, mind you, even if the spirit can be marginally eggy, which is the case here. In fact, this is raw Mortlachness, a big fat spirit with a lot of depth and texture. Other than that, I find apples. With water: rocks and grasses. Not sexy, me likes. Mouth (neat): absolutely superb fat yet vibrant spirit, mineral, very oily – sure it doesn’t quite taste like 24 years – and exceptionally herbal. It’s 3D whisky, vs. 2D like can be seen at many other places. With water: deep deep deep. It’s not that it’s subtle, neither is it complex, but it’s the texture and the body that are impressive. Which does not happen too often, agreed. Finish: rather long, and very oily. Barley, sweet bread, sunflower oil. Comments: absolutely not whisky for ‘everyone’, I hasten to say. I know that sounds incredibly pretentious, if not pompous, but I think that’s true. SGP:452 - 86 points.

Good, we’ve still got an old one from the Corti Bros in California, thanks to the very efficient Formigine-Venice connexion. Time to try it…

Mortlach 15 yo 1971/1986 (86 U.S proof, Duthie for Corti Brothers, Sacramento)

Mortlach 15 yo 1971/1986 (86 U.S proof, Duthie for Corti Brothers, Sacramento) Five stars 86 us proof means 43% vol. Easy penny. What’s sure is that these Corti brothers knew their scotches. As for 1971, Diageo have issued a proprietary 32 yo 1971/2004 that was one of the best whiskies ever bottled. Just believe me. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s not quite sulphur that comes out, its rather soot, waxed papers, shoe polish and whatnot. And tree bark, roots… To be honest, I’m finding this baby a little shy. Shy-ish. Perhaps not for modern noses? Mouth: I’m afraid it’s great. Not deep, not wide, not ‘3D’, but great. I don’t know how these Californian noses used to select their whiskies from the lady in Aberdeen – that was before Cadenhead/R.W. Duthie moved to Campbeltown – but they were sure knowing what they were doing over there in the Bay Area. Must have been epic times back then, because I doubt many Californian connoisseurs had heard about Mortlach at the time. Yeah, same everywhere. So, the whisky’s just great, if not totally magical. Great fatness. Finish: only medium, but everything’s more than fine. Apples, wax, malt, lemons, soot, liquorice… Perhaps a salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: in a way, it was a light fat one. Funny feeling. Quality was extremely high anyway. SGP:452 - 90 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Mortlach I've tasted so far


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback




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October 26, 2015


A worldwide cry for rye

And yet a stupid headline, congrats, S., you’ve outdone yourself. Seriously, it seems that many distillers, all over the world, have now noticed that you can make pretty good rye fast, while malted barley needs much more ageing to become pleasant. And there’s even more and more white rye, and I find some excellent! So, well, lets try a few ryes, from America and from elsewhere. We’ll see how far we’ll manage to go, starting with, tah-dah, France!

Vulson 'Old Rhino Rye Whisky' (45%, OB, Domaine des Hautes Glaces, France, 2015)

Vulson 'Old Rhino Rye Whisky' (45%, OB, Domaine des Hautes Glaces, France, 2015) Four stars Single estate stuff and neither just a factory, nor just a ‘sourcer’. Very high esteem. Enough said. Oh and certified organic. Colour: straw. Nose: this will be short: at a great baker’s at 5am. Fresh wholegrain bread sprinkled with the best poire williams. After five minutes, a mezcal/clairin feeling, with olives, brine, and damp dust. Old damp floor cloth, or rather hessian. Plus a smidgen of liquorice wood and perhaps dill. Mouth: exceptional. To be honest, you could really think this is wild-agave mezcal (speaking of which, we’re having quite a box of new mezcals to unload.) Or clairin. Love the salt, the olives… It’s almost liquid Provençal crackers. Finish: medium, briny, not as bready as others, with a lemony signature. Comments: same league as Glann ar Mor’s ‘Only Rye’ as far as France is concerned, or Zuidam/Millstone from that low country farther north of Belgium. Bravo! SGP:461 - 87 points.

Farther north, he said…

Kyro 'Rye Rye Verso' (46.5%, OB, rye, Finland, +/-2015)

Kyro 'Rye Rye Verso' (46.5%, OB, rye, Finland, +/-2015) Three starsMalted rye. Big sense of fun and self-derision at Kyro’s, since you can read ‘(matured) for a minimum of four months by the patient Rye Rye distillers’ on the label. LOL, as they say on Facebook. Colour: gold. Nose: the casks were much more active, it’s got much more oak (ginger, caraway) but the spirit’s fat and appropriately bready, and just stands it. This is a style that’s more to be seen at American craft distillers’ in my opinion, but I like these whiffs of genever quite a lot. Less easy, fresh, and complex than the French, but I’m enjoying it. Also a little parsley this time. Mouth: yeah, it’s rather more ‘WIP’ than the Vulson, so perhaps not totally ready yet, but all ingredients are well in place, the bread, the spices, the ginger… It’s also got a very creamy mouth feel, it’s almost as thick as honey. Fun! Finish: oh nice, it ends with pink grapefruits and roasted raisins! Good length. Comments: well done Finland (I’m feeling like an Eurovision judge now…) This baby’s probably ten times younger than the Vulson, if not more, so quite an achievement. SGP:461 - 82 points.

Good, it’s got a similar strength, let’s have the…

Woodford Reserve ‘Kentucky Straight Rye’ (45.2%, OB, +/-2015)

Woodford Reserve ‘Kentucky Straight Rye’ (45.2%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars They call it straight rye, but it’s only got 53% rye inside, which is hard to understand from an European’s POV. Ha, Europeans! Colour: amber. Nose: much smooooother, sweeter, and more bourbony. There is some rye, of course, but it’s very discreet and both vanilla and jammy fruits are having the upper hand here. And coconut. But I find it nice, extremely easy, rounded, with very few asperities, as we say in advertising. Mouth: good. More ryeness this time, and a rather perfect balance between the stewed fruits (oranges) and all things from American oak, that si to say vanilla and compadres coconut and ginger. A touch of honey as well. The strength is perfect. Finish: medium, with a wee sourness that’s welcome. Can you say ‘wee’ when writing about some American whisky? Orange soup. Comments: what it may lack is complexity, as well as this pretty extreme ryeness that the Europeans can have (when 100% rye), but another than that, I think it’s faultless, easy bourb… I mean, rye. But the Vulson just kills it. SGP:541 - 82 points.

James Oliver Rye (50%, OB, Oregon, USA, +/-2015)

James Oliver Rye (50%, OB, Oregon, USA, +/-2015) Two stars and a half From Indio Spirits Distillery. Advertised as 100% rye (hurray) and said to be four years old (hurray again). And very fairly priced. And ‘probably’ Canadian according to reliable sources, so sourced. Just wondering just know, shouldn’t we taste these things within a Canadian session? But what’s sure is that it’s ‘rye’, so, no worries… Colour: gold. Nose: shy and narrow after the Woodford, with more sawdust and vanilla, then maple syrup and lemon marmalade, with a touch of clove and ginger. Getting fresher and fresher, toward artisan limoncello (perhaps). Mouth: starts soapy but that’s ‘rye-soap’, which tends to go away. Some juniper, oranges, honey, ginger, and yet again lemon marmalade. Sweets. Good easy body. Finish: medium, and the soapiness is back. Also the oranges, which is good. Ryer, spicier aftertaste. Comments: honest and loyal, but all the others are killing it. But it’s cheap! SGP:451 - 77 points.

Back to true craft that burns and smashes…

Catoctin Creek 3 yo 2011/2015 (62.4%, Single Cask Nation, rye, USA, cask #107, 251 bottles, 2015)

Catoctin Creek 3 yo 2011/2015 (62.4%, Single Cask Nation, rye, USA, cask #107, 251 bottles, 2015) Three stars Some true craft from Purcellville, Virginia. Imagine that within just three years, they managed to first age it in a 1st fill white wine cask, then in new charred American oak. Isn’t it a bit as if they had done the finishing before maturing? Haha. Colour: salmony. Nose: love it. Sure it’s young, but this dual combination of tarry lavender and raspberry honey just works. Even the very high strength isn’t a problem (bragging a bit now). Plus nutmeg, speculoos, gingerbread, sweet maize bread… With water: peppered liquorice? Mouth (neat): I insist, that’s the good thing with rye, they can become great fast. Like gifted children, if you like. This is ridden with gingerbread, and more gingerbread. You could argue that you have to like gingerbread. You wouldn’t be wrong. Forgot to mention liquorice and Seville oranges. And kummel. With water: I was afraid the oak would come out and overwhelm it. Not so. So, what was that white wine? Virginian wine? What’s the grape(s)? Finish: rather long, clean, Christmassy. That’s the ginger, the clove, and the cinnamon speaking out. And yet this baby’s not an oak bomb at all. It’s only in the aftertaste that the oak becomes a little louder. Comments: a wee bit monolithic, perhaps, but water helps and, well, it’s all very good imho. SGP:551 - 82 points.

A last one for the digital road, perhaps. Let’s try to find a benchmark… Like this? That will be six ryes, that’s enough.

Van Winkle 13 yo ‘Family Reserve’ (47.8%, OB, Kentucky straight rye, Ref J0275)

Van Winkle 13 yo ‘Family Reserve’ (47.8%, OB, Kentucky straight rye, Ref J0275) Two stars and a half Legendary stuff, probably not 100% rye, but yeah, legendary and expensive stuff. Not too sure when this baby was bottled, is there a way to find out? I remember I had tried another VW 13 quite a few years back, but I believe it was defective. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s true that it’s quite ‘ironclad’. Delicate, rounded, complex, subtle… With something like orange-flavoured praline and fudge, then rather marzipan and ‘dusty honey’. And old sauternes. Now, is there much happening? Is this what we’re expecting from rye whisky? The jury’s still out… Mouth: spicy honey liqueur and, oh, I know, some crazy folks make gingerbread liqueur over here in Alsace, and I’m finding similarities (but a bottle of Alsatian gingerbread liqueur will cost you around 12€, not 400€… Or even 1,500€, not joking). Anyway… I find it kind of good, but perhaps a little dusty and dry. Like the oranges, though, and the touches of lavender. A little less the overcooked caramel. Also a little glue and varnish, perhaps? Loses much steam, too bad. Finish: medium, rather on marmalade, with a touch of flower jelly and Schweppes-Orange. Roses? A little sour oak in the aftertaste. Comments: I must be tired, or whatever, but I just don’t understand what the fuss is all about. Sure it’s goody good bourbon, and it started well, but I believe it really lacks impact. Liked a VW (no, not Volkswagen, this is no rigged diesel whisky) 12 yo Special Reserve much, much better. But remember (again and again), only one man’s opinion! And yes I know this is a sacred cow. SGP:641 - 79 points.

Oh and one question, who’s already done some peated malted rye, who?

(Nicolas, merci encore)



Block Today: (funny) JAZZ. Performer: some Hendrixian maths with Don Byron. Track: If 6 was 9. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 25, 2015


Malternatives on Sunday, today Cognac

Let’s start this little session with a very high volume blend, so that we’ve got a good reference point. And perhaps a stepping stone…

Rémy Martin V.S.O.P. (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2013)

Rémy Martin V.S.O.P. (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2013) one star and a half It seems that mixologists use this quite a lot. It’s obviously not Louis XIII. Colour: orangey gold (a hue that always suggests caramel). Nose: raisins and vanilla, then brioche and a touch of stewed peaches. Whiffs of autumn leaves in the background, which is quite nice. I find this nose very easy, not quite complex, but rather above average. Mouth: eating caramelised raisins covered with liquorice liqueur. Not bad at all, but there’s a sugariness that could be seen as a little tiring. Drinking maple syrup. Tends to become pretty liqueury, I simply hope that the big makers are not starting to adjust their recipes after having seen the huge success of some new rums aka sugarbombs. Finish: a little short, with some tannic oak that doesn’t seem totally right. Boisé? Comments: very, very sweet. Not really bad, but I just wouldn’t sip this. SGP:730 - 69 points.

Frapin 'Cigar Blend' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2014)

Frapin 'Cigar Blend' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2014) Two stars Sadly - or happily – I only smoke five cigars a year on average since quite a few years, so I won’t try this baby with a double corona. I find it strange to go down to 40% vol., though. The house Frapin’s got a high reputation. Colour: amber. Nose: this is more mature than the Rémy, so probably older, with more coffee, while the raisins got blacker and the earthy side moister. Tobacco (but who needs a cigar then?) as well as a little mint and a fleeting feeling of rose petals. Old style perfume, perhaps something by Patou. Lovely, complex nose, which I find pretty delicate given the ‘aim’ of this cuvee. Mouth: of course, you’re feeling the urge to hang, drown and then shoot the people who decided to bottle this at 40% vol. It’s not that the this cognac’s been totally murdered, but really, after a lovely arrival, it’s going down down down, leaving only caramel and drying tannins. Just like when you’ve just had a cup of tea. Finish: short and dry. Comments: extremely frustrating. I think it’s great cognac (as the nose showed), but the body’s too thin imho. Not a malternative, in that sense. SGP:650 - 75 points.

Prisset VO (40%, OB, Petite Fine Champagne, +/-2014)

Prisset VO (40%, OB, Petite Fine Champagne, +/-2014) VO stands for Version Originale, not for very old. Having said that, this baby’s ten years old, so older than many a VSOP. It’s also very fairly priced, around 22€. Colour: orange amber (err…) Nose: shier than both the Rémy and the Frapin, perhaps a tad grassier, and perhaps a little fruitier and fresher. Oranges and apples, plus ripe peaches and caramel. But it whispers low, as they say in jazz… Mouth: same kind of sweetness as in the Rémy, which should not please a malt drinker. You feel sugar. Finish: ditto. Flabby finish. Sawdust in the aftertaste. Comments: I’d say the price is this baby’s main asset. Very ordinary, in my opinion. Hope VO doesn’t actually mean that, Very Ordinary. SGP:740 - 50 points.

Jean Balluet ‘Très Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Fins Bois, +/-2014?)

Jean Balluet ‘Très Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Fins Bois, +/-2014?) This one’s around 20 years of age. Fins Bois is supposed to be a little rawer than the ‘Champagnes’, which might be good for us. Colour: dark amber. Looks pretty natural. Nose: we’re a bit in the style of the Frapin, only with a little more freshness, more fruit peelings, grass, herbal teas… And perhaps a touch of aniseed, parsley, and mint. Some rancio for sure, and a nice development on tobacco and wood polish. There’s even a little smoke. Ex-Ardbeg cask? I’m joking… Mouth: well, there is a sweetness again (triple sec, Cointreau), and rather too much jam for me. Am I cursed today? And yet, I’ve checked my nose and palate, I had thought both were fine. A little aquavit, Kalhua… Nah, this feeling of coffee liqueur just doesn’t click for me. Finish: simply too sugary. Comments: no luck today! But the nose was pretty. The palate makes you want to quaff a glass of Johnnie Red. SGP:730 - 62 points.

Godet ‘Epicure’ (40%, OB, folle blanche, +/-2015)

Godet ‘Epicure’ (40%, OB, folle blanche, +/-2015) Two stars and a half Made from folle blanche, that is to say cognac’s original grape before b***y phylloxera vastatrix started to destroy the vineyards around 1875. Folle blanche has become extremely marginal in cognac, but it’s easier to find in armagnac. This baby spent 20 years in wood. Colour: deep gold. Nose: not as emphatic as the Balluet (but we’ve seen what happened to the Balluet on the pa         late, so…), with a much more chiselled style, soft, fresh, rather on melon and apricots, then peaches and yellow flowers, plus fennel and perhaps chamomile. Lime tree blossom. Rather a feminine style – no, that’s no sexy remark.  Mouth: it was about time! No sugar this time, no liqueur, rather a finely grassy and fruity style, with a good deal of greenness, and this feeling of vieille prune that’s far from being unpleasant. Only the thinnish body’s a little more problematic to malt drinkers, but that’s ‘a style’. Finish: a little short, grassy. Green apples and green melons in the aftertaste, with just a little coffee. Comments: much better already. I’m happy because I did not like their white folle blanche at all. This works well. SGP:551 - 79 points.

Godet XO ‘Terre’ (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Godet XO ‘Terre’ (40%, OB, +/-2015) Two stars and a half Some 30 years old cognac, this should work. Again, the strength is too low, but you know what the makers are saying, ‘cask strength doesn’t fly off the shelves’. Maybe, but why not 43, 44, or 45% then? 40% makes you look stingy if you ask me. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: one cognac house, I think it’s Gourmel, is talking about age of flowers, age of fruits, or age of spices regarding cognac. Well, we’re clearly in the age of spices here, and even if it’s a tad soft and almost evanescent, these touches of cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and melon skin work well. Tends to become grassy and ‘humussy’, which can’t be bad. Very light style, but I enjoy its elegance. Mouth: fine arrival, chocolaty, with some burnt sugar and quite some leather and tobacco. But this soft style combined with the lightness make it very, well, light. Some caramel, probably not added. Finish: short, with some black tea and wood spices. Comments: a light and dry style. I think I enjoyed the folle blanche a little better. SGP:451 - 78 points.

Okay, cognac, we need to talk. If you go on like this, no wonder the malt freaks will prefer armagnac more and more! Right, unless you don’t care…

Rémi Landier ‘Héritage Coupe N°2’ (45%, Fins Bois, 2015)

Rémi Landier ‘Héritage Coupe N°2’ (45%, Fins Bois, 2015) Five stars A great propriétaire, Landier. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it starts a bit like the Godet XO, so I guess they both have the same age, roughly, but this one tends to become rougher, in a great way. No it’s no rough spirit, not at all. What’s sure is that it’s more complex, with flowers, honeys, and ‘visiting a chocolate shop’, such as Hermé or Génin in Paris. Roasted almonds, waxed wood, light cigars, sultanas, some dates and figs, then more marzipan and almost putty… But the fruits remain bright in the background. Let’s only hope the palate will be in keeping with the nose, but it’s true that at 45% vol., we’re talking. After fifteen minutes, some stunning g beehivy notes arise. My shtuff. Mouth: what a difference 5 extra-% make! Perfect attack on mandarins and rosemary, then we have lime and fennel, then honeydew and liquorice, then damson plums and liquorice. Becomes grassier, but he mandarins keep singing, all for the better. Finish: quite long (cognac-long, not quite whisky-long), with a few green tannins, more cinnamon from the oak, and always these mandarins that I really love. We’re talking about fruits, right! Comments: this is very clearly more like it. Could we have this at cask strength? (S., you’re totally hopeless). SGP:561 - 90 points.

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 66’ (51%, OB, Grande Champagne, 2014)

Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 66’ (51%, OB, Grande Champagne, 2014) Four stars and a half Yes you’re right, Lot 66 means it’s a 1966. As for this house, it’s simply my current favourite. And hey, cask strength! Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s amazing how close to the Landier we are, and yet this isn’t the same region. But this is a notch more closed, which might happen because of the higher strength (you don’t know what you want, S.). We’re also rather more on beeswax, Connolly leather polish, and simply honey. Let’s see… With water: well, you like this or you don’t, but it’s all oak oils, with an obvious turpentine-y side. And linseed oil. Mouth (neat): tannins, orange skins, pine sap, earl grey, and grapy feelings. Perhaps a notch too much mint and pepper from the wood, which tends to make it really dry, but again, let’s see… With water: same as on the nose, turpentine, putty, Play-Doh, all these sorts of things. Water totally wakens the oak’s oils. The good news is that some fruits and honeys didn’t give up. Finish: long, oily and resinous. Peaches and raisins cooked in mint sauce in the aftertaste. Comments: quite, as they say in Westminster. Probably not a consensual style, but it works for me. SGP:561 - 88 points.

I think that’s all, folks. But we’ll do a mega-super cognac session again around Christmas, with all, I say all, versions of Courvoisier’s famous Erté collection. And a few other gems from Cognac, such as an older Vallein (1956), some Bouju… So as they say in black metal, stay tuned!

More tasting notes Check the index of all cognacs I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ for Cognac. Performer: amazing French pianist Bernard Peiffer. Track: Jitterbug Waltz. Please buy his music...

October 23, 2015


A few bourbons, part two

And so we’re back with more Americans - and not much more knowledge of them. We’ll try to taste heavier ones today, and some older bottlings as well.

Westland 'Whisky Jewbilee' (59%, Jewish Whisky Company, American single malt, 150 bottles, 2015)

Westland 'Whisky Jewbilee' (59%, Jewish Whisky Company, American single malt, 150 bottles, 2015) Three stars It’s the first time I’m trying a Westland, which is distilled in Seattle. Westland is a genuine working distillery, fitted with medium sized pot stills (7,500 – 5,600 litres). It belongs to Anchor and was founded in 2010, so this can’t be old whisky. There, that’s all I know. Colour: gold. Nose: as often with these young crafty Americans, it does not start without an obvious oak, but it hasn’t got these huge gingery/bready aromas that can be found elsewhere. Rather cut grass, a little flour (tapioca?) and then a little raw wool and cedar wood, an aroma that I often find in American whiskies. With water: some oranges and apples arising. Fresh barley, earth, a little praline. Mouth (neat): it’s young, it’s pleasantly pungent, it’s almost slivovitz at cask strength. Damson eau-de-vie (or Zwetschke), a touch of cologne (certainly not unpleasant here) and then a blend of tinned pineapple juice and marmalade. What’s unusual is that the oak’s rather shy, contrarily to what’s to be found in 95% of the American whiskies (imho). With water: cancel that, the oak comes out, with good manners (cloves, ginger, cardamom). Finish: medium, with more plums in oak, plus oranges. Comments: still a bit rough, but given its young age (3? 4? 5?) I find it very promising. Loved the fact that it’s not caramely/vanilla-ed/charred. SGP:451 - 80 points.

Booker's 7 yo (64.45%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, batch #2014-07, 2014)

Booker's 7 yo (64.45%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, batch #2014-07, 2014) Four stars Jim Beam’s power bourbon. I’ve really enjoyed some previous batches (WF 84-85). Wait, where have I put my trusted Vittel and my pipette?… Colour: red amber. Nose: extractive, very coconutty, vanilla-ed, oaky, and pastry-like. Marzipan. Burns a bit, so… With water: aaah, civilisation. A box of cough pills, dried bananas, praline, custard, mashed bananas, oranges, geranium flowers. Strictly nothing to complain about. Mouth (neat): I’m sure its great, but it burns. For the record. There seems to be some stewed fruits… With water: no, rather orange jam-filled chocolates, violet sweets, liquorice allsorts, more custard, and only a touch of coconut, which might be a miracle. It’s even kind of gentle. A little cinnamon from the oak. Finish: rather long, rounded, orangey, only mildly spicy. Perhaps a little caraway. Comments: I find this very good. Simplicity can work! SGP:551 - 85 points.

So you thought 64.45% vol. was a lot? Watch this...

Parker's Heritage Collection 2001 (66.6%, OB, blend of mashbills, 2012)

Parker's Heritage Collection 2001 (66.6%, OB, blend of mashbills, 2012) Four stars Another hit from Heaven Hill's, at a devilish strength. Colour: red amber. Nose: this seems to be very fine, that’s all I can say without taking chances with my nostrils. With water: oh very lovely! Simple, but very lovely! Pomegranate juice, guava, always these touches of liquorice allsorts, sweet croissants (croissants shouldn’t be sweet, but everybody makes them sweet these days, all over the world, so, let’s adapt…), the usual touch of mint from the oak’s oils… And pinesap. Fine fine fine.  Mouth (neat): smooth! Really! You just have to make sure you only take a drop at one time. I find some blood oranges, rose jelly, stewed peaches, some fudge… I find it nice that it would start with oranges, which gives it a zesty style, unusual in bourbon. Some chocolate and cinnamon in the background. With water: akin to the nose, so very coherent once reduced. Liquorice allsorts, guavas, pomegranate, pastries… And less mint. Finish: medium, as often, and a little more chocolaty and spicy. Always oranges in the aftertaste, and perhaps a little too much oak, but this is bourbon, after all. Comments: water’s favourite companion. I like mucho. SGP:641 - 87 points.

These monsters are great, but they can be a little tiring. So lets be reasonable, only one spot left, let’s choose it very carefully…

Jefferson's Presidential Select 18 yo 1991 (47%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, batch #15, +/-2009)

Jefferson's Presidential Select 18 yo 1991 (47%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, batch #15, +/-2009) Five stars This is supposed to be Stitzel-Weller distillate, which all our American friends are raving about. Probably very different from Jefferson’s Ocean that we had the other day. Colour: amber. Nose: bingo. It’s this combination of wood smoke and banana jam that just clicks, you cannot be against this, you just have to take your hat off and bow. What’s particularly striking is that it tends to become very complex, with various herbal teas plus soft and sweet spices. And the obligatory menthol is of the highest order, as if it came from some long forgotten bottle of crème de menthe that was made in the 19th century. For high-ranking officers. Mouth: I’d have never thought a spirit that started with this much pineapple and banana would be to my liking. And it’s not even rum. Goes on with sweet cinnamon pie, sweet oak (and its spicy procession), and a touch of ginger. What’s also striking is that despite the oak, it remains fresh and kind of clean. Even a notch zesty/earthy/mineral, ala… say, Glen Garioch. Finish: rather long, citrusy and earthy. But of course, the pineapples and bananas keep dancing on your tongue. Comments: we wanted a 90, we found one. Terrific bourbon. And it’s even quite easy. SGP:641 - 90 points.

(et merci encore, Nicolas)

More tasting notes Check the index of all American whiskies I've tasted so far



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October 22, 2015


A few bourbons, part one

I’m really glad to see more American whiskies and bourbons coming my way, some being much more characterful than I had thought. But it’s true that I’ve never tasted many of them, and that my knowledge of them is only starting to improve. Very, very slowly…. We’ll try to have a relatively large bag today, from various sources. No, not only from Midwest Grain Products in Lawrenceburg, Indiana…

Bulleit Bourbon (45%, OB, Bourbon, +/-2015)

Bulleit Bourbon (45%, OB, Bourbon, +/-2015) Three stars and a half We first had this expression by Diageo back in 2009 and found it very nice (WF 83). There’s also a 10, we’ll try to taste it one of these days. Colour: deep gold. Nose: soft and honeyed, not too vanilla-ed, with some pale syrup and quite a few herbal teas, such as chamomile, as well as a faint mentholated touch. Wormwood. I find this rather perfect, and even quite complex given the price. Mouth: good arrival, fruity, on jams and tinned pears and pineapples, plus liquorice allsorts and an earthy touch. Violet bonbons and always this slightly mentholated side. Some ginger too. Finish: the oak’s spices are singing louder. Kind of long. Comments: well as I remembered it. Perfect strength. SGP:641 - 83 points.

Buffalo Trace 'Single Barrel' (40%, OB, LMDW, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #07-C-13-P-3-04-044)

Buffalo Trace 'Single Barrel' (40%, OB, LMDW, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #07-C-13-P-3-04-044) Two stars and a half It’s always strange to see a single barrel that hasn’t got any age statement, not to mention a vintage. But perhaps does ‘07’ mean 2007? The 40% vol. are a wee tad unlikely too… Colour: full gold. Nose: this feeling of pencil shavings and glue/varnish that weren’t to be found in the Bulleit. We’re really at a carpenter’s, not quite the style that I prefer. What’s nicer is that beyond that heavyish sweet oak, one can find pleasant notes of stewed peaches and apricots. Mouth: very ‘traditional’, and I have to say I like this better on the palate, despite the thinness. Mirabelle jams, lavender drops, white pepper… The rye becomes more obvious. Finish: short, but pleasantly spicy and fruity. Touches of fudge and maple syrup. Comments: I don’t care much for these noses, but the palate was quite superb. A shame that it’s losing steam after a few seconds. Please, 45% vol. again! SGP:651 - 79 points.

Buffalo Trace 'Single Barrel' (40%, OB, LMDW, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #07-C-28-P-3-53-042)

Buffalo Trace 'Single Barrel' (40%, OB, LMDW, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #07-C-28-P-3-53-042) Four stars A sister cask, most probably, although the cask number being quite cryptic, we cannot be sure. Colour: deep gold. Nose: well, it is completely different. I’d love to know if this cask was stored nearer the ground, or any other location variations. In fact, it’s both shier and more elegant, with much less ‘glue’, and rather more fruits, as far as proportions are concerned. Globally lighter. Also enjoy these whiffs of fern and moss, which I find a little un-bourbon, in a good way. Mouth: indeed, this is much more complex, with cranberries, rhubarb, hay wine, melons… Great! Even the low strength isn’t a big problem. Finish: a bit short, but fresh and fruity. The oak’s discreet. Comments: amazing differences. I find this pretty top notch. This, at 45% vol… SGP:651 - 85 points.

More Buffalo Trace, with one of their most famous brands…

Eagle Rare 17 yo (45%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, spring 2014)

Eagle Rare 17 yo (45%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, spring 2014) Three stars One of the bourbons we poured with my good friends Dave Broom and Mark Gillespie while doing a masterclass (I prefer the word tasting) at WL Paris this year. I was lucky to have them with me, I know so little about bourbon! Colour: orangey amber. Nose: the oak’s back, and frankly, I’m not a sucker for sawdust. Now I do like these whiffs of roasted chestnuts and warm croissants straight from the baker’s oven, but I find the amount of pencil shavings simply ‘too, much’. And yet it’s a rather light style. Mouth: same feeling. Sure there’s a lovely liquorice, but other than that, I enjoyed the last Single Barrel better. Can you keep jams in new oak? Cassis jam? Also crème de menthe and quite some pipe tobacco. Finish: quite long, becoming quite chocolaty. Bitter chocolate, coffee, and white pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: in fact, it’s great whisky (proof, it’s in the Antique Collection); it’s just got a little too much oak for me. So it’s me, me, and me. SGP:651 - 82 points.

Colonel E.H. Taylor 'Bottled in bond' (50%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, single barrel, +/-2015)

Colonel E.H. Taylor 'Bottled in bond' (50%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, single barrel, +/-2015) Two stars So even more Buffalo Trace… By the way, did you know that by law, any bourbon ‘bottled in bond’ has to be bottled at 50% vol.? Thanks Mark! Colour: pinkish amber. Nose: I find this a little shier than the Eagle, and rather more on chocolate, before it bursts with oak. Sawdust everywhere, vanilla, varnish, cinnamon cake… And just touches of oranges and figs. I’m afraid this style leaves me a bit cold. Mouth: really punchy, rough, pungent… It’s a pleasant all-fruit jam (oranges, rhubarb) coated with some kind of oak sauce, and covered with much cinnamon, which makes it a little cardboardy. Finish: long, very chocolaty and spicy. More cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: not my style at all, I think the oak feels way too much. But then again, that’s just me, I’m sure all bourbon lovers fell in love with this infus… I mean, with this bourbon. SGP:371 - 76 points.

Good, one more by BT, an older one this time… I mean, Stitzel-Weller…

W.L. Weller 19 yo 1982/2001 (90 US proof, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon)

W.L. Weller 19 yo 1982/2001 (90 US proof, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon) Four stars This is wheated bourbon, am I not right? Colour: dark amber. Nose: indeed, this is lighter and rounder than the rye-driven ones, with a style that’s much closer to milk chocolate (as opposed to black or bitter chocolate), with plenty of custard, shortbread, fudge, confectionary, corn syrup, more fudge, many more fudge, loads of fudge… In the background, a little sweet corn, straight from the BBQ. We’re actually not that far from say some middle-aged Invergordon ex-first fill. If I may… What I enjoy is that it’s not got this massive oak that was in the EH Taylor. Mouth: firmer than expected, drier as well, with much more liquorice. And I’m a sucker for liquorice. Liquorice-filled milk chocolate, the Swiss must be doing that somewhere between Basle and Appenzell. Hoppla. Perhaps a touch of cherry. Maraschino? Finish: medium long, with a wee sourness that prevents it from becoming too sweet. Not much in the aftertaste, surprisingly. Perhaps a small forgotten orange? Comments: funny and excellent style, both light and ‘full’. This session is taking off… SGP:630 - 86 points.

Let’s go to Heaven Hill’s!

William Heavenhill 'Bottled-in-Bond' (50%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2014)

William Heavenhill 'Bottled-in-Bond' (50%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2014) Four stars and a half According to my friends, this is rare. Always believe your friends. I’ve seen that the bottling is/was exclusive to The Bourbon Heritage Centre, and that it’s supposed to be a 11 yo. Oh and remember, bottled in bond = 50% vol. or 100 US proof. Colour: amber. Nose: yes! When what you first get from any bourbon is not oak, you’re in heaven (good one, S.) In this case that would be cut grass, even raw asparagus, wet gravel, and then an ultra-massive amount of clove. Very, very clove-y, but that’s something that I enjoy (yeah I know clove comes from the wood, tsk-tsk). A little caraway too, chocolate, coffee grounds, more earthy touches… And triple-hurray, no oaky tones! Mouth: oh goody-good. Sweeter now, rounded, yet bright, fruity, honeyed… I find this truly excellent. Plum pie, honey-covered pastries, perhaps a touch of ginger, oranges… Finish: quite long, kind of light – in a great way – with fruit syrup and a touch of cinchona. Caraway again. Comments: almost worth flying to Kentucky. But I guess they sold out… SGP:630 - 88 points.

Good, a last one by Heaven Hill, and maybe more tomorrow… Oh and we’ve got quite a few new ryes as well, but that’ll be a separate session.

Evan Williams 23 yo (53.5%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2014)

Evan Williams 23 yo (53.5%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2014) Three stars and a half All right, some say this baby’s exclusive to Japan, but since you can find it elsewhere, I’m not too sure. What’s sure is that the reputation is super-high. Let’s see … Colour: red amber. Nose: oh this is glorious. Stewed strawberries, fruity cigars, old liqueurs, Linzertorte, ginger cake, marmalade, rye, geranium flowers, iris, peonies, lilies… Triple wow! With water: oh, old tea and liqueurs, grandma’s cordials, sandalwood, soft leather from a Parisian handbag maker’s (what?), red peaches… Don’t know red peaches? Check them out, they’re great, but watch your tie and shirt…  Mouth (neat): good, it is a wee bit too oaky now, I mean too oaky to me. As much as I love cocoa, too much cocoa is too much cocoa. Very dry, sticks your tongue to your palate. Suffers a bit after the William Heavenhill, which was better balanced. With water: mixed feelings. No doubt this is very complex juice, but the layer of oak spices and flours and teas and whatever prevents it from ‘exploding’ on your tongue. Like a Ferrari firing on four cylinders. Finish: same feelings, the oak’s a little loud and makes it rather drying. Good liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: what a terrific nose! SGP:661 - 84 points.

See you tomorrow with more US whisky, we’ll try to find a 90…

(thanks Dave, Mark, and Nicolas)

More tasting notes Check the index of all American whiskies I've tasted so far



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October 21, 2015


Four Aultmore

There’s more Aultmore these days, both from the owners and the indies, which is very cool. Let’s simply have a bunch of them today… Quite loved the new 25 OB (WF 89).

Aultmore 18 yo (46%, OB, batch #481, 2015)

Aultmore 18 yo (46%, OB, batch #481, 2015) Four stars You really got to like the lovely new all-white packaging, that sits right between lovely Laphroaig and lovely Balvenie. Colour: straw. Nose: IPA! Lagunitas or something – I’m still dying to find Lagunitas in France, but I digress – plus some toasted malt, apricot pie that spent a little too much time in the oven, some kind of grassy leather, and some green cardamom and green tea. Rather less fruity than I had expected. Mouth: solid body, and a much balanced arrival, between apples and juicy golden raisins, plus a touch of banana. Rather goes on what we already found in the nose, that is to say green tea, and even raw barley, not too ripe. A feeling of sugarcane (white rum agricole) and, once again ale that reminds me of the 12. Finish: rather long, always quite toasted and grassy at the same time, with some honeyed apple juice in the aftertaste, as well as a salty/peppery touch. Comments: less easy-easy than I had expected, this is pretty firm and even tense. Kind of ‘un-official’, you’d almost believe this is a small-batch bottling by some good indie bottlers. SGP:451 - 85 points.

Aultmore 21 yo (46%, OB, batch #107, 2014)

Aultmore 21 yo (46%, OB, batch #107, 2014) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: akin to the 18, we’re well in the same family, this has just a little more fresh butter and vanilla; plus perhaps a touch of ink. It seems that it is a slightly fatter offering, let’s see… Perhaps a little more mint as well? Mouth: more complex, that is to say fruitier this time. Rather towards oranges and citrons, then quinces. Also rhubarb and gooseberries, and the kind of fruity green tea (not flavoured tea mind you) that I quite enjoy. Just finished a pack of organic Taiwanese wulong that had these kinds of notes. I’m sad it’s empty. Finish: same, a fruitier 18. All for the (even) better if you ask me. Comments: just checking it against the 25… slurp slurp… Yeah, qualities are similar. So, same high score. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Aultmore 25 yo 1990/2015 (57.8%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, sherry butt, cask #3241)

Aultmore 25 yo 1990/2015 (57.8%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, sherry butt, cask #3241) Five stars A heavily sherried one, apparently. We’ve already checked in the past that Aultmore + heavy sherry can be a winning combo. Colour: dark amber. Nose: gather very fresh walnuts, crush, macerate in kirsch, nose. You may add a wee piece of leatherette and a bit of rubber band. And loads of cocoa, we’re actually very close to some super-dry oloroso. With water: when you get up early in the morning and the coffee from the espresso machine is already ready. No you won’t smoke these Cuban cigars, remember we’re early in the morning! Mouth (neat): excellent dry sherry indeed, full of walnut wine, a drop of artichoke liqueur, a lot of chocolate, and a pinch of pipe tobacco. Forgot to mention orange liqueur. Makes me think of the old Macallan CS from fifteen years ago. Quite amazingly, it does not need water. And yet, with water: ultra-classic oloroso-ed development. Very ‘Glendronach’ this time ! Finish: Comments: old Macallan fans should love this baby. Glendronach lovers too. SGP:562 - 90 points.

There’s room for a last one. An older one, of course…

Aultmore 1982/2015 'Apple Mint Mead' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 247 bottles)

Aultmore 1982/2015 'Apple Mint Mead' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 247 bottles) Four stars Thirty-two or thirty-three years old, imagine. But were I a whisky bottler (God forbid), I’m not totally sure I’d reduce such an old whisky, I’d keep it at cask strength – unless that strength was 46.00%, naturally. Oh well… I also remember a 1982/2012 by Wemyss that was excellent (WF 89). As for what apple mint mead exactly is, I have no clues (okay, rant over, S.?) Colour: gold. Nose: now I know what apple mint mead is (yeah yeah), it’s something delicately honeyed, full of baked apples, with a touch of candy sugar and just distant whiffs of incense. Or dried rose petals? Mouth: so good. This time we’re in another cluster, the cluster that gathers old malts that got a little fragile, but that did not lose their stamina and their fruits, while having developed very interesting additional aromas. In this case, would you believe this, a blend of gorgonzola and roquefort cheeses. Very small portions of course, but really! There are even pepper crackers. What’s great is that the fruits combine extremely well with those flavours. Finish: rather long, drier. The cheeses are almost gone, but the pepper remains there. Comments: a little unlikely at times (I’m not too much of a cheese guy, mind you), but spectacularly funny. SGP:461 - 87 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Aultmore I've tasted so far



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October 20, 2015


Quite a few undisclosed Irish

Many bottlers have these ‘undisclosed’ Irishes these days, and what’s a bit sad is that they’re all great. Almost. But why would that be sad, you may wonder? That’s because even greatness can be a tad boring to a taster, it can sometimes become a bit like listening to all the Brandenburgische Konzerte in a row. But hey, I hate to be a stickler, let’s have a few of these new glorious Irish… And hope we’ll find a dud! (tsk tsk)..

Ireland 16 yo 1999/2015 (53.5%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams)

Ireland 16 yo 1999/2015 (53.5%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Four stars According to the drawing on the label, this should be some kind of torture… You see, there’s hope… Colour: straw. Nose: well, it’s not quite a fruit bomb this time, although mangos and green bananas are discernible in the background. What it’s got is quite a lot of bubblegum, and then these sweetened herbal teas that, in my book, are very Irish. Wild roses, hawthorn… With water: visiting Haribo’s main factory. Mouth (neat): simple and excellent. Marshmallows and liquorice allsorts, mango chutney, plus a little green tea to balance the sweetness. It’s most probably not from Midleton, but it does remind me of Green Spot at cask strength (does that exist?) With water: more fruits, if that was possible. Gummy bears galore, plus green tea again. Finish: medium. Same flavours. Comments: sure it’s not Old Clynelish, but I like it quite a lot. Easy stuff. SGP:741 - 85 points.

Irish Single Malt 13 yo 2001/2015 (59.5%, Chapter 7, sherry butt, cask #10836, 293 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 13 yo 2001/2015 (59.5%, Chapter 7, sherry butt, cask #10836, 293 bottles) Four stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: sherry works on these spirits, and do add what some call dimension. In this case it’s chocolate and roasted chestnuts and hazelnuts, as well as a feeling of café latte not-from-Starbucks. There’s also some cured ham, as often, plus something pretty unusual in sherried un-peaters: smoked fish. Plus the usual Seville oranges and all the cocoa, as well as whiffs of nail polish remover but that’s probably the very high strength.  With water: touches of gunpowder and struck matches, not a problem at all. Mouth (neat): did the sherry offset the Irishness? Not quite, this remained fruity and fresh, and even a wee tad girly, in a good way. More Haribo stuff, and marshmallows, with more blackberry and cassis-flavoured ones than usual, and then some sweet and spicy wood, around cinnamon and cedar wood. With water: works. Oranges, a little rosemary and other Provence herbs, and a little juniper and caraway. Finish: quite long, excellent, the sherry really added something…. Comments: even if it may have made this baby lose a bit of freshness. SGP:651 – 87 points.

And now, a brother…

Irish Single Malt 14 yo 2000/2015 (56.7%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #10928, 230 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 14 yo 2000/2015 (56.7%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #10928, 230 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: an epitomical banany Irish malt. I’m not sure I need say more. Perhaps this: sweet barley, bananas, earl grey, bananas, ripe apples, bananas, marshmallows, bananas… I find it very Tyrconnelly this time. With water: it is what I call an irrefutable nose. You almost hate it that you love it. Haribo stuff. I hope Haribo are going to send me a cheque one day. Mouth (neat): sweet and fruity Irish goodness, irrefutable, simple, fruity, sweet… Bananas, pineapples… And our friends the marshmallows. With water: some tea adds balance and structure, just like in The Nectar’s 1999. Finish: medium, super-sweet, very easy. Comments: do never leave such a bottle unattended at home. Even Beckham would quaff it. SGP:731 - 86 points.

Irish Malt 24 yo 1991/2015 (50.2%, Sansibar, bourbon, 232 bottles)

Irish Malt 24 yo 1991/2015 (50.2%, Sansibar, bourbon, 232 bottles) Four stars and a half The label’s so funny! It’s a if Yamazaki were putting leprechauns or Celtic harps onto their labels… Colour: straw. Nose: wait wait wait, this is different. It’s got ‘green’ smoke, lapsang souchong, garden bonfire, tobacco, cigars, green banana skin… And even summer truffle (tuber aestivum) and dried mint leaves. Right, mint tea. Quite different, very nice. No water need at 50.2%, pfff…  Mouth: I find this totally perfect, really. That’s because I adore menthol, truffles, and all things mildly smoky. Lapsang again, cigar ashes, salty/smoked fish… What it may lack is a little more complexity, but we’re nitpicking. Finish: quite long, with a perfectly un-Scottish kind of green and salty smoke. A touch of gewürztraminer in the aftertaste – and bananas of course. Really. Comments: we’re bordering perfection. SGP:643 - 89 points.

Ireland 27 yo 1988/2015 (49.5%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams)

Ireland 27 yo 1988/2015 (49.5%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Five stars More medieval torture (on the label). Colour: gold. Nose: wait. Sunflower oil, apple compote, ripe bananas, butter cream, tinned pineapple, custard… We’re close to the best of what’s made at some northern place that starts with a B. Nope, certainly not Bruichladdich. Bowmore? Come on… Shall I quote marshmallows and Haribo again? Mouth: it is just perfect. No faults, only Irish goodness, sweet and fruity, not dull, not too sweet, light yet full, floral and fruity, with a perfect herbal backbone. Chamomile, wormwood. That’s very, super, hyper cool. Finish: sweet wines are kicking in. I’m thinking the best sweet chenins from Loire (Chaume and thereabouts), or perhaps these rare Riesling Vendanges Tardives from dear Elsass. Hoppla! Comments: there, we found our 90. Very well done, Mario, but the label… … … SGP:651 - 90 points.

In theory, we should stop here. But this is Whiskyfun… Let’s have some easy younger ones…

Knappogue Castle 16 yo 1995/2012 'Twin Wood' (40%, OB, Irish, +/-2015)

Knappogue Castle 16 yo 1995/2012 'Twin Wood' (40%, OB, Irish, +/-2015) Four stars Knappogue Castle has always been ‘seen high’ by whisky freaks. For some reason, I had missed this older one. As for what twin wood means, I guess that’s got something to do with Harley-Davidson. Or Ducati. Or Guzzi. Or Norton… (that’ll do, S.) … Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got this metallic/dusty side that screams ‘pure pot still’ and that I did not find in any of the others. Metal polish, herbal tea, overripe apples. The low strength is problematic, though, and believe me I made a looong break after the fab Nectar 27. But what’s in this weakish nose is great. Mouth: oh very good indeed. Even the 40% vol. work. Can you smoke chocolate? Marmalade, mixed marmalade with mint and cloves, ripe gooseberries, pomegranates… All very good. A shame that they bottled it at 40% vol. Murder! Finish: it’s almost long, at this strength. Imagine what it could have been at 45 or 50% vol. Great whiskey (see, I did not miss the ‘e’.) Comments: a very frustrating bottle. Super-great whiskey for sure, but it could have been hyper-great whiskey! Oh, the frustration… SGP:651 - 86 points.

Clontarf '1014' (40%, OB, Irish Single Malt, bourbon wood, +/-2015)

Clontarf '1014' (40%, OB, Irish Single Malt, bourbon wood, +/-2015) Two stars and a half I’m sure there are stories that’ll explain ‘why 1014?’, but we haven’t got much time, have we. Clontarf is a funny brand, it was largely available in France a few years back. They had some smart – yet ugly – 3-bottle-packs that used to fit together. Yup, some liqueur makers have them as well. Oh, and NAS. Remember, No Acceptable Stories. Colour: straw. Nose: light, undemanding, marshmallowy, easy, not repulsive. But very light. Mouth: in fact, I find this good. Light, yet oily, grassy fruity… It’s very boring whisky, but it’s flawless. I even enjoy these touches of sappy herbs, with ‘ideas’ of fir liqueur. Now, It’s light, but less so than most Scottish blends. In fact I find it pretty good (would you please make up your mind, S.?) Finish: not that short, with a pleasant oiliness. Comments: I had feared this would be a disaster, and it was not. B***y prejudices. Lacks body, though. SGP:551 - 79 points.

Good, a last one for the road. Make that an indie again, please…

A Drop of the Irish (59.9%, Blackadder, single malt, 316 bottles, 2015)

A Drop of the Irish (59.9%, Blackadder, single malt, 316 bottles, 2015) Four stars Ah yes, a quote from Black Adder… say this one: ‘Yes, all right. Make a sentence out of the following words: 'Face - sodding - your - shut.' I agree, it’s all a matter of context. Colour: white wine. Nose: the sharpest, the stealiest, the most muesli-esque of them all. It’s one for the hipflask, it seems. It’s also got an Ardbegness, but it’s true that Ireland and Ardbeg aren’t very far from each other. Remember the old joke from the pier? I you don’t see Ireland, its raining. If you see it, it’s that it’s going to rain. With water: cut apples and peat. That’s all, folks. Mouth (neat): simple, zesty, clean, earthy, peaty, sauvignony, sharp, chiselled, perfect. A blady Irish for a change. With water: who the hell re-stencilled a cask of Ardbeg? Right, re-barcoded? Finish: long and more acrid. Becomes a notch difficult, but remains great. Comments: close to the early peated Cooleys by Cadenhead. I haven’t gotten anything against that. It’s just a little rough, but that’s almost an asset in this context… Yeah, all a matter of context. SGP:367 - 86 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Irish I've tasted so far



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October 19, 2015


An Arran extravaganza

Arran had quite a coup with their very recent ‘book’, because of some very smart packaging, not too serious, and most possibly an excellent whisky. They’re gone the days when the young distillery was doing mostly wine finishings, which used to make any collection look like Hugh Johnson’s World Atlas of Wine. And frown some whisky lovers. But in retrospect, that was smart. After all, that’s also what Bruichladdich and Edradour have done after new owners had taken over. So, we’ll try the ‘book’, but first, a few other Arrans for good measure. Is this Whiskyfun or not?

Arran 13 yo 2001/2014 (55.9%, Single Cask Nation, 2nd fill oloroso hogshead, cask #102, 329 bottles)

Arran 13 yo 2001/2014 (55.9%, Single Cask Nation, 2nd fill oloroso hogshead, cask #102, 329 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: citrus! Orange juice, then more fresh barley, butterscotch, sultanas, and some kind of lemon-flavoured shortbread. Good definition, good freshness, I like that. With water: some praline, more cake-y notes, more barley. A very natural malt whisky. Mouth (neat): there’s some sherry left, but also, once again, plenty of oranges and shortbread, underlined with lemon and oak spices, especially white pepper. Cereals dipped into orange jam. Good solid body, perhaps a tad roughish but that’s most probably the high strength. With water: good barley-lemon interplay, plus quite some white pepper and ginger. Perhaps 2nd fill, but the oak hadn’t gotten inactive! Finish: long, rather grassier. More pepper as well, but the citrus keeps singing, especially in the aftertaste. Comments: a style that hints at a Midlander, say such as a Blair Athol. I find it very good, and it loves water. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Arran 14 yo 2000/2015 (55.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, cask #2000/1106, 197 bottles)

Arran 14 yo 2000/2015 (55.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, cask #2000/1106, 197 bottles) Four starsThis baby’s brand new. Colour: gold. Nose: this is going to be easy, it’s the Single Cask Nation, minus the sherry touches. Which makes it rather brighter and even fresher, but perhaps a wee tad simpler. But it’s no simple whisky mind you. Love the whiffs of crushed mint leaves and lemon balm! With water: fresh lemon-flavoured brioche. And very fresh baklavas. Mouth (neat): a blade without peat – but perhaps a touch of smoke. Vanilla and tangerines, some green tea, some barley goodness, and a whole bag of cider apples. The faint smoke gives this baby an ‘old Highlands’ style, perhaps more Pulteney than Blair Athol this time? With water: tense, lemony, now a bit chalky. Gained zestiness and precision, we’re almost sucking lemon drops. Finish: medium, very zesty. Comments: quality’s totally equivalent to that of the Single Cask Nation. Coming up with a different score would be pushing all this too far. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Arran 18 yo (46%, OB, sherry hogshead, 9000 bottles, +/-2015)

Arran 18 yo (46%, OB, sherry hogshead, 9000 bottles, +/-2015) Two stars and a half I guess this is a multi-vintage bottling, but not sure. Colour: straw. Nose: rather more ‘middle-of-the-road’ than the previous ones, that is to say more fully on grains, barley, bread, pastries. I also do seem to find a touch of asparagus cooking water – or cabbage – that makes it just a notch sulphury. I would not call this a nosing whisky. Mouth: we’re going more towards the TWE, but it’s got a buttery side this time, while the eggs; I mean, the asparagus aren’t totally gone. Too bad, because other parts are lovely, especially the marmalade and the orange cake. Café latte. Good body. Finish: medium, with a little burnt caramel. Ideas of struck matches. Comments: this one loses me a bit, I’m afraid. Really enjoyed some parts, but in my book, Arran can do much better, which the other ones have already shown. I think it’s these sherry casks… SGP:452 - 79 points.

Arran 18 yo 1996/2015 ‘The Island of Fidra’ (50.6%, Lockett Bros, bourbon hogshead, cask #1300, 200 bottles)

Arran 18 yo 1996/2015 ‘The Island of Fidra’ (50.6%, Lockett Bros, bourbon hogshead, cask #1300, 200 bottles) Four stars and a half Lockett Bros are new whisky bottlers (and established wine and spirit merchants). They’re located in North Berwick, Scotland. Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh nice! The style is close to that of the TWE, so clean and chiselled, but it’s starting to display more subtle aromas that can only come with age in my opinion. I’d say citron liqueur, earthy spices (achiote? Coriander?), hessian… In fact, it may have become more coastal than younger Arrans. With water: pure barleyish freshness. Mouth (neat): yep. Clean lemons and grapefruits, a touch of custard, some minty spices, oranges, liquorice… I think it is a beauty. With water (not that that’s much needed): totally excellent. Fresh, orangey, fruity, and yet structured, malty… Finish: medium, a wee tad more caramely/candied. Which is far from being a flaw. Comments: well, it’s the first whisky from these Lockett Bros I’m tasting, but it seems that they’re doing pretty well. So far, ha-ha (sardonic laughter)… SGP:551 - 89 points.

So, and the new ‘book’? Don’t be so impatient, here it is!...

Arran ‘The Illicit Stills’ (56.4%, OB, Smugglers’ Series, 8,700 bottles, 2015)

Arran ‘The Illicit Stills’ (56.4%, OB, Smugglers’ Series, 8,700 bottles, 2015) Three stars I guess you’ve seen this bottle and the funny ‘carved’ book it comes with, Sergio-Leone-style. Indeed, viva spaghetti westerns!, but isn’t it amazing that they have to do all this, however smart and lovely and funny and perfectly executed it is, to sell us NAS whisky? Because indeed, I don’t seem to find any mentions of an age or of a vintage. So if it's not age-driven, maybe is it flavour-dirven (as they no say) - or is it only packaging-driven? Colour: gold. Nose: can you smoke fresh butter? Starts rather rounded, and, indeed, buttery (not butyric), but it tends to become smokier and smokier, with echoes of young modern Ardbeg. Hessian, perhaps, autumn leaves, a touch of antiseptic… With water: damp hessian, clean mud, porridge, smoke, plasticine. A lot of plasticine. Mouth (neat): a clean, ashy, pretty Islay-style dram, only a notch sweeter, but not quite in the Ardmore or peated-Benriach-style, although I do find peaches in syrup. Is that clear? With water: good sweet peat. Smoked tinned pears – or tinned smoked pears. Yes I know that doesn’t exist. Finish: medium, a tad more citrusy. Comments: I find this style a notch… say hesitant. Not quite a peater, and yet there’s some fairly loud peat, but it’s also got this sweet fruity profile, and yet… Ah another one that lost me. But very good it is. SGP:544 - 82 points.

I was expecting a little more from that one, so… let’s simply go on for a little while…

Arran 9 yo 2005/2015 (57.8%, OB for LMDW, sherry hogshead, cask #2005/037, 312 bottles)

Arran 9 yo 2005/2015 (57.8%, OB for LMDW, sherry hogshead, cask #2005/037, 312 bottles) Four stars First fill according to the colour. Colour: pale mahogany. Nose: balsamic vinegar and cellulose varnish for a start, then old Sauternes that went totally dry, then dry dried fruits (uh?) and quite some Spanish brandy. I mean the stuff they make around Jerez, of course. One of the brandy-est whiskies I could try so far. With water:  you are in Jerez! All we’re missing is a few croquettas, and perhaps a little jabugo. Mouth (neat): I have to say this works. Total bitter marmalade, plus bitter chocolate, plus cured ham, plus chewing tobacco combination. Extreme wham-bam sherry monster, extremely spectacular. With water: makes you speak Spanish – with an Andalusian accent. Heavy sherry, bitter oranges, liquorice. All that. Finish: very long. And sherried. Comments: sure it could have been just any unpeated distillery, and sure the sherry did all the work, but this style is right up my alley. Perhaps not yours? Huge young stuff. SGP:661 - 87 points.

Back to gentler cleanliness, I suppose…

Arran 14 yo (46%, OB, +/-2015)

Arran 14 yo (46%, OB, +/-2015) Four stars Loved the older official 14 yo (WF 87 around 2010). Colour: straw. Nose: pretty perfect clean barleyness, with some vanilla, a flowery touch, then a little damp earth and anything from a Corsican forest, that is to say myrtle, eucalyptus, mint, and caraway. Well not sure caraway freely grows in Corsica, have to check that next time I’m there. Mouth: excellent. I’ve often noticed that Arrans style could stem from Speyside, and this a good example. Orange in syrup, orange cake, vanilla cream, a touch of stewed pears, some maple syrup, some malt, some honey… All easy and good. Finish: medium, a little more candied/malty. I’ve sometimes called this style ‘Chivassy’, but I wouldn’t want to ruffle (even) more feathers over there in Scotland. Nah, too late… Comments: one of the super-blends. I mean, malts that blend drinkers should try. But warning, there’s no way back. Really very good imho. SGP:541 - 86 points.

Good, we’ve had seven, and eight has become my maximum. So, let’s choose #8 very carefully… (given that there’s no super-old Arran, for obvious reasons)… Plus, there’s a lost episode of Inspektor Derrick on TV, so let’s be quick and fast…

Lochranza 18 yo 1996/2014 (52.6%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, refill sherry butt, cask #1830, 506 bottles)

Lochranza 18 yo 1996/2014 (52.6%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, refill sherry butt, cask #1830, 506 bottles) Four stars That’s right, the great people at Blackadder are calling Arran ‘Lochranza’. Wondering, if they ever bottle a blend by Arran, what will the name be? Colour: straw. Nose: a bit sauvignony at first nosing, with a faint acetic side, then quite some varnish, just like in the 2005 for LMDW. The sherry casks again? And then some mud, chalk, rotting leaves, humus… There’s always something happening in Blackadder’s whiskies. Oh, yeah, by the way, I’ve said that I would quote Black Adder each and every time I’m trying some whisky by Blackadder. How does this sound then: “Oh, God, God, God! What on earth was I drinking last night? My head feels like there's a Frenchman living in it.” Okay, maybe not the best one. With water: becomes gentler, rounder, smoother, sweeter, maltier… Mouth (neat): young fresh malt whisky, with a slightly sour side. You could call that ‘slightly yoghurty’. Raw barley, a touch of varnish yet again, some sharp lemon juice, and always quite some sauvignon blanc. With water: bingo, I knew we would tame it. Agave syrup, barley water, tarte tatin, muesli. Finish: quite long, on the same flavours. Very malty. Comments: very malty indeed. Malty beer. Lots happening, even if it hasn’t got the high definition that a few others had. SGP:551 - 85 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Arran I've tasted so far



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October 18, 2015


Malternatives on Sunday
Yet another bag of rums and rhums
(Perhaps not rons)

The more you dig, the more dirt you find. In the case of (some) rums, dirt is artificial vanillin, plain sugar, glycerine, and a long list of various flavouring and colouring agents. One could claim that as long as those additions are legal, and as long a people like and buy some of these rums, why bother? Indeed, but it seems that everything’s not that legal, precisely, and that many rums simply aren’t rum as defined by regulations. But better read or re-read my friend Cyril’s excellent explanations on durhum. Meanwhile, back at El Whiskyfun ranch…

Bielle 2001/2015 (45%, OB for LMDW, Marie Galante, agricole, bourbon casks, 655 bottles) Three stars This baby’s a small batch vatting of 8 barrels. 655 ‘reduced’ bottles, that’s not a lot then, it seems that the Creole angels are quite thirsty. As for Bielle, it’s one of my favourite distilleries. Colour: full gold. Nose: very delicate for Bielle, rounded and soft at first nosing, with some apricot pie and just a touch of white chocolate. But then the liquorice comes out, together with some mocha, lilies, mirabelles, papayas, and discreet whiffs of seawater, a genuine asset in rum. Mouth: perhaps a few pencil shavings in the arrival – hope the greatest rums won’t follow the path of some whiskies that only believe in oak – but then it’s all sugar cane juice, pickled gherkins, and a bit of tar plus more liquorice. The oak keeps roaring in the background. Great body. Finish: long, very liquoricy, but a notch too oaky for me. Cedar wood. Was it first fill bourbon wood? Comments: great rum, excellent as expected, I’m just more in favour of spirits with a little less visible beams, ahem… Such as last year’s 2003 CS by Bielle. SGP:552 - 82 points.

Just thinking, why wouldn’t we stay in the French Caribbean today?...

La Mauny '1749' (40%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2014)

La Mauny '1749' (40%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2014) Two stars and a half A large brand that’s easy to find in France. La Mauny’s a very old distillery. See, 1749! But this little rhum is said to be only 18 months old. Colour: pale gold. Nose: the good thing with very young rums is that they just can’t be too oaky. That’s the case here, with quite some freshness (Atlantic freshness would Ileach distillers say), some oranges, pineapples, some cane juice, and a wee touch of diesel oil. Nothing to complain about! Mouth: extremely light after the Bielle, but clean and fresh. We’re midway between aged rum and white rum, with a soft spirit, without many third parties (phenols and such). Think a slightly firmer Cuban. A bit of honey and vanilla. Finish: rather short, always clean and fruity. As often, a little liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: again, nothing to complain about. And this baby won’t make you scratch your head. SGP:540 - 78 points.

Let’s try an older Mauny…

La Mauny 'VSOP' (40%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2014)

La Mauny 'VSOP' (40%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2014) Three stars A blend of 4 to 10 years old rhums. Colour: gold. Nose: a bigger 1749, with more depth, as expected, and even more brightness. It’s quite floral (gladiolus, perhaps), there’s something metallic that I enjoy (old aluminium pans), and then overripe pineapples plus a touch of cinnamon and butter cream. Globally pretty fresh, it’s not heavy rhum. Mouth: really good, easy, always fresh and fruity, with an ‘agricole’ touch, slightly petroly, and a touch of tar, liquorice, and salt. It’s just losing a bit a steam, probably because of the low strength. Finish: a little short, but clean, with more caramel than in the youngster. A little oak in the aftertaste. Comments: we’re already in the ‘very likeable’ category. Easy rum, well made, not dull at all. SGP:541 - 80 points.

Montebello 6 yo ‘Vieux Rhum’ (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2014)

Montebello 6 yo ‘Vieux Rhum’ (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2014) Four stars Montebello is made by Distillerie Carrère. It is agricole. As you know, Guadeloupe is the sister island of Martinique, but of course the Guadeloupians will claim to the contrary. We’ve only had one Montebello so far, but it was a rather stellar 1948 (WF 89). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a heavier style than that of the La Maunys, with more immediate tar and engine oil, a more expressive sugar cane, rotting tropical fruits, and then some prunes and raisins, armagnac-style. Big presence. Mouth: indeed, we’re going towards the heavier Jamaicans, without going that far. I cannot not think of Bellevue. Olives, burnt sugar, salted liquorice and all that. Two or three more degrees would have been welcome, though. Finish: medium, salty, phenolic, and slightly resinous. All for the better. No straight oakiness. Much more liquorice and a little mint in the aftertaste. Comments: first great surprise today. I’ll try to put my hands on some other Montebellos asap, that’s for sure! And the price is pretty fair, around 45€. SGP:452 - 85 points.

More Guadeloupe…

Damoiseau 8 yo 'Cuvée du Millénaire' (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2014)

Damoiseau 8 yo 'Cuvée du Millénaire' (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2014) Three stars Damoiseau is actually Bellevue, in Le Moule, but it’s not the same Bellevue as ‘Domaine de Bellevue’. It’s quite complicated… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s rather soft rhum again, especially after the Montebello, with more sugariness, more bonbons, and more crystallised fruits such as bananas. It has got a faint coastal side as well, but globally, it’s rather ‘sweet and easy’ rhum so far. But the palate could disabuse me… Mouth: indeed, it’s firmer than I had thought, not totally phenolic of course (it’s no heavy Caroni) but it’s got wee olive-y notes that prevent it from being too sweet and jammy. Some Demerara sugar – right, Guadeloupe sugar – and an overall rather supple profile. Finish: medium, a little caramely and fudgy. Candy sugar. Comments: I find this very good. In the same league as La Mauny’s VSOP, I’d say. SGP:641 – 80 points.

Back on Martinique with…

Depaz 'Grand Réserve XO' (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2014)

Depaz 'Grand Réserve XO' (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2014) Two stars Rhum from the Plantation la Montagne, on the foothills of the island’s volcano called La Montagne Pelée (the bald mountain). A volcano that destroyed the plantation back in 1902, but it got rebuilt. Depaz have got a huge reputation. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a drier style, maltier in a way, certainly earthier, with more tobacco, leather, wax, and… burnt sugar. A touch of juniper as well. In the background, the usual tropical fruits, such as bananas and papayas, but they’d never come to the front of the stage. Mouth: more modern, which is a tiny disappointment. Starts with quite a lot of cinnamon, which suggests very active oak’s been used, while the background is a little too soft to stand that in y opinion. No, in fact, this is a fairly major disappointment, I had high hopes. Finish: medium, drying. Sipping over-infused black tea while chewing cloves. Burnt caramel. The aftertaste is fruitier, though (oranges), but that’s a little late. Comments: I’ve had some Depaz that had been ten times more to my liking! But I enjoyed this one’s nose. SGP:471 - 72 points.

Neisson 2004 (45.4%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 2015)

Neisson 2004 (45.4%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 2015) Four stars and a halfAnother house that’s got a huge reputation. And they’re still family-owned! This baby’s a single cask bottling. Colour: deep gold. Nose: did I ever tell you that I love parsley and chives in my spirits? IN fact, this baby’s like when you’re nosing a steaming hot bowl of miso soup. But that won’t last forever (not only because you’ll soon quaff your soup, ha-ha), because there’s also some molasses, a box of cigars, banana skin that got black, then a pecan pie straight from the oven, certainly some kind of chocolate cake, and then, well, sugarcane. Hope it won’t be too sweet on the palate… Mouth: not at all. There’s a touch of oak but we are way below the limits (well, WF’s own limits), and then a perfect and rather complex combination involving spicy chocolate Spanish-style, roasted chestnuts, chewing tobacco, cocoa, and finally some liquorice made zestier with a little limejuice. Everything’s pretty perfect here, there could juts be even more power. Finish: long, and rather spicier. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and white pepper. There’s quite some oak in there, but it’s been tamed. That’s what great distillates do, mind you! Comments: I was expecting this, that’s this baby’s only flaw. SGP:461 - 89 points.

What would you, according to Gallic logic, after a great Neisson? That’s right, you would try to find another Neisson…

Neisson 21 yo (45.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 2015)

Neisson 21 yo (45.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 2015) Four stars and a half Twenty-one’s already an old age for some rhum that’s totally matured in the Caribbean (and not, like quite a few rums, in the UK, Holland, Germany or France). Will this baby be too oaky? Colour: only deep gold, good sign. Nose: we are, obviously, close to the 2004, but this one seems to be even more complex. For example, it’s got more floral notes (dandelions are obvious), as well as rather more fruit jams (mango). On the other hand, I find it rather less chocolaty, while it hasn’t got the parsley that I had found in its young sibling. Perhaps a touch of linseed oil, and certainly roasted peanuts. The jury’s still out… Mouth: bingo. Sure the oak starts to feel a bit, but there’s enough ‘stuff’ to balance it out, and to keep this amazingly fresh, joyful, and bright. Blood oranges, papayas, perhaps a touch of avocado, some dark tobacco (Gauloise, of course), and then more mandarin. Every time you’d think the oak would have the upper hand, there’s a zesty flavour that’s coming to the rescue. Fun. Finish: rather long, perhaps a wee notch too oaky now – hence the fact that it’ll miss the 90-mark in my book – but otherwise always brilliant. Comments: it’s a tie. SGP:461 - 89 points.

Would you have time for a last one? Why not try to find a 90? And why not end this with what we had for a start, that is to say a little Bielle?...

Bielle 2007 ‘Brut de fût’ (57.3%, OB, Marie-Galante, +/-2015)

Bielle 2007 ‘Brut de fût’ (57.3%, OB, Marie-Galante, +/-2015) Five stars In case you don’t know, ‘brut de fût’ means cask strength in northern Mongolian (it’s good that this is the last one today, S.) Colour: deep gold. Nose: less phenolic than other Bielles, but that may be the higher strength that kind of blocks the, well, the phenols. We find some mint and eucalyptus, though, as well as touches of rose petals, but no tar so far (pfff…) With water: starts to sing. Rubbed grapefruit skin, plasticine, old limoncello, wet concrete, leatherette, putty… All these sorts of things that oak just shouldn’t mute too much imho. Mouth (neat): great, bright, with plantains and very unusual notes of violet jelly, then rather orange blossom water, liquorice, and perhaps a little sawdust. Butter cream. With water: there, olives and brine. So very Marie-Galante (I’m not saying they’re growing olive trees on Marie-Galante! Are they?) Finish: long and superb. Lemony, mentholated, petroly, banany. Comments: it was a very close call after the Neisson 21 and the 2004, all being totally great. It’s just that I’m a sucker for olives… SGP:462 - 90 points.

A lundi!



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October 16, 2015


Young shtuff from Scotland, England, France, and Japan

Sounds like the Rugby World Cup, doesn’t it. There are myriads of new distilleries all around the world, and while one may wonder ‘who’s going to drink all this?’, I find this trend most joyous, from a taster’s point of view. We already tried Ardnamuchan and a bunch of other new cats, let’s have a few others today, not all whisky yet. Just for fun…

Glasgow Distillery 4 mo 2015/2015 (46%, OB, new make spirit, refill bourbon)

Glasgow Distillery 4 mo 2015/2015 (46%, OB, new make spirit, refill bourbon) Two stars and a half The first distillery in Glasgow since 100 years, with a capacity of around 500k litres a year (LPA? Whisky? Not too sure). This baby’s been distilled in May this year. Colour: white with a yellowish hue. Nose: well, it’s clean, fresh, and fruity new make, full of pears. Rather soft, without any varnish, acetone, feints, yeasts or whatnot. A little vanilla, tough. It seems that they went for a light, fruity style. Mouth: same feeling, its rather soft, already balanced, with pears once again – which is normal – then rather peaches and lemons. The mouth feel is slightly oily. To give you an idea, it’s a bit akin to unpeated Ardmore – but I agree, not many people have tasted unpeated Ardmore. A touch of liquorice and pink grapefruits, plus the vanilla from the oak. Liquorice allsorts (a tiny one). Finish: not long, which, again, is normal. Comments: light fruity style, it seems, but you never quite know how spirit and casks will tango before you taste the result at 5 or 10. We’ll see… But you could already down this on ice! SGP:630 - (useless) points.

Costwolds 2014/2015 (63%, OB, single malt spirit, England, cask #32)

Costwolds 2014/2015 (63%, OB, single malt spirit, England, cask #32) Three stars and a half This is much older, ten months! ;-). It was matured in an ex-wine barrique that was shaved, toasted and recharred. Oh and they’ve used organic barley. The distillery is smaller than Glasgow’s, with an annual capacity of ‘150,000 bottles’. So rather craft. Colour: gold. Nose: this already shows some maturity, but I guess it was French oak. Some kind of spicy desert, such as some Damson plum pie covered with cinnamon, perhaps. Also some very obvious rubbed orange skin, you’d almost believe they’ve added some orange skin oil. With water: a touch of caraway, cinnamon cake… It sure was a good barrique, and it’s great that they haven’t kept the wine. Very interesting work, smart. Mouth (neat): but… this works! Well, it does not quite taste like whisky, but I do enjoy this funny cocktail made out of Campari, Unicum, Aperol, and blood orange juice. Have to try that one day… With water: more whisky-ish. I find this impressive, and I cannot not think of those crazy American at Lost Spirits’. Again, smart. Finish: quite long, perhaps on Schweppes Orange? Nice creamy woodiness. Comments: how will this age? I’m very, very curious. And impressed with this pretty baroque barrique (Serge, tsk tsk…). SGP:641 - (useless, but would be rather high) points.

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 2011 'Ceros' (56.5%, OB, single malt, France, 1000 bottles, 2015)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 2011 'Ceros' (56.5%, OB, single malt, France, 1000 bottles, 2015) Four stars and a half This is well whisky, made by these mad young growers-distillers in the Alps. Single estate whisky, you know! Oh and I believe this is malted rye. Colour: white wine. Nose: I knew this was going to be perfect. Demerara sugar, croissants, wholegrain bread, a touch of damp earth, a touch of ginger, and a curious feeling of ginseng. This baby may give you strength and cure just anything, wondering if they haven’t used the secret recipe for the Ming emperors. With water: it’s the cereal and the bread that do the talking. Back to the roots! Mouth (neat): oh so perfect. I’ve already tried a version at 45% vol., but not sure about which one I’ll publish first, at time of writing. Anyway, I’m very fond of this perfect liquid spicy cake (not space cake), this is akin to some Alsatian Christmas cake called Christstollen. No, that’s not fruitcake. Lemon, salt, ginger, tequila, bread, olives, vanilla, quinces, dried and crystallised fruits… Perhaps did they use wine casks? There’s a feeling of raisins and a very tiny touch of muscat. With water: no, drop that, once again it’s the bread that speaks. Or panettone? Kugelhopf? Finish: long, on the same flavours. Love the saltiness. Comments: sadly, I don’t think this is easy to find yet. Superb. Just, careful with water, it only swims well down to approx 48-50% vol. SGP:561 - 88 points.

So, a very young Japanese, he said… That ought to be a new Chichibu, don’t you think?

Chichibu 2011/2015 (62%, OB, for LMDW, Madeira hogshead, cask #1371)

Chichibu 2011/2015 (62%, OB, for LMDW, Madeira hogshead, cask #1371) Four stars and a half This, is some elegant packaging. True luxury. Colour: red copper. Nose: it hasn’t got the Ceros’ immediate fullness, but perhaps that’s because of the higher strength. Having said that it’s got the cooked damson plums that echo the Costwold’s. Well I’m not against wine casks when it’s not just a matter of sucking out wine from the cask to flavour or bend the profile of some tired spirit. Superb notes of moss arising, boletus, tree bark, fern… We’re lost in a forest! But I think it’s too strong to let too many aromas come out. Needs water. So, with water: essential oils from the wood, and nutty/bacony aromas from the Madeira, plus oranges and light pipe tobacco. Mouth (neat): genius. Same kind of feeling as with the Costwold, this is not totally ‘whisky’ (but of course it is, technically), and yet it works. Glazed chestnuts, rancio (in a 4 yo whisky!), Seville oranges, ginger tonic, green pepper… What a body! Some fir honeydew as well, perhaps cranberries. And the smallest bit of Spanish ham (yep I’m aware of the fact that Madeira isn’t a part of Spain). With water: yess. It’s a kind of Asian sweet sauce, very complex, bittersweet, fruity, with some great fermentative notes. I’m sure you’ll think I’m dead crazy, or too influenced by the origins of this whisky, but I’m finding notes of sweet-style sake. Finish: same. Perhaps a notch more crystallised oranges and dried ginger. Rounded aftertaste, coasts your throat like honey. Comments: please don’t ask me to decide who won. SGP:651 - 88 points.

With people such as Ichiro-san or the Hautes Glaces gang (and several others, all over the world), the future of high-end ‘grand cru’ whisky is bright. These people are starting to reshuffle the cards, and I find that very refreshing. Too bad they’re so small…



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October 15, 2015


More Octomore

In an ideal world, we’d have first tasted a few Port Charlottes. But this ain’t no ideal world, so let’s go in hot!

Octomore 5 yo 2009/2015 '07.1' (59.5%, OB) Three stars and a half The seventh annual release and 7,548,224,145,411ppm on this meter (okay, rather 208ppm) but we all know that it’s the phenols in the distillate that count, not the phenols right after malting/smoking. This was matured in American oak. Colour: straw. Nose: square. Ashes in a discotheque ashtray around 7am somewhere in Marbella, tincture of iodine, tiger balm, tiny very acidic lemons. That’s all folks. With water: paint, carbolinium, bitter almonds. I guess this baby’s rustproof.  Mouth (neat): it’s probably where it loses a few points because of its youth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for totally spirit-driven whiskies, but in this case I find this rather too simple, too narrow. Chewing heavily smoked grass or something like that. Whether smoked or not, barley’s neither sugarcane, nor grape, and needs time. Now, as a spectacular smoke bomb, it’s great. With water: improves. Saltier, more lemony, more almondy. Hand soap? Finish: long, gentler. Almond cream like the Italians make. Comments: I find this one a little disappointing. Very good, but a little disappointing. A little too simple, perhaps the limits of the exercise? A bit like your old uncle after his 12th after dinner joke. SGP:358 - 83 points.

Octomore 5 yo 2010/2015 '07.3 Islay Barley' (63%, OB)

Octomore 5 yo 2010/2015 '07.3 Islay Barley' (63%, OB) Five stars Only 169ppm! On the other hand, this is fully Islay, the barley coming from Lorgba Farm in or around Port Charlotte. Not too sure. Oh and it’s brand new. And I loved 06.3 that had a similar pedigree. Colour: pale gold. Nose: sends 07.1 ad patres. This is so better chiselled, crystalline, evident, ultra-clean, massively pure… Perfect lemon, perfect peat. A blade. With water: yess. Mouth (neat): buries 07.1, once again. Our friend Mark Reynier was right. The purest form of heavily smoked, exceptionally medicinal, and superbly lemony goodness. It’s not a blade, it’s Excalibur. Or better yet, Durandal, but that’s harder to understand if you’re not French. With water: extraordinary spirit, intense, blade-y, ultra-clean, supremely elegant. If Didier Dagueneau (Google’s your friend) was still alive and was making whisky, he’d have made this. I think. Finish: even during the very long finish it doesn’t fail. Comments: goes with the greatest Clairins, Mezcals, Jamaican rums, or, ach, err, Lagavulins. Truly exceptional if you like whistle-clean, angular whiskies as much as I do. SGP:368 - 91 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Octomore I've tasted so far



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October 2015 - part 1 <--- October 2015 - part 2 ---> November 2015 - part 1



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Aultmore 25 yo 1990/2015 (57.8%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, sherry butt, cask #3241)

Ireland 27 yo 1988/2015 (49.5%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams)

Jefferson's Presidential Select 18 yo 1991 (47%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, batch #15, +/-2009)

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2015' (56.8%, OB)

Lagavulin 16 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2015)

Lagavulin 1991/2015 'Feis Ile' (59.9%, OB)

Lg5 (54.8%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2015)

Mortlach 15 yo 1971/1986 (86 U.S proof, Duthie for Corti Brothers, Sacramento)

Octomore 5 yo 2010/2015 '07.3 Islay Barley' (63%, OB)

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #627, 164 bottles)

Port Ellen 32 yo 1983/2015 '15th Release' (53.9%, OB, 2964 bottles)

Port Ellen 30 yo 1983 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, for LMDW, refill hogshead, 74 bottles, 2015)

Bielle 2007 ‘Brut de fût’ (57.3%, OB, Marie-Galante, +/-2015)

Rémi Landier ‘Héritage Coupe N°2’ (45%, Fins Bois, 2015)