(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo

Whisky Tasting





Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2016 - Part 2



October 2016 - part 1 <--- October 2016 - part 2 ---> November 2016 - part 1


October 31, 2016


The new cream of the Irish

I have to say I sometimes feel that some Irish whiskies/whiskeys, especially the cheaper ones, are a bit like the proseccos of whisky. But no worries, we’ll rather have grand cru champagnes today… Expect some high scores (so high opinions, coz remember scores are only opinions, and that by the way, opinions are perhaps better when a little educated… oh well…).

Old Dunluce 14 yo 2001/2015 (56.9%, Single Cask Collection, single Irish malt)

Old Dunluce 14 yo 2001/2015 (56.9%, Single Cask Collection, single Irish malt) Four stars The very distinguished Austrian bottlers wrote on their website that this was a Northern Irish. Which, indeed, suggests it’s Bushmills. Which gets even more obvious when you know where Dunluce Castle lies. Colour: pale gold. Nose: much grassier and leafier than expected, rather spirity, almost farmy, with apple peelings and even rocket leaves. Unusual, but that may be the high strength. Let’s see… With water: laughing out loud! All the Irishness just jumps at your nostrils, with bananas, white chocolate, wee touches of pineapples, sweet honeyed cereals (Golden Grahams)… Mouth (neat): much more Irish when tried neat, with a lot of bubblegum, light golden raisins (sherry wood?), and some overripe bananas. The leafy side’s still there in the background though, and keeps making it a little rough(ish). With water: full fruity Irish again, rather with green tea and spicy herbs this time. A touch of burnt bacon. Finish: quite long, rather drier. Provence herbs? Comments: they should bundle a bottle of water with this excellent (when reduced) Irish baby! SGP:561 - 86 points.

Irish Single Malt 24 yo 1991/2015 (46.7%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel)

Irish Single Malt 24 yo 1991/2015 (46.7%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel) Four stars and a halfThis shouldn’t be too bad… Colour: straw. Nose: as expected. Green bananas, fresh butter, avocado juice, mangos, papayas, touches of tobacco, and a touch of patchouli for good measure. Pretty unbeatable. Mouth: unbeatable indeed. Many tropical fruits and herbal/sappy substances are marching like in a parade, especially the usual suspects, mangos , bananas, and papayas. Then a drop of cough syrup, as well as a little rhubarb juice, perhaps. A pristine profile. Finish: medium, but very fruity. Multi-vitamin fruit juice (you’ll need ‘B’ ones if you’ve got a bottle of this at home). Fruit skins in the aftertaste. Comments: I may have written this before, it’s unbeatable (yet we’ll try…) SGP:651 - 89 points.

Cù Chulainn 27 yo 1988/2016 (45.7%, TWCC, Irish, single pot still, cask #14370, 157 bottles)

Cù Chulainn 27 yo 1988/2016 (45.7%, TWCC, Irish, single pot still, cask #14370, 157 bottles) Five stars Rumour has it that this is Bushmills finished in rum wood. After all, Cù Chulainn is ‘an Irish mythological hero who appears in the stories of the Ulster Cycle’. BTW TWCC stands for The Whisky Cask Company. Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s got a direct line to the Fässle, it’s just a little more, say subtle, with grapes (white muscat?) and wee metallic touches, which I always found very Irish. Copper kettle. Also some awesome notes of honeydew and ‘apples after three months in your basement’.  Mouth: all these 1988s are totally insane. There are more fruits than at Fortnum & Mason’s fruit department. I especially enjoy the fact that they’re rather more citrusy than the 1991s, and that there are ‘ideas’ of middle-aged estate cognac, with peaches and grapes. Finish: clean, tangerine-y. You just ate 5 kilos of assorted fruits. Love the leafier, mentholy signature. Comments: no quibbling. SGP:651 - 90 points.

Now let’s see if some official could compete… and call in a big gun...

Redbreast 25 yo 1991/2016 (53%, OB, for LMDW’s 60th anniversary, Irish single pot still, cask #42972, first fill sherry, 576 bottles)

Redbreast 25 yo 1991/2016 (53%, OB, for LMDW’s 60th anniversary, Irish single pot still, cask #42972, first fill sherry, 576 bottles) Five stars This is very important, this ultra-rare cask matured in Midleton’s warehouse #M16A bay 013! I believe it’s the oldest Redbreast ever bottled, and that it will be available pretty soon. Quite a coup, I’d say. Colour: mahogany. Nose: you’re in Vienna, having hot chocolate and pastries in one of these lovely old cafés. But does this whiskey waltz? Quite, and it does it well, even if the Irishness is less bright than in the others, and the sherry’s chocolate more obvious. Some almond cream, almond-filled croissants (did you know that croissants originated in Vienna, and not in Paris?), chestnut cake, cognac, a little crème de menthe…

With water: sublime development, on chicken bouillon, bone marrow, umami loud and clear, and parsley. Plus myriads of tinier herbal touches, certainly lovage. Mouth (neat): cognac, this is cognac! Really, I don’t think many spiritual enthusiasts ;-) would start to argue if you told them this comes from the Cognac region. Ripe peaches, a wee rancio, raisins, a touch of tinned pineapple, fruit ganache… With water: there, a splendid fresh Irishness comes out, with the usual suspects mangos and bananas. Finish: medium, and more honeyed. Glazed chestnuts covered with the honey made thereof. I mean, of chestnut flowers. The best honey in the world! (that’s a personal opinion too). A wee touch of coconut in the aftertaste. Comments: shall we call this a surprise? A half-surprise? What’s sure is that with this half-Irish, half-French profile, it reminds of quite a few rugby games. Epic whisky, wow, really. SGP:661 - 92 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Willie Jones III. Track: Toku Do. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 30, 2016


The search for malternatives
The cognac month, partie un



We’ll try five cognacs or more every Sunday for the whole month of November, hoping that we’ll find several worthy malternatives and knowing that Pierre Desproges, a rather famous French humorist who died in 1988, used to say that whisky was the idiot’s cognac. I must be extremely unintelligent then! Now he also wrote that ‘our enemy is very stupid, he believes the enemy is us, even though it’s him!’, some comments that we may have to think about in these troubled times… But in the mean time, let’s check, once again, whether cognac could be the smart man’s whisky or not…

Dobbé ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2015)

Dobbé ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2015) Three stars Some estate cognac from Salignac-sur-Charente that won double gold at the China Wine and Spirits Awards 2015. It’s also one of the thousands of brands that did not manage not to win a medal at the IWSC (ooh that’s cheeky, S.!) Colour: pale gold, great news, not too much caramel). Nose: a little rough and spirity at first nosing (it’s a little kirschy) but there are lots of raisins, both au naturel and burnt on a cake. I also find it rather liquoricy, as well as surprisingly malty. A lot of Ovaltine, chicory… Quite aromatic. Mouth: first a notch sweet and a tad caramely, but it develops nicely, on cereal bars, biscuits, and overripe (and overcooked) apples. Touches of peach and pear jams. Finish: rather short, with some liquorice and a little toasted oak and vanilla. Comments: a very fine, pretty flawless, and easy cognac that should please malt drinkers. SGP:541 - 81 points.

Oh, let’s have a little fun… sot of…

Cognac Delva (Delva, pale fine champagne, +/-1945)

Cognac Delva (Delva, pale fine champagne, +/-1945) You may know the story, Rommel and his army stole a lot of whisky and cognac from the British troops while in North Africa, which he then brought back to Italy before the stocks were seized again by the allies. The remaining litres have then been bottled by an Italian company named Delva, and today a few old bottles keep appearing at auctions every once in a while. We already tried the (nasty) whiskies a few years back, time to try the cognac. It’s reassuring to read this on the back label: ‘chemical tests carried out on Delva liquors showed all to be within standards of purity prescribed for use by Allied Military personnel.’ Phew! Colour: orange-ish gold (caramel). Nose: herbs and sugar syrup, not much else. Some kind of stale verbena liqueur (Verveine du Velay) and traces of molasses. Some stale Fanta too. Mouth: ugh! Nothing, nada, niente, nichts. Feels like the cheapest rosés for tourists. Finish: none. Comments: I hope it used to be better when the troops were still quaffing it. Fine champagne? But of course… SGP:110 - 10 points.

Léopold Gourmel ‘Premières Saveurs’ (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2015)

Léopold Gourmel ‘Premières Saveurs’ (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2015) Two stars and a half This is a Fins Bois, so a 1er Cru. It’s actually 6 years old, so a VSOP, but I’m not sure it’s estate cognac. The brand Gourmel is very popular amongst the small wine merchants in France. Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather more closed than the Dobbé – we shan’t compare this fine Gourmel with the Rommel cognac, of course – and much more on fresh cut fruits, such as apples, the usual vine peaches, and perhaps even green bananas. Nice wee touches of aniseed and liquorice wood. Mouth: I like, I find it pretty armagnacqy. Prunes cooked in white wine, with sultanas and even more peaches than on the nose. What’s good is that there’s much less caramel (and yeah, boisé) than in the entry-level cognacs from most large brands. If there is any. Finish: shortish but rather fresh. The peaches keep singing. Comments: really fine, just a little simple, perhaps. SGP:441 - 79 points.

Let’s give Gourmel another go…

Léopold Gourmel ‘Âge des Fleurs’ (42%, OB, cognac, +/-2015)

Léopold Gourmel ‘Âge des Fleurs’ (42%, OB, cognac, +/-2015) Four stars This one’s 15 years old, so technically an XO. Gourmel are using names that describe the aromas showcased at different stages of maturation, from fruits to fleurs (flowers) and from flowers to épices (spices) etc. This âge des fleurs also comes from Fins Bois, and almost integrally ex-ugni blanc. Colour: amber. Nose: indeed it’s very floral, with dandelions and lilac, plus quite a lot of natural vanilla (pods). Gets then more and more honeyed, you’d almost believe this is a blend of honey and maple syrup, but with a great freshness. Beautiful nose. Mouth: very good, pretty much in the style of the Dobbé. Fudge, pears, peaches, pineapples, praline, raisins, and heather honey. Good body, 42% work well for cognac. Finish: rather long this time, and a tad grassier, which is good. It’s still pretty silky, mind you. Comments: excellent, I was afraid there would be too much vanilla on the palate, but not at all. Because in cognac too, vanilla kills. It’s to be noted that Gourmel are using untoasted oak. SGP:541 - 85 points.

Vallein-Tercinier ‘X.O. Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, fine champagne, +/-2016)

Vallein-Tercinier ‘X.O. Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, fine champagne, +/-2016) Four stars and a half A blend of 35 years old or more cognacs from grande and petite Champagne done by one of our favourite cognac houses. In such cases, we’re all for NAS! We’ll have quite a few Valleins during the coming months. Only the low strength is a little scary here… Colour: amber. Nose: yeah well… If you enjoy a Strathisla from the 1950s to early 1970s, this is for you. Same superb beehive-y notes, yellow flowers, quince jelly, baked apples, stewed peaches, then cinnamon cake, honey cake, blood oranges… It’s just a little fragile, I wouldn’t keep it in my glass for more than ten minutes. Granted, that would never happen anyway ;-). Mouth: my! Starts a little Calvadosy, if I may, with more baked apples and a discreet gritty side, and goes on with a whole fruitcake covered with fine cinnamon and other spices from the oak. Chestnuts and raisins cooked in some honey-based sweet sauce. Finish: medium, and perhaps a wee tad tea-ish, but that’s nothing. I’m sure that would have been very different at 42-45% vol. A touch of liquorice as the signature. Comments: close to grand. Again, a matter of two to five extra percents… In my humble opinion… Forgot to say, they did the vatting ten years before bottling! Long marriages are always the best, aren’t they (take that, Scotland and your quick finishings) SGP:651 - 88 points.

(Merci beaucoup Angus and Pieter)

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



Block Today: BLUES FUNK. Performer: Allen Hinds. Track: Oscar's Swagger. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 28, 2016


Special Releases Special, today Cragganmore

Can you believe that, no recent official Cragganmore 12 yo in sight at WF Towers! Thank god, Cadenhead are known for the wideness of their ranges, they have many names that couldn’t be found anywhere else. Such as a Cragganmore…

Cragganmore-Glenlivet 16 yo 1999/2015 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch)

Cragganmore-Glenlivet 16 yo 1999/2015 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: very interesting. This is obviously not heavily sherried, and while it starts rather gently – as many Speysiders would, on orchard fruits, sweet barley and honey – it really tends to become fatter and more herbal at the same time. Something camphory and eucalyptus-like, embrocations, liquorice… And even a fair deal of wood smoke, and perhaps even peat. Tinned apricots and mint oil. Interesting, really… Mouth: it’s really fat, almost thick as oil, with the texture of liquid honey. Some Ovaltine – which was expected – and some milk chocolate, on a solid herbal base that would involve mint, liquorice and eucalyptus again. I also seem to detect a little lemongrass. Finish: rather long, still fat, with the usual peppery side from the oak. Even a wee saltiness. Comments: really richly textured, this Cragganmore. Excuse me, Cragganmore-Glenlivet. And indie Cragganmores as are rare as Justin B. singing Johann-Sebastian B., so… SGP:452 - 87 points.

Cragganmore (55.7%, OB, Special Release, 4,932 bottles, 2016)

Cragganmore (55.7%, OB, Special Release, 4,932 bottles, 2016) Five stars This year the NAS is not the Cynelish, it’s the Cragganmore. Not too sure about the rationale behind that. Maybe is it super-old and the distillers do not want us to have any preconceptions? Or maybe was the stencilling accidentally erased before they started to use barcodes on the casks? Or barcodes stripped away? Or is it just about blenders’ creativity indeed? About breaking them free from their shackles? Colour: gold. Nose: so very close! This is the 1999 at a higher strength, more or less. Same fat orchardy style, same herbal hints… I’m really all for this. With water: indeed, we’re extremely close. This one may have a wee tad more earthy earth. Perhaps cedar wood? Mouth (neat): totally excellent, and rather different this time. The fatness is there again, and so is the honey, but it’s also got rooty notes, between some kind of beetroot and sweet liquorice. Extremely creamy mouth feel. With water: maple syrup all over the place, plus a slice of pineapple and more honey. The earthy/rooty side is never far away. Finish: quite long, with a little more oranges, and plenty of fruit syrups. Perfect oaky balance. Comments: something extra. Really high-class, I’m starting to wonder if that’s not a cunning plan, bottling some perfect 25yo malt whisky, wiping away the age statement, and using these as proof of the excellence of NAS whisky in general. Come on, I’m joking! SGP:551 - 90 points.

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


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Sonny Fortune. Track: Trane and Things. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 27, 2016


A little bag of Americans

At random, more or less… And let's not wait until voting day!

Ironroot Republic ‘Texas Legation’ (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Texas bourbon, 2016)

Ironroot Republic ‘Texas Legation’ (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Texas bourbon, 2016) Three stars An interesting new bourbon that was ‘accredited in London’. If people as serious and honest as BBR’s spirit specialists have chosen this, there must be some good reasons, let’s see… Oh and that’s certainly not old age, as Ironroot Republic Distillery has been founded in 2013. Colour: deep gold (active wood!) Nose: typical young craft American, with plenty of sweet bread, some spicy grains, whiffs of caraway and gingerbread, and then a rather earthy honeyness and touches of cigarette tobacco (Virginia), as well as green leaves and stems. Woodruff, perhaps? As they say in London, niiiice! Mouth: at such a young age, and given the colour, this is expectedly oaky and spicy, but quite bizarrely, you’d rather believe it’s ex-French oak. Which would be hard to believe from Texans ;-). Spicy bread, poppadom, curry powder, pepper, ginger, plenty of nutmeg, sawdust… This is almost fully oak-driven, but it was quality oak, and I always love bready notes in my whiskey. Finish: long and extremely spicy. Nutmeg and cinnamon in the aftertaste, as well as a little citron. Comments: well done, it’s certainly not one of these sweetish very young bourbons that one can find here and there. Now I doubt they could have kept it in wood for more days. Perhaps minutes. SGP:371 - 80 points.

Eagle Rare 10 yo ‘Single Barrel’ (45%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, 2016)

Eagle Rare 10 yo ‘Single Barrel’ (45%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, 2016) Three stars Some fairly priced juice by Buffalo Trace. Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts rather floral, on broom and wisteria, and would go on with notes of warm tarte tatin, cinnamon cake, and gingerbread. And quite a lot of vanilla, obviously, as well as pastries. Panettone? Also some orange juice, which makes it rather fresh, and perhaps one tiny mushroom. Pretty elegant, showing some self-restraint, certainly not an oak bomb. Mouth: good balance, even if there’s more oak now, gingery spices, all-spice mix… Some gingerbread, coco cream, orange zests, fudge, and a little burnt sugar. A spicy/sweet ryeness as well. Finish: rather long yet smooth, on aniseed, marmalade, and gingerbread. Comments: it’s certainly better balanced than the Texan, but it’s also a little more, ach, ‘commercial’. Same level in my book. SGP:551 - 80 points.

David Nicholson ‘1843’ (50%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2015)

David Nicholson ‘1843’ (50%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2015) Three stars I don’t think there is any David Nicholson Distillery, so this is ‘probably’ sourced/branded bourbon. The packaging looks very familiar, doesn’t it… Colour: gold. Nose: rather light, but not uninteresting. BBQ, wood smoke, pears… Noses young, but not unbalanced. Not much else to say I’m afraid… With water: fresh bread and gingery sawdust. I enjoy the fact that it’s no vanilla bomb. Mouth: rather sharp, with some lemon sweets and some pepper, then more cloves. A nice spicy earthiness underneath… With water: same, more or less. Perhaps bitter oranges, and a little more drying cinnamon. Finish: medium, with touches of aromatic herbs, thyme, more cinnamon, nutmeg… And this wee earthiness in the aftertaste. Comments: solid, I have to say I quite liked it. Easier than the others. And it takes water well. Same ballpark once again. SGP:551 - 80 points.

Why not have two monsters at 64% vol.?

Elijah Craig 12 yo ‘Barrel Proof’ (64%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2015)

Elijah Craig 12 yo ‘Barrel Proof’ (64%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2015) Three stars These come in various strengths. I had one that I liked a lot two years ago (66.2%, WF 85). Colour: amber. Nose: totally sweet and rounded, you’re almost nosing maple syrup, tabernak! An milk chocolate, honey, and much sweetened custard. It’s so rounded that you have to be careful at this strength, you could burn your nose without even noticing. With water: lavender and violet liqueurs, like they make in Provence. Some spicy bread in the background. Have you ever visited Provence? Mouth (neat): spicy, herbal, and very sweet. Lavender honey, coconut liqueur, hipster gin ;-), bananas… But once again, careful, it burns despite the insane sweetness. With water: more sloe, lavender, thyme, sage, rosemary… I’m sure you could pour this onto lamb. In Provence. Finish: unexpectedly short, with gingery tannins coming out. Bitter grass in the aftertaste, that’s the oak. The spirit may have not digested the tannins, as often in these makes, in my opinion. Comments: excellent, but less impressive than an earlier batch (please see above). SGP:651 - 82 points.

Quick, a last monster…

Blanton's 'Straight From The Barrel' (64.8%, OB, bourbon, barrel #447, 2015)

Blanton's 'Straight From The Barrel' (64.8%, OB, bourbon, barrel #447, 2015) Three stars and a half More juice by Buffalo Trace. Colour: deep gold. Nose: much wider than the Elijah Craig, less sweet and rounded, earthier, spicier, with mushrooms, tobacco, Indian spices (I know, that’s very vague), barnyard, hay… But careful, this one too will burn your nose. With water: more herbs and earth, which I find very cool from some bourbon. I’m even finding truffles! And other mushrooms, mosses, cigars… May we now start to quote Cuban cigars when trying some American whisky? Mouth (neat): huge power! I’m almost getting peat, which says a lot. And huge quantities of black pepper. Quick, quick… With water: perhaps a little cologne-y at first, and still quite brutal even at +/-45% vol., but it’s also got these acidic touches that can be found in some bourbons, and which I usually enjoy. Lemon zests, green pepper... Finish: long, breadier, and even spicier. Peppered and smoked bread? Comments: some anti-smooth bourbon. Not the best balanced whisky ever, for sure, but at least it’s got something ‘different’ to tell us. You know, other than coconut, vanilla, and ginger. SGP:462 - 83 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Ross McHenry. Track: Child of somebody. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 26, 2016


A flight of Balvenie

We could do a little Balvenie today, in the pursuit of yellow plums and flowers. But first a Balvenie in disguise…

Burnside 19 yo 1996/2015 (53.9%, A Few Barrels Company, hogshead, cask #2185, 313 bottles)

Burnside 19 yo 1996/2015 (53.9%, A Few Barrels Company, hogshead, cask #2185, 313 bottles) Four stars Burnside is teaspooned Balvenie, so technically a blended malt and not a single. This wee new Swiss bottler also issued an interesting Wardhead, which is the name of teaspooned Glenfiddich. Colour: gold. Nose: wandering throughout some meadows around April, with a bottle of plum spirit in one pocket, and a bottle of crème de menthe in the other pocket. It’s actually a little more spirity and, say brutal than any official Balvenies, but the make is easily recognisable. A little Pils beer as well. With water: real ale and more flowers and mirabelles. Which is typically Balvenie in my book. Mouth (neat): totally very Balvenie, just a little rougher yet again. Mirabelle eau-de-vie straight from the (my) still, apricot pie, more Pils beer, some peppery breadiness… Roasted pumpkin seed, perhaps? With water: something else that’s typically Balvenie, a huge creaminess once this baby’s been watered down. Tinned fruit syrup, nectar… Finish: rather long and pretty zwetschky. Please excuse me. Comments: real good. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Officials, your turn…

Balvenie 15 yo 1998/2014 ‘Single Barrel’ (47.8%, OB, cask #13241)

Balvenie 15 yo 1998/2014 ‘Single Barrel’ (47.8%, OB, cask #13241) Four stars These 15 SBs have often be quite funny, since ages and vintages did not always add-up. Some were actually 16, 17, or even 20 years old.  Now ‘modern’ ones seem to be more mathematically sound… Colour: pale gold. Nose: in the same family, obviously, but quite unexpectedly, the indie was rather more Balvenian, while this one has more wood oils, plain sawdust, and even hints of varnish and paint. Now things settle down after a good two minutes, leaving room for the expected plums and flowers. A little vanilla fudge. Mouth: excellent. Malty and minty arrival, then liquorice wood and toasted bread, then vanilla cake and drops of mirabelle eau-de-vie. It’s a rather fresh one, rather less unpolished than earlier 15 SBs. Finish: quite long, on more cake. Always a little varnish and sawdust in the aftertaste. Some toasted bread as well. Comments: classic and good. These ones used to be bottled at 50.4% vol., before they started to add a little more water around 2003. But quality hasn’t dropped, quite the contrary if you ask me. Same ballpark. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Some catching up to do with the Tuns…

Balvenie 'Tun 1401' (49.2%, OB, batch #7, +/-2013)

Balvenie 'Tun 1401' (49.2%, OB, batch #7, +/-2013) Four stars Seven American oak casks and two European oak sherry casks, for travel retail only. Colour: deep gold. Nose: sweet Vishnu! Never has some malt whisky got this beehive-y, honeyed, luscious, rounded, and herbal. This nose is simply amazing – and would make even the most die-hard connoisseur love NAS whiskies. Not talking about good people that work for or with the industry, of course, they have to love them anyway. Amazing, amazing nose. Pecan pie, walnut cake, orange blossom honey, sultanas, various fudges, old Sauternes, old sweet chenin blanc… these sorts of lovely things. Amazing indeed. Mouth: hold on, there is a lot of oak (resinous wood, strong black tea, chewing tobacco…) It’s not that all the dried fruits aren’t there, and all the herbs, but the oak’s a little dominant. Around walnut skins. Some peppery/mustardy notes too. Finish: long, bitter, oaky. A dry Jaegermeister. Cloves, cinnamon mints, more black tea. Comments: the nose was out of this world, and a part of the palate was too, but I found the oak a little too predominant. Or was that the European oak’s influence? SGP:561 - 86 points.

Hope we won’t score them all the same…

Balvenie 'Tun 1401' (50.2%, OB, batch #8, +/-2013)

Balvenie 'Tun 1401' (50.2%, OB, batch #8, +/-2013) Five stars More or less the same proportions for this UK-only bottling of 2,700 skittles. I believe it was the last Tun 1401 ever, before they started to issue much larger batches under the Tun 1509 moniker. Colour: amber, so darker than batch 7. Nose: more floral, wit peonies, and more sherried for sure, which the colour already suggested. More walnuts, a touch of bacon, then seven bags of raisins of all kinds, heather honey, and then simply notes of old sherry. Not sherried whisky, sherry as a wine. You know, Jerez. With water: a game-y side, some old hay, soy sauce, umami, chicken soup… Well, this is a Spartan story, three sherry casks managed to force nine bourbon casks to their knees. Mouth (neat): there’s this oakiness again, but this time it mingles with the spirit rather better, creating a mentholy and liquoricy profile that works a treat. Vicks, Seville oranges, peppermint, black pepper… You do feel the pepper in the back of your throat even before you’ve swallowed one single drop. With water: classic, complex, herbal, minty, and very raisiny. A blend of oloroso with PX (I know, a crime). Finish: rather long, smoother, never too oaky, with a dry aftertaste. Dry aftertastes always call for more. Comments: simply better. I mean, more to my liking… SGP:651 - 90 points.

Balvenie ‘Tun 1509’ (52.2%, OB, batch #3, 2016)

Balvenie ‘Tun 1509’ (52.2%, OB, batch #3, 2016) Four stars and a halfI’m quoting from the very excellent Whisky Exchange (I owe you a glass of riesling guys), this baby ‘is comprised of 12 sherry butts, 11 American oak hogsheads and 8 refill American-oak butts, all containing whisky distilled between 1989 and 1993’. So, this is a 22 or 23 years old, hope the SWA does not read little WF. Hello? Colour: amber. Nose: it’s younger and simpler than the 1401s, one can feel that there isn’t any old whisky inside. Yeah, oldness starts at 25 with whisky, in my opinion – even if aging is anything but linear, agreed. Now simpler doesn’t mean very nice, and in this case it is very nice, on chocolate and cake. Ovaltine, prunes… With water: a bowl full of Mars bars! A little pipe tobacco too. Mouth (neat): good and, once again, pretty simple, on more Ovaltine, more chocolate, and more coffee liqueur. Drops of raspberry spirit. Oh and ‘simple’ is no bad word as far as whisky’s concerned, better simple and balanced than complex and unbalanced. Well, I agree, that depends… With water: brown ale, malt, Ovaltine, brunt raisins (overbaked brioche) and more spices. Cinnamon cake, clove, nutmeg… Finish: rather long, rather on mulled wine, marmalade, and more cakes. We’re approaching Xmas time, aren’t we? Comments: I find it excellent, and more burnt/sherried than batch #2. SGP:561 - 88 points.

(and thank you Craig, Paul, Tomislav)

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



Block Today: JAZZ FUNK. Performer: Karl Denson. Track: New Ammo. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 25, 2016


One Rainbow and two Karuizawa

Some friend asked me why Karuizawa was more expensive than Brora or Port Ellen, while Karuizawa only stopped distilling around the year 2000, and PE and Brora much earlier, in 1983. I couldn’t find any plausible answer. Anyway, we’ll have two new old Karuizawas today, two 1965s that together with my old friend Dave B., we had poured at Whisky Live Paris in September, during a so-called masterclass that we did. I prefer the wording ‘tutored tasting’, or even ‘joint tasting’, but there. As the apéritif, we’ll have a wee Japanese whisky I had never heard of before…

Rainbow Sanshu 12 yo (40%, OB, Japanese blend, 72cl, +/-2015)

Rainbow Sanshu 12 yo (40%, OB, Japanese blend, 72cl, +/-2015) Some kind of laser code suggests that this was bottled in 2015, but I’m not too sure. It’s ‘produced and bottled’ by Aioi Unibio Co., ltd. Colour: gold. Nose: wood alcohol, scoria, dust, sawdust, stale apple juice. Pass, this is no nosing whisky, it’s quite like those 7.99€ whiskies that we get in our supermarkets. Yep, on the lower shelves. Mouth: most certainly better than the nose suggested, maltier, with good toasts and acceptable cookies and pastries. A spoonful of marmalade. Now that doesn’t last, the cardboard is back after a few seconds. Thin body. Finish: short, okayish. Malt, bread, oak, cardboard, sawdust. A little salt in the aftertaste. Comments: as we sometimes write, we’ve tasted much worse. Probably needs a lot of ice. SGP:231 - 59 points.

Karuizawa 50 yo 1965/2016 (62.5%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, bourbon, cask #8636)

Karuizawa 50 yo 1965/2016 (62.5%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, bourbon, cask #8636) Five stars Do you really need the price? It’s more or less the price of a Toyota Aygo. Yes that’s a car. Colour: amber. Nose: less closed than when I first tried it with Dave. We had thought it was ‘the slowest whisky in the East’! Navigates around marzipan-filled and ham-rolled prunes, camphory pipe tobacco, sultanas, sandalwood, some very sappy pinewood, and oriental pastries, baklava, orange blossom water, pistachio nougat… I have to say I’m finding this nose quite sublime. Here we go again! With water:  it doesn’t change much, but it was already quite perfect when unreduced. Mentholy raisins, date eau-de-vie, dried pears… Mouth (neat): starts a bit on damson plums, zwetschke pudding, propolis, black raisins, more prunes… It’s not easy to detect an ex-bourbon cask, this could as well have been a sherry cask if you ask me. Very mentholy background, with all oils and molecules ending with –ol, and something empyreumatic, as they say in wine when they want (hope) to sound smart. With water: water brings out the tannicity, as always, and makes the whole much drier, but we remain below the limits, which is a little miraculous. Assam tea, bitter liquorice… Finish: very long, and here come our friends the citrus fruits, which really ‘lift it’. Astonishingly fresh, with some kumquats, and more liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: pretty exceptional, as expected. The sherried Karuizawas are maybe a little more renowned, but this bourbon is truly great, you just need to give time and to let it breathe. As far as the Toyota Aygo’s concerned, that’s without any options I’m afraid. And with the smallest engine. SGP:661 - 94 points.

Karuizawa 50 yo 1965/2016 (62.2%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, sherry, cask #2372)

Karuizawa 50 yo 1965/2016 (62.2%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, sherry, cask #2372) Five stars Rather the price of a Yaris this time, indeed, the sherry’s more expensive than the bourbon, for some reason. Colour: deep amber. Nose: there are similarities, and there are differences. The raisins are more in the front, as expected, while there are added gamy and herbal notes, around bouillons, stocks, perhaps even sausages, marrow… It’s also a notch smokier (pine smoke) and then much more on tobacco. Pipe, cigars, everything. Notes of gentian liqueur and chartreuse arising, verbena liqueur, woodruff, most certainly elderflowers… And always these big black raisins, Corinth style. And mint! With water: some kind of Spanish cake, the name escapes me. Raisin rolls, brioche… The herbal notes have gone, quite bizarrely, but not the ham. It’s not easy to come up with the perfect dilution, at this price, better not mess with it. Mouth (neat): starts rather like an old sherried Glenfarclas, very chocolaty, a little brutal, with drops of raspberry spirit and some bitter oranges. It’s a rather sharp combination, and the very high strength doesn’t help. So, with water: the oak comes out, with more mint, dry herbs, cocoa powder… Finish: long, on some kind of cocoa plus lemon juice combination. Some tannins are there as well, black tea… Comments: well, the sherry’s more expensive, and it’s a great old whisky for sure (again, careful with water!), but I have to say I enjoyed the cheaper one really better. Well when I write ‘cheaper’… SGP:561 - 90 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Alexis Baro. Track: Almost there. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 24, 2016


Special Releases Special, today the grain

First the new Cambus, then others. There’s more and more old single grain everywhere these days, some now sold for the price of malt. Mind you, in ‘single grain’, there’s ‘single’, and that’s a magical word.

Cambus 40 yo 1975/2016 (52.7%, OB, Special Release, 1,812 bottles)

Cambus 40 yo 1975/2016 (52.7%, OB, Special Release, 1,812 bottles) Four stars and a half One of the old closed grain distilleries, Cambus stopped working in 1993. The bottle is superb, I have to admit. Colour: gold. Nose: medicinal alcohol on croissants and coconut cake, plus a lot of custard and herbal tea. Dog roses, perhaps? Notes of mirabelle pie. A rather elegant grain whisky, I especially enjoy all this white chocolate that comes through after two minutes. With water: toasts and marmalade, in all softness. Mouth (neat): really very good (yes, S. speaking), full of mangos and papayas, plus plums and hay jelly. Hay jelly’s excellent, try that on foie gras! What’s really excellent as well is that it’s not too dominated by vanilla and coconut. Well it’s not dominated at all. Great surprise. With water: a little grenadine, rhubarb, and more rhubarb. Rhubarb pie with a little cinnamon, and drizzles of lime juice. Perhaps wacky guavas too. Finish: medium, clean, limy, soft, with a little lavender (sweets) and violet drops. Comments: seriously, this is an excellent surprise, on second thought there are even nods to high-end tequilas. Now could grain whisky, even when old, be worth £750, I don’t quite know, but what’s sure is that I like this Cambus just as much as last year’s Caledonian. SGP:650 - 89 points.

So, other old grains, let’s go see on the side of Douglas Laing, they have quite a few of them these days…

Port Dundas 27 yo 1988/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular)

Port Dundas 27 yo 1988/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular) Two stars This one’s brand new, we haven’t got all details yet. Colour: straw. Nose: burst with redcurrant jelly and marshmallows, as well as wheelbarrows of ripe gooseberries. We often quote gooseberries, but seldom find so many of them in whisky. With water: coconut, vanilla, cellulose varnish. Mouth (neat): rather hot, and very spirity/cologne-y. Raw kirsch. Not my preferred style… With water: a sourness from the wood, on top of grapefruit juice and more Kirschenwasser. Finish: medium. Sour fruits. Comments: have I already told you that this was not my preferred style? Perhaps keep these casks for oldish blends? I know, not my business… SGP:650 - 70 points.

Carsebridge 33 yo 1982/2016 (44.9%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular) Four stars Same, we haven’t got all details yet. Colour: dark amber. Nose: this is much more like it, with some chestnut purée, Mars bar (not deep-fried), chocolate, molasses, brioche, even raisins… Feels like a refill sherry hogshead, but not too sure as, as I told you, we haven’t got all details yet. Mouth: indeed, very good. One of those sugared rums, without that added sugar. Chestnut cake, brownies, Corinthian raisins, toffee… In short, some excellent liquid toffee. Finish: medium, with a feeling of panettone. Our Italian friends should like this brand new one. Comments: indeed, with grain, the wood makes the whisky, and this was pretty good wood. SGP:550 - 85 points.

Any other volunteers?...

Caledonian 41 yo 1974/2015 (50.2%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, cask #11836, 200 bottles)

Caledonian 41 yo 1974/2015 (50.2%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, cask #11836, 200 bottles) Four stars I know, one that I should have tried ‘against’ the Cally last year. Colour: deep gold. Nose: mango cake covered with maple syrup. Some white chocolate and some honey. No roughness and no excessive woodiness, and above all no dull vanilla/coco. With water: fresh hazelnuts and almonds, plus a little tar, unusual in grain whisky. Really very nice. Mouth (neat): some syrup, some cocktail! Blood orange juice with some Sauternes and honeydew, with a wee sappy side and lovely hints of mirabelle jam. And once again, no oaky stuff that gets in your way, even after all these years. With water: ooh careful, it tends not to swim too well. The tar that we got in the nose became ‘new plastic’ on the palate. In very minimal quantities, thank god. What’s better is this orange-y side. Finish: medium, rather more akin to some middle-aged sweet chenin. Say Quart-de-Chaume? Comments: almost perfect. An impressive freshness after all those years. SGP:650 - 87 points.

I think we have room for a last one…

North British 31 yo 1985/2016 (55%, Cadenhead, Small Batch)

North British 31 yo 1985/2016 (55%, Cadenhead, Small Batch) Three stars and a half This should be maize! That’s right, corn whisky. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: thin mints – and that chocolate would be white. Then rubbed leaves and flower petals - not too sure which ones – as well as a little tobacco. Interesting and really nice, I was afraid this would be spirity and brutal, while its not, at all. With water: water doesn’t help much, better nose it neat. Mouth (neat): light rum, this is light rum. Havana Club or something, serious. With water: and there, oranges. Rum-orange? Finish: medium, all on oranges. Comments: really a funny grain whisky. And it’s actually better than Havana Club. I mean, more to my liking. Use it to play tricks on your friends! It’s more expensive than Havana Club, but around twenty times cheaper than Macallan 30 Fine Oak. I know, I know… SGP:630 - 84 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Ted Rosenthal. Track: Monk's Dream. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 23, 2016


Rums again

This is Sunday, we’re back with a few rums. I’m slowly starting to believe that, while it’s ridden with rotguts and sugary swills, the rum world is still less boring than the whisky world. Oh and we’ll soon have a few cognacs, and believe me, it’ll probably be the craziest cognac session that’s even been done. Really. But, yeah, today it’s rum again…

Fair 8 yo ‘Belize’ (53.8%, Fair Spirits, Belize, 2016)

Fair 8 yo ‘Belize’ (53.8%, Fair Spirits, Belize, 2016) Three stars and a half Some small batch Travellers that’s totally ‘fair trade’. The molasses come from small estates that have gathered within a Farmers Association. We’ve already tried a few ‘Fair’ rums, they had all been very good. Colour: gold. Nose: I find it rather dry, very clean, very nicely cane-y and chocolaty, with growing notes of ripe pineapples and bananas. The bright freshness is very pleasant. With water: some delicate heather honey and touches of tree bark, or broken branches. A little tobacco as well. Mouth (neat): very very good, on some delicious tropical fruit jams, jellies and chutneys. Some pears as well, and a little pinesap too. Very good balance. With water: gets a little drier, with a nutty side. Cassata and praline. A little more oak in the background, fruit peelings, roots… Finish: medium, clean, fruity and nutty – and a little sappy too. Orange-filled chocolate, orangettes… Comments: really very good, I like it almost as much as last year’s superb 11 yo CS. SGP:641 - 84 points.

While we’re at Travellers…

Ferroni 2007 ‘Rum de Marseille’ (42%, Ferroni, Belize, +/-2015)

Ferroni 2007 ‘Rum de Marseille’ (42%, Ferroni, Belize, +/-2015) Three stars and a half Not distilled in Marseille, of course, but at Travellers, and finished in cognac wood. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s rather more orange-y and peachy, and that may be the fresh cognac. It’s actually all nicely fruity, clean, easy, and as they say in Marseille, refreshing. Nice metallic touches. Mouth: well in the style of the Fair, just a little fruitier again. Pineapples and oranges everywhere, fresh cane juice, and perhaps a little sweet cider. Goody good. Finish: medium, clean, easy, unfiddled-with. Perhaps bananas. Comments: excellent, well done Ferroni. Why don’t all beginners start with these easy kinds instead of the hyper-branded mutant monstrosities that are invading the shop shelves these days? SGP:541 - 83 points.

Reimonenq 2009 ‘Grande Réserve’ (47%, Rhumhouse, Guadeloupe, +/-2016)

Reimonenq 2009 ‘Grande Réserve’ (47%, Rhumhouse, Guadeloupe, +/-2016) Three stars A bottling mainly for our Swiss friends. Reimonenq’s always been a little ‘different’ from most other agricoles, with unusual tastes. I’ve not tried hundreds of them, but in general, I’ve preferred the younger ones. Colour: full gold. Nose: extremely aromatic, more aromatic than all other rhums, with some geranium, lavender, agave, pomegranate, blood oranges, tamarind, peonies… In short, something that’s not totally ‘rhum’, but that’s very appealing. Mouth: really very different. Some kind of cocktail made with rye, grenadine, violet petals, liquorice, oranges, and perhaps a little black earth. Oh, also banana liqueur. Finish: rather long, sweet, extremely fruity and floral. More violets and lavender. As sweets! Szechuan pepper in the aftertaste, very vivid and obvious. Comments: how they come up with this profile, I don’t know (well we all have ideas), but these rums are devilishly sexy. And not too sugared! SGP:740 - 82 points.

St. Lucia Distillers 13 yo 2002/2015 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, 296 bottles)

St. Lucia Distillers 13 yo 2002/2015 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, 296 bottles) Four stars and a half An excellent reputation for both the distillery and the bottler. What could go wrong? Colour: straw. Nose: perfect. Earth, paraffin, plasticine, fern, cane, engine oil, chickpeas, then seawater. Straighter and drier than the officials. Mouth: oh! Totally natural, with a Jamaican side, olives, tar, leather, roots, candle wax, mud, brine… You’re right, I forgot to mention green olives. Finish: perfect, long, and very salty. Some pink grapefruits too. Comments: a flabbergasting dryness. I loudly applaud that, and I start to believe that I ought to pay more attention to St. Lucia. We all should. SGP:362 - 88 points.

While we’re having deep phenols…

Worthy Park 2006/2016 (46%, La Maison du Whisky, Jamaica, Transcontinental Rum Line)

Worthy Park 2006/2016 (46%, La Maison du Whisky, Jamaica, Transcontinental Rum Line) Four stars and a half From three casks, aged for 8 years in the tropics, and 2 years in Europe. I’m sure we’ll get that on the palate ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: despair, inferno, and putrefaction. This is perfect. Carbon paper, new wood, bitter almonds, engine oil, tar, rubber bands, and rotting lemons. Mouth: well, I’d have bottled it at 50%. Yes I was feeling the need to say something bad about this baby. Smoked tea, lapsang, bitter liqueurs, artichokes, plastic, lemon, savory, lemon balm. Finish: very long, zesty, as chiselled as natural Laphroaig and as oomphy as Lagavulin. Ardbeg? What’s that? Comments: seriously, I believe that at 50%, or say 48%, it would have been both better balanced and deeper. The distillate itself was immaculate, and indeed very ‘peaty’. SGP:365 - 89 points.

What would any rum lover want to try after a Worthy Park? You’re right, a Hampden. And at cask strength, please…

Hampden 2000/2016 (54.9%, La Maison du Whisky, Jamaica, Transcontinental Rum Line)

Hampden 2000/2016 (54.9%, La Maison du Whisky, Jamaica, Transcontinental Rum Line) Five stars Colour: light gold. Nose: F**k this s**t! An old shipwreck with old ropes, crude oil, seawater, leatherette, and seashells. Or the exhaust fumes of an old two-stroke bike, a Kawasaki for example. Or, yeah, a Trabant. With water: oooh! Lovage and seaweed. Mouth (neat): superlatively lemony, tarry, smoky, and smoky. I know, that two times smoky. And very salty. Makes many Islays taste like Glenlivet NAS in comparison. Enough said. With water: totally and plainly umami-esque. And in Hampden, there’s always a little lemon lifting the whole shebang. Finish: not that long, which is a little surprising, but superbly citrusy, fresh, and yeah, refreshing. Funny notes of coffee in the aftertaste and the retro-olfaction. Comments: Hampden make one of the best spirits in the world. In the Top Ten for sure. Some talk, they distil! SGP:464 - 92 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ for rum. Performer: Mike Nock. Track: Song of Brazil. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 21, 2016


Special Releases Special, today Glenkinchie

Not much Glenkinchie on WF’s shelves, so no wide choice as far as possible sparring partners are concerned. Maybe a newer batch of the regular 12 years old, given that we had just tried a 2015 expression a few months ago? And then we’ll try the new 24 years old…

Glenkinchie 12 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2016)

Glenkinchie 12 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2016) Three stars Last time I had thought they were making good progress, and found a recent 12 rather more to my liking than an older 10. Colour: straw. Nose: really soft, all on barley, crunchy cereal bars, apple compote, and perhaps various pies. Quince, for example? Quinces always work in whisky… A hint of oak in the background, a little green(ish). Mouth: pleasant arrival, cerealy and rather fruity. Orange-flavoured marzipan, then more apples, muesli, and a touch of ale. Gets then a little lemony, with good body. Not a super-light Lowlander! Finish: medium, with more compote and more cornflakes, plus a lemony base. A little green oak again in the aftertaste. Comments: rather more body and structure than in the old 10s. Hints at many a soft Speysider. SGP:451 - 80 points.

Glenkinchie 24 yo 1991/2016 (57.2%, OB, Special Release, 5,928 bottles)

Glenkinchie 24 yo 1991/2016 (57.2%, OB, Special Release, 5,928 bottles) Four stars They had a very good 20 yo 1990 a few years ago (WF 86), which I had found pretty ‘Rosebanky’. Colour: gold. Nose: a little aggressive, with quite a lot of wood varnish, broken branches, crushed fresh almonds, and simply… err, high-strength vodka. Some coconut oil too. May need water (of course it does)… With water: very nice, ripe fruits, apple juice, vanilla… A kind of high-strength pina colada with malt instead of rum. Mouth (neat): good modern style, with oranges, lemon, coconut, vanillin, and quite some green tea. Some sweet newish oak may have been used, for there is also quite some liquorice wood, with a terpenic side. With water: good roughness, not common in Glenkinchie, and I guess that’s the oak. Green tea, a spoonful of honey, sweet apples, some barley syrup… Finish: rather long, with more liquorice wood again. A little mint in the aftertaste. Comments: really to my liking, perhaps a bit between an old grain and an old malt. Some good oak seems to have been in use. SGP:451 - 85 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ FUNK. Performer: Electro Deluxe. Track: Play. Please visit their website and buy their music...

October 20, 2016


Special Releases Special, today Auchroisk

Not a lot to say about J&B’s Auchroisk, except that, as some new whisky bloggers would say, you may pronounce that ‘Oh-thruskk’. Which sounds a bit like Olaf The Hairy’s battle cry if you ask me… We’ll start this with a slightly older one, since that one was bottled at a lower strength.

Auchroisk 27 yo 1988/2016 (48.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 258 bottles)

Auchroisk 27 yo 1988/2016 (48.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 258 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: polished by time, as they used to say in whisky books before NAS. Because it’s definitely time, and not oak, that did build this subtle and fresh fruitiness that goes way beyond apples and pears. Guavas come out, and so do jujubes, all that being coated with touches of lilac and geranium flowers. A subtle and very elegant Auchroisk. Mouth: starts smooth and a little shy, gets then spicy (peppery), and goes then towards these subtle tropical fruits again. No wham-bam mango, though, rather green bananas, for example. And not-too-ripe pineapples. Excellent, even if sometimes not too classic. Finish: quite long, on some kind of fruit and pepper cocktail. Blood oranges and nutmeg? A touch of spicy cardboard in the aftertaste. Comments: at times, I would have said Tomatin. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Auchroisk 25 yo 1991/2016 (54.7%, Claxton’s, bourbon hogshead)

Auchroisk 25 yo 1991/2016 (54.7%, Claxton’s, bourbon hogshead) Four stars We’ve already tried some excellent whiskies by this fairly new bottler. Colour: straw. Nose: it hasn’t quite got the fruits that were in the 1988, but it’s got some good grass and hints of luxury hand cream. It’s quite floral, in fact, and indeed lilac is back (S., you know that alliterations kill!). Orange drops. With water: same. Mouth (neat): good! Tinned fruits coated with pepper, ginger, and cinnamon. In truth I’m finding this Tomatiny side again. Also tinned peaches ala Ardmore, and some caraway ala… Ach, caraway eau-de-vie. With water: same. Finish: medium, creamy, on more tinned peaches. Add one marshmallow. Comments: this baby’s immune to water, but that doesn’t matter, it’s pretty excellent when neat. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Auchroisk 25 yo 1990/2016 (53.4%, OB, Special Release, 3,954 bottles)

Auchroisk 25 yo 1990/2016 (53.4%, OB, Special Release, 3,954 bottles) Four stars Not the first oldish official Auchroisk. A 20 had been excellent back in 2010 (WF 87), whilst the Manager’s Choice (not Dram) from 2009 had been a little less flabbergasting IMO (WF 82), and the 30 yo from 2012 really good (WF 85). Excuse me? The earlier Singletons? Bah… Colour: straw. Nose: starts a little varnishy, in a good way, and unfolds on a fruit salad covered with custard. Very nice whiffs of old cellar and damp wood, that adds more dimension. Once again, some flowers are playing above all that, such as lilac again, lilies, dandelions… With water: perfect! More complexity, blond cigarettes, teas, eucalyptus leaves… It loves water – a mystery after the 1991. Mouth (neat): totally in the style of Claxton’s 1991. Tinned fruits and pepper, Weetabix, peaches, and pepper. Nothing is not to be liked. With water: and once again water opens new doors. Pastries, fudge, and even these small biscuits they have in Switzerland, called Läckerli. Finish: medium, a little spicier, more towards speculoos. The aftertaste is a notch bitterish, which makes it lose one point. There. Comments: super good. To be honest all three were playing in the same ballpark, only wee nuances allowed us to differentiate them. Oh and water. SGP:551 - 87 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Joshua Redman. Track: Can't Dance. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 19, 2016


More old blends and blended malts

This is probably the most buoyant whisky category these days. Blended malts and quasi-blended malts, that is to say blends with a very low grain content, are managing to convince more and more whisky enthusiasts, partly because they’re usually less expensive than single malts, and partly because they’re often… funnier! Let’s have a few today, from various houses and origins, sorted by ascending strength.

Speyside ‘Whiskyklubben Slainte’ (45.3%, Sansibar, blended malt, butt, 554 bottles)

Speyside ‘Whiskyklubben Slainte’ (45.3%, Sansibar, blended malt, butt, 554 bottles) Four stars This is a ‘very old selection’ for a Swedish whisky club, but what’s a little troubling is that it’s a blended malt taken from ‘a single cask’. Unless that means that it was blended at birth, or sometime during maturation, and then re-racked or married or something. Oh well, do we really need to know? Colour: gold. Nose: it’s probably not tremendously old, it rather noses like late 1980s – early 1990s, but that gives it a perfect vibrancy, with lovely hints of leaves, grasses, green tobacco and branches, as well as whiffs of garden bonfire, burning hay, cider apples, and crushed greengages. So we’re rather on the grassy side so far. Mouth: very solid, firmer than many a ‘single’ Speysider, rather on bitter oranges, candle wax, green pepper, and then the same greengages and green apples as in the nose. Also touches of wasabi, perhaps, do those come from that butt? White pepper, green oak… Finish: long, minty and very spicy, some old wood must have been involved. Spicy wood oils, chillies… Comments: I really enjoy this pretty austere leafy style. Should go well with surströmming. SGP:372 - 86 points.

Fine Blended Malt Whisky ‘Very Old’ (45.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt)

Fine Blended Malt Whisky ‘Very Old’ (45.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt) Four stars A rather fair price for some ‘Very Old’ blended malt (€99). Colour: gold. Nose: same dry and pretty austere profile, perhaps is this one a little more herbal and mentholy? There are also more winey notes, and those a pretty lovely, around riesling or something. Touches of mustard and fresh walnuts as well. Mouth: indeed, same family. Green tea, coca leaves, green tobacco, cider apples, green plums… And a touch of juniper and sloe. Not a very common style, for sure, we’re rather more between Clynelish and Pulteney than in Speyside. Finish: medium, rather spicier again. Pepper and horseradish. Comments: another one that hasn’t got much fruitiness, but then again, it’s style that I enjoy. No need to come up with a different score. SGP:372 - 86 points.

The Half Century Blend (45.5%, Blended Whisky Company, blend, 768 bottles)

The Half Century Blend (45.5%, Blended Whisky Company, blend, 768 bottles) Five stars A devilish bottling, since the price is of €666 at time of writing - you never know with the Pound these days - and since its age is of ‘more than fifty years’. What, a 50 yo blend and no moulded crystal, no silver-plated stag’s head, and no embroidered tartan pouch? There is a little laxness in Scotch these days, don’t you agree… Colour: gold. Nose: burst with both orchard and tropical fruits at first nosing, ala old Benriach, with guavas and plums, and gets then rather more cake-y, nutty, praline-like, with pastries and maple syrup. There’s also a grassiness that keeps it relatively dry, around apple peelings and autumn leaves. A little wax polish as well. Deep in the background, notes of coconut, possibly from the old grain they must have been using. Mouth: ultra-sexy, ueber-fruity, luscious, yet never pushy, with notes of old bourbon and old rum, then dried apricots and, yet again, guavas. Juicy ripe nectarines. Finish: medium, still fresh and very lively, with a soft oakiness that never gets drying or too tea-ish. Peaches cooked in honey sauce? A wee Irish side. Pure Pot Still ala old Redbreast – BTW we’ll soon try a 25 yo Redbreast, stay tuned. Comments: more proof that whisky can be immortal. And yet, you see, age does matter. SGP:651 - 90 points.

Spice Tree Extravaganza (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 12,240 bottles, 2016)

Spice Tree Extravaganza (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 12,240 bottles, 2016) Four stars An older and more sherried Spice Tree, containing Ord, Benrinnes, Allt-A-Bhainne, Clynelish, Dailuaine and Teaninich in various proportions. They also give you details about the various casks that they’ve used (charring, toasting and such), like they sometimes do in America. Colour: gold. Nose: ah, yes, Allt-A-Bhainne is very obvious in the mix. Of course I’m joking. Many white and yellow garden fruits, vine peach, sweets, raspberries, Williams pears… There is some oak as well, but we’re never going over the top, this is not some oaky whisky. Neither is it extremely spicy on the nose. Mouth: very soft, as fruity as some fruit salad, with plenty of pears again, plums, quinces… It’s only after a few more seconds that more straight oak appears, around black tea and black tobacco. Yes, Gauloise. Once again, I do not find this baby particularly spicy. Finish: medium, really fresh, with soft pink grapefruits. Okay, a little cinnamon, and bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: really very super good, even if I’d have poured more Clynelish into the vatting tank. But that’s me… Certainly gentler than I had thought it would be. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Sansibar are on again…

Speyside 35 yo 1980/2015 (47.3%, Sansibar, blended malt, sherry butt, 387 bottles)

Speyside 35 yo 1980/2015 (47.3%, Sansibar, blended malt, sherry butt, 387 bottles) Four stars No mention of a single cask this time. Colour: deep gold. Nose: bursts with honeys and ripe fruits at very first sniffs, but all that is soon to get back in line, while more waxy/grassy notes appear, not unlike in that Swedish ‘Whiskyklubben’ bottling. So no wham-bam watch my fruits old whisky, but what it’s got is elegance and balance. Mouth: a tad gritty and green, but I like these notes of dried litchis and longans, which remind me of… China. Jujubes. Notes of blond tobacco, mirabelles, apricot pie, all that being covered with quite some white pepper and cinnamon. A drop of spearmint oil, then more raw artisan cider, like former hippies still make in Brittany. Perhaps a little paraffin, not obligatorily welcome in this context. Finish: medium, rather fruity (oranges), with green spices from the oak. Caraway? Some fudge and molasses in the aftertaste. Comments: totally and plainly all right. SGP:551 - 85 points.

And a last one, let’s try to make it official…

Linn House Reserve 35 yo (51.6%, Chivas Bros., blend, batch #LH35001, 2005)

Linn House Reserve 35 yo (51.6%, Chivas Bros., blend, batch #LH35001, 2005) Four starsFrom Chivas’ high-octane series, their Rare Malts in a way, except that this is an undisclosed blend. Oh well… Colour: deep gold. Nose: vanilla and sawdust at first nosing, as well as many tinier aromas, around mushrooms, forest leaves, linseed oil, humus, overripe apples, wild flowers, pollen, ale… It’s all rather complex, and very elegant, I think. With water: some lovely whiffs of old coins and other metallic stuff. Wulong tea. Mouth (neat): very very good, citrusy at first, with some oranges and some lemon balm, and then with honeys and beeswax, with a rather perfect peppery base. Raw apple juice and white cherries. Tends to become a tad tannic and drying, but that’s almost nothing. With water: careful, there’s a little saponification taking place, but other than that, citrus up! Oranges, tangerines… Finish: rather medium, well balanced, rather fresh. Oranges and apples on sweet bread. Comments: no huge personality, and you wouldn’t think it’s 35, but this blend from when Chivas were still thinking ages were paramount sure is excellent, in a fairly natural, un-caramelised style. SGP:561 - 85 points.

(And gracias again, Tom!)



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Yusef Lateef and Archie Shepp. Track: Monk Remembered. Please visit buy their music...

October 18, 2016


Special Releases, mi piace Clynelish

How do you like my Italian? Actually, there isn’t any Clynelish amongst the Special Releases this year, but that doesn’t mean that we shall not do a proper Clynelish session today. After all, this is my blog. Kind of a blog. Not quite a blog. Oh whatever, I do what I want…

Clynelish 14 yo (46%, OB, +/-2016)

Clynelish 14 yo (46%, OB, +/-2016) Four starsLong overdue! Last time I tried Clynelish 14, that was a circa 2011 expression. I feel shame and misery… Colour: pale gold. Nose: I remember when the very first batches came out, they did not quite convince me. But since back then, thing never stopped improving. What’s sure is that this is totally Clynelish, with waxes and fusel oil, orange zests and limestone, and a good deal of bread dough and leaven, which I always enjoy. There’s also a little sea spray, just a little. How coastal distilleries that mature their whiskies within the central belt manage to produce ‘coastal’ whiskies, while the whiskies from central distilleries that age their spirits in the same warehouses do not, I still don’t know. It’s a huge mystery to me. Mouth: yess. Waxes, bitter oranges, herbal liqueurs, violet sweets, ginger, sloe gin, pepper… Finish: rather long, and a little peppery. The wax keeps roaring in the aftertaste. Comments: big whisky. Never been this good in my opinion. SGP:362 - 87 points.

Clynelish 1995/2016 ‘Pomme Piquante’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 340 bottles)

Clynelish 1995/2016 ‘Pomme Piquante’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 340 bottles) Five stars Never heard the expression ‘pomme piquante’ in France, but maybe is it Canadian? Swiss? Belgian? African? Asian? Colour: pale gold. Nose: cleaner, straighter, fruitier, zestier, more angular. Around pears and waxed fabric, with just one drop of lapsang souchong tea. Mouth: the power of one good single cask. Sharp, extremely well defined, on green apples indeed, greengages, rhubarb, and always this waxy bottom. Not a very wide one, but I find it extraordinarily concise and clean. Cool climate whisky, would we say in the wine world. Finish: medium, lace-y, with some lemon and a drop of linseed oil. Comments: so epitomically Clynelish! I’m not sure you could achieve this degree of precision with large batches. Well-chosen, Wemyss; now, about those pommes piquantes... SGP:462 - 90 points.

Clynelish 18 yo 1997/2016 (51.6%, TWCC, sherry, 141 bottles)

Clynelish 18 yo 1997/2016 (51.6%, TWCC, sherry, 141 bottles) Five stars If I remember well, TWCC stands for The Whisky Cask Company or something. Ah, unbridled Swiss creativity! Now, careful with Clynelish plus sherry… Colour: gold. Nose: raw bitter chocolate and a new box of cigars. Some mint, some moist garden peat, some walnuts, and a touch of mustard. And mushrooms. Weird? Not at all. With water: our beloved old tweed jacket after a long walk under the rain. Dogs aren’t that far away. Mouth (neat): immensely perfect. Smoky oranges and waxed kiwis, walnut wine, and more cigars. A drop of brine in the background, and a dollop of grapefruit juice. With water: the oak speaks out, with liquorice, herbal teas, saps, chocolate, toasts… Finish: very long. Oranges, chocolate, wax, and chlorophyll. Comments: less well-chiselled than the Wemyss, but spicier and more complex. Okay, same score. SGP:462 - 90 points.

A younger one please, for science…

Clynelish 2001/2016 (54%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, refill sherry, casks #307849 – 307850)

Clynelish 2001/2016 (54%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, refill sherry, casks #307849 – 307850) Three stars and a half Always remember that not many independent bottlers do buy new fillings and mature their whiskies themselves. G&M do, as we all very well know. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a less Clynelishy Clynelish, thanks to some more active wood. Nuts, gunpowder, fumes, beef stock, and raw chocolate. That’s the sherry casks speaking. Refill, really? Was there a heavy peater before? With water: sherry plus phenols plus water, when combined, can create nuclear reactions. Not quite the case here, what we’re getting is rather used matches and more raw chocolate. Mouth: very punchy, and very perfect this time, if wackier and more, say ‘farmy’. Rotting fruits and vegetables, chocolate, game, dried beef (jerky and all that), and very wild cigars. Cubans of course, since they’re a hot topic these days. I mean, in Amerikka. With water: very game-y, dry, with some Spanish ham and more cigars. Quite Andalusian, this one. Finish: long, with bitter oranges. Comments: Clynelish is big spirit, yet I wouldn’t claim I’d have immediately recognised it, had I tried this blind. Great whisky, it’s just that I like Clynelish au naturel better. SGP:463 - 84 points.

Clynelish 22 yo 1993/2016 ‘Elisir d’Amore’ (51.7%, Silver Seal)

Clynelish 22 yo 1993/2016 ‘Elisir d’Amore’ (51.7%, Silver Seal) Four stars and a half Do not dream, this is not love potion, the name refers to Donizetti’s well-known opera. Now on second thought, I’ve never tried to put a little Clynelish behind my ears, that may work! Colour: white wine. Nose: dry, austere, mezcaly, mineral, smoky, waxy… It’s a bonfire on the beach, with some tar and some petrol (from the boat). A bone dry Clynelish, it seems, as the colour already suggested. With water: rain water and cut grass. Mouth (neat): immense, peaty (yes!), Brora-ish, peppery, lemony, mineral… No prisoners taken. Elisir d’Amore, but of course. It tends to become a little fizzy and spritzig, though, which is a little less… seductive. With water: lemons come out. Citrons, lemongrass, Thai basil, radish sprouts… Plus a little vanilla and raisins. Welcome back to civilisation. Finish: rather long, rather sweeter. Apple juice, tinned fruits… Reminds me of earlier vintages of Clynelish. Comments: it’s that fizziness that’ll prevent me from going to or above 90. Other than that, mi piace a lot… SGP:452 - 89 points.

Good, let’s put an end to this wee session, but let’s do that with panache and, hopefully, glory…

Clynelish 41 yo 1973/2015 (45.2%, OB, for Wealth Solutions, cask #16802, 144 bottles)

Clynelish 41 yo 1973/2015 (45.2%, OB, for Wealth Solutions, cask #16802, 144 bottles) Five stars The rarest, and certainly the most expensive Clynelish ever. Talking about ‘new’ Clynelish here. If it’s anywhere near some superlative 1973s by Signatory/Prestonfield, we’re up for a treat. By the way I had forgotten I had this one, until some message by some friend appeared on Facebook. Like ‘who’s tried this?’ Happy to oblige… Oh and yes, it’s well an official bottling. Colour: gold. Nose: it needs time. There’s something metallic upfront, this may go away with oxygen. Zzz… zzz… Good, stewed rhubarb, old garage, leather polish, nettle soup, sage, brake fluid, porridge oats, brand new magazines, old books (so ink), rusty nails… It seems that this is a rather cerebral old malt. What’s perfect is that nobody’s thought of re-racking this cask. Bless ‘em. Mouth: a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Bone dry, metallic, petroly, mineral… Do you know Trimbach’s Clos Ste Hune, by any chance? And once again, it’s rather a Brora-ish Clynelish. What’s really strange is that we’ve never seen any Brora 1973. Could we please meet with the gentleman who was responsible for stencilling the casks back in 1973? Please? Or his family? We’ll bring chocolates and good wine… Ashes, pepper, mustard, hay, tar, seaweed fire… Yeah I know, Brora… Finish: long, majestically dry, sharp, concise, precise, ashy, mineral… You may call the anti-maltoporn brigade, but that would be a little too late. My bad. Comments: okay, here’s a new theory. In 1973, some, if not all Brora casks used to be stencilled as ‘Clynelish’. Okay, do you have any proof to the contrary? Like, a picture of a cask of 1973 Brora? Or even a bottle? SGP:364 - 94 points.


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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: James Farm. Track: Otherwise. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 17, 2016


Special Releases Special, today Linkwood

So there is an old Linkwood. I‘ll always remember Michael Jackson’s comments about roses and other precious flowers hiding in Linkwood’s nose, that’s why each and every time I’m tasting Linkwood since my first edition of the Malt Companion, I’m looking for roses. And so of course, I usually find them. Now let’s be fair, let’s start this very short session with another old Linkwood…

Linkwood 30 yo 1984/2015 (54.4%, Riegger's Selection, cask #5270, 372 bottles)

Linkwood 30 yo 1984/2015 (54.4%, Riegger's Selection, cask #5270, 372 bottles) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: roses! I’m joking, that would rather be various honeys, pollen, stewed apples, sponge cake (with a nod to The Sponge), then some interesting notes of half-burnt chocolate cake, and perhaps simply toasted oak. So far, so very nice. With water: superb, with some Barbour grease, damp earth, saltpetre, and a large chunk of honey and hazelnut cake. In short, a great cake straight from your oven, covered with earth. It really is a perfect nose. Mouth (neat): excellent. Starts malty and chocolaty, and goes more towards oranges and mint after that. A development that’s perfectly perfect. With water:  swims very well. Earth up, cake slightly down. Balance is tops. Finish: long and, as often, rather grassier. Perhaps a little green oak in the aftertaste. Comments: I was ready to go to 91, but just because of the slightly bitter(ish) aftertaste, that’ll rather be… SGP:561 - 90 points.

Linkwood 37 yo 1978/2016 (50.3%, OB, Special Release, 6,114 bottles)

Linkwood 37 yo 1978/2016 (50.3%, OB, Special Release, 6,114 bottles) Four stars and a half It’s going to be tough after the pretty perfect 30 yo, but we all know that Linkwood can age very gracefully. Just ask G&M. Colour: gold. Nose: roses! And this time, I’m not joking. Plus other flowers, as well as ‘dry’ waxes, some tiger balm, certainly a good dollop of turpentine, and then more and more pinesap. No, more than that, it really gets pinesappy (some idle, retired language teacher will kill you one day, S.) Some pineapples and peaches too. With water: tends to become more mineral, even after a good ten minutes. Touches of mash as well, yeast, bread… This was well barley. Old lady’s fur coat – an indeed, perhaps old-style rose-led perfume. Mouth (neat): this is Foreman vs. Frazier, both Linkwoods are returning blow for blow. In a way, this older one’s a tad fresher and more on fruits, whilst the 30 was more on cakes and malt. But what’s the best… I mean, my favourite? Hard to say… With water: gets drier, careful with water. Often the case with old whiskies, water unleashes the tannins that used to hide behind the alcohol. Add just one drop of Vittel (or any Scottish waters as soon as they don’t cost you an arm, which is the case in France – yeah, despite the Brexit – granted, so far). Finish: medium, more almondy. Comments: really, careful with water! I was ready to go up to 91 while it was still neat, while that would rather be around 85 when it’s reduced down to around 45% vol. Good, that’ll be… SGP:551 - 89 points.

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


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback



Block Today: BLUES. Performer: Jimmy Herring. Track: Bilgewater Blues. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 16, 2016


Looking for caney malternatives again

Yesterday (at time of writing) I said to myself, if it’s sunny tomorrow I’ll do rum, if it rains I’ll do armagnac. Well, it seems that we‘re having an Indian summer over Alsace… And a little randomness can do no harm either!

Appleton 12 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2016)

Appleton 12 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2016) Three stars I believe this is a pretty new expression in France. Colour: gold. Nose: typical, half-tarry and phenolic (as they know how to make in Jamaica) and half rounder and smoother, with an overall profile that does hint as some Martiniquan agricoles, even if the processes are not similar (molasses vs. cane juice, pot stills vs. columns). A touch of smoke and liquorice. Very fine nose. Mouth: more on the fruity side this time, with pineapples and papayas, then rather citrus. It’s also a little oak-forward, with some acridness in the background. Nothing too embarrassing, having said that. Ice notes of raw cane juice. Finish: medium, but this time there’s olives, which we always enjoy at WF Towers. Comments: the oak’s a little too prominent for me, but other than that, I do enjoy this little baby. SGP:541 - 80 points.

Père Labat ‘Cuvée Spéciale’ (42%, OB, Marie-Galante, 2016)

Père Labat ‘Cuvée Spéciale’ (42%, OB, Marie-Galante, 2016) Two stars Père Labat is pretty craft, and I’m a sucker for their whites. Father Labat was, in a way, the Dom Pérignon of rhum agricole. The rhum Père Labat is made at Distilleris Poisson. Btw if you sometimes see it described as a ‘Guadeloupe’, remember the wmall island of Marie-Galante actually belongs to La Guadeloupe. Colour: pale gold. Nose: typical agricole ambré, that is to say aged but pretty young, a bit like the tequilas reposado. And by the way, there are hints of agave, violets, then pure cane juice, liquorice, a touch of rye, and whiffs of mushrooms. Great nose, pretty singular. Mouth: a tad sweet for Labat, and perhaps a little ‘sawdusty’, I don’t find a lot of fullness here. Curious notes of tinned pineapples from last week. I’m not a huge fan this time, I’m afraid. Finish: a little short, a little dusty/grassy. Comments: tastes a bit like some very good white that’s been given oak chips for a one week. Although I highly doubt they would do that. SGP:550 - 73 points.

Pacto Navio (40%, OB, Cuba, 2016)

Pacto Navio (40%, OB, Cuba, 2016) Two stars Another new mutant rum, with no age, a story long like an arm, and a retro ‘Stranger & Stranger’ label that’s made to let punters believe the brand had always been there. It’s actually Havana Club juice from San José distillery, finished in Sauternes wood. Sounds very ‘Diplomatico, but it may be better than Diplomatico (which, granted, ain’t such an achievement). Colour: gold. Nose: very light, very Havana Club, with bananas and dandelions, then a little fudge and mirabelles, perhaps from the Sauternes. Really extremely light. Mouth: sweet – they may have added around 20g/l of sugar – and rather honeyed. Not bad, you just won’t remember it forever. Hints of fruitcake. Finish: short, and rather raisiny. Perhaps the Sauternes again. Some coconut in the aftertaste. Bah… Comments: not bad at all, just pretty innocuous. Better than many other new rums with stories anyway. SGP:640 - 75 points.

Bielle 2005/2015 (45%, OB, Marie-Galante)

Bielle 2005/2015 (45%, OB, Marie-Galante) Four stars A very high reputation, but I find 135 to 190€ for some 10 yo rum rather steep. This is, of course, agricole, and it’s classified as coming from… let’s see if you’re following… that’s right, Gualedoupe. Colour: gold. Nose: yeah, it’s expensive, but this nose is brilliant, as expected. Metal polish and tropical fruits, touches of soft curry, linseed oil, liquorice wood, a little camphor, sandalwood, moisturiser, more liquorice… How complex! Mouth: a tad more disjointed, perhaps, but it bursts with all kinds of liquorice, plus a coastal side, tar, samphires, fruits starting to rot (which is lovely in rum!)… It’s just a wee tad oaky, a problem that already found in the youngish Labat. Finish: quite long, perhaps a little tannic and gritty (same comments). Comments: simply high class. Worth even more points if it had been a little less tannic. SGP:562 - 85 points.

Back to Jamaica…

Monymusk 12 yo 2003/2016 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd for LMdW, Jamaica, 180 bottles)

Monymusk 12 yo 2003/2016 (55.4%, Berry Bros & Rudd for LMdW, Jamaica, 180 bottles) Four stars and a half Pot still rum from Clarendon/Monymusk. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a phenolic and dirty one at first nosing (rotten olives and industrial mud, just what we like), but it gets then cleaner, superbly limy and briny. Seawater, lemon juice, and engine oil. Kippers. In my opinion, this Monymusk is closer to Hampden or Worthy Park than other Monymusks, but then again, I haven’t tasted hundreds of them. Mouth: so good! A true Laphroaig of rum, with bags of seaweed, green olives, oysters, petrol, tar, green pepper… And there’s even quite some wood in the background, but that doesn’t quite feel like oak. Eucalyptus? Thuja? Finish: long, superbly chiselled, perfectly rubbery (coz there’s good rubber and bad rubber in my simple world), with a perfect everlasting bitter aftertaste. Cynar, artichokes and stuff. Comments: Islay fans, scramble, scramble! Well done BBR and LMdW. SGP:373 - 89 points.

A last one, let’s make it potentially excellent…

Hampden 23 yo 1992/2016 (50%, Silver Seal, Jamaica, cask #17, 248 bottles)

Hampden 23 yo 1992/2016 (50%, Silver Seal, Jamaica, cask #17, 248 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: same family as the Monymusk, only even more extreme. A big fat phenolic rum, with some kind of mentholy all-spice mix, tapenade, seawater, gherkin brine, tyres and inner tubes, mud with some diesel oil inside, scuba diving suit, latex, Samsung Galaxy 7 (S., behave!)… And cane juice! All is well. No water needed. Mouth: the perfect combination, tar and olives. And salt, lime, all oils, clay, plasticine… Oh please call the anti-rumporn brigade! Finish: very long and even more to my liking. Smoked anchovies and salted liquorice. Comments: one Usain Bolt of rum. A truly amazing bottle. BTW, I know some good friends are arguing that rums aged on location are better than rums aged in the UK (well, in Scotland). Romantically speaking, they’re probably right, but in truth, I believe some slower, more Scotch-like maturation sometimes works better, as that gives us more distillate-driven spirits, which I always prefer when they’re mature. I know, controversial, but there… Anyway, this is simply one of the very best new rums out there. Even if there’s a mistake on the label, this is no ‘fine old rum’, it’s ‘superb old rum’. SGP:463 - 92 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ for rum. Performer: Conrad Herwig. Track: Recorda Me. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 2016 - part 1 <--- October 2016 - part 2 ---> November 2016 - part 1



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Balvenie 'Tun 1401' (50.2%, OB, batch #8, +/-2013)

Clynelish 41 yo 1973/2015 (45.2%, OB, for Wealth Solutions, cask #16802, 144 bottles)

Clynelish 18 yo 1997/2016 (51.6%, TWCC, sherry, 141 bottles)

Clynelish 1995/2016 ‘Pomme Piquante’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 340 bottles)

Cragganmore (55.7%, OB, Special Release, 4,932 bottles, 2016)

Linkwood 30 yo 1984/2015 (54.4%, Riegger's Selection, cask #5270, 372 bottles)

The Half Century Blend (45.5%, Blended Whisky Company, blend, 768 bottles)

Karuizawa 50 yo 1965/2016 (62.2%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, sherry, cask #2372)

Karuizawa 50 yo 1965/2016 (62.5%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, bourbon, cask #8636)

Cù Chulainn 27 yo 1988/2016 (45.7%, TWCC, Irish, single pot still, cask #14370, 157 bottles)

Redbreast 25 yo 1991/2016 (53%, OB, for LMDW’s 60th anniversary, Irish single pot still, cask #42972, first fill sherry, 576 bottles)

Hampden 23 yo 1992/2016 (50%, Silver Seal, Jamaica, cask #17, 248 bottles)

Hampden 2000/2016 (54.9%, La Maison du Whisky, Jamaica, Transcontinental Rum Line)