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Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2017 - Part 1


September 2017 - part 2 <--- October 2017 - part 1 ---> October 2017 - part 2


October 14, 2017




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild

A Pair Of Clynelish

I’m quite thrilled that Diageo will ‘do something’ with the old Clynelish/Brora distillery across the road from the ‘new’ one. It will take a while no doubt but thankfully there are still plenty examples of its sibling to keep us occupied in the mean time. And who could complain about that?


Clynelish 1996/2013 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice)

Clynelish 1996/2013 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice) 1996 is a slightly ‘trickier’ vintage than the ubiquitous 1997s in my opinion. Although plenty are still fab. Colour: Light gold. Nose: It’s a slightly more austere one at first approach. There’s a rather brittle mineralic aspect with damp hay, soot and coal dust but this quickly moves into fairly classical and very pleasing territories such as soft waxes, beach pebbles, bay leaf and a little wet earth. Little bunches of white flowers and linen. Somewhat straight forward but relatively uncompromising in style. Mouth: A nice assortment of waxes, white pepper, a little green fruit, some camphor, gooseberry jam, pine resin, gorse. It’s not the most sensational Clynelish but it is loyal and exemplary of the distillery character. Would be a perfect alternative to the official 14 year old. Perhaps some cold tea, sorrel and olive oil after a while. Finish: Medium with a nicely sooty, lemony and waxy aftertaste. Comments: A solid and fairly emblematic Clynelish. Just a little simple maybe. One for casual quaffing or the hip flask. SGP: 462 - 84 points.



Clynelish 21 yo 1983/2004 (56.9%, Dun Bheagan, hogsheads, casks #2552-2553, 516 bottles)

Clynelish 21 yo 1983/2004 (56.9%, Dun Bheagan, hogsheads, casks #2552-2553, 516 bottles) Serge tasted a 19 year old, sibling bottling to this one back in 2005 and found it quite disappointing (WF:70). Let’s see if it was an unfortunate fluke. Most 83s are fab... Colour: White wine. Nose: Ahh! We’re safe! This is a wonderfully harmonious mix of white fruits, waxes, oils, herbs, coastal and farmyard qualities. There is a shared DNA with the 1996 but this is just fatter, richer and globally more pronounced. With a little time a buttery, Riesling-esque petroleum note emerges. Goes on with little touches of dried mint, wild strawberry, a lick of tar, granny smith apples, sunflower oil, creel nets and bergamot. Some tiny suggestions of various medical tinctures, cotton wool, tool sheds and camphor. Big, classical and braw! With water: develops these wonderful notes of meadowsweet, buttercup and lime cordial. Wax jackets and gorse flowers. Mouth: A big, glistening and slightly medicinal waxiness. Full of herbs, wild flowers, pastry, dried seaweed, minerals and sandalwood. Becomes in turn peppery, grassy and oily with further various waxy and farmyard complexities. Old workshops and motor oil. A lick of paraffin and some aged Gewurztraminer. With water: perfect! A blend of aged Riesling, assorted waxes, furniture polish, Turkish delight, some Moroccan spices and a breezy, seashore minerality. Finish: Long! Full of white pepper, earl grey tea, lemon peel, buttered toast and dried herbs. Comments: These early 80s Clynelish really had something special about them. Almost a resurgence of the early 70s characteristics in some ways. This one was fab! SGP: 362 - 91 points.




October 13, 2017


Four baby whiskies

From new or very recent distilleries…

Raasay ‘While We Wait’ (46%, OB, 2017)

Raasay ‘While We Wait’ (46%, OB, 2017) Three stars Crikey, I’ve done my homework (for once) and contrarily to what I had hoped, I just found out that this is not young spirit from the new Isle of Raasay Distillery, rather sourced malt whisky, quite probably from Loch Lomond, finished in some kind of Supertuscan casks. Well, while we’re there… Colour: straw. Nose: rather warm and porridge-y, buttery, quite sooty, with some kind of coal smoke and certainly a feeling of cold lapsang souchong. Rather unusual, not un-nice at all. Mouth: there is a wee feeling of morello cherries and cassis leaf tea a first, then rather blood oranges sprinkled with lapsang souchong again, as well as some kind of peppery beer. It’s not a common profile for sure, and it even tends to become a little salty. Finish: medium, sour, peaty and salty, with a little brine. Smoked gherkins? Comments: pretty good, and certainly ‘interesting’. The Supertuscans don’t feel too much, phew! SGP:455 - 80 points.

Costwolds 2014/2017 ‘Inaugural Release’ (46%, OB, batch #1/2017, first-fill bourbon barrels, 4,000 bottles)

Cotswolds 2014/2017 ‘Inaugural Release’ (46%, OB, batch #1/2017, first-fill bourbon barrels, 4,000 bottles) Four stars The very first true whisky by the small distillery in Southwest England. Indeed, this baby baby is three! Colour: gold. Nose: well-done! They managed to make it pretty mature using exactly the wood it needed, and certainly not some odd wine casks. Vanilla, citrons, not-too-ripe mangos, lime tea, a touch of lemongrass, ripe quinces… and not the slightest amount of feintiness, excessive beer notes, or else. Oh, and it’s no vanilla bomb either. Wow, kudos! Mouth: really amazing what they’ve done within such a short period of time. Sure the oak is shouting a little louder (ginger and pepper) but all the rest is perfectly fruity, with soft citrus, mirabelles, barley syrup, some acacia honey, and just the right amount of custard. They should be proud. Finish: medium, on pretty much the same flavours. A touch of chlorophyll and a few green tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: oh! (you could have bent over backwards to come up with richer comments, S.) SGP:551 - 85 points.

Wolfburn ‘Morven’ (46%, OB, 2017)

Wolfburn ‘Morven’ (46%, OB, 2017) Three stars Wolfburn are already fully part of the Scottish whisky landscape, thanks to some rather brilliant first bottlings, which I liked a lot. Apparently, this new one should be a kind of peat monster… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: not a peat monster at all! I was wrong! This is rather akin to some kind of smoked pear and pineapple juice, so showing obvious signs of youth. It’s very fresh, well integrated, and I do also find a little camphor. In my book, camphor rather comes with some long aging, but in this case, that’s obviously not true. Mouth: a fresh fruity peat, and I cannot not think of the first peated Benriachs (Bernie Moss etc.) Some lemon liqueur too, then more pepper, plus a touch of butterscotch, probably from the oak. It’s perhaps not very complex, but it works. Finish: rather long, with a greener smoke and quite a lot of ginger. Comments: very good, but in my opinion, the youth feels a bit – which is normal, after all. I liked both Northland and Aurora rather better. SGP:455 - 82 points.

Another new Wolfburn…

Wolfburn ‘No.128’ (46%, OB, small batch, 6,000 bottles, 2017)

Wolfburn ‘No.128’ (46%, OB, small batch, 6,000 bottles, 2017) Four stars A small batch Wolfburn, matured in first fill bourbon quarter casks if I’m not mistaken. Colour: pale gold. Nose: yep! Fresh, with only a discreet smoke, big cakes, certainly fresh croissants au beurre, brioche, and, should I say ‘of course’, quite some vanilla. Un-dull vanilla this time. Mouth: excellent. Lemon cake, wulong tea, some kind of smoked lemon juice, some lemongrass, green peppercorns (hints), all that with a creamy texture and some perfect oomph. An impressive half-peater, full of freshness, and no immaturity whatsoever. Finish: long, on smoked limejuice. Pink grapefruits in the aftertaste, and for a long time. Comments: loud applause! This baby will talk as equals to many a young (ish)peated Islayer. SGP:556 - 86 points.



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October 12, 2017


Official Aberlour by four

Aberlour is one of the leading single malts in France, and that’s partly due to its quality, and partly to owners Pernod-Ricard who are doing some good marketing work in their home country. Let’s have a few new ones…

Aberlour ‘Triple Cask’ (40%, OB, France, 2017)

Aberlour ‘Triple Cask’ (40%, OB, France, 2017) Three stars A new NAS at low strength, hum-hum… Colour: deep gold. Nose: easy and malty, typically malt for the upper blend drinkers, so some kind of access-category malt whisky, in the league of Cardhu and Knockando. Guinness, Mars bars, a touch of pinewood, some gentle earth, and of course, many roasted nuts and toasted cakes. Shall we call it ‘rather Chivassy’? Mouth: good! It’s often on the palate that things go a little off the track with these cheaper malts, and indeed I’m finding it a little thin and a little too caramelised/caramelly, but other than that, there’s some fine chocolate and quite a lot of toasted bread and brioche, plus notes of maple syrup. Roasted peanuts. Finish: medium, rather coating, malty and chocolaty. Nice raisins and nuts. Comments: a no brainer, perfectly well made. No one will find this wee baby unpleasant. SGP:541 - 80 points.

Aberlour 13 yo (58%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #34595, 678 bottles)

Aberlour 13 yo (58%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #34595, 678 bottles) Five stars Another bottling for France, perhaps some kind of older A’bunadh? Colour: deep gold. Nose: I’ve rarely found this much chocolate, mingling with this much marmalade! Also like this tarriness very much, as well as the bitter oranges that just abound in this combo. Oh and the almost heady peonies, and all the crushed raisins. There’s something akin to sulphur, but that’s not sulphur. Flints? With water: malt extract, just a little Marmite, and prunes covered with chocolate, as they make in Austria and elsewhere. One of my guilty pleasures… Mouth (neat): creamy and rich, perhaps some kind of A’bunadh with a higher zestiness, full of figs, and really a lot of figs, then dates, black raisins, fudge, toffee, and coffee-schnapps. Forgot to mention chocolate, how could I? With water: perfect, creamy, orange-y, cake-y, chocolaty, full of marmalade, raisins, and prunes. Great work. Finish: long, on more chocolate, old-style cognac, and of course, marmalade. Comments: great sherry, great Aberlour, without one single flaw. I’d also go to 90… Oh well, let’s do that. SGP:651 - 90 points.

Didn’t we just mention A’bunadh?

Aberlour 'A'bunadh' batch #58 (61.1%, OB, 2017)

Aberlour 'A'bunadh' batch #58 (61.1%, OB, 2017) Four stars and a half One of the epitomes of olorosoness, these A’bunadhs! Liked batch #57 a lot (WF 88) but some earlier batches were even more convincing. Colour: pale amber. Nose: rather more massive, drier, and more on malt and coffee, rather than chocolate and prunes. More earthiness, perhaps more herbs (parsley, umami, chives) and certainly more oak, with whiffs of pencil shavings. With water: gets more winey, nicely fermentary, and earthy. Always love these notes of chicken soup and beef stock as well. Mouth (neat): the recipe still works, and in a way, this is some kind of Scottish answer to the Pappys or else from across the Atlantic. Punchy, full of flavours, a tad oaky, with some rum, some dry and dried raisins, some clove, some caraway, and hints of juniper berries. And coffee plus chocolate, naturally, with a feeling of peppered Mars bar. Oh my… With water: swims very well. More sweet notes, marmalades, chutneys… Perhaps a little satay sauce as well? Finish: long, with more pepper, ginger, and allspice. Comments: frankly, A’bunadh never disappoints. Never, ever. And it’s not an excuse for NAS! You know, like, ‘NAS is okay since A’bunadh is good’… SGP:561 - 89 points.

Good, we could also try some rarer un-sherried official Aberlour…

Aberlour 25 yo 1989/2015 (48.7%, OB, Distillery Reserve Collection, hogshead, cask #14387, 264 bottles)

Aberlour 25 yo 1989/2015 (48.7%, OB, Distillery Reserve Collection, hogshead, cask #14387, 264 bottles) Five stars These little bottles (50cl) are not easy to find, and usually go unnoticed. Now Aberlour isn’t only about sherry, the make’s great even in its most naked form, in my experience. Colour: straw. Nose: love this, Aberlour is a fantastic distillate, with a very peculiar kind of fruitiness, and this is a most perfect example of that. Watermelons, jujubes, then small berries (sorb), hints of sweet carrots, plantains… In short, certainly not the usual western/eastern orchardy notes, and this is very subtle and delicate. Lovely, really. Mouth: yes, perfect! I’m finding small pineapples, jujubes again, greengages, a little hay, pomegranates, prickly pear, citrons… Really not your average fruity malt whisky, this is almost lace. I remember last time I visited the distillery, quite some years ago, they had the choice between a sherry and a refill cask from which you could fill your own bottle. Many people were going for the sherry, but the real star was the ‘refill’. All powers to the distillates! Finish: rather long, delicately herbal, with white fruits, including those rare ones you only find at specialists’. Comments: these little bottles should not get unnoticed! What a distillate, and hurray for the refill casks that let the distillates shine, provided you give them enough time. What a perfect example! SGP:551 - 91 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Benoit Delbecq. Track: Blue Pepper. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 11, 2017


Solo Tasting, Diageo’s new Convalmore

Utter scandal, I could not find one single other Convalmore in the library! Finito, over, fini Convalmore! So we’ll have Diageo’s latest Special Release alone, for once, but Angus will join us, hope we’ll share the same overall impressions…

Convalmore 32 yo 1984/2017 (48.2%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 3,972 bottles)

Convalmore 32 yo 1984/2017 (48.2%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 3,972 bottles) Five stars Loved the previous ones, especially the 1977/2013 (WF 94!) The 1978/2003 Rare Malts was great too (WF 90). Colour: pale gold. Nose: the wonderful self-restraint and beauty of these old-school Speysiders that never saw any sherry or any newish oak. Superb beeswax, olive and sunflower oils, verbena tea, menthol cigarettes (mum’s Kools), then assorted slightly overripe garden fruits, certainly apples and timid pears, an old bottle of linseed oil, rubbed grapefruit skins, a spoonful of honeydew, some gum arabic, and just a touch of natural rubber. I find this splendid, and so beautifully elegant and complex at the same time! And so un-modern… Mouth: awe… The most superb combination of herbal teas and soft fruit juices, on a waxy base. Some fresh mint for sure, verbena again, a touch of wormwood, honeysuckle tea, some pink grapefruits bringing the fruity contribution, and finally, a little bit of paraffin, going towards beeswax but not totally so. After three minutes, a few drops of cough syrup are starting to drip over it (eucalyptus, with hints of camphor). Finish: Comments: could this baby be the best within the bunch this year? I haven’t tried the Port Ellen yet at time of writing, but what’s sure is that this superb Convalmore is a strong contender. To think that Diageo managed to come up with four thousand bottles just like that… This is highly impressive! SGP:562 - 93 points.



Angus’s take:
Convalmore 32 yo 1984/2017 (48.2%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 3,972 bottles) I’m told this is likely the last ever official bottling of Convalmore. Sad but inevitable I suppose. The previous two bottlings were both total beauties in my opinion and I’m a sucker for Convalmore so I have high hopes here... Colour: Light gold. Nose: A yes! A gentle unfurling of lemon oils, waxes, nuts, milk chocolate and dried mint leaf. The height of elegance and refinement, and a reminder of what great distillate in refill wood is capable of with sufficient time. There’s a flicker of ointment, some paraffin, an old tool shed, a horse stable and lanolin. There’s also a nervous sweetness to it like an old Sauternes. Goes on with honey, some rather luscious green fruits and a little shortbread. With water: A single preserved lemon, a more nervous waxiness and some leafy and slightly earthy but broadly farmy notes in the background. Also little touches of chamomile and hessian. Mouth: A wonderful splatter of waxes, honey, various oils, a thimble of peat, a grinding of green pepper, some hay, some cereal, a little dried herb garden. Gentle and undulating in its complexity and beauty. And upsettingly moreish. With water: a perfect balance between yellow flowers, green fruits, wax, farmyard, olive oil and pepper. An understudy Clynelish that brings it’s own type of beauty to the stage. Finish: Long and elegant. Twists and turns along a waxy and fruity path by way of herbs, pepper and a lingering whisper of medicine. Comments: I’m not sure there are many distillates other than Clynelish in Scotland today that would have this kind of character after a similar length of time in refill hogsheads. If this is one of the last bottlings of Convalmore th en it’s a perfect wee swansong. The epitome of elegance and understated beauty in whisky. SGP: 563 - 91 points.


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



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October 10, 2017


Two Glenlivet, sixty years apart

Both by Gordon & MacPhail! Granted, this session won’t make much sense, but in a way, and as G&M are a family business, I thought it would be interesting to try to find some kind of parentage between a Glenlivet 2002 and the new 1943, both nurtured and bottled by the very honourable and most respected Elgin company. Game?

Glenlivet 2002/2017 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label)

Glenlivet 2002/2017 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label) Three stars and a half Doesn’t just everyone love this old label? Colour: white wine/straw. Nose: it’s a very lightly sherried Glenlivet, so we’re in front of mother nature, with a whole basket of orchard fruits, namely apples, pears, and plums, before wee notes of biscuits appears, as well as a handful of raw barley. In the background, a few rose petals, and drops of Guinness. I hope it’s OK to quote a Diageo brand in this context ;-). Mouth: excellent and so very typically Glenlivet. Apple cake, poiré (pear cider), perhaps some Turkish delights, a wee fizziness (Schweppes), and simply apple liqueur – the one they make in Spain. A touch of white pepper and cinnamon. Finish: medium, fresh, always a tad fizzy, and rather all on apples. One of the best ciders ever. Comments: classic, a perfect and very honest everyday malt that will never disappoint you. SGP:541 - 84 points.

Glenlivet 1943/2013 (49.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #121, 40 decanters, issued 2017)

Glenlivet 1943/2013 (49.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #121, 40 decanters, issued 2017) Five stars Glenlivet was one of the only three working distilleries left in 1943 (or was that four?) but it ceased production in the spring. This particular Glenlivet was distilled in January, 1943, stored at the distillery for around twenty years, and then moved to G&M’s facilities for further ageing. Even if the cask was disgorged in 2013, it’s only now that this lovely decanter is launched. No need to say that it’s a privilege to be able to taste such an old and venerable glory. Oh and I promise I won’t quote Winston Churchill, you have my word! I’ll just add that the fact that it remained at approx 49% vol. after seventy years in wood says a lot. Many siblings would have been flat dead…

Colour: deep mahogany. Nose: very old oloroso, old walnut wine, antique shop, tamarind jam, drops of maraschino, some slightly acidic coffee (those are the best anyway), a wee amount of coal tar, and then rather fresh artisan marzipan, like the excellent ones that make in Bavaria. Oops, almost forgot to mention black chocolate, and thin mints, and the blackest pipe tobacco. And teak oil. And many honeys. Mouth: good, there’s good oak and there’s bad oak. Good oak is when a lot of oak – and there is a lot of oak here – translates into sappy, pine-y, resinous flavours rather than just drying black tea and cinnamon. Also massive amounts of chocolate and coffee at first (of the highest order) and then the freshest citrus, which is, honestly, a miracle. We’re talking bergamots, bitter oranges, kumquats, tangerines… I have to say I am surprised. Also speculoos and perhaps one juniper berry. Forgot to mention the sherry’s walnuts. Finish: long, NOT drying (another miracle), and full of anything orange-y. Oranges are any very old malt’s best friends if you ask me. Comments: I was not expecting this, honestly. Too bad I’ll have to sell a car… SGP:462 - 94 points.

Conclusion, sixty years equal ten points. Not!

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



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October 8, 2017


Five very funky rums

For your enjoyment and probably mine. Well, we’ll see, and try to find very funky ones. What's more, all are new bottlings, shall we find some proper malternatives?

J. Bally 1999/2017 ‘Brut de Fût’ (54.5%, Martinique, agricole, for La Maison du Whisky)

J. Bally 1999/2017 ‘Brut de Fût’ (54.5%, Martinique, agricole, for La Maison du Whisky) Four stars Fasten your seat belts, this baby’s almost black in its famous pyramidal bottle… Colour: espresso. Nose: my, this is heavy! Some kind of wood decoction, with crushed old walnuts, walnut stain, heavy herbal liqueur (Underberg, Unicum), artichokes, ristretto coffee, the blackest chocolate… This would make the heaviest sherry monster from Speyside smell like some five years old ex-refill Glenkinchie! With water:  herbs, embrocations, menthol, eucalyptus… This is very spectacular, provided you enjoy this very heavy style. Mouth (neat): perhaps not quite as extreme as expected, and above everything, extremely liquoricy. Take a bottle of high-strength vodka, throw two packs of Dutch liquorice into it, keep for six months, and there. With water: and a miracle happens, it does not become overoaky, which I had thought would happen. Liquorice, pu-erh, tar liqueur, that’s what’s inside. Finish: long, with prunes and always a lot of liquorice and coffee. Comments: extremely spectacular and certainly very fun. So, what was the cask? SGP:472 - 87 points.

Velier Royal Navy (57.18%, Velier, blend, 2017)

Velier Royal Navy (57.18%, Velier, blend, 2017) Five stars So this is Velier’s new navy-style blend (that would be the British navy, naturally), which shelters – only hearsay - Enmore 1990, Caroni 1996, Worthy Park 2005, and some Hampden. If that’s all true, please keep your seatbelts fastened… Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s a whole. Castor oil and coal tar, black olives, the funkiest fermenting bananas, a wee hint of turnip, new leatherette, fresh cigars, garden bonfire, one sardine. That’s about it. With water: oh yes, ashes, brand new Korean car (what?), carbon paper, a leather souk somewhere in Turkey… Mouth (neat): heavy, not thick, invading, massive, olive-y, very liquoricy, salty, carbony, extreme. For thrill-seekers, almost exclusively. With water: more brine, more olives, more pleasure for me. Finish: very long, liquoricy, salty, brine-y. Comments: not sure the Enmore had much to say, but Caroni and the Jamaicans, that’s almost like, wait, Connors vs. McEnroe. Bad boyz, great game. SGP:363 - 91 points (and I hate blends!).

Speaking of Enmore…

Enmore 1997/2017 (56.4%, Rum Nation, Guyana, whisky cask finish, cask #805142)

Enmore 1997/2017 (56.4%, Rum Nation, Guyana, whisky cask finish, cask #805142) Four stars and a half The whisky people are doing rum finishes, and the rum guys are doing whisky finishes (see also HSE). Is that normal? Isn’t there something pataphysical in all this? Colour: gold. Nose: oh! UHU glue, nail polish remover, brake fluid, turpentine, new plastic, pine resin, acetone. Anyone should just hate this, and yet, I find it brilliant, if a little perverse. With water: but what is this? Old garage, wild boar, ink (new magazine – remember magazines?), tyre sealer, wood glue… Mouth (neat): what-the-hell-is-this? The turpentine is back, and gherkin brine, and some kind of smoked crème de menthe (Ricqlès), cellulosic varnish, lemon concentrate… This is really very loco-loco, I can tell you. With water: aaahhh, civilisation! Some kind of Thai sauce, or is it Indian? Chinese? But the glue-ish notes remain there. Finish: very long, and rather more vegetal. You’ve just chewed pine needles. Comments: they’re totally mad in Italy. Ex-Laphroaig cask? Ardbeg? Brora? SGP:473 - 89 points.

After Velier and Rum Nation (AKA Wilson & Morgan), let’s stay in Italy while trying to calm things down, with…

Uitvlugt 19 yo 1998/2017 (52.1%, Silver Seal, Guyana)

Uitvlugt 19 yo 1998/2017 (52.1%, Silver Seal, Guyana) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: it is Uitvlugt, but it is much gentler at first nosing, with some kind of smoked custard, bananas, guavas, and a little fresh coriander. It’s only after two minutes that wackier notes do spring out, with some carbon pepper, cardamom, burnt praline, and mocha. Notes of office coffee too (around 7pm). With water: indeed, some burnt coffee. Mouth (neat): high aldehydes in this one, cherries, grapefruits, bubblegum, some cane juice (phew!), some kind of sweet pepper (Szechuan, Timut), notes of pink grapefruit… With water: gets grassier, as usual. Olives (yeah), samphires, sardines on a buttered tartine, a little custard… Finish: long and saltier. Salted butterscotch, these kinds of things. The grapefruits are striking back in the aftertaste. Comments: not 100% sure about this one. Very good for sure, but maybe did it have a death seat after the utter monsters by Bally, Velier and Rum Nation. My bad. SGP:562 - 84 points.

How about an official now, before we call this a proper tasting session?

Worthy Park (45%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2017)

Worthy Park (45%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2017) Four stars We’re expecting some simple pleasures here, and perhaps something a little Rastafarian… Rasta pot stills, how does that sound? Colour: gold. Nose: take a bunch of sardines, crush. Add a cup of lemon juice. Add two teaspoons of olive oil. Add some ink, diesel oil, and perhaps two drops of rosewater. There. Mouth: totally in love with this wee official NAS that won’t cost you an arm. So smart, so millimetric, so authentic, so smoky/briny, so full of olives and lemons… I’ve heard some folks are using this as an ingredient in cocktails, well, let them dance on a rope's end! Finish: long, salty, smoky, perhaps just a tad too sweet(ish) for me. Some vanilla coming out, not something that I always enjoy, but I don't mean to nitpick here, this is a brilliant young Jamaican. Comments: a good tip when a finish doesn’t quite please you - which happens with many spirit - just take another shot before the beginning of the finish! Isn’t hat smart? (albeit a little dangerous?) SGP:464 - 87 points.

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



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October 7, 2017




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild

Four Ardbegs from four decades (probably...)

Time for some Ardbeg. We’ll try three different ones from the 1990s, 70s and 60s today. But first, a wee aperitif from the 2010s (I’m assuming), but a quick one because I know Serge published notes for this one quite recently...


Ardbeg ‘An Oa’ (46.6%, OB, 2017)

Ardbeg ‘An Oa’ (46.6%, OB, 2017) The latest release in Ardbeg’s storytime series...Colour: Chardonnay. Nose: Quite a pleasant nose at first. All on soot, kelp, light waxes, machine oils and various medical notes. Some Ardbeggy tarriness as well. Lemony, coastal, some rope, some smoked mussels in brine. A chunk of sawdust squirms its way to the surface but otherwise solid. Mouth: Good texture. Full of lemon oils, peat smoke, beeswax and some nice camphory aspects. Reminiscent of some good mid-1990s casks actually. More brine and a little wood ash and some new American oak. Finish: Medium length, probably quite a young whisky, but a well disguised one at that. Citrus rind with kippers and peat oils. A little flourish of tar towards the end. Comments: It’s better than a number of the other silly story name releases in recent years if you ask me. Ardbug, or Zipwire, or Black Hole, or Perpendicular or whatever they were called... Anyway, this is perfectly tasty juice that actually tastes like Ardbeg, and I think the strength works nicely. SGP: 456 - 85 points.



(Serge’s score, see September 28, 2017, SGP:555 - 85 points.)  


Ardbeg 10 yo 1998/2008 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #33.69, ‘Smoked fish and black leather’)

Ardbeg 10 yo 1998/2008 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #33.69, ‘Smoked fish and black leather’) I think the SMWS and Blue Peter must have the same gardener (Serge, if you don’t get that joke it’s only because you didn’t grow up watching children’s TV in Britain in the 1990s). Colour: Straw. Nose: This is creamier and fatter but also drier and leaner. A more pristine and razor edged coastal style. A cup of mint tea with a slice of lemon then cigar ash and wild garlic curiously enough. Some shellfish notes such as oysters and whelks. Otherwise a little tight. With water: Lemon, brine, capers and damp coal hearths. Mouth: Weighty and ashy at first with notes of fresh lemon and lime, parsley and a jagged minerality. White pepper gives it quite some heat. With water: becomes earthier and the peat takes on a deep, bass-like quality. Some mustard seed and olive oil, a little vinaigrette perhaps. Grows smokier and ashier with time. Finish: Long, dry, coastal and with more gristy peat smoke and lemon notes. Comments: It’s great distillate, although I think these latter vintages lost something of the classy medical / tarry qualities of the early 1990s. Still lovely whisky though. SGP: 357 - 86 points.



Ardbeg 13 yo 1975/1988 (54.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Special Selection, Intertrade, 543 bottles)

Ardbeg 13 yo 1975/1988 (54.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Special Selection, Intertrade, 543 bottles) Needless to say, expectations are high... Colour: Rosewood. Nose: Another galaxy! There is an equal pitch between the fruit of the sherry at first with these immediate notes of dates, stewed sultanas and raisins with a lacquer-like, wraparound peat quality. It’s a dense, sticky and hugely tarry nose redolent with many dried herbs, mushroom powder, wet earth, balsamico, roses and cherry cola cubes. Gets beautifully minty with time. Quite magnificent and unmistakably 1970s Ardbeg. With water: Heather, dunnage, hessian, sack cloth, mercurochrome, iodine drops... Anti-maltoporn brigade and quick about it I think! Mouth: Aargh! The most astounding purity of peat that only these kinds of Ardbegs can seem to muster. Sarsaparilla, root beer sundaes, maraschino cherries, fig rolls, medical toothpaste, some green and tropical fruits weave their way to the fore with a bit of time. With water: Some rancio, some minerals, some soot, many different manifestations of peat, various tarry aspects. You get the idea. Anti-maltoporn brigade still required. Finish: A great, booming echo of billowing peat smoke, dark, sherry drenched fruits and these winnowing drifts of kippers mid-smoking, black olives, rosemary flatbread and preserved lemons in brine. Comments: Not surprising. An old masterpiece by G&M. What else is there to say really? SGP: 658 - 94 points.



(Serge’s score and notes back in 2007)



Ardbeg 28 yo 1967/1995 (53.7%, Signatory Vintage, Pale Oloroso butt, cask #575, 548 bottles)

Ardbeg 28 yo 1967/1995 (53.7%, Signatory Vintage, Pale Oloroso butt, cask #575, 548 bottles) This bottle was being poured at the Whisky Show in London last weekend. On the stand promoting the Whisky Show Old & Rare in Glasgow next February, in case you’re interested... (is that against the rules Serge?) Colour: Deep gold. Nose: Equally majestic as the 1975 but totally different again. This is a forest of resins, precious hardwoods, ferns, bracken, moss and then honeycomb, blossoms, medical tinctures, natural tar, gentian root,  aged mead... the list could go on a long time. Sublime complexity and elegance. The peat has morphed into the most staggering mix of herbal and citrus liqueurs, delicate farmyard and mechanical aspects with qualities such as bergamot and a fragrant quince jelly note in the background. With time goes more towards coastal notes as well. Motor oil, crushed sea salt, grilled langoustines. A poem. With water: a subtle but perceptible elevation in beauty. A single drop just seems to make everything a little sharper and sing a little more exquisitely. Mouth: The peat is louder here but also deep and outrageously silky. A velvety sheen of gorse, wildflowers, ointment, orange peel, earth, smoked oats and mint jelly. With water: disgracefully beautiful! I think probably best not to go on from here... Finish: Endless. A cavern of earthy and bubbling peats, farmyard and seashore notes alongside more classical Ardbeg hallmarks such as natural tar, old rope and dried seaweed. Comments: It’s easy to balk at the prices paid for these bottles now but when you taste them again you understand: these bottlings were liquid art in many ways. Beautiful; haunting; unrepeatable; infuriating; emotional. SGP: 656 - 96 points.



(Serge’s score and notes back in 2006)



I can’t resist this little digestif after that astonishing Ardbeg...



Laphroaig 31 yo 1966/1997 (49.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #1094, 210 bottles)

Laphroaig 31 yo 1966/1997 (49.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #1094, 210 bottles) One of a number of utter legendary Laphroaigs by Signatory. Colour: Light gold. Nose: This is the sort of whisky that comes out to meet you half way to the glass. The fruit is kind of overspilling the rim of the glass. A library of tropical fruits: papaya, banana, mango, passion fruit, pineapple. But then also these myriad coastal aspects such as sandalwood, beach foam, seaweed, salt. Then gentle peat smoke, resins, ointments, old medicine cabinets, long aged yellow chartreuse. Another nose that you could write a book about. (but we won’t you’ll be pleased to hear) With water: goes a little more towards citrus. But that’s all I’ll write because the rest would be gratuitous. Mouth: What can you say about this kind of whisky. It stops you in your tracks. A perfect concentration of fruits, seashore, simmering and undulating peats and a drifting farmyard aspect in the background. With water: further gratuity! Finish: Kind of heartbreakingly beautiful. A long waltz into the night with someone you love but will never see again once its over. (I know, get a grip Angus!) Comments: Nothing to say really. Maybe one point less than the Ardbeg but we’re splitting hairs. New distillers should try to taste these kinds of whiskies for inspiration I think. SGP: 556 - 95 points.



(Thanks to John at the great Musa bar in Aberdeen. Also to Uncle Hans and (I suppose) to SSS.)




October 6, 2017


Nine Clynelish from 2008 to 1972

Imagine we’ve spent a whole summer without tasting any Clynelish! How’s that possible? Time to remedy that situation, with a fairly large bag of various ages and vintages. And there will be many more soon...

Clynelish 7 yo 2008/2015 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #10771)

Clynelish 7 yo 2008/2015 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #10771) Three stars Still the series’ older livery. Perhaps the youngest new Clynelish I’ve ever tasted… (not mentioning new make of course). Colour: white wine. Nose: perhaps is it a little too young, too much on apples and pears, and on sweetened dough. Notes of IPA beer as well, and no signs of Clynelish wax yet. Mouth: surprisingly sweet and fruity, this is almost syrup or even liqueurs and crèmes. Spanish melon liqueur. A very syrupy mouth feel, quite unusual. As of someone had added barley syrup, but of course nobody did. Finish: medium, and rather more peppery this time, ala Talisker. Comments: a fun young Clynelish, and it’s pretty good I think, but I wouldn’t call it ‘totally mature’. SGP:641 - 81 points.

Clynelish 2008/2017 (56.1%, Riegger’s Selection, TBA finish, cask #800209, 332 bottles)

Clynelish 2008/2017 (56.1%, Riegger’s Selection, TBA finish, cask #800209, 332 bottles) Three stars and a half TBA stands for Trockenbeerenauslese. Yep that’s German. Those are very sweet wines, akin to Vendanges Tardives or late harvest wines. In other words, hit or miss… Colour: straw. Nose: phew, we’re fine. No loads of raisins or litchis, rather a typical young Clynelish, fruity, with a chalky side in the back and notes of green melons. With water: beach sand, perhaps? Mouth (neat): again, typical very young Clynelish, on green apples and limes, then white peaches, perhaps. Is that the TBA speaking? With water: good, fruity. Pineapples and peaches, and indeed green melons. No obvious wine, that’s a relief. Yes I was scared. Finish: medium, clean, fruity. Perhaps did the TBA make this little Clynelish a little more Speyside-y? A touch of brine in the aftertaste. Comments: well done. SGP:641 - 84 points.

Clynelish 2008/2016 (60.8%, Riegger’s Selection for Whisky-Hood, bourbon, cask #800208)

Clynelish 2008/2016 (60.8%, Riegger’s Selection for Whisky-Hood, bourbon, cask #800208) Four stars I think there was no finishing done on this one. Colour: white wine. Nose: a simple, pure, rather elegant Clynelish, with nothing getting in the way. Chalk, lemons, green apples, some soot, leaves, moss, pine needles, and plasticine. The most Clynelish of them all so far. With water: yeah, brake pads after a run! And paraffin. Mouth (neat): very good, very citrusy, with a wee greasiness ala Springbank, grapefruits, more limes, more green apples, and a touch of green pepper. With water: no changes, no problems. Finish: medium, very clean, with a little sunflower oil and more green apples and lemons. Comments: simply extremely good given the young age of this wee Clynelish. Psst, who needs TBA in whisky? ;-) SGP:551 - 87 points.

Clynelish 2004/2016 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, refill sherry butts)

Clynelish 2004/2016 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, refill sherry butts) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a lighter Clynelish, without all those greases, waxes and oils, and rather a citric aspect, blending lime, gooseberries, kiwis and cider apples. All that imparts a pleasant freshness, very refreshing. As for the very light sherriness, we’re rather going towards fresh walnuts, and perhaps almonds. Mouth: very good, fruity, and with even something of Rosebank. I know, I know… Lemons, more kiwis, touches of green tea, then biscuits and Jaffa cakes that add a little roundness, although it would remain very, say responsive and even nippy. Finish: medium, green, slightly acidic, something which I always enjoy. Comments: a session that goes on very well, even if this baby wasn’t the most Clynelishy of all Clynelishes. No wax for you! SGP:561 - 86 points.

Clynelish 1995/2016 ‘Peppered Biltong’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 303 bottles)

Clynelish 1995/2016 ‘Peppered Biltong’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 303 bottles) Four stars and a half So who’s best at finding funny names, Wemyss or the SMWS? Discuss… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a rather fatter style, although I wouldn’t claim that it’s very waxy. Rather ripe apples, orange syrup, a little beeswax indeed, then touches of ripe pineapples, and perhaps a little tallow, mutton suet or something… And butter biscuits. As for that biltong, well I had never heard of that word before. Some kind of South-African dried meat, apparently. Why not! Mouth: it’s very creamy and oily, so very typically Clynelish in that respect, and would start rather in the style of the early 1980s, that is to say very tangerine-y. Beautiful notes of walnut oil, then indeed some green peppercorns, then those very acidic cider apples. Everything works in sync. Finish: long and, indeed, quite peppery. A little salt in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather perfect fat yet zesty Clynelish. Big whisky, that Clynelish – have to try biltong one day. SGP:462 - 89 points.

Clynelish 20 yo 1996/2017 (55.5%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 295 bottles)

Clynelish 20 yo 1996/2017 (55.5%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 295 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: another one from the waxier vintages, with anything from candle wax to plasticine, but all that isn’t huge. Shall we call this a whispering wax? Also green apples again, leaves, moss, and those notes of butterscotch again. This one was nicely chiselled by time and a good cask. With water: the wax comes out more, but it’s still not huge. Car polish, leather polish. Mouth (neat): excellent, as expected. Melted candle wax blended with lemon juice, plus a pinhead of wasabi. Could anyone be against that? With water: swims like a champ. Gets more herbal, slightly mentholy, with a little eucalyptus and green tea. Finish: quite long, with a great balance between the herbal/fruity tones and the waxy side. Very classy. Comments: it loves water, this is the best use of Vittel or Evian ever. SGP:562 - 90 points.

Clynelish 1995/2016 (52.7%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, cask #SE081)

Clynelish 1995/2016 (52.7%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, cask #SE081) Five stars Probably very good. I said ‘probably’. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s rather a coastal one, with many maritime hints beside an austere grassiness and, of course, waxes and oils. Linseed, lamp oil, fisherman’s ropes, floated wood, cut grass… and very few fruits. More protestant than catholic, this one. With water: … and yet we’re finding a little church incense, really. Mouth (neat): exceptional. You hear me, excep-tio-nal. Totally Clynelish, with waxes, salts, and citrus. Yes we’re going for an expurgated tasting note. With water: perfection made whisky. Notes of coffee and toasted bread in the background. Finish: long, waxy, rather more ‘toasty’, and perfect. A wee smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: perfect whisky, perfect style perfect age, perfect strength… But there were very few bottles. Life is unfair! SGP:552 - 92 points.

Clynelish 19 yo 1996/2015 (55.4%, Carn Mor, Celebration of the Cask, hogshead, cask #8801, 295 bottles)

Clynelish 19 yo 1996/2015 (55.4%, Carn Mor, Celebration of the Cask, hogshead, cask #8801, 295 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: a sharper and zestier one again, rather on green apples and other tart fruits. Much less coastalness, and less wax, and less Clynelishness, but it’s still very nice, clean, and ‘nervous’. It’s true that this is rather a death seat after the Hunter and the Svenska. With water: a little hay. No big nose here, but this shyness works well as well. Mouth (neat): no, really, its very good, very very good. Camphory fruits, cold tea, grapefruits, limoncello, lemon grass… Much less shy on the palate, for sure. With water: indeed, this is almost glorious, waxy, herbal, citrusy… Clynelish sure is the most elegant of all the fatter malt whiskies. Finish: rather long, on wee herbal teas and lemon marmalade. Superb waxy and peppery aftertaste. Comments: good seed makes a good crop. SGP:552 - 89 points.

Okay, we won’t taste dozens of mid-1990s Clynelishes, they’re all good anyway. So we’ll keep some for later, but we still need a finale, don’t we? Would a little 1972 do?

Clynelish 1972/2016 (42.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, Lot #RO/16/07)

Clynelish 1972/2016 (42.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Old, Lot #RO/16/07) Four stars and a half As you may know, 1972 was the vintage when both Clynelish and Brora were the best. Exactly why, I have no ideas. Oh and this may well be the oldest Clynelish I’ve ever tasted. Mind you, 43 or 44 years… Colour: full gold. Nose: luminous, entrancing, and just magnificent. More wine than whisky, actually, and we’re thinking Yquem from a great vintage. 1967, 1988… So beeswax for sure, then a pack of English cigarettes, then quite some pollen, a few high-end mushrooms (I’m not making this up, did you ever try Caesar's mushrooms?), wee notes of ambergris and benzoin (old-style lady’s perfume), and then just more beeswax. I’m finding this nose sublime – and there’s no oak to be detected! High class! Mouth: now, this is an old whisky, so indeed, some oak had to make an appearance on your palate. Rather of the ‘green’ kind, so rather with tea tannins, slightly drying. The rest is perfect, with old apples, mandarins and tangerines, beeswax again, chamomile tea… Finish: quite long, but indeed, rather tannic and drying. Cinnamon and cocoa powder. This was to be expected. Comments: what a nose! Perhaps the nicest nose this year – so far. The palate was more, say anecdotal. SGP:361 - 89 points.

(Thanks a lot, Phil)

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



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October 5, 2017


New NAS blended malts

A rather hot category these days, and while age statements are about to disappear from that category, there’s no denying that it’s an ideal playing field for any proper whisky blender.

Dalaruan (46%, Lost Distillery Company, Archivist’s Selection, blended malt, batch 1/1)

Dalaruan (46%, Lost Distillery Company, Archivist’s Selection, blended malt, batch 1/1) Four stars From that funny series that mimics the style of some long-gone distilleries, in this case Campbeltown’s Dalaruan, closed 1925. I hope they didn’t benchmark some old bottle, because all ‘Dalaruans’ I’ve seen were fake bottles. I remember when I first saw this series I thought the marketing idea was very fishy, but when I tried their first bottlings, I thought ‘as long as the liquid’s this good, why care?’… Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts with notes of old Sauternes, butter cream, fig arrak, leather and tobacco, gets then rather ‘umamiesque’, with dried herbs, notes of fermentation, and some kind of dry ale. Tried the light one at the Albanach the other day, quite good! Mouth: it’s really funny that they managed to sneak some old bottle effect into a new bottling! I’m finding old walnuts, leather, salt, smoked dried fish, and believe or not, an old WhiteHorseness. Something medicinal as, well, quite turpentine-y. Finish: rather long, salty/leathery/fermentary. Umami indeed. Lemon and cinchona in the aftertaste. Comments: I really like this very, very un-modern style. Gives hope. SGP:375 - 87 points.

Whisky de Table (40%, Compass Box, batch #2, blended malt, 2017)

Whisky de Table (40%, Compass Box, batch #2, blended malt, 2017) Three starsI have to say batch #1 didn’t impress me, but this is another year and another batch. We won’t, even if that’s requested on the label, ‘poor it cold’ (servir frais). Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: young, fresh, fruity, malty, porridge-y. This is almost liquid muesli, with a good dollop of custard sauce. When you breathe deeply, you’re getting a lot of grist and wort. Shall we call it ‘distillery-y’? Mouth: there’s more smoke, more peat, more citrus and more fermentary notes as well. More ale, plus a thicker waxy/meaty side that hints at Mortlach. Not saying there’s any Mortlach, mind you.  Finish: medium, dry, with some tea and pepper. Comments: a tad young and rough, but should one serve this baby cold, I’m sure that’ll work. It’s peatier than batch #1. SGP:453 - 81 points.

While we’re holding the compass…

Phenomenology (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 2017)

Phenomenology (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 2017) Four stars Everything is secret about this empirical new baby, for once – a rather Glenlivety move (remember Cipher?) Except the rather existential price, around 195€, so it should be old, prestigious, and philosophical. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I sometimes find ‘good’ mud in some whiskies, and that’s the case here. Broken branches, hay, rubbed leaves, hops, husk, moss, porcinis, mashed celeriac… Mouth: it’s powerful, starting on peppered vegetables, and becoming then much more citrusy, rather angular as a whole despite an oily side (graphite), and going on with cider apples and a waxy side that suggests C******h. No, that’s not Caperdonich. Finish: medium, rather on waxy citrons and apples. Cherries in the aftertaste. Comments: doesn’t feel really old, or at least some parts seem to be young. I enjoy this austerity. SGP:462 - 85 points.

No Name (48.9%, Compass Box, blended malt, 15000 bottles, 2017)

No Name (48.9%, Compass Box, blended malt, 15000 bottles, 2017) Four stars and a halfIt seems that CB did put all their energy into the superb packaging, and had none left to find a name. Perhaps Smokinology or something? Colour: pale gold. Nose: Islay! Some perfectly chiselled, luminous, crystal clean, medicinal peat smoke, without any fripperies, satin or ruffles. As we like them! Mouth: totally millimetric, unquestionable, smoky, slightly salty, and faintly waxy. Some wee hints of Jamaican rum, that’s very cool. No, no, not saying there is any. Finish: long, rather fat, rather salty. Huge smokiness. Comments: why write a long note when the whisky hasn’t even gotten a name? I’m joking, this is pretty perfect and some classic CB. SGP:357 - 89 points.

Artist #7 (55%, Compass Box, Velier and La Maison du Whisky, blended malt, 1,920 bottles, 2017)

Artist #7 (55%, Compass Box, Velier and La Maison du Whisky, blended malt, 1,920 bottles, 2017) Four stars and a half I’ve heard this was the result of some long night, the CEOs of each brand having been involved in some way, and indeed this is supposed to be the consequence of that long night. Not too sure about that story… anyway… Colour: straw. Nose: no wonder Compass Box was involved, this has oomph and some solid waxy backbone. Lamp oil, crushed barley, vanilla, overripe apples, fresh figs… With water: some menthol, some camphor… Mouth (neat): starts very citrusy, sharp, with some grassy/vegetal notes in the back. Gets then fatter, with some barley syrup, touches of cumin, and a growing green smokiness. With water: simply very good. Limoncello and barley syrup. Finish: rather long, citrusy, with a fat structure. Comments: not a throwaway in this six-hand composition. SGP:553 - 88 points.

A last blended malt please…

Collectivum XXVIII (57.3%, OB, Special Release, 2017)

Collectivum XXVIII (57.3%, OB, Special Release, 2017) Four stars and a half This is advertised as a blend of all 28 operational malt distilleries owned by Diageo – not a 28yo mind you - which implies that there’s some Roseisle, which suggests that this blended malt cannot be older than 6, as Roseisle Distillery was inaugurated on October 11, 2010. Are you following me? Colour: gold. Nose: everybody knows that Diageo have great blenders who do not only work with spreadsheets, and it seems that this is more evidence. Starts perfectly cake-y, with some custard, apple pie, beeswax, then hints of beef bouillon (sherry?) and fresh cigars, then a mossy side, as well as mushrooms. We knew this was going to be well composed, didn’t we. With water: very, and I mean very malty. Some spicy oak and some paraffin in the background. Mouth (neat): wow! It’s a tad ‘jumbled’ at first, which is normal, but there are leading malts in there, possibly Clynelish for example, and clarity is soon to appear. It’s not impossible that they’ve added quite some Talisker too, if you ask me. The whole is excellent, getting peatier by the second. Good pepper, good oranges. With water: swims very well, citrus up, peppermint up as well. Finish: long, rather sharp, keeping your palate fresh. Smoky aftertaste. Comments: possibly the best 6yo ever. Ha! SGP:463 - 89 points.

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



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October 4, 2017


A little bag of Glengoyne

It was about time we had a few Glengoynes… I’ll always keep in mind that older ad for the brand that used to show a Porsche 911 and a lovely girl at its wheel… Remenber?

Glengoyne 15 yo ‘Distiller's Gold’ (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Glengoyne 15 yo ‘Distiller's Gold’ (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars Let’s be honest, the name ‘Distiller’s Gold’ is a bit déjà vu, non? Travel Retail, you know… Colour: light gold. Nose: it’s a bready one, all on barley, marzipan, kougelhopf, and brown beer. Notes of sherry flying around, then rather sour apples, compote, artisan cider (not that cold sweet thing they have on tap in Britland)… Mouth: light, but good, maltier this time, with some raisin cake and some kind of spicy macaroons. A little bittersweet sherry, the usual walnuts, and then rather nutmeg and cinnamon. Finish: medium, a tad herbaceous. Bitter tea, leaves… Oakier aftertaste. Comments: fine for sure, but I tend to like the better polished regular range better. SGP:351 - 80 points.

Glengoyne 8 yo 2007/2016 (43%, Douglas Laing, Single Minded, hogshead)

Glengoyne 8 yo 2007/2016 (43%, Douglas Laing, Single Minded, hogshead) Three stars and a half I believe this is DL’s budget series. Around 33€ mind you. Colour: light gold. Nose: lovely! Cakes and oranges, plus some fresh malt and quite a few glasses of barley and maple syrups. Malt whisky as Mother Nature intended, I’d say. Mouth: simply perfect and perfectly simple, feeling rather 46% than 43, with solid malty notes, toasted bread and pastries, candy sugar, milk chocolate, and our friends the Scots’ favourite delicacy, deep fried Mars bars (of course I’m joking, friends). Finish: unexpectedly long, and very malty indeed. Bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: does the job! SGP:451 - 83 points.

Glengoyne 19 yo 1996/2016 (48%, Distiller’s Art, refill hogshead)

Glengoyne 19 yo 1996/2016 (48%, Distiller’s Art, refill hogshead) Three stars This one by Langside Distillers, a subsidiary brand of Douglas Laing, or is it Hunter Laing? Ooh my poor head… I think it’s Hunter… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: with this colour and at this age, this had to be very fresh and very young. Well, it is, with sherries and apples, then porridge, then green melons, then cut grass. Mouth: sweet malt, eau-de-vie-ish, but not in a bad way. We’ve known mirabelle eaux-de-vies that were like this. Apples, cornflakes, damson plums… Finish: medium, on the same notes. Comments: possibly the laziest cask in Scotland, ever. Steel? Glass? Concrete? Fiberglass? Stone? But I like it, really… SGP:441 - 82 points.

Glengoyne 14 yo 2001/2015 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, sherry butt, 840 bottles)

Glengoyne 14 yo 2001/2015 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, sherry butt, 840 bottles) Three stars and a halfIt seems that I missed this one when it came out. Colour: gold. Nose: a very flinty sherry at first, bordering full-box-of-used-matches-ness, going then rather meaty (cured ham), with many old walnuts, cocoa, prunes, black tobacco, and notes of beef jerky. Black raisins. And the matches are gone. Mouth: very very good! All on chestnut honey, pad Thai, prunes, Corinthians (I mean, those raisins)… The problem is that the oak comes out after a while, making this baby rather bitter and drying. Eating cocoa powder by the tablespoon. Finish: long, rather drying, on more cocoa, green pepper... Comments: the first half, from the nose to the middle of the palate, was rather splendid. The rest was a tad too drying, but there’s always a solution, drink it very quick. SGP:561 - 83 points.

Glengoyne 'Cask Strength Batch 004' (58.8%, OB, 2015)

Glengoyne 'Cask Strength Batch 004' (58.8%, OB, 2015) Three stars and a half Loved batch 002 (WF 87) and batch 001 (WF 89), never tried batch 003, and never will. Not enough time. Colour: full gold. Nose: millimetric sherry, on walnut cake, then bread and brioche, in a more bourbony manner. Whiffs of farmyard, mud, steeped barley in the background. Nice. With water: feels a little young. Raw malt and Nescafé. Mouth (neat): punchy and orange-y, with notes of light rum, stewed peaches, pomegranates, and biscuits. Feels both young and almost mature, just like, say A’bunadh and GF 105. That’s probably the thing, they should all bottle their NAS at cask strength, however unpleasant that might seem to their bean counters. With water: oranges come out. Always like it when that happens. Finish: rather long, a tad rough. Apple peel, sour fruits. Comments: I think the youth starts to feel. Still some very good whisky, but it hasn’t got the fullness of the first batches, in my humble opinion. No wow effect this time. SGP:451 - 83 points.

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



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October 3, 2017


Another set of official Dalmore

The epitome of an old-school brand (I mean, distillery). Are we in the 1960s? 1980s? 2000s? Is timelessness an asset as far as whisky’s concerned? Does anyone else in whisky keep using stags heads and matching ties and handkerchiefs?… Oh and sorry about some of the pictures' colours, these are publicity shoots and I believe aliens make them...

Dalmore ‘King Alexander III’ (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Dalmore ‘King Alexander III’ (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars and a half I haven’t tried this royal NAS since, ahem, 2008. Colour: deep gold. Nose: lovely, really lovely. Dalmore’s trademark oranges, Jaffa cakes and figs are playing first fiddles, with only minor touches of chocolate and then more and more citrus, around pink grapefruits. Whiffs of chamomile and lime tea too. Mouth: deliciously old-school, full of marmalade, heather honey, gianduja, café latte, sticky toffee pudding… The only problem here, and it’s a big one, is the low strength that makes it nosedive after thirty seconds in your mouth. Great arrival, good middle, and… Finish: a short finish, sadly. Chocolate and tea. Comments: this is what I had written in 2008, ‘I don’t want to insist too much, but this would certainly benefit from a few more percents of alcohol’. Things haven’t changed. SGP:541 - 84 points.

Dalmore 25 yo (42%, OB, +/-2017)

Dalmore 25 yo (42%, OB, +/-2017) Five stars I had just loved the first batch of this Dalmore (WF 90). There. Colour: golden amber. Nose: a few whiffs of pencil shavings at first, but those are soon to vanish in the air, leaving room for a complex kind of jam, with blood oranges, a touch of caraway and clove, a curious metallic side that works very well, peonies and lilies, chocolate and tobacco, perhaps a little tamarind… A great nose indeed. Mouth: it’s incredible how 2 extra percents can make all the difference. Very satisfying arrival, with notes of incense and sandalwood, then Szechuan pepper, raspberry ganache, morello cherries, and a handful of roasted pecans. Really very ‘Dalmore’. Finish: medium yet rich, with some treacle, honey, marmalade, and candied cherries (in kirsch). Comments: it’s not that I wouldn’t change my mind, but indeed, I’m very fond of this ultra-classic 25 years old. SGP:651 - 90 points.

Dalmore 40 yo (42%, OB, 2017)

Dalmore 40 yo (42%, OB, 2017) Four stars This new Dalmore was bottled to celebrate Richard Paterson's 50th year in the industry. It’s not cheap (7,000€) but it’s as much in Baccarat as Macallan is in Lalique, and you could always present your old auntie Theresa with the decanter once it’s empty. And hey, it’s got an age statement, and it was matured in ex-Bourbon casks for 30 years, before spending 7 years in Sherry butts and then 3 years in first-fill Bourbon barrels. That’s a lot of costly handling! Colour: rich amber. Nose: a lot of butterscotch and bonfire toffee at first, with less freshness than in the 25, and then surprising notes of ‘dark’ rum, molasses, and wood varnish, followed with quite some pine resin and thuja wood. Perhaps two drops of turpentine. Mouth: starts fresher this time, with the usual oranges and marmalade, then we have drops of Cointreau and raspberry liqueur, then strong herbs, making it almost Jaegermeistery (I know, I know). Rather bittersweet. Finish: medium, on speculoos and bitter coffee, with pepper, caraway, cloves, Seville oranges and sour apples in the aftertaste. Comments: I like this one a lot as well, naturally, but I’m not totally fond of its rather heavy woodiness on the palate. SGP:461 - 87 points.

Dalmore 20 yo 1996/2017 (45%, OB, Port pipe finish)

Dalmore 20 yo 1996/2017 (45%, OB, Port pipe finish) Four stars Three years in Port pipes, this could be heady and heavy, let’s see… Colour: amber. Nose: rather different this time, starting with notes of old wood, old cellar, flints, gravel… Behind that, a lot of ground coffee and dark chocolate, and only then a few touches of blackcurrants, damson plums and raspberries, rather as jams. Some toffee as well. Mouth: liqueur-filled chocolate, Port indeed (it really feels but does not clash at all, h.u.r.r.a.y), hints of clay, prunes, gingerbread, fresh marzipan, more prunes, even more prunes… Actually, we could be in Gascony! You know, armagnac… Finish: rather long, jammy but well-balanced, with some honey sauce and triple-sec. Tofee. Comments: like it quite a lot and it’s not even too thick. Neither is it too Porty.  SGP:651 - 87 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Harold Land. Track: In the back, in the corner, in the dark. Please buy his music...

October 2, 2017


Two Glenfiddich and proper bonus

… where it talks about ice wine…

Glenfiddich ‘Select Cask' (40%, OB, Cask Collection, travel retail, +/-2017)

Glenfiddich ‘Select Cask' (40%, OB, Cask Collection, travel retail, +/-2017) Two stars and a half Not sure the word ‘Select’ is conveying much cachet and prestige, just ask Laphroaig fans ;-).  But anyway, this baby’s mainly to be found in airports. I’ve tried an earlier batch a few years ago and had thought it was kind of… well, you know, ‘travel retail’ (WF 77). Colour: light gold. Nose: extremely Glenfiddich, that is to say full of ripe apples, sweet beer, and vanilla, plus a touch of sweet wine, ice wine style. More about ice wine very soon… Mouth: really round, on the same notes of apples and ale. Compote, muesli, and a mocha spoon full of marmalade. Nicely malty. Finish: a little short, but clean, not too bitter/drying, with notes of cider. Even more cider in the aftertaste, a little candy sugar as well. Comments: bingo, up one point. A very easy, undemanding, decent dram. As I may have written before, typically ‘airport stuff’. SGP:451 - 78 points.

Glenfiddich 21 yo ‘Winter Storm’ (43%, OB, ice wine finish, 2017)

Glenfiddich 21 yo ‘Winter Storm’ (43%, OB, ice wine finish, 2017) Four stars Not too sure ice wine is ‘traditional’ as far as maturation vessels for Scotch are concerned, but that’s not my business. There are great Canadian ice wines, and there are cheaper, simpler ones. We’re making ice wine in Alsace too, but I believe we can’t call that ‘ice wine’ (vin de glace) anymore since a few years, because of the results of some kind of international negotiations. But why am I telling you that? Let’s move on… Colour: gold. Nose: this is well whisky, do not expect a burst of dullish raisin-like notes. There are rather ripe quinces, dried apricots, perhaps a handful of Turkish delights, certainly some juicy figs, and perhaps a drop of papaya nectar. Very nice nose, perhaps not extraordinarily complex, but there, very nice nose. Mouth: even more ‘whisky’, and even frankly herbal. Eating hay and apple peel, then drinking three cups of unsweetened earl grey tea. Then rather Seville oranges, plus a few fresh mint leaves. You know, the ones we sometimes eat after having downed a proper mojito. Finish: medium, with a little more obvious wine. A wee feeling of lees, grape pips… Comments: I’d call this a success, they managed to keep the usually rather boisterous ice wine at a distance. So, let’s not call this ‘a winesky’. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Quick bonus, another good malt by William Grant

Kininvie 23 yo (42.6%, OB, 35cl, +/-2017)

Kininvie 23 yo (42.6%, OB, 35cl, +/-2017) Four stars A recent no-batch-number edition of Kininvie. I’ve only tried the first 17 and some Hazelwoods and found them good but not totally entrancing (WF 82-83). Colour: pale gold. Nose: fresh and fruity, some kind of Glenfiddich with a little more knack and more active American oak, which translates into more creamy vanilla and apple pies. Nice fresh custardy profile, with ‘ideas’ of natural Arrans and Bruichladdichs. Mouth: really good, surprisingly good in fact. Jelly babies, more custard (or that famous pie they have in Portugal, pastéis de nata), a little citrusy hops (citra’s the name, I believe)… All good an nice. Finish: medium, creamy and round, on sweet barley, brioche, and more jelly babies. Or beans. Or crocodiles. A touch of lager in the aftertaste. Comments: really very good, possibly the best Kininvie so far. SGP:551 - 87 points.


Whiskyfun fav of the month

September 2017

Favourite recent bottling:
Springbank 21 yo (49.6%, OB, for the UK, single cask, oloroso sherry, 702 bottles, 2016)  - WF 93

Favourite older bottling:
Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, for Japan, 75cl, 1970s?) - WF 94

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Highland Park 2007/2016 (58.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, refill bourbon barrels, casks # 15603510-15603515)  - WF 90

Favourite malternative:
Hampden 16 yo 2000/2017 (54.6%, Excellence Rhum, Jamaica) - WF 91




Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Yaron Herman. Track: Toxic. Please visit his website and buy his music...

October 1, 2017


French rums, another go

Aujourd’hui nous allons tenter de trouver des cuvées particulièrement intéressantes parmi tous les rhum des Antilles françaises dont nous disposons au sein de notre bibliothèque d’échantillons, que penses-tu de cette idée ? Alors allons-y… (geeeez…)

Neisson 2011/2016 ‘Le Galion’ (46%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 260 bottles)

Neisson 2011/2016 ‘Le Galion’ (46%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 260 bottles) Three stars This rather pricy baby (110€ at only 4 years of age and at 46% vol.) came in a lovely hand-painted bottle. Colour: gold. Nose: the trademark metallic side strikes first, then we find overripe fruits (many of them, bananas, apples, guavas), a wee yeasty side, almost feinty, then the usual lilies and other heady flowers, then rather jams and stewed tropical fruits. Touches of ginger and cinnamon from the oak. Mouth: firm, spicy and fruity. Say some all-yellow-fruit jam with pinches of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, then rather ripe plums plus a little honey and maple syrup. Finish: rather long, rather jammy, rather spicy, rather thick. Caraway and cinnamon, some earthy notes in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps not quite high-definition rum, as it tends to go off in almost any directions, but quality’s very high, obviously. SGP:651 - 82 points.

La Mauny 1998 (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015)

La Mauny 1998 (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015) Four stars and a half La Mauny’s made at the same place as Trois Rivières. It’s a fairly ‘common’ brand, but I’ve had some very good ones in the past. Colour: deep gold. Nose: epitomically agricole, with yellow flowers, stewed mangos and passion fruits, bananas, apple compote flavoured with cinnamon, hay, cigarette tobacco, garden earth, and wee whiffs of sandalwood. Awesome nose, aromatic, fresh, and vibrant. Mouth: very good, starting slightly tarry and even smoky, and getting then lusciously fruity, with ripe pears, mirabelles, peaches, and a touch of quince jelly. A wonderful easy freshness, and perhaps a little too much moreishness. That is dangerous. Finish: medium, on bags and bags of juicy sultanas and a few herbs that are keeping it straight and, well, vibrant. Sweet liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps a surprise. Superb Quality/price ratio. SGP:651 - 88 points.

Clément 2005/2015 ‘Single Cask’ (41.6%, OB, Martinique, agricole, bourbon, cask #20010094, 475 bottles)

Clément 2005/2015 ‘Single Cask’ (41.6%, OB, Martinique, agricole, bourbon, cask #20010094, 475 bottles) Two stars Previous Clément single casks have been a little too tannic for me, let’s see… Sadly, the brand has played the ‘most expensive rum in the world’ game (a.k.a. the Macallan and Dalmore game), which did damage the name a little bit, in my book at least. Colour: full gold. Nose: indeed, there is a lot of oak, tea, dry cinnamon, a little cardboard as well, then rather quinces and tobacco, vegetal earth, a little pinesap, clay, fern, moss… The whole remains very dry. Mouth: a little too oaky, drying, cardboardy… What’s behind that oaky screen is pretty nice (sugar cane, pineapples, and bananas) but I’m not sure the oak was mastered to perfection. Finish: short, drying, cardboardy. Comments: let’s call this one ‘average’. SGP:451 - 75 points.

La Favorite 2008/2016 ‘Fût unique N°8’ (46%, OB, Martinique, agricole)

La Favorite 2008/2016 ‘Fût unique N°8’ (46%, OB, Martinique, agricole) Four stars Some single cask La Favorite. A funny brand, La Favorite, they have both some superb pure agricoles and some heavily doctored oldies (the nasty Flibustes). Let’s check this little single cask (fût unique)… Colour: amber. Nose: very nice, rather more on the coffee-ish side, with some black tea, cocoa powder, and quite some humus. It surely is a different style, with quite a lot of dry oak. Mouth: yeah, no sugar added that I can feel! Rather bitter oranges, more strong black tea, passion fruits, ground coffee, and just hints of big thick black molasses. Perfect touches of mentholated tobacco and black tea, samovar-style. Finish: medium, dry, and yet fruity. Passion fruits and blood oranges, with more tea and tobacco in the background. Comments: I’m finding this extremely good, with a very distinctive style. I wouldn’t swap one bottle of this for ten Flibustes. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Bellevue 19 yo 1998/2017 (59.9%, Excellence Rhum, Guadeloupe, bourbon)

Bellevue 19 yo 1998/2017 (59.9%, Excellence Rhum, Guadeloupe, bourbon) Five stars The cask was marked as ‘SFGB’. It comes from where they also make the rather famous Damoiseau brand. Colour: amber. Nose: not as big as expected, even a little discreet, rather on earthy coffee and fried pineapple, then chocolate and black tobacco, Gauloise-style. Some tamarind jam as well, for sure, as well as more and more prunes, rather Armagnac-style. Burning fir wood. With water: some oaky notes, torrefaction, perhaps walnut stain, and curious whiffs of damp hessian and ropes. Mouth (neat): well, this is both very strong and extremely good. It’s rhum ‘à l’ancienne’, with bags of black olives, candied lemon, tarry liquorice, and… well, tarry liquorice and black olives. Love this style. With water: superlatively salty, tarry, and olive-y, and yet approachable and almost ‘easy’. Perfect earthy tones. Finish: long, salty, brine-y, with some liquorice and our beloved black olives. Good people in the south of France would call it ‘tapenade-y’. Some superb smoky coffee in the aftertaste, a drop of fir liqueur, and perhaps a few roasted pistachios. Comments: totally top notch, that’s all I have to say. On first-name terms with the best Jamaicans. SGP:462 - 90 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Christophe Wallemme. Track: Holi. Please visit his website and buy his music...

September 2017 - part 2 <--- October 2017 - part 1 ---> October 2017 - part 2



Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Aberlour 13 yo (58%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #34595, 678 bottles)

Aberlour 25 yo 1989/2015 (48.7%, OB, Distillery Reserve Collection, hogshead, cask #14387, 264 bottles)

Clynelish 1995/2016 (52.7%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, cask #SE081)

Clynelish 20 yo 1996/2017 (55.5%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 295 bottles)

Convalmore 32 yo 1984/2017 (48.2%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 3,972 bottles)

Dalmore 25 yo (42%, OB, +/-2017)

Glenlivet 1943/2013 (49.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #121, 40 decanters, issued 2017)

Bellevue 19 yo 1998/2017 (59.9%, Excellence Rhum, Guadeloupe, bourbon)

Velier Royal Navy (57.18%, Velier, blend, 2017)