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Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2019 - Part 1


September 2019 - part 2 <--- October 2019 - part 1 ---> October 2019 - part 2



October 14, 2019


A trio of newish Ardbeg

There are two recent ‘rather wined’ Ardbegs, one by Malts of Scotland and one by Elixir, which we’re happy to try today. We’ll throw in the official 19 while we’re at it, let’s not wait any further with that one, even if the whole world has already tried it.

Ardbeg 2000/2019 (52.1%, Malts of Scotland, cask #MoS19026, 97 bottles)

Ardbeg 2000/2019 (52.1%, Malts of Scotland, cask #MoS19026, 97 bottles) Four stars
This one’s nicknamed ‘Another little Miss Piggy’ on the label ‘, possibly some private joke or something. Looks like this is full maturing in a Port cask, not quick flavouring. I mean, quick finishing.  Colour: amber. Nose: let’s say it, peat and Port usually clash in my book (ever tried smoked muesli or strawberry jam?) but in this very case, that’s exactly not what’s happening. Did they STR-ise a pipe? Some smoke of course, roasted chestnuts, brownies, some kind of smoked toffee, a touch of old Jamaican rum, then those very Ardbeggy tarry/coastal elements, plus a touch of pine resin. Works so far. With water: we have a kind of jam called ‘la confiture du vieux garçon’, never found any proper translation. It’s a kind of jam that’s made with dried fruits, preserved ones, some spices (aniseed, cinnamon) and whichever spirit you’ve got at hand, usually rum or eau-de-vie. Right, or Ardbeg. Mouth (neat): it is sweeter than your average Ardbeg, and indeed, you’ll find some strawberry gums, cassis, redcurrants, and even cherries form the Port, but the spiciness (caraway, cloves, cracked pepper) and the tarry peat combine well. It’s just that the Port may have offset a part of the coastalness – no big deal. With water: it got more Ardbeggian, especially saltier. Salted bittersweet fruits or something. Finish: long, with even more confiture du vieux garçon. Or old bachelor’s jam? Comments: not my preferred style in general, but I like this very varianty Ardbeg rather a lot.
SGP:566 - 87 points.

Ar11 2001/2019 (56.8%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 1st Fill Pedro Ximenez Butt, 840 bottles)

Ar11 2001/2019 (56.8%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 1st Fill Pedro Ximenez Butt, 840 bottles) Five stars
Last year’s Ar10 was amazing (WF 92) but that was a classic bourbon cask. Classic and often unbeatable, but you never know… Colour: full gold. Nose: first fill PX, really? Because this is neither stuffy, nor heady, nor ueber-raisiny, it rather lets the distillate shine and sing. In short, this is clearly and totally Ardbeg, with just a layer of bright citrus over it. Citrons, tangerines, bergamots… With water: oh, old ropes, seaweed, sea breeze, perhaps even a tiny oyster that happened to be crawling by... Mouth (neat): the cask’s a little more obvious on the palate, with more dried berries (raisins, goji) and a firmer cake-iness (cinnamon cake), as well as a large amount of marmalade and just touches of juniper. However, balance has been reached. With water: even more PXness after reduction, but it remains fresh – if not refreshing. Finish: rather long and frankly on berries, raisins, and yeah, Pedro. The good news is that citrus fruits are back in the aftertaste, with this uplifting-quality that’s always a hit. Comments: I was going for 89 until the fresh and bright aftertaste put the baby back on the tracks.
SGP:656 - 90 points.

What did we said we’d have as #3? Ah, you’re right…

Ardbeg 19 yo ‘Traigh Bhan’ (46.2%, OB, 2019)

Ardbeg 19 yo ‘Traigh Bhan’ (46.2%, OB, 2019) Four stars and a half
Even if there’s a pretty Diageo-y batch number (Distillers’ Editions), this one’s meant to become a new permanent age-dated Ardbeg, so no need to rush out I suppose. What’s really very strange is that no one would have expected them to have enough stocks of older whisky to do this. Are the stocks of older Scotch malt whisky exhausted or not? Wasn’t that the rationale behind the whole NAS shebang? This is a mix of ex-American wood and oloroso sherry. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather fruitier and lighter than other Ardbegs, but that may be the sherry, not too sure. Other than that, I find it pretty simple, and yet rather perfect. I’d say, preserved pineapple, pink grapefruit, new Wellies, and a few whelks or clams. So natural rubber rather than tar, but the whole works perfectly, even if this is a quatuor da camera rather than a philharmonic orchestra. Mouth: it’s easy, fruitier Ardbeg, with rather more tropical fruits this time, guavas, a little vanilla and even coconut, white chocolate, and then rather smokier and sappier notes, smoked almonds, clams indeed, sweeter lemons, and a subtle rubber. Some vanillin as well, orange blossom… Finish: medium, very soft for Ardbeg, going towards green tea blended with just a little lapsang souchong. Add a wee spoonful of manuka honey and just a few ashes and tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s surprisingly soft and easy -white chocolate in Ardbeg! – but I have to say I enjoy it rather a lot, even if we’re very far from the 1970s. As they say, the the world is divided into two kinds of people, those who’ve tried quite some early-to-mid 1970s Ardbeg, and those who have not.
SGP:656 - 88 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Ardbeg we've tasted so far


October 13, 2019


Brand new malternative rums

Some great stuff gathered in busy Paris, but I did not have enough time to go see many trendy brands (Velier amongst others) so we’ve only got a wee personal selection. Next year!

Foursquare 12 yo 2007/2019 (59%, OB, Barbados, Mark X, Ex-bourbon cask)

Foursquare 12 yo 2007/2019 (59%, OB, Barbados, Mark X, Ex-bourbon cask) Five stars
A blend of pot and column rums from Foursquare distillery, so a single blend, but the proportions are a well-guarded secret (unless you manage to tie-up one of the Seales and put Céline Dion on eleven on the stereo, ah, that’s an idea, I’ll try that next time!) Colour: amber. Nose: immediate and obvious, which is not always the case with Foursquare, especially when table wine casks have been used. Coffee, tobacco, a little leatherette (so leather for vegans), cane juice, burnt panettone, cigars, liquorice, and a handful of black olives.  Like this rather a lot. With water: more damp earth and olives, humus, pipe tobacco… Mouth (neat): really punchy, full, a little fresher than expected despite this relative heaviness. Truckloads of mint-flavoured liquorice, roasted almonds, Seville oranges, and a lot of proper gingerbread. With water: a drop of muscat (eh?) but the rest is all on tobacco and bitter oranges, plus the expected cinnamon and cloves. Finish: very long, spicy, on more oranges and more tobacco. Comments: a fairly estery Foursquare I would say, at the height of its  talent. Really liked the liquorice.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

We did a two-glass ‘masterclass’ (okay, a tasting) with Mr. Broom at WL Paris, both of us having chosen three spirits each, which we had particularly enjoyed. This fairly new rum was one of Dave’s choices…

Worthy Park 12 yo 2006/2018 (56%, OB, Jamaica)

Worthy Park 12 yo 2006/2018 (56%, OB, Jamaica) Four stars and a half
This is 100% pot still this time, naturally. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather gentler than expected, which is typically ‘OB’ with most makes and brands, as if they never wanted to shock anyone too much. Now it is still very typical, full of gherkin brine, gritty olive oil, new rubber, tarmac, and engine oil rather than petrol or diesel. Moderately gentle. With water: drier, more on grasses and teas. Touches of green oak. Mouth (neat): fantastic, very strong, extremely compact and full, very medicinal at first (cough syrup for adults only), then a little more on citrus. There’s also an uncommon sweetness that’s seldom seen at the indies, not sure what it is. Between liquorice allsorts and cinnamon mints. With water: gentler yet, with more fruits (do I really find raspberries?) and really a lot of liquorice. Finish: long, on similar flavours plus a little salt. Notes of bananas. Comments: I suppose, but I’m not sure, that this is tropical aging, which implies that it’s very mature at 12 yo (not very old, only time makes aged spirits old). Mature thus a little gentler indeed.
SGP:552 - 88 points.

Savanna 14 yo 2004/2019 ‘Thunderstruck’ (65.1%, OB, La Réunion, Grand Arôme, cask #276, 681 bottles)

Savanna 14 yo 2004/2019 ‘Thunderstruck’ (65.1%, OB, La Réunion, Grand Arôme, cask #276, 681 bottles) Four stars
This one stems from the French island of La Réunion, in the Indian ocean. It aged on location, and is advertised as ‘High Voltage Rum’. Thunderstruck, high voltage, grand arôme, 65% vol…. I suppose we got the message, have we not. Colour: dark amber. Nose: glue, varnish, acetone, crushed olives, burnt books, ashes, and really bags of cloves. It’s coming through good and loud. With water: as usual, there’s more earth, but also more bandages, old fabric, new Tesla, plastics… Mouth (neat): very high esters! Old rum people believe we’re crazy to quaff these dressers when pure, but there, other times and other tastes. A feeling of drinking ink blended with lemon juice, ashes and concrete dust. Some salty touches here and there. With water: few changes, just a little more gentleness and, in fact, even more liquorice. These high-ester rums always showcase a lot of liquorice, often salted liquorice as they have in Scandinavia. Finish: long and perhaps a little fruitier. Dare I quote pineapples and pink grapefruits? Brine in the aftertaste. Comments: I like this a lot, even if the Worthy Park was a little more, say ‘seminal’, or more for purists. Are we purists?
SGP:463 - 86 points.

Neisson 1991/2019 ‘Armada’ (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 230 bottles)

Neisson 1991/2019 ‘Armada’ (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 230 bottles) Four stars and a half
Mind you, this baby’s more or less 28 years of age. The tag is heavy (1,770€) but at this price and as they say, better Neisson than Don Papa (S.!) You see, always a matter of perspective… Colour: amber. Nose: lots happening in there. Cheeses and perhaps even a toddler’s gym socks at first, then gentler notes of chocolate and roasted nuts, fennel seeds, roasted pine nuts, a little kummel, then more floral tones, ylang-ylang, whiffs of iris, jasmine… I hope you understood that’s its very complex, if a little soft. Mouth: same feeling of two-tone rum, with first notes of cream and elderflowers, then more classic notes of sugarcane, sour woods, rosehip tea, rose jelly and Turkish delights (I know, Turkish ‘delights’ sounds very odd these days.) A lot of mead too, honey spirit… Finish: medium, a tad more caramelly, still with very wee notes of cheese. Some very fruity gruyère, perhaps. Comments: these very old rums may tend to scatter a bit, but what’s sure is that it did not get too woody at all, which we might have to call ‘a miracle’. Seriously, it’s as excellent as expected.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Now if we did not have the 1991 as the last one, there was a reason…

Neisson 2003/2018 (46.1%, OB, Martinique, agricole, #4 hippocampe, 95 bottles)

Neisson 2003/2018 (46.1%, OB, Martinique, agricole, #4 hippocampe, 95 bottles) Five stars
A lavishly presented micro-bottling that pays tribute to various animals. Not a first of course, but why not, better hippocamps than American Presidents or British PMs. Or French ones. Some interesting data on the label by the way, the cask used to shelter 650l when filled, of which only 370 were remaining at time of disgorging. Colour: amber. Nose: a perfect softness with a very delicate background, rather on various teas and herbs at first, then various roasted nuts, before the trademark floral development starts to take place. Wallflowers and  moist tobacco, shall we say, then the usual liquorice and whiffs of some woods in autumn. Which is very fitting, is it not. Mouth: this is where it may destroy the 1991, for it’s got more oomph and more knack, while being just as complex. Love all this menthol, the liquorice, the bergamots and kumquats, the jellies and the jams (quince and figs spring to mind), as well as this very tight, very discreet phenolic side that would add some extra-dimension. Finish: long, a tad oaky, but that’s textbook maturation oak, not sawdust and chips. I mean, a feeling of sawdust and chips. Stunning liquorice – menthol – butterscotch combination in the aftertaste. Love how this final menthol would add a lot of freshness to the whole experience, making you want more – ah, that’s the trick!  Comments: seriously, great, great Neisson. Top five rum distilleries in the world, and easy. Too bad it’s getting so expensive, but at least the low stocks are real, not invented by marketeers on Red-Bull Energy Shots.
SGP:561 - 91 points.

Sleep tight or make the most out of your day.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far


October 12, 2019





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Duos until we drop!
Let’s do battle with the sample pile once more and stick to our tried and tested formula of mixed pairings.


Kamiki Blended Malt Whisky (48%, OB, Batch 2, 2018)

Kamiki Blended Malt Whisky (48%, OB, Batch 2, 2018)
One of these ‘Bastard’ Japanese blended malts on first inspection, although, in all fairness, they do at least state it is blended with ‘other malt whiskies’. But does that really count as transparency? This one is also finished in ‘yoshino-sugi’ or ‘Japanese Cedar’ wood casks. An oddity and I’ve no idea what to expect… Colour: gold. Nose: it could be the power of suggestion, but there really is something very cedar-centric about this nose. Freshly opened cigar boxes, fir trees, pine air freshener and Uhu glue sticks. Also some putty, curry leaf, pencil shavings and hints of jasmine and incense. It’s perfectly pleasant but the oak does feel rather boisterous and jarring. Mouth: here the wood becomes a bit too intense for me. More glue, papier mâché, over-sugared tea and again this rather lumpy, plasticky cedar note. Tastes like a fake Christmas tree. Finish: Pretty brief, sawdusty, cardboardy and with some thin notes of cheap sugar syrups. An oddly astringent aftertaste. Comments: I’ve no idea whether a single teaspoon or a whole bottle of Japanese malt went into this but, whatever is in there, it’s all been flattened under the weirdly sweet woodiness. Not a fan I’m afraid. But then, I’ve not doubt this is not aimed at the geekier end of the whisky spectrum.
SGP: 730 - 66 points.



Campbeltown Blended Malt 5 yo 2014/2019 (50%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 386 bottles)

Campbeltown Blended Malt 5 yo 2014/2019 (50%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 386 bottles)
This seems to have been another wee parcel which is slowly making its way about the indy market. Nose: very pure and fresh on linens, fabrics, canvas, wet rocks, gravel and hints of petrol and plain cereals. I like this combination of innocence and extreme purity. There’s some chalk, gorse flower and rapeseed oil too. With water: new shoes, sunflower oil, trail mix and ink. Mouth: a tad rough but with some pleasing notes of root vegetables, putty, coarse minerals, raw oatmeal and tequila blanco. With water: some lemon cough drops in soda water. More cereals, cut grass, freshly chopped herbs and getting increasingly austere and punchy - a minor youthful tantrum perhaps? Finish: Medium and featuring rather a lot of dusty cereals, caraway, wet leaves and putty. Comments: It’s a very fine young drop although I’m not sure how easily I’d make it through a whole bottle. You get the sense that with these casks a few more years would make a lot of difference.
SGP: 352 - 78 points.



Glen Spey 17 yo 2001/2019 (53.3%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 bourbon hogsheads, 546 bottles)

Glen Spey 17 yo 2001/2019 (53.3%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 bourbon hogsheads, 546 bottles)
Good old Glen Spey, long overshadowed by Speyburn which lies but a single mile to the north… Colour: pale straw. Nose: definite notes of malt whisky! Plain cereals, barley, a touch of yoghurt, a suggestion of vanilla. Did you see that Mr Donald might finally be getting impeached? Some grass… The great thing about being self-employed is getting to enjoy British daytime TV, let me tell you about Homes Under The Hammer… With water: I think there may be a cactus growing in the corner (Stefan!) And perhaps a stray geranium that lost its way. Mouth: Yes. This is definitely malt whisky. Phew! So, the thing about trying to buy property in Edinburgh these days is… Did I mention something vaguely lemony? With water: plain barley mixed with oatcakes, putty and a midget miser’s thimble of golden syrup. But anyway, as I was saying about Brexit… Finish: Zzzzzz… Comments: Not sure this whisky has helped Glen Spey shed it’s reputation for being boring. The sort of cask that would probably have been more comfortably leading a quiet life of Johnnie Walker cloaked anonymity.
SGP: 441 - 76 points.



Glen Spey 17 yo 2001/2019 (54.5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Glen Spey 17 yo 2001/2019 (54.5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)
Oh goody! A sibling cask! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: A tad more grassy and punchy. A little more chalky and some more interesting notes of lemon powder and fresh fabrics. But otherwise we’re struggling through the same ballpark. With water: some vase water, a dried flower or two? Water seems to kind of obliterate any remnant character. Mouth: a little more buttery with some nice notes of fresh herbs. But it’s overall pretty austere and plain. With water: some lemon rind, quinine and a slightly astringent bitterness. Getting weird and a bit difficult now, developing something like molten plastic. Finish: Mercifully short and empty. Comments: I had this one initially a couple of points above the SB but it really fell apart with water I thought. I know I often talk about the merits of refill wood, but if the distillate is this plain and hollow to being with, I doubt you’ll ever get anything more than mundane whisky.
SGP: 341 - 74 points.



Let’s try to climb out of this hole we seem to be digging for ourselves.



Irish Single Malt 17 yo 2001/2019 (57.2%, Rolf Kaspar for Hotel Eissener, cask #10821, sherry, 290 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 17 yo 2001/2019 (57.2%, Rolf Kaspar for Hotel Eissener, cask #10821, sherry, 290 bottles)
Theoretically a couple of Irish will freshen things up around here… Colour: amber. Nose: tobacco leaf and butterscotch to begin. Expensive rum cocktails, caramelised brown sugars, sultanas and chopped dates. A slight flinty and grassy edge to the sherry as well which keeps things lively. With water: nuttier now, some milk chocolate, praline and bramble jam. Mouth: Ooft. Lovely syrupy, lightly grassy and earthy sherry with this very typical old Irish quality of metal polish, plush cereals and cod liver oil. Some walnuts, hessian, soot, prune juice. It’s kind of all over the place but in a very enjoyable fashion. A giddy wee Irish! In time the sherry develops a rather fat and earthy profile with notes of bicycle inner tube and beef stock. With water: wee touches of mint appear in the sherry, along with more assertive notes of old agricole rhums, mineral oil, graphite, chai tea and mushroom powder. Finish: Long, earthy, very leathery and developing notes of mutton cooked with prunes, sultanas and a little more fresh rubber. Comments: I know these rubber notes won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I find it to be on the ‘natural’ side of dirtiness. If you see what I mean? I really liked how, despite the punch of the sherry, it never lets you forget that this is Irish Whiskey.
SGP: 561 - 87 points.



Ireland 28 yo 1990/2018 (47.3%, Archives ‘The Fishes of Samoa’, cask #578, barrel, 102 bottles)

Ireland 28 yo 1990/2018 (47.3%, Archives ‘The Fishes of Samoa’, cask #578, barrel, 102 bottles)
Dear Whiskybase. For your next bottling series, please could you do ‘The Kebabs of Glasgow’. That is all. Love and Kisses. Angus. Colour: pale gold. Nose: Oh for goodness sake! These old Irish are almost embarrassingly fruity sometimes. Lush, ripe and direct tropical fruit salad juices. The usual suspects of mango, guava, melon, banana, papaya and passion fruit. The funny thing is that it’s not a hugely complex whisky, there’s a touch of clean cereal and a wee drop of posh olive oil, but otherwise everything seems to have fallen in line behind the fruits here. Which is absolutely an asset in this case. A touch of orange blossom and maybe a stray bay leaf as well. Mouth: interestingly it’s the spices that come first, at this age and outturn you’d expect the wood to have a voice and it certainly does but it’s lovely, clean and delivering a warmth of gentle spices. Behind that comes the fruits, more syrupy and fleshy now. Ripe banana, tinned peaches, kiwi, star fruit and kumquat. Probably caught at just the right age, much longer and you feel this might have started to fade. But as it is, this remains the height of fruity decadence. Finish: medium and on things like quince, spiced honeys, creme caramel, golden sultanas, boiled lime sweets and dried mango. Comments: We all know the deal with these stocks by now. This is quite simply another excellent and extremely pleasurable example of these great mature Irish single malts.
SGP: 641 - 90 points.



Aultmore 8 yo 1989/1997 (60.8%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection)

Aultmore 8 yo 1989/1997 (60.8%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection)
As ever, always reassuring to know the cask was made of oak. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this falls on the elegant and pleasing side of austere to my nose. Lots of lemon scented bath salts, raw barley, cereals, chalk, pebbles and fresh lime zest. All the usual suspects you get in this kind of profile: putty, petrol, ink, wool and paper. Some tiny embrocations too. Very nice so far. With water: more chalky notes, white flowers, chalk dusters, fabrics and cooking oils. Mouth: A tad tougher on the palate. It’s not that it’s youthful or rough but there are some funny notes of plastic, porridge, kitchen cloths and cleaning fluids. Bit weird really. With water: it improves with water but it’s got this rather typical old Cadenhead AC brutality about it. Granitic and rather monolithic. Finish: Medium, gravely and a bit cardboardy. Extremely austere; George Osborne would be a fan. Comments: Started nice, but things got a little whacky after that. Although, it’s perfectly sippable with a decent splash of water - probably more highball than hip flask material. Same story for many such Cadenhead bottlings from this era.
SGP: 361 - 77 points.



Aultmore 20 yo 1997/2018 (53.2%, Cadenhead Warehouse Tour, hogshead)

Aultmore 20 yo 1997/2018 (53.2%, Cadenhead Warehouse Tour, hogshead)
Distilled the same year the previous one was bottled, I always find this weirdly poetic and pleasing in a nerdy kind of way. Colour: white wine. Nose: What’s fun is that I find more of these kinds of mineral and bath salt notes in the nose that I got in the 1989. However, here they are more pronounced, more floral, more zesty citrus notes and with more background greenery like trampled ferns and chopped parsley. Very bouncy and springy. With water: light pollens, vase water, chalk, sunflower oil and some underripe green apples. Mouth: richer than expected. Good malty sinew, an elegant sweetness like malt extract and barley sugars, some more freshly chopped herbs and hints of white stone fruits and white jelly beans - or pineapple I suppose. With water: develops towards the cereal tones with notes of oatmeal and muesli with a drizzle of runny honey. It’s lovely but I feel there are probably a gazillion casks like this lying around warehouses in Scotland. Finish: a tad short and all on plain cereals, cooking oils and soft grassy and floral notes. Comments: I feel that had the 1989 been left to reach a similar age we’d be in the same ballpark of quality. With this kind of slightly more mundane distillate and refill hoggies time really is everything. It’s very easy and pleasant but just a tad ‘malt whisky flavour’.
SGP: 441 - 80 points.



Back in the hole it seems. Time to shake things up with some Glenturret if you please.



Glenturret 29 yo 1989/2019 (44.6%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, cask #234, hogshead, 250 bottles)

Glenturret 29 yo 1989/2019 (44.6%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, cask #234, hogshead, 250 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: Excuse me? Fruits galore? Seriously, this is a wonderful aroma of ripe banana chopped in muesli, lots of sultana, star fruit, green apple, gooseberry and pear eau de vie. Harmonious, dangerously easy and elegant. Not unlike these old Irish Whiskeys in that you can simply nose and sip them without a care in the world and without over-intellectualising. Mouth: Pah! Superbly rich, oily and full of the same ripe garden and orchard fruits that dominated the nose. Even a few tropical inflections as well and a lovely undercurrent of delicate waxiness. And the weight and texture in the mouth feel far greater than 44.6%. Just marvellous and superbly quaffable whisky. Finish: long, lemony, exotic and full wee medical and waxy qualities. Comments: The great frustration with Glenturret is that when it’s good it can really be superb. But with the inconsistency over the years you just daren’t buy without tasting. I really loved this one!
SGP: 651 - 91 points.



Glenturret 30 yo 1988/2018 (52.4%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #532, hogshead, 234 bottles)

Glenturret 30 yo 1988/2018 (52.4%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #532, hogshead, 234 bottles)
So far everything else in this series has been pretty cracking. Let’s see if this one can match the 1989 though… Colour: gold. Nose: similar ballparks but this one is a tad shier initially. More on metal and shoe polishes, ripe guava, melon, elderflower cordial and sunflower oil. In the background there’s hints of fennel, caraway and some oils sheep wool. Excellent but more subtle and playful. With water: develops beautifully towards jasmine, dried herbs, passion flower, nutmeg and waxes. Beautiful. Mouth: Did I say subtle and playful? Actually this is just another fruit bomb in waiting. Only here the extra strength adds layers of syrups, oils, waxes and fat medical tinctures. Mead, lime oils, treacle pudding, banana bread, light notes of vegetable stock, honeysuckle and mint tea. Just superb! With water: fruits, oils, medicines, waxes and herbs all come together perfectly. A brilliant, cohesive, fat, textural whole. Finish: Long and oily, you really feel the texture in this whisky, like its gloopyness is hanging around and sticking to things in your mouth. Various exotic fruit teas, menthol tobaccos, pine wood, camphor and fruit cordials. Comments: I really thought the 1989 would be victorious but this 1988 is just a total killer! Seriously, Glenturret, where have you been all my life!
SGP: 662 - 92 points.



Some peat to finish I think.



Ledaig 2008/2018 (53.3%, The Good Spirits whisky shop Hong Kong, hogshead, 62 bottles)

Ledaig 2008/2018 (53.3%, The Good Spirits whisky shop Hong Kong, hogshead, 62 bottles)
Not to be confused with the excellent Good Spirits Co in Glasgow, this is in fact a recent bottling by some good folk in Hong Kong. Colour: pale straw. Nose: lovely mix of carbolic smokiness, fermenting hay, cider apples and salt and vinegar crisps at first nosing. There’s something rather Caol Ilaish about it to begin in fact. Continues with these rather nice mineral and saline notes of wet rocks, chalk, mineral salts and bath bombs. A sort of floral-accented peat smoke. With water: all on mercurochrome, rock pools, beach sand and dried seaweed flakes in ramen broth. A lovely savoury/salty/umami profile emerges. Still retaining this lighter and more elegant quality. Mouth: It’s really a lighter Ledaig I feel. An elegant floral and farmy smokiness with a few touches of kippers and brine. Petrol, lemon juice, disinfectant and salty pistachios. Goes down extremely easily! With water: smouldering pine cones (I eat them all the time!) preserved lemons and a surprisingly fuller texture and mouthfeel with this waxiness emerging. More petrol, plain peat smoke and bonfire embers. Finish: Long, lemony, sooty and with a gentle white peppery quality. More of these saline, umami notes like miso and soy sauce. Comments: Serge is often comparing contemporary Ledaigs to Ardbeg. However, this one cleaves closer to Caol Ila I think, and all the better for it. Impeccable distillate! Although, sadly only 62 bottles.
SGP: 465 - 90 points.



Ledaig 10 yo 2008/2018 (54.9%, Archives, cask #700001, hogshead, 248 bottles)

Ledaig 10 yo 2008/2018 (54.9%, Archives, cask #700001, hogshead, 248 bottles)
This one features a very attractive butterfly on the label, sadly it will pale in comparison to the new ‘Kebabs of Glasgow’ series once it arrives… Colour: white wine. Nose: initially we have these similarly sharp and fermentary notes. Smoky sourdough bread, smoked sea salt, fermenting hay, carbolic wash, lemons preserved in brine and crushed seashells. This one is slightly more acidic, sharper and more austere with these assertive saline qualities. With water: fabric, seawater, chalk, white flowers, hessian, squid ink and pure brine cut with lemon juice. Mouth: this is the bigger and more muscular side of Ledaig. Pure, beefy peat smoke, tarry ropes, embrocations, lemon infused oils, paraffin and petrol. A slightly greasy and mechanical side as well. Excellent! With water: a raw oyster wrapped in newspaper and malt vinegar. The saltiness yields to a tiny inclusion of sweetness. The texture is also a tad more syrupy now as well. Finish: Long, very salty and hugely on umami and various stocks, broths, dried herbs and black pepper. Serious, someone should make Ledaig Ramen! Comments: The ‘Ardbeg’ side of Ledaig for sure. Seriously, Whiskybase, I know we agreed on the Samsung QE82Q950R, but I’m starting to think maybe ‘home cinema system' instead...?
SGP: 366 - 90 points.



Thanks, as ever, to Dirk!





October 11, 2019


Indie Dalmore five times

It seems that Dalmore have become a little quieter recently. No more Macallany marketing stunts, no more ‘most expensive whisky in the world’, rather less ‘lifestyle’ stuff (lifestyle being an ugly word that reeks of the pre-hipster 1990s and of Donald T. if you ask me)… So back to whisky? Unless they’re currently very busy with China, which is possible. Having said that, we've just tried their latest 35, 40 and 45 and they were ecellent, expect those notes on WF soon. Anyway, we’ll only have some IBs today. First, our usual little aperitif…

Dalmore 1996/2013 (46%, L’Esprit, cask #BH9092/RB58)

Dalmore 1996/2013 (46%, L’Esprit, cask #BH9092/RB58) Two stars
Don’t the cask numbers suggest this was a finishing of some sort? I believe I tried a version at cask strength before. Not bad but a little harsh. Colour: straw. Nose: not very Dalmore, that is to say much grassier and yeastier, with notes of fresh bread and just a touch of banana. No oranges though. Mouth: indeed, it’s pretty harsh, grassy, a little bitter, and really not very Dalmorean. Over-infused green tea springs to mind. Finish: long and pretty bitter. Comments: I’m surprised this excellent little house in Britany bottled this extremely rustic drop that should have rather gone into one of Whyte & Mackay’s NAS blends, in my humble opinion.
SGP:261 - 72 points.

Dalmore 16 yo 2001/2018 (48.9%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 180 bottles)

Dalmore 16 yo 2001/2018 (48.9%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 180 bottles) Three stars
I believe this was a double maturation, with the last three years in a sherry hogshead. Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts like… a bourbon! Or am I dreaming? Or there, rather rye whisky. Vanilla, caraway, sloe, juniper, ginger… This is quite pleasant I have to say, just rather unusual. Some walnuts from the sherry as well, hiding in the shadows… Although it would tend to mellow down, getting rounder and cakier. Mouth: exactly the same feeling, this is really funny. Liquorice, lavender sweets, ginger cookies, caraway bread, buckwheat crèpes (galettes)… Rather some sour cherries this time on the sherry front. Finish: long and grassier, with a sourer and bitterer ending. A little spicy oak. Comments: an unusual drop, really likeable, but I’d have said it came from a new start-up distillery. Craft, naturally.
SGP:361 - 82 points.

Never give up!...

Dalmore 18 yo 2001/2019 (51.8%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 246 bottles)

Dalmore 18 yo 2001/2019 (51.8%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 246 bottles) Four stars
Same kind of set-up, most certainly. Colour: dark gold. Nose: it’s a different combo, a little more on the distillate, more on the expected oranges and Jaffa cakes, and more importantly, more on malty pastries. The sherry’s also rounder, with a few raisins and notes of panettone. We’re much, much closer to the OBs here. With water: lovely brioches, orange blossom water, gâteau Provençal… Mouth (neat): a tad rougher than on the nose, but very good. Pretty close to the 16 yo, but sitting on the other side of the fence. I mean, it's more on marmalade, tobacco, earl grey, walnut cake, white pepper… All classic things that we’ll always enjoy. With water: impeccable sherry, gingerbread and mead, cakes, marmalade, roasted raisins, bread pudding… Finish: rather long, a tad leafier and grassier, in that sense closer to the 16 yo. Leather. Loses a few points here but it had gathered quite a lot of them before. Comments: I’d love to know about what they did differently with this one. An excellent drop, I think.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Dalmore 14 yo ‘Batch 3’ (51.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 811 bottles)

Dalmore 14 yo ‘Batch 3’ (51.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 811 bottles) Four stars and a half
With a submarine mine on the label, what should this suggest? Is it explosive? Coastal? Submersible? Highly dangerous? Colour: white wine. Nose: raw and perfect. I mean, it’s totally on barley and yeast at first, with growing notes of chocolate, blood oranges and just raw wool. Well-carved for sure, and right on the money as far as distillery markers are concerned. With water: more dough, yeast, grist, even wash…  Mouth (neat): rather kind of mildly fantastic (?). Raw barley, oranges, croissants, warm brown toasts, then strong vegetables, Jerusalem artichokes, zucchinis, asparagus… This combo works extremely well if you ask me. With water: a superb distillate in its naked glory, with just a little wood and a fair amount of years. Tastes like if they had emptied a bakery and distilled the whole lot. Finish: medium, very bready. Haven’t I mentioned gâteau Provençal before? Comments: perfect spirit al natural. Granted, it’s not hugely complex yet, but this make in theses casks at 25, my my!
SGP:451 - 88 points.

And now, kerosene! (hopefully not)…

Dalmore 11 yo 2007/2018 (64.4%, Highland Laird, cask # 516965, 240 bottles)

Dalmore 11 yo 2007/2018 (64.4%, Highland Laird, cask # 516965, 240 bottles) Two stars
Did you notice the strength here? Wondering if this is totally legal. Colour: white wine. Nose: grass, metal polish, Bacardi white. Improved ethanol, shall we say, but at such high strength, we weren’t really expecting anything Mozartian… With water: grass, bread dough and baker’s yeast, plus a little vanilla and maple syrup. Elementary malt whisky, good and simple. Mouth (neat): pretty nice! Malt, apples, corn syrup. With water: sugar, grass, barley liqueur. Does anyone produce white barley liqueur? Nots of oranges too, but those are really raw. Finish: long, bitter, difficult. Three litres of Kronenbourg. Calls for a good glass of water, I’m afraid. Comments: it had good moments, but globally, it’s just a brutal, rudimentary malt whisky. A bit in the style of the first one that we had, so not exactly essential.
SGP:261 - 70 points.

It's not hard to understand why Cadenhead would have done some finishing on this kind of make, is it!

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Dalmore e've tasted so far


October 10, 2019





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
New Brora plus sparring Clynelish
There’s a new Brora in town but, alas, I’ve no other Brora to pair it with. However, in such vexing circumstances we can always go ‘over the road’ so to speak… as if an excuse were ever needed.


Clynelish 38 yo 1972/2010 (45.8%, The Whisky Agency, sherry hogshead, 134 bottles)

Clynelish 38 yo 1972/2010 (45.8%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, sherry hogshead, 134 bottles)
Colour: coppery gold. Nose: tobacco leaf, gunmetal and shoe polish. You feel the sherry but it’s superbly and rather thrillingly elegant and well-integrated. Wee touches of miso, quince jelly. Some mustard powder, soft beeswax and heather honey. Crystallised exotic fruits, warming spice notes and an increasingly plush leathery note. Totally superb! Mouth: Gloriously earthy, gamey and full of this nervous saltiness. Salted walnuts, balsamic, camphor and bitter herbal cough medicines. Some kind of super old green chartreuse mixed with natural tar and pine resins. Majestic texture as well. Full, polished, waxy, earthy, menthol and profoundly complex. Herbs, fruits, medicines, waxes, spices… everything glimmering and sloshing about in the darkness. Finish: long and leathery again. More meaty stock notes, salinity, preserved dark fruits, toasted walnuts and spiced damsons. Comments: Clynelish and sherry don’t always tango too well but this combination treads a pretty breathtaking nano-tightrope. 
SGP: 662 - 92 points.



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

Clynelish 32 yo 1972/2005 (53.5%, Glen Master, cask #14354)
Colour: light gold. Nose: seashells slathered in petroleum jelly, waxes, putty and paraffin. Straightforward and blindingly excellent. Pure old school Clynelish. Immediate and unmistakeable. Some dusty wax paper, a touch of linseed oil and a few lemon cough drops. Takes no prisoners! With water: abundant freshness now. Coastal, blustery, mineral, floral and singing with notes of pollen, gorse flower, hessian and salty old mead. Mouth: Pow! More waxes, jellies, medical tinctures, pebbles and a rather chalky minerality. Just totally thrilling! Some dried herbs and mint tea as well. With water: perilously quaffable; “Siri… call the ‘anti-maltoporn bridade’… no! ‘the ANTI-MAL… of forget it!” Finish: super long, bone dry, luminously waxy, herbal, coastal and uber-fresh. Comments: No messing about here. A serious old Clynelish that deserves its fairly hefty reputation. 
SGP: 563 - 93 points.



Brora 41 yo 1978/2019 (45%, OB ‘Casks of Distinction’ for Emmanuel Dron, Bihan Yang & Edward Zeng, refill hogshead, 60 bottles)

Brora 41 yo 1978/2019 (45%, OB ‘Casks of Distinction’ for Emmanuel Dron, Bihan Yang & Edward Zeng, refill hogshead, 60 bottles)
A new cask from Diageo’s ‘milk it for all its worth’ series. A series which has regularly managed to epitomise the extremes of being ridiculously expensive and annoyingly good at the same time. But then, don’t we live in an age of extremes? This one is done for a trio of good friends and well known whisky fanatics. Colour: straw. Nose: Light at first, a very lean waxiness, fresh malt, cereals, things like lemon peel, canvas, a light sooty note. Gets increasingly mineral. Mineral oils, coal dust, light herbal notes, a hint of petrol. Not unlike some old riesling and really increasingly reminiscent of old official Clynelish 12s from the early 70s and 60s. You have this same kind of extremely lean purity going on. I’m a total sucker for this profile. Mouth: Definitely from one of the lighter 70s batches. There’s little in the way of phenolics but instead the whole is very sooty and full of soft waxes, powerful mineral notes, raw cereals, petrol, lime zest. My beloved preserved lemons. In time it’s getting rather coastal and punchy. Hints of chopped chives (hello Roddy!), parsley and grassy olive oil. Really excellent, wonderful purity and texture. Metal polish, old oily tool boxes, some bitter herbs, cough medicines. Finish: Again fresh herbs, waxes and plain cereals. Wonderfully elegant, crisp, long and increasingly fatty and greasy in the aftertaste. Pure old school Clynelish-style sinew and salt. Comments: What I love is that you really feel the difference here between the early 70s ‘new’ Clynelish with their more playful aspects and the latter 70s Brora character. Even without peat the Brora still has something more unequivocally raw and pure about it. It reminds you that this style of whisky, unlike the great tropical fruit bombs or earthy peaty drams of old, is really a more evasive and intellectual style. However, once bitten, you just cannot help but lose yourself in these kinds of whiskies. A little extra oomph would have propelled this one higher but, as it stands, this a beautiful dram and we’re splitting hairs. 
SGP: 572 - 93 points.



Very happy with this wee session. It’s good to remind yourself from time to time, when Scottish single malts are on form, they are just unbeatable spirits. 





October 9, 2019


Japanese blends of uncertain origins

Unless there’s ‘distilled in japan’ clearly mentioned on the labels or back labels, and unless the composition is stated on some official sources (brand’s website, leaflet, brochure…) we have no other choices than assume that these blends are actually vattings of various origins. The words blended in, or bottled in, or selected in, or produce of Japan are just there for decoration (and, well, doubling the prices). Blackbird pâté for the price of thrush, as we say in France. Now, let's also remember that transparency and quality are two completely different issues.

Godo Shusei Kuzue (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

Godo Shusei Kuzue (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018) Three stars
A very intriguing bottle, said to be buckwheat whisky from Godo Shusei, but why would they write ‘blend’ then?  What’s more, buckwheat is not a cereal, so it’s also debatable whether this could be whisky indeed or not, but this is a domestic bottling, while the Japanese are being very liberal with these issues. Anyway, let’s try this in good faith and with an open mind! Colour: straw. Nose: I have to say I rather enjoy this, and indeed it reminds me of Eddu, a Breton whisky that’s also made with buckwheat (they have been quibbling with the EU for years, but they are great people). Notes of oriental sweetbread, orange blossom, caramel, violet syrup, vanilla fudge, and most importantly, chestnut purée. Love chestnut purée when there isn’t too much added vanilla. Mouth: goody good! It’s dryer, it’s got the traditional Japanese oakiness, a lot of brown bread, a touch of honey (chestnut honey, naturally), and various cereals, really. In the background, notes of buckwheat indeed, reminding me of those Breton galettes (buckwheat crêpes) that are so good. Finish: am I dreaming, does it not go towards sake ? Same fermentary notes. Comments: they should bottle this at 45 or 46% vol. It’s really well made and I enjoy this freshness.
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Wakatsuru ‘Junenmyo’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

Wakatsuru ‘Junenmyo’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018) Three stars
This intriguing baby comes from the Wakatsuru Saburomaru Distillery in Hokuriku, but it’s a blend, so we assume it’s partly, if not entirely sourced whisky. We’d love to be proven wrong! Colour: pal white wine. Nose: sooty and mildly smoky, as if there was some Caol Ila inside. Clearly coastal, fresh, clean, with just drops of sake but I may be dreaming. Also lemon juice. Mouth: indeed, a milder Islay whisky, seemingly. High malt content here. If the malt comes from Wakatsuru indeed, and only in that case, I say congrats! Finish: relatively long, with metallic touches and clearer notes of sake. Smoked sake? Comments: very good, I have to say. We really need to be able and allowed to trust Japanese whisky!
SGP:355 - 82 points.

Wakatsuru 10 yo ‘Moon Glow’ (43%, OB, blend, 2018)

Wakatsuru 10 yo ‘Moon Glow’ (43%, OB, blend, 2018) Three stars and a half
Blimey, the website says that they have been ‘solely using the malts that have been carefully selected’. What the hell does that rather circular assertion mean? How could anyone trust this? Now, they have won best blended Japanese under 12 at the World Whiskies Awards, so I suppose we’re safe. Are we not? Colour: straw. Nose: soot and metal polish at first, which I enjoy, then shoe polish and fresh earth, which I enjoy even more. This illustrates the fact that any necessary transparency has nothing to do with quality (same with the NAS issues), it’s just a matter of trust, traceability, and yeah, transparency. Mouth: indeed it’s pretty good, waxy and earthy, with good oranges, fermenting dough, and once again these touches of shoe polish. Hints of rose jelly. Finish: medium, with a little caramel and fudge, possibly from the grains. The salty peatiness is back in the aftertaste. Comments: an excellent blend, no doubt about that, but no ideas if it’s really Japanese or not. It’s a bit appalling to see some retailers trying to sell these for more than €300, though. Probably around ten times what it’s actually worth. Oh the prices of kanjis! (Although I agree there aren't many on this label).

SGP:444 - 83 points.

Kura ‘Rum Barrel Finish’ (40%, OB, Japan, pure malt, +/-2018)

Kura ‘Rum Barrel Finish’ (40%, OB, Japan, pure malt, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
In Japan, as we could find out many times, pure malt just means that malt whisky from anywhere in the world could have been used. Nothing ‘pure’. I’ll add that we had tried the regular Kura from Helios Distillery in Okinawa a while back, and had thought it was very poor. Oh but the rum here was Japanese! ;-) Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s okay this time, on yoghurt, earthy brews, vanilla, fudge, and a little coal smoke. No scandal so far and this time. Mouth: but this is rather fine! The blender here would deserve some kind of Olympic medal. Touches of agave, earth, vanilla, indeed a little white rum, geranium and violets, a hint of caraway… Finish: short but rather fresh, with touches of pink grapefruits. Comments: not quite in the same league as the previous blends, but this is absolutely not ridiculous (whatever this spirit actually is).
SGP:542 - 78 points.

Nikka Malt 100 ‘Hakata’ (43%, OB, blended malt, +/-2015?)

Nikka Malt 100 ‘Hakata’ (43%, OB, blended malt, +/-2015?) Five stars
This one’s ‘said’ to contain only Yoichi and Miyagikyo. We shall believe them. Not sure when it was produced. Colour: deep gold. Nose: hold on, this is something else! It is a pretty fantastic nose, full of golden raisins, herbs jellies and jams, eucalyptus syrup, honeydew, pollens, with a wee whiff of bicycle inner tube (by the way, congrats on the rugby, Japan), as well as properly botrytised sweet white wine (which, in turn, displays pineapple, roses, apricots, a few toasted notes etc.). Mouth: really fantastic, old style, sappy and dry at first (pine needles), then sweeter and rounder, with many raisins and honeys, as well as chamomile and honeysuckle teas. And those notes of cedarwood that we used to find in older Japanese whiskies. Finish: rather long, on Jaffa cakes, with spicier touches. Cloves, caraway, cinnamon, but quite scandalously, no umami! I’m joking… Oh and forgot to mention peat. Comments: tastes like an older expression, this is totally unmodern! Any clues, my friend? Love this one but apparently, and unless you’re ready to shell out massive amounts of Internet money, this is only available in the city of Hakata/Fukukoa. Boo!
SGP:6612 - 90 points.

We’re talking now, let’s try to find proper partners in crime…

Kirin 21 yo ‘Evermore’ (40%, OB, blend, 2005)

Kirin 21 yo ‘Evermore’ (40%, OB, blend, 2005) Four stars and a half
Said to stem from Fuji-Gotemba and to be a blended malt, but how could some blended malt come from only one distillery? It could well shelter grain as well, and possibly a ‘self’ blend. Colour: deep gold. Nose: once again, a lovely albeit softer profile, fragrant, floral, with sultanas, honey and many flowers (lime blossom springs to mind). It’s rather wonderfully ‘beehive-y’, never found a better term that would include pollen, honey, wax, pine wood, and propolis. Mouth: once again, it is a little softer than the Nikka, although both styles would be pretty similar, with all these lovely honeyed notes, mead, honeydew, pollen… It’s also close to many an old deluxe Scottish blend, like 30 or 40 years old. The ones in decanters, you know. Finish: medium but perfect, soft, honeyed, with more dried fruits and, above all, juicy raisins. Comments: my this goes down well! It’s just a little less singular, and less smoky than the fantastic Nikka.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

And now another 21. The famous…

Hibiki 21 yo ‘Limited Edition’ (43%, OB, blend, 2000 bottles, 2015)

Hibiki 21 yo ‘Limited Edition’ (43%, OB, blend, 2000 bottles, 2015) Two stars and a half
I’ve never been a huge fan of Suntory’s Hibiki 21, having always preferred the very lovely 17. But you never know, limited editions can be better (provided that’s not just a matter of shinier packaging). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s quite amazing that we would be this close to Nikka’s Hakata at first sniffs, with the same hints of latex over honeys and, perhaps in higher quantities this time, tropical fruits. Some very fragrant bananas, for example, with quite a lot of fresh rubbed mint leaves. We’re almost nosing a high-class mojito here, mind you! Mouth: the Hakata kills it, and even the Evermore does. I don’t know if that comes from the grains that have been in use, but all these bananas and roses are too much for me, and even a little cloying. Did they distil gewurztraminer? There’s also this very odd profile that’s reminiscent of 1980s Bowmore, I’m sure you see what I mean. Geranium leaves and lavender sweets. Really not sure. Finish: rather long, but a tad soapy. Comments: an odd style on the palate. I would not have another glass, as street drinkers would say. Now the nose was beautiful!
SGP:642 - 78 points.

That’s enough. See you, stay tuned…

(Thank you again, Chris!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Japanese Whiskies e've tasted so far


October 8, 2019


Little duos, today Dalwhinnie

It doesn’t look like any un-disgorged casks of Dalwhinnie still exist at the indies, only Diageo still seem to bottle Dalwhinnie under its name. Lovely place Dalwhinnie, and great chocolate and whisky pairings! By the way, some folks do not understand why we do not take prices into account when scoring a whisky. Well, first, a Ferrari isn’t any slower just because it’s expensive, or a Kia Picanto faster just because it’s cheap. And second, you’ll find this same bottle of Dalwhinnie 15 both at 32€ and at 50€ in the same country, our little France. Which price should we take into account, knowing that we’ll never spend more than 3 seconds on google just for that and that we have better things to do than calculate medians or averages? So let’s proceed… ;-)

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2018)

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars
There are so few expressions that I feel obliged to taste the 15 almost every year. No chore mind you, I rather like it. Colour: straw. I’d swear it used to be darker. Nose: pears and peaches, with flying colours! It’s lost the cakes and the nuts that we used to find ten or twenty years ago, and got much fruitier and fresher, it seems, reminding me of unpeated Ardmore, which has got a lot of peaches as well. Hints of jelly fruits, and just a touch of hay and grist. Mouth: starts very well, more on apricot cake and stewed peaches indeed, with a wee touch of smoke and salt indeed. Some honey and gingerbread too, which is more typical, but it tends to become dry and grassy, almost bitter. It’s incredible how it changes within thirty seconds. Finish: medium, much closer to the wash, bread, oatcakes, and burnt caramel. Comments: I had thought it would have got fruitier and easier, but on the palate it’s still a potent malt whisky.
SGP:461 - 81 points.

Dalwhinnie ‘Game Of Thrones House Stark Winter’s Frost’ (43%, OB, 2018)

Dalwhinnie ‘Game Of Thrones House Stark Winter’s Frost’ (43%, OB, 2018) Three stars
Nicknamed GOT NAS STARK in certain circles. Colour: straw. Nose: we’re extremely very close to the 15, with perhaps just a smidgen more cider and beer, and a little eucalyptus. Eucalyptus do not grow up there off the A9, do they? Perhaps a little more vanilla too? But we’re very close, although I doubt this is 15 (but it’s twice the price of the 15, go figure – I know, limited and royalties to HBO etc…) Mouth: same feelings, word for word, although this feels a tad  younger indeed, but yeah, we are extremely close to the 15. Finish: ditto. Comments: I liked the 15 rather a little better, not only because it carries a proper age statement instead of fantasy television-level gibberish. Game of Thrones, remember?
SGP:461 - 8
0 points.
PS: I've heard a new Loch Dhu 'Game of Thrones CeCSlaughter of a Whole City with A Dragon' was in the pipe...

It was a little *yawn* today, was it not.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Dalwhinnie e've tasted so far


October 5, 2019


Whiskies of the World, stuck in Sweden!

(Nothing to do with Greta)

Yes just another stupid headline. We really need a master of clickbait headlines, answer on a postcard please (but we have no budget). So, let’s first fly to…


Bimber 2016/2019 ‘The 1st Release’ (54.2%, OB, England, 1000 bottles, 2019)

Bimber 2016/2019 ‘The 1st Release’ (54.2%, OB, England, 1000 bottles, 2019) Four stars
The very first official single malt whisky – and perhaps the only pre-Brexit one - from Bimber in London, fully matured in genuine ex-solera PX casks! So, no hastily seasoned woods this time, we expect this baby to not be too leafy/spicy, let’s see. Oh and I remember having tried their new make under the Artful Dodger label, it was excellent (WF 86). Colour: deep gold. Nose: you really feel the PX, but that’s pure PX, rich, rounded, marginally rancioty, rather on dried apricots and sultanas, as well as the best muscats such as Carole Bouquet’s on Pantelleria, Sicily. In the background, just wee touches of menthol that would further lift it a bit, and make it fresher. Hints of Unicum as well. Do you know Unicum? With water: gingerbread and pumpernickel, double-whammy. Mouth (neat): works. We’re in the same category as that of the best craft makers, with notes of spicy bread that would suggest small casks – which is not the case here, obviously. How did they achieve this kind of profile with old solera butts? That’s a mystery, but anyway, this is all good, spicier (no slightly cloying muscaty flavours here), rather on Christmas cakes, Stolle, cinnamon rolls, then toffee and millionaire shortbread. With water: it swims and it does not become leathery – which is the case with many PX finishes. Lovely notes of oranges, cloves, and caraway liqueur, or Kümmel. Finish: pretty long, surprisingly balanced, with just the right amount of spices. More pepper in the aftertaste, even chillies. Should go well after Mexican food. Comments: naturally, something closer to the raw distillate would have been welcome as well, but this reeks of quality and smartness. And it survived PX! I like it really a lot (plus, they did not try to do the ‘Islay finish incognito’ trick.)
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Off to, drum roll, Sweden!...

High Coast ‘Quercus IV Mongolica’ (50.8%, OB, Sweden, 2019)

High Coast ‘Quercus IV Mongolica’ (50.8%, OB, Sweden, 2019) Two stars and a half
Quercus Mongolica, a.k.a. Mizunara (a.k.a. presto, fifty more euros a bottle under that name). This is High Coast, a.k.a. Box. Colour: deep gold. Nose: I’m reminded of that Saturday night in a hot sauna, circa 197… err, forget about that, it is indeed rather on fresh oak, eucalyptus, essential oils, and champagn… err, no, not champagne (J.M. come out of this body!). Whiffs of wild thyme as well, then the usual vanilla, butterscotch and shortbread. With water: it would be too easy to mention ‘a Saturday morning at IKEAa’s, but you get the idea. Good woods for sure. Mouth (neat): that’s the thing, I prefer very old fully natural (ex-refill) malts, but these doped youngsters tend to grow on you, I have to admit that. In this case, we’re having some thin mints covered with custard and powdered cinnamon. With water: more sawdust and toasted bread. We’re touching the limits, heavily oaked whiskies tend to suffer once reduced, since the tannins would just jump out. Finish: very drying when reduced, much better when neat. Cloves and orange skin, mint, liquorice wood. Comments: I think it worked better than the Petraea in the same series, but frankly, the wonderful Dàlvve over this baby just anytime! Not sure I’m always a fan of doing shinrin yoku… in my glass.
SGP:351 - 79 points.

Let’s stay in Sweden…

High Coast ‘Berg’ (50%, OB, Sweden, PX matured, 2019)

High Coast ‘Berg’ (50%, OB, Sweden, PX matured, 2019) Three stars
Totally love this line from the website, ‘a sherry matured whisky which has the same natural colour as the Nordingrå granite which can be seen protruding the dramatic landscape of the High Coast.’ Seriously, love it! Colour: amber. Nose: a different take after the Bimber, a little leafier, and certainly more mentholy and even medicinal. Ointments and camphory balms in PX? That’s rather new, but that’s pretty lovely, depending on what will follow… With water: have I mentioned a sauna before? Certainly not tangerines and citrons. This baby rather loves his water. Mouth (neat): tobacco, menthol, balsa wood, ginger, cumin, cloves… This one’s rather a chewy conversationalist, shall we say. Nah forget. With water: swims extremely well. Wait, did the Swedes have great Olympic swimmers? But of course, Sarah Sjöström! (Got to love google, once in a while). Finish: pretty nice, moderately spicy and oaky. I’m finding quite some nutmeg now. Butterscotch in the aftertaste. Comments: very good! When does the new Dàlvve come out?
SGP:461 - 82 points.

We’re left in peace in Sweden, why move?...

Mackmyra ‘Vintersol’ (46.1%, OB, Sweden, 2019)

Mackmyra ‘Vintersol’ (46.1%, OB, Sweden, 2019) Two stars and a half
This new one, which means ‘winter sun’, has been finished in Port casks. That’s Europe, baby, sometimes unlikely, always fun (unless you’ve got a penchant for reactionary degeneration - ha). Colour: gold with an apricot hue. Nose: hurray, no odd red berries, no cassis, no boisterous cherries, rather an elegant cake-iness, with Jaffa cakes, some marzipan for sure, some kougelhopf dough (Alsace-special),  and a freshness that would call to mind ‘a walk in a Swedish forest’. Amongst the reindeers and the arctic foxes… not! Mouth: phew, we’re relatively safe, not much Port in sight, although this very typical leafiness would start to grow and grow, and lead to some kind of slightly leathery and tea-ish/peppery bitterness. Finish: rather long but a little bitter indeed. Heavy green tea. Comments: fine, but I believe maturation/finishing in Port, or any red wines, is extremely difficult to do. It’s as if the very gritty and tannic old skins would come up for air at some point. But there, under those conditions, they did this one pretty well, no doubt.
SGP:461 - 78 points.

Perhaps an indie Mackmyra? Those are very uncommon…

Mackmyra 11 yo 2007/2019 (49.5%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, Sweden, bourbon barrel, 258 bottles)

Mackmyra 11 yo 2007/2019 (49.5%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, Sweden, bourbon barrel, 258 bottles) Three stars
I find it so cool that Cadenhead, the epitome of old-school Scottish independent bottling (aren’t they the oldest ones?) would select more ‘foreign’ whiskies, and now even more other spirits (cachaça, Armagnac…) Very cool! Colour: white wine. Nose: nothing beats an untouched, all-natural, carefully aged spirit, unless it was all junk in the first place. Then you need to flavour it and to mask its flaws, but in this very case, all we’re finding is a lovely breadiness, some perfect brioche dough, fresh croissants, a little ale, porridge, sour cream, and believe it or not, notes of popadum. I know, wrong country. Mouth: yeah, fine, perfectly all right, perhaps a little dry and austere (remember Babeth’s Feast? No that was in Denmark, was it not), less sweet than all the Scots not to mention the bourbons, pretty grassy and narrow, but it’s a worthy style, with some grist and porridge, apple peels, and a wee feeling of ‘eating plaster’. I said wee. Finish: medium, and really very grassy, and relatively yeasty. Comments: indeed, it’s an austere whisky on your palate, but it’s loyal and honest, in its unvarnished core. Perhaps for sailors?
SGP:361 - 80 points.


Smögen 7 yo 2011/2019 (62.4%, OB, Sweden, cask #56/2011, 325 bottles)

Smögen 7 yo 2011/2019 (62.4%, OB, Sweden, cask #56/2011, 325 bottles) Four stars
This baby was finished in an ex-Diamond rum cask because of a leaking barrel (it's unbelievable what's going on up there). The question is, which stills at Diamond? I am joking… Colour: white wine. Nose: Diamond or not, Demerara or not, it’s this pristine smoky freshness that we’re encountering here, with fumes, engine oil, smoked almonds, and just old tarry ropes on an old fisherman’s old boat. With water: I’ve often played with some estery Jamaicans or Guyanians and blended them with, say Ardbeg (who said that’s a waste of good rum, who?) That can work brilliantly, same with mezcal by the way. This is another good example, although the rum part is probably infinitesimal. Mouth (neat): look, I’m more than willing, but it's impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff here. I mean, the whisky from the rum. A coastal smoke, some brine, some olives, oysters, bitter herbs, lemons, artichokes… And just power. You need to hold on to the handrail, as we say in French. With water: it’s whisky, of course, but perhaps has it gotten a little saltier? Finish: long, on brine and extreme salted liquorice, with a certain bitterness. Comments: I liked Smögen’s utterly brilliant 2011 cask #57 even better, but that one was full bourbon (WF 90).
SGP:367 - 86 points.

A few other Swedes while we’re at it…

Box 2012/2018 (61.4%, OB, Sweden, Private Bottling, American oak, cask #2015-799, 164 bottles)

Box 2012/2018 (61.4%, OB, Sweden, Private Bottling, American oak, cask #2015-799, 164 bottles) Three stars
So High Coast under their previous name and for Asia. Colour: dark gold. Nose: pretty thick and oaky, with some northern spices (right, juniper) and then more vanilla and cinnamon. Calms down quick despite the very high strength, with some butterscotch. Let’s see what happens after we’ve civilised it… With water: spicy breads, ginger, cinnamon. High extractions. Mouth (neat): very creamy, first with litres of maple syrup and juniper/caraway liqueur, then rather more cinnamon and a few bitter herbs. Tarragon, perhaps parsley… With water: really very good now, albeit a bit modern and extractive – but at this age, no choice. Ginger and cinnamon with flames and trumpets. Finish: long, spicy, oaky. Comments: it’s hard to do much better at, what, between 5 and 6?
SGP:361 - 82 points.

Mackmyra 10 yo ‘Ten Years’ (46.1%, OB, Sweden, +/-2017)

Mackmyra 10 yo ‘Ten Years’ (46.1%, OB, Sweden, +/-2017) Four stars
Like these Laddie-y labels. And an age statement, wow! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not the first time larger batches of young ‘craft’ (or crafty) whiskies are better than the odd single casks matured or finished in unlikely woods. Nice caramel, cappuccino, burnt raisins, halva, and touches of cinchona and liquorice. A little butterscotch too. Mouth: oh the better taste of age statements! Of course I’m joking, but indeed this is seriously good, pretty complex, without any excessive IKEAness, and rather more soft barley, cereal bars, and brown breads. Perhaps even a touch of butter, and certainly one of juniper. Juniper’s certainly not uncommon in Swedish whiskies, is it. Finish: long, on lemon blossom honey (superb) and more fudge and caramel, and a spicier aftertaste, as expected. Comments: very good, well done! On question while we’re at it, do you need a master blender when you seldomly do anything else than single casks? Which is not the case of Mackmyra, of course not, I was talking ‘generally’.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

And back to Box/High Coast…

Box ‘Dálvve batch 04’ (46%, OB, Sweden, 1st fill Bourbon, 2018)

Box ‘Dálvve batch 04’ (46%, OB, Sweden, 1st fill Bourbon, 2018) Three stars and a half
I was a fan of batch 1 and of the ‘Sherry Influence’ (both WF 85), which surprised some friends. Colour: white wine. Nose: very fresh, not stuffed with sawdust at all, rather on barley, porridge, muesli, bananas, vanilla, green apples, gooseberries, greengages, and just, well, barley. Reeks of barley just as, well, kirsch reeks of cherries. Barley eau-de-vie. Mouth: gotta enjoy this simplicity, the good barleys, apples, oranges, pastries and breads, genever, then this mild smokiness. It’s much less smoky than batch 1, is it not? Finish: medium, clean, very barley-y, which we should all commend. Some green smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments: just very good again. Sweden’s become a whisky nation.
SGP:453 - 84 points.

A last one. We were aiming at around seven or eight whiskies of the world, and we end up with nine Swedes! This is almost like holidaying in St. Tropez ;-).

Box ‘The Festival 2017’ (54.2%, OB, Sweden, 1000 bottles)

Box ‘The Festival 2017’ (54.2%, OB, Sweden, 1000 bottles) Four stars
The Festival 2016 was another Box that had been very good (WF 84). Colour: deep gold. Nose: we’re on coffee liqueur this time, macchiato, then Mars bars, millionaire shortbread, butterscotch, toffee, well, you see what I mean, I’m sure. Good charring. With water: warm fresh sawdust, vanilla, milk chocolate, a touch of sourdough (phew). Mouth (neat): more Mars bars and millionaire shortbread. I could list all stuff by Cadbury, Toblerone and Mars, but that would make you a little sick, I’m sure. What’s more, whisky’s free of child labour, is it not? Also the usual spices, caraway, cloves, ginger, cinnamon… Very sexy nose. With water: same-ish, just spicier. Once again, oak jumps out after reduction, with more cloves and cinnamon. Finish: rather long, a bit drying when reduced, better balanced and earthier when neat. So neat please! Comments: excellent, but drop water, it’s not that (cough, cough) strong. Now where did I put the extinguisher again?
SGP:562 - 85 points.

PS: what does Greta think of Swedish whiskymaking?

More tasting notesCheck the index of all World Whiskies e've tasted so far


October 4, 2019


Ben Nevis by indies, part three


Ben Nevis 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 12592, 399 bottles)

Ben Nevis 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 12592, 399 bottles) Two stars and a half
This one should make for a nice little aperitif. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: perhaps a little too young, certainly on a lot of pears and plums, with bags of dough and yeasty notes. On the other hand, this is well a solid Ben Nevis, with this particular chalkiness. So perhaps not old, but particular it is. Mouth: indeed there’s a roughness to this baby, some bitter grasses, bitter almonds, those artichokes that we’ve already encountered several times in young or middle-aged Ben Nevis, leaves… Not quite an easy drop. In theory, water shouldn’t be needed but let’s try that… With water: gets yeastier and sootier, with a bitterness that’s still there. Finish: long and quite bitter indeed. Chalk in the aftertaste. Comments: fine, just a little too rough and bitter, in my opinion.
SGP:361 - 79 points.

Let’s try another very young one…

Ben Nevis 6 yo 2011/2017 (46%, Hepburn’s Choice, 359 bottles)

Ben Nevis 6 yo 2011/2017 (46%, Hepburn’s Choice, 359 bottles) Three stars
That would be a miracle when this baby would be ready. Colour: white wine. Nose: well, it’s not any less ready than the 2006, in truth it’s rather easier, possibly thanks to some more active sweet oak. Vanilla, apple pie, bitter oranges, some tealeaves, barley water, marzipan… Absolutely acceptable. Mouth: balance has to be perfect, but then very young Ben Nevis can be excellent. That’s rather the case here, with oranges and waxes, maple syrup, Seville oranges, a little ginger, that chalkiness again, leaves… Finish: rather long, bitter, rather all on bitter oranges. Quinquina/Cinchona. Comments: lovely at times, but the core remained bitter. After all, this baby’s only six and Ben Nevis is a fighter.
SGP:461 - 80 points.

Ben Nevis 11 yo 2007/2018 (56.2%, Le Gus’t, first fill bourbon, cask #17, 228 bottles)

Ben Nevis 11 yo 2007/2018 (56.2%, Le Gus’t, first fill bourbon, cask #17, 228 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: another one that’s very leafy and grassy, with this acrid sootiness and bags of limestone a chalk. Having said that it gets fruitier after just ten seconds, rather on oranges and geranium flowers. That’s another aromas I sometimes find in Ben Nevis. With water: chalky and mentholy. Notes of raw wool, Woolite, washing powder… Mouth (neat): oh god! Typical, a tad rough, with bitter fruits (oranges and green plums and pears), then the usual chalk, and then quite a lot of liquorice. With water: perfect now. Smoked oranges and ‘stuff’. Finish: long, mostly on bitter oranges, with the expected mineral signature. Comments: pure Ben Nevis. Still a tad young, but certainly not immature. Wonderful.
SGP:552 - 87 points.

Ben Nevis 1996/2017 (51.9%, Or Sileis, Legends, sherry, cask #1088, 298 bottles)

Ben Nevis 1996/2017 (51.9%, Or Sileis, Legends, sherry, cask #1088, 298 bottles) Five stars
We just had an excellent 1994 by Or Sileis in Taiwan the other day. Colour: gold. Nose: anyone who’s tried some very old official glories knows that Ben Nevis can take sherry extremely well, with its minerality mingling with walnuts to perfection. Fantastic leather and tobacco in this very case, walnuts indeed, mustard sauce (à la diable), concrete and fumes, old garage, engine oil… When was this distilled? Wasn’t that ‘69 instead of ‘96? With water: roasted chestnuts and old walnuts. Perfect. Also this touch of natural unscented soap that’s not unseen in Ben Nevis. Mouth (neat): rather extraordinary. Old pu-erh tea, bitter oranges, caraway, chen-pi (how do you like that, Taiwan?), cigars, miso… This is Ginger and Fred between the spirit and the cask, honestly. Or Mick and Keith. With water: more oranges. Who said as usual? Finish: long, rather on bitter oranges, with the chalk in the aftertaste. Again, not unseen. Comments: textbook sherried Ben Nevis, we’re close to the 91-mark this time.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2019 (50.4%, Best Dram, bourbon hogshead, cask #1714, 168 bottles)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2019 (50.4%, Best Dram, bourbon hogshead, cask #1714, 168 bottles) Four stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: cleaner again, straighter, more Clynelishy should I add, with waxes and citrus, then crushed chalk, paraffin, and plasticine. Once again, we’re bordering perfection. With water: porridge and coal smoke, baker’s yeast, ale…  Mouth (neat): wait, ex-Islay cask? Big peat, lemons, green apples, then mint and camphor. Bitter leaves in the background. With water: ah, the peat is gone, this is purer BN, although a little saltier than usual, with more lemon as well. Nah, there is a feeling of peat remining in a corner. Finish: rather long and frankly coastal this time. Grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: another superb one, it’s just a little different, as if it had been blended a wee bit. That’s a trend anyway and  thanks to the SWA becoming more liberal, we may stumble upon more and more ‘deviant singles’. Anyway, excellent stuff nonetheless.
SGP:453 - 87 points.

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2019 (50.7%, Caora, refill hogshead, cask #1381, 321 bottles)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2019 (50.7%, Caora, refill hogshead, cask #1381, 321 bottles) Five stars
Got to love these minimalistic labels, a good change from all the slightly pompous new liveries seen elsewhere. You know the ones that even the Great Mogul would have found a little ‘too much’. Colour: white wine. Nose: ah, a more austere Ben Nevis, more on straight green lemons and clays, agave, sweet roots, dill, and perhaps fresh verbena. With water: ultra-precise. It’s funny that the spirit would resemble the label, in some way. Mouth (neat): absolutely terrific! Pristine citrus, wax and chalk, with some astounding purity. With water: up there with the best clean Ben Nevis (and Springbank, Highland Park, and Clynelish). I’m rambling now. Finish: a wonderful blade. A hint of mocha in the aftertaste, possibly from the cask. Comments: a perfect distillate in its (almost) naked glory. Exactly my preferred style.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Ben Nevis 21 yo (52.2%, Chorlton Whisky, hogshead, 170 bottles, 2018)

Ben Nevis 21 yo (52.2%, Chorlton Whisky, hogshead, 170 bottles, 2018) Two stars and a half
Always these wonderful labels. Colour: white wine. Nose: even more austere, rather grassy, with a little porridge and sourdough, as well as hints of thyme and rosemary. This baby might be sleeping, let’s try to wake it up. With water: not sure that works too well. Perhaps a little ham, the expected chalk… Mouth (neat): a bit between two worlds. A yeasty and slightly soapy one on the one side, more citrus on the other side. Those geraniums that I’ve already mentioned before. The jury’s still out… With water: nicer, but we’re also going towards those violets and lavender sweets. More geraniums, a tiny touch of hand cream… Finish: long, pretty paraffiny. Comments: not an easy one, plus it’s got some kind of death seat here after the few glories that we had before. We may try it again later.
SGP:561 - 78 points.

Ben Nevis 20 yo 1996/2016 (58.1%, Whisky Broker, hogshead, cask #744, 125 bottles)

Ben Nevis 20 yo 1996/2016 (58.1%, Whisky Broker, hogshead, cask #744, 125 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: touches of rancio this time, perhaps fruity Swiss cheese, was that a sherry hogshead? Gets then chalky and yeasty, with notes of ale, malt, chutneys and bitters. With water: paraffin! Mouth (neat): excellent. Bitter oranges, some pepper, some ginger, a sparkling/fizzy side, tonic water, Campari (I know, no brands), and grapefruits coated with custard. Excellent indeed. With water: just as excellent, provided you don’t drown it. Finish: medium, pleasantly bitter, with oranges and, guess what? That’s right, chalk and paraffin. Comments: what a wonderful spirit!
SGP:552 - 88 points.

Good, a darker one and we’ll call this a tasting session.

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1995/2018 (52.9%, Whic, sherry butt, cask #1510, 472 bottles)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1995/2018 (52.9%, Whic, sherry butt, cask #1510, 472 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one came within a ‘nymphs of whisky collection’. Not that I’ve never met any nymphs in the whisky world, but still, what a funny name. Colour: amber. Nose: shall we call it ‘OB-ish’? A lot of chocolate and coffee this time, soy sauce, cassis jelly, black cherries, moist pipe tobacco, Armagnac… It was some sherry cask! With water: ah there, miso, glutamate, Bovril, rancio wine… Mouth (neat): wonderful chocolate, marmalade, tonic water, ginger, coffee toffee, and pumpernickel. Reminds me of some supra-sherried Macs, such as the Gran Reservas, but this is rather better IMHO. With water: love it when a little menthol and liquorice make it through, as is the case here. More and more on old Armagnac (which, by the way, is cheaper, just saying). Finish: long, rather all on liqueur-filled chocolate. Raspberry eau-de-vie straight from the still at 80% vol. Ha! Comments: even a heavy malt such as Ben Nevis gets a bit ‘buried’ with such casks, but that was some cask! Bordering perfection once again.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Ben Nevis e've tasted so far


October 3, 2019


Ben Nevis by indies, part two

Because we have a lot of BN.

Ben Nevis 20 yo 1998/2018 (52.1%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon hogshead, 199 bottles)

Ben Nevis 20 yo 1998/2018 (52.1%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon hogshead, 199 bottles) Four stars
These snakes on the labels make us think of Adam & Eve, don’t they? Any subliminal message behind that? Colour: gold. Nose: straight, metrical ex-bourbon great spirit. I mean, it goes straight to the point, with waxes, oils, oranges, and bouillons. With water: narrower. Sunflower oil and vanilla. Eh? Mouth (neat): look, there was a problem with the stencils – or the papers – as this is clearly Clynelish. Okay, it might be a little dirtier than Clynelish, but this is the style of malt whisky I’m in love with. With water: don’t drown it. I mean, it’s an idol with feet of clay, don’t mess with H2O. Well, drop H2O. Finish: medium, easier, waxy. Apples, for the first time. Comments: lovely, but it tends to play hide-and-seek with you. Bugger!
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Oh, a 1990!

Ben Nevis 27 yo 1990/2018 (58%, Archives, hogshead, cask #22, 236 bottles)

Ben Nevis 27 yo 1990/2018 (58%, Archives, hogshead, cask #22, 236 bottles) Five stars
I see no reasons why I haven’t tried this one before. Maybe because there’s food on the label? Or because our Dutch friends have already issued many great BNs? Colour: full gold. Nose: oooh! Rhum agricole, proper butter, mirabelles, sunflower oil, mochi (that Japanese pastry that’s full of bean paste), and fresh high-end mushrooms. Caesar’s mushrooms (the best mushrooms in the world, trust me). With water: joy. Mouth (neat): please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade, but tell them I’m armed. Amazing whisky, with a fabulous earthy waxiness. As usual, oranges complementing the whole thing. With water: right, a little too much pepper, perhaps, but all the rest is fantabulous. Imagine some kind of soup, or rather bouillon, with sliced mushrooms, duck fat, citronella, truffle oil, and Thai basil. Or something like that. Salt as well. Finish: long, immaculate, perfect, waxy, orange-y. Comments: incredible, perfect, rejoicing.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Next… Oh great, an old official!...

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1973 (52,7%, OB, cask #747, 252 bottles, +/-2000)

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1973 (52,7%, OB, cask #747, 252 bottles, +/-2000) Three stars and a half
Some sister casks, that I have tried around fifteen years ago, had been brilliant (90-91) so we’re pretty confident here… Colour: full gold. Nose: I sometimes say that old spirits converge, and indeed, in this case you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is some old rum, or even cognac. Amazing notes of quinces (best of class within all descriptors for whisky), softer earths (light garden peat), apricots and mirabelles, mushrooms, some smoky oils, castor oil for sure, old leather, the subtlest green teas of China… well, oh wow! With water:  parsley and sorrel soup, shall we say. Mouth (neat): wait wait wat, there’s something a little wrong here, which is not uncommon with older Ben Nevisses. Rubber, plastics, soap… In short, water’s more than needed. With water: phew! Not that this is perfect, and indeed some whacky sourness remains there, but the rest improved, thanks to some friendly oranges and walnuts. I’m not sure, to tell you the truth. Finish: rather long, salty, sour, rather on concentrated miso. You know when you don’t add enough water to the miso powder. Comments: what was that? Were you testing me?
SGP:372 - 84 points.

Ben Nevis 1995/2017 (52%, Whisky Club Luxemburg, cask #0571, 329 bottles)

Ben Nevis 1995/2017 (52%, Whisky Club Luxemburg, cask #0571, 329 bottles) Three stars
Another one that I was meant to taste much earlier. Apologies, Luxemburg. Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh yeah, Swiss cheese, Comté, vin jaune, acetic stuff, gym socks, balsa wood, sour cream, Buckingham (not really)… With water: doughs at the baker’s and sawdusts at the carpenter’s. Mouth (neat): love it and lol it. Sour woods, sour creams, sawdust, tequila Anejo, cracked pepper, caraway liqueur, gingerbread, speculoos… What was this, Luxemburg? With water: more dough, fresh scones, cinnamon rolls, custard… Finish: medium, rather on cinnamon and sawdust. Comments: Jean-Claude Juncker’s own cask? An intriguing drop, for sure, but it’s all a bit shaky here and there, I would say. Love it sometimes, hate it at other times.
SGP:462 - 82 points.

These Ben Nevisses can be tiring! Let’s have a last one, then more tomorrow. Perhaps.

Ben Nevis 27 yo 1990/2018 (59.4%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, cask #1505, fino sherry butt, 593 bottles)

Ben Nevis 27 yo 1990/2018 (59.4%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, cask #1505, fino sherry butt, 593 bottles) Five stars
Our pal Angus already tried this one for these modest pages, and loved it (WF 91). The problem is, I trust Angus, but you just never know..  Colour: amber. Nose: I see, cigars, teak oil, game, leather, fresh concrete, cigarettes, Grisons meat, cigar boxes… With water: gets ultra-gamy, which some people will find a little challenging. Wild boar pâté. Mouth (neat): ouch, this is marvellous, and rather within natural wine territories. Smoked almonds, bitter oranges, yeasts, smokes, sour citrus, thyme, slivovitz… and perhaps even Marmite. With water: perfect dry white wine. Very dry. Ultra-dry. Finish: getting extreme. Salt, spinach soup, roasted nuts, acidic coffee, more Marmite, balsamic vinegar… Comments: what a fighter again! I guess you could drink this with natto. Now who’ crazy enough to enjoy natto?
SGP:462 - 90 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Ben Nevis e've tasted so far


October 2, 2019


Ben Nevis by indies, part one

Ben Nevis has recently entered my top five, and easily. Love the whisky, love the people, love the authentic industrial settings (no unnecessary flowers), love the truth behind the place, and love the no-hot-air approach. Manager Colin Ross deserves his real-size statue in white marble. Not in Fort Williams, in Edinburgh! We’ll do this session in no particular order, because a little mess is sometimes welcome. I’m too much of a Cartesian, some say…

Ben Nevis 22 yo (51.6%, The Whisky Show 2019, UV-sensitive label, refill sherry butt, 2019)

Ben Nevis 22 yo (51.6%, The Whisky Show 2019, UV-sensitive label, refill sherry butt, 2019) Four stars and a half
This one for England ;-). I suppose this is a 1997. As for their UV label, I believe it’s another funny idea, although I had liked last year’s retro-futuristic ones a little better. A suggestion for next year, why not some scratch-and-sniff labels? So that you could nose the whiskies without even having to open the bottles! Or some Boris-and-Donald labels, all orange and yellow? Yeah, like this lousy old website? Colour: gold. Nose: hate it that it would be this perfect. Wax, chalk, minerals, leatherette (leather for vegans, some say) and literally litres of fresh orange juice, plus this very peculiar medicinal side. Aspirin tablets in Fanta? With water: old Spanish ham and a matching glass of manzanilla. Olé. Mouth (neat): oranges and chalk, and their followings. Immaculate. With water: tiny bits of chalk, beeswax, and rally a lot of orange marmalade and squash, which makes it just a little sweet. Finish: long, with a little pepper beyond all the orange-y flavours. Comments: absolutely fantastic, misses the 90 points by an extremely small margin just because of all these sweet orange-y notes. Gotta really love oranges.
SGP:651 – 89(.999) points.

Ben Nevis 1994/2018 (56.2%, Or Sileis, sherry, cask #8126, 259 bottles)

Ben Nevis 1994/2018 (56.2%, Or Sileis, sherry, cask #8126, 259 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one for Taiwan. Some very active bottles over there in Taiwan; some lovely labels too. Colour: gold. Nose: extremely oloroso-y. Really, we’re wandering throughout a cathedral warehouse in Jerez, while smoking Cuban cigars. Wonderful notes of fresh concrete, even fresher oranges, aspirin and chalk, sourdough, baker’s yeast, and this Springbanky mineralness that’s really part of that west-coast axis of proper whiskies. I know what I’ trying to say. With water: gets very leathery, so things do not really improve. Mouth (neat): immense. Smoked oranges, ham, camphor, mint, caraway, artichokes, chalk, and some cedarwood. So very BN! With water: more oranges, liqueurs, walnut wine, bitters, Campari, cold cuts, roasted pecans, cinchona… Finish: long, rather bitter. Amer bière and more walnut wine. Comments: once again, we’re very close to perfection, and Ben Nevis sure knows how to fight a sherry cask. Just a little too much leather, but once again, we’re splitting hairs. Great whisky.
SGP:461 - 88 points.

Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996/2018 (47.2%, Liquor Library & The Whisky Agency, bourbon cask)

Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996/2018 (47.2%, Liquor Library & The Whisky Agency, bourbon cask) Five stars
I think this was bottled for Australia. A long way from Downunda… Colour: gold. Nose: that’s always the thing, it’s brighter and more impressive without sherry, however good sherry can be. Oranges, beeswax, tangerines, plasticine, chalk. Nothing more, but that’s a lot. Perfect combo on the nose. Mouth: mangos, guavas, paraffin, chalk, oranges, honeydew, lamp oil. A Ben Nevis winking at Clynelish. Yeah, nothing unusual… Finish: rather long, with a little more vanilla and orange liqueur. Comments: what a perfect spirit au naturel. Need more literature? Of course you don’t.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Ben Nevis 15 yo 2001/2017 (53.7%, Kintra, cask #000152, 259 bottles)

Ben Nevis 15 yo 2001/2017 (53.7%, Kintra, cask #000152, 259 bottles) Four stars
This one for Holland if I’ not mistaken. Colour: white wine. Nose: a little white spirit at first nosing, and a little acetone too, otherwise rather on bananas and kirsch, as if these batches were lighter and fruitier. We need to dig more… With water: indeed, much lighter. Some green tea and a basket of orchard fruits, plums, pears… Mouth (neat): indeed it is a Ben Nevis that’s rather less Ben Nevis than the lorryloads of 1996s and 1997s that have already crossed our path. Orange juice is ruling the show here, as well as grapefruits and only a moderate chalkiness. Very good, but ‘gentler’ and less fat than usual. With water: a few mineral notes indeed, but also a lot of orange squash. Finish: medium, fruity. Comments: a good, but much gentler Ben Nevis. Excellent, just less ‘different’. Off the axis, shall we say.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (51.3%, The Single Malts of Scotland, for The Nectar, hogshead, cask #536, 249 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (51.3%, The Single Malts of Scotland, for The Nectar, hogshead, cask #536, 249 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one for Belgium. This one should go well with garnellen croquettes and carbonnade flamande. Colour: white wine. Nose: preserved pineapple straight from a tin, then rather mangos and papayas. Where do these very tropical notes come from? You’d almost believe this is some older Benriach (it only takes one mistake) but some waxier notes are soon to take over, while the usual chalks and clays start to abound. Some sourer fruit juices too. With water: loads of plastics, leatherette, and even linoleum. The jury’s still out…  Mouth (neat): this is perfectly perfect. Mangos, oranges, leather, tobacco, chalk, lamp oil, paraffin. No meaty notes here, but this is no sherry cask after all. With water: no leather, rather some pipe tobacco and seafood. Clams – love clams. Finish: rather long, but really paraffiny. Olive oil and lemon juice. Comments: not an easy one, this one’s a fighter. I’m not a fan of the nose, but the palate’s rather superlative. Love it that t would just keep playing with you.
SGP:562 - 88 points.

Well, since we’re at Elixir’s…

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1997/2019 (58.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #91, 540 bottles)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1997/2019 (58.5%*, The Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #91, 540 bottles) Five stars
This one for the whole world! But vorsicht, the sherry might be heavy… Colour: amber. Nose: chocolate and espresso, over concrete dust and pipe tobacco, plus marrow and lamb chorba. Yep. With water: tobacco running the show. Did you ever visit the old Partagas factory in La Habana? Mouth (neat): hate, or love, or hate, or rather love… The fact is, it is very strong, and so you cannot have five cls just to try to make up your mind. So quick, water… Let’s simply state that we may be closer to the OBs this time. With water: the eagle landed. Orange cordial, pipe tobacco, miso, umami, and some tar/liquorice drops. Salted, naturally. Finish: very long, with bouillons, liquorice, salt, marmalade, and waxes. What a combo! And love it that the aftertaste would be much drier, on chocolate and coffee beans. Comments: pretty exceptional. A bottle to keep for thirty years in your cellar – of course whiskies ought to be cellared.
SGP:462 - 90 points.
to be confirmed

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Ben Nevis e've tasted so far


October 1, 2019


Little duos, today new young Tomintoul

Remember Tomintoul’s supposed to be ‘a gentle dram’. Let’s check that once more… (it never works too ell when you try to double-check any marketing speak…)

Tomintoul-Glenlivet 12 yo 2006/2019 (54.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 240 bottles)

Tomintoul-Glenlivet 12 yo 2006/2019 (54.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 240 bottles) Three stars
Not much evaporation here, according to the outturn. Have the angels been a little fussy? Colour: white wine. Nose: starts very slightly bandage-y, but gets then extremely natural, with grasses, cakes, apple peels, and clay. A wee metallic touch in the background (copper kettle) and a wee hint of fennel. So far, so normal. With water: concrete and engine oil on top of all those natural smells, plus notes of good raw white rum. Sugarcane, really. Mouth (neat): yep, it’s good, natural, with oranges and apples, and a wee bitterish waxiness. But let’s not call it Clynelish yet. With water: a little rum once again, otherwise a solid malty development. Cake, grass, bread, apples, oranges… Finish: medium, rather fresh. Fresh marzipan, a touch of yoghurt, something flinty in the aftertaste. Comments: good, solid, no-quibble natural malt whisky. Really, it’s good, and actually pretty delicate. Excuse me? Yes, gentle…
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Tomintoul 14 yo 2005/2019 (57.2%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, sherry hogshead, 215 bottles)

Tomintoul 14 yo 2005/2019 (57.2%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, sherry hogshead, 215 bottles) Three stars
Things are really getting kind of saucy with these labels, but good fun for sure, as long as the bottlers haven’t decided to flood the US market. But yeah, good fun! Colour: pale gold. Nose: very very close, just a tad fatter, which may just come from the extra two years. A few buttery touches, a little burnt cake… Now it does get even fatter, with some crème au beurre and whiffs of hot chamomile tea. With water: wait, mangos? Where do those come from? Mouth (neat): both young (kirsch) and mature (stout). Very different from the 2006 at this point, we do find something metallic and sour, not in a bad way mind you. Apple pie wetted with some cider. With water: stout! Finish: pretty long and rather peppery. Comments: these babies are not the easiest to assess and you often need to scratch your head a bit. Not exactly what I would call a ‘characterful distillate’ indeed, bit the good bottlers seem to manage to find some good, interesting casks.
SGP:451 - 82 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Tomintoul we've tasted so far


WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

September 2019

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Craigellachie 25 yo 1994/2019 (56.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #1063, 195 bottles) - WF 92

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Bruichladdich 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.2%, Turatello) - WF 93

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Creations Blend 22 yo 1996/2019 (45%, Cadenhead, blended malt, bourbon hogshead) - WF 91

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
La Favorite 2016 ‘Rivière Bel’Air’ (53%, OB, Martinique, agricole) - WF 90

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Jura ‘The Sound’ (42.5%, OB, +/-2018) 
- WF 70

September 2019 - part 2 <--- October 2019 - part 1 ---> October 2019 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ar11 2001/2019 (56.8%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 1st Fill Pedro Ximenez Butt, 840 bottles)

Ben Nevis 1996/2017 (51.9%, Or Sileis, Legends, sherry, cask #1088, 298 bottles)

Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996/2018 (47.2%, Liquor Library & The Whisky Agency, bourbon cask)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2019 (50.7%, Caora, refill hogshead, cask #1381, 321 bottles)

Ben Nevis 27 yo 1990/2018 (58%, Archives, hogshead, cask #22, 236 bottles)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1997/2019 (58.5%*, The Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #91, 540 bottles)

Ben Nevis 27 yo 1990/2018 (59.4%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, cask #1505, fino sherry butt, 593 bottles)

Nikka Malt 100 ‘Hakata’ (43%, OB, blended malt, +/-2015?)

Foursquare 12 yo 2007/2019 (59%, OB, Barbados, Mark X, Ex-bourbon cask)

Neisson 2003/2018 (46.1%, OB, Martinique, agricole, #4 hippocampe, 95 bottles)