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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild



Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2022 - Part 1


September 2022 - part 2 <--- October 2022 - part 1 ---> October 2022 - part 2


October 14, 2022



New Scottish cats, either wood or spirit driven

We keep gathering all these within one vast category, but we shall soon have to separate them as some are really growing and about to earn their own pages within WF's index. But let's do this randomly…



Arbikie 'Highland Rye batch: 22' (48%, OB, single grain, 2490 bottles, 2022)

Arbikie 'Highland Rye batch: 22' (48%, OB, single grain, 2490 bottles, 2022) one star and a half
Some new single farm whisky ala Waterford, but this is a single grain that harbours rye, malted barley and wheat. I believe it's the first time I'm trying something by Arbikie, a Distillery that's powered by hydrogen that's also making vodka and gin. Colour: gold. Nose: nothing very 'Scottish' in there, but it is a fine rye, bready and with whiffs of new-sawn planks, plywood, light curry and lavender. Just touches of lavender, no worries... Mouth: pretty sweet, bready and spicy. Pumpernickel, wholegrain bread, some molasses, syrup… Finish: medium, sweetish, with a fresh oakiness that feels. Comments: really fine, but I'm not sure the whisky world needs the Scots here. Wonderful rye's currently been made in North America (obviously) but also in Germany, Austria, France… and even in Oxford (their latest batch is tops, on WF soon). Now we'll try subsequent batches with pleasure, I'm sure they improve mucho.

SGP:640 - 69 points.

Ardnamurchan 2016/2022 AD/09.22 (58.4%, OB, bourbon and sherry)

Ardnamurchan 2016/2022 AD/09.22 (58.4%, OB, bourbon and sherry) Four stars
It's an understatement to say that Ardnamurchan are on the right track, but then again, a personal opinion. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one's dry, almost austere at first, gristy, with various smokes, especially wood and peat, then whiffs of cheesecake and oatcakes. We're close to the raw materials! With water: all powers to smoked barley and overripe apples. Some sour wood too, which I always enjoy. At a winemaker's in Meursault, during the harvest. Mouth (neat): a completely different whisky, clearly in the style of a Distillery that sits on the Kildalton coast, with a rather massive dry peat coated with apple and banana foam. It feels a little young, but remember Celine Dion started very early too (what?) With water: wine gums, marshmallows, pear liqueur, ashes, charcoal. Finish: long, ashy, peppery. Comments: young and excellent.

SGP:555 - 86 points.

Since we were doing peat…

Torabhaig 'Allt Gleann' (46%, OB, Legacy Series, 2022)

Torabhaig 'Allt Gleann' (46%, OB, Legacy Series, 2022) Four stars and a half
From those lovely folks on Skye that made other lovely folks on Skye change one of their baselines from 'the only Distillery' to 'the oldest Distillery' (and, S.?). I'll add that I found the original release, back in 2020, just incredibly superb (WF 88). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: loads of ashes, apple peel, coal, porridge and lemon juice. Very straight, very peaty, pure, uncomplicated, awesome. Quite some mercurochrome too, I'm sure you could use it to heal any wounds, it's just that you would smell like a walking barbecue. Mouth: straight to the point, pure peaty malt whisky as in pure peaty malt whisky. No flannel, no sideways, and just a feeling of... well-being. As our dearest friends in Italy would say, like peat love this, no like peat not like this. Finish: long and actually more complex, with notes of fino, lemon juice, seawater, ashes of course, oysters, lime… IN a way we're getting even nearer to the Cross (understands who can). Comments: amazing, but clearly more an Islay than a Skye. If I may…

SGP:457 - 89 points.

Lochlea 'Harvest Edition' (46%, OB, 2022)

Lochlea 'Harvest Edition' (46%, OB, 2022) Three stars
It was released last month. They've used Port, so let's proceed with caution. They've also used bourbon and sherry (some say rather STR), having said that… Colour: gold. Nose: all fine, the casks have done their jobs, there's some gingerbread, pumpernickel, fig jam, and even a feeling of kougelhopf and battelman. No complains, I think I like this nose better than that of the PX-ed 'First Release', the one with the grey label. Mouth: bready indeed, if a little plankish, with good sweetness, sweet barley, raisins, more gingerbread, breads, rye… It is a pleasant drink for sure, I'd just love to be able to have a better grasp of the distillate. But that's the fate of many a new Distillery, many distillers are really busy with the woods they purchase or, that's new I've heard, rent. Finish: medium, spicier. Cinnamon over zwetschke pie. Comments: goody good… We're awaiting an ex-bourbon expression…
SGP:551 - 80 points.

Closer to the distillate he said…

Holyrood 2020 'Chevalier' (43%, OB, Spirit Drink, Charmed Circle, +/-2022)

Holyrood 2020 'Chevalier' (43%, OB, Spirit Drink, Charmed Circle, +/-2022) Four stars and a half
Obviously not whisky, but they've used Chevalier, an older, higher-quality strain of barley. In French, chevalier means knight, just so that you're in the know. Colour: white. Nose: exactly what we've always dreamed of, some proper barley eau-de-vie, rather than just raw newmake. I find this utterly stunning, deep, complex, with some buttered caramel, quince pie, dried jujubes, goji, even umami, lees, ale… Wow wow wow! Mouth: perfect. This is the spirit. Barley in majesty, breads, ales and stouts, figs, fudge, butterscotch, pear liqueur… Even the strength of 43% vol. is perfect in this context. Finish: medium, earthy, terroiry (hey hey) and just f…… good. Apologies. Comments: I remember when I first tried white Clairin from Haiti. Similar feelings. Oh and yes, some new clairins soon on WF!
SGP:561 - 89 points.

Holyrood 2020 'Golden Promise' (43%, OB, Spirit Drink, Charmed Circle, +/-2022)

Holyrood 2020 'Golden Promise' (43%, OB, Spirit Drink, Charmed Circle, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
Golden Promise, superb barley (think Macallan), but lower yields than those of newer and blander strains. What would you think the industry did when those came out? Bingo. Colour: white. Nose: chevalier was deeper and sweeter on the nose, golden promise is fatter, less 'sweet', more on grassy and fattish elements, oils, earths, root vegetables… Chevalier just killed you, this is more introspective… Mouth: indeed, fat, rawer, tougher, probably needing more aging (and perhaps proper sherry casks). Even at 43%, it is a tad tough and brutal. Finish: artichokes, perhaps? Comments: I could down a magnum of the chevalier, I'm not sure I would quaff a wee glass of the golden promise in this state. But what you do get here is the potential. Remember the old saying, when the new-make's too good, the whisky will be crap.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

A last one, for glory.

Isle of Raasay 'Unpeated' (63.5%, OB, virgin Chinkapin oak, 2022)

Isle of Raasay 'Unpeated' (63.5%, OB, virgin Chinkapin oak, 2022) Four stars
A brand new release, picture is that of an earlier bottling. Chinkapin oak reminds us of Doctor Bill at Glenmorangie, who, around fifteen years ago, did explore and try strictly all variants of American white oak anyone could think of, even some pretty esoteric variations such as 'more than 50 years old oak tree timbered using a Husqvarna chainsaw while listening to Bachman Turner Overdrive'. Quite. As for our general feeling about Raasay, let's say it stands at 'very favourable'. Colour: gold. Nose: I remember, some very raisiny oak. This is ridden with raisins indeed, rye bread, figs aplenty, then we have Swiss fondue, plum spirit, gazpacho… Indeed, this is pretty unusual. With water: the fondue remains, together with miso paste, fig wine, a drop of cider vinegar, and certainly other fermentary matters. Maybe a little avant-garde, but lovely whisky. Mouth (neat): heavy spicy concoction, I'd have sworn this was some crazy American whisky made by ex-traders. It's probably just that it needed water… With water: ah, there, pure oak spices, cinnamon in majesty, curry, allspice, ras-el-hanout… and baked lemons keeping it a little easier. Finish: very long, very spicy, with black olives chiming in. Comments: almost liquid tajin. Hard to score, but choukran, Isle of Raasay!

SGP:661 - 85 points.

Bye-bye, we'll have many Dornochs next time we tackle 'new Scotland'…


October 13, 2022


Little Duos, end of the line, today Littlemill

Existing stocks are dwindling down, I don't think the indies have much Littlemill left. Remember the old Distillery (the oldest licensed Distillery in Scotland) was closed down in 1994 (or was it 1993?), dismantled in 1997, and destroyed in a fire in 2004. What's more, Littlemill Distillery would have been 250 just this year, were it still standing, and owners of the name and remaining stocks Loch Lomond have decided to celebrate accordingly, with a 45 years old! Wow! We'll have it today, but first, our usual sparring partner, a wee 1990 of excellent provenance…
(photograph Littlemill)


Littlemill 24 yo 1990/2015 (54.2%, Alambic Classique, Rare & Old Selection, oloroso sherry, cask #15305, 295 bottles)

Littlemill 24 yo 1990/2015 (54.2%, Alambic Classique, Rare & Old Selection, oloroso sherry, cask #15305, 295 bottles) Five stars
Whenever we comment on fruit bombs, we often mention Balblair, Benriach, Lochside, Clynelish, or even Convalmore, or Bushmills naturally, or those 1960s Bowmores and Laphroaigs, but we shouldn't forget Littlemill, at least not these 1988-1992 vintages. Colour: gold. Nose: indeed. Prickly pears and tangerines running the show, then oranges, starkrimsons, and a good glass of Yquem or any other high-brow Sauternes from a not-too-old vintage. The oloroso seems to have brought fresh walnuts, parsley and lime tea. It is all extremely wonderful. With water: tiny herbs chiming in, tarragon, basil, coriander… Those further enhance the bright fruitiness. Mouth (neat): just amazing. All citrus fruits you could think of (do you really want me to list them again?) Smart people might call this one 'yuzu-y'. Passion fruit ice cream and a little custard are closing the loop. With water: loses a tiny bit of focus but that's completely normal. Becomes just a notch tea-ish. Yuzu and consorts are still there in the orchestra. Finish: medium, extra-citrusy and more and more herbal towards the aftertaste. Once again, nothing abnormal. A little salt, perhaps anchovies in the end. Unexpected but works great. Comments: splendid drop and more proof that 24-26 years is a perfect age.
SGP:761 - 91 points.

Littlemill 45 yo 1976/2022 (41.8%, OB, 250th Anniversary, 250 decanters)

Littlemill 45 yo 1976/2022 (41.8%, OB, 250th Anniversary, 250 decanters) Five stars
They finished this baby in oloroso for six months, but you would easily understand why they would have done that, probably to 'marry' and 'bind together' several old casks. Those had already been re-racked in refill hogsheads in 1996. What's more, this decanter comes with original photographs, some silver, a book, a brass stopper, etc. Oh and a very smart miniature so that you could taste your whisky without having to sacrifice your precious decanter. An excellent practice that not enough Distillers are, well, practicing. Remember Signatory's Silent Stills? Colour: gold. Nose: a whole different story after Alambic's glorious 1990. Let's be honest, we all know that earlier vintage wouldn't stand a chance against those 1988-1992s; having said that, I believe this one would easily beat any other Littlemills distilled in the 1970s, or at least most of them. Are you following me? It started a wee tad dusty, with whiffs of old books and old pipe tobacco that went dry, and even bandages, but some small fruits started to pop out here and there after five seconds (first clementines and maracuja), and then there as this lovely parsley, watercress, coriander leaves… After all, it is not that different from the 1990, which is most certainly a tour de force. No obvious, dominant sherry at all, that's even better. Mouth: but but but… hurray! Mango chutney, miso, a little gravy, olive sauce, plum wine, umeshu, even some sake, some shochu, and then the trademark fruits, mangos indeed, tangerines, oranges… At no point does it get drying, flat, too tea-ish or weak, on the contrary. For once, that finishing was probably a benediction. Finish: not very long, naturally, but still bright and fruity, this old Littlemill remains very much alive. Some saltiness in the aftertaste, and this parsley… Comments: very, very smart bottling, if I may. No slaughter, this baby's actually doing far better than surviving, it is fighting back! Now let's check price and availability (erm…) …

SGP:661 - 91 points.

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


October 12, 2022


Glen Mhor and Neighbour

It's that Gordon & MacPhail are having a new Glen Mhor, while all I could find in WF's 'Glen Mhor Box' were cobwebs. No untasted Glen Mhor left, so no proper sparring partner (I feel shame indeed, tell me about a whisky blogger) but we 've got resources, you will see… But first, this ultra-rare new Glen Mhor…

(Picture Valentino Zagatti when we last met, in 2009; he'd have adored the new Glen Mhor! - R.I.P.)




Glen Mhor 40 yo 1982/2022 (50.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, The Recollection, refill sherry hogshead, cask #72, 174 bottles)

Glen Mhor 40 yo 1982/2022 (50.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, The Recollection, refill sherry hogshead, cask #72, 174 bottles) Five stars
To me, Glen Mhor means Valentino Zagatti, he who used to like the old Glen Mhor 10 yo better than any other malt whisky. We miss Valentino Zagatti, even if I've met him only a few times. And indeed, we did share some Glen Mhor 10 years old!… Let's expect some dried meats, some tobacco, and probably some soot, straight from the most well-known amongst the three old Inverness Distilleries, Glen Albyn, Millburn (wink, wink), and Glen Mhor… … Colour: deep gold. Nose: so very antique, 'vintage', precious, polished, waxy… This is like entering an antique shop, full of old furniture, oil paintings, perhaps bicycles and motorbikes, early radio sets… The meatiness too is fantastic, we're having soy sauces, Marmite, Bovril, also suet, leek soup, old tobacco pouch, old leather jackets… With water: old hive, old books, library, furniture polish, humidor, mocha, chocolate, artichoke, cracked pepper, thin mints… Mouth (neat): but this is fresh and vibrant! We're extremely far from a dusty, tired old malt whisky that would be here just because it's rare (but G&M wouldn't do that, agreed), on the contrary, this is almost a bottled lesson to new distillers. Incredible complexity, meats, roasted chestnuts, chestnut honey, beef jerky, tar, tobacco, chocolate… It is stunning. To think that they closed the Distillery for good only one year after this glory was distilled. With water: oh, bergamots chiming in, tobacco, tangerine liqueur, dried apricots, very old brandy de Jerez… And countless other elements. Finish: Jaffa cakes and precious very old sweet wines that have digested their sugars. No names needed. Comments: I'm sorry but I didn't know this was going to be this good. What's more, this is an extinct style, unless new Distillers would… you can always dream…

SGP:562 - 93 points.

I'm sure you saw me coming, we'll have a Millburn as the sparring partner.

Millburn 1981/2004 (61.5%, MacKillop's Choice, sherry wood, cask #353)

Millburn 1981/2004 (61.5%, MacKillop's Choice, sherry wood, cask #353) Four stars and a half
Lorne MacKillop's 'MacKillop's Choice' line has gathered some stupendous malt whiskies within the last twenty-five years. Their very low-key packaging was and remains a huge asset, as it would certainly scream 'it's the content that counts!' I would add that the reputations of any of the old Inverness distilleries, including Millburn's, have never been extremely high and they were sometimes even deemed as being 'dirty and random'. But with randomness comes luck…  Colour: deep gold. Nose: much, much fruitier than the Glen Mhor, but it's true that it's much younger. Awesome blood oranges, pink grapefruits, perhaps wee whiffs of struck matches (typical), also mangos and papayas. Mangos and papayas! I know some Glen Albyns were showcasing this too, sometimes… With water: butterscotch jumping in, cakes, scones, praline, milk chocolate, café latte… Mouth (neat): possibly one of the most 'tropical' Millburns, with bananas, mangos, sultanas as well, angelica, genepy and verbena… And no more struck matches. With water: once again it would become cakier and more on butterscotch, shortbread… But the tropical fruits are still there. A feeling of putty and paint too, then some pepper… Finish: long and indeed, a little dirty-ish, we would have said 'chemical' twenty years ago. Loses points now, but between us, who cares, the Distillery was closed in 1985, two years after Glen Mhor and Glen Albyn, then almost fully demolished.… Comments: I'm feeling the tears rise now…
SGP:662 - 88 points.

October 11, 2022


Little duos, today Dalmore 21 vs 2003

Kings of wild premiumisation, but kings of great malt whisky too when the distillate is allowed to shine. Oh and the oranges… As for the word 'flathead', it keeps reminding me of their stills… and of those old Harleys.




Dalmore 21 yo (43.8%, OB, +/-2022) Four stars and a half
This is the latest batch of this 'very epitome of whisky-making artistry' according to the Distillery's own copywrit… I mean, content creators. We never take prices into consideration, but we did notice that in this very case, it was north of 600€ (a bottle, not a case). We do also know that Dalmore is a very superlative distillate. This very one was matured in refill and fresh American oak, then finished in Matusalem oloroso, most probably from Gonzalez Byass. Colour: full gold. Nose: impressive freshness here, closer to the older 20 yo 'Duncan MacBeth' than to the more recent 21 yos, which is great news as those old 20 yos were really utterly stunning. Superb touches of raisins and beer sauce, kougelhopf, touch of bouillon, the trademark oranges, camphor and menthol, cigars, chocolate, Timut pepper… This is almost like a reedition an old LP, carefully remastered. Let's say… hold on, why not ELP's Tarkus? Mouth: totally impeccable and integrally Dalmore. I mean, first on marmalade, chocolate and tobacco, then with smaller dried fruits, papayas, bananas… A lighter fruitcake, shall we say. Finish: medium, on all kind of raisins but with no cloying sweetness whatsoever. Tobacco and tea in the aftertaste. Comments: they went rather easier on the sherry, no? Or am I dreaming? Great bottle, nonetheless.

SGP:551 - 89 points.

Dalmore 2003/2022 'Vintage' (46.9%, OB)

Dalmore 2003/2022 'Vintage' (46.9%, OB) Five stars
A little more wood sorcery here, as the casks have first been matured in refill and new American oak, then finished separately in Rivesaltes (Vin Doux Naturel, a.k.a. VDN), Matusalem sherry, Amoroso sherry (so basically cream) and ex-bourbon, before being blended away by Dalmore's… err, blenders. Phew! Dalmore have previously bottled several other 2003s. Colour: gold. Nose: even less on sherry, and consequently, more on American oak, including fresh vanilla, guavas and bananas, with whiffs of cut pinewood in the background, as well as balsa, cedar, old-style ointments, then camphor and sauna oils. We're no experts in sauna oils, I should add. In any case, this is much less sherry-driven than the 21, which, in turn, was less sherry-drive, than earlier middle-aged Ds.. Mouth: the palate mirrors the nose, with similar pinewoody and chartreuse-y notes, nougat, thin mints, chestnut honey, then the expected chocolate and marmalade combo. Good nervousness here, you don't need to be buried in an old leather armchair to enjoy this one. Finish: medium, a tad jammier, with some lovely crystallised herbs and roots, not quite ginger, rather angelica. Comments: an invigorating and complex Dalmore within which the Rivesaltes and the cream sherry have been keeping a low profile, for more zing. Love it (and the price is almost half of that of the 21).
SGP:551 - 90 points.

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


October 10, 2022


The beast of Dufftown and its Wee Witchie

We're in Dufftown again, for the new Mortlach Special Release and one or three other siblings, we'll see what we can find in the library, we'll improvise anyway.

Wee Witchie



Mortlach 'The Lure of the Blood Moon' (57.8%, OB, Special Releases, Elusive Expressions, 2022)

Mortlach 'The Lure of the Blood Moon' (57.8%, OB, Special Releases, Elusive Expressions, 2022) Four stars
No age statement and a funny name, not an unseen combo these days. This one was first matured in refill American oak, then finished in virgin oak, tawny Port, and red muscat casks, which is very modern as well. Distillers used to claim that whisky was all about age, then all about oak, could be that 'it's all about wine' will be the next selling point. After all, it may be a smart alternative way of adding 'terroir' to whisky… We'll see… Colour: straw. Nose: feels a little hot and spirity at first, with very obvious notes of kirschwasser and perhaps bison vodka, then we find pears and cranberries, and even young fine de Bourgogne or something. Intriguing and a little destabilising when unreduced, to tell you the truth. With water: the barley is back, together with breads, leaven, yeasts and porridge. Excuse me, but hurray! Mouth (neat): very fruity, more on fruit liqueurs than on eaux-de-vies this time. Amaretto, maraschino, Heering, guignolet… Got to love cherries, I do. With water: it's rather spectacular how the malt wins it once H2O's been added, although it would remain pretty fruity altogether. A croissant filled with cherry jam, yum… Finish: rather long, clean, with those fruits but no obvious 'wineyness'. Comments: very fine, sweet, fruity, pretty easy. I'm not sure Mortlach's usual meatiness and fine sulphur were have their say here, having said that.
SGP:641 - 85 points.

Mortlach 14 yo 2008/2022 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask #HL19622, 310 bottles)

Mortlach 14 yo 2008/2022 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask #HL19622, 310 bottles) Four stars
This one seems to be fully natural. You really have to turn to the indies to find all-natural malt whisky these days, most distillers being deeply into the finishing craze. Are they not happy with their whiskies as they are in their natural state? Colour: white wine. Nose: bang-for-you-buck. Sunflower oil, pumpkin seeds, paraffin and suet, macaroons, maize bread, liquorice, light pipe tobacco, fresh butter, putty… Well this is marvellous, With water: more liquorice. A fresh pack of liquorice allsorts plus cut apples. Very lovely and rather fresher than other young Mortlachs. Mouth (neat): absolutely excellent, with Mortlach's full-bodied waxiness in the front and then and small berries, cassata, muesli… With water: touches of brioche, vanilla, blackberry jam, blancmange… Finish: medium, with traces of oak and a touch of menthol. Comments: ravishing young Mortlach al natural.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Hold on…

Mortlach 13 yo 2007/2021 (52.2%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, Port barrel, cask #HL18599, 216 bottles)

Mortlach 13 yo 2007/2021 (52.2%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, Port barrel, cask #HL18599, 216 bottles) Three stars and a half
A Port barrel? Seatbelt fastened, let's proceed… Colour: salmony, towards partridge eye. Nose: phew, it would not burst with raspberries and peonies, but it's still not as deliciously natural as the 2008. Rather coconuts leading the pack here, plus touches of violet and roots, perhaps salsify? With water: as usual, the breadiness comes out, and as usual, we're happy about these changes. Mouth (neat): we're pretty fine, but the Port feels and there's even a bizarre mineral side. Charcoal and some kinds of rocks. No scandal for sure. With water: water improves it, but the 2008 still rules. Whats more, the wine feels rather more than in the Special Release with a funny name (but some lovely artwork). Finish: medium. Bizarrely, I'm finding croissants filled with cherry jam this time again. Comments: an extremely honest drop, but it didn't stand a chance after the 2008. My fault, I'll have to whip myself.
SGP:651 - 83 points.

Mortlach 2009/2021 (55.4%, Signatory Vintage for Or Sileis, Taiwan, hogshead, cask #306347, 267 bottles)

Mortlach 2009/2021 (55.4%, Signatory Vintage for Or Sileis, Taiwan, hogshead, cask #306347, 267 bottles) Four stars
The label itself is good fun, isn't this a artist's loose interpretation of a 'Wee Witchie'? Colour: straw. Nose: a natural bready one once more, with vegetal oils, nuts, waxes, almonds, amaretti and cut apples. No false notes, no make-up, pure natural Mortlach, with even a (very) wee whiff of sulphury coal smoke. With water: wool and grist, plus apples and lemons (wee bits). Mouth (neat): apples, cherries, grasses, waxes, porridge, muesli, shortbread… With water: impeccable, it even gets fatter, oilier, with more obvious touches of cherries of all kinds. Finish: medium, with a fat body and a feeling of having quaffed a teaspoon of fruity oil. Comments: not much literature needed here (shh, I can hear you). Perfect young Mortlach, with all the markers being in place.

SGP:551 - 87 points.

Let's go try to fetch a 90+…

Mortlach 30 yo 1973/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask #1388, 298 bottles)

Mortlach 30 yo 1973/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask #1388, 298 bottles) Five stars
This one's got a pretty high reputation, but for some reason, it always slipped through my hands. Now's the time, Charlie! Colour: gold. Nose: it was already a fattish, waxy, oily drop on the nose, but there were more fruits, such as bananas, then butterscotch, shortbread, pancake sauce, mirabelle jam, quince jelly, those sorts of thing. In awe, I am. With water: oh, herbs, grasses, fruit peelings, even fresh asparagus, banana skin… This is all wonderful. Mouth (neat): oily as Mortlach, with a more solid body than in the young ones (a feeling of drinking hazelnut oil), some meats this time, ham perhaps, and probably a higher smokiness, but that would rather be wood smoke, as in, say smoked salmon. And bananas. With water: perfect. Bananas and a little smoke, plus a tiny metallic side, pretty pleasant in this context. Finish: some wood spices coming out, but the whole remained incredibly fresh, and always on waxy bananas. Comments: what was Miles Davis doing in 1973? I have a new theory; whisky vintages were of higher grades when Miles Davis was in better form. A little A.I. told me that. Very elegant 'old old' Mortlach.

SGP:551 - 91 points.

Goody good, a last old one and we shall call this a tasting session.

Mortlach 36 yo 1986/2022 (51.4%, Adelphi, cask #2040, 176 bottles)

Mortlach 36 yo 1986/2022 (51.4%, Adelphi, cask #2040, 176 bottles) Five stars
This a bottle that does NOT come with a magnifier, but despite the small letterings on a label that even young eagles won't be able to read, it should be magnifique, let's see... Colour: gold. Nose: Mortlach! Fatter whisky even at 36 years of age, but with waxes that were starting to decompose into tropical fruits (not only bananas this time), while sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and a large panettone would shamelessly start to fill (even stuff) your nostrils. And we shan't even complain. With water: elderflowers and honeysuckle! And 'visiting a garden centre around the end of the month of April'. Mouth (neat): incredible, it's even a little hot at first, but it would then become pretty Meursaulty, with a little butter and many floral jams and jellies. Tarte tatin, quince pie, sorb liqueur, mullein syrup… You see! With water: tops tops tops. Power and delicacy in the same glove. I mean, in the same tulip glass. Finish: medium, with all flavours gathering in the end and a feeling of a waxy fruit salad. Have I mentioned sorb and jujube? Comments: after almost 20K tastings, I think I've found out about what should define an old whisky; that would be elegance. Very elegant old Mortlach.

SGP:651 - 91 points.

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


October 9, 2022


A few cognacs and armagnacs

We're live from Whisky Live Paris, but we're too busy indulging with friends as we're positing this, this wee session was done before we went to the capital.

Athos, Porthos and Aramis (Malkovich, Depardieu, Irons) in L'Homme au Masque de Fer (1998)




Château de Beaulon 12 yo 'XO' (40%, OB, Fins Bois, +/-2020)

Château de Beaulon 12 yo 'XO' (40%, OB, Fins Bois, +/-2020) Four stars
The château itself is wonderful, but just like with châteaux in Bordeaux or Scottish distilleries (that's right), you'll never find any relations between the prestige of the settings and the quality of the make. Some would add 'quite the opposite' but that would be a little provocative. Especially in Scotland… right… Colour: gold. Nose: gentle, on finger biscuits and peach jam, plus golden raisins, with touches of blond tobacco and soft liquorice. No quibblings, this is fresh and pleasant, if not totally characterful. Mouth: really good, with emphasis on liquorice and violet sweets. Really a lot of violets, without being too perfumy – at all. Rather a lot of heather honey too, mint honey, and just more soft liquorice. This really works. Finish: medium, even more honeyed and liquoricy. The violets are back in the aftertaste, with even a feeling of old sweet grenache. Comments: yeah right, proving me wrong is easy. Lovely château and lovely young cognac.
SGP:641 - 86 points.


French Brandy 1993/2022 (47%, Michiel Wigman, Precious Moments)

French Brandy 1993/2022 (47%, Michiel Wigman, Precious Moments) Four stars and a half
This is actually cognac but since it was first shipped to the UK (in an early-landed way) it cannot bear the appellation anymore. No, nothing to do with Brexit. We haven't got the label yet, but when we do, we shall update. Colour: deep amber. Nose: luscious jams, that's what's in there. Especially figs in all there guises, pear (not that common in cognac) and litchees/rambutans. Whiffs of ultra-ripe oranges flying around, and even, if I may, and please excuse me… Campari! Hope we'll remain friends, Mr Michiel W. ;-). Mouth: this one's from the country, it's a little gritty, leafy, rustic, and clearly medicinal (cough syrup, camphor). It is not quite an usual style of old cognac, but that's probably an asset. Once again, notes of overripe oranges too, cloves, and yep, bitters. Finish: medium, a little resinous, with notes of old woods and black tobacco in the aftertaste. Gauloise! Comments: this one feels so French… Even if it was sent abroad in its earliest days. Vive l'Europe.
SGP:461 - 88 points.

Why not an armagnac!

De Montal 30 yo (50.4%, OB for Alambic Classique, Bas-armagnac, brut de fût, 147 bottles)

De Montal 30 yo (50.4%, OB for Alambic Classique, Bas-armagnac, brut de fût, 147 bottles) Four stars
Made at Château de Rieutort in the Gers. It's said their their three stills are named Athos, Porthos et Aramis (the Three Musketeers!) Brut de fût means natural cask strength, not just 'higher strength' as can be seen elsewhere. Colour: full amber. Nose: some very traditional postprandial armagnac, with oak, raisins, chocolate and coffee. It is very old-school, with the wood doing a large part of the work. Certainly un-modern, as far as French brandies go. Mouth: I like the palate ten times better, even if it's still pretty oaky and 'vieille-école'. Heavy liquorice, a little varnish, coffee, black raisins, prunes, touch of pine resin and touch of menthol… Ultra-classic, really. Finish: pretty long. The liquorice and the piney wood keep running the show. Comments: back to the 1970s as far as styles go. Almost armagnac for antique shops – well I know my grandpas would have adored this one. I too like it rather a lot.

SGP:451 - 85 points.

Baron de Sigognac 1982 (47%, Old Master Spirits, Bas-armagnac, +/-2022)

Baron de Sigognac 1982 (47%, Old Master Spirits, Bas-armagnac, +/-2022) Four stars
This from 65% baco, 25% ugni blanc and 10% folle blanche. Harvested by hand and distilled in a 100 year old alambic. It was bottled for our friends in Oz, which I find extremely pleasing. So, back from Australia (trumpets please) … Colour: deep amber. Nose: the baron is modern! There's this slight bourbony feel (polished oak), cakes, some kind of earthy fruitcake, figs and roses, which makes it pretty oriental too, then small perfumy smells, benzoin, more rose petals, ylang-ylang… then cedar and pine woods, albeit in reasonable measures… It is really very fragrant, yet not heady. Fascinating to follow, this armagnac by Guerlain (quite, Guerlain don't send your lawyers!) Mouth: towards the De Montal this time, with an oak that's perhaps a little dominant. Still awesome but to be honest, I believe they do not quite monitor their casks as well as they do in cognac. Oak spices, cloves, cinnamon, black tea, peach skins… Finish: long, with the same spices plus perhaps a spicy meatiness, towards beef jerky. Perhaps… Comments: two armagnacs in one. I fell in love with the nose (1980s tasters may have said it was feminine), while I found the palate a little… say 'Gascon'. Meaning old-school. Still high-echelon, globally.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Château de Gaube 1972/2022 (43.4%, LMDW, Version Française, Armagnac)

Château de Gaube 1972/2022 (43.4%, LMDW, Version Française, Armagnac) Four stars and a half
If anyone well-intentioned ever asks me about the 'vintage of the century' as far as all spirits go, I'll answer 1972. It's just that I have no proper rationale behind that feeling. But who needs a rationale? Colour: full gold. Nose: totally fresh, fruity and floral, a little trans-spirit, without any obvious wood, rather a Clynelishness that would lead us to beeswaxes, honeys, orange blossom and citrons. Luminous and extremely seductive. Mouth: splendid arrival, on ripe apples, the all-important quinces, some hay wine, and indeed citrons. It is not the most complex old armagnac ever, but it was extremely well chiseled. Acacia honey and liquorice in the background, tiny herbs, perhaps wild leek… Finish: medium to short, losing a bit of steam perhaps, but there is some mint and some liquorice. After all, this is a 50 years old spirit. A little oak in the aftertaste. Comments: just wonderful, only getting a little fragile towards the finish, which is totally normal.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

I would say we'll have many more (and older) French brandies next week. Unless I change my mind…


October 8, 2022





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Time for some more Glen Grant
If you've paid any attention to even some of the various opinions I've typed into the internet over the years, you'll likely know that Glen Grant is easily in my top five distilleries. I adore it. The charm of that old highlander label, the fact its distillate was lauded early on as one of 'the' greats. It's historical importance to the rise of single malt appreciation.


The fact that very distillate is so adaptable to age and cask type; it can be stupendous as a bare naked cask strength 5yo, or a sherry-drenched 60+yo. Very few single malt distillates can do that, and yet Glen Grant makes it all seem rather effortless. Now, I'm not too sure about recent official bottlings, so let's kick off with a couple to get our bearings. 







Glen Grant 10 yo (40%, OB, -/+ 2022)

Glen Grant 10 yo (40%, OB, -/+ 2022)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: pears, gooseberries, apples, general 'orchard fruit' vibes and also some wee touches of hops, citrus and buttered toast. There's an overall more modern, American oak influenced profile on display here. But I find it extremely easy and quietly charming, it's just let down a bit by the 40% (isn't everything?). Mouth: yup, 40% is tough these days. Same lovely profile of easy sweetness and orchard fruits, only here I'd add some yellow plums, apricots and honey. But that low power gives a slight feeling of cardboard as well, sadly. Still, this in a tumbler at almost any time of day would be easy and enjoyable in my view. Finish: on the short side, going towards light fruit teas and golden ales. Some breads and cereals now too. Comments: it's a modern style, quite a long way from the glorious old distillate monster Glen Grants of yesteryear (stay tuned for some of them!) but it's also quiet, humble, easy and charmingly un-showy malt whisky.
SGP: 541 - 80 points.



Glen Grant 15 yo 'Batch Strength' 1st Edition (50%, OB, -/+ 2022)

Glen Grant 15 yo 'Batch Strength' 1st Edition (50%, OB, -/+ 2022)
'Batch Strength' feels like a very Friday afternoon sort of branding decision. Colour: bright straw. Nose: tighter, sweeter and more focussed on golden syrups, baked apples and various flowers with their pollens. But also a little more American oak assertiveness too. With water: greener, fresher, grassier and more open and playful. Water is your friend here I'd say. Mouth: more towards apples in various formats, sweet cider, butterscotch and a touch of vanilla icing. Good heft in the mouth but perhaps a tiny bit too much pepperiness from the oak for my liking. With water: the oak eases off ever so slightly which allows those various fruits and flowers a bit more elbow room. Finish: medium, barley sugars, digestive biscuits, pressed flowers and fruit teas. Comments: it's all very fine, and technically probably worth a couple of extra points, but why can we not have a version of the 10yo at this one's bottling strength? One day, I will be in charge of Glen Grant*, then all this stuff will get sorted out once and for all! I find this bottling a bit annoying because I really want to like it more than I do. Even though, once again, it's a perfectly easy and fine drop.
SGP: 551 - 82 points.



*Almost certainly will never, ever happen.*



Glen Grant 1997/2020 (52%, Caora, cask #23806, 225 bottles)

Glen Grant 1997/2020 (52%, Caora, cask #23806, 225 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: fresh and natural at first with rather a lot of barley, bailed hay and then hints of fruit scone mix and shortbread. With time a little more custardy sweetness from the cask comes through along with wee glass of youthful sauternes. Very easy and elegant. With water: still slightly cakey and easily sweet, a tad more forest greenery and a little shoe polish. Mouth: same vibes! Honeys, pollens, sweet wines, a spoonful of custard and some greener notes of crushed nettles and herbs. With water: a glass of orange Sunny Delight dosed with a shot of old Benedictine liqueur (is that a cocktail already?) also some lemon marmalade and fennel seed. Finish: good length, slightly firmer, waxier and more on pollens, flower honeys and citrons. Comments: very lovely, easy and natural Glen Grant. The epitome and positive sweetness in malt whisky I would say.
SGP: 641 - 87 points.



Glen Grant 23 yo 1998/2021 (50.4%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #9711, oloroso sherry hogshead finish, 307 bottles)

Glen Grant 23 yo 1998/2021 (50.4%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #9711, oloroso sherry hogshead finish, 307 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: richly sherried but you do get the sense it is a finish due to all this rather up front jammy sweetness and sticky fruits like plums and damsons. I also find some lovely impressions of flower nectars, pollens and golden syrup. Easy and very inviting. With water: more complex now, with herbal teas, roots, damp forest vibes and tobaccos. Mouth: a little drier than anticipated, on walnuts, mushrooms, leaf mulch and bitter dark chocolate. Straight down the line and very classical. With water: again it goes more towards dried herbs, roots, tea tree oil, wintergreen and cupboard spices. Quite punchy now in fact. Finish: good length, on bitter herbs, black tea, liquorice and a shot of espresso! Comments: would be interesting to know the length of the finish on this one, it's certainly the case that the sherry had a lot to say, but all good things.
SGP: 561 - 87 points.



After this it becomes tricky to know how to put together a line-up with old Glen Grants. First world problems etc…



Glen Grant 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, early 1970s)

Glen Grant 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, early 1970s)
A bottle I opened for one of the Whisky Show Old & Rare virtual tastings earlier this year, themed around 'naked distillate'. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a long way from the current 10 and 15, quite amazingly so really. This is a pure mash up of mineral, sunflower and lamp oils. Also suggestions of plaster, wet chalk, limestone and white flowers. Also an almost crystalline barley note running underneath. Utterly impeccable distillate. It has that highly austere, petrolic quality you often find in Cadenhead or SMWS bottlings from the early 90s, only this has something that many of those ones miss, which is class and depth of body to the distillate with these paraffin and waxy aspects. Probably due to old methods of production. With water: linens, camphor, ink and oily toolboxes. Also putty and more white flowers along with vase water and a greener note of crushed flower stems. Mouth: pure and vividly on paraffin, lamp oil, hessians, clay, ointments and warm peppery notes of watercress and mustard powder. Powerful without a trace of peat, and once again the word that comes to mind is class. A true barley eau de vie. With water: waxier in texture and flavour, but still bone dry, pure and impeccably peppery. A mustardy vibe that nods towards old Banffs. Finish: long, warming, peppery and with more paraffin, waxes, hessian and ink. Comments: a perfectly austere and bone-dry old Glen Grant that is entirely about the beautifully constructed distillate. Not sure too many current makes could withstand this kind of total exposure at only 8 years old. Now, it's also a very old fashioned style in some ways. A wine nerds whisky, as we often say on wee Whiskyfun.
SGP: 362 - 90 points. 



Glen Grant 15 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, UK market, -/+ 1975)

Glen Grant 15 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, UK market, -/+ 1975)
Despite this being a UK bottling, some very helpful Italian collector has written on the rear label at some point 'Collezione 29/01/77', which is always cool to see. I've written notes on here for similar bottlings by G&M before, but who knows what sort of batch variation there was at the time. And of course, any excuses etc… Colour: white wine. Nose: It's really the 8yo distillate profile just with double the age in refill wood. Which means it's more rounded and those slightly raw, petrolic qualities have rounded into more seductive waxy tones, honey, wood resins and camphor. Superbly mineral, fatty and flinty with pollens, white flowers and bouillon. Just terrific distillate once again. With water: clay, pebbles, chalk, flints, carbon paper, ink and dried herbs. Also citronella wax and lapsing souchong tea with lemon. Mouth: the age makes quite a difference here, it's more fruity with a lot of citrus, white stone fruit and sharper green and exotic touches too. Fruit teas, myrtle, olive oil, waxes and white pepper. Wonderful texture, perfect balance and the same combination of power, purity and class as in the 8yo. With water: the texture is hugely impressive now, water makes everything fatter, greasier, oilier and more mouth-coating. Some perfectly bitter herbal notes, a little saltiness and many things like putty, waxy and shoe polish. Finish: long, peppery, slightly salty and wonderfully oily and waxy. Comments: these batches are kind of like the work horses of G&M from this era, they just feel effortless and rather like they shouldn't be this good. Would crush most modern malt bottlings, mainly because they manage to combine being technically excellent with a whole heap of soul too.
SGP: 462 - 92 points.



Glen Grant 10 yo (80 proof, J W Cameron & Co Ltd, 1950s)

Glen Grant 10 yo (80 proof, J W Cameron & Co Ltd, 1950s)
J W Cameron were a wine merchant in Hartlepool apparently, with the good sense to have their own bottling of Glen Grant at 80 proof no less. Colour: pale amber. Nose: a profile that only very old single malts at good bottling strength seem able to deliver. A single, cohesive and utterly poetic mix of medicines, herbs, liqueurs, rooty peat aromas and a pristine, faintly salty old sherry full of rancio, walnuts and herbal teas. Poetic is the word, and utterly exquisite! Mouth: amazing freshness and staying power! Stunning saltiness, like the most gorgeous, leathery and rancio-laden VORS oloroso. And within that there's further notes of leathers, tobaccos and medicinal roots - the full 'Gentleman's library' factor! So many tiny, stunning wee flavours emerging. The best salty Dutch liquorice, ancient yellow Chartreuse, verbena, wormwood, umami broths and my beloved Maggi! I could demolish a Nebuchadnezzar of this before the year is out! Finish: stunningly long, resinous, salty and even starting to show some surprisingly exotic dried fruity qualities. More of these ancient medicinal roots, herbs and stunning old style peat flavours. Comments: how many random old bottlings of Glen Grant such as this one have there been over the years? I suspect what we know about is but a fragment, no wonder it was held in such high regard as the great single malt by many aficionados in the days before Macallan discovered marketing. A humble, show stopping wee masterpiece.
SGP: 563 - 94 points. 



Glen Grant 1959-1960/1986 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Marriage of Andrew and Fergie)

Glen Grant 1959-1960/1986 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Marriage of Andrew and Fergie)
Let's hope this whisky stands up better than Prince Andrew's reputation… Colour: amber. Nose: gah! I'm the ultimate push-over for this style! Drying, slightly salty bodega style funk and earthiness, imbued with damp pipe tobaccos, unlit aged cigars, humidor must, bitter dark chocolate, green walnut liqueur and pure rancio! G&M were just masters of this kind of profile. Mouth: perfect balance and elegance. Dryness from the sherry, along with a little salinity of salted almonds, tiny notes of paprika, cured game meats, leather, bouillon, heavy rancio and top quality dark chocolate. Also wee darker peppery tones, preserved dark fruits stewed in some old Armagnac and a rich umami vibe. You could add impressions of damp forest petrichor, black miso and soy sauce as well. It's all going on here! I'd even add medicinal roots and herbs, old style chest and throat sweets, wormwood and herbal liqueurs. Just fantastic! Finish: long, brilliantly herbal, peppery, full of sticky dark fruits, cupboard spices such as cloves and cinnamon, and this wonderfully persistent walnut-infused rancio. Comments: Another utterly seductive and stunning old Glen Grant from G&M. Now the queen has departed, could we just disband the Royal family and re-direct the tax spend into getting Glen Grant back to churning out this kind of juice please? For the good of the nation.

SGP: 662 - 93 points.



Glen Grant 72 yo 1948/2020 (52.6%, Gordon & MacPhail for Premier Whisky Hong Kong, American oak sherry cask, cask #440, 290 bottles)

Glen Grant 72 yo 1948/2020 (52.6%, Gordon & MacPhail for Premier Whisky Hong Kong, American oak sherry cask, cask #440, 290 bottles)
Speaking of G&M… Colour: amber/mahogany. Nose: concentrated dark fruits, exotic hardwood resins, ancient herbal liqueurs and many, many combinations of dried exotic fruits with similarly exotic and funky spices. One of those incredible profiles that G&M seem to specialise in where the whisky is simultaneously woody and fresh at the same time. I adore these fruity peppercorn and medicinal wormwood qualities. Also this gorgeously mentholated, extremely old peat aroma coming through beneath everything. With water: just a totally harmonious and endlessly complex old Glen Grant - one of the few distillates that can really shine at almost any age like this. Mouth: stunning arrival, full on dried dark and exotic fruits, aged black teas, crystallised honey, fir wood, resinous old fruit liqueurs and this marvellously balanced spicy complexity. With water: gets more sappy, mentholated and these gorgeous layers of honey, exotic fruit liqueurs and dusty old phenolics just become deeper, louder and denser. In short the whole thing goes up several notches of complexity and also power. Finish: good length and stunning, menthol, herbal and phenolic. Wood resins that become a notch more drying but not excessive, tobaccos, wine cellar mulch and rancio. You could go on four hours detailing all the tiny impressions this keeps igniting in the mind. Comments: Doesn't 'feel' like a 72 year old whisky if I'm honest. But then I'm no expert in 70+ year old whiskies. What can you really say? Another wonderful ancient malt that we have to thank G&M for caretaking all these decades. And another demonstration of the stamina of Glen Grant's distillate from those years. Let's hope that when G&M finally release a 100 year old it'll be a Glen Grant - although, will it be as good as that old J W Cameron 10yo…? ;) 
SGP: 672 - 93 points.



Hugs to Olivier and Serge!




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


October 7, 2022


Little duos, today Upper-Class Tomatin

Giant mangos being harvested at Tomatin around 1976 ;-) (Photograph Tomatin)

We'll keep discussing and arguing about any real vintage effects in whisky for ages, as well as about the actual reasons why some years are particularly legendary. What's sure is that '76 was probably the Latour '45 of Tomatin, while we'll remember that at that time, Tomatin was the largest malt Distillery in Scotland. But first, a wee '89…

Tomatin 32 yo 1989/2022 (44.9%, Skene, hogshead, cask #100468)

Tomatin 32 yo 1989/2022 (44.9%, Skene, hogshead, cask #100468) Four stars and a half
We've already tried several excellent malts by Edinburgh's pretty discreet Skene, a lovely company where they seem to be busier with bottling good whiskies than with mailing out tons of senseless press releases. Please note that we haven't got anything against press releases in themselves. Colour: white wine. Nose: pure dry chenin blanc, really. Chalk, greengage, citron, honeysuckle, elderflowers and acacia blossom. Whiffs of fresh vanilla pod in the background. Beautiful and charming nose, all we'd need now is a bunch of langoustines. Mouth: it's incredible that we're finding more dry white from the Loire in there, maybe a pretty grand Savennières? Some lemon and orange drops, touch of mentholy oak, lemon tarte (with meringue!) and then, this time again, green plums, greengages, not-too-ripe mirabelles… Finish: medium, tart, with a very pleasant greenness. Those greengages again. Tiny echoes of older wood in the aftertaste. Comments: flowers and plums all over the place, bordering perfection.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Tomatin 45 yo 1976/2022 'Warehouse 6 ' (46%, OB, hogsheads, casks #32+33, 350 bottles)

Tomatin 45 yo 1976/2022 'Warehouse 6 ' (46%, OB, hogsheads, casks #32+33, 350 bottles) Five stars
This rather pricey baby (north, sometimes way north, of 4K€) is a vatting of two hogsheads. I believe we've already said what we we're thinking of the vintage 1976 at Tomatin (and at other ueber-fruity malt distilleries). Colour: gold. Nose: the fruit section at Fortnum & Mason's, as we sometimes say. Or multi-vitamin fruit juice. Or a large basket of tropical fruits, including wild mangos and ripe passion fruits, plus several kinds of bananas and pineapples. This is simply irresistible, in the league that already gathers 1960s Bowmore or Lochside, not to forget the best batches of Laphroaig 10 (1970s bottlings). Legends. Mouth: the question was, 'wouldn't it have become a little oaky?'. The answer is 'no'. Same combination of tropical fruits, plus a floral side (those elder and acacia flowers again, perhaps as beignets). In truth this needs no further literature, it is simply perfect fruity whisky. Finish: amazing zesty, citrusy finish, with limes, oranges and tangerines, then various zests in the aftertaste. Comments: extraordinary. You could add some high-class rum and come up with the most glorious Ti'punch ever, provided money's no issue.

SGP:751 - 92 points.

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


October 6, 2022


St Magdalene, quatuor major

Long story short, G&M have a new St Magdalene (hurray) and we'll seize this opportunity to add one or three other St Magdas or Linlithgows that we have never formally tried before. Any excuses, really… And let's do this retro-vertically, as they would say at Space X… Say like 1970, 1974, 1979, 1982. With a nod to our friend Tomas, #1 St Magdalene (and 2cv) collector in the world.

St Magdalene, Linlithgow (Historic Environment Scotland)

St Magdalene 23 yo 1970 (58.43%, OB, Rare Malts, 1995)

St Magdalene 23 yo 1970 (58.43%, OB, Rare Malts, 70cl, 1995) Five stars
There used to be rumours that some early Rare Malts were single cask bottlings, but it's been officially confirmed to me that that's never been the case. We had tried sister-bottling 23/1970 at 58.1% earlier this year and thought it was fantastically introspective (WF 92). All Rare Malts St-Ms have been stunning anyway (yeah, despite the very s****y cork stoppers). Colour: gold. Nose: it's a bit like an old Mercedes-Benz diesel, it is a little slow to get to any proper speed, but it is then unstoppable. First just malt and scoria, then charcoal and bunches of long-forgotten vegetables, well at least parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes, then burnt cakes, autumn leaves, teas and olives, then acetic liquids, bacterial things and, well, cheeses. It is a funny development, but this what you would expect from these rather austere St Magdalenes. With water: a perfect walk, from meadows to the woods, then to the beach. Unexpected whiffs of peach liqueur popping out too. Brilliant. Mouth (neat): I may have written this before, but this is of Brora class. Leaves, tobaccos, teas, farmy elements, feelings of old leathers, waxes, then those funny vegetables again, Scottish moussaka (yeah right), salted tea, umami, candied lemon, pickled sweet onions perhaps… The thing is, these whiskies need a lot of your time, but they're really worth it. With water: the trademark leafiness is shining through, but fruits haven't said their last words, with peaches indeed, lemons, then drops of smoked tea, some fabulous farmy elements, old herbal liqueurs, pine resin, verbena, mint, wormwood, liquorice, and just tons of tinier elements, which is very St Magdalene. Perhaps the most complex whiskies ever made by Man, but then again, the attentive taster will have to invest rather a lot of time to get it all in its integrity. Finish: keeps improving! This seldom happens, whiskies that keep unfolding like this, even way after you've swallowed the last part of the last drop. Amazing. Comments: austere, tight and yet hugely complex, stunningly herbal and earthy, with citrus where and when you need citrus.

SGP:462 - 93 points.

We're way too high already (so to speak). But this is St Magdalene…

Linlithgow 27 yo 1974/2001 (50%, Silver Seal, First Bottling, 180 bottles)

Linlithgow 27 yo 1974/2001 (50%, Silver Seal, First Bottling, 180 bottles) Five stars
Silver Seal did a subsequent 1974 'First Bottling' (we've tried in it 2011 – WF 90) but this is the very first inception. Oh, yes, by the way, Linlithgow and St Magdalene are the same Distillery, but I don't think anyone reaching these silly pages would not be in the know. Oh and indeed, this is pre-Massimo Silver Seal. Colour: gold. Nose: these SSs have always been easier, with some bananas, also early grey, a gentler earthiness, some vanilla, the aforementioned peaches, and rather a lot of heather honey that would impart a few 'HP-like' notes. Minimal whiffs of ham and cigars in the back. With water: you would be forgiven for thinking this is 1970s Highland Park. Mouth (neat): this is more St Magdalene proper, with some soot, paraffin, pepper, tobacco, bitter chocolate and only in the background, peaches and bananas. Gets leafier over time, though. With water: there, the fruits are back, candied tangerines, quinces, bananas, peaches, spread with earl grey and orange blossom water. Finish: pretty long, fresher than the RMs, still more fruity than leafy. Comments: pretty much the easier side of the legendary Distillery. An adorable albeit less seminal, albeit fruitier St Magdalene that anyone should take with him/her into his/her grotto (how silly, S.!) I think the other 1974 SS was rather more austere. Anyways…

SGP:561 - 91 points.

St Magdalene 19 yo 1979/1998 (63.80%, OB, Rare Malts)

St Magdalene 19 yo 1979/1998 (63.80%, OB, Rare Malts) Five stars
Good, I believe I've downed rather a few bottles of this legend, but it seems that I never published any proper tasting notes, which is very silly as well, I agree. I would suppose you could find some note of mine on the old Malt Maniacs website, having said that, but I don't seem to be able to find any at this point.  But enough archaeology, let's write some official 'WF' note (after 20 years!)… Colour: gold. Nose: oh this camphor! Carbon! Brake pads! Artichokes! Eggplants! Paraffin! Garlic bread! Coal! Cigars! Pu-ehr! Liquorice wood! Autumn leaves! Patchouli! Bidis! Ski wax! Suet! Marrow! Citrons! Grapefruits! With water: narrows it down in the most beautiful manner, getting to the bottom of citrusness. Mouth (neat): I like it better than last time, and I may like it even better next time. The most stunning expression of citrus and earth. Enough said. With water: I think I have to apologize because I've just noticed that I was having this one at WF 92, indeed without any proper tasting note. Pearls before swine. Finish: the epitome of earthy and leafy malt whisky, for a very long time. You would get to the very end of GOT's even sillier sequel before your glass is done and empty. Comments: eternal whisky, one of the favourites of all Malt Maniacs since around... 1998. Well, since it came out. Illustrious malt whisky, flabbergasting St Magdalene, and one of the best malt whiskies ever bottled. What's more, looks like it keeps improving in its bottle. Sublime, probably 95-material in two or three years' time, then probably more. See you around 2030.

SGP:462 - 94 points.

Aaaaaaaand the new one!...

St Magdalene 39 yo 1982/2021 (54.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, The Recollection, refill American oak hogshead, cask #2094, 165 bottles, 2022)

St Magdalene 39 yo 1982/2021 (54.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, The Recollection, refill American oak hogshead, cask #2094, 165 bottles, 2022) Five stars
Love it that G&M would release a St Magdalene in 2022 and love it even more that they wouldn't have waited for just a few more months, so that it would be 40 instead of 39. In short, there's more love in here than in Donny Hathaway's song 'Love, Love, Love'.  Oh and I'm well aware of the fact that it's extremely difficult to come after the RMs. Sorry about that, G&M. Colour: gold. Nose: hey hey! Very much in the style of the 1974 by Silver Seal, but it has also got these trademark leafy, herbal, rooty, earthy and sooty tones that are adding complexity to an otherwise rather fruity profile, although all those fruits would rather be baked or stewed. All in all, I'm rather reminded of a very, and I mean very high-class Wulong tea. With water: love these whiffs of old teas, old books, old car interiors, and old cigars. And the beeswax, old sacristy, old library, etc.. Mouth (neat): wait, a massive citrusy punch, with candied lemons, yuzu and grapefruits, then resins, propolis and 'sucking a cigar'. Some funny hints of rye whisky, which is not as odd as it sounds. No more old sacristy. With water: and there, herbal teas mingled together, lavender, thyme, chamomile, bay leaves, chartreuse, Bénédictine, Mandarine Napoléon… Finish: same… … … No obvious oak getting in the way… … … And citron liqueur in the aftertaste. Perfect. Comments: indeed, pretty perfect. Is there more? Couldn't anyone very smart convert the 'Linlithgow' flats back into a Distillery?
SGP:561 - 92 points.

(Thanks and hugs, Jeffrey!)

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


October 5, 2022


More little duos, today Talisker SR vs 27

I'm extremely glad that there would be more Talisker around, even if the new Special Release is now 11, after the formidable 8s from recent years (and, naturally, the regular albeit always rather fantastic 10). Let's try the SR and then find a proper sparring-partner…




Talisker 11 yo 'The Lustrous Creature of the Depths' (55.1%, OB, Special Releases 2022)

Talisker 11 yo 'The Lustrous Creature of the Depths' (55.1%, OB, Special Releases 2022, Elusive Expressions) Four stars and a half
This new SR was matured in first fill ex-bourbon, refill, and wine-seasoned casks. I appears that wine's become almost mandatory in all of Whiskydom, do not ask me why (but if you do, I've got a few ideas). Oh and the kind of luminescent jellyfish that's on the label seems to be one of Skye's own legends. Animals, real or mythical, keep ruling on Diageo's malt whiskies (not talking about managers and blenders here). All spacey new graphics are actually superb IMHO. Colour: straw. Nose: it seems to be a rather lighter Talisker, perhaps a little more on some kind of smoked herbs, and samphires perhaps, and tarragon, green peppercorn, then unexpected notes of lighter mezcal. Olive brine in the background, never a miss. With water: smoked bread, raw wool, perhaps more mezcal. Mouth (neat): perhaps more power on the palate, more peppered and pickled lemons for sure, notes of fudge soon to get salted and peppered, some spiciness, Pad Thai, capers and camphor… It does feel a little modern but many new whiskies are. I mean, they hardly ever use the traditional method anymore. You know, 1. Fill cask, 2. Wait, 3. Bottle. With water: relatively sweeter, but otherwise clearly briney and, of course, peppery. Finish: medium, more on citrons and other citrus, but it's clearly Talisker. Comments: it's meant to be a lighter peater, but it's still a pretty peaty – and excellent – young Talisker in my book. Some echoes of the current 10 here and there; well, obviously.
SGP:465 - 88 points.

So, that much wanted sparring-partner…

Talisker 27 yo 'Elements' (58%, OB, 2,000 bottles, 2022)

Talisker 27 yo 'Elements' (58%, OB, 2,000 bottles, 2022) Five stars
More wood stories here, as this baby's been triple-matured, first in refill, then in heavily charred wood, lastly in European oak puncheons. Sometimes you cannot not wonder if they should really tell us. Colour: gold. Nose: wood mangos, if you see what I mean. Plus bananas, papayas and once more, touches of mezcal, with the peppery and smoky coastalness rather in the background. I find this smart kind of set-up on a fairly older peater extremely attractive. With water: embrocations, cough syrup, passion fruit… Aren't we on Islay? Mouth (neat): let's be honest, this worked a treat. Everything's extremely good, tropical, smoky, mango-y indeed, with a camphory and coastal peat that's very well integrated. Really feels like a whole and not like the sum of several parts, while it would sometimes remind you of early-to-mid 70s Bowmore. Lovely mentholated waxiness too. Finish: rather long, with some elegant pepper kicking in. Exceptional aftertaste that would even remind us of Islay in the 1960s. Comments: it's a little unclear whether this is a 1993, so a single vintage, or not. What's sure is that it is stunning whisky from 'The Oldest working Distillery on the Isle of Skye'. Watch your bottle, it'll go down fast.
SGP:656 - 91 points.
PS: I liked it much better than earlier this year, perhaps was it bottle shock

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


October 3, 2022


Little duos, revisiting Glen Grant once more

Always a joy to taste the old ones by G&M or the bright young or middle-aged ones by several indies, but bizarrely, we're a little less acquainted with the OBs.




Glen Grant 15 yo 'Batch Strength 1st Edition' (50%, OB, +/-2022)

Glen Grant 15 yo 'Batch Strength 1st Edition' (50%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
What a batch strength is, I couldn't tell you. A matter of poetic license, perhaps? This is integrally ex-bourbon. Colour: straw. Nose: pure natural, slightly mineral, otherwise all on barley and soft vanilla combo. Smaller whiffs of dandelions, honeysuckle, meadow honey, gooseberries and granny smith. Lovely freshness here. With water: honey and honeysuckle up! Mouth (neat): sweet apples, acacia honey, a feeling of hay, peaches (reminds you of young cognac at times) and a welcome moderate vanillaness. With water: once again, sweet barley, honeysuckle and honey. Finish: medium, gently sweet yet still rather bright and tight. Stewed apples drizzled with honey.  Comments: 'When I'm taking sips, From your tasty lips, The honey fairly drips, You're confection, goodness knows, Honeysuckle rose.' (Fats Waller, 1928).
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Glen Grant 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022)

Glen Grant 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars
We may have had to try this baby before the 15 yo at 50%. Too late, Kate… Colour: white wine. We seem to be noticing a tendency to lower caramel content almost everywhere in Whiskydom, which is cool. Nose: styles are extremely similar, gentle, honeyed, although this one would go rounder and a little more on cakes, while that's not only the lower strength. Less stamina for sure, and more averageness shall we say. Mouth: a tad more on overripe apples, teas, raisins and biscuits, as well as sweet ale. Really an allrounder that will easily please just everyone. Finish: a little more vanilla, banana, raisins and cakes. Some sweet sherry in there, apparently. Sweet fudge in the aftertaste. Comments: everything is working very well in this talented little Speysider of good age. Even the strength is very okay, although the price would be a little steep IMHO.

SGP:641 - 82 points.

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


October 1, 2022





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Young Aberlour:
old and new
I don't try Aberlour as often as I'd like to, and I have a couple of youthful examples on the tasting desk so why not a quick pair of youngsters with old bottling vs new.


Aberlour 5 yo 'Pure Malt' (40%, OB, 1980s)

Aberlour 5 yo 'Pure Malt' (40%, OB, 1980s)
There seems to have been many, many random variations and versions and age statements of distillery Aberlours during this era. Quality is highly variable in my experience. Colour: gold. Nose: sultanas and golden syrup on the one hand, mashy cooked grains on the other. A yin and yang kind of nose so far. You can also add some malt syrup, slightly sweetened breakfast cereals and sweetish old style beers and ales. Not bad. but not stellar by any measure. Mouth: hmm, a tiny soap note threatens things from the off. But there's some sweet biscuits, some ales, breads and still these cooked and mashy cereal notes. Not great if I'm being honest. Finish: pretty short and with some notes of flat beer. Comments: it was going ok until that vague soapy note on the palate. Youth + caramel + heavy filtration + 40% ABV does not for a winning cocktail make in this instance.  There are many vastly superior contemporary Aberlours to be enjoyed out there.

SGP: 541 - 69 points.



Aberlour 7 yo (54.0%, Dram Mor, cask #800914, Portuguese red wine finish, 328 bottles)

Aberlour 7 yo (54.0%, Dram Mor, cask #800914, Portuguese red wine finish, 328 bottles)
Portuguese red wine finish. Are there four more terrifyingly ordered words in the English language? Now, Dram Mor seem to have a knack for very clever flash-finishes like this so let's keep a wide open mind please… Colour: straw. Nose: youthful, rather sharp and slightly acidic, maybe even red fruit acids, but that could be my mind playing tricks. I also find it a little teaish and biscuity. With water: improves, gets more floral and goes towards some decent mirabelle eau de vie in style. Young but good spirit in other words. Mouth: not too sure about this, I find it clean enough but a little green and sappy and astringent. Some nice notes of pears and lemon cough drops though. With water: this sense of tea and biscuits is back, a little vase water, some mashed potato, slightly funny now really. Finish: medium in length, vase water again, a little sooty and some more of these slightly acidic fruit notes. Comments: quite a funny whisky, certainly better than the old 5yo, but still a little unlikely in my view. A fine candidate for ice and soda come the sunshine months.

SGP: 441 - 76 points.



Bonus: I just remembered I have this bottle knocking about on a shelf…



Aberlour 10 yo 1990/2000 (62.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 54.14)

Aberlour 10 yo 1990/2000 (62.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 54.14)
Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: hay, barley, lemongrass, crushed green herbs, handfuls of milled grist, oatcakes etc. Raw, pure and completely stark naked malt whisky. Once again it makes you think of certain plum eau de vies, just without the same assertive fruitiness. But it's certainly rather charming within this very naked profile - makes you think of many similarly raw old Cadenhead AC bottlings. With water: hello? Seems to flatline a little, some carbon paper, ink and wet ferns perhaps. Mouth: indeed, petrols, crushed flower stems, chopped parsley, mineral oils, shoe polish and hints of caraway and fennel seed. With water: at its best here I would say, fatter in texture, barley extracts, mineral oils, shoe polish and touches of darjeeling tea. Finish: medium, slightly hot and peppery, hints of clay and plasticine too. Extremely austere malt whisky. Comments: from an era when indy bottling had terrific highs, some extreme lows and rather a lot of this kind of thing which probably should instead have been tipped into a blend. Perfectly fine if you like them this raw, petrolic and austere, but otherwise completely unessential.

SGP: 351 - 77 points.



Tough session today! But I still love Aberlour.




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

September 2022 - part 2 <--- October 2022 - part 1 ---> October 2022 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Dalmore 2003/2022 'Vintage' (46.9%, OB)

Glen Mhor 40 yo 1982/2022 (50.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, The Recollection, refill sherry hogshead, cask #72, 174 bottles)

Littlemill 45 yo 1976/2022 (41.8%, OB, 250th Anniversary, 250 decanters)

Littlemill 24 yo 1990/2015 (54.2%, Alambic Classique, Rare & Old Selection, oloroso sherry, cask #15305, 295 bottles)

Mortlach 36 yo 1986/2022 (51.4%, Adelphi, cask #2040, 176 bottles)

Mortlach 30 yo 1973/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask #1388, 298 bottles)

St Magdalene 23 yo 1970 (58.43%, OB, Rare Malts, 70cl, 1995)

Linlithgow 27 yo 1974/2001 (50%, Silver Seal, First Bottling, 180 bottles)

St Magdalene 19 yo 1979/1998 (63.80%, OB, Rare Malts)

St Magdalene 39 yo 1982/2021 (54.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, The Recollection, refill American oak hogshead, cask #2094, 165 bottles, 2022)

Talisker 27 yo 'Elements' (58%, OB, 2,000 bottles, 2022)

Tomatin 45 yo 1976/2022 'Warehouse 6 ' (46%, OB, hogsheads, casks #32+33, 350 bottles)