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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2012 - Part 2

September 2012 - part 1 <--- September 2012 - part 2 ---> October 2012 - part 1


September 30, 2012


Tasting the pleasant unlikeliness
of Ledaig again

Another name that's always fun to follow and never, ever boring.

Ledaig 10

Ledaig 10 yo (46.3%, OB, +/- 2012) Three stars It’s one of the bottlings that I like to follow, year after year. Last time it was a ‘2010’ that I quite enjoyed (WF 81). Colour: straw. Nose: it’s the farmiest peat around if you ask me, even Edradour’s Ballechin is less farmy. Manure, cow stable, horse sweat and coal, then more brine, fisherman’s boat and many tinier ‘tertiary’ tones, old books, butter, floorcloth (nothing wrong with that in this context) and maybe tinned samphires. Is that singular enough? What’s sure is that it’s rather less ‘dirty-ish’ and porridgy than earlier versions. Mouth: this feeling of peated Williams pears and oranges that we sometimes get in very young peaters. The attack is nice, quite full and assertive, but it tends to drop after that, becoming curiously thin. Well, thinnish. Too bad because the profile is very pleasant, kind of chiselled, with a very nice kind of peatiness. There’s something that reminds me of the low-strength Connemaras from Cooley’s in Ireland – not the CS versions! Finish: medium long, ashier, with a dry aftertaste. A feeling of cigar, like I already had in earlier versions. Comments: I’m wondering if 46.3% is enough. Having said that, it’s a very nice dram in my opinion, a worthy variation on peat. SGP:247 - 80 points.

Ledaig MoS

Ledaig 2005/2012 (53.6%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS 12027, 180 bottles) Two stars Very young sherried Ledaigs aren’t uncommon, but this is from a barrel. I guess they had good reasons for bottling it, let’s see… Colour: very pale white wine. Not first fill bourbon, at that! Nose: very young Ardbeg! Did somebody do some benchmarking? Raw, rather crystalline peat, a tad monolithic, with some kirsch from the youth behind all that and then more soot and brine. Not much else but that’s already enough. Well, quite. With water: an old oil stove with some pears ripening above it. Is that real life or what? Mouth (neat): extremely young indeed, the fruity notes that one will find in any newmake are still there, esp. pears. It’s kind of vodka-ish – but then no need to say it’s the best vodka around. Not exactly whisky for sure, a different kind of spirit. With water: very, very young Ardbeg again, it’s disconcerting. Finish: long, narrow, clean, very ashy just like the OB was. Comments: I think this is for high-end cocktails, it’s not quite something to sip and savour in your favourite old armchair while listening to JSB’s six suites for unaccompanied cello. Not in a row, in any case. Very hard to score. SGP:537 - 75 points (but could have been either 70 or 80, it’s not quite whisky anyway ;-)).

Okay, I hope I haven’t been unfair to the excellent Malts of Scotland. Maybe I should try another new offering from theirs to seek redemption… Like, why not another ‘young peater by a distillery that doesn’t usually do peat?’

Port Charlotte 2002

Port Charlotte 2002/2012 (63.1%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 12034, 265 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: light gold. Nose: not that much happening at first nosing, but that happens very often with high strength whiskies. Strange, but very nice notes of something such as smoked olive oil – or rather smoked argan oil, that does exist in real life! Also brine and ashes, it seems. With water: much more coal smoke, stove, smoked fish and cigar ashes as well as touches of linseed and lamp oils. Wax and ink. That’s nice, very nice if you like slightly austere and rather mineral noses. Mouth (neat): a tad fizzy, lemony, fruity, ashy and very big. Lemonade, orange squash, Dr Pepper. It’s hard to get much at such high strength anyway. With water: now we’re talking!!! Perfect, briny, limey, liquoricy… Also some cinchona, more smoked almonds, oysters, more kippers… As I said, perfect, and I love this feeling of ‘fresh putty’ in the background. Mastic-flavoured drops. Finish: long, clean, salty but not too much, with again a lot of almonds and lemon. Comments: the best Campari, but you’ll need to toy with your favourite water, drop by drop. We’re at a wing beat from the 90-border in my book – but I’m sorry, we just don’t do halves at WF Towers. SGP:457 - 89 points.



Block Today: FUNK. Performer: Gene Harris. Track: Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey (1975). Please buy Gene Harris' music!

September 28, 2012


Tasting two 15yo blends

Just like Duncan Taylor did a few years ago with their Black Bull, Wemyss now have their own ‘high-end’ blend as well, a 15 yo named Lord Elcho. We’ll put it to test ‘against’ a Buchanan – I usually like Buchanan.


Buchanan’s ‘Master’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2012) Two stars and a half This version of Buchanan lies somewhere between the 12yo and the 18yo – at least as far as prices are concerned. I quite loved the 18 (WF 89) so have high hopes. It’s said to be around 15 years old, which would make sense. Colour: gold. Nose: well in the style of other Buchanans, starting with some sunflower oil, walnuts, smoke and soot. Its one of these pretty phenolic blends that Diaego seem to like to make. After that, more metal polish and hay, maybe a little cardboard, and a general profile that gets grassier and grassier, and quite dry. Mouth: creamy, oily, salty, smoky… Some body! The little problem is that as happens quite often with blends (with regards to malts), it tends to drop after the attack, becoming thinnish. There’s a little cardboard, touches of plasticine or putty, apple crumble and also the same feeling of sunflower oil as in the nose. And always quite some salt… In truth, its quite unusual and I wouldn’t say I fell in love with it. Finish: rather short, always with these notes of plasticine and a rather salty aftertaste. Orange drops. Comments: this baby’s got many signs of noble origins (don’t I sound like a PR brochure, vintage 1985?) but I’m not too fond of the way it’s all integrated. Quite fine of course, but not more than that in my book. Pass the 18yo! SGP:342 - 79 points.

Lord Elcho

Lord Elcho 15 yo (40%, Wemyss, blend, 2012) Three stars Named after an ancestor of Wemyss’ founder, who was exiled to France in the 18th century and fought for Louis the fifteenth (the ancestor, okay?) Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a lighter one, certainly more floral, kind of smoother, with notes of dried apricots, roasted peanuts and a little praline, although a phenolic side starts to grow after a few minutes. A sootiness reminds me of the Buchanan. The whole is fresh and not an aroma bomb, but it seems that there’s more sherry than in the Buchanan. Mouth: certainly more classic than the Buchanan on the palate, a little hotter, certainly fruitier again, with more ripe apples and notes of strawberry jam. Orange marmalade. Tends to become spicier after that, rather on cinnamon and spicy herbs (thyme?) Also a little aniseed and liquorice, which is very nice in my book. Spice mix to make mulled wine. Finish: medium long, the spices becoming louder. More cinnamon and maybe a little cumin. Comments: maybe it’s a little less entertaining and idiosyncratic (?) than the Buchanan, but it’s also more drinkable and pleasurable in my opinion. What’s more, it tastes rather 43% than 40%. I like it. SGP:441 - 82 points.

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





Block Today: BLUES. Performer: Gaye Adegbalola. Track: Crazy Blues. Please visit Gaye Adegbalola's website and buy her music!

September 26, 2012


Tasting new Balblair

There are some new Balblairs. Aren't we expecting some kind of fruity extravaganza?

Balblair 1997

Balblair 1997/2012 (46%, OB) Three stars and a half There's been a 1997 in 2007 that was really good but a notch too young for my taste (WF 80). What will happen five years later? Colour: white wine. Nose: light and all on apple juice and barley water, with just touches of vanilla in the background and, maybe, other fruits but in infinitesimal doses (melons? Peaches?) It could be that Balblair's magnificent fruitiness (ah, the old official 1966!) needs more time to come through... Oh, and a little orange as well… Mouth:  a little more happening now, with some American oak talking (vanilla, coconut), then quite some white pepper on apples and fresh pineapples. Good body. A little sugar syrup as well, corn syrup… Finish: quite long, candied… Apples, grapefruits and ginger. Comments: not very expressive on the nose but the palate was more assertive. A very fresh and clean fruity style and a true 'palate' whisky. SGP:551 - 83 points.

Balblair 1975

Balblair 1975/2012 (46%, OB) Four stars and a half Once again, there was a 1975 in 2007 as well. Much to my liking (WF 87). Colour: pale gold. Nose: indeed, more time. This is much more complex, much wider than the 1997, but just as fresh and full of life. More tropical as well, with mangos, bananas, papayas and pineapples on top of the usual orchard fruits (apples and all that). Some fruits are overripe but that goes very well, it makes it even more complex. Let's only hope the palate won't be too light…  Mouth: it's not! Perfect balance between the luscious fruitiness and some polished oak, the whole remaining very fresh. A little light honey as well, oranges, strawberries, butter pears, mirabelles… We're approaching the older officials, which is great news. Finish: quite long, with more cinnamon and white pepper from some pretty active oak that must have been involved at some point. Comments: a great example of Balblair's style, very fruity but in a fresh and very elegant way. Too bad the spirit needs so much time to become very complex (my view). SGP:651 - 89 points.

While we're at it, let's also try an indie…


Balblair 20 yo (58.7%, Friends of Malt, +/-2011) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: an unusual one, much less fruity and much more mineral and grassy, as well as very earthy in fact (roots, humus). Bananas and gentian roots, it's a very pleasant combo. With water: maybe there's a little too much paraffin and porridge… Floor cloth? Mouth (neat): once again a feeling of gentian spirit, which is something I cherish. In fact it's quite whacky spirit, probably a little unbalanced but it's highly entertaining. Belgian gueuze beer. With water: 'Balblair' is back, with oranges and papayas. Bananas marinated in Schweppes (please don't shoot). Finish: quite long, a tad prickly. That was the Schweppes part. Comments: I imagine a blender would have rejected this cask - too unusual - but when you try a lot of whiskies, some very good but quite boring, it's exactly the kind of cask that makes your day. Brilliantly unlikely. SGP:561 - 87 points.

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



Block Today: AFRICAN. Performer: another Nigerian wonder, Gasper Lawal. Track: Awon-Ojise-Oluwa. Please buy Gasper Laval's music!

September 25, 2012


Lagavulining away

It's not that often that a little Lagavulin session can be done, since there are so little new 'expressions' around. Today we'll have two OBs, including the new 'Jazz Festival', but before that let's have a very worthy aperitif to kick this off with manners and panache.

Lagavulin 12

Lagavulin 12 yo (43%, OB, White Horse Distillers, UK, +/-1979) Five stars We've tried other variants of the well-known 'white label' but this one has the bottom of the label printed in black instead of red, so it's rather from the late 1970s if I'm not mistaken, so one of the very last versions before they launched the 'green on cream' label. Colour: orange gold. Nose: makes you cry. I mean, it's not huge, it's not wham-bam and it's not even very smoky, but it's perfect. As often, there's this feeling of smoked oranges on a bed of ham and kippers, with some dried seaweed, tar, coal, motor oil and just touches of chocolate. One of the unbeatables. Mouth: waaaaah! I'll keep this short and sweet: please call the anti-maltoporn brigade. Having said that, I know some malt lovers who'll find this too dry and ashy, but that's precisely what I love in this whisky, amongst many other things… Finish: amazingly long and big at 43% vol. More extreme tar, earth and brine in the aftertaste. Comments: to think that in some countries, they would have given you one bottle for free if you bought a case of cheap rum! Indeed, few people were buying it… But maybe that's why you can still find it if your wallet isn't too flat. Anyway, it's glorious, classic whisky. SGP:457 - 94 points.

Lagavulin 12 CS

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2011' (57.5%, OB) Five stars Yeah, better try this baby before the 2012 is out! Colour: white wine. Nose: it's very interesting to try this one after the old OB, because there are obvious similarities, especially the seaweedy notes and the coal/motor oil. What I also get in this one - and which I don't seem to have found in earlier incarnations of the 12 CS - is this wee combination of fennel, aniseed and gentian in the background. Quite some brine too but it's a fairly gentle expression so far, no true peat monster. Should we complain? Probably not… With water: becomes more tarry and earthy, sooty, dry, medicinal… Mouth (neat): sharp like a blade and sweet at the same time. Lemon drops and kippers, oysters and gentian again. Wonderful earthy/medicinal profile developing after that. Crystal clean, as they say. With water: it's the fruitiness that got enhanced, with more lemon and grapefruits, as well as more freshly ground black pepper. I feel it's kind of straighter and more peppery than earlier versions once diluted. Finish: long and, again, rather less sweet than earlier 12s. Comments: sweet when neat, dry when diluted. Excellent in both cases, of course. Closer to the 2009 than to the 2010. SGP:447 - 90 points.

Lagavulin Jazz Festival

Lagavulin 1997/2012 'Islay Jazz Festival' (54.5%, OB, refill sherry butt, cask #1894, 624 bottles) Five stars Only available at the Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival that just closed its doors a few days ago. Sadly, I couldn't make it but I've heard it was great. Colour: gold. Nose: right, Lagavulin and sherry go well together but refill sherry might be even better. In fact, this smells of hot croissants and other pastry at first nosing, butterscotch, custard… And then the cursor goes more and more towards rawer peat smoke and all things coastal and medicinal. Seaweed and antiseptic. Also quite some fresh orange juice, which may come from the sherry. In short, a rather rounder and more aromatic version (wrt the 12 CS) but without the extravagance of, say the 21 (still have to try the new one!) With water: antiseptic all over the place. This will cure many diseases… Soot, fumes. Mouth (neat): wham! (not the band, eh.) Extremely strong, medicinal, with an immense peat and, well, fire… The strength is lower than the 12 CS' and yet it seems to be much more powerful. Pepper. Quick, water. So, with water: a great feeling of fullness. Perfect balance between the sherry's sweetness and the distillate's raw peat. Cough syrup and orange liqueur, 50/50. Quite amazing. Finish: very long, on more orange marmalade, pepper, smoked fish and cough syrup. A little oak in the aftertaste, very slightly plankish and gingerish. Yeah, l had to find a flaw… Comments: pretty immense whisky. I guess you need this to match the finest jazz. A little less fresh oak in the aftertaste would have allowed me to go one or two points higher than… SGP:558 - 91 points.
(with double thanks to a very cool guy named Tomislav)

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



Block Today: FRENCH ELECTRO POP. Performer: Christine and the Queens. Track: Cripple. The French Touch strikes back! Please visit Christine and the Queens' website and buy their music!

September 24, 2012


Tasting two young Ardbeg
including Galileo

Okay, okay, okay, here are my notes for Galileo, the new (now rather newish, things go fast these days) Ardbeg that came with many stories and pictures, some quite spacey (Islay, Sicily, Galileo, Houston, Kazakhstan, the I.S.S., a Tintin-inspired rocket… - quite a hotchpotch, isn’t it. Even good old Neil Armstrong has helped, in a way.) Having said that, I rather like all these schoolboy pranks, we’re quite far from the very unlikely and very ‘Jonathan and Jennifer’ efforts that can be marvelled at elsewhere. But first, let’s have another Ardbeg of similar age and strength… Because remember, with whisky, only comparison is reason.


Ardbeg SOS

Ardbeg 1990/2001 (48%, Gordon & MacPhail, Spirit of Scotland, cask #2765) Four stars These Ardbegs could be a tad sour, let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: yes it’s lightly acidic but in a very nice way, between lemon juice and seawater. In truth, this baby smells just like a huge plate of oysters, while the smoke is kept at bay (haha). Maybe also a little wet paper or cardboard but that’s nothing. Fresh butter, a little porridge… Nutshell: a relatively light but very coastal young Ardbeg. Mouth: big and very briney, with just touches of these plastic/metal notes that could be found in these batches in my experience. So, good news. Then lemon juice plus kippers, litres of brine and a dozen oysters. Finish: long, extremely briney. Metallic touches in the aftertaste as well as a little cardboard and paraffin. Comments: I’m not a huge fan of those batches but this casks was one of the better ones in my opinion. SGP:267 - 85 points.


Ardbeg 1999/2012 ‘Galileo’ (49%, OB) Three stars and a half A rather large proportion of this wide bottling (around 50,000 bottles, it seems) was matured in ex-Marsala casks (30-40%). Marsala is a pretty old-fashioned Sicilian wine, much akin to sherry, that’s more used for cooking these days (in zabaione, tiramisu, various sauces...) It comes as red or white, dry or sweet. I don’t know which kind of Marsala was used for this Ardbeg. Colour: gold. Nose: less ‘Ardbeg’ than the G&M, rather rounder, less coastal for sure but also a little more medicinal. Rubber gloves (haha), then verbena and genepy (aniseed-like herbal notes), touches of tangerines, overripe apples and just a little walnut liqueur. Also ripe plums, quite unusual even in the most sherried old Ardbegs. There’s also quite some vanilla and whiffs of pencil shavings, probably not from some old ‘chateau’ Marsala cask. Anyway, a very nice nose for sure, it may just lack more Ardbegness if you’re into ‘pure’ styles. Mouth: starts a little weirdly, slightly disjointed, between the distillery’s usual sharp and zesty profile and a kind of both candied and dry fruitiness that stays apart (a kind of mixture of plums and bitter almonds). The oak’s also quite loud, with again notes of pencil shavings and heavily infused tea. Becomes more drying after that, kind of greenish (cardamom? Cumin?) Finish: medium long, lemony and green. Green pepper. Slightly sour aftertaste, not unpleasant, with a saltiness. Comments: I really enjoyed the nose but I’m not too fond of the palate. Having said that, it’s probably a fine effort but as far as I’m concerned, I prefer Ardbeg au naturel. SGP:566 - 84 points.
PS: maybe did they use Marsala casks because there’s ‘Mars’ in the name? ;-)

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



Block Today: SOUL JAZZ. Performer: George Nardello. Track: Ooga Mooga. Please buy his music!

September 21, 2012


Birthday tasting, 110 years in two drams

Good, yesterday was my birthday and as suggested by many friends, I had to celebrate with something really special. If possible, something older than this little taster, which, I must say, becomes harder and harder to do year after year. And this is what I selected - yeah, a very unlikely combo… I was not sure whether I should have started with the supposedly more subtle, but older and stronger whisky, or with the lighter and relatively younger, yet probably more aromatic rum… This is what I did…


Alfred Lamb’s Special Reserve Rum 1949 (40%, United Rum Merchants, Jamaican, 510 bottles) Four stars This old rum was bottled at Dumbarton in Scotland and I guess it was an ‘early landed’ rum. It matured in three puncheons in the Highlands of Scotland and was bottled around 1990 (it’s a 75cl bottle), so it’s probably around 40 years old. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s quite monumental and I just understood that I should have tried the Glenlivet first. Well, long pauses will be needed between both! Anyway, this is no clean, ueberfruity rum, it’s even kind of disturbing at first nosing, with some rotting fruits and vegetables. I even get old cooked cabbage, which should be a disaster but it’s kind of an asset in this context. Bags and bags of overripe bananas, a lot of natural vanilla (whole pods), something such as tamarind jam, butter cream, old ham (Italian for once), fermenting hay, whiffs of horse sweat… Well, you got it, it’s a big and unusual old thing. I haven’t tried many very old rums but I remember a Jamaican 1941 by G&M that was much more polished and, well, civilised. Mouth: molasses and liquorice all over the place at first sips, it’s quite massive again despite the low strength. Very creamy, very rich mouth feel, almost oily. Then the mint kicks in, together with even more sweet liquorice (like rolls) and a feeling of old-style cough syrup. It’s all very compact, very pleasant, very satisfying but without all the complexity that we can find in the best malts (or the best Demerara rums for that matter). Finish: long – an even longer pause will be needed before we get down to the old Glenlivet. More sweet liquorice and a tiny salty feeling – did that come from all these years in Scotland? Comments: it’s relatively youthful, compact, not too sweet and, frankly, really lovely, but I wouldn’t swap a bottle of this for 10cl of an old Port Mourant or Skeldon by Velier, for example. SGP:750 - 86 points.

Glenlivet 70

Glenlivet 70 yo 1940/2010 (45.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Generations, sherry butt, cask #339, batch #2, 2012) Five stars After the first batch that was issued in 2011, here’s the second and last delivery, just launched in Canada yesterday. We already tried batch #1 on March 11, 2011 and batch #2 should be exactly the same whisky but I just shan’t miss this opportunity to try this old wonder again! Colour: amber. Nose: as I wrote, a long pause was needed after the rum because it may have simply overwhelmed this old glory. The malt is immediately more complex, smoother and fresher despite the older age, although it’s got something of an old rum (aaargh!), especially ripe bananas and oranges. Other than that, it’s beautifully earthy, with some humus, wild mushrooms, roots, then touches of eucalyptus and a little smoke, ripe melon, sultanas and fig jam (not a very sugary one, rather the kind we eat with foie gras, actually closer to some kind of chutney). Also After Eights (when you open a new pack), mint and chocolate plus just tiny hints of paper/cardboard. Oh, and also touches of iron, old tools, wine cellar… As I said, its all very complex and a true ‘movie-malt’ that never stops changing while remaining ‘focussed’, if you se what I mean. Mouth: the wood is more obvious but it’s of high quality, with notes of high-end cinnamon mingled with blood oranges and mango jam. Then crystallised fruits, honeycomb, cassata, a little liquorice, tobacco, touches of cloves, drops of Campari, maybe a little mint… And even a little smoke again. Finish: probably not extremely long but once again, the oak does not dominate the distillate, which is a miracle, esp. since it was a first fill cask. Comments: excellent indeed, not just because it’s the oldest whisky ever (together with G&M’s Mortlach 70yo). I may have written it before, we’re far from ‘just another depressingly ridiculous record-breaker’, it’s actually superb malt whisky! SGP:551 - 92 points (right, that’s one more point than last time, please take it as an extra birthday-point. ;-)

(heartfelt thanks Luca and Michael)



Block Today: AFRICAN FUNK. Performer: Nigeria's Tony Allen. Track: Secret Agent. Please buy Tony Allen's music!

September 19, 2012


Tasting 20, 21 and 22yo sherried Bunnahabhain 1990

The indies seem to have a lot of Bunnahabhain these days, including ex-first fill sherry.

Bunnahabhain exclusive

Isle of Islay 20 yo 1990/2011 (52.8%, Exclusive Malts, cask #251211, 298 bottles) Four starsThe distillery is undisclosed but it is Bunnahabhain inside. Colour: amber. Nose: big fruity sherry, a tad winey, with strawberry jam and orange marmalade at first nosing, then more raisins, figs, chocolate and toasted bread as well as touches of balsamic vinegar, hay, menthol (very wee touches)  and smoked ham. No used matches or gunpowder, or very, very little of it. Classic several times over ;-). Mouth: again, very classic sherry, chocolaty and raisiny. Good body, good attack, good mouth feel. Orange marmalade, our friend the fruitcake, dates, liqueur-filled chocolate, touches of ginger, a little pepper and a rather perfect sweetness. Demerara sugar. Finish: long, clean, with just a little more pepper. Comments: this baby came from an excellent sherry cask (hogshead, I guess) and is pretty flawless. A little more personality – but none really has it anyway in my experience – would have made it kiss the 90-frontier. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Bunnahabhain archives

Bunnahabhain 21 yo 1990/2012 (52.3%, Archives, fresh sherry, cask #14, 62 bottles) Four stars Another micro-bottling by the excellent people at Whiskybase. Colour: dark gold. Nose: we’re extremely close to the Exclusive Malt here, maybe this one is a notch smoother and slightly more leathery. Yeah, splitting hairs for the sake of writing some different tasting notes. Mouth: we’re even closer. Ah well, please read above again. Again, maybe the leathery part is a notch stronger, not too sure… Finish: ditto. Comments: ditto. Speaking of Ditto, I went see a Gossip gig the other day and… (yes that’s true but I won’t tell you how scorching it was just to fill these meagre notes…) SGP:651 – 87 points.

Bunnahabhain liquid treasures

Bunnahabhain 22 yo 1990/2012 (49.2%, Liquid Treasures, sherry hogshead) Four stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: ah well, almost the same whisky again, maybe the very same. Maybe a little more almonds and soot (and grass), maybe not. Mouth: no, really, it’s almost the same whisky and we cannot be against that, coz its good. What else? Well, the weather is pretty fine over Alsace, it seems that we’ll have an Indian summer. The cat Zaza is doing fine as well, she’s just getting too old to catch mice so she wouldn’t make for a good distillery mouser I’m afraid. Other than that, I’ve found a nice new restaurant near Strasbourg, it’s called the… You say you don’t care? I understand… Finish: do you think Obama will win again? Comments: so there’s this chef who always cooks with whisky, and sometimes even adds it to the food… Oh no… SGP:651 - 87 points.

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




Block Today: FOLK POP. Performer: Livingston Taylor. Track: Isn't She Lovely. Please visit Livingston Taylor's website and buy his music!

September 18, 2012


Tasting more Imperial

I’ve heard Imperial Distillery would soon be demolished. That’s sad…


Imperial 16 yo 1995/2012 (46%, Duncan Taylor for Whisky Circle Pinzgau, cask #512677) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: quite some oak for a start, this could have been re-racked in newish wood, with a fairly heady vanilla, some maple syrup and whiffs of broken branches and new sawdust. It’s a pleasant feeling I must say. After that, more grassy, slightly yeasty touches that give it more ‘naturality’, fresh white bread, garden fruits and touches of hay. Also roses? Mouth: same feeling, the oak talks first (grape pips), then it’s a combo of apples, oranges, gooseberries and peaches. White pepper and cinnamon (oak). A little cardamom. Finish: medium long, clean, on green tea and apples. Comments: a very good middle-aged Imperial in my opinion. Well selected, Austria! SGP:451 - 84 points.


Imperial 16 yo 1995/2012 (51.7%, Archives, bourbon, cask #50035, 60 bottles) Four stars A reader just asked me what was the point of tasting such micro-bottlings. I replied: "coz they're usually very good". Doesn't that make sense? Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is much, much less expressive than the ‘Pinzgau’ at first sniffs and then rather more on those garden fruits and fresh herbs, then oranges and melon. Fruit stones. It’s very clean, very natural spirit and there’s something that reminds me of a naked Bruichladdich. With water: the oak comes out more. Liquorice wood (unchewed ;-). Mouth (neat): very expressive, with fresh fruits all over the place. Apples, grapefruits, oranges and a faint feeling of juniper or gin. Gin fizz? With water: same, another whole fruit salad with a little grated ginger all over it. Finish: medium long, on the same flavours. Maybe a little more straight oak. Comments: another very good fruity Imperial. SGP:541 - 86 points.

Let’s also try an older one if you don’t mind…


Imperial 29 yo 1976 (46.8%, Dormant Distillery Company, 408 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: we may have a good example of a spirit that’s not particularly nicer despite a much older age, even if it’s maybe more complex. The whole is more mineral and much yeastier, and develops more towards pineapples and pears, then almond oil, marzipan and putty. Hints of old books, old attic. The jury’s still out, the palate will determine the outcome… Mouth: not easy. Some parts are great and more or less in the same style as the others (fruit salad) while there’s also a slight dirtiness. Some kind of slightly stale cough syrup if you see what I mean. Also notes of bananas and vanilla, then plain banana skin and roots (touches of gentian). Finish: medium long, with a louder oak, between ginger and pepper. Comments: I enjoyed some parts very much but found other parts a little disjointed and even flattish at times. Still way above average, so very decent, and I seem to remember it was quite cheap. SGP:461 - 83 points.

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



Block Today: HARD BLUES. Performer: Gugun Power Trio (the Indonesian marvels!) Track: Turn it on. Please visit their website and buy their music!

September 17, 2012


Tasting some powerful Pulteney,
including a scary one

Let’s have some high-strength youngish Pulteney today, starting with a much lighter aperitif…

Pulteney 8

Old Pulteney 8 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, +/-1996) Three stars There’s the code ‘IF’ on the back of the label, so should be 1996 (I is the ninth letter of the alphabet, F being the sixth). Earlier versions of the 8 have been quite good, esp. when bottled at 100 proof (fab whisky!). Colour: gold. Nose: typical northern Highlander ala Clynelish but this one has more fresh mint and other aromatic herbs such as verbena and wormwood. The problem is that it’s soon to become a little  flattish and tea-ish, despite the fact that the bottle was just opened. A shame because the profile is very cool. Mouth: sure it’s no big whisky but it stands on its feet this time. Some kind of salted orange marmalade, orange cake, then more praline and caramel, then a little bubblegum and marshmallows. Nice. Finish: not that short, even saltier, and even more on bubblegum. Wine gums. Comments: very good quality, esp. the palate. I feel it must be older than 8. Not too sure they are still bottling the 8, I’ll try to find out and source a sample or a bottle. SGP:452 - 82 points.

Pulteney GM

Old Pulteney 1997/2012 (57%, Gordon & MacPhail for ALS-Liga, 1st fill bourbon, cask #1199, 224 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: again these whiffs of fresh aromatic herbs but this time, there is some oomph! So mint and verbena again, then more vanilla and coconut oil (from fist fill bourbon I guess), pineapple and a very peculiar coastalness where kelp and boat putty coexist (it’s amazing what advertising can do to your mind, isn’t it). I like this nose quite a lot so far. With water – while it becomes very cloudy: the fruits come out more, more towards white peaches. Mouth (neat): like! (yeah, too much Facebook lately). It’s a nice combination of bitterness and sweetness, with oranges and brine, pepper and tangerines and then something faintly metallic (tinned fruits). With water: more of that, with maybe a little grass and spicy leaves (sorrel). Finish: rather long, frankly on oranges and pears this time. More oak in the aftertaste. Comments: all good, I like this profile a lot, even if I sometimes have a strange feeling of ‘under-Clynelish’ – yeah, while it’s far above it on a map. Ah, forget about that. SGP:451 - 85 points.

Pulteney 7 SMWS

Old Pulteney 7 yo 2001/2008 (66.3 %, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #52.18, refill barrel, 'Rock, salt and nails in a shotgun') Two stars and a half66% vol.? Rocket fuel again! Colour: white wine. Nose: not much, it’s all blocked. Maybe chalk and salt? White peaches? With water: became very grassy and not any easier. With more water: good, it’s the putty that comes out more, even tar, motor oil and ‘old tools’. I guess that’s the ‘nail’ part. Mouth (neat): I’m surprised, it’s almost quaffable. A very unusual profile for sure, blending ‘young’ fruits and a green spiciness. Hard to define, let’s call for help (i.e. water). With water: extremely unusual, I can see why the honourable Society committed this infanticide. It doesn’t quite taste like whisky, it’s rather a cocktail made out of, let’s see… say green apple liqueur, pastis, sea water and… strong ginger liqueur (we have one in France that’s called Domaine de Canton, it’s very good but it’ll annihilate your taste buds and make the next Ardbeg taste like diluted apple juice). Anyway, this is quite spectacular but it’s just not whisky. Finish: long and extremely herbal. Wheelbarrows of pears and ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: another unscorable youngster. Some kind of very dry herbal liqueur, or triple mint? What’s sure is that it was fun, fun, fun! SGP:552 - 78 points (please don’t take this score seriously – and muchas gracias, Gordon!)

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



Block Today: JAZZ FUNK. Performer: Kool and the gang. Track: Summer Madness (live version - because mind you, summer isn't over!) Please visit Kool & the gang's website and buy their music!

September 2012 - part 1 <--- September 2012 - part 2 ---> October 2012 - part 1

heck the index of all entries:
Nick's Concert Reviews



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Glenlivet 70 yo 1940/2010 (45.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Generations, sherry butt, cask #339, batch #2, 2012)

Lagavulin 12 yo (43%, OB, White Horse Distillers, UK, +/-1979)

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2011' (57.5%, OB)

Lagavulin 1997/2012 'Islay Jazz Festival' (54.5%, OB, refill sherry butt, cask #1894, 624 bottles)