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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2016 - Part 1



August 2016 - part 2 <--- September 2016 - part 1 ---> September 2016 - part 2


September 14, 2016


The battle of the new 40 years old

I mean, really brand new! What’s also fabulous with such new old whiskies is that the bottlers do not feel the need to tell you dumbo stories straight from Wikipedia that they would even find, well, dumb at kindergarten. Now, 40 years… they could have told us about the Talking Heads…

Tomatin 40 yo (43%, OB, travel retail, oloroso sherry butts, 2016)

Tomatin 40 yo (43%, OB, travel retail, oloroso sherry butts, 2016) Five stars Part of a new set of travel retail exclusives that also includes a proud (and somewhat Lagavulinesque) age-stated 8 years old, sadly broken during transport (but I’ll find it again!) What’s cooler is that this little 40 did not break, but would I have been given the choice, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have preferred to sacrifice the… 15 yo rather than the 8 ;-). Imagine, age statements in travel retail! Colour: gold. Nose: no sherry bomb, and one that’s so totally Tomatin! Not sure this baby contains a lot of, or maybe even exclusively some 1976, but what’s sure is that 1976 was a great vintage! Perfect tarte tatin, light menthol, cigar box, honeydew, cedar wood, beeswax, and more apple pie(s), then rather dried tropical fruits, not unlike these mixes they make as snacks for our aperitifs. Bananas, papayas… I find it totally perfect, fresh, complex, and true to the distillery. Mouth: a touch of oak, then a perfect, very fresh avalanche of more dried and fresh tropical fruits (oranges first) as well as raisins, the expected honey and mint combination, and then more oak spices, as often in these oldies. Around cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Also strong mint-floured black tea. Yet, the sherry remained rather discreet, those should have been refill butts. Finish: medium, more mentholated, with a wee turpentine-y aftertaste. Comments: it’s not impossible that this very lovely old Tomatin was (even) better at 30, but I find it very perfect and worthy of a big fat 90 (perhaps would that have been 91 or 92 when it was 30?) SGP:561 - 90 points.

Timorous Beastie 40 yo (54.7%, Douglas Laing, blended Highland malt, 1,080 bottles)

Timorous Beastie 40 yo (54.7%, Douglas Laing, blended Highland malt, 1,080 bottles) Five stars This new beastie gathers some Blair Athol, Glen Garioch, Dalmore, and Glengoyne amongst others. So it is technically ‘regional’ as all malts come from the Highlands region, but between Glengoyne in the extreme south and Dalmore (almost) in the extreme north, there is some space. Now the Timorous Beastie NAS from two or three years ago was excellent, so… Colour: pale gold. Nose: are we sure there isn’t any Tomatin inside? Because they’re remarkably close, with same-ish fresh fruits and this surprising brightness (from a forty). And same hints of cigar boxes, menthol, beeswax, plain honey, and oranges. It’s even got an ‘old Sauternes’ side that cannot be bad news. And more vanilla than in the Tomatin, that’s probably bourbon wood. With water: brings out farmier notes, wild porridge (eh?) and a whole beehive. Mouth (neat): crikey! Perfect oiliness, herbs, flowers, fruits, waxes, several syrups (agave, sugarcane, and barley of course) and then a feeling of spiced-up orange juice. Ginger, cloves, gin and orange juice, does that exist in modern mixology? With water: not oak that comes into the way, that’s already great news. It rather gets more tangerine-y… Who doesn’t like tangerines? Finish: medium, perhaps a little drier and drying, but that’s totally normal in a 40 yo. Comments: ravishing. DL, one more point if you mail me the exact proportions! Feels a little Dalmore-forward at times (old fresh Dalmore) and sometimes not. In any case, in the same league as the rather perfect new Tomatin 40. But the beastie’s five times cheaper (€250 vs. €1,250). And I thought not that the Tomatin’s price was extortionate. In any case, BFYB alert for the wee beastie! SGP:651 - 91 points.

Let’s try to find a Justice of the Peace…

Speyside Region 40 yo 1975/2016 (50.6%, Sansibar, 435 bottles)

Speyside Region 40 yo 1975/2016 (50.6%, Sansibar, 435 bottles) Five stars Careful, these bottlings can be totally flabbergasting! We had one by The Whisky Agency just a few weeks ago that I thought was worth 93/100 but on second thought, I could have gone even higher. Colour: pale gold. Nose: same high territories, same style, same freshness on the nose, with oranges, buttercups, honeys, then touches of mint and fennel, then nectarines, melons, small bananas, guavas, then verbena, coriander, wormwood... Once again with these anonymous parcels, we’re bordering utter perfection. With water: white wine. To put it very broadly. Perhaps muscat d’Alsace (where’s the cheque?) Mouth (neat): the oak feels a wee bit, which is normal, but otherwise it’s a fruity crescendo, going through both western and tropical fruits, back and forth. No we won’t list them all. All that is punctuated with a little pepper, both white and green. With water: swims greatly, becomes more zesty, limey… Finish: quite long, with more pepper, which is totally normal. Comments: in theory, if we go on like this and add one point to each and every new whisky we try, we should reach 100/100 in a few hours. Better not try… SGP:651 - 92 points.

Very, very pleased with this session, only total winners today, kudos to Tomatin, Douglas Laing, and Sansibar! And all were eminently drinkable. Now let’s go buy a bottle or a case of that wee beastie…

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback




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September 13, 2016


Little duets, today sharp Highland Park

We’re still doing it ‘slow’ sometimes. We're still having 30°C in Alsace, not ideal... BTW don't distilleries contribute a lot to global warming?

Highland Park 16 yo 1999/2016 (56.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, The Whisky Exchange, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #4260)

Highland Park 16 yo 1999/2016 (56.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, The Whisky Exchange, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #4260) Four stars I just cannot see what could go wrong here. Colour: white wine (indeed). Nose: it’s the austere, straight, rather grassy/mineral side of HP that’s showcased here, at first nosing at least. A very minimal smokiness, then rather quite some hay, with only faint touches of greengages and other plums. Not a very extravagant HP so far. With water: gets even a little shy. Hello? Mouth (neat): oh this is very funny! Rhubarb and gooseberries, smoked. So there’s an acidic side, but there’s some green pepper as well, so you could almost use this baby to season your salads. Yes, that’s meant as a compliment. With water: the lemon comes out, and it would come with a little honey and orange blossom water. Still not a wham-bam HP, having said that. Finish: medium, quite zesty, lemony, ‘narrow’. Sauvignony. Comments: good and even very good, just not very demonstrative. Not sure it benefits from water. SGP:451 - 85 points.

Highland Park 21 yo 1994/2015 (52.6%, Douglas Laing, Extra Old Particular, refill hogshead, 228 bottles)

Highland Park 21 yo 1994/2015 (52.6%, Douglas Laing, Extra Old Particular, refill hogshead, 228 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: feels a bit first fill, especially after the 1999, with much more vanilla and tinned fruits, peaches, pears, whatever, but there’s also a coastal meloniness (S.!) ala Bruichladdich. No, really. Hints of ‘green’ earth and hay as well. Very nice indeed, easier and more joyful than the excellent, but austere 1999. With water, with much viscimetry: light honeys and ripe plums. Custard. Really gentle, and very attractive. Mouth (neat): did you know that Haribo owned Highland Park? They do make their grapefruit and lemon-flavoured babies and beans and crocodiles up there, serious. This is proof! With water: really good, easy, zesty, fresh… Finish: same. Medium length. Comments: faultless fresh and clean zesty HP from a fairly active yet not dominating cask. One could quaff litres of this kind… Now it’s rather less ‘old Highlands’ than others, the spirit’s cleaner and ‘easier’. SGP:551 - 87 points.

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



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September 12, 2016


A bunch of Glen Grant

All indies this time. We’ll try to have younger ones as well as older glories. Some, mind you, unsherried!

Glen Grant 1995/2015 ‘Arbor in Bloom’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, bourbon, 258 bottles)

Glen Grant 1995/2015 ‘Arbor in Bloom’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, bourbon, 258 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s one of those very zesty and grassy ones, full of lime, rhubarb, gooseberries, green plums, and, well, anything green, really. On top of all that, a little clay and green tea, or rather Japanese macha powder. Indeed, green stuff. Mouth: just as zesty, rather on fizzy orange juice (with a feeling of Fanta) and lemon juice, with some rather hot pepper and ginger in the background. It’s all rather sharp. More and more green pepper as well. Indeed, green. Finish: quite long, sharp, and you got it, green. Peppered rhubarb or something. Lime again in the aftertaste. Comments: not the best polished Glen Grant ever, I find it even quite crude. Crude but good, no doubt. SGP:361 - 80 points.

Oh well, let’s go straight to the older ones...

Glen Grant – Glenlivet 19 yo (80°proof, Cadenhead, black dumpy, dark sherry wood, 26 2/3 Fl, +/-1980)

Glen Grant – Glenlivet 19 yo (80°proof, Cadenhead, black dumpy, dark sherry wood, 26 2/3 Fl, +/-1980) Five stars One of the various no-vintage versions of Glen Grant that Cadenhead used to have when they were still in Aberdeen. Colour: gold. Nose: amazing. Indeed, it’s not dark, but it may have lost colour in the bottle. But it is amazing, full of herbs, metals, oils, and minerals. SO very tertiary. Just a few examples, we get parsley, tobacco, engine oil, antiseptic, fern (huge!), moss, plasticine, lovage… But no beefy/meaty notes this time, the sherry knew how to behave. Mouth: totally excellent, bone dry, medicinal, extremely herbal, and still very mineral. A chalky side, some Jerusalem artichoke and perhaps Brussels sprouts, very bitter oranges Sevillian style, and bits and pieces of tobacco, just like you chew your cigar. Really super-dry. Finish: long, with some bitter menthol and more grassy vegetables. Comments: this old whiskies can be intimidating to the beginner, but they have a lot to tell. Lovable, as expected. SGP:272 - 90 points.

Glen Grant – Glenlivet 35 yo 1980/2016 (40.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 96 bottles)

Glen Grant – Glenlivet 35 yo 1980/2016 (40.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 96 bottles) Four stars and a half Probably not a shared cask, so around 75 litres of whisky at barely 40% vol. must have been all what was left in that hoggie. Colour: pale white wine – unusually pale! Nose: it is a fruit salad. Plenty of citrus (all of them) and some slices of apples, pears, grapes, green melons, bananas, and many other fruits. The freshness is impressive, it must have been a dead cask – which can lead to magnificent old whiskies, as we all know. Mouth: miraculously fresh, fruity, and mentholy. Juicyfruits, chlorophyll gums, green bananas, more apples, a touch of honeydew, and a touch of fennel. There is a little nutmeg and cinnamon but it never gets drying. Even the body is very okay. Finish: maybe a little short, but clean, not oaky (perhaps a bit tea-ish?) and full of soft garden fruits. Comments: truly a miracle. A little fragile at times, but it really is very much alive. SGP:561 - 88 points.

Speaking of smallish outturns, there’s also this one…

Glen Grant 30 yo 1985/2015 (59.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #DL11009, 36 bottles)

Glen Grant 30 yo 1985/2015 (59.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #DL11009, 36 bottles) Four stars That is right, 36 bottles. Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s got much more oak than the 35 yo, with whiffs of warm plank (just sawn), plus quite some vanilla and cinnamon powder. What’s really nice is that after that arrival, some very fragrant honeydew and pinesap are taking over. Also new leather and cedar wood. With water: becomes much fruitier, so fruit-salady. Mouth (neat): very punchy, starting with some kind of peppered lemon curd, going on with rather more lemon and green spices (green curry, coriander), and ending up with many sweets and jelly beans, most being citrus-flavoured. I like this pretty mucho (a true polyglot!) With water: those jelly beans again, while the oak got a little more obvious and a tad drying. Just a tad. Finish: medium, fruity, akin to that of the 35 yo. No surprise here ! Comments: all very fine. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Glen Grant 1972/1995 ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ (43%, Signatory Vintage for Velier, butt #689)

Glen Grant 1972/1995 ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ (43%, Signatory Vintage for Velier, butt #689) Five stars Hope this one’s not obscured by clouds. Colour: amber. Nose: some sister casks had been a little difficult, but this nose is pretty perfect, all on dry fruitcakes and assorted dried fruits. Dried bananas, figs and dates, black raisins, then a wee touch of propolis (with these sappy tones), some tobacco, and an elegant game-y side. Rather grouse than hare or deer! Mouth: it was a perfect sherry cask. Old whisky à l’ancienne, with resins and many dried fruits, mulled wine, some ‘ideas’ of old armagnac, so prunes and tobacco, and our beloved old walnuts, just like in sherry. Finish: just the finish is a wee tad drying (chewing tobacco or tealeaves), but many friends like this quite a lot. Comments: a very excellent bottle and a whisky that stood the lower strength like a champ. At times I couldn’t not think of old Macallan. SGP:561 - 90 points.

(thank you Carsten)

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



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September 11, 2016


Malternatives? Dead end street in Georgetown

Indeed there are these El Dorado 25s in decanters that are so sexy, but our friend Cyril of durhum.com just tried them and thought they were sugar bombs. And the problem is, I trust Cyril. But we’ll still try them, along other noteworthy juices, starting with a little apéritif at lower strength…

Westerhall Estate 2003/2014 (43%, Bristol Classic Rum, Grenada)

Westerhall Estate 2003/2014 (43%, Bristol Classic Rum, Grenada) Two stars Never been utterly impressed with Westerhall, but then again, I haven’t tried thousands. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a lightish style, but not without some fatness. The sugar cane feels, which is good of course, as well as a little banana, but there’s also a sucrosity. In the style of a light Cuban so far. Mouth: same feelings, it’s fair and well made, just a little light and without much asperities, as they say in marketing. Sugar cane and a little apple juice, perhaps even cider. Finish: short, with some candy sugar. Comments: it’s good, no doubt, but not unforgettable. My exact definition of a 75 points rum. SGP:430 - 75 points.

Foursquare 16 yo 1998/2015 (45%, Compagnie des Indes, Barbados, cask #BD24, 354 bottles)

Foursquare 16 yo 1998/2015 (45%, Compagnie des Indes, Barbados, cask #BD24, 354 bottles) Three stars‘Probably’ a single blend of pot still and column rum. Foursquare are the herald of natural rum (well, of rum) and keep fighting the use of added sugar and other, well, additives. Let us support them before some start to add palm oil to their booze! Unless they already do that, do they? Colour: gold. Nose: funnily enough, we’re rather in bourbon territories, with a lot of vanilla and this cake-y softness. There’s even a touch of rye and maple syrup, you would swear you’re nosing some Old Fitz. A wee touch of walnut wine as well, oloroso… Mouth: we’re still a bit between both worlds, this time with a fizzy feeling (oranges) and a handful of bonbons. This baby’s rather less ‘congeneric’ than other Foursquares, so my bet is that it would rather be mainly, if not totally ex-column rum. Finish: medium, a little bonbony, with rather dried bananas in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, just a little less ‘wham-bam’ and lighter than a few younger Foursquares that I could try in recent months. SGP:530 - 82 points.

El Dorado 25 yo 1986 (43%, OB, Demerara, decanter, 2013)

El Dorado 25 yo 1986 (43%, OB, Demerara, decanter, 2013) A very expensive bottling (think in the region of 450€). Colour: deep amber. Nose: very nice! Tar, burnt coffee, lit cigars, strawberry jam, charcoal, then a little turpentine, wood varnish… It’s a combo that works very well in my opinion, you just have to enjoy burnt coffee. Or even burnt vegetables (French beans in a forgotten frying pan). Mouth: oh what an utter shame! Flabby, liqueury, way too smooth, with no depth and an unpleasant feeling of cheap liqueur, bought for 5€ a bottle in Andorra. Why oh why did they murder this old rum? Definitely sugared up, I’m afraid Cyril was right. Finish: very short, but leaves some sugar on your tongue. Kids’ cough syrup. Comments: some people get away with murder in the rum world. Now, it’s theirs, they do what they want, but in my opinion, this humble syrup is not even worth one tenth of its price. I even like Zacapa better, which says a lot. No, not Don Papa or Kraken, let’s not exaggerate. SGP:810 - 40 points for the nose.

El Dorado 25 yo 1980 (43%, OB, Demerara, decanter, +/-2006)

El Dorado 25 yo 1980 (43%, OB, Demerara, decanter, +/-2006) Let’s seek salvation… Colour: very deep amber. Nose: feels more liqueury than the 1986 on the nose, but that does work. South-American mock honey, molasses, coffee liqueurs, furniture polish, roasted nuts (especially pecans), marmalade, a floral side (lilac)… And a little menthol. Again, all that works. So far! Mouth: I do like it a little better than the 1986, but it’s still a flabby sugar bomb. Coconut liqueur, sour tropical fruits cooked in cane sugar syrup, more molasses, more coffee liqueur, caramel… All that for 650€ a bottle, mind you. Finish: short yet unpleasantly sugary. Coca Cola concentrate. Comments: in my opinion, the worst value for money out there these days. Even if you like them super-sweet, you’ll have troubles downing your glass. Oh and if you already own a bottle, don’t tell your dentist! SGP:810 - 45 points.

Btw, they should make versions with aspartame or stevia instead for people on a diet. And we won’t even talk about diabetes (I’m serious!) Anyway, we used to say that any Demerara was more a Caribbean rum than a South-American, but I’m afraid things are changing these days…

Panamanian Rum 20 yo 1996/2016 (51%, Sansibar, 269 bottles)

Panamanian Rum 20 yo 1996/2016 (51%, Sansibar, 269 bottles) Four stars Yes, another decanter but don’t be scared… In general, indie Panamanians come from Don José, but we have no proof. Colour: coffee. Nose: dry, chocolaty, coffee-ish, with wax polish, chestnut honey, prunes, black raisins, toffee, and a touch of earth. So far, so good. There isn’t anything suggesting this will just be another sugar bomb. Mouth: it is not. It does start a little sweet, but it’s soon to become extremely drying, and mind you, this is not unpleasant in this context. Crunching coffee beans coated with honeydew and chlorophyll sauce (or sorrel or something). Ultra-bitter liquorice. Finish: quite long, mentholated and liquoricy, always with some dry coffee in the background. A little sugar, but in minimal quantities, and that may just be a ‘feeling’. Dry oak in the aftertaste. Comments: I would imagine some distillers tasting this, and saying ‘a bit dry, let’s add 50g sugar per litre to appeal to the masses!’ Amongst the best in the South-American style, in my opinion. It killed the El Dorados – but those were already dead, weren’t they. SGP:461 - 87 points.

I think we should stop here but that wouldn’t be fair to Guyana and Demerara. Let’s try to find something (rummage rummage…) Oh this bomb!...

Diamond 2005/2016 (71.4%, L’Esprit, Demerara, cask #BB114)

Diamond 2005/2016 (71.4%, L’Esprit, Demerara, cask #BB114) Four stars I like it that the excellent French – or rather Breton - bottlers would tell us that this is ‘cask strength’ rum. Because we hadn’t noticed ;-). Usually, such strengths suggest that it was aged in the tropics and not in the UK like others, but it is no proof (so to speak, he-he). Colour: deep red amber. Nose: noseable! Varnish, croissants, vanilla cake, kugelhopf, hot molasses… That’s more or less all you get at 70+% vol., but that’s normal. With (quite a lot of) water: same, just easier and more civilised. Rather clearly column rum, moderately congeneric. Mouth (neat): thick as honey, punchy as cracked black pepper, heavy as high-strength undiluted pastis. That includes aniseed and liquorice indeed. Crazy hot stuff! With a bucket of my beloved Vittel water: honey and molasses, with plenty of liquorice and a wee saltiness, always welcome. Water makes it even oilier, we almost made mayonnaise. Quite. Finish: long, rather cake-y, with some dark maple syrup. Comments: redemption for dear Demerara. What would they do without the independent bottlers? Wouldn’t they get catalogued as just another Liebfraumilch of the rum world? SGP:541 - 86 points.

(With thanks to Cyril and the rumaniacs)

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



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September 9, 2016


A trio of Tullibardine…

… And Tullibardine is never boring!

Tullibardine 2007/2015 (46%, Whiskymax, Spirit & Cask, cask #0035, 294 bottles)

Tullibardine 2007/2015 (46%, Whiskymax, Spirit & Cask, cask #0035, 294 bottles) Three stars These young indie bottles used to make for budget single malts ten years ago, and usually went for approx 15 to 20€. How things have changed. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s that if you like malt whisky because of the malt part, you just cannot resist a young one that’s pretty flawless. Very young and even immature, perhaps, but when the distillate is characterful – and Tully is characterful – it just works. Despite the chalky, paraffiny, and frankly porridgy side. Now Tullibardine have upped their game, and the very ‘strange’ (to put it mildly) distillates from twenty or thirty years ago are gone. Mouth: excellent, really. Pears and bananas at first, so plain youth, but the muesli and the damp oatcakes work well with the distillery’s very faintly gasoline-y side. In short, I find this good. Too young, but good. Finish: long, a little too rough now (young rum), but it gives you high hopes. Some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: a pleasant surprise, as they say in magazines. I like naked spirits. SGP:451 - 82 points.

Tullibardine 13 yo 2001/2015 (43%, Jacoulot, cask #C8 B15, 570 bottles)

Tullibardine 13 yo 2001/2015 (43%, Jacoulot, cask #C8 B15, 570 bottles) Three stars Funny stuff, this. Jacoulot are one of the well-reputed makers of marc de Bourgogne, and what they’ve done here was to buy and finish some Tullibardine in some of their marc casks. I’m really curious… (while in Alsace, marc de Bourgogne is usually for skiing, you know, in the hipflask…) Colour: gold. Nose: disconcerting, I guess that’s the word. You feel the marc and you feel Tullibardine, and as they say in cinema, not sure they’ve had sex together yet. And yet, this is very far from being unpleasant, but let’s face it, marc is a much bigger spirit than malt. Nice buttery, grape-y, chocolaty and even fudge-y notes, though. And gingerbread from some pretty active oak. French oak, perhaps. Mouth: it’s good. Different for sure, unusual, even deviant, but it’s also kind of ‘metanoic’, even if once again, the marc is having the lead. Did I tell you that I like marc de Bourgogne a lot?  Finish: quite long, very ‘marc’. Comments: I’m not sure the poor Scot had much to say, it was rather Single Marc Scotch Whisky ;-). The thing is that this marc was excellent. SGP:461 - 82 points.

Tullibardine 26 yo 1989/2015 (53.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles)

Tullibardine 26 yo 1989/2015 (53.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: ah, this is Tullibardine of old. Cardboard, ink, old magazines, nutmeg, mashed turnips, Jerusalem artichokes… It’s a style, it’s a style… With water: midway between some grain whisky and lager beer. Very idiosyncratic! Mouth (neat): really very unusual. Starts like a Canadian, goes on with a lot of sawdust and tapioca, and gets then very bready. In a way, it tastes just like some one-year-old American craft rye whiskey or something like that. Or the first Wasmunds, remember? What’s nice is that it’s also got lemons. With water: some re-racking must have happened, because the oaky/gingery coating does not quite fit the spirit that’s really quite rough and young. But as we say, vive la différence! Finish: short, cerealy, porridgy, and inky. Rather ale and white pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: how to score this? Is it even score-able? What’s sure is that it’s a malt that any taster will remember. No high score, but high interest! SGP:441 - 78 points.

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



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September 8, 2016


Little duets, today Glen Scotia 1992

Always interesting to try this Campbeltowner that’s living in the shadows of the glorious Springbank (and affiliated names and distilleries).

Glen Scotia 23 yo 1992/2016 (53.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 144 bottles)

Glen Scotia 23 yo 1992/2016 (53.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 144 bottles) Four stars Maltbarn are kings of handpicked micro-bottlings. Okay, say mini-bottlings – talking about the outturns of course. Colour: pale gold. Nose: hyper acrid and grassy, sharp, blade-y, almost bitter and a little fermentary. It’s a singular style that reminds me of some of the most fashionable French whites these days (Valette, Ganevat, others…) Excuse me? Yes, I like mucho. With water: added notes of broken branches and ultra-fresh sawdust (in a forest, not at a carpenter’s). Mouth (neat): ultra-punchy, lemony, peppery, and grassy. Smashes you a bit but that’s good. With water: becomes a little chalky, and perhaps a notch medicinal. Is that iodine? Lovely herbal/bitter profile. Finish: very long and sharp. Campari without any sugar and at high strength. A sweeter lemony side balances that in the aftertaste. Comments: I hate to write this kind of thing but it’s probably not for beginners, but if you like rather extreme malts without any peat or sherry, this is for you. SGP:361 – 87 points.

Glen Scotia 1992/2015 (53.6%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon hogshead, Charlie edition, 214 bottles)

Glen Scotia 1992/2015 (53.6%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon hogshead, Charlie edition, 214 bottles) Four stars Could have been the same cask, but colours are pretty different. Probably from the same parcel of casks, though. Dave Broom and Charlie MacLean are on the label. Colour: straw. Nose: well, it’s even more extreme, and this time what we’re getting is rather mineral sulphur (native) and artichoke, then bicycle inner tube and raw malt. With water: more inner tubes and new tyres. Not exactly rubber, mind you. Mouth (neat): raw mineral lemons, chalk, lime, more artichoke, Cynar, a touch of antiseptic… Indeed, this is very singular and totally un-modern. With water: swims like an un-doped Olympic champion. Water puts everything into place and enhances the lemony side. That’s cool. Finish: long, rather cleaner, and kind of more civilised. Comments: I like these wee feelings of ‘dirty’ distillation. Un-commercially characterful. SGP:362 - 86 points.

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



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September 7, 2016


Little duets, two Mannochmore

We don’t see many Mannochmores around. Perhaps because the name sounds like that of an Icelandic doom metal band? Or because Loch Dhu used to be made out of Mannochmore, which may have put a curse on the distillery?

Mannochmore 21 yo 1993/2015 (48.8%, Gordon & MacPhail Exclusive for The Whisky Shop Dufftown, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #6883) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: some pure, ‘average’ in the best sense, malt whisky, rounded, cerealy, with good stewed fruits underneath, and even a touch of smoke. Regarding the fruits, I’m finding nectarines, blood oranges, watermelons, and touches of tangerines. Perhaps a wee metallic touch as well? Coins from your pocket? Mouth: it’s funny that I’m getting sherry and a touch of gunpowder out of a bourbon hogshead. So raisins, walnuts and black tea, then rather marmalade and perhaps drops of young calvados or applejack. Perhaps a little cinchona. Finish: long, with rather more oranges, mainly as sweets. I remember those orange-flavoured Chupa Chups when we were kids… Comments: more than excellent, very solid, with a lovely fruitiness that’s quite unusual. And unusualness is always an asset in Speyside… SGP:641 - 86 points.

Mannochmore 19 yo 1997/2016 (54.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles)

Mannochmore 19 yo 1997/2016 (54.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles) Four stars It’s not impossible that Cadenhead would have the widest range of different Scotch malt distilleries these days. Don’t they have almost all of them? How cool is that? Colour: pale white wine. Nose: even more ‘natural’ than the excellent 1993. Bursts with barley notes, as armagnac has grapes, mezcal has agave, calvados has apples and pears, and rum has… err… well, that depends. Anyway, perhaps is this a little simple, but it reeks of honesty – and of a western orchard in the midst of July. Mouth: superb! It’s not complicated, it’s simple, it’s straight, it’s ultra-clean, and it’s full of barley, apples, and oranges, in more than perfect proportions. With water: a fruit cocktail sweetened with barley syrup. I seem to find morello cherries. Finish: medium, rather on barley water. Comments: this is malt whisky. No peat, no sherry, and little oak. Malt. SGP:531 – 87 points.

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



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September 6, 2016



Little Whiskyfun’s
12,000th tasting note
Dear reader, for a long time I’ve been wondering what I could try for our 12,000th tasting note, not taking any other spirits than whisky into account. I had first thought we could go rob Lagavulin Distillery and steal that famous sample of Malt Mill new make, but the whole venture seemed too complicated and risky. And Pinky’s much stronger than it appears.

Another option would have been to choose some old and rare whisky from an active distillery, but I did not want to engage in any favouritism. And sure that could have been some ‘quite recently closed’ distillery, such as the new annual Brora, but timing was not good, I don’t think it’s out yet. Plus, I do not like to write notes for production or pre-production samples either. So, I was weighting up the pros and the cons, and was still dreaming of Malt Mill, Parkmore or Stromness, while knowing that those ultra-legendary malts would be just impossible to find, when sometime in June - or was it May – I suddenly found out that there was an official little bottle of Double OO from Stromness Distillery up for auction. Stromness!

Mind you, not a shady sample bottle from the estate of the family of a former distillery worker, a genuine official one. Amazing, what a perfect timing this time! No need to tell you that I started bidding and praying all the gods of whisky… And greatest of news, I won the item, as they say (well you don’t win anything, you just buy it, don’t you). The best news yet was that it really was in perfect condition, with only minor evaporation (5-10% max), so hopefully perfect for tasting. And the round embossed bottle itself is so unique that no forger could have made it, unless it was a refill of course, you never know. We’ll see if the wee screw cap ‘sticks’ or not; if it does a bit, that’s better news. What’s more, the state of the label and the level were matching to perfection! (picture Delcampe)

Double OO

But what was Stromness, may you ask if you’re not a hardcore whisky fan (yet)?


Well, Stromness was a very famous albeit very small malt distillery on Orkney, sometimes referred to as ‘the third one’ after Highland Park and Scapa. The distillery was established in 1817 under the name Stromness, and was originally selling its malts under the brand name ‘Man O’Hoy’, before a new brand was launched, either written Double O or Double OO or Double O.O. or simply O.O., always meaning Old Orkney. The distillery itself was also rechristened Man O’Hoy in the late 19th century, but I’ve noticed that the last bottles of O.O. used to mention Stromness Distillery as their home, instead of Man O’Hoy. (picture Brian Townsend's Scotch Missed, Neil Wilson Publishing)

The distillery, one of the tiniest in Scotland at the time (around 7,000 gallons only per year when Barnard went there, so around eight times smaller than Highland Park), got mothballed in 1928 (some say 1927) and, according to some sources, was demolished in 1940, but that’s uncertain as other sources claim that ‘war soldiers washed in the distillery’s mash tubs’. Some writers on Orkney have concluded that the closure of Stromness in 1928 had been provoked by the fact that its inhabitants had just voted the city ‘dry’. Strange, isn’t it!
The last bottles of Double OO were produced around the mid 1930s. There also used to be a bottling of a 12 years old blend called ‘Old Orkney Relics’ in the late 1930s that did contain the remaining stocks of Stromness, probably in small proportions, and there was also a blend called ‘Old Orkney Brand’. Gordon & MacPhail have then picked the ‘OO - Old Orkney’ name but of course there isn’t any Stromness inside. What’s sure is that tasting a Stromness has always been a dream of mine, and now’s the time.
(More on Stromness Distillery at the cutting spirit and at whisky story.)

Double OO
This very rare bottle of O.O. was sold at Christie's in Glasgow in 1992 (Brian Townsend, Scotch Missed, Neil Wilson Publishing)

Let me add that I invited my old whisky friend winemaker extraordinaire Olivier Humbrecht to this little session. So, let's do our...


Little duet, Stromness vs. Highland Park


Double OO ‘Old Orkney’ (no ABV stated, OB, Real Liqueur Whisky, McConnell’s, Stromness Distillery, +/-1930) Five stars Said to be around ten years old, but there’s no proof, obviously. The cap sticks a bit to the neck and kind of creaks when you first twist it, as expected. More great news! What's more, the wording 'real liqueur whisky' further suggests that this is well the single malt. Colour: straw/pale gold. Very bright, always great news with old bottles. Nose: some old malt whisky for sure, and definitely not a refill (you never know with these old bottles). Starts really fat and oily, which you can feel on the nose, and very corpulent. Candle wax and encaustic are running the show, then coal smoke, a lot of ashes, and a surprisingly huge peat smoke, really. Very little fruitiness, perhaps a little candied grapefruit, like in some old chenin blanc of excellent origins. Oliviers says ‘chenin from schists’.

The peat is really impressive, while whiffs of salted butter caramel and iodine are starting to come to the front, which really makes it a ‘coastal’ peatiness. After five minutes, we get Band-aid, gauze, menthol, charcoal, and even more peat. Loses a little power after 15 minutes of breathing, which often happens with very old bottles, but after just 20 minutes it takes off again, with rather dried herbs, a little thyme perhaps, and a wee metallic side (old rusty bits). We’re impressed. Mouth: extremely oily, almost viscous, with much depth and an impressive coal-like feel. Drinking liquid asphalt. It’s almost an industrial smokiness, you imagine a northern town, it’s almost a Dickensian feeling. Were we to draw comparisons, let’s say a blend of 1950s Talisker with 1960s Ardbeg, fifty-fifty. Smokier than Talisker, a little less so than Ardbeg, even than the magnificent older ones. Tends to become more medicinal, with a little tar liqueur, which is typically ‘good old peat’. Gets also saltier and more coastal, while it’ll always remain oily and even fat. Superb mouth feel, strength probably around 80° proof. Finish: an extremely long persistence and some paraffin oil, a lot of ashes and soot, and an aftertaste that’s rather more on more tar, more salt, more coal, and perhaps a touch of aniseed as a final signature. Even more fun!

Comments: really exceptional and magnificent, beyond any emotional considerations, with that feeling of industrial artisanship that’s so entrancing in old-style malt whiskies, and so totally un-commercial by today’s standards. Actually, it’s rather in the style of some wartime Highland Park, so perhaps could we could talk about a ‘regional style’. Such an old little bottle could have gotten totally wishy-washy, but it was quite the opposite. Oh and something else, it’s really ‘pure malt whisky’, and totally not the result of any kind of ‘external aromatisation’ through wood, wine, or else, as Olivier says. So, grand cru stuff! SGP:365 – 97 points (Olivier 97 points as well).


Wait, wartime HP? I think we’ve found a proper sparring partner, courtesy Olivier.

Highland Park 10 yo (20 u.p., OB, 1950s)

Highland Park 10 yo (20 u.p., OB, 1950s) Five stars The famous St Magnus Label! This bottle was bought in 1957 - not by us, obviously - and does probably contain malts from just before WWII. I’ve already tried it and scored it a 96, so we’ll keep this shorter (hopefully). Colour: gold with bronze hues. Nose: feels less peaty than the Stromness, but just as magnificent, although there’s more wood, more ‘maturation’, and certainly more honeyed/candied aromas, totally ala old HP. More oak impact, but the whole’s beautiful. Feels rather older on average than the Stromness, actually. It’s also a notch chartreuse-y, with also a little mead (very old HP as well), and after fifteen minutes it slowly starts to overtake the sharper and more austere Stromness, but that’s also the higher strength. Mouth: a draw this time, both powers and feels are similar, with this wonderful fatness, even if this HP is still a wee tad bolder deep inside. More dried fruits for sure, more honeyed flavours, and less austerity. So perhaps a notch less ‘precise’, but still, what a stunning bottle! Finish: very long, a tad acrid this time (the wood), very oily and fat. Perhaps a little artichoke in the aftertaste, which also often happens with old bottles. Comments: splendid, but we knew that. Many thanks, Olivier! SGP:464 – 96 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Stromness I've tast... I'm joking

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the support. I find it refreshing that growing numbers of dedicated whisky lovers are following this humble and opinionated (and hopefully informed) little amateur website. I believe that more than ever, independence is becoming a value on the Web and elsewhere, in these days where you see more and more PR in disguise, fake independence, hidden agendas, paid gigs and simply shameless propaganda. Now I perfectly understand that mortgages have to be paid, families clothed, and food and whisky put on the table...


But as they say, if you want to know whether the fish is fresh or not, better not ask the fishmonger or his henchmen and lackeys, ask his patrons! Peace and see you soon, stay tuned… - your Serge (and remember, it's only booze).



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Ann Ellsworth with Lew Soloff and Ray Anderson. Track: Farewell to Stromness. Please visit her website and buy her music...

September 5, 2016


Tasting ethanol, wood, and time

Grains! I’ve got nothing against grain whisky, but as a lover of distillate-driven whiskies (as opposed to cask-driven one) I still find the category uninteresting. The cheap spirits are distilled in large plants that usually also make vodka, out of cereals that I find rather undistinguishable from each other given the ultra-high ABV at which the distillates flow out of the multiple columns that they use (at 90 to 95% alc/vol. in the new make, could you really tell wheat from maize after ageing?) And of course there’s Haig Club.


Yet, I could come across some single grains that have been to my liking in the past, so I’m still having hopes and faith. As long as they don’t try to sell grain for the price of malt (of course they wouldn’t, of course)… What’s more, in the olden days, the bottlers would have mainly sold older grains, but these days you start to see young or middle-aged ones coming out, usually fodder for blends, and at high prices. Chicken for the price of (infamous) grouse…

Invergordon 18 yo 1997/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11197, 236 bottles)

Invergordon 18 yo 1997/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11197, 236 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: varnish and apple juice, then orange squash and a touch of mead. Mouth: light, vanilla-ed, sugary, with hints of planks and sawdust, then coconut. In whisky, coconut kills IMHO. Finish: little. More orange squash, perhaps. Cheap Cuban rum. Comments: drinkable of course, and even not ‘bad’, but rather uninteresting. Certainly not 60€-interesting, there are 7,398,567,2714,296,243 much better malt whiskies available for the same price. DL are doing so well with their malts or even with their older grains! SGP:520 - 65 points.

Strathclyde 20 yo 1996/2016 (50.6%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11128, 187 bottles)

Strathclyde 20 yo 1996/2016 (50.6%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11128, 187 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: even more varnishy, but in a sense, more interesting, with less in-you-face vanilla and coconut. A little rhubarb, perhaps? Grapefruit skin, a pack of sweets, marshmallows… With water: cut grass. No coconutty burst! Mouth (neat): rather pleasant, rather lemony, rather zesty for a grain. Light limoncello, orange liqueur… Sure it’s not deep, but it’s interesting. With water: indeed. Tonic water, lemon squash… Didn’t they reinvent Schweppes-Lemon? Finish: short, but not too vanilla-ed or coconutty, which is already enough for me. Comments: very okay, this one, in my opinion. SGP:430 - 78 points.

Invergordon 21 yo 1991/2013 (46%, Cadenhead)

Invergordon 21 yo 1991/2013 (46%, Cadenhead) Three stars and a halfThey had a 25 yo 1991 this year that was pretty enjoyable (WF 81). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: ah. A wee mezcaly side (what were the casks’ previous contents?) and notes of tinned pineapples plus an unusual medicinal side, between camphor and antiseptic. Mouth: no, was it Jamaican rum? Ardbeg? Swiss gentian? (obligatory yodelling)… It’s really good, earthy, slightly smoky, phenolic, lemony… Do not tell me that all that came from Invergordon! Finish: medium, salty, slightly peaty. Comments: this is really good! So a surprise, but Cadenhead, let’s have a glass of riesling and talk… SGP:442 - 83 points.

Invergordon 1988/2015 ‘Mocha Moment’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 240 bottles)

Invergordon 1988/2015 ‘Mocha Moment’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 240 bottles) Three stars Wemyss have had many 1988 Invergordons. Colour: gold. Nose: bourbon in your coffee, then a glass of Guinness, that’s what’s on the menu. Some toffee as well. All this works. Mouth: the sherry’s doing a lot of work here, with raisins and various nuts. Speculoos, marmalade, mead… It was one of the better casks. Finish: medium, rather fresh, nutty. Bitter oranges in the aftertaste. I could not not think of Glenlivet at times, bizarrely, but there’s also a wee feeling of rum. Comments: indeed, one of the better casks. SGP:531 - 81 points.

Port Dundas 27 yo 1988/2016 (50.9% Cadenhead, Small Batch, 414 bottles)

Port Dundas 27 yo 1988/2016 (50.9% Cadenhead, Small Batch, 414 bottles) Three stars Isn’t it funny that all bottlers, not especially Cadenhead, will tell you something like ‘sure grain is crap, but try this one, it’s special’? About strictly all their grain whiskies? Anyway, let’s hope this Port Dundas is good, the officials from last year have been miserable IMHO. Colour: white wine. Nose: nice grain, but I liked their Invergordon 1991 much better on the nose. This one’s ‘normal’, with sawdust, vanilla, milk chocolate, and soft cakes. With water: something metallic, which I do not dislike. Old tin box, metal polish… Mouth (neat): well, I find this good. It’s kind of girly (tsk tsk, S.!) but it’s balanced, with good fruits, sweets, and lighter jams. A little sherbet. With water: easy, fruity, light, with some honey and coconut. Finish: short but creamy and honeyed. This metallic side again in the aftertaste. Comments: very honest, balanced sweet grain whisky. Not much else to say. SGP:530 - 80 points.

Cameronbridge 30 yo 1979/2009 (51.9%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #3585, 206 bottles)

Cameronbridge 30 yo 1979/2009 (51.9%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #3585, 206 bottles) Four stars We’ve already tried quite a few sister casks. I believe this is the last in this series that I still had to try (after seven years, how fast is that?) Colour: straw. Nose: rather dry and spirity at first nosing, with some grass. Unexpectedly dry. Now there’s some complexity as well, with flowers and herbs, teas, even touches of mangos… With water: one of the nicest ‘grainy’ noses, with some tobacco, cakes, herbal teas, dried figs… Mouth (neat): those were really good. Mangos and bananas, maracujas, Williams pears, sweets… I don’t think grain could come any closer to malt. With water: excellent. Jams and many dried fruits including raisins. Finish: medium, with a little tobacco and mint. Bananas. Comments: refill sherry? Not too sure, but quality is/was high. Almost malt whisky ;-). In fact, I remember I had thought those grains could have been made at Midleton in Ireland. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Invergordon 1973/2016 (52.4%, Liquid Art and Beacon Spirit, 257 bottles)

Invergordon 1973/2016 (52.4%, Liquid Art and Beacon Spirit, 257 bottles) Four stars A very lovely crypto-Hungarian label (circa 1967)! No fake Victorian stuff at Liquid Art, that’s nicer… Colour: gold. Nose: now we’re talking, approaching maltiness even more, with plenty of tobacco (pipes and cigars), then quite some oak, which is normal (warm sawdust at a cabinetmaker’s), pencil shavings, chamomile, old chardonnay… With water: it’s old bourbon of pretty high quality, with a Canadian edge. Whistle Pig or something… Mouth (neat): super-creamy and really easy and good. Coffee liqueur, Ovaltine (yes I know this isn’t malt), Malibu, and liqueur-filled chocolate. With water: really very ‘American’. In the best sense. Finish: medium, rather fresh, with pineapples. Perhaps some pecan pie. Comments: this or some excellent bourbon, some excellent bourbon or this, this or some… SGP:650 - 87 points.

We have many more but mind you, I need not to cross the 12,000-line as far as the number of tasting notes for whisky is concerned. Because that’s planned for tomorrow. So, only one more grain and we’re done, but let’s make it a rare old one, oaky? I mean, okay?...

Garnheath 42 yo 1974/2016 (48.2%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #11093, 162 bottles)

Garnheath 42 yo 1974/2016 (48.2%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #11093, 162 bottles) Four stars I hate to say that, but +/-270€ for a 42 yo Garnheath (Moffat) is a fair price! Unless, of course, it’s bad whisky, which I doubt, let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: Weetabix and an old bottle of Grand-Marnier, café latte, and then more and more raspberries, as jams, sweets, jelly, pies, liqueurs, eau-de-vie… I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered one whisky that had so many raspberries, but I do have tried quite a few raspberry eaux-de-vies that had less. Mouth: starts a little blurred and indecisive, or jammed up, but time helps and eventually, those raspberry-driven things are seizing control. It’s probably refill wood, because the spirit remained bright and focussed. In short, it’s good. Which makes me think, I should try to distil raspberries from the garden and mature them in gentle oak (new oak kills). I’ll do that one day and tell you about the results, circa 2037 (stay tuned!)… Finish: medium, still bright, fruity, un-oaky, and pretty miraculous. Comments: imagine, one of the last vintages of Garnheath (I think the Moffat distilling complex went bust in 1975 if my memory serves me well). SGP:630 - 85 points.

See you tomorrow, with our 12,000th tasting note for whisky! No I won’t tell you what it’s going to be… Certainly not Ardbeg or Macallan NAS!

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



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September 4, 2016


Malternatives on Sunday,
real malternatives

I’ve got a whole bunch of mega-rare and super-old cognacs up my sleeves, but the weather is quite hot in Alsace these days (Indian summer and all that), and I prefer to taste rum in that case. But that’s good timing as well, since I’ve got a whole bunch of mega-rare and super-old rums up my sleeves… (no worries, no pseudo-limited, decanterised and story-telled junk today!)
So in no particular order, but starting relatively smoooothly…

Bellevue 10 yo ‘1841’ (45%, OB, Marie-Galante, agricole, +/-2015)

Bellevue 10 yo ‘1821’ (45%, OB, Marie-Galante, agricole, +/-2015) Five stars There’s a younger and cheaper no-age-statement version of this baby that’s been bottled in the same decanter, so beware. Colour: deep gold. Nose: bing bang bong! All tropical fruits mixed with tar liqueur and engine oil. It’s almost impossible to beat this ;-)… Not to mention all the flowers, ylang-ylang, roses, honeysuckle, elderflowers (very vivid)… And these passion fruits and mangos! What a maelstrom… Mouth: exceptional. As almost always, the palate is a tad less complex than the nose, and indeed, this massive liquorice tends to dominate, but apart from that, this is perfect, rich, coating, yet elegant, bursting with tropical and phenolic flavours… A pirate’s old boat? Simply very lovable. Finish: long, with some salted liquorice, more mangos, more ultra-ripe bananas, and some mint, plus this tar that keeps it ‘masculine’ (what?) Comments: sadly, we were expecting this from Bellevue, so I couldn’t call this a surprise. I don’t think you could do much better out of column stills - but then again, there are column stills and column stills. SGP:752 - 90 points.

This starts well, very well…

Enmore 1987/2000 (56.6%, Velier, Demerara, casks #EDG 193-197)

Enmore 1987/2000 (56.6%, Velier, Demerara, casks #EDG 193-197) Two stars An old bottle I had bought when it came out. It always had the reputation of being genuine rocket fuel ;-). Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: rocket fuel. Ten times more spirity than the Bellevue, ten times less aromatic. Burns you! Very elementary rum. I know, it’s Enmore, it’s Demerara, and it’s Velier. But still, this is raw alcohol. With water: basic rum. Alcohol, American oak, vanilla, not much else. Mouth (neat): humpfff… Some kind of high-strength lemon eau-de-vie, ultra-sharp and spirity. Shall we call it vodka-ish? I know it’s a sacred cow, I know, yet… With water: the oak stands out. Finish: bizarrely short. Lemon cake, perhaps? Comments: in general, Velier + Demerara means 85 to 92 points (or even more). But there are exceptions (cavernous sardonic laughter)… SGP:330 - 70 points.

Good, let’s change our plans. Drop the ueber-rare, try to find some super-good instead! (which is not mutually exclusive of course)… And speaking of Velier…

Foursquare 10 yo 2006/2016 (62%, OB, for Velier, Barbados, 2400 bottles)

Foursquare 10 yo 2006/2016 (62%, OB, for Velier, Barbados, 2400 bottles) Four stars and a half They call this ‘single blended rum’, which means that it’s a blend of pot still and column rum from one single distillery. Yup, like Ben Nevis or Lochside used to do in Scotland. If this baby’s anywhere near the young 2013/2015 Foursquare for Velier, we’re up for a treat. But cough, cough, 62% vol… Colour: amber. Nose: isn’t it a little bizarre that we’re reminded of the Bellevue that we just had? Except that this Foursquare is too strong for any careless nosing, the high strength distorts the aromas. So, turning the talk into action… With water: it gets gentler, softer, and less phenolic than expected. Cakes, raisins, humidor… And even warm croissants au beurre! Mouth (neat): doctor, I’m finding a parentage with the Bellevue again, is that normal? Stewed tropical fruits and phenolic, tar-like flavours. We know it’s a winning combo, but mind you, 62% vol… Some great menthol, though. With water: civilisation! Having said that the tarry, phenolic layer didn’t vanish at all, it’s still pretty congeneric rum. The pot stills, I suppose. Excellent liquorice, salt, lime, and our beloved green and black olives. Finish: medium, rather bright, slightly salty, with touches of bacon. The lemon is running the show in the aftertaste. Comments: a tad softer than expected, but quality’s extremely high. In a way, it’s meta-rum, gathering the best of many styles (but the sugarbombs). Less phenolic than the 2003. SGP:552 - 89 points.

So, Velier…

Worthy Park 10 yo 2005/2015 ‘Forsyths WP’ (57.8%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica)

Worthy Park 10 yo 2005/2015 ‘Forsyths WP’ (57.8%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica) Five stars It’s all a bit cryptic and beginners may need a PhD to understand everything, but this is well Worthy Park, distilled in the new double post still made by Forsyths and installed there in 2005. It’s also aged on location (and not in the UK), the angel’s share lying around 64%. And the distillery cat had just had four babies when this was distilled, and… and… and… ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: evident. Please call the anti-rumporn brigade! I’ve heard Usain Bolt was the cap’tain. Worthy Park may well be the current Jayer of the rum world (but Bellevue and Foursquare – and a few others - are close!) With water: nosing the engine of an old Lamborghini after a run (I know, I know, works with a Subaru too). And after fifteen minutes, roses and gewurz! Totally unexpected. Mouth (neat): what the **** is not perfect here? Perhaps the complexity, I wouldn’t say this is complex rum, but the style is, yeah, totally perfect. Perfect malternative, or rather islayrnative. Smoked anchovies and one olive. With water: do they have good swimmers in Jamaica? This baby swims exquisitely. Touches of pears. Finish: long, with more salt and lime coming out, which is always a blessing. Comments: you could buy six bottles of this for the price of the new NAS Ardbeg. And I doubt the new NAS Ardbeg (Selfie or something? Pokemon?) is as good as this. Did you get this all right? SGP:463 - 92 points.

These Velier people are becoming boring. Shall we talk about that lousy Enmore 1987 again? Or rather try their new Hampden?...

Hampden 6 yo 2010/2016 ‘HLCF’ (68.5%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica)

Hampden 6 yo 2010/2016 ‘HLCF’ (68.5%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica) Five stars So, 100% pot still, 40% angel’s share, and 550gr/laa esters. And of course 0% added sugar and 0% other additives. Fudge, we’ll soon need PhDs indeed! Colour: gold. Nose: holy featherless crow, Worthy Park or Hampden? That’s like asking ‘Charlie Parker or John Coltrane?’ I’m afraid there cannot be any answer. This is just as brilliant, but the strength is immense, with a feeling akin to that of those overpriced yearly bourbons that are bottled at 70% vol. In fact, it’s so strong that some soapy notes arise, which is no good. So, with water: good. Worthy Park is more waxy/vegetal/floral, while Hampden is (even) brinier/earthier/tarrier, but they sure are on par. Mouth (neat – because that’s within the procedures): now I know how Céline Dion does it ;-). Burns and makes you yodel. With water: sublime. More ‘ashtray-y’ (you need holidays S.) than Worthy Park, and a little more monolithic. In short, even more extreme. Finish: very long, which is an understatement. Comments: totally and plainly malternative. In truth, these rums might be better than the best of Scotch, since you need much more ageing to reach the same level in Bonnie Scotland. No, more oak won’t work, whether Uzbek or Zimbabwean. And agreed, these Jamaicans are exceptions (as are Barbados, Guadeloupe, or a part of Trinidad), I think there’s much more junk in rum than in malt whisky. Now, if we start to talk blends… SGP:464 - 92 points.

So, Velier, lets talk about that little Enmore 1987…

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



Block Today: BRAZILIAN. Performer: Hermeto Pascoal. Track: Intocavel. Please visit his website and buy his music...

September 2, 2016


Little duets, today two middle-aged Tormore

We’ll always fondly remember the older official 10 years old white label from the 1970S, especially the ones for Dreher in Italy. These will be different beasts, I suppose…

Tormore 1997/2014 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice)

Tormore 1997/2014 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: maybe a little sour at first nosing, with quite some porridge and muesli, and then growingly grassy, without much fruitiness, quite unexpectedly. Like the whiffs of fresh almonds and baked apples that are staring to come through after one minute, though. Mouth: creamier and much fruitier this time, with some honey and some lemon marmalade, and a fresh side that works well. In the background, some cinnamon cake and a cup of tea, as well as more and more freshly malted barley. Cornflakes. Finish: medium, rather on sour apples and compote. Cinnamon again in the aftertaste, as well as a wee leathery side. Comments: good and well. SGP:451 - 80 points.

Tormore 20 yo 1995/2015 (53.1%, Single Cask Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #20143, 220 bottles)

Tormore 20 yo 1995/2015 (53.1%, Single Cask Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #20143, 220 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: more oak/vanilla impact in this one, which brought more roundness and an easier side. Perhaps a little ‘good’ rubber (bicycle inner tube) and once again these almonds. With water: a lovely mentholated maltiness arising. Vanilla-flavoured yoghurt. Mouth (neat): similar arrival after the G&M, only with more oomph. Lemon marmalade again, these faint rubbery touches again, and the cinnamon cake again, this time coated with vanilla and icing sugar. Rather brighter this time. With water: rather bitter oranges this time, as well as a little lemongrass, lemon cake, lemon curd, custard… And green pepper. Finish: medium, rather fresh, citrusy, slightly candied, with a grassier aftertaste. Comments: another one that’s good and well. SGP:551 - 84 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Wayne Shorter. Track: Lost. Please visit his website and buy his music...

September 1, 2016


Little duets, today old Jura 1986 vs. 1976

Jura can become extremely complex when growing older. Just like humble whisky tasters ;-) (nah yeah say what you want S., after all it’s your website)… By the way, we might need an official answer, is the name of the distillery ‘Jura’ or is it ‘Isle of Jura’? Never totally sure…

Jura 30 yo 1986/2016 (42.5%, Cadenhead, Single Cask)

Jura 30 yo 1986/2016 (42.5%, Cadenhead, Single Cask) Five stars Colour: straw. Always great news when old whiskies remain pale. Nose: oooh… Beeswax and leather polish plus ripe mirabelles and light honey (acacia, colza), with whiffs of warm candyfloss and precious wulong tea. Add a little vetiver, wormwood, and perhaps to rose petals. Sublimely refined and complex, but these kinds of noses and the very elegant lightness sometimes lead to flattish palates. Let’s see… Mouth: great, it’s not oaky. It’s rather got ‘whispers’ of many herbs, many green/yellow fruits, and many waxes and oils, some forgotten (so I can’t even tell you about them). Angelica, citrons, quince jelly, lemon curd, and then that Wulong tea… Actually, you do feel the oak but it just wouldn’t get in the way. In other words, some very polite wood. Love this very delicate style. Finish: not too long, granted, but it’s still fresh, and very much alive. More citrons and waxes, in a murmuring way. Comments: a delicacy that we might enjoy with food, as if it was an old chardonnay from near Beaune. SGP:541 - 90 points.

Jura 35 yo 1976/2012 (55.1%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask ref #BBR 889) Colour: deep gold. Nose: feels first fill hogshead. Vanilla, cigarette tobacco, and a touch of grated coconut at first nosing, just before it literally explodes, with a curious but lovely combination of mint, raspberries, and turpentine. It’s true that fresh raspberries with fresh mint leaves is a delicacy… With water: superb, with a little old-style suntan lotion, some hay, some Virginia blond tobacco, and perhaps a little chamomile tea. Now a paraffiny side is taking over… Mouth (neat): hold on, indeed, there is a problem! A weird plastic-like soapiness, notes of UHU glue, and some kind of acetic, almost acetone-y cheesiness. That’s really weird indeed and very un-BB&R. With water: pwah! Pernod’s Edradour. Finish: quite long and that’s the problem, although a nicer lemony side arises. Comments: this is weird. The nose was fabulous, while the palate was totally insane. Perhaps a ‘technical’ problem with my sample – but it’s a very fresh one, filled only a few days ago with much care. SGP:481 - 65 points (for the record, possible accident).

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


Whiskyfun fav of the month

August 2016

Favourite recent bottling:
Speyside Region 40 yo 1975/2016 (55%, The Whisky Agency, fino butt, 389 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite older bottling:
Longmorn 21 yo 1964 (86 US proof, Duthie for Corti Bros, Sacramento, USA) - WF 92

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Kilkerran 12 yo (46%, OB, 2016)  - WF 90

Favourite malternative:
Vale Verde 12 yo ‘Edição Especial’ (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012) - WF 89



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Drew Gress. Track: Bright Idea. Please visit his website and buy his music...

August 2016 - part 2 <--- September 2016 - part 1 ---> September 2016 - part 2



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Glen Grant 1972/1995 ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ (43%, Signatory Vintage for Velier, butt #689)

Glen Grant – Glenlivet 19 yo (80°proof, Cadenhead, black dumpy, dark sherry wood, 26 2/3 Fl, +/-1980)

Highland Park 10 yo (20 u.p., OB, 1950s)

Jura 30 yo 1986/2016 (42.5%, Cadenhead, Single Cask)

Speyside Region 40 yo 1975/2016 (50.6%, Sansibar, 435 bottles)

Double OO ‘Old Orkney’ (no ABV stated, OB, Real Liqueur Whisky, McConnell’s, Stromness Distillery, +/-1930)

Timorous Beastie 40 yo (54.7%, Douglas Laing, blended Highland malt, 1,080 bottles)

Tomatin 40 yo (43%, OB, travel retail, oloroso sherry butts, 2016)

Bellevue 10 yo ‘1821’ (45%, OB, Marie-Galante, agricole, +/-2015)

Hampden 6 yo 2010/2016 ‘HLCF’ (68.5%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica)

Worthy Park 10 yo 2005/2015 ‘Forsyths WP’ (57.8%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica)