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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2016 - Part 2



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


September 30, 2016


Westland from the West

Westland. Good and great enough to deserve a whole wee session, instead of being part of yet another unlikely ‘all-American’ one.

Westland (54.4%, OB, for LMDW 60th Anniversary, USA, single malt, cask #397, 232 bottles, 2016)

Westland (54.4%, OB, for LMDW 60th Anniversary, USA, single malt, cask #397, 232 bottles, 2016) Four stars and a half Not too sure about the outturn. The first, but not the last whisky bottled for La Maison’s 60th Anniversary that we’ll try. Colour: gold. Nose: pretty amazing, you’d think you’re entering an old Chinese antique shop. Incense, burning fir wood, wax polish, thuja wood, leather, prune sauce, masala (yeah I know that’s not Chinese), raw chocolate… It really is amazing how they managed to build an unseen (well, un-nosed) style that never, ever screams ‘I’m too young’. Because this is young, obviously… With water: chalk and wood smoke, perhaps benzoin… Mouth (neat): I think I’ve never been so glad to taste this much new oak in any whisky. Fantastic spices, ginger, cloves, mint, liquorice, tobacco, those Chinese spices again (between caraway and fennel seeds, perhaps)… This ought to be unbalanced, and yet it’s not. With water: gets sweeter, with bitter and regular oranges, and perhaps a little tamarind. It’s crazy how it became fresher and almost ‘light’, in the best sense of that word. Finish: long, back to spices. Caraway and ginger in chocolate and tobacco. Lovely mentholated and smoky aftertaste. Up up up! Comments: so far from being some new whisky for hipsters, this has depth and style. It’s peated, but the peat is totally integrated. SGP:453 - 89 points.

Westland 25 mo (58%, OB, USA, single malt, cask #312, 288 bottles, 2014)

Westland 25 mo (58%, OB, USA, single malt, cask #312, 288 bottles, 2014) Two stars This one came from a first-fill PX sherry hogshead. Hit or miss in my book… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got less oak than the new cask 317, and many more raisins, which was to be expected, I suppose. Now this feeling of coffee ‘enriched’ with brandy de Jerez works very well, much care has been put into this. Even if after five minutes, it just smells of… very old Pedro Ximenez. With water: oh, it goes towards oloroso! Walnut spirit aged in oak. Mouth (neat): frankly, I’m not too sure. This much pepper in this much PX and coffee make this little baby really extreme, and pretty un-whisky. It seems that they filled very few such casks, and I’m not sure that was a bad idea. With water: too many raisins for me. Finish: long, sweet, syrupy, a tad cloying. Coffee, sugar and schnapps. Comments: hurray, I found a Westland I didn’t like! The nose was interesting, but the palate was just too ‘invasive’ for me. SGP:741 - 72 points.

Westland 28 mo (54%, OB, USA, single malt, cask #242, 223 bottles, 2014)

Westland 28 mo (54%, OB, USA, single malt, cask #242, 223 bottles, 2014) Four stars This baby out of new American oak. Excuse me? Right, those were 18-month air-dried staves, #3 char. And as always, Belgian brewer’s yeast and long fermentation (144 hours). Colour: gold. Nose: all right! You would think this is twelve years old ex-bourbon Yamazaki, honest. After all, Japan isn’t that far from Seattle, is it? Custard, cakes, marmalade, earl grey tea, blond cigarettes, white chocolate, cedar wood. With water: vorsicht, a lot of saponification taking place, but after ten minutes, we find a lot of chocolate and, wait, Nutella? Mouth (neat): perfect. Pineapples and lemons, then white pepper and cinnamon, then custard and biscuits. The ones you eat with Champagne, we call them boudoirs (sponge fingers). With water: same-ish. Perhaps a tad more citrusy. Finish: long, clean, classic. Could have been artisan Glenmo as well. Comments: probably the least singular this far, but everything was pretty perfect. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Westland ‘Garryana Edition 1/1’ (56.2%, OB, USA, single malt, 2500 bottles, 2016)

Westland ‘Garryana Edition 1/1’ (56.2%, OB, USA, single malt, 2500 bottles, 2016) Three stars A brand new larger batch, matured in garry oak, which is a native oak tree from the northwest of America. It is a long story, which you’d better read on the distillers’ own website (it’s very excellent, probably one of the best no-BS brand websites out there.) Colour: gold. Nose: extremely tight, compact, focussed, and perhaps even simple. But it’s a perfect simplicity (how many times have I already used the word perfect today?) Orange cake covered with cloves and cinnamon and drizzled with Jamaican rum. Yes. And they added pieces of bacon! (figuratively). With water: we’re going back towards traditional American oak. Mouth (neat): isn’t Garryana just another word for lemon tree? Because this is lemony, then more candied, on candied ginger, then oakier, with a drying side. Strong black tea. With water: sweeter, lighter, fresher, fruitier. But some green tannins keep roaring in the background. Finish: long, rather spicy, and pretty ‘green’. Liquorice wood. The aftertaste is rather drying again, and the bacon is back. Comments: the oak feels a little too much for me, so it loses a bunch of points in my book, but other than that, all the rest is, yeah, pretty perfect. SGP:551 - 82 points.

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



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September 29, 2016


The Truth About The New Ardbeg

Yeah I thought I’d write a Donald-Trump-style headline, for once and for fun. Apologies, but since you’re here, let’s go on. In fact, you’d almost think we’re in 2003, for there is a new well-aged official Ardbeg. If you’re not in the know, that means either that you’ve been living in a cave for a good few weeks, or that you’ve been in digital detox. I’ve seen raving comments here and there, some friends claiming that ‘old Ardbeg’ was back. The best way to check that, as you very well know, is to first have some old Ardbeg. Not one at cask strength, that would be unfair, rather a well-known low-strength official that we haven’t tried since, wait, let me check… The year 2000, which is when it came out!

Ardbeg 1975/2000 (43%, OB)

Ardbeg 1975/2000 (43%, OB) Five stars One of the bottles that did build Ardbeg’s legend. No, that wasn’t the 17 yo, not many people were caring for the 17 when it was on the shelves. Now this 1975 was not one of my favourites, but I did use to score it pretty highly (WF 90). But that was a long time ago, and I never wrote proper notes… Colour: Gold. Nose: certainly not the profile of modern Ardbeg. This is softer, sappier, with many more almondy notes (marzipan, amaretti) and a much wider phenolness. Embrocations and suntan lotions, engine oil, castor oil, light pitch, pu-erh tea (back on WF!), and above everything, camphor and eucalyptus. I believe it’s this tar plus camphor plus eucalyptus combination that used to appeal to so many whisky lovers ten or twenty years ago. Mouth: what strikes first is this tropical sweetness, not to be encountered in any modern Ardbegs, with mangos and grapefruits coated with tar and marmalade. What comes next is more ‘usual’, so ashes, tar, peat smoke, seashells (say clams), and lemon, plus a medicinal side. Antiseptic and turpentine. Big mouth feel given the strength, but that’s still a rather low strength. Finish: rather long, and that’s where the saltiness kicks in, together with citrons and lemons. Comments: what’s really superb in these batches is the fact that they were both powerful and complex. And very Ardbeggian. I seem to remember that the following batch, in 2001, had been less entrancing. SGP:457 - 91 points.

Ardbeg 21 yo ‘Twenty One’ (46%, OB, bourbon casks, 2016)

Ardbeg 21 yo ‘Twenty One’ (46%, OB, bourbon casks, 2016) Five stars Yep that’s the new one. The packaging is talking about the late 1990s as the period when this was distilled, but the numbers do not quite add-up, do they? Rather early-to-mid 1990s, I wager - unless it's not a 21 - but it’s true that copywriters are rarely good at math. So rather distilled by Allied than by Glenmorangie Plc that did buy the distillery in 1997 and restart it in 1998 (Glenmo was later to be bought by LVMH, so Ardbeg is now partly owned by Diageo, which few people actually realise). Colour: white wine. Nose: definitely different. Basically, it’s got more peat smoke, and it’s got less tar/oil. So it’s rather fresher, less fattish and phenolic, and rather brighter. It’s also a little more coastal, with some seaweed and whiffs of beach bonfire, and perhaps a tad less ‘singular’ than its older sibling. Now, the medicinal notes do come through after a little while, and I do still find it typically ‘Ardbeg’ (no wonder). Almost forgot to say, I’m finding this nose beautiful. Even the tarry almonds do make it to our nostrils after around ten minutes. Mouth: we’re closer to the 1975, I have to say. Same kind of power and complexity, seashells, salt(iness), light tar, bitterish oil (fish oil?), iodine, plasticine… Perhaps does it have a little less citrus, just a little. The peat is perfect. Finish: long, and rather peppery this time. While the 1975 was fatter and tarrier, this is a little more maritime and, well, smoky. Comments: a great half-surprise. We’ve had some superb 19921-1994 Ardbegs in the past, and we’ve had some lousy ones as well. This new one certainly belongs to the former category. Me ve-ry hap-py. SGP:458 - 91 points.

Oh well, while we’re at it, let’s have another older one of a similar age…

Ardbeg 22 yo 1974/1996 (40%, Sestante, Mellow Matured)

Ardbeg 22 yo 1974/1996 (40%, Sestante, Mellow Matured) Five stars It’s not that I’ve never tried this baby, but around ten years ago, I used to have one that was seriously ‘off’ (WF 71), and several friends have told me that that had to be an accident. So as we’re not as stubborn as an Islay mule, let’s try some from another bottle. It’s from G&M stock. Of course, ‘mellow matured’ doesn’t mean a thing. Colour: straw. Nose: wandering along the shores of Islay. Beach fire, dried kelp, sea spray, a working kiln in the distance, and an old abandoned scuba diving suit. Add one grapefruit for good measure, and a cup of green Wulong tea. A fabulous elegance, but as always with these bottles, it’s on your palate that things may go wrong… Mouth: my friends were right. My friends are always right. Starts much drier and ashier than the others, and certainly not weaker, in spite of the low strength. In fact everything’s very subtle, with some tarry pipe tobacco, touches of smoked salmon and other fish (it’s more kippery than the others), hints of bitter almonds, more ashes, some lemon marmalade, the obligatory oysters, and the no-less obligatory iodine. Utterly fantastic old Ardbeg of Montrachet quality, oh I so regret to have kept a low score on for… almost ten years! Finish: perhaps not the longest ever, but even the tail of this comet is bright and taking your breath away. Tar and grapefruits, that works like champagne and strawberries. Comments: sublime, up 23 points, LOL (or in French, PTDR). SGP:456 - 94 points.

(And encore mille mercis, Fabien and Jean-Michel!)

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



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September 28, 2016


Experimental Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich are delving into NAS too, and they certainly do know that if you go NAS, you need stories. Yeah, or low prices, but we’re too early for that in 2016, so we rather get funny stories and very elaborate/upgraded packagings for the time being. Such as these…

Glenfiddich ‘IPA Experiment’ (43%, OB, 2016)

Glenfiddich ‘IPA Experiment’ (43%, OB, 2016) Two stars and a half This funny baby’s finished in casks that had been previously treated with bespoke IPA (India Pale Ale beer). Some say it’s just a legal way of aromatizing your whisky (since you can’t add anything to your whisky, you add it to some regular barrels and then fill them with your whisky), but of course we’re in front of a much more elaborate concept today. Aren’t we? Colour: pale gold. Nose: noses like the 12. The 12 is a good whisky. Overripe apples, barley, vanilla, sponge cake, and beer. IPA? Perhaps… Mouth: it’s got some oomph, some pepper, some ginger, some vanilla, more ginger, and indeed a beer-like side. But many young malt whiskies have beer-like sides. Whether you could call this baby a hoppy malt remains to be seen, and if it’s hop, it’s rather grassy hop, we’re far from, say fruity Californian IPAs. Finish: medium, a little bitter, but that’s quite pleasant. Bitter grapefruit. Very dry/sour aftertaste. Comments: I had thought it would be much fruitier. What’s good is that this new ‘experiment’ isn’t too expensive, around £45. The bottle is superb. SGP:361 - 78 points.

Glenfiddich ‘Project XX’ (47%, OB, 2016)

Glenfiddich ‘Project XX’ (47%, OB, 2016) Three stars Another NAS, so another story, and despite the name, it’s got nothing to do with a mid-1970s Italian erotic/Sci-Fi movie, mind you. This time it’s twenty brand ambassadors (you know, our very friendly… err, friends) that selected twenty casks (how convenient) that have then been vatted together. I find the bottle as lovely as the IPA’s, they did put a lot of effort into the packaging. At £50, I’m sure my dearest concierge will buy one; Christmas trees, get ready! Colour: gold. Nose: more action. More complex, with a heavier fruity style, figs, raisins, some fresh butter, a lovely maltiness, many cakes, kugelhopf, yellow flowers, a touch of heather honey, then fresh oranges… I really find this nose lovely. Mouth: much more classic than the IPA, with more depth, and something that reminds me of the older 15 yo Cask Strength. Cakes and raisins, apple pie, artisan cider, then a bigger tannicity. Indeed it is rather tannic, in the style of some rural young Calvados. Finish: quite long, quite tannic, quite spicy, but the apples and the dryish raisins are keeping the freshness. Comments: the most Glenfiddich of them two. I may have to speak with my concierge. SGP:451 - 82 points.

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


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback




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September 27, 2016


Mad new blended malts

No, seriously, everyone just loves what Compass Box and Jon Glaser are doing. I’ve never seen so much goodwill towards a ‘brand’, there seems to be some kind of secret alchemy that makes even the most ‘marketed’ move by them look totally authentic and ‘natural’ (while others, conversely, you know what I mean…) Including, ach, NAS! Yeah I know that that secret alchemy is actually only very smart and hard work, but still, they could launch Bolognese sauce and that would work… Anyway, let’s simply try some of their brand new whisky, and a few others by others for good measure…

Three Year Old Deluxe (49.2%, Compass Box, blended malt, 3,282 bottles, 2016)

Three Year Old Deluxe (49.2%, Compass Box, blended malt, 3,282 bottles, 2016) Five stars Around 1% Clynelish 3yo, 90% ‘considerably older’ Clynelish, and 9% old malt whisky from the Isle of Skye (Ardbeg? ;-)) Of course they’re teasing a few official bodies and whisky Goliaths with this very old (on average) yet legally very young malt. Only CB could do that. Only one question remains, are there 3,282 whisky aficionados out there that’ll get the joke? Colour: pale gold. Nose: some friends have been speaking of a kind of ‘recreation of Brora’, but in that case that would be mid-1970s Brora. It’s certainly very waxy, and certainly only mildly peaty, with mainly ripe green fruits (greengages and those green pears, the name of which I always forget), as well as a little honeydew and this very peculiar kind of paraffin that screams ‘Clynelish!’ Now there are rather fewer tropical fruits than in some, say 1970-1975 Clynelish. Very lovely nose, though. A few bonbons and a little custard. Mouth: more peat, more citrus. Waxed tangerines plus lime juice and perhaps grass juice (like they had in posh juice bars in the not-so-glorious 1980s). Some oystery notes as well – might be that Talisker – and an ashy side. The whole is very fresh, hold on, could it be that it’s actually very young ‘on average’ indeed? After all, four years ARE considerably older than three years, aren’t they? Couldn’t this be the whisky coup of the century? Finish: emphasizes on the citric part. Good length. Comments: as excellent as some excellent Clynelish. In a way, it’s a Clynelish with options. SGP:562 - 90 points.

The Anniversary Dram XO (45.4%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams, blended malt, 2016)

The Anniversary Dram XO (45.4%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams, blended malt, 2016) Four starsXO, so Extra Old, in Cognac means that the youngest component is a least 6 yo (until 2018 when it’s going to be 10 years, apparently). But I’m sure this is much older, even if the price is fair (around 100 Belgian Euros!) Colour: gold. Nose: very very nice, not unlike some old Glenrothes or even Glenlivet, even if this is more ‘immediate’. Old books, wax polish, honey, apple crumble, and then a very lovely sappy earthiness that adds some extra-dimensions. Mouth: some kind of peat coming through now – but that could be wood spices as well, tobacco, cherry liqueur, propolis, pinesap… Some pepper and even curry and juniper tend to take over on your tongue, but the whole never loses its balance. Solid body. Finish: rather long, really spicy now. Comments: I find it excellent, really full-bodied, feeling more like 50% vol. than 45. Very good composition. SGP:462 - 87 points.

Rich Fruity Sherry 36 yo (44.5%, Cadenhead Creations, blended malt, batch 2, 2016)

Rich Fruity Sherry 36 yo (44.5%, Cadenhead Creations, blended malt, batch 2, 2016) Four stars and a half ** Update, it's actually a blend containing a dash of old grain**. Cadenhead are using all available means to please serious whisky lovers these days. Except over-hyperbolic marketing. This baby’s very new, I couldn’t find any pictures yet, so I’ve put WF’s mousers instead. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s a kind of more honeyed Nectar – actually it does nose like genuine flower nectar – with an extremely orange-y background that reminds me of some old lightly sherried Dalmores. So a blend of blood orange juice, honey, perhaps pomegranate juice, and perhaps peach juice (as can be nosed from some good young artisan Cognac). Mouth: really very orange-forward, with some Schweppes-like elements, and quite some honey too. Cinchona, Aperol (apologies), quince jelly, figs… I had feared it would be a little fragile, but not at all. There are some oak spices ‘of course’, and I guess one of the casks was really woody, but the blending worked out with glory and deserves medals. Oh and the blood oranges are back after ten minutes. Finish: medium, always with this Aperol-y (!!) side that works extremely well in this context. Comments: mi gusta mucho. Wait, that’s not Italian, is it? SGP:561 - 89 points.

Yula 21 yo (52.3%, Douglas Laing, blended malt, 2016)

Yula 21 yo (52.3%, Douglas Laing, blended malt, 2016) Three stars and a half I’m totally sorry but this bottle looks plainly ‘WTF?’ Some kind of Nordic goddess or something, with a rather Mexican name, and a design that may appeal to a few people in Taos. Or in Goa. Now we don’t taste labels, we taste whisky, so… Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts Kildaldonian, with embers, a working kiln (rarer and rarer these days when there’s no festival), some candied lemons, and tarry ropes. Gets then ashier, and I’m also finding a little clay and perhaps a touch of fresh mint. And fresh asparagus. Much, much less ‘WTF?’ than the funny label. With water: much more coal tar, Band-aid... Mouth (neat): starts with a rather acrid smoke and a biting pepper, and goes on with more candied lemon. It’s quite sharp and even close to pungent. Something slightly plasticine-y. With water: really very plasticine-y. Candle wax, soot, more tar… Finish: rather long, on more or less the same notes. Tarry aftertaste. And even more plasticine. Comments: rather unusual. At some point you would think there’s quite some wacky Bowmore ‘from that period’ inside. All the rest is pretty perfect, in my opinion. Now where’s my glass of Timorous Beastie 40? Ah, there… SGP:455 - 83 points.

Perhaps a last one… and why not another very funny new one by Compass Box? But first, a long break, because it’s going to be much lighter… supposedly…

Whisky de Table 3 yo (40%, Compass Box, with La Maison du Whisky, blended malt, 2016)

Whisky de Table 3 yo (40%, Compass Box, with La Maison du Whisky, blended malt, 2016) Two stars and a halfI guess only the French will get it, this one is kind of mocking or mimicking those bottles of cheap no-appellation wine we had in France. In general, Vin de Table Is/was just cheap wine for everyday, without any appellation. In a way, it’s the opposite of a grand cru. Ah this is one cheeky bottling… By the way, it’s another Clynelish-led combo (48.1% Clynelish) with a dash of Caol Ila (around 10%) plus some good fillers. Typical CB recipe. Oh and it’s supposed to be drunk on ice, but of course we won’t (S., you rebel!) Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: very young, with apples and white cherries covered with candle wax and a very elusive smokiness, as if it was ‘Highland’ Caol Ila. Raw barley, perhaps a little porridge. I would not call it new-make-y, but the youth feels. Thinks of ice. Mouth: we’re going towards barley eau-de-vie. Amaretti, custard, barley syrup, apple juice. Less Clinelishy waxes and greases than expected, I guess they wanted to preserve the lightness. Now it’s not vodka! Dreams of ice. Finish: short, barleyish. Apple juice, and just a touch of smoke, it’s almost as if they had added a little cinnamon. Comments: I don’t know, I really don’t know. I love the idea, and it’s probably impossible to do better than this within that idea, but in a way, this is not whisky. It’s good, but not very whisky-like. On the other hand, they wouldn’t have added caramel and boisé anyway… Would 79 points do? Deal? (because as a spirit drink, it’s pretty pretty good!) SGP:431 - 79 points.

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



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September 26, 2016


Wigtown limoncello

Bladnoch, missed opportunities, perhaps.There used to be some great ones, but the name lost a little polish in recent times, in my opinion. I’m all in favour of products above brands and marketing (pushing - or trying to premiumise - a brand without a good product is just pathetic, as can be seen here and there these days), but still, a little good marketing can do no harm… Anyway, let’s have a wee bunch…

Bladnoch 22 yo 1992 (53.3%, Exclusive Malts, cask #4270, 295 bottles, +/-2015)

Bladnoch 22 yo 1992 (53.3%, Exclusive Malts, cask #4270, 295 bottles, +/-2015) Two stars and a half Birds are very fashionables on whisky labels these days. Colour: straw/white wine. Nose: very Bladnoch, and not easy-easy. A lot of lemon squash mixed with plaster, something sour (more lemon juice), and quite some baker’s yeast. Sharp and singular. With water: gets very porridge-y, grainy, yeasty, and bready. Mashed potatoes and more lemon juice. Mouth (neat): hot, very lemony, with chemical touches, between, plastic and chalk. Bread dough. It really is an unusual style. With water: gets rather cleaner, but we’re still having a feeling of, say fresh baguette dipped into limoncello. Finish: medium, on more or less the same flavours. Perhaps some aniseed in the aftertaste. Comments: a malt like no other. Certainly good, of course it is, but it’s not totally my cup of malt. SGP:451 - 78 points.

Bladnoch 25 yo 1990/2015 (52.2%, The Whisky Agency and Acla Selection, barrel)

Bladnoch 25 yo 1990/2015 (52.2%, The Whisky Agency and Acla Selection, barrel) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s much brighter, without any yeasty or fermentary notes this time, and rather a lovely combination involving the usual lemons, apples, oranges, and just a touch of vanilla to nicely coat all that. Now there is a little porridge too, but we’re below the limits. With water: some perfect lemon juice. I mean, real squeezed lemons! Mouth (neat): good, very zesty, angular, lemony, with sweets, our friends the famous jelly beans, and no coating this time. Great citrusy sharpness. With water: but this is artisan limoncello! What’s funny is that I do detect a saltiness too, which isn’t very ‘Lowlands’, is it? Finish: rather long, lemony and always a little salty. Would you pass the tequila please? Comments: like it quite a lot. It really is a singular style, only Rosebank could be like this, in my humble opinion. SGP:541 - 85 points.

Bladnoch 25 yo 1990/2016 (50.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon, 264 bottles)

Bladnoch 25 yo 1990/2016 (50.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon, 264 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s unsurprising that we would be so close to the previous 1990, but this one’s maybe even better chiselled, precise, lemony of course, and Sancerre-like. I’d love to try it on some goat cheese from Provence, too bad I don’t like goat cheese too much (now that was useful, S.!) With water: grapefruits! Damn, what’s the name of that molecule again?... Mouth (neat): very sharp, like a good knife, and totally lemony. Someone must have invented the word ‘zesty’ after having quaffed this kind of Bladnoch. Good grass as well. With water: lemon and grapefruit juices with a little agave syrup to round it off. Finish: ditto. Medium length. A funny fizziness remains on your tongue, there used to be sweets like this in the seventies. But then again, there were the Kursaal Flyers too. Comments: excellent Bladnochian Bladnoch. I so hate Cadenhead! SGP:541 - 87 points.

Bonus (kind of), and old session I did two or three years ago, and which I never dared to publish. Not too happy about it, but there, for the record…

Bladnoch 22 yo 1990/2013 (49.5%, OB, cask #5762)

Bladnoch 22 yo 1990/2013 (49.5%, OB, cask #5762) Two stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: little citrus, rather some kind of porridgy and yeasty and grassy notes, some raw eau-de-vie (tutti frutti straight from the still) and quite some soot. Touches of yoghurt too, milk, soaked barley… Not the easiest Bladnoch so far. With water: cheese, more yoghurt, apple vinegar and distant whiffs of gym socks. Challenging and… ar, er, athletic? Mouth (neat): raw, very grassy, with some spritzy lemon, aspirin tablets, then chilli and green pepper. Very, very austere but it’s got quite some character. It’s just a little difficult. With water: even more lemon as well as more rocks, limestone, beer… Finish: moderately long, lemony and yeasty as before. Comments: totally unsexy, very austere. Was that intentional? SGP:362 - 77 points.

Bladnoch 23 yo 1990/2013 (54%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #3484, 116 bottles)

Bladnoch 23 yo 1990/2013 (54%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #3484, 116 bottles) Two stars Colour: gold. Nose: can you smoke fudge? We’ve got the same kind of yeasty profile as with the OB, but it seems that the cask imparted more sexiness, even if all this remains a little unlikely. Toasted oak, charcoaled yoghurt (!), sour wood, fern and moss… Very intriguing. With water: flambéed yoghurt and Swiss cheese plus bags of artisanal muesli. Hoppla. Also raisins, more burnt cake… Mouth (neat): same feeling of fudge, praline, toasted oak… As if a rather strange kind of reracking occurred. So a layer of toasted oak and burnt vanilla cake over beer, yeast and Turkish yoghurt sauce (I think that’s called Cacik). With water: the oak comes out and makes it drying and rather bitter. Sawdust. Finish: quite long and very drying. Big tannicity. Comments: not too sure… It feels like if some new oak was involved. SGP:351 - 73 points.

Bladnoch 21 yo 1991/2012 (54.9%, Riverstown, hogshead, cask ref #2012-123, 296 bottles)

Bladnoch 21 yo 1991/2012 (54.9%, Riverstown, hogshead, cask ref #2012-123, 296 bottles) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: there, another austere one, with some smoked oak and charcoal, but rather less yoghurty notes than in the 1990s. A lot of burning grass, whiffs of fresh mint leaves – which is nice, obviously – then some freshly ground pepper and some coriander. Very austere but works well, I think. With water: the barley comes out, with plenty of bready notes but very little yeast, which is all fine. Mouth (neat): there, lemons and grapefruits! They’re most welcome and complement the very grassy and peppery style quite well. A little extreme, but balanced. With water: more or less the same. Fully barley-driven, in fact, which becomes more and more uncommon. Finish: quite long and rather clean. Barley, apple peelings, white pepper. Comments: a big sharp austere Bladnoch. Better balanced than the others in my opinion. SGP:461 - 82 points.

Let’s try to find more fruits in an older bottling…

Bladnoch 23 yo (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy, handwritten label, +/-1990)

Bladnoch 23 yo (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy, handwritten label, +/-1990) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: aaaaahhhh! There, all these wonderful fruity tones we were expecting have arrived, together with some kind of smoky/sooty notes that go well with them. Also a lot of metal polish, we’re well in the style of many old Dumpies by Cadenhead. Smoked tangerines? Very lovely nose, let’s just hope the palate won’t be too metallic. Mouth: a tad more deconstructed, if I may, with also some unexpected notes of coconut liqueur that give it a mild bourbon profile. It’s not big, and I also find a little too much cardboard and drops of stale tea. Having said that, I enjoy the beeswax and the notes of old marc de Bourgogne, this wild earthiness (humus, another flavour that’s often to be found in old dumpies in my experience) as well as these touches of bitter almonds, marzipan and lemon zests. It’s a complex whisky, it just lacks focus. Finish: not too long, rather green, drying, with a lot of green tea and a peppery aftertaste. The good news is that there are also tangerines and grapefruits. Comments: it’s not a very harmonious old Bladnoch in my opinion, but we’re well above the newer ones, mainly because of the citrus. SGP:461 - 84 points.

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



Block Today: PURE FUSION. Performer: Greg Howe. Track: Coltrane's Giant Steps. As controversial as malt whisky in Port wood? Please visit his website and buy his music...

September 23, 2016


A flight of Glenburgie

Glenburgie, terra almost incognita. Of course we’ve tried quite a few, but I just couldn’t tell you about the malt’s main characteristics and markers. Provided there are any…

Glenburgie 18 yo 1995/2014 (43%, Signatory Vintage, casks #6447 + 6448, 894 bottles)

Glenburgie 18 yo 1995/2014 (43%, Signatory Vintage, casks #6447 + 6448, 894 bottles) Three stars One of the most lovable series ever, always very fairly priced. Kind of Signatory’s Connoisseurs Choice, all about what’s inside the bottle. Colour: pale gold. Nose: some kind of soft Glenlivet-like Speysider, with many ripe fruits, pears, pastries, apple crumble, and a touch of honey. Hints of oranges lift it, and make it just totally pleasant. Mouth: very good, easy, simple and yet not dull at all, rather more potent than ‘43%”, with good honey, cakes, ripe apples, and cereals. Totally malt whisky, without any flaws. Finish: medium, a tad zestier, so with more oranges than apples. Comments: I cannot see who would be against this. Sure it’s not totally unforgettable, but it’s all pleasure. And it goes down quick! Better than all the large-volume officials at the same kind of price. SGP:441 - 81 points.

Glenburgie 16 yo 1997/2014 (48%, Distiller’s Art, sherry butt, 385 bottles)

Glenburgie 16 yo 1997/2014 (48%, Distiller’s Art, sherry butt, 385 bottles) Three stars Another nice wee series, this time by Langside Distillers, so one of the Laing bros. Colour: deep gold. Nose: there is a little ‘good’ sulphur at first nosing, church candles, matches… But there are also nice orchard fruits, honey cake, hints of orange blossom water, heather… All that is pleasant, if not totally memorable once again. Mouth: in truth I find this very good. Excellent apples and pears, pastries, teas, and a fizzy citrusness that makes it very, well, alive. The sherry influence is rather minimal (green walnuts, perhaps). Very good body, 48% vol. works very well, perhaps better than both 46 and 50% vol. Finish: rather long, a tad leafier this time. Comments: very solid, I’d say, if not earth-shattering. SGP:451 - 82 points.

Glenburgie 21 yo 1992/2013 (57.7%, Tasting Fellows, hogshead, cask #3444, 262 bottles)

Glenburgie 21 yo 1992/2013 (57.7%, Tasting Fellows, hogshead, cask #3444, 262 bottles) Three stars Who could be against some tasting fellows? Colour: white wine. Nose: it is, perhaps, a little ethanoly, without much asperities, but malty it is. Weetabix and muesli plus ripe apples and a little liquorice wood. With water: takes water very well and becomes earthier, chalkier, more mineral… And farmier. Mouth (neat): very good, with more oomph and, well, asperities than on the nose. Citrons and oranges, orange liqueur, apples, barley syrup… All is fine. With water: goody good. Cider and orange squash. Perhaps drops of the trendiest IPA (I couldn’t give you any names, since that changes every week). Finish: medium, malty, cake-y. Rather more hay as well, with a grassier style. Comments: another very good one, well selected. SGP:451 - 82 points.

Let’s try to find an older vintage…

Glenburgie 25 yo 1983/2009 (58.2%, Dewar Rattray, cask #9908, bourbon, 207 bottles)

Glenburgie 25 yo 1983/2009 (58.2%, A.D. Rattray, cask #9908, bourbon, 207 bottles) Three stars Dewar/A.D. Rattray! Remember when they were the new kids on the block? Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar. Chalky lemons and apples, plus and earthy maltiness. Niiiice. With water: nice porridge-y farminess. Muesli and the stuff they serve you on Calmac ferries as deserts. Provided you survived the sausages. Mouth: no quibbles and no qualms. It’s good malt whisky, with apples and citrus plus cereals. One may call this ‘Chivassy’. No pun intended. With water: what’s on the telly tonight? Finish: medium, medium, medium, everything’s quite medium. Comments: do. you. really. need. any. comments? SGP:441 - 81 points.

A last, slightly newer one, for the road…

Glenburgie 18 yo 1997/2015 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #10873, 744 bottles)

Glenburgie 18 yo 1997/2015 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #10873, 744 bottles) Three starsSeven hundred and forty four bottles, at a hefty strength, from one single cask? My goodness! Colour: white wine. Nose: ah, a third-fill butt? There are traces of sulphur remaining, and that’s no problem. Walnuts, scoria, basalt, burnt toasts, Guinness (I’m sorry), and a wee meaty side. I remember having eaten some kind of pemmican in eastern Turkey that used to ‘nose’ like this. Mouth: very funny! The sulphur is still obvious on the palate, reminds me of the army. Also grape pips oil, greenish coffee, and certainly quite some cardamom. In short, a very unusual dram. Yeah, perhaps a little deviant… Finish: rather long, with an unexpected smokiness. Perhaps an ex-peater butt, in fact, which would explain a lot of things. Comments: deviant indeed, but in an open, modern society, deviances should be seen as worthy contributions. Ooh let’s stop it all here. SGP:452 - 82 points.

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



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September 21, 2016


Four Canadians

Canada. No one really knows Canadian whisky in Europe (exaggerating a bit, probably). There are some on the lower shelves of our supermarkets, of course, but they need to put maple leaves and elks onto the labels to get noticed as ‘Canadians’. Or names in big block letters such as Canadian Club, Canadian Tipper, Canadian Mist… or else. Some work to be done, I guess, let’s hope the fabulous Davin a.k.a. Mr Canadian Whisky will get appointed and come tour old Europe, he sure is the best possible ambassador. In the mean time, let’s see what we have… We’ll keep this short anyway.

Lord Calvert (40%, OB, Canada, blend, +/-2015)

Lord Calvert (40%, OB, Canada, blend, +/-2015) Never tried Lord Calvert before. It’s now a brand by Beam. Hope it’s not too futzed and that additives have been kept at bay. Colour: pale gold. Not too caramelised. Nose: okayish, at least not any worse than some young hyper-marketed Scottish grain whisky. Pretty similar, in fact, you could call it Beckhamy. Vanillin, industrial cake, corn syrup, and Weetabix. Mouth: for cocktails. Too much vanilla, too much sugar, too little depth. It’s even oddly syrupy, which cannot be totally natural. Are they allowed to use glycerine? Finish: short, too thick and sweet, with a spirity aftertaste, plus some sawdust. Comments: I think this is pretty poor, more or less of Black Velvet quality. Too liqueury and boneless for me. SGP:720 - 55 points.

So that’s done.

8 Seconds (40%, OB, Canada, blend, +/-2015)

8 Seconds (40%, OB, Canada, blend, +/-2015) This one comes complete with wild west lettering, bison skulls and promises of smooooothness. Are we cowboys or not? Colour: gold. Nose: hold on, put your gun away, this is ten times nicer than the Lord Calvert. Nicely cereally, with pastries and maple syrup (no wonder), as well as whiffs of warm praline from the oven. That is certainly quite nice. Mouth: indeed, much nicer. Sure it’s not Springbank, but there is some kind of balance and rather pleasant notes of cornflakes and caramel cake. Sadly, it tends to become too grainy, flattish, and slightly cardboardy. Drink it quick. Finish: short and evanescent. Less than 8 seconds. Some alcohol and liqueurs in the aftertaste. Comments: not totally dishonest, I’d say. SGP:630 - 68 points.

We need to change gear, don’t we…

Alberta Premium 30 yo (40%, OB, Canada, +/-2011)

Alberta Premium 30 yo (40%, OB, Canada, +/-2011) Four stars A weird looking bottle but a high reputation. This Albertan baby’s said to be made out of 100% un-malted rye, which gives us much hope, despite the disappointing strength. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s very delicate and elegant, not on full-rye-mode, with touches of cranberry juice, and perhaps mandarins, and probably old perfumes. Potpourri, I’d say. It’s a little fragile, perhaps, but at least it’s intriguing. Mouth: ah good! It’s got more oomph than expected, and despite a marginally excessive oakiness (custard and cinnamon cake), it does deliver. Tea for sure, chamomile, lavender-flavoured crème brulée (that’s the rye), and a large assortment of pastries from all over the world. Baklavas, Danishes, croissants… Now it does lose steam, and that’s the strength. I’d have made fewer bottles at a higher ABV, it would have been quite a winner. Finish: short, and that’s the low strength. The distillate wasn’t quite textured enough to stand such dilution, but first, who am I, and second, it’s still very excellent. More pastries, and cranberry sweets in the aftertaste. Comments: I hope they have kept some at cask strength stashed somewhere, for the future generations. It’s a little too light for me, but it’s certainly one of the best Canadian whiskies I’ve ever tried. SGP:441 - 87 points.

And now an odd one by some Scots, for good measure…

Potter 26 yo 1989/2016 (58.3%, Cadenhead, Indian corn whisky, Canada, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles)

Potter 26 yo 1989/2016 (58.3%, Cadenhead, Indian corn whisky, Canada, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles) It’s really mysterious why Cadenhead have these casks, someone must have mistakenly pushed a button or something. I find them funny for sure, but I believe our friends should only sell miniatures of this and not full bottles. Now, maybe is this 26 much more to my liking than the 24? (WF 65). Colour: pale gold. Nose: hello? Sweet alcohol covered with vanilla sauce, grated coconut, and perhaps drizzlings of pastis. We’ll see what happens once water’s been added… With water: a little nicer. Very soft. Milk, sawdust and custard? Mouth (neat): I do not know what to say. Vanilla sugar, perhaps? With water: reminds me of a North British I tried a few years back. No, I’m making this up, just because I know North British used to distil maize as well ;-). Finish: okayish. Comments: I would have done some kind of world blend for the Olympics in Rio, rather than bottle this as a ‘single’. But it does go down, as they say in high plain diving. SGP:820 - 66 points (one more point for the extra-two years).

(Thanks C.J.!)

Please remember that my assessment of any spirits is only a personal opinion and is done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast that usually prefers distillate-driven spirits, and dislikes anything doctored, aromatised, hybridised, or tampered with, thank you – and peace!



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September 19, 2016


One two three four five Longmorn

We’ve had quite a bunch of Longmorn just two or three weeks ago, but Longmorn can be quite moreish, so…

Longmorn 1992/2006 (59.7%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, cask #62552)

Longmorn 1992/2006 (59.7%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, cask #62552) Four starsI know this was bottled ten years ago already, but I’ve always felt a fondness for James MacArthur. Long may them go on and prosper! Colour: gold. Nose: potent and even hot, to say the least, but with this typical mineral fruitiness that’s often obvious in young un-sherried or very lightly sherried Longmorn. Apples, clay, and a faint fermentary side. Orange wine ;-). Just a notch solventy, as often. With water: same. Leaven, beer, apples… Mouth (neat): very good, a little brutal but that’s normal (it sends lumber, do we say in French slang), with more overripe apples mixed with clay and chalk, which creates notes of liquorice wood. With water: the spices come out, caraway, cloves… Finish: very long, pleasantly bitter. Dry Jaeger. More liquorice wood as well. Comments: simply a very good powerful Speysider au naturel. SGP:451 - 86 points.

Longmorn 20 yo 1993/2013 (55.5%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon, cask #7177)

Longmorn 20 yo 1993/2013 (55.5%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon, cask #7177) Four starsColour: gold. Nose: almost the same whisky, perhaps just a notch more honeyed. IPA and caramel, chalk, overripe apples… Also a little ham, or rather game. With water: gets a little gamier, with some hay and some artisan beer. Say a good Belgian trappist. Mouth (neat): really very good, starting with marshmallows and various tinned fruits, then plenty of custard and honey, and becoming then rather cake-y. Some hot cinnamon as well, the cask has been very active. With water: the liquorice comes out, as well as the same earthy bitterness as in the JMcA. Finish: same for a long time. Comments: truly good once again. The 1992 was just a little fresher and brighter. SGP:451 - 85 points.

Longmorn 22 yo 1990/2013 (55.1%, Swisslink, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #8646)

Longmorn 22 yo 1990/2013 (55.1%, Swisslink, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #8646) Four stars You got it, this is a bottling for Switzerland. Hoppla hop! Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely close to the James MacArthur – and to the best OBs at cask strength. Chalky apples and all that. I say no more. With water: again, artisan beer and liquorice wood, plus hay and leaven. Mouth (neat): super strong, concentrated, a little fudge-y and toffee-ish. That should be the bourbon wood. All that works very well, it’s excellent malt. With water: indeed. Same as the 1992, they’re almost undistinguishable when watered down. Finish: long, malty, bitter, and liquoricy. Indeed, just like the JMcA. Comments: do you really need more comments? SGP:451 - 86 points.

Let’s not go on with these batches, they’re too similar (and similarly good). Perhaps older Longmorns… And who are kings of old Longmorn? Of course…

Longmorn 1965/2009 (43.9%, Gordon & MacPhail for Japan Import System, cask #69, 218 bottles)

Longmorn 1965/2009 (43.9%, Gordon & MacPhail for Japan Import System, cask #69, 218 bottles) Five starsColour: gold. No sherry monster. Nose: ta-dah! Magnificent combination involving nectar and pollen, old Sauternes, tarte tatin, menthol cigarettes, honeydew, pipe tobacco, Vicks Vaporub, and just whiffs of 3 years old Comté cheese. Say dried wild flowers if you prefer. This is perfect. Mouth: amazing, with an oak that decomposed into myriads of tiny oils and essences, and a fruity malt that’s still alive and kicking. In short, some kind of fruity cough syrup of the highest grade, with an oak that’s about to take over, but that hasn’t yet. A miraculous moment, they shouldn’t have bottled this the day after. Finish: medium, perhaps a tad drying, but these flowery herbal teas work so well… Very eucalyptussy (ahem…) Some kind of mysterious concoction made by monks high in the mountains. Comments: we couldn’t go too high because of all those ‘oaky limits’, but it’s still perfect old whisky, in my opinion. SGP:571 - 90 points.

My dad used to say, ‘always double-check everything, son’…

Longmorn 43 yo 1965/2009 (45.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, for Japan Import System, cask #67, 207 bottles)

Longmorn 43 yo 1965/2009 (45.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, for Japan Import System, cask #67, 207 bottles) Five stars Aren’t our excellent Japanese friends buying all the old Longmorns? Just a question… What’s sure is that this is a sister cask of the previous 1965 (finely observed, S.!) Colour: gold. Nose: we’re walking in an eucalyptus forest. It’s raining, there are also pines and firs, a lot of fern, some moss… And someone has planted marijuana in the neighbourhood. I’m not joking, marijuana isn’t uncommon in malt whisky (hey hey hey, do not get me wrong, officer), but here, it’s huge. Mouth: stunning, mentholy, terpenic indeed, gathering all little things ending with –ol. Yes, even Veedol. Apparently, the oak has given out all its essences and extracts, while leaving this baby fresh and clean, with is a total miracle. Mind you, there are even fresh fruits and honeys! Finish: the most extreme part, as often. It’s easing up on the fruits, and is getting almost totally mentholy and turpentine-y, although some oranges keep fighting on the aftertaste. Comments: some hate this style, I do not, not at all. Mind you, I love it, mainly because at no time it’s getting drying. Miracles, miracles. SGP:472 - 92 points.

(Mille mercis Patrick!)

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



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September 18, 2016


Rums on Sunday, today Bacardi

I can hear you, yes, Bacardi. And why not? As you may know the Bermuda-based consortium originated in Cuba, and old bottles of Cuban Bacardi rum may still be found here and there. We tried some a few years back and it’s been nice-ish. But what we’ll have today is more recent…

Bacardi ‘Reserva Limitada’ (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2015)

Bacardi ‘Reserva Limitada’ (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2015) Three stars An expensive NAS Bacardi, said to be 12 yo, mainly American-oak-fuelled, I’ve heard. Colour: gold. Nose: noses like some good sweet white wine, which comes unexpected. Or rather mead! Also a little vanilla and ripe pineapple, and very little, if not no notes of sugar cane whatsoever. But it’s niiiiice… Mouth: extremely light, sweet, and fruity, which makes it pleasant. Soft vanilla and more pineapple, perhaps papayas, and certainly bananas. They may have added a little sugar, but it’s not unbalanced and certainly not cloying. I have to say I rather like this very easy baby. Finish: medium, fruity, balanced, exotic. Golden sultanas in the aftertaste. Comments: a really good surprise. We had the 8 yo back in August and thought it was too undemanding (WF 70) but this is certainly vastly superior. SGP:630 - 82 points.

Bacardi ‘Facundo Paraiso XA’ (40%, OB, blend, 2000 decanters, 2016)Bacardi ‘Facundo Paraiso XA’ (40%, OB, blend, 2000 decanters, 2016)

Bacardi ‘Facundo Paraiso XA’ (40%, OB, blend, 2000 decanters, 2016) A newish decanter that sells for around 250-300€. The jewels of the crown and the oldest they have (aged from 11 to 23 years, apparently), that comes with stories of family own stash and else that we have already heard at many other places. Yawn. Finished in cognac casks. Re-yawn. Most certainly no old Cuban juice in there, but sadly, it’s not easy to know where it was distilled. Probably a blend of Puerto Rico and the Bahamas? Colour: amber. Nose: it’s quite oaky and yet shy. Pencil shavings, new planks, perhaps a little grass, and that’s all. The Reserva was much more aromatic. Mouth: sweetened up. Jam and honey, corn syrup, plain sugarcane syrup, molasses, that’s almost all. Sticky unbalanced stuff. Finish: medium, very sugary. Was this a joint venture with The Coca Cola Company? Comments: extremely disappointed. Why do they have to add tons of sugar to their older rums? I wouldn’t swap for the Reserva Limitada, not even 10:1. Now, the bulky hemispherical decanter is lovely… SGP:820 - 35 points.

Let’s call in the ancestors!

Bacardi 6 yo ‘Anejo Extra Special’ (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, 1980s) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: dry and grassy at first nosing, as it should be, with hints of asparagus and white beans, then pink bananas and a touch of pineapple. Totally Cuban style, and I mean the best Cubans. Mouth: I don’t think you could do much better within this light and fairly fresh style. Lacks a little build and age, but it’s delicately cane-y and fruity, as well as gently grassy. Pineapple sweets, a little grass, a little cane juice (not syrup this time), and a smidgen of phenolic ‘stuff’, as if there was 1ppm smoke in the molasses. That adds a backbone. Finish: shortish, but nicely grassy and, above all, there’s no ugly sugariness whatsoever this time. Comments: it doesn’t rock your world, and I still like the current Reserva Limitada better, but it literally destroys the very syrupy and very vulgar Facundo etc. SGP:541 - 80 points.

After the lousy El Dorado 25s last week and the hideous Facundo stuff we just had, I think we could draw one conclusion: with rum, avoid any expensive official decanters like the blackest plague!

(With thanks to Cyril and the rumaniacs)

Please remember that my assessment of any spirits is only a personal opinion and is done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast that usually prefers distillate-driven spirits, and dislikes anything doctored, aromatised, hybridised, or tampered with, thank you – and peace!



Block Today: JAZZ FOR RUM. Performer: Jorge Reyes. Track: Guajiron. Please buy his music...

September 16, 2016


Little duets, today Glen Spey by Cadenhead

Can you believe that? Who will launch two separate Glen Speys within just a few months? I haven’t even tasted 40 different Glen Spey within 14 long years (as Douglas Laing would say), for crying out loud! Okay, one of these new ones was kept in a ‘claret cask’ (ha those English - apologies) but still…

Glen Spey-Glenlivet 14 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 2016)

Glen Spey-Glenlivet 14 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 2016) Three stars and a half Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: but yes! Barley and apples, muesli, jelly babies, rhubarb pie, lager, hop… Totally malt whisky au naturel that won’t make you scratch your head. Love the fact that they didn’t try to ‘enhance’ it using any dirty methods. Mouth: totally malt whisky in its most simple, and purest form. Cornflakes, more muesli, Weetabix, dried apples (those slices), various cakes, cookies, biscuits, pies, tartes (that’ll be it, S.) Finish: medium, and extremely barleyish. Comments: refreshing elementary malt whisky. This baby reminds us that malt whisky is meant to be malted barley eau-de-vie polished by time. SGP:441 - 84 points.

Glen Spey-Glenlivet 21 yo 1995/2016 (54.2%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, claret)

Glen Spey-Glenlivet 21 yo 1995/2016 (54.2%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, claret) Three stars This baby was kept in regular casks (barrels or hogsheads) until 2008 and re-racked into a claret (aka Bordeaux) cask until disgorging. Colour: gold. What claret cask? Nose: forget about the claret, this baby hasn’t got any winey notes, as the colour already suggested. All for the better if you ask me. Malty vanilla and nuts and overripe western fruits, plus a Mars bar and a bowl of Weetabix again. What’s really lovely is that some fresher whiffs of crushed herbs arise, with some ramson and some basil. With water: perhaps a little oak. Gets a little ‘sawdusty’. Mouth (neat): but where’s the claret? We won’t complain, this is very nice, malty, slightly peppery, and pretty orangey. With water: perhaps a touch of pineapple? But the oak comes out again. Finish: medium, good. White pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: hadn’t they put it into the ‘wine cask’ collection, I wouldn’t have noticed the Bordeaux side. Probably a château cask that was imported even before WWI ;-). Very good, I just liked the younger bro’s brightness and straightforwardness even better. SGP:451 - 82 points.

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



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September 15, 2016


Little duets, today Glentauchers 1996

Glentauchers is another name that, until just a few years ago, was going relatively unnoticed. Until thanks to a few excellent independent bottlers, the world (well) started to understand how good it could be.

Glentauchers 18 yo 1996/2015 (48%, Claxton’s, bourbon barrel, cask #1502-7884, 247 bottles)

Glentauchers 18 yo 1996/2015 (48%, Claxton’s, bourbon barrel, cask #1502-7884, 247 bottles) Four starsColour: white wine. Nose: pure, grassy, lemony, chalky, and ridden with cider apples. Very average, but I’m using that word in its better sense. An awesome ‘averageness’. Mouth: indeed, a bright fruitiness, between grapefruits and green apples, with a perfect mineral and grassy foundation. I find this very refreshing, and the strength is perfect. It’s only in the background that a few notes of vanilla and white pepper are noticeable. And the strength is perfect. Finish: medium, on the same pretty zesty, pure, and fresh notes. Comments: another great Sancerre of the whisky world. Wonderful freshness – all we need now is a dozen oysters. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Glentauchers 17 yo 1996/2013 (48.7%, Liquid Library, barrel, 178 bottles)

Glentauchers 17 yo 1996/2013 (48.7%, Liquid Library, barrel, 178 bottles) Four stars Yes I’m late again. Colour: white wine – a little darker than the Claxton’s. Nose: this one’s a notch earthier and more floral, a side that you wouldn’t quite notice, were you to try this baby on its own, without comparison. Rose petals and perhaps litchis, plus a little damp black earth. Other than that, same apples + grapefruits combination. Mouth: perhaps is it more typically Glentauchers, with bonbons and jellybeans, marshmallows… All that before, you guessed it, grass, grapefruits and apples are taking over. Very good. Finish: indeed, very good, sweeter, more bonbony (not bourbony). Comments: I liked the other one’s sharper and zestier style a little better, but this one’s excellent too, there’s no denying. SGP:651 - 85 points.

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



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



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Ardbeg 22 yo 1974/1996 (40%, Sestante, Mellow Matured)

Ardbeg 1975/2000 (43%, OB)

Ardbeg 21 yo ‘Twenty One’ (46%, OB, bourbon casks, 2016)

Longmorn 43 yo 1965/2009 (45.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, for Japan Import System, cask #67, 207 bottles)

Longmorn 1965/2009 (43.9%, Gordon & MacPhail for Japan Import System, cask #69, 218 bottles)

Three Year Old Deluxe (49.2%, Compass Box, blended malt, 3,282 bottles, 2016)