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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2018 - Part 1


August 2018 - part 2 <--- September 2018 - part 1 ---> September 2018 - part 2


September 13, 2018


Little duets, let’s praise Glenturret

Are they still for sale? It’s true that between Edrington’s new spaceship in Craigellachie and their very antique Glenturret distillery, there is a world of difference. What’s sure with Glenturret is that its whiskies are, and never were boring.

Glenturret 18 yo 1999/2018 (51.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice cask strength, First fill Sherry hogshead, cask #690, 265 bottles)

Glenturret 18 yo 1999/2018 (51.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice cask strength, First fill Sherry hogshead, cask #690, 265 bottles) Five stars Apparently, this baby’s for Asia & Oceania. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather typically Glenturret at first sniffs, with these notes of soot, brake pad and new leather, but I’m also finding some awesome notes of crushed wild raspberries and red grapes (ever crunched raw syrah?), and then a large nut cake that’s still warm. Pecans, walnuts… I have to say I enjoy this nose a lot this far. With water: oh, earth, old books, and mushrooms! Mouth (neat): superb! Hurray! Gracias! Merci! It’s been a while since I tried such a fantastic Glenturret, full of cigars, chocolate, all nuts one can find on Planet Earth, all honeys as well including the punchiest ones, and once again (since I already found that in another whisky this month), Linzertorte. Hoppla. Sure that’s all partly thanks to the cask, but still… With water: raspberry wine and caramel sauce, plus Maltesers. Makes you feel guilty, just a bit. Finish: long, rich, superb. Touches of violets and liquorice over some wonderful malty chocolate. Comments: dear whisky hounds, go get this one! (if I may). Well done, G&M!
SGP:651 - 91 points.

Glenturret 30 yo 1987/2018 (45.3%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask # 12378, 229 bottles)

Glenturret 30 yo 1987/2018 (45.3%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask # 12378, 229 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: holy featherless chicken, this is subtle! Some perfect old waxes (grandma’s old liquid furniture polish), some lemony hops, touches of pumpernickel (which is very Glenturret indeed, not just brake pads), porcinis, old books, old leather jacket… Now it tends to become a little too paraffiny and even soapy, which is rather old-regime Glenturret indeed in my experience, but nothing too excessive, far from that. After all, this is Glenturret. Mouth: this if full of tiny flaws, and yet it’s perfect, as if each flaw did counterbalance another one. It’s a funny feeling, almost impressionistic. Tobacco, sesame oil, cranberry and cassis bonbons, tonic wine, Seville oranges, mead, whisky-ed porridge (right, porridge), some kind of tarry fudge, molasses, puréed chestnuts, pipe tobacco, nutmeg and juniper… Well I could go on and on. Finish: very long, and curiously coherent while one could have thought it would have gone off in almost any directions. Comments: really a lot of fun. Hope Glenturret will never close!
SGP:462 - 88 points.

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


September 12, 2018


Little duets, indie Glenfarclas vs. official

There isn’t much indie Glenfarclas around – well there’s virtually none under that name, but indeed there are hundreds of Ballindallochian Speysiders – so when there’s a new one, we celebrate and rejoice. But honour to whom honour is due, the official first…

Glenfarclas 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017)

Glenfarclas 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars
I’m not sure I ever saw a 18 yo Glenfarclas! There was the 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, 21, 25, 30, 40 etc, but a 18? That’s new to me… Oh wait, I’ve found the answer, it’s for travel retail! Gee-ee-ee… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s relatively soft at first nosing, perhaps even a tad Havana-Club-y, if I may, with some hay, baked apples, vanilla, and the softest maltiness ever. Quite. A little beeswax as well, but I’d rather call this baby ‘a whispering malt’. There are much bigger Glenfarclasses, we all know that. Mouth: indeed it’s rather gentle, it’s almost a Glenfarclas in the style of Glenlivet, if you see what I mean. Apple pie, teas, dried pears, a small fig, a touch of honey… Exactly what would please some random traveller, I imagine. Finish: a little short, cake-y. Comments: more than good, but I think it’s missing a bit of Glenfarclas’ usual, say broadness and body. But of course, it remains extremely fair and I’m sure no father-in-law was ever disappointed.
SGP:451 - 81 points.

Glenfarclas 16 yo 2001/2018 (54.1%, Cadenhead, hogshead, 252 bottles)

Glenfarclas 16 yo 2001/2018 (54.1%, Cadenhead, hogshead, 252 bottles) Four stars and a half
I don’t know why Cadenhead stopped naming their Glenfarclasses ‘Glenfarclas-Glenlivet’, as they were doing at least until the mid-1990s. But is that really important? Of course it isn’t… Colour: straw/white wine. Nose: oh, an ex-rum hogshead? I’m getting a very remote funkiness, but that may be me. Other than that, it’s a rather naked, waxy, thick distillate, rather on many oils. Hazelnut, grape pips, sunflower, even linseed… With water: amazing, it got medicinal! Drop that ex-rum idea, replace with ex-Laphroaig! Mouth (neat): indeed, it is a little oily, but it’s also bright and very herbal. Branches and herbs, leaves, woodruff, wormwood, aniseed (touches), fresh walnuts… I do enjoy this style a lot, it rather hints at the northern Highlands. With water: okay, it’s probably not only about Glenfarclas, it may well also be about the cask’s previous content. Islay? Clynelish? Pulteney? No, wait, Springbank or Longrow? Would that be surprising, given the company’s parentage? (talking about Cadenhead, not about Glenfarclas, naturally). Finish: long, on more of all that. Comments: perhaps a bastard, but what a bastard! Unless it’s a very special batch from Glenfarclas’, as rumour has it that they did do peat in the not so distant past. Oh, forgot to say, I love it.
SGP:453 - 89 points.

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


September 11, 2018


Animal Highland Parks and others

Highland Park are being very prolific these days, and I’m not sure we should complain. Because plenty is no plague when it’s good, is it?

Highland Park 14 yo ‘Loyalty of the Wolf’ (42.3%, OB, travel retail, 1l, 2018)

Highland Park 14 yo ‘Loyalty of the Wolf’ (42.3%, OB, travel retail, 1l, 2018) Three stars
Loyalty of the Wolf? A funny name, that… Hope this will lead to loyalty of the customer too… Now we have big problems with wolves over here, since they reintroduced them they seem to kill all the sheep…Colour: straw. Nose: a tad raw(ish) and spirity, ale-y, porridge-y… There’s a bit of that green, grassy smoke, as well as whiffs of stewed artichokes ad French beans, plus perhaps a little hand cream… and a little moss and bark. I find it rather grassy. Mouth: good punch, with bitter oranges, green peppercorns, again this grassy smokiness, as well as tart cider apples. Touches of lemon on top of all that, which adds some freshness. Good body. Finish: medium, on fruit peel and more grass and lemon. More green pepper, as well as a little ginger in the aftertaste. Perhaps some sherry that’s not so well integrated. Comments: probably not as smooth and undemanding as other travel expressions.
SGP:461 - 80 points.

Highland Park ‘Spirit of the Bear’ (40%, OB, travel retail, 1l, 2018)

Highland Park ‘Spirit of the Bear’ (40%, OB, travel retail, 1l, 2018) Three stars and a half
This one is NAS. Bear with me (ha ha)… Oh and bears seem to be killing sheep too (in the Pyrénées mountains)… Colour: straw. Nose: indeed it is NAS, but there’s something that I like better in this nose. It seems to be more natural, brighter, with less sherry (fruit peel) and more of those mineral/coastal notes that are working so well in Highland Park. Medicament. Actually, I’m really fond of this nose that lets the distillate shine through some more restrained wood. Love the citrus and the touches of damp crushed chalk too. Mouth: really very good! Sucking pebbles while quaffing lime juice and crunching ginger. Nice grassy smokiness in the background, and some green pepper again. Finish: medium, smoky, grassy, and lemony. Bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: awesome nose, good palate. The bear defeated the wolf in my book.
SGP:352 - 84 points.

Highland Park 18 yo ‘Viking Pride Travel Edition’ (46%, OB, travel retail, 2018)

Highland Park 18 yo ‘Viking Pride Travel Edition’ (46%, OB, travel retail, 2018) Four stars and a half
Hold on, there’s already been a 18 yo Viking Pride at 43% a little earlier, which came in a clear bottle while this one’s bottled at 46% in one of those fashionable black ones. All well and nice but how to you find out that your bottle’s almost empty? Do you have to weigh it? Colour: gold. Nose: firm, slightly sour in a very nice way, even more medicinal than the bear, and wonderfully farmy. We’re almost at an oyster farm. Dried kelp, currants, pomegranates, dried figs… This is really perfect, well done! Mouth: really very good, quite impressive. It’s almost as if someone had mixed oysters with grapefruit juice and a few drops of maraschino, and then smoked the end result. A touch of chestnut honey and, once again, some welcome medicine. Aspirins. Finish: long, a tad bitter now, which is welcome as well. Perhaps some smoked raisins in the aftertaste. Comments: almost worth buying an air ticket to... Washington? Nah, one to Orkney, of course.
SGP:552 - 88 points.

Good, let’s see if we can find another 18, and an indie this time… Oh and at the same strength… There…

Cask Orkney 18 yo (46%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon, +/-2018)

Cask Orkney 18 yo (46%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon, +/-2018) Four stars and a half
A single malt. Indeed, in theory, this could as well be the much lighter Scapa. What’s reassuring is that this was ‘Created to celebrate the Neolithic folklore of Orkney’. Are they this old-fashioned up there? Colour: white wine. Nose: a fresher style again, closer to the wash and to the earth, with these medicinal touches again, clay and chalk, beach sand, seaweed, grass smoke, roots (gentian!) and lemon peel. I don’t know any whisky enthusiast who wouldn’t like this. Not this humble taster, for sure. Mouth: this is very smart. Perfect coastal/grassy smokiness, some bitter herbs, lemon peel, fresh walnuts, and once again hints of artichoke. A lot of bitter citrus too, and even a wee touch of sea salt. Very good. Finish: quite long, salty and grassy, with more fresh walnuts. Comments: I’m sorry but it’s the Viking Pride, only with rather less cask influence. And I don’t think it’s very expensive (no it’s not, 70€) But could it be Scapa? Nah, it ought to be the other one…
SGP:462 - 88 points.

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


September 10, 2018


New Benromach and X

There is a new brand new official expression, but oh utter horror, I haven’t got any other as-of-yet-untasted Benromach under the elbow. I guess we’ll have to find something else as the obligatory sparring partner.

Benromach 1998/2018 ‘Cask No.1’ (60.1%, OB, sherry butt, 575 decanters)

Benromach 1998/2018 ‘Cask No.1’ (60.1%, OB, sherry butt, 575 decanters) Five stars
This new baby to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the restart of Benromach Distillery. I find the decanter very lovely. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s farmy and even humussy at first, wild, roasted, earthy, tobacco-y, then more on dry sherry, rather fino than oloroso in this case (but I doubt it’s fino). It reminds me of what Jerezian coopers had told us, that G&M (and so Benromach, I suppose) always insist on getting casks with the bungholes on the side, and not those more economical palletizable casks with the holes in the heads. You see what I mean. With water: there’s a whole forest in this glass. Dried ceps, moss, pine cones, walnuts… This is quite exceptional. Mouth (neat): very strong, but I do find something wonderfully sherry-ish indeed. Perhaps ham with honey, walnuts and balsamic vinegar? I think this is exceptional indeed, but rather tongue-numbing. Ha, that’s the high strength. With water: this works so well! I think it isn’t very easy to strike a perfect balance when some characterful distillate such as new Benromach is filled into bold sherry casks, but this time that just worked beautifully. Big, big whisky, though. Finish: very long, with added touches of cedar wood, marmalade, soy sauce and bitter chocolate. Comments: big and very high-class. Careful with water though, do not go down to 40-45% vol. or, as usual with this kind of style, it could become a little too tannic.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Good, to find a proper sparring partner… Not an easy task… Perhaps this one, as the name starts with ‘Ben’ as well?...

Ben Nevis 27 yo 1990/2018 (58.9%, Le Gus’t, Port pipe, cask #5, 736 bottles)

Ben Nevis 27 yo 1990/2018 (58.9%, Le Gus’t, Port pipe, cask #5, 736 bottles) Three stars and a half
Another Ben Nevis by these excellent wee French bottlers in Provence. I’ve heard they might do a Pastis finish sooner or later (of course I’m joking). Colour: almost pink, so possibly a finishing. Nose: I’m not finding too much cassis or raspberry, neither am I finding SO2, rather notes of red peaches and cherry cake (we call that clafoutis) on top of quite a lot of pipe tobacco. Reminds me a bit of that crazy thing we were smoking when we were having pipes in the 1970s (no, not that!), Borkum Riff Cherry Cavendish. With water: meaty and a little sour. Raspberry vinegar, perhaps? It is a little acetic. Mouth (neat): it’s a very rich thing, that’s for sure. You do find a Ben-Nevisness, but I don’t think you’d have found it, should you have tried this blind. A flinty side and rather a lot of leather and tobacco, plus these big bold cherries. A few drops of raspberry eau-de-vie too. With water: a wee flinty side now, orange skins, cranberry juice, rosehip tea… Finish: long and rather sweet and sour. Some kind of Indian sauce – love them all but I always forget the names. Rather chocolate in the aftertaste, fruit ganache et al. Comments: something different. Not exactly my cup of malt, but it’s unusual and intriguing enough to make me really like it. Yeah.
SGP:652 - 84 points.

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


September 9, 2018


Rums again, some malternative

We simply go on, while retaining the feeling that malternative-quality rum will remain the exception for a very long time. They have to act if they do not want whisky folks to go back to… whisky. Let’s see what we have… And totally at random…

Sparrow’s Premium Aged Rum (40%, OB, St. Vincent, +/-2017)

Sparrow’s Premium Aged Rum (40%, OB, St. Vincent, +/-2017)
Made by St. Vincent Distillers. Indeed the name ‘Sparrow’ does sound a bit dodgy, and certainly rather unserious, but this is not expensive rum. Colour: amber. Nose: a little empty, shall we say. Some cardboard and notes of banana skins, plus whiffs of old embrocations and molasses. All right, let’s move on… Mouth: feels flavoured. Mint, caraway, liquorice, raw alcohol, bonbons, lavender… Finish: sadly rather long, pine-y, flavoured with something. Comments: not sipping rum, but I still imagine someone could drink this neat. Over an iceberg.
SGP:770 – 30 points.

Let’s try to get serious...

Trinidad Rum 1999/2017 (45%, Samaroli, cask #1700002)

Trinidad Rum 1999/2017 (45%, Samaroli, cask #1700002) Four stars
Let’s hope it’s Caroni. Colour: pale gold. Nose: indeed, there’s some shoe polish and some soot, green tobacco, some asparagus, a little dust and a little clay, but it’s all rather shy this far. Mouth: no, very good. Lovely lime, lemon, olive oil, raw cabbage and cauliflowers, angelica, liquorice and gentian roots, green ginger… It’s the freshness that’s wonderful here. Finish: medium and wonderfully lemony. There’s even a touch of salt. Comments: the nose was a tad underwhelming, but the palate’s close to stunning because of the fantastic lemony freshness. But take care, this is dangerously drinkable. Perhaps a little expensive though…
SGP:563 - 86 points.

Courville ‘Rhum Vieux’ (45%, OB, Martinique, +/-1975)

Courville ‘Rhum Vieux’ (45%, OB, Martinique, +/-1975) Four stars
An old brand that disappeared a long time ago. It was made at Distillerie Thibault and it is a proper pre-appellation agricole. Colour: amber. Nose: just superb and indeed, totally agricole. Grass, liquorice, tar, olive oil, ripe bananas. Indeed, very agricole. There’s also this perfect earthiness, close to roots and even mushrooms, humus, seaweed… Mouth: almost bone dry and really very liquoricy. It is a blessing that all those old French distilleries were often bottling their makes at 45, 48 or even 50% vol. Wonderful notes of pine bonbons, camphor, more pine liqueur, always these earthy touches… Finish: some sweetness coming out, which is strange. A little too much sweet liquorice, I would say, but only God knows about what was happening ‘in the kitchens’ in the old days.  Comments: impressive old ‘regular’ agricole, I had thought it would have been a little fragile and too simple. How wrong was I!
SGP:562 - 86 points.

Mount Gay ‘Last Ward’ 10 yo 2007/2017 (59%, Habitation Velier, Barbados)

Mount Gay ‘Last Ward’ 10 yo 2007/2017 (59%, Habitation Velier, Barbados) Three stars
Nutshell: this is pot-still Mount Gay. Colour: amber. Nose: liquorice and caramel first, I would say, then touches of earth and mushroom. And yet it’s not properly earthy, as we’re also finding more and more vanilla and pencil shavings. Hard to pin down. With water: cedar wood, oak shavings, chocolaty fudge. Mouth (neat): lemon spirit aged in active American oak, or something around those ideas. It’s really two-faced, one being zesty and blade-y (lemon), the other one being rather fudge-y, vanilla-ed and chocolaty/oaky. With water: only ten years and we’re already touching the limits as far as oak’s concerned. Tea tannins, liquorice wood, pencil juice, all that. No, pencil juice doesn’t actually exist in real life, but you get the idea. Finish: long, oaky. Comments: very good. Anything Velier are doing is very good, they are the Porsche of the rum world. Now too much oak is too much oak, and as much as I understand the concept of tropical aging, I would say that only works as long as the oak’s not too active. A gut feeling, as roofers sometimes say.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Balcones ‘Texas Rum’ (63.9%, OB, USA, +/-2018)

Balcones ‘Texas Rum’ (63.9%, OB, USA, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
Whaaat? Well this is made out of sourced molasses (not from Cuba, I’d wager) double-distilled in their pot stills. Colour: dark amber. Nose: this is molasses-based bourbon, really. Vanilla, sawdust, coconut water, liquorice allsorts, pinesap, roasted pecans. Pretty fine. With water: caramel and Chinese oyster sauce, then fermented plums and two tons of pipe tobacco. No, seriously, we’re nosing infused pipe tobacco, aren’t we? Mouth (neat): oh my god, what’s this? I didn’t know you could ferment and distil a mixture of pumpernickel and gingerbread. With water: better, but it’s heavy and rather too rich. Toffee and bettelmann cake. Finish: long, thick, coating, and it just wouldn’t leave you alone. Tobacco, ginger and honey in the aftertaste. Comments: really nice an friendly while being very spectacular, but I’m finding this heavy concoction a little tiring. But yeah, it’s nice and friendly…
SGP:740 - 78 points.

Who said no rum session without a Jamaican?...

Hampden 6 yo 2010/2016 ‘LROK’ (67%, Habitation Velier)

Hampden 6 yo 2010/2016 ‘LROK’ (67%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica) Four stars and a half
We’ve tried the one at 60% vol., and just loved it (WF 87). But this spirit contained only 375 g/hlpa esters when distilled, which is rather light…. Pff… Colour: gold. Nose: g/hlpas esters are like ppms peat, they don’t always mean much. Indeed I’m finding this properly estery, olive-y, tarry, diesely, earthy… And I’m finding some nice camphory side, as well as a few rotting fruits. Probably pineapples and bananas. With water: gherkins and capers in brine! Very bacterial, I would say. Mouth (neat): too strong. A false passage and you’re dead. With water: this works a treat. Liquorice, chocolate, toffee, salt, lime, capers, olives. Finish: very long, salty, olive-y. Comments: totally excellent, but I prefer this distillate with even less oak, so almost white and strictly ex-refill, for some even purer funk, George-Clinton-style. But that’s just me.
SGP:463 - 88 points.

(Fabrice and Paul, thank you!)

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


September 8, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
There’s plenty of these ‘Speyside Region’ things about these days. And I for one will not be complaining as most of them are pretty good I think. However, in true Whiskyfun style, we’ll begin with a highlander as an aperitif. Mind you, do these regions really mean anything anymore?


Highland Single Malt 25 yo (43%, Mr Malt, 2018) Highland Single Malt 25 yo (43%, Mr Malt, 2018)
I can’t seem to find out very much about this new bottler at all. Nothing in fact. Colour: orangey amber. Nose: hmmm, some sawdust and pencil shavings at first. A glimmer of honey and dry maltiness and beyond that... not very much at all I’m afraid. Maybe some dry toast. Feels a bit hollow if you ask me. Mouth: pink pepper, cardboard, green wood, a touch of stale mead. Not great to be honest. Tough stuff. Finish: short, porridgey and with some sense of weak milky tea. Comments: What on earth was that? At times it was like one of these cheap flat rums only with less ridiculous sugar. Not much to enjoy or recommend here.
SGP: 320 - 69 points.


Not a great start but I have confidence... let’s go backwards by vintage...  


Speyside Region 38 yo 1979/2018 (43.4%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, barrel) Speyside Region 38 yo 1979/2018 (43.4%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, barrel)
Somewhat higher hopes here... Colour: gold. Nose: Ahh! Superb freshness, vivid fruits - both green and exotic - and many notes of polishes, cedar and soft waxes. Little peppery notes, unlit cigars, lamp oil and aged herbal liqueurs. Even a slosh of very old Drambuie perhaps. Mouth: maybe a tad weak in weight and texture but the fruitiness is big and lively. Lots of mango, pineapple, guava and perfectly ripe melon. Citrus peels and sunflower oil as well. In the background a little oily, residual maltiness and natural sweetness linger. Finish: Medium in length but still nervously fruity, lightly spicy and with a fading waxiness. Comments: This kind of bottling, while not 90+ stellar, is still supremely drinkable and entirely about the pleasure that older single malts can bring. Not overly woody, still full of fresh fruits and total danger juice. It only lacks a little oomph but it’s a bit of a redundant and purely technical criticism.
SGP: 641 - 88 points.


Elgin Single Malt 40 yo 1977/2017 (49.3%, Mr Malt ‘Portrait No 02’, cask #3142, 288 bottles) Elgin Single Malt 40 yo 1977/2017 (49.3%, Mr Malt ‘Portrait No 02’, cask #3142, 288 bottles)
Hopefully this should be an improvement on the 25 yo ‘thing’ we had for an aperitif... Colour: deep amber. Nose: a wonderfully deep and extremely leathery and meaty sherry. Bovril, marmite, prune juice, plum sauce and aged plum wines. Lots of toasted walnuts and walnut oils, old ink wells, black tea, golden sultanas, raisins, black olive bread and some rather ancient balsamico. Plenty rancio and deep, basslike oloroso as well. Lots happening, a really excellent nose. Mouth: bang! Big, deeply earthy, pitch perfect sherry. An old school sherry cask the likes of which are thoroughly disappeared from today’s fillings. Ginger cake, biltong, black pepper, coal dust, maraschino cherries, fig jam, chopped dates and more figs and lashings of prune juice and more of these spiced baked plum notes. Increasingly big, spicy, fatty sherry with lots of wee red, dark, concentrated fruit notes. Finish: Long and getting dryer with some quivering tannins and abundant dark stewed fruits, even a wee kumquat (you’ll be pleased to hear Serge) and eventually many bunches of dried herbs in the aftertaste. Comments: I wouldn’t say it’s a big surprise but I find this totally excellent! As for the identity of the ‘malt’ in question... I’m leaning towards Glenfarclas but who cares. It’s terrific old school sherried stuff! Great selection by the enigmatic ‘Mr Malt’.
SGP: 751 - 91 points.


Speyside Region 40 yo 1977/2018 (43%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, butt) Speyside Region 40 yo 1977/2018 (43%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, butt)
Colour: amber. Nose: a different, less ‘up front’ style of sherry. More leafy, soft tobacco notes, demerara, walnut oils, milk chocolate and fragrant wood spices. Hints of jasmine, bay leaf, mint tea and lemon peel. It’s certainly soft as you might imagine but the aromatic profile is fragrant, balanced and very beautiful. Mouth: a big, evolving spiciness with green and soft tropical fruits underneath. Notes of guava, melon and pineapple cubes. Tea tree oil, eucalyptus resins, putty, menthol, lychee and lemon oil. Another of these hyper-quaffable old malts where the wood is present but mercifully balanced with the fruits and waxes of the old distillate. Pretty terrific really. Hints of sandalwood, cinnamon bark, strawberry powder and darjeeling tea. Finish: Good length. All on light waxes, leafy earthiness, dried herbs, lemon oils, pine cones and wee chocolatey touches. Comments: quite simply, an excellent old sherried Speyside malt whisky. Danger juice, as they say in Turckheim - probably.
SGP: 641 - 90 points.


Vega 41 yo 1976/2018 (46.1%, North Star Spirits, Blended Malt, 400 bottles) Vega 41 yo 1976/2018 (46.1%, North Star Spirits, Blended Malt, 400 bottles)
I just read the label notes for this one more carefully and it is in fact a blend of malts from Speyside and Islay, matured in Spanish and American oak. Oh well, so much for any remnant shreds of logic to this session. But we’ve committed now so may well follow through... Colour: amber. Nose: there is indeed an unequivocal Bunnahabhain-esque fruitiness about this one. Big initial notes of ripe bananas, guava, melon, papaya and some baked apples in custard. There’s also something akin to a mix of aged sweet wines, like Marsala, Sauternes and some old vendange tardive Muscat all sloshed together. Further develops with notes of warm banana bread studded with chopped walnuts and sultanas stewed in old cognac. Pretty awesome juice to be honest, very old whisky that held onto an abundance of freshness and vibrancy all the way from nose to finish. Mouth: wonderfully syrupy in texture. Glistening stewed fruits, more baked apples, mint jelly, lemon peel, dried tarragon and some indeterminate aged herbal liqueurs. Finish: Long, lemony, herbal, jasmine, various aromatic teas and a touch of liquorice and nibbling wood spice. Comments: I find this just totally great and hugely pleasurable old malt whisky that manages to show aspects of old unpeated Islay characteristics next to more typical Speysideyness in perfect and wonderfully entertaining balance. Great work/selection by Mr Croucher and co at North Star spirits, they are doing some terrific stuff there I think. And, not that we score prices, but the price of this was extremely fair if you ask me. Although, checking now it appears to be sold out. Naturally.
SGP: 751 - 92 points.


Speyside Region 44 yo 1973/2017 (48.6%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, butt) Speyside Region 44 yo 1973/2017 (48.6%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, butt)
Colour: light gold. Nose: ahh, the wonders of ‘plain wood’. One of these totally beautiful very old refill wood profiles that’s just bursting with pollens, nectars, honeys, yellow flowers, subtle waxes, sandalwood, verbena, wormwood, soft earthy tones and beyond all that hints of camphor, yellow chartreuse and vapour rubs. Pure pleasure and totally stunning aroma. We’re not far from a 1950s Glenfarclas or a 1972 Caperdonich. Mouth: A superb combination of yellow flowers, herbal extracts, wormwood, olive oil, lemongrass, soot, menthol resins, chamomile, ointments, a whole beehive of honeys and waxy honeycomb. Pine liqueurs, mint juleps, tropical fruit syrups, tea tree oils, tarragon, lemon peels, green banana... just totally wonderful! Finish: Long, all on various green, mint and herbal teas, star fruits, lemon balm and caraway. More allusions to ancient herbal liqueurs and eucalyptus extracts. Comments: This kind of profile is really just to die for. A cask that nurtures but never dominates. After 40+ years this combination great distillate and subtle wood is, for me, the epitome of old malt whisky at its best.
SGP: 761 - 93 points.


Seeing as we’ve already abandoned and real thematic consistency in this tasting let’s have a somewhat nonsensical bonus...  


Speyside 20 yo 1996/2017 (53.6%, Filmnik ‘Trainspotting’. Hogshead)

Speyside 20 yo 1996/2017 (53.6%, Filmnik ‘Trainspotting’. Hogshead)
I appreciate this is technically from ‘Speyside Distillery’ rather than just Speyside. But I’m not sure when I’m going to get another sparring partner from Speyside distillery itself so let’s just include it here as an addendum if you don’t mind. Another bottling from the cinematically minded series Filmnik. This time featuring the great Trainspotting on the label - appropriate that I am writing these tasting notes in Leith I think. Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh and buttery, lots of chopped herbs such as chives and parsley, cream crackers, coal dust, some vanilla foam and peppery watercress. Good. With water: baking soda, cornflour, icing sugar, milk bottle sweeties, dolly mixtures and a gentle grassiness. Mouth: pretty straightforward, modern but very good, clean and lightly fruity malt whisky. Some malty sweetness, some vanilla, a touch of herbal tea, some lemony notes, fudge, olive oil. All very nice actually. Creamy, well-textured and actually rather nicer than the nose suggested I must say. With water: buttery toast, green, leafy, banana chips, soda bread, very light hessian notes and good slug of lemon barley water. Finish: Good length, surprisingly rich, bready and slightly yeasty and lemony with a biscuity sweetness. Really good actually. Comments: Probably the best whisky from Speyside distillery I ever tasted. Very good selection Filmnik. Although, I suspect you might need something with a bit more raw power to drink while watching Trainspotting.
SGP: 541 - 87 points.



So, we had a tasting called ‘Speyside Anonymous’ where we managed to open with a highland single malt (purportedly anyway), try a Speyside/Islay vatted malt and close with the very opposite of an anonymous whisky. But, we had quite a few really excellent drams and a lot of fun so... who cares. Whiskyfun lives!  



September 7, 2018


Little duets, today even more Macallan

Because I really enjoyed the new 12 ‘triple’. So why not try the new 18 that’s been treated similarly, that is to say with ‘only’ three woods? And then we may find another independent Macallan from the old WF stash…

Macallan 18 yo ‘Triple Cask’ (43%, OB, 2018)

Macallan 18 yo ‘Triple Cask’ (43%, OB, 2018) Four stars and a half
It’s good that they wouldn’t have kept this one at 40% - or we would have felt the need to send the Salvation Army to Craigellachie… Colour: pale gold (no caramel!) Nose: ah, for crying out loud, yesss! Fantastic cakes of various origins, especially peach pies, pecan pies, Linzertorte, panettone, etc etc etc. You get the idea. Some honeys as well (it’s almost as if they had added a few hoggies of Highland Park while no one was watching), a touch of menthol, a wee hint of Cuban tobacco, and possibly some vanilla-ed chestnut purée. Obvious and luminous (S.!) Mouth: t.h.e.r.e. Well done. Malt, dried fruits, fresh ones, tobacco, proper milk chocolate, many cakes, and simply a feeling of joy. Finish: it’s where it’ll lose one or two points because of some kind of grittiness that’s a little unnecessary. But I guess you cannot have all these oaks without suffering from a little over-oakiness. Comments: excellent. Now, four times the price of the 12 (for just six extra-years and three extra-degrees) and just one more point in my little book… There is no need to be a genius to understand that one should better buy… four bottles of the 12. Only in my humble opinion, as always.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

And so an older indie from the stash (and because newer indie Macs will cost you one kidney anyway)…

Macallan 16 yo 1991/2007 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, 1st fill sherry, 570 bottles)

Macallan 16 yo 1991/2007 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, 1st fill sherry, 570 bottles) Four stars
The good people behind the French company Jean Boyer have been true whisky pioneers and did bring, for example, Bowmore to France. If you’ve ever seen the name Auxil on an old label, that was them. Sadly, they seem to have become rather less active recently, haven’t heard much from them for at least five years. A shame! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s one those ‘43s’ that smell like they’re at least 50, and that only happens when the distillate’s big. It happens with Springbank, for example. Anyway, this is very nice if a little rough, very malty, with rather more roasted nuts than in the new officials. Certainly more walnuts from the sherry wood, and above everything, really a lot of Ovaltine/Ovomaltine. Mouth: much more on the fruity side this time, with a few burnt notes. Someone’s forgotten the apricot pie in the oven. Some stewed rhubarb as well, some kind of pepper liqueur, roasted walnuts (roasted with some honey, that rocks), and always a big maltiness. Finish: rather long (again, feels like at least 46%), malty and roasted. More honey sauce, and a touch of smoke in the aftertaste, which sometimes happens with Macallan. Comments: all fine, all good, all very much sippable.
SGP:552 - 85 points.

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


September 6, 2018


Little duets, today more Macallan

Simply because that Edition N°4 was rather underwhelming the other day. Mind you, seven oaks… Hey, why not try some new one that’s seen ‘only’ three oaks?

Macallan 12 yo ‘Triple Cask’ (40%, OB, 2018)

Macallan 12 yo ‘Triple Cask’ (40%, OB, 2018) Four stars
Look, I don’t want to know about these triple casks. Were they successive or concomitant? Sherry or bourbon? American or European? Refill or first fill? Is that really important? What’s sure is that this is new, and that this expression seems to come after the previous… ‘Double Cask’. But naturally… The ABV’s a little, say stingy. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I like this so much better than the Edition N°4! It’s much fresher, brighter, fruitier, with more preserved fruits, various honeys, that floral side that works so well in Macallan (yellow flowers), and even wee touches of litchis and rose petals. You’re right, proper gewürztraminer. Mouth: yes sir or ma’am, this is very nice indeed. Classic Macallan, with this wee toasted side that’s so pleasant, brioche, raisins, cakes, drops of mead, and some special honey. Why not manuka? Very good, and even the low strength does not raise any problems. Finish: medium, fresh, cake-y and honeyed, very nice. Comments: why not simply drop that strange ‘triple cask’ moniker? In my book it makes this whisky look dodgy, while it’s actually just very excellent. High class entry-level Macallan, I’m really very happy.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Macallan ‘Quest’ (40%, OB, travel retail, 1l, 2018)

Macallan ‘Quest’ (40%, OB, travel retail, 1l, 2018) Three stars
Ha, NAS and travel retail… Makes you want to stay at home, doesn’t it. Oh and apparently, this is quadruple-oak stuff, but they wouldn’t insist on that part on the label. Better like that, I would say. Colour: gold. Nose: the 12 with more vanilla, cinnamon rolls, nutmeg sauce, and ginger lollipops (making this up but I’m a little bored)… Mouth: better, that is to say closer to the 12, but there is a green tannicity that’s waking up. Strong green tea, tobacco leaves, more cinnamon… Oh let’s be quick… Finish: medium, a tad too oaky for me. That’s right, it’s rather planky. Comments: I still like it a little better than Edition N°… what was the number again? But I much prefer the very lovely new 12.
SGP:461 - 81 points.

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


September 4, 2018


Little duets, today two Macallan

(And really a lot of wood)

I would propose one new official NAS (which does not obligatorily mean No Actual Standards), and then an independent Macallan from a few years ago – one from an excellent series that’s sadly extinct because, I believe, they were too far ahead of our time (you know what they say, it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese).

Macallan ‘Edition No.4’ (48.2%, OB, 2018)

Macallan ‘Edition No.4’ (48.2%, OB, 2018) Two stars and a half
Not unlike what so many other Scottish distillers are doing these days, this expression (and many other new ones by Mac by the way, more about those next time) ‘focusses on The Macallan’s commitment to wood’, while a combination of seven different cask types have been used. Seven! As I sometimes say, I had thought they were distillers, not carpenters, and I’d bet Scotch Malt whisky will soon be to be found at The Home Depot. Don’t IKEA already sell Swedish whisky, after all? No? Colour: gold. Nose: it does focus on wood indeed, but I have the feeling that it’s still under control. Pleasant maltiness, complemented with, indeed, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking spices, vanilla, cappuccino, burnt raisins, toasted oak, and roasted nuts. A little chocolate as well (brownies). Mouth: it’s decent, but it’s too much on the oaky side for me. And we’re not talking subtle old oak from long ageing here. More cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, white pepper… This is really spicy! Then walnuts and more toasted oak, as well as bitter cocoa and Jaffa cake. Finish: medium, chocolaty, toasted, cinnamony. Nutmeg singing loud in the aftertaste. Comments: I didn’t quite notice any fruits, except burnt raisins. But I’ve noticed that quite a few quasi-PR people (embedded commentators, shall we say) rated this very modern baby very highly. But of course… I have to add that I had liked Edition N°2 much, much better (WF 87).
SGP:372 - 79 points.

Now, hold on, I know we had said we would have the other Macallan, but since we’ve just seen that that Mac was matured in seven oaks (pff…), why not have… No, not Seven Crowns, rather another new malt that’s been matured in seven different woods. It’s a real invasion! And what about deforestation? Is all this environmentally sound?

Seven Wood

Jura ‘Seven Wood’ (42%, OB, +/-2018)

Jura ‘Seven Wood’ (42%, OB, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
And this is no joke, seven wood! No so long ago, we used to joke about these multiple-wood whiskies, and we were already laughing a lot at three. And we’re at seven now, where will this end?… I just hope they’ll never cut the wee palm trees in front of the Jura distillery and use the wood to make small firkins or octaves… Please, don’t! Oh and of course, this is another NAS(ty) expression that’s sold for much more money than a 10 or a 12. Colour: gold. Nose: well, it’s more moderate than the Macallan, a bit softer, a tad more sour (but that’s the distillate), a notch more ‘dirty’, porridge-y, with notes of ale, allspice (European oak, I’d wager), and a discreet smoke that’s not unpleasant. Jura defeating Macallan, could that really happen? Mouth: sadly, the oaks have come to the front. Over-infused herbal teas and regular black tea, cloves, cinnamon, then a little liquorice wood, a curious cane-y side, almost agricole - but I suppose that came from some French oak. No, I’m serious. Finish: medium, really mostly on cinnamon. The smokiness is still there, which is rather nice. Comments: good, let’s say it’s a tie. We don’t care much for oak-flavoured NAS anyway, do we?
SGP:362 - 79 points.

Twelve-oak expressions will be around before 2020, read my lips! But so, that older indie Macallan…

Macallan 19 yo 1991/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask # 21436, 429 bottles)

Macallan 19 yo 1991/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask # 21436, 429 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: the die is cast. We’re flying way above the other two, this is much fresher – and refreshing in all senses of that word – with a perfect maltiness, some oranges, some peaches, some golden barley, some more oranges, some ripe apples, a touch of IPA, some sultanas, and simply a lot of satisfaction. No crutches have been in use here, not even sherry seasoned wood. Mouth: perfect, on apricots, bergamots, soft acacia honey, sweet cider, hints of tinned pineapple, preserved mirabelles, just the right amount of vanilla, perhaps a little flower syrup (say mullein, very good for your lungs), and just the faintest smidgen of white pepper. Spices as they should be, rather discreet. After all, whisky’s not part of the great Thai cuisine, is it? Finish: medium, fresh, fruity, barley-y, and delicately honeyed. Comments: more proof that Macallan is a great distillate – when it’s allowed to sing solo.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

There will be more official Macallan tomorrow, and some good surprise, I think...

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


September 3, 2018


Whiskyfun 14000

Little duets, today Lagavulin including our 14,000th whisky
I mean, LOL! I did some poll on Facebook the other day, asking good people about what I should choose as my 14,000th whisky. There were two options, Lagavulin or Macallan (simply because I don’t know how to do polls with more than two options on Facebook, or I would have added Springbank, Clynelish et al.).

Well, I had thought Lagavulin would probably win indeed, but it was actually a massacre. 81% for Lagavulin, 19% for Macallan. Total, 657 votes. So as they used to say in Middle-Italy, Vox Puopuli, Vox Dei, let’s do Lagavulin!


But isn’t it amazing that just everyone loves Lagavulin? As if the very fact that the owners preserved it from any tinkering whatsoever throughout the years was actually a major and permanent advantage, while so many other brands/distilleries were, and still are very busy doing marketing-driven ‘innovations’ (but they all do the same) that may actually damage the brands’ reputations sooner or later as, in my opinion, Scotch malts whisky’s rather about heritage and tradition. But there, only figures tell the truth and we’re here to taste whisky, aren’t we…

So, Lagavulin, one indie, one official.

Lg8 (59.5%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 2018)

Lg8 (59.5%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 2018) Five stars
Lg8 is not the latest smartphone by Samsung, it’s Elixir Distiller’s latest Lagavulin, stemming from two bourbon barrels. I usually like to try my ‘Lgs’ against the newer official 12 yo Special Release, but that one’s not in yet. Colour: white wine. Nose: no surprise, this is brilliant. Simply pristine, bright and brine-y, with some lemon, tree bark, Islay mud, oysters, unripe white peaches, fresh almonds, and roots. Boringly great, I’d almost take sides with Benjamin Disraeli, he who used to say that he hated good wine and preferred bad ones, because good wines were too boring. Well, exaggerating a bot now, I agree… With water: wet fabric, mud and all that. Mouth (neat): it’s the simplicity that’s striking. This is sweet, as any young Lagavulin usually is – it’s almost a tad syrupy actually – and then very smoky, very peppery, very lemony. It’s really simple, but it’s perfect. Malevich’s white square, made whisky. With water: lemon up, sweetness down. We won’t complain. Finish: long, crystal-clean, smoky. Comments: maturation mainly filtered out the undesired molecules here, all the rest remained extremely close to the original distillate. Like in the greatest white mezcals, pears, rums, gentians, grogues, cachaças… etc.
SGP:457 - 90 points (yup, as usual).

And so, our 14,000th… Well even if I do not have enough time to post much about jazz these days, and rather focus on the whiskies, I’m still totally into the bluer notes, and so just couldn’t miss the opportunity of writing notes for one of Lagavulin’s latest Jazz Festival bottlings. How does that sound? (that was really funny, S.)

Lagavulin ‘Jazz Festival 2016’ (54.5%, OB, 200th Anniversary, 6000 bottles, 2016)

Lagavulin ‘Jazz Festival 2016’ (54.5%, OB, 200th Anniversary, 6000 bottles, 2016) Five stars
6000 bottles are a lot, if only jazz would be this successful!… Anyway, the Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival is a great event, it’s a total thrill to listen to, say Donny McCaslin at Lagavulin Hall with good friends and while sipping… Lagavulin. Yes I can speak from personal knowledge. And so, this is my 14,000th whisky, taking neither other spirits, nor Angus’s own tasting notes into account. Colour: white wine, so no sherry in sight this time. Excuse me? If I’m going to complain because this is NAS? Sure I will. Good, consider it done… Nose: we are, as expected, extremely close to the Lg8. Profiles are totally similar, this one being just a wee tad rougher, despite a lower strength. Let’s say it’s a notch grassier and muddier, and perhaps smokier, and perhaps a little more austere. With water: once again, we’re going towards more mud, damp fabric, wool… Mouth (neat): it’s a wee bit less sweet, and a wee tad more complex than the fantastic Lg8. Perhaps is that the lower natural strength? Hints of white currants and gooseberries, which were not to be found in Elixir’s. Other than that, peat smoke, clams, lemons, cane sugar, oysters, and perhaps a little more tar than in other Lagas. But Laga’s not a very tarry whisky, is it. With water: lovely fresh almonds, orgeat, a leafiness… Finish: long, a tad fatter and waxier this time, with small notes of smoked salmon and fat Loch Fyne oysters. Indeed that’s a matter of taste. Comments: let’s talk jazz, I’m totally in love with Kamasi Washington’s latest album. I know he’s big and that smaller players could be just as good if not better, but there, I just love it, can’t help it. It’s the same with this little Lagavulin.
SGP:358 - 90 points.

I know, all 10-15 yo natural Lagavulins do score 90-91 in my book, but that’s their fault, not mine. Good, anyway, next stop, our 15,000th whisky around the end of summer next year, if God lends me life, as my old aunt Jeanne used to say until she finally died at the ripe old age of 97. But Jeanne was more into Port and gewürztraminer and I believe she just never tried whisky… Or perhaps during the Liberation?

(With heartfelt thanks to Tom)

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


September 2, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Rum: The Good, The Bad & The Funky. Part II
Yet more adventures in the haphazard world of Rum. Although, I expect today we’ll have some rather delicious and bonafide malternatives. Although, just remember, I’m tasting rum from the palate and perspective of a malt whisky drinker who generally enjoys more distillate/ingredient driven profiles in spirits.


Kirk & Sweeney 23 yo (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, Batch 2) Kirk & Sweeney 23 yo (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, Batch 2)
Made at the Bermúdez distillery from molasses and aged in American oak ex-bourbon barrels. It states 23 year old but, as ever, it likely refers to the age of the oldest liquid. Colour: amber. Nose: it has a rather gunky, greasy agricole funk at first, quite surprising really. There are these expected stickier notes of brown sugar, molasses and a touch of paint as well. But it’s not totally cloying to the nostrils. A few sultanas, a few fermenting fruits, some spiced vanilla cake. Not too bad I’d say.


Mouth: it’s not a total sugar monster but we are on thin ice. On one hand you have these sweet gingerbread, liquorice and treacle notes, but on the other it is bordering on that kind of sugary, flat and coffeeish profile which I really struggle with. Having said that, it is noticeably better than the other DR rums I tried last time. Some raisins, even a few minerals and hint of rubber. But always some cheap sugar waiting to leap out at you. Finish: short and sweet. Literally. Comments: Not terrible but not great either. I wonder just what sort of gunk got put into this before bottling, and I wonder what an unadulterated version at a higher bottling strength would be like...
SGP: 730 - 75 points.


Caribbean Reserve 16 yo 1986/2002 ‘Rockley Still’ (46%, Liquid Gold, WIRD Barbados)

Caribbean Reserve 16 yo 1986/2002 ‘Rockley Still’ (46%, Liquid Gold, WIRD Barbados)
The term ‘Rockley Still’ is slightly misleading here as it is the name of a very small pair of stills used by the Rockley plantation to distill sugar cane in the 19th century.



This distillery closed (as did many others) due to the nationalisation of the Barbados plantations and it eventually ended up in the possession of the West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD). These ‘Rockley’ stills were used by WIRD but by all accounts it seems highly unlikely that they’ve been used since the 1950s so this, and any other ‘Rockley Still’ rums are almost certainly molasses distilled through WIRD’s own pot stills. However, rums under this label are still said to be ‘heavier’ than the column examples from WIRD. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very nicely fatty, oily and with a kind of syrupy medicinal side. Bandages, light ointment, a gentle brininess and a few earthy, cooked vegetables. Notes of spiced turnip, olive oil, dried seaweed and rather leathery camphor note. Very good. Mouth: terrifically full and textured at 46%. Motor oil, bike grease, lighter natural tar, menthol tobacco, oil paints, graphite and a few more pure, mineral qualities. Black olive bread, anchovy butter, plasticine and putty. Again, very good! Finish: long, coastal and drying. Lots of seawater, grease and smoky flints/pebbles. Comments: you definitely the feel the textural pot still style in this one. Very good I think, and a worthy malternative.
SGP: 461 - 87 points.


Enmore 1987/2000 (56.6%, Velier, Demerara/Guyana, cask #193-197)

Enmore 1987/2000 (56.6%, Velier, Demerara/Guyana, cask #193-197)
Colour: gold. Nose: hellooooo in there... I don’t really get much, it’s rather on paint thinner, diluted antiseptic and perhaps some clay and cheap cooking oil. Hard to get much beyond a generic pang of alcohol. With water: not much. A swimming pool with too many elastoplasts in. Slightly carbolic and a hint of muddy brine. Mouth: urgh. Really tough! Concrete, massively austere, alcoholic and rough. Crunching on aspirin and chasing them with white spirit. Feels pretty hollow. With water: a lemony breeze flutters by but its really still quite brutal. Some prickly white pepper. Wallpaper paste? Not good. Finish: Cardboardy, vegetal and slightly stinging. Medium in length, unfortunately. Comments: I just checked and apparently Serge did not like this one either. Although, I also just checked and apparently people are paying utterly stupid amounts of money for this bottling at auction - one person’s poison etc... A rare dud from Velier. Probably suitable for ending a party at 3am or rejuvenating the tape heads on a 1990s VHS machine.
SGP: 230 - 65 points.



Uitvlugt 20 yo 1997/2017 (56.5%, The Rum Cask, Guyana)

Uitvlugt 20 yo 1997/2017 (56.5%, The Rum Cask, Guyana)
Uitvlugt, I have finally just discovered, is pronounced ‘owt-flut’. It was sadly closed in 2000.  Colour: white wine. Nose: wonderful, aromatically intense and pure demerara in the way that it kinds of leans towards Jamaica with these medicinal aspects but is more gentle and perhaps a tad more sophisticated and less boisterous. Some really wonderful notes of freshly chopped herbs, anchovies, blood orange and a broad, invigorating, sweeping coastal freshness that is just thrilling. Slightly mentholated as well, along with some deeper notes of engine oil and tarry boiler smoke. With water: Wahhh! Sweet, earthy, meandering smoke, salted incense if there is such a thing, truffled brine, raw medicines, antiseptic and a big, surly, gravelly minerality. Mouth: Superb! Salt, lime juice and preserved lemons in olive oil. You may add brine, raw seawater, fruity red chili and a hint of furniture wax. An earthy old potting shed (not that I eat them that often), some artichoke and a rather grizzly but supple tarriness. Same level as the nose. With water: sooty smoke now, a whole grove of black olives, chopped parsley, herbal mouthwash and more of this textured boiler smoke. Finish: loooong, wonderfully refreshing, mentholated, tingly, saline, pin-sharp citrus, herbs, wood ash, fishy... you name it! Comments: A total stunner that alludes to Jamaica but has its own wonderful Guyanan charms and eccentricities. The kind of rum that can teach many whiskies a thing or two and a perfect, thrilling malternative.
SGP: 582 - 92 points.



Caroni 1985/2006 (58.8%, Velier, Trinidad, 6600 bottles)

Caroni 1985/2006 (58.8%, Velier, Trinidad, 6600 bottles)
Always intriguing to taste something from my vintage. Colour: amber/ruby. Nose: a heavier style Caroni that’s also got this hot climate maturation profile of concentrated, toasty sweetness about it. Graphite oil, waxy medicines, sooty and inky. Notes of bandages, lighter fluid, pencil shavings, charred wood spices, incense, strong jasmine tea and charred earth. This kind of concentration carries the high alcohol extremely well I find. With water: good, strong espresso, cocoa, natural tar resin and a preserved lemon or two - a stronger impression of the Caroni character. Mouth: spiced oranges, bitter wood spice, dark chocolate, menthol syrups (mint, eucalyptus etc...), sweetened medicines and barbecued vegetables. Also some sunflower oil, grippy tannins and old workshops. Pretty wood-dominated really. With water: hot smoked paprika, pencil shavings, a rather brittle spiciness and more notes of incense, pot pourri, black olives and mulling spices. Finish: Long and nicely earthy, mentholated, herbal and with a good liquorice, aniseed and punchy spice aftertaste. Comments: It’s very good. I just find the wood a little too excessive to go to 90. Still excellent though, converges on old Bourbon and Armagnac territory at times.
SGP: 562 - 87 points.



Caroni 17 yo 1994/2011 (62.3%, Velier, Trinidad, 2293 bottles)

Caroni 17 yo 1994/2011 (62.3%, Velier, Trinidad, 2293 bottles)
Another heavy style with full-term tropical ageing. Fasten seatbelts... Colour: copper. Nose: we’re not far from the 85 only this is closer to the core Caroni style, which can only be a good thing and in this case means black olive paste and gentle brininess. The wood is still audible with these notes of smoked wood spices and charcoal but it’s a more even balance than the 85 so far. Putty, seawater, pine resin and herbal toothpaste. With water: gets saltier, more medicinal, green olives, camphor, wax, soot and notes of mint julep and bitumen. Also some mixed roasted nuts and strong Pu erh tea. Mouth: big, earthy, emphatically medicinal and tarry. Full of embrocations, olive oil mixed with brine and good fishy notes. There’s also pencil shavings, black coffee, motor oil and wood glue. Some strawberry wine, roasted walnuts and savoury spice bread. Once again, it really handles the alcohol level well. With water: tarry rope, oily rags, lanolin, hessian sack cloth and salty, preserved lemons in brine. More herbal toothpaste, cough syrup and black olives. Finish: Super long and moving towards a more savoury profile of freshly baked breads, warming spices, more tarry notes and a few rubbery, bicycle inner tube notes. Comments: There’s an almost knife-edge tightrope dance between distillery character and wood intensity going on here, but in the end balance is maintained and it makes for a pretty thrilling and very fun and tasty wee journey.
SGP: 462 - 90 points.



And now, after a wee break, and due to the recent diktat from Whiskyfun head office in Turckheim, a Jamaican to finish. Well, sort of...



Sönnichsen Jamaica Rum 33 yo 1951/1984 (42%, Sönnichsen, Jamaica/Germany, 7000 bottles)

Sönnichsen Jamaica Rum 33 yo 1951/1984 (42%, Sönnichsen, Jamaica/Germany, 7000 bottles)
The story goes that this was created from a blend of 4 casks of high-ester ‘German Flavoured’ Jamaican rum especially distilled for the German market at the Vale Royal Distillery. These rums would normally then be cut with neutral German spirit called ‘primaspirit’ for sale as Rum Verschnitt in Germany. Now, exactly how much of the original casks of Jamaican pot still rum remain inside this funny bottling and to what extent the character has been ‘diluted’ by primaspirit or filtration, well, let’s see... Colour: amber. Nose: burnt toffee, caramel, gingerbread, lemon peel and some soft notes of brake and lighter fluids. There’s definitely a Jamaican character in there but it does feel a tad subdued. Some graphite oil, a few drops of seawater and a little hessian. Mouth: decent weight and an impressive oiliness but there’s also a feeling of unnatural sugar about it as well. Touches of sweetened tea, salty butter, soda bread, herbal resins, toothpaste and WD40. Brown sugar, caramel sauce, sticky toffee pudding and caraway liqueur. A few generic olive notes as well. Finish: medium in length and full of soft, slightly sweet esters, pear drops, motor oil, gravel and cough medicine. Comments: A strange wee ‘Germaican’ bottling with a fun history. Although, I can’t help but wonder what those 4 original Jamaican pot still rums would have tasted like without ‘interference’. Makes you want to reach for the Hampden...
SGP: 651 - 80 points.



That was somewhat underwhelming. Let’s see if we can find some more ‘worthy’ Jamaican  representatives to finish this session off... (apologies)



Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.1 ‘Spicy sweet goodness’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 308 bottles)

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.1 ‘Spicy sweet goodness’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 308 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: the best, most intensely grassy olive oil over grilled sardines, tar liqueur and raw anchovy paste. Menthol, seashore freshness, fishing nets and grilled scallops. Some more engine oil/workshop/industrial leanings as well in time. There’s also a touch of gingery oak and black pepper. Excellent. With water: now you really start to get the esters. Notes of paint and fermenting banana with toasted sunflower seeds and herbal throat lozenges. Mouth: pine liqueur, air freshener, the inside of a coal scuttle, germoline and seawater. Lots of elastoplasts and sweetened medicines as well. A few secondary citrus and tropical touches as well - a grilled pineapple chunk. With water: gravel, lemon-infused liquorice, green olives in a dirty martini and some grizzly fermentary funk. Finish: Long, lemony, bright, briny, notes of mouthwash and creosote. Comments: Totally kills the Sönnichsen. Excellent selection, the wood felt quite big for a refill but that may be maturation location or a still relatively active cask. Anyway, the distillate is big enough so it works!
SGP: 562 - 87 points.



Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, SMWS R11.3 ‘Crème Brûlée Flambé’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 311 bottles)

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.3 ‘Crème Brûlée Flambé’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 311 bottles)
Colour: gold (a shade darker). Nose: we’re in the same, sister cask territories. Funky fruits, esters, seawater, olives, medicine, brine, camphor and a little sawdusty, peppery American oak. Not a whole lot of difference between them. With water: still grassy and fresh with these notes of chopped herbs and green olives but also the same slightly punchy woody side. Mouth: more glue, more stickiness and a greater sense of ‘sliminess’ in terms of greasy, engine oil qualities. There’s also a savoury note as well such as brown bread and more of these toasted sunflower seeds. A little sizzling bacon fat and more camphor and hessian sackcloth. With water: this one is globally more savoury, more medical, more briny and more bready with a yeasty autolytic quality. Finish: Long, lemony, briny, funky... extremely close to .1. Comments: The same really. An excellent sister cask. I think I enjoy it just a notch more due to the slightly more background nature of the wood.
SGP: 462 - 88 points.



(Big thanks to Dirk and Enrico.)  



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


September 1, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Diving for pairs...
Diving to new lows in the titling of blog posts more likely. Let’s attack another variety of assorted duos today. Always an enjoyable type of session to do, variety being the ‘épice de la vie’ and all that... (is that correct Serge?) (not quite Angus, we’d rather say ‘sel de la vie’ but that’s still understandable –S.)


Auchentoshan 2000/2018 18 yo (46%, Signatory for Flanders’ Finest Cask Selection, bourbon barrel, cask #800038, 227 bottles) Auchentoshan 2000/2018 18 yo (46%, Signatory Vintage for Flanders’ Finest Cask Selection, bourbon barrel, cask #800038, 227 bottles)
Colour: White wine. Nose: All the straw, cereal, lemon rind and butter you might expect from such an Auchentoshan. Very pleasant and summery - the kind of malt you could sip with a discreet ice cube in the garden. However, there are also some intriguing whiffs of sunflower oil, baking soda and pink lemonade. All rather lovely if pretty straightforward and undemanding, but isn’t undemanding just spot on sometimes? Mouth: pure lemon barley water. Hay, grass, parsley, bitter lemon, quinine and a stray bay leaf. I think the cask has done a pretty good job of providing structure and a backbone of sweetness without ever going over the top. Finish: Good length. Lots of sunflower oil, white pepper, more bitter lemon and a few flints and pebbles. Comments: I’m not normally a fan of Auchentoshan but this is an extremely drinkable drop.
SGP: 531 - 85 points.


Auchentoshan 15 yo 2003/2018 (56.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #5.65 ‘Cocktail Hour’, bourbon barrel, 202 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: bright and lemony, pure lemon drops, lemon barley water, a splosh of cream soda, fresh malt, crisp cereals, rice crackers etc... all very pleasant and summery, just like the Signatory. A spore of juicy fruit chewing gum, some key lime pie and some icing sugar. Very nice I have to say. With water: lots of hay, chalk, straw, blossoms, a touch of ink and aspirin. A slightly brittle concrete quality. Mouth: grassy sauvignon, lime cordial, effervescent vanilla sweetness, lemon oils, barley sugar, orange syrups and a flambeed banana or two. With water: lemon curd, spicy sandalwood notes, cornflour, barley sweetness, crisp malt, digestive biscuits and sunflower oil. Finish: medium length with notes of hand cream, sunflower seeds, soda bread and sweetened butter. Comments: perfectly good, summery and pretty straightforward Auchentoshan. I don’t see any reason to score it differently to the Signatory.
SGP: 631 - 85 points.


Tomatin 18 yo (46%, OB, bottled 2012)

Tomatin 18 yo (46%, OB, bottled 2012)
An older livery of the Tomatin 18. These batches were finished in sherry casks. I recall them being quite enjoyable at the time but I never recorded any notes. Until now... Colour: gold. Nose: rather a lot of golden syrup, gingerbread and some nicely ripe garden fruits. Mirabelle, gooseberry, pears, green apples etc... some bready notes as well, savoury pastry and a dollop of sweet lemon curd. Very pleasing and rather sumptuous. The kind of malt you could snooze to, in a good way. Mouth: a little more towards juicy plain malted barley, lemon cordial, a lick of camphor, dried thyme and some eucalyptus. Again it’s pretty good I think. Gets drier and more mineral, a little clay and putty. Some tree bark and a little over-extracted green tea. Finish: medium and getting drier and more teaish. Reminiscent of some old OB bottlings from the 80s. Some shoe polish and cheap runny honey. Comments: very drinkable, good quality malt whisky. Good fuel for the tumbler. I think the strength works well here.
SGP: 641 - 85 points.



Tomatin 36 yo (46%, OB batch 3, -/+ 2016)

Tomatin 36 yo (46%, OB batch 3, -/+ 2016)
Composed from a mix of sherry casks and plain oak hogsheads. Colour: gold. Nose: Luscious old school Tomatin. Bags of nectars, guava, mango and papaya. Some menthol tobacco, soft waxes, hessian, eucalyptus resin, aged herbal liqueurs and fragrant sandalwood. Underneath, in time, there’s also nectarine, ripe mandarin, star fruit and overripe banana. This typically Tomatin and thoroughly seductive abundance of exotic and green fruits basically. Mouth: various resinous and nervous fruit qualities with sweet fruit jellies, green apple peelings, spiced honey, pears baked in calvados, lime peel and wood spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon bark. Some lemony waxes, gently smoky paprika and further menthol qualities such as wormwood and mint tea. Finish: long with resurgent papaya and guava, pineapple juice and precious hardwood notes. Comments: Predictably delicious. If it were legal I’m sure Tomatin could declare that their 1970s stocks contain vitamin C.
SGP: 761 - 91 points.



Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, 2018)

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, 2018)
This year’s release of the 21yo was composed of 30% bourbon casks and 70% ex-rum casks. Colour: light gold. Nose: if there’s a rum component then so far it’s rather shy. What comes through first is this pretty typical mixture of waxes, beach pebbles, minerals, sheep wool, hessian, bath salts and light medicines. Pretty pure modern-era Springbank and extremely good. There’s some clay, flinty smoke, chalk, lime zest, carbolic soap and a prickle of mustard powder. Also a wisp of peat and wood smoke as well. That distant beach bonfire character that seems to inveigle its way into all contemporary Springbanks. Mouth: lots of soft but emphatic oils. Light peat, black pepper, olive oil, preserved lemons, mineral oil, hessian, soot, seashore minerals and a tiny allusion of dunder funk which may well be the rum, or possibly my imagination. A beautifully supple, textured, oily and characterful Campbeltown malt. Finish: long, some brittle minerals, spry wood spices, a touch of engine grease, lemon rind, wax and some rather fat phenolics. Comments: This combination of characterful distillate, gentle casks, a supportive nudge of peat and plenty maturation time make for a proper malt whisky. Still plenty lessons to be learned from those Karaoke-coveting distillers in Campbeltown it seems...
SGP: 472 - 92 points.



Springbank 21 yo 1996/2018 (54.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.112, ‘A broadside cannon barrage’, sherry butt, 532 bottles

Springbank 21 yo 1996/2018 (54.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.112, ‘A broadside cannon barrage’, sherry butt, 532 bottles)
Colour: dark mahogany. Nose: gun flints, motor oil, coal dust, black pepper and some very old balsamic vinegar. This is one SMWS title that makes sense as there is this gunpowder allusion in the nose with this kind of brimstone and struck flints quality. However, what’s impressive is that it remains a pure, powerful and clean style of sherry, and there is still some lovely and clear Springbank DNA underneath it all. Leathery cured meats, hessian, jasmine and old rope exist next to natural tar, embrocations, truffle oil and some very dark, stewed fruits such as prune juice, black cherries, dates and fig paste. Pretty great stuff I think. With water: kirsch, sandalwood, hessian, bitter chocolate, mint tea, blackjack chews,  salty liquorice and a glimmer of earthy peat. Mouth: big, intense spices, hickory wood smoke, gentle medicines, salted meats, strawberry wine, struck matches, more tarriness, freeze dried raspberries and some ancient boal madeira. More old balsamico, walnut wine, rancio, aged pinot noir and boot polish. With water: more very old dark wines, leather, wood spice, cloves, sap, intense herbal resins, Fernet Branca and various earthy, coastal and farmyard qualities all mingling with impressive boisterousness. Finish: wonderfully long, medicinal, oily, sooty and fat. Lots of cherry notes, hessian, camphor, engine oil and something heathery as well. Comments: Some good friends are not fans of this whisky and there are times where you sense it is wandering off towards dirtier territories, but it remains comfortably natural, earthy and intense to my palate. I understand the intensity and sheer madness of it may not be to everyone’s tastes but I think it performs wee miracles by being such a brazen sherry cask while still retaining a core Springbank identity. The total opposite of the OB 21 but its equal in quality, complexity and character if you ask me.
SGP: 673 - 92 points.



I’m not sure these two really count as a proper duo, apart from the fact they were born on the same island and they are both ‘theoretically’ anonymous...



Islay Single Malt From A Port Askaig Distillery 8 yo 2009/2017 (55.8%, Filmnik, sherry hogshead, cask #308656, 180 bottles)

Islay Single Malt From A Port Askaig Distillery 8 yo 2009/2017 (55.8%, Filmnik, sherry hogshead, cask #308656, 180 bottles)
One of a handful of bottlings by a new(ish) independent bottler, Filmnik, started by some very cool guys in China. Being an ex-film student I can’t help but enjoy the cinematically themed labels. This one references a film called Pirate Radio, although in the UK it was called ‘The Boat That Rocked’. It was directed by Richard Curtis who also co-wrote Blackadder and was responsible for Love Actually. Sort of like the Bowmore of TV and film writing careers, dizzying heights and murky lows... Colour: deep gold. Nose: bags of brine, a sort of minty peat and big dollops of salty porridge. Really quite rich and dense with a billowing gust of sea air and boiler smoke. Has this quite modern, chiselled and blade-like swoosh to the peat which is clean, bright and very enjoyable. Some savage gristy notes underneath. With water: lime juice, sheep wool, metal polish, mercurochrome and perhaps a bay leaf or two. Mouth: kippers, mixed olives in brine, lemon juice, wood ash, charcoal, fish sauce, capers and parsley. A smoky kedgeree with lots of sharp citrus juices. Gets oilier and fatter with time. With water: sootier, more camphor, oyster sauce this time, smoked oatmeal and some cooling peated wort. Still very salty and zingy. Finish: long, heavy, earthy, densely oily, some jumbled beach pebbles, salted fish, peppered mackerel. Very good. Comments: my guess would be Bunna but the sherry cask may be throwing me off. A perfect wee peat monster! Well selected Filmnik.
SGP: 377 - 87 points.



Single Islay Malt 13 yo 2005/2018 (52.6%, Thompson Bros, 217 bottles)

Single Islay Malt 13 yo 2005/2018 (52.6%, Thompson Bros, 217 bottles)
There’s no distillery named, but there is a picture of what appears to be Bessie Williamson on the label (or could it be an elderly Dutch dentist...?). So, I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions... Colour: straw. Nose: pure peat smoke with a vein of heathery smoke running in between. Very farmy and with a thick, dunnagey, earthy note and a mix of malt vinegar and brine. You could quite comfortably drench your fish supper with this stuff (unless you buy it in Drumnadrochit in which case it’s traditional to use a certain Rothes condiment). Green peppercorns in brine, toasted cereals, lime juice and raw oysters. Seawater and dried seaweed. With water: cider apples and new world Sauvignon Blanc along with chalk, new rubber and some old canvas. Also, it’s inescapably fishy, in a good sense. Mouth: a big, emphatically farmy and raw, smoked barley tinged delivery. Lots of sooty notes, metal polish, a rather syrupy peatiness, tar, ointment, floor cleaner and hessian. Modern but the height of purity and power. With water: pure lemon juice now, canvas, smoked meats, soy sauce, salt and a suggestion of dried tarragon. Finish: Long, ashy and filled with a lungful of kiln air, peat smoke, miso broth, tarry rope and an old fishing trawler - or something like that. Comments: It’s a tough one to score. On one hand I really miss the more exotic fruit aspects in these contemporary Laphroaigs. However, the purity, power, smokiness and the way it evolves and becomes a little more complicated with water is quite compelling. I’m teetering on the brink of 90 but I’m going to be cruel and cautious...
SGP: 378 - 89 points.



Ardbeg 30 yo 1975 (58.2%, Auld Alliance ‘Lost in the Warehouse’, 24 bottles, 2018)

Ardbeg 30 yo 1975 (58.2%, Auld Alliance ‘Lost in the Warehouse’, 24 bottles, 2018)
One of two very cool recent bottlings from the Auld Alliance in Singapore. From bottled stock which had remained in bond but never labelled or used until our resourceful pal Emmanuel managed to snuffle it out like a truffle hungry piggy. Colour: Gold. Nose: hot peat ash, tar, seawater and rope. Pure 1970s Ardbeg. A little wet seaweed, lime oil, salted fish and smoked grist. Wonderful stuff - extremely pure and powerful. With water: plasticine, sea salt, kippers and pure brine. Some burning sandalwood and pine cones in the background. Mouth: wonderfully dense in texture, peated silk if there is such a thing. The peat takes on a kind of meaty quality with some very dense, creosote and earthy notes. Plenty black pepper and green olives in brine. Some dried mixed herbs and anchovy paste. Majestic old Ardbeg. With water: stunning! Pure, old school, Ardbeggy perfection. Leaps about like a slippery Dolphin. Finish: Thrillingly long, ashy, earthy, tarry and medicinal. Comments: I wonder how many whisky nerds were started on their journey with distillate like this. A bracing and totally thrilling blast from the past.
SGP: 477 - 93 points.



Port Ellen 27 yo 1983 (54.8%, Auld Alliance ‘Lost in the Warehouse’, 31 bottles, 2018) Port Ellen 27 yo 1983 (54.8%, Auld Alliance ‘Lost in the Warehouse’, 31 bottles, 2018)
Colour: Light gold. Nose: A rather blazing, crystalline and saline profile. Tar liqueur, fish eggs, seawater and beach sand. There’s also this fisherman’s oilskin / rubber welly boot classical Port Ellen filth lurking about beneath the surface. Develops with hints of boiler smoke, black olive, soot and cured herring. A single pickled onion in a dirty martini. I find it pretty classical in style but extremely good. With water: pure lime juice now. Lemon rind, kelp, sheep wool and a little dried sage. Get’s lighter and more complex with water. Mouth: Wow! Surprisingly soft and elegant, honey glazed rope, nutmeg, soot, peat oils, germoline and a spoonful of kedgeree. A 30yo Lagavulin crossed with a 1974 Caol Ila. There’s a wonderfully mineral and earthy side as well, like wet pebbles with touches of leaf mulch. With water: a wonderful mix of citrus oils, menthol, chopped fresh herbs and coal dust. Soft, tarry peats in the background and an increasing medicinal side. As on the nose water complicates things nicely. Finish: Long, wonderfully oily, peaty and lemony with more slightly dirty medicinal aspects. Comments: On the nose to begin I was hovering around 90 but things just got better and better. Uncommonly for older whiskies this was really at its peak on the palate for me. A hugely pleasurable Port Ellen - a reminder of how good this distillery could (can?) be.
SGP: 576 - 92 points.


August 2018 - part 2 <--- September 2018 - part 1 ---> September 2018 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Benromach 1998/2018 ‘Cask No.1’ (60.1%, OB, sherry butt, 575 decanters)

Glenturret 18 yo 1999/2018 (51.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice cask strength, First fill Sherry hogshead, cask #690, 265 bottles)

Lagavulin ‘Jazz Festival 2016’ (54.5%, OB, 200th Anniversary, 6000 bottles, 2016)

Lg8 (59.5%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 2018)