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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2018 - Part 2


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


September 30, 2018


A bag of seven new high-strength rums

As we often do, as they come… but selectively, because mind you, we’re getting less and less masochistic at WF Towers.

Foursquare 14 yo 2002 (56.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Barbados, #R6.2, refill bourbon, ‘My Thai spice in Bimshire’, 228 bottles)

Foursquare 14 yo 2002 (56.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Barbados, #R6.2, refill bourbon, ‘My Thai spice in Bimshire’, 228 bottles) Four stars
Probably European-aged Foursquare. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s rather post-stilly, with good overripe bananas and a serious deal of ink and tar, then new tyres and many other garage-y smells. What shall we do when we’ll all drive electric cars? No more engine oil? No more petroly analogies? With water: rather more new plastics, but that is something we enjoy (in this context, eh). Or brand new Hyundai ;-). Mouth (neat): huge rum, sweeter this time, with a few marshmallows at first, then overripe bananas and pineapples, and some salt, tar, liquorice and green olives. Some esters in there! With water: a few cooking herbs, sage, tarragon… It’s almost béarnaise sauce! Finish: rather long, on plastic, bananas, and more béarnaise. Seriously. Comments: perhaps not the most majestic Foursquare ever, but its aromatic hollows and bumps make it quite fascinating. Emphasis on ‘quite’.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Well, this session started ‘bigger’ than expected, so we might want to tackle only heavier hitters after that very nice Foursquare…

Uitvlugt 1997/2018 (48.9%, The Wild Parrot, Guyana, cask #WP97489)

Uitvlugt 1997/2018 (48.9%, The Wild Parrot, Guyana, cask #WP97489) Four stars
Continental aging again. Colour: straw. Nose: ooh, another petroly one, this Uitvlugt being just grassier, more ‘organic’, more on mushroomy smells and perhaps pencil shavings, and more on fermentary notes, miso soup, tobacco, sourdough… All aromas that we enjoy a lot, naturally. Mouth: really very flavourful, feeling bigger than 49% vol., very olive-y, tertiary, tarry and lemony. A feeling of high-power mojito, only with a good few cls of used engine oil thrown in. And perhaps a little Ardbeg – and cough medicine made out of bitter roots. Finish: very long, a tad rubbery and peppery, so clearly harsher and even a tad drying. Loses a handful of points here. Comments: very extremely good, just the finish was a little jumbled and harsh, I would say.
SGP:363 - 85 points.

Savanna 10 yo 2007/2018 ‘Herr Japan Tribute’ (61.3%, OB, La Réunion, cask #218, 761 bottles)

Savanna 10 yo 2007/2018 ‘Herr Japan Tribute’ (61.3%, OB, La Réunion, cask #218, 761 bottles) Four stars and a half
This is very long fermentation Grand Arôme rum, distilled in copper columns on the French island of La Réunion, near Madagascar. We’ve already tried some brilliant Savannas. Colour: full gold. Nose: a lot of nail varnish remover at first sniffing, and then the most fantastic banana-y development. Utterly love these smells of fruit manure, fresh box of Cohibas, old balsamic vinegar, and well-aged Spanish ham. Exceptional bouquet, you could spend hours with your nose in the glass. With water: amazing how it would swim. Many subtle spices, very complex curry mixes, cedar and other special woods… Mouth (neat): holey featherless crow, this almost starts as baiju! There’s also really a lot of cloves, caraway seeds, varnishy notes again, rotting exotic fruits… Wouldn’t we have almost mentioned durian? Huge palate, really. With water: space and spice mix. Marvellously tertiary, fermentary, lactic, acidic… There’s really a lot happening in your glass, a whirlwind of flavours, really. Finish: very long, and not as oaky as I had feared. Cedary notes are not always the greatest sign, but all is fine here. Camphory bananas in the aftertaste, I would say. Comments: we’re bordering perfection now. Savanna’s sometimes a bit under the radar at some places, but they’re really worth your attention, I think.
SGP:552 - 88 points.

Since we’re in France…

Bellevue 20 yo 1998/2018 (55.2%, Silver Seal, Guadeloupe)

Bellevue 20 yo 1998/2018 (55.2%, Silver Seal, Guadeloupe) Five stars
In rum, parrots are all the rage, apparently. Well we do know that this honorable bottler does genuinely love parrots, and that he even owns some funny fellow. But shh, that’s private information… By the way, it’s cool that they would mention the fact that this was aged in Scotland and not on location in Guadeloupe on the label. Full transparency, that’s great. Colour: rich amber. Nose: amazing, at the very top of French rum. Fantastic roasted hazelnuts, mango jam, tiger balm, black olives, a drop of nail polish, dried bananas, orange cake… This is better civilised than the others, but it still kicks and screams. More and more heady liquorice after a while. With water: balsa wood, ylang-ylang, fresh cinnamon rolls… Mouth (neat): sweet Jesus, how good is this? It’s perfect rum, with just the best of all worlds. Liquorice’s unifying all this maelstrom of spices, smokes and fruits, and well, I just love this. With water: yeah, water does not push the wood! But it does push the whole towards several other aged spirits, Armagnac perhaps, whisky (that thing they make out of grains), aged plum eau-de-vie… Finish: long, firm, just perfect and typically ‘French Caribbean’. Except that not many French Caribbean rums are as great as this. Gotta love the best of Guadeloupe (and Marie-Galante). Comments: I think I just said all I wanted to say (ooh you racked your brain again, S.!).
SGP:662 - 90 points.

Let’s fly to Trinidad… And Tobago (not Tobacco, Mr. Funny)…

Caroni 20 yo 1998/2018 ‘Dennis X Gopaul’ (69.5%, Velier)

Caroni 20 yo 1998/2018 ‘Dennis X Gopaul’ (69.5%, Velier) Four stars
This one was fully matured in Trinidad. They’ve added pictures and the names of former distillery workers, which I find moving and very smart. Now, 69.5% vol...  Wish me luck! (but there will be even ‘worse’…) Colour: deep amber. Nose: it’s lighter Caroni, apparently, because I find no olives, no tar, and no dead mammals. Well you see what I mean. Having said that, these notes of chocolate cake, cane juice (wow!), and marrow and really very nice. But 69.5% mind you… With water: its relatively gentle, soft, even pretty smooth, cake-y… Indeed this is clearly a lighter style Caroni. Some sides remind me a bit of Barbancourt, really. Mouth (neat): I don’t know and I don’t want to know, because it just burns you. N  r ll  I s e  r, I  b rn . With water: some earthiness, sugar cane, and a drop of cologne. Finish: long, a tad spirity. Holly eau-de-vie (and I’m not making that up) and a little liquorice liqueur. Or heavily liquoriced pastis. Comments: it’s perhaps not quite one of those heavy Caronis that would tear you apart or make you sing Sinatra, but it’s still very high-quality rum in my humble little cane book.
SGP:452 - 86 points.

Let us try that again…

Caroni 22 yo 1996/2018 ‘John D Eversley’ (66.5%, Velier)

Caroni 22 yo 1996/2018 ‘John D Eversley’ (66.5%, Velier) Four stars and a half
This one too was fully aged in Trinidad. And the very engaging Mr. Eversley seems to mean it! Colour: dark reddish amber. Nose: it’s a soft one again, but this time we’re all going into subtleties, this is almost Mozartian. Perfect croissants, cakes, breads, cane cake, banana jam, earl grey, old Bensons (and Hedges), apricot jam, Danish… Wonderful, really. Really a civilised Caroni, one that you could offer to a lady (S., come on, you can’t say that anymore!) With water: proper agricole! I know that cannot be, but still… Mouth (neat): magic. Makes you cough, of course, and sure the oak may have taken over, but there is a fullness that just clicks. Hard to explain. Let’s try water: yep, lemons, citrons, green olives, tar, artichokes, candle wax… There, everything’s back to normal. Finish: long  saltier, with some kinds of tarry/brine-y lemons. Some varnish too. Comments: super good, just a bit hard to tame. You see, you have to get the amount of water right, as always with any high-power tropically-aged rums. They’re almost weapons, you know.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Only 66% or even 69% vol.? I mean, LOL!...

Caroni 17 yo 2000/2017 (70.4%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #R4008, 238 bottles)

Caroni 17 yo 2000/2017 (70.4%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #R4008, 238 bottles) Four stars
Some very late-period Caroni bottled at an insanely high strength. Utterly love it that at 70.4% vol., someone in pre-Brexit London (or in Genoa?) has felt the need to add this to the label: ‘Full Proof’. But it’s true that there was doubt… Colour: amber. Nose: not even afraid! This is almost smooth and mild, slightly petroly, a little olive-y, certainly a little tarry, and quite cake-y, but other than that, we manage, as they say in D.C. Perhaps a drop of Maggi. Or lovage juice. With water: feels Japanese, seriously. Where do these notes of sake come from? Love the ripe pears though, but that’s a bit Yamazaki, isn’t it? This is really funny, I’d swear I’ve tried quite a few ex-bourbon Yamazaki Owner’s Casks that were like this. Mouth (neat): please-do-not-take-more-than-one-drop! No, really, it’s unpleasant at this strength. Where have I put my pipette?... With water: there, back to civilisation, but frankly, we’re rather wandering throughout Japanese malt territories. Or am I dreaming? The oak’s very present, you have to like that. Oh let’s say it, as much as I’m all in favour of tropical aging ‘philosophically’ or even ‘socially’, or ‘historically’, I think there are issues too. Simply because long story short, molecules from the wood simply don’t evaporate, so concentration is the enemy here. Good, that’s to be discussed later… Finish: extremely long, just a wee bit coarse perhaps. Lighter style Caroni in any case. Comments: okay London, attempted murder, this is going to cost you…
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Good, I may need a wee rest before I start to yodel…

(Thank you Lance!)

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


September 29, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Malts in triplicate
Another few trilogies of various single malts today. Let’s kick things off with the usually dependable Glentauchers...


Glentauchers 11 yo 2007/2018 (58.9%, North Star, bourbon hogshead/PX finish, 288 bottles) Glentauchers 11 yo 2007/2018 (58.9%, North Star, bourbon hogshead/PX finish, 288 bottles)
Colour: white wine - no visible signs of any PX... Nose: light, creamy, bright, soft vanilla, crushed oatcakes, green banana, muesli, some freshly chopped herbs. Pretty classical and fairly straightforward good, clean, lightly fruity, gently sweet modern Scotch malt whisky. Not a whiff of PX in sight really. In time a light earthiness begins to develop. With water: there’s a curious gin and tonic / quinine note emerging now, along with hints of cucumber and good old lemon barley water. Mouth: there’s a glimmer of something sherryish now with a more red fruit-tinged sweetness in the delivery. Notes of treacle pudding, jam sponge cake and a little green wood. Rather prickly as well with a kind of hot paprika quality. With water: earthy again, some white flowers, baking soda and chalk. There’s also a peppery, watercress aspect and a touch of soot. Finish: medium length, some sweet condensed milk, aspirin, lemon cough drops and quiet vanilla. Comments: Interesting whisky, the finish is pretty subtle with only a few wee notes on the neat palate alluding to any re-racking. A decent dram for light after dinner quaffing but not particularly thrilling or earth shattering stuff.
SGP: 451 - 83 points.


Glentauchers 27 yo 1990/2018 (54.4%, Cadenhead Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles) Glentauchers 27 yo 1990/2018 (54.4%, Cadenhead Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles)
Colour: light gold. Nose: ahh, you just cannot beat a plain cask and time! This is a really lovely and elegant mix of beeswaxes, pollens, heather honey, tea biscuits, light olive oil, mushroom powder and earthen floored cellars. It also has this lean, waxy side to it that I associate as a very ‘Glentauchers’ thing. A few glazed and crystalised fruits as well. With water: opens beautifully. More towards canvas, hessian cloth, dunnage, clay and a little orange peel now. Mouth: Pow! Big, peppery, sappy, oily, waxy, surprisingly herbal and sooty! Really terrific delivery and evolution on the palate. Some earthy turmeric, ripe green fruits and spiced mead. With water: once again, water works wonders. Lots of nervous green, citrus and white fruits. Pears baked in honey, ripe banana, apple crumble with spiced custard and more supple waxiness. Really terrific. Finish: long, earthy, waxy, gently peppery and tingling. Lots of green apple, lemon peel, olive oil and a little camphor. Comments: I had it at 89 but water elevates it to a solid 90. A real gem of a Glentauchers!
SGP: 561 - 90 points.


Glentauchers 41 yo 1976/2017 (42%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 126 bottles) Glentauchers 41 yo 1976/2017 (42%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 126 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: a beehive! Nectars, pollens, wildflowers, honeycomb, furniture polish, beeswax, dried mango, papaya, guava... one of those wonderfully rich and expressive old school malts. Continues with notes such as salted caramel, toasted pecan nuts and well spiced carrot cake. Hints of hessian, wormwood and green chartreuse. Totally marvelous. Figs and quince jelly as well. Mouth: the strength makes things a tad soft, and the wood is definitely vivid and spicy. However, it’s also clean and taut and providing backbone and structure. In time more honeys and glazed fruits emerge. Lots of yellow flowers, waxes, ointments, dry earth, sandalwood and cough drops. Touches of pine sap, herbal liqueurs and mineral oil. Finish: good length, nervous tannins, warming spices, oily medicinal qualities and various fruit liqueurs and orange cocktail bitters. Increasingly medical and herbal. Comments: Another great Glentauchers. The age is really magnified on this one but it holds together perfectly and the wood, while big, never overpowers or becomes tired. There’s still this wonderful muddle of fruits, waxes and honeys from nose through to finish. And what I love is that you really feel the DNA that runs from the 76 through the 90.
SGP: 661 - 91 points.


And now, our old friend, Clynelish...  


Clynelish 10 yo 2008/2018 (46%, Signatory for Flanders’ Finest Cask Selection, bourbon barrel, cask #800120, 304 bottles) Clynelish 10 yo 2008/2018 (46%, Signatory for Flanders’ Finest Cask Selection, bourbon barrel, cask #800120, 304 bottles)
Colour: Pale white wine. Nose: I’m pleased to report that we have indeed struck Clynelish. Lots of coastal, lemony wax, sea greens, sandalwood, a touch of natural vanilla, white flowers, stone fruits. Spot on, young Clynelish. Mouth: Ah! Even better! Beautifully soft, textural waxiness with wee hints of white pepper, gauze, lemon balm, sun lotion, olive oil and camphor. Gets spicier and more gravelly with time. Finish: Long, waxy, sooty, lemony and with a big coastal freshness throughout. Comments: Well, that was rather straightforward. A Clynelish that eases you in on the nose then wraps itself around you in a big, waxy hug on the palate. I think bottling this at 46% was probably a pretty smart idea. Very well selected, the kind of characterful yet east going malt that you can just sip away at to your heart’s content.
SGP: 562 - 90 points.


Clynelish 1990/2003 (57.4%, Acorn, bourbon cask) Clynelish 1990/2003 (57.4%, Acorn, bourbon cask)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s not an immediate, or classically waxy style of Clynelish. Rather this is more towards butter, clotted cream, vanilla, toasted breads, fresh croissant and salted caramel. In time this salty aspect develops further and you start to get more recognisably Clynelishesque characters emerging. Hints of kelp, old rope and, indeed, some old wax Barbour jackets. A hint of preserved lemon and some sort of petrol infused brine. With water: wow, hugely aromatic now. A big shift towards heather ale, sea greens, beach pebbles, dunnage earth and lemon oils. It feels like a very big distillate battling a rather active cask - although it’s a gladiatorial combat I’m enjoying, even if somewhat perversely. Mouth: big, oily, emphatic and almost leathery in texture. The wax is there but it’s still sort of restrained. In its place you have these big, fatty notes of motor oil, cooking grease, lime curd, blood orange and hessian. It’s pretty hefty but at the same time rather unusual and singular in style. Perhaps some scone mix and pastis and a touch of marmalade. With water: big, textural, extremely salty, fatty, chip grease, salt and vinegar crisps, some oily medicines, overripe banana, mercurochrome and bonfire ash. Some peppered mackerel and anchovies as well. Mad whisky, if not totally balanced it is undeniably overflowing with character! Finish: Long, oily, slightly ashy, gently waxy, lemony and with these briny, green olive and caper notes. Comments: It’s Clynelish Serge, but not as we know it...
SGP: 572 - 89 points.


Clynelish 16 yo 1989/2006 (55.1%, Art Of Whisky ‘Northern Star’, sherry) Clynelish 16 yo 1989/2006 (55.1%, Art Of Whisky ‘Northern Star’, sherry)
Not too sure about Clynelish and sherry, they can make for uncomfortable bed fellows in my experience. Colour: light amber. Nose: opens really enticingly on mineral oils, gun flints, metal polish and oily rags. An earthy, gravelly, rich minerality follows on. Then you get this twin prong of sandalwood and a very eloquent herbal aspect. Some savoury pastries, cured meats, sweet raisins, cough medicine and a touch of balsamic. Rather sooty and punchy as well with these notes of peppery grilled steak. Very good though. With water: notes of gravy, dried cranberry, soft herbal qualities and plasticine. Overall softer and more earthy but still with this slightly sooty, meaty sherry aspect. Mouth: heavy and fatty in style again. More metallic notes, cooked ham, graphite oil, carbon paper, old ink, slightly tarry, more notes of ointment and almost antiseptic. Again this gravelly earthiness on top of orange peel, sweaty waxiness and some beef stock. With water: on one had you have this sweetness in the form of dried berry fruits, on the other this earthy, slightly flabby, oily, salty and meaty qualities. Notes of bovril and vegetable stock. More pencil graphite as well. Finish: Long, meaty, rubbery, earthy, oily and with some drying hessian cloth notes. Comments: Whereas the 1990 was similarly heavy and a bit whacky, when it went to war with its cask it was a clean flight. With this one both combatants are fighting dirty...and probably while on drugs. Still, there’s plenty to enjoy here as well. A fun, if slightly strange Clynelish.
SGP: 472 - 86 points.


And finally, to Bowmore. I think we’ll go by strength this time.  


Bowmore 1991/2008 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Secret Stills 04.09’, refill sherry hogsheads, 1300 bottles) Bowmore 1991/2008 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Secret Stills 04.09’, refill sherry hogsheads, 1300 bottles)
Not much attention paid to this humble wee series by G&M over the years, despite it sheltering some pretty wonderful drams. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: curiously farmy at first nosing. Lots of straw, silage, hay, clay and damp earth. Then smouldering newspaper, beach bonfire smoke, hessian, seawater and fish sauce. Swings round gently towards the shoreline with these notes of oysters, mussels in white wine, cut grass, parsley and an increasingly chiseled and mineral profile. Very nice. Mouth: lemony, smoky, rather briny, lots of oily rag, hessian, lamp oil and smoked white fish. There’s also a big smoky, gristy oiliness underneath it all. A kind of smoky, cooling wort aspect. Then back to this lemony, briny quality. Finish: long, earthy, lightly peppery, full of coal smoke, lanolin, ointment, soot and smoked oysters. Comments: Extremely pleasurable and easy sipping Bowmore. Lacking in fruitiness and almost nodding towards Laphroaig with these weighty smouldering, briny qualities. But what it lacks in fruit it compensates for in freshness, body and coastal zing.
SGP: 465 - 88 points.


Bowmore 20 yo 1997/2018 (55.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #3.307 ‘A journey into joy’, for Feis Ile 2018, refill oloroso sherry butt, 564 bottles)

Bowmore 20 yo 1997/2018 (55.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #3.307 ‘A journey into joy’, for Feis Ile 2018, refill oloroso sherry butt, 564 bottles)
Colour: bronze. Nose: sweet cherries, bonfire smoke and fragrant seashore and sandalwood notes. Wee glimmers of kelp, dried seaweed in a salty bowl of ramen, lemon cough drops and heathery smoke. With water: more earthiness, black olives, coal hearth, heather ale, anchovies and sardines in brine. Mouth: peat embers, violets, geraniums, soot, camphor, cod liver oil, dried tarragon, mint leaf, kippers and new bicycle inner tube. Some walnuts, cloves and old Chartreuse. With water: blackcurrant cough medicine, throat sweets, menthol eucalyptus freshness, beach pebbles, a drop of iodine and some natural tar resin. Finish: long, sweetly earthy, sooty and full of red and dark fruits with lots of salt and liquorice. Comments: At times you feel as though the sherry and Bowmore are slightly at odds with each other, as often happens with many contemporary sherried Bowmores I find. However, in the end the gentle, persuasive deliciousness of it won out.
SGP: 576 - 89 points.



Bowmore 13 yo 2004/2018 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #3.310 ‘A marooned wordsmith’, 2nd fill hogshead, 207 bottles) Bowmore 13 yo 2004/2018 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #3.310 ‘A marooned wordsmith’, 2nd fill hogshead, 207 bottles)
Colour: Light gold. Nose: Pure lemon juice, sheep wool and bonfire ash. An almost frustratingly elusive fruitiness keeps blinking in and out from underneath. Wee flashes of jasmine, kelp, juniper, passion fruit and papaya. More obviously there is seawater, smoked oatmeal, kelp, tar and lime juice. Precision and purity defined. With water: easier, more sexy, fruitier, more tropical and more citrusy. A fragrant smokiness develops rather beautifully. Mouth: Oysters, shellfish, lemon juice, brine, antiseptic, coal tar soap and mercurochrome. Rather intense now - like a blade of salt taking your head off. Peated grist, smoky wort and peat embers. Like all the aromas of a distillery - well - distilled (get a grip Angus!). With water: oatmeal, cornflour and turmeric all wrapped up in pure peat smoke, ash, lemon rind and kippers. Gets fatter, oilier, greasier and intense with water. Finish: Long and lemony with lots of greasy peats, smouldering grist, tar and hessian. Comments: A tough one to score. It seems like two different whiskies at times. On the nose there is a sense of complexity and subtlety, but on the palate it’s something of a monster. Rather great Bowmore all the same I think, but we’ll err on the side of caution.
SGP: 467 - 88 points.



September 28, 2018


One retrofuturistic Ben Nevis
and a few others

And there will be more soon. Let’s only hope all Ben Nevis won’t finally end up as ‘Japanese’ whisky in the coming years. Because we love proper pure Ben Nevis at WF Towers…

Ben Nevis 7 yo 2010/2018 (48%, LMDW, Artist Collective #2.5)

Ben Nevis 7 yo 2010/2018 (48%, LMDW, Artist Collective #2.5) Four stars and a half
This is a large vatting of ten 1st fill bourbon barrels. It was part of four malts that I’ve introduced at my ‘masterclass’ (oh how I would prefer the terms commented – or, okay, tutored - tasting session) at WL Paris. Good people seem to have liked it. Bad people too ;-). Colour: white wine. Nose: good, I won’t change my mind. It’s probably not as ‘dirty’ as other Ben Nevisses, so perhaps a tad narrower, but these waxed fruits are ueberwonderful. Rhubarb, green melon, pink bananas, cherries and, indeed, a little beeswax. The first fill ASBs have done wonders and yet did not impart any bold vanillaness. Mouth: just excellent, very fresh, a wee tad sugary for a few seconds (those wee Easter eggs), then perfectly fruity again. A hint of rose-flavoured Turkish delight, also marshmallows. Strength and body are just perfect. Finish: long, always very fruity, with just a very thin layer of finely ground pepper. Comments: few, looks like I wasn’t dreaming at WL Paris. Mind you, seven years old!
SGP:651 - 88 points.

While we’re at it…

Ben Nevis 7 yo 2010/2018 (59.3%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams)

Ben Nevis 7 yo 2010/2018 (59.3%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Four stars
Let’s see what our happier Belgian friends have found while others were watching futbol. Ahem, not that I would like to rub salt in their wounds (love you all, guys!)… Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a grassier one, but that may be because of the higher strength. It seems that there’s less sweetness, in any case, less boisterous fruits… With water: some linseed oil coming through, and indeed it remains less fruity than the Collective, but consequently, there are more waxy elements, which is almost as fine. Mouth (neat): a little hot to tell you the truth, so very eau-de-vie-ish. Schnapps! (das war sein letztes Wort, usw…) Quick, with water: there, some dirt. You see what I mean. A few unlikely flavours (around ink) and a wee feeling of gravel and benzine. A little salt too. Finish: rather long, really grassy. Comments: very very good, just not as ‘obvious’ as the Collective. A little odd in fact, but that’s also what we like in Ben Nevis.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Ben Nevis 21 yo (47.5%, The Whisky Show 2018, 10th Anniversary, Future of Whisky, sherry butt, 144 bottles)

Ben Nevis 21 yo (47.5%, The Whisky Show 2018, 10th Anniversary, Future of Whisky, sherry butt, 144 bottles) Five stars
I so hate it that once more, I couldn’t make it to London’s Whisky Show this year. Plus, I would have loved to see these bottles in real life, since their “lenticular labels” are meant to “offer a feeling of depth and movement”. Funny, that’s exactly my feeling too after I’ve had too much Ben Nevis. What’s more, this very Ben Nevis also refers to “what they thought the future would be in the past”. London, are you still with us and is it confirmed that Elon Musk will attend the show? And those aliens? Are you really trying to revive retrofuturism? Colour: gold. Nose: aww. Perfect. Much complexity brought by 1. One of the finest distillates, 2. Good wood, and 3. Enough time. Many herbal teas, camphor, wet gravel, fresh walnuts, moss, some fresh tobacco, linseed oil (and a little fusel oil too), a drop of high-ester rum, old magazines… Well this is perfect indeed. Mouth: extremely good. There’s a good share of this superb dirty roughness that Ben Nevis fans just cherish, as well as, really, quite a lot of notes of cognac. We’re talking proper artisan cognac, not large vattings by large brands. London, are you suggesting that in the past, the future of whisky would have been cognac? Finish: long, even more raisiny. The sooty malt is back in the aftertaste, with some lemon. Comments: H.G. Wells’ own drop, I’ve heard. By the way, if you’re attending the Whisky Show, please go try this baby and tell me if you didn’t find cognac on the palate. And don’t touch the magic mushrooms or you’ll be as high as a kite.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Right, perhaps a wee bonus that should be less, say esoteric…

Ben Nevis 1996/2016 (54.2%, Whiskybroker, sherry butt, cask #72, 510 bottles)

Ben Nevis 1996/2016 (54.2%, Whiskybroker, sherry butt, cask #72, 510 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine (so very refill given it’s a butt). Nose: it’s funny that whilst this is sherry, we would rather be on cakes, butterscotch, and even coconut balls. And café latte. Beyond that very pastry-like introduction, we’ll rather find this sooty maltiness that’s very Ben Nevis. With water: much more fermentary and bready. A new 20-pack of oatcakes. Mouth (neat): kirsch, almonds, maraschino, icing sugar, and one espresso with seven sugar cubes in it. Yet another style. With water: once again it would get rather bready. Guinness and biscuits, some marmalade. Finish: long, with touches of gingerbread and toasted oak, plus a drop of pastis. Rather aniseed and liquorice. Comments: a little unusual, as if a few litres of some other rather characterful malt whisky were still in that butt at time of filling. Still way above average in my book.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

No really, what they thought the future would be in the past, good one! Reminds me of those old ‘Men Who Plan beyond Tomorrow’ ads for Seagram’s V.O.. Just search for ‘‘Men Who Plan beyond Tomorrow’ on google image and you’ll see, they’re all brilliant. De nada.

(Thank you again, Tom)

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


September 27, 2018


Three new Pulteney plus one

They changed the liveries and they seem to be reinforcing the age statements. Why would anyone be against all this?

Old Pulteney ‘Huddart’ (46%, OB, 2018)

Old Pulteney ‘Huddart’ (46%, OB, 2018) Four stars
This is ex-bourbon Pulteney, probably young since there’s no age statement, finished in ex-peated casks. As for the ‘shouldn’t this rather be a blended malt then’ debate, we’ll do that later. Perhaps. Probably not. Colour: pale gold. Nose: they have a thing with these ex-peater finishes, because this works very well on the nose, really. Some apple pie that would have been baked near the ocean – or on a boat – while someone in the neighbourhood was burning lemon wood, whilst smoking eucalyptus cigarettes. Mouth: really, I find this surprisingly good. It’s as if Pulteney’s slightly coastal character was amplified, in a Spinal-Tap way. Some butterscotch too, toffee, charred US oak, salty lemons, a touch of ginger and nutmeg… All is very fine here. Finish: quite long, with a rounder texture (newish US oak indeed?) and a beautiful mentholy freshness. Comments: crikey, I seem to be enjoying this little NAS quite a lot. As for Huddart, that’s the name of the street where the distillery’s located, in Wick. Huddart St.
SGP:552 - 86 points.

Old Pulteney 15 yo (46%, OB, 2018)

Old Pulteney 15 yo (46%, OB, 2018) Four stars
It’s meant to have been double matured in bourbon and Spanish, but it’s unclear whether that was successively or parallelly. Not that we desperately need to know. Colour: gold. Nose: really very lovely, not smoky this time, naturally, but really coastal, with the much advertised sea air well in place, while a bready side keeps it cereally. Sour dough, Ethiopian bread (yep, just tried that, it’s very fermentary). A little mint too. Like this nose a lot. Mouth: very good, just the oak’s a little too spicy/gingery for me, which gives it an ‘infused’ side that’s also to be seen elsewhere, especially at all the new crafties that are using new small casks. All the rest is pretty perfect, fresh, coastal indeed, bready, with hints of liquorice allsorts that will please all the kids within ourselves… Finish: medium, on just the same notes. Comments: very good. Not exactly my cup of malt because of the modern oak spices, but very good nonetheless.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Old Pulteney 18 yo (46%, OB, 2018)

Old Pulteney 18 yo (46%, OB, 2018) Four stars and a half
Same combination of cask types as in the 15, let’s just hope it’s not gotten even spicier, heavy-speculoos-style. Colour: gold. Nose: well, the answer’s no, it’s not any spicier than the 15, and actually subtler, with notes of pinewood coal (fusain), brownies, genuine chocolate, pot-pourri, wulong, and a little cigar tobacco, maduro style. Mouth: extremely good! A salty arrival, some camphory aromas, some angelica, gentian, a wee bit of pumpernickel for good measure, a touch of blood orange, and perhaps a drop of Aperol. Apologies (because we mentioned Aperol). Finish: long, perfectly balanced, with some roasted nuts and crystallised oranges. There’s a cake like that out there but forgot its name (now that was useful, S.!) Comments: we’re bordering the 90-mark now. Excellent drop, superbly made, with perfect control of some pretty active oak.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

Let’s go try to find an indie and we’re done…

Pulteney 12 yo 2006/2018 (56%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 282 bottles)

Pulteney 12 yo 2006/2018 (56%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 282 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: exactly what I was looking for, some totally naked Pulteney, with barely any wood influence. We could call this ‘maritime melon spread on some toasted German bread’, were we working at the SMWS, God help them. Seriously, the coastal side’s very obvious in this context. With water: grassier, even a tad soapy. It saponifies after water’s been added but is extremely slow to get back to normal. Mouth (neat): very fresh, millimetric, first rather vertical (mentholated lemons, perhaps), then wider and fatter, with some butterscotch, lemon meringue, and perhaps ‘ideas’ of Cuban aguardiente. And why not? With water: very good, lemon curd, mint, baguette, malt, one wee winkle. Finish: same, with a little more earth. Comments: that’s what’s good with the main indies, they wouldn’t spend hundreds on newish oak.
SGP:451 - 87 points.

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


September 26, 2018


Two new Glenfiddich

We’re just back from Whisky Live Paris, yet another great edition even if the whiskies keep getting younger and more expensive simultaneously, a trend that has been generating a wee feeling of scissors (effect) for quite a few years now. But that’s the whole market, not specifically Paris. Anyway, all people very cool, just not some wee distillers up there way beyond Wick up in the North. Really, boo, but let’s forget about that (I don’t have any blacklists at WF, perhaps I should) and have something cooler and much, much funnier…

Glenfiddich ‘Fire & Cane’ (43%, OB, Experimental Series #4, 2018)

Glenfiddich ‘Fire & Cane’ (43%, OB, Experimental Series #4, 2018) Four stars
A very funny one. You see I don’t always need an age statement when there is some fun. So, this new Glenfiddich is a vatting – I would guess they say a marriage – of peated Glenfiddich with ex-bourbon regular GF, the whole having been finished in some rum wood. And why not? After all, we’ve already seen some rum finished in ex-Islay wood (at HSE’s). Oh and some Armagnac finished in Ledaig (soon on WF!) Colour: gold. Nose: funny indeed. Something very medicinal, tiger balm, Thai embrocations, Thai basil while we’re at it (no, really), and notes of bergamots and yuzu, I would say. There’s been some integration here, you do not have the feeling of ‘two whiskies in one’. Mouth: first the roundness, second the peppy smoke, and third a pleasing feeling of smoked sultanas. Some eucalyptus-flavoured toffee, perhaps? Tends to get a wee notch too peppery for me, but that is nothing. Good body, the 43% work here. Finish: rather long, curiously salty at times, certainly smoky. Peppery oakiness again in the aftertaste, that’s fine. Comments: oh let’s have some fun! Even if this little Glenfiddich may lose you a bit at times, while being less sweet that I had thought.
SGP:453 - 85 points.

Glenfiddich 21 yo ‘Winter Storm Batch No. Two’ (43%, OB, ice wine finish, 2018)

Glenfiddich 21 yo ‘Winter Storm Batch No. Two’ (43%, OB, ice wine finish, 2018) Four stars
I did enjoy the first batch quite a lot (WF 85). Mind you, ice wine! We used to make ice wine in Alsace too, and we still do but we can’t call them like that anymore because of some kind of trade agreement with our Canadian cousins. No, we don’t have maple trees. Colour: gold. Nose: ah, I remember, these notes of iced apples, or late-harvest apple wine (which they also make in Canada), then quince jelly, apricot pie, guava juice… All that over some sponge cake and a wee touch of earthy tea. A very fine nose, just like last time with batch 1. Mouth: they really managed not to make it too sweet, or too cloying. Herbal teas, fresh walnuts, oranges, then a little melon, perhaps. Really very fine. Touches of orange blossom water, a little nutmeg and raw cinnamon, possibly from the wine casks… In short, it’s as fine as I remembered it. Finish: rather long, just a notch gritty/grassy. Not particularly sweet. Comments: I think it’s the same juice as batch #1, and I know from some high-ranked source that this is the last batch, so that there will be no more. I really like the fact that Glenfiddich manage to make ‘experimental’ expressions that remain coherent and not just, well, ‘hey, let’s try this!’
SGP:551 - 85 points.

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


September 25, 2018


A few blends

Indeed I haven’t racked my brain. Blends do exist, so let’s try a few until we’ve had enough. I know, very lazy writing but many blends are lazy too…

Whyte & Mackay ‘Special’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

Whyte & Mackay ‘Special’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018) one star and a half
Well if it says ‘special’, that would suggest there’s nothing really special inside. Remember, with Scotch, words usually mean their opposites. Old means young, rare means common, limited means widely available, by hand means from a spreadsheet, and so on. It’s an unusual language any whisky lovers should try to master. Now we’ve tried this W&M ‘Special’ back in 2009 when it used to cost £10, and thought it was rather average (WF 68, not bad for a cheap blend), but they may have improved the recipe. Oh and it’s now ‘triple matured’. LOL. Colour: gold. Nose: some butter, vanilla, custard, and flowers. Café latte, Starbuck’s stuff, etc. Fair, so far. Mouth: it’s pretty okay at first, with a blend of custard with orange syrup and toasted bread, but it tends to become bitterish and cardboardy, which is what happens with most cheap blends. Finish: short, with more caramel and supermarket fruit liqueurs. Curaçao, perhaps? Parfait Amour? Comments: very average but rather a wee bit better than I remembered. Now it’s very sad that there’s this.
SGP:331 - 69 points.

Robert Burns (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

Robert Burns (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018) Two stars
This is Arran’s blend, said to contain a higher proportion of malt. In general, the more malt, the better, that’s almost always a rule. Colour: pale gold. Nose: there’s less notes of stale fruits and burnt wood and cardboard than in most cheap blends, while indeed, we’re finding more malt, cereals, oatcakes, brioche, pears and of course, vanilla. A nice but rather ‘moderate’ nose that I won’t remember forever. Mouth: fine, with a little earth, more vanilla, croissants, overripe apples and pears, shortbread from a pack that you’ve opened two weeks ago… It’s okay, really. Finish: medium, rather peppery and that’s oak pepper. Some ginger too, cardboard… Burnt stuff in the aftertaste, aftertastes are rarely a blend’s best part in my experience. Comments: feeling a tad sleepy already… No, not bored to death yet…
SGP:431 - 72 points.

Aberdour Piper (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

Aberdour Piper (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)
Naturally, this is ‘superior’ (remember, whisky language), but you know what? I had ordered this while believing it was Aberlour. Never order anything online while watching a movie by the Coen bros! Yeah, twenty years of whisky commenting seem to lead you nowhere…  Colour: pale gold. Nose: tinned litchis and rose petals at first, so there’s hope, but not much afterwards, just burnt cakes and more burnt cakes. Perhaps apple juice? Mouth: whacky. Tastes like some Scotch for some remote African country. Nothing against remote African countries, of course. Mint liqueur, caraway, peach syrup… You would believe that’s all well and nice, but those flavours do feel unnatural, akin to those that are to be found in some of those ugly doctored rums. Raspberry syrup. Finish: medium and unnaturally sweet. Pepper. Comments: how did they make this?
SGP:541 - 45 points.

Adelphi (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

Adelphi (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018) Three stars
Always liked this label, since I first stumbled upon it somewhere in Italy around the year 2000. Not that you should care, mind you… Colour: gold. Nose: higher malt proportions for sure. Fresh grass and earth, some coastal notes, a wee bit of peat smoke, some wild mushrooms perhaps, otherwise some orchard fruits including the usual apples and pears… A fine nose for sure. Mouth: indeed, nothing to do with the large-volume blends, this is really pretty nice, smoky, earthy, with touches of menthol, green tea, green bananas, fresh hazelnuts, and bonbons. Feels like there’s approximatively 10% peaty Islay malts inside. Finish: rather long, fresh, with grapefruits this time, a drop of brine, and this smoke. No, make that 15% Islay malts. Comments: clearly another dimension – I could quaff this!
SGP:452 - 80 points.

Believe me, these sessions are harder to do than you think…

House of Hazelwood 18 yo (40%, blend, +/-2018)

House of Hazelwood 18 yo (40%, blend, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
Hazelwood are William Grant’s upper-echelon blends and do come at various ages. They’re using some very special ‘art déco’ decanters that all in-laws will like a lot at Christmas time – although some might believe it’s eau-de-cologne. Colour: white wine (that’s cool!) Nose: smoked grated coconut and blossom waters, I would say, which is certainly quite unusual. Some pollen, dried pears (slices), roses, pot-pourri, butterscotch, coffee toffee, roasting coffee… It’s all rather complex, and perhaps a little feminine. Well that’s what we’d have said twenty years ago, but it’s become a sexist remark, according to some new online passionarias. But Let's not get into that... Mouth: really fine, and really floral indeed. Orange blossom water, rosewater, coconut again, tinned pineapple, custard, barley sugar, a kind of smoky pepper, a feeling of light incense… Quite curiously, had I tried this blind, I would have said it’s Japanese, honestly. Finish: medium, with some kind of fruity/spicy oakiness at first, then plain oak tannins (feeling of black tea). Comments: I think they should have bottled it at a higher strength, but I find this extremely pleasant and, above everything, pretty unusual. Funny that they would have used the same name as that of some early Kininvies. Oh and it reminds me of Hibiki, but maybe is that just the decanter.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Good, that’s enough blends already, we’ll have more next time… Get ready for a part II, and perhaps a part III…

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


September 23, 2018


Two Long Pond, from Paris, with love

Apologies, that was one poor lovey-dovey headline! But you see, we’re at Whisky Live Paris and thought we’d post one or two quick tasting notes… err, live. Sort of.

Long Pond 18 yo 2000/2018 (50%, Silver Seal, Jamaica, cask #19, 252 bottles)

Long Pond 18 yo 2000/2018 (50%, Silver Seal, Jamaica, cask #19, 252 bottles) Four stars and a half
One of Silver Seal’s new rums. Do not miss their fantastic new Bellevue 20 yo! Colour: gold. Nose: it certainly is one of Long Pond’s estery styles. We’re rather around rotting bananas and pineapples, with a layer of varnish and tarry liquorice, plus a touch of icing sugar. Wee Easter eggs, perhaps? With water: a little ink and touches of agave. Mezcal. The sweeter side has vanished. Mouth (neat): starts very brine-y and citrusy, with some yuzu and sea water, gets then more olive-y and finely liqueury. Shall we call this ‘medium esters’? I think it’s very good. With water: excellent, rather easier than compatriots Hampden or Worthy Park at this point, but we’re well in the same cluster. Finish: long, perfectly balanced. Olives, liquorice, ultraripe banana, a drop of varnish, a pinch of black pepper. Comments: absolutely excellent, but it’s not easy to find your way with all the Long Ponds, some being very easy-easy and others, such as this very one, more estery or even very estery.
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Long Pond 2007/2018 (62.3%, National Rums of Jamaica Ltd, 3.325 bottles)

Long Pond 2007/2018 (62.3%, National Rums of Jamaica Ltd, 3.325 bottles) Five stars
This shining new star is imported – and probably more than that - to France by LM&V, the new joint venture between La Maison du Whisky and Velier. This very Long Pond is a ‘Continental Flavoured’, one of the distillery’s four styles. It’s the heaviest one, containing 1500 to 1700 gr esters per hectolitre pure alcohol (hlpa) when distilled. Not too sure if esters tend to vanish in the air during ageing just like ppms peat do. Colour: amber. Nose: heavier than heavy. New sneakers, sour bread, new scuba diving suit, tyres, oat soup, and in the background, blood oranges and mangos. Really rather extreme so far. With water: old magazines! So yes, ink, old paper, and a wee mustiness. Mouth (neat): a supremely amazing combination that instantly hits you right between your eyes. Heavy tar, grapefruits, black olives, soot, and the feeling of crunching a book. I mean, literally. With water: doesn’t change much, and doesn’t get any more approachable. You could even add a whole bottle of Vittel, this rum wouldn’t blink. Not that I’ve tried that, mind you… Finish: very long, and even kind of smoky. That would be rubber smoke. Comments: extreme rum, not for your father in law unless he’s a die-hard rum freak. Or you wanna divorce. Love it.
SGP:373 - 91 points.

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


September 22, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Not sure that title works as well as last week’s to be honest, but what can we do but try? Anyway, as promised, another onwards march up the timeline of Glenfarlcas. Picking up where we left off last time with 1988 and a suitable wee aperitif...


Glenfarclas 1988/2018 Thomas Reid (46%, OB, sherry casks, 3600 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1988/2018 Thomas Reid (46%, OB, sherry casks, 3600 bottles)
From an official series bottled for Germany. Colour: gold. Nose: extremely lovely. Lemons, honeys, Tunnock’s caramel wafers (and perhaps a cocoanut log or two as well) and this hugely attractive leafy, earthy sherry. With time the sherry character mushrooms (literally and figuratively) and out comes golden sultanas, some figs and muesli full of chopped dark fruits. Very pleasurable and easy going stuff. Mouth: lemony, fruity and full of milk chocolate, chopped almonds, fruit chutneys, apple pie and nutmeg. Some lemon meringue and custard as well. Dangerously easy, quaffable, softly sherried whisky. Kind of the epitome of Glenfarclas as most people probably consider it today I suppose. Finish: long, herbal, sweet, liqueurish, some resinous sherry, crystalised fruits and candied nuts. Comments: A perfect start to a session. And a very lush, sweet, fruity and easy Glenfarclas. Santa will be delayed in Germany this Christmas I expect...
SGP: 641 - 89 points.



Right, let’s get down to serious business...  


Glenfarclas 1988/2017 Family Casks (53.3%, OB, cask #6986, sherry butt, 507 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1988/2017 Family Casks (53.3%, OB, cask #6986, sherry butt, 507 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: It’s one of these more austere 1980s style farclas. There’s a sense of sinew and leanness about it, but also some lovely notes of honey, pollen and wild flowers. In fact, given some time, it really starts to become this beautiful balance of ripe green fruits and chalky minerals. Some green tea and lemon peel emerge as well. With water: a bit of water really detonates the earthiness in this one, throws out dried herbs, minty chalk, camphor and old sweet wines. Mouth: spiced honey, baked plums, horse chestnuts, pear cordial, exotic spices, ointments, damson jam, prune eau de vie and mandarin liqueur. Really quite unusual and striking, but in a good way. Gets quite jammy with time. With water: again it becomes earthier, oilier and light notes of candle wax appear. Some tea tree oil, dried apple rings and hawthorn. Finish: rather long with notes of watermelon sweeties, cough syrups, lemon peel, lanolin and various cooking oils. Some marshmallow sweetness and getting increasingly herbal as well. Comments: All very good and with a compelling character which holds your attention very well.
SGP: 551 - 88 points.



Glenfarclas 1989/2017 Family Casks (52.4%, OB, cask #13055, sherry butt, 581 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1989/2017 Family Casks (52.4%, OB, cask #13055, sherry butt, 581 bottles)
Colour: deep amber. Nose: massive, sticky, sumptuous sherry! The kind that is almost becoming tarry! Notes of straw mats, leather, old furniture, stewed raisins, sawn wood, mulling spices, dry earth, cinnamon fireball sweeties and charcoal. Also some lean but hefty cured meaty tones. In time some red fruit jams and liqueurs emerge. One for sherry dafties. With water: more truffle oil, chopped tarragon, expensive marzipan, soot and perhaps a stray wet dog which has wandered a long way from Turckheim... Increasingly earthy and nutty, notes of walnut and brazil nut. Mouth: cask strength prune juice! A battering ram of truffles, black olives, tar, hessian, fig compote, strawberry jam, distilled prunes, wet earth, leaf mulch, mushroom soup and raspberry cordial. A bit mental. With water: maraschino cherries, five spice, plum wine and blackcurrant syrup. Some pomegranate and chocolate limes as well. A bit bonkers really. But, I have to say, very good. Finish: Long, hugely spicy, charred hardwoods, meaty, more damp sods of earth and notes of pastry, black olive tapenade and mulled Buckfast! Comments: Undeniably silly, but also clean and commendably potent stuff. I’m sure this was being used to re-surface the roads around the distillery before they came up with the Family Casks idea. It’s a tad too much sherry for me and I do think there’s a lack of balance, but others will no doubt cheerfully list their family members of ebay to possess some...
SGP: 671 - 86 points.



Glenfarclas 1990/2017 Family Casks (51.2%, OB, cask #9255, sherry butt, 596 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1990/2017 Family Casks (51.2%, OB, cask #9255, sherry butt, 596 bottles)
Colour: rosewood. Nose: we’re really investigating the difference between sherry casks here. You can feel the same distillate profile is there underneath, but someone has piled different things on top of it. This one is more directly earthy, more sooty, notes of canvas and a more hefty and traditional meaty profile. A more old school sherry style perhaps? Notes of rustic pinot noir, walnut wine, strawberry jam and aged balsamic. The sherry is still massive but there’s an overall sense of restraint and composure which I think the previous one lacked. With water: more leathery, dried meats seasoned with lots of black pepper, strong black tea and various freshly baked breads. Mouth: big notes of cherry liqueur, liquorice, old bandies, a minty Fernet Branca note, coal hearth, hessian sack cloth and straw mats. Quite a lot going on, this is certainly more complex and interesting that the 89. Venison strew, bundled dried herbs and thick, old school cough syrups. Pecan pie, simmering wood spices, Dundee cake and medicinal old demerara rums. Quite something! With water: more classical now, towards prune juice, figs, dates and muesli. Strawberry wine, walnut oils and more balsamic and strong minty notes - creme de menth muddled with strawberry compote. Finish: Long, hugely earthy, peppery, oily and meaty. Notes of olive oil, lemon balm, cough sweets, mint julep and some pretty stalwart tannins. Comments: What a difference a cask makes! The sherry intensity is similar to the 89, only here you have a more compelling and complex flavour profile which holds the sherry’s power in a more even balance. Extremely good and will undoubtedly compel sherry heads to auction even closer relatives...
SGP: 771 - 91 points.



Glenfarclas 1991/2017 Family Casks (57%, OB, cask #209, sherry butt, 570 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1991/2017 Family Casks (57%, OB, cask #209, sherry butt, 570 bottles)
Colour: light amber. Nose: a much lighter sherry profile, all on sultanas and various expensive, aromatic tobaccos. A really sleek earthiness lies underneath as well. Coal dust, game meats, dried mint, hessian and soft waxes. Wears its 57% extremely deftly. Develops on candied peel, leaf mulch and lanolin - really beautiful. With water: perfectly gravelly, earthy and round. Full of big, fat, dark, boozy fruits. Aged cognacs and rums mingle with tea tree oil and freshly ground coffee. Mouth: big, red-fruited, sherry-driven, spicy, mouth-coating unctuousness. Lots of caramel, milk chocolate, hints of soy sauce and Chinese spices. Big and hugely impressive. There’s a slight element of rubber to it, but it’s a cleaner, earthier more natural ‘dirty’ quality, if you can really call it dirty. With water: meaty, maraschino cherry, ointments, fat earthiness, dried cranberries and white balsamico. A globulous hint of rancio in the distance as well. Finish: long, extremely leathery, spicy, perfectly tannic, peppery and with this rich, unlit cigar quality. Comments: A total gem of a Glenfarclas. Everything is big, intense and potent but held in perfect poise and grace. A real, old school sherried beauty!
SGP: 771 - 92 points.



Glenfarclas 1992/2017 Family Casks (59.0%, OB, cask #862, sherry butt, 614 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1992/2017 Family Casks (59.0%, OB, cask #862, sherry butt, 614 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: It’s funny how this one feels immediately more modern. A really lovely, easygoing and straightforward sweetness that includes honeys, a touch of vanilla cream, warm pastries, custard and various old dessert wines. Hints of coconut, creme brulee, chocolate sauce and a splosh of mulled wine. With water: more jammy, more citrus, custard cream buscuits, toasted brioche, mulled wine and marzipan. Mouth: hotter and more tart than the others. More towards gooseberry, star fruit, lemon peel, spiced rye bread, ointments, caraway and liquorice. Also quite a few red fruits and hints of damson, fruit chutneys, plum crumble and mirabelle eau de vie. A nibble of green peppercorn as well. With water: fruit pastilles, chamomile, gomme syrup, a bite of cocktail bitters and rising note of sawdust and new oak. A warm workshop. Finish: long, sweet and spicy. Some fresh ginger, fruity red chilli, aspirin, earthy turmeric and spicy vanilla. A lump of milk chocolate keeping the sweetness alive in the background. Comments: We’ve really arrived in the modern era of Glenfarclas you feel. And it’s very good. Big sweetness and a suggestion of slightly more active oak but there’s plenty complexity to keep everything lively and delicious.
SGP: 661 - 89 points.



Glenfarclas 1993/2017 Family Casks (57.0%, OB, cask #511, refill sherry butt, 601 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1993/2017 Family Casks (57.0%, OB, cask #511, refill sherry butt, 601 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: if you took the 92 and the 91 and combined them you would likely get something akin to this. It has that lovely tobacco, earthy sherry quality but there’s also a sticky, glazed fruit sweetness to it as well. Various jams, fruits, spices, bitter chocolate and a slightly hessian, sack cloth note. Quite straightforward but very good. With water: some more fragrant and citrus fruit notes, touches of limoncello, hand cream, shortbread and toasted walnuts. Mouth: sweet fruit chutneys, black olives, dunnage earthiness, malty sweetness and honeyed porridge. Also notes of strawberry wine, orange liqueur and mint cordial. Some slightly drier herbal notes coming through in time. With water: a little leaf mulch, some mushroomy notes, cooking sherry and warm spice cake. A little prune juice as well. Finish: good length and quite bready with raisins, sultanas, sweet rums and a light camphory side. Comments: Very good but perhaps not as defined or as obvious as some of the previous ones.
SGP: 551 - 87 points. 



Glenfarclas 1994/2017 Family Casks (53.0%, OB, cask #1579, refill sherry butt, 448 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1994/2017 Family Casks (53.0%, OB, cask #1579, refill sherry butt, 448 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: a slightly more brutal style again; leafy, mulchy, dried hay, trodden bracken, earthy, some salty bacon fat that moves towards pork scratchings and a lean and muscular mix of almonds, old chenin blanc and things like ink and carbon paper. Quite chiselled and punchy with a rising champhory side. Some spoonfuls of grassy olive oil. With water: lots of hessian, caraway, a little motor oil, a tool shed and some toasted seeds and trail mix. Mouth: an unexpectedly raisiny sweetness, damp earthy dunnage, cloves, lemon barley water, sour cherries and some aged mead. A very nice mix of earthiness and natural sweetness with a fairly mouth-coating, gloopy texture. Fruity notes like guava and melon give it a lift and added lightness. With water: a lovely mulchy earthiness, warm, simmering wood spices, dates, figs, mint tea, sultanas, herbal liqueurs, wood resins. Really comes alive beautifully with water. Finish: Long, beautifully resinous, herbal, full of chocolate sauce, coal hearth, lemon cordial and further subtle green fruit notes. Comments: I had this one around 88 all the way until the palate with water really lifted things a few notches. Not only swims but leaps like a Drumnadrochit salmon escaping a deep fat fryer!
SGP: 651 - 90 points.



Glenfarclas 1995/2017 Family Casks (42.1%, OB, cask #2292, sherry hogshead, 216 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1995/2017 Family Casks (42.1%, OB, cask #2292, sherry hogshead, 216 bottles)
Colour: deep amber. Nose: Holy featherless Dodo! What a sublime, old school sherry character. Really this is just an abundance of earths, immense rancio, walnut extracts and wines, ancient herbal liqueurs and red fruit compotes. Polished hardwoods, black olives, ancient balsamic, mint and cherry eau de vie. Massive and totally beautiful complexity. Blind you’d say you were nosing a circa 1960 Glenfarclas I’m sure. Get’s slightly more meaty and leathery but also opens up with notes of gun flint, graphite oil and hardwood resins. Just wonderful! Mouth: Ooft! How many litres of VORS oloroso were still in the cask! Really, it’s like this has been reduced with actual sherry! Mentholated, salted almonds, green olive, freshly chopped herbs, camphor, soot and a whole kitchen sink full of rancio. Truffle, wet leaves, coal dust, soy sauce. Finish: Medium in length but not the longest. Still with a big echo of rancio, bitter chocolate and pure, old school sherried goodness though. Comments: I’m not 100% sure about the palate, you really get the feeling this cask still has quite some remnant sherry lurking within when it was filled. But what a cask! Pure, clean, vivid, old school stuff. I love it, perhaps the palate lets it down technically in terms of overall ‘oomph’, but the nose on its own is 93 point material.
SGP: 771 - 91 points.



Glenfarclas 1995/2015 Family Casks (52.1%, OB, cask #6640, sherry butt, 637 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1995/2015 Family Casks (52.1%, OB, cask #6640, sherry butt, 637 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: a rather mentholated style of sherry that’s towards eucalyptus resins and tea tree oil. Notes of red liquorice, maraschino cherry, cola cubes, strawberry sweeties and then a gamey meaty side. Further notes of mutton, bay leaf, cocoa powder, darjeeling tea and lemon peel. Very nice aromatic profile that veers between punchy and fragrant. With water: elegantly leafy, mineral oil, raspberry jam, buttered toast and clove rock. Mouth: soft, peppery spices, damp dunnagey earthy qualities, saffron, coal hearth, olive oil, pot pourri, walnut wine and a very nice sweet coconut note. Also some lean bacon frazzle notes (if you need to google them you haven’t lived), cranberry sauce and some very nice notes of mint julep and gingerbread. With water: baked apples, a stray kumquat, cinnamon buns and wild strawberry. Finish: long, leafy, full of red fruits, citrus peel, peppery tannins and a rising note of cough medicine. Comments: An extremely easy, clean and lazily fruity example - to sip while lounging in a hammock perhaps... We’re really tiptoeing around the 90 mark here. The trouble is it’s yet another very good Family Cask and I’m swithering... but I think we’ll err on the side of generosity on this occasion. It is very lovely after all and my hammock is calling me...
SGP: 641 - 90 points.  



Glenfarclas 2000/2017 Family Casks (56.9%, OB, cask #3633, sherry butt, 640 bottles)

Glenfarclas 2000/2017 Family Casks (56.9%, OB, cask #3633, sherry butt, 640 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: the sherry is much more restrained here which is fascinating as it lays bare this more contemporary style of Glenfarclas distillate. Which in this case is really quite fatty, oily and naturally meaty. There’s a surprising waxiness about it along with some slightly overripe banana and other green fruit notes. Toasted sunflower seeds, grass, gristy malt notes and some rather polished and greasy cereal qualities. Quite fascinating and pretty excellent. With water: grassy, mineral, oily, subtly waxy. Some big notes of lemon wax, almond and a fragrant gorse bush quality. Mouth: a big, emphatic, textural and punchy delivery. Slightly medicinal, a touch of natural rubber, some mineral oils, graphite, orange bitters, marshmallow sweetness, green pepper. A real departure from the previous bottlings. With water: there really is a slightly grungy, greasy side to this, it’s a very textural fatty malt. Lots of meaty sinew, nutty notes, damp earthiness, some chalk and lemon cough medicine. Finish: long, hefty and with resurgent notes of natural rubber, herbal liqueur, lemon oil, barley wine and turmeric. Comments: A real departure and quite a fascinating glimpse into a really weighty side of Glenfarclas we rarely see. I also find it very good. Challenging at times but one that’s worth wrestling with...
SGP: 572 - 89 points.



Glenfarclas 2001/2017 Family Casks (58.8%, OB, cask #3352, refill sherry butt, 638 bottles)

Glenfarclas 2001/2017 Family Casks (58.8%, OB, cask #3352, refill sherry butt, 638 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: different again, this time it’s more herbal, more organic, leafy, supple spices, meat pates, baked apples and fragrant green and herbal teas. More classical in most senses. Some menthol tobacco, strawberry laces, white pepper, tiger balm and camphor. With water: a tad more classical now with these leafier qualities and moves towards dried mushrooms and roast chestnuts. Some orange oils as well. Mouth: fruit liqueurs mixed with ground black pepper, balsamic, strawberry wine, chamomile tea, pumpernickel bread and hazelnut spread. A more modern style of sherry for sure but still very clean and top notch. Some prunes, pears baked in honey and wax canvas. With water: surprising floral notes of yellow flowers, grass and geraniums alongside spiced fruit loaf, sultanas, brown sugar and tea tree oil. Various ointments, sooty aspects and a few twists of pencil shaving. Finish: good length but rather light and gently oily. On crystalised citrus peels, cinnamon grahams and baked gooseberries. Comments: solid, dependable, modern Glenfarclas. Nothing to complain about here. Not as vivid or glorious as some of the older ones we’ve tried in these two sessions but there wonderful wee callbacks to some of the more old school qualities (waxes, some more expressive fruits etc...) Excellent!
SGP: 541 - 88 points.



So, what have we learned? Well, for one thing the character of Glenfarclas has evolved in some rather fascinating ways. When in big, active sherry casks a great deal hinges on the quality of each cask. And that at the turn of the millennium Glenfarclas was still making some top notch, and surprisingly big, textural distillate. Oh, and that, on the evidence of these two sessions, most Family Casks seem to be very good to truly excellent. Although, I’m pretty sure none of the above is really news. Still, I’m very happy with these two Glenfarclas sessions.  


Oh, and in case you’re wondering, this session’s ‘Megafarclas’ works out at a very comfortable 90 points.



Once again, eternal gratitude to Dirk!  




September 20, 2018


High-flying old Longmorns for a birthday

All right, it is my birthday today. You see, I’m 38. Right, 48. Well, you may add 10 more years. Indeed, the candles have gotten more expensive than the cake a long time ago, not to mention the whiskies of my age that everyone’s now selling for the price of Audi’s newest SUV. Having said that, the excellent folks at Gordon & MacPhail have just had the most superb idea ever, which was to issue, right for my birthday (please let Serge dream a little while longer -Ed) two Longmorns that are both very old and yet younger than me. Two twin 1961s, actually, while I was born just one year before. Let’s try them today, but first, an even older aperitif if you don’t mind, which should make me feel a little younger…

Longmorn Glenlivet 1939 (67°proof,  Mayor, Sworder & Co., London)

Longmorn Glenlivet 1939 (67°proof, Mayor, Sworder & Co., London) Four stars and a half
An amazing old bottle of ‘liqueur Scotch whisky’, probably bottled in the 1950s, at the unusual strength of 67 UK proof, which was perfectly legal back then. It seems that Mayor Sworder & Co are still active, or at least that they were not too long ago, with an address in Croydon. Colour: dark amber. Nose: so very epitomically old sherried Longmorn, with first these touches of rich raisins as well as strawberry jam, then rather the expected dried figs and dates, and then these funny touches of botrytis that would hint at some old Sauternes than went dry and superbly ‘mushroomy’. Roasted pecans covered with a drop of mint sauce, perhaps. The lower strength doesn’t feel at all, quite the contrary at this point. Mouth: there is some OBE, but as almost always, it’s hard to guess what was there in the first place and what was brought in by bottle ageing. Some strong salted liquorice, some bitterish roasted almonds, many burnt cakes, then various embrocations that would have involved quite a lot of camphor and a good deal of eucalyptus. Typical. Once again, the body’s quite big, there are no signs of weakness despite the 67 proof (so roughly 38% AbV.) Finish: as often with very old bottles, the finish is where things may get a little more, say uncertain. In this case, there are very wee touches of soapy cardboard, perhaps, in the back of the back. Other than that, the raisins, albeit drier, are in full form and there’s even a little fresh ground pepper left in the aftertaste. Comments: beautiful and moving. Mind you, this was bonded in March of 1939, just six months before the war (Sept. 1939).
SGP:361 - 88 points.

And now G&M’s new wonder-Longmorns, to be launched on October 1…

Longmorn 1961/2018 (40.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, cask #512, 97 decanters)

Longmorn 1961/2018 (40.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, cask #512, 97 decanters) Five stars
Well, how many great old Longmorns by G&M have we already tried? Dozens from the 1960s alone, literally, while most have been simply amazing (with an extra-fondness for some ‘Books of Kells’. Some of the best whiskies known to Man, in other words… Colour: pure mahogany. Nose: simply amazing, as expected (sadly no surprise here). Chocolate, blackberry jelly, black currants, pipe tobacco (heavy Cavendish), then a touch of mint jelly with some softer liquorice, and only after a good five minutes, and perhaps in lighter fashion than usual, some beautiful little notes of mushroom soup, perhaps miso, certainly cigars. Exceptional nose. Mouth: it’s dry and spicy, with the oak playing the leading roles. A lot of bitter chocolate, chewing your cigar, black tea, sour prunes, drops of Bovril soup (or Viandox in France), then rather old oloroso, with quite a lot of old walnut wine and assorted flavours. Tobacco-flavoured chocolate, does that exist? Finish: rather long, and really dry, not unlike some old Pauillac from a very dry year. Perhaps 1975. Comments: it hasn’t got the instant mega-dried-fruitiness that many 1964s or 1965s were having, and it is rather dry indeed despite the notes of cassis that emerged in the aftertaste, but the wood’s very complex spiciness made it enter another, rather fascinating dimension. Something Oriental, perhaps.
SGP:371 - 90 points.

Longmorn 1961/2018 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, cask #508, 97 decanters)

Longmorn 1961/2018 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, cask #508, 97 decanters) Five stars
A rather higher strength, that’s a pretty good sign, let’s see… Colour: mahogany. Nose: well, this is pure classic Longmorny gold. We’re talking sultanas, figs, dates, then mint and a touch of sage, then a droplet of Vicks as well as a distant whiff of menthol cigarette. This needs no literature, it’s instantaneously convincing. Mouth: massive, first rather dry and extremely chocolaty, then getting progressively fruitier, with some marmalade, raspberry ganache, prunes ala very old Ténarèze (Armagnac), then walnut cake and pecan pie, and packs and packs of pipe tobacco. And heavy liquorice, but no salt. Finish: extremely long and chocolaty. There’s as much oak as in its sister cask, but the higher strength makes it a tad better balanced, although a perfect balance is probably not what we’re looking for in an almost sixty-years-old whisky.  Comments: I almost feel shame scoring such wonderful old glories, but it is my duty, my very duty. Oh by the way, both Longmorns will be sold as a pair of twin decanters, for the price of that smaller Tesla. Except that I’m sure the Longmorns will be delivered on time.
SGP:461 - 91 points.

(Thanks a lot Aaron!)

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



September 19, 2018


Little Duets, today Clynelish

You may have noticed that I love Clynelish, but sadly there aren’t many new old ones around. Even Diageo do not seem to have any amongst this year’s Special Releases (there seem to be some very loco-loco new Game of Thrones Edition somewhere, but wondering whether it’s not some kind of fake…) But there, G&M have a new 1989, although I’m not sure that’s the distillery’s best period, wasn’t that when they had changed that famous receiver? Or when they had cleaned it? Let’s see…

Clynelish 28 yo 1989/2018 (49.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, cask #8204, 221 bottles)

Clynelish 28 yo 1989/2018 (49.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, cask #8204, 221 bottles) Three stars
Indeed, let’s see if we find some wax in this baby… In other words, let’s check if it’s well a sludge-y one… Colour: straw. Nose: strange. It’s rather dirty, slightly sulphury (we’re not talking cask sulphur), on gravel, ink, carbon paper, leatherette, brake fluid, plasticine, new record (vinyl), pine needles and cones… I seek in vain, I do not find any fruits, and neither do I find any beeswax. Let’s call this a deviant nose. Mouth: a total relief, this is much nicer, even if we’re very far from the early 1970s, early 1980s, or mid 1990s Clynelishes. Lime juice, soot, charcoal, lees, perhaps capers or something, sour cream, a wee touch of balsamic vinegar… It really is an unusual Clynelish, but 1989’s also an uncommon vintage. Finish: rather long but a tad dirty, sour, acidic… And buttery. Green pepper and lime in the aftertaste. Comments: well in truth, this one’s rather at the higher end of those ‘off’ vintages. Some 1989s have been much worse in my book (75 points - like). Still a bottling for Clynelish exegetes, I would say. And G&M’s latest 2005 was much ‘higher’ in my book.
SGP:461 - 80 points.

While we’re having strange Clynelishes, let’s move one year forward…

Clynelish 17 yo 1990/2008 (46%, Dun Bheagan, butt, cask #13149, 750 bottles)

Clynelish 17 yo 1990/2008 (46%, Dun Bheagan, butt, cask #13149, 750 bottles) Two stars and a half
It’s not that the 1990 vintage was any strange, it’s that Clynelish and sherry often clash in my opinion, let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: yeah, spent matches, gravel, soot, saltpetre, roasted chestnuts, cigar ashes, guns, barbecued pine cones, plasticine, mutton suet… Ho ho ho… Mouth: bizarre indeed… You could actually enjoy this, but let’s face it, it’s very sooty, bitter, oddly medicinal (camphor and tar?) and simply rather dirty. Now I’m sure you could intellectualise it, I’m just not in the mood right now. Or not smart enough. Finish: rather long, and oddly fermentary. Comments: looks like someone’s poured a few bottles of tequila into the butt. But sure you could down one bottle and then find the malt superb!
SGP:362 - 79 points.

I promise we’ll go back to more common vintages next time ;-)…

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


September 17, 2018


Some Glengoyne

Glengoyne Distillery, a lovely place to visit, not only when you’re staying in Edinburgh. I also remember these nice ads they were running in the very early 2000s, but they did not keep them for long. I suppose they may have gotten a letter from Zuffenhausen, Germany.

Glengoyne ‘Balbaina’ (43%, OB, 2018)

Glengoyne ‘Balbaina’ (43%, OB, 2018) Three stars and a half
Yeah well, no age statement, a funny name, a finish in sherry, and a travel retail exclusive. What could (cough, cough) go wrong? No we won’t try to check what Balbaina means, perhaps someone’s first girlfriend? Colour: gold. Nose: well, nothing really wrong here, it’s a classic malty dram, with touches of burnt raisins and cakes, some vanilla, hints of roasted nuts and a spoonful of good marmalade. Nice citrus (pink grapefruit, perhaps?) Mouth: I find it really good, and again, extremely classic, with raisins, dried figs, bananas and pears, a bit of toasted oak, the obligatory walnuts, a mild spiciness that would rather involve cinnamon and cloves this time, and more toasted cake. Pancakes and maple syrup. Finish: quite long, rather toffee-ish and caramely. They seem to have pushed the oak a bit. Comments: all good, I think, one that won’t disappoint air travellers. It’s all-roundness should work well in travel retail indeed.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

And perhaps a few indies now?

Glengoyne 21 yo 1996/2018 (49.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # #12388, 211 bottles)

Glengoyne 21 yo 1996/2018 (49.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # #12388, 211 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: straw/pale gold. Nose: less sherry this time, rather notes of fruit eaux-de-vie such as kirsch or plum, quite a lot of almonds (which is characteristic of stone fruit eau-de-vie indeed), orgeat, some very remote vanilla, and a little shortbread. Not extremely expressive, I would say, but pretty elegant. The OB was much more aromatic, but that was the sherry. Mouth: it’s as if there was a little sherry this time, also some baked butter (tarte tatin or kouign-amann style, that’s a Breton cake that’s ridden with butter). Good maltiness, cakes, also cereals, Golden Grahams… Finish: medium, really very cake-y. More tarte tatin. Comments: similar quality. Very good, pretty classic malt whisky.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glengoyne 20 yo 1996/2017 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # #11629, 287 bottles)

Glengoyne 20 yo 1996/2017 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # #11629, 287 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar, but even closer to eaux-de-vie, in a rather beautiful manner. Another one that you could almost call ‘barley eau-de-vie’. Right, barley aqua vitae. Cherries and almonds. With water: a little soap that would then go away, as often, and a soft barleyness. Oatcake and shortbread. Mouth (neat): I really enjoy this feeling of fruit spirit aged in proper wood. Lovely lemon here as well. With water: perfect clean, malty dram, all on cereals and anything derived. Roasted nuts as well, cakes, speculoos… Finish: medium, very clean, malty and cake-y. Comments: I know no one who would not enjoy this rather perfect – even if a tad simple – natural malt whisky.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Let’s see what else we have…

Glengoyne 18 yo 1997/2016 (52.1%, Gleann Mor, A Rare Find, 243 bottles)

Glengoyne 18 yo 1997/2016 (52.1%, Gleann Mor, A Rare Find, 243 bottles) Four stars
Not a bottler we’re seeing very often. Master of Malt have them… Colour: gold. Nose: another very cake-y one, but this time we’re rather closer to the officials’ usual style. A lot of butterscotch, roasted almonds, popcorn, toffee… With water: a little leather, walnut and tobacco, which suggests some sherry’s been in use at some point. Mouth (neat): really very good. Oranges, white pepper, croissants au beurre, brioche, honey roasted cashews, malt… With water: even better while it got smoother and rounder. Some kind of liquid Mars bar, but with much less sugar. Finish: rather long, honeyed, cake-y, malty. Comments: one to sip at tea time at The Balmoral. Thought it was excellent.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

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


September 16, 2018


A few more rums, still looking for malternatives

I have to say I had thought the quest would easier when I started this rummy madness. In short, it’s not because you’re dumping some spirit into some oak casks that you’ll obligatorily come up with some aged distillate of Brora quality. In fact, you won’t much more often than not. But let’s see what we have today…

Clarendon 11 yo 2007/2018 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, Jamaica, cask #JCL79, 361 bottles)

Clarendon 11 yo 2007/2018 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, Jamaica, cask #JCL79, 361 bottles) Four stars
Oh a little Clarendon! Which is Monymusk by another name by the way, Clarendon being one of Diageo/Captain Morgan’s main suppliers, apparently. It’s all interconnected in some way. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s very fresh, and probably must more estery than any other Monymusks/Clarendons I could try. In other words, we’re going more towards Hampden/Worthy Park, although this one’s probably got more tart yet very fruity, err, fruits, such as tangerines. Other than that, we’ve got acetone, olives, brine, soot, chalk, gherkins, and a wee smokiness. Mouth: indeed, it’s rather a moderately high-ester style, with notes of peach cake, more tangerines, and more soot, olives and capers. Oh, almost forgot to mention glue and varnish. Finish: rather long, you’d almost believe it was bottled at 48% vol. instead of 43. Nice sooty olive-y profile, very dry. A little burnt wood in the aftertaste. Comments: they won’t scare Hampden, but I’m finding this really very good. A true Jamaican.
SGP:453 - 85 points.

Sancti Spiritus 18 yo 1998/2016 (51.3%, The Whisky Agency and La Maison du Whisky, Cuba, hogshead)

Sancti Spiritus 18 yo 1998/2016 (51.3%, The Whisky Agency and La Maison du Whisky, Cuba, hogshead) Four stars
I always liked the natural Sancti Spiritus (Spiriti?) as they usually display a very fresh kind of fruitiness, very specific, let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: wonderful, starting all on ripe bananas of various kinds, and getting then more liquoricy. I would say it is exactly ‘rum’, as, say Glenlivet may be exactly ‘malt whisky’. I don’t know if that makes sense, does it? Wonderful whiffs of cakes from the oven in a posh London bakery. No, sadly not in La Habana. With water: a few petroly notes coming out. Pot still? Oh and our beloved green olives too, always a good sign in my book. Mouth (neat): very excellent indeed, you would swear there’s some of this in the awesome Santiago de Cuba 11, my favourite official Cuban rum. Liquorice allsorts, candy sugar, sugar cane, black raisins, more ripe bananas, panettone… With water: well it doesn’t take water too well, but provided you’ve used your pipette sensibly, you’ll find more olives and lime, and perhaps a little tamarind. Finish: medium, with a welcome earthiness. Comments: I am impressed. Anyone thinking Cuban rum is Havana Club should try this, I say. Oh and this one was much more to my liking than other Sanctis.
SGP:452 - 86 points.

So far, so good!

C.A.C.D. 13 yo 2004/2017 (53.8%, Kintra and The Rum Mercenary, Venezuela, cask #7, 147 bottles)

C.A.C.D. 13 yo 2004/2017 (53.8%, Kintra and The Rum Mercenary, Venezuela, cask #7, 147 bottles) Three stars
C.A.D.C. stands for Corporacion Alcoholes Del Caribe. Poor Venezuelans, I hope they do get a wee chunk of all that rum money! Well, they probably don’t, big corporations being what most are, tax optimizers that are also making booze. Ahem. Colour: coffee/mahogany. Nose: mostly on coffee indeed, cocoa pods, tobacco, then sage, perhaps basil, cardamom and Seville oranges. Much drier, apparently, than compatriots Diplomatico! With water: pencil shavings all over the place. Wondering if this cask didn’t spend its life in the tropics. Mouth (neat): some rather big chocolaty oak, over a lot of spicy marmalade and coffee liqueur. There’s a rising sweetness, also wondering if they did not sweeten this rum at birth. Dried bananas and dates, molasses, dark honey. With water: more molasses, chestnut purée… Finish: medium, oaky, and not that sweet after all. Chocolate. Comments: as good as it gets within this very South-American style, I think. But poor Venezuelans…
SGP:650 - 81 points.

Bellevue 19 yo 1998/2018 (59.7%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Guadeloupe, 254 bottles)

Bellevue 19 yo 1998/2018 (59.7%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Guadeloupe, 254 bottles) Five stars
High hopes here, most 1998 Bellevues I could try having been more or less stellar. Colour: deep amber. Nose: sweet Vishnu, but this is perfect! Liquorice and raisins all over the place, plus this mentholated and pine-y earthiness in the background… It is amazing and believe me or not, I cannot not think of 1950s Macallan. Really. No, really. With water: mesmerizing. Pipe tobaccos (I mean, several blends), dried figs, natural rubber (touches), some tar, Dutch liquorice, Corinthian raisins, Chinese plum sauce… Oh my oh my oh my! Mouth (neat): a bomb! Oranges, liquorice, lapsang souchong, angelica, dried pineapple, coffee… It was an exceptional cask, for sure. With water: what’s more, it does swim well and never becomes too tea-ish/tannic. Sweet umami. Finish: long. Imagine some chocolate filled with pine liqueur, Chartreuse, and some hydrolysed propolis (trying to be funny with that one - quite). Comments: not totally a surprise I have to say, but indeed this is the very definition of a perfect and rather sublime malternative rum. Or would we call it Macalternative? I know, I know…
SGP:652 - 93 points.

Crikey, the next one’s got a death seat, better find something robust (cancel the Belizean Travellers…)… Perhaps this?

Caroni 20 yo 1997/2018 (60.6%, Cadenhead, Trinidad, barrel)

Caroni 20 yo 1997/2018 (60.6%, Cadenhead, Trinidad, barrel) Five stars
This one’s pretty new, I haven’t even found any pictures yet (and wouldn’t like to bother our friends in Campbeltown with such unessential issues). And so I thought I’d put a photograph of Paula-Mae Weekes, the engaging President of Trinidad and Tobago instead. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s probably lighter Caroni, and believe me or not, it does talk with the fantastic Bellevue as equals. Almost. And even the styles are rather similar, with this liquorice, soft diesel, pipe tobacco, new upholstery, chocolate and coffee… With water: gets a little softer, but also rather more complex. Vanilla and melon, cane juice, soft spices, soft liquorice… Really very nice, no weaknesses to be found here. Mouth (neat): less profound than the Guadeloupean, but it’s still high-class, very punchy, with notes of Jerusalem artichokes, liquorice, molasses, Turkish delights, butterscotch sauce, a wee bit of a wee black olive… With water: excellent, just a wee tad oaky or cedary. That’s where the Bellevue was so impressive… Finish: long, perfect, cane-y, candied, impeccable. Orange peel dipped into a mixture of chocolate and liquorice, or some kind of orangettes, as we call them. Comments: high class, watch this one when it comes out – is it out yet?
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Extremely happy with this little session!

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


September 15, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Due to an unexpected, but very welcome, deluge of Glenfarclas (Glenfarcli?), I’ll be doing two or three dedicated Glenfarclas tastings over the course of the next few weeks. Somehow I shall endure. Let’s go forward by vintage for a change and begin with a suitably low strength old indy before rolling up our sleeves and tucking into the officials.


Glenfarclas 42 yo 1973/2015 (40.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles) Glenfarclas 42 yo 1973/2015 (40.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles)
Colour: oaked white wine. Nose: lush green fruits and polished hardwoods. Pure old Glenfarclas in other words. It leans more towards a hessian sack cloth / dunnage / fragrant sandalwood profile as time goes on but these notes of ripe banana, dried tropical fruit chunks and apple crumble remain. Some steel wool and brass polish along with some quince paste. All very excellent and lovely. Mouth: surprisingly full considering the strength. Lots of banana, custard, lemon zest, herbal teas, golden syrup, old ointments and waxes. Camphor and more of these polish notes. Finish: Medium but bright, fruity and full of yellow flowers, more waxes and a little biscuity sweetness and coconut. Comments: quite simply, a delicious and very quaffable old Glenfarclas. The finish is a tad short but it never feels too tired or woody, indeed its freshness is its real asset. Good start!
SGP: 651 - 90 points. 


Glenfarclas 1977/2017 Family Casks (45.3%, OB, cask #7260, 4th fill hogshead, 182 bottles) Glenfarclas 1977/2017 Family Casks (45.3%, OB, cask #7260, 4th fill hogshead, 182 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: very close to the 73 only fuller, fruitier and with a thicker, waxier profile. More dunnagey, hessian notes, some gloopy, grassy olive oil and a sense of well-aged Sauternes. Honey, dark fruit jams and flambeed banana. Harmonious and very beautiful. Mouth: perfect mix of biting wood spice, textural, ripe green fruitiness and waxy aspects. Hints of nutmeg and cinnamon with a lit of pipe tobacco. A sad simple but really excellent and very ‘pure’ in character, if you see what I mean. Finish: Long, lemony, oily, fruity and with just a little black peppery spice from the wood but never too much. Comments: The wonders of refill wood etc... I’m aware I sound like a broken record on this subject.
SGP: 761 - 91 points.


Glenfarclas 1979/2017 Family Casks (47.9%, OB, cask #8797, 4th fill hogshead, 220 bottles) Glenfarclas 1979/2017 Family Casks (47.9%, OB, cask #8797, 4th fill hogshead, 220 bottles)
Colour: light gold. Nose: lighter and brighter this time. The fruitiness really dominates here; all on baked apples, custard, gooseberry tart, lemon balm, honeysuckle, wildflowers and pollens. Some green banana, wax, chopped dates, muesli and sandalwood. Delicate and extremely attractive. Mouth: some kind of very old chenin with this wonderful rich, honeyed oiliness. A few leaner, mineral aspects, heathery notes, camphor, tea tree oil, buttery toast and many wee green fruity notes and lemony touches. Quite terrific! Finish: Good length, moving towards various teas: chamomile, mint and green, some exotic dried fruits and wood spices. Comments: The 1979s already possess something of a serious reputation, further grist to that particular mill in this instance I think. I love the deftness of it, extremely quaffable stuff.
SGP: 751 - 91 points.


Glenfarclas 1980/2014 Family Casks (48.0%, OB, cask #1411, refill hogshead, 260 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: What’s fascinating is that you really start to see a change from the 1970s here, all the previous ones possessed an immediate and connected fruitiness. Here the profile is straight away more towards exotic spices and notes of pot pourri, jasmine, white pepper and lamp oil. There is a fruitiness but its leaner and not quite as immediate or abundant as in the previous ones. Some caramelised brown sugar, lime cheesecake and fruit-flavoured shisha pipe tobaccos. Still excellent! Mouth: wonderful thickness and spiciness. Lots of wax, mineral oil, oily rags and lemon peel. Some coal dust, hessian and wood spice. Finish: long, lemony, spicy and rather fatty with a thick oiliness. Comments: Another top notch Glenfarclas. You miss the exuberant fruitiness a little in this one, but this big gathering of waxes and spiciness is really terrific as well.
SGP: 661 - 90 points.


Glenfarclas 1980/2017 Family Casks (44.5%, OB, cask #1414, refill hogshead, 262 bottles) Glenfarclas 1980/2017 Family Casks (44.5%, OB, cask #1414, refill hogshead, 262 bottles)
Colour: oaked white wine. Nose: you can immediately feel that the cask is much less active in this one but the underlying distillery character is consistent in that the exuberant fruitiness of the 1970s has been dialled down quite a bit. Instead here you have a very gentle profile composed of waxes, ink, light sootiness, toasty cereals, green apple, touches of old cider and some fresh gooseberry. There’s even a slight chalkiness which is very nice. Some white flowers, ripe pear and a hint of lemon oil. Mouth: elegant, drier, and more chiselled that cask 1411. Mineral oil, soft camphor notes, lime oil, cereals, crushed oatcakes and honeyed porridge. An underlying waxy foundation keeps everything well-structured. Some tannins nibble around the edges of the tongue. Some white fruits such as lychee emerge. Finish: medium-long. Notes of green banana, baking soda, pear drops and dried herbs. Comments: Still really excellent but it’s fascinating to see how the distillery character evolves with time.
SGP: 561 - 89 points.


Glenfarclas 1981/2017 Family Casks (54.6%, OB, cask #1606, 4th fill butt, 523 bottles) Glenfarclas 1981/2017 Family Casks (54.6%, OB, cask #1606, 4th fill butt, 523 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this is different again, an extremely minimal cask really thrusts the distillate into the light. Lemon skins, pear drops, wax paper, ink, chalk, porridge, very light honey and hessian. It’s a profile that nods more towards old style highland whisky than a classical Glenfarclas profile. Very cool! Hints of paraffin and old tool boxes. With water: lemon balm, blossom, fresh linen bitter ales. Mouth: extremely grassy, mineral and chalky. Lots of fatty olive oil, mustard powder, sunflower seeds and something like caraway. Quite extreme really. With water: muesli, oatcakes, rice crackers and even something a bit coastal, like dried seaweed. Slightly crazy stuff. Finish: long, earthy, sooty and mineral with these stony and flinty edges. Some green pepper as well. Comments: I’d almost say this was too young. A rather intense, chiselled and hefty Glenfarclas, the distillate has nowhere to hide in this cask but, thankfully, it’s excellent and comes out swinging. Quite extreme and I suspect some would dislike it, but I think on a technical level it’s very good, even if it is a tad tough at times. We’re a long way from the 1970s now...
SGP: 471 - 88 points.


Glenfarclas 1983/2015 Family Casks (53.0%, OB, cask #49, refill hogshead, 341 bottles) Glenfarclas 1983/2015 Family Casks (53.0%, OB, cask #49, refill hogshead, 341 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: we’re back in this rather brittle, mineral and chiselled profile that’s really more ‘old school highlander’ than Speyside. Crushed aspirin, ink, lemon peel and grassy olive oil. However, in time, out comes yellow flowers, pollens and some cooked asparagus. Gets earthy, sooty and displays these rather lovely notes of earl grey tea and pink peppercorns. With water: lemongrass, soot, light ointments, wax paper and more inky notes. Mouth: lemon infused baking soda, more of this strangely coastal dried seaweed note, the miso broth of a good ramen and buttery popcorn. A very curious mixed bag of flavours but also very entertaining. Cornflour, starchy linen, gooseberry, nettle tea and some petrol notes. With water: lemon tea, throat sweets, honeyed porridge and more chalkiness. Finish: long, slightly ashy, mineral, peppery, sooty and with a drying quality. Comments: A continuation of this style found in the previous two casks. Perhaps this slightly austere and punchy character is an 80s Glenfarclas hallmark? Once again, I suspect it isn’t for everyone, and you probably couldn’t drink more than a glass, but I think it has many merits.
SGP: 461 - 88 points


Glenfarclas 1986/2016 Family Casks (56.4%, OB, cask #3452, refill sherry butt, 532 bottles) Glenfarclas 1986/2016 Family Casks (56.4%, OB, cask #3452, refill sherry butt, 532 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: big, beefy and earthy sherry. Lots of black truffle, dried mushrooms, beef jerky and various dark fruit compotes. Fig jam, strawberry wine and walnut oils. You can see how this more brutal style of distillate works so well with a big hefty sherry cask like this. They compliment each other rather than going to war. Gets increasingly leathery with pipe tobacco and black pepper. With water: some beautiful notes of rancio and wax along with orange peel and soft wood spices. Mouth: really quite massive, spicy and polished. Lots of boot polish, hessian cloth, blood orange, mulling spices and lanolin. Mushroom powder, bitter chocolate and cocktail bitters. Full on and very excellent. With water: rosewater, blossom, Turkish delight, treacle pudding, mint creams. Top notch stuff! Finish: long, extremely earthy, peppery and weighty with cured meats, olive oil and hints of old herbal liqueurs. Comments: No wonder Glenfarclas and sherry make such natural bedfellows. Must have been particularly active cask given this was a refill!
SGP: 671 - 90 points.


Glenfarclas 1986/2017 Family Casks (52.8%, OB, cask #3447, refill sherry butt, 546 bottles) Glenfarclas 1986/2017 Family Casks (52.8%, OB, cask #3447, refill sherry butt, 546 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: Similarly earthy but this time more fragrant, more herbal and a tad more subtle. Towards chamomile, wildflowers, balsamic, rancio and walnut wine. Notes of hessian, salted dark chocolate, leaf mulch and tree bark. Quite beautiful. There is a meatiness as well but it’s more game and terrines. Some lemon balm and cough medicine emerge in time. With water: orange water, lemon cough drops, soot and a little glimmer of fresh barley. Mouth: rich dark fruit syrups, hessian, chocolate, salted caramel sauce, truffle oil and caraway. Some sticky toffee pudding, muesli and mineral oil. Gets similarly leathery over time with notes of black tea, dried mint and honeycomb. With water: biscuity sweetness, hints of shortbread then a mushroomy note, more sootiness, camphor and a touch of old pinot noir. Finish: long, earthy, peppery, nicely tannic, black tea, lemon balm, cough medicine and raspberry wine. Comments: I think there is an edge of subtlety about this one which makes it worthy of one extra point over its sibling. Wonderful old sherried farclas!
SGP: 661 - 91 points.


Glenfarclas 1987/2017 Family Casks (44.3%, OB, cask #1494, 4th fill butt, 525 bottles) Glenfarclas 1987/2017 Family Casks (44.3%, OB, cask #1494, 4th fill butt, 525 bottles)
Colour: light amber. Nose: for a 4th fill butt there is still a fairly impressive residual sherry influence going on here. A rather elegant mix of earthy, leathery, sooty and raisiny notes. Hints of sultana, old cognac, leafy freshness, milk chocolate, cigar boxes, turmeric and a touch of butterscotch sauce. Quite different from the 86s, it’s evidently a much lighter profile and style but still excellent. Mouth: a softer, leafier and more gently waxy profile. Hot cross buns studded with raisins, lemon balm, throat sweets, mint julep, demerara sugar and buttery brown toast. Orange oils and tiger balm emerge as well. Some distant hints of rancio and toffee. Finish: Long, earthy, lemony, some subtle herbal notes, more sultanas and camphor. Comments: There were aspects which alluded to some of the earlier 70s distillates with these soft fruity notes. I think the natural low strength works a treat here, extremely drinkable, sherry accented old Glenfarclas.
SGP: 651 - 90 points.


Well! That was quite a session, with a satisfyingly high hit rate. What’s really fascinating is to see how the house style of Glenfarclas really evolved over time, the way it pivots exactly on the turn of the decade around 1980 is quite striking. For reasons of fun and science a vatting of all 10 is totally stupendous and easily 92 points. So, should you be rich and crazy enough, you can safely go and acquire a bottle of each for your own house ‘Megafarclas’.  


Next time we will commence from 1988 and continue from there...



Heartfelt thanks to Dirk!  


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



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ben Nevis 21 yo (47.5%, The Whisky Show 2018, 10th Anniversary, Future of Whisky, sherry butt, 144 bottles)

Longmorn 1961/2018 (40.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, cask #512, 97 decanters)

Longmorn 1961/2018 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, cask #508, 97 decanters)

Bellevue 20 yo 1998/2018 (55.2%, Silver Seal, Guadeloupe)

Bellevue 19 yo 1998/2018 (59.7%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Guadeloupe, 254 bottles)

Caroni 20 yo 1997/2018 (60.6%, Cadenhead, Trinidad, barrel)

Long Pond 2007/2018 (62.3%, National Rums of Jamaica Ltd, 3.325 bottles)