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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2023 - Part 1
 
 

August 2023 - part 2 <--- September 2023 - part 1 ---> September 2023 - part 2

 

September 14, 2023


Whiskyfun

Glen Elgin, let's just go on (2/4)

As we said…

 

 

Glen Elgin 10 yo 2008/2018 (59%, Mossburn, No.19, hogshead, batch #14.0518.19)

Glen Elgin 10 yo 2008/2018 (59%, Mossburn, No.19, hogshead, batch #14.0518.19) Three stars and a half
This should be tight, tense, malty. It's to be remembered that Glen Egin was electrified very late and that they had been using paraffin before. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: extreme grassy, branche-y, porridge-y style, extremely austere. With water: oats, porridge, concrete dust, green bananas. Mouth (neat): very powerful, almost burning, as if we were drinking it straight from the spirit safe (should we have the keys). Lemons and apple peel manage to make it through, though, but it wouldn't be reasonable not to add any water. With water: this time again, it gets sweeter and fruitier on the palate, this time towards absinth ans pastis, with a lot of aniseed and liquorice, fennel, raw green pears… Finish: long, still tight and sharp. Aquavit in the aftertaste. Comments: not the easiest one. I would have said Glendullan or something similar.

SGP:461 - 83 points.

Glen Elgin 8 yo (54.8%, Dram Mor, 1st fill bourbon finish, cask #301308, 244 bottles, 2022)

Glen Elgin 8 yo (54.8%, Dram Mor, 1st fill bourbon finish, cask #301308, 244 bottles, 2022) Four stars
In the spirit of a proper old-school re-racking, I would say. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: you really feel the impact of the 1st fill barrel, as this one's rather easier, with touches of bananas, orange blossom, some celeriac and beets… That's nice and it does feel natural. The background remains on porridge, apples and citrus. With water: unusual whiffs of silk, old wardrobe, fur… And wool, which is more common in malt whisky, we agree. Mouth (neat): very good! Some kind of pastis aged in wood, with touches of sandalwood, cedar, liquorice wood and embrocations (warms your chest but that may just be all the ethanol, ha). With water: back to regular maltiness and the usual fruits, apples, citrus… Finish: long, rather grassier, with more fruit peel too, but always with this pastis in the aftertaste. Another one you could drink in Provence, to the sound of cicadas. Kss-kss-kss-kss-kss… Comments: I think this one's excellent. The short re-racking seems to have made wonders.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Glen Elgin 13 yo 2008/2021 (55.8%, Fable Whisky, Chapter 7 Piper, hogshead, cask #805339, 139 bottles)

Glen Elgin 13 yo 2008/2021 (55.8%, Fable Whisky, Chapter 7 Piper, hogshead, cask #805339, 139 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: simple, natural, on branches, apples, sunflower oil and not that much porridge or ale. A little custard. With water: more porridge, chalk, wool, barley, grist… Mouth (neat): in the style of the house (Fable Whisky), with good, well-controlled oak impact, good citrus, white pepper, granny smith, tiny coconut balls… With water: just very good, gentler than others but that's the creamier wood. Cake, lemon pie, a touch of coconut, marzipan, gummy bears, cream eggs… Finish: medium, sweet. Limoncello, Oreo and marzipan. Comments: not that much 'Glen Elgin', perhaps, but technically totally perfect.
SGP:641 - 85 points.

Glen Elgin 10 yo 2011/2021 (57.4%, Whisky AGE, hogshead, cask #801804, 313 bottles)

Glen Elgin 10 yo 2011/2021 (57.4%, Whisky AGE, hogshead, cask #801804, 313 bottles) Four stars
Hey, we're in Taiwan! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: back to pure Glen-Elginness, with a lot of porridge and ale, apple peel, chalk, cut grass… It's not one to tell funny stories. With water: almost like a wonderful Pilsner. I'm reminded of Urquell but last time I've had one that was fifteen years ago. Mouth (neat): very tight, with some varnish, ultra-dry white wine (the driest fino sherry ever, shall we say) and the tartest oranges. And all that works extremely well, go figure. With water: some unusual notes of rapeseed oil, white melon, jujubes, some unusual spicy waxes, not too sure what they are… … Finish: long and very much on fruit peel and green tea. Comments: all these Glen Elgins are very similar, but the more you taste, the more nuances you find. It's a little exhausting, but also very fun.

SGP:551 - 86 points.

Glen Elgin 8 yo 2014/2022 (58.2%, Murray McDavid, first fill Koval bourbon finish, cask #2010500, 142 bottles)

Glen Elgin 8 yo 2014/2022 (58.2%, Murray McDavid, first fill Koval bourbon finish, cask #2010500, 142 bottles) Three stars and a half
It's pretty interesting that several bottlers would be using, and mentioning, ex-Koval casks. Colour: white wine. Nose: paraffin, porridge, apple peel, sour cream, sweet cheese, spicy marzipan… There's something slightly acetic, with a drop of baby vomit. With water: more of all that, and no we won't mention gym soc… I'm afraid we just did. Now it's much nicer than you think. Nice soft-curry-like spices. Mouth (neat): much nicer on the palate. The spicy bourbon cask works very well, with a feeling of rye (haven't checked if there's a lot of rye in Koval's bourbons, though), then ripe bananas, mint and gingerbread. Touch of turmeric. With water: good variant, spicier and richer. Finish: rather long, sour-sweet. Comments: a rollercoaster, but it's an interesting, if somewhat challenging, variant. But what won't they think of next!
SGP:661 - 83 points.

Glen Elgin 14 yo 2008/2023 (54.1%, The Whisky Cellar, Pintail, red floc de Gascogne finish, cask #3010; 298 bottles)

Glen Elgin 14 yo 2008/2023 (54.1%, The Whisky Cellar, Pintail, red floc de Gascogne finish, cask #3010; 298 bottles) Three stars
Oh, floc de Gascogne, that's lovely! Next time, pousse-rapière? Floc de Gascogne, if you will, is Armagnac's pineau des Charentes, it's grape juice fortified with young armagnac. Floc too comes in white, rosé and red variants. Colour: apricot. Nose: earthy, with some oak spices, old barrels, tomato leaves, red berries, peonies, then some eucalyptus that noses a little weird in this context… With water: no clashes, some mustiness tough, and once again some of that stuff that babies regurgitate from time to time. Mouth (neat): it's very fine, with lovely touches of old wood, old spices, red berries and all that, but I think the original distillate has been buried. With water: the sweet richness of the floc would tend to dominate the whole. What's good is that the red grape juice they're using to make these pineau-like specialties is never deeply steeped or macerated, so they remain 'a little closer to the whites'. Finish: rather long, sweeter, easier. Comments: it's good but indeed, what won't they think of next!

SGP:641 - 81 points.

Port! But of course…

Glen Elgin 13 yo 2007/2021 (52%, Chapter 7, oloroso & ruby Port, cask #570885, 233 bottles)

Glen Elgin 13 yo 2007/2021 (52%, Chapter 7, oloroso & ruby Port, cask #570885, 233 bottles) Four stars
Sherry AND Port? To what do we owe this incredible addition of rare Iberian flavours? Colour: deep gold. Nose: ha, the distillate seems to have kept the upper hand, as we're finding just as many porridgey aromas as in the 'natural' ones. And ale, concrete, chalk, paraffin, grass and leaves. The wines seem to rather act as cakes and jams, but they would never get in the way. Now what I'm also finding is some ripe red grapes, such as pinot noir. When you crush them between your fingers while you were wandering in the end of August throughout a Grand Cru... Okay, we're digressing. With water: some old pipe tobacco, all over the place, then some menthol and leaves. The leaves, that's the Port. Mouth (neat): it's the oloroso that's doing the job, but the combination works. It's got pretty smoky, coffeeish and chocolaty, with some cracked pepper lurking in the background. With water: surprisingly to my liking. Lovely peppers and strawberries, all we'd need to add is a little champagne to feel like we're in a 1960s romantic movie. Finish: rather long, unexpectedly balanced. Old bachelor's jam. Comments: I wouldn't have bet a kopeck on this horse.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Glen Elgin 12 yo 2008/2020 'I offer you centuries of light' (56.5%, Whiskybroker for Whisky Facile, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #653, 180 bottles)

Glen Elgin 12 yo 2008/2020 'I offer you centuries of light' (56.5%, Whiskybroker for Whisky Facile, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #653, 180 bottles) Four stars and a half
This seems to be about Circe and Ulysses; I just bloody hope that this potion won't turn me into a pig. Colour: white wine. Nose: perfect last one for today, ultra-pure, some totally raw and natural Glen Elgin, with chalk, soot, porridge, green apples, lemons, menthol, grist, and then a bit of custard tart and some awesome mustiness (precious old cellar, hessian, dunnage…) With water: high-end green teas, which are little worlds in themselves. That's awesome. Mouth (neat): notes of mocha, demerara sugar, heavy honey, roasted malt and nuts, pecans… It is completely different on the palate, much richer. With water: pur-fekt. Some roots, grasses, more roasted nuts, cakes, bean curd, mochi, green coffee… Finish: medium, spicier, wonderfully balanced. Perfect sweet ginger and a little marmalade, with even a tiny coastal/salty touch in the aftertaste (what was the previous fill?) Comments: I think this is my favourite this far, but we've only tried fifteen of them, if I do the math goodly (what?)

SGP:451 - 88 points.

Many more to come, stay tuned…

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

 

September 13, 2023


Whiskyfun

Dazzling Glen Elgin 1/4

It is truly astonishing to see that the number of samples from this or that distillery can increase very suddenly, without warning, depending on the batches of barrels that are put on the market and distributed to smaller (but very valiant) independents. This is currently the case for Glen Elgin, as while we hadn't even tasted a hundred of them in over twenty years, several dozens of them have come knocking on our door in recent months, not to mention the ones we've sourced ourselves. But we're not complaining, it's an excellent distillate! Remember the old White Horse blends?


One of White Horse's homes was Glen Elgin
(extremely modern magazine ad, 1967, USA)

 

 

Glen Elgin 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022)

Glen Elgin 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars
We last tried it in 2016, it's been all about roasted malt and coffee (WF 82), let's see… Colour: straw. Nose: oh I remember, it's raw, very earthy, very malty indeed, and with a lot of ale and stout. You would almost believe they had distilled some Guinness. Some black earth as well, autumn leaves, fresh walnuts, wet coffee dregs… Now it would settle down eventually, moving towards some walnut cake and pecan pie. Mouth: it is really not an easy tiple, but that's part of its charms. More Guinness, Nescafé, tobacco and coffee, strong honey… One can imagine that there are old Scots who swear only by this Glen Elgin and remain loyal to it. It's certainly not an easy and commercial style. Finish: medium, malty, on bitter ale and more walnuts yet. Comments: as I remembered it. As I said, I'm sure it's got its die-hard aficionados.

SGP:361 - 82 points.

Glen Elgin 'Peated Finish' (44.5%, Murray McDavid, Craft Series, Batch #Peat01, 2022)

Glen Elgin 'Peated Finish' (44.5%, Murray McDavid, Craft Series, Batch #Peat01, 2022) Three stars
It was finished in an ex-Islay cask, so that's what we sometimes call 'in-cask blending'. These are really creeping in these days… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it's reminiscent of some young yoghurty Tobermories that would have gathered a little Ledaig. I'm finding porridge first, then toothpaste, chlorophyl, yoghurt indeed, leaves, garden smoke (bonfire), ozone, touches of mud, leaves… Mouth: more fruitiness, with some Caol-Ila-like citrus, lemon custard tart, drops of limoncello, more leaves, nice touches of basil and dill, perhaps some of Glen Elgin's deep maltiness too, but it does really feel like a blended malt. A good blended malt. Finish: rather long, with more peppery and leafy smoke. Ashier aftertaste. Comments: not a bad drop at all, quite the opposite, but I'm really not a fan of all these in-cask-peated single malts, even if many are actually pretty excellent.

SGP:364 - 80 points.

Glen Elgin-Glenlivet 12 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon, 2022)

Glen Elgin-Glenlivet 12 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon, 2022) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: very austere, very leafy at first, with some grains and chalk then, plus a little aniseed, liquorice and wormwood, which gives this little baby a touch of absinth, shall we say. Then more and more porridge, as in the others. This porridge is rather of the sour, mashy, traditional kind. Mouth: very close to the OB, with just less oak impact, so less sweetness in this very case, and even more leaves, malt and porridge. Finish: medium, but oranges are coming to the rescue now. That's good. A little demerara sugar too, maple syrup as well… Comments: it really took off on the palate, after a few minutes. The nose remains anecdotal.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Glen Elgin 11 yo 2012/2023 (60.9%, Watt Whisky, hogshead)

Glen Elgin 11 yo 2012/2023 (60.9%, Watt Whisky, hogshead) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: extremely Glen-Elginy (oh come on), with everything porridge, chalk, husk, ale and green walnuts. With water: more porridge than at Porridge, Porridge & Sons'. Mouth (neat): I don't know if that's the effects of ethanol, but I'm finding this one much fruitier than the others, more citric in a good way, and shock-full of pink grapefruits. That's enough vitamins for the whole week (writing this on a Monday night). With water: wonderful, wondering if it was the same whisky that we had on the nose. More of those pink grapefruits, some regular ones as well, some stewed rhubarb, and then this compotey feeling that's always rather perfect. Stems and leaves keep it straight in the background. Finish: long, more on raw barley, beers, more citrus, walnuts… Comments: an impressive body here. Awesome raw maltiness, no wood in the way.

SGP:661 - 87 points.

Glen Elgin 11 yo 2009/2021 (58.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #807777, hogshead, 238 bottles)

Glen Elgin 11 yo 2009/2021 (58.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #807777, hogshead, 238 bottles) Four stars
Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: once again, no wood in the way, just porridge again, leaves, a little cork (it is not corked), pine needles, lemongrass, crystallised angelica (perhaps)… With water: grapefruit, juice, flesh and skin. Mouth (neat): very creamy, in the style of the Watt, with big citrus, a tiny spoonful of yoghurt, the ten-times aforementioned porridge, these grapefruits, limes… With water: just perfect. A tiny hint of smoke but I may be dreaming. More porridge and white bread too. Finish: grapefruits at the helm, for a long time. Barley and IPA. Comments: superb all-natural, characterful malt whisky. I'm more than happy because I think we'll have many similar ones…

SGP:561 - 87 points.

These wee session with very similar whiskies can be a little tough but on the other hand, provided the whiskies are good, they push you towards your limits.

Glen Elgin 11 yo 2009/2021 (58.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #807781, hogshead, 247 bottles)

Glen Elgin 11 yo 2009/2021 (58.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #807781, hogshead, 247 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: back to ueber-porridgeness and utter leafiness. A little tough, this one. With water: but who's decided to distil the lawn and all the fallen leaves? Loads of chalk, flour, sourdough… Mouth (neat): chills! Huge lemons and limes, melissa, grapefruits… I mean you couldn't make it zestier. With water: opens up like a flower in the morning, with some nectar, light honey, puréed chestnuts, but rather less citrus this time. Don't they say in the Bible that the ways of the barrels are inscrutable? Finish: long, mashy and spicy, probably less 'pure' than its sister cask. Comments: excellent, just a tad less 'pure' indeed.

SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glen Elgin 13 yo 2008/2022 (51.8%, The Dava Way, recharred hogshead, 305 bottles)

Glen Elgin 13 yo 2008/2022 (51.8%, The Dava Way, recharred hogshead, 305 bottles) Four stars
Some new bottlers connected to Dunphail and Bimber distilleries. I say in terms of pedigree, you can't do much better (even if I don't know much about Dunphail). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: touch of varnish and wine vinegar at first, then a little acetone, then grapefruits, then porridge, then custard, then candyfloss, then coconut balls (that's the recharring). Something else. With water: back to sour fruits, lemons, leaves… Mouth (neat): I see where this is going. More oak impact, more complexity as well, some coffee, wood varnish, coconut wine, then the expected citrus. All the porridge that we had found in the others has become, say meringue. With water: perfect, no more run-around, rather citrus juice. Finish: medium, citrusy, with notes of plane mango and a drop of yellow chartreuse. Zesty aftertaste. Comments: I think I liked the 'nature monsters' a little better (Watt, first TSMoS) but this is close. The coconut was under control.

SGP:651 - 86 points.

 

Wgiskyfun 101

  Glen Elgin and White Horse
Glen Elgin, much like Lagavulin, was at the heart of the famous White Horse and undoubtedly contributed to the power and body of this legendary, very peaty and malty blend for our modern palates, even though old advertisements labeled it as "smooth" and "mellow." Sure thing. The distillery was purchased by DCL/SMD for White Horse Distillers around 1929-1930. Old bottles of Glen Elgin indeed prominently featured a white horse on the labels, and some relatively recent ones were still branded 'White Horse Glen Elgin,' like a version for Japan.

 

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

 

September 12, 2023


Whiskyfun

Two indie Glenfarclas and one bonus

 

We've tried rather a lot of Glenfarclas lately, but a lot is never enough with Glenfarclas. And new or even recent 'disclosed' indies are becoming extremely scarce…

(The still house, photograph Glenfarclas)

Glenfarclas

 

 

Glenfarclas 20 yo 2003/2023 (51.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles)

Glenfarclas 20 yo 2003/2023 (51.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles) Four stars
Part of this summer's releases. WM Cadenhead have stopped calling them 'Glenfarclas-Glenlivet' quite some years ago already. We've already liked several of their bourbon hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: there's always this fatness, even on the nose, which is supposed to stem from direct firing, at least partly. So we're finding fatter breads, fatter patisseries (with more butter inside, ha) and then the, well, the fattest porridge you could think of. Vanilla and crushed bananas are bringing all this back to reason. With water: fresh sawn oak, oatcakes, porridge, bits of grapefruit and green apple. Whiffs of menthol are bringing more action after a minute or two. Mouth (neat): sweet beers, ginger mints, cinnamon mints, bitterer grasses, bitterer beers, melon skin… With water: bursting fruits, plus a little coconut and white pepper from the cask. Red currants, gooseberries, pears, peaches… I was worth your Vittel (or any waters you would prefer, just not too 'pure' – a myth - and not from the tap.) Finish: rather long, joyful, fruity. Comments: it needed water and never stopped improving then. I believe it would be a shame to try this without water just because 'it's only 51.8%'. We're no cowboys, are we.
SGP:661 - 86 points.

Glenfarclas 7 yo 2013/2021 (60.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 1st fill PX hogshead, #1.238, 'Oranges and Well-Danced Upon Oak', 213 bottles)

Glenfarclas 7 yo 2013/2021 (60.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 1st fill PX hogshead, #1.238, 'Oranges and Well-Danced Upon Oak', 213 bottles) Four stars
In theory, this is way too young. By the way, they had already bottled 237 Glenfarclasses when they did this one, but it's true that it was the first distillery they ever bottled. Colour: deep gold. Pretty active cask. Nose: deep pilsner beer, many dandelions, and a huge banana cake for 24 people, that's what I'm getting at 60+%. With water: 1st fill PX, really? No vinosity whatsoever, hardly any raisins, but some wonderful whiffs of fresh cut hay. We're not losing in the deal, are we. Mouth (neat): very modern, cask-driven, very creamy mouth feel, quite some white pepper, gentian liqueur, cinnamon and ginger upfront… With water: sweet oak, lemon drops and even touches of peat – well, a faint feeling of peat, plus candied cherries, candied orange zests... Finish: quite long, on similar notes, especially orange zests indeed. And cinnamon. Comments: feels a little technological, so to speak, a little 'boosted', but it is extremely pleasant. 21st century malt whisky, probably NAS elsewhere.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Good, we can't help, please an official bonus…

Glenfarclas 1989/2014 (54.7%, OB, Family Casks, TSMC Taiwan, cask #13026, 628 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1989/2014 (54.7%, OB, Family Casks, TSMC Taiwan, cask #13026, 628 bottles) Four stars and a half
Our dear friends in Asia seem to be loving these deep-sherried Glenfarclas. I must have Asian ancestors… Colour: dark red amber. Nose: rich and deep, very jammy, ridden with black raisins, dried figs, dates, with wee whiffs of wood smoke too, chocolate, lit cigar, the ristretto-est espresso … In short, some ultra-classic sherried Glenfarclas from those days. Many 1988s, 1989s and 1990s had been 'filled like this', if I remember well. With water: more black berries, clove, mulled wine, cocoa and dates. A large pack of big fat dried dates, love them too. Mouth (neat): just huge, thick, extremely chocolaty and full of coffee, I believe if you push just a little further you just get 'sherry at cask strength'. With water: just coffee-schnapps, with perhaps a thin slice of Schwartzwalder. Finish: liquid Schwartzwalder indeed. Immense chocolateness. Comments: classic, just a wee tad 'heavy and simple' or it would have made it to 90, easily.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

 

Wgiskyfun 101

  Glenfarclas and the SMWS
The rumour has it that Pip Hills, the founder of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, personally went to pick up his first cask of Glenfarclas, thus #1.1, in a pre-war Lagonda. Naturally an old car, because the more recent Lagondas, like their cousins the Aston Martins, could hardly accommodate a single case of nine or twelve bottles. At WF we had the pleasure of tasting this 1.1 about five years ago; it was quite superb, though not totally out of this world. Alas, we have never driven the Lagonda.

 

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

 

September 11, 2023


Whiskyfun

Rugby World Cup Special,
Tullibardine young and old

To be honest, I had considered doing a big session with spirits from every single country participating in the Rugby World Cup this year, which would have been easy to do (technically). But in the end, I thought it was a bit of a dated idea. Sometimes, you have to listen to yourself... So, we'll simply have an old official Tullibardine that celebrated another World Cup, plus naturally, a sparring pertner.

Rugby

 

 

Tullibardine 8 yo 2015/2023 (53.7%, Dram Mor, first fill oloroso finish; cask #656932)

Tullibardine 8 yo 2015/2023 (53.7%, Dram Mor, first fill oloroso finish; cask #656932) Four stars
I've got a problem, I always first write 'Dram More' and no, I haven't turned MS-Word's autocorrect on. Must be a personal bias. I had tried an earlier 8 by Dram More, I mean Dram Mor and rather loved it (WF 85 and not WF 80 as, I've just seen, they write on their website!) Colour: deep gold. Nose: walnut cake, cookies and even ice cream (ever tried that delicacy?) all over the place, plus touches of tight bitter oranges and a growing, rather unusual earthiness that would lead to some kind of mustard. I'm finding all this pretty Tullibardine, in fact. With water: not unexpected, copper, old tools, a box of pre-war nails and so on. Mouth (neat): beautifully weird(ish), so classic, with some sour notes at first, mustard indeed, a lot of nutmeg and caraway and, naturally, more walnuts than on a walnut tree. Then rose liqueur – but where does this come from? With water: always this uncommon, but lovely sourness. Earlier bottlings were more extreme in that respect, and probably a little deviant, but these are much 'cleaner' although they wouldn't have lost the distillery's character, which the heavyish sherry did not offset. Finish: medium, with mustard, walnuts and old copper coins. Comments: love these 'flaws that aren't flaws'.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Speaking of older Tullibardine…

Tullibardine 40 yo 1966/2006 (48%, OB, World Cup Edition 2006, sherry butt, cask #2132, 384 bottles)

Tullibardine 40 yo 1966/2006 (48%, OB, World Cup Edition 2006, sherry butt, cask #2132, 384 bottles) Five stars
Not rugby, sadly, only football/soccer. That's when we lost to Italy in Germany, so what's to celebrate anyway? Zidane's headbutt on Materazzi? Bah that's only football, so let's rather try this old Tullibardine to celebrate the Rugby World Cup 2023 (writing all this even before France vs. All Blacks, so that you know). Full sherry and natural cask strength. Colour: dark amber/copper. Nose: I had heard about this one's reputation so sadly, I am not surprised. It is pure old PX, from a solera started in, like the year 1800 and bottled in, like the year 1950. Stunning sun-dried raisins, old cognac, very old rancio and dried figs. It is not even very complex, but the fullness is astounding. Maybe because it had been re-racked after the Distillery had been sold in the early 2000s? Mouth: two-sided. First the same kind of extreme top-of-range sweet PX, and second a much drier, coffee and oak-fuelled development, full of old walnuts once more, cocoa powder, cigar tobacco, clove… Finish: long and even more clove-y and chocolaty. A rather sumptuous bitter coffee in the aftertaste, with a marmalade-y signature. Comments: two old whiskies in one, in fact, which would indeed suggest it had been re-racked in PX. But as always, I could be totally wrong. Like Zidane.
SGP:671 - 90 points.

PS: oh sorry, I've just seen that it was also bottled to celebrate England's win, which happened in 1966 indeed, if I'm not wrong. But back to rugby…

(Thank you Andy/Whiskyprism)

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

 

September 10, 2023


Whiskyfun

This session, written before the tragic events, is published in tribute to Morocco and to all our friends there and in France.

 

  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

 

Cognac is back again

I don't know if cognac will ever catch up to malt whisky, not in terms of intrinsic quality—on the contrary, it's ahead—but in terms of concept. It's true that cognac is so dominated by big blended brands that true single estate, or even single cask options, are extremely rare once you go beyond the very limited circle of aficionados.


Fats Waller, Honeysuckle Rose, 1929

As a result, we find ourselves in a strange situation where the whiskey lover will adore roughly 0.1% of the cognac production and rather dislike the remaining 99.9%, finding them too weak, too muddled, too diluted, and too... blended. See you in twenty years? For now, at WF, we keep tasting the 0.1%, and that's enough to make us happy. Quick, we deserve a little apéririf…

 

 

Château de Beaulon 7 yo 'VSOP' (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2021)

Château de Beaulon 7 yo 'VSOP' (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2021) Three stars
We had an excellent little 12 yo last year (WF 86). This is pure folle blanche and most certainly a Bons Bois, even if they wouldn't really tell. We love the Bons Bois. Colour: pale gold. Nose: lovely fresh cognac, on ripe peaches, touches of liquorice, some tobacco, ripe grapes, gorse, dandelions, mirabelle jam… In truth it goes beyond the 'apéritif' quality on the nose. The peaches are really running the show after ten minutes. Mouth: a tad sweet and full of liquorice allsorts, sultanas, apricot jam and honey. Still very lovely but a bit sweet for a palate accustomed to whisky. A lot of honey. Finish: medium, sweet, honeyed and with bags of sultanas. Comments: an excellent young VSOP, with a solid body at just 40% vol., it's just that I find the sweetness is a little 'too much' and a little unnatural. But for cocktails, really?
SGP:741 - 80 points.

By the way, many producers are mentioning cocktails again and it's true that cognac sales come and go. Every time things slow down a bit—and I've been noticing this for at least forty years—there's some marketing whiz kid who stands up and claims that what will save cognac is cocktails. And off they go, tossing out cheap recipes to the press and influencers. Cognac and green tea, why not? Each time, it's just another little nail in the temporary coffin, until the next phase of strong growth wipes all the problems away anyway. Having said that, the large houses claim that nearly 80% of the cognac consumed worldwide is enjoyed in the form of cocktails or as a long drink, mixed with sparkling water and ice. Not the cognacs we like...

Symphonie des Terroirs N°1 'L.31Y' (50.6%, Jean-Luc Pasquet, Cognac, 534 bottles, 2023)

Symphonie des Terroirs N°1 'L.31Y' (50.6%, Jean-Luc Pasquet, Cognac, 534 bottles, 2023) Four stars and a half
This one's said to be the first ever 'cognac' by the house Pasquet. They mean it is their first blend, and neither a single-estate nor even a single-cru, as there is some Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Fins Bois and Bons Bois inside. The code ***might*** suggest that the youngest component was 31 years old, but do not quote me. Colour: full gold. Nose: you would almost believe they worked with a 'top-nose' from the perfume industry, as what I'm finding first is green oranges, vetiver, ylang-ylang, old roses and indeed orange blossom. It almost feels like you could dab a drop behind your ears, I'm somewhat reminded of 'Eau d'Orange Verte' by Hermès. Both the freshness and the 'unicity of styles' are rather impressive. Naturally, there are also a few raisins, peaches and a little honey. With water: a little rounder, with awesome touches of fir honey and propolis. Perhaps a little argan oil too. Mouth (neat): tenser than expected, with rather a lot of liquorice and quite q few orange zests. Tobacco and oak, a little water should do it a world of good. With water: orange blossom honey coming centre stage. Baklavas and panettone, how does that sound? Some oak under control in the background (black tea). Finish: long, a little more peppery, with cloves, tea and cigars. Oranges closing the door at the end. Comments: the oak would play with your palate a bit, but magnificent oranges have been maintaining control throughout.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Prunier 1986/2023 (50.3%, OB for The Purist Wine4You, Petite Champagne, 42 bottles)

Prunier 1986/2023 (50.3%, OB for The Purist Wine4You, Petite Champagne, 42 bottles) Four stars and a half
They said small outturns, big spirits (who said that?) Colour: deep rich gold. Nose: this one's a little more tropical, with mangos and crushed bananas beyond the usual peaches and sultanas. I'm also finding rather a lot of quince jelly, prickly pears, a touch of geranium (flower) and more and more honeysuckle. God made this planet only to allow us to grow honeysuckle and smell the flowers first thing every morning, while thinking of Fats Waller. No water needed. Mouth: medium, wonderfully zesty and fresh. It hasn't got the tighter oaky structure of the Pasquet, but it's got some pepper and some caraway. It's pretty exotic. A drop of water will just make it a tad rounder and more honeyed. Finish: rather long, wonderfully fruity and tropical, with some wonderful local honey (made by Melipona bees from the Caribbean? The ones that do not sting?) Comments: we could discuss for hours which one is the best, and we'd still be here tomorrow morning.

SGP:641 - 89 points.

Laurichesse 'Le Vaillant Lot 76' (48.1%, Malternative Belgium, Grande Champagne, 2023)

Laurichesse 'Le Vaillant Lot 76' (48.1%, Malternative Belgium, Grande Champagne, 2023) Five stars
They've had two stunning 1975s by Laurichesse last year, with exhilarating dry extracts (WF 92 and 91). Colour: deep gold. Nose: it's so smooth, it is a liqueur (sounds like an old ad for Scotch whisky, does it not). Apricot liqueur, quince, mirabelles, orange blossom and acacia gum, a drop of high-end cider, bergamottes (the sweets)… What a nose! It is so… smooth. Mouth: more cider at first, then indeed acacia gum, dates and marzipan, touch of ripe banana, then the whole army, mirabelles, peaches, raisins, honeys, flower syrups… And orange blossom water. Lebanese cookies. Finish: medium, unexpectedly citrusy, with even citrons. Comments: rather extraordinary. Had it been demijohnned at some point? The 'yellow' fruitiness here is insane.
SGP:641 - 90 points.

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac d'André L.68/72' (54.3%, OB, Fins Bois, 738 bottles)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac d'André L.68/72' (54.3%, OB, Fins Bois, 738 bottles) Five stars
André's 1973 had been just flabbergasting three years ago (WF 92). It stems from the village of Asnières-la-Giraud, north of Saintes. Colour: full gold. Nose: it is tighter, more austere, more elegant as well, more on cakes at first, but it would then get more aromatic, with pears poached in Yquem (right, in a small Sauternes), a little muscat, sweet flowers, gardenia, clematis, honeysuckle, daphne… And then even roses. It's incredible how floral this one is. With water: I think I'll have to mention panettones again. It's not an obsession, it's just that I find a good panettone brings together the fragrances and flavours of a fine aged spirit. It's one of life's miracles (hmm…) Mouth (neat): marvelous, first with a touch of varnish. Then peaches of course, raisins naturally, flower jellies and hay, soft liquorice, vine peaches, apricots, crème brulée… I find it amazingly 'full', very classic. With water: just very classic indeed, not need to try to further dissect it. Finish: rather long, with more citrus and honeys, with some very nice tension throughout. Oranges in majesty in the aftertaste. Comments: actually, there's nothing particularly special about it; it's just magnificent. This is getting higher, as Jim Morrison would have said.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

Lhéraud 1967/2023 (46.7%, Grape of the Art, Bons Bois, 132 bottles)

Lhéraud 1967/2023 (46%, Grape of the Art, Bons Bois, 132 bottles) Five stars
We're not very familiar with Lhéraud, but we've had a very nice Petite Champagne VSOP a while back. But this is a bons bois, I'm starting to wonder if malt whisky enthusiasts might not prefer the bons or fins bois, rather than the grande or petite champagnes. Or even over the borderies, which are admittedly quite rare. Right bois ordinaires are even rarer it seems. Colour: amber. Nose: this one's more 'stewed', or 'cooked' as far as fruits are concerned, it is also more on wine, you could almost imagine an old Montrachet. Right, or a Meursault. But indeed, no chardonnay to be encountered in Cognac, this has apples, pears, bananas, umeshu, ripe damsons, then balsa and cedar wood, mushrooms and earths, humus, a touch of rubber (close to balsa)… Mouth: while André's was admirably straight, this is much more aromatic, almost exuberant, with more stewed bruits and resinous/rubbery woods. No one in Cognac would use mizunara (the whisky makers' Kardashian wood), but I am finding mizunara – and I'm feeling shame. Wonderful orange sauce, plums, fig jam, the usual peaches in all their forms, raisins, and a molassy touch. Finish: long, stewed, jammy, sweet, extravagant indeed. Many raisins. Comments: a tad less 'hi-def' than the 1968, but frankly, it is just another amazing cognac from the best years of rock and roll – and experimental jazz.

SGP:751 - 90 points.

All that's left is for us to taste a pre-war cognac, the question is which war we're talking about…

Héritage René Rivière 'Madame Pivoine Lot 25' (48.1%, Malternative Belgium, Borderies)

Héritage René Rivière 'Madame Pivoine Lot 25' (48.1%, Malternative Belgium, Borderies) Four stars and a half
And there, a Borderies, and not just any Borderies, a 1925! (allegedly). Pivoine means peony, by the way, Colour: gold. Nose: it's somewhat gone to the other side, that of herbs, ointments, leaves, teas, earl grey, old cordials (we found an old bottle of Arquebuse the other day, there were similarities), verbena hundred percent, dried rose petals, a touch of patchouli… There are spices too but those remained soft and relatively discreet. In short, an exquisite, charming nose. Tasting very old spirits that end up seeming modern doesn't hold much interest, what's happening here is exactly the opposite. Mouth: exactly the same feelings. Biscuits, herbal teas, balms indeed, old liqueurs, perhaps old bottles of rum… An old actor who still knows his lines, but… Finish: short to medium. Old liqueurs indeed, tinned greengages, mead… Comments: it's moving, very slightly worn out but it's still having flashes of sheer brilliance. Since we've mentioned Fats Waller earlier, did you know that his hit 'Squeeze Me' was composed in 1925? Got to love Wikipedia, one of the few remaining islands of intelligence and (relative) trust on the web.
SGP:451 - 89 points.

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

 

September 9, 2023


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland


A big pile of old bottles!

We are off on holiday, to France of all places, which means I'll likely be a little inactive on the Whiskyfun front for the next couple of weeks. In anticipation of that, here is a bunch of random tasting notes specifically for various old and rare bottles which have been accumulating here recently.
Angus  

 

This is a mix of things that some folk have very kindly sent me, along with a number of my own bottles that I've opened recently in anticipation of my stand at the Whisky Show in London at the end of this month. This is not going to be a session that makes much sense I'm afraid, there will be some pairs and a few distilleries going solo. But did we ever really need an excuse to try old glories? It has been quite a hectic few months here for me so you may consider this a little 'letting off steam' before holiday session. Although, I should also probably make clear, not all of these notes were recorded in the same session.

 

 

See you in a couple of weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

Glen Cawdor 16 yo 1968 (43%, Samaroli, 360 bottles)

Glen Cawdor 16 yo 1968 (43%, Samaroli, 360 bottles)
Glen Garioch, Springbank, Glen Ord… no one seems to know, apparently not even Mr Samaroli himself was too sure in latter years. But, let's not worry too much about all that. Colour: bright straw. Nose: this wonderfully pure and mineral profile with many clear notes of waxes, putty, olive oil and soot, but also some nice impressions of salty porridge, sheep wool and white flowers with their pollens. What's sure is that is clearly has this proper old school, 'highlands' character with this rather unsexy yet brilliant distillate charisma and gentle austerity. Mouth: same feeling, lots of waxes, plush oily cereal notes, mineral oil, suet, strop leather and chamomile tea. There's also a delicate thread of soapiness underneath this, a rather floral kind, which makes me think of certain Glen Garioch bottlings I have to admit. Still, a very nice old school texture and mineral quality. Finish: medium, peppery, nicely drying, a tad salty and still with this mineral and white flower quality. Comments: a good benchmark of old highland style whisky, but the tiny note of soap in the mid-palate docks it one or two points I think. Not Samaroli's greatest bottling, and not even his greatest Glen Cawdor. As to the distillery, the jury remains in deliberation.
SGP: 452 - 86 points.

 

 

Bowmore 12 yo (43%, OB, litre for duty free, -/+1980)

Bowmore 12 yo (43%, OB, litre for duty free, -/+1980)
There's many variations of this iteration of the 12yo, with some being a lot better than others in my experience. Of course that can be due to changing production at Bowmore, but I think these bottles also tend to show quite changeable levels of OBE (old bottle effect) these days too. But from this time period and in a litre bottle at 43%, our hopes are high… Colour: deep gold. Nose: we need not fear! There is OBE for sure, with these wee hints of metal polish and soot, but they are in fact rather thrilling with this combination of dried exotic fruits, tropical fruit teas, very gentle, pristinely drying peat smoke and then more earthy things like medicinal roots, honey roasted vegetables, tar extract and medicinal herbs such as verbena and wormwood. I also find tiny notes of honey and waxy lemons - a gorgeous nose! Mouth: superb and surprisingly peaty, many various exotic fruit notes but still tending towards dried and crystallised ones, and also those lovely exotic fruit tea impressions. Within all that there's also these deified Bowmore passionfruit notes. We should be comfortably in 1960s distillate here and it shows. I also find a little more sherry influence than I'd anticipate in these batches usually and here it adds a gorgeous, resinous and sharp saltiness to the palate. Finish: long, stunningly peaty, fresh, nervously coastal and showcasing many beautiful preserved exotic fruit notes. Still pin sharp and super fresh! Comments: no quibbles here, a benchmark example of fruity old school Bowmore and delivered with remarkable freshness and power. Probably an example in this series where the time in bottle delivered only positive results.
SGP: 654 - 92 points.

 

 

Springbank 12 yo (80 proof, OB, 1/2 bottle, -/+1970)

Springbank 12 yo (80 proof, OB, 1/2 bottle, -/+1970)
Colour: white wine. Nose: stunning distillate driven profile! Full on coastal waxiness, fleshy ripe stone fruits, white flowers, mineral oils, dried herbs, beach pebbles, camphor, mint tea, olive oil… one of those noses where you could just go on and on. The most dominating impression is just that this is utterly, gloriously impeccable distillate that needs only barest touch of wood to show this level of sophistication and detail. Recalls the 12yo and 21yo 100 proof versions we had a couple of years ago in terms of profile. Mouth: perfect at this strength, a cohesive and singular profile all about minerality, waxes, delicate brittle peat smoke, white fruits and a stunningly oily and fatty texture and weight in the mouth. Nuff said! Apart from call that very specific brigade please… Finish: superbly long, salty, waxy, going even more decisively towards the coastal components now, even adding in a little citrus and more crystalline peat smoke. Comments: these old 80 proof, pale versions of the 12yo are bullet proof drams, probably the most emblematic and raw examples of Springbank distillery character from these decades. And to think this is just a dinky wee half bottle, probably snared from an off-license shelf somewhere around 1971!
SGP: 463 - 93 points.

 

 

Glen Garioch 30 yo 1971 (44.6%, OB for D&M Wines and Liquors, cask #2036, hogshead)

Glen Garioch 30 yo 1971 (44.6%, OB for D&M Wines and Liquors, cask #2036, hogshead)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: ooft! Stunningly peaty! Almost Brora 1972 but sharper, more mineral and profoundly on tars, smouldering herbs, coal ashes and pure peat embers in a hearth. Beyond that it also shares this Brora style farmyard quality but it sits a little lower in the mix, bringing up ideas of oily sheep wools, hessians, smoked olive oil, creosote fence posts and hot tar. Immensely precise and powerfully evocative whisky. What a stunning nose! Mouth: perhaps not as immediately astonishing as the nose, but this is still dominated by pure old school peat flavours. Savoury and drying peat smoke that is both crisp, fatty and salty, rather like a smouldering port scratching! But it manages to also be herbal, tarry and going towards medicinal things like iodine and eventually also camphor. A masterclass in 'old style peat flavour' you could say. I would not say it is hugely complex beyond that, but this singular focus on peat is quite astonishing and totally gorgeous. Also the physicality of it in the mouth with this very drying saltiness and the fat, almost greasy texture of the smoke are quite incredible. With time I also fine some stunning things like aged mead and salted honey, but it's easy to miss such things when you are being so flabbergasted by all the peat. Perhaps scratch what I said earlier, the palate matches the nose in my view, it's just a bit more slow burn. Finish: long, dominated by pure, drying peat smoke. Some coastal and farmyard specific elements beneath that, but really our lungs are inflating in a malt kiln sometime around, well, 1971 at Glen Garioch I suppose. Comments: perhaps one of the best examples yet of 'peated Glen Garioch' in the sense that it seems almost entirely about peat and the various manifestations and iterations of old style peat flavours and the way that can affect perceptions of texture and body.  
SGP: 467 - 94 points.

 

 

Highland Park 8 yo (43%, OB, Ferraretto Import 1970s)

Highland Park 8 yo (43%, OB, Ferraretto Import 1970s)
Some of these batches have a slightly shaky reputation it seems. I don't have too much experience with these iterations of HP I have to say. Let's proceed with an open mind… Colour: pale amber. Nose: a lovely salty and umami sherry, with herbal, medicinal and root peat notes underneath. I also find wee tertiary notes of treacle, tar and salted honey, it's all very 'old Highland Park'. Mouth: terrifically salty and with this wonderfully resinous old school sherry that incorporates a nice leafiness, tobaccos, sultanas and salted almonds. Getting saltier, more leathery and also with some familiar herbs and waxes. Finish: medium, rather sappy, peaty, herbal and still with this salty sherry vibe. Comments: it's a simple and very direct take on old school Highland Park, but features many pleasures.
SGP: 564 - 88 points.

 

 

Highland Park 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, -/+ 1975)

Highland Park 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, -/+ 1975)
These batches can vary quite a bit in my experience but are almost always top class. I tend to prefer the paler batches, which today is good news because… Colour: bright straw. Nose: an impeccable and almost brittle maritime freshness! Ozone, Atlantic bluster (get a grip already, Angus!) and many evocative impressions of beach foam, rock pools and things like sandalwood and crushed seashells. There's also a very fine-grained, dry peat smoke threading its way between all this, a rather chalky smokiness in fact. Typical, naked and excellent, bone dry old HP! With water: really on medicinal balms, dried herbs and citrus rinds now, even a hint of lemon liqueur and wee pollen notes. Mouth: superbly salty, sharply on lemons, grapefruit and gloriously honeyed waxy notes. Citrons, herbal liqueurs and things like tea tree oil, tiger balm and heather ales. It tends towards the austere side with this drier overall profile, but it packs in such charisma, class and personality that it's hard not to be taken in by the power of the distillate. With water: stunningly herbal, perfectly coastal and really drilling into this beautiful fusion of honeys, waxes and background, earthy peat smoke. Finish: long, smouldering with distant peat smoke, peppery notes, camphor, seashore impressions and herbal teas. Comments: these old HP 100 proofs by G&M are a law and a style unto themselves, totally riddled with distillery character, yet also seemingly wildly varying from batch to batch, era to era - what unifies them is that they are always utterly brilliant whiskies. 
SGP: 464 - 93 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 12 yo 'Selection No.1' (91.4 US proof, Prime Malt, 1970s)

Laphroaig 12 yo 'Selection No.1' (91.4 US proof, Prime Malt, 1970s)
There's quite a few versions of these Prime Malts out there, but the ones that state Laphroaig tend to be the safest bets in my view. I already tried a bottle of this one in Japan some years ago thanks to our great friend Emmanuel Dron. However, you never know about batches or bottle variations etc. Let's try to keep this quick and purely for science. Colour: gold. Nose: completely and utterly stunning I'm afraid to say. An exquisite and intoxication fusions of exotic fruits, medicines and old school, highly aromatic peat smoke - to the extent that it rather becomes its own aroma. I'm sure I've written on these pages before that I would class 'old style Laphroaig' alongside something similarly singular and identifiable like 'Pinot Noir' or 'garlic'. Anyway, I think that's enough about this nose, anti maltoporn brigade etc, etc…I wrote down 'other flavours' last time I tasted it, should you be interested in that sort of fine-tuned geekery. Mouth: same comments, just stunning. Breathtakingly fine salinity, layered peat smoke, crystallised and ripe exotic fruits intermingling. Hypnotic old Laphroaig that drags you along in its wake. Nuff' said. Finish: long, layered, hugely complex and stunningly fresh. Comments: I gave it 93 last time, but there's a very particular fusion of beauty, power and precision about this bottling that I think could probably merit one more of these silly points. Could be a different batch but who knows or cares.
SGP: 666 - 94 points.

 

 

Macallan-Glenlivet 22 yo (86 US Proof, OB, British American Importation USA, b1950s)

Macallan-Glenlivet 22 yo (86 US Proof, OB, British American Importation USA, b1950s)
There are many fakes with this label out there, but this one comes from an impeccable source and should be the genuine article. It's also worth noting that according the electric hydrometer, the actual ABV of this one is now 40.5%, which isn't too bad considering it was bottled at 43% over six decades ago! Colour: orangey amber. Nose: extraordinarily herbal and with a super old school salty, resinous and earthy sherry profile that also incorporates a stunningly drying, equally old school peat. Beautiful aromas of bitter marmalade, long aged yellow Chartreuse, aged Drambuie, crystallised ginger, heather honey and many more obscure liqueurs like the tar and fir varieties. Really this is a pre-WWII style of malt whisky that didn't even exist by the 1950s I would say. What a nose! Mouth: it has obviously lost a little power, but it retains this stunningly earthy, rooty and drying peat smoke that recalls many glorious Highland Parks of similar production era. Tar liqueurs,  orange cordial, herbal syrups and cocktail bitters, eucalyptus oil and wormwood. This is truly 'Liqueur Scotch Whisky' - and strictly very little to do with modern malt whisky. Finish: surprisingly long given the up-front softness on the palate, I would even say it gathers power right into the aftertaste, returning to these variations on saltiness, pristine old school sherry, tar and herbal liqueurs, crystallised flower honeys and even impressions of very old Sauternes. Comments: you can't help but be left wondering at how this has evolved in bottle, the peat and the sugar-derived fruity flavours in particular feel like they are the result of decades of very slow sub-division. I suppose you could say that this is the sort of bottling that Macallan build a reputation upon, but then this is really from an era before that (at this time, Glen Grant was the name in malt whisky). Anyway, it loses one or two points technically on the palate due to slight loss of power, but we are still flying high and I suspect a bottle with a higher filling level and in good condition would be comfortably around the 94/95 level.
SGP: 654 - 93 points. 

 

 

Glen Grant 'Highland Malt Whisky Distilled April, 1920. Bottled October, 1943 at its virgin strength 1.0 underproof for Mr Duncan MacLeod'

Glen Grant 'Highland Malt Whisky Distilled April, 1920. Bottled October, 1943 at its virgin strength 1.0 underproof for Mr Duncan MacLeod'
An incredibly rare bottle that was presumably done as a private bottling for Mr Duncan MacLeod. I put my Anton Parr electric hydrometer in this and the reading was 56.3%, which ties in with the stated 1.0 underproof, 'proof' being 57.1%, or thereabouts. The chances to try genuine malt whisky at cask strength from this era is astonishingly scarce so we're feeling suitably excited by this one. Colour: pale gold.

 

 

Nose: astonishing power and freshness, and vividly 'old style', which is to day dominated by a very fat waxiness and many aromas of soot, oily sheep wool, hessians, camphor, wood resins and medicinal roots and herbs. This familiar feeling of nosing extremely long aged herbal liqueurs that I find so often in pre-war distillates. Given time though it evolves is some quite breathtaking directions with a crisp and exquisitely intricate peat smoke, combined with very chiselled and taut mineral qualities and even notes of crystallised citrus fruits, dried heather flower and flower honeys. I even start to find a beautifully light menthol and minty note. Stunning evolution and complexity. At this ABV I feel confident we can also add some water, which we hardly ever do with such old bottles. With water: with only three drops it adds more detail to the herbal and honey components, more floral notes and a broader peat smoke note. Still totally beautiful, dominating whisky. Mouth: incredible, breathtaking fatness, texture and waxiness, I'm reminded of the 21yo 100 proof OB Springbank that we tried last year (WF96!) Similar impressions of crystallised fruits and honeys, many intricate herbal and medicinal notes, and also a beautiful, rooty and perfectly dry background peat flavour. Just amazing and rather mind-melting. With water: becomes even bigger and broader, incredible, menthol peat smoke, fat oily cereals, the texture is just incredible and almost chewable. Finish: very long, thrillingly full of herbs, medicines, roots and wee hints of tar liqueur and olive oil. More of that stunning organic, deep peat glowing in the aftertaste. Comments: a true liquid time capsule in stunning condition. These sorts of whiskies are the ultimate refutation of the notion that Scotch Malt Whisky has not changed profoundly over the decades. This one was preserved at a perfect strength and shows a mature yet still extremely distillate forwards profile. It's also one of those rare spirits that totally dominates you and all you can do as a taster is follow the ride. I've gone for 95 but emotionally this would be considerably higher, one of the great tasting experiences of my life. Thank you, Iain.
SGP: 464 - 95 points.

 

 

Glen Moray 42 yo 1962/2005 (50.9%, OB, sherry)

Glen Moray 42 yo 1962/2005 (50.9%, OB, sherry)
Colour: amber. Nose: beautiful fruity and leafy mature sherry profile, one that also adopts into the mix figs baked in honey, very old Fins Bois cognac, dried mint leaf, camphor and feelings of very old sauternes and mead. I also find wee notes of aged plum wine and a gentle waxiness. A beautifully polished and rich aroma. With water: becomes more aromatically spicy with cupboard and wood spices alongside some lovely exotic hardwood resins, there's also suggestions of pot pourri and classical things like marzipan and golden sultanas. I find it generally fatter and more on camphors and fir wood resins too. Overall a totally gorgeous nose! Mouth: great balance despite the age, there's some bite from the wood but I find it well contained amongst all these plummy dark fruits. Lots of things like fig, sultana and prune stewed in old Armagnac, some more feelings of gentle minty notes, some leafy tobacco and unlit cigars, then a lovely resinous and dense crystallised citrus fruit quality that also suggests top notch bitter orange marmalades too. With water: opens wonderfully, full of dried flowers still full of pollens, crystallised honeys, aged mead, camphor and a nicely building sense of rancio and old herbal extracts. Finish: long, herbal, honeyed and full of things like beeswax, herbal teas and many dried fruits. Comments: does nothing to dispel the view  that Glen Moray can age superbly well, or that it remains one of Speyside's greatest makes. I had it at 92 but a water propelled it even higher, a gorgeous old drop where the palate manages to keep pace with the nose, which so often isn't the case at this age.
SGP: 561 - 93 points.

 

 

Glen Moray 30 yo 1959/1989 (44.1%, Kingsbury, sherry butt)

Glen Moray 30 yo 1959/1989 (44.1%, Kingsbury, sherry butt)
There's a clutch of indy 1959 Glen Morays out there and they all carry a hefty reputation - Samaroli in particular (WF93). Colour: deep amber. Nose: exquisite and extremely classical old sherry, dominated by damp tobaccos, plums in armagnac, quince jelly, old balsamic and walnut wine. Given time I love the rising prevalence of all these soft, very juicy dark fruits that keep coming. It is also, as you may expect, extremely clean with the perfect suggestion of saltiness. Mouth: stunningly fresh and darkly fruity sherry that continues all the themes of the nose with aplomb. Perhaps leaning slightly more towards heavier balsamic and rancio notes, more pickled walnuts, date molasses, dried strawberry and herbal bitters. Still a stunning and effortless example of a perfect old school sherry butt though, not at all too drying or bitter at any stage. Finish: long and more focused on dried herbs, tobacco leaf, bitter dark chocolate and dried dark fruits such as classic raisin and sultana notes. Comments: I thought this one might edge the OB, but actually I like them just the same as each other, even though this one is far more densely sherried. Old Glen Moray ay?
SGP: 461 - 93 points.

 

 

Scapa 1958/1985 (52%, Samaroli, 180 bottles)

Scapa 1958/1985 (52%, Samaroli, 180 bottles)
We tried the 46% version of this one back in 2018 and were impressed, to say the least (WF95), but we've never tried the 52% version - until now! Colour: gold. Nose: the most glorious mash up of metal polishes, sooty coal scuttles, herbal liqueurs, wormwood, medicinal balms and embrocations and all that totally drenched in waxes and wood oils. There's also many resinous aspects such as fir wood, tea tree oil and more mentholated impressions of eucalyptus and many types of fruit and herbal teas. A stunning old school profile that frankly doesn't exist anywhere today. With water: amazing coastal freshness coming now, wet rocks, pebbles, minerals and light salty notes, I'm also finding it awakening a lot more vivid fruits such as some beautiful crystallised tropical fruits. Mouth: hugely thick and resinous but also full of body and texture and dominated by more waxes - beeswax and pure honeycomb - more oils such as olive oil and various things that make you think of shoe polish, tiger balm, wintergreen, fennel seed and gentian root. This beguiling profile that manages to be medicinal without necessarily being peaty - or is that just a very specific type of peat that was rarely used elsewhere? Reminds me of a very similar and singular 1965 Dalwhinnie by the SMWS. With water: hugely on camphor, wet wool, crystallised honeycomb, hessians, bouillon stock and impressions of natural tar and cedar wood. Immense and extremely textural, waxy whisky. Finish: long and glowing with honeys, waxes, aged teas, medicinal roots and myriad herbal notes. Stunningly honeyed and waxy aftertaste. Comments: I think I probably preferred the 46% by a single notch, from memory, but there are no quibbles: this is still a legendary masterpiece of a bottling. One day, if we are lucky enough, perhaps we can find a way to do a side by side comparison of the two versions. After all, with several many decades now in glass, the two bottlings will not only have diverged, but the individual bottles will be starting to go their own paths too. Stunning whisky that is so much about texture and distillate character.
SGP: 663 - 94 points.

 

 

For this very silly session I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Iain M, Michi, KC, Mark L, Cicada and Connas. Hugs all round gents!

 

 

 

Wgiskyfun 101

  Why We Also Taste Rare Spirits
It's always very flattering when whisky enthusiasts consider that Whiskyfun is a public service that should primarily taste spirits that are easily accessible and well-priced, while at the same time avoiding rare, inaccessible, and overly expensive bottles that are relevant only to a few lucky (or very savvy) individuals on our planet. Thank you, it's a real compliment for me and a sign of trust, as it means that you think we at WF are capable of guiding your choices and are worthy of your trust. Not so sure about that... And we are neither a public service with obligations, nor a paid service that must fulfill its commitments, not even towards advertisers or companies to which we might be affiliated, because we don't do any of that. Or, send us a 10,000€ cheque and we can start to talk. I'm joking. Peace, love. - S.
 

September 8, 2023


Whiskyfun

Another low-carbon world whisky tour

No carbon index on our bottles yet, so no guilt-tripping at this point, but I'm sure it's coming… In the meantime, and before Musk starts to build interconnected clean-distilling units all over the world (Glen X), let's start today's little trip from France, as usual.

Picture: The 100-litre still that I've been using every year for thirty years with my friends to distill fruits or pomace in the courtyard of Whiskyfun Towers. Fifteen years ago, we even redistilled about fifty litres of whisky (shh, it's unofficial). In Alsace we are allowed to distill as individuals because when the French state abolished this practice, well, we were, temporarily, German. PS: this nifty, state-of-the-art still is fitted with a water-jacket.

 

 

Agot 'Pioneer Edition' (46%, OB, Spain, 2023)

Agot 'Pioneer Edition' (46%, OB, Spain, 2023) Two stars
It is 'Single Malt Basque Whisky', you understand. Silly me, I had thought it would have been the French part of the Basque country, but naturally, Spain is just as good. Colour: very pale white wine. No caramel, bravo. Nose: porridge banana curry cardamom dill caraway vanilla plums. It's young but it's neat, possibly a little bit on the fruity side. I haven't checked their stills, but I know that thousands (perhaps not thousands) of new distillers have bought single-run Stupflers, or Holsteins, which, in my meagre experience, would tend to make fruitier and lighter whiskies. Now not many good people can afford a solid pair of proper pot stills Scottish-style. Mouth: between sweet gin, genever and aquavit. Caraway all over the place, plus applejack and beer eau-de-vie. It's good that they wouldn't have buried it under tons of vanilla-rich oak. Finish: a little short, with touches of aniseed and more caraway. Hoppy aftertaste. Comments: rather some Charentais? I find it pretty good, just not extremely whisky-y.

SGP:540 - 76 points.

Since we're in Spain…

Liber 'Embrujo de Granada' (40%, OB, Spain, +/-2022)

Liber 'Embrujo de Granada' (40%, OB, Spain, +/-2022)
We've tried an earlier Embrujo ten years ago, which had been rather drinkable but pretty poor (WF 55). I'm sure they have improved the make and let's not forget the wonderful deep-sherried indie Libers that we've tried within the last two or three years.  Colour: pale gold. Nose: massive sulphur, hard-boiled eggs, cabbage water, cheese, gym socks, dill and caraway, old genever indeed. Well well well, let's get ready for the… Mouth: I would say no. Caraway and juniper, plus indeed sulphur, struck matches, gunpowder… Also old fats, it's getting oddly gamey too… Finish: short, more leathery. Comments: whoops; no luck this time. They should depp-rinse their casks before filling. We might need to focus on the wonderful Libers by the Spanish Whisky Club. Lemon Prize this month, for sure.

SGP:353 - 25 points.

Back to France…

Ninkasi 'Chardonnay' (46%, OB, France, +/-2022)

Ninkasi 'Chardonnay' (46%, OB, France, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
This single malt is stemming from the region of Lyons. They are also brewers and have garnered a good reputation, which is not that easy since everyone's making whisky in France these days. Well, actually, I know three or four guys who do not. What's more, they say the only folks who really made a lot of money during the gold rush were the guys who were selling shovels, I deeply hope it's not going to be the same with still makers and dealers (esp. the smart Charentais). Colour: straw. Nose: nice, on banana, chamomile, custard, cassata and nougat, with a little pineapple in the background. Touch of wormwood. Mouth: nice indeed, fruity, close to brandy, with elderberries, pineapple again, prickly pears, peaches, aniseed and verbena… Not too sure about what's coming from the wine and what was in the distillate in the first place. Finish: short to medium, fruity, light not thin. Comments: it's the eternal question, can you make malt whisky outside of a real pair of authentic, bespoke pot stills? And do Charentais stills count? Nah, a very fine drop, very pleasant with its lighter style. It's also interesting to note, on the packaging, the emphasis on the grape variety as if it were a bottle of... wine.
SGP:730 - 78 points.

Long time no Bimber, which is intolerable…

Bimber 'Ex-Bourbon Cask Batch No.4' (51.2%, OB, England, 2023)

Bimber 'Ex-Bourbon Cask Batch No.4' (51.2%, OB, England, 2023) Four stars
Bimber and bourbon, it's like, say Chichibu and bourbon, it's the wining combination in my book. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's Venus emerging from the waters. Pure barley (they use their own, which is perfect) and amazing citrus (no particular fruits, just citrus). Vanilla under control, lousy coconut nowhere to be seen, let's move on. With water: bits of copper and silver, service berries (eau-de-vie), small pink bananas, one croissant (they have excellent French bakeries in London). Mouth (neat): immaculate small citrus, herbs and wild berries. Sorb, yuzu, Thai coriander, tiny touch of turmeric from the oak. With water: a little more oak spice, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger… Oh well, just don't add any waters. Finish: rather long, still a little creamy on your palate, with a lovely citrusness in the end (no particular fruits, just citrus). Comments: perhaps not totally the best Bimber ever, but it still flies very, very high.

SGP:641 - 87 points.

Twelve 'Blue Onyx' (57%, OB, France, 450 bottles)

Twelve 'Blue Onyx' (57%, OB, France, 450 bottles) Three stars
Aged in re-toasted PX wood, in a wet warehouse. And off you go, concepts from cognac (or teas) used in whisky. Why not… The distillery is located in France's central mountains, in the city of Laguiole. Colour: gold. Nose: some mineral peat, as we sometimes say. Very nice chalk and slate, plus bits of copper and rubber. It's not dirty at all but it is a tad garagey, as Brora could be. I'm serious. With water: leather polish, slight curry, bay leaves, pine needles, plus a lovely muddy side, rainwater, leather, coal smoke… Mouth (neat): cleanly smoky for a quarter of a second, then massively spicy and raisiny, and that's the wood. Huge notes of bitter walnuts. Water will sort this out… With water: power PX, power spices and power grassy smoke. Not much that you can do, the more water you add, the more it brings all of this out. Big curry. Finish: long, spicy, with pencil shavings, pinewood, cedarwood. Comments: awesome, just a little over the top, if I may. I'm sure some quieter wood and a little more time would propel this juice to global fame.
SGP:664 - 80 points.

Distillerie de Soligny 'Le Chant du Coq #1' (46%, OB, France, 2022)

Distillerie de Soligny 'Le Chant du Coq #1' (46%, OB, France, 2022) Two stars and a half
I don't think this is whisky, as it shouldn't be 3 yet. The distillery is located in the Aube, think south of the Champagne region. I like it that they would mention the year of the harvest (2020) rather than when it was distilled (2021), in true 'terroir' manner. Same as, say in Cognac. Colour: straw. Nose: to be honest many young French whiskies that I could try have been a little heavy on the oak and light on the distillate, and naturally, that's because of the stills they use, I insist. Having said that, this one's fine, porridgey, with 'some sense of barley', some muesli, overripe apples, some cider… In short, nothing to complain about. Mouth: typical. Rather thin core, but it's to be said that the wood they've used was first-grade, was it some ex-Champagne wood? Burgundy? More porridge and muesli, sour apples, hints of spent lees, white peaches… Finish: medium, with a little more cask impact perhaps, some honey, the perennial oak shavings… Comments: love, love, utterly love all these new whiskymakers; at least, their souls are pure. This Chant du Coq was excellent.

SGP:551 - 79 points.

One thing I wonder, though, wouldn't it be possible to have a pair of genuine pot stills mounted on a truck, to do real mobile distillation and prevent all these brilliant people from using stills that were not designed for whisky in the first place? Because whisky, or at least malt whisky, is mainly about body, is it not. No body, no malt whisky. Who's game?

 

September 7, 2023


Whiskyfun

Just a few more Glen Garioch

We noticed yesterday that the quality of the recent vintages, at least those that the independents can get their hands on, was very high and resembled the rich and waxy style of some Northern Highlands. Let's continue, if you will..

Glen Garioch
Andrew Wood (Geograph)

 

 

Glen Garioch 13 yo 2010/2023 (55.6%, Maltbarn, sherry cask, 168 bottles)

Glen Garioch 13 yo 2010/2023 (55.6%, Maltbarn, sherry cask, 168 bottles) Three stars and a half
Always a joy to try whisky from the ever-reliable and wonderfully unboisterous Maltbarn. Colour: gold. Nose: rather rich, fully on orange blossom water (baklavas and other oriental pastries) and warm beeswax, fresh putty, tarte tatin and some more regular apple pie, with a little praline, fudge, nougat, the expected walnut cake… With water: wonderful coffee and praline. Mouth (neat): intense, almost a little violent, very peppery for starters, a little astringent, with bitter nuts (almonds, walnuts), leaves and those bitter cider apples. Water should help. With water: it does indeed, this baby was tough on the palate when undiluted. Nutshell, more walnut cake, bitter marmalade and Walker's coffee toffee. No, no, we don't do any product placement on Whiskyfun, I promise, neither do we do any affiliation. Finish: still a little bitter and tough (cinnamon mints, chlorophyll) but we're more than fine. Comments: It's possible that the leafy sherry and the rather full-bodied whisky stepped on each other's toes a bit.

SGP:361 - 84 points.

Glen Garioch 18 yo 2003/2021 (58.7, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #19.51, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 'Comfy and Cosy', 210 bottles)

Glen Garioch 18 yo 2003/2021 (58.7, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #19.51, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 'Comfy and Cosy', 210 bottles) Four stars and a half
Looks like they've bottled a lot of Glen Garioch in 2021. Let's see if this sister cask is a god as yesterday's 19.62. Colour: pale gold. Nose: totally on green tea, apple peel, bitter zests and chalk when unreduced. I'm not finding it very 'comfy' this far. With water: terrific beetroots, gentian, new leather, celeriac, touch of 'good' soap brought by dilution (we shan't wait until it would go away)… Mouth (neat): tough and powerful, but pretty brilliant on the palate. Very punchy bitter oranges, squash, Schweppes', gin and tonic indeed, cardamom, juniper… Big boy. Comfy and cosy, really? Not too sure but we do love the SMWS's creativity as far as names are concerned. After all, they've been mentioning my own moustache wax a while back. With water: perfect, salty and lemony. Salted grapefruit juice, caipirinha… Finish: long, zesty, vigorous, chalky, lemon, waxy… Comments: it's not comfy and cosy at all in my book, but who cares, it's fab whisky. I suppose no one would buy it if they had written 'Dangerously Toxic' or anything like that.

SGP:561 - 88 points.

Sister cask please…

Glen Garioch 18 yo 2003/2021 (58.3, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #19.50, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 'A Special Treat', 186 bottles)

Glen Garioch 18 yo 2003/2021 (58.3, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #19.50, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 'A Special Treat', 186 bottles) Four stars
Alright, they didn't rack their brains too much to come up with a name this time. Colour: straw. Nose: similar, but grassier and chalkier, as if the barrel had been a little less active, although I would also find traces of coconut wine. Let's see… With water: mint leaves, bay leaves, roots, waxes, fresh oak, celeriac… All that is perfect. Mouth (neat): who's just mentioned caipirinha? But this GG is actually ultra-tart when unreduced, it's almost concentrated lemon juice, with just a little barley syrup. With water: gentler exotic fruits coming out, bananas, mangos, papayas… It was a good barrel. Finish: long, zestier again, closer to #19.51, chalky, peppery, grassy, lemony… Comments: everyone will agree with the name this time; it truly is a special treat.
SGP:561 – 87 points.

A little one from the old days…

Glengarioch 1989/2010 (48.9%, Romantic Rhine Collection, sherry octave, cask #465377, 71 bottles)

Glengarioch 1989/2010 (48.9%, Romantic Rhine Collection, sherry octave, cask #465377, 71 bottles) Three stars and a half
Glengarioch, that's Duncan Taylor's way of writing Glen Garioch, is it not. Colour: rich gold. Nose: pure walnut cake, paraffin, mustard, tomato leaves, rubber, coffee dregs, a little compost, sawdust… A pretty rich nose from when those octaves could be a little 'too much' in my book. All the recent ones I could try have been rather gentler and, say better integrated.  Mouth: rich, leafy, with a lot of liquorice, black tea, a lot of sweet thyme liqueur, cherry liqueur, cedarwood… Finish: long, spicier, with a little oak, otherwise those liqueurs, cherry, chartreuse, walnuts… Peppery aftertaste. Comments: a little extreme, a little anecdotal, but worth trying, absolutely. In fact, I like its power.

SGP:472 - 83 points.

Glen Garioch 30 yo 1991/2022 (41.4%, Whisky Sponge, bourbon and Port, 175 bottles)

Glen Garioch 30 yo 1991/2022 (41.4%, Whisky Sponge, bourbon and Port, 175 bottles) Four stars and a half
After twenty years in a Port barrique, I suppose you could safely state that this one was 'matured in Port wood', so let's not expect any pink oddities… Colour: amber. Nose: I would say between Madeira and Port, possibly even white Port. You're actually having the feeling of nosing a box of Partagas, plus some very old balsamico, coffee-schnapps, hoisin, some roasted sesame oil, American smoky barbecue sauce, walnut stain, soft soap, old leather polishes, a drop of marmite, some mocha… There really is a lot happening and all is beautiful, it is absolutely not a Porty Port. In short, no cassis. Mouth: perhaps a tad more, say organic and anarchic, with very heavy walnuts, amontillado, basalt, stone dusts, tobacco, salty bouillons, teriyaki sauce, glutamate, artichoke, Cynar… Old walnuts are clearly running the show here, some tough old armagnac as well. Finish: very long, on umami, bitter herbal liqueurs, Unicum, Underberg… Heavy chestnut honey and fir honeydew in the aftertaste. Comments: almost some sauce, a little insane, avant-garde, experimental… Love it because of that.

SGP:472 - 89 points.

Alright, I think we've had a good little tour, we'll stop here, but let's just have one last old GG by The Sponge...

Glen Garioch 33 yo 1988/2022 (44.6%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, 145 bottles)

Glen Garioch 33 yo 1988/2022 (44.6%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, 145 bottles) Five stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: exactly the opposite, this is all softness, complexity, gentleness, with some soft herbal teas, ripe fruits and many flowers. Mirabelles and chamomile, dandelions and quinces, touches of Barbour grease and ski wax, hints of patchouli, vetiver, benzoin, green oranges (Hermès's), overripe apples in the cellar, a drop of honeydew, a drop of pine resin, sauna oil… It is very complex indeed, in a fractal way, I'm afraid we could go on for ages. Mouth: some mentholy oak and green tea at first, with some honey inside, then some cough syrup, liquorice tea, lemon and cinnamon tea, half a cup of lapsang souchong (lightly tarry), leaves and pine needles, eucalyptus… Finish: medium, with almonds, menthol, citron and eucalyptus syrup. Comments: it feels like the wood and the distillate have been fighting for a good twenty years, that no one won in the end, and that peace was signed. It's a very nice feeling and a superb old Glen Garioch, unless you detest any hint of wood.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

These Sponges have made for perfect encores.

(Thank you KC)

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

 

September 6, 2023


Whiskyfun

Grouped shot with Glen Garioch

Will Glen Garioch regain its unique peatiness that the distillery graced us with in the 1970s? And the splendid sherries of the 1960s? Let's taste a few, more or less at random, and try to find out… That said, there were also magnificent fat and fruity versions in the 1990s. Let's kick this off with youngest we have in the box…

Glen Garioch
Anne Burgess (Geograph)

 

 

Glen Garioch 5 yo 2012/2018 (50%, Scotland Grindlay's Selection, cask #1200002406, 236 bottles)

Glen Garioch 5 yo 2012/2018 (50%, Scotland Grindlay's Selection, cask #1200002406, 236 bottles) Three stars and a half
How young this was! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: slivovitz and umeshu, pears poached in sweet white wine, stout, Ovaltine, chicory coffee… With water: the barley's coming out, together with some vanillin and soft herbal teas. Mouth (neat): very sweet, and almost totally on ripe plums and pears. The eaux-de-vie made out of those fruits that we usually drink tend to be older, and always aged in glass; it's true that white eaux-de-vie benefit even more from bottle aging than spirits previously aged in wood. With water: eau-de-vie de barley. Finish: medium, a tad greener, grassier, quite some custard and sweet ale in the aftertaste. Comments: one of those intriguing modern youngsters that are better than they should be.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

Glen Garioch 8 yo 2011/2020 (55%, Dram Mor, bourbon, cask #2697, 241 bottles, 2020)

Glen Garioch 8 yo 2011/2020 (55%, Dram Mor, bourbon, cask #2697, 241 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Angus almost fell in love with this one a while back (WF 88). Colour: white wine. Nose: I understand why. It's a very crisp, clean, yet fattish Glen Garioch, with apples, gooseberries, mirabelles and lighter honeys (dandelion and acacia). Some fresh marzipan too, a pack of Mozart Kugeln, rather a lot of sesame oil, karite butter… This is the kind of fatness I was alluding to. With water: some rhubarb tarte, with custard and meringue please. Mouth (neat): more on raw lemons this time, cactus, fresh agave… It is both very zesty and fat, which is greatly… Meursaulty. With water: excellent, incredibly full-bodied, with lemon oil, chilli, honeycomb (lovely to chew on provided no bees are around). Finish: long, on granny smith drizzled with lemon and a little white mezcal. Limoncello in the aftertaste. Comments: naturally, Angus was right.

SGP:661 - 87 points.

Glen Garioch 11 yo 2011/2022 (55.2%, Fadandel, 1st fill ruby Port barrique finish, cask #2704, 48 bottles)

Glen Garioch 11 yo 2011/2022 (55.2%, Fadandel, 1st fill ruby Port barrique finish, cask #2704, 48 bottles) Three stars and a half
Perhaps a baby barrique (which wouldn't be a barrique then, but there)... Ruby Port and Glen Garioch, could be Ozzy doing Bach, let's see… Colour: blush/partridge eye. Nose: wine and raspberry vinegars, then rose petals and peonies, horse saddle and pipe tobacco. This is very specific, as they would say in Brussels. With water: mushrooms, paprika, raspberries, more pipe tobacco. Fun, good fun. Mouth (neat): blood oranges and a lot of pepper. A little mad on the palate, perhaps. With water: almost miraculous. Raspberry liqueur, mustard and salt, anyone? Finish: long, rather rich, but the raspberries keep lifting it. Comments: pure fun. I don't think they would release two thousand magnums of this, but it's got its charms and, as they also say in Brussels, idiosyncrasies.
SGP:751 - 84 points.

Glen Garioch 10 yo 2011/2022 (48.5%, Decadent Drinks, Equinox & Solstice)

Glen Garioch 10 yo 2011/2022 (48.5%, Decadent Drinks, Equinox & Solstice) Four stars and a half
DD/Sponge were also having much older Garioch, we'll try to taste a few later one within this session. Colour: white wine. Nose: Glen Garioch as in Glen Garioch, with apples that have fallen to the ground (well, apples and earth), as well as greengage plums, shoe polish, paraffin, melon skins, and a little white beer... This malt has quite a bit of personality, you can already tell from the nose. Mouth: there is a kind of grassy smoke, some chalk, oils, peppers, some mead, chouchen, ale… It's really not an easy-easy GG, I mean it's relatively fat, corpulent, appropriately fat, it's even got some kind of waxiness ala Clynelish. Finish: long, waxy, almost thick, and yet refreshing. Which also means 'dangerous'. Comments: serve it blind to your enthusiastic friends, they should locate it further North on the East Coast.

SGP:562 - 88 points.

Glen Garioch 10 yo 2013/2023 (57.1%, Dram Mor, cask #1005, 225 bottles)

Glen Garioch 10 yo 2013/2023 (57.1%, Dram Mor, cask #1005, 225 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: ha, Doritos Sweet Chilli Pepper. There's been some smart flavouring going on; even if Glen Garioch have increased their percentage of peated malt in recent years, which remains to be proven, I doubt they went as far as what we have in our tasting glass right now. In order of appearance, peat, gentian, earth, roots, vanilla, lemon liqueur, beach sand, cough syrup, ginger. With water: samphire, seaweed, green pepper, candlewax… Mouth (neat): feels like a peppery CI. With water: good apples, lemons, peat, seawater and one oyster. Say No.3. Finish: medium, on similar Islayan notes. Comments: of course that works, even more so because Glen Garioch offers this rather oily texture.
SGP:554 - 85 points.

Glen Garioch 12 yo (46%, Canmore, bourbon barrel, 287 bottles, 2023)

Glen Garioch 12 yo (46%, Canmore, bourbon barrel, 287 bottles, 2023) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: fine, fat and fruity. Apples, sunflower oil, candlewax, barley syrup, vanilla, dried figs, grenadine syrup. That last part is 'funny'. Mouth: this could have been an official. Some tropicalness this time, around mangos and small pink bananas, plus some peach-flavoured iced tea, a huge hit for several summers now. It is a very easy, very good Glen Garioch in my opinion. Finish: medium, still fruity, this time more on papayas and oranges. Comments: actually, I'm not sure I would have said Glen Garioch. I'm really fond of these tropical fruits – a little less happy about that peach-flavoured iced tea but that's personal. Very good surprise, once more.

SGP:741 - 85 points.

Glen Garioch 18 yo 2003/2021 (58.5, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #19.62, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 'A tweed-clad mango', 168 bottles)

Glen Garioch 18 yo 2003/2021 (58.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #19.62, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 'A tweed-clad mango', 168 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: this one's ueber-waxy, really. We're in a candle-shop somewhere in California. Mango-scented candles? That could be a hit… With water: I think I get the tweed! And a lot of lemongrass too, coriander, basil, Thai food…. Mouth (neat): it is super-good, even more citrusy than expected, more on lime, mangos indeed, and always these waxes. Terrific, just a tad hot. With water: all is fine now. A wonderfully refreshing Glen Garioch. Finish: rather long, tarter, chalkier, more sauvignony in other words. Comments: I didn't remember that Glen Garioch could be this 'tropical'. One loses touch quickly…

SGP:751 - 87 points.

Glengarioch 10 yo 2012/2022 (53.4%, Duncan Taylor, cask #461200002245, 260 bottles)

Glengarioch 10 yo 2012/2022 (53.4%, Duncan Taylor, cask #461200002245, 260 bottles) Four stars and a half
Did they, indeed, fill as many as 461 billion casks at Glen Garioch? To think that this one was filled in June 2012, which would suggest they actually fill one trillion casks over one single year. Impressed, we are. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pear juice, apple juice, chalk, drop of diesel oil. I agree that was fast. With water: only apple juice and chalk, actually. Tiny rubber. Mouth (neat): oh, excellent! Chalky apples, pepper and Sancerre. That's all. With water: pinch of salt. Awesome Finish: rather long, as vertical and blade-y as whisky can get. Comments: the beauty of ultimate simplicity in malt whisky, great cask by DT.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Last one, perhaps more tomorrow…

Glen Garioch 12 yo 2009/2021 (62.4%, Pin-Xin Whisky Shop, Taiwan, Ronin Series, barrel, cask #653, 202 bottles)

Glen Garioch 12 yo 2009/2021 (62.4%, Pin-Xin Whisky Shop, Taiwan, Ronin Series, barrel, cask #653, 202 bottles) Four stars
It's amazing how lively the whisky scene is in Taiwan! These excellent folks at Pin-Xin are located in the city of Kaohsiung. Colour: straw. Nose: this one's a bit more closed, which is normal at 62% vol. More dough, bread, orange blossom, eaux-de-vie, limestone, orange zests… With water: as we sometimes say, it's a liquid panettone. It's not that that doesn't exist in real life, but they really messed up the manufacturing in that case. Mouth (neat): it is almost some pure peach and grapefruit syrup on the palate, only with a lot of ethanol. But then again, 62% and smidgens... With water: peaches, apples, melons, lemongrass, a little sourness, a little oak. Finish: long, tight, focused on apples. A little honey, oak and more liquid panettone. Comments: excellent, but It's always a bit challenging to properly dilute a spirit that's been bottled at such a high proof. Unless you have a lot of time and maybe an electronic pipette.
SGP:641 - 86 points.

More GG next time.

 

Wgiskyfun 101

  Glen Garioch and bottle aging

It's a Glen Garioch by Samaroli that undoubtedly represents the most perfect and legendary example of what we call "bottle aging." It is the Glen Garioch 1971 (59.6%, Samaroli, 2280 bottles, sherry) which was bottled at just 8 or 9 years old around 1980. After many years of resting in the bottle, it acquired the incredible complexity typical of much older whiskies. Admittedly, we hadn't tasted it at the time of bottling, which we now regret (but we were very young, ha), and any direct comparison is impossible, but Silvano Samaroli, a proponent of "bottle maturation" himself, explained to us that this Glen Garioch was, when he had selected it, extremely rough, rustic, and characteristic of a very young and robust Highlander not even 10 years old.

 

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

 

September 5, 2023


Whiskyfun

summer

WF's Summer Trios
Today Three Knockando

That'll be one OB and two IBs. Just like Glenrothes for example, Knockando too is losing its vintages that used to make its bottles stand out on supermarket shelves. I find it regrettable, but isn't cutting corners a general trend these days?... Well, as long as they do no Knockando Triple Oak (just everyone's current innovation), I'm fine.

 

 

Knockando 15 yo (43%, OB, richly Matured, +/-2023)

Knockando 15 yo (43%, OB, richly Matured, +/-2023) Four stars
Ex-refill bourbon and sherry. The latest 15 we've tried was still bearing a vintage mention, it as a 2005/2020, a little average I have to say (WF 79). Colour: light gold. Nose: deep porridge, cider, stewed plums, dry sherry, drop of umeshu, ale… But this is very nice! Well, I'm finding it very nice. They're right, who needs a vintage statement under these conditions ? (come on, S.) Mouth: perfectly fine, nutty and malty, in the style of several high-volume Speysiders, but with more maltiness, nuts, tobacco… Not to mention scones, cupcakes, muffins… Yes, we can have this neat little Knockando instead of a five o'clock afternoon tea, of course we can. Finish: medium, nutty and malty, with an excellent tea-y leafiness.  Comments: uncomplicated ueber-classic malty Speysider. Yeah, who needs vintages! Pretty excellent. You may cellar a few bottles, they're cheap.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

I would have thought the IBs would crush the official 15. Not too sure anymore…

Knockando 10 yo 2011/2022 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, dechar-rechar hogsheads, casks #306236, 306238, 306243, 30624, 306246)

Knockando 10 yo 2011/2022 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, dechar-rechar hogsheads, casks #306236, 306238, 306243, 30624, 306246) Three stars
Colour: white wine/straw. Nose: we're curiously close to the OB, which wasn't the case when we last did this kind of OB vs. IB combo. Having said that this one has more raw oak, more leaves and grasses, more porridge, more grist and more sour mustard. Tiny hints of baby v***t too, fermenting hay, lager... And then nougat from the burnt woods. Mouth: nicer on the palate, if a little sour and really full of heavier beers. Some sour apples, peach leaf tea, then muscovado. It's as malty as the OB. Finish: medium, both grassy and malty. Once again, muscovado makes it easier in the aftertaste. Comments: good robust malt, but earlier SigV UCF Knockandos have been even tougher in my book. In the hipflask or in a soup.

SGP:451 - 82 points.

Knockando 11 yo 2011/2022 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, 1st fill hogshead, cask #302550)

Knockando 11 yo 2011/2022 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, 1st fill hogshead, cask #302550) Three stars
Signatory stock, obviously. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pure porridge, rapeseed oil, old papers, croissants, crushed almonds and hazelnuts, grist, maize flour, elderflowers… I find it nice, really. Malt whisky totally al natural, with no oak and no wine in the way. Well, barely. Mouth: really good, on gueuze, a little cherry juice, cider, then more grass and green tea. Green pears, artichoke, amer bière, perhaps radicchio (chicory)… Some barley sweetness keeps it all 'not too bitter'. Finish: medium, on pretty much the same flavours. More bitters in the aftertaste. Quick, another sip… Comments: I would not score it differently. These indie Knockandos are a little intellectual  (say Fred Frith's latest recording, see what I mean).
SGP:361 - 82 points.

Last minute bonus, this one just in…

Knockando 10 yo 2011/2022 (47%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, Spirits of the Forest, dechar/rechar Hogshead, cask 306252, 329 bottles)

Knockando 10 yo 2011/2022 (47%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, Spirits of the Forest, dechar/rechar Hogshead, cask 306252, 329 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: there's something extra in this one, more sweetness, ripe bananas, plums, ripe apples, cakes, brioches, sweet woodruff tea, orange blossom… Not much from a forest though, just this woodruff. Having said that, I totally love woodruff, which we also call waldmeister. Here in Central Alsace, the surroundings are teeming with woodruff (and magical creatures including friendly tourists, ha)! Mouth: closer to its sisters on the palate, a tad tougher and tighter, more gristy and porridgey, but I'd swear I'm finding woodruff too, plus rather a lot of ultra-dry cider as they have in Bretagne. More cider apples, leaf teas, gentian tea (I like the eaux-de-vie better)… Finish: long, still very tight. Grassy, leafy, malty. Some sweetness back in the aftertaste, as well as lemons. Comments: It's true that when one mentions Knockando, one immediately thinks of a rather light, very classic, and somewhat round malt. In any case, this little beast offers nice potency without being too bitter.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

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

 

September 4, 2023


Whiskyfun

A new short journey among the whiskies of the world

Let's see what we'll have today… And kick this off from France, as we tend to do.

Kinglake Distillery's new Tasmanian-made pot still (Kinlake Distillery)

 

 

Ed Gwenn (46%, OB, Distillerie des Menhirs, Affinage Bourgogne, 2023)

Ed Gwenn (46%, OB, Distillerie des Menhirs, Affinage Bourgogne, 2023) Three stars and a half
Distillerie des Menhirs are famous for their buckwheat 'whisky', Eddu, but they also use barley, that's their Ed Gwenn. Not too sure it's malted, or at least they do not claim it is, while this very expression has been double-matured in Saint-Romain casks from domaine Capitain-Gagnerot, a Bourgogne from the south (of Bourgogne, obviously). See, borrowed terroir in spirits, I think I recently wrote a few lines about that. Colour: white wine. I doubt it would have been red Saint-Romain then. Nose: orange cake, Jaffa cake, williams pears, quinces, honeysuckle, then a few very slightly rubbery spices from the pièces. Remember barrels are called 'pièces' in Burgundy. Also custard tart and a few mirabelles. Mouth: good body and a lot of sweets, gummy bears, liquorice allsorts, something floral, and indeed a feeling of lighter chardonnay, perhaps rather Chablis-style? Doesn't matter… Mirabelle jam and more custard tart then, as well as a feeling of proper barley eau-de-vie. Finish: medium to short, really sweet and fruity, but the oak and the wine do feel a little bit in the end. Green tea. Comments: very good indeed, with this lighter, rather fresh fruity style. Not too winey.

SGP:740 - 83 points.

In my humble opinion, French distillers in general should also be able to manage without the massive and systematic use of ex-table wine casks to flavour their whiskies. I'm sure they will, but let's change hemispheres...

Kinglake 'O'Grady's Stand' (46%, OB, Australia, ex-bourbon, +/-2023)

Kinglake 'O'Grady's Stand' (46%, OB, Australia, ex-bourbon, +/-2023) Three stars and a half
A new distillery in Oz that started in 2018, just north east of Melbourne, in Victoria. This is a single malt and carbon-neutral, well I'm not 100% sure it's still carbon-neutral once it's reached France (ha, S.) Colour: gold. Nose: love, it's got something of an 'American west-coast malt whisky', with some rather profound fermentary notes, all kinds of dark breads, banana cakes, spice bread, some deeper chardonnay (you can find chardonnay while there isn't any chardonnay, you see) and the not-so unusual spicy quartet, ginger – turmeric – nutmeg – cinnamon. Plus custard tart once more. Very lovely and it looks like no corners were cut this time. Mouth: big punch, oak spices and yellow fruits and custard are somewhat stretching themselves thin but it holds. Cakes, breads, and more of that spicy quartet we've just mentioned, big mirabelles, and some kind of spicy and grassy smokiness, as when chefs would smoke some dishes using hay. Did anyone ever try to smoke malted barley using hay? Finish: long, with some milk chocolate and Italian hazelnut paste. Oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, modern, spicy… It would be interesting to try this juice after a few extra-years of mellowing in re-re-refill casks.

SGP:562 - 84 points.

Kinglake 'O'Grady's Stand Full Noise' (61%, OB, Australia, ex-bourbon, +/-2023)

Kinglake 'O'Grady's Stand Full Noise' (61%, OB, Australia, ex-bourbon, +/-2023) Four stars
Said to be the same juice, only at cask strength. So quickly, just for the sake of research and experimentation (but of course)… Colour: gold. Nose: some mango and banana cake straight from the oven, drizzled with some meadows honey and some liquid fudge. Then crème brûlée. The additional watts are absorbed without flinching, quite the opposite. With water: very proud, we managed to reproduce the one at 46% vol. Don't laugh, that's absolutely not always the case. Mouth (neat): I think the oak's better handled, while some more chilli would come out too. Other than that, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and nutmeg keep running the show. With water: even at the same strength of 46% vol. (roughly), there's something extra, perhaps more citrus? The spicier smokiness is there too. Finish: long, same. Comments: I like them also because they're true to their raw ingredients.

SGP:662 - 86 points.

Australia's really become a whisky nation. Let's hop to Tasmania for more evidence, that's not very far away in Australian miles (ha)…

Hellyers Road 18 yo 2005/(60.4%, OB, for LMDW, Australia, cask #4022.09, 145 bottles)

Hellyers Road 18 yo 2005/(60.4%, OB, for LMDW, Australia, cask #4022.09, 145 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: deep gold. Nose: pure, big, immaculate lemony peat, as we sometimes say, even if both do somewhat fight each other. Massive lemons (and fresh mint), plus massive peat. I also find it dangerously noseable, let's not burn our nostrils, we could use them… With water: relaxes well, gets much more medicinal. Even more medicinal than 'L', with massive ointments and balms, camphor and all that. Some dried flowers too, melissa water, it's even becoming a tad composty, with some potting soil, humus, decomposing fern… I'm not sure I've already nosed something like this. Mouth (neat): very intense, to say the least. Same huge lemons, huge peat, mint extract, plus some ashes and charcoal. With water: no quarter! (nod to John Paul Jones). Just more of everything, citrus, peat, menthol, earth… Finish: just the same, for a long time, plus rosemary and thyme oils. Aftertaste's a little sooty, ashy and drying. Comments: devilish whisky from Downunda. The aftertaste costs it one or two points (no quarter!)

SGP:666 - 89 points.

Didn't we say we'd do some Millstone vs. St. Killian stuff? Good, back to Europe then…

Millstone 25 yo 1996 'Batch 5' (46.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company 10th anniversary, The Netherlands, oloroso, 330 bottles)

Millstone 25 yo 1996 'Batch 5' (46.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company 10th anniversary, The Netherlands, oloroso, 380 bottles) Five stars
The very honourable bottlers wrote that this baby 'has all the sherried magnificence of Macallan without the price tag'. We would tend to believe these fine folks. Colour: mahogany. Nose: sweet Vishnu, and they were right indeed, even if we're talking 1950s Mac in fact. Exceptional suet, toffee, marrow, goulash, sultanas, Sauternes, dried figs, rancio, wood smoke and old cognac. And zillions of smaller elements. Mouth: awe. 18th century brandy de Jerez, 1950s Macallan, very old rancio, Rivesaltes, malmsey, Malaga, whatever very old and formerly 'sweet' wine you could think of. It's a dream and not a dream that you'll often find bottled at 46.5% vol. Forgot to mention coffee. Finish: long and with dazzling meatier tones. Game, grouse, cranberry jam, fig jam, bouillons, marrow, sultanas, old mead… Comments: who's still making this style in Scotland? You've got two minutes, answer on a postcard. Nah don't waste your time and a post stamp, no one does. And what a nose, I don't think I'll ever wash this glass; no worries, I've got plenty.
SGP:651 - 93 points.

For glory only…

St.Kilian 2019/2023 (60.6%, The Whisky Jury, Germany, 1st fill bourbon, cask #3952, 268 bottles)

St.Kilian 2019/2023 (60.6%, The Whisky Jury, Germany, 1st fill bourbon, cask #3952, 268 bottles) Four stars and a half
Malt peated to 54ppm;  light my fire, as they say. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's the dirty side that pleases us, and when we say dirty we mean full of concrete dust, paint scrapings, dried mud, scoria, excavation soil and all that. There's some brine too, gherkins, black olives… and a lot of ethanol. So, with water: big porridge, sourdough, wholegrain bread and mustard. Smoky mustard, perhaps.  Mouth (neat): who brought this cask down from Islay? Or rather from the Midlands, as I cannot not think of Ballechin here? Very good news if you ask me. Muddy peat, lemons, touch of yoghurt, plus Thai stuff, cardamom, basil, coriander… You could pour this over a Bò bún (that's rather Vietnamese, S.) With water: the reveal. Muscat grape (yep), lemons, cigar ashes, juniper, rye, peppermint oil, heavy caraway… It sure is a fighter. Finish: very long, not totally unlike some aged gin, but in that case it would be the best aged gin ever. The muscat grapes are back in the aftertaste, together with a little geranium liqueur, which is all very funny. Some liquorice as well. Comments: I hope we'll be able to try these batches when they are, say five years older. Already extremely very impressive.

SGP:566 - 88 points.

Please a Millstone of similar age…

Millstone 3 yo 2019/2003 (51.2%, OB for Whisky In Leiden, The Netherlands, PX, cask #2548)

Millstone 3 yo 2019/2003 (51.2%, OB for Whisky In Leiden, The Netherlands, PX, cask #2548) Four stars
Never been to Leiden. One day, hopefully. Colour: gold. Nose: is this some kind of poshy cough syrup? Or is it a secret, forgotten batch of Laphroaig 10 yo C/S? And who's added some spent oil from an old V8? And drops of Tabasco? And who's thrown a bottle of Corsican citron liqueur into the cask? It must be the Belgians' doing. Just kidding, you know we love you! With water: it's rather geared towards some kind of earthy gingerbread now. Mushrooms too, especially those large Chinese black ones. Mouth (neat): more sweet spices, gingerbread, speculoos, genever, some oak spices too (cinnamon-led)… it's a bit more matte so to speak, a little more drying. With water: careful, not much water needed, there are tannins lurking that are just waiting to emerge. Finish: rather long, awesomely on gingerbread, juniper, liquorice, raisins and smoked herbs. Comments: you do feel that it is a little young, but the coherence is already impressive. A bit of tannicity that should further integrate.
SGP:565 - 87 points.

Last one…

Sailtt Môr 8 yo 2014/2022 (57.1%, WhiskySchwamm, Germany, beechwood smoked, barrel, 250 bottles)

Sailtt Môr 8 yo 2014/2022 (57.1%, WhiskySchwamm, Germany, beechwood smoked, barrel, 250 bottles) Four stars and a half
Made in Germany by Destillerie Ralf Hauer and selected and bottled by our favourite Sponge (Schwamm in German). There, try to say 'Schnapps Schwamm' ten time in a row without stuttering. Congrats, either you've failed, or you're German (or Austrian, Swiss, Liechtensteiner, East Belgian, Trentiner etc.) We've already tried a sister cask ex-bourbon last year, it's been good. Colour: white wine. Nose: I wouldn't recognise beechwood, All I know is that some distillers use this wood because it offers good aging performance, without overpowering the spirits. But this is not quite what whisky makers are looking for... I'm finding notes of cachaça, apple juice, slight mizunara (there you go), sand, walnut skins, then more small mushrooms, mosses, old wood stump, lichen, mint extracts, spruce needles, nut husks… With water: same, just a little more piney and resinous. Mouth (neat): very creamy, sweet, full of lemons and limes, green spices, green chartreuse (a whole magnum), aquavit… I have to say it grows on you. With water: impeccable, this time with top-notch green tea, even the finest Wulong. Really not something I was expecting. Finish: medium, rather on fir bud liqueur and kumquats. Comments: extra points for the elegant originality and this profile, which is largely unknown elsewhere, except in certain cachaças that are aged in exotic woods. IMHO. Looks like beechwood is not as inert as I had thought.

SGP:471 - 88 points.

(Thanks to Andy/Whiskyprism)

 

September 3, 2023


Whiskyfun

Aye, white Mezcal

Let me remind you that WF is still in the running for the contest of The Most Stupid Blog Headline of All Time, across all categories. In any case, we've rather neglected our mezcals and tequilas in recent years, it's time to catch up. Let's see what we have in the boxes, randomly... I think that'll be just a few white mezcals at this point.

 

 

Se Busca 'Joven' (40%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2023)

Se Busca 'Joven' (40%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2023) Two stars and a half
This is from Oaxaca, 'artesanal', and from 'agave augustifolia', which is just a more serious name for Espadin, the most common varietal (common but good!) Artisanal and at 40% vol. does sound too right, but we're no mezcal experts, far from that. Se Busca is a new brand seems to be sourced, it's not the name of a distillery. Colour: white. Nose: very much on olives, capers, green compost, fresh hay and with some very fermentary notes that remind me a bit of Japanese natto, although this grassy mezcal would be much gentler (thank God!) Love this nose. Mouth: a tad sweeter, almost sugary, even a little hot at just 40% vol. (but 40 is better than 38, right), more on limoncello but always with these amazing olives. Say pickled picholines and yuzus. Better have it cold if you want to avoid the sugars. Bell pepper. Finish: medium, rather innocuous but reminiscent of some Ben Nevis here and there. Roughly. Comments: I see a margarita coming tonight. In the meantime, I found it good, even if others might be smokier. We'll see…
SGP:561 - 79 points.

La Tribute 'Joven' (45%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2020)

La Tribute 'Joven' (45%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2020)
This one's sourced from the state of Durango (East of Sinaloa) and made out of Cerizo aguave, which I had never heard of. It seems that this is a brand that's basically Spanish and that also makes gin. Colour: white. Nose: it is completely different, this time on beetroots, burnt papers, paper smoke, varnish, damp wool… Who said all mezcals were the same? The same folks who claim that all whiskies are the same, I suppose. But the jury's still out…  Mouth: very weird, earthy and 'chemical', with rotting vegetables of some sorts and a lot of paper and cardboard smoke. And notes of gin as well, indeed. Finish: long, with notes of rancid butter, plastics, old pineapples… Many ashes in the aftertaste (cigarette) as well as a drop of brine. Comments: a very bizarre drink, not too sure what to do with what's left.

SGP:262 - 65 points.

El Jolgorio 'Madrecuixe' (47%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2020)

El Jolgorio 'Madrecuixe' (47%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2020) Four stars
Lovely bottle this time, nothing over-the-top. Madrecuixe is one the larger varietals. This seems to be authentically artisanal Oaxacan mezcal. The stories here are very similar to those of Del maguey, Real Minero et all. Mandatory figures in mezcal, it seems, well it's that or heavy decanters. Colour: white. Nose: a whole different league, this time very fresh, floral, superbly herbal and citrusy, with some welcome varnish, olives, coal smoke and limes. Bits of celeriac and gentian too. Awesome nose. Mouth: very perfect, starting a tad sweet (more limoncello) but unfolding with dill, liquorice, aniseed and indeed, olives. We're also reminded of verbena liqueur and absinth. Finish: rather long, with a few liquorice allsorts and a salty and slaty (!!) lemonness in the aftertaste. A little lavender and grenadine too. Comments: awesome mezcal, in my book in the same league as that that already gathers some coastal malt whiskies and higher-ester rums. And other mezcals, and gentians…

SGP:462 - 87 points.

Didn't we mention Del Maguey?

Del Maguey 'Madrecuixe' (47%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2021)

Del Maguey 'Madrecuixe' (47%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2021) Four stars
This from San Luis del Rio, in Oaxaca. Should be fun to compare… Del Maguey is now owned by giant Pernod Ricard, but it may remain 'artesanal' in some way… Colour: white. Nose: less fresh and herbal, more on varnishes, paint, turpentine, diesel oil and green olives. In other words, nothing that we don't like. Mouth: same comments, this is tougher, grassier, more rustic, more varnishy, glue-y, with a lot of brine, lime juice, benzine, then tropical fruits 'about to start to rot', especially the whackiest guavas… Having said that, it would tend to become a little smoother and gentler over ten minutes or so. Finish: long, still with rather a lot of varnish and petrol, plus the usual olives and rotting and pickled fruits. Comments: just extremely good, if a little less complex and compelling that the El Jolgorio. I think I'll have to dig deeper into the topic of anything 'El Jolgorio' in the coming months, stay tuned.

SGP:362 - 85 points.

Spheric Spirits 2018/2022 'Tepextate Silvestre' (57.8%, Hogshead Import, agave distillate)

Spheric Spirits 2018/2022 'Tepextate Silvestre' (57.8%, Hogshead Import, agave distillate) Five stars
This is 'single palenque' from Oaxaca, so single farm mezcal, although they wouldn't write that it is mezcal. The skull gives it away anyway, it is well Mexican. Aged in stone jars, I would suppose. Colour: white. Nose: glorious. Pine resin, lemongrass, verbena, wormwood, gentian, pinewood smoke, champagne, wild strawberries and prickly pears. I remain seated. With water: great fun, water boosts it up to the stars and towards Comté cheese, meadow flowers, cut hay, alpine pastures…And blanc de noirs (say 2/3 PN, 1/3 meunier). Mouth (neat): it is pure eau-de-vie de mirabelle, and I am not making this up. I know mirabelle very well, I distil some every four or five years. Believe me, this is mirabelle from Mexico. With water: gets fractal, the mirabelles generating citrus, which would lead us to olives and lemongrass, peat smoke (yeah, peat smoke) and oysters. Finish: long, still mirabelles-driven. Comments: a story of common molecules, I would suppose. Brilliant and fun.
SGP:652 - 90 points.

Spheric Spirits 2018/2022 'Tobala' (59.5%, Hogshead Import, agave distillate)

Spheric Spirits 2018/2022 'Tobala' (59.5%, Hogshead Import, agave distillate) Five stars
Tobala is another wild agave. Let's see if we find mirabelles again… Colour: white. Nose: huge fun, more smoke, roasted herbs, esp. thyme and rosemary, compost and genepy, geranium, hibiscus, some butter, wee whiffs of spent lees here and there, fermentation, Lagunitas… (the original Lagunitas)… It is more lactic than the Tepextate. With water: more lactic yet, doughy, with some muesli, buttercream, mosses, late-season mushrooms (the spiciest), ashes, fireplace, cigar ashtray… Mouth (neat): oh! Bergamots, yuzu, oysters, seawater, Ardbeg (I know), citrons… It's rare to find a distillate that's both this fat and this tight. With water: dazzling. Plums are back, together with sloe, damsons, brine, absinth, salty chartreuse, sorb… Finish: long, salty. Comments: alright, I'd need a double-magnum of each in order to be able to tell you which I like best. Tepextate was cleaner, Tobala was more complex, both were brilliant. Mezcals de la muerte.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Mezcals are arguably the spirits where the impacts of the different varieties of distilled materials are most noticeable. Incredible, these different agaves! Come on, a quick easy white tequila to recover...

Cenote 'Blanco' (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2023)

Cenote 'Blanco' (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2023) Two stars and a half
Made from 100% blue agave, so not a 'mixto'. They have it everywhere on cocktail websites and blogs, which I always find a little frightening as in my rather binary thinking, if you have to mix a spirit (with a lot of wood, with wine, or with any other ingredient) it's because it isn't good enough in its natural state. As I told you, very binary thinking... Colour: white. Nose: it's very much on herbs for starters, on celery salt, on lovage, on parsley, then it heads towards caraway and lemon, so aquavit, with a rather smoky background. It's pretty gentle but it's absolutely not empty. Mouth: rounded and gentle indeed, with a little caramel, agave syrup, some fudge, a drop of cologne, and these good herbs and citrus in the back. Alsatian caraway liqueur (my compatriots would distil or make liqueurs out of anything, ever tried celeriac schnaps?) Finish: not too long but sweet and pleasantly earthy. Comments: not exactly my favourite style, but definitely better than 90% of the tequilas on the market. And it held up after the mezcals, kudos!
SGP:441 - 78 points.

Wgiskyfun 101

  NOM numbers

Proper bottles of mezcal or tequila should carry a NOM number that would identify the specific distillery where the spirit was produced. NOM stands for Norma Oficial Mexicana. One can only hope that our Scottish friends, for instance, would do the same. No more Secret Speysider or Secret Islay! In a way, and even though they are not official, the codes of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society partly serve the same purpose.

Wgiskyfun 101

  Terroir and Riffles

Our last brief and probably a little clumsy commentary on the notion of 'terroir' last week (on August 27) has sparked quite a few remarks from professionals, both in the realms of rum and whisky, and both on social media and through private messages. We expected nothing less! Some prefer not to use the term at all. A few are quite comfortable with the official definition of the word 'terroir' in the dictionary (Larousse, translated from French: the collective lands of a region, considered from the standpoint of their agricultural potential and providing one or several characteristic products), while many, and this is quite understandable, would like to extend or even totally adapt it to their own practices, especially when those are not aligned with this seminal concept (lands, region, agriculture). In other words, 'terroir is what we do at home,' and in general, they couldn't care less about the dictionary, which, after all, was not written by distillers (that's for sure). No problem, there's nothing worse than stagnation, and anyway, the meanings of words rarely stay fixed over the centuries, even less so when those words are adopted by other cultures, other languages.
What remains very amusing, though, are the feats of ingenuity deployed, with the most common tactic being what we would call 'the smart sharpshooter'. That's when you first shoot and then draw a well-rounded target around the point of impact. It's always the best way to hit the bullseye. Peace.

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

 

September 2, 2023


Whiskyfun