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Whisky Tasting


Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild




Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2023 - Part 2

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


September 30, 2023





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

Springbank before the Whisky Show

As I type I'm headed to London for this year's Whisky Show, which is always great fun. We'll be there with our own stand this year so please do come by and say hello if you are attending. In the meantime, here's a Springbank session I've been tinkering with in the background for a while. I've still got a fair few Springbank samples at home so we may well choose to do a follow up session soon…


Hazelburn 21 yo (46%, OB, 2022 release, 70% sherry 30% bourbon, 3600 bottles)

Hazelburn 21 yo (46%, OB, 2022 release, 70% sherry 30% bourbon, 3600 bottles)
Colour: pale amber. Nose: to me Hazelburn these days increasingly seems to align around a 'diet Springbank' profile, but very much in the best sense of that concept. This leans loudly towards the sherry with a lot of hessian, cough medicines, wee sooty touches, Maggi, leather tobacco pouch and delicate waxy notes. Also some darker dried fruits, gamey meaty touches and bitter herbs. Excellent! Mouth: lovely arrival, rather on bitter herbal notes, salty and nutty sherry tones, more leathery and tobacco vibes and further impressions of sooty things, waxes, game meats and subtle cough medicines. Blind I would probably have just said a lovely Springbank. Finish: good length, on heather honey, candied almonds, salted liquorice, cough syrup and drier earth sherry notes in the aftertaste. Comments: rock solid, with a very 'Springbank' sherry profile but one that manages to show good balance and cleanliness. I am increasingly a fan of Hazelburn as the years tick by.  
SGP: 562 - 90 points.



Springbank 10 yo 2012/2022 (55%, OB 'Sherry Wood', 7 years in refill barrels then 3 years in Spanish oak PX hogsheads, 10800 bottles)

Springbank 10 yo 2012/2022 (55%, OB 'Sherry Wood', 7 years in refill barrels then 3 years in Spanish oak PX hogsheads, 10800 bottles)
Much online muttering about this bottling it seems. Colour: mahogany. Nose: the sherry influence is indeed rather loud and jammy at first nosing. Plums, damsons, figs and prunes, with some tangy fruit chutney notes. Behind that a slightly more Springbanky hessian and earthy camphor note, but the sherry leads the show. With water: more on chocolate and polished leather, also a little more of these nice hessian and camphor touches. I also get a tad more wood spice now. Mouth: rather sweet and syrupy. Concentrated prune juice, raisins, sultanas, fruit cake, sweet plum wine and then wee impressions of salted milk chocolate, sweet natural tar and fir liqueur. Not too sure I'd have pegged this as a Springbank when blind. With water: gets more herbal, more medicinal and a notch more towards peppery and subtle peaty notes, which all feels comfortingly Springbank. Finish: long, getting heavier and more towards natural tar, black pepper, camphor and dried herbs. Comments: needs water to fully awaken the Springbank, which is fine I believe. A big and rather heavy dram which I suspect will improve quite a considerably with a couple of decades in glass if you can tuck one away in a dark cupboard somewhere. Feels like the sort of whisky which will only gather integration and complexity over time. For now, I find the sherry a tad sticky and dominating, but it's no great quibble, this is still very good.
SGP: 573 - 87 points.



Springbank 25 yo (46%, OB, 2022, 40% bourbon 60% sherry, 1300 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo (46%, OB, 2022, 40% bourbon 60% sherry, 1300 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: ahhh, 90s Springbank and this age! A stunningly coastal, medicinal and mineral profile that incorporates brittle waxes, beach pebbles, herbal cough syrup and various medicinal tinctures. Also things like sandalwood, a very gentle and crisp peat smoke and lemon infused olive oil. Just a totally gorgeous profile that drips with Springbank distillery character. Love this nose. Mouth: excellent arrival, with a lovely oily texture that engages the full palate. Medicines, waxes and herbal notes once again, but also drier notes of salty liquorice, mineral oil, tiger balm, tiny sooty inflections and pure old school cough syrups. The sherry comes through slightly more clearly here with some leather, salty vibes, but overall the balance is struck beautifully and places the distillate DNA very centrally. Finish: long, mineral and herbal, a lot of soft medicinal and waxy vibes and trailing, chewy peat smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: very singular and totally brilliant, soulful Springbank!
SGP: 463 - 92 points.



Springbank 30 yo (46%, OB, 2022, 85% bourbon, 15% sherry, 1400 bottles)

Springbank 30 yo (46%, OB, 2022, 85% bourbon, 15% sherry, 1400 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: more subtle than the 25, and perhaps slightly funkier, on sheep wool oils, slightly sweaty notes, camphor, mead, heather ales and bouillon. Increasingly becoming very waxy and showing wee notes of putty and eucalyptus - very good complexity so far. Also a slightly sharp, and even almost lactic note of peat smoke. Mouth: excellent arrival, more focussed around salted and crystallised honeys, these same very big fat waxy tones and even some lovely coastal notes. Dried herbs and impressions of salted butter, anchovy paste and drying peaty notes. Finish: good length, very herbal, heathery, on some nicely old school bitter ales, bitter citrus rinds and many more of these lovely waxy qualities. Comments: lovely mature, modern Springbank. It's just that I think it had a bit of a hill to climb after that brilliant 25yo. Perhaps this is another example of the improvement from early 90s to mid-late 90s? Anyway, this is still hugely pleasurable, love that fat waxy quality.
SGP: 462 - 90 points.



Springbank 36 yo 1969/2005 (57.3%, Chieftain's, cask #793, refill fino sherry, 540 bottles)

Springbank 36 yo 1969/2005 (57.3%, Chieftain's, cask #793, refill fino sherry, 540 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: hyper fresh and grassy with these thick layers of waxes and in particular waxy citrus rinds. This very particular and almost shimmering and pin-sharp fruitiness that takes in green and orchard fruits, along with big impressions of banana liqueur and some overripe exotic and funky touches. Feels like a whisky that had some kind of magical fermentation behind it. Astonishing freshness and vitality at this age. With water: a little more towards medicines and hints of eucalyptus, mint tea, aniseed and crystallised fruits of all varieties. Mouth: exquisite mouthfeel and textural power. Hugely waxy, oily, full of mineral qualities, sharp and rugged coastal / salty aspects and then more of these wonderful fruit salad, gloopy and syrupy impressions. With water: everything just goes up several notches now. That fatness and textural might remain, but the complexity shoots up with all these myriad fizzing and popping ideas of medicines, herbal liqueurs, coastal notes, waxes, minerals and fruits. I'll say it again, just astonishing and wonderful freshness and power. Finish: superbly long, oily, medicinal and almost becoming mentholated and with feelings of aged mead and salted honey. Cough syrup in the aftertaste! Comments: these batches from Chieftains seem to have their own character about them that stands quite apart from many other 60s Springbanks. Masterpieces of power, freshness and what poetic beauty can occur when distillate like this is given sufficient decades in gentle wood. I'll stick with 93 but it's within a Midgie's hobble of 94.
SGP: 652 - 93 points.



Longrow 1973/1990 (46%, Moon Import, The Birds, hogshead, cask #1731, 600 bottles)

Longrow 1973/1990 (46%, Moon Import, The Birds, hogshead, cask #1731, 600 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: immediately stunning with this beautifully natural, organic and elegantly drying peat profile. A style which just does not exist outside very old Ardbegs, Laphroaigs, Highland Parks, and of course these 70s Longrows. Crystalline, slightly salty, deeply rooty, herbal and ever so slightly sweet peat smoke that incorporates ancient old medicines, liqueurs, salted honeys and natural tar extracts. A feeling of immense complexity and poetic beauty. Mouth: immediate and stunning one again, but also surprising in the way that it dovetails slightly more towards some older style Laphroaig by involving quite vivid and plush green fruits and wee tropical fruit tea notes. Immensely complicated with wee notes of medicinal roots and herbs, fruit syrups, oily and fat phenolics, aged tar liqueurs and also hessians, waxes, beach pebbles and camphor. A huge amount of information being emitted from this stunning old Longrow. A whisky you need to be in tip top shape to keep up with! Finish: outstandingly long and full of perfectly drying, peppery and organic, deep peat smoke! Tars, smoked teas and oils, a feeling of some ancient dry Riesling and also more industrial aspects like tool boxes and hessian cloth. Comments: some kind of tone-poem to the ethereal beauty of peat as an ingredient in malt whisky. Seriously, the greatest whiskies ever bottled all not only contain, but need peat as an agent of their beauty. This is just sublime whisky!
SGP: 466 - 94 points.



Big thanks to Phil and Simon, Andy and Stewart and the excellent folk at the Golden Promise bar!





WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

September 2023

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Brora 50 yo 1972/2023 'Iris' (41.8%, OB, for The Distillers One of One Charity Auction, 1 Magnum) - WF 96

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Clynelish 14 yo 'Flora & Fauna" (43%, OB, black cap, +/-1998) - WF 90

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
None this month

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Long Pond 2006/2023 (66.9%, Swell de Spirits, Jamaica, Private Garden, for Cave St Seurin) - WF 91

Serge's thumbs up this month:
Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Epistémè R18P23 Yellow Square' (47%, OB, France, 1798 bottles, 2023) - WF 91

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Liber 'Embrujo de Granada' (40%, OB, Spain, +/-2022) - WF 25

September 29, 2023


Two superb zesty Bladnoch 1990

I remember that twenty or twenty-five years ago, the young Bladnochs and the young Rosebanks were vying, in our notes, for the title of the most citrusy of Scottish malts. Let's taste them again now that they are over thirty years old, if you don't mind. Even though the Rosebanks will be for later...




Bladnoch 31 yo 1990/2021 (53%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults Collection, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, #50.118, 'Mountaintop Experience', 143 bottles)

Bladnoch 31 yo 1990/2021 (53%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults Collection, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, #50.118, 'Mountaintop Experience', 143 bottles) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: a little sour wood at first, but grapefruit and lemon skins are soon to show their faces, followed by lemon candies, lemon curd, then mustard, fino and citrus mint, essential oils and just brioche. There is truly this impression of a young whisky that has aged gracefully, without losing its moral values (what what what?) With water: just a tad softer and rounder, with some custard and fresh-pressed apple juice. It's kept 100% of its DNA. Mouth (neat): lemon candies, sauvignon blanc, lemonade, even Schweppes Lemon… Did it even change at all? The beauty of refill wood in this un-botoxed old malt. With water: sweeter, with wine gums and just lemon juice with a little cane and agave syrups. I'm reminded of some sweet called 'Sugus', which they have/had in Switzerland. Right, just saw that Wrigley bought them up. Finish: medium, citrusy, even more on sweets. A little peppermint in the aftertaste. Comments: I'd have called this 'Lemon Glory' instead, but they may have used that name before. It may not have changed much since the year 2000, but we are really not going to complain. Plain Bladnochness.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Bladnoch 33 yo 1990/2023 (55.4%, WhiskySponge, Decadent Drinks, refill bourbon barrel, Special Edition, 50 bottles)

Bladnoch 33 yo 1990/2023 (55.4%, WhiskySponge, Decadent Drinks, refill bourbon barrel, Special Edition, 50 bottles) Five stars
Another neo-retro 'kind of tribute' label that's been done with grace, this time you cannot not think of Samaroli's Flowers series, 'but not quite'. A mash-up label (also Stag's Breath). Colour: straw. Nose: same citrus-led profile, plus some minerality and salinity (not exactly the same concepts, as wine people will tell you). That's an extra dimension. It's more fermentary too (weissbeer) while it's even got something slightly fatter (acacia fritters?) and very faint whiffs of lady's moisturizer. In short you wouldn't say it's 10 or even 20 this time. With water: a little rounder yet, more on candied fruit cake, especially candied angelica. Mouth (neat): it's sailed towards passion fruit and starfruits, even physalis. Unusual and wonderful, still very Bladnochian. Oh and lemon and zestier honeys. With water: extra-zing! It's funny how water made it even tarter. Finish: long. I'll have to mention top-of-range limoncello once more. Comments: is there a professional union of limoncello producers? I would send an invoice (enough with the crappy jokes, S.)…
SGP:651 - 91 points.

These Bladnochs really had a unique, very recognizable style, and I believe the umpteenth-fill casks suit them very well, you just have to wait for… 30 years or more.

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


September 28, 2023


A Trio of Recent Old Blends

From some of our favourite whisky DJs… It is true that the control station of a distillery closely resembles a DJ's mixing desk.

Martin Solveig (Le Dauphiné)




7 Stars 30 yo 'Cask Strength' (48.2%, Cadenhead, blended Scotch, sherry, 2023)

7 Stars 30 yo 'Cask Strength' (48.2%, Cadenhead, blended Scotch, sherry, 2023) Four stars and a half
As others have done, think White Heather, they've resurrected their pretty legendary old brand and also done this prestige (but very fairly priced) version of it. Hope Diageo will also soon resurrect Mackie's Ancient Brand! We've tried Cadenhead's old 7 Stars 12 years old back in 2018, it was fantastic but it was a 'pure malt', bottled in Springbank's famous pear-shape bottle probably just after the takeover, in the early 1970s (WF 91). It was sporting this funny mention on the label, '12 to 20 years old'. But enough chatter, we're here for the new one… Colour: gold. Nose: very fine, mostly nutty, with the expected walnuts, touches of rubber, used tealeaves, whiffs of silverware (old spoons), some mustiness, old cellar, old ointments, old paint… It's all 'old' indeed, in a very elegant way. An old box of mint tea that would date back twenty years. No, rather thirty years, of course. Drop of soy sauce (not old this time). Mouth: I wouldn't say the grain(s) play a big role. A rather firm blend, with clearly something 'ancient', more nuts, old teas, this charming metallic side (silver, copper), quite some dry sherry, amontillado-style, then a lovely development on all things tea and herbal tea. A little salty tobacco, if that makes any sense, plus some marrow quenelles (just an example). Finish: medium, on dry sherry, salty bouillons, touch of coffee, tobacco, and just old-school malt. Comments: it really seems that they tried to mimic some older bottles, and I think they succeeded. You'd even find a little OBE. In a new bottle! So everything is pleasantly retro here, from packaging to the liquid inside. Charming and excellent. The grain isn't very detectable, but we're not going to cry about that, are we?
SGP:362 - 88 points.

Blended Malt 50 yo 1971/2022 (49.5%, The Whisky Exchange, Celebrating 50 years, Speyside, refill sherry butt, 303 bottles)

Blended Malt 50 yo 1971/2022 (49.5%, The Whisky Exchange, Celebrating 50 years, Speyside, refill sherry butt, 303 bottles) Five stars
Is this really blended or is it a famous single malt from Speyside in disguise? This possible marvel was bottled last year to celebrate the family of Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh's 50 years in the drinks industry. Colour: light gold. Nose: game, set and match. A beehive, some precious black tea, a few ultra-ripe apples, some figs, tangerines, quinces, some fresh-rubbed mint leaves, and a glass of mature pinot gris plus one of manzanilla. I would have said Bunnahabhain, but last time I checked, Bunnahabhain was not located in Speyside. An old Speyside with a little salinity? Or truly a blended malt, perhaps blended at birth? Mouth: teas, putty, beeswax, more overripe apples, thyme tea, small berries (elder, sorb), then pistachio cream and a very pleasant wee dustiness, rusk crumbs, even a touch of polenta. We've known some superb very old Tomintouls that were a bit like this.  Citrus taking over after a while, which is great news too. Clementines, shall we say. Finish: medium, soft, honeyed and full of softer teas. Probably perfect for breakfast. Ripe williams pears in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps two or three 'T' Speysiders. In any case, it's lovable, but isn't it strange that we most love very old whiskies when they don't nose and taste that old, which is the case with this one? Yes, it's somewhat contradictory. We are full of contradictions.
SGP:561 - 91 points.

Blended Malt 44 yo 1978/2023 (59.8%, Spheric Spirits, refill sherry butt, cask #6, 331 bottles)

Blended Malt 44 yo 1978/2023 (59.8%, Spheric Spirits, refill sherry butt, cask #6, 331 bottles) Five stars
These great folks are located in Leipzig, while every time this superb city is mentioned, I cannot help but think of Johann Sebastian Bach. Let's see what kind of cantata it is this time. Or is it a grand mass? Colour: gold. Nose: oh Christ, grand mass! (there, Bach, I told you). This is exceptional on the nose, feeling a little Edringtonian (completely at random). Incredible coastal, waxy, slightly smoky side, with dazzling whiffs of heather honey, figs, ripe mirabelle and sultanas… There's even a drop of olive oil. With water: butter and praline cream and pure chalk, which makes for a perfect contrast of style. Great fun. All things honeys and bees too. Mouth (neat): intensely amazing, with mangos, bananas, a light bitterish fizziness (Campari and tonic) and an avalanche of dried fruits, and once again a touch of medicinal smoke. But be careful, at almost 60%, it goes down like a treat. With water: eucalyptus, oranges, tangerines and bergamots. I'm afraid some Dutch friends are going to make fun of me again if I also mention kumquats, but there, 'kumquats'. Finish: long, waxy, honeyed and citrusy, with an 'HP' side of very good stock. Comments: ah, these kumquats! (het spijt me, vrienden).
SGP:652 - 92 points.

Update: we should read whisky websites more often. It appears that this was old Long John stock from Ben Nevis, with the peatiness rather stemming from Laphroaig. I would suppose there was some Lochside too if it was truly a blended malt, but pure speculations, those tropical notes could also come from Laphroaig. Thanks to The Antelope.

I would really like to complete this amazing trio with a young peated blend, what do you think?

Blended Islay Malt 8 yo 2013/2021 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #24, 253 bottles)

Blended Islay Malt 8 yo 2013/2021 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #24, 253 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: classic, new wellies, new tyres, coal tar, rubber bands, cigar ashes, charcoal… In fact it is as tarry, if not tarrier, than a young Port Ellen. We are in the camping department of a general store, rubber boots section. With water: feels East Coast, between CI and B. Some awesome notes of root vegetables, fennel, aniseed, and always a lot of smoke, burning tyres, dragster race (but where would you do that on Islay?)… Mouth (neat): huge. From high-ester rum to liquid smoke through spicy pizza oil and, I'll say it, limoncello. And bird's eye chili. With water: back to civilisation, but barely. Heavy smoked lemon liqueur. Finish: very long, very tarry. Some sweeter chilliness in the aftertaste. Comments: it almost seems like Elixir prepared this young blend to accompany the spiciest Cantonese cuisine. It's crazy (cough) but we (cough) like it rather (cough) a lot.
SGP:468 - 87 points.

September 27, 2023


More new French whiskies

And rather a bit of wine…

Wines of Coume Del Mas in Banyuls-sur-Mer (In Vino Veritas)




Triticum 2018/2023 (46%, LMDW, Version Française, Cerealis, single grain, wheat whisky, cognac cask, 640 bottles)

Triticum 2018/2023 (46%, LMDW, Version Française, Cerealis, single grain, wheat whisky, cognac cask, 640 bottles) Three stars and a half
From La Maison du Whisky's brand new range of own French whiskies, made under their specifications in Franche-Comté. An Armagnacais still has been used, so a smaller continuous still with a short column that would let the fatter congeners go through (long story short, it's not Dumbarton). Colour: white wine. Nose: I find it very delicate, with touches of applejack, toffee apple and candyfloss, some fresh white nougat, and possibly a few preserved greengages. Very, very delicate… Mouth: more body than expected, and even a touch of roughness. Small-berry eau-de-vie (service and sorb…) and a little hay, small bitter apples... I was expecting some cream eggs but couldn't find any, no bad news if you ask me. Some lemon curd. Finish: medium, more on classic grain, somehow in the style of those young North British many indies seem to be found of these days. Lemongrass and a touch of fennel in the aftertaste. Comments: solid clean grain whisky, not as sweet and thin as I had thought. Rather lovely lemons and apples.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Villanova 'Maury Rouge' (49.2%, OB for LMDW, cask #346, 312 bottles)

Villanova 'Maury Rouge' (49.2%, OB for LMDW, cask #346, 312 bottles) Four stars
Maury rouge is relatively close to red Port, especially if it is a 'vintage'. Having said that, I doubt they would have let the cask being STRised. The distillery's relatively (very relatively) close, it's located in the Tarn where they have the most splendid cathedral in the world (Albi's). Colour: copper gold. Nose: peat. And mushrooms, autumn leaves, gorse, dried goji, fir smoke, beef jerky, teriyaki… It's the feeling of oneness that's impressive here, I do not spot any dissonances or feeling of 'unlikely layers', see what I mean. Mouth: heavy smoked chocolate and cherry. Someone's smoked Mon Chéri, but of course this is much better than Mon Chéri. Add maraschino, sultanas, bits of tyres, coal tar, morello cherries, and perhaps a few walnut skins, and even a glass of amontillado. Lovely bittersweet sourness in the end, as in an amaro. Finish: pretty long, a tad sweeter. The goji berries are back, with some ganache and panache (oh come on now). The aftertaste is more medicinal. Comments: frightening at the very beginning, awesome in the end. You know, peat and red wine, t's supposed to work like Ozzy with Lang Lang. In truth I'm surprised this worked so well.
SGP:654 - 86 points.

Since we're down there…

Roborel de Climens 'Grenache Noir' (50.2%, France, 2023)

Roborel de Climens 'Grenache Noir' (50.2%, France, 2023) Four stars and a half
This crazy baby first aged for 30 months in French oak – refill I suppose – then finished for 16 months in top-notch Banyuls from Coume del Mas. Remember grenache is the grape that's also making the best Châteauneufs, especially, erm, Rayas. Colour: gold with some very faint salmony hue. Nose: starts with skins and stalks, without any excessive, any boisterous red-wineyness. It's all rather subtle, rather on nectarines, with a small mineral touch (slate) and some pink grapefruit. Perhaps some borage flowers. With water: there is an aromatic herb garden not too far away, as well as a small orchard. Mouth (neat): it is truly subtle, we're extremely far from those wham-bam red-wine finishes (sorry, no names). Touches of wild strawberry jam, pink grapefruit again, blood oranges as well, clementines… With water: it's becoming pretty exceptional. Remember there are no real differences between great sherries and great Banyuls, just the grapes are not the same. And the method of production. All right, all right. Finish: medium, subtle, towards oranges and nectarines. Comments: I was not expecting this. Very impressive elegance. If it were a musician, I would say Joni Mitchell. Proud of this delicate, murmuring wee French whisky (just because I'm French, ha).
SGP:441 - 88 points.

Zea Mays 2014/2023 (50%, LMDW, Version Française, Cerealis, single grain, maize whisky, virgin oak, 912 bottles) Four stars
Maize/corn! This should be an ocean of sweetness, no? Actually, there's 51% corn and 49% malted barley, while the new casks had been charred. Colour: deep gold. Nose: no popcorn! Rather hazelnut cakes, praline, Fruit Loops, wee whiffs of cigarette smoke (make those Bensons), white chocolate, champagne biscuits, crema Catalana… With water:   the white oak coming out. Vanillin, sawdust, cornflakes indeed, touch of maple syrup. Mouth (neat): very good, maltier, with some citrusy tension and a touch of rye, then tarte tatin and crème brulée. How very French, n'est-ce pas. Just touches of charcoal. With water: not many changes, just a little more grass and butter cream. Finish: not too long but very pleasantly sweet and caky. Pear tarte, chocolate and roasted malt in the aftertaste. Comments: very modern proposition. No sluggish maize whisky, at all.
SGP:441 - 85 points.

I have the impression that beyond the big stars, French distillers have been making great progress recently. It's been 40 years since the adventure began, and by the way, La Maison du Whisky has just released a fantastic book on the subject. Now, it must be admitted, French whisky distillers still rely heavily on wine casks, but I'm sure they will gradually manage to get by.

Ninkasi 'LAB 005' (58.7%, OB, for LMDW, Côte de Nuits & Pineau des Charentes finish, cask #472, 216 bottles)

Ninkasi 'LAB 005' (58.7%, OB, for LMDW, Côte de Nuits & Pineau des Charentes finish, cask #472, 216 bottles, 2023) Four stars
Burgundy + Charentes matured in Rhône-Alpes (think Lyons), why not? Pandora's box was opened a long time ago already Colour: deep gold. Nose: of course it works. Almond paste, paraffin, putty, tapenade, fruit peel, cassis buds, oranges, thyme honey, new rubber bands… With water: sweet Swiss cheese. Not easy to say. Mouth (neat): pretty heavy, extractive, spicy, oak-led, with the moistest pumpernickel and loads of dried figs, black raisins and ras-el-hanout. With water: cassis and tomato leaves, typical fresh pinot noir, capsicum, blackberry jelly and more pumpernickel. Coffee and chocolate from the wood in the background. Finish: medium, round, not that spicy, yet pretty sweet-curry-like. Spicy marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: well well well, I liked this one a lot, but where's the 'terroir' here? In the Charentes? In northern Bourgogne? Around Lyons? Should we care? Should we not?
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Well, so all this is very good if not excellent, and of course, the tasters and selectors from La Maison du Whisky are ueber-experts, but should we really consider the uniqueness of French whisky, its oneness of style, to be always strongly marked by wine casks? Because we're a wine country? Or maybe we should wait a few more years before the juices can stand up by themselves....

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


September 26, 2023


Whiskies of the World Once More
(For Antoine Dupont)

So to speak, while the whisky world is getting less and less Scotch-centric. I rarely read my own website (that's Whiskyfun) but when I do I realise that I have an entry for, say Ladyburn, while I haven't any proper one for, say Yamazaki, Kavalan or even Buffalo Trace. Indeed, that's because WF was 'designed' (yeah well) in the very early 2000s, but still, I'm starting to feel shame… Anyway, once more we'll start this off from France, where it's been a good three months since we've had either a riot or a major demonstration. People seem to be falling asleep... Or they are all dead drunk.

Antoine Dupont

I'll add that for a good ten years, my friends here, who are quite foreign to whisky and who, of course, never read Whiskyfun (they are quite right), have asked me if 'Japanese whiskies were really that good.' However, for the last two or three years, they have rather been asking me if 'French whiskies are of any interest.' In both cases, my answer was and still is 'yes, but do your research before buying just anything.' I don't think they really listen to me; that said, they are not whisky drinkers anyway. Well, let's get back to it with a little French whisky. French, really?



Black Mountain 'BM N°1 Excellence' (42%, OB, France, +/-2021)

Black Mountain 'BM N°1 Excellence' (42%, OB, France, +/-2021) one star and a half
Good one, this one is 'blended and refined in Occitanie in French oak casks'. Occitanie is a large part of southwest France. The gimmick is as big as that of all these Japanese whiskies that have nothing Japanese about them. And nothing 'craft', except the price. Colour: white wine. Nose: thinnish, with some raw sawdust and bits of pear and fantasy kirschwasser, over cold pancakes and some sourdough. Mouth: not totally terrible, to be honest, but really too sweet at this point. Sweetened porridge, pear juice, ripe apples… Not too bad, just very young. Finish: short, a little sugary. Comments: I had feared this would have been much worse, but as we sometimes say, it sure isn't Brora 1972. Neither is it Kornog or Hautes Glaces.
SGP:630 - 69 points.

Speaking of Hautes Glaces…

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Indigene' (44%, OB, France, 2023)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Indigene' (44%, OB, France, 2023) Four stars and a half
This brand new organic single malt by DHG is said to 'taste of the Alps'. Let's see if we find any genepy or chartreuse… or gentian for that matter. Or marmot droppings… Colour: white wine. Nose: very Hautes Glaces. Alpine bread, alpine pumpernickel, alpine caraway, alpine sourdough, alpine roots indeed… In truth this is all perfect, even a notch mezcaly here and there. Do we also find glacier water? Maybe… Mouth: grapefruit and coriander at first, touch of juniper, fennel seeds, a touch of horseradish, rather a little apple liqueur (than chartreuse), dill, lemongrass, woodruff syrup… Indeed, there is a mountainous aspect to this zesty single malt. Finish: long, a little citric, bready… Poppy seeds and a drop of gentian liqueur. Comments: they are masters of this style, a very natural style that is one of my favourites. Besides, this new bottle undoubtedly doesn't take up too much shelf space - and let's forget about the 'Haig Club' aspect, shall we?
SGP:561 - 88 points.

It makes you want to try another one...

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Epistémè R18P23 Yellow Square' (47%, OB, France, 1798 bottles, 2023) Five stars
100% organic malted rye here, and totally 'parcellaire', in the footsteps of ex-Bruichladdich Mark Reynier (Waterford, Renegade Rum). Let me translate: 'we're at the foot of the cliffs of Mont-Aiguille, in limestone scree fed by the running waters of the Vercors and their sediments.' Indeed you'd believe you're at a winemaker's, and I say that's great. Colour: white wine. Nose: sometimes rye makes your whisky (I almost wrote whiskey) kind of smoky and that's rather the case here. A lot of chalk dissolved in lemon juice, calcite, a touch of white Hermitage, husk, a tiny gherkin, one olive… I am so fond of these style and concept that are so close to wine! Mouth: grand. Amazing citrus, flabbergasting earthy honey (stuff like that), those small plants and flowers that you'd find in the woods, woodruff indeed, sage, rosemary, anise, wild mustard seeds … And the honeyed side alone is worth it, but I won't list all honeys I'm finding in there, don't worry. Finish: it's the freshness that's impressive. Comments: sometimes it feels like they made the best aged gin in the world by taking the most difficult path of all. Indeed there is a little juniper too. Fantastic, top of French whisky. That said, could we have a slightly less complicated name next time?
SGP:572 - 91 points.

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Epistémè R18P23 Yellow Round' (47%, OB, France, 894 bottles, 2023)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Epistémè R18P23 Yellow Round' (47%, OB, France, 894 bottles, 2023) Four stars and a half
I quote, this time 'we are on the slopes of Serre Vulson - the rhyolitic hill from which our spring water emerges -, in a small plot of the Hautes Glaces farm.' So just another 'parcellaire'. I have to say it is all rather cryptic and one would almost need a PhD in symbology to understand it all - or quite a few more glasses of DHG. They like treasure hunts, in the Alps! Colour: white wine. Nose: I find this one a little fatter, a little more mineral too, with a little more caraway and notes of wine from Savoie. Say Chignin-Bergeron, there. It would also tend to become a little medicinal. Bandages. Mouth: indeed, I think this one is a little more boisterous, a tad less elegant, indeed a notch fatter, with echoes of mild and sweet Indian curry. But we remain within the same family, obviously. Finish: long, rather rich, exquisite, breadier and spicier now. More horseradish, mustard and sweet curry. Comments: both are stunning but I liked the 'square' one a little better. The graphic codes resemble the signs along the paths in the Alps. Have I ever told you that my godfather was the president of the Alpine Club? I'm not joking!
SGP:561  - 89 points.

Oh let's just stay in France for our last one today…

Armorik 2007/2022 (62.2%, Spirit Paradise, France, Vinho STR, cask #8173)

Armorik 2017/2022 (62.2%, Spirit Paradise, France, Vinho STR, cask #8173) Four stars
This by our friend Philippe. We've had a sister cask, ex-refill sherry, earlier in June and thought it was excellent (WF 87). But let's see if the Breton whisky will have resisted an STR 'vinho'cask  (how Kavalan is that?) Colour: deep gold. Nose: bread, celeriac, concrete dust, old cellar, and certainly a lot of ethanol. Not that it would burn you but let's not take any chances. With water: gets much gentler, with some fresh warm croissants (how bizarre) and dried flowers, hay, porridge and blackcurrant buds and leaves. We got closer to the grist, so to speak. Mouth (neat): strawberry bread, capsicum, juniper and antifreeze. I'm only half-joking. With water: it got much fruitier, with some prickly pears, grenadine, gooseberries, indeed strawberries, and even some raspberry eau-de-vie. BTW, just tried some wild strawberry e-d-v by the house Miclo in Lapoutroie the other day, it was excellent. Finish: long, even more on red berries, but without any obvious wineyness. Capsicum and cassis buds are back in the aftertaste. Comments: I would tend to prefer a more classic cask-bill, as we say, but I haven't got anything against strawberries and raspberries. Who would!
SGP:661 - 85 points.

Well, we haven't gone very far, since we stayed in France today. We haven't burned too much kerosene, have we. But wait, let's add one…

Twelve 'Porphyre' (57%, OB, France, 450 bottles, 2023)

Twelve 'Porphyre' (57%, OB, France, 450 bottles, 2023) Three stars
This time we're in Laguiole in Aubrac; in Aveyron, so in the south of the 'Massif Central' mountains. We've had a 'Blue Onyx' from theirs a few weeks ago, it had been pretty good. This Porphyre was aged in some ex-Italian red vermouth cask, so let's expect something pretty extravagant. Colour: straw. Nose: rather a lot of clay, peonies, tomato leaves, with touches of hard cheese, mulled wine, goji berries, blood oranges, a little wet plaster… All a little unusual, all good fun. With water: garden earth, mashed potatoes and turnips, cherries… Mouth (neat): whacky, very earthy, full of eggplant, tomato indeed, more blood oranges, kirsch, tobacco… Not something I've tried before, but fear not, we remain in whisky territory. With water: some burnt herbs, stems, leaves… Finish: long, a tad more bitter, but that's not problem. Notes of myrtle liqueur. Lovely fruity and herbal aftertaste. Comments: not your average whisky for sure, but it deserves all our sympathy and certainly a good score. Mind you, an ex-vermouth cask, quite a challenge.
SGP:561 - 80 points.

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


September 25, 2023


Indie Croftengeas by Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond (Loch Lomond Distillery)


Croftengea is one of Loch Lomond's peatiest versions, together with Inchfad. I've read they make 11 different styles altogether. Not too sure about which is the peatiest, though. There are quite a few of these around lately, but we can't complain; we've already tasted some excellent ones.



Croftengea 14 yo 'Periodical' (50%, Croucher & Co., North Star Spirits, oloroso barrel, 180 bottles, 2022)

Croftengea 14 yo 'Periodical' (50%, Croucher & Co., North Star Spirits, oloroso barrel, 180 bottles, 2022) Four stars and a half
The retro wave is hitting harder and harder when it comes to packaging, but I don't think that's the case with whisky styles, which are becoming increasingly modern here and there. Not specifically at North Star Spirits, of course. Colour: light gold. Nose: gun oil and papaya, passion fruit and paraffin, shoe polish and mango… Great, great fun here, love this. With water: Maggi, soy sauce, walnut wine… That's the oloroso doing what it does best. Very fond of this nose. Mouth (neat): enter bitter walnuts and almonds. The core remains tropical, with maracuja. Something a notch metallic. No complaining. With water: awesome, it seems that someone well-intentioned has blended Ardbeg 10 with Bowmore 12 and a glass of Lustau's core oloroso. Good idea. Finish: blood oranges running it now. Saltier aftertaste, bouillon… Comments: what a lovely, unusual drop. Hope it will remain periodical.
SGP:566 - 88 points.

Croftengea (54%, GunpowderUA, arsenal batch #2, Whisky Fair 2023, oloroso sherry)

Croftengea (54%, GunpowderUA, arsenal batch #2, Whisky Fair 2023, oloroso sherry) Four stars
This one to support the Ukrainian Army. Colour: gold. Nose: very medicinal and smoky, tarry, with embrocations, rubber, oils, fumes, latex… With water: massage balm, sandalwood, pine and fir, marrow, graphite… Mouth (neat): as good as it gets, pretty heavy, with huge grassy smoke, more latex, gunpowder indeed, grapefruit liqueur, cardamom… With water: lime-driven this time. Cardamom is still there, together with Thai basil and coriander. Finish: long, with more herbs, mint, eucalyptus, camphor, greases, some chervil and some tarragon… Bitterish tarry aftertaste. Comments: heavy-style Croftengea, which is appropriate. I find the alcohol trusts and konzerns to be quite silent about the invasion of Ukraine, but they've never been paragons of virtue, have they? Slava Ukraini.
SGP:367 - 86 points.

Croftengea 2009/2021 (56.6%, Le Gus't, Selection XXVIII, hogshead, cask #148, 307 bottles)

Croftengea 2009/2021 (56.6%, Le Gus't, Selection XXVIII, hogshead, cask #148, 307 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: very clean, zesty, mineral, with dill, ashes, smoke and yuzu. There. With water: different, with whiffs of fresh butter, brake pads, concrete, pencil eraser, sage… It's pretty unusual. Mouth (neat): sweet peat, as we used to say. Smoked peaches ala Ardmore, only more potent. Tons of drying ashes. With water: lemongrass, cigarette ashes, limoncello, seawater, clams and whelks… In truth it's getting pretty coastal, even if it's not a coastal malt at all. See what I mean. Finish: long, with some lemon juice poured over ashes. I mean, a feeling of that. Fatter aftertaste, say on almond and fish oils. Comments: it's not that easy to catch IMHO (as we used to say).
SGP:565 - 84 points.

Croftengea 5 yo 2017/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky)

Croftengea 5 yo 2017/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky) Four stars
Five years old? Isn't that a little young? Well they must have had their reasons… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: someone's smoked pears and added custard and roasted pine nuts. Not such a bad idea… With water: a lot of metal polish. Love metal polish. Fresh-polished silverware. Mouth (neat): ashes, mezcal, williams pear eau-de-vie and celeriac. Well, more or less that. With water: dill, radish, celeriac, lemon, sochu,  raicilla. Makes you travel, to say the least. Finish: rather long, more on orgeat and smoke. Comments: new rule at WF, young whisky, short notes. Course I'm joking.
SGP:566 - 86 points.

Croftengea 15 yo 2007/2023 (57.1%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, #77, 262 bottles)

Croftengea 15 yo 2007/2023 (57.1%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, #77, 262 bottles) Four stars
The rumour has it that WhiskySponge is an absolute fanatic of Croftengea, to the point that he has a poster of Loch Lomond's stills in his bedroom and has even written entire poems and Donovan-like folksongs in tribute to this precious distillate. True. Colour: light gold. Nose: very potent, spicy, on citron and coriander cookies, fresh-sawn pinewood, tarragon, lemon curd and nail polish remover. With water: moe tobacco, much more tobacco, plus various teas and patchouli. Mouth (neat): rich, fat, creamy, yet tense, lemony, saline, rieslingy… With water: thick and pretty bitter. Amaro, bitters, eggplant, ashes, seawater… Finish: very long, with smoke, chili, cardamom, bitter zests… What one would call 'a very grassy peat'. Comments: well, it doesn't beat around the bush, as they say, but it's an excellent, different peater. Some Croftengea by Mr Croftengea himself.
SGP:466 - 86 points.

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


September 24, 2023


Rums agricoles and others

Today, we are going to try to taste both rums that are strongly influenced by the barrels they were aged in, and rums that are very lightly marked by the wood (or by something else, ahem), even though the latter are rare. And this time, we are not going to start with poor liqueurs disguised as rum.

Karukera 'L'Expression 45' (45%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2021)

Karukera 'L'Expression 45' (45%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
Made by Longueteau, aged in French oak and, naturally, made with pure cane juice. I believe it is super young and so probably pretty cask-driven. Colour: pure gold. Nose: rather a lot of glue, which we enjoy, and bags of very ripe bananas, which we enjoy just as much. A lot of cane juice, praline, nougat and toasted oak – I also believe it is French oak. Some cane honey too, caramel with cinnamon, caraway… Well the cane is obvious, while the wood is obvious too. Mouth: rather rich and syrupy at first, then spicy, and frankly fast-oak-driven on the palate. A little too much for me. Clove and cinnamon running the place. Finish: pretty long but on the same spicy and oaky notes. Pine resin in the aftertaste. Comments: they had a 2008 'L'Expression' that I had liked much better. I find this newer one a little too 'boosted', but it's a common ailment among many new spirits that are, let's say, too impatient.
SGP:571 - 78 points.

Perhaps an older agricole…

HSE 2006/2022 'Extra Vieux' (47.8%, OB, Martinique, agricole, cask # FRA1810-1, 1000 bottles)

HSE 2006/2022 'Extra Vieux' (47.8%, OB, Martinique, agricole, cask # FRA1810-1, 1000 bottles) Four stars
HSE (Habitation Saint-Etienne) did some bastard 2005s a while back, one finished in Islay malt whisky, the other one in Highland malt. Hate the idea but let's be honest, they had been wonderful especially the 'Islay' (WF 88). This is what is called being in the wrong against oneself, I suppose. This is distilled at Distillerie du Simon (think Clément) and then aged at Saint-Etienne. Colour: full gold with orange hues. Nose: similar at first, that is to say on varnish, wood glue and bourbon, before rather a lot of pineapple and banana liqueurs would spring out, together with a little sesame oil and, above anything else Virginia tobacco. Not extremely complex, but the profile is rather perfect, pretty clean and 'agricole'. Mouth: punchy, varnishy once more, with some peppers upfront, then brown sugar and rather a lot of marmalade, with some kind of cinnamon spread on top of all that. A little burnt caramel playing with the sides of your tongue. Finish: pretty long, with even more burnt caramel, varnish and then heavyish liquorice and nutmeg. It was some spicy oak, probably French. Comments: the cask feels in this one, with all this varnish. But I like it rather a lot.
SGP:562 - 85 points.

Secret Martinique 6 yo (54%, Dram Mor, cask #08, 240 bottles, 2023)

Secret Martinique 6 yo (54%, Dram Mor, cask #08, 240 bottles, 2023) Four stars
A small bird typical of the French islands whispered in my ear that this young rum from Martinique stems from La Favorite. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is extremely idiosyncratic and exactly what you would expect from an indie bottler, that is to say something that's much closer to the distillate than any official bottling, thanks to some very moderate oak. Some very unusual whiffs of vetiver and elderflowers, a lot of plum spirit, then fennel seeds, juniper, caraway and cologne. Small citrus in the background, perhaps yuzu. With water: chalk, lime and juniper. Mouth (neat): huge notes of gin, genever (same thing), coriander, heavy lime and just seawater. A lot of seawater. With water: a tad rounder. Lavender sweets, woodruff syrup, elderflower liqueur… and gin. Finish: very long, with even more salinity. Comments: never tasted La Favorite au naturel. Very intriguing, unusual, and simply fascinating. Thank you, Dram Mor.
SGP:372 - 86 points.

Speaking about whisky people…

TML 16 yo 2007/2023 (57.1%, Watt Rum, Trinidad, refill barrel)

TML 16 yo 2007/2023 (57.1%, Watt Rum, Trinidad, refill barrel) Three stars and a half
This baby was aged for 8 years in the tropics, then for 8 years as well in Europe. We knew TDL, but I had never heard of TML, it seems that it is, indeed, a marque from Trinidad Distillers' indeed. Colour: gold. Nose: a little Angostura-y indeed, light, with some hay, popcorn, a little coconut, a little white chocolate, just a touch of vanilla fudge, some straw… Light style. With water: lighter yet. Small grasses, a touch of shoe polish… Mouth (neat): much more action on the palate. Some heavier pina colada with a dash of Saint-Germain (elderflower liqueur). A little lemon yoghurt. I would try this with a lot of ice and clear water. With water: opens up, with various herbs, wormwood, borage flower, alfalfa, sorrel, cress… Good fun. Finish: medium, a little more on lime and other sourer and more acidic elements. Some grassy oakiness, some oranges. Comments: a little tougher after the Favorite, because of the much lighter core, but it sure is one of the better ones within this lighter style.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Jamaican Rum 16 yo 'JMWP' (55.1%, Watt Rum for The Nectar

Jamaican Rum 16 yo 'JMWP' (55.1%, Watt Rum for The Nectar, Belgium exclusive, 2023) Five stars
The broker's marque suggests this is Worthy Park, does it not. Colour: gold. Nose: Jamaican perfection, with first vinyl and tarmac, then brine and seaweed, then dirty rotting fruits and petroleum. Im-pec-cable. With water: more medicinal. Embrocations, propolis, mercurochrome and thyme honey. Mouth (neat): superb smoked and tarred tropical fruits, lemon curd, seawater, tar, liquorice… With water: salted lemon, bits of tyre and rubber bands… Finish: long, salty, petroly, with a little gentian and grapefruit plus just honey in the aftertaste. Comments: not one of the heaviest Jamaicans but it's just got everything. Very fond of this juice.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Port Mourant 2012/2022 (51%, Barikenn, Guyana, 335 bottes)

Port Mourant 2012/2022 (51%, Barikenn, Guyana, 335 bottes) Four stars and a half
Barriken is part of the new wave of French bottlers. This one from the famous double wooden pot still when it was already at Diamond Distillery. Colour: gold. Nose: more petrol, tyres, engine oil and inner tubes, with some stunning smoky cane in the background. Lovely metallic notes too (old tool-box, stove and all that). Not much to add, it's a classic rum. With water: a little softer, on hay and brown liquorice. Mouth (neat): heavy style, very rich, very tarry, full of salted liquorice and overripe bananas, as well as abundant molasses. With water: the salinity further comes out. Finish: long, salty, liquoricy. One strawberry, just for fun (seriously, it's there). Comments: these Port Mourant are always very good, almost without exception. I'll really have to go see these famous stills in Georgetown before they start to dismount them. Not saying they ever will.
SGP:552 – 88 points.

Two last ones, let's first stay in Guyana…

Enmore 33 yo 1988/2022 (48%, The Colours of Rum, Guyana, cask #109, 185 bottles)

Enmore 33 yo 1988/2022 (48%, The Colours of Rum, Guyana, cask #109, 185 bottles) Five stars
From their single wooden pot still this time. Colour: straw, ex-refill, European. I suppose… Nose: it's a pretty subtle one, with many herbs and the liqueurs made thereof, such as verbena and genepy. Lighter tarriness, lighter liquorice, plus some awesome touches of pine liqueur, fir needles, hints of prickly pears, a tiny touch of myrtle, drop of molasses and drop of heavy honey, old rancio, plum wine… a perfect example of a rum that has undoubtedly become much more complex over the many years in a well-mannered cask. Mouth: dazzling, rich and thick, yet not stuffy at all. Everything's absolutely perfect here, the tarry and petroly notes are still obvious, while tropical jams and old sweet wines would bring all the added complexity. I'm certainly thinking about old sweet chenins from the Loire valley. Finish: liquorice, prunes, tar liqueur, green olives, citrons. Everything is to like here, while a feeling of old-school herbal liqueur would prevail in the aftertaste. Also black olives and chocolate, a marvellous combination. Comments: that's the advantage of continental aging; spirits can reach much older ages and thus gain more complexity, without being dominated by the wood.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Monymusk 24 yo 1998/2022 'MMW' (55.3%, Rest & Be Thankful, American oak barrel, 125 bottles)

Monymusk 24 yo 1998/2022 'MMW' (55.3%, Rest & Be Thankful, American oak barrel, 125 bottles) Five stars
MMW means Monymusk Wedderburn. The ester count is pretty low (147.2 g/hlpa) but as we all know, 'the feelings on the palate are absolutely not linear' regarding this matter. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: clean rubber, mown lawn, menthol and aniseed, dill, tiny touch of chlorine… With water: hurray, sardines and anchovies! Mouth (neat): just very good. Apple and lemon juice, salted and smoked. Wonderful zestiness, stunning simplicity. One could cook with this (I mean, add it to the food). With water: wonderful, easy, with some amazing citrus, ashes, anchovies and olives. This, with langoustines! Finish: long, pure. Lemon, salt, olives, ashes, smoked fish. Comments: very clean, straight, in the style of a great Pouilly-Fumé if you see what I mean.
SGP:652 - 90 points.

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


September 22, 2023


Noch More Mannochmore

I've heard that we're still leading the challenge for the most stupid title for a blog post ever, coupled with the award for the most vulgar alliteration of the century. It's good to have goals in life, but we're not yet venturing onto TikTok, let's not exaggerate. So, Mannochmore…

(Anne Burgess, georgaph)




Mannochmore 14 yo 2008/2023 (52%, Cadenhead's Natural Strength, Oloroso cask matured, 300 bottles)

Mannochmore 14 yo 2008/2023 (52%, Cadenhead's Natural Strength, Oloroso cask matured, 300 bottles) Three stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: interesting varnish and acetone at first, then the expected old walnuts, with some earthy tones, even mushrooms and moss, as well as whiffs of coal smoke. Apple peel as well. Nice nose. With water: more spicy oak coming through, pencil shavings, a drop of umami sauce, something glutamatey (right)…  Mouth (neat): touches of varnish once more, roasted chestnuts, something a tad prickly (vinegar de Jerez?) and some sour wines, orange wines perhaps? There's rather a lot of black pepper too,  the usual bitter oranges and green walnuts… With water: some peppered caramel, perhaps, touch of dry molasses… Finish: medium, with these cedar shavings again. Clove. Comments: it's pretty dry and rather oaky, but I don't think anyone's still producing oloroso 'dulce', or cream oloroso, or whatever.
SGP:361 - 80 points.

Mannochmore 13 yo 2010/2023 (54.8%, Dram Mor, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #3088)

Mannochmore 13 yo 2010/2023 (54.8%, Dram Mor, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #3088) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: an all-natural one this time, on sweet barley, garden fruits, apples, plums, with also wine gums, pear drops and a little white bread. Baguette, bien sûr. With water: comté cheese, even good gouda, baker's yeast, touch of varnish, a tiny acetic touch, even a little ammonia, which works in this context… In short, all is fine. Mouth (neat): I enjoy this feeling of wine gums, good newmake, pear spirit, plums… In this very case you'd even find strawberries here and there. With water: a tad rounder, with also some banana skin. Finish: medium, joyful, slightly sweet and sour, with drops of some very lemony sauvignon blanc. Comments: very lovely all-natural malt, close to the ingredients. You could almost add more water to produce… white (barley) wine. Kind of.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Mannochmore 13 yo 2008/2022 (59%, Chorlton Whisky, bourbon barrel, 162 bottles)

Mannochmore 13 yo 2008/2022 (59%, Chorlton Whisky, bourbon barrel, 162 bottles) Four stars
Always these awesome medieval labels. We know a few bottlers who occasionally display medieval behaviour, but that is certainly not the case with Chorlton. Colour: white wine. Nose: sameish, perhaps with a little more oils, sunflower, grape pips… The fruitiness is a little 'rounder' too, a little more towards peaches, clementines, prickly pears… With water: (viscimetry gone wild)… Lemon and rhubarb tarte with a lot of custard and meringue. Mouth (neat): a little strong, on the other hand who could be against lemon + aniseed + fennel + peaches? With water: absolutely excellent, tight, lemony, refreshing. And consequently, pretty dangerous as it 'goes down a little too well'. Finish: long, fresh, with some egg cream, more lemon tarte, touch of coriander and dill. Impeccable. Comments: indeed, this refreshing side can be a little dangerous, they should add a warning on a back label. Of course not.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

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


September 21, 2023


Two little Lowlands because
summer is not gone

There are more of them these days, especially new ones, but we'll keep this shortish session, well, short, with just an indie Auchentoshan and a secret Lowlander by some of the greater folks in London. Secret Lowlanders are a new thing, are they not?




A Lowland Distillery 15 yo 2007/2023 (51.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, for Kirsch Import, barrel, cask #77, 168 bottles)

A Lowland Distillery 15 yo 2007/2023 (51.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, for Kirsch Import, barrel, cask #77, 168 bottles) Four stars
The problem with the Internet is that you always end up knowing which is what, often without even searching for the info. You're looking for the exact number of bottles and bam, the information subtly arrives: this should be Glenkinchie. If that's the case, I've noticed that I've only ever tasted a dozen independent Glenkinchies, all from old vintages. Well, we haven't tasted thousands of official Glenkinchies either... Colour: white wine. Nose: you do find small whiffs of rose petals at first, before it would dive into a large bucket of pancake dough. Also whiffs of nail polish and very light acetone, which I always enjoy, then that family pack of gummy bears I keep mentioning (is it serious, doctor?) I also keep mentioning Californian IPA, which we'll find in there too. With water: as often, geared towards more dough and fresh breads. Which we strictly always enjoy. Mouth (neat): all doughy sweetness, driven by lemons. Let's say a large lemon tart topped with excessive amounts of meringue and some pepper from the oak. With water: citrusy herbs and plants coming through, lemongrass and grated lime zest, touches of yuzu gin. I know. Finish: rather long, refreshing, lemony. That yuzu gin plus some ginger tonic. Comments: we're still in the summer vibe, are we not. Excellent drop.
SGP:661 - 86 points.

Auchentoshan 32 yo 1991/2023 (48.7%, Halcyon Spirits, cask #1896, 140 bottles)

Auchentoshan 32 yo 1991/2023 (48.7%, Halcyon Spirits, cask #1896, 140 bottles) Four stars and a half
Only the second bottling by Halcyon Spirit, their first one having been an excellent rather old-school Macallan. Classic names so far… Colour: golden. Nose: lovely coconut water and woodruff at first, that's possibly the old cask, then custard tart, ripe banana, dandelions and gorse, mirabelles, preserved peaches… Then a little fresh moist marzipan, crushed almonds, even faint touches of sesame oil… This is pretty perfect, ultra-classic old yet fresh Auchentoshan, without any excessive cask or wine impact, which is always the best way in our book. Ideas of mangos coming out after ten minutes. Mouth: perfect lemony creaminess, in the style of older Auchentoshans, with a tannicity that some might find a bit excessive, but that's not the case at all for me, as we also find some small spices and herbs to great effect. Touches of coconut as well, and even tiny hints of rum. Lemon peel keeps it tight. Finish: long, tight indeed, with some green peppercorns. More zests and bitter almonds in the aftertaste, and williams pears in the after-aftertaste, which I find very cool. Comments: I've seen that Auchentoshan Distillery just celebrated their 200th anniversary. Well, this 1991 was a perfect celebratory dram, so triple happy birthday!
SGP:571 - 88 points.


Wgiskyfun 101

  Glenkinchie's big still
According to the owners Diageo, Glenkinchie has the largest wash still in Scotland, with a capacity of 31,000 liters. However, it's not certain that they fill it to its full capacity, as capacities and actual working 'payloads' in volume (charge) are not, I think, necessarily exactly the same thing, generally speaking.

September 20, 2023


Birthday Brora and neighbouring apéritif

(Do great distillates ever die?)

In a warehouse at Brora in 2013 (WF Archive)

Well, it's my birthday today. Would I ever have imagined reaching the age of thirty-seven? (yeah right, but of course...) In any case, Diageo has graced us this summer by introducing a one-of-one 50-year-old Brora 1972, which for me is the equivalent of Giant Steps or Kind of Blue. At WF, we almost never do solo tastings, I mean of a single whisky, but I've chosen to save the other not-yet-tasted Broras we have in the queue for another, more significant session that we will do here in a few weeks. Including the new Prima & Ultima, 'of course'. For now, I'll settle for tasting this brand new creature that has already caused a little bit of buzz here and there. It is a unique magnum (plus samples for some very, very kind and lucky friends) that will be auctioned off on October 5th in Edinburgh in partnership with Sotheby's, as part of the operation 'The Distillers One of One' which will 'raise vital funds to help disadvantaged young people in Scotland' of which, naturally, neither the top management nor the shareholders of Diageo are a part (now that's clever, S.). This unique magnum is expected to fetch between £200,000 and £400,000, which means that this tasting will probably be the most expensive one we'll have done this year, perhaps along with the Macallan 50 yo 1928 that we tasted a few months ago.

To be honest, I initially found the packaging, if we can call it that, a bit strange but it's my fault, foolishly I hadn't made the connection between the presentation and the name, 'Iris.' But of course, it represents the eye of a Highland wildcat, the emblem of the distillery! As soon as you know that it all becomes more beautiful... Besides, 1972 is, as we all know, the iconic vintage for Brora (and Clynelish for that matter). I've been lucky enough to taste several old 1972s from casks not yet bottled, and I can tell you that there are wonders, since this juice, although already exceptional around 20 years old as we have seen with the Rare Malts, seems to have been built for the long haul. And it can resist with great flair any cask that might try to dominate it over the years and decades. In any case, the latest 1972, the one from the famous Triptych launched to celebrate the reopening of Brora Distillery just two years ago, was as fresh as a young wild Scottish salmon (WF 96).

Brora Iris 50

That said, old habits die hard, so we're still going to have one or two small apéritif, just to uphold the traditions of Whiskyfun. But that won't be Brora…



Clynelish 14 yo 'Flora & Fauna" (43%, OB, black cap, +/-1998)

Clynelish 14 yo 'Flora & Fauna" (43%, OB, black cap, +/-1998) Five stars
Bizarrely, we've formally tried the C/S versions but never this early 14 that was soon to be replaced with the 'regular' official 14 yo at 46% vol., around 2003 if my memory serves me well. Now I've casually tried it a few times, should I add of course, and never really thought it was part of the (numerous) grand Clynelishes. In other words, a kind of under-Rare-Malts, as I remember it. Colour: light gold. Nose: there is this rather more mineral waxiness that would scream 1980s distillate, quite some chalk, crushed slate, even bandages and then rather a lot of hay, farmyard, a little lime juice, grist… Well you could say Campbeltown just as well this far. Mouth: these makes love aging in glass, apparently. The waxes are lovely, the lemons too, these green apples as well… It's got quite some soot and paraffin, and to be honest, it does not feel too light at 43%, even echoing some of the 'Old' Clynelish 12 at 40%. Quite some salt coming through too, samphire, wakame, and perhaps a few drops of crab bisque (and why not?) that remind us of Seinfeld's Soup Nazi. Great episode, that one. Finish: of good length, with a lovely mineral fatness and a perfect salinity. Comments: well, either it was one of the grandest batches, or indeed, some perfect  OBE has been at play. I'm glad I've been waiting for more than 20 years before trying this old bottle that I was having in the house stash. I fondly remember the F&F 15 yo 1982, could be that this regular F&F was distilled in 1982 too.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Second apéritif…

Clynelish 16 yo 'Four Corners of Scotland' (49.3%, OB, American oak hogsheads, 3,000 bottles, 2021)

Clynelish 16 yo 'Four Corners of Scotland' (49.3%, OB, American oak hogsheads, 3,000 bottles, 2021) Four stars
Philosophical topic of the day, almost existential: what will be the long-term impact of Brora's reopening on Clynelish and its famous style? Open for discussion, please send your answers on a postcard. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is a much fruitier and lighter style of Clynelish, much more on plums, gooseberries, green bananas, with this typical fruitiness that comes with expressive American oak. Williams pears, acacia honey, elderflower, honeysuckle… All this with a very moderate waxiness. A tiny candle, perhaps. One of those cleaner un-gungey batches?  Mouth: no wait, its more potent on the palate, rather more 'Clynelish', even if it's not a soot-and-wax bomb at all. More grasses, fruit peel, also some obvious oak/sawdust, with a slightly gritty background, while fruit eaux-de-vie would then come out, specially mirabelle and kirschwasser. No, not a wax king. Finish: medium, on similar notes. Sweet fruity oak, a little sourness in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, but I think I should have had this one before the old 14 F&F.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Good, are we ready?

Brora 50 yo 1972/2023 'Iris' (41.8%, OB, for The Distillers One of One Charity Auction, 1 Magnum)

Brora 50 yo 1972/2023 'Iris' (41.8%, OB, for The Distillers One of One Charity Auction, 1 Magnum) Five stars
Not even afraid of the rather light alcohol content! Not sure whether this is from a single cask… Colour: gold. Nose: Trane and Miles, indeed. Can a whisky be creative in itself? Self-generate? Even improvise? Gain independence, distancing itself from all things vulgarly human? In any case, this juice is sumptuous; one could almost believe that aliens came to perform some magic unknown to humanity, in the warehouse, between 1972 and 2023.While everyone in that part of Sutherland was sleeping… Having said that, not sure this baby sent its whole life at the Distillery. Good, as far as descriptors go, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is a 50-year-old Ardbeg from 1972; it's incredible how much the two styles converge after so many years. I feel I should apologise to Diageo after saying that, but then again, they own a large slice of Ardbeg's ownership, so it's all kind of in the family. Band-aid, old balms and embrocations, tar extracts, castor oil, Bakelite, old ointments, floated wood, cigar ashes… and peat! They say that the peaty side of a whisky slowly fades with aging, well I'm happy to report that this is not really the case here. The tarry aspect is sublime. Mouth: It starts with an old liqueur vibe, old Tarragone Chartreuse, as well as some walnuts and small berries like rowan or serviceberry... Then this almost greasy and certainly tarry peat comes in to take over, never to let go again. There are also very charming notes of ancient apple that emerge, somewhat like those of an old cider found in a forgotten cellar. Old balms are never far away, nor are these bits of tyres, and even less so old shoe polishes. I'm also reminded of that famous Elixir of the Swede that our grandmothers used to consume a lot of, with its 60 plants and whacky substances. At this proof, this old Brora is certainly not of extreme strength, but it has retained more than enough vitality to never become 'a bit frustrating.' Never! Finish: surprisingly long and displaying that slight rustic, somewhat farm-like quality that was already present in the much younger 1972s. Now without that, it wouldn't be Brora 1972! Comments: of ultimate beauty, what great class and allure! This Brora has aged gracefully; a distillate made for the long haul, indeed. I just regret that old enthusiasts who used to love the early Broras but are no longer with us cannot taste it. Such is life, c'est la vie...
SGP:466 - 96 points.

Link to the auction Distillers One Of One

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


September 19, 2023


A little trio of Bunnies

Oh well, there's a very recent Bunnahabhain exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, while we cannot go to this year's Whisky Show in London. Two good reasons to taste this Bunnahabhain, and then we'll see...

(Bunny's big trumpets, WF Archive)




Bunnahabhain 32 yo 1990/2023 (54.8%, OB, Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, oloroso butt, cask #7815, 537 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 32 yo 1990/2023 (54.8%, OB, Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, oloroso butt, cask #7815, 537 bottles) Five stars
It's always tough not to think of the 'Auld Acquaintance' when trying any old sherried Bunnahabhain (Bunny for close friends and those in the know). Colour: rich amber. Nose: some faint steely notes at first, some genuine old oloroso as if we were nosing an actual old solera butt, the expected walnuts and these wee touches of mustard sauce, then crazy gravies, cigars, box of chocolates, ground coffee, and something between sauna oils, paraffin and lady's soap. A touch of wood varnish too. Awesomely deep and singular. With water: more varnish, paint, clove and beef jerky. The soap is gone – it wasn't exactly soap anyway. Mouth (neat): very heavy, bordering an old black Ténarèze, with loads of cracked pepper, myrtle and eucalyptus syrup, plus half a coffeepot of strong Turkish coffee. With water: still a little extreme on the sherry side, but with more prunes. And venison, and Marmite. Finish: very long, always with some varnish, which we love, something a little biting (chili) and some green pepper sauce. Pil-pil in the aftertaste, plus a small glass of the heaviest retsina. Comments: here's one with a lot to say... and it's full of pepper, clove, and echoes of jalapeno. What a brute! A lovable brute...
SGP:372 - 91 points.

Good, some sparring partner, perhaps a younger sherry monster…

Bunnahabhain 13 yo 2009/2022 (52.7%, Acla da Fans & Sansibar, sherry butt, 142 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 13 yo 2009/2022 (52.7%, Acla da Fans & Sansibar, sherry butt, 142 bottles) Four stars
Colour: red amber. Nose: we're extraordinarily close, with the same varnishes and cloves, chocolate, old tools, coffee, fresh cracked pepper… With water: oh, some ointments and balms coming out, this is becoming much more medicinal. Good fun but where does that come from? Mouth (neat): this one's more on chocolate, blueberry jam, a little rosewater and some orange zests. It's pretty different on the palate, which is absolutely normal. Perhaps a little gin. With water: chocolate flavoured with rosewater and lavender. Unusual, good fun. Finish: long and very, very chocolaty. These medicinal notes are back in the aftertaste, together with some heavy black liquorice. Comments: I suppose that's all a matter of previous content. It doesn't quite feel like it was just sherry, but the end result is very good for sure, if a little… unusual. Bu Bunnahabhain is a sponge, we all know that.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

A third and last one 'from the old days'…

Bunnahabhain 23 yo 1989/2013 (45.7%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, PX finish, cask #5817/18, 626 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 23 yo 1989/2013 (45.7%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, PX finish, cask #5817/18, 626 bottles) Four stars and a half
W&M have had some wonderful Bunnies. Colour: full gold. Nose: propolis and mirabelles, not a common combo. Tiger balm and pine needles isn't very common either, and neither is marmalade plus wormwood. You could use this one for a rubdown, I suppose. Mouth: extremely good, more on chocolate, fir liqueur, old aquavits and genevers, chartreuse, only a few drops of Pedro, some zests… It's becoming pretty liqueury, in a rather wonderful way. Finish: rounder, yet herbal, with a feeling of liqueur de sapin aged in old oak. Fudge and thin mints in the aftertaste. Comments: great drop, a little unusual perhaps but I think you could drizzle this beautiful Bunnahabhain over some amazing artisanal vanilla ice cream. Or there, an Italian caramel ice cream.
SGP:661 - 89 points.

We're going to taste massive amounts of Bunnahabhain in the coming weeks, brace yourselves, this was just a teaser.

(Et merci Lucero)

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


September 18, 2023


Glen Elgin, the last ones (4/4)




Glen Elgin 21 yo 1995/2017 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Own Selection, refill hogshead, cask #3187)

Glen Elgin 21 yo 1995/2017 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Own Selection, refill hogshead, cask #3187) Four stars
It's true that we were still having this one, which did well at the Malt Maniacs Awards back then. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's a gentler one, but it is already 21 + 6. More fruit, pears, apples, bananas, plums, light barley syrup, toffee apple, white cherries, preserved greengages, a little paraffin… It's a cute drop on the nose, perhaps not the revelation of the century. Mouth: oh funny! Think a blend of tequila and williams pear eau-de vie. That could be early OBE just as well, but it's very unusual and more phenolic than other Glen Elgins, so we like it a lot. It's also got beautiful waxes and indeed, we're somewhat reminded of those old White Horse blends we were mentioning when we started this useless craze. Finish: medium, mezcaly, salty, smoky, with pistachios and almonds. Even more salt in the aftertaste. Comments: a very intriguing drop. As usual, we would wonder about the cask's previous content. Islay, no? Awesome Glen Elgin, nonetheless.

SGP:462 - 87 points.

A few more 1995s, we'll then jump to previous decades…

Glen Elgin 23 yo 1995/2018 (48.2%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead)

Glen Elgin 23 yo 1995/2018 (48.2%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead) Four stars
Was it Louise Brooks on the label? Colour: white wine. Nose: totally, absolutely close to the BB&R for a few seconds, then more, much more on chalk, grist, porridge and fresh marzipan, then on green, white and yellow fruits, around greengages and friends. Damp newspaper of the day (read printed newspapers! Yes I know this is a b****y blog). Mouth: great, very tart, full of green lemons, lime, green apples, grapefruits, then softer, sweeter fruits but it would remain tight and pretty grassy. Lovely earthiness too. Finish: long, on green tea, apple liqueur, paraffin, and with a chalkier aftertaste. Comments: water makes it a little piney and mentholy, beyond everything citrus and apples.

SGP:461 - 87 points.

Glen Elgin 24 yo 1995/2019 (51.3%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #3200, 212 bottles)

Glen Elgin 24 yo 1995/2019 (51.3%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #3200, 212 bottles) Four stars
TSMOS have bottled a lot of Glen Elgin. What I've always appreciated about them is that they primarily offer the distilleries they prefer, even if it means having many similar bottles. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one's rather rounder, with more sweet oak impact (not for the worse), some wonderful teas, touches of passion fruits beyond the usual citrus, crushed almonds, a little putty and a little fresh paint, touches of fennel, borage… With water: nope, no water needed, it went towards cardboard, although these notes of old cigars are lovely too. Good, you may add water, but jut on drop. Mouth (neat): tight once more, but the cask counterbalanced that a little bit, with some touches of mango cream and apple liqueur once more. Funny notes of dry Jurançon, drop of varnish. With water: you would think this was distilled in 1950. Believe me or not, I am reminded of some old White Horse, really (cross my heart). Finish: rather long, clearly salty at his point. Comments: hold on, let's add a drop of Lagavulin and see what happens (in the glass)… B****y peaters, they're so intrusive! But indeed we recreated something that, on the palate not on the nose, would remind us of some peaty blend. Surprise surprise, that was the most useless experimentation ever, it reminds me of certain 'innovations' by a few distillers craving press attention.

SGP:461 – 87 points.

Glen Elgin 20 yo 1995/2015 (51.7%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 116 bottles)

Glen Elgin 20 yo 1995/2015 (51.7%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 116 bottles) Four stars
Maltbarn's whiskies often rank highly in any tasting. Colour: straw. Nose: some fat oils this time, vegetables, eggplant, bok choy, copper, pine oil, putty, peanut butter, celeriac… With water: lovey hay and grass, sunflower oil, putty… Mouth (neat): in the style of the TSMOS (without Lagavulin). A lot of grapefruit and chalk, lemon oil, oranges, waxes… With water: a tad more on resins, crushed nuts, and even more chalk. Drop of seawater, not sure where that's coming from. Finish: medium, on oils and chalk, zests and grass in the aftertaste. Comments: all these 1995s are very similar, it's kind of the limit of the exercise, we're going to end up tying knots in our brain, as some say.

SGP:461 - 87 points.

So let's change vintage…

Glen Elgin 25 yo 1984/2009 (49%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon)

Glen Elgin 25 yo 1984/2009 (49%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon) Four stars and a half
This is already an antique, is it not? Nah 2009, that was four years ago. Colour: white wine. Nose: same juice! It was pointless to step back by ten years or more. Perhaps a little more grapefruit, some gentler slate and chalk, some tangerines and peaches? Not too sure, could be smoke and mirrors, after all the age is similar and vintage effects in whisky remain highly controversial. Mouth: manzanilla!!!! Astounding fresh walnuts, mustard, lemon peel and seawater, with mild oxidation (or something like that) and some green apples. One almost feels like listening to flamenco. Finish: long, peppery, a bit medicinal, the aftertaste being tougher, tighter, grassier. Comments: I say the nose wasn't beautiful enough to guarantee 90 points, but what a palate! Well, you have to like Manzanilla…

SGP:461 - 88 points.

Time to have a very last Glen Elgin, let's make it a really old one. In the end, it will have amounted to only twenty-eight Glen Elgins all in all, I am quite disappointed.

Glen Elgin 40 yo 1975/2015 (48.5%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 73 bottes)

Glen Elgin 40 yo 1975/2015 (48.5%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 73 bottes) Five stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: proof that age does matter. It's become tertiary and fractal, and even if you do feel that it wouldn't climb Mount Everest anymore, there are zillions of smaller fruits and berries playing together. Sorb, mistletoe, holly (eau-de-vie) drizzled over pistachio ice cream, small mushrooms, bizarre waxes and putties, resins, propolis and beeswax… But as often is the case with old single cask malts, a magnificent nose doesn't necessarily foretell a palate at its best form. Mouth: wrong. I mean, I was wrong. Honeys, waxes, balms, more pistachio, more sorb, elderberries, pink bananas, a little paraffin, even a tiny and salty drop of turpentine, green tea ice cream, mochi, perhaps ginseng powder… Finish: medium, not tired, rather on mint tea, with a drop of verbena liqueur and Suze. Do you know Suze? The aftertaste is a tad less entrancing, a little bitter and drying. Too bad, I was almost ready to come up with 91 points. Comments: a perfect final touch, though.

SGP:451 - 90 points.

There are quite a few distilleries where one could embark on similar adventures, like trying 20, 30, or even 40 expressions in a row (but not all at once). Honestly, it's really interesting, but it's also exhausting, especially since we tend to find very similar whiskies at the same time from many independents. Well, we'll see, it's more entertaining to taste 'A Couple of Port Ellens' or 'Three Brora 1972', that's for sure (speaking of which, well, stay tuned…).

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


September 17, 2023


  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!


It's Sunday, it's Rum Day

It is rum Sunday again, and I promise we don't talk about terroir. I mean, not explicitly. By the way, we've decided once and for all not to taste series of rums from the same distillery, nor even from a single country, perhaps to keep a 'vacation' vibe to all this madness, even though we're slowly approaching our two-thousandth expression. Which means nothing, we agree. Let's kick this off from a French island…




Rivière du Mât 'XO' (42%, La Réunion, +/-2022)

Rivière du Mât 'XO' (42%, La Réunion, +/-2022) Three stars
From the largest distillery in La Réunion, distilled from molasses and not cane juice, so it is a 'rhum traditionnel' although they also make 'agricole'. They use fresh molasses from their own production, though, they don't source them. This one is said to be 12 'on average'. Colour: full yellow gold. Nose: orange blossom and just oranges running the show, together with a little fudge and caramel. Then we have honeysuckle and dandelions, while it's getting more floral with also a touch of earth and tobacco. The whole remains relatively light and certainly very gentle.   Mouth: rather spicier, with oaky accents, some cedarwood, cinnamon, very soft chilis, gentler pepper, then vanilla and perhaps a little papaya, with a faint waxy side but it'll remain rather light all along. It's rather a whisperer, as we sometimes say. Finish: same, fruits and flowers, lightly coated with some cedar and cinnamon. Funny aniseed and fennel seeds in the aftertaste. Comments: all gentleness, no real kick, but we're already way beyond our usual (and always pretty lousy) apéritifs.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Birkenhof 'JON' (42%, OB, Germany, handcrafted rum, +/-2020)

Birkenhof 'JON' (42%, OB, Germany, handcrafted rum, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Apparently, this is molasses from Guatemala distilled in pot stills in Nistertal, north of… Limburg a/d Lahn, Germany. Rings a bell, doesn't it. I would suggest the Guatemalans import in turn little plums from their place and start to make Guatemalan schnaps. Colour: white wine. Nose: hey hey! Nice paraffin and diesel oil, olives, capers, rotting pineapples… Did they co-inoculate 'good bacteria' together with the yeast, or something like that? It is, indeed, pretty 'mucky'. Mouth: it is almost a little Jamaican, a sweeter one. Good fun here, with some liquorice, brine, olives, tar and just a little syrup. Cane syrup. Very intriguing, pretty good. Finish: medium to short, slightly handicapped by the sweetness and the low alcohol content, I would say. Comments: The problem with this style is that one immediately thinks of Jamaican rums, or of grand-arôme. In any case, it's ten thousand times better than that other German rum we know only too well, Der Gute Pott. Entschuldigung.
SGP:652 - 83 points.

Renegade 'Cuvée Nova' (46%, OB, Grenada, 2023)

Renegade 'Cuvée Nova' (46%, OB, Grenada, 2023) Four stars and a half
This is the new all-island aged Renegade, a blend of different terroirs only available in the US for now, in the EU in spring next year. Colour: gold. Nose: I would say it's coastal rum, in the sense that briney and maritime elements are speaking up first, before anything 'old boat' would come out (tarry ropes, old boat engine, paint, putty, oil, old sardines – perhaps not…) and then several rotting (well, almost rotten) fruits, the usual pineapples, also bananas that went brown… I'm also finding pickled kumquats and various tropical chutneys. The Renegade style seems to be asserting itself, while we can't find the slightest trace of a wine cask, but is there even one, actually? Mouth: much pleased with this one, it's got the immediate fullness of some young whiskies from Campbeltown or Islay (S., A…). More brine and tar, over many overripe tropical fruits and grapefruits. There's some fatness, ala West Coast (any West Coast). Salted liquorice, a touch of mango jam, salted anchovy filets… Finish: long, still salty. Comments: I would really like to know if the majority of the sugarcane fields used here are located on the coast. Otherwise, where does all this incredible salinity come from? Hope they'll do one at 50% vol. too. Or there, 57%. I am almost certain that this juice would have already reached 90 points under these conditions, but it should reach and exceed them anyway as soon as it has benefited from just a little more maturation. This will undoubtedly place it at the forefront of Caribbean offerings. In such a short amount of time, it's quite spectacular... That said, as this first vatting is the youngest there will ever be, it could also later achieve cult status. Old Clynelish 5 yo, anyone?
SGP:563 - 89 points.

Since we had been on La Réunion…

Savanna 6 yo (58.5%, OB, La Réunion, Germany exclusive, Unshared Cask, ex-cognac, cask #6, 768 bottles, 2022)

Savanna 6 yo (58.5%, OB, La Réunion, Germany exclusive, Unshared Cask, ex-cognac, cask #6, 768 bottles, 2022) Four stars
The label is a bit frightening, but it's a change from the butterflies and tropical fish that you see elsewhere. Not too sure whether this is a 'high-ester' Savanna, but we should soon see… It is a 'traditionnel' too, just like the Rivière du Mât, so molasses. Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh I see, fennel, dill, aniseed, pine needles, angelica, eucalyptus, balms, fresh camphor… Then toffee, roasted pecans and peanuts… Then  tar, tobacco and Maggi. There are several rums in this one, several phases. Great fun, while you would believe they've used amburana or mizunara (or 'stuff'). With water: touches of metal polish, old silverware, leek and bok choy, lovage… That's the 'Maggi' part but there isn't any lovage in Maggi. Yes I've asked them. Mouth (neat): spices, green curry and a lot of cardamom. And alcohol, so quick… With water: many dried exotic fruits, around longans, lychees, jujubes… It's a soft landing. Finish: medium, and very different depending on the amount of water you've added. Comments: better not add too much water. A lovely piney side.
SGP:571 - 86 points.

Port Mourant at Uitvlugt 1995/2022 (53.4%, Swell de Spirits, Flashback Series, Guyana, cask #12)

Port Mourant at Uitvlugt 1995/2022 (53.4%, Swell de Spirits, Flashback Series, Guyana, cask #12) Five stars
We won't tell the story of that wooden still stuff for the umpteenth time. Colour: pale gold. Nose: of course. Bakelite, engine oil, petrol, sardines and anchovies, tapenade, garlic sauce (aioli), then cigars, cigarettes and the interior of an old Italian car. Someone's been smoking Toscani cigars in it for at least three decades. With water: tighter, more coastal, and very bizarrely, reminiscent of the Renegade, which is extremely odd from a chronological standpoint. Mouth (neat): cologne and petrol, or rather petrol and cologne, then more salted fish, olives, and everything that usually comes with that. With water: truffles, salts and waxes. A bit 'love it or hate it' at this point; I'll let you guess which side I'm on. Finish: very long, very salty, diesely. I've realised rather recently that many die-hard malt aficionados had never tasted these rums, well they still have wonderful things to discover. Comments: another case of stunning imperfections making a spirit dazzling.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Caroni 1998/2023 (61.9%, Swell de Spirits, Trinidad, Private Garden #3, Cuvée Clos des Spiritueux)

Caroni 1998/2023 (61.9%, Swell de Spirits, Trinidad, Private Garden #3, Cuvée Clos des Spiritueux) Four stars
I find their packaging always very elegant, which is a nice change from the random designs we see here and there. Colour: golden amber. Nose: it is a soft Caroni, but that may be the super-high strength. A little warm wood, roasted peanuts, autumn leaves, bourbony varnish… Not much else but I'm sure it's blocked by C25H6O. Correct, that's ethanol. With water: there, patchouli, bidis, eucalyptus, pine needles, 'a walk through a Mediterranean forest'... I agree that's not very 'Trinidad', but there… Mouth (neat): it is very harsh, very piney. I believe that H2O is absolutely necessary here. With water: it is not easy to get the amount of water right. What's sure is that it gets softer, but we remain around pine, fir, resins, needles and oils. Finish: very long, resinous, piney, and we won't mention 'that substance' they produce in vast quantities in Morocco. No, not argan oil. You're right, that would be liquorice, ha-ha. Comments: love it but very tough boy.
SGP:373 - 85 points.

Please more elegant packaging…

Long Pond 2006/2023 (66.9%, Swell de Spirits, Jamaica, Private Garden, for Cave St Seurin)

Long Pond 2006/2023 (66.9%, Swell de Spirits, Jamaica, Private Garden, for Cave St Seurin) Five stars
The packaging is very elegant, indeed, but there must be a typo in the alcohol content. They could at least proofread their labels! If you swallow the wrong way, it kills you instantly. Colour: golden amber. Nose: Jamaican class. I'm not a huge fan of strictly all Long Ponds, but unless it would change a lot once brought down to civilised strengths, I have the impression that we're having a winner. Superb varnish, petrol, olives, brine and overripe bananas. With water: Formica (all the rage again), pencil shavings, olives, pickled lemons, gherkins, olives (twice?), nail polish, new sneakers, coal tar… Mouth (neat): you could even swallow a drop or two. Feels perfect, with litres of acetone (I know). With water: just splendid at +/-45% vol. Salty, with some oysters, acidic as it should, full of petrol and lemon juice, even more full of liquorice… It's just a little, say  a bit cutting, but we're somewhat masochistic; otherwise we'd be drinking Heineken. Finish: long, fat, perfect. Little bergamotes dancing a jig in the background. Salty and tarry aftertaste, as requested. Comments: incredible, it is not a tasting session, it's an MMA fight or a great molasses explosion! (see below). Exceptional Long Pond, but what was the marque again? They should sell it in a bundle with a double-magnum of Vittel (boo Nestlé Waters, the cheque never arrived!)
SGP:564 - 91 points.

I think we've reached the end; nothing could come after that Long Pond.

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September 15, 2023