Google Whisky Fun by Serge and Angus, blog, reviews and tasting notes since 2002
Whiskyfun Malt Madness Malt Maniacs
 

Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 16,171
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Angus 1,336

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (94)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
22)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (204)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
92)
Benrinnes (
102)
Benromach (
71)
Bladnoch (
84)
Blair Athol (
8
9)
Bowmore (5
55)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
8)
Brora (1
34)
Bruichladdich (309)
Bunnahabhain (3
65)

Dailuaine (87)
Dallas Dhu (41)
Dalmore (1
26)
Dalwhinnie (38)
Deanston (
51)
Dufftown (5
5)

Edradour (88)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
78)
Laphroaig (4
70)
Ledaig (1
35)
Linkwood (1
73)
Littlemill (1
24)
Loch Lomond (
78)
Lochside (70)
Longmorn (2
31)
Longrow (7
6)

Macallan (311)
Macduff (
89)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
47)
Millburn (2
4)
Miltonduff (
105)
Mortlach (206)
Mosstowie (2
4)
Scapa (51)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
94)
St-Magdalene (5
4)
Strathisla (
106)
Strathmill (
45)

 
 
Pete and Jack



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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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August 1 - 2
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Music Awards
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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2011
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
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1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
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April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
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2010
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
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August 1 - 2
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2009
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2008
Music Awards
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1 - 2 - 3
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1 - 2
October
1 - 2
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April 1 - 2
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2007
Music Awards
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1 - 2
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Feis Ile
Special
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January 1 - 2

2006
Music Awards
December 1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2 - 3
September
1 - 2
August
1 - 2
July
1 - 2
June 1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May
1 - 2
April
1 - 2
March
1 - 2
February
1 - 2
January 1
- 2

2005
Music Awards
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October
1- 2
September
1 - 2
August
1 - 2
July
1 - 2
June
1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May
1 - 2
April
1 - 2
March
1 - 2
February
1 - 2
January
1 - 2

2004
December 1 - 2
November 1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September
1
August
1
July
1
June
1
May
1
April 1
March 1
February
1
January
1

No archives for 2002-2003

 
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1969 - 1983

   


 

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Disclaimer
 

All the linked files (mp3, video, html) are located on free commercial or non-commercial third party websites. Some pictures are taken from these websites, and are believed to be free of rights, as long as no commercial use is intended.

I always try to write about artists who, I believe, deserve wider recognition, and all links to mp3 files are here to show you evidence of that. Please encourage the artists you like, by buying either their CDs or their downloadable 'legal' tracks.

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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
21

 
Whiskyfun

Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

February 26, 2021


Whiskyfun

A few more bastards and blends

Just a short aimless selection of what we have. So either single malt whiskies with no demonstrable origins, or improbable branded vattings. You know, Victorian typesets and QR codes, and all that jazz. Let's do that randomly…

Chivas Regal 18 yo (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2020)

Chivas Regal 18 yo (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
Tsk tsk, I can hear you. We whisky bloggers need to calibrate our sensors every once in a while and taste the large-volume blends, I believe that's crucial, even if it's true that we prefer malts. The industry, including embedded bloggers and influencers, keep shouting that blends are the deal - and that age is just a number while they're at it – but that's just an unnecessary mantra. Remember in the (not so) old days, the better blends were advertised as containing a higher proportion of malt. Malt is the deal. Anyway, rant over, let's taste this sadly-under-proofed deluxe baby, I'm sure it's good. Colour: gold. Nose: it is an high-malt-proportion blend indeed, even if it's really very soft to any malt aficionado – or, yeah, maniac. Overripe apples, drops of mead, a wee Cognacqy side, so raisins, a little oak, earl grey, a tiny meaty side (bouillon), perhaps some nuts, probably some tobacco… But it is really very light, if not weak. I understand why fine folks in Asia are quaffing this with their meals, it is not much bigger than wine. Mouth: good, just a little indefinite and kind of blurred. I know master blenders are second only to Mick Jagger, but when you try to do a little painting, you soon learn that if you blend too many colours, what you get is… grey. So this is a nice grey, but it is a grey. I'd add that the raisins and the vanillin in the back are very pedestrian. Finish: very short and too spirity. Comments: you could have two bottles of Glenlivet 12 for the price of one bottle of Chivas 18. A no brainer. I had found an earlier Chivas 18, back in 2013, much better (WF 83).
SGP:341 - 77 points.

That's sorted, let's go on…

MacNair's 12 'Lum Reek'(46%, OB, Glenallachie Distillers, blended malt, 2020)

MacNair's 12 'Lum Reek' (46%, OB, , blended malt, 2020) Two stars and a half
Victorian is dead, Dickensian is up, apparently. This is a young peated blended malt, as they all do now. Hope they'll never shut down Caol Ila! Colour: light gold. Nose: soft vanilla and gentle smoke, some apple peelings, fresh hazelnuts, a little cardboard, white chocolate, nougat… So a simple, easy, pleasant nose. One to sip at parties instead of Mai Tais, except that we don't do parties these days. And Mai Tais are out, aren't they? Mouth: not too sure. Some peppery smoke, rather a lot of bitterness, then sugar cane syrup, which makes it do the slits, so to speak. Not bad but not very well integrated, perhaps. There's some lemon but it feels a bit 'added'. Am I not being too harsh? Finish: medium, spirity, a little rough. Comments: I'm wondering if it's not made out of peaters from the mainland. They're good but they often lack depth, balance and integration. In my humble opinion.
SGP:455 - 78 points.

Peat & Bourbon (60.5%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, Canada exclusive, 2020)

Peat & Bourbon Barrel (60.5%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, Canada exclusive, 2020) Five stars
With these guys you don't ask questions, you just try to taste the many juices they put out, as long as you can keep up. So this is for Canada, so I suppose they've dumped maple syrup into the bourbon barrels, have they not? Colour: white wine. Nose: sharp peat smoke at a strength that reminds me of the first Port Ellen I have bought, that Rare Malt. But why am I telling you this? Walnut skin, kelp, gasoline, hessian, kippers, concrete, raw chocolate, soy sauce (unusual in unsherried drams), lovage… Hold on there must be a secret weapon in this, and that cannot be maple syrup. With water: carbon paper, perhaps? But who's still got carbon paper? Mouth (neat): yeah roots, brine, gentian, capers. With water: mezcal? Did they add mezcal? Big salt too, olives… Better and better. Finish: long, earthy, rooty, smoky, salty. Incredible touches of tequila/mezcal. Comments: grows on you, just like… let's try to find something Canadian… Say dear Joni Mitchell? Score will be high and justified. Fantastic work.
SGP:367 - 90 points.

Right, I should try other 'Elements' now but we've said this would be varied, have we not?

Scarabus 10 yo (46%, Hunter Laing, +/-2020)

Scarabus 10 yo (46%, Hunter Laing, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
Building brands. This is an Islay single malt, let's see if it's just Caol Ila under another name. What? Why would the label be overdone? Of course it isn't! But it's the juice that counts anyway… Oh and I seem to remember Scarabus is also the lovely place where our very dear friend Martine Nouet, queen of all stills, has got her house on Islay. But shh… (hugs, Martine) Colour: white wine. Nose: precise, millimetric, on olive brine, oysters, lime juice, and sea breeze. No more, no less. Mouth: high-definition smoke, seawater, green olives, and lemon. An unexpected touch of thyme honey, which will cure your throat as sure as 1+1=2. Finish: long, wonderfully briny, salty, you'd almost believe you could quaff this with razorfish stewed in garlic and butter sauce, Barcelona-style. Crikey, I'm hungry again. Comments: let's be serious, the name Scarabus obviously suggests the Rhinns of Islay, it just cannot stem from the other side, can it? So either Port Charlotte, or Kilchoman. Not too sure… Let's move on… Great tight juice in any case.
SGP:367 - 88 points.

Isn't this getting all about young peat? That wasn't our goal in the first place but anyway, since we're here, let's do a last one…

Vital Spark 12 yo 'Batch 002' (50.2%, Meadowside Blending, 1280 bottles, +/-2020)

Vital Spark 12 yo 'Batch 002' (50.2%, Meadowside Blending, 1280 bottles, +/-2020) Three stars
Are all designers in Scotland on acid these days? Or did they hire the very last veterans of the Light Brigade to do these ueber-retro labels? This one was only finished in oloroso sherry, so in theory, it should be taken down a notch, but not too sure. Colour: gold. Nose: of course it's nice, the sherry's perfectly nutty, the tobaccos are well in place, the smoke's very noticeable yet smooth, the strength is perfect, and these complex notes of late-summer rainwater and cigarillo tobacco work very well. No quibbles. With water: chocolate and pipe tobacco, with some glutamate. Mouth (neat): more fun and wackiness here. Ham and mustard, loads of caraway, even more juniper and clove, nutmeg on steroids, concentrated walnut wine, dry Madeira at its most extreme… May we have a chat with the chef? With water: but this is goulash! Finish: long, on walnut wine. Extreme cardamom in the aftertaste, nutmeg in the after-aftertaste. Comments: whether this spark is vital or not, I don't know, what's sure is that it's rather of-the-wall. The palate is really spicy and the cardamom loud in the aftertaste. Yet I rather like it.
SGP:373 - 81 points.
 

February 25, 2021


Whiskyfun

A trio of Glencadam

Let's see what we have…

Glencadam 13 yo 2007/2020 (40%, OB, Whisky Journey Singapore, 1st fill bourbon, cask #27, 368 bottles)

Glencadam 13 yo 2007/2020 (40%, OB, Whisky Journey Singapore, 1st fill bourbon, cask #27, 368 bottles) Four stars
Glencadam's new livery here, and a strength that's curiously low. Now low-strength whiskies do make for appropriate apéritifs, don't they… Colour: straw. Nose: ho-ho, the strength might be low, but the profile is perfect, you'd really believe you're nosing some young Montrachet ex-new oak. Wonderful vanilla, crushed bananas, honeysuckle, acacia flowers, sunflower oil, and a few sweets, jellybeans perhaps, a tiny drop of cherry coke (remember?) All that is rather brilliant and the 40% got by without a hitch. This far… Mouth: understood! I believe they've been looking for high drinkability and that worked. Same feeling of high-class chardonnay, sweets, ripe bananas, herbal teas, earl grey, a drop of triple-sec, oats and sesame, lime tea… It's really very good and for once you feel any extra-degrees would have been rather superfluous. Well done. Finish: sure it's a little short but the barley is back. Comments: really very good but you'd rather buy jeroboams. Goes down as if it was… a Montrachet.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Good, after that ueber-gentle dram, let's have rocket fuel…

Glencadam 9 yo 2011/2020 (63.9%, Single Malts of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, barrel, cask #800015, 249 bottles)

Glencadam 9 yo 2011/2020 (63.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, barrel, cask #800015, 249 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: earth after a first rain, cellulosic varnish, white asparagus, granny smith, nail polish remover, marshmallow brochettes (a hit when we were boy scouts), Spanish green apple liqueur… And a feeling of wood smoke that sometimes comes with high-strength whiskies. With water: the smoke's still there! All the rest consists in various herbal teas and small citrus. Yuzu, lemon caviar, also lemon sherbet. Mouth (neat): tremble, mere mortal… Juicy fruits, marshmallows, bubblegum, all kinds of raspberry sweets and candies and gums… Orange eau-de-vie (maceration). With water: a whole basket of fresh orchard fruits plus big juicy oranges and all the fruits drops we could hope for. Finish: same. Good length. Sherbety, as they say in St. Tropez. Comments: liquid sweets. Super good, with a distillate that's got a little more texture than others, which works well with this style.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Look, those 63.9% were nothing…

Glencadam 9 yo 2011/2020 (64.6%, Signatory Vintage, for Kirsch Import, bourbon barrel, cask #800144, 178 bottles)

Glencadam 9 yo 2011/2020 (64.6%, Signatory Vintage, for Kirsch Import, bourbon barrel, cask #800144, 178 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: almost the same whisky, pretty obviously, as it is a sister cask. Perhaps a tad fatter, with a little more vanilla from a barrel that was probably a little more active. A little more chlorophyll and herbs, perhaps. With water: a few lactic tones, other than that it is, indeed, the same whisky as the TSMOS. Mouth (neat): even closer. Excellent – perhaps just a little lethal. With water: same. Ish. Finish: long and similar. A little grassier this time. Grapefruits, lemon sherbet, acid drops. Comments: very good drops, these young fruity Glencadams!
SGP:651 - 86 points

(Merci Benjamin)

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

 

February 24, 2021


Whiskyfun

Some more Glenrothes

There's really a lot of Glenrothes. Huge distillery, one of the first we visited together with the Malt Maniacs, around twenty years ago. Good times.

Glenrothes 31 yo 1989/2020 (44.4%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 268 bottles)

Glenrothes 31 yo 1989/2020 (44.4%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 268 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: an all-natural nose, relatively light, with whiffs of tree resins, some light mead and pear cider, apple pie covered with cinnamon powder, and a growing floral side. Rather honeysuckle I would say, elderflowers… Marzipan… So it is a pretty delicate and subtle old Glenrothes, rather lovely. Mouth: lovely indeed, rather on ripe fruits, more cider, almond milk, touches of agave syrup and even cane juice, mead and lighter honeys (acacia), chamomile tea, touches of pistachio nougat (or halva)… And lastly, earl grey tea. Finish: not too long but fresh and well balanced. A little more resinous, perhaps. An unexpected salty aftertaste, with a wee feeling of smoked salmon. Comments: super good. I'm wondering if we couldn't quaff this with smoked salmon indeed. Remember, it's not always a great idea to have very coastal whiskies with seafood, gentler Speysiders often work better. My tuppence.
SGP:451 - 88 points.

Glenrothes 21 yo 1997/2019 (43%, Signatory Vintage, cask #6369)

Glenrothes 21 yo 1997/2019 (43%, Signatory Vintage, cask #6369) Three stars and a half
One of those Ibisco decanters that do let the colours of our favourite whiskies fully express themselves. Wonderful - when no caramel was involved, which should be the case here. Colour: light gold. Nose: rather a lot of burnt wood at first, burning pinecones, coconut shells… Then rather chocolate, Mars bars, then a little chicken bouillon, brown sauce, sesame oil… I would say we're pretty close to some officials here, not only because of the lighter strength. Mouth: really good, really on malt (Ovaltine) and chocolate, with some gingerbread and some drops of gentian liqueur (Suze or Avèze). Perhaps elderberry eau-de-vie, holly, sorb… Why perhaps? No, certainly! Finish: medium, rather more on some earthier chocolate. Almonds. Comments: its sometimes really a blessing not to have to deal with any waters. Just me and my whisky, as some old ads would have said.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 23 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon and sherry, 2020)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 23 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon and sherry, 2020) Three stars and a half
This is 60% sherry and 40% bourbon. No, wait, the other way 'round. Colour: light gold. Nose: same ballpark. Nuts and leaves and teas, rather milk chocolate, quite a lot of marzipan this time, dried coconuts and bananas, dried papayas, you know these mixes we have with our apéritifs (like Bowmore Bouquet or Laphroaig 1967 – I'm joking). A gristiness too. Mouth: all-natural gentle malt whisky from Speyside, rather in the style of Glenlivet indeed, even of this one's a tad more lactic. Butter cream, overripe apples, tealeaves, perhaps a touch of fresh mushroom. Nothing bad to say, quite the contrary. Drops of orange squash. Finish: medium, fresh, pleasant, not much to add. Apple pie and butterscotch. Comments: works very well and goes down even better.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glenrothes 29 yo 1990/2020 (48.8%, Or Sileis, 'The Emperor', hogshead, cask #17999, 242 bottles)

Glenrothes 29 yo 1990/2020 (48.8%, Or Sileis, 'The Emperor', hogshead, cask #17999, 242 bottles) Four stars
The lady on the label reminds of a tour guide they were having at the distillery, a long time ago. Of course I am joking, no offence meant! Colour: straw. Nose: we're not too far from the TWA here, with subtle hive-y aromas, waxes and honeys, mead, pollen, yellow flowers, dandelions, orange cake, champagne biscuits… Oh and indeed, some rather buttery, toasted, fatter champagne. A style that's a tad out of fashion, but I'm sure it'll be back. Yes we're talking champagne. Mouth: very very very good, with a lovely maltiness, some flawless teas, then herbs and roots. A touch of turmeric (cures anything), ginseng (ditto), and absinth (nope). A pinhead of horseradish. Finish: rather long, clean, fresh, rather herbal. Earthier aftertaste, this just always works. White pepper. Comments: excellent. So, who's this lady? An emperor? Were they having emperors in Rothes? Empresses?
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Glenrothes 9 yo 2009/2019 (54.6%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #4923204, 293 bottles)

Glenrothes 9 yo 2009/2019 (54.6%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #4923204, 293 bottles) Three stars
I think we're expecting some average malty whisky here, not that there's anything wrong with that, on the contrary. Colour: straw. Nose: sponge cake, brioche, shortbread, praline, nougat, sunflower oil. Nothing to throw away, this is cool young barley-forward malt whisky. With water: I seem to find white asparagus (green ones are rather for our old friends in Brittania). Mouth (neat): yes, love this! Pure raw barley, white pepper, vanilla, branches, kougelhopf, scones, café latte, pear spirit. With water: same plus more sour peary notes. Gets a tad too sour for me, but no quibbling. Finish: medium, with some sour woods beyond the fresh malt. Comments: very good young Glenrothes that does the job. We sometimes call them ueber-blends.
SGP:351 - 82 points.

Glenrothes 13 yo 2006/2020 (61.8%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, 1st fill butt, cask #9683, 329 bottles)

Glenrothes 13 yo 2006/2020 (61.8%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, 1st fill butt, cask #9683, 329 bottles) Four stars
What a lovely medieval label! Colour: light gold. Nose: modern. Popcorn, nougat, vanilla, butterscotch, butter cream. Go beat this. With water: same. Lactones and fats galore. Mouth (neat): too good. Apple pie, touch of varnish from the strength, gueuze, woodruff, elderflower syrup, orgeat, bark, walnut peelings, softer bitters. With water: very good. Barley, butterscotch, marmalade, praline, sesame oil, peanut butter. You do not beat this, even if that's regrettable. Finish: long, nutty and caky. Toasted oak, roasted peanuts, stuff. Comments: you cannot fight these modern concoctions. Let it go, life's too short.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

A last one please…

Glenrothes 12 yo 2006/2019 (57%, The Whisky Baron, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #6147)

Glenrothes 12 yo 2006/2019 (57%, The Whisky Baron, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #6147) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: starts a little leafy, leathery and metallic, as some ex-sherry seasoned malts can sometimes be, but gears towards black cherries and chocolate, with notes of fresh battelman and really a lot of chestnut honey. Tends to become more and more chocolaty. Mousse! With water: wee whiffs of natural rubber, then a few meaty touches (pâté, foie gras - really) and an old copper kettle. Other than that, chocolate. Mouth (neat): really bold, starting with a lot of bitterer marmalade and chocolate as well as quite some pepper and ginger (tonic), while the chocolate would take over after five seconds. Quite some green pepper too. With water: wouldn't change that much. Dry and spicy. Finish: rather long, a little rough and leafy, but we're very fine. Comments: a dry one that didn't spend much on fruits. Pretty pretty good!
SGP:361 - 84 points.

(Thank you Tim)

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

 

February 23, 2021


Whiskyfun

Rosebank, new old and old young

I haven't tried the new 'old' 30 by current owners Ian Macleod, and maybe I will, but we shall now try another 30 that's most appealing. And naturally, a proper sparring partner…

Rosebank  30 yo 1989/2019 (55.2%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, Author's Series, refill hogshead, cask #HL17438, 192 bottles)

Rosebank  30 yo 1989/2019 (55.2%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, Author's Series, refill hogshead, cask #HL17438, 192 bottles) Five stars
The author here is the Franco-British writer and cartoonist George du Maurier who seems to be much more famous in the UK than he is in France. The French! Colour: gold. Nose: a bag of 25 kilograms of lemon drops. The question is, do we enjoy lemon drops? We sure do. Also lemon tarte, limoncello, and these wonderful citrons with their very thick skins. So, the profile is narrow, but it is totally perfect, in my opinion. Indeed, you could think of a great chenin blanc too. With water: myriads of tiny mineral aromas, chalk, flints, cement, some hessian too, all that over this bright, almost luminous lemonness. Mouth (neat): good, imagine ¾ chenin blanc (say Savennières) and ¼ manzanilla. Add a little chalk and a little grass (or leaves) and there, you have it. Isn't life wonderful when it's simple? With water: more of all that. Yellow jelly beans (or crocodiles, or babies, or bears…) Finish: medium, a tad fatter but extraordinarily pure and still vertical. Say rather chenin 'moelleux' in the aftertaste. Some waxy fatness in the aftertaste. Comments: fully the work of time, totally irresistible and integrally 'pure' Rosebank. We'll see, around 2050, if the 'new' Rosebank will be similar when it's 30. The right age!
SGP:651 - 91 points.

This rare oldie just came in…

Rosebank 12 yo 1980/1992 (60.1%, Kingsbury, sherry butt, cask #2467) Rosebank 12 yo 1980/1992 (60.1%, Kingsbury, sherry butt, cask #2467)

Rosebank 12 yo 1980/1992 (60.1%, Kingsbury, sherry butt, cask #2467) Four stars and a half
Rosebank could be stunning when young too. I remember an 8 by Aldelphi that was just implacable. Or was it a 9? Rosebank was still working when Cadenhead's subsidiary Eaglesome did bottle this baby, I also remember a sister cask in CAD's 150th Anniversary collection. Colour: amber. Nose: oh wow, amazing wax polish, cellulosic varnish, crushed pine needles, camphor, embrocations, sage and dill, grapefruits, touches of acetone, butterscotch, pistachio halva, sesame oil… Oh wow indeed, this is totally glorious. The cask was quite a beast for sure. With water: oh, mangos and papayas popping out! Late harvest riesling and just a touch of Bakelite. Mouth (neat): oh! Huge pine-iness and varnishes, but it's really strong and hard to swallow, literally. Well in the style of those rocket fuels that Cadenhead were bottling in the 1990s. With water: varnishes would never go away. Gets a little rough, I would say, even a weed tad rubbery and too fat(tish) here and there. Now the core remains splendid, with all the citrus you would need. Finish: long, waxy, lemony and salty, with this faint rubbery side remaining in the background. The aftertaste is unexpectedly salty. Comments: the nose here was just amazing, the palate just a little rough and rubbery in my opinion. Very faint touches of glue, I would say. High-class nonetheless.
SGP:662 - 88 points.

(Merci KC!)

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

 

February 22, 2021


Whiskyfun

A bag of old grains

As they come. No orders, no laws, no logics, total freedom! Except that will all be +/-30 or more…

Fine Single Grain 43 yo 1976/2020 (45.7%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead)

Fine Single Grain 43 yo 1976/2020 (45.7%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead) Four stars
Good, as it appears, even grains can't tell you their names these days. Now, does that really matter? There's a clear difference between, say Auchentoshan and Clynelish, but is there really any between, say Girvan and Invergordon? Same age same wood? Colour: gold. Nose: it's one of these old grains from gentle oak that, over the many years, have started to resemble rum. A wee metallic side, surely some nougat and popcorn, clear whiffs of cane juice, and frankly, well, I'd swear I'm nosing an old bottle of Havana Club. You not shoot please. Mouth: ah rather lovely. Coconut wine and vanilla, plus zucchini flowers and elderberries. All this is rather complex, clearly some kind of 'magic of the cask' after more than forty years, and surely something that you just couldn't replicate, even if 'when there's a will there's a way' (BS motto as we all know). No, despite the light body that makes most grains taste like J&B anyway, this is a better one. Finish: short but clean and sweet. Frappuccino (apologies) and vanilla fudge. Comments: an excellent grain. You can't do much better without any sherry anyway, can you.
SGP:640 - 85 points.

I suppose you wouldn't be against a little maize…

North British 30 yo 1989 (Dramfool, bourbon hogshead, 182 bottles)

North British 30 yo 1989 (Dramfool, bourbon hogshead, 182 bottles) Three stars
Indeed it was all maize for sure in 1989, I know because a friend used to supply them. Remember North British is today a joint venture company between Diageo and Edrington. Colour: straw. Nose: totally on nail polish remover and jelly babies at first sniffs, while the acetone would then dissolve (bravo), leaving room for the much expected vanilla and coconut, as well as, guess what, popcorn. I told you, maize… Mouth: very sweet, on loads of white chocolate and marshmallows at first, then lemon sherbets and perhaps praline brittle. Typical rather thin body, not unpleasant having said that. Finish: a little short, with some candyfloss, more marshmallows, and just a minimal oaky touch towards the end, with some tea and some pepper. Comments: the thinness of these grains is always very surprising when you're used to malt whisky, but I won't deny that this one was particularly worth our attention.
SGP:630 - 82 points.

Cambus 27 yo 1991/2019 (58%, Hotmalt Taiwan, Richard's Choice, sherry, cask #61970, 205 bottles)

Cambus 27 yo 1991/2019 (58%, Hotmalt Taiwan, Richard's Choice, sherry, cask #61970, 205 bottles) Three stars
With grain whisky, sherry usually helps, in my experience. Colour: straw. Nose: that's the thing with sherry on grain, we're not just having a line-up with marshmallows, varnish, coconut and vanillin. Not that there isn't any, and indeed there is some acetone, for example, but these tiny earthy touches may well rather come from the sherry. A light sherry. Some marzipan too. With water: butter cream, nougat, brioche, biscuits. This should work well for enhancing a bad Champagne. Mouth (neat): mirabelle eau de vie, chocolate, praline, nougat, triple sec. Pleasant combo, but the very high strength doesn't help too much and imparts, as almost always with high-voltage grains, a feeling of quaffing antifreeze. This marzipan is better. Quite. With water: a little pine resin and mint, I would say. Finish: medium. Comments: thicker but also a little harsher than the North British. A good grain. These bottles are good for making your own high-end blend at home, just add twenty measures of Clynelish to one measure of old grain, et voilà, you too are a master blender.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Off to Port Dundas…

Port Dundas 31 yo 1988/2020 (51.3%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead)

Port Dundas 31 yo 1988/2020 (51.3%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: we've tried these batches several time already, at various ages and under several liveries. It's really all about amaretti, vanilla, marzipan and pistachio halva. No complains! With water: Clint Eastwood's own shaving lotion! A curious mix of pineapple juice with menthol and a little gunpowder. Mouth (neat): always this lightness but this time there's a curious earthiness, with even something distantly reminiscent of ammonia. A lot of roasted peanuts too, and Vishnu knows that I love roasted peanuts, especially when they're coated with caramel – we call them 'chouchous' then over here in F. With water: total nougat and popcorn. Finish: rather short, ultra-sweet this time. Various fruit wines and more pineapple juice. Comments: another one that's very pleasant. This one wouldn't hurt a fly when reduced.
SGP:730 - 83 points.

Invergordon 45 yo 1974/2019 (46.9%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon barrel, cask # 7844000025, 194 bottles)

Invergordon 45 yo 1974/2019 (46.9%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon barrel, cask # 7844000025, 194 bottles) Four stars
Have they really produced 7844000025 casks or more at Invergordon, back in 1974? Now it's true that it's a rather huge plant. Grain distilleries aren't very romantic, in general. Colour: gold. Nose: some consider that really old Invergordons are the best grains we could put our paws on (if we wanted to do so), and I would agree. Nice cakes, Jaffa cakes, old orange cordials, almond paste, barley wine, a touch of rose (petals), baklavas and Turkish delights, orange blossom… This one's clearly in another category, with its middle-oriental side. Mouth: indeed, it's rather subtler than the others, at time reminiscent of some bourbons, with rather pastries and sweet breads, touches of lavender and violet sweets (but no Bowmore '85), and oranges in all their forms, including as syrups. Finish: its only at this point that it would lose steam, getting thinner, and reminding you that this is only grain whisky. The aftertaste is a little sugary. Comments: great old grain.
SGP:640 - 86 points.

Girvan 30 yo 1989/2020 (51.8% The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show, Artificial Intelligence)

Girvan 30 yo 1989/2020 (51.8% The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show, Artificial Intelligence) Three stars and a half
Can artificial intelligence be intelligent? I've read that the most advanced AI will recognise a cat without any doubts after having seen/recorded 1,000 of them, while a baby human will need only two or three. Anyway… Colour: gold. Nose: this one reminds me of the Port Dundas. Coconut wine, vanilla, varnish, turon, touches of mushrooms and metal… With water: oh, anti-rust and metal polish. That's certainly not ex-Girvan, Girvan being a very empty spirit. Mouth (neat): rather good, with a background that would suggest this has encountered some peater-seasoned wood in its life. Like if it had been finished in an ex-Ardmore cask or something  - how artificially intelligent would that have been? With water: smoked almonds, some light lapsang souchong, some coconut wine… Finish: short. Marzipan, coconut and a little chlorophyl. Comments: it seems that someone tried to do something on this little Girvan. Dr Girvanstein? Seriously, I find this rather very good, some kind of in-cask blend.
SGP:550 - 84 points.

A last old grain…

Invergordon 32 yo 1987/2020 (52.7%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, cask #88799)

Invergordon 32 yo 1987/2020 (52.7%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, cask #88799) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: the usual acetone, some grass juice, fruit peeling, a few fresh mushrooms, and a lot of Chinese green tea made gung-fu style. Whiffs of glucose too. With water: metal polish, where have we already seen that? Mouth (neat): rather a bolder grain, and this time again the attentive taster will notice some bolder flavours that do not quite belong to grain whisky. Such as a lemony peatiness. With water: lol, this is totally some in-cask blend. Nice notes of green peppercorns, I'd almost dare mention  stir-fried Thai garlic pepper prawns, served with citronade. Finish: medium, rather smoky, lemony, and not quite Invergordony. Comments: mutant whisky, good fun here, this is even very blameless. In-cask blending made by an AI?
SGP:652 - 85 points.

I believe that's enough grain already.

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

 

February 21, 2021


Whiskyfun

Cognac's turn again

It's getting a little tough with the US tariffs, so let's support all French brandies. Granted, the larger brands are still pretty autistic, more so than the large Scottish brands (with all due respect to all people suffering from autism), but things are changing and some start to understand that they're just boozemakers and certainly not worthy of a Nobel Prize. A little more humility will do them much good.

Drouet et Fils 'Réserve de Jean' (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2020)

Drouet et Fils 'Réserve de Jean' (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2020) Four stars
Rather an entry-level cognac, but better entry-level cognac from good makers – single estate here – than inflated 'prestige' blends from larger brands. Well that's a personal opinion. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a fresh style that will please malt drinkers, with these very lovely ripe peaches at first, gorse (vanilla), then some very soft liquorice and marzipan, then a few raisins and 'distant evocations of mangos'. Lovely fresh nose I pretty much agree with. Well done Drouet. Mouth: no real problems with the low strength and wonderful notes of soft liquorice (allsorts) upfront, peaches and raisins stewed in honey sauce, kougelhopf glacé, cassata, some earthy tones (superb here) and some black nougat, with just a tiny touch of mint. Perfect. Finish: a little short but very refreshing, with a perfect honey + raisins + peaches + liquorice combination. Comments: danger zone! Very drinkable and moreish. And the price is right. See what I mean?
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Michel Forgeron 2008 'Folle Blanche' (47%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2019)

Michel Forgeron 2008 'Folle Blanche' (47%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2019) Four stars
A very well reputed house from Segonzac, capital city of Grande Champagne, and a pure folle blanche that's more or less ten years old. Remember folle blanche is the original varietal in Cognac, which had been eradicated by phylloxera vastatrix in the second part of the XIXth century. We now have 'the Chinese virus', phylloxera was 'the American bug'. Some estates have been replanting folle blanche for a few decades, which is just very cool. Colour: gold. Nose: splendid! Much less 'sexy' than the Drouet, so more austere, grassier, more on peelings, melon skin, even vegetables, eucalyptus, then more floral notes, rose petals, getting a little musky too, whiffs of plants of the woods, lilies of the valley, woodruff… It is all pretty subtle, with an awesome herbalness that may remind us of chartreuse, in a way… Mouth: same feelings, this is some pretty rustic cognac, and yet it's showing great fruity balance, with peaches and oranges, raisins, dried pineapples, also tobacco and mushrooms, with lovely touches that would be reminiscent of a deep Vosgian forest. A little fir resin. Finish: rather long, still warming, fruitier and jammier. Fir honey and stewed apricots and peaches. Something camphory and slightly medicinal in the aftertaste, as in some Sauternes. Can't quite beat this. Comments: same very high level as that of the Drouet, we may have started this session too fastly. Right.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Since we were in 2008…

Hermitage Chez Richon 2008 (45%, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2020)

Hermitage Chez Richon 2008 (45%, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2020) Four stars
In truth this brand is a little mysterious, but Forgeron's address in Segonzac is 'Chez Richon', so ties may exist… or not. This is a blend of ugni blanc (the vast majority I suppose) and folle blanche. Colour: gold. Nose: another rather fresh, and rather grassier cognac, with more earth and grasses. Mushrooms for sure, stewed peaches, liquorice and honey, apricots, touches of musk again, and a growing meatiness that was not to be encountered in the others. Around cured ham, and a tiny drop of Kikkoman soy sauce. Mouth: excellent, rather punchy, with more citrus this time, some lovely sourer fruits, some clear notes of wine (pinot noir, perfect in this context), cherries, moss, fir, honey, liquorice, pipe tobacco, touches of demerara sugar – or rather rum, more earth, crunching pine needles… It's actually even more rustic than the Forgeron, with some sort of armagnacness that may stem from the folle blanche. Just wild guesses. Finish: long, firm. Gingerbread and liquorice. Comments: oh well, we sure weren't too far from Forgeron's folle blanche. Cognac from the land.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

A older one by Hermitage please…

Hermitage 50 yo (44%, OB, cognac, Petite Champagne, +/2015)

Hermitage 50 yo (44%, OB, cognac, Petite Champagne, +/2015) Five stars
Pure ugni blanc this time. Not too sure when this was bottled, what's more I've seen it at various strengths. Age-statement cognacs are pretty uncommon anyway. Colour: amber. Nose: ueber-classic perfect old cognac, with more rancio, stewed fruits, honeys and whatnot. I'm finding this nose extraordinary, to think that you'd have to shell out twenty times more money to find a similarly aged whisky that, besides, won't be as fresh. A feeling of old Yquem, apricots, broom, vetiver, ylang-ylang, damp earth, dried figs, Jaffa cakes, heather honey, and prunes! Love prunes in my brandies, when in moderation. Mouth: yes. Pink grapefruits, raisins, tobacco, cinnamon rolls, touches of pecans, yellow peaches, fir liqueur, verbena (Verveine du Velay), aniseed, dill… There are some green tannins in the background (over-infused green tea), but they would behave, thank you. Finish: rather long, a tad drying and slightly too grassy, perhaps, but remember this is 50 yo. Mint, lemon marmalade and just a touch of cardboard in the aftertaste. Comments: the empty glass would let you believe you've just had an old Sauternes.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 62 La Corbeille de Fruits' (40.1%, Malternatives Belgium, 200 bottles, 2020)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 62 La Corbeille de Fruits' (40.1%, Malternatives Belgium, 200 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
This baby that reeks of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones is a sister cask of the 1962 Through The Grapevine by LMDW. It may be a little fragile given the strength… Colour: reddish amber. Nose: what a nose! Peonies, stewed red peaches, tamarind, red apricots, muscat, redder papayas, mangos… Well if this was whisky it would be Benriach 1968. Does that ring a bell? Amazing, amazing fruity nose, with an incredible freshness. Fantastico. Mouth: perfect arrival that just continues the nose, with all those wonderful fruits, plus pink bananas and litchis, but the tea-ish oakiness would then slowly take over. Oh we just won't care, since the overture was perfect. Finish: medium, tea-ish. Comments: a stunning cognac to nose. The palate is almost superfluous, just pour it back into your bottle, the nose alone is worth twice the price. To think that the French used to quaff only 2.2% of all cognac that was produced BT (before Trump).
SGP:771 - 88 points.

(Merci Aurélien)

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

 

February 20, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Strathmill and Jura
I think I already did a Strathmill tasting this decade. What does it say about today's whisky world that we're doubling our Strathmill tasting note output? As always, apologies to Strathmill fans around the world. We'll also have a couple of Jura as well, for no other reason than because they happened to be within easy reach. No effort spared here at Whiskyfun!

 

Strathmill 21 yo 'Batch 6' (47.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 401 bottles)

Strathmill 21 yo 'Batch 6' (47.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 401 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: it's actually rather nice, all on barley, fresh breads, simple beers, putty, sunflower oil, hand lotion. Easy, simple, honest malt whisky that is extremely close to the raw ingredients. Some greener notes of vase water and chlorophyl as well. Mouth: good richness, cereals, cooking oils, a touch of dried mint, yellow fruits, turmeric. Some rather new worldy, bready and even slightly rye-spicy aspects as well. Finish: medium, oily, bready, cereal and with various mashed vegetables and cooked grains. Comments: Quite unusual and in many ways characterful spirit. It's not exactly 1945 Glen Grant, but if you like rather firmer, grainier and chewy malt whisky then this humble and harmless we Strathmill has plenty charm.
SGP: 461 - 83 points.

 

 

Strathmill 27 yo 1991/2019 (46.1%, Cadenhead Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 204 bottles)

Strathmill 27 yo 1991/2019 (46.1%, Cadenhead Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 204 bottles)
Colour:  pale straw. Nose: it's very much the same style of distillate, except here there's even less wood influence. This feels bare, sparse and brittle. Bare bones whisky with naked aromas of crushed malt, barley water, malt extract, toasted brown bread and then this growing and rather unusual aroma of glue, putty, vase water and once again this impression of chlorophyl. I find it very good but extremely idiosyncratic and unusual. A few notes of vegetable and sunflower oils as well. Mouth: good, rather chewy texture on arrival. Once again it's really dominated by malt extract, breads, dough, scone mix, Bakelite, sunflower oil, putty and rye spice. It's really a rather challenging style of whisky in fact I would say. Some firmer notes of canvass and an impression of rather brittle, drying waxiness emerge over time. Finish: good length, getting really quite spicy and peppery now. Rapeseed oil, grass, hay, raw cereals, mashed vegetables and ink. Comments: I'm sorry, but these Strathmills are somewhat strange little whiskies if you ask me. Very close to the raw ingredients but also with a rather strange, almost mechanical aspect as well. One of the more peculiar wee corners of Scotch Whisky if you ask me. A point lower as I find it a bit more difficult overall than the Boutique-y.
SGP: 361 - 82 points.

 

 

Isle Of Jura 28 yo 1992/2020 (41.2%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #1857, bourbon barrel, 187 bottles)

Isle Of Jura 28 yo 1992/2020 (41.2%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #1857, bourbon barrel, 187 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: superbly fruity! Really on things like tropical bubblegum and fruit salad juices at first nosing. Runny honey, melon, guava and tinned pineapple in syrup. There's also a little coastal freshness lingering at the back which provides balance, and I think overall it feels a little fuller than the ABV suggests, which is always a good sign. Mouth: a little lacking in oomph, but lots of coastal-tinged waxy qualities, grassy olive oil, camphor, lanolin, bitter citrus peels, grapefruit, tangerine and more exotic fruit syrups too. The length in the mouth is actually quite surprising and once again confounds this expectation around the ABV. Finish: medium, nicely bitter, peppery, coastal, something like salted honey, heather ale and rye bread. Comments: these batches of early 1990s Juras that have appeared in the past year are generally superb in my opinion. I think this one suffers ever so slightly from the low ABV in the mouth, but the nose is 91 point material for sure. Extremely lovely whisky that's well worth trying if it crosses your path.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.

 

 

Isle Of Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.4%, Thompson Brothers for The Whisky Find, refill hogshead, 163 bottles)

Isle Of Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.4%, Thompson Brothers for The Whisky Find, refill hogshead, 163 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: not as fruity as the 92, this is more on seashore, wet rocks, mineral salts, freshly baked breads, heather flowers, waxes, lemon rind and flower honey. Also these rather firm notes of expensive olive oil, soda bread and lanolin. I find it extremely attractive and elegant malt whisky, and really quite old style. In time some slightly green fruity tones emerge like underripe banana and some crushed nettle leaf. Mouth: firm, rich and bready. Resinous in texture, quite saline, peppery, grassy and with a lot of flints, pebbles and mineral oils. Sheep wool, dried tarragon and this impression of salted mead. A lot more mechanical-tinged, Jura unusualness on display here, but it really works and feels very 'island', which is always great. I find more fruitiness over time with some pineapple, more banana and a tiny sweet glimmer of dessert wine. Finish: long, grassy, mineral, oily, perfectly bitter, peppery and with a gingery, salty warmth. Comments: Jura is a distillate that just needs time I think, and to not be juggled around into every cask type under the sun. Anyway, old school, deeply charismatic and complex malt whisky that needs attention.
SGP: 562 - 90 points.

 

 

Thanks to Dirk.

 

 

 

 

February 19, 2021


Whiskyfun

A little duet of Miltonduff 2008

It's to be remembered that old OBs bottled in the 1970s and 1980s had been splendid and of obvious 'grand cru' quality. I don't quite know why the name got so much more discreet since back then, probably a matter of priorities within the booze konzerns.

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (55.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 168 bottles)

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (55.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 168 bottles) Four stars
As they often did, there's also a 'Small Batch' version of the same age and vintage. A good one (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: punchy, very grassy, austere, full of stones and chalk, with no fruits in sight at this point. Pure grass juice when undiluted, but I'd bet that some citrus, for example, will come out after H2Oisation. With water: not that much fruitiness, or only green rhubarb and gooseberries, as well as cider apples. Not that I dislike this style, on the contrary! Some lovely sour notes too, citrons… Mouth: various apples, from the softer goldens to the tartiest granny smiths, plus grass and chalk. Just touches of custard and biscuits on top of all that greenness. With water: similar, just a notch earthier, which happens very often. It takes water well. Finish: medium, with tiny notes of mint and aniseed. Or there, absinth. Comments: surely of the same high quality as the Small Batch, the latter having been fruitier having said that.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Miltonduff 11 yo 2008/2020 (62.7%, Double V, PX hogshead, cask #180612, 323 bottles)

Miltonduff 11 yo 2008/2020 (62.7%, Double V, PX hogshead, cask #180612, 323 bottles) Three stars and a half
A new Belgian indie bottler, it's true that our Belgian friends usually bring great care to anything they would eventually quaff. Not just Chausse-trappe and Couilles-de-singe (a real thing)! Colour: gold. Nose: first a feeling of vin doux naturel and sweet mustard sauce, then rather pink peppers (Timut) and orange bitter, then curious mixtures such as Marmite, in minimal proportions. The whole works well, without the heady notes that are sometimes to be found in PXed whiskies. Let's see how it swims… With water: sour wines (vin jaune, fino) and affiliated walnuts rather than pure PXness, which is good news. Mouth (neat): fun! Gingerbread liqueur (liqueur de pain d'épices) and even more orange bitter, many spices from some pretty active oak (perhaps European), cloves, big nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom aplenty… I would not call this 'distillate-driven'. With water: nice, a little lovage, soy sauce, green walnuts, teas… Finish: rather long and pretty dry. Comments: the exact opposite of the Cadenhead, which was almost fully spirit-driven, which is a style that I usually prefer. Now for a PX extravaganza, it's not too extravagant and was well coopered. High score for a PX.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

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

 

February 17, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions, doing sequels for no particular reasons
Number Fifteen (and more real Japan)

Quite logically, we'll start from France once again, as I am French (proof, I wear berets and stripy tops, swear all the time, and eat five baguettes a day).

Armorik 7 yo 'Batch 1' (50%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, France, 2020)

Armorik 7 yo 'Batch 1' (50%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, France, 2020) Three stars
Looks like this Breton whisky was matured in a Breton oak cask. I had thought they had used all the oak trees to build warships. Seriously, Warenghem/Armorik are at the top of their game and are now playing with the big boys, only their latest peated effort didn't quite convince me. Colour: amber. Nose: ah, a highly extractive one. We'll see what happens once water's been added, but for now, I'm finding some burning linoleum, roasted chestnuts, Guinness sauce (or carbonnade flamande), really a lot of metal polish, old kettle, and leather and cigars. Is that the Breton oak? With water: pinecone fire! And an old gun. Mouth (neat): there's some smoke, some kind of mint sauce, oloroso-y notes (walnuts), loads and loads of tobacco, and a spice mix with cumin, cloves and juniper berries. Pepper heating up. With water: spicy herbs, curry, and lorryloads of nutmeg. That's the Breton oak, I presume. Finish: similar. Comments: I've tried a few Armoriks and I don't think I ever came across this heavily extractive style. Very intriguing and pretty good, just a tad Breton-oak-heavy. Kenavo!
SGP:373 - 82 points.
fr

Off to post-Donald America…

Golden Moon 15 yo 'Gun Fighter' (50%, OB, USA, bourbon, for Hotmalt, Whisky Fair Takao, 2019)

Golden Moon 15 yo 'Gun Fighter' (50%, OB, USA, bourbon, for Hotmalt, Whisky Fair Takao, 2019) Four stars
The 13 has been rather brilliant the other week. Golden Moon is yet another worthy distillery on my map. Tennessee, right? The funny drawing reminds me of Giacomo Agostini – not the bike, though. Colour: deep gold. Nose: soft spices all around, paprika, goulash, cinnamon rolls, nutmeg, then tapioca, touch of camphor, pinewood, cones, nuts, rye, lavender… With water: a little varnish - as always and rather more vanilla – as always.  Mouth (neat): like this a lot, it is so clearly American, so full of pancake sauce and rye bread, praline, minty honey, roasted peanuts, popcorn, vanilla… This one really wears its origins on its forehead. With water: yeah, perfect, a cologne-y touch that always works well within this style, rye, spicy sawdust, lavender, muscovado sugar, geranium syrup (ever tried that?) Finish: long, spicier, perfect within this style. Spicy fudge in the aftertaste. Comments: I'll really have to dig deeper into Golden Moon Distillery. Even the name is lovely, isn't it.
SGP:351 - 87 points.
us

And now, off to… Eenie meenie… Sweden!

Smögen 8 yo (59.8%, OB, Sweden, 2020)

Smögen 8 yo (59.8%, OB, Sweden, 2020) Four stars
Oh wow, I can read from the back label that them too are having 'wave-lashed smooth granite (smooth granite?), high winds and fresh air in abundance'? That bodes well for the rest… This batch from 7 first fill barrels and 1 sherry hoggie. Let's see if we find the sherry… Colour: white wine. Nose: citrusy and coastal smoke, touches of baked French beans and peas, smoked ham, leather, cigarettes, whelks… I think water's needed, as we're very close to L. this far. Starts with Laph, ends with roaig, any clues? With water: classic iodine, creosote, hessian, oysters, seaweed, and olives. Olives represent the main part. Mouth (neat): a high-precision peater, which is all we like. Loads of lemon and yellow melon, some grassy smoke, and some burnt olives on a pizza. Drop the pizza. With water: a little sweeter, with a little more green spices too, even lemon drops. We're rather going towards Port Askaig now. Finish: long, with a chiselled citrus and some peppery greenness. Prawns stewed in green pepper sauce. Comments: yet another lovely Swede and I haven't even mentioned surströmming. Everything's going to hell.
SGP:476 - 87 points.
sw

Shall we say real Japan? Indeed we keep celebrating the new 'Japan Whisky Act'... (see yesterday)

Saburomaru 2017/2020 'The Fool D' (48%, OB, Wakatsuru Distillery, Japan, 2000 bottles) 2

Saburomaru 2017/2020 'The Fool 0' (48%, OB, Wakatsuru Distillery, Japan, 2000 bottles) Four stars
Some new real crazy sexy authentic heavily peated Japanese whisky by some real Japanese people, how it feels good! It's said that the distillery's active since 1952, but that they're making this peated malt only since 2017. They only do peat by the way, just like… hold on, Lagavulin? Colour: straw. Nose: tin boxes and old coins, sake (really), buckwheat, Weissbier, fresh sourdough, mash… Well this baby sure has an obvious quality (to me), it is very fermentary. Love that. The smoke's there as well, but it's pretty self-restrained. Perhaps wee whiffs of rose petals? I'm a fan already. Mouth: okay, good, this works. I may notice a little too much pepper and other sharpish oak spices, but all the rest is perfect. Celeriac, sourdough, polenta, beets, and indeed perhaps a little sake (how do you control your mind?) Finish: long, rooty, smoky, fermentary, with a bitterish aftertaste, and yet some custard. No quibbling. Comments: the future of Japan whisky is real Japan whisky indeed. This is a great example.
SGP:566 - 87 points.
j

Fifth and last… Back to Europe? Italy?

Puni 'Gold' (43%, OB, Italy, +/-2020)

Puni 'Gold' (43%, OB, Italy, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
Not the first Puni I've tried and to be honest, I've always found them very 'Italian', which means 'design first'. Ever driven a Lamborghini? All this with profound hugs to all our Italian friends… Colour: white wine. Nose: there, I'm lost already. Starts with artisanal mead (sour honey) and a lot of custard, then we have vanilla and some kind of aniseed-flavoured biscuits. In Alsace we call them anis bredala, I believe they have them in Trentino a.k.a. South Tyrol too. Feels a bit light but let's go on… Mouth: good, if a little too much oak-forward. Woods, fresh herbs, vanilla, wormwood… All good, it's just that the spirit might be a little light to stand such oakiness. Would work with Springbank, maybe not with a light fruity make. Finish: a little short and rather too oaky for me. A matter of balance. Comments: very honest malt whisky, no problems, with a chassis that's very good but an engine that's perhaps too fragile. Haven't we seen that before?
SGP:351 - 78 points.
it

(Thank you Boris)

 

February 16, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions, doing sequels for no particular reasons
Number Fourteen - and breaking news wrt Japan Whisky

There's now so much interesting whisky in the world. And duds too, naturally, but I believe those tend to slowly become a minority… we shall take off from France, naturally…

Brenne 'Cuvée Spéciale' (40%, OB, France, +/-2020)

Brenne 'Cuvée Spéciale' (40%, OB, France, +/-2020)
Cuvée spéciale means Special cuvée, would you have guessed that? So, not much, it's to be put into the same box as 'réserve', 'deluxe' or 'premium'. Last time I tried Cognac's Brenne whisky, in 2015, I thought it was okayish (WF 70) but pretty thin and sweet. Still no age statement after all those years… Sure age is just a number, but NAS is no number at all. Colour: straw. Nose: perhaps has it improved, as I'm rather finding a lot of white currant at first nosing, some nice notes of kiwis and guavas, then touches of fennel and caraway (clear notes of caraway liqueur). What it hasn't quite got is barley, or malt, or bread, or anything like that. Mouth: extremely sweet, with syrups and a lot of vanilla liqueur. Feels like very light 'arranged' rum, or Bacardi Vanila. Very thin body. Finish: short, sweet, with a feeling of having quaffed sugarcane syrup. Sugary aftertaste. Comments: I don't think it has improved, and it surely feels sweetened-up. A little thing, I'm afraid, some kind of Don Papa of malt whisky? I would have loved to like it, really. I would hope no one in the world would believe this is how French whisky tastes in general.
SGP:730 - 50 points.
fr

Good, let's forget about that one and move straight to Taiwan…

Nantou 4 yo 'Batch 1' (49%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Taiwan, bourbon, 342 bottles)

Nantou 4 yo 'Batch 1' (49%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Taiwan, bourbon, 342 bottles) Four stars
I believe this was bottled last year. Nantou/Omar are doing it right, we do know that. Colour: straw. Nose: much more body, much more fatness, and yet it's not a very aromatic whisky, but that was probably not the game. A little fresh oak, some crushed bananas, overripe apples, muesli, bread, poppy seeds, butter pears, plantain… Sunflower oil too. I'm a fan of this pretty self-restrained style. Mouth: very good, on oranges, croissants, more bananas, sweet barley, touches of lime, muesli again… It is really all natural and since we're travelling now, it could have been a blend of young ex-bourbon Arran and Yamazaki. And why not? We're free to travel as long as we don't (eh?) Finish: medium, rather on the same notes, perhaps with a little more peaches and lemons, and a liquoricy, almost balsamic at times signature. Some warming spices too (cinnamon, perhaps a pinprick of curry). Comments: unquestionably very good. Great quality/age ratio.
SGP:551 - 87 points.
tw

Perhaps an easy 'Japanese'…

Now this to celebrate the fact that the  Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Producers Makers Association have just announced a kind of Japanese Whisky Act that does regulate the labelling of Japanese Whisky. For example, saccharification and distillation will have to take place integrally in the country. This should be the end of 'false' Japanese malts. Kudos to the members of the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Producers Makers Association (here's the act translated into English)...

 

Nikka 'Session' (43%, OB, Japan, world blend, 2020)

Nikka 'Session' (43%, OB, Japan, world blend, 2020) Four stars
All right, this is not quite Japanese, it's Nikka's recent answer to Suntory in the 'world blend' category. In short, our Japanese friend keep blending whiskies sourced from other countries, but this time they tell us about that and wont label it as 'Japanese Whisky'. Thank you Nikka. A lot of Ben Nevis in this, I'd bet, and certainly some Miyagikyo and Yoichi… Colour: straw. Nose: to be honest, I like this, it's pretty light yet not thin on the nose, with touches of pineapples and pears, the same bananas as in the Nantou, and only a moderate vanilla. What's a little troubling I that I do not get much Ben-Nevisness this far, perhaps on the palate?... A little apricot too. Tends to lose steam, don't nose too deeply. Mouth: there, ben Nevis, most probably! Rotting vegetables, engine oil, good sulphur, artichokes, rapeseed oil, bitter herbs… Nothing to throw! All that over a gentler, banana-y and brioche-y foundation, and even touches of mangos and papayas. Finish: medium, fruitier again. Green melons. Comments: liked it, they should even do a cask strength version. Very solid body and oomph at only 43% vol., while I wasn't expecting much. Isn't whisky always better when it's they're being transparent?
SGP:552 – 85 points.
j

Let's do a U-turn, to Israel… I really need to publish notes for Milk & Honey's Classic, by far my favourite, and I shall do that soon. In the meantime…

Milk & Honey 3 yo 2017/2020 (61.6%, OB, for Holydram, Israel, ex-Islay, 223 bottles)

Milk & Honey 3 yo 2017/2020 (61.6%, OB, for Holydram, Israel, ex-Islay, 223 bottles) Four stars and a half
I usually call these set-ups 'in-cask vattings', as the cask's former content, here Ardbeg it seems (many do Laphroaig instead),will most certainly change the nature of any new filling and consequently, of the mature malt. But that's only gratuitous literature, let's try the beast… Colour: straw. Nose: not too many burnt tyres, we're fine. What I don't know is if the newmake was peated in the first place; if it wasn't, the impact of the Islay cask is totally massive. Many smoked herbs and vegetables, a feeling of wood-smoked asparagus (perhaps), burning pinewood, garden bonfire… Now once your olfactory bulb has filtered out all this smoke, some rounder, cakier notes of malt bread and puréed chickpeas start to have the upper hand. But all that may change once water's been added… With water: coal, cigar ashes, menthol, broken branches… All that works really well.  Mouth (neat): Ardmore! Seems that it was a peaty whisky in the first place. Lovely notes of fried parsley on top of the rather massive peat. Lemons. With water: there, yes, aha, it worked, compliments. No feeling of 'unjustified flavouring' whatsoever here, this is just a fresh young peater from some solid active wood, with mentholated oranges in the background. Smart. Finish: long, tight, fresh. Perfect aftertaste. Comments: hey hey! I really wasn't sure about the concept, and I still not sure they should tell us about it, but the end result is unquestionably superb. And only 3 – I would be proud to be 3 (we're looking at you, NAS).
SGP:456 - 88 points.
is

Let's fly afar for our fifth and last dram toady…

Hellyers Road 16 yo 2004/2020 'Slightly Peated' (59.4%, OB, for Taiwan, Australia, cask #4113.11)

Hellyers Road 16 yo 2004/2020 'Slightly Peated' (59.4%, OB, for Taiwan, Australia, cask #4113.11) Five stars
These Tasmanians are great, that's all. They've flabbergasted yours truly in December and January already. Colour: light gold. Nose: boy is this nice. Leatherette, old Volkswagen, banana pie, antifreeze, lanoline, leather polish, butter pears, marzipan… All that is extremely coherent. No, seriously. With water: superb. Old magazines, Bakelite, new electronics, not-too-ripe bananas, hand cream, cleansing milk… Very coherent again. Mouth (neat): but yes! Could you smoke masala? In truth I'm instantly reminded of those Indonesian cigarettes, Gudang Garam, that have tips that taste like sweet clove. Actually, they do add clove to the tobacco, so when you smoke them it can happen that they suddenly 'burst' when the burn reaches a clove. Oh well, why am I telling you this, we're in Tasmania, not in Jakarta… With water: lemons are up, cloves disappear. The peat here kind of reminds me of old Caol Ila (G&M, pre-1970) even if it hasn't quite got its complexity. Finish: very long, with more liquorice, chlorophyl, and smoked almonds. Lemons and eucalyptus in the aftertaste. Comments: more proof that age does much. By golly, Hellyers Road!
SGP:466 - 90 points.
as

Sure the Brenne didn't belong here, but I'm happy about his session. You always need a steppingstone anyway.

(Thank you Chris and Gal)

 

February 15, 2021


Whiskyfun

Long time no Springbank

Well, quite, but still, I'd say it's time to remedy the situation. Let's see what we have in the box that sits on the shelves at Château WF…

Springbank 18 yo (46%, OB, 2020)

Springbank 18 yo (46%, OB, 2020) Four stars
This is the latest edition, ex-sherry and ex-bourbon. Always with this wonderful purple colour that Janis Joplin herself would have just adored. And Jimi Hendrix too, naturally… Colour: straw. Nose: I believe it was no first fill sherry and it's just better like this. Having said that I find it pretty gentle, especially after the 10 that I like so much and that I sipped a few cls of just yesterday. These wee metallic touches, this damps chalk, these touches of used engine oil, these sour herbs (tarragon), these rusty old tools, these clear notes of fino sherry, with seawater, curry, mustard and green walnuts, perhaps suet, surely soot (nice, S.!) … Just everything is to be cherished here and I find this nose vastly superior to those of earlier batches (circa 2015 and such). Now… Mouth: not quite the same class I would say, with more dry bitterness, this feeling of eating charcoal ashes or clay, and fewer coastal, waxy and smoky notes than in younger expressions. But don't get me wrong, it still beautiful whisky, it's just curiously thin – although I wouldn't say it is thin whisky as such, of course. Are you following me? Finish: rather long, a tad bitter, acrid, but the saltier aftertaste is most pleasant. Comments: excellent whisky, it's just that there are Springbanks, including contemporary ones, that I like much better. Starting with the 10…
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, Open Day 2018, 534 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, Open Day 2018, 534 bottles) Three stars and a half
From the Campbeltown Festival, naturally. It's a blend of ex-Madeira and ex-sherry hogsheads, married together in a first fill Madeira butt. So, careful now… Colour: gold with orange hues. Nose: rather typical of the early 1990s juices, with these obvious sulphury smells at first, then loads of roasted walnuts, bags of 'curious raisins', five kilograms of Jaffa cakes, bags of dried goji berries, and just litres of sweet malmsey/Malvasia. A little burnt mint. This is very fine at this point, but these noses may lead to very unbalanced palates, in my short experience. Only one way to find out… Mouth: wah! Smoked walnut wine, salted brandy, blueberry mustard, ashes, cloves, chocolate sauce (mole), roasted sesame oil (love that), then a growing tarry bitterness. Over-infused lapsang souchong. Loads of cardamom seeds too. Well I wouldn't call this baby 'Mr Balance'. Finish: long, bitter, peppery and all on very bitter chocolate then. Like 99% cocoa. Comments: I'd say it's a devilishly chocolaty Springbank for crazy Springbank fans who've already got all the others, including the various versions of the 1919. Quite. But there, it's still Springbank and whats more, the sulphur pulled back very politely.
SGP:462 - 84 points.

Springbank 23 yo 1997/2020 (54.6%, The Whisky Baron, fresh sherry butt, cask #289, 553 bottles)

Springbank 23 yo 1997/2020 (54.6%, The Whisky Baron, fresh sherry butt, cask #289, 553 bottles) Five stars
We've already tried some beautiful malts by The Whisky Baron, so expectations are high here. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: amazing, and what contrast! It's difficult to explain but this is probably as thick and even heady at times as the 'Open Day', but this time there is no faulty notes, no sulphur, rather this majestic engine-y fruit combo, with all oils and waxes any human beings could think of, plus anything you could find in an old English garage. With a lot of engine oil on the floor ;-). Cements, paraffin, touch of grilled garlic perhaps, glutamate, miso, walnuts… So, this is beautiful. With water: rusty tools and old copper coins. Touch of camphor and eucalyptus. As expected. Mouth (neat): absolutely fantastic, if a little on cheese and sour old wines. Balsamico, gruyere, manzanilla, green walnuts and bitter almonds, crazy extreme manzanilla, miso soup, many fermented things… Well this is some rather bacterial, I mean funky whisky! With water: swims like a champ while getting greener, mossy, with some artichokes and eggplants. Old digestive herbal liqueur. Finish: very long and mostly on green walnuts, with a leathery touch in the aftertaste and a lot of dryness. Comments: bone-dry, like a very old oloroso from a good house.
SGP:372 - 90 points.

Springbank 1994/2020 (48.5%, North Star, refill hogshead, 270 bottles)

Springbank 1994/2020 (48.5%, North Star, refill hogshead, 270 bottles) Five stars
Angus already tried it so we're a little late. Let's focus on the highlights… Colour: white wine (great news!) Nose: oh, pure carrot juice! I am not joking, carrot juice! Rooty, herbal, earthy, slightly spicy, fresh, lively… No, really, this is carrot juice! Made out of the best carrots on this planet, naturally. Adorable nose. Mouth: oh. Marrow, paraffin, almond oil, sunflower oil, salt, winkles (I swear to Vishnu), sesame, salt, caviar, lemon… Finish: rather the same for a rather a long time. Grapefruits rather than lemons. Very coastal aftertaste. Salt and peppered winkles. Comments: yeah, sure, obviously. This is like watching an uninjured Roger Federer play, there's something 'obvious'. Have I mentioned caviar?
SGP:463 - 93 points.

Bonus: just a few drops remaining from an high-end online tasting session we did with Whisky Live Paris and the Golden Promise whisky bar last year…

Springbank 12 yo (100 proof / 57.1%, OB for Samaroli, early 1980s, 2400 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo (100 proof / 57.1%, OB for Samaroli, early 1980s, 2400 bottles) Five stars
The last time I wrote some proper tasting note for this one that was in… 2004. My God, sixteen years. But I've tried it several times since back then, naturally. Top Five whisky. We'll try to keep this short and sweet… Colour: amber. Nose: starts with anything from a beehive. This always floors you. We're talking around ten various honeys (chestnut, lavender, lime tree, orange blossom, fir, thyme…) plus some sublime beeswax, pollens, this very waxy substance called propolis that bees harvest from resinous trees, plus a very wide assortment of dried fruits (figs and dates first), plus myriads of mentholy and lemony herbs. We could go on for hours and hours but I suppose you've got better things to do. No water needed, for once – how could it become any more complex? Mouth (neat): incredible. Tars, waxes, honeys, herbs, medicinal substances, dried fruits (longans are very obvious), and things only known to gods, including minerals, herbs, and various organic substances, some not even identified and recorded by Man yet. Yeah yeah. Finish: sadly. Comments: after all, we don't change, do we? Huge whisky that needs time and patience. Sixteen years. Top five indeed.
SGP:562 - 98 points.

(Merci François, Ryan)

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

 

February 14, 2021


Whiskyfun

Malternatives on Sunday
A bag of rum to celebrate… err, sugarcane

I know I've literally floored you with that headline de la muerte. One day, they'll mention it in books and even have it on Topito: "The Ten Laziest Headline Ever". Let's see what we'd have today…

El Ron del Artesano 12 yo 'BA sweetwine cask' (41.4%, Riegger's Selection, Panama, cask #109-16)

El Ron del Artesano 12 yo 'BA sweetwine cask' (41.4%, Riegger's Selection, Panama, cask #109-16) Three stars and a half
It seems that the very honourable bottlers did this cask at various strengths. Indeed this one's lighter than the 52.1% seen elsewhere (same cask number). By the way, I suppose BA, in this context, means Beerenauslese rather than British Airways. Better like that. Colour: gold. Nose: a funny two-step nose. First a gentle, classic rum that just won't tear you apart in any way (some would even say it's slightly bland) but then a lovely, delicate and pretty fragrant development on flowers and oriental cakes. Baklavas, orange blossom water, wisteria, even rose petals and Turkish delights, wondering if that BA was gewurztraminer. Or grauburgunder? Mouth: I believe the wine was clearly an asset (who said for once?) Very nice notes of apple cake, possibly more cane juice than in the original rum, with these earthy touches, and some soft liquorice and perhaps a drop of litchi juice. Finish: not long, but aromatic and balanced. Notes of Liquorice allsorts. Comments: smart and good!
SGP:541 - 84 points.

Rhum J.M 'Fumée Volcanique' (49%, OB, , +/-2020)

Rhum J.M 'Fumée Volcanique' (49%, OB, , +/-2020) Three stars
Fumée volcanique, volcanic smoke, that will obviously appeal to any malt whisky lover – not to mention peatheads. Smoke, where? Hold on, as I understand it, this has nothing to do with smoke per se, it's just that the casks have been heavily charred. Which, as whisky folks know well, would not impart any form of smokiness to a spirit. But let's see… Colour: straw. Nose: young and fresh, with touches of rubber and aniseed, then indeed a wee smokiness, as if the casks had met some peaters in an earlier life. Some kind of STRised ex-Islay wood, perhaps? Ow the distillate feels very young and it's true that the heavily charred wood did not add to much vanilla here, let alone coconut. So, it's pretty dry. Mouth: first and foremost it is very spicy and vegetal. You'd almost believe this is verbena liqueur blended with green chartreuse and tar liqueur (goudron). Some lime too, but really not a lot of 'rhum agricole', in my opinion. Some kind of in-cask mixology? But don't get me wrong, I rather enjoy this, it's just very unusual. Finish: medium, with rather more mint and aniseed. What we call 'a perroquet', which is pastis with a dollop of mint syrup. Some rubber is back in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather cute alien, and perhaps a category on its own.
SGP:461 - 81 points.

Perhaps more power?

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

Uitvlugt 20 yo 1997/2017 (56.5%, The Rum Cask, Guyana) Five stars
I just don't remember why I had not tried this one before. Perhaps because it's got a reputation? Colour: straw. Nose: please call the Anti-Rumporn Brigade! You cannot beat a mixture that would have involved tinned anchovies, bits of bicycle inner tube, nuoc-man sauce, diesel oil, lamp petrol, tapenade, seal blubber, green olives and carbon dust. With water: just the same. Mouth (neat): extraordinarily salty, 'fishy', petroly and olive-y. You'd really believe you're on board an old fisherman's boat. From Islay, naturally. Not sure these notes of black truffles belong to that boat, having said that. With water: no changes, you just end up with more great rum in your glass. Up to a point. Finish: long, with just as much salt. Do they smoke anchovies? Comments: another very amazing Uitvlugt. I'll try the remainder with some big fat salty oysters.
SGP:363 - 91 points.

Only a Jamaican…

Hampden Estate 'Trelawny' (46%, OB, Velier, Jamaica, 2018)

Hampden Estate 'Trelawny' (46%, OB, Velier, Jamaica, 2018) Four stars and a half
I don't think I've ever tried this one. It's all a little confusing at times… Or am I not paying attention? Colour: gold. Nose: it's a little troubling that we would not be too far from the Guyanese. This is even rather gentler, but there are olives, tar, tyres and liquorice. Some pencil shavings, cedar, lead… Some seawater too, while it would rather be an easier Hampden, globally. On the nose. Right. Mouth: easy? Not quite, as it would roar this time, feeling stronger than just forty-six, with rather a lot of rotting fruits (bananas), plus the harshest oils and always these salty fish, sardines, anchovies, olives. Yeah I know olives do not quite live in the high seas. Anyway, great Hampden, especially when you've had enough toying with water, pipettes or coffee spoons. As they all say, 'we did it for you'. Finish: really long, really salty, really tarry, and with a few drops of lemon juice for good mesure. Comments: I find it quite amazing that both profiles would be this close. Great rum that needs neither extra-volts, nor extra-watts.
SGP:363 - 89 points.

As on any Sunday, we'll have five tipples. Let me pick #5 very carefully…

Monymusk 12 yo 2007/2019 (49.5%, Silent Ambassador, Jamaica, 126 bottles)

Monymusk 12 yo 2007/2019 (49.5%, Silent Ambassador, Jamaica, 126 bottles) Four stars and a half
We've already tried some great ones from this range, especially an Uitvlugt 1997. Uitvlugt 1997? Rings a bell… Colour: white wine. Nose: at the Old Harbour in Marseilles. Indeed that would involve the right amount of fish and… pastis. Also fresh paint, tyres again, seawater, also some orchard fruits such as apples and pears, a wee bit of barbecued marshmallow (ever been a boy scout?) and perhaps a tiny touch of new leatherette. A drop of cologne: Acqua di Gio? Mouth: very good, goes extremely well after the Hampden and would explain that Monymusk is dirtier, more rubbery, certainly more on plastics and, as we sometimes write, 'new electronics'. Big saltiness again, fish and old tarry ropes on a boat, whelks (love love love whelks). I know not many people love whelks, that's why they're cheap ;-). Finish: long, very salty and very dry. Would be challenging to many, I think. The tarry side is just huge. Only the aftertaste is a tad 'too' dirty, with a feeling of having swallowed an iPhone 12 Pro Max. Comments: I love this but wouldn't argue if someone would claim that it's a little difficult. It is, and?
SGP:363 - 88 points.

Another good session. Happy Sunday!

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

 

February 13, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
A prevarication of
Port Ellen and a
cheeky aperitif
No, not sure about that title either. But we've had Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila these past couple of weeks, so why not stay on Islay and do Port Ellen while we're 'spiritually' on location. However, first of all, a bonus aperitif, if you please.

 

Kilchoman 13 yo 2007/2020 (55.5%, OB private cask for Max & Julia, cask #69, bourbon barrel, 215 bottles)

Kilchoman 13 yo 2007/2020 (55.5%, OB private cask for Max & Julia, cask #69, bourbon barrel, 215 bottles)
I was planning to wait until a sparring Kilchoman arrived, but, in all honesty, I can't be bothered. I'm just too curious to try a properly mature, teenage Kilchoman. Plus, I'm sure we could make some tenuous argument about doing this in a session with Port Ellen and it being the new alongside the old. Quite frankly though, I'm sure we don't need such excuses. Colour: bright straw. Nose: a dusty smokiness at first, bailed straw, hay, sunflower seeds, smoked olive oil and this rather firm and punchy note of pumpkinseed oil. Indeed, the overall impression is one of rather an oily and full bodied dram. Although, the peat itself isn't super intense. More of these dusty phenolics, and things like natural tar, creosote and roof pitch. With water: becomes softer and more fragrant with kelp, sandalwood, preserved lemon, bergamot and other hints of smoked tea and dried herbs. Mouth: big, sharp, chiselled, crystalline and pure peat. Rather ashy, tarry, salty with notes of iodine, wet wool, lemon juice and pickling brine. Feels more coastal that some other Kilchomans and in that sense more traditionally modern Islay in overall profile. Superbly clean, zippy fresh, peaty and coastal. With water: beach sand, seawater, ink, mixed dried herbs, lemon rind, smoked sea salt and dried seaweed. Finish: long, sandy, very salty, fresh sea air, citric, briny and with a crisp, slightly meaty peat smoke. Comments: I tend to find Kilchomans a notch more farmyard in style, however this one was pure coastal Islay. Not that I will complain about that, it's pretty flawless stuff and shows really well at this age.
SGP: 467 - 90 points.

 

 

An excellent start, now southwards to Port Ellen…

 

 

Port Ellen 10 yo 'Scottish Wildlife' (43%, Signatory Vintage, bottled 1993, mini)

Port Ellen 10 yo 'Scottish Wildlife' (43%, Signatory Vintage, bottled 1993, mini)
I believe Serge has proclaimed this before to be his favourite Port Ellen. Now, full disclosure, this sample is a miniature of this whisky. The level is good but after this length of time there may be some divergence between full size bottles and minis. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's funny how even at 10yo it still smells close to some of the 20-30yo examples. The PE DNA is alive and vigorous in this humble wee 10yo. I just love this uber fresh and very citric style of peat. Clay, ointments, medical embrocations, beach pebbles, mineral oils, seashore 'stuff', wood ashes and chalk. Fresh, lively and yet with a wonderful sense of 'completeness' and balance. Mouth: feels bigger than 43% which is always a neat trick that great whiskies often pull off. Rather crisp and salty, but this is perfectly balanced by waxy lemon peel, smoked olive oil, breads, a wee touch of rubber welly boot and pure peaty kiln air. You could just quaff inches of a bottle without really noticing I fear. Finish: long, lemony, chalky, mineral, bright and even some residual firm malty structure remains in place, holding everything up. Green olive and seawater in the aftertaste. Comments: It's not hard to see why this wee beauty of a dram has won so many fans over the years. Even out of a pathetic little miniature it remains superbly fresh, wonderfully structured, balanced Port Ellen. The very epitome of charming, idiosyncratic, uncomplicated malt whisky that just immediately makes you smile.
SGP: 466 - 91 points.

 

 

Port Ellen 18 yo 1981/2000 (43%, Douglas Laing 'Provenance Winter Edition', sherry)

Port Ellen 18 yo 1981/2000 (43%, Douglas Laing 'Provenance Winter Edition', sherry)
I remember buying this bottle years ago around the time it came out as a present for my Dad, I think it cost me £35 in Loch Fyne Whiskies. And yes, my Mum accompanied me (probably). Colour: amber. Nose: beautifully nutty, fudgey and raisiny sherry. The dark fruit sweetness merges seamlessly with this rather dense and layered peat smoke. Lots of tar, old style herbal medicines, green walnut liqueur and smoky black coffee. Brings to mind an old sherried Lagavulin perhaps. Mouth: a perfect balance of old style sherry and peat. Rich, tarry, leathery, lots of soft wood spices, hessian, espresso, dark chocolate with chilli, walnut oil, Maggi liquid seasoning and Bovril. Chunky, just the right side of meaty and becoming increasingly herbal and savoury. Finish: medium, umami paste, thick peat smoke, black pepper and many more herbal medicines and ointments. Comments: It's tempting to say 46% or 50% would be better for this, but there's something undeniably easy and rather dangerously quaffable about 43% that works well. Just as you can say for sure that 40% would have killed it the other way. If you want sherry and peat in perfect balance you could do a lot worse than this wee gem.
SGP: 566 - 90 points.

 

 

Port Ellen 29 yo 1979/2009 (53.2%, Douglas Laing 'Platinum' for World Duty Free, 270 bottles)

Port Ellen 29 yo 1979/2009 (53.2%, Douglas Laing 'Platinum' for World Duty Free, 270 bottles)
I know we're kind of jumping around a bit in terms of vintage here, but I'm rather lazily going upwards by ABV. Also, 'Duty Free', remember that? Colour: straw. Nose: It's amazing how close this is to the Scottish Wildlife, purity, soft embrocations, wet rocks, chalk, bath salts, mineral oils, talcum powder, sun lotion, rapeseed oil, seawater. Beautiful, vivid, complex, refill matured Port Ellen. Gets a little more citric and lemony with time, there's also a very charming barley sweetness that seems to become more concentrated. Overall a lighter style of PE though I'd say. With water: chalkier, drier, more towards seashore, beach pebbles, dried seaweed, flowers, hessian, sand and smoked olive oil. Mouth: indeed, a lighter style, extremely soft, coastal, lots of citrus, sandalwood, bergamot, white flowers, mineral salts, beach pebbles, chalk, lighter briny notes, seawater mixed with olive oil, gorse flower and even some hints of beach foam and wax. With water: it's really a dry one, pure, extremely chiselled, salty and yet globally rather light, fragrant and subtle. Things like waxed canvass, seawater, grapefruit peel all sit alongside a rather light crystallised peat smoke, wood ashes and lighter briny touches. Finish: long, crisp, saline, maritime, very lightly oily, briny and in the background this slightly tarry and wispy peat smoke. Comments: It requires and bit of care and attention but this is a superbly elegant and deceptively complex Port Ellen that rewards a bit of focus and patience. These more floral and fragrant coastal qualities and extremely attractive.
SGP: 456 - 91 points.

 

 

Port Ellen 25 yo 1983/2008 (58.4%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #2542, refill sherry, 247 bottles)

Port Ellen 25 yo 1983/2008 (58.4%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #2542, refill sherry, 247 bottles)
Germany's answer to the SMWS already had a few top class Port Ellens in my wee book. Colour: deep ambery gold. Nose: rather typical 1983, that is to say slightly more grubby and 'coastally' dirty with lots of hessian, rubber fishing wellies, creel nets, tarred rope, ink, black olives and sharp ointments. Salted liquorice, boiler smoke and cured game meats. With water: really doubles down on these impressions of rich smoked teas, long-cured game meats, tar, bitter dark chocolate, smoked chilli and medical embrocations. Mole sauce and expensive marzipan. Mouth: extremely big, peppery, tarry and hugely medicinal flecked peat smoke. Smoked teas, dried herbs, ointments, miso paste, salted butter, smoked sea salt, brine mixed with lemon juice and charred shellfish over hot coals. The sherry works here as instead of veering towards rubber it has gone towards sea salt, meats, brine, anchovies, kippers and this wonderfully thick, salty umami vibe. Leathery, deeply tarry and very greasy and 'fat'. With water: some kind of peated treacle, root beer syrup, espresso, hot smoked paprika and fennel seed. Brilliant. Finish: long, deeply tarry, full of hessian, slated liquorice, slightly bitter notes, salted almonds and pine resin. Comments: I think these latter vintages of PE, and 1983 in particular, tended to produce some pretty challenging drams. This is certainly one of those ilk, but by golly it's really damn good as well. Powerhouse Islay malt that also manages to balance a really punchy, leathery and wonderfully dry sherry profile at the same time.
SPG: 477 - 91 points.

 

 

Port Ellen 22 yo 1974/1997 (59.2%, Signatory Vintage 'Silent Stills', cask #6754, 260 bottles)

Port Ellen 22 yo 1974/1997 (59.2%, Signatory Vintage 'Silent Stills', cask #6754, 260 bottles)
A very cool series that has sheltered some stunning drams over the years, although I have to admit, there's still a fair few of them I haven't tried yet. Such as… Colour: pale gold. Nose: we're noticeably stepping back in time a bit here. This mix of limestone, hessian and very subtle exotic notes of papaya and guava too. Quite a bit of canvass, tar, gauze and pink sea salt too. Big, pure, chiselled, fresh and expressive. With water: lemon zest, grapefruit, herbal teas, smoked sea salt, anchovies in olive oil and chopped parsley. It's also persistently coastal and with an invigorating freshness. Mouth: wonderfully salty, thick, oily and peaty. Bags of tar, seawater, hessian, rope, ointments, pickling juices and brine. There's an earthy, ragged edge to the smoke that takes in black pepper and kippers as well. Preserved lemons, camphor and smoked green tea. Coiled, controlled power, totally superb. With water: medicines, lanolin, coal smoke, tar, oyster sauce, salted almonds, fir wood, antiseptic, seawater. Also these tiny fruity touches of grapefruit, lemon and papaya remain lurking beneath all this freshness and salinity. Finish: extremely long, lemony, ashy, briny, medical, a very thick but pure smokiness and a nicely peppery, weighty peat smoke. Comments: A total star and a style that incorporates earlier and later aspects of Port Ellen's personality with aplomb. Something of a balancing, or even a juggling act, but it pulls it off with style and sheer force of personality.
SGP: 567 - 92 points.

 

 

Big thanks to Brian, Serge, and to whoever game me the mini of the 10yo Scottish Wildlife, I'm afraid I can't for the life of me remember who it was.

 

 

 

 

February 12, 2021


Whiskyfun

Deanstons

I always loved to taste Deanston, and actually all distilleries. They're no big names, but they're growing and some are about to overtake some much bigger names, as far as quality goes. I would day Deanston is a perfect example.

Deanston 10 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, 2020)

Deanston 10 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, 2020) Four stars
This is 80% ex-bourbon and 20% ex-Madeira. But which Madeira? Oh and indeed the Original Collection was back last year. Colour: straw. Nose: the Madeira does the job. Good sweet mustard and walnut cake, stout, sour breads, yest extracts, a touch of horseradish, also something musty, old wine cellar, old empty barrels, flints… Mouth: clearly some action. Drops of sweet malmsey, sweet mustard again, wholegrain bread, gingerbread, some chilli sauce (sriracha and such), walnut cake, Guinness… I am rather a fan, there's really a lot happening in there. Finish: long, more honeyed, fermentary, and clearly on Madeira, or some Marsalas. A lot of high-honey gingerbread. All that is well integrated. Comments: good action, here, Deanston's a distillate that can bear such treatments, as we've noticed before. Right, perhaps not red Bordeaux…
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Deanston 'Kentucky Cask Matured' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Deanston 'Kentucky Cask Matured' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
40% vol., really? Do not lower your guard, Deanston! And what's a Kentucky cask? Did the oak stem from forests in Kentucky? Or was it just ex-bourbon, as 90% of all bourbon does originate from Kentucky anyway (I think)? Anyway, this reeks of late-Friday marketing, when the bosses are already at the golf course and trainees are in charge (apologies, friends). Colour: white wine. Nose: barley, whiffs of wet sand, drop of mead, beers, leather, a feinty touch. Mouth: good arrival but loses steam. Corn syrup and fennel seeds, more mead, Swedish bread. Rye-ish. Finish: short and pretty thin, even if one would detect some good intentions here, around gingerbread and rye. Comments: they've murdered this intriguing composition with the 40% vol. 40% vol. should only be allowed below 20€. Don't laugh, that's probably 95% of the whisky market.
SGP:431 - 78 points.

Good, indie 1, owners 0.

Deanston 2009/2019 (54.6%, The Maltman for Or Sileis, PX sherry finish, cask #10025, 156 bottles) Two stars and a half
Are these ibises? Does that mean this will be a light, almost ethereal malt? Doubt it… Anyway, glad to see that the Maltman seem to be doing well. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: indeed it is not totally huge, but it rather gears towards brandies to tell you the truth. Jerez indeed, with coffee, chocolate peonies, then fumes, ashes and wisteria. Some thickish floralness. With water: sour wines, bottled orange juice… Mouth (neat): chocolate, some mineral meatiness, pepper, sour and bitter oranges, ginger, many heavy spices… Well this one isn't exactly playing with kid gloves, is it. With water: it is not. Pepper, notes of tomato sauce (all' arrabbiata), more sour wines. I would say the PX is too loud here. Finish: long, a little too sweet and spicy. Comments: I would say we're rather too far from 'malt whisky' here, this heavy concoction isn't exactly the best thing that ever came out of Scotland (of course not, that would rather be the bassline in the Average White Band's 'Stop The Rain'. Check it if you've never heard it.)
SGP:461 - 78 points.

We put a stop. CU.

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

 

February 11, 2021


Whiskyfun

Craigellachie at random

Craigellachie. This reminds me that we have a large stash of Macallan that we should unload here, but we keep procrastinating, for no particular reasons. A lack of goodwill, perhaps? Afraid of boredom?  Not wanting to slaughter a former sacred cow?

Craigellachie 13 yo 2006/2020 (54.6%, The Golden Cask, cask #CM257, 189 bottles)

Craigellachie 13 yo 2006/2020 (54.6%, The Golden Cask, cask #CM257, 189 bottles) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: a fat and mineral spirit. Chalk and lemons, paraffin, sourdough, weissen beer, wet cement, cider apples, raw wool… Not much fun but I do like a little austerity in my malt whiskies. With water: nice earthy touches, apple peelings, muscovado sugar, beets… Mouth (neat): good sweet malt, sweet beer gueuze-style, sweeter apples (golden delicious), a few drops of agave syrup… The fact that they have millions of such casks sleeping in Scotland doesn't make it any less good, it is good. With water: it is good indeed. Sweet bread and notes of bananas. Orange drops. Finish: medium, more on sweets, orange drops, sweet bread, maize… Grass in the aftertaste. Comments: not sure I'll remember this one tomorrow, but it sure is good. Pretty, pretty good. Me, bored? Never!
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Craigellachie 2010/2020 (64.4%, C&S Dram Collection, hogshead,  cask #900147, 326 bottles)

Craigellachie 2010/2020 (64.4%, C&S Dram Collection, hogshead,  cask #900147, 326 bottles) Three stars and a half
A very good bottler from our neighbours Germany. Now, 64.4%, that could qualify as attempted murder on innocent whisky blogger. I shall ask my lawyer right tomorrow. Colour: straw. Nose: vanilla fudge, butterscotch, plantains. Some charring may have happened, or not. But let's be quick… With water: sweet beer, that's cool. After all, whisky's only distilled beer. Notes of shortbread, scones, pancakes, corn syrup, autumn leaves… Mouth (neat): I'm sure it's excellent, but boy does it knock you down if you're not careful. Stout, caramel, mead, and just ethanol. With water: as expected, nougat, turon, biscuits, popcorn, and a grassy maltiness leading to… more sweer beer. Finish: long, malty. Comments: sure it's not earthshattering, and yeah they have millions etc, but this just wouldn't disappoint you. Malt whisky that tastes like malt – and safe from PX, at that!
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Let's swim, okay fly, to Asia…

Craigellachie 12 yo (59.3%, OB for Quaich Bar 12th Anniversary, Singapore, PX hogshead, 264 bottles, 2019)

Craigellachie 12 yo (59.3%, OB for Quaich Bar 12th Anniversary, Singapore, PX hogshead, 264 bottles, 2019) Four stars
Good, let's pretend we haven't noticed that this has had some guilty relations with PX. Colour: deep gold. Nose: some fun here, with walnut stain, raw chocolate, a little ammonia, moist cigars, and just a little hoisin sauce and malt extracts. Very fermentary, which is something that I usually enjoy. With water: some warm walnut cake and fresh millionaire shortbread. No, that's not heavy. Mouth (neat): very rich, with more walnuts, pepper and Demerara syrup than anywhere else, tankerloads of molasses, and the thickest maple syrups ever, tabernacle! With water: orange liqueurs chiming in, that always works. Chocolaty caramel. Finish: long, still thick and concentrated. Molasses. Comments: it's a thick one, you'd almost need a spoon to get it out if your tulip glass. But it is very good, just a little tiring at times. Not cloying.
SGP:661 - 85 points.

Back to Europe…

Craigellachie 11 yo (61.6%, Whic, Amazing whiskies, 1st fill sherry cask, 289 bottles, 2020)

Craigellachie 11 yo (61.6%, Whic, Amazing whiskies, 1st fill sherry cask, 289 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Colour: rich amber. Nose: many things coming out of a high-class oven, especially cakes and tartes. I'm thinking Zwetschke tarte, panettone, Linzertorte, kougelhopf, beerawecka (no oven needed for beerawecka), and some kind of mushroom and meet pie, English-style. When a Frenchman is quoting English cuisine, you know that something's happening. With water:  cool, the meaty side takes over. Miso, beef soup, th?t kho tàu. That's caramel pork. Mouth (neat): earth and cakes and a huge caramelised power. Be careful, this one too will knock you down without notice. With water: chocolate (Twix, Mars, whatever) seasoned with Asian spices and herbs. Does that sound unlikely? Have faith! Finish: long with some oak spices, shavings, cinnamon and caramel… Comments: would this word, 'concoctionary', kind of work?
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Back to Asia…

Craigellachie 12 yo 2007/2020 (54.9%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, Singapore exclusive, 99 bottles)

Craigellachie 12 yo 2007/2020 (54.9%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, Singapore exclusive, 99 bottles) Two stars and a half
A small cask for a small world. Duncan Taylor, how are you doing? Colour: light gold. Nose: soft cakes and breads, with tiny spices and seeds and nuts. Poppy seeds, sesame… then sweet beers and perhaps a few drops of moscatel. With water: malt. A tad undefined, perhaps. Mouth (neat): good fudge, bitter oranges, allspice, pepper… It sure is very spicy. Tiny casks, huge spicy flavours! With water: good sweet pastries, scones, ginger cookies, honey glaze… Good, but this is another one I won't remember forever. Not even sure I still remember what it was, wasn't it young Macallan? Finish: medium, grassy and malty. Nothing standing out, only a little rubber. Which kind of kills it, I'm afraid. Comments: I think they call this a downward spiral. The rubber in the finish (when reduced) just rather killed it. I'm deeply sorry, deer Singapore – did you know I first visited Singapore in 1987? But why am I telling you this? Who would care?
SGP:361 - 77 points.

A last Craig' and we'll call this a session. Indeed no OBs on the table, but do we need them? I cannot even remember to whom Dewar's belong these days, tell me about 'a brand'…

Craigellachie 2010/2020 (63.6%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, hogshead, cask #900189, 295 bottles)

Craigellachie 2010/2020 (63.6%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, hogshead, cask #900189, 295 bottles) Four stars
Another murderous strength. I don't quite know what's on the label, but abstractedly, it's all rather lovely. Colour: white wine. Nose: classic modern malt, with proper fudge, butterscotch, finger biscuits, Jaffa cakes, soft white nougat and rubber – which should go away once we've brought it down to civilised levels. With water: sourdough and plaster, and no rubber left. Love sourdough, baker's yeast, ale… And these wee touches of aniseed, or fennel seeds, or dill… Mouth (neat): very good, on sweet malt, oranges, bitters, Campari, well why not bring the prosecco! No, please don't… With water: very good, dry, extremely bready, dry, peppery, dry (give it a rest, S.) Finish: not a single ounce of sweetness here, it is all about yeasts, herbs, and sour breads. We've got a wonderful one over here in Alsace, we call it Süweckla or one-penny-bread. So f***g good with good butter. Good bread with good butter, that even beats good whisky. No? A little caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: extreme at times, but with good intentions. Competition malt whisky, be careful.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

(Thank you Benjamin!)

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

 

February 10, 2021


Whiskyfun

Balvenie and Burnside

Indeed, we could do with a little Balvenie and Burnside. First up, aperitif!

Balvenie 12 yo 'Single Barrel' (47.8%, OB, cask #6752, +/-2019)

Balvenie 12 yo 'Single Barrel' (47.8%, OB, cask #6752, +/-2019) Four stars
I believe these are all first fill. I doubt different casks will be very different, it's probably all under control. Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh and citric at first, chalky and lemony, with touches of fresh oak (not totally dry) and just cut grass. A little iron too. It's very tight, with growing notes of paraffin and fresh cement, then green apples and a wee menthol/camphor combination. Refreshing altogether. Mouth: really very good. Lemon sherbet, tight grasses, the greenest green apples and the greenest limes, then perhaps mirabelles and damsons, but it'll never get as mellow and rounded as some other casks that I had tried earlier. Finish: long and sweeter, more on jellybeans, then just a lot of grass. Perhaps a little too much sourness in the aftertaste, sour fruits… Comments: it's remarkable that it never got vanilla-driven given that this was first fill.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Well that was some potent aperitif. Perhaps another 12…

Balvenie 12 yo 'DoubleWood' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Balvenie 12 yo 'DoubleWood' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Two stars
I suppose I should have had this one instead as the aperitif. Just blame lockdown. What's sure is that we've tried many earlier renditions, and that only very early versions had really convinced me. Let's see if they've upped their game…Colour: gold. Nose: some sour apples and whiffs of 'grandma's old copper kettle' (good I know grandmas now have stupid voice-assisted electronic devices that steal all their data, but there), sour cherries, cake-y notes, notes of butter, black tea, a little mint… It's perhaps a little uncertain here and there, but globally pleasant. Mouth: not quite, it's a little too light and too bitter at the same time. Burnt cakes and burnt herbs, and really a lot of pepper. Bitter oranges. Finish: medium, dry and bitter, with only a little sour apple at the fruit section. Comments: pretty okay but it's suffering a lot after the much, much better Single Cask (in my opinion). Thin, dry and bitter.
SGP:361 - 76 points.

Balvenie 14 yo 'The Week of Peat' (48.3%, OB, The Stories, +/-2019)

Balvenie 14 yo 'The Week of Peat' (48.3%, OB, The Stories, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
The official story is that for one week every year, the Distillery are burning peat (during, or just after malting, I suppose) and consequently make some peaty malt whisky. Okay…  This was formerly named 'Peat Week' (liked them, WF 85), I suppose there's a reason to this change of names, but let's not dig any deeper… Colour: gold. Nose: it's a rather obvious, yet gentle peat ala Ardmore. Preserved plums and peaches, plus some bitterish herbs and this ginger that sometimes rises from Mainland peaters, I have no ideas why. Certainly something farmy, cow stable, horse saddle, also a little eucalyptus… Mouth: nicer on the palate, more on smoked limoncello and white peaches. I really cannot not think of Ardmore, I am sorry. Nice spices, around gentler Thai mixes. Pepper. Finish: rather long, smoky and 'green'. What I'm really missing from all these un-coastal peaters is… the coastal side. Peppery aftertaste. Comments: really good, but let me talk like a brochure: we're missing the Atlantic freshness. A wee bit… And sure that may only happen in my head.
SGP:464 - 83 points.

Burnside 27 yo 1991/2019 (43.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles)

Burnside 27 yo 1991/2019 (43.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles) Four stars
This a blended malt. In truth you never quite know as I seem to remember Cadenhead were owning the brand name 'Burnside', directly or indirectly. So in theory, they could bottle 3 years old Girvan and call it 'Burnside'. On the other hand, Burnside's also the name of Balvenie when it's sold as blended malt (you know when Dufftown's Scrabble Club comes over with teaspoons and the ladies add a drop of Glenfiddich to each cask – benevolently, I've heard). So, what is this? Colour: straw. Nose: it's got the waxy purity of natural Balvenie. Mirabelles, apricots, ashes and flints, beeswax, tin box, popcorn, fresh oak. No Rio Carnival as far as aromas are concerned, but I've always rather loved this kind of self-restraint on the nose. Provided the palate will not be all on Quaalude, naturally… Mouth: I believe the cask has been leaking, because I get some typical notes of parsley and chives, copper, some sour oak, silver spoon, bitter ale, bay leaves, walnuts… What's missing is the fruitiness, it's almost as if it oxidised, as oloroso does. The thing is, I also like this very rare profile. Finish: long, bone dry. Walnuts, mustard, copper coins. Comments: as I said, the problem is that I like this style as well. I really need to go see a doctor.
SGP:361 - 87 points.

Burnside 28 yo 1991/2020 (45%, C Dully Selection, cask #7367, bourbon barrel, 199 bottles)

Burnside 28 yo 1991/2020 (45%, C Dully Selection, cask #7367, bourbon barrel, 199 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: extremely similar, with similar metallic touches, the usual mirabelles, beeswax and mead, and this slightly tired sourness that you would get from a wonderful Meursault… the next morning. I have to say I enjoy these mustardy notes too, as well as all these green walnuts. Pretty un-Balvenie – but is it Balvenie? – but really very nice. Mouth: it's fresher than the Cadenhead, and certainly much more mentholated and herbal after an excessively short fruity arrival. Then all things old waxes and polishes, old bottle of mead from under the telly at grandma's, bits of cigarette tobacco… This sure is an unusual adventure, one that I like. Finish: long, dry, bitterish, on Cynar and Fernet-Branca. Rings a bell? Quite bizarrely, the aftertaste will be rather more Balvenie-nish, with a return of the ripe plums, shall we say. Comments: these two old Burnsides have been pretty sketchy, but I suppose you can't only have 1970s or 1971s. They carry many charms.
SGP:461 - 88 points.

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

 

Our cask of Kornog: £4,470.00 donated to Parkinson's UK

We do hereby certify that all bottles of Kornog 15 yo 2005/2020 '18 years 4 months and 7 days of whiskyfun' (50.4%, WhiskySponge), apart from WF's own little stash of less than 20 bottles which will be either drunk or given as gifts, have been sold very quickly despite Brexit and various concerns related to taxing, VAT, new transport regulations and so on.

  Parkinson's

We do also confirm that Whiskyfun or its proprietor have not made any monies thus are 'safe from any diabolical profit' and that as planned, a global amount of £4,470.00 has been donated to Parkinson's UK on Monday, February 8, in memory of the great late Michael Jackson.
We plan to do something similar again around the year 2047.
Thanks to all smart buyers, hope you'll enjoy this wee Kornog.
Pace e salute!

 

February 9, 2021


Whiskyfun

A few Japanese malt whiskies

Indeed, and we'll try to avoid any imported ones. Now we may fail, as there are quite a few new brands around, all adorned with proper kanji. Let's stay alert… (I'm sure we'll fail; Japan whisky is full of traps…)

Shinobu 10 yo (43%, OB, Japanese, pure malt, mizunara oak finish, +/-2020)

Shinobu 10 yo (43%, OB, Japanese, pure malt, mizunara oak finish, +/-2020) Three stars
Say you finish some average Speysider in mizunara, does that make it any more Japanese? Some blurb is quite revealing, I quote, 'vintage expressions are made by carefully selecting quality whiskies from different distilleries which are first reserved in ex- sherry and ex-bourbon casks and then finishing with precious Japanese Mizunara oak in Japan.' Does that stink or not? The packaging is very dodgy too, they tried really too hard. Now it won a World Whisky Award – and the category, so they've been officially laundered, so to speak… Colour: amber. Nose: say some average young Glenfarclas that they wouldn't have bottled under their own brand. I'm not saying that's what it is, it was just to give you an idea. Naturally, the price is like four times that of such unnamed Glenfarclas. Fruit cake, sour cherries, burnt toasts, malt extracts. It's okay, barely. Mouth: not bad, of course, with touches of leaf smoke, eucalyptus, burnt herbs (thyme, rosemary), and really a lot of burnt cake and bread. A feeling of resinous woods. Finish: medium and, I hate to say, pretty nice. Notes of honey-glazed ham, more rosemary, sage… Comments: it bugs me that this burglary was done this well. The whisky's very good, mind you, it's just not Japanese – in my opinion.
SGP:461 - 82 points.

Let's find another odd one…

Kirin 'Pure and Mellow Riku Land Discovery' (50%, OB, Japanese, +/-2020)

Kirin 'Pure and Mellow Riku Land Discovery' (50%, OB, Japanese, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
This is a sourced blend as well, but some parts are Japanese, from Gotemba. Rumour has it that this contains Four Roses, as Kirin own Four Roses. Really? Colour: gold. Nose: between Scottish grain and bourbon indeed. No clear maltiness that I can detect, rather barbecued corn and rather a lot of maple syrup and liquid caramel. Vanilla. I'm not a fan, but things may improve… With water: light maize, earth, vanilla, rye… Good bourbon? Mouth (neat): sweet and light, but there's some textured smoke to it, possibly from Gotemba. The rest is light and thin, sweet, on vanilla and coconut water. With water: not much to complain about, this would be a young bourbon with a malty edge. Now careful, it does not swim too well and tends to get shattered if you add too much H2O. Finish: rather short. Sweet and sour. Comments: 'pure' I don't know, 'mellow' for sure!
SGP:541 - 79 points.

Oh something funny…

Miyagikyo 'Apple Brandy Wood Finish' (47%, OB, Japanese, 2020)

Miyagikyo 'Apple Brandy Wood Finish' (47%, OB, Japanese, 2020) Four stars
Sounds like nonsense. Any bottlers in the whole world, once they've disgorged a cask of anything, start to wonder about what they're going to do with said empty cask. 'Finish a whisky' is probably the lousiest option, 'feed the fireplace' being the smartest. But let's see… Colour: light gold. Nose: boy is this smooth and rounded, and cake-y, and all on 'a five o'clock tea'. So scones, white toasts, brown toasts, lemon pudding cakes, cheesecakes, cupcakes, cranberry muffins, blackberry twists, lemon cookies, blueberry tartlets, pumpkin bread… And just English tea. Yes that's obligatory, Lagavulin's not an option. Mouth: the trademark resinous smoke's kicking in on the palate, giving no chances to the apple brandy. No regrets. Excellent lemons, camphory smokiness, eucalyptus, liquorice, peppered smoke, lemon, a touch of sriracha sauce, horseradish… I'm afraid we had forgotten that Miyagikyo's such a stunning distillate. Anyway, no 'apple brandy' in the way here. Finish: long and excellent. Always this lovely feeling of 'resinous peat', which has always been very Miyagikyo in my book. Only the aftertaste is a tad more 'jumbled'. Comments: I did drag my feet a little bit with this one, but I was wrong. Forget about the apple brandy.
SGP:553 - 87 points.

Shizuoka 3 yo 'Prologue' (55.5%, OB, Japanese, 2020)

Shizuoka 3 yo 'Prologue' (55.5%, OB, Japanese, 2020) Five stars
We've had a few cask samples, and still have a little bag to taste, and just hated them all because they were so exactly perfect. May I remind the good folks at Shizuoka that a great malt whisky ought to 1). Stem from a closed distillery, 2). Have been bottled at least 30 years ago, and 3). Be of proper age, certainly above 15? Colour: light gold. Nose: perhaps a little gingerbread-heavy? I believe some single casks have been purer, crisper… Now good news, the malt is soon to have the upper hand, with some awesome notes of pumpkin bread, buckwheat crêpes, and artisan pilsner. That's all good. With water: perfect. High-precision millimetric fermentary smoke, reminding me, that's true, of that Malt Mill by James MacArthur, not even sure it was genuine. But there…  Mouth (neat): tight smoke and mustard and walnuts and bitter oranges. Perfect touches of Stollen, which is close to that gingerbread that we first found on the nose. Anise cookies. With water: excellent. Glue (yep), gingerbread, sake, anise, caraway and fennel seeds, lemon bread… What's not to like? Very thick body, always a good sign. Finish: long, fat, almost sticky, bready… Comments: love, love, love… Totally my cup of malt, well done little Karuizawa still! Huge quality/age ratio.
SGP:464 - 90 points.

That first official Shizuoka sure was a session killer,  but aren't we supposed to be resourceful at WF? I have an idea…

Akkeshi 'Sarorunramuy' (55%, OB, Japanese, lightly peated, 2020)

Akkeshi 'Sarorunramuy' (55%, OB, Japanese, lightly peated, 2020) Three stars and a half
Great real Japanese whisky again, but gosh aren't they making our lives difficult? I mean, that name, that's a mouthful! Colour: straw. Nose: indeed the peat's very discreet, while the vanilla cake is not. Custard and carrot cake, whiffs of green pepper… With water: pure malt, ink, yeast, cement, grist…  Mouth (neat): extremely very good. Lime, peat, a baguette smoked over some pinewood fire (who's ever done that?) and some rather bitter eggplants. Much nicer than it sounds (my fault, assuredly). With water: I'm not sure I get everything from that 'light peat', but all in all, this works a treat. Very fermentary. Finish: medium, saltier, all on sourdough now. Süweckle, some honey in the aftertaste. Comments: I believe we've tried another expression back in October, this one's rather more to my liking.
SGP:353 - 83 points.

(Thank you Chris and Trevor)

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

 

February 8, 2021


Whiskyfun

Talisker and Torabhaig from Skye

For a long time, we've been joking about those 'secret malt whiskies from the Isle of Skye', stressing the fact that there was only one distillery on the Island anyway. BBR's 'Isle of Skye', DL's 'Tacticals', TWA's 'Talimburgs', Adelphi's 'Fascadales' and quite a few others. That era just came to an end, after some false start elsewhere, thanks to Mossburn's new Torabhaig Distillery, on the south shore.

Thorabaig

Just like the Orkneys that are not obligatorily HP, the Skyes will not obligatorily be Talisker anymore either. Granted, you could argue that Raasay's almost Skye too, but I'm not sure they would agree with that. Harris? Not too sure either. Anyway, the first official Torabhaig is now available, and naturally, we'll have it alongside some Talisker. Since the new one is obviously very young, we'll choose some NAS Talisker that should be pretty young too. Game?

Talisker 'Storm' (45.8%, OB, +/-2017)

Talisker 'Storm' (45.8%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
Sadly I haven't got any very recent Storm up my sleeves, but this one should do the job. Colour: light gold. Nose: it is extremely bready and farmy, it just reeks of ground barley, farmyard, mud and damp peat, with rather less pencil shavings and tropical fruits than in earlier batches. On the other side of the spectrum, there would be more camphor, embrocations, chalk and hessian. We're actually almost nosing a handful of fresh smoked malted barley. Mouth: pretty much the same feeling, this is almost seawater with a lot of pepper, chalk and grist. Bandages. Lemons and oak spices would make a late appearance in this very gristy malt.  Finish: long, dry, salty. Brine and chilies. Comments: I used to like the Storm better, I believe the 10 keeps beating it. But it's a very fine dram. We may try some other Talisker…
SGP:366 - 83 points.

Torabhaig 2017/2020 (46%, OB, Inaugural Release, Legacy Series, first fill bourbon, cask #300-600, 32,000 bottles)

Torabhaig 2017/2020 (46%, OB, Inaugural Release, Legacy Series, first fill bourbon, cask #300-600, 32,000 bottles) Four stars and a half
A legacy, already? But what do we know about Torabhaig? That they mash 1.5 tons at a time, that they have 8 fir washbacks, two stills (8.000 and 5.000 litres) and that they could produce 1.5 million bottles of malt whisky a year. This baby was distilled using malt peated to 55ppm phenols (16ppm residual phenols). That's it with figures, let's become more subjective… Colour: white wine. Nose: there's a half myth that runs and that says that peated malts are always mature much earlier, since the smoke would mask any flaws anyway. Well, I'm sure that's not the reason why this is very bright, full of iodine, soft vanilla, less pear eau-de-vie than expected, touch of grapefruit, hessian, mint, eucalyptus, a tiny touch of banana… Mouth: very good, well done, loud applause! Crisp and clean, totally well-chiselled, with lemons, only a little vanilla, iodine, a grassier peat on the palate, some mint drops, Ricola, touch of celeriac, fennel, gentian… Finish: long, still clean, with a good little fatness (sunflower oil) and a little walnut oi too. Comments: well, I'm rather reminded of another young distillery, from the other side of the world, that's sometimes doing impeccable natural peaters too. The name ends with 'bu'. Much impressed.
SGP:457 - 88 points.

I'm really happy about several 'new' distilleries, that's all good for my interest in whisky (not that you should care). Daftmill, Chichibu, Bimber, Shizuoka, and Ardnamurchan's not too bad either… And several others. That's pretty stimulating, while many old glories are now almost extinct (Coleburn, Lochside…), should I want to push WF to 20,000 personal whisky notes. We'll see…

Back to Talisker…

Talisker 2010/2020 'Distillers Edition' (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 5W1)

Talisker 2010/2020 'Distillers Edition' (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 5W1) Four stars
As always, Talisker's latest DE was finished in amoroso, which is not the most famous kind of sherry-type wine. It's in fact rather a fantasy name, the wine consisting in an oloroso blended with around 10% PX or a little more, also known as 'oloroso dulce' in the old days. Not quite the same thing as cream sherry. I've always rather liked Talisker DE, but not as much as the regular 10. Colour: dark gold. Nose: pretty much Talisker on walnuts, or Talisker with a good few drops of walnut liqueur. Cigars are obvious here (humidor) and so are bitter oranges, faint whiffs of horse saddle, and the usual cracked pepper. Everything's fine here, even if it was just a finishing. Mouth: lasts the course after the ultra-bright Torabhaig, even if it tends to get a little sour and leathery. Bitter nuts, leaves, tobacco, brine… Well that amoroso was not very dulce! But yeah, it's still very good. Finish: rather long, very salty and leafy. Something glutamate-y, big cracked pepper and some mustard in the aftertaste. Comments: still one of those finishings that work very well.
SGP:365 - 85 points.

Back to the south-east of Skye…

Torabhaig 2017/2020 (61.67%, OB, first fill bourbon, cask #307)

Torabhaig 2017/2020 (61.67%, OB, first fill bourbon, cask #307) Four stars
Not sure this single cask was, or will be bottled in a 'regular' bottle. Colour: white wine. Nose: we're clearly in a hospital this time. Litres of disinfectant, tincture of iodine, mercurochrome, piles of Band-aids, antiseptics… And just a tiny touch of vanilla. Well I would hope water will make it smoother and a little more 'commercial' (yep, Serge speaking). With water: it is still very medicinal, and I'm sure this would certainly cure any rheumatisms (just a couple of rubdowns et voilà), but more fruits and fresh almonds and hazelnuts are popping out as well. Natural oils, sauna, rhubarb, gooseberries... Mouth (neat): a bullet. Green lemon, grass, peat, aspirin, Rinathiol… With water: pretty perfect, but still more medicinal than the large release – at a sameish strength – and with less vanilla. But some vanilla there is. A little green coffee, perhaps. Finish: very long, very vertical, well-carved, pretty pure. Comments: perhaps not an absolute sipper as it's a rather restless, pungent one. On the other hand, it would cure you.
SGP:367 - 87 points.

Let me leave the last word to Talisker (and make sure it wins this session, to give honour where honour is due).

Talisker 1957 (53.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, +/-1985)

Talisker 1957 (53.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, +/-1985) Five stars
So this was obviously distilled before the huge fire of November 1960 that almost destroyed the Distillery. We've tried many 1950s Taliskers by G&M (I mean, not hundreds!) and most have been pure thrills, including four or five other 1957s, especially the all-famous black label at 57.5% vol. But we had never tried this very one… Colour: amber. Nose: all right; high-end OBE. Verbena liqueur (Verveine du Velay) and old Chartreuse, maraschino, camphor, lapsang souchong, fir honeydew, some kind of candied smoke, old triple-sec, resins… Well this is just totally epic and glorious. With water: more very old chartreuse, and probably a few extremely old high-malt blends from like 90 or 100 years ago. Hints of bouillons, marrow, miso, certainly some beeswax, bull-dog sauce, a pinhead of Marmite… Mouth (neat): immensely smoky, lemony, mentholy, terpenic, and shock-full of eucalyptus and affiliated tinier flavours (myrtle, for example, soft basil, wild thyme…) With water: just perfect, with more old magazines and books, sucking liquorice wood, lemon marmalade, marrow quenelles, cress soup… Amazing development and a great example of perfect bottle maturation. Finish: long, rich and yet tight and focused, rather resinous. Thai bouillon, I would say. Comments: very impressive and still very much alive and progressing, even if the aftertaste was a little dry.
SGP:475 - 93 points.

Did you notice that we did not do the bloggers' favourite joke, "the Skye is the limit"? De nada, my pleasure.

(Merci Phil!)

 

February 7, 2021


Whiskyfun

Five Cognacs with some niaque

Just a silly headline, don't bother (niaque means drive, or fighting spirit, more or less). Now they're currently under water in Cognac, because of a very severe flood of the river Charente. Courage and resilience are needed but they do have what it takes! First, an aperitif…

Baron Otard 'VSOP' (40%, OB, Fine Champagne, +/-1995)

Baron Otard 'VSOP' (40%, OB, Fine Champagne, +/-1995) Three stars
A relatively cheap bottle that you could find in just any hotels back in the days. Mind you, this is part of Cognac's history. Colour: amber. Nose: shock-full of raisins and sweet wines, Monbazillac, Cérons, or Cadillac style. You could find some great ones for very cheap in the old days, but actually, this rather reminds me of the great pineau des Charentes, an aperitif that's totally out of fashion. Naturally, out of fashion means ueber-trendy these days. Anyway, this is totally on raisins and only the palate will tell… Mouth: sweet and good. Raisins, raisins and raisins everywhere, that's just lovely but you really need to love raisins, or you'll find this baby rather cloying. A cognac that rather feels like a very sweet wine, almost PX-style. I doubt anyone would still dare making this style, which you would rather find in Jerez, or Armenia these days. Ararat, anyone? Finish: medium, very sweet, rich, raisiny, honeyed. Comments: like it but I doubt this was entirely natural. Sunday morning blending… (that's when any official bodies, customs or else, are still trying to sober up in their – not always theirs - beds)…
SGP:830 - 80 points.

Hermitage 'Chez Richon Café 20' (42%, OB, +/-2020)

Hermitage 'Chez Richon Café 20' (42%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
A rather mysterious bottle, but it's to be known that it fetched Gold at the Cognac Masters 2020. It's more than 20 years of age. Colour: amber.  Nose: marzipan and old-style Viennese hot chocolate, very dry fig spirit, more figs, dates, the blackest black currants, menthol, pine essence, old balsamico, fermenting prunes, very old sherried Speysider (G&M-style), I fact this is really brandy that noses like whisky that noses like brandy that noses that whisky that noses like brandy that noses like whisky… etcetera. Mouth: oh! Total old-style, rich, chocolaty, ridden with prunes and dates, resins, pine needles, cigars, glue… In fact it's getting drier by the minute. Finish: rather long, with pine-y tannins and a walnut-chestnut combo. Tons of prunes in the aftertaste, and indeed coffee. Ristretto! Comments: this is cognac like my grandpas used to quaff. Those good folks were all born in the 19th century, mind you. Museum cognac? Totally out of fashion but very good nonetheless, provided you've got the proper references.
SGP:751 - 86 points.

Let's try another Hermitage…

Hermitage 30 yo 'Chez Richon' (43%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018)

Hermitage 30 yo 'Chez Richon' (43%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018) Four stars
Looks like Fiona Beckett loved it, while it's to be said that we're rather fans of Fiona Beckett. Having said that, we're not quite fans of those nasty flat bottles, but there, who cares… Colour: dark amber. Nose: all on sauna oils, menthol, pine resin, bitter chocolate, and the blackest 'black' raisins, Corinth style. This is really uber-old school, but there are so many charms to this style… Prunes, glue, bull-dog sauce and mint, there. Mouth: high extraction and yet the fruits are keeping it afloat, especially peaches, totally in majesty. Peaches are the kings of fruits in my opinion, while they abound in the better cognacs. Finish: medium, very chocolaty, very old-school. Thin mints and curious hints of malt extracts in the aftertaste. Comments: we've tried a few cognacs that had been distilled in the 1800s, and the styles were rather similar.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Late Bottled Brandy 27 yo 1993/2020 (52.3%, Thompson Bros for whic.de, Tasting Circle, 187 bottles)

Late Bottled Brandy 27 yo 1993/2020 (52.3%, Thompson Bros for whic.de, Tasting Circle, 187 bottles) Four stars and a half
All right, so I'd swear this is some early landed cognac from France, bottled by some friendly Scots, for some German friends. Makes much sense, no? Viva Europa! (insert Beethoven's Ode to Joy here) Colour: mahogany. Nose: boy is this rich, and yet elegant! Prune juice, black currants, damson liqueur, ganaches, cherry tobacco (Borkum Riff), linoleum, diesel oil, bull-dog sauce, Marmite… How lovely is this fat and yet agile old cognac? With water: pinewood, mint and chocolate. Artisanal thin mints (we'd kill for proper thin mints). Mouth (neat): superb! This is old-school for sure, with heavy mentholy oak and some embrocations, but it would always keep some kind of freshness, despite these heavy pine-y oils. Proper coffee and chocolate. With water: same. I had thought it would become meatier and saltier, it did not. Finish: long but bone-dry. The bitterest bitter chocolate and the tightest mints. Comments: totally high-class, within this ueber-dry and very un-fruity style.
SGP:371 - 88 points.

Fins Bois 1968/2020 (55.4%, Grosperrin for Cognac Sponge, 350 bottles)Fins Bois 1968/2020 (55.4%, Grosperrin for Cognac Sponge, 350 bottles)

Fins Bois 1968/2020 (55.4%, Grosperrin for Cognac Sponge, 350 bottles) Four stars and a half
It is a bit troubling that our dear friends the Brits – the Sponge is 'also' a Brit, after all – would romanticise what happened in France in 1968. I'll say no more but only now are we really starting to understand to which extend the Sartre-ist, Maoist or Trotskyist ideologies of 1968 have been mortiferous. It's forbidden to forbid, yeah right. But enough with that, this is neither the moment, nor the place… Colour: amber. Nose: this, is modern cognac, with much more tension, fruits, herbs… Peaches of course, blood oranges, tiny herbs, chamomile, honeysuckle, verbena, genepy… There's this freshness that's rather to be found in the west of the cognac region, including the islands. Yes cognac's got islands too, namely Ré and Oléron, both parts of the Bois Ordnaires. With water: gets very dry and leafy, sweetness is gone, but lees, stems, pips and leaves are there. Mouth (neat): upper-excellent, really tense, rather more acidic (the west again), tart and fruity, reminding us all that first and foremost, cognac is wine, distilled and aged. Gets a tad dry and bitter, let's see what happens once water's been added… With water: you have to be careful, three drops will suffice. Peaches, mint leaves, some chestnut honey. Please check chestnut honey if you haven't already, any human being should know about chestnut honey, king of all honeys. Finish: long and leafy. Gets a little bitterer, perhaps not the best part. Comments: a rather tough cognac. Most parts are splendid, a few are  a little harsher. Yeah right, 1968.
SGP:361 - 88 points.

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

 

February 6, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
An accumulation
of Caol Ila
I believe that's the collective noun for Caol Ila. At least it feels correct when you realise a sufficient quantity of samples have amassed on your shelves to do a wee Whiskyfun sesh. We're anticipating impeccable distillate, consistency and purity…

 

Caol Ila 11 yo 'Batch 12' (48.1%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1489 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 'Batch 12' (48.1%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1489 bottles)
A label featuring Brian Blessed, now there's an idea…! Colour: white wine. Nose: it's one of these ones which displays these rather yeasty, fermentary aspects, like sea salt on fresh sourdough. I think it's a quality that is often magnified in Caol Ila by reduced bottling strengths. Beyond that a more scented and elegant profile, all about the shoreline, with sandalwood, rock pools, beach pebbles, sand and some fragrant bath salts. Easy and super pleasant. Mouth: indeed, these yeasty aspects persist, but here there's also more saline minerality, more seawater, lemon juice, pickling brine and this impression smoked sea salt. Simple but faultless. Finish: good length, gently ashy and with a deeper and more robust smokiness. Comments: impeccable, consistent and pure: check!
SGP: 365 - 87 points.

 

 

Chaos Edition No 2 (50%, North Star, 2 oloroso butts and one refill hogshead oloroso finish, bottled 2020, 1500 bottles)

Chaos Edition No 2 (50%, North Star, 2 oloroso butts and one refill hogshead oloroso finish, bottled 2020, 1500 bottles)
It doesn't say Caol Ila on the label. But, according to 'chaos theory'… I'm sorry. Colour: bright amber. Nose: the sherry adds a totally different, very leathery and umami element with lots of lightly cured game meats, ointments, damp earthiness, hints of herbal liqueurs and some wonderfully resinous saltiness. With water: softer, more herbaceous, sandalwood, sappy touches and beach woods. Mouth: the sherry works, which isn't always the case with these modern Islays. It's nicely sappy, salty, ashy, briny and full of nice pickled notes. Gherkin, cornichon, anchovy and miso. More cured meats again. With water: olives, TCP, ointments, camphor and classical briny notes mixed with an easy, leafy sherry quality. Finish: good length, becoming very tarry, salty, slightly mustardy and with tobacco and thick medicinal notes. Comments: extremely good. A rare example where modern peat and modern sherry get along just fine.
SGP: 476 - 86 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2020 (58.2%, North Star, oloroso sherry butt, 410 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2020 (58.2%, North Star, oloroso sherry butt, 410 bottles)
Sticking with North Star and with sherry. I hear at North Star they circumvent Brexit import issues by transporting their sherry casks from Spain to Scotland by Tuk-Tuk. Not that's innovation! Colour: deep gold. Nose: interesting, this one is really more on hessian, aniseed, herbal cough medicines, jasmine and a rather briny and kippery smokiness. The sherry certainly evolves this blade-like distillate in different direction, one that's earthier, rounder and more 'organic' in style perhaps. With water: herbal, undergrowth, rugged smokiness, black olives, tar and some sooty notes. Mouth: deeply tarry, leathery, herbal, sooty and with many classical meaty notes such as bacon jam and scamp fries - things that you really only find in British pubs I suppose. Indeed, I'm not getting pork scratchings, but this could be the power of suggestion. With water: gets saltier, more coastal and more towards pickling juices, black olives, cured meats, bouillon broth and mustard oil. One of those drams that seems to accrue power and heft with dilution. Finish: long, rather peppery, spiced with smoked paprika, more mustardy notes, horseradish and wasabi. Pointedly spicy I'd say. Comments: A whole heap of fun, although at times rather brutish. Kind of like a bar brawl captured in a tasting glass. Another one where the sherry influence works precisely because it is rather restrained and keeps largely out of the distillate's way.
SGP: 477 - 88 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2020 (58.8%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #317838, hogshead, 300 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2020 (58.8%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #317838, hogshead, 300 bottles)
Apparently this one hasn't been released yet, so it's an extremely rare occurrence where I'm publishing notes in advance. Colour: white wine. Nose: quite closed at first but you do get these rather specific notes of hospital corridors and strong floor cleaner. Caustic soda, chalk, wet hessian and mineral salts. Probably needs water: shakes its head with water and there's now this nice cluttered minerality. A big, jangly, wind-raked seashore. Lots of dried seaweed, seashells, sheep wool and pure seawater. Excellent but you have to like them extremely pure and - as Serge would say - 'millimetric'. Mouth: there's a lovely sense of concentration at first. Like syrupy peat, olive oil and natural tar with TCP, ointments, lemon juice and salt cured white fish. A total blade! With water: dustier, thicker, tarrier, more towards the farmyard but still with a firmly coastal aspect. Wet rope, white pepper, hessian, smoked olive oil and anchovy paste. Finish: long, briny, smoky, salty and fresh. Comments: at times it's a little challenging, but the big picture is undeniably impressive. Once again we're in the  same ballpark of quality.
SGP: 367 - 87 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2020 (58.5%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #313261, hogshead, 283 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2008/2020 (58.5%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #313261, hogshead, 283 bottles)
Back to Elixir House, and straight to the board room please… Colour: white wine. Nose: raw, bright, lemony, briny goodness. It's one of these ones where the purity and the precision are immediately there, but there's also a sense of fragrance, seashore and general freshness which elevates it further. This rather soft, fragile minerality that takes in bath salts, beach sand and then things like gorse flower and hints of seaweed. Extremely attractive, even at full strength. With water: a beautiful and quite surprising fruitiness emerges, bergamot, lemon peel and grapefruit. Also some very delicate notes of dried lavender and Earl Grey tea. This impression of softness and fragrance is really lovely. Mouth: superbly sharp, chiselled, bright, citric and ever so slightly tart with green acidity. Lemon peel, chalk, seawater and a touch of hessian. With water: soft, unfurling wispy smokiness now, more citrons, chalk, beach pebbles, grapefruit pith, smoked teas and dried flowers. Finish: long, elegant, drying, brittle smoke, minerals and seaweed. Comments: I was teetering between 88-89 at full strength, but water really propels this one comfortably up a notch. There are many Caol Ilas that have this perfect purity and precision balance, but occasionally you get these examples that have something 'extra' which elevates them a notch higher. A lot of pleasure here.
SGP: 466 - 90 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 35 yo (50.9%, Elixir Distillers 'Director's Special', bottled 2020, 144 bottles)

Caol Ila 35 yo (50.9%, Elixir Distillers 'Director's Special', bottled 2020, 144 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: I'm starting to think maybe we should just have an aroma called 'old Caol Ila smell'. This wonderful mix of fragrant smoked teas, camphor, seaweed, cough medicines and soft, wispy puffs of peat smoke. Exquisite. Lovely notes of lapsing souchong, umami paste, pickled ginger, peppercorns in brine and lemon liqueur. With water: brighter, fresher, more citric, more crisply smoky and with notes of toasted fennel seed, lanolin, camphor and smoked olive oil. Just beautiful. Mouth: herbal and wonderfully syrupy in texture. With many subtle suggestions of gorse, wormwood, aniseed, cough medicines, old Chartreuse, lemon rind, bergamot and this beautifully fragrant, heather-centric smokiness. With water: indeed it awakens just the right amount and develops a firmer edge on the palate, more salty, a little more assertive peat smoke and flavours of mixed herbs, umami and green olive with the softest natural tar note. Finish: a long fade of soft peat smoke, medicines, seashore freshness, sandalwood, gorse and herbal teas. Comments: Like most of these casks, this is just totally spellbinding, fully mature Islay whisky. Not exotically fruity, rather more on citrus fruits, but really showcasing the full spectrum of elegance and subtlety to be found in coastal accented single malt. Exquisite, is the word I believe.
SGP: 565 - 92 points. 

 

 

Sometimes you just cannot beat a good Caol Ila session. They may not always score the highest, but I find it one of the most comforting and reassuring distillates to sit and nose away at. And, in times such as these, don't we all need a little comfort and reassurance?

 

 

 

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

 

February 5, 2021


Whiskyfun

Some Ohthrusk

Yes wouldn't we do a little Auchroisk today? Remember some experts say we should pronounce that 'Ohthrusk', but I can tell you if you ever go to a shop in France and ask for 'Ohthrusk', they say wrong place and send you straight to the Tourist Office. Let's do this randomly if you please…

Auchroisk 25 yo 1995/2020 (49.4%, Whisky Erlebnis, bourbon, cask #2063, 129 bottles)

Auchroisk 25 yo 1995/2020 (49.4%, Whisky Erlebnis, bourbon, cask #2063, 129 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one from their 'Pop Art Collection'. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh olives and capers matured in used engine oil with pieces of lemon and orange, then pollen, mead, avocado and papaya juice, and a drop of banana wine for good measure. I'm really a fan this far, but how well will this unusual profile translate to the palate? Let's see... (come on S. this is not the BBC)… Mouth: forget about the oils, we're right on tropical fruits and the juices or liqueurs made thereof. Bananas, papayas… The structure remains malty having said that, and rather creamy. I don't know if this is art, but it is clearly pop. Finish: medium, very fruity. Notes of fruit jellies, beans, crocodiles, bears… Comments: I was not quite expecting this, although we'd somewhat go towards the very good Special Release 1990 the owners did a few years ago. Same quality.
SGP:651 – 88 points.

This started a little fast…

Auchroisk 12 yo 2007/2020 (56.3%, Lady of the Glen, PX hogshead finish, cask # 816839, 265 bottles)

Auchroisk 12 yo 2007/2020 (56.3%, Lady of the Glen, PX hogshead finish, cask # 816839, 265 bottles) Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: rather thick dry white wine than sticky PX here, or was it some Pedro that's not been done as a sherry? Some lamp oil too, paraffin, pine needles, mutton suet, white beer, sour cherries… In short, anything but PX, and not much tropicalness either at the fruit section. With water: gets a tad dirty once reduced, rather on sourer breads and carbon dust or something. Mouth (neat): good extractive maturation, this time on the usual café latte and butterscotch, but also ginger tonic and pepper liqueur. With water: some tobacco, a little leather. Mrs Macron's walnut wine (in case you're wondering, I'm joking). Finish: medium with touches of soot and sour fruits, perhaps blood oranges. Comments: it's been a little hard after the nearly perfect 1995, but I would still recommend it. Very good Ohthrusk.
SGP:362 - 82 points.

Let's calm this down…

Auchroisk 11 yo 2007/2018 (43%, Signatory Vintage, hogsheads, casks #803194 – 803195)

Auchroisk 11 yo 2007/2018 (43%, Signatory Vintage, hogsheads, casks #803194 – 803195) Four stars
I'll say it again, I've always been a fan of this little 'budget' range. Some 18 yo Port Ellen for 25€, anyone? Granted, that was a long time ago… Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: paraffin and pear juice, I would say, plus lemon. Very elementary but I believe it captures the real style of the distillery. Mouth: very good, with a little toasted oak, otherwise apple crumble and again this dry paraffiny side. Finish: medium yet fat, sooty, slightly dusty and dirty but once again, that's part of the game here. Williams pear spirit. Salt and smoked salmon in the aftertaste – really. Comments: very very good and a clear BFYB whisky. The saltiness came unexpected. Great little whisky, great series.
SGP:352 - 85 points.

Auchroisk 27 yo 1991/2019 (48.7%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask #19-2701, 293 bottles)

Auchroisk 27 yo 1991/2019 (48.7%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask #19-2701, 293 bottles) Four stars and a half
Another one that I should have tried before, but years have only 365 days, have they not. Colour: white wine. Nose: sits right between the ueber-fruity 25 yo 'pop' one and the salty Signatory. It's even got this greasy fatness that we enjoy so much in several high-class malts, soy sauce, as well as a lot of crushed chalk the next morning after a rainy day. More or less. I may have said Hazelburn, you know. Mouth: no distillery should ever be overlooked. Extremely good Auchroisk, very tight, sooty, almost phenolic, greasy and, may I add, Springbanky. I have to say I'm not well-acquainted with Auchroisk and remember only too well the Singleton of Auchroisk of times gone by. So this is almost a revelation – well not quite but there, you get the drift. Finish: loses one or two points here, which happens pretty often as finishes tend to lose focus in many cases, and to get a little too dry and jumbled. Comments: Ohthrusk, your Majesty!
SGP:362 - 89 points.

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

 

February 4, 2021


Whiskyfun

An Aberfeldy Trio

Just en passant. So sad that they mustn't have too many tourists there these days, as it's a lovely tourist-friendly place. In short, not quite Mortlach (better for us).

Aberfeldy 18 yo (43%, OB, French red wine cask, +/-2020)

Aberfeldy 18 yo (43%, OB, French red wine cask, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
So, this was finished in some 'French red wine cask', namely a Pauillac as it seems. So in theory, a full cabernetty red that may well totally dominate the gentle whisky. Now they would know what they're doing, so let's check that out… Colour: apricot. Nose: ah, no dissonances, really? No invasive raspberries? No lousy strawberry jam? No unbridled cassis? Indeed, rather cherries (but not quite à la pinot noir) and, first and foremost, tons of honeyed pastries. We're in a pastry shop in Istanbul or anywhere in Maghreb, with all those stunning wee things made out of almonds, pistachios, orange blossom water, dates, pine nuts and yeah, honey. Give me a break, I'm so hungry now (well done, S.) Mouth: feels stronger than just 43, more mineral and leafy and leathery and grassy, and certainly less fruity. All the leaves, buds and stems are coming out, while the whole would get mush bitterer now. Where's the fruitiness? Now there are notes of bitter oranges and green pepper indeed, and a sourness that's not unseen in wine finishings. We're far from the nose's elegance I'm afraid. Finish: medium, a little sour, bitter and sweet at the same time. A tad indistinct. Comments: rather Al-Behr-Feldi on the nose if you ask me, while I'm finding the palate much more ordinary. Un-recharred red wine casks, you see. Perhaps a missed opportunity? They did a 15 'French red wine' that was much more to my liking.
SGP:561 - 79 points.

Ten more years please…

Aberfeldy 28 yo 1991/2020 (42.4%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon hogshead)

Aberfeldy 28 yo 1991/2020 (42.4%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon hogshead) Four stars
Our friends in America always manage to bottle 'different' whiskies. Like, when everyone's got middle-aged Glenrothes, they have some old Aberfeldy. The styles of the whiskies are often singular too. Colour: white wine. Nose: you see, this is very singular, which the lower strength had already suggested. First, it's full of mushrooms of all kinds (do you really need a list?) and second, there's this thing right between beer and mead, a little hard to describe. There's also some fermenting honey – not many honeys do ferment, which leads us to… mead. All right. A lot of fern too, when you rub some leaves between your fingers… Mouth: a tad loco in a good way, you do feel that not everything's well in place, while there's this seductive fermentary echo that would lead us straight to… mead. Some meady whisky! It is also pretty salty, which I find extremely bizarre… and pleasant. What a funny Aberfeldy. Finish: medium, with lovely bitter notes, Cynar, rum bitters, Campari perhaps… I am sorry, I am not finding anything related to Bacardi. Comments: some great fun to be had here. Go find another one that tastes like this one – good luck! One of the 'greater flawed ones'.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Do we say three's a good number?