Whisky Fun by Serge and Angus, blog, reviews and tasting notes since 2002

 

 

Mars 10, 2022

Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Deanston
Madeira vs. Oloroso

Again, indeed. Deanston’s become one of our pet distilleries, if I may. Love what they do, even when it’s unlikely (strange casks and such). Always fun, always fair, never pretentious.

Deanston 12 yo 2006/2019 'Madeira Cask Finish' (55.6%, OB, distillery exclusive)

Deanston 12 yo 2006/2019 ‘Madeira Cask Finish’ (55.6%, OB, distillery exclusive) Four stars and a half
It was obviously tough to do some distillery exclusive bottlings just before stupid Covid. But I would suppose the whisky mob’s always there to help them get rid of the stash. Colour: straw. Nose: right-o, mustard, walnuts, wholegrain bread, a touch of apple vinegar, cider for sure, sourdough, leaven, baker’s yeast… Indeed we’re at a bakery. The neighbours are brewers. With water:  mead and beer, then walnut wine. Mouth (neat): extremely good. I remember when Glenmo came up with their own ‘Madeira’, a long time ago, it was already almost everyone’s favourite. As for the ‘Burgundy’, well… But back to this wee Deanston, the sweet mustardy touch, mingled with liquorice and a little pepper liqueur and honey just work a treat. Sometimes you would think of fortified mead, or chouchen. With water: orange cordial and walnut wine, with a dollop of honey and, well, Madeira. Finish: long, rather rich but with a wonderful dry structure. Figs and very old riesling. Comments: I’m in a good mood, just because of this wee whisky.
SGP:561 – 88 points.

Deanston 12 yo 2008/2021  'Oloroso Cask Matured' (52.7%, OB, 13,227 bottles)

Deanston 12 yo 2008/2021  ‘Oloroso Cask Matured’ (52.7%, OB, 13,227 bottles) Four stars
Colour: rich gold. Nose: there, more walnuts, then meats, hams, mutton suet, glutamate, caramel ramens, sour cherry jam, roasted cassis, beer sauce (carbonnade), and just some mineral, thick and walnutty oloroso, with a little overcooked office coffee around 7pm, NYPD-style. Like in a crime series on the telly. With water: salty, bouillony, meaty. Malt extracts, a touch of Marmite, more walnut cake, last week’s gravy, meatballs, beef jerky… Mouth (neat): very heavy and thick, dry and concentrated, but quite bizarrely, it would never get cloying. Burnt walnut cake, burnt brownies, a feeling of dry molasses, treacle toffee, and just more carbonnade flamande. Massive bone-dry oloroso, with just touches of pencil shavings. With water: chills out, becoming a little sweeter and jammier, also spicier. Ras-el-hanout and pipe tobacco. Finish: long, this time really fruitier. Fruitcake and fig wine. Rather some cracked pepper, paint, oak and cedar woods in the aftertaste. As when we used to suck our pencils at school (tsk tsk). Comments: really heavier, but I say it’s almost a draw.
SGP:562 – 87 points.
 

Mars 9, 2022

Whiskyfun

So, the indies. The officials have been a little boring yesterday, I have to say. This time, we’ll do things randomly, for more fun.

Tamdhu 18 yo 1999/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # DL 12201, 337 bottles)

Tamdhu 18 yo 1999/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # DL 12201, 337 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: good nutty nose, with some sunflower oil, fresh croissants, sesame oil, then brioche and vanilla. Not earthshattering, and neither is it very ‘particular’, but this is a pleasant nose. Mouth: good fruitiness, with overripe apples, Danishes, clafoutis, then croissants again and cassata. No-quibble malt whisky that we won’t remember forever, but that goes down well and without hassles. Finish: medium, on cider apples and sweeter beers. Apple juice and young calvados. Comments: fine drop from just before Y2K. Remember?
 SGP:541 – 80 points.

Tamdhu 2001/2013 (53.7%, Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #MoS 13050, 685 bottles)

Tamdhu 2001/2013 (53.7%, Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #MoS 13050, 685 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: we’re reminded of the official ‘batch strengths’ (oh, no) but this is rather cleaner, without any sour notes, rather good cakes, biscuits, brioches, white chocolate, toasts, burnt bread, roasted nuts, toffee and fudge… With water: subtle oils, sunflower, pine nuts… Mouth (neat): very good! Treacle toffee, Malibu (just one drop, no worries), bananas flambéed (al rum, naturally) and just a big fat well-caramelised tarte tatin. With water: some lighter yet waxier developments around young cognac and… well, young cognac. How interesting. Finish: medium, waxy and oily, close to the barley, even breadier in the aftertaste. Comments: I believe we’re starting to talk. Spitzenklasse at barely 12.
SGP:551 – 87 points.

Tamdhu 10 yo 2007/2018 (57.8%, Archives, Koval cask, cask #36101, 156 bottles)

Tamdhu 10 yo 2007/2018 (57.8%, Archives, Koval cask, cask #36101, 156 bottles) Four stars
Always a good laugh with these ‘Fishes of Samoa’ labels. We’re still waiting for a ‘Tardigrades of Mongolia’ series! Colour: straw. Nose: these lovely oils that were to be found in the MoS and that were sadly absent from the officials. Sunflower, linseed… The doughiness is perfect too, there’s some welcome chalk too, some pils and other blond beers too, and a little cottage porridge too. I mean, not supermarket porridge. With water: white asparagus and Scottish mud, more linseed oil, a little damp cardboard.  Mouth (neat): very good upfront, a tad mentholy, camphory (perhaps the Koval cask?) rather fat and, indeed, oily, with an impeccable fruity barleyness. Something reminiscent of both patchouli and mothballs. With water: tends to close down on apples and wine gums. Finish: medium, with an awesome fruity barleyness. Comments: feels authentic, natural, and simply very good. Mind you, another tenner that would be ruling a show.
SGP:551 – 87 points.

There, another 2007 for good measure… Hold on, have you seen the strength?…

Tamdhu 13 yo 2007/2020 (66.5%, Or Sileis, sherry butt, cask #13822, 348 bottles)

Tamdhu 13 yo 2007/2020 (66.5%, Or Sileis, sherry butt, cask #13822, 348 bottles) Four stars and a half
Attempted murder once again. Bah, they’ll never catch me. Colour: gold. Nose: bourbon, barley and ethanol, plus vanilla and cappuccino. No further chances to be taken. With water: wow, it’s doing the peacock’s tail. Apricot tarte, apple pie, soft white nougat, lemon tarte (I always insist, with meringue!), pears poached in Sauternes (try that), then peppermint, chartreuse, verbena liqueur… It seems that we unleashed a whole horde of herbal aromas! Mouth (neat): great, it seems, well I’m not sure these roasted-and-flambéed pineapples really belong here. So, with water: prickly pears, cranberries, more tarte tatin, apricot pie… and so on. Superb. Finish: goes on in the same vein for a lot of time. Some kind of sweet basil and lime in the aftertaste, which makes it very fresh in the end. Comments: great bunch of molecules but our worst nightmare here would be to have a whole double-magnum of this and no single drop of water. Exquisite youngish Tamdhu (but they should sell it with a free wee bottle of water on the side).
SGP:551 – 88 points.

Tamdhu 20 yo 1998/2018 (55.8%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, refill hogshead, cask #HL 15369, 265 bottles)

Tamdhu 20 yo 1998/2018 (55.8%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, refill hogshead, cask #HL 15369, 265 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw/gold. Nose: the oiliness is the first thing to come through, with some sunflower oil once again, then doughs and fresh breads. Fresh kougelhopf and focaccia. Which just kills any just soul. Totally anti-modern and in a way, unwillingly anti-OB. With water: many leaves, bidis, lime leaves, breads, peelings, walnuts and just sweet apples. Wonderful nose. Mouth (neat): tighter, peppery, but bringing a huuuge walnut cake in front of us. I say that’s bordering corruption. With water: complex, fat, oily, barley-y, bready. Say apricot-and-hazelnut bread, to be had with genuine goose foie gras. Boy am I not making myself hungry! Finish: medium, clean, barley-y, very nice. I’m reminded of Canadian late-harvest apple wine. Or is that Canadian apple ice-wine? Comments: not much to add, this is impeccable, tabernak!
SGP:651 – 88 points.

Tamdhu 20 yo 1998/2018 (53.3%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask # 18-2003, 161 bottles)

Tamdhu 20 yo 1998/2018 (53.3%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, cask # 18-2003, 161 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: similar, that is to say all on some kind of waxy and oily western fruitiness and fruit breads. Having said that, this one’s got many more sultanas too. With water: more breads chiming in, which is strictly always great news. In my simplistic system and on the nose, breads = good, woods = bad. Mouth (neat): how good is this! A wonderful fruit cocktail enhanced with at least three different kinds of honey (what?) and a few soft spices, around Szechuan pepper and turmeric powder. There. With water: some lemon zests, grass, green spices, green tannins. Not sure the palate was in need for water. Finish: medium, doughy and sweet. Just stewed apples in the aftertaste. Comments: another excellent middle-aged Tamdhu, perhaps just a tad less comfortable with H2O than others.
SGP:551 – 85 points.

Tamdhu 2014/2020 (62.2%, Or Sileis, Craftsman Selection, sherry hogshead, cask #13764, 275 bottles)

Tamdhu 2014/2020 (62.2%, Or Sileis, Craftsman Selection, sherry hogshead, cask #13764, 275 bottles) Three stars and a half
With a wonderful kitten on the label. Colour: full gold. Nose: hot, with a wee metallic side at first (copper coins), which I find lovely, then apple peel and rhubarb. Let’s not forget that this baby was bottled at some rather lethal 62% vol. Consequently, with water: whiffs of rainwater, leaves, peelings, then sourdough and bone-dry cider. Chervil and, perhaps, a little marrow. Green walnuts, very typical indeed. Mouth (neat): some extremely punchy spicy and grassy young sherry. Quite turbulent and pretty raw when unreduced. With water: we’re rather reminded of the official ‘Batch Strengths’ (let me ask again, what does batch strength mean?) Apple pie, walnuts, cider, a little nougat, some grass, leaves, cherries, pepper, cinnamon… The youth does feel, after all this baby’s only six or even five. Gets a little sweeter and rounder after five minutes, it may need a lot of oxygen. Finish: long, a little sour and rather spicy. Green pepper and hints of burnt beans. Comments: I think it’s pretty good given the age, but perhaps does it lack a little more polishing.
SGP:451 – 83 points.

Let’s call this a tasting session, if you agree.

 

Mars 8, 2022

Whiskyfun

The Tamdhu Works

Tadhu
Another name that we’ve been accumulating over the last months, time to down a few Tamdhus. We’ll do that with much pleasure by the way, as we’ve already found some marvellous fruity ones in the past.

Tamdhu 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Tamdhu 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
Back on the tasting desk, since we had liked an earlier batch rather a lot (circa 2015, WF 86 but it was a 43% version). Colour: gold. Nose: this lovely maltiness mingling with pastries of all kinds and all origins, popcorn and nougat, honey cake, mead, butterscotch, some lighter pipe tobacco, then whiffs of manzanilla straight from Sanlucar. No need to tell you that this ticks all boxes in my little book, but let’s hope it won’t fall apart on the palate because of the low strength. Mouth: it does not. Excellent maltiness once again, walnut cake, oranges, earl grey, bergamotes indeed (those lovely square sweets they make from bergamots in Nancy, France), a few raisins, Linzer and panettone… Bravo! Finish: not that long but perfectly balanced, still malty and cakey. Comments: one of the rare occasions where 40% ABV worked out. Very good BFYB tipple, in my opinion.
SGP:551 – 86 points.

Tamdhu 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021)

Tamdhu 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
We’ve got several earlier batches of the 12 but I think we’ll keep those for domestic uses. Colour: gold. Nose: It’s becoming a little tougher after the wonderful, and certainly brighter and fresher 10. This 12 has got rather more sour woods as well as doughy and grassy sherry, now these dried and candied apples do work well. There’s also a large bag of Jaffa cakes, orange blossom cookies, and a little ginger beer. Perhaps even a drop of Buckfast. Mouth: closer to the 10, which is good news. More spiced-up mead, gingerbread, cinnamon rolls, old man’s jam (confiture du vieux garçon) and just raisins. Finish: medium, with more gingerbread and a little muscovado sugar. Cinnamon toffee in the aftertaste – but does cinnamon toffee exist? Comments: very good  – it kept improving in the glass – but I should have had the 10 after the 12.
SGP:551 – 84 points.

Tamdhu 15 yo 'Limited Release' (46%, OB, +/-2019)

Tamdhu 15 yo ‘Limited Release’ (46%, OB, +/-2019) Four stars
The old 15s from the 1980s in their flat ‘armagnac-like’ bottles were wonderful whiskies (WF 90 like). Colour: full gold. Nose: rather towards the 10. Lovely cakes and honeys of all kinds plus a little shoe polish this time, engine grease, then orange essence, fino, tight honey, oloroso, fruitcake, Stolle, pumpernickel, raisin bread, prunes in armagnac (we prefer armagnac with prunes)… Mouth: no wonder the distillery used to belong to the makers of Macallan, because I find this close to modern sherried Macallan. Some butterscotch and a tight oakiness, raisins, fruitcake, demerara sugar, tobacco, almonds and amaretti, maraschino while we’re in Italy, a spicier marmalade, peppers, some cinammony figs… Really a tighter sherried malt. Finish: long and spicier yet. Bitter almonds, Swiss Läckerli and cinnamon mints. Comments: a wee tad cask-forward but excellent for sure. They should keep these batches in concrete eggs for a few years before releasing them, but I’m not sure the SWA would approve.
SGP:561 – 86 points.

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 002' (58.5%, OB, +/-2016)

Tamdhu ‘Batch Strength – Batch 002’ (58.5%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars and a half
We’re late, we’ve only ever tried Batch 1. I believe no one’s ever fully understood what ‘a batch strength’ was. Colour: full gold. Nose: shock-full of Hershey’s chocolate, then tea and all-spice. That’s all what I’m getting at this ‘batch strength’. With water: oak, sawdust, more large-batch chocolate, tapioca and then cardamom. Mouth (neat): a leafy sherry, with sour berries, green walnuts and a lot of kirschwasser. That’s all what I’m getting at this ‘batch strength’. With water: improves a lot, even if they oak is staying in the front. Honey, olive oil, beeswax and walnut cake. Finish: long, geared towards marmalade and white pepper, with more gingerbread in the aftertaste. Comments: modern-style, certainly very good, but perhaps a tad simple after the lovely 10-12-15.
SGP:541 – 82 points.

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 003' (58.3%, OB, +/-2018)

Tamdhu ‘Batch Strength – Batch 003’ (58.3%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: sameish, perhaps a tad sourer but always very much on chocolate, mocha and raisins. With water: the oak coming further forward. Chocolate and a few leaves. Mouth (neat): extremely modern, as if they had STRised some sherry hogsheads. Tea, butterscotch, cherry cake, and just tons and tons of milk chocolate. With water: some spicy marmalade, touches of mustard, some bitterness. Bitter apples and pears, even a little chilli. Pad Thai. Finish: more chocolaty oak and all the spices that would come with it. Comments: I just couldn’t tell about my favourite. Perhaps batch #1.
SGP:551 – 82 points.

As it appears, there’s no batch #004 at Château WF, which is a scandal.

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 005' (59.8%, OB, +/-2020)

Tamdhu ‘Batch Strength – Batch 005’ (59.8%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: more bourbon-type goodness (I know it’s sherry), more vanilla, more Werther’s Originals, more pecans and macadamia nuts, praline, toffee and fudge, marzipan, cappuccino, a little cognac perhaps… With water: some leafy sherriness arising. Baked apples, fresh cinnamon rolls, sour cherries, walnuts… Mouth (neat): back to a tighter, sourer style of sherry, with leaves and green spices, bell pepper, walnuts… Now there’s also much, much less chocolate than in the earlier batches. With water: how funny, it’s getting fruitier here, fresher, less oak-driven, more on apple pie and marmalade. Finish: long, well balanced between the marmalade and some herbal teas. Comments: nose neat, sip reduced.
SGP:551 – 84 points.

Perhaps a last official before we start to tackle the indie expressions? Or should we rather do the latter tomorrow?

Tamdhu 12 yo '120th Anniversary' (57.6%, OB, Taiwan exclusive, oloroso sherry, 3600 bottles, 2018)

Tamdhu 12 yo ‘120th Anniversary’ (57.6%, OB, Taiwan exclusive, oloroso sherry, 3600 bottles, 2018) Three stars and a half
Was this one really exclusive to Taiwan? Did Tamdhu celebrate their 120th anniversary only in Taiwan? Colour: amber. Nose: same modern style, full of cedarwood, pencil shavings, chocolate and macchiato. With water: you cannot not wonder whether they haven’t been benchmarking modern Glendronach. It’s loaded with chocolate, then mulberries and… bramble jam indeed? Mouth (neat): very hot, chocolaty, extractive and spicy. I can see why our dear friends in Taiwan would have selected this, it would make for a great sauce for dumplings (which we just a-do-re). Ha. With water: still thick, heavily chocolaty, going towards armagnac this time. Except that no armagnac would ever shelter this much cedarwood – and chocolate. Finish: long, extremely chocolaty. Absent minded drinkers will believe they’ve just had some hot chocolate by Van Houten. Comments: excellent, just a little monolithic, I would say.
SGP:551 – 84 points.

Wait wait wait, we just found Batch Strength #004!

Tamdhu 'Batch Strength – Batch 004' (57.8%, OB, 2019)

Tamdhu ‘Batch Strength – Batch 004’ (57.8%, OB, 2019) Four stars
More sherry goodness. What these good Tamdhus don’t quite have is the meatiness, or say the umaminess that a few other sherry monsters would display. Colour: deep gold. Nose: just like #005, this one would start a tad bourbony, with some shortbread, caramel, butterscotch and molasses/corn syrup. A little varnish and notes of raspberry jelly. With water: no changes. Is my trustworthy Vittel broken? Mouth (neat): I find this good. Good jams, some tropicalness (bananas flambéed and a little maracuja), the usual coffee and some citrus. Works well, with much less chocolate (a.k.a. oak) in the way. With water: good gingerbread, marmalade, mead, maraschino, a little PX, a little icing sugar here and there, syrups, fig wine… Finish: rather long, curiously oriental. More fig wine, arrack… Comments: probably my favourite batch. Still not the subtlest tool in the shed, but I do find it more complex than the others.
SGP:551 – 85 points.

That was a little exhausting, I believe we’ll have the indie Tamdhus tomorrow. Thank you and auf Wiedersehen.

 

Mars 7, 2022

Whiskyfun

Blair Athol, rather abundantly

Pitlochry is not just a tourist nest, it’s also the home of two lovely distilleries, Edradour and, indeed, Blair Athol. One of them makes a pretty fat and ample distillate, the other one being more into a lighter, easier style. But as always with malt whisky, there are many exceptions. Let’s see if we’ll stumble upon some of those…

Pitlochry

Blair Athol 12 yo 2008/2020 (46%, DS Tayman, wine cask)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2008/2020 (46%, DS Tayman, wine cask) one star and a half
This one was finished in an Israeli wine cask. I believe it is the first time we’re trying anything by the house DS Tayman. Colour: straw. Nose: a funny one, full of Haribo’s best and strawberry Jell-O, while some rougher maltiness would try to resist and keep this drink malty in the background. Mouth: a tough one, rather in the style of some early finishings in red wine as they used to be done twenty-five years ago. Really feels flavoured, with cassis buds, more strawberries, and some green tannicity, possibly from the wine cask. It’s not that it is terrible, it’s just that it really feels ‘flavoured’. Finish: medium, on pepper and strawberries. In theory, that works, but in practice… Comments: not sure the gentler Blair Athol had much to say here. Now, some aspects will please a few adventurous aficionados.
SGP:761 – 69 points.

Another 12 that’s been a tad… reinforced shall we say…

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2021 (50%, Claxton's Exploration Series, Oloroso Sherry Quarter Cask)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2021 (50%, Claxton’s Exploration Series, Oloroso Sherry Quarter Cask) Two stars and a half
They would tend to use that term for 1/4 of a butt’s size, but we’ve seen 50l quarter casks too (quarter of a barrel). Colour: gold. Nose: walnuts playing first fiddle, then whiffs of dunnage, mud, old wine barrel indeed, and root vegetables. Celeriac. Not an easy one to describe. With water: goes towards mashed vegetables, mashed peas perhaps, potatoes, houmous and humus (right)… Mouth (neat): dry, a tad bitter, on walnut skin and some leather. Notes of dates in the background that would add some sweetness. Some pepper and cinnamon too. With water: gets greener. Those peppery root vegetables and those green walnuts. Not an easy one. Finish: medium, leafy, leathery. Some marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: a good one but I’m finding it a little austere.
SGP:361 – 78 points

For once, this is starting slowly… Please another 12…

Blair Athol 12 yo 2008/2021 (55.7%, James Eadie, Amontillado cask finish, export exclusive, cask # 354548, 341 bottles)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2008/2021 (55.7%, James Eadie, Amontillado cask finish, export exclusive, cask # 354548, 341 bottles) Four stars
Love the ‘export exclusive’ mention, that reeks of the good old days. They could have added ‘export quality’. Remember, basically, amontillado is a wine that started as a fino, so under flor, and that became an oloroso, so oxidative. Colour: gold. Nose: great fun. Smoked walnuts and mustard, cigars, eucalyptus, bitter chocolate, hashish and old embrocations. Vaporub. With water: geared towards breads. Mouth (neat): awesome, with a curious but excellent bubblegum + walnuts combo. What didn’t quite work in the previous ones is working a treat here. Also citron liqueur, always a winner at WF Towers. With water: some sweet spices plus bergamots and kumquats. Green peppercorn. Finish: long, with a tight, citrusy, zesty spiciness. You could drink this with Pad Thai. Touch of mint in the aftertaste. Comments: very clever composition, with a genuine Jerezian feeling.
SGP:461 – 86 points

Well, they did Marsala too…

Blair Athol 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.2%, James Eadie, Marsala cask finish, UK exclusive, cask # 3887, 314 bottles)

Blair Athol 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.2%, James Eadie, Marsala cask finish, UK exclusive, cask # 3887, 314 bottles) Four stars
A UK exclusive this time! Marsala is great, it’s just that we’d love to know about the kind of Marsala they’ve used, as there are literally dozens of them. White, red, seco, amabile, soleras… They even have Nero d’Avola. Colour: gold. Nose: I don’t know if that’s because Marsala is Italian, but what I first get is just a huge fresh panettone. While it’s to be said that I am the Chairman of the Alsatian Panettone Club (quite). Wonderful raisins, orange blossom, sweet doughs… With water: breads and cakes, scones, muffins… Mouth (neat): excellent, rather tight, just a tad stuffy at first but that’s because of the high strength. Panettone and focaccia plus some kind of allspice combo. Let’s see… With water: raisins kicking in. I suppose it was sweet Marsala. But don’t drown it, it is not a great swimmer and would become a little too tea-ish. Finish: long, caky. Comments: on second thought, I think I liked the amontillado a tad better. A matter of taste, both being technically perfect.
SGP:451 – 85 points

Perhaps try one that was made as Mother Nature intended…

Blair Athol 11 yo 2010/2021 (58.1%, Best Dram, refill hogshead, cask #300303, 298 bottles)

Blair Athol 11 yo 2010/2021 (58.1%, Best Dram, refill hogshead, cask #300303, 298 bottles) Four stars
Ah, a good old refill hogshead… Colour: gold. Nose: lovely, with patchouli and pot-pourri at first, then teak oil, pinewood, cedar and bitter almonds. Was that short enough? With water: very close to some C/S officials that we could try at the Distillery. Vanilla and barley, with whiffs of shoe polish and metal polish. Reminds me of when my dear grandma was polishing the silver, which she would do each and every year. Cheers, Marie. Mouth (neat): some spicy oak at first (cinnamon and nutmeg), then light sriracha and satay. This one’s clearly from the east of Scotland rather than from the midst of Perthshire. Ha. With water: very good, barley-y indeed, with some maple syrup and sweetened tea. Indeed, some people are adding sugar to their tea. Some sultanas. Finish: medium, rather on orange cakes. I’m afraid we’ll have to mention panettone again. Comments: super extra-good. Extra-point for the polishes.
SGP:551 – 86 points

Blair Athol 9 yo (58.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #68.42, 'Cosy and Toasty', 28 Queen Street Exclusive, 286 bottles, 2020)

Blair Athol 9 yo (58.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #68.42, ‘Cosy and Toasty’, 28 Queen Street Exclusive, 286 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Toasts, but of course. Colour: gold. Nose: chalk and croissants, that’s what I’m getting at full strength. A touch of wood varnish, perhaps. With water: some butter cream coming through. Some hay too, which I find very ‘Blair Athol’. Reminiscent of those old official bottles, you would have had Dufftown (red label) and Blair Athol (blue label). Does that ring a bell? Mouth (neat): very good young sweet barley-y and cake-y malt, with some orange and bananas jam in the background. Simple pleasures, bottled. With water: excellent. Apple cake, orange cake, banana cake, toasts if we must… Finish: medium, kind of oily, on those various cakes. Which, I insist, is very Blair Athol. Comments: thumbs up!
SGP:541 – 85 points

Blair Athol 13 yo 2008/2021 (53.8%, Fable Whisky, Chapter Six, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Crows, hogshead, cask #300529, 290 bottles)

Blair Athol 13 yo 2008/2021 (53.8%, Fable Whisky, Chapter Six, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Crows, hogshead, cask #300529, 290 bottles) Four stars
Ha, literature, not always easy to follow. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: gooseberries and stewed rhubarb. We’re close to the make this time. With water: oh these doughs. Mouth (neat): lovely apricot eau-de-vie and mirabelle. Lovely indeed but it’s to be wondered if this one did not age in amphoras or in those large sandstone jars that some are using (which would be a great idea by the way, with all due respect to the SWA). With water: amazing complexity, many stone fruits, eaux-de-vie indeed, oils, seeds… Finish: medium, perhaps a little austere at this point. Chlorophyll. Comments: some wood’s been used, obviously, but it is undetectable. Stunning work here, I would say this one’s really been aged by time, and that no trees were harmed. Wouldn’t this rather be the whisky of the future? Make whisky without trees?
SGP:551 – 87 points

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2021 (55.8%, Fable Whisky, Chapter Six, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Crows, hogshead, cask #304771, 301 bottles)

Blair Athol 12 yo 2009/2021 (55.8%, Fable Whisky, Chapter Six, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Crows, hogshead, cask #304771, 301 bottles) Five stars
I’ll say it again, these labels are stunning. We’re far from the very loud poppish ones that you can only really look at while wearing sunglasses. Colour: amber gold. Nose: exactly the opposite. Thick oils and polishes, jams and jellies, crystallised fruits (especially quince), kumquats and well-made rum. I would mention Foursquare. With water: acetone and walnuts! Mouth (neat): oh! Wood oils, heavy teas, pu-ehr, cedarwood, pencil shavings (wood and lead), then heavy fino sherry, vin jaune, mustard, walnuts… This has every aspect of sorcery. With water: extraordinary, if a little concoctiony. Gentian coming out, that’s rather not a bad sign. Finish: long, leafy, wit even a touch of salt Manzanilla. Was it a sherry hogshead? A little aniseed and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: was some A.I. involved? Aliens? Ghosts indeed? You say this was twelve-year-old Blair Athol?
SGP:562 – 90 points

What a series indeed. To be honest I haven’t quite checked ‘who’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ yet (remember I remain an amateur), but this is getting really intriguing… Good, a last Blair Athol – let’s make it a French one!

Blair Athol 13 yo 2007/2020 (46%, Whisky Lodge, Orcines, cask #435)

Blair Athol 13 yo 2007/2020 (46%, Whisky Lodge, Orcines, cask #435) Four stars
This by our friends in Lyons, capital city of the Gauls. A city irrigated by three major rivers as they say after a few glasses, the Rhône, the Saône, and Beaujolais. And now a fourth one, whisky… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: these Orcines are often rather crystalline, this is just another example. Pure barley spirit, with apple juice, pear juice, barley syrup and a minimal touch of vanilla. Plus vine peach juice, I would add. Mouth: unexpected saltiness, otherwise more apple, pear and peach juices. Millimetric, extremely barley-y. Finish: unexpectedly long, more on doughs, mint, liquorice and breads. A drop of pastis in the aftertaste, it’s true that Marseille is not too far away. I mean, when you check a map of France from Alsace. Comments: I remember the owner of the Whisky Lodge and yours truly have been Keeperised at the very same moment. A ta santé, great drop!
SGP:651 – 86 points

That’s nine BAs, that’s enough. Cheers and pace. Hold on, there’s more…

Blair Athol 20 yo 1995/2016 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry butt, cask # #HL 12149, 597 bottles)

Blair Athol 20 yo 1995/2016 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry butt, cask # #HL 12149, 597 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: full gold. Nose: these older ones were nuttier, earthier, I would even add ‘smokier’. Some herbal cordials too, amer bière, Fernet-Branca, Wulong…  With water: extraordinary combo, with roasted peanuts, roasted raisins, and just satay. I’d kill a few racists for satay (of course not, I realise that was stupid, officer). But wow, raisins and peanut butter, utter sin. Mouth (neat): utterly excellent, very nutty, tobacco-y, meaty, with cigars and crazy coffees. Ethiopians. With water: some sour sweet wines, Banyuls, some mead… This part is a little more uncertain. Finish: medium, meatier. Marrow soup and smoked ham. Chicken stewed in beer, with raisins! Comments: it’s always fantastic when you change category, after a bunch of young ones, however good those were..
SGP:552 – 88 points

That’s ten, but I suppose we could have a very last one by HL…

Blair Athol 20 yo 1995/2016 (57.1%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, European Sherry Butt, cask #HL 12537)

Blair Athol 20 yo 1995/2016 (57.1%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, European Sherry Butt, cask #HL 12537) Three stars and a half
Why they’ve added Boris to the label, I don’t quite know, he wasn’t even Premier yet when this was bottled, was he? . No politics in whisky, that’s one of our mottos! Colour: amber. Nose: some pure praline, peanut butter indeed, glazed chestnut brittle, sesame oil and some kind of earthy thickish ale. When I retire, I’ll learn about beer. With water: scoria, coal, walnuts, mustard, earth, fern, compost… Mouth (neat): huge, terrifying, pungent, raw. The grittiest, spiciest side of sherry. Huge green walnuts a.k.a. monster walnuts. With water: very aggressive, green, you could almost believe it was Caol Ila from a sadistic cask. Finish: very long, peppery, salty, really strange. Salted raisins. Comments: we’ve tried some pretty massive BAs, but this one takes the biscuit. Boy is it tough! Which would explain why they would have added Boris to the label. Looks like we’ve come full circle.
SGP:362 – 84 points

A session that went to eleven. It’s been a little exhausting, to be honest, Blair Athol being neither Clynelish, nor Springbank. But we made it and I thank you for your ongoing support. CU, pace, salute and nazdrovie.

 

Mars 6, 2022

Whiskyfun

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

After a lot of rum, some just brilliant, cognac is back on the tasting desk today, while we keep thinking of our dear friends in Ukraine.

Frapin 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (46%, OB, Grande Champagne, cask #1900)

Frapin 12 yo ‘Cask Strength’ (46%, OB, Grande Champagne, cask #1900) Three stars and a half
I believe this one was bottled around five years ago, but I could be wrong. In the olden days, pretty much anything bottled above 40% vol. used to qualify as ‘cask strength’ in Cognac (brut de fût). Colour: full gold. Nose: rather very ‘Frapin’ as far as I can tell, that is to say on a lot of both fresh/ripe and stewed/jammy fruits, especially peaches. In the background, touches of sweet liquorice and raisins as well as honeysuckle. An uncomplicated yet very appealing style, void of any rancio, tobacco or meaty touches. It’s almost akin to a family pack of liquorice allsorts after ten minutes, especially those that are filled with orange. Mouth: in keeping, sweet and fruity, with a wee grassy touch (tea, earl grey) otherwise more sweet liquorice, raisins and sweet marmalade, Jaffa-cake, orange jelly, then a very tiny touch of Szechuan pepper. Finish: medium, with more liquorice allsorts and a very discreet salty signature. After all, Cognac is coastal. A little maple, cane and agave syrups. Comments: some very good, rather easy, uncomplicated, assertive liquorice-led young cognac.
SGP:541 – 83 points.

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 85' (51%, OB for Distilia, Petite Champagne, 570 bottles)

Vallein Tercinier ‘Lot 85’ (51%, OB for Distilia, Petite Champagne, 570 bottles) Four stars and a half
This is cask strength. Colour: gold. Nose: I think it’s not the first time I’m finding a little botrytis in some Vallein Tercinier. Naturally, this cannot be, unless they’ve added drops of old Sauternes or other similar beauties to the cask while no one was watching. Or it is just an analogical feeling, after all there are no peaches in cognac either. So, stewed peaches, a tiny mentholy side, some sultanas, some liquorice… In fact all these are not really spectacular, it’s the balance and the way all this is working together that’s brilliant. Think the Zappa band, ha. With water: a little saponification for a few seconds (happens), then biscuits, tobacco, a little mint and a little camphor, green melons, then simply some lovely green tea. I’m often quoting blue-green Wulong/Oolong… They have some great ones in Taiwan. Mouth (neat): starts liquorice-and-citron-driven, gets then unexpectedly salty (a wee bit), then herbal (mint tea, walnut skin) and lastly, fruity. Peaches, apricots and raisins. With water: herbs and fruit peel or skin in majesty. A very curious feeling of peat in the background. No, my glass was immaculately clean, I promise. Finish: long… hold on, it’s got ‘something’ of Highland Park. Comments: a wonderful rather grassier petite champagne. Hope mad (and very sick) Mr P***n won’t start to call their own brandies ‘nebol’shoy shampanskoye’ and make the use of petite champagne by French cognac-makers illegal in R***a.
SGP:461 – 89 points.

La Joyeuse 'Lot 79' (57.8%, Jean-Luc Pasquet for Malternative Belgium for Art Malts, 81 bottles, 2021)

La Joyeuse ‘Lot 79’ (57.8%, Jean-Luc Pasquet for Malternative Belgium for Art Malts, 81 bottles, 2021) Five stars
Boy these 1979s are already older than 40. Colour: amber. Nose: a very different style, with a little varnish at first, even something a little bourbony (that would be great old bourbon of course), before it would just dive into rosewater, gewurztraminer, litchi juice, then the usual suspects, peaches. Marvellous. With water: firmer but still insanely aromatic and, to tell you the truth, close to an old Sauternes indeed, or perhaps Gewurz V.T. Tried a Raymond-Lafon the other day that was a bit like this, just wonderful, with tiny touches of mocha. That may be the, err, the botrytis. Mouth (neat): formidably tight, with a little varnish once more at first, then blood oranges, fresh figs, peppermint and prickly pear jelly. Which is another sin. With water: a rather lovely oak coming out, rather close to a great darjeeling. No sugar, no milk, no lemon please. Finish: long, superbly balanced between that darjeeling and, this time, citrus. Menthol, eucalyptus and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: masterful, unless you would be firmly against any tiniest form of oakiness. Joyful indeed.
SGP:561 – 91 points.

Prunier 1974/2021 (58%, Whisky Mercenary 10th Anniversary, Petite Champagne, 570 bottles)

Prunier 1974/2021 (58%, Whisky Mercenary 10th Anniversary, Petite Champagne, 570 bottles) Five stars
Love the whisky mercenary. True passion that shows on many accounts. Colour: gold. Nose: to be totally honest (always bad when anyone says that, uh) I believe whisky takes very high strengths a little better than cognac or armagnac, but that’s just a gut feeling, without any scientific evidence. You got it, this is a tad brut… No wait, I was wrong, it just needed a minute or two to become rounder, fruity, cakey and rather all on toffee, millionaire shortbread, butterscotch and cappuccino. A drop of soy sauce and a smaller one of Maggi in the background. With water: the lovage-y, glutamate-y side stays there, which I do enjoy (call that umami if you must), then we have cough syrup and camphor. Camphor lifts many old spirits (even humans). Mouth (neat): relatively sweet, perfumy, with some marmalade and touches of lavender jelly, perhaps. Candied cherries too, maraschino… It’s all a tad unusual but remember, 58. With water: how good is this? Latte, peppermint and triple-sec, perfect combo. What do you say, trained mixologists? The tiniest echoes of gentian and caraway in the back of the background. Finish: long, getting a little piney. Lovely freshness. Comments: please tell me where all those wonderful cognacs had gone? Actually, we’ve got the answer, they went to Belgium.
SGP:561 – 90 points.

La Boutique 'Lot 69' (45.2%, Malternative Belgium, Petite Champagne, 148 bottles, 2022)

La Boutique ‘Lot 69’ (45.2%, Malternative Belgium, Petite Champagne, 148 bottles, 2022) Five stars
The French keep saying that 1969 was an erotic year. Ha, boomers. Colour: deep gold. Nose: the freshest so far, full of dandelions and wisteria at first, then acacia blossom and acacia honey, white chocolate, Mandarine Napoléon (another Belgian thing, mind you) and maple syrup. It’s smooth, it’s mellow, it’s easy, it’s wonderful. Mouth: I believe it is only natural that you would find a little oak in such an old cognac. The Mandarine is back as well, juicy golden sultanas as well, Jaffa cakes too, not to mention Timut pepper and liquorice wood. All that works in sync, just like an old straight-8 Bugatti. Finish: medium, rounded, perhaps on chamomile tea sweetened with good all-flower honey. Thank you, bees. A very tiny touch of soap in the aftertaste, which is not uncommon in old cognacs, in my meagre experience. Comments: wonderful. Now, who is ‘La Boutique’? A very, very friendly lady? Is that why they chose the vintage ’69? Bahn let’s not speculate…
SGP:551 – 90 points.

Boy don’t we keep touching high ceilings… And Belgium…

Vallein Tercinier '53 Carats Lot 68' (47.2%, Asta Maurice, cask #AMF006, 168 bottles)

Vallein Tercinier ’53 Carats Lot 68′ (47.2%, Asta Maurice, cask #AMF006, 168 bottles) Five stars
On an unrelated note, 1968, that’s when MC5 recorded Kick Out The Jams. Colour: full gold. Nose: totally and fully and integrally on mangos, sultanas, pink bananas, maracuja and tangerines, plus maple syrup, honeysuckle, elderflowers and fir honey. This is incredibly fragrant. Oh and jams. Mouth: wooooh! Citrons, pink grapefruits, verbena, yellow chartreuse, tangerines, granny smith, eucalyptus, mentholated liquorice, then a little earth and, hurray, gentian. And sultanas. Finish: medium, splendid, with a perfect herbal, mentholy development, with notes of thyme. Thyme sweets. Comments: we wanna talk to that Maurice guy. A.m.a.z.i.n.g. cognac by V.T. for B.B. 1968? Well, it’s never too late to kick out the jams m*********s.
SGP:651 – 92 points.

Borderies No 65 (56.7%, Swell & Co + Emotions Distillers, Grosperrin, 144 bottles, 2022)

Borderies No 65 (56.7%, Swell & Co + Emotions Distillers, Grosperrin, 144 bottles, 2022) Five stars
As you may have guessed a long time ago, in old French, borderies means borders. 1965-2022, that’s 56 or 57 years, am I not right? Colour: full gold. Nose: so predictably great, subtle, with herbs, fruit peelings and grasses rather than plain fruits, also cantaloupes and blood oranges. Melon skin. Another one that’s just perfect, it seems. With water: humus, mosses, Zante currants, liquorice wood, geranium flowers, potpourri… Mouth (neat): it is in these old cognacs that oak works best. Amazing sandalwood, cedar, incense, pinesap, heavy chestnut honey… Then just mint and verbena, with a droplet of mezcal. No, I’m serious. With water: opens up and does the peacock’s tail. The oak is getting loudish, but it remain more than fine. Finish: long, with notes of old barrels, old wood, pipe, marmalade and figs, arrack… Comments: top of cognac once more, just starting to flirt with oak.
SGP:561 – 90 points.

Do we have room for a last very old cognac?

Grosperrin 1924/2021 (42.8%, Wu Dram Clan, Paradis Series, 40 bottles)

Grande Champagne 1924/2021 (42.8%, Grosperrin for Wu Dram Clan, Paradis Series, 40 bottles) Four stars and a half
This was not, ‘of course’, kept in wood for 97 years, or they would have done a very creepy funerary decanter akin to the one that a famous Scottish brand starting with M just did with an 81 years old. You know, those three hands holding a decanter that keep giving us all dreadful nightmares since the first press release – with pictures – came out. Bottles for Russian oligarchs (oops!) Colour: amber. Nose: stunning praline, natural Nutella (apologies), puréed chestnuts, pecan brittle, then a little wood dust perhaps, thuja wood, some cigarette tobacco (mentholated ones, Kools…) There’s a little fragility to this on the nose, which was to be expected but I suppose it’ll all happen on the palate anyway. Oh and 1924, that’s Ma Rainey. Mouth: oh! Certainly a little fragile and, ach, err, past its prime (paradis or not paradis), but it’s still very much alive although I would have rather said armagnac. Liquid caramel, stewed peaches, notes of rhum agricole, then herbal teas between chamomile and rooibos.  What’s rather impressive is the fact that it would pick up steam with oxygenation and get brighter and fruitier after around fifteen minutes. If quince jelly tickles your fancy, this is for you. Even better tarte tatin with quinces instead of apples. Well, it’s getting better and better, thank you O2! Finish: medium, but I’ve never met such a slow cognac, really, it took ages to open up. Raisins, old Tokaji, toasted bread and brioche, assam tea, IKEA’s meatballs, strong honey, green pepper, juniper, pine resin… hold on, Jägermeister? Underberg? Why is it all happening in the finish? Comments: 1924, the year of the great people (perhaps not Stalin, Lenin, Kalinin, Rykov…) Very hard to score.
 SGP:561 – 89 points.
 

Mars 5, 2022

Whiskyfun

 

Angus’s Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
A mish-mash of ‘stuff’ from Loch Lomond!
Loch Lomond, there was a time – probably not that long ago really – when its wares were the butt of many jokes in whisky circles. That seems less so today, although some of their distillates remain undoubtedly pretty whacky. Nevertheless, it’s almost impossible to fail to be impressed by their cosmic and labyrinthian still house.

 

Not to mention the sprawling site of the distillery itself, that includes a cooperage and laboratories, all full of charming and highly knowledgeable staff. I’ve tried quite a variety of examples of their various distillates in recent years and, I have to say, I feel like they only become more and more impressive. The snag I usually find though, is that the indies seem to have the best casks – as ever in today’s whisky world it seems.

 

 

We’ll do this not quite at random, but in a way which should – theoretically – leave the peated ones till last…

 

 

Inchmurrin 10 yo 2010 (60.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #112.78 'Waxing Lyrical', 2nd fill bourbon barrel, 240 bottles)

Inchmurrin 10 yo 2010 (60.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #112.78 ‘Waxing Lyrical’, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, 240 bottles)
Inchmurrin is well renowned as a kind of deliberate ‘clone’ distillate of the defunct Littlemill. It’s true that many bottling of it display this particularly green, Irish-accented fruity funk which is reminiscent of dearly departed Littlemill. Colour: straw. Nose: it would appear that someone has accidentally bottled a barrel of Clynelish. This is indeed waxy and showcasing a lot of almost artificial ‘bubblegum’ fruitiness. Fruit salad juices mixed with olive oil, cut grasses and parsley, pink grapefruit, carbon paper – funky but extremely fun and very good. Some metal polish and slightly exotic esters once again make you think of old Irish pure pot still whiskeys. With water: fresher and more open on cereals, coal dust, sandalwood, dried flowers and cigarette rolling papers. Characterful distillate indeed! Mouth: very good arrival, rather powerful and hot but also showing juicy sweet pineapple jelly, mouth-coating oiliness, more of these lovely waxy vibes and wee touches of milk bottle sweets, limoncello and tarragon. With water: perfect now. Thick in texture, full of shoe polish, waxy and mineral oil impressions. White pepper heat, buttered toast and molten white marshmallow. Finish: long, tangy with fizzy fruit sweets, new leather, mineral oils and a little more olive oil and bubblegum. Comments: I think these batches are really terrific whisky. They’re fun, charismatic, playful, never boring and really very delicious. Puts many other contemporary distillates in the shade.
SGP: 651 – 88 points.

 

 

Great stuff! This session starts very well. I think another Inchmurrin, don’t you…?

 

 

Inchmurrin  22 yo 1998/2021 (52.8%, Lady Of The Glen, hogshead with Oloroso sherry finish, 225 bottles)

Inchmurrin  22 yo 1998/2021 (52.8%, Lady Of The Glen, hogshead with Oloroso sherry finish, 225 bottles)
I wanted to know who the Lady Of The Glen actually is, so I just checked their website and apparently she is ‘the green lady ghost, purported to roam around Stirling Castle’ – presumably she’s been doing virtual tastings for them during lockdown? Colour: amber. Nose: a nice and rather lean and earthy sherry profile up front. One that incorporates clean rubber, hessian, Bovril and wee hints of liquorice and aniseed. These more metallic and polished notes from the Inchmurrin come through slowly but surely. Some suggestions of polished leather and the orange oils and bergamot. Lovely nose thus far. With water: gets more savoury, on cured meats, brown bread and cloves. Mouth: hmmm a bit bitter and slightly soapy on arrival. Very herbal and bitter, on Unicum and Jägermeister, black pepper, soot, carbolic soap. Not sure about this one now I’m afraid. Let’s try with water… With water: only marginal improvements I’m afraid, minimal soap now but still quite powerfully bitter, vegetal, herbal and peppery. Aggressively so I’d say. Tough and a tad mono-dimensional. Was it the sherry finish that did that? Finish: medium and a tad acrid at times. Tough! Comments: things started well on the nose but overall I think it’s a tough and possibly slightly flawed cask. Not sure if the finish improved or worsened things overall. Anyway, there’s many other far superior bottling by LOTG out there for sure.
SGP: 471 – 70 points.

 

 

Loch Lomond giveth, and Loch Lomond taketh away…

 

 

Old Rhosdhu 29 yo 1990/2020 (48.2%, Duckhammers Rare & WhiskyNerds joint bottling, cask #416, refill hogshead, 346 bottles)

Old Rhosdhu 29 yo 1990/2020 (48.2%, Duckhammers Rare & WhiskyNerds joint bottling, cask #416, refill hogshead, 346 bottles)
For this joint bottling there are two different labels. Guys, don’t accuse me of favouritism, but the one with the Otter on is definitely my favourite 😉 Colour: gold. Nose: ha! Concentrated funky old Irish whiskey mixed with some aged Guyanese rum and poured over a dollop of molten Gruyere cheese. But then there’s the fruits that begin to get the upper hand, tinned tropical fruit juices, some rather opulent New Zealand sauvignon and a wee hint of marzipan. Funny but excellent. Mouth: really doubling down on this old Irish Whiskey profile now. Copper coins, suet, dried mango, monstera fruit, hessian, cod liver oil – did I mention they do ‘whacky’ on occasion at Loch Lomond? Some breads and more grassy olive oil notes come through now as well. Finish: good length, a little tropical but now also green acidity, cereals, breads and more grassy and oily notes. Perhaps a little cardboard in the aftertaste, which isn’t as luminous. Comments: excellent at times and showcasing a pretty left-field style overall, one that’s only really to be found intermittently in Loch Lomond makes.
SGP: 551 – 86 points.

 

 

On to peat now, in theory…

 

 

Croftengea 13 yo 2007/2021 (49.5%, North Star, refill hogshead, 255 bottles)

Croftengea 13 yo 2007/2021 (49.5%, North Star, refill hogshead, 255 bottles)
Let’s see what the House Of Croucher has unearthed for us… Colour: pale straw. Nose: if you took some bubblegum and smooshed it around in an old sooty fire hearth… you’d something that probably isn’t much like this whisky, but this whisky does make you think immediately of coal scuttles and bubblegum though. Following? I thought not. A very funny and whacky nose that also incorporates metal polish, smashed cactus and bath salts. Fun stuff! Mouth: a few notches more classical with a lovely clean sweep of chalky peat smoke. Wood ashes, bath salts (again!) and a mash up of grapefruit and seawater. It teeters on a rather chemical profile but never quite commits, so it’s actually rather playful in that sense. More chalk, smouldering ashes, pine cones and impressions of newspaper ink and lanolin. Finish: quite long, peated grapefruits anyone? Smoked mineral oils? New leather? Brined olives? Comments: I really like this, but at times I feel as if I maybe shouldn’t? Yet more envelope nudging from the shores of bonnie Loch Lomond.
SGP: 465 – 85 points.

 

 

Croftengea 14 yo 'Batch 3' (49.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled 2020, 503 bottles)

Croftengea 14 yo ‘Batch 3’ (49.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, bottled 2020, 503 bottles)
Comes with a wizard on the label, or possibly a roadie for the Grateful Dead? Colour: pale white wine. Nose: not as similar to the North Star as I’d expected, this is much more farmy, and actually makes you think more of Ardmore. Lots of wet chalk, smoky grist, sooty chimneys, hessian sackcloth and things like wood ashes, soda bread and iodine. I also get a few drops of lemon juice and sheep wool. Mouth: bigger and much more classically peaty. Thick, peppery peat smoke, smoked olive oil, seawater, iodine and camphor. Still nicely farmy as well though which keeps this Ardmore cosplay alive. Finish: medium and all on ashes, chalk, farmyard smokiness, smoked olive oil and anthracite. Comments: a bit more classical, but still a peaty weirdo – in the best sense. Same quality as the North Star I think.
SGP: 476 – 85 points.

 

 

Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (52.6%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #341, hogshead, 280 bottles)

Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (52.6%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #341, hogshead, 280 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: a more elegant take this time. A more concentrated profile of peat smoke that incorporates brine and ointments, along with bacon rind and syrupy cough medicines. Some touches of seawater, pink grapefruit and sandalwood too. Impressive complexity I think. With water: lovely salinity emerging now, along with a nice sappy quality. Dried sage, green olive bread and more of these camphor notes. Mouth: lovely syrupy profile! Gloopy and medicinal with herbal ointments, camphor, tiger balm and various medical embrocations. Impressions of sandalwood, bandages, ink and seawater all fading in and out. Excellent! With water: the texture is very impressive, it’s got this persistent syrupy edge, more of these sappy, herbal and medicinal tones and consistently thick peaty flavour. Finish: long, warm, peppery, herbal and with a few wee fruit tea impressions that elevate the complexity. Comments: It’s really quite funny how different all these Croftengeas are. This one is really top notch, great selection team TWE!
SGP: 566 – 89 points.

 

 

Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (53.2%, Elixir Distillers 'The Whisky Trail', cask #342, hogshead, 269 bottles)

Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (53.2%, Elixir Distillers ‘The Whisky Trail’, cask #342, hogshead, 269 bottles)
A sibling cask, should be same ballpark… Colour: pale gold. Nose: yup, same juice. Perhaps just a wee bit narrower, more towards coastal and saline aspects. Some dried seaweed, soy sauce and hessian. Maybe not as ‘in yer face’ as 341. With water: a little drier, sootier, on carbolic acidity, fermenting wash and sheep wool – yes a bit more farmy I suppose. Mouth: once again, same ballpark profile, but here it’s a little less distinctive, more juicy, syrupy peat smoke, more tar, iodine and camphor stylings. It misses some of these fruitier components that made its sibling more complex I would say. With water: sits nicely between salty and umami qualities. Makes you think of many Asian influences such as nori, pickled ginger and fish sauce, which I’m a sucker for in whisky. Finish: quite long with a deep smokiness now, warm kiln air, a wee meaty bacon note and back to medicines and iodine. Comments: another great one, but I just preferred the extra dimensionality (what?) of its sibling.
SGP: 466 – 86 points.

 

 

Inchfad is supposed to be peatier? Right?

 

 

Inchfad 14 yo 2007/2021 (54.7%, Dram Mor, cask #1100, PX finish, 274 bottles)

Inchfad 14 yo 2007/2021 (54.7%, Dram Mor, cask #1100, PX finish, 274 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: unexpectedly fruity! As in ripe plums, prunes, sultanas, fruit loaf and some more savoury notes of dry oloroso sherry and black miso. I would not have pegged it as a PX finish at first nosing, but the proof may be in the eating… With water: I find it becomes nicely saline and meaty now, some pork scratchings with a glass of dry oloroso. Mouth: ok, peat comes through more clearly here, oily in texture, medicinal, lightly herbal with cough syrup impressions and more of these dark fruit notes but they are very much in the back seat now, while the peat presses the accelerator. You could also add some Iberico ham and black olives – my God, what I’d give for a few days in Jerez! With water: leathery, salty, some camphor and hessian, a little olive oil and more impressions of black olive bread and cured meats. Finish: good length, clean, earthy, salty and still dominated by the sherry. Doesn’t feel like PX at all to me, more Oloroso style, which is great news. Comments: this is classy stuff and a very successful finishing I would say – the peat and the sherry are on the best of terms here. It’s just that I now really want to eat some Iberico ham now. And olives. With some pork scratchings. Oh, and drink some VORS Oloroso. In Jerez of course. Urgh!
SGP: 465 – 87 points.

 

 

Inchfad 16 yo 2005/2021 (52.2%, Thompson Brothers, PX finish, 300 bottles)

Inchfad 16 yo 2005/2021 (52.2%, Thompson Brothers, PX finish, 300 bottles)
Finished for 2 years I believe. Colour: deep gold. Nose: not dissimilar to the Dram Mor bottling, in that there’s an initial suggestion of mirabelle eau de vie and sultanas on the nose, but overall it’s a little earthier and going towards things like soots, bouillon, pollens and smoked meats. With water: lovely umami notes of miso, soy sauce, cod liver oil, camphor and putty now. A little smoky charcoal note too. Mouth: more obvious PX influence here, a wee touch of pencil shavings and graphite oils, but also more umami paste, black olive tapenade, aniseed, salted liquorice and hints of iodine and damp pipe tobacco. Very good, but perhaps a notch too much wood influence for me. With water: becomes a little jammy and peppery now, pink peppercorn, hessian, a pencil shaving note again too. I think I preferred the palate neat for this one. Finish: medium, on charcoal, olives, earth, tobaccos and a little bramble jam. Comments: not as convinced by the PX influence on this one, but it goes down very easily when neat.
SGP: 564 – 84 points.

 

 

I think Croftengea is peatier than Inchfad. I’d also say that there’s lots of fun and pleasure to be had with all these various Loch Lomond makes. Although, we didn’t even get into Glen Douglas, the new Rhosdhus, or actual Loch Lomond for that matter come to think of it. What a lousy excuse for a Loch Lomond tasting!

 
 

Mars 4, 2022

Whiskyfun

I just wanted to do a very short session today, with two Isle of Jura that should be utterly different. I know this won’t be fair, but is life fair? I would add that every time we’re trying Jura’s whisky, we’re thinking of George Orwell. Even more so these days…

Jura

Jura 'Journey' (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Jura ‘Journey’ (40%, OB, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
A very fairly priced NAS – well, all NAS should be fairly priced, like less than £50! – that’s meant to be a blend of peated and unpeated whiskies from the famous Distillery. Jura Journey is not a new expression, but it’s the first time we’re having a go at it. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I’ve read on a prominent ‘lifestyle’ blog that this one is smoky because they deep-char the barrels. ‘Lifestyle’, we said. We’ll it’s not very smoky, in fact, rather pretty leafy and tea-ish, with just overripe apples and tiny touches of cellar dust, mustard, plus a little toffee, vanilla fudge and wee hints of Madeira, not uncommon in Jura. Neither is this little sootiness. Fine nose, rather light but ‘with something special’. Mouth: good sooty start, with some oak, ashes and a little lapsang souchong (there, smoke), but it’s soon to become thin and even skimpy (shall we say). Dry, leathery and salty, with also a feeling of coal dust on your palate. Finish: short, saltier yet and even more reminiscent of the driest Madeiras. Sercial, right? Dry ashy aftertaste, with also pear peeling. Comments: after all, this is meant to be the bottom-of)the-range. Not unpleasant, at all.
SGP:352 – 78 points.

This is where things get really unfair…

Jura 27 yo 1991 + 1994/2021 (52.1%, WhiskySponge, refill barrel and hogshead, 334 bottles)

Jura 27 yo 1991 + 1994/2021 (52.1%, WhiskySponge, refill barrel and hogshead, 334 bottles) Five stars
An unusual bi-vintage bottling. The label is really fun. I see a tanker of E-150 in the background, but no large plastic Phylloxera and no matching tie and handkerchief, so not dead sure this is that famous and much skilled Master Blender we’re all thinking about…  Colour: straw. Nose: more mineral, more austere, more on flints, cider apples, perhaps turnips, scoria, asparagus, salmiak, rapeseed oil, grape pips, walnut skin, brake dust… I really love all this austerity, we’re almost in white wine territories. Reminds me of that PX seco that I tried the other day, brilliant wine that I may remember forever. With water (which should bring out the fruits): no! Rather wool, plaster, fresh paint, linoleum, lip balm and paraffin, then beeswax and drops of vase water. Mouth (neat): masterly work. Dry mustard, chalk and flints, dry Madeira this time again, leather polish, walnut skins, then rather salted citrus, pickled lemons, a touch of peppermint, vegetable bouillon… Doesn’t quite feel 27 but who cares. With water: there, gentian, apples, walnuts and various oils. Finish: long, with perhaps a little more lemon, otherwise chalk and wool. The expected ashy mustard in the aftertaste. Comments: it remained austere all along, from the first to the last drop. I would add that it reminded me, at times, of those St Magdalene we tried right yesterday. No bad news, now I’m not an utter fan of all old ‘refill’ Juras, but this time I bow.
SGP:372 – 91 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Jura we’ve tasted so far

 

Mars 3, 2022

Whiskyfun

Little duos, today St. Magdalene

St. Magdalene’s malt has always enjoyed cult status amongst the Malt Maniacs, mainly thanks to that flabbergasting UD-Rare Malts 19-1979/1998 that was extremely potent and virtually unbreakable. Actually, once poured, your tulip glass would crack before the whisky would even start to show the slightest signs of tiredness.

St Magdalene

Sadly, I don’t think there’s been a new bottling of St. Magdalene (or its alter ego Linlithgow) since ten years or so, even if the famous Lowland distillery was only closed in 1983. Because 1983 was only yesterday, was it not? What’s sure is that we’ve got great friends at Whiskyfun.

St. Magdalene 27 yo 1983/2010 (52.7%, Part des Anges, Closed Distilleries, bourbon barrel, 132 bottles)

St. Magdalene 27 yo 1983/2010 (52.7%, Part des Anges, Closed Distilleries, bourbon barrel, 132 bottles) Five stars
Part des Anges (Angel’s Share) was an excellent small French indie bottler that may have been a little early. As we all know, 1983 was the Distillery’s last vintage; to think that it’s become flats… Colour: white wine. Nose: this is like meeting an old friend for the first time since years. Wonderful notes of grape pip oil and old silverware, very idiosyncratic (do we love that word), then huge notes of autumn leaves and apple peeling, plus grapefruit skin and something slightly glutamate-y and miso-y that you would usually rather find in old sherried babies. It is both very complex and pretty austere, which is a little unusual but very ‘Magdalene’ in our humble opinion. With water: more apple peel, natural soap (saponin) and paraffin, some kind of waxy fino, fresh butter, mashed peas, mashed potatoes, these metallic touches once more, some new wool, new jumper (what was up back in 1983? Sergio Tacchini?) … I don’t think any Distillery’s still making something even remotely close to this style, the only ones being, in my book, Millburn or Glen Albyn, but those are long gone too. Mouth (neat): massive, with loads of tobacco and salted green fruits, red-bean mochi, more autumn leaves, gritty oils (extreme olive oil), then pickled lemons and a curious touch of sake. I find this little Magdalene pretty Japanese. With water: more sweetness coming out, grapefruit jelly perhaps, perhaps a little mutton fat and marrow, these wee soapy and metallic touches once more, some peppers and some grasses… It remained superbly austere. Finish: long, still sharp, salty and grassy, with some marzipan in the aftertaste and perhaps a little coal smoke. Comments: moving whisky. Not sure we’ll ever manage to taste more St. Magdalene that we haven’t tried yet, except for the next one…
SGP:362 – 90 points.

St. Magdalene 23 yo 1970/1994 (58.1%, Rare Malts)

St. Magdalene 23 yo 1970/1994 (58.1%, Rare Malts) Five stars
I never jotted down the smallest, silliest notes about this one, what I remember is that some friends used to tell that it was superior to the 19/1979, whilst others would have claimed to the contrary. The only other 1970 I’ve ever tried was a DL Platinum that had been excellent but not integrally dazzling in my book (WF 89). Colour: gold. Nose: where else are you going to find proper Swiss Gruyère melted in balsamico, stearin, shoe polish, with some menthol, turpentine, linseed oil, sulphur candles (not burnt), kirschwasser and ham? What’s this unlikely yet wonderful sorcery? Scottish fondue? With water: amazing waxy grasses, suet, fresh almonds, perhaps seal blubber, ski wax, wool and mint leaves (unusual combo, I agree), a little fresh paint… Mouth (neat): a hi-power nutty and leafy start, full of walnuts, wood-smoked fish, grapefruits, bitter almonds, amontillado, many oils and a growing tartness. Tends to become superbly bitter, chartreusey, very leafy. Artichokes and eggplants in the background. With water: this is where it will start to sing if you give it time, reaching a pinnacle that’s rather easy to miss if you’re not an attentive and patient taster. Superb lemons, many green teas, green pu-ehr and just all kinds of waxes and oils. Very, very long and breath-taking development if you give it time. Finish: long, grassy, mentholy, herbal and, just like the 1983, pretty salty. Some kind of limey vegetable bouillon in the aftertaste. Miso and tofu too. Comments: stunning but easy to miss. In other words, perhaps not for street drinkers or new-born whisky influencers on b****y YouTube. They must have had a lot of fun at United Distillers while they were selecting all these casks of ‘official independent bottlings’. Imagine the cask samples lined-up on the desks… This must have been one of the most, say introspective of them all. Talking about the whiskies, naturally.
SGP:462 – 92 points.

(Many thanks Christian and Jeffrey)

 

Mars 2, 2022

Whiskyfun

Yet another world session
After twenty years, I’m afraid our Scotch-centric vision of the whisky world is about to crack. Many more whiskies from ‘the rest of the world’ are coming our way these days, while many Scottish names seem to have becoma little absent. Where are they?

Hagmeyer WAH ! (43%, OB, France, +/-2021)

Hagmeyer WAH ! (43%, OB, France, +/-2021) Three stars
This single malt is Alsatian! Well in truth I only know of around ten people in Alsace who are not making whisky yet. Quite. In my experience, Alsatian whiskies would tend to be a little thinnish, partly thanks to the eau-de-vie stills they’re using (Holsteins and such). But there are exceptions, naturally… Hagmeyer are located in Balbronn and this is organic. Colour: white wine. Nose: totally wood-led, but certainly not in a bad way. A lot of caraway and tons of clove, so either you enjoy clove or you don’t. Good notes of citrons and maize bread in the background, Mouth: between some funny gin and whisky. More caraway and more clove, citronella, fresh ginger, touches of turmeric, lime… And juniper. Gin indeed. Finish: medium, very fresh, nicely herbal, a tad medicinal (that’s the juniper), with some citrus in the aftertaste. Comments: doesn’t quite taste like malt whisky in my book, now as a ‘general spirit’ I find it rather excellent. Who needs clear categories anyway.
SGP:660 – 80 points
fr

Gwalarn (40%, OB, France, blend, +/-2021)

Gwalarn (40%, OB, France, blend, +/-2021) Three stars
Actually a blend of whiskies from several ‘Celtic’ origins, so rather a meta-world whisky. Made by the new owners of Glann ar Mor in Brittany. Colour: straw. Nose: a fine sweet gentle smoke ala Ardmore at first, then a few medicinal touches ala Laphroaig (embrocations), then a touch of cardboard, then assorted bready notes. Works well, whether it’s really ‘Celtic’ I wouldn’t know, but it sure is rather coastal. Proof: we’re almost about to mention whelks and kelp. Mouth: Ardmore again. Feels stronger than 40%. Ashes, cardboard, apple and lemon juice, touch of salt, a little rhubarb. Tends to nosedive after that, which is normal at 40% vol. Finish: very short now, the 40% feel. Well, they don’t, precisely. Comments: solid coastal blend, probably with a very high proportion of peated malt whisky.
SGP:443 – 80 points
fr

Since we’re at Glann ar Mor…

Kornog (46%, OB, France, +/-2021)

Kornog (46%, OB, France, +/-2021) Four stars
This is the peated Glann ar Mor. New owners, slightly ‘updated’ design (I liked the original one rather better I have to say), let’s see. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: class talks. Extremely pure, bandage-y, vertical, you would believe this is one of the greatest Sancerres. In my humble opinion, white Sancerre (sauvignon blanc) is one the wines that are closest to great malt whisky – and conversely. Long story short, love this drop. Mouth: a slight lack of ‘fatness’, possibly because it would be a little too young (who knows with these b****y NASses) but all the rest is perfect. Green melons, white tequila, iodine, ashes, smoked kippers, sorrel, seawater, oysters… Finish: medium, saltier yet, with some lime juice, smoked fish, samphire, and a tiny touch of pinewood. Smokier aftertaste. Comments: class distillate, one of the best in continental Europe in my book. Now an even higher voltage would work even better I would say. Like 48% (but where would this end?)
SGP:456 – 87 points
fr

To Canada, what do you say?

St Laurent Rye 3 yo (43%, OB, Canada, Quebec, Lot No 001, +/-2022)

St Laurent Rye 3 yo (43%, OB, Canada, Quebec, Lot No 001, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
I believe this baby from Rimouski near the mouth of the St Laurent River is brand new. This is 80% rye and 20% barley. Not too sure about the ABV statement, the label being so charmingly cluttered that I couldn’t find any mention of it. Or my eyes are really getting bad… Colour: light gold. Nose: the thing is, I’m a sucker for these light, fresh and yet emphatic young ryes that are reeking of fresh breads and herbs of many kinds. Once again with these young modern whiskies, we’re rather between artisan gin and whisky (if I may) but it just works. Liquorice wood, caraway, fennel seeds, fresh bread… Does the people need more? Mouth: excellent. Rye is currently growing on me. Touches of pineapple yogurt at first, then ginger cookies, tiny touches of lavender, breads aplenty… Finish: medium, rounder, with more vanilla, gingerbread, and liquorice in the aftertaste. A little caraway this time again. Comments: I haven’t even said ‘tabarnak’, have I? Great, great young rye, but why wouldn’t they write ‘seigle’ instead of ‘rye’? I’m joking, bien sûr.
SGP:551 – 84 points
cn

To Wales…(this is becoming the 6-Nation…)

Penderyn 9 yo 2012/2021 (57%, OB, for LMDW, Amontillado)

Penderyn 9 yo 2012/2021 (57%, OB, for LMDW, Amontillado) Four stars
As I understand it, this was fully matured in amontillado, not just finished. Colour: light gold. Nose: nicest Penderyn I’ve ever nosed, simple as that. Pure nutty cake-iness, with amaretti, marzipan, whiffs of hops, and possibly a thin slice of our favourite cake, panettone (the Panettone Club is sponsoring us, did you know that?) With water: fresh doughs of various kinds, especially baguette – of course – then kumquats and yuzu. A touch of chocolate, from the amontillado I would suppose. Mouth (neat): class, very tight, citrusy, full of grapefruit and green walnuts. Sends a few shivers down your spine but that’s not an unpleasant feeling. Brrr… With water: oh good! Blood oranges, green coffee, a little tobacco (untipped Camels – boy they’ll fine you one day), some tight marmalade, proper quince jelly (lot of quinces, almost no sugar)… Finish: medium, candied, jammy, yet fresh. Comments: I have to confess I had troubles with the first Penderyns because they had heavily Madeira-ed them. But that was a long time ago and this is just perfect! Time heals all wounds, they say.
SGP:551 – 85 points
w

Amrut 'Triparva' (50%, OB, India, +/-2021)

Amrut ‘Triparva’ (50%, OB, India, +/-2021) Three stars
The first ever triple-distilled Indian whisky. Feels a bit ‘why?’ to us but let’s see, why not keep an open mind… Colour: gold. Nose: eggplants and olive oil, then custard and carbon paper. Cut grass and Kronenbourg. All right. With water: towards citrus, hops, IPA and tapioca. Semolina, polenta… Mouth (neat): better, although still a little uncertain and kind of wobbly. Mango syrup, cough medicine, apricot bread, kumquats, nutmeg… With water: do not ad too much water. Finish: medium and slightly thin. A little mango jam, perhaps? Menthol? Comments: very good, certainly, perhaps just a tiny-wee tad uninspiring. There are and were  so many utterly great Amruts!
SGP:540 – 81 points
i

Amrut 'Spectrum 004' (50%, OB, LMDW, 2021)

Amrut ‘Spectrum 004’ (50%, OB, LMDW, 2021) Four stars
004? Looool, this is so Indian. Love India. As I understand this one, they have assembled barrels using four (4) different woods, namely US oak, PX, French and Oloroso. We’ll die another day or something… This is almost molecular cooking… Colour: deep amber. Nose: game set and match. Espresso, demerara sugar, molasses, the blackest pipe tobacco, garden earth, cigars, miso soup, tangerine marmalade, mango chutney… Once again Amrut’s spirit has worked as an aroma sponge. With water: emphasis on black raisins. Corinth, Smyrna… Mouth (neat): this feeling of Demerara rum, burnt cakes and woods, pine resin, heavy tar liqueur, salmiak… With water: chocolate and black raisins with a little menthol and tar taking over. Finish: long, thick, molasses-y, geared towards old rums, El Dorado-style, if that rings a bell. Comments: heavyish and almost clumsy but extremely good, if a little old-fashioned. We’re expecting Hercule Poirot anytime soon…
SGP:561 – 87 points
i

Good, a last one, and let’ change style. Completely.

Ezra Brooks '99 proof' (49.5%, OB, USA, bourbon, +/-2021)

Ezra Brooks ’99 proof’ (49.5%, OB, USA, bourbon, +/-2021)
What you need to understand is that this was ‘Bottled at an elevated 99 proof for an enhanced flavor profile’. All right then, let’s elevate ourselves too… (no age and no vintage, though). Colour: gold. Nose: nice maize bread, popcorn, nutmeg and cinnamon, lavender and geranium, tomato leaves,  tiny touches of peanut butter. Isn’t peanut butter experiencing some kind of epiphany these days? Some nougat too, but this remains a lighter nose. Mouth: sweet, on a lot of peanut butter this time, with some orange cordial and violet liqueur. Very sweet, getting difficult because of that. Blood orange wine. Finish: medium, sweetish, with some Szechuan pepper and notes of Maltese liqueur for tourists. Or was that Cyprus? I can’t quite remember… Comments: no, it’s way, way too sweet on the palate for me. I’m not sure I could down 2cl of this without at least half a kilogram of ice. Rather poor stuff – yeah I know it’s cheap…
SGP:730 – 65 points
us

We couldn’t leave America like that…

Jack Daniel's '100 proof bottled in bond' (50%, OB, USA, Tennessee sour mash whiskey, +/-2021)

Jack Daniel’s ‘100 proof bottled in bond’ (50%, OB, USA, Tennessee sour mash whiskey, +/-2021) Two stars
I don’t think I’ve ever tried this expression, but all in good time… It’s said to be ‘at least 4 years old’, wow, we’re impressed aren’t we. Colour: gold; Nose: caramel, toffee, vanilla fudge, popcorn, nougat and sweet maize. Jack as we’re expecting Jack to be. With water: some warm sawdust, peanut butter and pancake syrup. Not un-nice, just extremely simple. Mouth (neat): very sweet, almost liqueurish, but rather balanced, not unpleasant, with some sweet oak and touches of coconut, then biscuits and oriental bread. With water: sweet oak, nice touches of rounded beers, sponge cake and molasses honey. They call that honey but it’s no bee’s honey. Yeah, utter junk, beware. Finish: rather short, actually, but I do rather enjoy these sweet peanut sauces. Very sweet aftertaste, too much now. Comments: not great and even poor, but way better than that even poorer poor Ezra ‘The Poor One’ Brooks.
SGP:730 – 72 points
us

I think I’m hearing you…

Wild Turkey 'Longbranch' (43%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2021)

Wild Turkey ‘Longbranch’ (43%, OB, USA, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2021) Two stars
This is oak-and-Texas-mesquite-charcoal refined, you understand. Nice packaging, would look nice in your saloon. Colour: gold. Nose: nice! Parsley, sage, verbena, thyme, lime, fennel, drop pf yellow chartreuse (the light one), then nougat, popcorn, orange liqueur and cinnamon rolls and cookies. Very pleasant for sure. Hope it’s not too light on the palate. Mouth: I like this one, even if it’s pretty uncomplex and, frankly, rather too easy. Ish. Puréed chestnuts, maple syrup, wee  touches of cologne/lavender/violets/whatever, then candy sugar and orange liqueurs. Getting sweeter and sweeter, not the best sign I’m afraid.  Finish: gets sweeter yet and lighter at the same time. Some coconut appearing, never totally a good sign (nah, coconut in whisky sucks big time). Comments: rather a little good but too sweet, unbalanced and lightish. I’m sure that’s because of that Texas-mesquite charcoal, no?
SGP:730 – 76 points
us

It’s better to stop here, I would say. See you, stay tuned.

 

Mars 1, 2022

Whiskyfun

Around the world once more
As we like to do, we’ll start this from France. Sadly, we haven’t got any ‘Ukranian’ spirits left in the stash.

Villa n°16 (43%, OB, Maison Peyrat, France, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
This one’s finished in both cognac and pineau des Charentes casks, after having spent some time in ex-bourbon. Maison Peyrat is a cognac house in the Charentes that’s started to also offer rum and, pretty recently, single malt whisky as well. Apparently, it’s been double-distilled in Charentais stills. Colour: straw. Nose: certainly fruity, with peaches and then raisins, with a pineau that feels a little bit (fortified must). A fair maltiness too, and a whisky that seems to be pretty light and pleasant. Mouth: good, fair, first malty, then growingly on sultanas and simply young cognac. Which, naturally, is very pleasant. Finish: a tad short but good. More malty raisins, good freshness, cinnamon rolls in the aftertaste. Comments: very good surprise despite the 43% vol. that may look a little stingy. Hope they’ll make a ‘brut de fût’ too.
SGP:630 – 84 points.

Perhaps a detour to our dear neighbours in Switzerland?

Säntis 'Snow White No.9' (48%, OB, Switzerland, 2000 bottles, 2021)

Säntis ‘Snow White No.9’ (48%, OB, Switzerland, 2000 bottles, 2021) Three stars and a half
I’ll always remember the first ‘Swissky’. This funny Säntis is made by the Locher Brewery (Brauerei Locher) in Appenzell, which lies in eastern Switzerland. We’ve had some excellent Säntis in the past but this one was first matured in beer casks and then finished in ‘Berry vanilla liqueur casks’. To be honest I don’t quite know what that is but the unmissable label would suggest it’s close to the universe of sundaes and ice creams… Colour: deep gold. I was almost expecting rosé gold. Nose: well well well, they know how to make these things, don’t they. Notes of fine de Bourgogne just all over the place, young cognac, some roasted almonds and peanuts, and back to fine. Which is extremely, well, fine (S., gold medal). Discreet whiffs of prickly pears and pomegranates, then indeed sweet pale ale. Mouth: tip-top. Ninety percent young cognac, ten percent malty beer and ten percent some kind fig arrack. Indeed we’re good at math. Tends to become really chocolaty, with also drops of coffee liqueur. Finish: long, on similar notes, plus gingerbread, speculoos and Läckerli. Wait, that’s rather Basel if I’m not mistaken. Comments: much pleased. I had also expected the use of glacier water or something, given the name.
SGP:451 – 84 points.
sw

The Lakes 'Whiskymaker's Reserve No.3' (54%, OB, England, 9700 bottles, 2021)

The Lakes ‘Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3’ (54%, OB, England, 9700 bottles, 2021) Three stars and a half
Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1 had been rather very okay in my book (WF 80), No.2 was even more to my liking (WF 84). Now, No.3 aged in ‘meticulously sourced PX, Oloroso, Cream Sherry and red wine casks’. Sounds scary, but you never know… Colour: salmony. Nose: pine resin and geranium flowers, strawberry rolls, fig wine, juniper, genever, then Stolle, speculoos, cloves, ginger cookies… It’s really pretty concentrated and spicy. With water: fresh panettone! Mouth (neat): it seems that it survived the heavy treatment with wine. I mean, PX, and cream, and red wine! Ginger and cloves again, then dried figs and strawberry jam, sultanas, some kind of spicy fruitcake… With water: more oak spices coming out, that’s always the tricky part. Bay leaves, leather and nutmeg. Finish: rather long, rather rich. Fig wine, raisins, cinnamon rolls. Comments: not exactly my preferred style – I find it a little heavyish – but they sure made it well. Kudos to the Chief-Emperor of Wood-Technology or whatever they call him/her at The Lakes D.
SGP:651 – 84 points.
en

To Finland. We’ve had some excellent Finnish whiskies the other day…

Teerenpeli 'Suomi 100 Juhla-viski' (43%, OB, Finland, 2016)

Teerenpeli ‘Suomi 100 Juhla-viski’ (43%, OB, Finland, 2016) Three stars and a half
This one was bottled to celebrate Finland’s 100th anniversary. I know we’re very late, but Happy Anniversary, Finland! Colour: copper gold. Nose: it’s a smoky one, with barbecued herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley) and notes of rooibos, then camphor, eucalyptus, pine tar, ointments… To apply over your chest whenever the weather is getting freezing cold. Mouth: I really like this mojito from the north. Fresh lemon and mint mixed with tar liqueur, oysters (it’s pretty salty) and juniper. Some bitterish caraway liqueur – do they also make aquavit in Finland? The 43% vol. don’t quite feel light here, well done. Finish: medium, rather on smoked herbs and more tarry juniper. Softer aftertaste, leaving your palate fresh. Comments: a tad aquavity at times, and certainly good. I could drink more of this one and not wait until dear Suomi-Finland is 110.
SGP:465 – 84 points.
fin

While we’re in Scandinavia…

Smögen 9 yo '90° Proof' (51.4%, OB, Sweden, batch L001, +/-2022)

Smögen 9 yo ’90° Proof’ (51.4%, OB, Sweden, batch L001, +/-2022) Five stars
I believe this one’s new. I mean, I don’t see it anywhere… Colour: white wine. Nose: wee touches of pears, plus a perfect coastal smoke, fresh dough, fresh sourdough, coal dust and fresh almond paste. What’s always superb in these wee Smögens is their perfect simplicity. Almost abstract whisky, cutting to the chase. With water: more coal, carbon, cellar dust, carbolineum, old paints… Mouth (neat): hope no one’s going to hate me if I write that this is Caol Ila with a little more, well, a little more coal? Perfectly well-carved, pure, salty, lemony, with kippers, fat dry doughs, grapefruits, granny smith and the tiniest touch of peppermint. A little candy sugar to round this off. With water: more and more on brine. Are they already growing olives in Sweden? Finish: long, ultra-clean, salty, coastal, peaty, lemony… Comments: perfectly simple and simply perfect (that was lame at best, S.).
SGP:457 – 90 points.
sw

I think we’ll change style…

Currach Kombu (46%, Ireland, Kombu seaweed charred cask, +/-2021)

Currach Kombu (46%, Ireland, Kombu seaweed charred cask, +/-2021) Four stars
Wait wait wait, if I understand this well, this is sourced whiskey that was finished for 3 months in casks that had been charred using seaweed from the Atlantic, called ‘kumbu’. Why would any serious taster not find this funny? After all, there’s already been some Islay whisky that had been in contact with kelp, no? Didn’t they call that ‘Celp’? Wasn’t it Van Wees in Holland who did it? In any case, innovation is good (you go first, added Dilbert). Colour: straw. Nose: sweet dough, maize bread, milk chocolate, custard and vanilla fudge, then miso, paprika and saffron. I find this a little bizarre and certainly not coastal, let alone ‘Atlantic’. I mean, this is not Talisker. Mouth: let’s be honest, this is great fun. The seaweed feels this time, there’s samphires, burnt capers or something, lemon liqueur, bizarre tarry menthols… It is very hard to describe this, the nearest thing I’ve ever tasted was some crazy cachaça. Or Cooley’s first batches of Connemara, remember?  Finish: long, salty, great fun once you got used to it. Tarry aftertaste, are we sure they’ve not rather used old tyres? Comments: whether this should be called ‘whisky’ or ‘whiskey’ might still be to be seen but believe me, this ‘spi’ is growing on you. A whole new category, that’s cool! Congrats to the inventors, they’re making our lives a little less boring with this sour-sweet concoction.
SGP:365 – 85 points.
ei

(Thanks Henrik, thanks Jürgen)

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

February 2022

Serge’s favourite recent bottling this month:
Lagavulin 22 yo ‘Jazz Festival 2020’ (52.6%, OB, Refill American & European Oak, 2004 bottles)  – WF92

Serge’s favourite older bottling this month:
Scapa 24 yo 1993/2018 (61.2%, La Distillerie Générale, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #963, 1164 bottles)  – WF92

Serge’s favourite bang for your buck this month:
Lohin McKinnon ‘Central City – Chocolate’ (43%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021)  – WF87

Serge’s favourite malternative this month:
Vallein-Tercinier ‘Small Batch 41/43’ (48.2%, OB for Kirsch Import, Bons Bois, 2021) – WF93

Serge’s Lemon Prize this month:
Tamnavulin ‘Tempranillo Cask Edition’ (40%, OB, +/-2020)  – WF70

 

February 28, 2022

Whiskyfun

Malts from around
this troubled world
To paraphrase Napoléon on Champagne (although some historians claim that he never said anything close to that, or that Churchill actually said it), whisky, either you deserve it or you need it.

Brenne 'Ten' (48%, OB, France, +/-2021)

Brenne ‘Ten’ (48%, OB, France, +/-2021) Two stars
Basically, just like Bastille or a few other brands, the first light and sweet Brenne NAS were French whiskies made for the US, and virtually no one in France was aware of their existence, let alone drinking them. Now this ‘premium’ expression might be rather different, let’s see. Please note that it won Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition 2021. I swear. Oh and why ‘Ten’ and not ‘Dix’? Colour: white wine. Nose: sour oak, green walnuts, vin jaune, a little coal smoke, mashed celeriac and turnip, and even… drumroll please, manzanilla! Highly surprising, in a good way. Mouth: adios manzanilla on the palate, this is rather some hottish plum spirit with rather a lot of gritty sawdust and peppered green tea. Then cider apples and just green oak, plus white brandy, what they would call ‘blanche’ in Armagnac. Tough guy. Finish: long, harsh, getting bitter and gingery. Comments: I’m not sure the distillate was ready to put up with this much new oak. Having said that, I’m rather a fan of the manzanilla-y nose.
SGP:371 – 72 points

Teerenpeli 'Kaski' (43%, OB, Finland, sherry casks, 2021)

Teerenpeli ‘Kaski’ (43%, OB, Finland, sherry casks, 2021) Four stars
Bottled in March, 2021, from 100% sherry casks. We enjoyed a recent ‘Kulo’ a lot (WF 86). Colour: light gold. Nose: starts bready and chalky, then come a little liquorice wood, mustard and horseradish, then charcoal and roasted raisins. Some kind of earthier liquorice arising after a few seconds, which I find lovely, then bags of old walnuts. Solid nose. Mouth: starts very peppery and earthy, leafy as well, but gets then rounder, with some mocha, roasted sesame, pecans and bitter chocolate. Perhaps pistachios. Really to my liking, it doesn’t even really suffer from its lightish strength. Finish: very good, if not very long. A little gunpowder (why now?) and bitter almonds. Even a drop of lapsang souchong and some cigarette ashes. Comments: a singular style that I enjoy.
SGP:352 – 85 points

Masthouse 2017/2020 'Single Malt' (45%, OB, Copper Rivet Distillery, England, 2000 bottles)

Masthouse 2017/2020 ‘Single Malt’ (45%, OB, Copper Rivet Distillery, England, 2000 bottles) Three stars and a half
I’m afraid I had never heard of the Copper Rivet Distillery before. It is single-estate malt whisky and was distilled in a column still! I believe they would call it a single grain in Scotland. Colour: straw. Nose: light, on white asparagus, coconut, vanilla and sunflower oil. Which is absolutely not unpleasant, mind you. Mouth: a fine little 3 years old that would rather feel a little ‘Irish blend’ if you ask me. Soft oiliness, more sunflower oil, a delicate vanilla-led oakiness, overripe apples, watermelon, touch of acacia honey, coconut balls, toffee apple… Finish: not that short, curiously malty (was it a short column?) and with biscuits and brioches. More green tea from the oak in the aftertaste. Comments: yet another excellent surprise. Feels more ‘Lomond’ than ‘Coffey’ in my little book. By the way, the Distillery is located in Kent, right between Canterbury and London.
SGP:451 – 84 points

Cooley 18 yo (58.16%, W.D. O'Connell, Ireland, PX series, cask #144105, 2020)

Cooley 18 yo (58.16%, W.D. O’Connell, Ireland, PX series, cask #144105, 2020) Four stars and a half
It was a PX finish, not full maturing. W.D. O’ Connell are Irish independent bottlers from Waterford county. Do they have some Waterford too? Colour: gold. Nose: loaded with ripe gooseberries, the expected pink bananas, starkrimsons and, best of news, no obvious PX at this point. With water: panettone (so, with raisins) and earl grey chiming in. Awesome, flawless. Mouth (neat): totally on wine gums and jellies. If Haribo are ever starting a whisky distillery, this is probably what they would produce; and we’d all love the end result unapologetically. With water: firmer, with more sweet herbs, more cakes as well, liquorice allsorts, banana foam and other guilty pleasures. Finish: long, sweet and fruity. Lime tea and honey. Comments: superb drop. I believe it is not always easy to tell the difference between these batches of Cooley and some of the Bushmills.
SGP:641 – 89 points

Since we’re in Ireland…

Midleton 'Very Rare 2022' (40%, OB, Ireland)

Midleton ‘Very Rare Release 2022’ (40%, OB, Ireland) Five stars
A famous series within which they keep bottling their jewels at 40% vol., which, I find, is almost a statement. Obviously, this one’s brand new, and is a self-blend of 12 to 33 years old whiskeys, possibly not all pure-pot-still as they wouldn’t tell you it is. I mean, not a pure pot still whiskey. Colour: gold. Nose: I remember I used to find these Very Rare lightish twenty years ago, but this time I’m rather finding this 2020 edition extremely complex and rather akin to a Meursault from a good vintage (and from a good house, check Anne Boisson!) Higgledy-piggledy, I would say mango peel, fresh hazelnuts, angelica, citrons, touches of sorrel and coriander, toasted maize bread, lemon balm, biscuits, butter cream, that insane cake called Paris-Brest, a little chalk… Give it time, it is endless. Mouth: no, I mean yes, this is bottled sin. You would almost believe it was a good idea to bottle this at 40% vol. (do not shoot). Peaches, melons and mangos vie for the leading part, heather honey’s coming out too, then we have a little proper sugarcane syrup, a little peanut butter, orange blossom, baklavas, ripe bananas… Finish: good, it is, indeed, fading away a little fastly now, which just makes you want to pour more. Tsk tsk, nasty trick. Comments: this baby delivered much more than I was expecting, while I’ve long been thinking that those ‘Very Rare’ were just pricey under-Redbreasts.
SGP:641 – 91 points

Currach 'Wakame' (46%, OB, Ireland, +/-2021)

Currach ‘Wakame’ (46%, OB, Ireland, +/-2021) Four stars
We’ve already tried one of those, not even sure I’ve already published my note. We’re a little disoriented these days. It’s sourced Irish whiskey finished in barrels that have been charred using wakame seaweed from the Atlantic. As long as no one ever uses gunpowder… Colour: light gold. Nose: oh, I remember, this is good fun, even if it is pretty unlikely. Bicycle inner tube, loads of caraway, loads of nutmeg too, cumin, Barbour grease, masala… I don’t think anyone would get the wakame, which is not very aromatic anyway, but this very peculiar tarry and rubbery side is working very well. Perhaps for petrolheads? Mouth: so funny! You would get some salt now, some smoke for sure, something balsamic, rubbers, burnt eucalyptus wood perhaps, while you would then experience a curious feeling of pine-smoked grapefruits and curry. No, really. Finish: long, on similar notes. Salty lemons kept in coal tar, with a drizzle of Port Ellen. Who’s going to try to make that? Comments: crazy but good fun. We all need fun. Bravo!
SGP:463 – 86 points

Bimber (58.1%, OB for WFFA, England, virgin American oak, cask #97, 2020)

Bimber (58.1%, OB for WFFA, England, virgin American oak, cask #97, 2020) Five stars
This is not England, this is London, baby. It is ‘Single Malt London Whisky’, you understand. Colour: deep gold. Nose: I knew it. Orange liqueur, Bénédictine, raisins soaked in mezcal (and why not?) and kougelhopf. Basically lovely, as they say in Vegas. With water: cantaloupe, papayas, pink bananas, cassata, peach syrup… Mouth (neat): just very smart. Spicy oranges, papayas, lemon curd, ginger cookies, limoncello. With water: a drop of rosewater, then fantabulous notes of pink grapefruit and any kinds of liqueurs or wines made thereof by very smart people in remote countries. Finish: not that long, but immaculately fruity. Comments: extremely convinced, I am. I hate to give a high score to such a young whisky, but there. I also believe that this is Bimber’s best ‘cask bill’.
SGP:641 – 90 points

You say we haven’t left Europe today? See, we’re listening…

Hellyers Road 18 yo (56.4%, OB, Tasmania/Australia, The Nectar and Kirsch Import, American oak, cask #2269.03, 197 bottles, 2021)

Hellyers Road 18 yo (56.4%, OB, Tasmania/Australia, The Nectar and Kirsch Import, American oak, cask #2269.03, 197 bottles, 2021) Five stars
Tasmania? I’ve always been a fan of the platypus, since I was a kid. I hope they’re doing all right but I’m sure that the Tasmanians are taking great care of those incredible ‘other human beings’. Colour: light gold. Nose: naturally, sunflower oil, vanilla pods, salsify, buckwheat, and just ‘breads’. Breads always win it. With water: a superb oily nuttiness. Pine nut, pumpkin seed, Brazil nuts… Mouth (neat): lemons, bananas, coffee, butterscotch, caraway liqueur, yellow curry, dried jujubes, paprika. Sounds unlikely? It’s not. With water: takes water extremely well. I just made the mistake we all sometimes make when we get distracted, I added water twice, and yet, the baby remained fiercely straight. Stewed bananas and the softest soft curry. Finish: long and breadier. Comments: love, love, love many Hellyers Road including this one, but how are the platypus doing?
SGP:651 – 90 points

Two Brewers 'Classic Single Malt' (46%, OB, Canada, release No.26, 2021)

Two Brewers ‘Classic Single Malt’ (46%, OB, Canada, release No.26, 2021) Four stars
This from Yukon! Love it that this would have been ‘mashed with water from glacier-fed streams’. That’s better than Nestlé’s city tap-water, no? In case you wouldn’t know, Yukon’s located in the northwest of Canada, close to Alaska (and far from Céline Dion, I hope). Colour: light gold. Nose: ha! Some tarry and mentholated raisins and fresh brioche, that’s what I’m getting. Salmon smoked with pinewood and nectarines in honey sauce, that’s what I’m getting too. Mouth: it is just incredible that this wee baby would have same-level talks with the Midleton, the Hellyers Road or the Bimber, without any complex. Perfect sweet and fruity oiliness, fruit syrups, sweet barley, pear liqueur, soft oak spices, sweet maize, sweet condensed milk and the obligatory ripe bananas. Finish: medium, softer, easy, fruity, oily, a tiny tad syrupy towards the aftertaste. Comments: extremely impressed; now Alsace -> Yukon, that’s 7,226.72 km as the condor flies. Life isn’t fair.
SGP:641 – 87 points

Perhaps a last one, perhaps one from the good old US of A…

Kentucky Owl 'Confiscated in 1916' (48.2%, OB, USA, straight bourbon whiskey, +/-2019)

Kentucky Owl ‘Confiscated in 1916’ (48.2%, OB, USA, straight bourbon whiskey, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
I’ve only ever tried one owl from Kentucky, an 11 yo rye that had been superb (WF 87). This very one comes with a ‘story’ but it’s so phony that I think we should maybe just try the liquid. Colour: full gold. Nose: the thing is, the liquid is very nice, actually almost perfect, with buttered sweet maize and pancakes, maple syrup, a touch of new fabric (tweed jacket straight from Pakist… I mean from Walker Slater), popcorn and nougat, Jack-Daniel’s (what?), a little cellulose, varnish… Nutshell, a simple and easy-ish, yet very lovely bourbony nose. Mouth: yes, pretty good, but simpler than on the nose, a little rough, with allspice, apple wine, some sour woodiness, some coconut, cinnamon and ginger (in my wee book, that’s oak that’s not fully integrated)… Would tend to lose steam and become a little indefinite. Finish: medium, sour, oaky. Not too sure. Coconut in the aftertaste, never a nice ending. Comments: this started extremely well, but it all went downhill after just a few seconds. Still a very fine bourbon, it’s just that I won’t remember it forever. Remember what?
SGP:640 – 79 points

Better stop now. Cheers and take heart, Ukraine!

(Many thanks, Henrik and Jürgen)

 

February 27, 2022

Whiskyfun

A tanker of rum for Ukraine

St James
Quite. There’s more pouring in, which I find both charming and challenging, since there’s only one Sunday per week. Bah we can’t try everything anyway, so pressure remains relative (as long as our dearest friends don’t keep asking ‘when are you going to taste our stunning Ron de la Revolucion that we mailed you seven years ago?’…) Bah, let’s see what we’ll have today… This for our Ukrainian friends, of course.

Conde de Cuba 15 yo 'Extra Anejo' (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2018)

Conde de Cuba 15 yo ‘Extra Anejo’ (38%, OB, Cuba, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
A very bizarre semi-circular bottle that I had never seen while on location. The 38% don’t bode too well either, but let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather interestingly, it would start like some young rancio wine, with some kind of ‘grapeyness’ and certainly whiffs of old wine cellar, old barrels, old wood, molasses, sherry vinegar… Then rather peach jam, sour fig and onion chutney, then just café latte and chocolate. Pretty nose, I have to say. Mouth: certainly not unpleasant, with obvious notes of coffee-schnapps and liquorice in the arrival, but it’s soon to lose steam and fall flat, so to speak. Finish: very short. Traces of oranges, coffee and chocolate. Comments: one to sip at the Buena Vista club while smoking a local puro. Not bad at all, on the contrary, but it’s really very light and frustrating.
SGP:230 – 78 points

Chairman's Reserve 21 yo 1999/2021 (66.5%, OB, St. Lucia, Mads Heitmann for Romhatten Cask Selection #5, ex-bourbon, cask #108011999, 229 bottles)

Chairman’s Reserve 21 yo 1999/2021 (66.5%, OB, St. Lucia, Mads Heitmann for Romhatten Cask Selection #5, ex-bourbon, cask #108011999, 229 bottles) Five stars
This baby was distilled in the John Dore 1 double retort pot still. It’s very interesting to learn that they’ve been ullaging it (a.k.a. consolidating) every two years using sister barrels. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: as expected, starts with a lot of varnish and acetone, fresh pine sawdust and linoleum, before it would get kind of agricole, very complex, cane-y, with bags of walnuts and rotting bananas, as well as a little diesel oil and pine sap… Curiously approachable. With water: magnificent, this is almost some nutty old oloroso. Yes, I’ve noticed it was ex-bourbon. Mouth (neat): fantastic petroly and piney oak, some varnish again, truffle essence, raw cocoa, then ten tons of salmiak (or salted liquorice). The 66.5% are incredibly easy to handle. With water: towards higher-esters, olives, capers and even more salmiak. Finish: long, tight, salty and coffeeish. I know coffee and salt don’t get along well, to put it mildly, but in this case they do. Comments: terrific rum from St. Lucia Distillers. Perfect handling of some heavy, yet very elegant oak.
SGP:363 – 90 points

French Antilles 2019/2021 'Virgin Oak' (50%, 1423 World Class Spirits for rumology.be 5th anniversary,  Martinique)

French Antilles 2019/2021 ‘Virgin Oak’ (50%, 1423 World Class Spirits for rumology.be 5th anniversary,  Martinique) Four stars and a half
This one from Le Galion, the last remaining sugar factory in Martinique. They make a ‘grand arôme’ from molasses, so not an agricole, but I’m not sure this very one is one of them. Colour: light gold. Nose: so singular! New rubber boots, cane juice, linoleum again, a new box of cigars, some spent engine oil, crushed sugarcane, some cellulosic varnish… With water: more olives, kelp, fresh concrete, rubber… Mouth (neat): great fun. Pink grapefruits, cold sorrel soup, olives, rhubarb, drops of seawater, bits of cured ham, plus some rather estery pineapples and bananas about to start rotting. This is very long fermentation, I believe up to 10 days, which creates this quasi-bacterial kind of profile. With water: calms down a little bit. Liquorice allsorts, especially the ones that are filled with lemon foam (ha). Finish: long but not invading. Should be great for making babas. Comments: I don’t know if this qualifies as ‘grand arôme’, but it’s absolutely lovable. Our friends the Belgians, again.
SGP:462 – 89 points

I’ve got an idea, let’s try some rum that was bottled at more than twice the strength of that little Cuban we started this wee session with…

Saint James 'Brut de Colonne' (74.2%, OB, Martinique, Batch #1, 2020)

Saint James ‘Brut de Colonne’ (74.2%, OB, Martinique, Batch #1, 2020) Four stars
This might be a little strong, but we’re safe as it is organic. Are we not? Brut de colonne means straight from the column. Colonne créole, naturally, as this is officially agricole. Colour: white. Nose: stunning fresh cane, cane syrup, crushed fresh almonds, plantains and white asparagus. Wham. With water: grass and, bizarrely, rather some agave syrup. Otherwise fresh marzipan, green tea and oyster shells. Mouth (neat – careful now): lemons, touches of smoked fish, olive oil, icing sugar, cane juice ‘of course’, liquorice allsorts this time again, and… we’ll stop here, we need our tastebuds mind you. With water: feels a bit like some readymade ti’ punch. Lovely citrons and crystallised tangerines. Finish: long, wonderful, fresh, even a tad medicinal. Camphor and paraffin, sweetened lemon juice in the aftertaste. Comments: I find this way superior to Saint James’ ‘Fleur de Cane’. Excellent white.
SGP:562 – 85 points

While we’re at Saint James…

Saint-James 15 yo 2006/2021 (47%, OB and Velier, Martinique, Tribute to Jean-Claude Benoit)

Saint-James 15 yo 2006/2021 (47%, OB and Velier, Martinique, Tribute to Jean-Claude Benoit) Five stars
Velier and Luca Gargano have been working with Saint James for more than 46 years. Together they’re releasing a series of ten different vintages to celebrate. Colour: amber. Nose: top of the agricole style. Roasted nuts, raisins and cane, plus headier flowers (lillies, wisteria) and some grassy earthiness. Tiny whiffs of fruit compost plus some very well mastered oakiness, a wee bit on the piney side, which we always enjoy. Very elegant on the nose. Mouth: amazing. Cedar shavings at first (sucking our pencils at school), then flower jellies and jams (borage, jasmine), a little hay-and-mint mix, liquorice wood, touch of aniseed and verbena, woodruff as well… This is both firm and delicate, complex, extremely appealing and just lovable. And drinks extremely well (sometimes a handicap indeed). Finish: long, with this cedarwood that’s still on. The signature is very earthy/caney, which is lovely, obviously. Comments: exquisite selection. We’ve got several vintages but we’ll probably only have this one today.
SGP:462 – 91 points

Well, no, we’ll have another one if you don’t mind. Eenie meenie…

Saint James 19 yo 2002/2021 (47%, OB and Velier, Martinique, Tribute to Jean-Claude Benoit)

Saint-James 19 yo 2002/2021 (47%, OB and Velier, Martinique, Tribute to Jean-Claude Benoit) Three stars
Forgot to say, they also did this series to celebrate the 25 years of the Appellation Contrôlée Martinique. Colour: amber. Nose: deeper and oakier, more on garden peat, potting soil, compost and fir bark, more on resins as well, sandalwood cedarwood, pinewood, you name it. I’m finding many more jams as well, peony jelly (goes greatly with foie gras), poppy jelly, even geranium flowers, menthol… Mouth: sour oak in the front. Oversteeped black tea, rooibos, damp cigar, liquorice wood… We’ve gone beyond my personal limits here. Finish: long, more on sour oak. A small soapiness in the aftertaste and more tannicity, and yet I haven’t added any waters. Comments: I am a huge fan of the stunning, flabbergasting, dazzling 2006, and rather loved the nose of this 2002 (hence a highish score), but I’m finding this palate a little hard. I’m sure it’s me, having said that.
SGP:272 – 81 points

I know what I’m going to do…

Saint James 6 yo 2015/2021 (47%, OB and Velier, Martinique, Tribute to Jean-Claude Benoit)

Saint-James 6 yo 2015/2021 (47%, OB and Velier, Martinique, Tribute to Jean-Claude Benoit) Four stars
Colour: deep gold. Nose: who could be against menthol, soft liquorice and ripe banana? Or banana cake with drops of chartreuse inside, honeysuckle, cane juice, roasted almonds and sweet/soft olives (Nyons)? That’s what I’m finding. Mouth: it is pretty funny that I would find notes that would be similar to those of the 2002, only fresher, rounder and tighter. A little waxy. Finish: long, more on coffee, chocolate and chicory, with a little menthol again in the aftertaste, as well as a waxy side. And marmalade in the after-aftertaste, and in the retro-olfaction. Comments: very good, there.
SGP:551 – 85 points

Time to move to Jamaica…

Jamaican Rum 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead's Green Label, 2021)

Jamaican Rum 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead’s Green Label, 2021) Four stars
We’ll call this ‘the lettuce label’. The distillery’s not disclosed. Colour: light gold. Nose: new tyres and crushed almonds plus engine oil, lamp oil, plasticine and shoe polish. Forgot to mention sardines, or Portuguese ‘Paté de Sardinha e Cavala’. I could wolf down five kilos of those as long as I have good bread on the side. Oh and good Jamaican rum, such as this very little baby. Mouth: easy, feeling like a Jamaican blend of high quality. Is it a single? Vanilla, olives, pine honey, liquorice, salt, desert cream, a drop of seawater, a drop of pilsner beer, some bananas flambéed, some smoked kippers. This is pretty complex. Finish: medium, briny. Olives, sardines and vanilla. Comments: Jamaica’s class speaks, even at 46%.
SGP:453 – 87 points

Is this a good session or is this a good session? Let’s move on…

Long Pond 20 yo (60.1%, Sample X and The Duchess, Jamaica, 127 bottles, 2021)

Long Pond 20 yo (60.1%, Sample X and The Duchess, Jamaica, 127 bottles, 2021) Five stars
Actually some more witchcraft by The Rum Mercenary here… Colour: white wine. Nose: I’m not too sure, is this Exxon, British Petroleum or Total? You got it, it is very benzine-y, as well as very salty, briny, coastal, and old-ship-like. Tar, spent oils, olives… With water: saffron, brake dust, carbon, tarred olives, anchovies, even urchins… Mouth (neat): whoosh, more tar, oils, rotting bananas and olives (both green and black), all that at a murderous strength. No, we’ll never get used to 60+! With water: back to gentler bananas and various tropical fruits about to rot. Right, okay, you’re right, to ferment. Finish: long, perfectly salty. Olives filled with anchovy paste. I’d kill for that. Comments: massive and as good as it gets. Oh well, let’s say it, I love it.
SGP:363 – 90 points

JMD 24 yo 1997/2021 (59.4%, The Whisky Blues, Jamaica, barrel, 206 bottles)

JMD 24 yo 1997/2021 (59.4%, The Whisky Blues, Jamaica, barrel, 206 bottles) Five stars
A little bird told me this could be H*****n. No, of course not Hazelburn! Colour: gold. Nose: H. is a little more acetic, which shows here, a little more on acetone as well, and yet it would be better balanced, albeit wider. In other words, rather vinegars and varnishes gently running the show here, which I just love, no need to say, despite this wee feeling of ‘new Tesla’. And kelp, and ‘Caol Ila’. With water: carbon, burnt sugars, bitter caramel, old books (love this), magazines, razorfish and clams… Even chive and garlic! Mouth (neat): ho. Tight, gritty, grassy, ashy, very olive-y. I would have said New Yarmouth or perhaps Clarendon, really, rather than ‘H’. Biting into orange and banana peel. With water: no, it’s fab. A feeling of smoked lemons and olives. Finish: long, same, going towards ashes. Comments: restless and boisterous, this one’s a fighter that just wouldn’t keep quiet. Remember Jamaica is the Islay of rum, minus the bagpipes.
SGP:463 – 90 points

Long Pond 1998/2021 'CRV' (49.4%, Plantation, Jamaica, Bardstown Fusion series, for Belgium, co-selected by Rumology.be)

Long Pond 1998/2021 ‘CRV’ (49.4%, Plantation, Jamaica, Bardstown Fusion series, for Belgium, co-selected by Rumology.be) Three stars and a half
This is almost an OB as Plantation owners Maison Ferrand do now own 1/3 of National Rums of Jamaica, which own Long Pond Distillery. Capeesh? Oh and this has been finished in ex-bourbon, not in ex-cognac. Colour: golden amber. Nose: much lighter than the previous ones, more of roasted nuts and warm cakes, which doesn’t mean that there are no watts in there. Warm brioche, walnut cake, pancakes, roasted peanuts and pecans… It’s true that the marque CRV, just like CQP, would suggest that the ester counts are very low. Mouth: it is, indeed, a lighter rum, rather on chicory coffee, walnut wine, perhaps pumpernickel bread, at times we would almost believe this is good grain whisky. Quite. Oh, or Cuban rum. Finish: medium, with a little caramel, maple syrup, denser heather honey and just cane syrup. The bourbon wood could handle itself well enough. Café latte in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, it is the very pleasant lighter side of Jamaica. Or, if you like, Jamaica’s Bunnahabhain. Don’t shoot!
SGP:540 – 84 points

Enmore 29 yo 1992/2021 (58.1%, Distilia, Guyana, The Golden Age of Piracy, cask #6, 250 bottles)

Enmore 29 yo 1992/2021 (58.1%, Distilia, Guyana, The Golden Age of Piracy, Anney, cask #6, 250 bottles) Four stars and a half
A tribute to Irish lady pirate Anne Bonny, who had operated in the Caribbean way before Elon Musk (my own comments). Colour: rich amber. Nose: precious teas and mentholy herbs at first, then sauna oils and bits of rubber and plastic. I would believe the high strength kind of blocks it a little bit, although these little herbal teas do bode well, let’s see…  With water: wonderful, with old humidor, balsa wood, charcoal, pecan pie, Brazil nuts (not Bolsonaro), a salty tang, a drop of gravy, chicken bouillon… Mouth (neat): coffee and Cointreau at first, then burnt wood and heavy molasses. Once again I would believe water should do wonders in this context… With water: turns salty and bouillony once more. Finish: medium, salty. Comments: perhaps not exactly on par with the flabbergasting Caroni ‘Blackbeard’ in the same series, but still very wonderful. It’s a little hard to get the right amount of water right (what?)
SGP:362 – 88 points

Versailles at Enmore 32 yo 1991/2021 (48.2%, Distilia, Guyana, Greenheart Collection, 175 bottles)

Versailles at Enmore 32 yo 1991/2021 (48.2%, Distilia, Guyana, Greenheart Collection, 175 bottles) Five stars
From the famous single wooden pot still. Thirty-two years, we are really adding up here, are we not? Colour: light gold – incredibly light at 32. Nose: Christmas tree and verbena, with touches of marrow and toasted wholegrain bread. Then sandalwood, bidis, orange peel, shallots, carrot tops, oysters and potpourri. It is the complexity that’s pretty astounding here, even if you do feel that this baby’s going in all directions, more or less. Joyful old rum. Mouth: dry as an Ardbeg and tarry as a Port Ellen. Having said that, no malt whisky could ever get as salty as this, even old Bowmore barrels ‘rolled in the waters to the puffers’. Olives, anchovies, onion soup, miso, toddy. Nothing wrong. Finish: same for a long time. The saltiness is incredible. Onion soup, leek soup, ramson, anchovies in brine… Do we love this! Comments: this make is sometimes called ‘Enmore VSG’. Versailles Distillery/Plantation operated until around 1978 (some say 1968 but there), when their still was moved to Enmore, then to Diamond when Enmore closed in its turn, in 1993. So in theory, you could find Versailles from Versailles, Versailles from Enmore (such as this very one), and Versailles from Diamond.
SGP:463 – 91 points

Why not have a very last one and fly to Marie-Galante? I mean, fly to Guadeloupe, then take the next boat to Marie-Galante? What would you say?

Bielle 2009/2021 (52.5%, Tamosi Sawaku, Marie-Galante)

Bielle 2009/2021 (52.5%, Tamosi Sawaku, Marie-Galante) Four stars and a half
A slightly esoteric bottle, but we haven’t got anything against that, on the contrary. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: extremely agricole, with toasted breads, roasted nuts, a drop of diesel oil, hints of cabbage soup, asparagus soup, mushrooms, sandalwood… Gets then rounder and much jammier, I’m finding bananas, tamarind, quinces… Quinces always win it, do they not. With water: superb mentholy essences and woods, especially eucalyptus, wormwood and verbena. This should fight any headache, just put one drop on each temple. Mouth (neat): Bielle equals class and this is no exception, even if it’s a rather gentler one. Well not that gentle, as the liquorice remains heavy, and so does the cinnamon and the many aromatic herbs, especially lemony ones. Citronella and such, lemon-flavoured white nougat (just a sin)… With water: a tad on the woody side, but do sandal and cedar really count? Finish: rather long, full of aromatic herbs and softer, citrusy spices. Yuzu jam and kaffir lime curd. Cinnamon and chocolate in the aftertaste, that’s the wood speaking out. Comments: unusual, brilliant drop from that wonderful little island.
SGP:462 – 89 points

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

 

February 25, 2022

Whiskyfun
Two wee malts from and for Ukraine

To our Ukrainian friends.

Westport 1996/2019 (49.1%, Berry Bros. for Scyfion Choice, Ukraine, Argaman Jezreel Cask Finish, 102 bottles)

Westport 1996/2019 (49.1%, Berry Bros. for Scyfion Choice, Ukraine, Argaman Jezreel Cask Finish, 102 bottles) Five stars
Westport is the name of Glenmorangie as a ‘blended malt’, while Argaman is a red grape varietal and Jezreel a well-known valley in Israel. Colour: peony gold. Nose: typical red-vinous malt whisky, with small rubbery touches and a combination with ganache, praline and stewed fruits, apricots, peaches, then Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte and a little maraschino. Whiffs of fern. Mouth: some tiny rubbery and peppery touches at first, then many leaves, teas, some bitter pine resin, some vegetal tar… Finish: rather long, with good malt – wine integration. Comments: very good, very moving. Makes you want to cry.
SGP:372 – 100 points

Mortlach 13 yo 2005/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing for Scyfion Choice, Old Particular, Ukraine, Cherna Troyanda Cask Finish, 328 bottles)

Mortlach 13 yo 2005/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing for Scyfion Choice, Old Particular, Ukraine, Cherna Troyanda Cask Finish, 328 bottles) Five stars
Cherna Troyanda is, as I understand it, some sweet desert wine made in Transcarpathia, Ukraine, out of pink Traminer (or savagnin rose I would suppose). Oh how I’d love to go visit that place. Colour: full gold. Nose: reminds me of several excellent ex-Sauternes malt whiskies, with touches of rose petals at first (I may be dreaming) and then nectarine and peach jams, quince jelly and various high-end honeys. Very lovely nose. Mouth: the full-bodied distillate and the thicker, sweeter wine do tango well, with notes of toasted fruitcake (my favourite, with a lot of candied cherries), then a little green pepper from the oak, I would suppose. Finish: some citrus coming through. Pink grapefruits, perhaps. Comments: the distillers should send the Wee Witchie to Ukraine, a few magic tricks may be needed. I feel the need to add that it’s hard to try to joke in such circumstances.
SGP:461 – 100 points
 

February 24, 2022

Whiskyfun

No fun

 

February 23, 2022

Whiskyfun

Official and semi-official Kilkerran

Glengyle
Two wee whiskies from Glengyle of Campbeltown a.k.a. Kilkerran. A shame and a pity that there wouldn’t be more of the make. I find them all pretty brilliant… when there’s one or two.

Kilkerran 8 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 5' (56.9%, OB, 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks, 2021)Kilkerran 8 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 5' (56.9%, OB, 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks, 2021)

Kilkerran 8 yo ‘Cask Strength Batch 5’ (56.9%, OB, 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks, 2021) Four stars and a half
Taking my time. Should be good, unless we stumble upon one of those whacky sherry casks. Bourbon or refill are always rather extraordinary, sherry’s less consistent, in my humble opinion. Colour: full gold. Nose: bone-dry Madeira wine, a lot of leather, fig leaves, assorted musty notes, soot, then massive old walnuts (no politicians in particular) and litres of amontillado. The strength keeps it a little shier, perhaps, really curious about what will happen once water’s been added. The jury’s still out at the moment. With water: mud, hose saddle, compost, cowshed, then coffee and raw chocolate. Touch of sulphur, perhaps, but that’s more than okay here. Mouth (neat): salted walnut wine, burnt tofu (in miso), more madeira, some heavier manzanilla pasada, some kind of dry rancio, bitter almonds… With water: rather extreme. I keep finding it rather remarkable that they wouldn’t have started to make something completely different from cousins Springbank. Madeira, mustard, fino, walnuts, brine, burnt sugar and chocolate… Finish: long, bitter and salty soup. Comments: un-boring, pretty love-it-or-hate-it. Guess what…
SGP:373 – 88 points

Kilkerran 5 yo 2015/2021 (57.3%, Cadenhead, Annual Shop Release 2021, Campbeltown, sherry hogshead, 306 bottles)

Kilkerran 5 yo 2015/2021 (57.3%, Cadenhead, Annual Shop Release 2021, Campbeltown, sherry hogshead, 306 bottles) Five stars
Still curious… And if they bottled it at the ripe old age of 5, I suppose there was something special. Colour: full gold. Nose: cleaner and brighter, fresher, peatier, with just touches of UHU glue and a wee bag of lemon drops, then beach sand, seawater, chalk and just tiny whiffs of cabbage. No need to use the S world this time. Someone well-intentioned may have also tried to smoke some fudge. With water: ah love this. Mushrooms, cow stable, rotting fruits, soy sauce and umami sauce, manzanilla again (and again), mussels… Mouth (neat): very peaty. We know the mind works in mysterious ways, but I cannot not think of that distillery on Islay that also starts with ‘Kil…’ Some leathery dried fish or something, chen-pi (dried tangerine skins), orange squash, simply fish chowder, then the obligatory green walnuts and these tiny bits of leather. Punk whisky. With water: great salty fun. You could use this to season seafood, perhaps clams… Finish: long, a tad leathery and soapy this time again (but we’re more than fine), all the rest being perfectly salty, coastal, and peaty. Comments: much peatier than the official 8. A true young wonder, a Tal Wilkenfeld of malt whisky. Check her with Jeff Beck, when she was really young.
SGP:366 – 90 points
 

February 22, 2022

Whiskyfun

The main problem with Ben Nevis, in my opinion, is that you cannot have enough of them. Hence, in truth and by law, I believe the bottlers should be obliged to add a specific warning to the labels. Right, or at least to the back labels. You got it, we needed more and we had more…

Concorde

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1999/2021 (46.5%, Liquid Pleasures and Nanyang Whisky Singapore, hogshead, cask #307)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1999/2021 (46.5%, Liquid Pleasures and Nanyang Whisky Singapore, hogshead, cask #307) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: bam, we’re immediately sent to Sanlucar de Barrameda, with that magical combo that involves fresh walnuts, mustard and seawater. Incredible. In the middle distance, rather the usual chalk, porridge and light vanilla. And then farer in the background, paraffin, ashes, soot and lemons. No-thing-to-add. Mouth: feels bigger and tighter than just 46%. Ashes and chalk in the front this time, then white pepper and lemon zests, then, indeed, a blend of a perfect manzanilla and a very good vin jaune. Mustard, walnuts, salt, etcetera. Finish: long and superbly dry. More chalk, licking limestone, green lemons… Comments: you could almost call this wonderful one Benzanilla. Indeed, no shame at all.
SGP:362 – 90 points.

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1996/2021 (49%, Fadandel, refill sherry butt, cask #447, 470 bottles)

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1996/2021 (49%, Fadandel, refill sherry butt, cask #447, 470 bottles) Five stars
Alert, this one’s pretty dark. No manzanilla this time, I would suppose… Colour: dark amber. Nose: chestnuts roasted in the fireplace and cigar ashes at first, then lots of flints and partly burnt bits of charcoal. Chocolate and paraffin kicking in then, garden peat, robusta coffee (very chocolaty), then west-coast amontillado. Partly manzanilla, partly oloroso. Remember, an appellation such as manzanilla does not refer to where the grapes are grown, rather to where the wine matures. It’s like if you would mature Glenkinchie on Islay and then call it ‘Islay whisky’. More or less… With water: pure old-school Ben Nevis, meaty and almost a little sulphury. Mouth (neat): we’re close to some ancient OBs. Loads of tobacco, plasticine, chocolate, salty charcuterie, ashes, old walnuts and tabasco. With water: superb. Medicinal lemon and myrtle liqueurs, salty bouillon, chocolate (mole), bitter coffee and spices, marmalade. Finish: long, really bitter, in a lovely way. Holly eau-de-vie, ristretto and salty ashes. Very bitter aftertaste, you like or you don’t. Comments: I do, it makes me think of some old rusty machinery.
SGP:363 – 90 points.

Ben Nevis 18 yo 1996/2015 (51.8%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #2/(19/14), 272 bottles)

Ben Nevis 18 yo 1996/2015 (51.8%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #2/(19/14), 272 bottles) Four stars and a half
An older bottling, probably long gone. I mean, not available anymore. Colour: light gold. Nose (neat): salty and briny, with a lot of thyme and eucalyptus essence, camphor, ripe bananas, IPA and cedar wood. This one was much gentler. With water: more towards paraffin, raw wool, limestone and just a few sultanas. Unexpected sultanas. Mouth: smoked tea, roasted nuts, pipe tobacco and roasted pine nuts. absolutely excellent. Terrific echoes of smoked citrus, lime tea, more thyme essence (rather tea), beer with a little mint (they make that in the Alps), the usual walnuts, a touch of violet liqueur, genepy and verbena… With water: ashes coming to the front. Finish: long, saltier, with even more ashes, lemon, and bone-dry sauvignon blanc. Comments: probably a little gentler. What’s so wrong with gentleness these days?
SGP:452 – 89 points.

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (47.6%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 264 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (47.6%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 264 bottles) Five stars
We do have the feeling that this session won’t be going down anytime soon. As they say in rock and roll, let ourselves go… Colour: white wine. Nose: rather more on citrus, ashy limoncello, then those mangos that are not uncommon in these vintages, nectarines vine peaches, maracuja… At times you would believe we’re in Ireland. It’s true that Fort Williams isn’t that far from Northern Ireland, is it? Just follow Loch Linnhe and swim towards the south… Mouth: indeed, a salty and tropical Ben Nevis. We’ll keep this very short, without this tiny wee dustiness in the background, we’d have gone even higher. Finish: incredible tropical fruits. Very much in the style of the best unsherried 1996. Comments: some ravishing delight. Will that do?
SGP:651 – 90 points.

We’re about to hope that we’ll find a bad one. Almost… (remember Disraeli paraphrased by Whiskyfun, one gets so bored with good whisky!)

Ben Nevis 1996/2021 (53.6%, SCSM, for Guangzhou Single Cask Single Malt, hogshead, cask #80, 220 bottles)

Ben Nevis 1996/2021 (53.6%, SCSM, for Guangzhou Single Cask Single Malt, hogshead, cask #80, 220 bottles) Five stars
Some Ben Nevis for China! Colour: gold. Nose: a more active cask, which translates into more custard and butterscotch. All the rest is rather on the ‘gentler’ side of Ben Nevis, with some fern, walnuts and ashes. Plus candlewax and zests. Water may change things… With water: acacia honey, honeysuckle, beeswax, marzipan… Indeed this is rather gentler. No spent engine oil and rusty old boats to be seen here. Mouth (neat): superb rounder, more citrusy, more liqueury Ben Nevis. The mangos, oranges and peaches are back. Sooty ashes in the background. With water: some salty medicinal and lemony notes ala older Laphroaig. Ashes in the background. Finish: long, curiously bigger and tighter, more robust, more Fort Williams (what?) Comments: loved the way it went from Carole King to Iggy Pop. I know, I know…
SGP:651 – 90 points.

We’re still too high, we’re going to run out of kerosen…

Ben Nevis 14 yo 1996 (46%, Dram Mor for TWM, cask #002, 237 bottle)

Ben Nevis 14 yo 1996 (46%, Dram Mor for TWM, cask #002, 237 bottle) Five stars
Some funny bottle that, apparently, has been released long after it was bottled. That’s the Champagne way, in a way, and I’m sure it would be a better, albeit much costlier solution in many cases. Bottle when ready, release when even more ready. Colour: gold. Nose: metal polish, orange liqueur, paraffin and turpentine, ski waxes, Barbour grease and just new plastics. Future generations won’t even know what that means. Mouth: so-good. More raisins in this one, both roasted and fresh ones, beeswax, yellow chartreuse, one oyster, one lemon, the ashes from one cigarette, and a sublime drop herbal oil, with some parsley, sorrel and sage. Finish: long, perfect. Comments: reminds me of the very best batches of the official 10. In ‘dram mor’ there’s both dram and more. No wonder.
SGP:462 – 90 points.

Mayday, we’ll never make it to the airport…

Ben Nevis 8 yo 2012/2021 (52.7%, Morisco Spirit, refill hogshead)

Ben Nevis 8 yo 2012/2021 (52.7%, Morisco Spirit, refill hogshead) Four stars and a half
This one for our friends in Italy. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: always a joy to stumble upon a young, quasi-immature Ben Nevis that’ full of smoked pears. It reminds me of the 6 years old (6!) by LMDW that we tried, when was that? Right, yesterday… You may check that note. With water: williams pears and stearin. Wool and porridge too. Mouth (neat): try to blend linseed oil with lemon liqueur and manzanilla wine. With water: good laughs, crushed sardines and anchovies, citrons, passion fruits (already!?) and one oyster. A drop of cider. Finish: long – BN is always long – and saltier yet. Saltier than the saltiest Bowmores, to give you an idea. Comments: wasn’t 2012 last year? This isn’t funny, but it’s very good.
SGP:652 – 89 points.

Since we’re in 2012… (Obama, Cameron, Merkel, Putin…)

Ben Nevis 8 yo 2012/2021 (59.9%, Golden Cask for The Whisky Barrel, cask #278, 315 bottles)

Ben Nevis 8 yo 2012/2021 (59.9%, Golden Cask for The Whisky Barrel, cask #278, 315 bottles) Four stars
I think we’ve had a sister cask just yesterday, but that’s a long time ago already. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: lovage and butterscotch, miso, croissants and chalk. And williams pears. With water: gets a tad chalky and muddy, in a good way. Wool and mud. Mouth (neat): woo-ooh, williams pear spirit and kirschwasser, plus peat, mezcal and chalk. Brilliant. A large mezcal session soon on Whiskyfun, perhaps to celebrate Spring and the complete crushing of the French far-right. With water: huge saltiness, a goldfish would believe it just swallowed seawater. Finish: long, fresh, salty, coastal. Almost cold fish bouillon with oyster juice. Comments: feels a little peated. Great spirit at any age anyway.
SGP:363 – 87 points.

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1996/2021 (53.6%, Liquid Treasures and Acla Selection, hogshead, cask #1747, 170 bottles)

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1996/2021 (53.6%, Liquid Treasures and Acla Selection, hogshead, cask #1747, 170 bottles) Four stars and a half
So, this is partly Swiss. Colour: light gold. Nose: embarrassingly great. It’s to be wondered if on the axis of wax (remember, HP, Cly, BN, Springbank), BN is not winning it. Amazing cough syrup, embrocation, camphor and burning church candles. Amen. With water: fresh teak, bidis, eucalyptus, paraffin. Mouth (neat): ultra-tight and full of juniper essence and thyme. Yet another style, while the greasy and chalky side of BN would have been preserved. With water: wax, turpentine, pine resin, kelp and oysters and drops of old Dutch genever. Any resemblance to real Dutch persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Finish: long, waxy, herbal. Apple peal and lemon zests in the aftertaste. Comments: unbeatable make.
SGP:562 – 89 points.

A last one please… Why not one by our dear friend The Sponge (who’s just become a father, as any sensible whisky enthusiasts would know)…

Ben Nevis 15 yo 2005/2021 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 322 bottles)

Ben Nevis 15 yo 2005/2021 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 322 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: a much gentler Ben Nevis, with even some candy sugar, cakes, bananas flambéed and pancake syrup. A little icing sugar and a bag of jelly babies. Great move to suggest such an easier, fruitier variation on BN. Mouth: good in the best sense of that word and just as odd. Swiss cheese and all-fruit juice, mutton suet, sour fruit juices, smoked porridge (just add a few drops of Laphroaig to some porridge and voilà), carbon, smoked cheese (they must be doing that in Jura, some kind of Morbier perhaps…) An odd, deviant, almost poetic if not surrealistic BN by our dear friend The Sponge. Finish: medium, on stewed vegetables. Eggplants and artichokes. Very salty and sour aftertaste. Comments: some kind of statement, I would presume, unless this would be a matter of a fairly zany vintage. Great fun anyway, as always at The Sponge’s.
SGP:462 – 85 points.

Good, that’s 18 Ben Nevis altogether. General conclusion, whenever you spot a Ben Nevis, first you buy, then you think (toy think if you really must, that’s the optional part).

 

February 21, 2022

Whiskyfun

Please note that we’re not talking about an avalanche ON Ben Nevis. It’s always with much joy that we’re having a go at a bunch of malt whiskies from Ben Nevis; to think that in the old days, it was almost easier to try the make as a component of some Japanese whiskies…

BN

We’ll do this session randomly and not vertically or by ascending strength.

Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996/2021 (45.6%, Duckhammers & Fine Spirits for Wu Dram Clan, hogshead, cask #1408, 290 bottles)

Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996/2021 (45.6%, Duckhammers & Fine Spirits for Wu Dram Clan, hogshead, cask #1408, 290 bottles) Five stars
Ouch, I’m afraid we could be way too high already. A figure of speech, naturally. Now starting with a benchmark could make for a good idea too (grasping at straws). Colour: straw. Nose: wham! Spent engine oil, sauvignon blanc, olive oil, pineapple wine, grapefruit juice, candles, soot, moist plaster, vin jaune… Too high, we’re too high… Mouth: splendid already, salty, full of capers, olives, chalk, then mangos and papayas juice. Then paraffin, as expected. We’re keeping this short but we love it. Finish: the sauvignon blanc is back. Great white Sancerre, appropriately salty and chalky too. Comments: right up my avenue. I’ll say it again, we’re too fast… These ex-hogshead 1996s are often part of the greatest malt whiskies made in the 1990s. With a toast to Colin Ross. It’s to be noted that a sister cask had been bottled as an official private expression (#1407) but I don’t think we’ll have it today. By the way, given the label, I was sure we’d find some mezcal in this one…
SGP:562 – 91 points.

Ben Nevis 6 yo 2014/2021 (57.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Collective 5.0)

Ben Nevis 6 yo 2014/2021 (57.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Collective 5.0) Four stars and a half
Outstanding label, you would believe we’re at the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul de Vence. Hope the very young whisky will be from the same cloth, so to speak. Colour: gold. Nose: I find it a little Clynelishy, with a buttery waxiness then butter cream and fresh raisin rolls. Quite some fudge too, as if the cask had been pretty active, then simply some big whiffs of manzanilla, with possibly a few dollops of lighter-style Jamaican rum. Young and not immature at all. With water: doughier, chalkier, with more soot and porridge. Mouth (neat): the youth feels. Imagine someone would have blended some white Hampden with some pear juice, olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, mead and just candied zests. Very tight, almost thick, very good (I think). They made the youth an asset, it seems. With water: pretty sublime. What an utterly perfect spirit! Finish: long, on lemons, lime leaves, wax, lemons and chalk. Comments: dazzled, I am (but not confused, ha). One of the top-five distillates in SCO these days.
SGP:652 – 89 points.

We’re still too high, are we not…

Ben Nevis 17 yo 2003/2021 (55.3%, Blackadder for HNWS Taiwan, hogshead, cask #379, 260 bottles)

Ben Nevis 17 yo 2003/2021 (55.3%, Blackadder for Malt Whisky H.K. and HNWS Taiwan, hogshead, cask #379, 260 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: holy Suzy, this is a fatter one again, whilst rather serendipitously, we’d navigate between the 1996 and the 2003 style-wise. Which, I agree, would make sense (every time I’m trying any whiskies from Blackadder’s, I feel like I’m Baldrick). Perfect white Sancerre matured in a fresh pièce. With water: unusual, on lees, leaves, green tea and vase water. Fresh bark, salsify perhaps, stalks… Sancerre indeed. Mouth (neat): a little more on many citrus and green spices, and rather less on waxes, chalks and soot. Still, quite some dough and fruit peel, especially green banana peel. With water: the sootiness is back. Green tea, leaves, then some greener honey. Fir? Finish: long, on green bananas and green teas. Lovely camphory notes in the aftertaste, also mint tea and a touch of salt. Comments: another great variation on BN. Great fun, great whisky, bordering perfection.
SGP:561 – 89 points.

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1996/2021 (51.1%, The Whisky Exchange, hogshead)

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1996/2021 (51.1%, The Whisky Exchange, hogshead) Five stars
I have a bad feeling, we should remain in the whisky stratosphere here. Still too high (‘randomly’, he said), we could call this a Concorde session. Colour: gold. Nose: hell and putrefaction! Mangos, beeswax, fresh-squeezed oranges, pistachio oil, then chalk and wool. Yeah yeah yeah… With water: tiny flowers and herbs, woodruff, honeysuckle, violets, blue mallows… Then pink bananas and blood oranges. Slaughter. Mouth (neat): pah-pah-pah-pah-pah… Old Bushmills plus Lochside and Clynelish. Pah-pah-pah-pah-pah (no, no money back, ever). … With water:  oh! Acacia honey, orange juice, barley syrup, agave syrup, those tiny edible flowers, grenadine syrup… Finish: medium, and frankly sweet now. There, some mentholy paraffin in the aftertaste. Comments: thinking of our friends in London. Hope they kept all the bottles for themselves and that they’re currently quaffing them away… By the way, this was a rather ‘gentler’ 1996 in my book.
SGP:651 – 91 points.

Ben Nevis 8 yo 2012/2021 (59.9%, The Golden Cask, The Whisky Barrel exclusive, bourbon, cask #CM277, 257 bottles)

Ben Nevis 8 yo 2012/2021 (59.9%, The Golden Cask, The Whisky Barrel exclusive, bourbon, cask #CM277, 257 bottles) Four stars
I’d like to find one BN that would be more brutal. Hurt me, Ben Nevis! (heeeey)… Colour: pale white wine, there you go. Nose: eau-de-vie de barley. Candlewax, fresh hazelnuts, sunflower oil, one olive, a touch of cardamom and Thai basil. This is different indeed, possibly pretty subtle, let’s see. With water: touches of seawater coming though, whelks, a little rubber (or tyres)… Mouth (neat): oh, no, it’s great, even if almost totally on vanilla, williams pears and mezcal. I’d have never thought you could blend williams pear eau-de-vie and mezcal. Note to self: try that right tonight. With water: more of the same, plus a saltiness. Pears and salt, I’d have never thought that would work… Finish: long, still eau-de-vie-ish. Comments: we often tell that the main difference between whisky and rum is the fact that you can have rum ‘white’. Well, you may have some whiskies ‘white’ too. I mean, almost white. Brilliant Ben Nevis, once again, just a little simpler, which is normal. Great bottle.
SGP:651 – 87 points.

We’ve got more Golden Casks but we’ll have them later. A few weeks of glass-aging won’t do them any harm ;-).

Ben Nevis 25 yo (51.2%, The Whisky Show London 2021, 100 bottles)

Ben Nevis 25 yo (51.2%, The Whisky Show London 2021, 100 bottles) Five stars
One hundred bottles, that isn’t much. Colour: lighter gold. Nose: some well-aged manzanilla, really. Chalk, mustard, seawater, green walnuts, chalk, mustard, seawater, green walnuts, chalk, mustard, seawater, green walnuts, chalk…  (I think they got it, S.). With water: acetone and varnish! Hey! Mouth (neat): a little brutal, almost rustic, but stunningly manzanilla-y once again. More green pepper than in the others. With water: an extravagant saltiness. I’m afraid we’ll have to mention manzanilla once more. Finish: long but a little gentler and rounder. Paraffin and vanilla, walnut oil in the aftertaste. More walnut oil too. Comments: I would suppose this was another 1996. Well, it was rather less civilised than its siblings. And by the way, where’s the rest of the cask? PS I love it (drop cinema, S.)
SGP:561 – 90 points.

Ben Nevis 1996/2021 (52.8%, The Whisky Jury, sherry butt, cask #1773, 354 bottles)

Ben Nevis 1996/2021 (52.8%, The Whisky Jury, sherry butt, cask #1773, 354 bottles) Four stars
More sister casks, what a sibship indeed, although this would be a butt. It’s funny that some bottlers would call themselves ‘Jury’, I had thought the jury would be us consumers. Bah, that’s all very charming, really… Colour: deep gold. Nose: the first sherried Ben Nevis where the sherry actually feels, I would say. Walnuts are up, so are oranges, tobaccos, chocolates, paprika, even turmeric (gently), bark… It is also relatively earthier than the others. With water: gets wonderfully dustier and earthier. Not sure that was necessary, but since someone filled this cask, back in 1996… Some Jamaican coffee too. Mouth (neat): this one’s the closest to the ‘average’ OBs. I mean, within this session. Grenadine and strawberry syrup, anyone? And leather, oloroso, tobacco, salty soups… With water: a lovely bouillony saltiness, but we have the impression that this is a little tautological. Finish: long, with some plastics, mustard, paraffin and mustard. Comments: utterly awesome but a little tough. A dirty cask on a dirty spirit (I may have to find a better word than ‘dirty’). Pleasure factor down.
SGP:362 – 86 points.

Please a bourbon hogshead…

Ben Nevis 24 yo 1997/2021 (53%, Chapter 7, Monologue, bourbon hogshead, cask #30, 229 bottles)

Ben Nevis 24 yo 1997/2021 (53%, Chapter 7, Monologue, bourbon hogshead, cask #30, 229 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: this one’s rather more buttery, there are also notes of cream cheese, porridge, sourdough, then cocoa and coal dust. Tends to become very chocolaty. With water: herbs and fern, cocoa powder, sage, some kind of herbal dust.   Are we really sure this wasn’t ex-sherry? Mouth (neat): superb, rich and tight at the same time, with almost something Ardbeggian. Chocolate made with olive oil – of course that exists, just check L’Espérantine de Marseille. Now if that exists indeed, it’s not too good, this whisky is much better IMHO. With water: we’re almost on Islay, this is almost a plain peater, as if the hogshead had been ex-Ardbeg indeed. Ardbeg wood un-rinsed-out. Finish: long, with much more citrus. Lovely lemony finish. Comments: an adventurous malt, as they used to say in brochures. Stunning lemons and green pepper in the aftertaste.
SGP:653 – 88 points.

Eight superb-to-stunning Ben Nevisses, that’s a great deal. So, see you, we might have many more BNs in the very close future, stay tuned. And peace.

 

February 20, 2022

Whiskyfun

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

Another day of rums

Indochine
There’s more and more rums and brandies crossing the threshold of Whiskyfun Towers, but I’ve long decided to only have those on Sundays. This is Whiskyfun and it’ll remain Whiskyfun. Let’s find a ‘funny’ apéritif…

Naga 10 yo 'Siam Edition' (40%, OB, Indochina (?), +/-2021)

Naga 10 yo ‘Siam Edition’ (40%, OB, Indochina (?), +/-2021) Two stars
This funny one reeks of colonialist-nostalgic marketing. I mean, Siam has become Thailand in 1939, and Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) was disbanded in 1954. I find this even worse than all those fake Caribbean brands that would sing the praises of various unlikely ‘heroes of the revolucion’ everyone’s forgotten about. Anyway, this ‘might’ be some light Thai rum, possibly from SangSom. The Khmer-inspired packaging is lovely, I have to say. Colour: gold. Nose: no, it’s relatively fine albeit very light, with some orange syrup, candy sugar and melons. Mouth: no sugar bomb (check), very light, not unpleasant, with oranges and a little sugarcane juice. A few cls of Frappuccino (apologies). Finish: short, orangey, relatively clean. Comments: a very light drop that would be in the same category as that of the entry-level Bacardis, Havana Clubs, Brugals and all that. I had thought this would be much worse and am believing that it would stand some 46% vol.
SGP:530 – 76 points.

Novo Fogo 3 yo 'Batch 1' (41.2%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, cachaça, Brazil, 550 bottles, +/-2021)

Novo Fogo 3 yo ‘Batch 1’ (41.2%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, cachaça, Brazil, 550 bottles, +/-2021) Three stars
Oh but indeed, this is cachaça, so rum made from fresh cane juice. Some are very industrial, others being very artisanal. Some exotic wood are also used, such as, in this very case, some kind of teak called amburana. We’ve always wanted to learn a lot more about cachaça, but I’m afraid we never got around to it. One day, perhaps. Colour: straw. Nose: this is plain caramel liqueur at first sniffs. Someone would have roasted Mars bars and thrown a little camphor into this whacky mix. Some tar too, and some liquorice. Plus a little rubber and pinewood. Mouth: I cannot not think of tequila, but this has more burnt notes, deep-roasted raisins, some rubbers, plastics perhaps, more caramel, some salty and sour herbs, rubbery brine… It does feel a little ‘bacterial’. Finish: rather long, saltier yet, resinous, sour, and indeed a little bacterial. Sweet cheeses and burnt olives. Comments: great fun and rather uncharted territories to us, even if we’ve tried a few cachaças before. Great fun indeed.
SGP:372 – around 82 points.

Since we were having cachaça…

Sapucaia Velha 10 yo (40.3%, Cadenhead, Malternative Release, 414 bottles, 2019)

Sapucaia Velha 10 yo (40.3%, Cadenhead, Malternative Release, 414 bottles, 2019) Three stars
Cane juice distilled in pot stills. Colour: white wine. Nose: good fun this time again. Say pastis or ouzo, plus olive oil and fennel liqueur. Some fermenting fruits, peaches, melons, bananas… Some good esters in there. Mouth: a tad flattish and rather on vegetables, gherkins, crushed olives, sorb, green asparagus, artichokes, bamboo shoots, artisan mead… Finish: shortish, on salted vegetables, capers, gherkins, lemon juice, and a funny drop of fino. Rather sweet mustard and mead in the aftertaste. Comments: much less caramel in this one. Should anyone ever try to distil olives, this might be kind of the end result. I’m sure this would kill at +/-46% vol.
SGP:462 – around 82 points.

That’s enough cachaça already.

L'Arbre du Voyageur 3 yo (53.5%, Chantal Comte, La Mauny, Martinique, 3000 bottles, +/-2019)

L’Arbre du Voyageur 3 yo (53.5%, Chantal Comte, La Mauny, Martinique, 3000 bottles, +/-2019) Four stars
This one by some very engaging, sympathetic and humble people. Colour: gold. Nose: not a lot happening at this point. Some aniseed, pure cane juice, we’re pretty close to good white agricole, in fact. Ylang-ylang. With water: not too sure it would swim well, I’m finding some metallic touches that do not work too well in this context. Zamac. Mouth (neat): good, a tad rough and liquoricy, with some earthy liquorice allsorts and a good olive-y cane-iness. We’re at the bone of agricoleness. With water: gets bone-dry, very earthy, extremely cane-y. Finish: long, dry and very grassy. Crazy cane juice. Some soapiness and just cologne in the aftertaste. Comments: let’s be honest, this is probably one of the purest and most challenging sugarcane-led rums I’ve tried in recent years.
SGP:362 – 85 points.

Rum Orator 2016/2019 (66.9%, Orator, Paraguay, barrel #2, 90 bottles)

Rum Orator 2016/2019 (66.9%, Orator, Paraguay, barrel #2, 90 bottles) Three stars and a half
Some crazy Swiss bottling at a murderous strength. Colour: gold. Nose: windshield washer fluid and olive oil aged in American oak. Well, that’s what I’m getting at this, err, murderous strength. With water: Gruyeres cheese, black olives, carbon paper and shampoo. Quite an adventurous drop indeed. Mouth (neat): Paraguay? Was this made by the good folks who are also making Fortin? It is very extreme, brutal, salty, full of plastics and new electronics. In short, difficult, but remember (cough), almost 67% vol. Assassins! With water: pear juice and engine oil, plus toffee and caramel. Not a classic combo, but it’s got its charms. Finish: someone’s been smoking pears, apparently. Williams pear eau-de-vie aged in olive wood. No, really. Comments: great fun, but what was that, exactly? Do they make estery rum in Paraguay?
SGP:462 – around 83 points.

Foursquare 9 yo 2011/2021 (62.3%, Wealth Solutions, Barbados, The Colours of Rum, N°6, cask #19, 246 bottles)

Foursquare 9 yo 2011/2021 (62.3%, Wealth Solutions, Barbados, The Colours of Rum, N°6, cask #19, 246 bottles) Three stars
This baby was aged in the tropics for 5 years, then in Mother Europe. Colour: gold. Nose: typical, dense on the one side, lighter and more columny on the other side. Good easy pastries, with vanilla and the Frenchest croissants. With water: cornflakes. It’s to be wondered if this wasn’t 100% ex-column FS. Mouth (neat): the columny, lighter side of Foursquare feels first at such high strength, I would suppose the more oily parts need water and oxygen to shine out. In other words, the strongest, the lightest. Pancake sauce and jelly babies. With water: no, it’s really light, easy, sweet, on cereals, Fruit Loops… Finish: medium, sweet and rather thin. Comments: one of the lightest Foursquares I’ve tried. Very good drop, but I wouldn’t say there is much backbone. Not a proper malternative, in any case.
SGP:530 – 80 points.

Clarendon 37 yo 1984/2021 (62%, Thompson Bros. & The Auld Alliance, Jamaica)

Clarendon 37 yo 1984/2021 (62%, Thompson Bros. & The Auld Alliance, Jamaica) Four stars
Marque was MMW and this is pure pot still rum. It was kept under reggae for 34 years and met with bagpipe rock and roll only three years ago. What a shock. Naturally, you could as well call this Monymusk. Colour: red cedarwood. Nose: appropriately acetic, acetone-y, and just totally varnishy. Rotting pineapples and, indeed, cedarwood, nail polish, and gherkins/olives. With water:  dried jujubes and figs, which is gentler, we agree. Praline, drop of moscatel, a bit of ham. Mouth (neat): extreme tannins, black raisins, pine oil, salmiak, teak and glue. Sends shivers down your spine. With water: diesel oil, black olives, carbon, cedarwood shavings, and the blackest black chocolate, 90% cocoa or more. Finish: long, bone-dry, salty, with carbon dust, artichokes and Himalayan-monastery black tea. The aftertaste is extremely dry and bitter, at any strength. Comments: a rather provocative bottling. I mean, you can’t quite sip it like that, you have to fight it. Holy featherless crow, what a bitter monster!
SGP: 272- 85 Points?

No other rum could ever ‘climb over’ that ueber-extreme Clarendon, so we say good night/good day, see you soon. Unless, hold on…

First, the usual apéritif at easy strength…

Mount Gay 'Black Barrel' (43%, Barbados, bourbon casks, +/-2020)

Mount Gay ‘Black Barrel’ (43%, Barbados, bourbon casks, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
Not the first time were trying this little Bajan. I used to find it a tad thin (around WF 79). Having said that it’s got nothing to do with W. Grant’s ‘Black Barrel’, which used to be grain from Girvan if I’m not mistaken. Colour: gold. Nose: in the style of a lighter agricole, with nice cane-y notes and a few floral tones (ylang-ylang, orange blossom) on top of a little candy sugar and bananas flambéed. A little fudge and liquorice too. Mouth: good and easy, starting well on sugar cane and even tiny touches of grassy esters, but losing steam while some saltiness would appear at the same time, which I find a little frustrating. Finish: rather short, on salted orange liqueur, should anyone ever try that. Comments: not exactly watery but you cannot not think of Foursquare, whilst Foursquare has more knack. Unchanged.
SGP:541 – 79 points.

Since we’ve mentioned agricole…

Bellevue 23 yo 1998/2021 (55.2%, Nobilis Rum, Guadeloupe, 252 bottles)

Bellevue 23 yo 1998/2021 (55.2%, Nobilis Rum, Guadeloupe, 252 bottles) Five stars
Speaking of Foursquare, this is actually a single blend of vesou (cane must) and molasses distilled in a column, so not rhum agricole. I know, nothing to do with Foursquare, actually. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather immense and intense, with the kind of esters that you would rather find in Jamaica or Trinidad, if you see what I mean.  Now it’s not a ‘500+’ at all, naturally, but I just adore these petroly and olive-y notes, as well as this acetone, fresh paint and putty, new 33rpm, assorted rotting fruits, and just fresh-squeezed (or rather crushed) cane juice. With water: gets grassier, more herbal, kind of gentler. Mildly gentler. Someone’s inadvertently poured diesel oil over nestle, sorrel and green bananas. Mouth (neat): Incredible. Aniseed and salted liquorice just all over the place, plus black olives and tobacco dust. With water: getting chalky. Malt enthusiasts special: it would be a Ben Nevis of rhum of some sort. Finish: long, this time with nots of oranges. Otherwise liquorice, olives, tar and brine. Comments: I was having it at 90.5 (oh come on) but this is a good day. Always check the BBs (Bielle and Bellevue).
SGP:463 – 91 points.

Since we keep mentioning Foursquare…

Foursquare 2011/2021 (61.7%, Wealth Solutions, Barbados, The Colours of Rum, No.11, cask #20, 239 bottles)

Foursquare 2011/2021 (61.7%, Wealth Solutions, Barbados, The Colours of Rum, No.11, cask #20, 239 bottles) Four stars
So, most probably a self-blend of ex-column and ex-pot still molasses-based rums. It spent 5 years in the tropics, the rest in Europe. Colour: gold. Nose: much gentler, more on vegetal oils, pumpkin, peanut, sunflower… Some honeysuckle and elderflowers, praline fudge, macchiato and custard. Indeed, gentle. With water: quite some varnish escaping from your glass. Cane juice, sesame oil, cut hay… Mouth (neat): very typical, with crushed bananas and a tiny touch of pear, bonbons, Werther’s Originals and just plain Scottish fudge flavoured with oranges. With water: a little pine resin at first, then a perfect averageness, which is an asset here. Well it is not average, it is balanced. Finish: medium, with soft liquorice in cappuccino and fudge. A wee drop of bonbony varnish in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps a tad young? Otherwise just excellent.
SGP:551 – 87 points.

I think we’ve mentioned Caroni too, no?

Caroni 23 yo 1998/2021 (56.8%, The Whisky Jury for Spring Spirits , barrel #45, 288 bottles)

Caroni 23 yo 1998/2021 (56.8%, The Whisky Jury for Spring Spirits , barrel #45, 288 bottles) Five stars
Colour: deep gold – amber. Nose: smoke some Werther’s Originals using beech wood and add a touch of juniper and you’ll recreate this. Congrats. With water: new tyres and scuba diving suits, plus a boy-size pack of strawberry drops. No, this is not Port Ellen 20 yo. Mouth (neat): some sweet rubber this time, and smoked Swiss cheese indeed. This is very unusual, it reminds of when we used to throw cream cheese (La Vache Qui Rit) on the bonfire when I was a boy-scout. Or was it when I was a corporal in the army? Well I’m joking a bit, this is much better. Big rubbery and smoky chocolate and orange combo. Barbecued Jaffa cakes? With water: classic salty and herbal rubbery unfolding. Sweeter rubber, school glue… Finish: long, saltier. Dry green olives kicking in, probably Spanish (come on). Liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: a tad unusual or even deviant, but as good as it gets.
SGP:363 – 90 points.

Rhum J.M 1999/2021 (43.6%, OB for Kirsch Import, Martinique, bourbon, cask #180007)

Rhum J.M 1999/2021 (43.6%, OB for Kirsch Import, Martinique, bourbon, cask #180007) Four stars
It’s fab to see more J.M single casks popping out here and there. Bring out the Neissons! Colour: amber. Nose: acetone, capers, ammonia, olives, rotting bananas, pine resin, then Thai basil, coconut sauce and nougat. Extraordinary, flabbergasting nose, only to be experienced in the best agricoles of good age. And in Martinique, Doudou. Mouth: the oak feels this time and at times you wouldn’t even be sure this is not cognac or armagnac. No once you get past these heavy resinous and mentholy teas, you’ll find many small herbs and flowers, chamomile, rosehip, peppermint, sorrel, borage… Finish: medium, getting medicinal. That’s the ‘old’ wood speaking out. Comments: some excruciating dilemma. The nose was out of this world, while the palate was about-to-start-to-get tired (IMHO, as we used to say when the Internet was still civilised).
SGP:561 – 87 points (nose easily 92 or more).

To the other side please…

Rhum J.M 2015/2021 (55.1%, OB for Kirsch Import, Martinique, bourbon, cask #200376)

Rhum J.M 2015/2021 (55.1%, OB for Kirsch Import, Martinique, bourbon, cask #200376) Four stars
Colour: red amber. Nose: this was to be expected, we’re finding some bourbon this time (Pappy and stuff), varnish, roasted sesame and peanut, caramel… With water: nail polish remover and brand new Nikes at first, then fern and fig leaves, green bananas, ‘a Saturday morning at IKEA’s’ (happy divorce my friend!) and a newly-build sauna (welcome back). Mouth (neat): a little dry and grassy, with some acridness, oversteeped black tea, tobacco, conifer saps, green banana skin… Actually, I like this, in case you haven’t noticed. With water: strong teas, some tannicity, more banana skins… Finish: long, still varnishy and grassy. Cough syrup and just menthol and fir resin and cedarwood in the aftertaste. Comments: a feeling of young bourbon from Martinique. Absolutely excellent, but five or six years are five or six years (woo-hoo, S.!)
SGP:371 – 85 points.

Caroni 22 yo 1998 (62.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Trinidad, 1st fill bourbon barrel, #R13.3, 'Havana, Madagascar and Tahiti', 267 bottles, +/-2021)

Caroni 22 yo 1998 (62.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Trinidad, 1st fill bourbon barrel, #R13.3, ‘Havana, Madagascar and Tahiti’, 267 bottles, +/-2021) Five stars
What’s the link between Trinidad-and-Tobago and ‘Havana, Madagascar and Tahiti’, unless you’re a stamp-collector? Colour: gold. Nose: marvillioso, old-school, thick and heavy, with indeed, maybe, they are right, something Cuban. Old dark Havana Club or old Santiago de Cuba. Other than that, this lighter Caroni is still ridden with smoky chocolate and tarry coffee. With water: something acetic coming out, this is well Caroni. Varnish lemon oil, thyme and leek. Mouth (neat): so good. Pinewood, tapenade (olive paste), aioli (garlic paste), anchoïade (anchovy paste), some smoky toffee, tar, rubber, varnish, lemons, plastics, glue, ink… With water: ink, bitter almonds, menthol and ‘chewing plastic’. Finish: very long, more herbal. Superb tarriness in the aftertaste. Comments: just great, but Tahiti?
SGP:363 – 90 points.

Perhaps the previous one…

Caroni 22 yo 1998 (62.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Trinidad, 1st fill bourbon barrel, #R13.2, 'Ready Made Marmalade', 267 bottles, +/-2021)

Caroni 22 yo 1998 (62.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Trinidad, 1st fill bourbon barrel, #R13.2, ‘Ready Made Marmalade’, 267 bottles, +/-2021) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: similar, obviously, just a little gentler and rounder, lighter in a way, less petroly, more on toasted oaky etcetera. With water: what ‘gentler’? No, this is tight, lemony, acidic, with some tarry rubber and ‘new sneakers and iPhones’. Great modern society, no? Mouth (neat): back to more acetic tastes, green lemons, varnish, mezcal… With water: tar coming out, all is well. Finish: long, a little tarrier, but still in the style of the ‘lighter’ Caronis. Comments: I think I liked R13.3 a little better, for it was bigger. Great selection by the very honourable SMWS in both cases, anyway. IO even think I can find the ‘Ready Made Marmalade’ if I ‘taste closely’.
SGP:352 – 88 points.

Perhaps a last Caroni before we call this a session…

Caroni 21 yo 1999/2021 (65.7%, Distilia, The Golden Age of Piracy, Blackbeard, cask #197, 228 bottles)

Caroni 21 yo 1999/2021 (65.7%, Distilia, The Golden Age of Piracy, Blackbeard, cask #197, 228 bottles) Five stars
I had thought the golden age of piracy was right today, just ask Bezos, Sundar or Jack Ma… Anyway! Colour: amber. Nose: oh, mashed potatoes with black truffles and olive oil! Then eggplants and smoky coffee, engine grease, candy sugar, a little corn syrup, caramelised onions… With water: tight and green. Someone’s smoked Brussels sprouts and called that ‘rum’. A curious maltiness and more mashed potatoes. And more truffles. Mouth (neat): smashing, bone-dry and ultra-tight, almost Ardbeggian. Sublime smoky coastalness. Terrrrrific. With water:  oh wow. Millimetric and vertical, petroly, tarry, wonderful. Finish: long, tarry and rubbery. No escape. Comments: perfect in the tarry style. I think we’ve already mentioned middle-aged Port Ellen, have we not?  
SGP:373 – 92 points.

(Merci Pierre-Alexandre and Nicolas)

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

 

February 18, 2022

Whiskyfun

Little Duos,
today Tamnavulin

Rioja
Not a name we’re seeing very often these days, I believe it used to be bigger in the 1980s and 1990s. Proof: today we’ve only got two little ones in store, let’s try them.

Tamnavulin 'Tempranillo Cask Edition' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Tamnavulin ‘Tempranillo Cask Edition’ (40%, OB, +/-2020) Two stars
A little NAS finished in one the strongest red wines, what could go wrong? Remember, tempranillo is the varietal that’s giving us the famous red Riojas. Colour: gold, not pink, and not even salmony/apricotty. Nose: as unusual as we were expecting, rather on peach and pear leaves, tomato leaves as well, then more earthy wood (barrel) and cassis, fruits and buds. Enters then more and more beer territories, which comes just as unexpected, but that would rather be Kriek and double-IPA. Mouth: a bizarre drop on the palate. Sour cherries, more Kriek, homemade mead, then wine gums and, well, a feeling of sangria. An acquired taste, shall we say. A little bitter/sour oak. Finish: short. Barrel water and more mead mixed with cherry juice. Comments: I’ll never really manage to acquire this taste, I’m afraid. Please no red wine in my malt whisky (we’ll have to make a T-shirt one day).
SGP:551 – 70 points.

Please, some Tamnavulin al natural (at least the Tempranillo makes you speak Spanish, ha)…

Tamnavulin-Glenlivet 23 yo 1992/2015 (55%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 258 bottles)

Tamnavulin-Glenlivet 23 yo 1992/2015 (55%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 258 bottles) Four stars
Our very last drop of Tamnavulin, we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here (a very appropriate expression, no?) Colour: pale white wine. Nose: ten miles above that Tempranilloed NAS. Wonderful woolly nose, very chalky and extremely on sourdough, unleavened bread, fermenting plums, cellulosic varnish, then plantains and , perhaps, manioc. Wonderfully unusual this time. With water: cane juice, rainwater, grist, indeed raw wool, Mouth (neat): very rough when undiluted, as if they had filled the bottle straight from the spirit receiver. Raw kirschwasser, bitter almonds and bitter saps (or bee propolis) With water: a wee dollop of spent lees and unfiltered beer plus a feeling of ink and linseed oil in the background… Finish: medium, very good, extremely on raw barley, with just a little citrus in the aftertaste. Lemon bread. Comments: some earlier 1992s by CAD had not really been to my liking, but I find this one rather perfect. Al natural.
SGP:551 – 87 points.
 

February 17, 2022

Whiskyfun
Brackla
Classic set-up on WF. Always a joy to the taster, provided no one ever jumps to easy conclusions. Let’s start this with the OB…

Royal Brackla 12 yo (46%, OB, 2021)

Royal Brackla 12 yo (46%, OB, 2021) Four stars
Apparently and unless I’m wrong once more, this is the new-new label, even more retro than before. This baby was finished in oloroso wood while the presentation tube would make it clear that it should display ‘spice, cherries and demerara’. I believe the mistake they did with the previous rendition (round blue label) was to bottle it at 40% vol. Colour: amber. Nose: and voilà, butterscotch, praline, roasted chestnuts, chocolate (creamy Lindt’s), nougat and cappuccino. No one can be against this, even if this smart treatment may have erased a part of the Distillery character. I do find gooseberries in the background, having said that. Mouth: I could copy-and-paste what I have jotted down about the nose. Milk chocolate, roasted nuts, marmalade, toffee… St. Oloroso, pray for us. Finish: rather long, very good. Coffee drops and, there, since I’m in a good mood, Demerara sugar. Seriously, Demerara sugar. Comments: amen. Excellent.
SGP:551 – 86 points.

Distillery character? I’m glad I had kept this one up my sleeves…

Royal Brackla 16 yo 2001/2018 (46%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines, bourbon hogshead, cask #14)

Royal Brackla 16 yo 2001/2018 (46%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines, bourbon hogshead, cask #14) Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: well, the colour was pale (the dress as we say in French, the ‘robe’), but the profile remains all on toasted pastries, white chocolate, fudge, praline, cappuccino, butterscotch, custard, nougat… In truth, it’s not that different. I’ll add that it’s always great to compare spirits that were bottled at the same ABV., since home reduction is always hard to handle (sure it is). Mouth: I mean, what’s all this sorcery? Same, butterscotch, roasted nuts and toasted pastries, milk chocolate, coffee liqueur, toffee… Now what it’s also got is a brighter fruitiness, with some rhubarb and, indeed, gooseberries. Extremely to my liking. Finish: long, perfect, chocolaty and nutty. No demerara this time, I’m afraid. Comments: I find this even a notch better than the OB, but it’s true that it’s also older. Great selection by our friends in the capital of the Gauls.
SGP:451 – 87 points.

I’d love to do a semi-alliteration and write ‘Brackla is back!’ but I suppose that would be a little stupid.

 

February 16, 2022

Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Cragganmore OB vs. IB

Cragganmore
(Diageo)
I have to confess I’ve only just recovered from tasting the official Cragganmore 48/1971 Prima & Ultima one year and a half ago (WF 93). That one had still been direct-fired, it was fantabulous and I’m just seeing that my conclusion has been ‘where’s my handkerchief?’ Indeed, silly as ever, but all of my tears dried away now and I feel we’re ready for a little more Cragganmore, make that one official and one very rare indie.

Cragganmore 2009/2021 'Distiller's Edition' (40%, OB, CggD-6573)

Cragganmore 2009/2021 ‘Distiller’s Edition’ (40%, OB, CggD-6573) Three stars
As usual, finished in ex-bodega Port wine casks, knowing that the word ‘bodega’ doesn’t obligatorily refer to the Iberic peninsula. Colour: deep gold. Nose: I don’t think I’ve ever found this many pears in any of these DEs, this is almost a whole tarte tatin with pears instead of apples. A little strawberry and raspberry (jams), pinot gris, buttered compote, rooibos tea… We’re pretty far from any kind of Portness, unless that would now be white Port. Big, big tarte tatin aux pears. Or there, this very Alsatian delicacy that consists in bits of stewed pears in pear sherbet, covered with williams pear eau-de-vie. To the brim. A touch of wine vinegar too. Mouth: much maltier and more on salted walnuts, tea, bitter chocolate and tobacco, then bitter leaves. Pretty dry and bitter indeed, as I remembered it. No signs of pears on the palate, I’m afraid. Green walnuts. No traces of sweet Port wine either. Finish: short and a little dry, with cherry stems, more rooibos, then guignolet, which I always enjoy. Oak in the aftertaste, with a tiny soapy side. Comments: loved the pears on the nose (presto, on more point than usual) . The palate, as usual as well, was rather harder to pin down.
SGP:551 – 81 points.

There are very few independent Cragganmores around these days, but I’m happy to report that we’ve got one!

Cragganmore 30 yo 1986/2017 (59.7%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, Platinum Selection, refill hogshead, 167 bottles)

Cragganmore 30 yo 1986/2017 (59.7%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, Platinum Selection, refill hogshead, 167 bottles) Four stars
Our dear Platinums… Colour: pale gold. Nose: a little hot when neat, rather on kirschwasser aged in oak, vanilla, some fennel bread perhaps… I would suppose the high ABV kind of blocks it a little bit. So, with water: gets waxier, with also some grape pip oil, then rather almond milk, almond peel, just cut apples, green tea, a drop of manzanilla sherry, green walnuts, fresh sorrel… Surely not much to do with any of the officials that we know of. Mouth (neat): rather on plum eau-de-vie this time, perhaps mirabelle eau-de-vie, with once again a touch of fennel, perhaps absinth, bitter almonds, kirschwasser indeed… Good feelings here, even if it remains a little hot and raw when undiluted. With water: this is the best part; you just have to really enjoy high-class green teas. Very complex now, with myriads of tiny herbs, leaves, branches, roots… In short, green tea. Finish: same. A little more straight greenish/freshish oak in the aftertaste. Comments: some uncommon Cragganmore just out of bed, without makeup (sherry, Port…) Hope that’s OK – in any case, I’m rather a fan even if it’s certainly not an immediate whisky. See what I mean.
SGP:371 – 87 points.
 

February 15, 2022

Whiskyfun

A jazz trio from Dunyvaig

 

Lagavulin

Well, actually, I mainly wanted to try the latest Distillers Edition, but naturally, we won’t be stopping there and may manage to find one or two other interesting Lagavulins.

Lagavulin 2006/2021 'Distillers Edition' (43%, OB, lgv 4/510)

Lagavulin 2006/2021 ‘Distillers Edition’ (43%, OB, lgv 4/510) Three stars and a half
Boy the 1979/1997 was possibly the greatest ‘finished’ malt whisky ever made by Man (if we’re not taking into account malts that were just a tad pushed, rejuvenated, or re-racked in similar more active woods and all that). I believe recent vintages have become a little less interesting but it’s true that they are living under the shadow of the 16 (not to mention the 12). Colour: gold. Nose: phu! (excuse me?) This terrific feeling of being there, on location, at the distillery. I believe Lagavulin really is THE malt whisky that’s most got this kind of impact. Even if this is probably not the grandest Lagavulin, it’s still a Lagavulin. Chocolate, coffee, barbecue, charcoal, fireplace the next morning, black olives. Rather not un-nice! Mouth: good but a little too leathery for me. Really a lot of lapsang souchong (did anyone ever do a lapsang souchong liqueur?) then leaves, ginger, bell peppers, burnt raisins, dry molasses… Certainly less sweet than I remembered it. Finish: long, pretty good, saltier. More leather, smoke, ashes, tar and coffee. Turmeric in the aftertaste. Comments: a wee feeling of cold coffee-schnapps here and there.
SGP:456 – 84 points.

Lagavulin 19 yo 'Feis Ile 2019' (52.6, OB, sherry-treated American oak casks, 6000 bottles)

Lagavulin 19 yo ‘Feis Ile 2019’ (52.6, OB, sherry-treated American oak casks, 6000 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: some leafiness upfront, cherry stems, some rum perhaps, then roasted raisins and pecan pie. A little allspice, leather, sour herbs, capers… You do feel that it’s been a wee tad ‘seasoned’ and indeed we always prefer the purer ones, but there’s no quibbling to be done, it’s lovely, salty, maritime,  perhaps just a tad rubbery. When tend to prefer when they come out on the tarry side rather than on the rubbery one. With water: gets fresher and tighter, with the distillate having the upper hand. Awesome whiffs of manure, horse saddle, eucalyptus… Mouth (neat): impeccable on the palate, despite all the spices. Pad Thai and menthol, liquorice, marmalade and the expected green walnuts. With water: still a wee bit dry and leafy but the oyster sauce and the feeling of menthol cigarettes win it. Finish: long, on classic ashy cinnamon and tarry bay leaves. Or something like that. Sooty bitter cocoa and old walnuts in the aftertaste. Comments: the question remains the same, does such a brilliant distillate really need some heavyish sherry treatment. By the way, missing Feis Ile! Maybe we’ll do a mini-ceilidh with clootie dumplings and ‘Westering Home’ by Norma Munro on the stereo at WF Towers.
SGP:466 – 89 points.

Lagavulin 22 yo 'Jazz Festival 2020' (52.6%, OB, Refill American & European Oak, 2004 bottles)

Lagavulin 22 yo ‘Jazz Festival 2020’ (52.6%, OB, Refill American & European Oak, 2004 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: and voilà. A much tighter, cleaner (yet rather fat) expression, briny, with all the paraffin you would expect, lamp oil, plasticine, oysters, salty manzanilla, tarry ropes and all that. Touches of fresh butter and engine oil, new plastics straight from Ali’s… With water: more points. Splendid passion fruits (hints) on a perfect ‘peat’. Reminiscent of some older expressions of Lagavulin (such as ‘the 15 yo ceramic’) Mouth (neat): citrus chiming in, zests, bark, smoked fish, oysters, kippers, drops of citron liqueur and limoncello, some oiliness, touch of horseradish, stewed parsnips too…  With water: perfect, old-school, rounder, complex. Seashells. Finish: long salty, briny, totally coastal. Some coal tar. Comments: the oak was a tad prominent at first but we’re really splitting hairs here. Swims extremely well, never forget to try these with a little water, after having first tried them neat. Two more points in my book with a little water. Brilliant Lagavulin, almost refreshing. Well, not really, but at least was it more refreshing than the other two. Because ‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t refreshing’. Not sure I’ve got that ducal quote right…
SGP: – 92 points.


Previous entries (archived)

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *