October 1 - 2 May 1 - 2 And why not! Holy feartherless crow! We’ve loved seeing many of you sharing your at-home workouts with your pets. December 1 - 2 Because today is Saint Serge's Day - not that we really care, but with some whiskies excuses are sometimes needed...Sadly only two PEs today, but remember the breed has been declared nearly extinct by all whisky houses in about the year 2000. Not ‘a peater’ (in the sense that Caol Ila 1981 would be a peater), but these camphory notes are just out of this world, since they would lead us to myriads of tinier empyreumatical and pine-y touches, such as putty once again, oil paint as well, triple-sec, pinesap, a pack of menthol cigarettes, pine needles, carbolineum, new linoleum while we’re at it (remember? Highland Park NAS (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s) Clairin Communal Ansyen (49.3%, OB, LMDW, Haiti, 2964 bottles, 2020) Very good so far. SGP:362 - 90 points. Colour: pale straw. SGP:372 - 88 points. September 1 - 2 What’s sure is that this is rather different from the regular older Benriachs, which usually rather burst with fresh fruits. Colour: white wine - distilled indeed! Comments: I would tend to enjoy the best white ones even better, but I just love this very characterful style. Weird citrus all the way! Benriach 38 yo 1981/2020 (46.6%, OB, for The Nectar and La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel (phew), cask #522, 168 bottles) Comments: extreme rum that takes no prisoners. Performer: Mouth: ah, a shame, it’s kind of fallen apart. Colour: amber. Becomes rapidly extremely herbal, on herbal toothpaste, bouillon, cough medicines, mothballs and eucalyptus resin. Being self-isolated while also living alone comes with a lot of anxiety—and a lot of days that feel more like weeks. Salted almonds and some top quality old Amontillado. Comments: The way Highland Park used to weave peat throughout its spirit in the most compelling, ethereal fashion was just utterly genius if you ask me. Finish: medium and very savoury, herbal, oily cereals, minerals, putty, white pepper, lime pith and various breads. Or there, applejack. Next week we may have a go at Renegade’s very first run! November 1 - 2 With water: yeah well, whichever the mark, Hampden is Hampden. Country star Slim Whitman's version of the 1920s song "Rose Marie" spent 11 consecutive weeks at #1 in the UK in 1955, a record until 1991 when Bryan Adams’ "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" spent 16 weeks at the top. Quite floral, although the alcohol may well be emphasising the higher notes. June 1- 2
Instead you have this wonderfully plush, full and pulpy fruitiness. Other than that, brilliant old Jura, very well selected by M. Patersponge. Why not this as a solo aperitif…. Mouth: pretty hot and tough really. SGP: 366 - 84 points. A full strength version in the same presentation from around the same era, probably early-mid 70s. The thing is, the end result is rather superb. Clarendon means Monymusk and 74.8% means attempted murder. Oh, ‘bio’ means ‘organic’. More and more learned voices are telling me I should rather have a closer look at Calvados by the way, so we’ll see…. Lots of orange peel and marmalades. That’s right, that’s around 20,000 kilometres away as the crow flies. One that’s globally much lighter and dominated by flower and heather honeys, light cereals, sunflower oil, sandalwood, canvass and various green and ripe orchard fruits like cut green apples, gooseberry and slightly overripe pears. We have a lot of very accurate guitar keys and song lyrics. Anyway, I think you can dispense with everything else here and simply pour into a tumbler with a good slug of water and you’ll have a highly pleasurable, if humble, wee Scapa. It’s a free-for-all. Were they keeping the cask on Orkney? From a possible 19yo to an actual 19yo. Thanks to our cheap subscription prices we’re able to democratize learning. Petty and Lynne wrote and recorded "Free Fallin'" in just two days, the first tune completed for, Petty often tells a story about performing this song at a pivotal night in his career. Very good, just bordering oakiness at times.
Officer, I have the names of the culprits! Caol Ila 11 yo 2008/2020 (59.7%, The Single Cask, cask #318686, hogshead, 137 bottles)
Including the first drams from the Watts of Campbeltown (hurray!) Nose: indeed this is really very complex right from the start, with notes of old copper (kettle) and many herbal teas, verbena, wormwood… There’s a little vegetal tar (fir), some camphor for sure, bitter almonds oil, fresh putty and paint, then a wee meaty side, bordering umami. Now let’s see what we have… First, honour to whom honour is due…. See ya tomorrow.
2018 Comments: I like this one quite a bit, you get a sense of the Brackla distillate in balance with the sherry.
Whiskies 15,825 Colour: white wine. Mouth (neat): lovely, it’s got the sexy roughness that we’ve always enjoyed in some other well-known NAS (a.k.a. Nose: smells sweet, almost like some proper old Pedro Ximenez, with the usual flinty/waxy spirit supporting it. Colour: white. With water: a king of oily and fatty cereal profile emerges - cereal eau de vie - with touches of caraway, linseed oil, vase water and lanolin. Colour: white wine. With water: just wonderful! Finish: once again superbly long, resinously peaty, waxy, herbal, riddled with expensive olive oil, natural tar, embrocations and camphor. Colour: gold. Finish: medium, slightly medical, chalky, lemony, honeyed - rather like a hot toddy really. Mouth: I think I’ve never quite tasted something like this, once again we’re far from the ‘usual’ Benriach, and rather on a kind of blend with some old amontillado, walnut wine, smoked meats and ham (Iberico), tobacco, game, bitter oranges (lots), artichokes, brown sugar, plus drops of Worcester sauce. SGP:562 - 90 points. Some gentle barley sweetness and malt extract with lactic sweetness like condensed milk, vapour rubs, lightly waxed parchments, menthol tobacco, lemon peel, gentle herbal infusions and umami broths. But are most bourbons really complex? Colour: copper. Ten years old, a well-behaved wood, and a rather pure distillate, that’s the recipe for a winner in my book.
Colour: deep gold. Many indie single malts were a bit like this in the old days, pretty grassy and raw. NO sweetness whatsoever. SGP: 572 - 84 points. Clairin Communal Ansyen (49.3%, OB, LMDW, Haiti, 2964 bottles, 2020), Neisson 2016/2020 ‘Rhum Vieux Bio’ (52.3%, OB, LMDW, Martinique, 470 bottles), Savanna 15 yo 2003/2020 ‘Grand Arôme’ (66.5%, OB, La Réunion, cognac cask, cask #251, 420 bottles), Caroni 20 yo 2000/2020 ‘Basdeo Dicky Ramsarran’ (64.3%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1251 bottles), Hampden 10 yo 2010/2020 ‘LROK’ (59%, OB for LMDW, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #92, 250 bottles), Pride of Orkney 12 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, 1980s), Scapa 1979/1989 (62.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #17.3), Highland Park NAS (70 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s), Highland Park NAS (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s), Highland Park 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s), Highland Park 8 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1980s), Highland Park 1973 ‘The Dragon’ (58.9%, Robertson’s Of Kirkwall, sherry cask, circa 1990), Fettercairn 2008/2017 (58.4%, L’Esprit, cask #BB4624, 237 bottles), Distillery 291 (50%, OB, USA, bourbon, single barrel, +/-2019), Copperworks 3 yo ‘Batch 1’ (50.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, USA, 2020), Uncle Nearest 1856 (50%, OB, USA, premium whiskey, 2020), Buffalo Trace ‘Small Batch’ (45%, OB, for LMDW, USA, Kentucky straight bourbon, 2562 bottles, 2020), Weller 12 yo (45%, OB, for LMDW, USA, Kentucky straight bourbon whisky, 2020), Whistling Andy (50%, Hot Malt Taiwan, USA, straight bourbon whisky, cask #170005, +/-2020), Whistling Andy ‘Harvest Select’ (45%, Hot Malt Taiwan, USA, American whiskey, +/-2020), Blanton’s Gold Edition (51.5%, OB, USA, Bourbon, +/-2019), Port Ellen 35 yo 1983/2020 (47.9%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind and Wave, cask #11535), Port Ellen 33 yo 1982/2016 (55.6%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 11210, 60 bottles), Balblair 14 yo 2006/2020 (56.3%, OB, for LMDW, cask #77, 573 bottles), Cola Ali 5 11 yo 2008/2020 (58%, Dramfool, finished in PX, 160 bottles), Caol Ila 7 yo 2012/2020 (58.9%, Signatory Vintage for Waldhaus am See St. Moritz, oloroso sherry butt finish, cask #4, 699 bottles), Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2020 (58.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #53.332, ‘Storm-tossed kelp on an Islay beach’, refill bourbon hogshead, 308 bottles), Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2020 (58.5%, C. Dully Selection, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #101, 262 bottles), Caol Ila 12 yo (43%, OB, for Zenith Italy, yellow label, early 1980s), Caol Ila 35 yo ‘Director’s Special’ (50.9%, Single Malts of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, 2020), Vieux Sajous 4 yo ‘First Release’ (50.6%, OB, for LMDW, Haiti, 2316 bottles, 2020).
All that is connected to an obvious earthiness in the background. Ardbeg 19 yo ‘Traigh Bhan Batch 2’ (46,2%, OB, 2020)
Not the case at all here, very well done Akkeshi. Comments: Very impressive. Port Charlotte 13 yo 2005/2018 (58.4%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #1590, madeira hogshead, 304 bottles) March 1 - 2 Not a very usual combination, but one that wins. Never buy very large bags of that and sit in front of Netflix. Comments: probably a rather infuriating bottle, that’s all I’ll say. All sharp lemon juice, kiln smoke, tar and TCP, only later does there come some more classical Ardmore farmyard smokiness. It’s this combination of power and control which is so compelling.
With water: deeper and sootier, more things like rope, puffer smoke, anchovies and a little kelp. SGP:741 - 85 points. Still, quality remains high overall! Mouth (neat): extremely thick and concentrated, this is almost a blend of essential oils with fruit liqueurs. Plastics, petrol, tar, olives, camphor, goat head soup (not too sure about that one, but cheers to The Stones!…) Mouth (neat): very salty, brine-y, full of liquorice, earth, parsnips, petrol and olive oil, and of course sugarcane. It’s excellent too, but it may be lacking that wonderful clarity that the others had. Lots of game meats, tar, herbal bitters, cough medicines, embrocations, leaf mulch and bitter cocoa. Colour: gold. More barley extract, white mushroom and herbal teas. Caroni 20 yo 2000/2020 ‘Basdeo Dicky Ramsarran’ (64.3%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1251 bottles) Mouth: brilliantly full of honeys, aged mead, wood resins, spices, natural tar, embrocations, minerals, olive oil, camphor and this pretty resinous, herbal, almost ‘sticky’ peat. Colour: gold. Comments: this one’s extremely unusual, hard to compare and even to score. Hell, Donald-Trump and putrefaction, life’s way too short anyway! It was about time we did another proper Ardbeg session, this one as a tribute to Mickey Heads its Distillery manager, who just retired after having spent so much time with whisky freaks from all over the world wearing yellow jumpers with orange trousers, white socks and Geox sandals, purple tweed straight from the airport shop, or even worse, Laphroaig/Lagavulin baseball caps and sweaters. like, by buying either their CDs or their downloadable 'legal' I like it a lot. With water: very raw, grassy, on apple peel and bitter beer. Finish: perhaps a little too much coconut from some freshish oak that would have been involved, but I’m also finding a little absinth. What’s for sure is the quality of this humble wee mini is superb! With water: tiny bits of putty, saps, resins, chewing-gum, sweeter oils, waxes… Exactly what a great malty make would display. The notes of cedarwood, heady honey and rotting fruits (bananas) are splendid too. Complement your physical music lessons.
Savanna 16 yo 2003/2020 (52.7%, OB, La Réunion, cask #987, 936 bottles) And the fact that it’s grand arôme, so long fermentation? Smoked meats and nuts, smoked almonds, mustard… Comments: what a relief! Colour: pale straw. F***** crazy. One should definitely try this one over pancakes.
Comments: If you’d handed me this blind and said an old Glendronach 15yo from the 1990s I’m not sure I’d have blinked even once. Nose: a very young spirit, with bready notes, a slightly feinty side, and quite some oak. Finish: extremely long, spicy and medicinal at first, then more on barbecued fruits (pineapples) and Russian black tea. SGP:463 - 91 points. Mouth: very good, simple, with good spices and fruits, and jams. SGP: 663 - 92 points.
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