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22-Aug-2017 18:31

More pepper this time, a little sour oak as well, mingling with the lemon. Damp hay, walnuts, also something slightly metallic that never stops growing. Mouth (neat): very big, very powerful, with quite some ginger and walnut water that scream new oak. Nectar, honeycomb, touches of vanilla and a little café latte that suggests some newish oak. It’s an elegant one, not tired at all after these 41 years in wood.

It’s slightly meaty, with also some chocolate, those almonds again, touches of fresh oak, grass, then more and more earth and humus. It’s maybe a little less precise than the others because of the more active cask. It’s a very big one and a style that should further improve after thirty years in glass. Other than that, we have light honey and flowers such as dandelions.

Mouth (neat): nah, these heavy metallic, leathery and sulphury notes just dominate the whole thing, it’s difficult whisky. I don’t think this cask should have been released to the thirsty masses. Nose: this one’s rather mineral this time, you have to wait a bit before more seaweedy and salty notes emerge, iodine, a mild smokiness and then more kippers dipped in tar. So sherry casks now used by the whisky industry, while entitled to be called ‘sherry casks’, were never used to mature sherry, apart from a few genuine (decommissioned? Mouth: barley sugar and apple juice with a little cinnamon, sweet beer and white pepper. Comments: not a lot happening here, it’s just good quality unpeated malt whisky of youngish age. Icing sugar, lemon squash, white pepper, nutmeg and ink. Comments: it’s a difficult one to score, some parts being quite superb, other parts being a little underwhelming. So like other distinguished bloggers have done lately, I just checked our stats and it seems that WF pulled exactly 1,826,961 visits in 2012.

Having said that and quite confusingly, many second-level winemakers are now starting to use American oak as well because it’s cheaper and quicker. (lazy writing, I'm sorry): maybe you gathered that in fact, what we call ‘a sherry cask’ today isn’t a sherry cask, it’s rather a cask that’s been coopered on purpose and then treated/seasoned with a little sherry (after having used the now banned concentrated juice called pajarette). As natural as malt whisky can be but not quite characterful, to say the least. Finish: medium long, with a little more pepper and cinnamon, especially in the aftertaste. Apples again, pears, pineapples and plenty of grass, white pepper and cinnamon. But there’s also something plastic-ky, bitterish, not quite clean enough for Littlemill.

Glen Albyn - Glenallachie Glenburgie - Glencadam Glencraig - Glendronach Glendullan - Glen Elgin Glenesk - Glenfarclas Glenfiddich - Glen Garioch Glenglassaugh - Glengoyne Glen Grant - Glen Keith Glenkinchie - Glenlivet Glenlochy - Glenlossie Glen Mhor - Glenmorangie Glen Moray - Glen Ord Glenrothes - Glen Scotia Glen Spey - Glentauchers Glenturret - Glenugie Glenury Royal This version’s always finished in moscatel. Bags of ashes, salt and then more lemon marmalade and just touches of custard and white chocolate. Other than that, some hay and leather as well as notes of truffles and gas, all that isn’t quite great. What’s more, I like to publish new notes for the major ‘wide batch’ whiskies every two or three years because mind you, batch variation does occur! Nose: you know what, this greasiness and this mineral smokiness just cannot not make us think of modern Springbank, which can’t be bad news. Mouth: excellent, smoky, mineral, phenolic, waxy and displaying various citrus fruits without any excessive sweetness. Then more liquorice, a little sweet mustard (cassis flavoured like they make in Burgundy) and quite some bitter oranges. According to The Whisky Exchange, 'this 17yo Benromach spent its final two years in sherry casks dating from 1886, 18 before bottling by Gordon & Macphail, who had recently taken over and re-invigorated the distillery in 1998 after a fifteen year hiatus.' More than ever, knowledge is power! This is nice but these metallic notes are a little weird and I’m not sure I like these whiffs of new plastic (new car). Not at all the same very high quality as modern Benromach’s! Metallic, mineral, waxy, leathery, extremely grassy and greatly bitter. Comments: I think we’re not that far from the very good old 12 and ‘Deanston Mill’ from 20 or 30 years ago anymore. Why, I don’t quite know…The large countries that rose much more than the average in 2012 were China ( 89%! ), Malaysia ( 35%) and South Africa ( 45%) plus all the countries from the former Eastern Block, except Russia.

That always scared me but in fact, the wine’s influence has been progressively tuned down year after year – an opinion, not a proven fact. Nose: yeah, indeed, it’s absolutely not winey and there aren’t any obvious muscaty tones. Nose: pretty much the same universe but a notch louder on barley and smoke while the citrusy side is less vivid. So, let’s have the 10 once more…Last time I tried the 10, that was in 2009 and I loved it! I find some smoked tea, touches of truffles, graphite oil, quite some fresh barley (or is that porridge? Finish: quite long, smoky, with notes of agaves and minerals. We used to say that Lochside was the Spirngbank of the east, now it’s rather Benromach. Having said that, these notes are long overdue indeed… Some bitter oranges too, some grass, hay, a little cardboard, coffee… Mouth: nah, I like strange whiskies and I agree with the motto ‘vive la différence’ but this is too strange, cardboardy, dry, kind of chemical… So this was bottled by G&M way before they bought the distillery. Nose: we’re very close to the Centenary but in fact, this is cleaner and rounder despite a similar ‘plasticness’. A massive grassiness and plenty of waxy notes, shoe polish, rocks, engine oil, metal and coal. Austere, in a way, but also quite philosophical (oh drop that, will you! Independent versions of Deanston are quite rare, for whatever reasons. Nose: very powerful but interestingly metallic, quite old-style. Wet clothes, newspaper of the day, raw wool and a saucerful of porridge. Within Europe, the countries that rose (rather moderately) were Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria.

Strong beer, ginger, bitter apples, a little herbal liqueur, cinchona… ) With water: nicer and sweeter but a tad ‘middle-of-the-road’. Please note that the list does NOT include any other whiskies that I would have scored for other entities or platforms, esp. Just a little more complexity would have put it at 90. Pipe tobacco again, walnuts, liquorice, drops of mint liqueur and cough syrup, overripe pears… Comments: high quality old Glenrothes, quite ‘infused’ if you see what I mean. Nose: we are extremely close to the Adelphi, this one being just a notch less aromatic – I might be dreaming, in fact. I like Oban 14, but always thought it was lying between two worlds, in a way. A /-2010 bottling had fetched 82 points pretty recently. Nose: yes, it’s no easy whisky and it’s certainly rather un-commercial for a commercial whisky. Mouth: it’s better, much better, starting with some kind of salted kirsch and maybe a little olive oil. Mouth (neat): indeed, stone fruit spirit straight from the still. Another one that should have joined my lousy ‘best of 2012’ list. The smokiness keeps growing bigger, we’re even going towards exhaust fumes, while there are even more mushrooms as well (dried morels spring to mind and I’m not making this up). Mouth: we’re pretty closer to the 1960, with a feeling of ginger and bitter oranges. Comments: the nose alone was a 95-point miracle, the palate was a little less, say flabbergasting because of the drying/grapey part. Finish: medium long, with a little more oak and smoked tea (you know, lapsang souchong). Comments: obviously very good, the mellower side of Caol Ila but always with big coastal notes. the largest source of traditional European oak casks today is the wine industry (un-fortified wines, such as Bordeaux) and that’s why we’re seeing more and more barriques, for example, at Scottish distilleries. Finish: medium long, on more or less the same notes. Comments: unlikely but obligatory, in a way, as I believe any dedicated whisky aficionado should have tried this very unusual style at least once. Apple and pears, cherries and gooseberries, muesli and white bread, plus whiffs of fresh mint, then wheelbarrows of barley. Mouth (neat): spirity, youthful, powerful and fruitful. Lemons and beeswax, pink grapefruits, lemon balm and touches of coriander. Sadly, it tends to fall apart after a few seconds and becomes much more cardboardy and tea-ish. I think Littlemills from the 1970s are/were fairly uncommon. Hay, then dried mint leaves and a little shoe polish. With water: a huuuuge toolbox, with some engine oil and other strange fluids poured in. Mouth (neat): ha-ha, there is a lot of lime and lemon! (I’m sorry, sheep, no, wait…) Mouth (neat): starts unusually sweet, on lemon liqueur and marmalade, with only touches of salt and fish (kippers again, also tinned sardines) and a smoke that’s only in the background (smoked salmon). It’s all rather elegant and pretty discreet – and that’ not just the lower strength because I had a very long break after the 1990. Mouth: medium strength and a blend of briny/coastal notes (oyster juice) with smoked almonds and a little lemon. This feeling of oysters never stops growing, which is nice (granted, if you like oysters). With water: glorious unfolding on parsley, old dry sherry, cured ham, cigars and pine wood smoke. And yet you can feel that what’s happening in the background is probably quite glorious – it seems that lemons are screaming. But indeed, those ‘European woods’ were in fact often American. It’s clearly Deanston as we knew it (before the officials got ‘reworked’). Nose: it’s a fresh, rather fruity and still quite grainy/porridgy young malt whisky. With water: would you think ink and grapefruit juice would mix well? Mouth (neat): a different profile this time, the expected fruits are much louder. Between vanilla fudge, lemon and orange zests, litchis again and butter cream. Comments: no, really, reducing this down to 40% was some kind of execution but thankfully, the otherwise very excellent bottlers stopped doing that a few years ago. No fruits this time, rather cardboard, new leatherette, grass and more grass (and even more grass).Comments: toned down it seems – and my palate was fresh as a baby’s, I hadn’t quaffed anything else before. Future distillers Wemyss already had some very nice and clean 1996s in the past, such as ‘Smokehouse’ (WF 86). Nose: oh this is unusual, grassier, very citric indeed, almost fizzy for a few seconds, before the expected ultra-clean briny, ashy and lemony notes take over. Nice bitter chocolate, oranges, green tea, gentian, roots, earth… No mean feat at 40% and after almost 30 years in glass. So actually, I think WF’s done quite well because none of those obvious handicaps seem to have, well, seriously handicapped WF’s figures.

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It’ll always remain very citrusy indeed, between lemons and grapefruits. Little oak influence, which goes well with Caol Ila’s chiselled profile. Now, any SEO/social expert will tell us that there would be easy means to make WF’s audience grow much faster.

It’s a mild Cola Ila, that is, with some baked apples and rhubarb compote plus the usual smoke, ashes and light brine. Whoops, maybe I should have tried this one before the Wemyss. A lot of apple peelings and fresh walnuts, some smoke (garden bonfire), some metal (old aluminium pan), a little butter and dairy cream, cardboard… Benromach IS a malt that really improved after it was taken over. Lots of charms even if it’s got a few weaker spots. In a sense, it’s much closer to the new 10 than to both the Centenary and the 1968. ) With water: it’s amazing what water can do to grassy monsters. The first time we tried this ‘upped’ version of the entry-level Deanston, we weren’t utterly convinced (WF 74 in 2009) but maybe things have further improved? Nose: the very porridgy and grassy profile remains, with also quite some hay and then toasted bread and wood. It’s still a little unlikely (don’t expect something rounded and very ‘focussed’) but I enjoy these half-sour, half-grassy tones as well as the obvious vanilla and toffee from newish oak and the nice notes of orange drops and salty caramel. Sour apples and wet clothes, a little tar, lemon yoghurt, dairy cream and more lemons. Were losing a bit of steam the good old US of A (only 1,5%), the Netherlands, Canada, Russia, Australia and New Zealand (but that may have had something to do with the rugby world cup ;-)). We’ve lost three features that used to bring quite a little extra-traffic in the last two years: Nick’s Concert Reviews (mind you, quite understandably he’s busier playing music with his excellent own band The Limelight Bandits but maybe he’ll be back?



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