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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. Comments: very good, even more lemony than the usual middle-aged Caol Ilas. Nose: this is fun, we’re having a grassier one this time, with, well, grass, broken branches, apple peelings and quite a lot of kilned malt. Also some more dill and anise, that adds an extra-dimension. Crystal-clean yet sweet peat, lemon, smoked fish, lime… Finish: Comments: that one was rather more complex than others. Finish: long, smoother, candied, finely smoky and mentholated. The more you wait, the more both Glenrothes becdome similar. Mouth: even more so, it’s extremely difficult to spot differences. I could do some Hto Hs but I haven’t got enough time, I’m sorry. Brilliant and, sadly, a style that’s nowhere to be found anymore, probably from some genuine sherry casks that had contained genuine dry oloroso sherry for quite some time. Not everyone would like it because it’s ridden with ginger, those parsley notes that sometimes abound in heavy sherry, some slightly shaky old-style orange liqueurs and then quite a lot of chocolate sauce (modern mole). It’s one of these malts that, quite bizarrely, are bigger at around 45% vol. A lot of ginger from the oak (from a new transport cask? And yet, it’s totally untrue: genuine sherry casks in their very vast majority are NOT made out of European oak – whether Spanish or French (or Bulgarian, whatever) – sherry casks are usually made out of , just like bourbon barrels! Comments: I think it’s a perfect example of a malt that’s exactly that, a malt. Nose: it’s well in the style of some other 1992s I could try, that is to say rather less ‘emphatically fruity’ than earlier vintages, with also more grassy and mineral/oily touches that remind us of earlier Littlemills. Finish: long, very zesty, ultra-clean and, it seems, with something of, wait, Clynelish? Also a growing medicinal side, between camphor and eucalyptus lozenges. Rubber bands, apples, pears and porridge, then more grass. Maybe just a tad less balsamic vinegar but I’m not even sure. I think it’s quite different from earlier versions. Some salt, some coffee, some herbs and some orange liqueur. We’ll try Oban 14 again in a few years (if WF’s still alive). With (quite some) water: pure peach juice now, with drops of lemon and just a little green tea. It’s one of the various 1960s I had poured for my 50th birthday in 2010. Touches of asparagus, game, leather and very old dry sherry (or walnut liqueur). Prunes and cured ham, then something slightly metallic that’s often to be found in these old ‘black dumpies’. Maybe because it seems natural, obvious and logical. Finish: quite long, with more citrus fruits and quite some cinnamon in the aftertaste.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.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. Some topical fruits emerging (passion, mango, tangerine). Mouth: starts a little strange, on orange squash and jelly beans, the palate is very different from the nose. Then more orange (drops this time), a little sour wood, pineapple juice, apple juice… Maybe the octave treatment worked much better on the nose? Nose: this baby’s very different, as the colour already suggested. Thickish mouthfeel that’s well counterbalanced by some bitter oranges and grapefruits. The spirit has a little less to say in this context – and we all know that Clynelish ain’t shy spirit – but the result is appealing and not too sacrilegious. After a few minutes: a lot of wild forest honey, which I love. Finish: medium long, fruity, with something slightly tropical. Comments: a pretty brilliant nose and a palate that’s more, say unlikely in my book.

Mouth (neat): again, it’s a rounder and fuller version, with a heaviest body but it’s all quite perfect. It’s no wham-bam sherry monster, though, and what shines through goes more towards light pipe tobacco, metal polish, old earthy pu-erh tea and mushrooms. Nose: it’s a rather meaty and vinous kind of sherry at first nosing, although it becomes rounder and more on dried fruits after a few seconds. With water: it seems that we wakened a little ginger and white pepper. Finish: quite long, with more ginger, pepper and cinchona. Comments: high quality old sherried Glenlivet, pleasantly unsmooth.

Add a few branches and grass blades as well as three or four flowers (maybe lilies) and you’ve got a pretty accurate picture - hopefully.

Nose: I think we’ve rarely come that close to western orchard fruits, this baby just smells like a large basket full of ripe pears and apples.

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.

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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. Nose: if it’s from a first fill butt that should have been some kind of re-coopered butt because the sherry isn’t massive. Comments: I think water revealed a higher smokiness than in the 1997s. So, let’s be true to ourselves and give the same score. Nose: we’re somewhere midway between the 1994 and the 1988, that is to say that Glenrothes’ ‘western’ fruitiness shines through while a kind of light sherriness is moderately present.