Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My friends left some dregs at my house

I got nice friends

They left some dregs at my place, so here's 4 short easter reviews

A couple of old miniatures

1. Mortlach 50yo Juuls Anniversary Bottling 41.7% Gordon and MacPhail

Nose : fresh spicy sweet fruit mango and citrus

Palate : Classical old Gordon and MacPhail. Pine wood, more mango and citrus, absolutely wonderful. Whisky like this is what makes life's worth living. I do enjoy these flavours that is only pressent in very old whiskies. GandM 

Finish : Long and delicious with a hint of vanilla custard hitting at later stages

Note : This whisky REALLY benefits from being a morning dram. My fresh palate combined with the great subtleties of this dram makes this an outstanding moment

Rating 95

2. Springbank 37yo Chieftains 46%

Nose : VERY NICE :-), I am still a bit hyped from the Mortlach!. I reckon this is again from a ex-bourbon cask, probably the 2nd fill. Faint hints of citrus on a background of sweet wood spices

Palate : malt, spice, wood, quite powerfull, followed by an impact of those spicy wood notes I only get from old whiskies and I really like that

The finish is medium

Rating 91

3. SMWS 59.37 Teaninich Nov 83-Jun 08, 55.8% 24yo
"For lazy lotus eaters"

Nose: A typical whisky nose with a hint of sweet glue and honey

Palate : Delicious intense concentrated honey. I am allergic to honey but like it so glad to have this notes in whisky. I don't get any lotus. 

Finish  : medium

Rating 83

4. Glen Keith Càrn Mòr 1990 19yo cask 13676

The lightness of this whisky is really clarified following the other 3. Huge stills or lowlander in style. This a gentle apeterif style whisky. This is more like an Armagnac than a whisky. The style is apples and pears. Lovely

Rating 82

Monday, April 18, 2011

Whiskypranks and blind tastings

The label of a whisky bottle has an influence on how I and other whiskyfans appreciate a whisky

No doubt about it. If people tells me otherwise I don't believe them :-)

One good example is how Ashok from Amrut presented/introduced his range to Denmark. He said that if he just served Amrut to others, they would automatically think it couldn't be very good as it comes from India

Instead he chose to battle 4 of his whiskies against 4 from Scotland. Blind. Quite an educating experience. It showed out I had Amrut as clear winner in 3 of the battles. The 4th was a draw.

The 4 sets were :

Amrut 46% versus Glenlivet 12
Amrut Fusion versus Highland Park 12
Amrut Cask Strength versus Glenfarclas 105 (my draw)
Amrut Peated 46% versus Bowmore Legend

Surprisingly my most clear winner was Fusion against a whisky that quite often is declared the best in the world. There you go. In the room of 33 tasters, Amrut won the all catagories except the one I had as a draw which was lost by 1 vote.  I thought the 105 and the cask strength Amrut was very alike and Ashok said he had trouble telling which one he thought was the Amrut of those two :-)

Well this was my most educating experience. The most impressive I have seen was done by the Ardbeg expert, fellow PLOWED member and Malt Maniac Tim Puett, the man behind www.ardbegproject.com !

We selected 4 Ardbeg 10's and wrote down the bottle codes (batch numbers!) Here is the set :

L1 045 - L5 290 - L7 143 - L7 325

We had all the codes written down and Tim nailed them all....impressive (I didn't guess anything..)

I often make some pranks with whiskies. One of the better ones was pouring a cheap blend into an empty bottle of a standard scottish single malt and then serve it. 

Once I went into my kitchen, melted some sugar and divided a bottle in two. Then I coloured one of the parts. After a testing session I send round these 2 blind samples and the reactions and guesses were very different. After the truth was revealed some of the guests tried to distuingish between the two blindfolded and they said they couldn't really tell the difference..

This told me that the colour of a whisky affects how it's received with a huge impact

Last year I was on a holiday on Crete. Local customs is that you get served a Raki after a dinner. This is like a cheap Grappa. One day we visited an olive oil farm http://www.paraschakis.gr/index_en.html

Old Raki Still

They had a Raki which I found a lot more pleasant than the usually stuff I was served before during the holiday. I bought a wee bottle. Last week I served some of this blind at a whisky tasting as first go. People thought it was whisky newmake!

Oh, I gotta show you the view from that olive oil farm :

Paps of Crete!

After the Raki  I served the Mekong Whisky. This is never received positive, but I noted that when I served this blind the negativeness was less!

I observed the same pattern when a very very good whisky is served blind. The positiveness is much higher when accompanied by a label.

Todays review

1. Mekong Whisky

The nose is sligthly chemical , a bit like a weak solvent, not really unplesant, but no way whisky like..well rumours said this is made on 95% molasses and 5% rice with added spices, so this is really not a whisky. I have a hard time reading the label so the details is up to you to read yourself. The taste is like a very mild bitter, highly diluted becherovka comes into mind. A weak woody finish with a not-very-nice sweet touch. Nothing exciting about this, but I wouldn't describe it as flawed either. Greatest thing about this is the short finish.

It will not get a very high rating thou

Rating 55

Saturday, April 16, 2011



First time I read about Caperdonich was in Jim Murray's Complete Book of Whisky

It started it's early existence as Glen Grant no. 2, the newmake being pumped across the street to Glen Grant, 1897-1902

Jim Murray writes :

"...But from day one it was known that the whisky was not living up to expectations, and with the advent of the whisky crash, a perfect excuse was found to close it just four years later..."

The distillery was reopened in 1965 as Caperdonich (SWA naming rules now prohibited Glen Grant no. 2)

 Jim Murray writes

 "..different name, same old inferior whisky. The outside of the distillery is unattractive, yet I have enjoyed spending a cold winter's evening sitting in the stillhouse there. Stills, mashtuns, washbacks - everything is in close proximity and it feels good. The malt, though, even samples I have tasted from sherry casks, are as featureless as the distillery's exterior. It is a dram that Seagram has never once felt inclined to bottle and that is a wise choice. It is not so much a bad whisky as a boring one. Its vague pine aroma and sweet maltiness are fine for the anonymity of a blend but, because of a near non-existent finish, it remains an under-achieving dissapointment beside its brilliant older brother."

"CAPERDONICH - Impossible to find and one worth missing"
Here's a photo a friend took in 2009 when we did a tour of all the Rothes distilleries, Caperdonich just from the outside unfortunately


The distillery operated from 1965-2002 and was then mothballed. 

Well, it didn't look like a distillery where you would go around bottle hunting...if you could find any bottles that is. The describtion is as this could be the worst distillery of Scotland

Trust me..it's not. It's closer to being the best hidden gem of Scotland 

Fist time I got the feeling there was something worthy about Caperdonich was after buying an SMWS bottling. At SMWS the distillery name is hidden behind a number code, and if you want to you can drink without knowing, which might be an advantage. I usually purchased what I like without knowing (harder these days as I learned quite a few of the code numbers)

It was a brilliant, and the bottle is long gone but it put the distillery on my mind. It was still hard to find Caperdonichs out there. Then Mark Watt from Duncan Taylor started going on about Caperdonich, how good it was and that it was his favourite distillery - So I picked up some bottles from them, and started hunting it in bars and tastings, fairs and events. Especially the 72's were brilliant whiskies. I also picked up or tried 1980 bottlings from Cadenhead and AD Rattray and some "young" 12-14 year old bottlings from Cadenhead, a recent peated 12yo from Berry Bros and Chivas Brothers also have released the only "OB" in their Cask Strength Editions series. I have also experienced some really great bottlings from Gordon and MacPhail

In general I find this to be a malt of high quality, with the 72's and the 80's being in the top of the class of whiskies of the world. I think even Jim Murray has changed his mind if you read his latest whisky bible ratings :-)

Sadly Caperdonich was demolished in 2010, Mark Watt posted this photo on his blog :

Mark Watt standing on the remains

Read his blog entry here : http://bit.ly/gIlPEg

Well, its sadly closed. But the distillery doesn't have a marketing department, no fancy crystal decanters and no exclusive releases. This is where to get quality for money, no 1000£ bottles available yet for the collectors

2 Caperdonich's

1. Caperdonich 23yo Cadenhead 1980 58%

A delightful light spicy nose, the palate has a mustyness, which always reminds me of a warehouse floor

The spicyness is a bit like dark bitter chocolate, which is trying to hide a fruityness but doesn't quite succeed

The finish is short-medium but is there!

Rating 85

2. Caperdonich 25yo 1980 cask 7339 AD Rattray  53.1%

A very fresh and light expression of Caperdonich, which reminds me more of the 72's. The nose is a very light version of the Cadenhead above, just a lot more subtle with hints of vanillawood and gentle citrus fruits. The palate is a mouthwatering follow up, still subtle in it's expression. The finish is longer, and after about 5 seconds the palate explodes with vanilla wood being dominant

Rating 90

Most cask strength Caperdonich I had with an ABV above 50 has benefit a lot from being open