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On the other hand, we're sorry to announce that we lost our unique monthly readers in Belize, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan (but where is Borat ? Nose: very floral and very honeyed, smelling almost like pure acacia honey at first nosing, getting then a bit more ‘tertiary’, with notes of old leather and dried flowers (pot pourri) and then mint, and just the tiniest soapiness. Mouth: starts very well, on the same notes of honey plus quite some dried fruits, but gets then a little bizarre, unusually salty and bitter. Quite some cider apples, hints of orange blossom water, walnut cake, heather honey (quite a lot, reminding me of some old Highland Parks) and barley sugar. A good opportunity to try a Linlithgow/St Magdalene for a reasonable price (£80). "Matured in a wine treated butt." This one dates from the time when they were still rejuvenating their wood by pouring wine or concentrated wine into old casks, something they don’t do anymore (of course). Nose: this is more austere, grassy and smoky, with notes of motor oil and wet stones. Goes on with quite some leather, wet herbs, wet chalk, lead… When we say free, they aren't completely free to us Maniacs as some of our members will have to fly to Europe to pick up their parcels (for some obscure 'customs' reasons) whilst others may have to bribe a few local politicians to be able to gather their precious samples. Totally exceptional and not far in style from the best Ardbegs from the 1960’s. Exceptional again, bursting with almonds, tar, peat, resin, camphor and very old lemon liqueur from the greatest Italian makers’. Nose: too bad we’re having this one after the stupendous 1966, it’s having a hard time competing when undiluted. Mouth (neat): much, much better than on the nose when neat. Comments: not as wonderful as the 1966 but still great. Freshly cut apples, lemon, wet stones, fresh almonds, coal smoke and apple peelings. With water: all on lemon and green tea now, then cigarette ashes, iodine and ‘new’ leather (let’s say a leather shop in Turkey – whatever).
) but gained one in Libya, Suriname and on the Turks and Caicos Islands. Kudos to Signatory for adding these kinds of data on their labels. Nose: it’s not very far from the TSMOS version, only a tad rounder and more honeyed. Comments: warning, this one isn’t a swimmer, but it’s very, very nice when undiluted. Changes directions after that, with more apricots and bananas but also lemons. Yes, it's not that easy (but again, very costly) to ship 198 samples to 12 Maniacs who are scattered all over the globe... Finish: long and majestically peaty, tarry, salty, liquoricy and lemony. A GTO of the whisky world, dating from times when Coal Ila was a heavier and fatter spirit. A tad sourer and more lemony and buttery, without the exceptional crispiness that the 1966 displayed. With water: gets very tarry now, and more maritime as well. Immensely lemony and peaty, albeit less complex than the 1966 again when undiluted. With water: pure liquorice wood and mastic-flavoured gums. Mouth (neat): big but rounder and softer than the oldies, as well as earthier (roots, celeriac) and probably more maritime than the 1969.
Finish: long, heavily ‘coastal’ now, with the ‘lemony peat’ striking at the end. Comments: these recent 20 or 25yo Taliskers are all very good and except for wood type variations (there has been some sherry versions), they are all very consistent. Man, he’s the hottest young guitar player I’ve ever seen.
And heading north on Highway 61 and the Great River Road, past the half-harvested fields of cotton and soya beans, and through largely forgotten and impoverished communities with isolated churches scattered on lonely roadsides, I can’t help wondering whether, that in addition to being the root of everything that’s best in music, there isn’t a prescient and timeless spiritual wisdom here, that can sort of see what’s coming. Nose: rather punchy, compact at first nosing (praline and coffee) but going in many directions after that. Mouth: immensely soapy and perfumy, to the point where it’s almost pleasant in its total extravagance. Clean spirit, with a very, very nice sherry, quite some vanilla, honey and soft spices and a striking resemblance with a young Aberlour. Comments: these batches were rather disastrous on the palate and it was about time somebody took over the distillery. With water: listen, I’d love to bash this crazy wine finishing (and god knows Yquem is great wine) but contrarily to ‘Tokaj’ versions that were really too much, this is very, very enjoyable. Mouth: this is more ‘winey’ as such and, above all, more extravagantly fruity than on the nose, with huge notes of strawberry drops, bubblegum, pineapples, light caramel, very ripe pears and even wild strawberries.
Cough drops, orange liqueur, malt, grilled herbs, bitter chocolate, bitter oranges… Nose: we’re starting more or les in the same vein as with the 1951, except that this is somewhat rounder and more candied and orangey, less austere. Comments: maybe a little old Islay style on the nose but definitely ‘Talisker’ on the palate. Nose: this one is sort of between the 1951 and the 1952 at first nosing, mid-ashy, mid-orangey, but also with much bigger notes of shoe polish and soot. Certainly drier than both the 1951 and the 1952 now, with even more shoe polish, metal polish, ink, gun grease, wet chalk… Amazing how these three old Taliskers are similar yet different on the nose. It’s much more ‘coastal’, with much more notes of iodine, sea air, oysters, kelp…
Granted, there’s a little less complexity than on the nose but it’s still wonderful. Finish: medium long, all on oranges, salt, peat and tea. It’s also a little more medicinal, somewhat more Islay style. Develops on more minty and resinous notes, camphor, metal polish, cough medicine… A work of art, amazingly big at 43% and after 35 years in glass. There’s also quite some ‘good’ soap; I mean, not soapy soap, rather deluxe soap. Mouth: very coherent, with again these resinous and waxy notes. Comments: well, this one is the least impressive on the palate but the nose was absolutely amazing, which will prevent me from going below 90 points. As for the fruity side, we left the oranges for more lemons and green apples.
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 Indeed, we really wanted to put the brand new Talisker 25 under pressure, following Corneille’s advice in Le Cid (‘we triumph without glory when we conquer without danger’) and that’s why we decided to try it ‘against’ three old, err, glories… Nose: wonderful at first nosing, starting on big whiffs of coal smoke, soot, cold ashes and dried tangerines.
Rather dry and beautifully austere, wonderfully pure.