Bottle polishing: December delights

Pierre Le Duc 1978 Armagnac-Tenareze Aldi 40% [50cl] Blog

Orangey pinky Salmon colour like a weird wheat beer.

Armagnac 1978.JPG

  • N: This has taken a month to open out before showing better sides. We have notes then of herbal cherry liqueur, oaky vanilla, fig juice, burned treacle/molasses prunes covered in [pine] sawdust [with the emphasis on dust], umami for sure [some mahogany, armchairs, soot & boot polish] – the whole albeit diluted/thin. Later, there’s a touch of methylated spirits and some blonde beer notes, crispy-dry leather gloves, dry & sweet clotted cream,… It’s far more complex than first impressions. Later, sooty shoe polish & oily/briney mineral tones settle in firmly. It all sounds delightful [doesn’t it?], yet as a reality check, there’s plenty of lighter fluid character.
  • T: Though it comes in thin, it can be ‘yappy’ on arrival. Add a little water for oaky-sweet cherry liqueur, prune juice, cola bottles, pine furniture, soft dry [spearmint] herbal woody dry liqueur,… More liquorice neat and fruity/herbal>medicinal sour with water. Plenty of vanilla on the turn. A sign of additional cask ‘ace-ing’?
  • F: Bitter tannins kick in before a finish on crystalised ginger, mukhwas, herbal cola liqueur and [in-breath] – heathery-dry sooty sawdusted cola=prune/fig juice. Vanilla oak and a touch of liquorice concludes. Fresher at the death with mint Cornetto and a corn note – cobs & syrups.
  • C: There you have it. At first complexity is minimal, but give it time – and you should given the vintage. What we have here is a fair representative example of a vintage Armagnac. Enjoyable enough and certainly a very fair introduction to Armagnac. Not sure you can ask much more for £28 [50cl].

Scores 79 points


An Cnoc 22yo [2014] Ob. 46% WB85.85[97] WF84 WM86[1] ralfy83/86

The cork didn’t quite last the course, snapping after the level was 4/5th’s down – second one this month. Is that because the central heating has suddenly kicked in?

Ancnoc 22.jpg

  • N: Vegetal>herbal-sweet with soft-tart citrus fruits and firm fresh apples at first. The sherry appears prominent but this is no bomb whatsoever [time has seen to that], along with a fair proportion of bourbon casks in the mix also. This is a sherry-funky vegetal-sour number, more in keeping with Mortlach. Later, waxy=oily with a gritty/dirty mineral note, bitter-sweet dried herbs [the casks talking again it would seem], some floral notes, charred grain, a sprinkle of dried mint, half a plimsole and lots more vegetal – cabbage, carrot tops & mostly swede certainly. It’s soupy/brothy for sure. With time and water: vegetal [sherry] sweet with a floral herbal touch. The swede & cabbage becomes even more prominent coupled with a funky brine=y quality and some metallic floral hues.
  • T: Arrival is sharp & vegetal-spicy-citrus sweet coupled with a softer vegetal broth profile than on the nose. Develops on herbal beeswax with spicy sherried malty caramac and putrid Violife cheese. Caraway & nigella seeds feature later with an oddly burned butterscotch note [a popular & collective observation] – soft & modern sherry casks talking. Add water for an improved mouthfeel. Certainly there’s an interesting push me pull me situation between the cask types, the sherry dragging things along.
  • F: A little fermenting sherry fizz leads to more of that putrid vegetal Violife note. Sherry tannic, sour-citrus herbal chocolate with plasticine marzipan and a distinct scone dough/rock cake note along with a fusty, fungal vanilla dunnage tail – the bourbon casks finally speaking over the sherry. A rancid sunflower and Castor oil note creeps in to confuse the whole. Back comes the scone dough however to normalise proceedings only for the cabbage>swede & Violife to return. This odd cycle repeats over a few times. There’s a tasty vegetal tannic oaky character among it all.
  • C: Plenty of oak but it’s acceptably tempered. There’s much to enjoy & glean here but i’m not so enamoured with this as I have been with other batches. On closer scrutiny, there are some rather complex oddities in the mix that I hadn’t picked up before, though I’m partial to oddness. Well worth checking out Ralfy’s vlog LINK of this one where he gives more in-depth insights regarding casks, fermenting sherry and palate awareness.

Scores 85 points


Glen Scotia 15yo [2017] Ob. 46% WB83.68[71] WF83 Ralfy92 SW73 Horst

The disparity between reviews shows that this one has divided the room. It would appear that 2015-16 batches were far less superior to batches seen from spring 2017 till now.

Glen Scotia 15

  • N: With its dark pinky/orangey hue, this is a decidedly malty/toffee number, albeit gentle, packed full of tasty plump dried fruits including a whole heap of ripe raisins [think Eccles cakes], apricots and soft citrus-y jams. The spicy biscuit-y & [old man] mustiness is simply the icing on the cake, joined by a complex subtle vanilla & sweet herbal liqueur note. Whichever way it turns, it likes to return to this delightful malty cereal base [Shreddies as well as German pastries], with leathery & mineral overtones. The cask control & balance display is as commendable as the character/smell & taste of the oak, without being blatantly bourbon-y nor sherried in the modern style. Old & split oak fence panelling does it for me.
  • T: Is that rum on arrival? It is rum on the arrival, but that perception doesn’t last long. The arrival warrants a little water to smooth off the edges as the oak is ‘large-ing it’, and just a little prickly/spicy. With a little water there’s a wonderfully rounded, honeyed malty/toffee-d arrival with a firm yet musky oakiness following through. I utterly concur with Ralfy’s dark treacle note. He calls this 15yo “a contemporary masterpiece”. Later I’m getting old liqueured raisins with a complex heathery toasted barley sweetness coupled with a faint herbal/medicinal edge and an oaky char with firm hints at a little peat smoke. Vanilla liqueur becomes more prominent as it opens out with a complex ginger spiciness wrapped up with the oaky/cereal whole. Develops a malty chocolatey side with a malty waxy & dry heathery mouthfeel on the turn. This is quite something. Hard to think of anything currently available that is on par with this, style-wise.
  • F: Again, it’s the taste of the oak character which appeals, just as I picked up the first time I tried this at the beginning of 2017. We’ve more herbal treacle liqueur notes and crystalised ginger with more of that lovely oakiness at the death, the vanilla wafer thin, softened with many years of age. Later, I discover lots more mouthfeel curiosities & subtle finishing action. Distinctively Loch Lomond-y in style.
  • C: I’d not picked up on the six month sherry finish at all. For me it’s predominantly ’oak’ matured, with neither the two main bourbon or sherry camps blatantly featuring – how refreshingly. Tastes like there’s plenty of older casks in here, the whole lot from refills I imagine. No doubt the present cask management and profile therefore will change once this batch is exhausted, so get in their soon with your order if you’re going to. For me, this is one of the most distinctive modern malts i’ve come across in a number of years. I predict it will be Ralfy’s whisky of the year for 2017.

Scores 88 points


Ancnoc 22 banner

3 thoughts on “Bottle polishing: December delights

    1. No idea Chad.

      As you may well know, there is some discussion on tinterweb regarding Springbank’s bottling codes. For example:

      This discussion states:
      “The bottling codes (over the past five years at least) are located on the back of the front label. If you look through the bottle, you will see a handstamp that looks like this: 12 / 142. This is translated as “the 142nd day in 2012.”

      The bottle code for the Glen Scotia 15yo I had is: 17121F, printed on the right side of the front label above the abv. Day 121 of 2107 is May 1st – a Monday.


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