There’s nothing that links these three random whiskies [and one rum], apart from, they were around and I wanted to taste them. Let’s do just that.
The only contact I’ve had with Smogen was in 2014 when Hasse Peters insisted I try a sample from his private cask #1, straight after an astounding Karuizawa pair at TWE Show – for £10! Them were the days. I was further astounded by the Smogen. It was as good as I had read, mostly from Serge. Whatever happened to Hasse?
- N: Similar to [the neck pour of] Springbank’s 12yo CS in the creamy phenol stakes [report to follow], though in this case, it’s creaminess over phenols. Also like the Springbank, there’s a rubbery boing, though it’s softer and sweeter here with a peaty > slightly fishy [tinned tuna] vibe. Further descriptors include linseed oils, [Serge] dark beers, Demerara sugars, Vitam-R, fennel seeds,… plenty here.
- T: Rubbery/hammy but not quite a sherry syrup rubberiness, more a toasted/charred winey character followed by a plastic-y film-like mouthfeel. It doesn’t sing freely but settles well, the developing mouthfeel becoming even more ‘interesting’ – think congealed white wine, chalk and U-hu glue with one drop of paraffin. The now sweetish yeasty-ish woody-ish winey gluey mouthfeel remains, as does thickening runny glue and chocolatey winey smoky stuff.
- F: Settles and sits. I can’t decipher the spirit from the cask, the char from the toasting, nor the wood from the previous contents let alone the yeast or the grain variety – though it all adds up. Plastic-y rubber remains, however.
- C: A unique offering with standards high. With thanks to Phil.
Scores 85 points
As rare as a unicorn sighting: an open bottle of Chichibu [and Daftmill]! I found last year’s  London Edition rather good [WLP86]. Going for over £1000 at auction just a few weeks ago, let’s see what all the fuss is about over this 2020 Edition.
Thedramble tells us ‘The release consists of a vatting of seven casks – ex-bourbon barrels, refill ex-peated casks and casks which have had their heads replaced with Japanese mizunara oak. Whilst not possessing an age statement, the liquid is noted as being between 6 to 8 years of age’. I tried this without knowing any of that.
- N: Neat, seemingly barley-led [the tasty cask influence cleverly restrained], creamy > citrus < maltiness with top notes of pawpaw, rose apple, and > coffee-d walnut/pistachio husky > spelt sponge – and just a hint of Springbank-esque farminess.
- T: That’s an exquisite entry. With absolutely no need for water [much like last years Edition], though there’s nothing lost by diluting], we’ve an unctuous buttery chewy slightly salty mouthfeel to start with a rich enduring barley-led form. The huskiness on the nose is followed up by some mild dark fruit cough sweets and a very well tempered resinous freshness, though it’s always the [again, slightly farmy] barley that speaks over the cask, the cask influence appearing at the top back of the palate. Sweet caramel-y chocolate beer > stout on the turn.
- F: With just the right amount of light saltiness and grassy cask-y Caramac=caramel, that barley-sweet unctuous body doesn’t stop giving. At the death, After Eight Mints [is all I noted], before ending on clean buttery wort.
- C: Exquisite maturing whisky. Certainly a mark higher on last years. Perhaps even at £80 [dreaming], I’d want a bottle in the cupboard.
Scores 87 points
- N: Apple-y mango petrol < rum = calvados-like, grass cuttings, clairins vibes, mango,…..
- T: Similar to the nose with apple rum/petrol/calvados strudel and caramel brittle. Fantastic yes yes yes! Crazy, really crazy, good crazy!! Even my favourite 2006 Vale Royal [WLP90] seems subdued by comparison.
- F: Custard petrol rum calvados.
- C: Rampur was mentioned in passing, but really, this is like everything & yet nothing I’ve quite tried before. We try Mhoba’s ‘white’ rum [WLP84] besides which seems so tame by comparison, yet the family DNA is all there. Scores highly [as high as 89?], yet I reckon others would mark it around 70.
Let’s say around 87 points [with a full bottle report to follow].
George T Stagg 2004/2019 15yo Ob. 58.45% [750ml] WB90.82
Following on from SWAG’s Uncle Nearest tasting which including a 70.1% Elijah Craig [WLP], I was duly prompted to try this the following day. I’ve only tried four Antique Collection GT releases and all scored between 89 and 91, though I’d noted a slight fall, score-wise, across the range since the mid-2010s.
- N: Not dissimilar to the Elijah Craig in that it’s an in-your-face oak & abv-monster – ‘hut hut hut’ – the abv seemingly similar to the EJ at 70.1%, though we are far from it, relatively. Descriptors-wise, let’s add shortbread, custard pastries and some berry action… but being so woody and abv-formidable, this is a tough spirit to permeate. As a result, there’s not a great deal here for me on the nose [at this stage, with only one sample to play with], though there’s more of a herbal top-note later [sage, mint] as well as yeast extract, yeast flakes, leather and dried parsley. George T has consistently been a treasure hunter’s dream.
- T: The immediate and concentrated melting/oozing arrival is unexpectedly welcome. Then comes the spice and pepper which I’m determined to get past. Moreish biscuity subtle buttery sugary delights await, but there’s not a great deal of complexity besides, and it’s consistently cutting on the turn.
- F: After that, a pleasingly gentile sweet lactose almost marshmallow development on the finish leads to the illusion that one has devoured a sickly-sweet Angel Delight, though more importantly, there’s also a sour~salty~bitter underbelly which will more-than-tickle many a palate.
- C: Yummy whisky, worth every rrp penny.
Scores 88 [at the most], but boy, you may have to work for it.