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The reader’s flight: a mystery whisky tasting session


I’m introducing a new series of articles (“again!” I hear you say… Yes, again.) today called “the reader’s flight” – the idea came a few weeks back after a kind & pretty generous reader (& French fellow whisky enthusiast) contacted me to ask if he could send me some samples – no swap or anything – just pure kindness (which is rare enough those days to be highlighted!). Of course I gladly agreed (who would say no to whisky samples anyway?) at the only condition that it had to be a surprise package (Didn’t feel like picking out drams myself in someone else’s collection – especially if I don’t know this someone at all…).

A few days later, a package containing 4 surprise drams made its way to Toulouse – and after having to deal with my cat trying to upstage this liquid delivery by doing all sorts of acrobatics to fit in the cardboard box (she often doesn’t realise how fat fluffy she is) – I disclosed 4 interesting expressions that I’m more than happy to review below (Already had the pleasure to sample a couple of those before but never reviewed them here – a perfect occasion then).

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Aberlour 14 years old – 48%

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Nose: Summer breeze! A delight of floral notes, herbal honey, cooked red berries, buttery vanilla, banana, raisins, marzipan, brioche, toffee and… as weird and not-that-yummy as it may sound… Sun lotion notes.

Palate: A warm and vibrant Speyside beast with hot spices and earthy notes, chili, black pepper, cloves, dried fruits, plums, raisins, dates, roasted walnuts and oak.

Finish: Lingering and spicy with citrusy notes

Recommended Food Pairing: Bacon, butternut & mature cheddar muffins will do just great!


Clynelish 15 years old – Cask Strength – Gordon & Macphail 58%

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Nose: Rather frank with medicinal, fruity and herbal notes. Jasmin, licorice, apricots, malt, brown sugar, charred oak, burnt caramel, ginger bread and toasted marshmallows.

Palate: The palate brings all its promises and the nose doesn’t lie – all the aromas I caught up previously actually show on the palate – which is worth noting as it barely ever happen (at least with me). Also some chocolate, black pepper and fruity background. With its 58% ABV, this expression is definitely not for the faint-hearted, I quite liked its character so didn’t put any water to smooth it up but you probably should consider doing so ūüėČ

Finish: Lingering with old leather and spicy notes.

Recommended Food Pairing: Toasts of mature Comté and figs chutney


Lagavulin 1998 – 2014 – 43%

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Nose: I hate saying this because it always brings up a stupid gender issue but this nose is a man affair! Sugary peat, old leather, ripe berries, raw coffee grounds, burnt oak, sweet charcoal (I know, there’s nothing as sweet charcoal in real life… but trust me it would smell like this lagavulin if there was) – Overall, a subtle, elegant and manly nose also showing some medicinal hints with cough syrup, herbal notes, tobacco and butterscotch.

Palate: Full-bodied, Oaky, spicy, sweet, smoky, salty and rather fresh. Easy to drink but still lively on the palate with caramel, cinammon, christmas spices, sweet sherry, molasses, roasted pecan nuts and toasted wood.

Finish: a warm spicy caress.

Recommended Food Pairing: Pecan pie for sure!


Ardgeb Uigedeail

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Nose: intense with an incredible depth of flavors. Of course, smoke and peat shows frankly  with more subtle aromas of leather, dates, honey, sherry and creamy mint.

Palate: Impressive, mellow, round, silky and complex. A real “wow” effect as soon as the liquid flows over the palate. A truly flamboyant nectar with pleasant notes of peat (obvious…), smoked bacon and oven-cooked fruit pudding. In my personal whisky cabinet, this expression have now been renamed “love at first sip“. A killer. Intense but balanced.

Finish: trust me the delight doesn’t stop so easily

Recommended food pairing: Time for an oven-cooked roasted pork with honey