2004 <--- July
- A GOOD TEANINICH TO END THIS MONTH
21 yo 1983/2004 (50.8%, Cadenhead, 96
bottles) Colour: amber.
Nose: quite pungent and spirity at first.
Notes of varnish, shoe polish, freshly
sawn oak. Very bourbonny. Otherwise a
nice freshness. Notes of burnt candy sugar,
fresh herbs (parsley). Hints of tequila.
Not unlike the Rare Malts Teaniniches.
Mouth: punchy, quite bold, on burnt sugar
and caramelised apples. Not overly complex
but most enjoyable. Quite a lot of vanilla
notes. Long finish on caramel and sugar.
Again a very good malt, but lacking a
little definition for my tastes. Serge:
83, Olivier: 83.
- RULE GLEN GARIOCH SESSION
but not just any…
34 yo 1966/2000 (46%, Moon ‘In the
Pink’) A malt Michiel
already poured me in Limburg. Colour:
surprisingly light (straw). Nose: very
minty and medicinal. Camphor, tiger balsam,
eucalyptus. Very fresh. Hints of marzipan,
fresh almond. Very special, very interesting,
and very different. Mouth: fresh and again
these medicinal notes, certainly from
a good shot of heavily peated malt. Quite
some white fruit too, but much less than
last time. Another batch? Hints of hydrocarbons
and stone. Medium long finish, on stony
flavours. Not a total high flyer, but
it still deserves 88 points
on my scale (instead of 87 formerly).
Olivier gives it 89 points.
Garioch 16 yo 1985 (51.9%, OB for The
Whisky Exchange, cask 1585)
Colour: dark amber. Nose: we have a sherry
monster here. Overripe orange, seaweed,
white pepper. Lots of fine wood. This
one is sort of austere, which is quite
amazing for such an heavily sherried malt.
Great elegance, and no trace of some sherry
monsters’ usual lumpiness. Amazing
balance. Mouth: starts a little sugarish,
but it’s soon to develop on all
sorts of overripe fruits, coffee liquor,
Malaga, Madeira… beside the sherry,
no need to say. Some great sweet and sour
notes, like in some Chinese dishes. How
complex! Long finish, on coffee and burnt
cake. Well, I had very few sherry monsters
that were as good as this one, as I particularly
like the latter’s huge complexity.
A work of art. Serge: 92, Olivier:
Garioch 1984 (55%, OB)
Colour: strawish. Nose: big, bold caramelised
peach. Develops on white fruits (apple,
pear), with always a nice freshness. Quite
youthful and elegant. Notes of fresh butter,
wild flowers. Almost no trace of peat
this time. Gets a little soapy. Mouth:
strong and very punchy, but a little sweetish.
Hints of lavender perfume (yes, on the
palate) and rosewater. A little antiquated,
perhaps. Medium finish, on perfumy notes.
Another very good Glen Geerie, even if
this is another style again. It’s
very fragrant and perfumy this time, but
not in the 1990’s Bowmore style.
Who said thank God? Serge 86,
Garioch 1971 (59.6%, Samaroli, 2280 bottles,
sherry, 75cl) Colour:
almost mahogany. Nose: again a sherry
monster, but this time with a big, bold
peat, somehow a la Ardbeg. Haha! Incredibly
rich and complex. But what a nose! Lots
of meaty aromas (grandma’s meatloaf).
Top notch Italian coffee, garden bonfire,
Worcester sauce, tabasco, humus, burnt
tyre a la Port Ellen, brand new tyre…
The list could be endless… And this
beautiful sherry! Triple wow, but will
the mouth stand up to this extraordinary
nose? Mouth: oh yeah! A cathedral, even
better than the nose. I don’t know
where to start… Ok, first you have
all these coffeeish notes: coffee itself,
burnt cake, coffee liquor, dark toffee…
Then you have the peat – but one
of the most subtle and magnificent peat
I ever came accross. Different woods’
smokes, seaweed smoke… And finally
lots of cooked fruits. No need to tell
you which, they’re all in there.
As for the finish, it’s long of
course, but also very complex and subtle,
on ‘smoked’ fruitcake. Bloody
hell, that’s whisky. Okay, okay,
I’ll calm down, sorry, but this
one really turns me on. Ratings? Yes…
Serge: 96, Olivier: 97.
Yes, no less. The Brora 22 yo 1972 Rare
Malts still reigns supreme on my list,
with 97 points, but it could well have
been given the bum’s rush this time…
Garioch 29 yo 1968/1997 (57.7%, OB, cask
#7) Colour: cognac. Nose:
again an absolute beauty. Peat, sherry
and old wood. What a superb combination!
It makes me think of the Auchentoshan
OBs distilled in the sixties – but
not of the Bowmores. Loads of dried herbs
(camomile, tea), trucks of beeswax, tankers
of burnt leaves… The whole being
greatly underlined by one of the most
elegant sherries one has ever tasted.
Well, you get the picture, I guess. The
mouth is, of course, beautiful as well.
Punchy yet balanced, with again a perfect
mixture of sherry and peat, with lots
of liquorice. The perfect balance, really.
And a superb, salty finish! But I guess
you’re fed up with my adulatory
praises, so let’s rush to these
last ratings: Serge 94, Olivier
– THREE ARDMORES
1985/2000 (40%, G&M OB)
Colour: light gold. Nose: lots of peat
right at the start, even if a little subdued.
Beautifully balanced. Hints of pepper
and wood, with a little dried orange.
Most enjoyable nose, a perfect balance
a la Glen Garioch. Mouth: balanced, even
if a little weak. Great peat again, pepper,
orange marmalade. Quite smoky. A very
nice whisky, but I think Ardmore is always
good – far too underestimated! Medium
long finish. Again and again, too bad
they didn’t bottle it at 43 or 46%.
It would have scored at least 3 points
higher. But it’s still got quite
some swing. Serge 84 points, Olivier
1981/1995 (40%, G&M OB)
Colour: light gold. Nose: even better
than the 1985. Subtler, with peat of course,
but also a very nice wood and some tropical
fruit (passion fruit, kiwi). Surprisingly
‘maritime’, not unlike some
great Lochsides. What a subtle nose! Mouth:
again, a little too weak – a shame.
Peat, orange juice, pepper, melon, apple.
Gets quite peppery and woody, in a good
way. Medium long finish. I’d love
to taste this one un-reduced. Again, a
shame, if you ask me. Serge 86,
22 yo 1977/1999 (43%, Signatory, cask
1184) Colour: strawish.
Nose: less expressive than the G&Ms
at first, but quite interesting. Somewhat
fresher and cleaner. Some peat, even if
not too much, mixed with white fruit (apple,
white melon) and milk. A little yeasty.
Develops on lemon peel, lemon grass. Nice
vivacity. Mouth: quite punchy, but lacks
the G&M’s complexity. A little
pepper and quite some tannins. Some peat,
but not many fruits. Not that enjoyable,
just a shadow of the nose. Long, but spirity
finish. A good malt, that’s for
sure, even if not the best Ardmore can
do. Serge: 80, Olivier: 81.
- sixty years ago - a French civilian
pours a British soldier a drink (must
have been cider, probably not whisky).
Seen at an outdoor exhibition at Les Jardins
du Luxembourg, Paris.
– VARIOUS DRAMS
Park 36 yo 1966/2002 (43.2%, Peerless,
cask #4627,174 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: tropical fruit. Bananas,
passion fruit, guava, mango, pineapple.
A little weak but still enjoyable. Little
wood influence. Nice hints of eucalyptus
and mint. Mouth: quite spicy. Clove, nutmeg,
kiwi, passion fruit. Quite a lot of wood.
Long, spicy finish, getting a little dry.
Very fresh for a 36yo. Not a champion
but not bad at all. 86 points
(Davin 88, Olivier 86).
21 yo 1978/1999 (59.2%, Signatory, butt
#1685) Colour: light amber.
Nose: great sherry and wood. Cigar box,
sandal wood, beeswax, rum, dried orange,
molasses, bitter chocolate. Very nice.
Mouth: bold, on Tia Maria liqueur. Lots
of sherry (oloroso), old cardboard, bitter
chocolate. Long finish, very bold, on
some nice woody notes, with a salty feeling
on the tongue’s tip. 85
points (Davin 86, Olivier 84).
10 yo (43%, OB) Colour:
straw. Nose: lots of aniseed. Dill, celery…
really vegetal. Gets then fruitier, with
some pear and apple. Mouth: a little bitter.
Grassy, mesclun salad. Medium and bitter
finish. Not much more to say, let’s
forget this one as quickly as possible.
71 points (Davin 77, Olivier 78).
1982/1995 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s
Choice old map label)
Colour: amber. Nose: sherry and fruit,
with some cooked butter notes and hints
of wood. Mouth: creamish, lightish, sweetish,
toffeeish… You know that song, don’t
you? Medium finish on sherry, getting
dry. Just uninteresting. 75 points
(Davin 76, Olivier 76).
– FOUR CASK SAMPLES FROM GLENGOYNE'S
After having been overshadowed by both
Macallan and Highland Park for years,
Glengoyne changed proprietors since a
few months, and Ian McLeod, the new owners,
put all their PR skills at promoting their
new flagship brand. Glengoyne’s
high quality never was a secret amongst
the Maniacs, and for instance Craig, our
Master from Oz, has always been a standing
groupie. I just got four cask samples
from Glengoyne’s, and called fellow
Maniac Olivier and friend Christophe for
some help. Let’s see whether there
are some true gems among these casks now…
1989 (59.7%, cask sample, cask #1220)
Colour: golden amber. Christophe thinks
it’s beautiful. Nose: elegant sherry,
very fresh and fragrant. Lots of light
flowery notes: dandelion, daisy, buttercup.
Hints of caramelised apple, vanilla, with
whiffs of white pepper and a little nutmeg.
Nice and very elegant indeed. Gets a little
winey but in a good way. Olivier found
some very nice caramel, some apple cooked
in butter, lots of flowers and a little
pepper. Mouth: bold and almost pungent.
Less complex than on the nose. Hot, spicy
and peppery, with tannins. Not unlike
rum. Some vegetables (French beans), getting
quite earthy. Hints of chicory. Olivier
thinks it’s powerful, dry, with
some heavy tannins, spicy, peppery and
very spirity. Not that compelling. Gets
earthy, with hints of turnips. In a nutshell,
the mouth is a little deceptive compared
to the beautiful nose. Finish: long, on
coffee liquor and raw spirit. Ratings:
Serge 84, Olivier 83, Christophe
1989 (57.8%, cask sample, cask #702)
Colour: amber/orange. Nose: stronger sherry
than in the previous puppy. Overripe orange,
tangerine, crystallised kumquat. Develops
on cooked butter and vanilla fudge. Much
less complex a nose than cask 1220’s,
but still very enjoyable. Hints of wood
and sulphur. Christophe found it to be
sherried and sort of dusty, with lots
of dried orange, while Olivier found some
overripe apple, caramel, wood, sherry,
cooked orange and some hints of matchstick
sulphur. Mouth: bold and powerful again,
in the same style as the previous cask.
Just more sherried. Tannins, pepper…
Lots of wood, coffee. Gets a little dusty.
Olivier says it’s strong, classy
sherry with lots of tannins, getting dry,
but nothing really special. The finish
is long, on drying tannins. Ratings: Serge
83, Olivier 82, Christophe 84.
1985 (57.4%, cask sample, cask #1227)
Colour: golden yellow, Christophe likes
it a lot. Nose: very flowery (wild flowers).
Acacia honey, pollen, lime-tree flowers.
Hints of butter, freshly cut cider apple.
Gets more and more flowery, yet it’s
a little less complex than the first sample.
Christophe thinks it’s quite aggressive
but flowery, with lime-tree and fermenting
cider notes. Olivier says it’s quite
neutral right at the start, with just
a little sulphur, developing nicely on
flowers and cider. He finds it to be quite
complex and elegant, in fact. Mouth: rich
and bold, and this time much more complex
than #1 and 2. Lots of fruits, cooked
apples, ripe melon, butterscotch. Notes
of apricot. It’s fruity but in an
austere way, not too easy, and I like
that. Nice freshness. Hints of vanilla
fudge, and even turnip-mash. Really interesting
and multi-dimensional. Less cask influence,
but much more class. Christophe likes
it as well, even if he also gets the turnip
notes ;-). He finds lots of cooked apricot
and toasted bread too, with hints of Muscat
de Beaume de Venise. Olivier thinks it’s
purely superb, complex and rich. He likes
its sweetness, and the fact that there’s
no wood or tannins, but spices and some
nice grainy and vegetal notes. Our ratings
for this great cask, which I hope they’ll
bottle immediately ;-): Serge
90, Olivier 90, Christophe 89.
1985 (53.8%, cask sample, cask #625)
Colour: deep amber, which Christophe,
again, likes a lot. Nose: big sherry,
but in a very special way. Strong rubber,
overcooked coffee, crystallised orange.
Crème brûlée, bitter
chocolate. Notes of Mandarine Imperiale,
and always this ‘funny’ strong
rubbery note. Olivier finds it to be a
sherry monster, with butterscotch, mocha,
dried bananas and rubber. Christophe agrees,
but says it’s rather overripe bananas
than dried ones. We won’t argue.
Mouth: much smoother than the three previous
ones. Lots of sherry and tannins, but
less than in #2. Coffee, spices (clove,
nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper). A very nice
full-sherried malt, with a long, spicy
finish. Olivier thinks it’s beautiful,
very classic, with lots of chocolaty notes.
The mouth is much in line with the nose.
Olivier feels there’s lots of dried
bananas in this one too, and claims it’s
rare to get so much sherry with absolutely
no drying tannins. Christophe finds also
some buttery notes. In short, the sherry
is very strong but not as loathsome as
in many sherry monsters. One would think
it’s much older than it actually
is, but that doesn’t mean it’s
tired at all. Another one which is perfectly
ready for bottling, it appears. Ratings:
Serge 88, Olivier 89, Christophe
90 points - Glengoyne
1985 (57.4%, cask sample, cask #1227)
88 points - Glengoyne
1985 (53.8%, cask sample, cask #625)
84 points - Glengoyne
1989 (59.7%, cask sample, cask #1220)
83 points - Glengoyne
1989 (57.8%, cask sample, cask #702)
So, what’s the conclusion? First,
that all these Glengoynes are nothing
but interesting malts, always far from
being middle-of-the-roadish. Second, that
they seem to need quite a lot of maturing,
but that they get a beautiful complexity
both on the nose and on the palate when
around 20yo. Third, that heavy sherry
can make quite subtle malt, far from some
puff-puff sherry monsters we all know.
And last that these Glengoynes are, above
all, very, very drinkable. Well, that
might be the drawback.
AND MUSIC - After the
beer bottle organ (see June 6), here's
the whisky cask guitar. Im' not joking.
It's made by Fylde
out of washbacks and casks from Talisker,
and I wouldn't say it's the prettiest
guitar I've ever seen. But you know, tastes
and colours... Ideal to play 'Whiskey
in the Jar'? (thanks Paul).
- The new Malt
Maniacs Monitor is on-line,
with 2560+ different malts rated!
- Special Flecktones -
Canadian friend Johanna recently told
me she just enjoyed an amazing concert
Fleck and the Flecktones.
It's true that few jazz bands are as 'special'
as Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. In which
sense? Well, first they play some rather
odd instruments, like the banjo or the
drumitar (a 'drum-guitar'). Second, they
often play on the edge of folk, rock or
even classical music. And third, they
aren't afraid of getting quite innovative.
I must say I like them a lot, especially
because of their 'difference'. But Bela
Fleck is quite famous, so let's rather
focus on his deluxe sidemen.
Coffin is the saxophone player,
and he's got his own, great solo records.
Listen to Get
Up & Dance (mp3), a composition
that makes me think of Carla Bley's writing,
where Coffin gets gets alternatively Parkerian
- alias RoYel - is the drummer, and it's
him who invented the famous drumitar.
Listen to his fantastic playing on the
great AIFF tracks to be found here.
Please note that these aren't mp3s, but
full, high-quality recordings of a recent
Wooten is the bass player,
and is said to be the best since Jaco
Pastorius died. What's sure, is that his
playing is most energetic and very 'technical'.
You can listen to a few sample clips (mp3)
we're at it, I also happened to attend
a great concert by French Jazzman Bernard
Lubat and his Compagnie de
Gasconha while in Brittany last week (see
photo). A master of the accordion, piano,
drums and... scat, Lubat led an operation
of 'cross-fertilisation of deep popular
musics', and happily blended salsa, free
jazz, funk and poetry during this great
show. You can listen to Bernard Lubat's
much more classical, but very good rendition
of Quincy Jones' 'For Lena and Lennie'
(mp3 to download, with Maurice Vander
and Pierre Michelot, recorded in 1984).
- TWO 11 yo CAOL ILAS
Ila 11 yo 1992/2003 (43%, Chieftains,
cask #7240-7243, 1662 bottles)
Nose: fresh, clean and smoky. Some flowery
notes, getting slightly buttery and a
little yeasty. Not overly expressive,
nor complex, but its cleanliness is quite
charming. Mouth: quite sharp and sweet,
with some nice peat. Green apple, a certain
grassiness, and quite a lot of smoke.
Again, not overly complex, just a classic
young Caol Ila with very little wood influence.
Medium-long, grassy and smoky finish.
A good dram if you don’t want to
have to think too hard. 82 points.
11 yo 1992/2003 (46%, Eilan Gilan, bourbon)
A new indie bottler, owned by French Cognac
company Leopold Gourmel. Nose: much in
the same vein, just a little more spirity,
and somewhat more mono-dimensional. Clean
and smoky. Nice. Mouth: much punchier
than the Chieftains, and also a little
less clean. Is that the influence of just
three more degrees? A little burning,
spirity. Pastry, butter, cold coffee.
Lots of smoke of course, but less freshness
than in the Chieftains. Long finish, on
smoke, caramel and pear drops. Again a
good Caol Ila, even if not a winner. Not
unlike a young Springbank. 82
- With more than 2000 sailships, Brest
2004 is said to be the largest
gathering on Earth. Impressive! What was
almost as impressive as that, was the
number of bottles Springbank's Kate Wright,
who was keeping a tiny whisky stand, opened
to pour the thirsty sailors some good
measures of whisky. Conemarra, Ardbeg,
Springbank and Black Bottle were highly
appreciated, and all four seemed to have
kept many sea people warm...
The sea near Pleubian, at 21:30.
- A few days in Brittany, and a good occasion
to visit Celtic
Whisky Compagnie's Martine
and Jean Donnay at their ravishing location
on the sea. Lots of great news considering
their new Glann ar Mor distillery, but
it's not the place, nor the time to talk
about them. Let's rather taste a few of
their very good 'Scotch' bottlings.
1989/2002 Armagnac Finish (43%, Celtique
Connexion, 361 bottles)
Balanced, with a great interplay even
if the Armagnac isn’t really noticeable
as such. A very good malt, with a little
extra-depth. The ‘base’ malt
sure was quite good before it's been re-racked.
1990/2003 Sauternes Finish (43%, Celtique
Connexion, 235 bottles)
Sauternes maturing pioneer Jean thinks
this one should have been bottled at 46%,
but I think it works as it is. Less ‘sweetish’
than the Glenmorangie Sauternes Finish,
and somewhat cleaner than a previous version
we had for the Malt Maniacs Awards 2003.
1989/2002 Jura Vin de Paille Finish (43%,
Celtique Connexion, 383 bottles)
Lots of herbal tea notes, plus some dried
tropical fruit (guava, pineapple). Quite
special. Again, Jean proves to be really
skilled at stopping the second maturation
at the right moment, to keep as much ‘whisky’
character as possible, rather than letting
the wine overwhelm the spirit. An interesting
double matured malt. 82 points.
1993/2003 (43%, The Spirit Safe, 374 bottles)
Youthful, with some interesting notes
of old rose, lavender and violet. Very
flowery, even a little Linkwoodish. Great
freshness, with little wood influence.
1990/2002 (43%, OB) Knockando
is very big in France, and it’s
always been seen as a good lift from the
high-end blends to the single malt whiskies.
Let’s taste this version now…
Colour: dark straw. Nose: light, fresh
and grassy. Aniseed, dill, celery. Hints
of soy sauce, Worcester sauce, sour cherries.
Some vanilla. Really light but quite enjoyable.
Mouth: balanced, sweet and rounded. Grainy
and nutty. Notes of caramel, fudge, cake.
Medium finish, on caramel. In short, sure
it’s a little MOTR, but it’s
a good introduction to the single malts
indeed, that deserves no less than 80
points on my scale.
- Just saw this T-shirt.
A brand new perspective on water and whisky?
Teaser: Deviant, being abnormal is
natural to me.
Marra is another great Scottish
singer. His new CD, strangely named 'Posted
Sober', is really excellent, and makes
you wonder why Marra isn't more famous
abroad. Well, I hope he's famous in Scotland,
at least! Here's a very nice sample
clip (short mp3). Nice voice, eh?
And thanks for this new tip, Nick!
Nevis 10 yo 1992/2002 (55,2%, OB, cask
#2613, 587 bottles) This
version ought to be sold at the distillery
only, but I wouldn’t be surprised
if a regular cask strength version hits
the shelves one day or another, as C/S
malts seem to be quite trendy these days.
Let’s taste this one now. Colour:
golden amber. Nose: fresh and quite subtle.
Lots of caramel and toffee, fruits…
Not overpowering and rather elegant, even
if not overly complex. Mouth: bold, yet
nicely balanced. Some liquorice. Gets
a little sugarish. Sherry, fruit salad,
cooked apple, cake. Long finish, getting
a little peppery. Again, not overly complex,
but highly enjoyable for just £35.
87 points (Olivier 88).
NAS ‘Robert Burns’ (40%, OB)
A special release, paying tribute to Robert
Burns, who’s birthplace isn’t
very far from Arran, although on the mainland.
Colour: white wine. Nose: very spirity
(pear drops), with some ‘caramelised’
peat. A little grainy, getting even grassy.
Mouth: pear eau de vie. Quite fruity!
Some woody notes but not too many. Quite
nutty. Rather long finish, getting peppery.
A good, clean and simple whisky.
78 points (Davin 74, Olivier 74).
- She's Galician (Spanish),
hence Celtic, and she's playing the bagpipe.
I guess the camparison with the Islay
Pipe Band stops here ;-). Susana
Seivane's compositions and
playing are both quite modern, and most
interesting. Kind of a mixture of Hermeto
Pascoal, Goran Bregovic and Jim Motherwell.
Have a listen to Começo
Do Verâo (mp3, downloadable)
and make up your mind yourself. Interesting,
I told you...
Correns, a beautiful village in Provence
from three days in Provence. Hot and sunny,
(very) few whiskies, some very good wine
(Commanderie de Peyrassol cuvée
Marie-Estelle) and the greatest hotel
- restaurant I've been to since le Jardin
des Sens in Montpellier, four years ago.
The place is called 'l'Auberge
du Parc' and it's in Correns,
not very far from Saint Tropez. Fabulous
is the only word I can come up with. Don't
miss it if you ever want to avoid the
overcrowded French Riviera, and go to
Green Provence, the beautiful arrière-pays.
And oh, don't forget to ask for the Menu
à la truffe, if you like truffles.
giant insect? No, it's just a machine
they use to treat the vines. Not very
romantic, I'm afraid...
- TWO RATHER MUNDANE AUCHENTOSHANS
NAS ‘Select’ (40%, OB)
Colour: light straw. Nose: very grainy.
Light and somewhat fragrant (eau de Cologne).
No fruity notes that I can smell except,
perhaps, a little pear. Mouth: smooth
and slightly sugary. Notes of wood. Medium,
grainy finish. We really are in blend
territory here, but some blends are better
than this one. 69 points (Davin
76, Olivier 78).
NAS ‘Three Wood’ (43%, OB)
A love it or hate it malt, it appears
when reading most maniacs’ prose.
Colour: caramel. Nose: sherry. Notes of
cheap rum. Kind of a weakness that makes
you sniff deeper and deeper… Somewhat
buttery, with some hints of raisins and
rancio. Mouth: starts correctly but it’s
soon to become quite bitter, perhaps due
to the heavy wood treatment. You feel
like if they did let infuse a lot of things
into the casks (mostly raisins). Medium
finish, on sherried notes. Nod as bad
as I thought, in fact. Even drinkable!
;-). But it’s a designer’s
whisky, that’s for sure. 78
points (Davin 79, Olivier 80).
a bottle I just bought in Italy. Although
I already had another cask of this Lagavulin
'Moon Import' series, I couldn't help
tasting this 'new' one a.s.a.p. Yes, another
case of sudden maltmania...
1988/2000 (46%, Moon ‘in the pink’,
cask #2028, 340 bottles)
Nose: extremely special, like no Lagavulin
I know. Big, bold liquorice and lots of
smoke, but with almost no maritime notes.
Develops on coffee, old rum and, most
strangely, broccoli. Really, really special.
Gets then grassier and grassier: fern,
dill, wild carrot… Mouth: bold and
powerful, on peat, liquorice stick, cooked
fruit, burnt cake. Very good, even if
again, not like any other south shore
Islayer I know. Very, very long finish,
on heavy ‘Dutch’ liquorice,
with a lot of salt. Special and superb,
a great variant. 90 points (Olivier
- Easy tunes for an easy summer... Take
a young Rosebank (don't be afraid to add
an ice cube) or prepare a margarita, take
your favourite book, relax... and listen
to any of these three nice songs (pictures
from left to right): 'Just
the two of us' by Sara
Bom' by Emilie
Claire Barlow or 'I've
got completely lost in you'
Suchankova. All songs do have a Brazilian
feeling, none aims at the Jazz Top 50
of all times, but all are quite enjoyable.
- TWO 12 yo PULTNENEYS
Pulteney 12 yo (40%, OB, >2000)
Nose: very fresh, even if less robust
than what they claim on the label. Very
vegetal (dill, fern, celery). Gets then
a little grainy. Notes of cold coffee.
Mouth: a little dusty at first, but nicely
balanced. Some spices and some hints of
sherry and caramel. Well, this batch is
far from being ‘coastal’ again,
but it’s quite enjoyable, that’s
for sure! Medium but balanced finish.
80 points (Olivier 80).
12 yo 1990/2002 (55.6%, Hart Bros)
Nose: fresh and pungent. Sharp notes of
fresh tangerine, lemon peel, ti punch,
tequila. Develops on beautiful fresh fruits
like strawberry or kiwi. Some grainy notes
do arise them, but nothing vulgar here.
Very, very nice nose. Mouth: very strong
and powerful. Eau de Cologne, rose water,
smoke, wood… Quite complex but pure.
Notes of Kalhua. With water, develops
on butter, cream, caramel creme. Very
interesting. Long and bold finish. 86
points (Olivier 88 points).
- Some friends told me I really don’t
talk about motorcycles as much as expected
on whiskyfun.com. Yes, right… the
Ducati Scrambler road test is still to
be done. The bike’s in my garage,
but it’s not running properly yet.
So, okay, here’s a picture taken
during a recent international mountain
climbing race at Le Gaschney. No, I didn’t
participate, but I was part of the few
bikes that were opening the road. Some
say that the Harleys are fat, slow and
‘lumpish’. Yeah, right, most
Harleys are fat, slow and lumpish. But
when properly ridden, they can be quite
quick in the curves. Hey, my Ducati friends,
I said ‘quite’ quick! Details:
Harley Davidson 1340 Road King, 1994,
with various engine improvements.
- SEVEN MORTLACHS TASTED
10 yo 1994 (43%, James Mac Arthur)
Nose: caramel and coffee. Gets very grainy
and a little milky. Notes of burnt cake…
Not much else. Mouth: a little weak, on
plank. Gets sugarish and quite dull. Not
a total swill, but no interest whatsoever.
Medium, dusty finish. 76 points
10 yo (43%, Scottish Wildlife)
Nose: feinty, on grain, yeast, hot milk.
Quite spirity, getting more and more grainy.
Very little wood influence. Sort of enjoyable.
Mouth: spirity and a little simple, on
grainy notes and on porridge. Medium finish,
on muesli. Not bad. 77 points
12 yo 1988 (43%, Signatory, butt #2636,
930 bottles?) Nose: same
style of whisky, with just much more sherry.
Wood, dried orange, beer. A little yeasty
(sweet and sour). Quite nice, in fact.
Mouth: nice balance, a little Macallanish.
Great sherry, fudge, coffee, with a nice
lightness. A very good all-rounder, with
a long finish. 85 points (Olivier
14 yo 1988/2003 (43%, Signatory, sherry
butt #4724) Nose: very
creamy and buttery. Nice notes of sherry.
Some grassy notes as well (hay). Develops
on some great tropical fruits (passion
fruit). Very nice dark tobacco (Toscani
extra-vecchi). Really rich andd complex.
Mouth; great balance. Nice sherry, with
a lot of complexity. All sorts of dried
fruits with a whiff of smoke. Brilliant
finish on fruits and refined wood. And
what a great nose! 88 points (Olivier
12 yo 1990/2003 (46%, Hart Bros, sherry
cask, dist May 1990) Nose:
much more discrete at first, but develops
nicely on herbs and cold coffee. Some
sulphur. Hints of Havana tobacco, old
books. Very nice. Mouth: great sherry,
very elegant. Dried plum, white pepper
or even chilli growing really strong after
a while. Very nice wood. Very interesting!
Highly recommended… 89 points
1989/2002 (59.4%, Blackadder Raw Cask,
sherry butt #5149) Nose:
very powerful and spirity. Notes of strong
rum… Extremely pungent! Not unlike
the Austrian Stroh Rum (80% ABV, that’s
true). Lots of raisin, milk chocolate.
Good, even if quite extreme. Mouth: extremely
strong. One can feel it’s good whisky,
but it’s just undrinkable like that.
With a little water, it becomes more drinkable
of course, but also even heavier regarding
the flavours. How strange! Anyway, quite
a beast… Difficult to come up with
a rating…Let’s say 85
points (Olivier 86).
13 yo 1990/2003 (58.6%, SMWS)
Nose: dark chocolate and dried orange…
great, great sherry. Perfect balance,
very, very classy, even if it’s
a little strong, obviously. Great dust
(yeah, strange but I like that), raisins,
coffee. Great. Mouth: great, with a lot
of vivacity, which is great for such an
heavily sherried malt. In the same league
as the Macallan cask strength, or even
a little better. Very creamy, in fact.
Notes of old rum, and even great old armagnac.
Long finish, on some interesting grassy
notes. 89 points (Olivier 89).
- THREE GREATLY GREAT LINKWOODS
a Linkwood's good, it's really good would
have said Mr de Lapalisse. These three
expressions won't change his/our mind,
even if the usual aroma of 'old rose'
isn't always very present this time...
12 yo 1990/2003 (46%, Hart Bros, sherry
cask) Nose: nice balance
wood/sherry. Caramel, praline ice cream,
overripe melon, apricot and fresh walnut.
Nice nose. Mouth: nicely balanced, extremely
creamy, on great sherry and roasted peanuts.
Caramel ice cream. Gets a little hot,
but in a great way. Gets bolder and bolder,
to the point that some bitterness from
the wood is soon to appear. What a cask!
Gets just a little too dry. A great Linkwood,
even if the usual floral notes aren’t
there this time. 88 points (Olivier
12 yo 1989/2002 (59.2%, Blackadder Raw
Cask, c. #5624) Nose:
again very strong, on old rum and old
walnut skin. Very strong sherry. Irish
coffee. Some flowery notes (violet, lavender).
Nice nose, even if not overly complex.
Mouthfeel: bold and rich. Creamy but less
than the one we had just before. A great
sherry cask for sure, although not too
complex. The alcohol burns the tongue.
Gets a little sourish. Let’s try
it with a drop of water: it doesn’t
get especially more complex. Too bad.
But it’s a nice heavily sherried
Linkwood, that’s for sure, with
a long, bold, and slightly phenolic finish.
85 points (Olivier 86).
27 yo 1975 (50.3%, SMWS, 39.40)
Nose: like an old Sauternes. Extremely
‘precious’ and refined. A
little antiquated but that’s great.
Lots of honey, ancient rose, quince jelly.
Apricot jam, dried banana. Develops on
superb wood that underlines the whole.
Brilliant nose, that will please any sweet
wine aficionado. Mouth : extraordinary.
Very rich and complex, not unbalanced
in any way considering its age. Dried
longan or litchi. Lots of ‘wooden’
spices too. Quince jam and white pepper,
with bitter chocolate. Really great. 91
points (Olivier 91).
Maniacs #10 is online! A
great issue, I can tell you...
- I had forgotten how
Gibbons' one and only CD,
'Out Of Season', impressed me when it
was out in 2002. And now I just found
out that Amazon lets you download my favourite
tune for free! Quick, download 'Tom
The Model' (free mp3 on this page),
enjoy the great Portishead singer's magnificent
voice, and then buy the CD, if you didn't
- If, by any chance, you're
a hardcore Springbank collector, these
two unknown (yet) 25 and 30 yo Springbanks
'books' have been found in Taiwan. Any
information about these two versions would
be very welcome. Please drop me a line
(remove 'nospam') if you've got any precisions.
- NO THEME SESSION #1 of 2
Moray 12 yo (40%, OB, wine mellowed -
chenin) Colour: straw.
Nose: grassy and honeyed, getting feinty
and buttery. Develops on sweetish notes.
Mouth: quite weak, on grass and liquorice.
Short finish. Well… hard to imagine
both Glen Moray and Ardbeg do belong to
the same group, and that Stuart Thompson
was at Glen Moray before he went to Islay’s
south shore to succeed so brilliantly.
72 points (Davin 72, Olivier 72)
16 yo (40%, OB, mellowed in wine barrels
- chenin) Not much to
say. Sweetish and mellow, with notes of
toasted wood. Short, quite weak finish.
72 points (Davin 74, Olivier 73)
11 yo 1989/2001 (43%, Signatory, butt
#920260) Colour: white
wine. Nose: hot milk, feints, yeast, bread,
and crab apple. Hints of almond milk.
Not very mature, certainly thanks to an
x-fill cask. Mouth: dusty, a little spirity,
very close to a new make. Another one
to drink chilled like vodka! Hints of
old wood… Medium finish on sourish
and yeasty notes. 74 points (Davin
73, Olivier 74).
1980 ‘Distiller’s Edition’
(43%, OB) Colour: amber.
Nose: very light, on fresh orange juice
and muesli. Mouth: light but balanced,
getting a little woody. Some sourish woody
notes, plus some melon and some apple.
Quite enjoyable but a little weak, and
with a rather short finish. An okay malt.
79 points (Davin 78, Olivier 76).
yo 1978 (50%, DL Old Malt Cask)
We’re very curious now, as we already
had some very good old Banffs (and some
bad ones as well). Colour: strawish. Nose:
surprisingly smoky and peaty. The peat
is even developing, which makes this Banff
smell like a Talisker or a nice Brora.
Wow! Some grassy, farmy notes (happens
in Brora too), and hints of seaweed. Excellent
surprise! Mouth: great, peaty and peppery
malt. Great sweet notes of cooked apple,
heather and melon. Long, splendid finish.
Olivier says ‘This one has been
bottled at perfect age’ He’s
right, as always. And as Dave Broom would
write: ‘Can we have some more?’
92 points (Davin 90, Olivier 92).
25 yo 1974/2001 (46.9%, OB, c #15230)
Colour: dark straw. Nose: burnt cake,
lots of sherry as well as some smoke.
Crystallised orange, bitter chocolate.
Gets a little woody and dry. Some sour
notes, but nice ones. Mouth: nicely balanced,
on milk chocolate, oranges, cream (Bailey’s)
and curaçao. Long finish mainly
on dried orange. Very good Balvenie! 88
points (Davin 82, Olivier 83).
yo 1981/2001 (43%, Signatory, cask #576,
380 bottles). Colour:
white wine. Nose: light, grassy, smells
like plastic. Very weak nose, alas. Not
the Brora I know, in any case. Mouth:
grassy and sugary. The worst Brora I ever
had, as long as I can remember. What a
disappointment! Medium, lactic finish.
Too bad! 72 points (Davin 71,
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