2004 <--- May
– NO COMMENT
beer 1990 ad. No comment.
– WORLD DRAMS TO PREPARE FOR ISLAY
– PART IV
Time to go back to Europe now, before
we have a final pre-Islay session tomorrow.
I’ve got two interesting British
samples, and a Bavarian malt I never tasted
before. But let’s start with…
From England: Somerset
Royal Cider Brandy 3 yo (42%, OB)
Cider Brandy had not been officially distilled
in England for several hundred years until
the mid 1980's. In the autumn, vintage
cider apples, with wonderful names like
Dabinett, Kingston Black, Stoke Red, Yarlington
Mill and Harry Masters, are gathered,
blended, pressed and the juice is then
fermented in huge oak vats. After three
months the cider is distilled and clear
spirit is trickled into either Sherry,
or new Hungarian or French oak barrels.
Let’s taste the result… Colour:
light amber. First nosing: just like cider.
Much fresher and lighter than a Calvados.
Overripe apple, grass, sweet and sour
notes. Nice but really lacks complexity,
especially when compared to a Calvados.
Gets quite woody after a while (plank).
Mouthfeel: very balanced, a little spirity.
A lot of cider and apple of course. Gets
quickly quite bitter, and very woody.
A lot of tannins invade your mouth, making
the whole quite ‘sticky’.
Really rough, a genuine farmer’s
product. I guess the very young Calvados
taste like this one, but they never sell
Calvados that young. I think the Normans
have their reasons… Okay, 60
points for this English young
From Scotland: Blackwood’s
Dry Gin (40%, OB) This
one comes from the brand new Blackwood
distillery, on the Shetland Islands. It’s
made with angelica roots, wild water mint,
sea pink flowers, juniper berries, dried
lemon, orange peels, cassia bark, liquorice
root, ground nutmeg, cinnamon bark, orrisroot
and coriander seeds. Well, I guess all
those don’t grow on the island,
but that’s an impressive list anyhow.
Let’s taste it… Colour: surprisingly
pale green, almost white. Beautiful colour!
First nosing: eh? Gin tonic? Yes, like
a regular gin in which they’d already
have poured some ginger ale… Very
clean and fresh, most enjoyable, even
if not utterly complex. A little eau de
Cologne as well, but I can smell that
in all gins. Quite a lot of plants emerge
after a while… Makes me also think
of green Chartreuse or Bénédictine.
Or even Jägermeister. But much fresher,
that is. Moutfeel: eh??? Martini Dry?
Yes, this time, it’s like if they’d
already poured some dry vermouth into
some gin! Perhaps they could just add
a few olives into each bottle. Well, that
makes sense, I guess some of the herbs
they use are the same as the ones the
Italians put into their vermouths. Anyway,
it’s very good… I could sip
this on ice all day long in summer. Medium
finish, on some nice dry bitter notes.
Well, very impressive attempt! I can’t
wait to taste their single malt, to be
launched in… ten years or so. Yes,
patience. Okay, 80 points
for this very, very good gin, which much
better that any Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater
From Germany: Slyrs
1999/2002 (43%, OB) I’ve
heard good things about this new Bavarian
single malt. They only use malted barley,
smoked with beech. It’s distilled
twice in a 450 litres pot still, and then
aged in some new American oak casks exclusively.
It’s already got a nice dark straw
colour, despite its young age. At first
nosing, it’s very fruity and seems
to be quite complex. It smells like something
between a good Irish and a Lowlander.
Fruits (a lot of melon) flowers (lavender,
heather,) and roots (gentian, liquorice,
wild carrots). Very delicate wood, with
quite a lot of vanilla and cream (vanilla
fudge). Wow, what a great nose! Mouthfeel:
again, very nicely balanced, and quite
bold but not rough at all. Lots of fresh
wood (vanilla, tannins), butter, roots,
liquorice stick… Much less fruity
than the nose, but still very good. I
guess it would have been better with a
few more years, but it’s perfectly
done for such a young age. Long and bold
finish, on some nice woody notes. Wow!
I guess it’s the best non-Scottish
or Irish or Japanese Single Malt whisky
I ever had, and I guess it deserves no
less than 83 points.
Very good, and congrats Herr Florian Stetter!
– WORLD DRAMS TO PREPARE FOR ISLAY
– PART III
Let’s go on with our world tour,
and go to Japan, China and California
From Japan: Suntory
Royal (43%, OB) According
to Suntory, this is one of the finest
blended whiskies in Japan. It’s
entirely matured in some bourbon casks.
Its colour is dark straw, and it’s
quite weak at first nosing. Lots of odd
aromas: parsley, dill, rotten orange,
old wood, cardboard, dried Chinese mushrooms,
fresh pepper… and yes, soy sauce.
Is that self-suggestion? Let’s check
the palate now: the first mouthfeel is
weak and watery. Again some weird tastes:
fruit spirit, cheap Cognac, old wood,
burnt cake… Unlike any decent whisky
I know. Gets grassy and sour towards the
end. Short finish, on some bitter notes.
Wow, and that was meant to be ‘royal’?
No kidding… 35 points.
the USA: St.
George Single Malt (OB, California, lot
#3) This one’s made
in California with a sixty litres Alsatian
still. That means they use more or less
the same still as the one I use myself
every year! As for the wood treatment,
and according to St. George, used Bourbon
casks make up the majority of the program.
They allow the spirit to breathe without
imparting any overwhelming oak characteristics.
French oak casks are used to give a layer
of soft vanilla and to enhance mouth feel,
and port casks to accentuate the cocoa
on the palate. Let’s try it now…
Colour: straw. First nosing: very fruity.
Then develops on perfumy notes (old rose,
lavender) and Muscat. Very refined, almost
feminine. Hints of fresh orange juice
and kiwi, the whole being underlined with
some burnt wood notes. Quite enjoyable,
even if much closer to a fruit eau de
vie than to a whisky. Mouthfeel: fresh
and fruity. Develops on orange and litchi,
with some milk chocolate and finally some
blackberry. Quite short finish, on a mix
of toasted bread and fresh fruit. Yes,
very enjoyable, even if again, I wouldn’t
say it tastes like a single malt whisky
at all. 75 points
(Longan liquor, OB) According
to fellow malt maniac Ho-cheng, from Taiwan,
that means ‘Red Star King’s
Liquor’, and it’s a very famous
and popular liquor. It’s a bottle
I brought back from China a few years
ago. The base ingredients are wheat and
sorghum, and then it’s flavoured
with Longans, a fruit which is quite close
to litchi, but which is even fruitier.
Let’s taste it! Its colour is plain
white, and I guess it hasn’t been
matured at all. First nosing: extremely
fruity and really weird. Longan of course,
but rather dried ones – or almost
rotten. Extremely aromatic, the fruit
even masks the alcohol. Sort of perverse,
whatever that means. Mouthfeel: ouch!
Mixture of alcohol and fruit – yes
it’s a maceration. A lot of sour
off-beat notes, that make it difficult
o drink. I’ll stop it right now,
last time I remember I still had a sourish
feeling even after I brushed my teeth
two times. Very difficult to come up with
a fair rating, especially because the
Houng-Shin-Yu-Chou may well not have being
made for occidental palates…
young new singer I like a lot is Rachael
Yamagata. Yes, being pretty
doesn't obligatorily lead to some spineless
pap... Her creative singing makes me think
of a blend of Fiona Apple, Lisa Germano,
and even Sarah MacLachlan. Nice pedigree,
eh? Even better than her CDs, her quite
recent show on KCRW.
Check the April 19, 2004 entry on 'Morning
Becomes Eclectic' (very good real audio
– WORLD DRAMS TO PREPARE FOR ISLAY
– PART II
to go on with our ‘international’
tasting session. After Brazil, Israel
and Ukraine, let’s focus a little
more on Eastern Europe and the ex-USSR…
Brandy 7 yo (40%, OB)
Elaborated not far from Tbilissi, this
brandy (some still call that a Cognac)
is made out of various grape varieties.
It’s aged for seven years in some
oak casks. The colour is curiously orange,
which just can’t be 100% natural.
At first nosing, it’s much closer
to a grappa than to a Cognac, which might
prove that the wood had little influence.
Big, bold muscated notes. Cooked butter,
pear, cider apples, and finally a little
wood and some brunt cake notes. Much fruitier
and less mature than a Cognac, that’s
for sure. Mouthfeel: mellow and sweet.
Branntwein, sugar, fruit cake, wood chips,
caramel, and a litte blackcurrant. Medium
finish, mainly on some sugary notes. In
short, it’s not that bad, and I
know some cheap Cognacs that aren’t
really better than this Georgian ersatz.
But I guess the nomenklatura had some
better ones, especially some from Crimea.
Brandy 10 yo (42%, OB)
This one’s made in Yerevan, and
it seems that it’s got quite a reputation,
despite the fact that Armenians only make
some brandy since 1937. The company is
owned by Pernod-Ricard. This one’s
colour is really ‘Cognac’.
The nose is also much closer to a good
three-star Cognac. Quite winey, with some
nice notes of wood and vanilla. Still
a little rough and dirty. Gets even a
little dusty after a while… And
perhaps some nutty notes as well. The
first mouthfeel is very balanced. Really
close to a ‘simple’ Cognac.
Lots of wine, raisin, vanilla, cream.
Looses a little consistency and balance
after a while, and gets a little spirity,
with some ‘dirty old wood’
notes. Medium finish, getting a little
sour and dusty. This one’s much
better that its Georgian counterpart,
but it still can’t be the one the
apparatchiks were sipping. Too bad I has
no Crimean brandy to taste right now…
Anyway, 65 points for
From Hungary: Vilmos
Pear Brandy (38%, OB)
It’s made out a pear nicely named
‘Flesh of Conference’. It’s
said to be white and crumbly, rich in
juice, sweet smelling, sweetish-sour and
muscaty. Let’s check whether the
spirit has the same characteristics now.
Colour: plain white. If it’s aged,
it’s aged either in steel tanks
or in glass. First nosing. Fresh and very
fruity. Quite different from the Williams
pear we distil here in Alsace. Much less
aromatic, but still quite good. Very clean,
very close to the fruit. Just a little
weak and watery. Mouthfeel: nicely fresh
and balanced. Starts with some perfumy
notes (Muscat) and develops on pear, sure,
but also on apple. Gets more and more
spirity after a moment, while the pear
notes vanish. Short finish, the whole
letting your mouth fresh as a baby’s
mouth. In short, of course it was impossible
to beat our amazing Alsatian Williams
pear – yep, chauvinistic again –
but this Vilmos is quite enjoyable, especially
in summer, because it’s quite light
and fresh. I’m sure one could drink
two litres of it when chilled. 69
– FORTIFIED, THEY SAID...
creativity has no limits, and that's a
good thing - sometimes. Yes, after the
odd 'finished' malts (blueberry, Kriek,
applewine etc.) this had to happen: a
malt-finished wine is now on the market.
The name is 18 Carats,
it's made by the Orkney
Wine Company, and it's an Orkney carrot
wine fortified with Orkney single malt
whisky. No, no typo. I don't know what
they think at Talisker's, but I must admit
I'd love to taste it. I'll try to put
my hands on a bottle and report to you
asap, promise. Duty, heavy duty... Thanks,
– A FEW WORLD DRAMS TO PREPARE FOR
Yes, the Islay Festival is around the
corner, so I felt it would be a good idea
not to focus on single malts too much
at this very moment. And just because
Feis Isle is truly international, I decided
to taste a few spirits from all over the
world. Thanks Roman and Lex for having
provided me with some of these…
From Brazil: Ypioca
Cachaça (39%, OB).
Like rum, Cachaça is a product
of sugar cane and has a character somewhat
similar to it, though somewhat drier.
Whereas rum is produced from the molasses
made from the sugar cane, Cachaça
is produced directly from the juice of
the cane. This one’s colour is light
straw. Very similar to a tequila at first
nosing. Quite light, some lemony and very
grassy notes. Hints of spices (pepper,
chilli) and green sweet pepper. Really
close to a tequila! Palate: very light
and quite weak. Lemon zest, grass juice
(ever tried that?), cucumber, sweet pepper,
raw French bean and , a little ginger
and some ‘waxy’ notes. Wooosh…
very, very short finish. Well, I guess
that mustn’t be too bad when mixed
with some lemon juice and chilled, on
Copacabana beach, while listening to Chico
Buarque… 25 points.
From Israel: Carmel
Mizrahi Arack (40%, OB).
Carmel is Israel's leading producer of
wines and spirits and of course they make
some arack, the well-known anise-flavoured
drink of the Middle East. Its colour is
plain white, and at first nosing it’s
full of anise and slightly ‘burnt’
notes. A little less exuberant than Turkish
raki or Greek ouzo, I’d say. Some
quite unpleasant off-notes, but I guess
this one has to be drunk with a lot of
water anyway. Let’s try it neat
for the moment… Yes, the palate
is much better than the nose, even when
tasted ‘naked’. The fact is,
these anise-flavoured liquors are not
meant to be nosed… Same with French
or even ‘absinthe’. Anyway,
it’s quite enjoyable. A lot of vivacity
and some complex fruity notes like lemon,
tangerine, melon make their way through
the anise. Yes, very good when neat, but
let’s add a few drops of water…
As expected, it becomes somewhat translucent,
but not completely milky like pastis,
ouzo or raki. Very refreshing! I like
it very much… Oops, I emptied the
full glass! I told you it was good…
From Ukraine: Gorilka
Pepper Vodka (40%, OB)
This one’s done with red pepper.
not some black one like in most eastern
countries. Colour: light gold. Quite interesting
at first nosing, wit some pepper of course,
but also some nice honeyed notes, and
some hints of grass, vegetables, and even
a little ginger. Much more complex than
most vodkas I know… But I don’t
know many vodkas, I’m afraid. The
first mouthfeel is quite smooth, but that
doesn’t last very long. A sudden
blast of pepper is soon to attack your
palate, and just coats it all around.
You can feel just a few fruity notes on
your tongue, but other than that, it’s
just pepper from Pepper’s. Well,
an interesting experience, for sure…
Quite challenging! But frankly, it’s
not very enjoyable. Okay, 50 points
will do. BtW, I’m sure it’ll
make a great dressing for a pizza! I’ll
That’s all for today – my
palate’s already completely broken.
Watch this space tomorrow, for some more
‘deviant’ drams! Now, where’s
my bottle of water again?…
a whisky personality gives you a good
tip, it should be related to… erm…
whisky, shouldn’t it? Well, not
always, as it appears. As a matter of
fact, Nick Morgan, Diageo’s Marketing
Director for classic (and premium!) malts,
just advised me to have a listen to a
rather obscure singer from Florida, named
White. The good news is that
there’s plenty of music to listen
to on his website, even if most files
are real audios. There’s one very
good mp3, though: 10
Miles to Go On a 9 Mile Road. This
title itself says long about White’s
almost Dadaistico-pataphysical (eh?) universe.
What strikes me as well, is the fact that
besides his great lyrics, inspired melodies
and interesting ‘collage’
techniques, he never sounds exactly the
same, unlike so many other singers. Make
some friends listen to his kaleidoscopic
music ‘blind’. They’ll
either tell you it could be Lou Reed,
JJ Cale, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, James
Taylor, Gram Parsons, or even marvellous
newcomer Damien Rice, depending on the
song you’ll choose. Which doesn't
mean his style is unconsistent - quite
the opposite, in fact! In short, I like
him very much, and I’ll immediately
order his strangely titled new CD, 'Drill
A Hole In That Substrate And Tell Me What
You See'. Please do the same if you
like Jim White as much as I do. And thanks
for the tip, Nick!
– SUMMER’S AROUND THE CORNER...
28°C in the shade… Yes, that’s
right, summer’s almost here, at
last! Time to celebrate with my favourite
summer malt: a young Rosebank. Let’s
pick an old 35cl bottle I didn’t
open since September last year and that
had been hibernating in the kitchen’s
cupboard: the Rosebank
10 yo 1991/2001 (43%, Signatory, casks
#539-540). Its colour
is very pale, and the nose is very flowery
(lilac, lavender, lily) and quite grainy
and malty. Bread crumb, hot milk…
And then some freshly cut apple notes
do appear. Alas, no citrusy notes that
I can smell this time… Mouthfeel:
smooth and fresh – quite clean.
Develops on some slightly spirity notes,
cider, nutmeg… Gets a little grassy
and dry, and a little dusty as well. Medium
finish, on some pepper and white fruit
notes (not too ripe pear). But again,
no citrus. In short, a good Rosebank,
but more in the Glenkinchie style. 78
points. BtW, just had a visitor
in the swimming pool (see picture above).
She’s cute, isn’t she? No
wonder some call us frogs… Don’t
worry, I didn’t eat her à
la Provençale… I just put
her back into the nearby river where she
came back from a fantabulous gig at Munster's
Jazz Festival. From left to right: Pat
Bianchi on the Hammond B3,
Stafford on the trumpet,
Davis on the alto sax and
Queen himself on the drums.
They played a powerbop that just blew
my mind. Woohoo! I think I didn't listen
to such a powerful set live since... Miles
Davis at Nice festival, more than twenty
years ago! Watch Pat Bianchi in the future,
he's the less famous - and the youngest
- player in the band, but he's absolutely
great.You can listen to a sample of his
playing on Retha
(short mp3). Something like an interbreed
of Joe DeFrancesco and Jimmy Smith. Wow!
Stafford is brilliant, Jesse Davis had
some Coltranian notes, and Alvin Queen...
Well... He sounds like a whole big band!
just happened to listen to Swedish singer
Zetterlund's jazz recordings
with Bill Evans. Simply wonderful... I
especially liked her great singing on
'Come Rain or Come Shine' or 'It Could
Happen To You'. You can have a good example
of her beautiful voice on Värmlandsvisan
(mp3 - old Swedish song). And if you want
to have a little laugh, perhaps you can
try to put your hands on her Swedish rendition
of Toots Thielemans' ''Bluesette', called
'Bedårande Sommarvals' - whatever
Follow-up translations and comments
by Ulf Buxrud: Värmlandsvisa:
Värmland= is the name of a province
in the heartland of Sweden.Visa= is a
descriptor word meaning a simple set of
tune and lyric combined, often of folkloristic
origin.This ancient folkloristic tune
and lyric stems from the province of Vaermland.
It has been transformed to a jazz beat.
Sommarvals= summer waltz. This melody
was composed by Toots during the Swedish
epoque of his life. It does reflect the
Scandinavian mood, hence Swedes prefer
to refer to this melody by its Swedish
title instead of 'Bluesette'.
- JIM MURRAY'S WHISKY BIBLE AGAIN
should really worry about my growing masochism:
yes, I finally opened the small opus again
and went through a few more tasting notes
at random until, on page 149, I reached
the entry about Baillie Nicol Jarvie.
Mr Magnificent Malt Guru writes 'as
fruity and mouthwatering as a riesling,
but infinitely better'. It's true
that Murray knows a lot about wine! Didn't
he write about a 'Bergundy' wood finish
on page 83? Rolling on the floor laughing
my ass of here... Frankly, I can't
see the point in comparing a blended whisky
to a grape variety, or to a kind of wine.
Clownish, irrelevant and totally inept
- not to mention the fact that Riesling
is my favourite white wine. But perhaps
you guessed it ;-) - see also April 26.
- FIVE MALTS UNDER THE ALSACIAN SUN (short
10 yo (40%, OB) Colour:
straw. Nose: very malty, barley, feints
(porridge, broiled cereals). Relatively
fresh. Some nice notes of hay and fruit
(gooseberry). Palate: quite weak and a
little watery. Grainy, caramel, a little
dusty. Gets slightly bitter. Short finish,
on cardboard and caramel. Not utterly
interesting, but it could have been worse.
Ratings: SV 73, OH 74.
1994 (40%, G&M Speymalt)
Colour: dark straw. Nose: light and quite
fragrant, but curiously quite unsherried.
Traces of milk chocolate, wood, orange
juice. Quite weak –a shadow of a
Macallan. Palate: weak and a little dusty.
Again, some orange juice, a little caramel,
a little tannins an some notes of old
cardboard. Weak finish – nothing
to do with any of the poorest official
Macallans. SV 70, OH 70.
11 yo 1989/2001 (43%, Signatory, refill
sherry butt #920260) Colour:
white wine. Nose: very milky and malty.
Porridge, oat, butter, rice pudding. Interesting.
Palate: dusty and feinty. White fruit
(white melon) and rhubarb. Somewhat like
a very good vodka, quite enjoyable. Would
be interesting to try it chilled. SV
80, OH 80.
1978/1995 (40%, G&M Centenary Reserve)
Colour: light amber. Nose: light and fragrant
again, not that different from the Speymalt
Macallan. The usual G&M style. A little
orangey, notes of vanilla, malt and wood.
Enjoyable but not very special. Palate:
quite balanced like a rather good Speysider,
but it’s still quite MOTR. Any official
Glenrothes is better. Medium finish, on
malt. Ratings: SV 78, OH 72.
21 yo (43%, OB, Taiwan reimport, circa
1999) Colour: amber. First
nosing: peat and smoke, not unlike an
Ardbeg. Develops on orange and peat, bonfire,
dried fruit (apricot) and a lot of heather
honey. Absolutely wonderful, somewhat
in the Highland Park 18 yo style, only
even better – and peatier. How great!
Mouth: rich, superbly fruity and, again,
quite peaty. Honey, courgette flower,
crème brûlée, some
lavender. Very long finish, extremely
satisfying. Just plain beautiful. SV
91, OH 92.
Stoll is great young indie
Canadian singer. You can listen to her
beautiful singing on Wedding
Dance (mp3). A voice, a guitar, punto
basta! Please buy her CD if you like it.
BtW fellow Californian maniac Mark Adams
has just been impressed by Norwegian pop-rock
Lerche, while Johannes is more into
French 'electronic' band Air
– CLYNELISH 14 yo OB: NEW TRY
I've somehow shocked myself with the 69
points I gave to the Clynelish 14 yo (46%,
OB) while tasting it blind last night.
Murray rated it 88, and Jackson 81, and
that’s another league! It’s
no secret that Clynelish is one of my
favourite distilleries, and whereas some
independent bottlings – especially
some young ones - are quite ‘average’,
I couldn’t admit Diageo came up
with such a poor expression. Yes, the
problem must have been on my side! Anyway,
as I had a second sample on my shelves
(thanks, Govert), I just decided to have
another go at both, plus at a young OMC
Clynelish worth 84 points on my scale.
Should be a good benchmark – too
bad I haven’t got any Flora &
Fauna anymore. Now, let’s compare
14 yo #1
14 yo #2
lot of orangey notes – a little
lot of orangey notes – but
much cleaner and fresher
flowery and quite lemony, not unlike
some good Lowlanders. A little restrained,
develops on all sorts of fruit,
mainly orange, tangerine. Gets more
and more perfumy, with some feinty
sourish notes that somewhat break
the balance. Quite nice, though…
Hints of wood.
orangey notes grow bigger and
bigger, and it makes me think
of John Glaser’s ‘Orangerie’,
or of some Mandarine Imperiale
liquor. Definitely cleaner and
fresher than blind #1, and without
the offbeat notes. Very nice,
even if a little simple. Too bad
I don’t get any of the ‘coastal’
notes, nor any smoke.
but a little ‘sweet and dirty’
little lighter, cleaner
sharp with a lot of fruit, some
smokiness (peat), and some dry woody
notes that make it less clean than
spirity (eau de vie tutti frutti),
getting quite dry and woody. Some
fruit but quite undefined.
cleaner, even if less bold. Orange
zest, vanilla, tannins. Less feinty
than sample #1.
and quite peaty and peppery. Enjoyable.
but getting dirtier, and somewhat
bitter. Too bad.
long finish, on orange zest and pepper.
short, the OMC is much peatier and smokier
than the two versions of the OB. The latter
might be subject to batch variation, or
the bottles that had contained the samples
haven’t been opened for the same
time. You can really feel it’s the
same distillery, or even the same age,
but the first one was dirtier, while the
second one was much cleaner. Anyhow, 69
points for the first one is not enough,
and I’ll rise my rating to 79
points. The second sample is
worth 84 points on my
scale – just the same rating as
the OMC’s, even if both are very
different. Anyhow, I feel justice is done
- SIX NEW BLINDS FROM JOHANNES' - or how
to learn humility
malt - Colour: white wine.
First nosing: malty and a little spirity.
Some caramel… Could be a blend.
Corn flakes, grain, gets a little dusty.
No fruit whatsoever… It must be
a cheap Highlander or something like that.
Mouthfeel: very light and simple. Grain,
cereals, some wood… It then gets
quite bitter and dry. The finish is quite
short, making the whole quite unenjoyable.
What could it be? A single malt? Well,
if I really have to give you three names,
I’d go for Drumguish, Tobermory
or Loch Lomond. My rating: only 59
points. The answer: Tormore
12 yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2003).
Well, that’s the new ‘blue
label’ bottling, and we’re
in ‘blend’ territory. Anway,
I was way off the tracks again…
- Colour: white wine again. First nosing:
very similar to #1. Grainy, dusty, perhaps
a little more feinty with some burnt wood
notes. Erm… Less clean than #1,
in fact. First mouthfeel: again, almost
the same as #1, just a little more ‘dirty’.
Again, it gets bitter towards the end,
and the finish is medium long, which is
bad news. Yuck! It’s even worse
than #1 in fact, and I wouldn’t
go farer than 50 points.
Guesses: the same names, Drumguish, Tobermory
or Loch Lomond. Is this a punishment flight,
Johannes? Answer: Imperial
18 yo 1982 (43%, Chieftain’s).
Oh yes? What an ugly stuff! One of the
worst malts I ever had… Could anybody
tell me why they bottled that one as a
single malt? For some old empires nostalgics?
- Colour: white wine again and again.
At least, they didn’t caramelise
it. First nosing: we’re along the
same lines again, if this one is a little
more ‘stylish’ and quite cleaner.
Very grainy, malty. Cereals, corn flakes,
brunt cake, coffee. Again, better than
#1 and 2, but nothing thrilling, still.
Mouthfeel: spirity, perfumy. Now, that’s
different. Eau de toilette, grain, feints,
raw apple spirit. Quite odd and, to be
frank, not very enjoyable, even if it’s
less dull than the previous ones. What
can it be? I’m sorry, but I’d
go for the same names again: Drumguish,
Tobermory or Loch Lomond. Or perhaps Littlemill
or Tormore… It’s very young,
in any case, I’ll rate it 65
points. The punishment continues,
it appears… The answer: Arran
NAS ‘Non-Chillfiltered’ (46%,
OB). Fudge, I missed that
one again. Perhaps they should have filtered
- Colour: straw. First nosing: now, this
one’s better. Quite fresh, with
again some perfume, fresh apple, hot cake.
Quite malty. Traces of sandalwood, incense,
café latte. Again, nothing special,
but it appears we’re stepping towards
the 70 points or more this time. Mouth:
again slightly better as well. Malty,
a little woody, but gets a little dry
towards the end. Too bad! Weak palate,
dry finish… Well, I feel this one
deserves 69 points, but
no more. As for names, I’d say Tobermory,
Arran, Auchentoshan… The answer:
14 yo (46%, OB). Ouch,
what a debacle! I can’t believe
it! This is ‘my’ beloved Clynelish?
I really have to have a go at it again.
I have some samples from some other bottles
on my shelves, so I’ll have a ‘hopefully
revisionist’ tasting of this one
- Colour: light straw. First nosing: quite
spirity, with some white fruit, melon,
and some coastal notes. This one’s
much cleaner, certainly much stronger,
and quite sharp. The palate is quite powerful,
with some spirity notes, a lot of fruit
(melon, gooseberry, kiwi, rhubarb) and
quite some wood. Long finish, getting
a little woodier and dry after one or
two minutes. Okay, we’re in another
division now. The coastal notes really
make me think of a young cask strength
Bruichladdich, or perhaps a Clynelish
or a Bunnahabhain. Anyhow, I like it.
82 points. The answer:
10 yo (58.9%, Cadenhead’s).
Again I missed that one, but I must confess
I don’t know Tamdhu very well. Good
- Colour: white wine. First nosing: powerful
and youthful. Nice fruit (apple, pear,
even passion fruit). A little feinty and
quite vegetal: herbs, parsley. A good
Lowlander, perhaps… Mouthfeel: wow,
fruit and herbs. Very bold. Sorrel, lemon
juice, fresh mint, green Chartreuse…
I really like it, it’s quite special.
Porridge and oats as well. Again, very
good! Quite long finish, on some acidulated
fruit like tangerine or clementine. My
guesses: Bladnoch, Auchentoshan, Rosebank.
85 points. The answer:
14 yo 1989/2003 (53.6%, Cadenhead’s).
Ah, good, at least I nailed one. Good
for my maltreated ego. A very good Lowlander,
no question. Good work, Cadenhead’s!
- 70 YEARS MAKE
a 1934 'colonial' ad for Hennessy Cognac.
Right, a very recent 2004 ad for the same
brand. Interesting, isn't it? I'm sure
our African friends will appreciate the
evolution. Maybe things are getting globally
better with time, after all? (See also
- It is our very duty to be aware
of the fact that what you're going to
see does exist, even if this picture might
create a psychological disorder, especially
if you're a very sensible person. This
picture isn't a fake, and has been taken
in the United Sates of America in 2003.
I should advise you to remain seated and
to take a deep breath before you click
(will open a new window). Thanks, Christophe.
- Emperor Johannes just did a
major update of Maltmadness,
which is now... erm... perfectly up do
date. Check it out asap and rule Emperor
ADVERTISING - Did you
know I'm an advertiser? 'Don't tell my
mother, she believes I'm a piano player
in a brothel', says a famous French book's
title... Anyway, I just found a few interesting
ads, which somehow depict the evolution
of the women's role in whisky advertising.
Well, perhaps you just can't always talk
about pure crystalline water running down
left to right: US riverboat sign (discouraging)
- early 20th Century postcard (decorative)
- 1954 Usher's 'For Outstanding Merit'
(admiring - he must be a man!)
left to right: 1967 Zsa Zsa gabor for
Smirnoff 'Don't darling with me if it's
not Smirnoff' (warning - yeah I know,
it's no whisky but I like Zsa Zsa) - 1967
Lauren Hutton for White Horse (claiming)
- 1971 J&B (inviting)
left to right: 1975 Black Velvet (very
inviting) - 1981 Bushmill's (very very
inviting) - 1995 Black Velvet 'as smooth
as it gets' (calm down!)
I'll post publish more ads in the future...
Unless you tell me you don't like that!
- Maybe it's because the Islay
Festival is approaching: I just felt the
need to listen to some old Harry
Lauder tunes. His thick Scottish
accent instantly transports you to Inverness,
Port Charlotte or John o'Groats, whichever
Scottish place you're in the mood for.
Have a listen to 'Roamin
in the Gloamin' (both mp3 or real
audio on that page). You'll see, it works!
- Gone for a short trip though
Jura, France last weekend. I could have
one of my favourite dishes: some great
Comté cheese with a Château
Chalon by Jean Macle. I'm sure this pairing
would please many maltheads, especially
some Islay fan. Château
Chalon is a tiny village
in Jura, and only wine made as 'vin jaune'
(roughly the same method as for dry sherry)
get the right to carry this name. Oh,
BtW, no need to say that 'Jura' and 'Isle
of Jura' aren't the same thing.
- This is the first example of
a 'light' whisky I ever saw - I mean,
'light' being the opposite of 'regular'
in this case. What's even funnier is the
fact that I saw this bottle in Turkey,
just next to its 'regular' version. Both
versions were bottled at 40% ABV. A way
of trying to convert some Muslim market?
Bottler: Johnson, Judge & Co, Edinburgh.
- French born Katell
Keineg lives both in Ireland
and in NYC. She's been around for ten
years or so, but never reached huge notoriety,
which is a shame. I like her songs which
gather some slightly Celtic influences
(no wonder, her name is Briton), some
catchy folk-rock ala Natalie Merchant
and a haunting voice. I especially like
her songs 'Veni Vidi Vici', 'One Hell
of a Life' and 'Marietta'. You should
listen to 'Beautiful
Day' (mp3) which is far from being
her best tune, but gives you a good example
of her beautiful voice and singing.
- Benrinnes 1972/1995
(40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice)
Colour: light amber. Nose: mellow, quite
perfumy and strong for just 40%. Lots
of fruit developing, like apricot, melon,
guava and mango. Gets even more perfumy
and finally quite a lot of oaky notes
emerge. Gets even a little minty. Quite
enjoyable! The mouth is quite light at
first, then it gets a little bitter and
dry. A little weak, but a very nice structure
and some nice flavours (orange, caramel,
apple, wood). In short an enjoyable malt,
even if not a winner. Much subtler than
our benchmark Speysider, Mac 12. 85
- While Jim Murray shoots at Cognac as
much as he can, and while the French think
it's out of date, the American R'n'B singers
have made the 'yak' (Cognac in US slang)
their favourite drink. Already in 2002
Busta Rhymes sang 'Pass the Courvoisier',
and now Beyoncé
dances amidst some bottles of Rémy
Martin in his new video 'Naughty Girl'.
Funny, ain't it? BtW, here are some lyrics
from Busta Rhymes' song. Get prepared
to a genuine piece of modern litterature...
"Give me the Henny, you can give
me the Cris
You can pass me the Remi, but pass the
Give me the ass, you could give me the
You can give me 'dro, but pass the Courvoisier
Give me some money, you can give me some
But you can give me the bitch make sure
you pass the Courvoisier
Give me some shit, you can give me the
You can give me whatever just pass the
- A SECOND FLIGHT OF 6 BLIND SAMPLES
- Second part of our tasting session.
#37 - This
one’s colour is the usual ‘straw’
and it’s very fruity at first nosing.
Lots of tropical fruit like mango (eh,
an old bottle again?) and white fruit
(yellow peach, gooseberry). Then a lot
of kiwi – but it can’t be
a malt from New Zealand, can it? Nice
hints of rhubarb as well… Great!
Very nice woody structure that holds the
whole together. In short, what a superb
nose! The mouth seems to be perfectly
balanced. Strawberry and pepper (a woman’s
favourite – no sexism intended).
Passion fruit. Quite long and very fruity
finish. Very refined, very good. Could
it be an great old Rosebank? Or one of
these old unsherried Bowmores? But it
seems to be quite young, still…
A little confusing. Or maybe a great Clynelish?…
What? What do I hear? It’s a Glenfiddich?
Holy sugar! Yes, it’s Glenfiddich
‘Over 8 years’ pure malt (43%,
OB, 60’s). Alright…
No wonder Glenfiddich’s got such
a huge reputation worldwide! SV 89
- Colour: straw again. Nose: fresh and
quite clean, a little discrete at first.
Hints of peat and a little pepper, then
gets a little spirity and sourish (cooked
green apple). Somehow ala Ardmore, or
like some 1981-1983 Brora. The mouth is
quite powerful at first but gets then
much more balanced with some white fruit
(gooseberry), some peat and some peppery
notes. Very enjoyable, if not stellar.
Medium to long finish. I think it might
be a 1981-1983 Brora, or a Clynelish,
or an Ardmore. Johannes’ answer:
1989/2002 (46%, W&M, Bourbon Barrel).
Good, I wasn’t too far from the
tracks. SV 85, OH 87.
- Again, straw. Strange milky notes at
first nosing. Broiled cereals, dust, cardboard,
porridge, maize. Quite dry. Then it gets
vegetal, and even a little sweetish after
a while. Quite dull, if you ask me. The
palate has a lot of (added?) caramel,
and is quite grassy and spirity. The it
gets really weird, with lots of cold,
light coffee notes. Just between us, this
one is far from being interesting, not
to mention enjoyable. And I have no clue
about what it is. What’s sure, is
that it’s worth no more than SV
78, OH 78.
What is it, Johannes? Oh, a Balvenie
15 yo 1985/2002 Single Barrel (50.4%,
#40 - This one’s
colour is white wine… And its nose
is very spirity and very sour at first.
Then it gets sour and spririty ;-) I don’t
like it at all! Let’s quickly switch
to the palate… Aargh, dusty, dirty…
A disaster, I think, even if Olivier doesn’t
quite agree with me. I think it’s
full of flaws. Very rough, with perhaps
a little peat but mostly some defective
cask tastes. I still wonder why I gave
it 70 points! (OH 79).
But what is it? Perhaps a Ledaig? Oh,
it’s a Glen
Garioch 19 yo 1982/2002 (50%, DL OMC)
! Not the best cask they had, that’s
for sure. But the one who’ll never
fail isn’t born yet, says the poet…
This Glen Garioch’s peat fooled
me, that’s for sure.
- As for its colour, back to the straw.
The nose is just the same as #40’s,
just quite better. Some peat, some sour
notes (stable, hay), very organic. Yes,
it’s nicer, but still not enjoyable.
The palate is much better than #40’s
again, with some nice peat, even if it
lacks complexity. A Ledaig again? (I didn’t
have the previous malt’s name when
I tasted this one). The ‘stable’
notes make it quite different… Can’t
be an Islayer. The countryside against
the sea? Medium long, salty finish. Yes,
I think it could be a Ledaig again. Oh
no, I’m way off the tracks again:
it’s an Inchgower
26 yo 1976/2002 (49.9%, Hart Brothers).
Oh, forgot our ratings: SV 78,
#42 - Colour: white wine.
Nose: lots of Williams pear eau de vie.
Extremely strong and powerful… gets
grassy with time, with some interesting
hints of peat. Nice woody notes as well…
Not bad! The mouthfeel is bold and powerful.
Very spirity and fruity, with hints of
peat. Lots of melon, apricot, cooked apple.
In short, not much to say about this one,
but it’s still good, solid whisky.
Erm… could it be a Ledaig again?
What? I’m wrong again? Yes, it’s
10 yo 1991/2002 (55.5%, Hart Brothers).
Good, I’d better go to bed. Sometimes
I feel this is a dog’s life…
Oh yes, the ratings: SV 80,
FLIGHT OF 6 BLIND SAMPLES
samples from Johannes’ and some
from Californian Maniac Mark Adams (via
Johannes). By the way, here's a little
game: can you spot the Cu Dhub on the
above picture? If yes, you just won my
eternal consideration! Anyway, all samples
were tasted completely blind (no clue
and no list) and were part of a set of
nearly 60 different samples, all undisclosed.
Malt Maniacs’ Olivier Humbrecht
joined me for this special session. Then
we had a second flight of six samples,
but these notes will be published shortly.
Anyway, here is the first half-dozen...
#31 - Colour: straw. First
nosing: quite mellow, with some nice sherry
and some nutty notes. Seems to be a little
MOTR. When nosing deeper, it gets a little
feinty, slightly sour, and a little woody
as well. Some traces of flowery notes
and some nice honey. Soft and sweet, more
like an OB. Mouthfeel: somewhat warming
but not too much, a little thin. Notes
of caramel and wood. Becomes quite watery
and peppery after a while (tannins). Short
finish. In a nutshell, good nose, poor
palate. Really a MOTR malt, not very interesting.
The Macallan 12 yo is much bolder and
richer. I first thought it was a malt
like Deanston or Brechin, or even Mostowie…
But it was Glenglassaugh
1986/1998 (40%, MacPhail’s Collection)
Ratings: SV 75, OH 77
Here’s the son of
the (in)famous Loch Dhu, I think! Is it
any better? Let’s find out. Colour:
dark mahogany (pipe juice). Nose: overcooked
coffee, Jägermeister (German herbal
liquor), Kalhua, overused water from a
vase. Quite ‘dirty’! Quite
malty as well, even a little perfumy.
Stale Guiness? Tennent’s Stout?
Pelforth Brune? Mouthfeel: just a little
vivacity at first, but everything falls
apart quite quickly. Gets quite perfumy,
like if you drank some eau de Cologne…
and some charcoal that bites the palate.
Very short finish. Its only advantage
is that it’s perhaps better than
Loch Dhu! I thought it was Cu
Dhub (40%, OB, Speyside distillery)
and I was right. Well, no real merit here…
Ratings: SV 62, OH 67
- Colour: Virginia tobacco.
Quite aggressive at first nosing, especially
when compared to the Mac. Notes of marzipan,
rosewater. Goes on with some tropical
fruit (an old malt?) and burnt cake. Gets
a little sourish, but there are also some
interesting coastal notes ala Springbank.
Mouth: quite bold and rich, with a strange
mixture of malt, tropical fruit and pepper,
somehow like a weird Talisker. Then it
gets a little soapy and quite perfumy.
It seems that the alcohol holds it together.
Medium long, but weak finish. Well, it’s
nothing to say that we don’t like
it much. Could it be one of the old ‘Pernod’
Edradours or a weird Bowmore (Darkest,
anyone?) No, it was Balmenach
30 yo 1972 (50.1%, Hart Bros, Port cask).
Our ratings: SV 70, OH
#34 – Colour: dark
straw. Nose: aaaaah, much better! Beautiful
orangey notes, hot bread, rosemary, pink
grapefruit. Great and complex nose, with
even a little basil and parsley. The palate
is bold and quite rich. Dried orange,
kumquat, dry ginger, fructose. It easily
defeats the Mac 12, which seems to be
much more rustic and less fruity. Develops
on kiwi, caramel, ‘Werther’s
Original’ candies. Long and rich
finish – an excellent malt! My guesses
were Royal Brackla or Dalmore, before
it turned out that it was a MacDuff! The
27 yo 1973 (51.7%, Caledonian Selection,
USA, c. #HH37/6) to be
more accurate. Ratings: SV 87,
– Beautiful copper
colour. Very powerful at first nosing,
with great sherry and some great pinewood
and resinous notes. Very clean and stylish,
it really sends the Mac 12 back to school.
Nice orangey notes, X-mas cake, fresh
walnut. Wonderful nose. The mouthfeel
is extremely strong, yet beautifully balanced.
Again, a great and elegant sherry. All
sorts of dried or crystallised fruit:
orange, tangerine, banana… In short,
it’s bigger than blind #34, but
perhaps a little less elegant and complex.
Gets a little dry after a while. And frankly,
I hadn’t even a clue about which
distillery it was, except that it was
a very good Speysider. And it was Glen
Grant 29 yo 1972/2001 (53.6%, Hart Bros,
USA). Well, as it turns
out, Glen Grant is a great Speysider (well,
not always…) Anyway, our ratings:
SV 87, OH 87.
– Nice amber colour. At first nosing
it seems weaker that the two previous
malts, but the heavy alcohol is soon to
take control. Nice sherry and nice wood,
but not too many different aromas. A little
simple. Could be a cask strength Macallan
or an A’bunadh. The palate is much
nicer, for once. Quite creamy, a little
sweetish, and very satisfying. This one
is nicely ‘crafted’. It sort
of ‘coats’ your mouth. A very,
very good OB, I think. As some say: ‘Good
Quality, Long Use!’ My first guesses
were Macallan C/S or A’bunadh, and
it was Aberlour
A’bunadh batch #8 (60.2%, OB)
indeed. SV 87, OH 89.
- A gentleman said to me in
Limburg: "It's a shame so many whiskyfans
buy a lot of expensive bottles, and just
don't care about the glasses they use".
So right! The glass' influence is vital.
So, both Malt Maniacs' Olivier and I just
compared a bunch of glasses, by nosing
one of our benchmark malts, the Macallan
12 yo (43%, OB). Our ranking stands as
shown on the picture, from best (left)
to worst (right). No need to say that
the results might have been different,
had we nosed some different malts - especially
cask strength whiskies.
Divine Comedy's new album 'Absent
Friends' is really great. I especially
like Neil Hannon's baritone voice, somewhat
ala Iggy Pop, but their repertoires are
very different (who said thank God?) Have
a listen to Overstrand
(mp3), a nice tune from one of their earlier
CDs. Don't worry, it's not too Dantesque...
2004: THE LAST DRAMS
Nevis 35 yo 1967/2003 (52.5%, OB, c. #2218,
165 b.) This one comes
from Bernd Wolf’s Caledonian Connection.
A beautiful version, much more balanced
than some younger casks (30 or 32yo) one
can find in France these days. Superb
balance, great and very elegant sherry.
Extremely satisfying. One to buy! 90
21 yo 1982/2004 (59.40%, SMWS, 'Matured
to elegance') Well, almost
no peat at all in this brand new bottling
by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The
nose is very fruity (a little citrusy)
and somewhat spirity and pungent. Not
sure it has ‘matured to elegance’,
in fact. The palate is quite sweetish,
with hints of tropical fruit and very,
very little peat. The finish is quite
long and bold. Just good. 84 points.
12 yo (70 proof, OB Ainslie & Heilbronn,
60’s) After the
Italian ‘Edward & Edward’
version I had a while ago, here’s
an UK OB this time. This one’s much
smoother (some would say weaker), it’s
also got more sherry. Very nice balance,
with lots of fruity notes. Very elegant,
and much less ‘brutal’…
Well, I don’t like brutality, but
I still liked the Italian better, which
was at 100 proof, let’s not forget
it. 88 points.
yo (59.3%, Cadenhead’s, bourbon,
234 b., b. 2003) This
is a cask from the distillery which makes
the famous Coonemarra CS. It’s very
nice, very ‘direct’ with lots
of peat and some sweetish fruity notes.
Yes it’s well an Irish! Not very
complex, sure, but still very good. A
perfect hipflask malt, I’d say.
19 yo (59.8%, OB, The Manager’s
Dram, b. Dec 1995) I’m
glad I could taste this one, as there’re
basically only two or three expressions
of Oban around. These bottles were presented
to UDV’s distillery managers. This
one is beautiful, very malty, quite peaty
and maritime. Somehow like a very good
Clynelish. And what a perfect balance!
Happy distillery managers – how
can we apply? 90 points.
30 yo 1972/2002 (43%, The Whisky Exchange)
These bottles came from the Vintage Hallmark
of Saint-James, and TWE bought them after
they went bankrupt. The nose is nicely
sherried, elegant and refined, very classical.
The mouth is nicely balanced as well,
even if far from being complex. In short,
a very good old sherried Speysider. Nothing
more, nothing less. 85 points.
2004: THREE LAPHROAIGS, THREE GLEN GARIOCHS
AND A FEW SPEYSIDERS
Vintage 1977 (43%, OB)
I believe this one was bottled in 1995.
Too bad I couldn’t taste it HtoH
with the 1976. Its nose is very fruity
at first, but heavy peat and smoke are
soon to appear. Then it develops on passion
fruit, and then peat and smoke again,
and then fruit… That’s endless:
wow! The palate is exceptional, somewhat
in the 15yo’s style but simply with
a little more of everything. And the balance
is absolutely superb. 92 points.
1988/2001 (45%, Samaroli, c. #5735)
Again an Italian bottling. The nose is
very smoky – even ‘cheesy’
says Stephan. Lots of smoke, dark chocolate
and Havana tobacco. Very good, quite extreme,
but lacks a little freshness and ‘coastality’
– tell me about a barbarism ;-)
11 yo (40%, OB, for Islay Festival 2003)
I missed the 2003 Islay Festival, so I
was happy to be able to taste this one,
said to be kind of a peatier version of
the regular 10yo. Well, at first nosing,
I though it was very light, or even weak,
and watery. A real lack or oomph. The
palate confirms this first impression.
Sure there’s perhaps more smoke
than in the 10yo, but the latter is more
balanced, and more enjoyable and drinkable.
OK, 80 points because
Garioch 34 yo 1966/2000 (46%, Moon In
the Pink) Moon is an Italian
importer which works quite a lot with
Samaroli. ‘In the Pink’ is
one of their most famous series. This
Glen Garioch is incredibly light in colour,
but its nose is a fruity explosion! Lots
of tropical and white fruit. Guava, litchi,
gooseberry, watermelon… And a some
great peaty notes. It’s quite minty
on the palate, with some toasted bread
and again, some white fruit. It seems
to me much younger than it actually is.
Nice wood – and a very noce style
altogether, even if it’s far from
being the most complex Glen Garioch I
had. 87 points
36 yo 1967 (55.5%, DL Platinum)
Big, bold and rich. Wow! Quite heathery
and honeyed, with some great peaty notes
which sort of underline the whole. The
palate is in the same vein, full bodied,
bold and rich yet very balanced. In short,
again a great Glen Garioch. 90
23 yo 1979 (56.4%, OB, sherry butt #5351)
Here’s an OB this time. The nose
is quite peaty, with lots of resinous
tree, Grand-Marnier and sherry. A very
‘pretty’ whisky. Its mouth
is bold and powerful, yet very harmonious.
A perfect combination of fruit, sherry
and peat. One can’t ask for much
more… Perhaps a little more ‘emotion’?
having found out about why the German
cooking isn't our friends' main asset
(yeah, this is what you get after having
waited for 45 minutes at 'Zum Batzenmarkt,
am Kornmarkt - Limburg') we tasted a few
29 yo 1972/2002 (46.9%, Peerless, c. #6698)
Another old cask from Duncan Taylor’s.
Its nose is amazingly interesting, very
special. Lots of pinewood, eucalyptus
and toasted bread, somehow like some Vicks.
The mouth is great as well, very resinous,
camomile, all sorts of herbal teas. I
like it a lot, even if it’s nowhere
near a classic Speysider. 90 points.
20 yo (45.7%, OB, ‘unblended all
malts’, 2400 b., circa 1970)
This one was bottled for Barretto, an
Italian importer. A great all-rounder,
very fresh for its age and, again, with
lots of tropical fruit and vanilla. Some
spices as well. Not tired in any way,
very elegant – just a little lack
of power. 89 points.
13 yo 1990/2003 (57.9%, G&M Reserve,
cask 12510, sherry, 596 bottles)
Another excellent cask bottled by G&M
under their ‘Reserve’ label
for Van Wees - Whiskyworld. Great sherry,
very bold, rich and satisfying, but in
no way overwhelming the malt. That’s
what I’d call a perfect balance.
You’d never think Glenburgie can
be that good – thanks Marc for having
let me taste this! 86 points.
8 yo (45.4%, OB, dumpy green 75cl bottle)
This one is an old OB, imported by Ruffino
in Italy. It’s very different from
the usual sherried Glendronachs. Incredibly
fresh, like a very good Lowlander. Lots
of flowery and fruity notes (passion fruit),
with just some hints of wood. The palate
is sort of ‘amusing’ with
lots of litchi and mango. Again, superb
freshness! Great! 87 points.
1979/2004 Port Pipe (46%, OB, c. #3518,
750 bottle) George Grant
(picture above) is a genuine road warrior
and he happily contributes to many whisky
festivals all over the world. But Germany
is a big market for Glenfarclas, so he
was on a conquered field while in Limburg...
He let me taste a brand new Glenfarclas,
and I believe it’s been made for
Germany. Its nose is very balanced with
nice sherried notes, some coffee, rhubarb
(yes, strange mixture) and white melon.
Hints of toasted bread. The palate is
very fruity (fruit salad) and quite enjoyable,
but it lacks a little structure altogether,
and leaves kind of a feeling of ‘weakness’.
It's very good, but I'm sure there are
many better Glenfarclas around. 80
points. By the way, there was
an incredible exhibition with more than
250 different bottles of Glenfarclas.
George himslef couldn't believe his eyes
(see picture below...)
2004: FOUR SPRINGBANKS AND THREE LONGROWS
were many different and rare Springbanks
and Longrows to taste and frankly, it
was difficult to make a choice (see above!).
But prices - prices... So I decided to
adopt a low profile. Well, sort of...
10 yo 1993/2003 (46%, Whisky Galore)
This Springer is amazingly maritime, to
the point that one could wonder whether
they didn’t mis-stencil a cask of
Longrow – or perhaps they didn’t
clean up the pipes or the still that well
between a batch of Longrow and this batch
of Springbank. Anyway, both the nose and
the palate are quite smoky and spirity,
and you can’t help thinking of Longrow,
or perhaps Clynelish. The oak’s
vanilla is here as well. A different Springbank,
that’s for sure – most enjoyable.
27.52 14 yo (46.7%, SMWS, ‘redcurrant
fun’, portwood finish)
Another ‘finishing experiment’
that works. I’ve been told the Society
did this because the previous cask was
leaking (hence the rather low alcohol
level). I’m not sure about the logic
behind this, but when nosing it, I’ve
been sort of amazed by the great fruity
notes, typical of some good port. All
sorts of currant, cooked strawberry and,
of course, wine. The mouth is quite balanced,
even if very sweetish. Very satisfying.
7 yo 1992/1999 ‘Da Mhile’
(46%, OB, organic) One
of the only (the only?) organic whisky,
made with organic barley from around Springbank.
It’s said to be not that good, so
I’m happy to be able to taste it
without having to buy a bottle. It’s
extremely fruity at first nosing, with
some strange dirty floorcloth notes. The
mouth is very sweet, almost sugary. It
really lacks complexity, not to mention
distillery character. But okay, let’s
rate it 80 points for
the whole concept.
1978 (46%, OB, ‘House and Tree’
label) Another old Springer,
for Germany this time. I believe it was
bottled 6 or 7 years ago – or even
more. Anyway it’s very elegant,
floral, with some nice peaty notes. It’s
not very sherried. A great presence on
the palate, with some lavender, violet,
and even some eau de Cologne. You guessed
it: perhaps it’s a little feminine.
Too feminine?. 87 points.
1987/1989 (50%, Duthie/Samaroli Ageing
Monography, 18 months old, 75cl) Well
this one isn’t whisky technically
speaking, and the label says it all: it’s
‘British Plain Spirit’. But
it’s very interesting, still. Yeasty,
very peaty (burnt tyre), amazingly youthful
and mature at the same time. A lot of
style! I couldn’t help thinking
of Port Charlotte… Well, Port Charlotte
is even better, I think. Anyway, 85
points for this baby.
10 yo 1994/2004 (46%, OB)
Already the new 2004 version! Let’s
check it out… The nose is quite
feinty, and there isn’t so much
peat at first nosing. It’s mostly
fresh and fruity and, okay, then comes
a little peat. But where’s the peat
monster we were used to? It’s quite
rough on the palate, and very spirity.
Not very enjoyable, I’m afraid.
The peat smoke arrives a bit late, and
the whole is quite a disappointment. But
I’m sure the 2005 version will be
better! 79 points.
15 yo 1987/2002 (55%, Samaroli, c. #115,
312 b.) This one does
also exist at 45% vol, says Michiel Wigman,
who poured me the dram. It’s got
a very nice peaty nose, quite extreme
but not as much as the 1987/1999 ‘Dreams’.
Very, very smoky. But quite surprisingly,
its mouth is balanced, almost sweet. Lots
of peat of course, but almost no fruit
– lacks a little complexity compared
with the ‘Dreams’ which blew
my mind. 88 points.
Holocsi, a barman from Budapest
(Hungary) has just invented a cocktail
to toast the enlarged European Union.
It's a mix of 16 wines, spirits and fruit
juices representing most of the EU's 25
members. The cocktail is made up of British
gin, Austrian orange and pineapple nectars,
Belgian mandarin liqueur, Danish, Finnish
and Swedish vodka, French cognac, Greek
metaxa brandy, Dutch grenadine, Irish
whiskey, German schnapps, Italian martini,
Portuguese port, Hungarian tokay, Spanish
43 liqueur and Strohhalme from Luxemburg.
I don't have the proportions yet, but
I'll try to prepare one in the future.
I guess I'd better put my hands on some
miniatures... Or perhaps somebody will
sell it as a 'pre-mix'?
Mckay again and again... She
added more than a dozen tracks she just
at the Knitting Factory LA on March
29 to her website (mp3). Beware, her music
just grows on you... See also the April
Maniac Malt Monitor has just
been updated. 2264 different malts are
now listed and rated.
23 yo 1972/1996 (64.8%, Rare Malts, 20cl)
It's in 1996 that UDV released a 6x20cl
pack that included a Brora, a Glendullan,
a Caol Ila, a Dailuane and this high-strength
Teaninich. The latter was the last one
I didn't open yet - perhap because it
was the less appealing. Quite overpowering
at first nosing, it then develops on some
smoky and orangey notes. It really needs
a lot of air to begin to 'breather'. It
then offers you some amazing beehive notes:
wax, honey, wood, with some flowery (dandelion)
and fruity (gooseberry) notes finally
breaking though. The first mouthfeel is
extremely powerful. Hints of 'still',
a little feinty, Chinese fruit (longan),
honey. Quite special, I like it. Long
but spirity finish... What's interesting
is that at almost 65%, it doesn't need
any water to show a great complexity.
But it somehow burns your throat, still.
just added a few pictures of some Old
Clynelish pre-Brora bottles here.
2004: UNSOUDABLE BEAUTY
Park 30 yo 1956/1986 (55.6%, G&M for
Intertrade, 216 bottles)
A great Highland Park bottled at cask
strength for Italian malt guru Ferdinando
Fiori - who was also behing Turatello
and now High Spirits. Its nose is exceptional,
with some very elegant sherry and a lot
of depth. Not much ‘old bottle’
effect this time, but this fantastic HP
has been in glass for ‘only’
18 years. The palate is amazingly good
with a lot of camphor and eucalyptus,
some great fruit and a beautiful wood
structure. This one was built like a cathedral.
The finish is exceptionally long for such
an old malt, and it really does ‘the
peacock’s tail’ towards the
end. Absolutely flawless and thrilling.
It’s not that often that an IB beats
the OBs when dealing with Highland Park,
so I’ll give it some well-earned
Jazz - I've always been into jazz organ,
since I listened for
the first time to
'The Dynamic Duo' by Jimmy Smith and Wes
Montgomery on my father's Thorens . That
was in the late sixties and I was a little
boy, but this fantabulous record still
is on my hitlist... An aboslute must...
And here's another great jazz organist
I really like...
like nobody else. You should listen
(mp3) where she plays the Hamond B3 brilliantly
and 'in the good old vein'. And please
buy the CD if you like it!
2004: ANOTHER PHILOSOPHY FROM A to B
5 yo (40%, OB, Liquorama Italy, 80’s)
‘Another Italian white wine’
says the chap who pours me a dram of this
one. Its nose is quite light and grainy,
but most enjoyable. One to sip near a
swimming pool or on the beach –
in Italy, of course. Its mouth is very
balanced, very enjoyable, not unlike a
very good blend. A super J&B? Anyway,
I think it’s better than the Glen
Grant 5 yo of Italian fame. In short,
a summer malt. Too bad it’s an extinct
version! 79 points.
22 yo 1974/1996 (40%, G&M for Italy,
white label) This very
interesting Ardbeg ought to have been
‘mellow matured’, according
to the label. Oh yeah? At first nosing
it really smells like a fresh Prat-ar-coum
oyster (well, like any good oyster but
I wanted to give you this link) after
you just opened it. Wow! Extremely subtle,
smoky, and very original because there’s
absolutely no ‘peat blast’
like in most Ardbegs. The most subtle
I ever had. Brilliant! The palate is fantastic:
extremely smoky, smoked oysters, seaweed,
with a medium-long but amazing ‘maritime’
finish. Anytime again. 94 points.
12 yo 1965/1977 (45.7%, Cadenhead Dumpy)
One of those old Cadenheads dating back
from the ‘Aberdeen’ time!
I’m really curious… The nose
is quite dusty but in a good way. Mocha,
bitter chocolate (Van Houten), dried orange,
old cardboard. Not tired at all! The mouth
is very nice, full of cooked fruit (blackberry
pie, Christmas cake), fresh fruit (apricot),
and tropical fruit (the old bottle effect,
I guess). In short, it’s surprisingly
good! Enough to earn 86 points.
Ducati will launch its new Paul Smart
1000 in 2005. Which one do you like better,
the new one or the older 750SS (here a
1974 model)? No question on my side, I
like elegance better.
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