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Hi, you're in the Archives, November 2004 - Part 2
       
           
November 2004 - part 1 <--- November 2004 - part 2 ---> December 2004 - part 1
 
November 30, 2004
 

TASTING - 1964 BOWMORES: THE WOOD TRILOGY

The three casks from this famous ‘wood trilogy’ were filled with malt distilled in November 1964, and were all lying in the vaults N°1.
Bowmore 38 yo 1964 (42.9%, OB, oloroso, 300 bottles)
The last part of the trilogy, released in September 2003. Colour: bronze-greenish. Nose: again the typical tropical fruits: first lots of fresh orange, then X-mas cake, roasted pecan nuts. Goes on with old turpentine, juniper wood, sandalwood and old rose. Whiffs of incense, then peat, then pure smoke, together with some waxy notes.

This beauty then stays on dried orange, with some very nice winey notes from the sherry. Mouth: a great attack on grapefruit, banana flambéed, caramel sauce and sweet white wine (vin de paille). Plum jam. It also gets slightly meaty, and perhaps just a little clumsy. Perhaps the mouth doesn’t deliver just everything the nose promised, but this one is still an absolute winner. 93 points.
Bowmore 38 yo 1964 (43.2%, OB, bourbon, 300 bottles) Distilled on November 11, 1964 and released in Spring 2003. Colour: gold. Nose: a little closed at first – just some banana and some vanilla – but it’s soon to open up, on the 1960’s Bowmores’ main markers: tropical fruits (mainly passion fruit and ripe kiwi) and some very nice ripe gooseberry. Goes on with caramelised apple, old books, curry, and hints of violets. A superb nose, even if quite narrower than the oloroso version’s. Mouth: the attack is much more indefinite, but loads of dried herbs are soon to arrive. Quite peppery, with hints of mustard, and finally some peat.  
Notes of cold over-infused tea. Goes on with white pepper and vanilla. The finish is very long, on caramel and pepper. Again a great one, but I liked the ‘oloroso’ just a little better. 92 points.
  Bowmore 37 yo 1964 (49.6%, OB, fino, 300 bottles) This was the first of the series, and was launched in September 2002. The two casks came from the Macharnudo Albariza vineyards. Colour: fluo yellow. Nose: big bold tropical fruits (kumquats, passion fruits) and lots of other fruits like green plum. Havana tobacco, leather… Some great peat shines through, with white pepper. Then we open another drawer, with lots of waxy notes. The peat (the ‘farmy’ version) strikes back, with even some cow stable notes. We also have some perfume (Chanel N°5) – Paris Hilton anyone? Lots of crème brulee too. Mouth: rubbery attack, followed by lots of crystallised orange, Grand Marnier, Mandarine Imperiale liqueur. Then we have some rather bold peat, overcooked coffee, lapsang souchong tea (smoked).
Again lots of crystallised fruits, dried orange… Extremely satisfying and compact, if not monstrously complex. The finish is very long, on Grand Marnier (the Cuvée Centenaire, that is). Wow, this one is the winner for me. 95 points.
  MUSIC - Recommended listening: Korean acid-funk band Asoto Union plays Think About Chu (mp3). Some ultra-simple slow funk lines, a great voice, and a Goerge-Benson feeling... It's not that I'm too much into this kind of music usually, but here it's most enjoyable. Please buy Asoto Union's music if you can find some...
 
November 29, 2004

TASTING - A BLAST FROM THE PAST (and from Italy): FOUR VERY OLD HIGHLAND PARKS

Highland Park 8 yo (43%, OB, Ferraretto Milano, 70’s) Cracked open for the Malt Maniacs on Friday by Valentino Zagatti himself at his place, in Lugo. Colour: gold. Nose: quite medicinal and waxy. Some grain. Develops on old books, celery, fennel… It needs quite some time to open up. Lots of heather then, moss after the rain, fern. Really great, getting more and more coastal. Lots of cereals. Mouth: astonishingly bold, on coffee and vegetables (beans). Very grainy, in a nice way. Sugared cereals, cornflakes, muesli. The palate is less spectacular than the nose but still very good! I feel it deserves 85 points (emotionnal rating 100 points).

 
Valentino Zagatti and Johannes
 

Highland Park 12 yo (43%, OB, Ferraretto Milano, bottled 1979)
This one and the two next ones were tasted at Guiseppe Begnoni’s Ali-Baba-cavern, in Bologna. A strikingly great HP, this one! Colour: pure gold. Nose: eucalyptus sweets, propolis, wax, pollen… Fantastic. Develops on passion fruits and burnt caramel, fudge… Then lots of heather and dried flowers, herbal tea. Just superb. Mouth: so salty right at the start! And so bold! Lots of white pepper too. Goes on with tons of dried fruits (mostly figs, dates) and butter caramel. The finish is very long and extremely satisfying, with some very nice notes of old sherry. How great! A wonderful old Highland Park, so complex. Imagine the happy Italians who could drink this kind of whisky for quite cheap not so long ago... 94 points.

Highland Park 19 yo 1959 (43%, OB, Ferraretto Milano)
Colour: deep amber. Nose: lots of camphor and wax at first nosing. Burnt cake, crème brulee, light caramel, all very subtle. Some light pepper… It then gets quite restrained and somewhat closed after five minutes – strange. Then it opens up again after twenty minutes or so, on dried orange and fructose. Smokier and smokier, getting just a little dusty (cinnamon). Mouth: slow start, even a little weak, but then it grows on and on, on bunches of dried fruits, smoke, leather, chartreuse, tobacco. It then gets quite medicinal, with lots of camphor, bandages… The finish isn’t too long, but you feel like if you just had a spoonful of orange marmalade. A great oldie, very subtle and elegant, worth 93 points.
 
 

Highland Park 1902 (Berry’s All Malt, bottled 1952 or 1953) The abv isn’t written on the label, but this one’s been analysed by the distillery itself, and it is 39.8%. Nose: light and delicate, with lots of sea air and bandages, but almost no peat or smoke. Perhaps the peat has just vanished? Lots of leather, vanilla, grilled nuts, old walnuts… Tons of ‘secondary’ aromas. How complex! Some great passion fruit and kiwi too. Mouth: paraffin, water, dust, old turpentine, cold tea and very old sweet wine… Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, much more than just a curiosity! Medium long finish. A rating? Organoleptically: 86 points, but emotionally, certainly 99 or 100 points.The oldest malt I ever had. Champagne! (and thanks again, Luc).

There are many more tasting notes of great oldies to come - stay tuned!

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Hayden sings Home by Saturday (mp3). A broken, slightly out of tune voice but certainly a feeling and some nice arrangements. I like him. A lot.  
  GIFTS - Seen on eBay, this old whisky miniature sheltered in a matchbox. The box is original. For any urgent need of fire?
 
November 25, 2004

CONCERT REVIEWS by exa-deluxe guest writer Nick Morgan:

STAN WEBB'S CHICKEN SHACK, JOHN MAYALL AND THE BLUESBREAKERS WITH MICK TAYLOR - London Hammersmith Apollo - November 16th

THE BARCODES, WITH DANIEL SMITH AND SONNY BLACK - London, Landmark Arts Centre - November 19th

 
When I was a young man, way back in the early 1970s, we used to make our own entertainment then – rather than turn to computer games and reality TV programmes. And Thursday night was our theatre of dreams – blues night at the Blues Attic. To tell the truth it wasn’t an attic, but rather the function room at the back of the Jolly Weavers – “weddings, funerals, bar-mitzvahs, blues attics…” - but for us, and for all those others at blues-attics across the UK, it was our induction into the soul of music.  
John 'Gandalf' Mayall
Thirty or more years on, last week afforded an unusual opportunity to see how the soul of music was faring. Tuesday. Hammersmith Apollo. Balding, bearded (not me, on either count) and bustin’ for the blues. First up was maverick gunslinger guitarist Stan Webb, of Chicken Shack fame. A couple of timeless hit singles, some OK albums and then a painfully languishing career. Stan, as he confessed, had spent most of the afternoon in the pub – and it showed as he struggled to remember songs, lyrics and licks. The voice (always a Webb trademark) was strong, the guitar not. The band masquerading as Chicken Shack were more like – to be frank – chicken shit. But Stan did remember to pay tribute to John Peel, “oo strtd it ol 4 uz”, which caused a nervous ripple in the audience as the balding bearded ones looked around nervously wondering who might be next …
Who was of course, the Godfather of British Blues. John Mayall jogged on stage looking like Gandalf – minus cloak- and proceeded to romp through an hour or more of a slightly cheesy USA Soul Review style show that nonetheless confirmed why he is considered to be so influential. Thirty-five nights on the road yet this septuagenarian sang, played and mouth-harped like a man half his age, on blues and Bluesbreaker classics. On guitar as Texan Buddy Whittington, whose fluid fingerboard style exemplified the American blues guitar technique.
Mick 'The Pieman' Taylor
  So it was fascinating when veteran Bluesbreaker and ex-Stone Mick Taylor joined the set (only just beating Bruce in the ‘who ate all the pies’ contest) and added his distinctly angular, and Anglo, style playing. Thinking about this later I could see why, ‘tho I’ve been a refusnik for years, Clapton (and for that matter the truly great Peter Green) have been given such universal acclaim, the likes of which Stan, and so many other British axe-meisters have never received. And maybe that’s why Brits apparently like Jack White so much – he plays the blues like a limey.
One final note. John sang us a “new composition” – in the ‘how are we going to save the world for our children’ genre of the late ‘70s. We cringed when he rhymed ‘September 11’ with ‘Heaven’ – but my 21-year-old daughter, taking a night off from the Capitol’s biggest buzz bands, simply laughed (or maybe it was her advanced smoker’s cough). Either way John – stick to the Otis Span.
Magically we found our way from this rather soulless veterans’ night to the beating pulse of blues in London purely by chance – happening on Friday at a gothic church at Teddington, in the heart of the Thames delta. On stage were the Barcodes, featuring Scottish blues-piano virtuoso Daniel Smith, and acclaimed guitarist Sonny Black. In about half an hour Smith played every style of blues-keyboard known to man – failed only by another sub-standard electric piano – from Chicago down to New Orleans, and we did the journey with him. Black, looking like a languorous Texan Sheriff, played acoustic and electric in the British folk-blues style – another musical twist – but was truly captivating.  
Sonny Black and Alan Glenn
But the centre of gravity for the evening were the Barcodes – who took me back to my Blues Attic at a stroke. Soulful Hammond-style organ and vocals from Bob Haddrell (who I mistakenly took to be the rustic jolly lock-keeper from Teddington); artfully syncopated drums from Dino Coccia; and solid Brit style guitar from Alan Glenn – the ex Yardbird and Nine-Below-Zero harmonica player who truly dusted the floor with Mr Mayall every time he picked up his harp. Maybe these guys have day-jobs (you know – Banks, Building Societies etc.) although the astonishing number of blues projects they are involved in makes me doubt this. But they oozed the passion for the roots of rock that characterised my earliest musical adventures. Apparently they find it hard to get gigs – I can’t think why. Check out the website, buy the CDs, pick up the ‘phone, and book them. In a world full of barcodes these are truly unique – and they deserve to be cherished. - Nick Morgan (photos by Kate)

Thanks, Nick. Here are a few mp3's...
Stan Webb's Chicken Shack - A blues song (low fi but very good track)
John Mayall - Don't waste my time
The Barcodes - plenty of short, but excellent samples here

 

TASTING - TWO CAOL ILAS + TWO

Caol IlaCaol Ila 8 yo 1994/2003 (43%, Signatory, cask #10843)
Another one that illustrates the new trend consisting in bottling the malts at younger age, especially the peated ones. Faster cash? Colour: almost white. Nose: quite pungent and spirity, fresh and smoky. Rather close to a newmake, which is not surprising, as the cask itself appears to have been quite neutral (‘spent’). Smells like medicinal alcohol – just weaker. Gets a little minty. Mouth: sweet and peaty attack, rather enjoyable. Smoke, pepper, apple juice… Not much else I’m afraid. Medium finish, on pepper and sugar. Easily drinkable, but not really ‘single cask’ material, I’d say… Or really too young? 72 points

Caol Ila 18 yo (43%, OB, 2004) Colour: straw. Nose: starts on green apple, liquorice and cold tea. Very little peat at first nosing. Develops on caramel, and vanilla – very bourbonny. Smoked fish, tangerine, gooseberry… Much subtler than the 12 yo OB, but also a little lumpish. Just a little… Gets slightly sourish too. Mouth: starts on rather heavy liquorice, smoke, fruit salad, bitter almond. Hints of camphor… Gets quite peppery and spicy. Again, it’s rather complex and nicely balanced. A gentle peated Islayer, with a long, peppery finish, and some nice notes of Darjeeling tea after a minute or two. The Caol Ila 18 yo already became a classic. 87 points (up one point).  

Caol Ila 12 yo 1991/2004 (50%, DL OMC, cask #DL 876, 360 bottles, 6 month sherry finish) Colour: pale straw. Nose, rather restrained at first nosing, but some interesting farmy notes emerge after a few swirls. Ah, it gets more and more complex. Very medicinal (bandages, camphor, turpentine) and grassy (wet hay, grass juice). Develops on animal smells (wet dog, horse stable) and dried seaweed (varech). Gets very Taliskerish after a few minutes. Mouth: wow, what a nice attack! Dried fruits right at the start, but lots of smoke, rubber and pepper bursting out after just two or three seconds. Wow, it’s bold and compact, too bad there are a few sweetish notes… the sherry? It’s nice, but I feel this cask would have deserved to be bottled ‘naked’. Bold development, on liquorice, marzipan, dried ginger… Very, very nice indeed! The finish is very long, nicely balanced, with a strange ‘sweet-and-salty’ feeling. A excellent bottling! 88 points.

 
  Caol Ila 'Cask Strength' (55%, OB, 2004) I had this one several times, and I think I must have downed two or three bottles. Colour: pale straw. This one is more straightforward, more direct – and perhaps a little simpler. A big punch, yet not a smack-in-you-face malt. Tar and smoke (garden bonfire), green malt and hay… Develops on apple compote and hot milk, getting quite peppery and spicy (clove). Not too complex – but very, very nice. Mouth: again, a bold attack, and again, it’s somewhat simpler. Quite ‘creamy’. Smoke, peat, apple, pepper… Very maritime (salty), even if this one hasn’t been matured near the see. Develops on tea, camomile, praline, dried orange, nutmeg. It gets ‘wider’ after a few minutes. Dried pear, banana… I always liked it since it’s been launched, and I still like it for its great compactness and boldness. A perfect hipflask malt for Sundays. Well, let me quote the Smiths again: ‘everyday is like Sunday!’ 88 points (unchanged).
Tie again! The DL is much more complex but slightly sweetish, the OB is (much) simpler but more ‘compact’ and straightforward. Both are highly recommended!

GIFTS - Seen on eBay, this magnificient ceramic made for the Italian market a while ago. The box is genuine... I don't know if it was a gift with a bottle of Cardhu, but I'd say Diageo/UDV certainly have had better ideas in the past, like... like some leather pouches, for instance. Now I'm wondering whether they offered all the involved distilleries with the 'pure malt' version or not...

By the way, together with fellow Maniacs Johannes, Luc and Olivier, we'll drive to Italy right today, and visit several whisky collectors there. We'll also attend Whiskyship Zurich on our way back. I guess we'll have some wonderful drams, so, stay tuned to whiskyfun and maltmaniacs! We'll be back on Sunday, so no updates till then, sorry, unless I manage to connect my laptop somewhere. Whiskyfun is a little too 'heavy' for some updates via Bluetooth... Ah, children of the Century indeed.

 
 
November 24, 2004
  MUSIC - Oldies but Goldies: a killer tune that helped many 45+ guys find a wife (erm...). Here it's ex-Genesis member Steve Hackett who plays King Crimson's 1969 mega-hit 'In the Court of the Crimson King' (mp3) with Crimson musicians John Wetton, Ian McDolnald and Chester Thomson. Please buy Hackett's music.

TASTING - TWO OFFICIAL LAGAVULINS

Lagavulin 1987/2003 Distiller's Edition (43%, OB, lgv. 4/491) Colour: amber-tobacco. Nose: wow! Could this one come close to the superb 1979 again? I didn’t like the 1980 and 1984 too much, but the 1986 was very good again (86 points). This 1987 appears to be quite complex, with lots of empyreumatic aromas at first nosing. Burning fir wood, resin, eucalyptus and camphor on one side, and dried fruits, Christmas cake, orange skin and sweet white wine on the other side. Don’t get me wrong, all these aromas are perfectly melted. This nose is simply beautiful, mainly because it’s really something else. It smells like a much, much older whisky! Mouth: ah, beautiful. Sure it’s very sweet (the PX), but everything’s beautifully melted. Coffee, smoke, crystallized fruits (mostly orange, kumquat, quince). Lots of herbal tea, liquorice and ‘soft’ Xmas spices. I don’t know who’s responsible for crafting this, but it’s plain excellent job. I love it, even if I’m not too much into finishes usually. The finish is only medium long, though, and that might be the only flaw, if any. Perhaps at 45-46%? 91 points, no less (yes, for a finished whisky!) And one of the very few malts I just can’t spit out while tasting.

 
  Lagavulin 12 yo Special Release 2002 (57.8%, OB, 2nd release) Colour: white wine. Rather closed at first nosing, but some heavy smoke and overcooked coffee are soon to develop. Frankly, it’s a little rough and simple, especially when compared both with the regular 16 yo (whatever the batch) and the Distiller’s Edition. Sure it’s very ‘pure’ and ‘clean’, but it lacks a little smoothness. Yes, Serge speaking. It really starts to smell ‘the distillery’ after a moment (wort, beer, feints), and even like a cow stable. Extremely austere… Not an ‘enjoyable’ kind of nose. Mouth: ah, now this is better. Bold, powerful, coating… Now we’re talking! Again a nice impression of ‘compactness’, which is something I always like. I must have it HtoH with the Caol Ila CS one day. Smoke, organics, malt, Japanese tea (Kabuse), roasted peanuts… Develops on crystallised ginger, cold herbal tea, aniseed… Yes, that’s more like it. The finish is very long, bold, and slightly peppery. Another one that takes no prisoners! 87 points.
 
November 23, 2004
MUSIC - Recommended listening: let's have some great blues, like The Modern Blues Band playing mega-hit Mustang Sally (mp3). All tracks on this page are worth checking. What a great band! By the way, they are from... Moscow (Russia ;-). Please buy their music if you can find some.  
 

HEAD TO HEAD - OLD AND NEW GLENFARCLAS 30 yo OFFICIAL

Glenfarclas 30 yo (43%, OB, circa 1997) Colour: light amber. Nose: rather light and flowery at first nosing. Some bold, but elegant sherry is quick to appear (not the heavy oloroso style at all). Lots of toffee, caramel, cooked butter, vanilla stick, flower nectar. Some minty notes too, eucalyptus, beeswax. Hints of burnt cake, burning fir-wood, resin. Some ginger ale. Quite complex! I like it very much...

Mouth: it appears to be rather simpler then the nose. Tons of wood and tannins, it gets rather bitter right at the start. Lots of dried orange and burnt breadcrumb. It gets curiously watery after a few minutes, and the finish is sort of short, with just some alcohol and burnt wood on the palate – and not much on the tongue. Well, the nose was great, but the mouth quite disappointing. 84 points. Let’s check how the new one’s doing now…
Glenfarclas 30 yo (43%, OB, 2004) Colour: deep amber - much darker than the old one, see picture above. Nose: bolder, and more spectacular attack, with the eucalyptus and resin coming much sooner. More phenolic, with whiffs of smoke. Lots of crystallised orange. Some really great sherry in there… A beautiful nose, bolder, with more oomph than its older version. Wow! Mouth: oh, this has just nothing to do with the ‘old’ 30 yo . A bold, creamy attack, on lots of sherry, dried fruits (all kinds, pear, orange, fig…), spices, cake… Close to the greatest old Macallan 18 yo distilled in the seventies. Great notes of eucalyptus and peppermint, and some soft tannins and white pepper. Beautiful. The finish is medium long, but bold and balanced. What’s sure is that this new 30 yo is just another whisky. It turns out that they managed to turn their formerly overlooked 30 yo into a benchmark malt, congrats! 90 points.  
 
November 22, 2004
  MUSIC - Recommended listening: highly skilled French pop composer Benjamin Biolay sings 'Les Cerfs-Volants' (Paperkites - mp3). Some say he's Serge Gainsbourg's spiritual son... Benjamin is also Chiara Mastroianni's husband (picture, right) - and Chiara is the daughter of Catherine Deneuve (picture, left) and Marcello Mastroianni. Yes, Benjamin is the guy on the middle of the picture. Lucky one. Please buy his music!
 

TASTING - THREE NEW INDIE MACALLANS

Macallan 1990/2004 Rum Finish (46%, Wilson & Morgan)
Colour: white straw. Nose: ha! That’s Macallan?! Fresh like a Lowlander, almost grassy. Sour milk, Indian yoghurt (lassee), hay, straw… Butter, dill, parsley, and yes, hints of white rum and old wood. Rather nice! Develops on cider. Mouth: bold and powerful, yet a little sweetish. Candy sugar, cooked apples, tea. Not too complex, I’d say. Quite grassy. Coffee beans. Not much development. Hints of cold, sugared coffee – or Nescafe. Long, but indefinite finish. Well, not much happening here. This one won’t make History, although it’s rather drinkable. 80 points.

Macallan 1991/2004 Extra Strength (50%, Wilson & Morgan)
Extra Colour: light amber. Nose: this one’s completely different – much closer to the OBs, yet very different. Much less creamy, sharper, on coffee, over baked cake, liquorice, chicory. Nice sherry, but rather in the ‘fino’ style. Roasted beans, hot bread. Simple, but very nice and quite special. Mouth: great attack, on tropical fruits on one side and sherry on the other side. Lots of oomph! Orange peel, candy sugar, cake… Let’s check if I still have some Cask Strength OB somewhere on my shelves… I’d love to compare both now… Here it is, a 10 yo OB at 58.8%. Oh yes, the OB is much more sherried, more tannic and more winey. It really sticks your tongue to your palate! So, the W&M is somewhere between the boldly sherried (former) OBs and the full bourbon C/S Macallans one can sometimes find at IBs like Douglas Laing. I think it’s very good, its finish is long – just a little too sweetish for my tastes. 85 points.
 
  Macallan 25 yo 1978/2004 (50%, DL OMC, cask #DL 1214, 258 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: again a different style! Fresh, clean and fragrant. Lily from the valley, lime, grapefruit. I like it a lot for it’s purity. Gets sourish after a while, though, but in a nice way: cooked yoghurt, fresh creme, warmed milk. Then it gets grassier and grassier (straw). Very nice, but it smells like a 8 yo malt. Incredible, it makes me think of the old Glendullan 8 yo OB, which I sort of liked – just sharper and bolder. Mouth: oh, I like it! Something really different, sort of feminine. Floral (herbal tea) and fruity (apple compote, rhubarb, plum). Add a dash of pepper and some nutmeg, and quite some tannins from the wood, and you get something really special. Nobody will ever say it’s Macallan when tasting it blind! 87 points.
TASTING - Glenfarclas 1991/2004 (46%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, cask #5620, oloroso) Colour: full amber. Nose: bold and rich. Lots of sherry but not overwhelmingly so. Cider apples, oak, butter caramel. It’s nice – much nicer than the 15 yo OB, but I feel it still lacks complexity. Gets oakier and oakier. Notes of beer… but the sherry is soon to take control. I know it’s oloroso but it really smells like fino! Nose: nice, but very oaky and tannic attack. Another one that sticks your tongue to your palate. Lots of bitter orange, Grand Marnier… Again, not too complex but highly enjoyable. Extremely ‘compact’. The finish is long, on orangey notes. Lots of oomph, but again, not too complex. I still like it: 85 points.  
 
November 21, 2004
TASTING - Brora 30 yo '2003' (55.7%, OB, 3000 bottles) When I had this one the first time – it was blind -, I answered Dave Broom it was Talisker, and that was in front of fifty French aficionados. Laughable? Well, remember Brora and Talisker were sharing the same maltings back then ;-)… Okay, let’s have another go at it now. Colour: gold. Nose: wow! Taliskerish indeed… Coffee at first, and then some huge farmy notes, but not in a vulgar way this time, whereas many young farmy Islayers… Well, you see what I mean. Lots of tropical fruits (pineapple liqueur), dried pear, fig spirit, smoke and pepper. Hints of tiger balm, horse stable, wet dog. It gets grassy after a while (fresh celery, roots, hay). Goes on with some ‘coastal’ notes (lots of seaweed)… and always a superb balance… how elegant! Simply beautiful, better than I remembered.  
Mouth: wow!!! How rich and bold, yet perfectly balanced and, again, elegant. Starts on some bold liquorice stick, roots (gentian), with hints of fructose and lots of smoke, rubber, tar… Sweeter than expected (dried fruits). Lots of cold herbal tea. Again, just superb. Some toffee, crystallised orange, ginger. It gets quite spicy after a while, with some nutmeg and clove. Strong honey (chestnut honey). How complex! The finish is long, on rooty notes, nectar and white pepper, and I can't stop loving it. Okay, another ‘unspittable’ Brora! It appears that the 87 points I gave this one when Dave made me taste it last time were influenced by my mishap. Now I feel it’s rather worth 93 points. Yep, no less. Now I have to taste the 3rd batch, bottled this year.
  MUSIC - Recommended listening: India Arie sings an acoustic version of her hit Video (mp3). Stunning. Please buy her music - oh, I'd bet you already did! (via Cyberchan)
 
November 19, 2004

TASTING – THREE LEGENDS FROM THE SIXTIES

Excellent tasting session organised in Paris by La Maison du Whisky on November 18th, 2004. Thanks Thierry and gang!

 

Dungourney 1964/1994 (40%, OB, Irish) One of the last casks from the old Midleton distillery, which was using the biggest still in the world (more than 150000 litres). It’s a pure pot still whiskey, i.e. 50% malted barley, 50% un-malted barley, and it’s been triple distilled. Colour: pale gold. Nose: grainy and spirity at first nosing, with quite a lot of oaky notes but curiously almost no tannins. Bold nail varnish and paint thinner, getting quite grassy and developing on marzipan, almond milk, broiled cereals. Whiffs of rubber (brand new inner tube of a bicycle tyre). Not too spectacular right at the start, but it gets better after a few minutes, with a lot of beeswax, crystallised kumquats and lemons and hints of old walnuts and green barley… Mouth: surprisingly pungent and even prickly, becoming then much sweeter. Quite some pepper, bitter almond, marzipan...

Again, it’s a little oaky but not tannic, and I guess the cask wasn’t too active. Some pear spirit too, and some cold strong coffee (ristretto). The finish is medium long, with some leather, pear juice, pepper and dust. A very interesting Irish, even if not an highly enjoyable one. A piece of History? 84 points.
Springbank 40 yo Limited Edition (40.1%, OB, bottled 2000) Another legendary bottle. Colour: pure gold. Nose: ah, this one is very far from some punchier old Springbanks. Rather closed and discrete at first nosing, you really need to ‘work’ it and to nose it quite deeply. Then you first get a whole bunch of wild flowers! Extremely refined and elegant. Lots of herbal tea (cold camomile). Develops on some bold camphor and eucalyptus, myrtle, thistle honey, dandelion (flower nectar). Incredibly fresh. Goes on with dried orange, quince jelly… So subtle! Its gets kind of buttery after a while, with some milk caramel, vanilla fudge. Hints of sweet wine (Sauternes) and cappuccino. A small cathedral! Mouth: superb, bolder and richer than the nose suggested. Light sherry, white pepper, fructose… Hints of orange water. Lots of spicy flavours after a moment, and then orange marmalade, with the white pepper underlining the whole constantly. It gets then quite gingery, and slightly tangy.  
The finish is rather long, mostly on orange marmalade and ginger. In a whole, it’s rather light and a little subdued, but extraordinarily fresh and complex. Perhaps a little feminine? 94 points
  Bowmore ‘Black’ 1964/1994 (50%, OB, second edition, 2000 bottles) Talk about a legend! Thanks 1,000 times to ‘La Maison’ for this! Colour: deep mahogany. Nose: extremely bold and rich attack on fruit jams: blackcurrant, strawberry, plum, cherry… Kirsch, wild raspberry spirit… Goes on with dried figs, dates… Then come some ‘funny’ meaty notes (game, grilled bacon) and then some bold Kalhua or Tia Maria (coffee liquor). Some winey notes do then appear, mostly vin de paille (straw wine) or eiswein. So rich! A little peat shines through all these ‘jammy’ notes, and makes the whole a little waxy (wax polish). There’s also some strawberry jam and crystallised orange striking back, and then even some seaweed. It’s incredible that some ‘coastal’ notes still make it through the sherry! Mouth: strong, rich and bold attack, as expected. Even rather balanced at first, with lots of fructose and some medicinal notes, buts it gets quite heavy after a while – some would say a little 'clumsy'...
Definitely not a prima ballerina. Lots of coffee, lots of smoke, lots of pepper, and lots of jam (black plum). It seems to get thicker and thicker, and the balance gets sort of lost, but maybe balance isn’t precisely what one is looking for when tasting a Black Bowmore. Chewier and chewier… Lots of nuts (roasted hazelnuts) and always these heavy jammy notes. Yes, traffic jam on the tongue! As expected, the finish is long and ‘jammy’, the jam managing to sort of annihilate the peat/smoke during the finish and the retro-olfaction. Definitely not the most balanced and complex amongts the splendid Bowmores from the Sixties, but certainly the most spectacular. 91 points.
MUSIC - Recommended listening: Wendie Colter sings Peephole Queen (mp3). Full of energy! Please buy her music, she rocks!  
 
November 16, 2004
 

CONCERT REVIEW: THE BEACH BOYS - Sheperds Bush Empire, London
Sunday November 14th -
by peta-deluxe guest writer Nick Morgan

God only knows what I’m doing here. I’m in the Gents dressed in a Hawaiian shirt amiably talking prostates with a total stranger. In the hallway outside the bouncers are so bored they’re fighting amongst themselves. Downstairs the St John’s Ambulance Brigade are doing a brisk trade in oxygen masks and fibrillators. On the stage the Beach Boys (or at least two of them), Mike Love (who looked as though he had forgotten to take off his bedroom slippers) and Bruce Johnston (not an original BB – but he joined the band when Brian Wilson gave up touring in the mid 1960s), with what turn out to be a band of highly accomplished musicians and vocalists, are churning out a tidal wave of surfin’ hits.
In case you’ve forgotten the Beach Boys is a story of Heroes and Villains. On the side of the angels is Bonkers Brian Wilson, the singing studio wizard who famously wrote the tunes in his room, and then lost it all somewhere between the Beatles’ Revolver and Sgt Pepper. Turning to a cask strength cocktail of narcotics he became one of the most publicised of all rock recluses until his return in recent years with a string of what were at first almost embarrassing concerts, and latterly with his release of the lionised Smile – or at least some of the songs from Smile – the great lost album of 1960’s rock.

Much loved, I note, by the same folks who lavish praise and adoration on the morbidified mediocrity of the likes of Nick Drake. In the red corner with D-evil are the rest of the boys; well not Dennis or Carl (deceased), or Al Jardine (fell out with Mike and Bruce), but what’s left of year’s of family-fall outs, feuds, and litigation.
One of the problems the Beach Boys faced at the end of the sixties was that they already seemed to be an anachronism.
 
As they play thirty years on the absolute irrelevance of their songs to the modern world shines through more strongly than a surf-swept sunrise. ‘Surfin USA’ ? Well not any more – unless you’ve had an eye and fingerprint scan at Immigration, taken your boots off to get through security, and never had a hit single called ‘Mathew and Son’. For better or worse the world has moved on – but Mike and Bruce (and for that matter the absent Brian) seem to be in blissful ignorance of this – trapped in a dollar wrapped time-capsule - milking their musical heritage to its last penny.
Yet even in a half-empty Shepherds Bush Empire it seems that most of the audience (or at least those that are still breathing) want to be back in the sixties too – and don’t seem too unhappy at having paid £35 each for the privilege. As for me – well wouldn’t it be nice to get home and listen to Nick Cave…- Nick Morgan (photos by Kate)

Thanks Nick! But why didn't you save your quids and buy some whisky instead? What, you don't have to pay for your whisky? Now, if the music was like this (mp3)... Yes, it's the Beach Boys.

Btw, I'll be away until Friday, and won't have my laptop with me, so sorry, no updates till I'm back.

 

TASTING - ONE OLD GLENLIVET AND ONE HALF

Blue Hanger 25 yo (45.6%, Berry Bros, Glen Grant/Glenlivet vatting, 2003) Colour: amber. Nose: really classic. Caramelised apple, sherry, dried orange, tropical fruits (guava). Most enjoyable. Develops on milk caramel and herbal tea. Lime tree, camomile. Cappuccino, vanilla creme. Really nice and enjoyable… again, a classic, with some very nice sherry. Mouth: nice, quite creamy and very satisfying. Dried orange, chocolate, vanilla, sherry. Gets a little winey. Hints of white pepper, soft tannins. Medium finish, on toffee. Again and again, a true classical Speysider, nicely sherried. Not too complex, but really enjoyable.
84 points.

Glenlivet 26 yo 1977/2003 (57%, Adelphi, cask #13120)
Colour: light amber. Nose: much more discrete than the Blue Hanger. Curiously grassy and spirirty at first, before some heavy winey/sherried notes emerge. Lots of ‘wine cask’ aromas. Old red wine, a little dusty. Old books, Gets quite spicy: clove, cinnamon, nutmeg. Keeps developing on cocoa. Mouth: the nose was a little deceptive, but the first mouthfeel is superb. Bold and powerful, on mocha, dried orange, dark toffee and dark rum. Notes of bitter chocolate, sherry, crystallised orange. Develops on dried fruits (mostly apricot), grand marnier. Hints of old wood, old oak cask. Very long, dry and slightly winey finish. A good, solid cask strength Speysider. 86 points.
 
     
 
WHISKY ADS- Here come the crazy Black and White dogs! Left: at the beach, 1970 - right in a bar, 1974. Arf arf arf!
  MUSIC - Recommended listening: sung poem Whisky baby (mp3) by Canadian duo Whisky Child. A great blues, with great lyrics - somewhat a la Tom Waits. And Katharine Harris' voice! 'Whisky Child, what are you doing now?'. Don't miss them!

November 2004 - part 1 <--- November 2004 - part 2 ---> December 2004 - part 1
       


C
heck the index of all entries:
Whisky
Music
Nick's Concert Reviews
 

Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Bowmore ‘Black’ 1964/1994 (50%, OB, second edition, 2000 bottles)

Bowmore 38 yo 1964 (42.9%, OB, oloroso, 300 bottles)

Bowmore 38 yo 1964 (43.2%, OB, bourbon, 300 bottles)

Bowmore 37 yo 1964 (49.6%, OB, fino, 300 bottles)

Brora 30 yo '2003' (55.7%, OB, 3000 bottles)

Glenfarclas 30 yo (43%, OB, 2004)

Highland Park 12 yo (43%, OB, Ferraretto Milano, bottled 1979)

Highland Park 19 yo 1959 (43%, OB, Ferraretto Milano)

Lagavulin 1987/2003 Distiller's Edition (43%, OB, lgv. 4/491)

Springbank 40 yo Limited Edition (40.1%, OB, bottled 2000)