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Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2004 - Part 1
       
                   
September 2004 <--- October 2004 - part 1 ---> October 2004 - part 2
 
October 15, 2004

TASTING - FOUR LONGMORNS

Longmorn 20 yo 1981/2001 (50%, DL OMC, 570 bottles, sherry) Colour: 9kt gold. Nose: ouch! Sour milk, wood, rancid butter. Once you overcome these weird aromas, you get some nice cooked apricot and fresh pineapple, plus some hints of oriental pastry, baklava. Mouth: warming, very solid. A mixture of overcooked coffee and ashes. Almost bitter. Rum? Long, bitter finish. Interesting for its boldness, perhaps, but it’s really too dirty and rancid for me. 77 points (Olivier 76).

 

Baklava - Oriental pastry

Longmorn 30 yo 1973/2003 (56%, Millenium Malt, Duncan Piper, cask #3978, sherry) Colour: mahogany. Nose: bold sherry. Cedar wood, burnt cake, crystallised orange, a little eucalyptus, mocha, clove, say sauce. Beautiful sherry, with no lumpiness or sulphur whatsoever, which is rare. Really wonderful. Mouth: very powerful and bold. Lots of bitter chocolate, Van Houten cocoa powder, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. Sure it’s very drying, but that’s sort of enjoyable here. An anti-sweet sherry monster for big boys? Long and drying finish. 90 points (Olivier 90) – thanks for this one, Ho-cheng.
Longmorn 25 yo 1978/2003 (58.1%, Peerless, cask #5556, bourbon) Colour: gold. Nose: much fresher and neutral, yet powerful. Very bourbony. Vanilla, oak, roasted peanuts. Gets quite spicy. White pepper. A little sugarish. Candy sugar. Mouth: very powerful. Lots of salted liquorice. Kikkoman sauce. Sweet and sour… Very special, for sure. Long finish, on salted liquorice. Quite mono-dimensional. Interesting, but not too enjoyable for my tastes. 80 points (Olivier 80).
Longmorn 1967/2002 (57.1%, James MacArthur, Cask Strength selection) A 35 yo Longmorn! Should be interersting. Colour: gold-amber. Nose: old church (incense, old wood, wax, lis). Develops on lots of flowers (Lily from the valley), rose. Stunning in such an old malt. Beeswax, eucalyptus, shoe polish, fresh fruit (kiwi). Gets woody but not too much. Mouth: bold and powerful. Lots of pepper and spices from the wood. Liquorice and bitter orange. Perhaps the wood took too much of its share. Lacks a little complexity. Long, but alcoholic finish. As often with theese venerable malts, a beautiful nose, but a slightly disappointing nose. 84 points (Olivier 84).
 
     
MUSIC - Recommended listening: French indie protest-singer Fred Alpi. Fred, who's a friend, already has two CDs out and leads a powerful rock trio. Having said that, I prefer his quieter works, like Ton nom en rouge dans mon carnet noir (mp3 - my favourite) or his acoustic version of Joe Hill (mp3). Fred was formerly a member of Berlin based cult band 'Sprung aus dem Wolken', and he composed their song 'Pas attendre', which has been used by Wim Wenders in 'The Wings of Desire'. He's touring Canada these days, and will be in Montreal on October 27th (dates on his website).
 
 
 
October 14, 2004
 

MUSIC - CONCERT REVIEW: RON SEXSMITH  - by deluxe guest writer Nick Morgan

The first time I saw Ron Sexsmith play was in a circus tent, when he looked like a lost child at a fairground. Last night in London's Queen Elizabeth Hall he looked like an androgynous nephew awkwardly out of place at a school prizegiving. But somewhere inside that clumsy boy there's a rock & roll star bursting to get out - as he demonstrated in a set that swung from heart-rending pathos ('In a Flash', when we all nearly cried) to tremolo and vibrato driven Graham Parkeresque rock ('Wishing Wells').

Awkward or not - with his voice of an under-age choirboy getting stronger as the night went on - he captivated an audience (equally ill-at-ease with the venue) through almost two hours of tunes from his beautifully crafted song-book. Songs from the new Retriever led the way - but at the heart of the evening were classics such as 'Cheap Hotel', 'Wastin' Time' (with Ron solo on the Piano), 'Riverbed' (another piano arrangement with three part harmonies from the band and support artist Sarah Slean), 'Secret Heart', 'Lebanon Tennessee' and somewhat appropriately, a final encore - guitar and cello, 'Speaking with the Angel'. Oh yes - and somewhere in the middle a duet, 'Lo Mismo Que' with Alexis Puentis. On the face of it all simple tunes - but with a deceptive complexity in terms of structure, musicianship (an excellent band - but Ron can play that guitar), and in particular lyrical structures. An evening with only one blemish. Ron - where did your Mum buy that suit? - Nick Morgan
Thank you Nick. Here's a recommended listening: Lebanon, Tennessee (mp3, 1996 acoustic radio recording, via the Ron Sexsmith pages)
 
TASTING - Talisker NAS (59.2%, OB, for sale only at the distillery, 2004) Colour: straw. First nosing: sharp, peaty and farmy, not unlike some old Broras. Haha! This one makes me remember when Dave Broom caught me in front of dozens of French whiskyfreaks - we did taste a great malt blind and Dave asked me what it was. I said Talisker, it was Brora. Dammit. The only excuse I found was that Brora and Talisker did share the same maltings back in the 70's. Anyway, this Talisker develops on wet hay, dried flowers, wrack. Then come the smoke and the pepper. How clean, how fresh! Cleaner and less woody than the recent 20 yo ‘bourbon’. Whiffs of sea spray. Mouth: almost pungent. Even a little prickly, but so nicely balanced. Punch and balance, I’d say. Lots of peat, vegetable juice, wintercress, white pepper, liquorice stick, rubber. Quite compact and sort of austere - perhaps not for some of the newbies who must tour the distillery. Long and nicely bitter finish, on cold, infused tealeaves. Just superb, exactly my tastes. 92 points.  
     
 
October 13, 2004

TASTING - NEW MACALLANS 'FINE OAK' VERTICAL, FROM 10 TO 30YO

Macallan 10 yo 'Fine Oak' (40%, OB, 2004) The youngest of the new ‘Fine Oaks’ Colour: straw. Nose: fresh, light and grainy. A little spirity, with lots of flowery notes: violet, lilac. Develops on sour crème and hot butter. Hints of overripe orange. Really different from the former 10 yo ‘sherry’. Smells like a good Lowlander (Rosebank?) Surprisingly enjoyable! Mouth: nice attack on caramel, roasted peanuts, malt, but not much development. Quite rounded, with hints of vanilla. Quite nervous, still, and sort of satisfying. Alas, the finish is rather short and leaves nothing but a few tannins on your tongue. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still quite enjoyable! 78 points.
Macallan 12 yo 'Fine Oak' (40%, OB, 2004) Colour: straw. Nose: much less expressive than the 10 yo at first nosing. Woodier, and more buttery/creamy. Grassier too. Still flowery, but much less than the 10 yo (more towards dandelion, buttercup). Traces of sherry – just traces. Mouth: more aromas, but less body. Sweet and quite fruity (ripe apple). Sort of weak and almost watery compared to the 10yo. It really lacks the latter’s oomph. Short finish, on caramel and wood – getting sort of sour rather quickly. Like I thought the first time I tasted this new Mac, it really lacks personality. 77 points.
Macallan 15 yo 'Fine Oak' (43%, OB, 2004) Colour: straw. Nose: quite different this time. Much more discrete than both the 10 and the 12yo. Much less flowery, but fruitier: ripe apple, pear, peach. It needs time to open up, but while it gets punchier, it gets much, much woodier as well. This one clearly smells ‘older’ than its youngest brothers. Gets very dusty after a while (old cardboard). Mouth: a much bolder, and easily more enjoyable, oaky attack. Fine oak indeed! Gets bourbonny, with lots of vanilla stick and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon). Too bad it’s getting a little bitter with time. Hints of liquorice, cocoa powder, dust. But again, the finish is only short to medium, getting dustier and dustier. Too bad. 79 points.
Macallan 18 yo 'Fine Oak' (43%, OB, 2004) Colour: straw – yes again, all four, 10, 12, 15 and 18 yo show almost the same colour. Nose: ah, quite a different class this time. It’s much more expressive, although in the same vein as the 15yo. It’s woody right from the start, with old books and cocoa powder mixed with some flowers, not unlike the 10 yo (violet, lily, lilac). Hints of sherry and milk caramel, vanilla fudge, orange. Not bad at all. Mouth: sweet but extremely woody. Rum, raisins, vanilla, fruitcake, cocoa… Some fresh fruit too (apple). Again, the finish isn’t very long but quite woody. This one really makes me think of some rum from La Réunion. It’s good whisky, but again, like last time, I get the feeling it’s really far from the older 18 yo – whichever the vintages. But I’ll taste the new ‘sherry’ 18 yo very, very soon. Why not do a HtoH tasting with this ‘Fine Oak’? Good idea, stay tuned! 80 points

  Macallan 21 yo 'Fine Oak' (43%, OB, 2004)
Colour: straw again, just a little darker. Nose: again a step forward. Much more oomph this time. Some very nice notes of heather, lavender and tropical fruits (passion fruit, guava). Very nice balance. Vanilla crème, kumquat, skin of an overripe orange. Nice nose! Some oakiness and dust emerge after a few minutes. Mouth: rather bold attack, on crystallised orange, dried fruits, fructose. Nice! Hints of smoke and ashes. Too bad it gets a little too woody and tannic again. Develops on toasted bread, burnt cake, with hints of liquorice. Medium finish, on tannins and pepper. This one is much better than the 18yo, that’s for sure. 83 points.
Macallan 25 yo 'Fine Oak' (43%, OB, 2004)
Colour: dark straw. Nose: ah, it’s getting better and better. Again a nice balance, more on fruitcake, orange peel, tangerine. Lots of ginger too. Quinquina. Develops on lavender, fresh nutmeg, fir honey. I like it! It makes me think of Highland Park… Wait! Highland Park? Hmmm, Highland Park belongs to Edrington Group, just like Macallan, and we always wondered where the Macallan people could have found all these ‘new’ bourbon casks and… and… Hey, I’m joking! Anyway, this 25 yo has got a very, very nice nose. Mouth: balance is the word here, even if the attack is just a little watery. But the 'spirit' arrives after ten seconds, and then this 25 yo gets most enjoyable. Freshly squeezed orange juice, spices (clove), all sorts of dried fruits, ginger, pepper… Hints of Grand Marnier. And again a very nice balance even if, between us, they could have bottled these high-end malts at 46% instead of 43. You’re right, and why not the youngest ones as well? The nose was still nicer than the mouth, which has a quite weak and rather short finish, on orange peel. Too bad! But it’s really a nice malt… 85 points.
 
  Macallan 30 yo 'Fine Oak' (43%, OB, 2004)
Colour: dark straw. They really didn’t exaggerate with caramel – or let’s assume they didn’t use caramel at all. Good! Nose: a little more closed than the 25yo, but pretty much in the same league. Ginger, orange peel, honey… They might well have used more sherry casks in this one. Curiously, the 30 yo is also more spirity, even a little harsher than the 25yo. Some very nice hints of lavender crème – like the one they serve you in Provence. Oh, after a few minutes, it gets more and more complex, and not too woody in any way. I really like it. Mouth: ouch, now it's a little too woody for my tastes right at the start, but then it gets much more balanced, and much bolder than the 25yo. It gets even richer and richer, which is great news considering the most recent Macallan bottlings – the Replicas and all that. The wood keeps on talking, but it’s some nice wood. Gets dusty, your tongue sticks to your palate. Lots of spices emerge, certainly from the wood: clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, white pepper… Interesting, even if a little tiring. The finish is the longest, but it’s still not too long. Let’s rate this one just like the 25yo: 85 points.
 
October 12, 2004

TASTING - TWO GLEN GRANTS

Glen Grant 31 yo 1970/2001 (45%, Samaroli, sherry cask #1025) Colour: bronze-amber. Nose: quite meaty! Soy sauce. Nice dark caramel, mocha. Very refined and elegant. Lots of sherry but not a monster. A little peppery. A very nice nose, even if not spectacular. Mouth: very classical. Sherry, cocoa, cinnamon, dusty. Hints of parsley. Not flat dead on the palate, but it still lacks a little life. Medium finish, on cocoa. 82 points (Olivier 83).

 
     
Glen Grant 27 yo 1976/2003 (58.7%, Signatory, sherry cask, distilled 19/3/73) Colour: surprisingly light. White wine. Nose: powerful, with almost no wood influence that I can smell. Spirity, flowery, on hot butter and peardrops. A 27 yo Glen Grant, really? Hints of overheated metal, hot milk. Strange… Mouth: sulphur, grass, stale water… What’s that? Tastes like a cask strength Drumguish. Long, spirity and dirty finish. Err… but where’s the sherry? 69 points (Olivier 69).
     
  MUSIC - Recommended listening: Basement jaxx plays HotnCold (mp3). 'Everybody knows that dance music is in trouble. The DJs are too old, the clubs too lazy, the promoters too greedy and the beats too tired.' That's what the 'dynamic duo' writes on his website. Well, perhaps it's that there's very little good dance music... Check also Good luck (mp3 - Feat Lisa Kekaula)
     
 
October 11, 2004
  Yes, that's a square whisky barrel! It's an experiment conducted in Seagram's Waterloo plant, probably in the sixties. 'Ageing whisky in a square barrel did seem to result in a whisky of a different character, but the logistics of moving square barrels soon proved this design impractical' - dixit Seagram. Well, I guess they were also trying to put more casks in each warehouse. Yes, a bean counter's idea, probably ;-). Info via the city of Waterloo.
     

 

TASTING - THREE WINNING TALISKERS

Talisker 18 yo (45.8%, OB, 2004) A brand new official bottling, that should sort of compensate the fact that the well-known 10 yo became a little simpler, even if still much enjoyable. Colour: full amber. Nose: fresh and sweet, with lots of tropical fruit at first, mixed with some peat and pepper. We’re well in Taliskerland. The first impression is that it’s a little less punchy than the usual 10yo, but also mellower and subtler. Gets very fragrant after a while (rose water), orange water (oriental pastry). Hints of oak, slightly sour (cooked cider apple). A beautiful balance, still. Notes of ginger ale emerge after a few minutes.

     
Mouth: big, bold and punchy attack – much punchier that what the nose suggested. Lots of pepper, coffee, rather tannic. Gets quite dry rather quickly, on wood, clove, smoke. Not much fruit, except some bitter orange. Gets then really peppery and smoky, with some hints of chilli. Really austere, not for beginners, I’d say. There obviously is some sherry in there, but the winey notes just can’t make it through the smoke. I really like it. Finish: long, on pepper and tannins. 90 points. (The latest 10 yo I had scored 86 points).

18yo, 20 yo bourbon, 1955/1993 G&M

 

 

Talisker 20 yo 1982/2003 (58.8%, OB, Bourbon, 12000 bottles) This one always suffered from the comparison with the stunning 20 yo 1981/2002 sherry, even if the Diageo people always claimed that this Bourbon version was better. But the customer is king, and the king prefers the sherry version, period ;-). But let’s try this ‘bourbon’ again now…

Colour: dark straw (lighter than the 18 yo – maybe less caramel). Nose: much less mellow than the 18yo, and less expressive too. Somewhat austere. Woody, smoky and peppery. Gets grassy – freshly cut hay, fern. Develops on vanilla stick and pepper. Beer, apple skin. A bold and ‘peppery’ peat then takes control. A very nice nose, even if not really explosive. Notes of apple compote emerging after a few minutes. Mouth: again, a big, bold malt. Lots of interesting medicinal aromas: camphor, propolis, tar. Develops on liquorice stick, ashes, pepper. Again, very austere, getting nicely bitter (quinquina, Campari). This one takes no prisoners, and makes almost all Ardbegs taste sweetish. Finish: very long but rather elegant, again on pepper and wood. 92 points (+ 2 points since last tasting – the sherried 20yo, which won the Malt Maniacs Awards 2003, is still ahead with 93 points).
Talisker 1955/1993 (53.6%, G&M Cask series, c. #1310, 1311, 1257) Not the first time I taste this one – it’s always been a winner. Colour: mahogany. Nose: big bold sherry, not tired in any way. Beeswax, shoe polish, eucalyptus, camphor. Gets oaky but not too much. Develops on bitter orange and yes, some peat that goes through the quite heavy sherry. Whiffs of pepper and nutmeg. Again a very nice nose, even if it would be hard to guess it’s a Talisker when nosting this one blind. After a few minutes: some interesting notes of soy sauce, grilled lobster shell – well, you see what I mean. Mouth: again, lots of power. The peat and the pepper take control now, but the marriage stands. Lots of dried fruits, orange, chestnut tree honey. Develops on eucalyptus, camphor, gentian. Gets quite earthy. Over infused tea (tannins), toasted bread, Wet Havana tobacco (chewed cigar). Finish: again quite long, on overcooked coffee and yes, pepper again. 91 points.
 
In short, three beautiful expressions of Talisker, so different (very different wood treatments) but so similar at the same time. The pepper and kind of an austerity reign supreme, and the spirit itself – whether distilled in the 50’s or the 80’s, - always kind of stand up to the wood, whether heavy sherry or full bourbon. Untameable Talisker! Now, the brand new 18 yo sure is a winner.
 
  MUSIC - Billie Holiday was 44 when she died, 45 years ago. She was the best singer ever, and nobody will ever hold a candle to her. My favourite record is Lady in Satin - the one so many stupid people hated. It was also Billie's favourite, and she recorded it with the Ray Ellis string orchestra less than two years before she passed away. Why do I love it? The answer is here (mp3). Mesmerizing.
     
 
October 10, 2004
MUSIC - This is exactly what we need on a foggy Sunday: Brasilian drummer and percussionist Zé Bruno playing Big Circle (mp3). Have also a listen to Maculele (mp3) and Berimba (mp3), both tracks composed for a choregraphic work named 'Psyche Roots'. Bursting with energy! Please buy Zé Bruno's music if you like it.  
     
 

TASTING - TWO GLEN MORAYS

Glen Moray 13 yo 1980/1993 (43%, Master of Malt, cask #80/81) Colour: white wine. Nose: light, grainy and lactic. Very fresh and clean. Develops on floral notes (violet, flowers from the fields). Hints of freshly sawn wood. Very light but enjoyable. Mouth: bold and quite peppery. Gets a little coffeeish, Pear liquor, herbs, oat cakes. Rather long, but undefinite finish, on cake. Clean and fresh, not bad! 78 points (Olivier 78)

     
Glen Moray 1992/2004 (46%, Murray McDavid, MM0422, bourbon) Colour: white wine. Nose: punchy and spirity. Lots of flowers and a little citrus. Very clean, with very little wood influence. Really fresh and straightforward. Develops on freshly cut apple (granny smith) and pear. Mouth: bold and very satisfying. A little feinty. Varnish. Lacks a little complexity. Creamy. A good hipflask malt. Long and spirity finish. 80 points (Olivier 80).
     
 
October 9, 2004
  MUSIC - Week-end special: Japanese born singer Lisa Ono lives in Brasil since the age of 10. All you can say, is that you can hear that when listening to her very nice interpretation of The Police's mega-hit Every breath you take (mp3). Undemanding and most enjoyable. Please buy her music if you like it!
     
 
TASTING - Bowmore ‘Dawn’ (51.5%, OB, circa 2004) Colour: amber with a reddish hue. Nose: lots of wood and pepper jumping to your nose. Quite a lot of smoke and some rather interesting fruity notes (strawberry jam, overripe raspberry). Some ‘perfumy’ notes but not too disturbing this time. Mouth: bold and powerful. Winey. Lots of pepper and whiffs of smoke, getting a little meaty. Long finish, on liquorice and pepper. Much better than expected. 80 points.
     
 
October 8, 2004
  MUSIC - Take a good dram from Islay, click here, then close your eyes, and imagine you're in a pub in Scottland, Ireland, or any other 'Celtic' place. It works, doesn''t it? But what's this music, you may ask? It's Great Big Sea, from Newfoundland, playing 'Billy Peddle'. Another good tip from my friend Peter - thanks, pal!
     
BRORA NEWS: Not many new bottlings these days, but Duncan Taylor will bottle a new Brora 1981 next week, in their 'Peerless' series (and not as a 'Rarest of the Rare' bottling as their website says.)
     

TASTING - TWO BENROMACH

Benromach 15 yo (40%, OB, circa 2000) An older bottling that's been replaced with the 18yo. Colour: dark straw. Nose: fruit syrup, caramel, overripe apple, a dash of pepper, that’s it. Oh yes, just a little lavender. Mouth: de-structured, quite tannic and dusty, with some apple juice covered with dust and white pepper. Weak finish. Too bad! 75 points (Olivier 74).
Benromach 14 yo 1968 (40%, G&M CC old brown label) Colour: amber. Nose: bold, lots of coffee, toffee, dried fruits, orange peel. Fruit jam. A little spicy. Some nice honeyed notes. Gets peppery. A very nice nose. Mouth: nice and powerful. Overcooked fruits, Christmas cake, chocolate, praline, candy sugar. Quite similar to some brown rum. Gets just a little thin and woody after a while. Medium finish, on notes of rum. 85 points (Olivier 84).

 
 
     
  Interesting, this self-heating coffee with whisky seen on a German website. What's even more interesting is the way they promote it. Let me translate what they say for you: 'Your wife is gone, she took the children with her, and she left the Videotape collection. Now you really need something, quickly! A coffee with whisky! With Caldo Caldo (read Caliente Caliente) all that's no problem anymore! Press the button, shake for approx 1 min, and here you have your hot coffee with whisky!' Well, I guess the ad man was also responsible for sourcing the whisky... ;-)
     
 
October 7, 2004

 

As you can see, I decided to make a few tweakings to the layout, so that each page gets somewhat shorter. Perhaps it'll look a little funkier than previously... Well, I hope not! I also added a 'Coming Soon' section on the left side. Yes, .

FUN - Left: here's a drawing by French free-thinking cartoonist and jazz aficionado Siné. Well, I guess it would also work with Stuart Thompson, Jim McEwan, Donald Renwick or Iain Henderson - or (almost) any other distillery manager!

   
TASTING - Isle of Jura 6 yo 1996/2002 (60.5%, Adelphi, cask #1917) Colour: dark straw. Nose: extremely powerful. Very fragrant and spirity on one side (eau de Cologne), lots of apricot and mirabelle on the other side. Quince jam. Very nice, even at 60%. Mouth: very punchy of course, but the fruits come through. Peach, apricot. Hints of vanilla. Quite mature for such a young malt. Great freshness, not too far from a ‘white’ eau de vie. An Alsatian one, of course. Long fresh and playful finish, like Paganini's Capriccio n°24 played by Renato di Barbieri. 86 points (Olivier 88).  
     
  MUSIC - Recommended listening: German guitar player Tillman Hoehn plays Genesis' The Carpet Crawlers (medium quality mp3) with excellent singer Elke Diepenbeck (picture). Memories, memories... I remember when I went to see Genesis in concert in 1975 or 1976, when Peter Gabriel was still the singer. It was magical! And yes, how time flies!
     
October 6, 2004

 

GIFTS - I'm sure you'll 'need' this Lilliputian whisky distillery for Christmas, won't you? At £19.95, it's a cheap way of owning your own, dust-gathering distillery, even if made in China. I know, I have good tastes ;-).

   
   

TASTING - TWO NEW MAVERICKS BY MURRAY McDAVID

Sorry, just some (very) short notes...

Dufftown 11 yo 1993/2004 ‘Maverick’ (46%, Murray McDavid, Syrah finish) The finish works well here, the wine giving a little spiciness to the malt. Quite interesting. 83 points.

   
Caol Ila 11 yo 1993/2004 ‘Maverick’ (46%, Murray McDavid, Chenin blanc finish) An interesting toned down Caol Ila, quite syrupy. The casks contained some Quart de Chaume, which is a sweet white wine from the Loire valley. 84 points.
       
MUSIC - Yet a very good young songwriter, with very nice orchestrations and great maturity: it's Mirah!. Please don't listen to Cold, cold water (mp3) if you don't want to get addicted to her art. Archipelago (mp3) is much less dangerous... Well, not sure!  
     
October 5, 2004
 

 

MUSIC - Recommended listening: still provocative at 60, Brasilian superstar Ney Matogrosso sings Poema live (mp3). The server is a little slow, but it's worth it, what a nice slide guitar!

     

 

TASTING - THREE OLD 10 yo LAPHROAIGS AND A BONUS

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, ‘unblended’, Cinzano Italy, circa 1985) Colour: golden. Nose: a perfect mix of fruits, coffee and smoke. Hints of tropical fruits – perhaps the old bottle effect. Roasted peanuts. Fresh cream. Very complex. Mouth: very powerful. Lots of smoke and lots of citrus. Big, bold peat. Notes of coffee bean, getting vegetal. Cooked apple, pepper, nutmeg. Gets grassier and grassier, but it’s all a matter of peat getting stronger and stronger. A beautiful malt, that’s for sure. Finish; long, on smoke, passion fruit and pepper. Serge 90 (Olivier 88)

 

   
Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, Hiram Walker France, circa 1990) Colour: a little lighter gold. Nose: much less expressive. Almost closed. Feinty, a little milky. Develops on dirty seawater, dirt mop. Sure there’s some smoke, but it’s a little subdued. Some fishy notes. Mackerel? Some petrol as well. Mouth: weird. Some big bold peat rushing into your mouth after a few seconds, but it’s not a nice one. Still some dirty notes. Some sour woody notes as well. Not too enjoyable, I’d say. The weakest of the series. Finish: long, on sardines and smoke. It’s sort of funny. 81 points (Olivier 82)
Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, UK, circa 1995) Colour: same as 1990. Nose: full smoke. Cold fire, bitter almond. Simpler, but much more straightforward than the two older ones. Much smokier, in any case. Mouth: again, much smokier than the other ones. Very close to the current cask strength. Mouth: extremely smoky – much smokier than the current versions. Hints of white fruits but otherwise it’s switched on full-smoke mode. Really spectacular. Finish: long, on guess what? Yes, peat smoke. 89 points (Olivier 89)
 
  Laphroaig 16 yo 1987/2004 (56.1%, DL for The Whiskyfair Limburg 2004, sherry, 336 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: bold mocha, dry sherry and smoke. Roasted peanuts. Burnt matchstick. Superb but perhaps not as stunning as the greatest sherried Ardbegs. The peat wins the fight after a few minutes, and just starts to overwhelm the sherry, until you just forget about the latter. Mouth: very punchy. Lots of peat and smoke, with lots of other phenolic tastes. Fusel oil, carbonised bread, chilli, pepper… beautiful. Almost no sherry on the palate. The peat keeps going on and on. It’s just endless and almost heroic, like Beethoven's Symphony n°3 Op.55 (1st movt). 91 points (Olivier 92).
   
October 4, 2004

TASTING - TWO CAPERDONICHS

Caperdonich 16 yo 1972/1988 (40%, Signatory, casks #7130-7132) One of the very first Signatory bottlings. Colour: deep amber. Nose: beautiful, on ‘arranged’ rum, banana flambée, tropical fruits, cristallised angelica, and lots of Grand Marnier. A beautiful sherry. Develops on eucalyptus, tiger balm, camphor. Superb. Mouth: great, but lacks a little oomph. No wonder Signatory quickly switched to 43% bottlings. Tropical fruits, overcooked caramel, American restaurant coffee at the end of the day. A little sweetish, but quite nice, still. Maybe it would have made it into he 90’s, provided the mouth was a little bolder. Anyway, an interesting Caperdonich. 88 points (Olivier 88).

 
 
Caperdonich 27 yo 1974/2001 (50%, DL OMC, cask #475, refill hogshead)
Colour: light amber. Nose: pungent and spirity. Starts on creamy notes (fresh butter), nectar and light breakfast honey. Fresh almonds and peeled fresh walnut. Hints of pine tree resin and wax. Beautiful. Mouth: bold and youthful. Toasted bread, dried figs, dates, bitter orange with hints of crystallised ginger. Superb. A great, unmasked malt. No peat, no sherry, just the truth… And a long finish. This Caperdonich makes me think of the best Teaniniches. 91 points (Olivier 91).
 
  MUSIC - Blues, cabaret, gospel... Paula Frazer blends many styles beautifully. Sometimes she sounds like Curved Air's Sonia Kristina - if you're less than 40, I really have to tell you about Curved Air one day. Anyway, try That you know or Think of me (both mp3), it's worth it, I think. And oh, please buy one of her CDs if you like her.
     
October 3, 2004
 

 

TASTING - Auchentoshan 29 yo 1973 (51.4%, OB, individual cask #803) Colour: deep gold. Nose: lots of beeswax and varnish, eucalyptus, polish. Hints of cooked apple and malt. Gets a little buttery. Smells like grandma’s cupboard. Very nice, in the same league as the earlier 1966, juts a bit less complex. Mouth: bold, with lots of wood. Some great sherry notes (oloroso). Develops on bitter chocolate and Christmas cake. Hints of peppermint. Long and creamy finish, on oak and cocoa. Very, very good. 90 points.

     
October 2, 2004

 

MUSIC - Yet another very good singer: Christina Wagner. Not too energetic, I'd say, but if you'd like to listen to something cool and relaxing, why not have a go at Not to be mentionned (mp3). Nice voice, don't you think?

 
     
 

TASTING - FOUR CRAIGELLACHIES

Craigellachie 14 yo (40%, OB, circa 2004) Colour: straw. Nose: very fragrant (eau de Cologne), hot milk, sour cream, getting grassy (fern, heather) and grainy. Hints of dry wood, vanilla, dark chocolate. Very little sherry. Nice and fresh. Mouth: enjoyable! Quite powerful for a 40% malt. Liquorice, roots, pear. Lots of lavender, bitter orange. A little woody. Rather long finish, on gentian roots. A nice surprise. 82 points (Olivier 81)

     
Craigellachie 1988/2003 (40%, G&M CC) Colour: light straw (no caramel?) Nose: quite similar to the OB! Fragrant, on rosewater, with grassy notes, hot milk, sour cream. Develops on roasted nuts, and then goes back to dried flowers. Mouth: powerful again, but a little less ‘compact’ than the OB. The wood’s a little more drying, making the spirit itself get sort of thin. Gets peppery and dusty – the wood again. Medium, drying finish.78 points (Olivier 78)

Craigellachie 1987/2002 (40%, G&M CC) Colour: straw again. This one’s different. Less fragrant, less punchy. Nuttier, maltier. A little weaker, even if still enjoyable. Some nice coffee develops after a while – coffee drops, cappuccino. Dark toffee, violet, roasted coffee beans. Whiffs of smoke. Nice development. Mouth: nicer than the 1988 this time. Lots of dark, cold coffee, cocoa powder, vanilla. Again a little weak, wasn’t it for the wood. Gets drying, with a rather short finish, on rum and Smyrna raisins. 78 points (Olivier 78).

Craigellachie 1982/1996 (40%, G&M CC old map label) Colour: straw. Nose: much more ‘closed’. Caramel, malt, burnt cake. Quite flowery (nectar), caramel, hot butter. Too bad it’s a little weak. Mouth: drying and Peppery. Dusty. Plank… Not much else. Not too ripe banana (supermarket banana). The two younger ones were better – not to mention the OB. Rather short finish – too bad. 75 points (Olivier 76).

 
     
October 1, 2004
 

 

MUSIC - I don't like Nick Cave's new album 'Abattoir blues' as much as some of his earlier work. Let's rather listen to Red Right Hand Helpless (mp3, 1994) or Into my arms (mp3, 1997) again. Great songs.

     
 

TASTING - TWO NEW DIAGEO BOTTLINGS

Glenkinchie 12 yo (58.7%, OB, Limited Edition for France, 5010 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose : punchy and spirity. Quite grassy and malty, with hints of peat. Clean and somewhat austere. Some flowery notes emerge after a while. Mouth: powerful but nicely rounded. Lots of fruits (pear, quince). Long, but rather spirity and grassy finish. A good and punchy Lowlander, even if not too complex. 81 points.

Dalwhinnie 29 yo 1973/2003 (57.8%, OB, Limited Edition) Colour: deep gold. Nose: bold and rich, with tons of beehive aromas. Wax, hay jam, quince jam, mirabelle jam. Just beautiful. Hints of oak and vanilla, and whiffs of peat. Mouth: lots of crystallised fruits, apple compote, candy sugar and honey. Really beautiful. Long and nicely balanced finish, on dried fruits and vanilla ice cream. I liked it very much. 90 points.

 

 
GIFTS - I love playing backgammon while sipping a good malt, so this splendid backgammon board sheltering a few minis is very appealing to me, even if I would replace the Bailey's or the Dimple with some great malts sooner or later. When is Christmas again? Too bad this beauty is sold in Greece!  
     

September 2004 <--- October 2004 - part 1 ---> October 2004 - part 2
   


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

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

Auchentoshan 29 yo 1973 (51.4%, OB, individual cask #803)

Caperdonich 27 yo 1974/2001 (50%, DL OMC, cask #475, refill hogshead)

Dalwhinnie 29 yo 1973/2003 (57.8%, OB, Limited Edition)

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, ‘unblended’, Cinzano Italy, circa 1985)

Laphroaig 16 yo 1987/2004 (56.1%, DL for The Whiskyfair Limburg 2004, sherry, 336 bottles)

Longmorn 30 yo 1973/2003 (56%, Millenium Malt, Duncan Piper, cask #3978, sherry)

Talisker NAS (59.2%, OB, for sale only at the distillery, 2004)

Talisker 18 yo (45.8%, OB, 2004)

Talisker 20 yo 1982/2003 (58.8%, OB, Bourbon, 12000 bottles)

Talisker 1955/1993 (53.6%, G&M Cask series, c. #1310, 1311, 1257)