Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2005 - Part 2
- Bowmore 1980/2004 ‘Queen’s
Cask’ (52.6%, OB, cask #5777,
Elizabeth II visited Bowmore in 1980,
and has been granted a few casks.
Part of the Queen’s casks have
been made available to the public,
and this one is now sold with a still-shaped
decanter. Colour: gold. Nose: lots
of straw, pistachio, wax, paraffin.
Develops on fresh almonds, getting
then very grassy. Very unusual, not
Bowmore-ish at all. Mouth: lots of
body, getting very spicy and peppery,
with a long finish on Campari. No
sign of peat smoke or tropical fruits
whatsoever, and no coastal notes.
good but not a thrill, I’d say...
Prince Charles might have better tastes
than his mother - as far as whisky’s
concerned, that is. Was this strange
Bowmore matured at Buckingham Palace?
listening: let's give back to Caesar...
I mean, if we really want to listen
to some hip hop (do we, really?),
why not try something African, like
Eben & Family,
from Gabon, playing this
- mp3 (sorry, I don't know the
name of this song...)
REVIEW: WILLY MASON
- Friday April 22nd, 2005 - by
news music lovers! Singer songwriters
are back in fashion. – and it’s
big business. Over the past few weeks
Polydor have thrown a small fortune
in the direction of their PR machine
on behalf of Rufus Wainwright (son
of his famous dad Loudon III) and
his new album Want Two. Tom Vek has
been burning Island’s bucks
to promote his homemade debut We Have
a more modest scale Josh Rouse released
the quite brilliant Nashville (as
Serge would say, “please buy
his CD”), and last year critics
raved when little Willy
Mason came out with Where
The Humans Eat. Quickly labelled as
the new Bob Dylan in the British press
(a sort of immediate kiss of death
I would have thought) Mason found
his way across here in February and
it seems as though he’s been
here ever since, touring the country,
playing in well chosen small venues,
and winning over the hearts of hoards
of fans, and opening the sticky chequebooks
of anxious admires in the A&R
side of things all pushing to sign
him up (his album was released under
licence to Virgin and he currently
has no publishing deal).
In fact it turns out that Willy might
have been here a tad too long, as
by the time we managed to see him
he was clearly suffering from tour
fatigue in a big way, and as this
was (allegedly) the last gig of his
tour (“I’m going away
for a long long time and if I ever
come back you won’t recognise
me”) he was also somewhat de-mob
happy. Toying with a bottle of Jack
Daniels on stage has become a trademark
of his UK tour, but Willy had clearly
been toying at the bar pretty seriously
before coming on stage, and though
he passed the half-empty whiskey bottle
to the crowd early in the set, his
admirers provided him with a flow
of beverages through the night. It
didn’t seem to interfere with
his playing too much (at least not
until the end), and his voice was
more adenoidal than slurred. But it
certainly fired him up when it came
to his drummer, younger brother Sam
Sam was dressed in a monkey suit –
no doubt deep in meaning and linked
to the chained monkey pictured on
the inside of the CD cover, from a
painting by Roelandt Savery (more
famous for painting Dodos). So when
he appeared on stage his brother subjected
him to a tirade of taunts, which continued
throughout the evening. Now maybe
these were meant to be symbolic too,
but I rather suspect that the impromptu
brawl (shades of Ray and Dave Davies
– they were knocking blocks
off each other) that broke out amongst
the warring siblings carried a rather
different meaning, and by the way
the Mason’s manager rushed to
the stage to break it up was certainly
(in his monkey suit)
really. For all the alcohol Mason
(Willy) performed well. He had an
easy rapport with the audience (not
difficult to tell why – they
were the same age, looked the same
and were just as pissed) who clearly
identify closely with many of his
songs – though truth to tell
they have a far greater universality
than the teenager to man angst stuff
'Where the humans eat'
audience demanded – and got
- the delightful contents of the album,
with a few additional songs –
one written by his mother and father,
‘Carry him down’, and
a very boyscoutesque version of ‘Freight
Train’ (he was losing it a bit
by then). And if you haven’t
heard any of this stuff you should
– Mason is a remarkable talent
– songs like ‘Where the
humans eat’, ‘All you
can do’, ‘Oxygen’,
and ‘Gotta keep movin’
could grace any ‘100 best songs’
list. But what was really outstanding
was the contribution made by brother
Sam. His skiffle snare drum style
gives the album a real hobo groove,
and he delivered it perfectly on stage
– despite the tiresome filial
abuse. And of course I can’t
help thinking that if the big boys
get hold of Willy and put him in a
studio with a big production budget
it could be this sound that’s
one of the first things to go.
But at least he showed some contrition.
“Ok, I know I’ve been
a fucking twat. I’m pissed and
I’ve gone too far”. However
it didn’t stop him from leaving
with a flourish. “Hold them
up” he urged his admires –
“Fuck, man, I never thought
I’d be able to do this in folk
music” - and then leapt off
the stage and surfed through a sea
of hands and waves of beer to the
back of the hall, where he ended the
evening surrounded by fans and loads
of booze, happily chatting the night
away. Tired, emotional (“This
fame thing is fucking crap man”),
maybe just a bit mixed up? Who knows?
But do come back Willy; cut back on
the JD, and be nice to your brother.
- Nick Morgan (concert photos
you Nick, I didn't know Willy Mason
before, so that's a great discovery.
Now, I happened to break my parents'
ears with some cheap drumming a few
years ago (well, almost 35, actually)
and frankly, I can't imagine how one
could play the Zildjians or Paiste
(they still exist, right?) while dressed
in a monkey suit... Imagine John Bonham
on Black Dog, or Billy Cobham... Better
than the Atkins diet! Ah, yes, some
Willy Mason music... A few good rm's
– Glenfiddich 1964/1992 (58%,
J&J Hunter, cask #10790)
I don’t know whether the brand
new Glenfiddich 1974 ‘Play Malt’
bottled exclusively for Playboy Magazine
Germany (ha! Deutschland!) is good
or not – nope, this is no joke,
Glenfiddich has been working with
Playboy Germany for quite a few years
already – but I hope I’ll
be able to taste it soon and keep
you updated. In the meantime, let’s
sample this 1964 I tasted –
yes – in Limburg, Germany. Colour:
mahogany. Nose: boldly sherried, on
heavy rum notes and raisins. Lots
of chocolate, candy sugar and soy
sauce. Quite complex and rather satisfying,
a perfect, flawless sherried nose.
Mouth: hyper sherry, again on rum,
raisins and chocolate. And no sourish
notes this time. Too bad it gets then
a bit too tannic, with also some hints
of aspirin and clove. The finish is
long, but mainly on burnt coffee...
Not a ‘naked’ Glenfiddich,
that’s for sure, but I guess
it’s sexy enough for the most
dedicated sherry freaks. As for the
other malt heads, maybe they’d
better wait for the Playboy Germany
'Play Malt 1974' edition - I can't
wait to see the bottle and the label
;-) 87 points.
1972/2002 (56.3%, Scotch Single Malt
Circle, cask #14287)
(short notes) Colour: gold. Nose:
so fruity and waxy as always –
again a superb 1972 Clynelish. Lots
of notes of beehive and meadow flowers,
with hints of tropical fruits. Lots
of pleasure. Mouth: fruit jelly (quince,
Mirabelle plums, ripe apricot). Lots
of honey, butter caramel… And
a pinch of salt. Perhaps just a tad
more complex than the ‘TWE’:
Wowie! 92 points.
24 yo 1972/1997 (61.3%, UD Rare Malts)
(short notes) Colour: light gold.
Nose: wow, again, it’s like
when you open a beehive (I know, maybe
you never did that but that’s
how it smells – agreed, tasting
the Clynelish is safer). Lots of wax
and rather light honey. Just superb
again. Mouth: extremely waxy again,
with lots of honeyed notes and flower
jams. So drinkable despite the high
alcohol level. Not complicated at
all but amazingly enjoyable. Yummy!
– JAZZ - When
listening to Charlie
Parker playing Kim
- mp3 with his quartet in 1952,
one can just wonder whether he was
even human... My god! (via Dr
Tim Horner)...But yes, quick,
some more... So, we have also Crazeology
- mp3 played in 1947
with Miles Davis and J.J. Johnson...
It's from the famous 'Dial sessions'.
Bobby Rush |
REVIEW: DELTA BLUES
London - Sunday April 10th, 2005
- by Nick Morgan
Barbican may not be an inspired
venue when it comes to atmosphere,
but they have got an inspired booker
– and in putting together
their It Came from Memphis series
of concerts he or she has delivered
an almost unrivalled series of gigs
from some of the South’s most
legendary performers, themed largely
around the great Memphis record
labels and studios of Stax, Sun,
Ardent, Fame (famed for the Muscle
Shoals rhythm section), and Hi Records.
Spaced over three weeks, and supported
by an intriguing selection of talks
and films, on paper at least this
is one of the R&B (in that grumpy
old man’s meaning of the word)
treats of the year.
course anticipation and reality can
be two different things, and having
read a review of the Fame evening
(featuring the remnants of the Muscle
Shoals boys and a large part of the
Country Soul Review) I maybe should
have known what to expect of our Delta
Blues evening, a repertoire performance
by four veteran Memphis bluesmen (actually
three Mississippi boys – two
from blues heartland Greenville –
and one from Louisiana). Possibly
disjointed, variable performances,
perhaps laboured, and not quite the
sum of its parts. Of course, I hadn’t
quite bargained on the Bobby Rush
Given that it was a Sunday I shouldn’t
have been too surprised at the holier
than tough demeanour of much of the
fairly full congregation, here for
a solemn act of worship, or so it
seemed, rather than a juke-joint blues
night. And lets face it – the
Barbican ain’t no juke joint.
“I say darling, it must have
been awfully rotten being washed away
in the great Mississippi flood of
1927” – pause to turn
page of glossy Sunday newspaper supplement
– “don’t you think.
No wonder he sounds so miserable.
Let’s have Moby instead”.
That certainly seemed to be the vibe
that first-up T-Model
Ford got. “Don’t
you’all go to sleep now”
he cautioned half way through a set
of droning guitar (it looked as though
he’d bought a new one from J
C Penney), shouted lyrics and simply
groovtastic drumming from accompanist
and raw as befits a Greenville boy
this was about as suitable for the
Barbican as second act, the accomplished
yet charmless Kenny
Brown and his band. Clearly
unused to such a large venue Kenny
and his boys (who, not unlike Michael
Howard, had a touch of Deliverance
about them) were as tight as ninepence,
bashing out high-speed bottleneck
blues in a style somewhat reminiscent
of the Kings of Leon without the marketing.
think a few folk tapped their feet,
but by and large Kenny and Co seemed
as bemused by the ferocious earnestness
of their audience as T-M-F. The exception
was the drunk woman (did I mention
her?). Front row, middle seats, arms
waving, obviously too much communion
wine she was, in truth, the liveliest
person in the place. How she managed
to get out at the interval was a mystery
to me – how she got back to
her seat even more so. It took Little
Milton, notionally top
of the bill, to ratchet things up
and break down the audience’s
in Greenville his career took him
to Memphis (where he recorded for
Sun), Chicago (Chess) and back to
Memphis (Stax). Backed by a studio-tight
band featuring guitarist Paul Gomez,
he worked through a repertoire set
that included ‘Just one moment’,
‘Back Streets’, and ‘Little
Bluebird’. Charismatic, with
excellent singing and some showboating
guitar-work Milton succeeded in breaking
the ice – managing to get at
least half the audience on their feet
for his finale ‘The Blues is
Alright’ – sort of from
reverential to revivalist. Tightly
timed from the sound desk he left
the stage reluctantly, introducing
in his wake ‘one of the baddest
men in showbusiness’, Bobby
let me tell you about Bobby
Rush. He was born in
1940, no, 1936; hang on, he told us
he was 72 – well whatever, he’s
been around for a long time, over
fifty years in the business. Born
in Louisiana (‘the son of a
preacherman’) he now lives in
Jackson Mississippi and endlessly
tours the local clubs with his band
and dancers – ‘the King
of the chitlin circuit’. Wide
cut pleated pants, sneaky spat shoes,
greased back hair he just looks like
a bad man – and believe me,
he is. Brought in as a last minute
replacement Rush is supported by Little
Milton’s band – who clearly
not well rehearsed, spend most of
the set wondering (like the audience)
what on earth could be coming next.
Bobby is one of his famous troupe
of ‘booty dancers’, and
believe me this young lady has booty
in vast proportions. Just as well
given Rush’s material, which
as I recall went something like, ‘I
got a big fat woman’, ‘My
woman she done big and fat’,
‘I woke up this morning with
a big fat woman by my side’,
‘When a man loved a big fat
woman’, ‘Did I tell yo
‘bout how big and fat my big
fat woman is?’ The stirrings
of discomfort amongst this most PC
of audiences were palpable as Rush
jumped and jived, lurched and leered
while his bootimunificent lady displayed
the material evidence to support Rush’s
penetrating lyrics – ‘Let
me tell yo’ bout my woman, she’s
big and fat, but that don’t
matter Lord, Mr Bobby Rush likes ‘em
like that’. Actually he sang
really well, played the harp like
a demon and at one point surprised
us all (band included) by picking
up his guitar and playing some pretty
soulful delta style blues.
by that time it was really too late
– Bobby had outstayed his welcome
– the stage-manager was trying
to get him to finish, the audience
were starting to leave, the band were
at their wits end, and the drunk lady
was heading for the stage. Blind to
his predicament Bobby misinterpreted
the audience standing up as a sign
of enthusiasm – fixing them
like rabbits in the steely headlights
of his twinkling eyes he cajoled them
to claps hands, sing along (“Mr
Bobby Rush says …”) and
dance. The shambles that ensued was
mighty to behold as the bewildered
audience finally headed for the doors.
“For a man of 72 he really should
be more mature,” muttered one
sour-faced social worker in the foyer.
“It was so demeaning”,
spat another. “And that girl
on stage – she even seemed to
be enjoying it!” Of course,
fact of the matter was that Bobby
had brought folks face to face with
the bawdy reality of the blues as
it is still played and enjoyed in
its homeland. And they didn’t
like it – the message was clear:
Bessie Smith’s back door man
is ok when he’s preserved in
aspic on vinyl – but don’t
let him out on stage. Me – I
thought it was heaven - like a little
bit of Memphis sunshine finally bursting
through the London clouds. - Nick
Morgan ('blue' photos by Kate).
you so much, Nick. We have something
rather funky by Bobby
Rush, an old tune by Little
Milton, a very good Cut
you lose by T-Model Ford and All
I want by Kenny Brown. I know,
the Internet isn't like being at The
Barbican, but at least there's no
drunken woman waving her arms in front
of us. On the other hand, we don't
have the booty dancer... Hmm... you're
right, adipose blues at home is less
- TWO VERY SPECIAL 'ARDBEGS'
10 yo (80 proof, OB for France,
Colour: pure gold. Nose: superb
smoke, a perfect blend of peat and
fruit juice (apple, pear and peach).
Far from being an ‘intellectual’
Ardbeg on the nose: it’s just
pure pleasure. The peat is very
delicate in fact, and seems to be
there just to underline the whole.
Notes of herbal tea, Chinese smoked
tea, with some wee hints of mustard.
Perhaps a little kiwi juice and
orange juice. Very subtle, yet straightforward.
Mouth: rather smooth and, again
delicately smoky, although it gets
then bolder and bolder, on a mix
of fruit syrup, pepper and nutmeg.
The palate is kind of austere in
fact, but it’s highly ‘sippable’.
Goes on with some apple juice and
pepper, green vegetables, cold tea
(Earl Grey – bergamot)...
of gin tonic, getting quite woody
but with much delicacy. Far from being
‘violent’ but still rather
full-bodied, getting more and more
austere, the fruit having vanished
after twenty minutes in the glass.
It gets then very herbal and even
a bit astringent and funnily ‘green’.
Quite a beast in fact, uncompromising
and not so easy to tame, after all.
A bit Jansenist? Anyway, a rather
philosophical Ardbeg (if not intellectual),
whatever that means ;-). The finish
is quite long, mainly on lemon juice.
Much subtler than the current 10yo,
and perhaps just a little less full-bodied.
Yes, it just lacks a bit more body
to make it to 95, so it’ll be
94 points. (many,
many thanks, Jan)
(40%, OB, ‘Supreme blended malt’)
This one has already caused much ink
(and bytes) to flow, as it’s
a ‘blend’ of some Glen
Moray that has been vatted by ‘mistake’
with 80% Ardbeg 17yo. I had believed
it was an April’s fools’
joke but it wasn’t any, it appears.
Yet, Ardbeg wrote on its website:
‘… the effect is quite
outstanding. So outstanding, in fact,
you’d be forgiven for thinking
it was deliberate’. Frankly,
why would we think that? Anyway, let’s
taste it… Colour: straw. Nose:
some cider, some nuts and not much
else, I’m afraid… Mouth:
a little weak and grainy, rather drinkable
but offering no special interest.
The finish is short to medium, with
just some hints of peat. Well, supreme
it isn’t, but the story is.
1968/2000 (54.2%, OB, Old stock reserve,
ceramic, cask #684, 208 bottles)
Colour: mahogany. Nose: superb sherry
at first nosing. A dominating one,
that is. Nice notes of ripe strawberries,
cooked blackberries, caramel and balsamic
vinegar. Maybe there’s even
some whisky in there? The combination
is flawless but you really have to
love sherry. Mouth: extremely big
and powerful, with an avalanche of
tannins. It’s hard to enjoy...
The sherry is really overwhelming
the spirit, with some incredibly bold
notes of cloves and a lot of bitterness.
Rather hard to drink, let’s
try it with a few drops of water.
Ah, it gets a bit rounder but there’s
a huge deal of saltiness coming out
now. What’s that? This beast
is really difficult to handle, I give
up. It’s even very difficult
to rate… Let’s say 80
points but don’t take
it too seriously.
WHISKY ADS - BRAGGERS AND BRAGGARTS
- PART 3: Think World!
left: Johnnie Walker,
1938: ''The whisky that gets round
(...) Reputations "get round"
too. That's why you'll hear so many
people ask for Johnnie Walker by name,
and it's a good example to follow,
if you want Scotch whisky at its best
Above, middle: Gilbey's Spey-Royal,
1958: ''The world agrees on "Gilbey's
please" (...) Take the world's
word for quality, and ask for Gilbey's
Spey-Royal. It is your assurance of
perfection in Scotch."
Above, right: Sunny Brook,
1952: ''Try it - you'll know why
it's the world's largest selling Kentucky
All that to come up with small batches,
limited bottlings and single casks!
The world goes round... Now, we can
wonder what happened to Sunny Brook...
this ad from 1961 (just above) says
:"The great whiskey from
the Old West - one of America's great
favorites today". From "the
worlds largest selling Kentucky whiskey"
to "one of America's great favorites"
within just nine years... A downfall
or just bragging a little less?
listening: okay, time for some more
Zappa! But instead of
fuzzy guitar solos or long 'concrete'
pieces, let's listen to the Great
Frank's interstellar mega-hit Bobby
Brown - mp3. Geez, don't we all
miss him? (but not that miserable
son of a bitch named Bobby Brown,
of course). Please buy Frank Zappa's
– JAZZ - Very
highly recommended listening: Strasbourg
based Brazilian jazz band Jaboti
plays a superb Arranca-Debo
-mp3 composed by percussionist
Joao Catalao, and a very tender Sambinha
para Ulysse - mp3 that French
guitarist Benjamin Velle wrote. Very
guys sure know their 'Pascoal' and
their 'Jobim' by heart! I especially
like their soft tone and laidback
yet very inspired way of playing either
their own compositions, or some Brazilian
milestones such as Milton Nascimento's
'Vera Cruz', Hermeto Pascoal's 'Bebé'
or Luiz Bonfa's 'Manha De Carnaval'
(which they make sort of 'impossible',
you really have to listen to it, it's
on Jaboti's eponymous new CD). Jaboti
will be touring France this summer
- don't hesitate to contact friend
Velle if you want to know more
about their plans. (Picture, from
left to right: Joao Catalao, Benjamin
Velle and Alexandre Savordelli.)
– TWO GERMAN CAOL ILAS
Ila 13 yo 1991/2005 (54.2%, The Whisky
Fair, 359 bottles)
The Whisky Fair’s bottling I
already had have been constantly very
good – and sometimes stellar,
so let’s check whether this
one isn’t the joker in the pack.
Colour: white wine. Nose: rather delicately
smoky and peaty, very clean and even
a little austere (which is a compliment
in my mouth). Lots of smoked tea,
some hints of rosemary, and a very
nice layer of fruits like Mirabelle
plum and ripe apple. A very nioe one
indeed, extremely enjoyable. Palate:
a very fruity attack, on apple juice,
grapefruit juice, lemon skin. Austere
again! The peat smoke is well here…
but perhaps not much else. The lemony
tastes and the peat really dominate,
head and shoulders. I like lemon and
I like peat, that is. 87 points.
Ila 14 yo 1989/2004 (57.4%, Krüger’s
Whiskygalerie, Eidora n°3, 174
Colour: light amber. Nose: oh, it’s
very special, with some big, bold
caramel right at the start. Very
unusual for a Caol Ila. Lots of
tannins, lactones, heavy vanilla
too… Goes on with some resinous
notes, turpentine, camphor…
Unusual indeed! It gets a little
sour after a moment… Which
kind of cask was it? Malaga? Sherry?
It really overwhelms the peat/smoke,
in any case. Not that it isn’t
enjoyable, that is. Less, much less
‘clean’ that the Whisky
Fair’s expression. Mouth:
livelier, and perhaps more complex
than the Whisky Fair version now.
Again some grapefruit and some lemon
skin, but also some farmy notes,
some fresh strawberries, and quite
some pepper. The finish is very
long again, perhaps a bit more satisfying.
Anyway, I liked the Whisky Fair’s
nose a little better, while I quite
prefer this one’s palate.
Tie! 87 points.
it - off to Limburg until monday!
- TWO NEW BOTTLINGS BY DUNCAN TAYLOR
Dhu 29 yo 1975/2005 (47.1%, Duncan
Taylor, Cask #2484)
This one is quite simpler (hard
to pass after the Inchgower we had
just before). It’s also smokier,
waxier, and yet quite fragrant.
Some nice hints of quince and mint.
A bold, serious, enjoyable and flawless
malt, not too complex but quite
quaffable with a little water. 88
Park 24 yo 1980/2004 (55.1%, Duncan
Taylor, Cask #9266)
A superb and very original nose, with
some jasmine, clove,
smoked ham. Much smokier than expected,
and also quite ‘maritime’
with some whiffs of sea air. Hints
of burnt cake from the cask. The palate
is fabulously balanced and compact,
with some beeswax with honey (the
beekeeper’s chewing gum) and
orange peel, getting nicely dry. A
beautiful old Highland Park: 91
– JAZZ - Very
highly recommended listening: sit
down, ask the children - or the colleagues
- to stop making noise, and have a
listen to the great Patricia
Barber's somber - as
always - version of The
thrill is gone - mp3. Listen to
it again, and again, and again, and
then I know you'll rush out and buy
- TWO DALWHINNIES
27 yo 1966/1993 (45.5%, Cadenhead’s)
It’s not too often that one
can taste an indie Dalwhinnie –
hence a single cask. Suspense, suspense…
Colour: gold. Nose: complex and stunning.
Loads of eucalyptus, camphor and turpentine,
like the best Highland Parks. Develops
on old papers, caramel, vanilla, apple
pie, cooked pear, with some whiffs
of nutmeg and cinnamon. Keeps developing
for a long time, with some notes of
old white Bourgogne. Fantastic. Mouth:
creamy, bold, extremely satisfying.
Really powerful. Bunches of tropical
fruits and white pepper, spices...
Lots of oomph, at that. Classy stuff,
perhaps not overly complex but it’s
really worth trying it. Ultra-long
finish with quite some peaty/smoky
notes. A great, great surprise! 89
36 yo 1966 (47.2%, OB, 1500 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: Starts a bit
yeasty, but the complexity is well
here. Quite a lot of oak, tannins,
lactones. Develops on nutty notes,
grass, herbs... Perhaps a bit rougher
than expected. Hints of mashed potatoes.
Mouth: smooth and mellow but it then
gets both grassy and fruity (passion
fruit, mango). A bit of burnt caramel,
tea, white pepper. It then gets oakier
and oakier... Some dusty notes, but
quite amazingly, it isn’t too
drying, in fact. Long finish, somewhat
grassy. It lacks just a bit of the
Cadenhead’s elegance and complexity.
A very nice one but not an absolute
stunner like, again, the new Mortlach
32 yo OB that I like so much.
AND WHISKY - Is Ardbie,
your golden retriever, worth $299.00?
Of course it is! So, why not buy him
this superb dog house made by Fireside
in Indiana, USA? As they say on their
Web site: 'Our dog house is made
from a white oak whiskey barrel with
a wrought iron stand to keep it out
of the mud. Our dog house also has
a treated wood platform (sun roof)'.
except that they didn't manage to
make the dog enter the bl**dy barrel,
even for the picture! Well, perhaps
he doesn't like whiskey smells too
much... Rex, will you! Rex, listen
to me, please... C'mon, Rex, it's
for the Web site!...
listening: Sheryl Crow's sister? Myrna
Sanders from Houston,
Texas, does a nice and energetic Good
thing - mp3. Please buy her music
or attend her gigs...
- TWO GLEN MHORS BY SIGNATORY
Mhor 14 yo 1978/1993 (43%, Signatory,
Colour: dry white wine. First nosing:
rather fresh starting on some fruity
notes like green apple, kiwi, pink
grapefruit and also some sherry.
Develops on cereals: grain, muesli…
It goes on with some porridge, yoghurt,
caramel. Whiffs of white pepper.
Really fresh, fruity and lively,
with some jolly nice yeasty notes.
Just a bit dusty, but the cask was
still very neutral, it appears...
Oh, some nice and bold vanilla fudge
developing after fifteen minutes
the mouth feel is quite powerful,
the attack being little sour and
unbalanced. Certainly less clean
and fresh than the nose suggested.
Some hot milk, brioche, yeast...
Green vegetables, hydromel, bitter
beer (like Bombardier). It gets
even sourer after a while, and drying
at the same time. A bit of apple
vinegar... Too bad, it gets then
even worse, with some disturbing
offbeat notes. The finish is very
sour, on green tomatoes and over-infused
tealeaves. Yes, too bad. 76
Mhor 20 yo 1979/1999 (43%, Signatory,
Colour: gold. First nosing: mellow
and clean. This one is quite different,
even if the yeasty notes are well
here. A little bit soapy and waxy
to begin with... Develops on apples,
fresh hazelnuts, almond milk. It
goes on with a little bit of nutmeg
and cinnamon, and quite some caramel.
Not some added caramel, that is.
Again a nice Glen Mhor on the nose,
even more balanced that the one
I just had. Feint hints of varnish
coming through after a good teen
minutes. Palate: starts on caramel
cream, burnt cake, cold coffee,
developing on lots of winey notes,
getting again a little sour and
bitter at the same time. More and
more so, in fact... It also gets
very 'planky', in fact, lacking
smoothness and roundness. Again,
too bad, the nose was so nice! 80
listening: New York based arty gang
Redhead knows its Serge
Gainsbourg by heart, it appears...
Have a try at Misery
is a Butterfly - mp3, for instance...
Striking, isn't it? Please buy their
music if you like... Serge Gainsbourg!
WHISKY ADS - BRAGGERS AND BRAGGARTS
- PART 2: It's the label!
left: Old Forester,
1951: ''... as it says on the
label, "There is nothing better
in the market."
Above right: I.W.HARPER,
1968: ''The most prized Bourbon...
and we've got the Gold Medals to
prove it! (That's why we put them
right on the label)"
Left: Jim Beam,
2002: ''The world's
finest bourbon - If it weren't true,
it wouldn't be on our bottle."
easy? Yeah, I think so and I am
right, otherwise that wouldn't have
been written (by me) on this Web
REVIEW: MARTINS 4
London - Saturday April 2nd, 2005
- by Nick Morgan
From left to right: Martin Taylor,
Martin Simpson, Martin Carthy and
I’ve never been too sure about
the numbers thing when it comes
to names. I mean, I remember from
my philosophy classes that names
signify something (Thomas Hobbes
unless I’m much mistaken),
but what about numbers? Dave Clark
Five, Alabama Three, Temperance
Seven, Three Mustaphas Three, Gang
of Four, Brora 30, Birmingham Six,
7 Eleven, Three Dog Night, Colt
45 – I’m sure the list
is almost endless. But what do all
these numbers really mean? And if
you add them up then what do you
In the case of Martins
4 then the answer has
to be a convenient handle for a
random collection of four very accomplished
guitarists, each with their own
distinctive styles and audiences.
The question has to be asked, “Why
bring them together”? If you
were a whisky blender you might
baulk at throwing together a powerful
and temperamental Islay (Juan
Martin) with a feisty
Carthy), a sublime
Taylor) and a fourth
malt that didn’t quite know
what it was (Martin
Simpson) in equal proportions.
Yet the result is certainly, as
a good blend should be, more than
the sum of its parts, whether by
accident or good fortune.
audience, though not quite in the
same league of bonkersdom as on my
last visit here (Procul Harum and
the Palers) seems at first sight equally
random, bearded folkies, swarthy Spaniards
and a few cool jazzheads, with an
age span from around 12 to late seventies.
My impression was that the majority
were at the gig to hear particular
Martins, which is what they were served
first, and not the Martinial confection
that was brought to the table in the
second half. If they shared my scepticism
as to the ingredients then I’m
sure that by the end, like me, they
were persuaded that sometimes a seemingly
random mix can be just as good as
a well tried recipe.
Martin Carthy MBE, father of the English
folk-guitar, kicked off with three
tunes and a badly buggered guitar
cable. He gave us a wonderful song
collected from Kentish songsmith Len
Smith, and his famous rendition of
the Harry Lime Theme, which apparently,
according to Martin Taylor MBE (who
followed), is the music that he (Taylor)
wants played at his funeral. Lets
hope he doesn’t die soon. Laid
back and loose, Taylor was simply
awesome, one of those guitarists who
makes it sound as if there are at
least three people playing (shades
of Bill Frisell).. We got Nora Jones’
‘I don’t know why’,
‘One day’, a tune written
for Glasgow’s Celtic Connections
Festival, and ‘Rum Beach’,
when with the addition of a dampener
under his bridge he transformed his
guitar into a Caribbean steel band.
less versatile was Englebert Humperdink
look-alike Juan Martin (pronounced
Hwan Marteeeen) who used his short
spot to rumba and fandango his way
through an exemplary Flamenco primer,
with a particular emphasis on the
Moorish roots of his music. If anything
Martin Simpson seemed the most rootless
of the four – a beautifully
played mixture of blues slide guitar
and traditional folk, from a musical
setting of Patrick Kavanagh’s
‘On Raglan Road’ to an
Americanised tribute to the Gibson
Super 400 (no Serge, not a motorbike,
it’s a guitar) – but altogether
something of a curate’s egg.
the four Martins came together for
Martins 4 one might have wondered
what for, after such impressive individual
sets. However they knocked out six
tunes, mostly from their current (and
so-far only) eponymous album with
great humour and aplomb, giving equal
space for each of their diverse talents.
Amidst the endless tuning (that’s
what guitarists do when they get together)
and ‘Smoke on the water’
riffs (no Serge, not a plug for that
other Islay whisky – by the
way – do they pay royalties
to Deep Purple for that ad?) Martin’s
‘La Pasion De lamento’,
Martin’s version of ‘Glass
of water’, Martin’s ‘Heather
down the Moor’, and Martin’s
original composition ‘Barrack
Street Stroll’ were probably
we left Jon said (Martin wasn’t
with us) that we should all go and
see Martin Taylor the first chance
we get – I would commend you
all to do the same. In the meantime
you can by the CD, and of course try
and get hold of the 2003 DVD, Guitar
Nights. But hang on – this isn’t
by the Martins 4, it’s the Four
Martins! Names, numbers, confused?
I sure am. - Nick Morgan (top
concert photo by Kate)
Thank you so much, Nick. So, a Gibson
Super 400 isn't a motorbike? Strange,
I seem to recall I saw that once,
written in golden letters on a US
bike's rear Fender... Now, as for
your question regarding 'why these
guys were brought together', well,
it can't be just the names, right?
I mean, imagine the Willibalds 7,
the Ebenezers 3 or the Glützenbaums
23... It's true that we had the
Pacoes 3 (Paco de Lucia, Paco McLaughlin
and Paco di Meola) but only a marketeer
suffering from mad cow disease could
have come up with such a strange
idea, as it sort of says 'we brought
them together coz they carry the
same names!'... (regardless of their
skills and styles, by the way).
Would you do a vatting just because
the malts come from all Scottish
Islands? Or because you use one
hundred of them? Or because they're
all 'Glens'? Wait, imagine... 'Glen
Seven'! That would be a name! You'd
even have the premix, 'Glen Seven
and Seven Up', aka 'Seven &
Seven' (also called 'Fourteen',
because that would be the average
age of the targeted audience...)
Now, your idea of 'blending' the
Martins will probably please the
people who were behind the brand
that's featured on these old ads
(see below...) But enough ramblings,
here's a nice little track by Martin
with Oscar – mp3.
WHISKY ADS - MARTIN'S V.V.O.
and naive series from 1959/1960 (Martins
3?). We learn that contrarily to popular
belief (see April 15) the Scots are
neither tough people, nor peaceful
souls: they are just happy folks!
Provided they are in water, on the
rocks or with soda, that is... I especially
like the way they symbolized soda,
- TWO 27 yo LINKWOODS
27 yo 1976/2003 (46%, Cask and Thistle,
Colour: white wine. First nosing:
powerful but clean. Curiously restrained
at such old age, quite close to
a very young malt - from a very
neutral cask. Yeasty, on yoghurt,
hot milk and porridge. Some notes
of cider apple, mango, bubble gum...
Twenty-seven years old, really?
A bit of caramel, hints of old papers
and beer. It's very nice, just curiously
'young'. Palate: the mouth feel
is quite powerful but a bit restrained.
The attack is on cooked yoghurt,
herbs, burnt sugar, dried flowers.
A certain bitterness, with quite
some notes of liquorice roots and
aniseed. Great, it improves with
time! It even gets sort of smoky!
The finish isn't too long but enjoyable,
quite compact and very satisfying.
Nice – but again, 27 years?
27 yo 1975 (50.3%, SMWS 39.40, 216
Colour: pure gold. First nosing:
powerful and compact. It starts
on some notes of fino, nicely oaky,
with lots of vanilla cream, caramel
and praline. Very nice! Develops
on tropical fruits, tangerine...
Some heavy marzipan too... And some
fantastic, heavy notes of furniture
polish, propolis... It gets more
and more resinous, and I like that.
It keeps developing, with some dried
apricot, pollen and nutmeg. Some
hints of coffee liquor. A fantastic
nose, with a perfect balance. Palate:
the mouth feel is powerful yet balanced,
immediately very resinous. Goes
on with some turpentine and pineapple
skin. Quite bitter in fact, but
in a rather nice way. It develops
on some oaky notes, perhaps it is
a little bit too much. Some rubbery
notes too, old tar liquor (did you
know that?), bitter caramel. It
gets smoother after a while, but
with some very interesting notes
of mint and herb drops. The finish
is long and still very resinous.
A very good one, that’s for
sure. 91 points.
Clacquesin's Liqueur de Goudron,
early XXth Century (vegetal tar
- TWO 8 yo BLAIR ATHOLS
Athol 8 yo (40%, OB, mid-80’s)
Colour: light amber. First nosing:
light, fresh. It starts on notes
of grain and light caramel, with
quite some apple compote and abbey
beer. Feint hints of smoke and rubber.
Perhaps a bit sulphury. Develops
on mown grass and dried herbs. Some
notes of fresh butter. Not overly
interesting but not too bad at all.
Palate: the mouth feel is somewhat
creamy, and the attack is on a lot
of caramel, crème brulée,
vanilla sauce, burnt cake... It
then gets quite perfumy (in a nice
way), with some Turkish delight,
orange water... Some notes of roasted
late 80's - right, mid 80's
finish isn't too long but rather flawless.
It's far, very far from being complex
but it's easily sippable. A good all-rounder
that would please anybody, even plain
newcomers, provided it hadn't become
a collector's item! 80 points.
Athol 8 yo (40%, OB, late 80’s)
This one was part of the hugely successful
‘Classic Malts’ range
when they were 7 instead of 6, right
at the start. It’s much grainier
and rubberier. Rather unbalanced,
with some notes of vase water, stale
beer, infused green tealeaves and
bitter caramel. Very vegetal and much
less enjoyable than the earlier version.
Whiffs of wet chalk and cheap rum.
It really lacks a bit more fruitiness!
Palate: sort of weird, with some heavy
burnt caramel but not much else. Quite
disjointed, with a bit of old wood,
candy sugar and 'chemical' orange
juice. The finish is long but quite
sugarish and a little 'dirty'. Very
similar to some blends. No wonder
they didn't keep it amongst the Classic
Malts: it's drinkable, but it sure
doesn't hold a candle to any of them
six. 68 points.
A set of miniatures of the '7'
Classic Malts, late 80's. Between
Dalwhinnie and Glenkinchie: Blair
WHISKY ADS - BRAGGERS AND BRAGGARTS
- PART 1: headaches.
7 Crown, 1970: 'We don't
want to step on any toes. Scotch makes
a great drink. So does Canadian. So
does 7 Crown. We just want to remind
you that more people prefer the taste
of Seagram's 7 Crown. Which is why
more people buy it than the top Scotch
and the top Canadian combined. Surprised?
Then you haven't tasted our whiskey'.
VO, 1982: ''Taste! You
be the judge. Discover why more V.O.
is bought than any other imported
distilled spirit in America. More
than any Scotch, Canadian, Rum, Gin,
Good. Knowing that 7 Crown is an American
whiskey and V.O. a Canadian, but that
they both belong to the same company,
can you now calculate which was the
top seller? You have 3 minutes...
Grouse, 1972: some strange
similarities with the 7 Crown ad just
above, as it reads: "Most
whiskies are drinkable. Some are even
very good. A few are superb. Grouse
is one of the fortunate few. Since
1800 the Gloag family have been blending
and selling fine whisky. Now six generations
later, the culmination is their Famous
Grouse Brand Scotch Whisky. To test
its fine quality, try it neat and
compare it with other blended whiskies.
listening: New York City singer-songwriter
Goellner sings an excellent
and jazzy Only
you - mp3 (not The Platters',
don't worry). Please buy her music
if you like it!
- Glen Moray 1976/2002 ‘Vallée
du Rhône Finish’ (46%,
The sommelier at the Soldat de l’An
II in Phalsbourg (excellent restaurant
in Lorraine, France) told me they
used some casks from Chapoutier’s,
and that the malt has been finished
for no less than two years. Colour:
amber, a bit brownish. Nose: very,
very interesting. Notes of wet cellar,
moisture, beeswax. Gets extremely
meaty, on game, smoked ham. Notes
of sweet chestnut and old books, humus,
mushrooms. This one is much richer
than all the other Glen Morays I had
before, so the wine must have added
quite some complexity to it. Some
winey notes developing, hints of armagnac…
Getting also even more ‘animal’.
Mouth: mellow and dry at the same
time. Rather nicely balanced, getting
quite coating. A lot of fudge, nougat,
is some oak but not too much. Develops
on tea and tobacco, and on cooked
blackcurrant too (from the wine, I
guess). The finish is rather long,
getting quite tannic now but not overly
so. In short, a very enjoyable, yet
special experience. 88 points.
- Recommended listening
(jut for fun): London DJ Mark
Vidler's mashup called
and nellified - mp3. It starts
with some Highland pipe music, but
it's soon to, well, evolve... For
the better? Not sure, but you decide!
- Knockhando 1978/1999 ‘Extra-Old’
Colour: amber. Nose: very grainy and
a little spirity at first nosing.
Hints of sherry and calvados. It gets
rather nicely perfumy (old style perfume,
rosewater). Hints of oak. Not overly
complex, lacking the more mundane
bottlings’ cleanliness. Mouth:
rather powerful but also quite bitter,
on un-sugared herbal tea. Gets quite
grainy, with quite some caramel. Less
mellow than expected. The finish is
rather drying and not too long. Again,
I sort of prefer the regular bottlings,
which are perhaps (even) more undemanding
but also livelier. 78 points.
listening - Sure it's very (probably
too) political (check the United States'
map on their website) but Wookie
Foot's music is an interesting
blend of funk, world music, protest
song and hip hop... not to mention
psych-rock. Try for instance Get
Down - mp3. Do you like it? I
do... Please buy Wookie Foot's music
if you like it.
the index of all entries:
malts I had these weeks - 90+
points only - alphabetical:
10 yo (80
proof, OB for France, 60's)
24 yo 1972/1997 (61.3%, UD Rare Malts)
1972/2002 (56.3%, Scotch Single Malt
Circle, cask #14287)
32 yo 1972/2005 (49.4%,
The Whisky Exchange, 206 bottles)
Park 24 yo 1980/2004 (55.1%,
Duncan Taylor, Cask #9266)
27 yo 1975 (50.3%, SMWS 39.40, 216