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Hi, you're in the Archives, December 2005 - Part 1
       
 
November 2005 - part 2 <--- December 2005 - part 1 ---> December 2005 - part 2
 

December 14, 2005


 

 

MUSIC – Highly recommended listening - Brazilian superstar Rita Lee does Virus do amor.mp3 live. She rules! Please buy Rita Lee's music coz you like it!

Rita Lee
Glen Keith 33yo 1971/2005 (51.9%, Jack Wieber's Old Train Line)

TASTINGS - THREE EXCELLENT OLD GLEN KEITHS

Glen Keith 33 yo 1971/2005 (51.9%, Jack Wieber's Old Train Line) Colour: deep amber. Nose: incredibly winey at first nosing, almost like an old Sauternes, with whiffs of peat smoke (did they use their now famous concentrated peaty water at the time?) Some funny notes of very ripe tomatoes, goulash, carrot cake, maybe pumpkin soup… It gets fruitier with time, developing on overripe oranges and kiwis, balsamic vinegar, old clementines, with something toffeeish – and always these whiffs of smoke. I say it’s superb!

Mouth: oh yes, this is a great sherried one. Lots of vivacity, very playful – not the ‘sluggish’, limpy kind of sherry at all. Lot of dried fruits, both tropical and ‘northern’, fruit liqueurs, freshly squeezed oranges, with also quite some rum-and-raisins this time. Dunce, toffee, praline, old sweet wine (more old Rivesaltes than sherry). No peat that I can get. Beautiful! The finish is rather long, quite coffeeish and liqueurish – wow, what a beauty. And it didn’t get drying at all, hence my 93 points.
Glen Keith 33 yo 1971/2005 (50.8%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #8056) I already had this one but couldn’t take my time, so I thought it deserved another go. Colour: amber – brownish. Nose: oh yes, this is nice, even if less fruity and less ‘different’ than the Wieber. The oloroso character is more obvious, with quite some rum and raisins, Xmas cake and chocolate. Now I get some smoke as well but that might be the power of my mind (not that my mind is that powerful, that is – don’t get me wrong) Nice notes of lovage and soy sauce after a moment, together with some smoked ham and game. Very classical, it reminds me of some Glenfarclasses. Mouth: ah, yes, it’s a heavy oloroso-influenced malt. Very toffeeish, rumy and raisiny, sort of thick even if it’s not unbearable at all. Gets then sort of cardboardy, thanks to the rather heavy, spicy tannins which start to invade your mouth. Nothing excessive, though. Some nice and playful notes of tangerines, lemon drops and fresh pineapple do come through after a while, and sort of re-balance the whole. Not one you should taste while in a rush, no doubt, as it keeps developing, gaining complexity and vivacity… Very good! The finish is rather long, still perhaps a bit too drying but hey, 33 years! Anyway, 90 points for this very classical sherry monster. Glen Keith 33yo 1971/2005 (50.8%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #8056)
Glen Keith 1967/2003 (46%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice) Glen Keith 1967/2003 (46%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice) Colour: full amber. Nose: wow, what a superb mix of sherry and sea air (yes, I know where’s Glen Keith)! Compact and complex at the same time, with lots of dried oranges and kumquats and a very nice smoke, developing on flowers from the fields, a whole basket of fresh fruits (lots of kiwis). Perfect vivacity and no sign of over ageing… Ah, and also my cherished notes of old books, with a bit of natural varnish and eucalyptus. A great nose indeed. Mouth: creamy and coating but elegant, starting on coffee and Xmas cake, all sorts of dried fruits… Alas, it gets then very tannic, with quite some burnt notes and also soy sauce. Rather drying (just below the limit), becoming austere, with a rather long finish on burnt and rubbery notes. Well, nothing excessive, that is, and the nose was tremendously enjoyable, so it’s going to be 87 points.
 
CRAZY XMAS WHISKY ADS - RATIONALES FOR CHOOSING GIFTS - part 3
Vat 69 Gold
Left: Vat 69 Gold, Xmas 1972, 'The Gift of Gold - It's the season to give Gold. Vat 69 Gold, the holiday Scotch with the golden light taste.' Yes, cheaper than jewelry, I suppose... Right: Canadian Club, Xmas 1982, 'Even the person who has everything occasionally runs out - Canadian Club "The Best in The House". Twelve bottles of Canadian Club! Wow, hard to run out again after such a gift.
 

December 13, 2005


16:12 PM - THIS JUST IN – GREAT NEWS! Luc’s call has been heard all over the world, and after quite a few red herrings, we’re happy to report that the stolen glasses have just been found in Rome. Picture: one of the missing glasses being delivered by two locals to chief of the Roman carabinieri Alberto Quellochetrova. The glasses will then be handed over to the Belgian ‘politie’ in Antwerp. Phew! Pope
Luc
10:07 AM - THIS JUST IN - It is a sad, very sad story. The kind of sad story that often happens during Christmas time, when a part of the world rejoices and feasts (we know some don’t, shouldn't we do something about that?) Indeed, ‘somebody’ just stole Belgian Maniac Luc’s set of three professional tasting glasses. Luc just issued a call and Whiskyfun is happy to help. Luc’s own words: ‘Dear Whiskyfun reader, I’m desperate, the three tasting glasses were very important, without them, even the rarest Glenfarclas tastes like Loch Lomond. If you ever spot my glasses at auctions or anywhere else, please advise, I have prepared a reward. They are genuine Bohemian crystal cut glasses, 37cm and 2.3kg each, three different colours: ultramarine blue for my coastal malts, viridian green for my inland malts and burnt sienna for my beloved Glenfarclasses.’ Picture: an inconsolable Luc obliged to taste an old Clynelish 12 yo 100°proof for Giaccone from the neck at a very recent Mara tasting.
 
Strathisla 35yo (40%, G&M for Sestante, 75cl, 1980's)

TASTING - FOUR STRATHISLAS

Strathisla 35 yo (40%, G&M for Sestante, 75cl, 1980's)
Colour: gold amber. Nose: the attack isn’t particularly punchy but it’s very ‘present’, with a beautiful mix of flowers from the fields, nectar, beeswax and lots of tropical fruits (although they’re less demonstrative than, say in the old Bowmores or Clynelishes). Quite some smoke – this one must have been distilled in at the turn of the 1950’s, marzipan, walnut skins… Goes on with some bold notes of very ripe peaches, before it switches to something slightly metallic and quite some saltpetre. Quite flinty as well, with also a little linseed oil. A beautiful old whisky, not tired at all.

Mouth: sure it’s a bit weak now, and probably less complex than the nose but there are some superb, yet discreet notes of fresh oranges, light honey and olive oil. Develops on a little marzipan, getting slightly waxy, minty and a little papery… Maybe a little liquorice and praline – just a little - and then it almost vanishes in a whisper… Hello? There is no finish whatsoever! Right, I guess this one lost quite a few degrees in its bottle, and the palate is just a gentle caressing wave, but what a stunning nose! 86 points.
Strathisla 36 yo 1969 (54.6%, Cooper's Choice, 2005)
Colour: dark amber. Nose: extremely fragrant and demonstrative at first nosing, with some bold oloroso, lots of old rum and raisins. Almost explosive! Lots of dried oranges and caramel, coffee liquor, Grand-Marnier, bananas flambéed… Then it gets much fresher and fruitier, on strawberries, very ripe pineapples… Also quite some dunce (chocolate and raspberries), before it starts to smell cooked cabbage and chestnuts! Strange but enjoyable, I must say… Keeps developing, on gravy, fresh parsley, wine sauce… Yes, almost a sauce! Also whiffs of crushed mint leaves. Mouth: lots of oomph! This one seems to have been sort of concentrated; it’s not the alcohol, it’s the flavours! They really invade every part of your mouth with quite some rubber, concentrated fruit juices, highly reduced wine sauce, apricot jam, overcooked gravy… Maybe it was a solera cask? Lots of notes of burnt cake as well, strong liquorice…
Strathisla 36yo 1969 (54.6%, Cooper's Choice, 2005)
Let’s try it with a little water now… (while the nose got mintier)… Yes, it gets smoother and more drinkable – you can reduce it down to 20% ABV or so and it’s still very rich – but the profile doesn’t change much. Let’s say it got fruitier, with much more spearmint and chlorophyll. Anyway, this one is an authentic sherry monster, no doubt. Spectacular! 90 points.
Strathisla 35yo 1969/2005 (56.3%, Whisky-Doris, sherry cask #2516, 90 bottles) Strathisla 35 yo 1969/2005 (56.3%, Whisky-Doris, sherry cask #2516, 90 bottles) Colour: dark amber. Nose: starts much more classically ‘oloroso’, less extravagantly and more on chocolate, roasted nuts… but then it gets even meatier (smoked ham, sausages), on gravy with onions, hints of oxtail soup, cooked mushrooms and garlic… quite ‘nourishing’! Keeps developing with some much fresher herbs, citronella, fresh mint, mullein, lemon balm… Also soy sauce, salted butter caramel… Whiffs of smoke and tar… Very old white wine, praline… Perfect, very rich and complex. Not a clumsy kind of sherry at all. Mouth: bold and very thick, rich and creamy again, extraordinarily coating and liqueur-like. Bold notes of coffee, dark toffee, old rum… Really hot despite its old age. Apricot jam, something resinous (propolis), wine sauce again… Bitter caramel…
Okay, let’s try to add some water as well now… (while the nose got mintier as well, but always as meaty)… Funny, it really resembles the Coopers’ more and more, with just the same bold minty flavours and, perhaps a little more pepper. But it’s also quite drier and definitely more tannic. Anyway, we have another spectacular, genuine sherry monster here. 90 points (tie between the two 1969’s!)
Strathisla 17 yo 1987/2005 (46%, Signatory Unchillfiltered, cask #2372, 324 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: very fruity at first nosing, on boxed pineapples and candied pears. Gets then quite rubbery, with also some rather nice notes of hot ham, melted paraffin. Not too complex but rather enjoyable, I must say, getting sort of bolder after a few minutes, with quite some eucalyptus (Vicks). Mouth: very fruity again but maybe too sharp and lacking ‘broadness’. Notes of crystallized citrons, with a little salt but the middle is quite wimp, almost nonexistent. Yet, there quite some wax and paraffin gain. Gets slightly bitter (lemon seeds). The finish is rather short and a little metallic. Not too unpleasant but nothing too special. The nose was nice, hence my 80 points. Strathisla 17yo 1987/2005 (46%, Signatory Unchillfiltered, cask #2372, 324 bottles)
 
CRAZY XMAS WHISKY ADS - RATIONALES FOR CHOOSING GIFTS - part 2
Ambassador, Xmas 1968
Left: Ambassador, Xmas 1968, 'give Ambassador Deluxe - New York's largest selling Scotch, America's fastest growing Scotch, The World's Lightest Scotch - Watch your favorite friends light up with knowing smiles when you give them a gift of Ambassador Deluxe. They know that there's nothing finer than the World's Lightest Scotch (...) Give Ambassador - the gift that will be remembered long into the New Year!' Right: Johnnie Walker, probably early 1970's, 'Give Johnnie Walker Red, the world's best selling Scotch. Why fool around?'. Did it already occur to you that the fact that a product is a very heavy seller makes it an ideal gift?
Steve Wynn MUSIC – Recommended listening - A nice little song called How's my little girl.mp3 by Steve Wynn. How sweet! Please buy Steve Wynns' music!
 

December 12, 2005


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
Port Ellen 27yo 1978/2005 (52.3%, DL for The Whisky Fair, 198 bottles)

 

TASTING - THREE RECENT PORT ELLENS

Port Ellen 27 yo 1978/2005 (52.3%, DL for The Whisky Fair, 198 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: this is an unusual Port Ellen, as there’s no bold smoky, tary, tyre-like notes but rather a clean farmy peat with quite some lemon and wood smoke that makes me think of the heavily peated Ardmores or of the cleanest Bowmores. Rather sharp and very straightforward, with whiffs of coal smoke and fresh herbs (a little dill, celery, mintleaves), as well as wet stones and clean wet dog. Ah, also hints of aniseed, liquorice, roots and fresh butter. It is, indeed, a kind of profile I like – a Riesling-malt?

Mouth: bold and coating, almost thick which is also quite unusual. Very bold, nicely sweet but wonderfully peaty and smoky, with some gentian, lemon juice and marmalade, sweet pepper and a little quince jam. Gets quite liquoricy, rooty, with quite some violet sweets in the background, a little cough syrup, fir honey… Extremely enjoyable! The finish is long, very ‘invading’ and warming, mostly on herbs sweets (do you know Ricola?) It’s really perfect – not extraordinarily complex but perfect and, above all, extremely drinkable. Which makes me think of these poor souls who, five years ago, started to say there would be no more good Port Ellens brought to the market. Crap! 92 points.
Port Ellen 1981/2005 (57.7%, Scott's Selection)
Colour: straw. Nose: yes, this one is more typical, with much more tar and notes of brand new tyres right at first nosing but those are not as bold as in the, say official Rare Malts. Quite some lemon as well, together with some nice farmy notes (hay) and something slightly caramelly that makes this one quite rounder. Quite some vanilla and oak, which is unusual with most UDV – Diageo malts, especially the Islayers. A little coffee as well. Anyway, the balance is perfect, even if we’d have liked a little more ‘wildness’.
Port Ellen 1981/2005 (57.7%, Scott's Selection)
Mouth: quite sweet at first sip but growing quite punchier and, once again, sort of ‘invading’. More citrusy (and less lemony), with quite some orange marmalade, candied grapefruit, kumquats, quince jelly and lots of smoky, tary flavours. Gets then quite peppery, almost a la Talisker… It stays very creamy and almost liquor-like, though, with a little salt starting to play with your tongue after a moment, and the finish is long ‘as a day with no bread’, very sweet and peppery. Excellent! The palate is as nice as the Whisky Fair’s, in fact, and probably bolder and even creamier – but the nose is a little less pure, so it’s going to be ‘only’ 91 points.
Port Ellen 21yo 1983/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, DL 1572, sherry, 435 bottles) Port Ellen 21 yo 1983/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, DL 1572, sherry, 435 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: aha! Lots of crispy bacon at first nosing and loads of brand new tyres, as often. Quite funnily, there’s quite some sherry sort of strengthening these feelings. Some beautiful coastal notes and quite some fuel oil (it starts to smell like an old fishing boat). Quite some peat but it’s rather discreet. Yet, what a superb nose! Mouth: creamy, sweet and firm at the same time, with a beautiful peat, rather medicinal this time. Also quite some candied lemon, smoked ham, cocoa… It gets then meatier and meatier (and smokier) and the finish isn’t too long but goes back to fried bacon. One for breakfast? Too bad I can’t usually swallow anything but coffee and croissants! Anyway, 90 points for this excellent Port Ellen from last year.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Lots of fun in there indeed! Santana? Steely Dan (eh, Peter?), Nuyorican soul? No, it's Los Mocosos and they are doing Mi barrio loco.mp3. Like their record company writes: 'If America still prides itself on being a melting pot, then this just might be the ultimate American band'. Please buy their music! Los Mocosos
 

December 11, 2005


TASTING - SIX CLYNELISHES
Clynelish 32yo 1972/2005 (49.9%, Single Malts of Scotland, cask #15619) Clynelish 32 yo 1972/2005 (49.9%, Single Malts of Scotland, cask #15619) Colour: white wine – very pale for such an old malt. Nose: oh yes, again one of these wonderful 1972 Clynelishes, with their trademark tropical fruits. Quite some mango, quite some passion fruit and a little fresh pineapple, topped with caramel and vanilla sauce plus a dash of white pepper. It develops on sea air, smoke (bonfire), with also quite some apple and walnut skins (a kind of wax in fact), a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon, fresh mastic, a little olive oil… All that is less explosive than in other ‘old new Clynelishes’ but maybe more elegant and a little subtler. Very, very nice. Mouth: oh yes, it’s perfect – although everything comes at the same time. Orange juice, wax, smoke, resin, mango, caramel, pineapple, pepper, a little cardboard, notes of camphor, cough syrup and that’s all. There’s little development precisely because it’s so bold and ‘abundant’ right at first sip. And the finish is long and resiny, with also quite some bitter oranges. XLNT. 92 points.
Clynelish 22 yo 1972/1995 (58.95%, Rare Malts, 75cl) A version for the US, I believe… Colour: white wine. Nose: punchier, less ‘tropical’ at first nosing, more on cake and pastries. Quite some praline and some huge waxy notes emerging after a moment. Really on beehive, paraffin and all sorts of oils (colza, olive…) plus a little incense. It gets then smokier and smokier (white wood smoke) and a little resinous, before… yes, there, the tropical fruits arrive. It’s more sort of ‘skinny’, with rubbed orange zests, bananas, tangerines… Quite some walnut liquor as well. Another more than perfect old new Clynelish that has quite some similarities with the ‘genuine’ old Clynelishes (before they were christened ‘Brora’). Mouth: how punchy and powerful, and how drinkable! Incredible that one can swallow this one just like that, without a single drop of water – or is it me again? It starts on bitter oranges, lots of wax as expected (mastic candies – and the kind of Turkish delights they make using mastic), developing on smoked tea, butterscotch, bergamot, quince jelly… Again it gets smokier, with also more and more tea (notes of old pu-erh), liquorice sticks, hints of Smyrna raisins (I’m sorry, not any other kinds of raisins here)… Maybe it’s getting just a bit too tannic (you can feel it on the back of your tongue) but that’s a detail here. The finish is very long as expected, waxy, orangey and resinous. Just superb – even if I may be a little partial to Clynelish. 93 points (and thanks to the Plowedsters.)
Clynelish 10 yo 1994/2005 (54%, Exclusive Malts, David Stirk) Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather grainy, coffeeish and mineral at first nosing, with whiffs of coal smoke. Hints of burnt bread, sharpening stone, earl grey tea (bergamot). Not exactly aromatic. Gets then rather yeasty and mashy, with some notes of porridge, steamed potatoes and muesli. Also some rather nice flowery notes (flowers from the fields). It gets nicer and nicer with time, it’s one for lovers of ‘natural’ whiskies – which I am. Mouth: extremely sweet and curiously fruity, almost like kirsch or grappa. Maybe it lacks a little ageing… Bold notes of peaches and strawberries with a little caramel sauce, getting then very vegetal (tealeaves, sorrel, spinach) and rather bitter… Raw propolis, green pepper, lots of wax… Not totally enjoyable, rather extreme as far as bitterness is concerned. Long and very bitter finish, on cloves - almost anaesthetizing (and it’s not the alcohol). One dentists should use, perhaps (Peter?). Anyway, 80 points, because I quite like bitterness. Clynelish 10yo 1994/2005 (54%, Exclusive Malts, David Stirk)
Clynelish 11yo 1994/2005 (58.9%, Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #4011) Clynelish 11 yo 1994/2005 (58.9%, Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #4011) Colour: pale gold. Nose: not extremely different but it’s a little cleaner and smokier at the same time, less yeasty and also more on hot butter and pastry, plus Clynelish’s usual ‘waxiness’. And yes, it’s much smokier, definitely. I liked the ‘Exclusive Malt’ – I like this one even better, for it’s much more ‘Clynelish-esque’. Mouth: hot and spirity, with the sherry adding another layer compared to the ‘Exclusive Malt’. It then calms down a bit, letting some nice notes of dried oranges and wax coming through, as well as, again, cloves and pepper – even chilli and harissa. But it doesn’t get as bitter… Now, it does need a few drops of water otherwise it’s too burning (Tabasco is easier to drink, err…). Let’s go… and while the nose got even smokier… Ah, yes, it got much more enjoyable, with lots of fruits (overripe melons, sugared apples) and quite some Turkish delights, rosewater, oriental pastries… And always these bold way notes. The finish is long, quite bitter again even with lots of water, but like I said, I like bitterness. A very good young Clynelish for big boys. 87 points.
Clynelish 17 yo 1987/2005 (55.3%, Signatory, refill butt #990326) Colour: gold. Nose: quite powerful and surprisingly peaty and farmy for a Clynelish, not very different from a 1980’s Brora. There come the usual waxy notes, with something quite mineral instead of fruits (although there are a few notes of bitter oranges). Some rather bold notes of rubbed lemon skin, fireplace, used coins, silverware and, this time again, mastic. Probably one of the nicest young Clynelish noses I ever came across, with kind of an austerity I always liked. Almost perfect – and it gets smokier and smokier, not unlike the best Ardmores. Mouth: superb! Sharp like a blade, extremely lemony and waxy at the same time, with also these ‘stony’ notes I cherish and quite some peat. A perfect compactness, with lots of other various citrus fruits then giving it quite some extra-complexity: candied citrons, tangerines, crystallized oranges. Add a pinch of salt and a little ginger and you have a rather simple, yet perfect Clynelish, with a long, rather peaty finish. I love it. 90 points. (and thanks, Pierre) Clynelish 17yo 1987/2005 (55.3%, Signatory, refill butt #990326)
Clynelish 17yo 1983/2000 (43%, Dun Bheagan) Clynelish 17 yo 1983/2000 (43%, Dun Bheagan)
Colour: yellow gold. Nose: rather closed at first nosing, then developing on notes of old emptied wine cask, cooked fruits and quite some perfume. It gets then sort of dusty, with also some notes of overripe oranges and reminds me of the Edradour 10 yo (the previous owner’s ‘bulky’ bottles). Not easy to enjoy, getting frankly vinous after a few minutes. Notes of hot toddy, café latte… Well… Mouth: starts on Cointreau and coffee liqueur, cooked sweet wine, a little rancio… Goes on on crystallized oranges and ginger, toffee, hints of soy sauce. Yet, the finish is rather long and more balanced than expected. Luckily, this palate really saves the rather weird nose. 78 points.

 

MUSIC - It's Sunday, we go classical with Yugoslavian cellist Viktor Uzur playing the Sonata in D Minor.mp3 by Dmitri Shostakovich (St. Petersburg, 1906– Moscow, 1975). Please buy Viktor Uzur's recordings and go to his concerts.

Viktor Uzur
Balvenie guy

CRAZY XMAS WHISKY ADS - CARTOONS

After Mr Jenkins and Brock Savage, yet another fictionnal character is telling us small truths about life (cartoon ads are hot this year all over Europe, it appears). This time, it's the Balvenie guy! What's amazing is the fact that he always drinks his Balvenies in a tumbler and on ice. Yes, even the 21 yo PortWood! A maverick, indeed... in spite of his de rigueur bow tie.

 

December 10, 2005


TASTING - THREE NEW UNUSUALLY HEAVILY PEATED MALTS
Ardmore 11 yo 1994/2005 'Heavily Peated' (60.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, cask #121011) From The Whisky Exchange’s brand new series of ‘private’ bottlings. Colour: pale straw. Nose: wow, lots of peat in there! I’ve had many rather peaty Admores but this one is the peatiest ever. Very, very vegetal and grassy, even mineral. Quite some diesel oil, fusel oil, coal… Freshly cut grass… Gets then very smoky, and then there’s these notes of gunflint, wet calcareous stone. Notes of citrus fruits (mostly grapefruits), a little dill, wild carrots, wet hay… Something of the old Broras, even if, of course, it’s less complex. Ardmore never fails to amaze me! Mouth: wow, it’s even nicer than on the nose. Very sharp and compact, with something very unusual, unlike any other peaty malt we know. Much more tea (both green and smoked) and very little fruity and/or farmy and/or maritime notes. It gets also very waxy and resinous (bold notes of propolis), very bitter but in a perfect way (Campari and un-sugared lemon juice). And how clean it is, even if, again, it’s not too complex! The finish is long, mostly on smoke, lemon and grapefruit juice. Excellent phenolmenal surprise, congrats Sukhinder and gang. 90 points. Ardmore 11yo 1994/2005 'Heavily Peated' (60.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, cask #121011)
Caperdonich 1997/2005 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Cask) Caperdonich 1997/2005 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Cask) This one of the peaty batches Seagram did in the past at Caperdonich, just like they did at Glen Keith and Benriach. It’s the first peated Caperdonich I ever had. Colour: almost white. Nose: oh yes, it’s very peaty! It almost smells like a young Laphroaig, with lots of smoke, quite some iodine, sea air and lots of fresh fruits: pears, strawberries, melons, tangerines. Hey hey, it’s a very nice one! Extremely clean and fresh… Also quite some liquorice. Anyway, no need of the sea to get some coastal aromas, it appears…

Mouth: sweet and peaty, very compact and perfectly ‘coherent’. Maybe a little simple but not dull in any way. Some bold notes of pear juice, gentian liqueur, getting very rooty, with also lots of chlorophyll. Something of Laphroaig’s new make in the background… The finish is rather long, bold, mostly on smoke. An excellent peaty Speysider, maybe a little simple but that will fear no Ileach baby on the tasting table. I’m sure we’ll see several other peaty Caperdonichs soon. 87 points.

Ballantruan 2001/2005 (62.1%, McKillop’s Choice, cask #14339) Another ‘deviant’ peated Speysider, distilled at Tomintoul this time, and another first for me. Colour: white wine. Nose: extremely powerful and coffeeish, on pear and grapefruit juice, very close to new make. Some peat smoke, no doubt, but it’s partly masked by the alcohol. We’ll try it with some water.

Ballantruan 2001/2005 (62.1%, McKillop’s Choice, cask #14339) Mouth: unexpectedly drinkable despite the high strength. Very sweet, with lots of fruity notes (apples, ripe kiwi, pineapple), getting then very citrusy. There is some peat but rather less than in the Caperdonich. Not much else for the moment but let’s try it with some water now. As often, the nose got farmier – and peatier. The palate got nicer as well, with quite some caramel, smoked tea, and some very creamy notes of apricot juice and plum syrup. The finish is rather long, with some rather bold notes of exploded gunpowder (not that I ever ate some, but I guess it must taste like that). It hasn’t got the Caperdonich’s purity and ‘rectitude’ but it’s still a very nice peaty youngster. I guess they bottled it because it’s kind of a first, thus probably committing an infanticide, but it is promising indeed. 82 points.
MUSIC – JAZZ - Recommended listening - Good, this is not just for any ears, but if, like me, you like Miles' In a silent way period, plus Gil Scott-Heron, plus the Art Ensemble, you'll probably love the underground Norwegian combo Wibutee and their entrancing piece called Attempt.mp3. Please, please buy their music! Wibutee
 

December 9, 2005


Ardmore 15yo 1990/2005 (58.6%, Signatory CS Coll., bourbon barrel #30013, 189 bottles)

TASTING - THREE, OR RATHER FOUR ARDMORES

Ardmore 15 yo 1990/2005 (58.6%, Signatory CS Coll., bourbon barrel #30013, 189 bottles)
This expression was part of a blind tasting line-up organized by excellent French forum whisky-distilleries. Something strange happened, as two different bottles from the very same cask have been submitted, and fetched very different – and quite homogenous - comments by all 10 tasters. Uh-oh… Anyway, here are my notes:

Bottle #145 – Colour: straw. Nose: lots of peat in there! Almost like the peatiest Caol Ilas, with an even deeper smoke. Rather clean and fresh, with notes of caramelized apple pie, vanilla crème and apple compote. Rather simple but much enjoyable. Mouth: powerful and fruity, with quite some citrus fruits, peat, a little liquorice and lots of apple juice. It really tastes like an Islayer – a simple but flawless one. One of the peatiest Ardmores I ever had, very enjoyable. 85 points.
Bottle #179 – Colour: straw. Nose: again, the peat is well here but it’s more subdued this time, even if more maritime. Quite some iodine and seaweed, but also some farmy notes. Very clean again but clearly different from the previous bottle. Mouth: powerful, quite sweeter than bottle #145, nervous, with lots of citrus fruits (grapefruit). Very peaty and oily, with something of Lagavulin. The finish is beautiful, on gentian eau-de-vie. Really different indeed, but both were very good! 87 points.
Ardmore 13 yo 1992/2005 (55.6%, Signatory Straight from the Cask for Corman Collins, Alsace Pinot Noir finish, cask #1395) Good, someone had to do it one day: use a cask of Alsace wine. It’s pinot noir, which is quite normal as the Alsatians never use any barrels for their whites - which account for more than 90% of their global production, that is. Let’s taste it now and check if it tastes any ‘Alsatian’. Colour: pale gold (no pinkish colours). Nose: rather discreet at very first nosing, but getting then quite peaty like all recent Ardmores I could taste, with something sulphury and rubbery. Nothing excessive, though. Goes on with both mineral and meaty notes, with some wet limestone and smoked ham, getting then quite vegetal (whiffs of horseradish, celeriac). Hints of brunt matchsticks, fireplace… Rather sharp and austere in fact, with no obvious winey notes I could smell, which may be good news. Mouth: rather powerful, sweeter than expected, again a little rubbery. Some distant notes of wine do emerge now, together with quite some gingerbread, fruit cake, eau-de-vie (Alsatian, of course). Notes of ripe strawberries, blackberries, icing sugar, cake… It’s very, very tasty, in fact, and far from being as unbalanced as I had feared (I usually don’t like wine-finished peaty malts). It keeps developing, getting a little peppery and unbilievably salty (salted liquorice). The finish is long and bold, on fruit eau-de-vie and salt… Very interesting, I’ll let my Alsatian friends who are winemakers taste it in the coming days, I’m curious about their reactions. 85 points.
Ardmore 1977/2003 (58.1%, Scott's Selection) Colour: white wine. Nose: rather more expressive right at first nosing, with quite some peat smoke again (but it’s more subdued here, I guess Arsmore increased its peat level at the turn of the 90’s), some very nice mineral notes again but, mostly, much more fruits (peaches and melons) and waxy notes. Beehive, mastic, tar, fresh crushed almonds… Gets also a little resinous, with whiffs of fresh oak, vanilla, maybe fern… And always a superb smoke (rather white wood smoke). Excellent.
Mouth: really powerful but superbly balanced, with a very waxy and resinous attack. There is some peat but it’s not too prominent here. Again, there’s quite some salt that sort of underlines the notes of mastic, marzipan, olive oil, propolis, cough candies… Very interesting! Notes of burnt herbs, tequila (nice with salt), maybe Chartreuse… A very unusual profile, not unlike, yes, a peated tequila + some salt. The finish is rather long, waxy and salty… Again, very interesting and… good! 87 points. Ardmore 1977/2003 (58.1%, Scott's Selection)
Takagi Masakatsu MUSIC – Highly recommended listening: something rather unusual on these pages, Japanese experimental music (well, not too experimental actually). It's a wonderful collage made by brilliant visual artist and musician Takagi Masakatsu, called And then.mp3. What a wonderful, peaceful and introspective piece... For meditation? Please buy Takagi's CD's.
 
CRAZY XMAS WHISKY ADS - RATIONALES FOR CHOOSING GIFTS - part 1
100 Pipers

Do you think we have to present our friends and families with various expensive whiskies every bloody Xmas just to please them and to show them how much we love them? No, no, there are many other motivations that several big whisky brands will know explain to us. Bottom line: why choose their bottlings and not others'. What's important is to remember that most of these ads aim at people who are not regular whisky buyers, so there's no point in talking about quality, cask selection or other (sometimes) concrete features. Anyway, let's kick off this little 15-ads or so series with... Left: 100 Pipers, Xmas 1973, 'It's nice to give something you wouldn't mind getting yourself.' Right: Crown Royal, Xmas 1979, 'It's hard to forget someone who gives you Crown Royal'. Hmmm, both ads sort of cut both ways, don't you think? But again, these ads are not aimed at whisky freaks ;-)... More in the coming days...

 

December 8, 2005


TASTING - FOUR NEW INDIE LAPHROAIGS
Laphroaig 10 yo 1994/2005 (52.5%, Exclusive Malts) From ex-Cadenhead David Stirk’s new series of bottlings. Colour: white wine. Nose: very, very fruity at first nosing, mostly on freshly cut apples (granny Smith), fresh strawberries and boxed pineapples. Goes on with some notes of flint stone, apple skins, almond milk. There is some peat smoke of course but it’s curiously subdued. Gets then quite vegetal, on freshly mown lawn, leaves, hints of hay, roots… It’s nice but not exactly what you’d expect from a Laphroaig, and it sort of lacks precision. Laphroaig 10yo 1994/2005 (52.5%, Exclusive Malts)
Mouth: very sweet attack, with lots of liquorice roots, soon to get quite bitterish (over-infused, un-sugared tea). Very rooty, herbal, lacking body – which is surprising. Something prickly, though (Alka-Seltzer). Notes of lemon peels, bitter almonds… Quite hard to enjoy this one, it’s a bit too sharp and I feeel it really lacks balance. Too bad! 74 points.
Laphroaig 10 yo 1994/2005 (56.7%, Acorn, Japan) Acorn is a Japanese bottler and importer. Colour: white wine. Nose: starts much more Laphroaigish than the ‘Exclusive Malts’, with lots of iodine, seaweed, peat smoke, wet stones… Classic! Notes of clay, chalk, peated barley (obviously), smoked tea. Lots of beer coming through after a while (Pilsen). Also whiffs of aspirin, cow stable… Aromatically sharp, with little sweetness unlike the OB’s – I love this kind of nose. Just perfect! Mouth: wow, this is a good Laphroaig! Bold and compact, with the usual mix of peat, dried citrus fruits, gentian, smoked oysters… A little less creamy and mouth filling than the fantastic official 10 yo C/S but otherwise it’s much in the same vein. Quite some marzipan, propolis, pepper, and a long, bold and extremely satisfying finish. A perfect young Laphroaig, well worth chasing down. 91 points.
Laphroaig 16yo 1988/2005 (50.1%, Douglas Laing for The Whiskyfair, cask #1062, 151 bottles) Laphroaig 16 yo 1988/2005 (50.1%, Douglas Laing for The Whiskyfair, cask #1062, 151 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: rather hot and spirity at first nosing, curiously closed. Rather mashy, smoky but much less than expected, This one really takes its time, for it’s only after five minutes that it starts to exhale the usual maritime and medicinal notes, and quite discreetly at that. Seaweed, fresh oysters… Freshly cut apples, wet hay… A subdued Laphroaig, it appears. We’ll try it with a few drops of water but first, let’s taste it neat...
Mouth: ah yes, much more happening now. Not the usual bold peat and smoke, though, but rather lots of earthy, waxy notes and quite some liquorice. Very little bandages, embrocations or camphor and quite some sugary notes. With water: no significant development on the nose, except some funny cheesy smells (several cheesy Islayers this year!) and some stony aromas. The mouth gets a little more sugary but also a little dusty and cardboardy. Nicely, that is. The finish is rather long, mainly on liquorice. In short, a different Laphroaig that’s got its own charms. 86 points.
Laphroaig 13 yo 1991/2005 (59.1%, SMWS 29.40) Colour: straw. Nose: that’s strange, it’s also rather closed and takes a lot of time to develop. More spirity of course, but also a little perfumy, with some rose water and rotting oranges. Another one that will be treated with water. Mouth: ah, superb! Lots of natural liquorice and other roots, mastic candies, gentian spirit, strong caramel… But it’s quite burning. Let’s add some water… Ah, yes, the nose really opens up now, but in a curious direction, with lots of fudge, toffee, espressso, cappuccino… The mouth doesn’t get much more complex, though, staying on liquorice, green tea, herbal liquors (Chartreuse) and maybe getting just a tad more tary. Again a very different but enjoyable Laphroaig. Shall we call Laphroaig a proteiform malt? 87 points.
 
CRAZY XMAS WHISKY ADS - GUIDANCE TO WIVEs - bis
Dewar's White Label Seagram's V.O
Scoresby Scotch Above, left, Dewar's White Label, Xmas 1935, 'That Christmas Gift List - 'Put down Whisky for Bob. He always insists on Dewar's "White Label" Note that Bob isn't that stupid, he's controlling what his wife writes. But the latter probably knows her husband is behind her back, because of his pipe's smells! Otherwise she'd have listed... er... a new vacuum cleaner? - Above, right, Seagram's V.O., Xmas 1972, 'Give That Great V.O. Taste.' Looks promising. Left, Scoresby Scotch, Xmas 1991, Balloon: 'Mmmm, Scoresby... Very tempting - Body: ''Few Things During The Holidays Are As Tempting As The Premium Malt Taste Of Scoresby Scotch' - Signature: 'Taste The Temptation'. Well, this Roy-Lichtenstein-esque ad is very clear, Scotch is an excellent mean for women to take their husbands to bed. Hmmm, I never tasted that Scoresby but... well...
MUSIC – JAZZ - Highly recommended listening: yeah, Patricia Barber again! This time, she's doing White workd.mp3 live (radio broadcast). Astounding. There's also an excellent QT video where Patricia tells us that she drinks Cognac on stage there. Imagine what her music would be, had she rather a Brora... Please buy Patricia Barber's music. Patricia Barber
 

December 7, 2005


TASTING - TWO BALVENIES

Balvenie-Glenlivet 29 yo 1974/2004 (48%, Cadenhead, bourbon, 180 bottles) Indie Balvenies are quite rare and again, it’s Cadenhead who managed to get some (as well as Glenfiddichs). Colour: gold. Nose: rather punchy at first but still smooth, starting with the usual notes of honey, mirabelle jam and yellow flowers form the fields. Perhaps jus a little less rounded than the old OB’s, and maybe a tad smokier. Hints of gravy, balsamic vinegar. Gets a little toffeeish, with also quite some vanilla crème, chantilly, pastries… Notes of dry white wine (Chablis), cold smoke, butter… Very complex and remarkably balanced.

Balvenie-Glenlivet 29yo 1974/2004 (48%, Cadenhead, bourbon, 180 bottles)
Mouth: sweet and rounded but still quite nervous, starting on icing sugar and candied fruits (pears, apricots) and ripe melon, bananas, sweet white wine this time (from the Loire valley, like Quarts de Chaume). Some nice white pepper to keep it playful… It gets then quite tannic, but the tannins are of the silky, kind and very rummy, unexpectedly. Sultanas. The finish is long, sweet and slightly drying at the same time, with quite some liquorice… A superb old Balvenie, in any case, probably at its peek. 91 points.
Balvenie 15yo 1989/2004 ‘Single Barrel’ (47.8%, OB, cask #7633) Balvenie 15 yo 1989/2004 ‘Single Barrel’ (47.8%, OB, cask #7633) Colour: straw. Nose: starts yeastier and farmier than usual, with quite some hot milk and some herbal notes (dill). Gets a little resinous and quite ‘vanilled’… Rather complex in fact, a nice expression of Balvenie without the usual sweetness and roundness. Mouth: rather nervous, with lots of vanilla (should I add ‘of course’?) and liquorice, going on with some cooked green vegetables and quite some caramel. A style on its own! Some interesting notes of white rum (ti-punch) and a rather long finish, just slightly too drying. Anyway, I like this one quite a lot. 86 points.
 
CRAZY XMAS WHISKY ADS - GUIDANCE TO WIVES
Old Grand-Dad,
Left, Old Grand-Dad, Xmas 1958 (I know, looks recenter) - Right, Johnny Walker Red, Xmas 1972.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - A very nice song with violins and all that by Australian bluseman Geoff Achison and his Souldiggers, called Kissing angels.mp3. Please buy Geoff Achison's music. Geoff Achison
 

December 6, 2005


TASTING - FOUR NEW INDIE CAOL ILAS
Caol Ila 1979/2005 (60.9%, The Cross Hill, Jack Wieber's, 204 bottles) Caol Ila 1979/2005 (60.9%, The Cross Hill, Jack Wieber's, 204 bottles) A new series by German wizard Jack Wieber (nice packaging, Jack!) Colour: straw. Nose: very nice first puffs, very complex right at first nosing. Lots of acidulous fruits (kiwi, not too ripe strawberries, tangerines), some big, bold waxy notes, something very nicely mineral (wet chalk, limestone), medicinal (maybe a little aether) and, of course, peat smoke. Quite splendid! Develops on farmy notes (doghouse), high quality olive oil, waxen paper… what’s impressive is its perfect balance and complexity. Also some caramel cream, marzipan, sour apple liqueur… Wowie!
Mouth: oh yes, it’s perfect! Bold, powerful, invading… Extremely waxy, with lots of marzipan, quite some ginger, cardamom, herbal liqueurs (ach, Jägermeister!) Also some smoked tea, olive oil again, all sorts of smoked ‘things’, and a big, bold peat smoke that sort of underlines the whole shebang. Ah yes, and also some cider apples! Wow, what a great Coal Ila, with its long and waxy finish! No less than 91 points.
Caol Ila 12 yo 1992/2005 (46%, Whisky Galore) Colour: gold. Nose: very fruity, rather smoky, typically Caol Ila. Very clean and pure, with notes of hay, fresh mastic, limestone… Not very bold aromatically, in fact, but very seductive. Kind of a perfect balance between the fruitiness and the peatiness that should appeal to many newcomers. Lots of liquorice roots after a moment, Chinese anise. Garden bonfire… Hints of bitter chocolate. A nice, flawless Caol Ila on the nose, not unlike the official 12yo, just a little bolder... Caol Ila 12yo 1992/2005 (46%, Whisky Galore)
Mouth: very, very nice, bold and very coherent with the nose. Peat, liquorice roots, cooked apples… A perfect compactness, with also some gentian spirit, getting very earthy and rooty. A perfect balance, even if it remains a little simple, but that’s probably the best you could expect from a rather young Caol Ila. Yes, a flawless and most enjoyable young peaty Islayer. 87 points.
Caol Ila 1993/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan) Colour: pale straw. Nose: this one is much less smoky and peaty, and consequently much fruitier. Bold notes of fresh pear juice and pineapples mixed with sea air. The peat starts to shine through after a good three or four minutes, but never gets as bold as in the Whisky Galore version. Still a very nice expression, again very clean and pure. Mouth: again, it’s less bold, less peaty and more fruity, but in no way less good this time. It gets as earthy when developing, and certainly saltier and more maritime (remember the last time you drank seawater?) The finish isn’t extraordinarily long but very ‘rooty’, gently bitter. Another very good one! 86 points.
Caol Ila 1995/2005 'Extra Strength' (50%, Wilson & Morgan) Colour: straw. Nose: very, very similar to the 46% version, perhaps a little more closed and slightly less fruity. Quite mineral and herbal. Maybe that’s the alcohol, we’ll try it with a little water… Mouth: ah, now it gets even closer to the 46% version, but not really stronger, quite curiously. Perhaps a little sweeter but that might come from the alcohol too. Let’s try it with water… No significant further development on the nose, just a little soap (like always when you ad water). I was too quick, let’s wait a few minutes… No, nothing more, just more apple skins and something rubbery and feinty. Yes, exactly like some low wines, in fact. The palate got a little better, that is, fruitier and waxier. But I still like the 46% version better. 83 points.
 
CRAZY XMAS WHISKY ADS - STARS IN THE SKY
Crown Royal
Just like last year, I'll publish a few old Xmas ads within the coming weeks - and why not start right away with these two ads that look strangely similar. The Seagram marketing people are/were stars of recycling! Left, Crown Royal, Xmas 1985, 'A star is poured.' - Right, Chivas, Xmas 1994, 'Not everyone is looking for reindeer'.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - I first thought it was Whiskyfun favourite Nellie McKay when I first heard her excellent little song called Constant state of want.mp3, but no, it's Christine Lavin. She's very good, if you ask me, please buy her music... Christine Lavin
 

December 5, 2005


TASTING - THREE GLENGLASSAUGHS
Glenglassaugh 22yo 1974/1997 (43%, Hart Bros) Glenglassaugh 22 yo 1974/1997 (43%, Hart Bros)
Colour: straw. Nose: it starts very vegetal (freshly cut grass), developing on fresh walnuts, burning matchsticks, wax, with quite some smoke in the background (beech fire). Whiffs of turpentine, smoked cold cuts, marzipan, colza oil… Rather interesting even if it sort of lacks oomph. Mouth: sweet and waxy attack (orgeat), with a pinch of salt right at the start. Very almondy, developing on candied orange zests, herbal tea, light caramel, fir-tree honey, mastic… Excellent, even if not extremely complex. Some cardboardy notes, spurts of powdered nutmeg… Yes, excellent, with a medium long but very balanced finish, on bitter almonds and mint. A perfect palate that nicely compensates the rather discreet nose. 87 points.
Glenglassaugh 27 yo 1978/2005 (46.7%, Auld Distiller's Collection, Jack Wieber, ‘Dark Sherry’, 170 Bottles) Colour: dark amber – bronze with green hues, almost fluorescent. Nose: lots of dry sherry! Very meaty right at first nosing, with some hot smoked ham, balsamic vinegar, green tea, gravy. Very little sulphur and rubber (good news?) Goes on with salted liquorice and lovage, before quite some furniture polish, turpentine and eucalyptus emerge. Also some coffee, burnt caramel… Just superb, if you ask me. Mouth: oh yes, classy! Nervous and vivacious despite the heavy sherry, starting on all sorts of caramelized roasted nuts, Smyrna raisins, toasted bread, with hints of high-end grappa. Lots of fudge. Maybe it lacks a little body but nothing to be ashamed of, especially because there are some very unusual notes of spearmint emerging then, together with some citronella, Coca-Cola (just faint hints, don’t worry), ginger… Very complex indeed. One to try, definitely – a beautiful example of ‘sherry’. I love it. 91 points. Glenglassaugh 27yo 1978/2005 (46.7%, Auld Distiller's Collection, Jack Wieber, ‘Dark Sherry’, 170 Bottles)
Glenglassaugh 28 yo 1976 (51.9%, Dormant Distillery Company, cask #2376, 279 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: quite closed at first nosing, just a little spirity, but it’s soon to exhale some very perfumy and slightly soapy notes. Orange skin, lavender, cardboard… Develops on ginger tonic, paraffin, almond milk, but everything is sort of toned down. We’ll try it with a few drops of water after the first sips.
Glenglassaugh 28yo 1976 (51.9%, Dormant Distillery Company, cask #2376, 279 bottles) Mouth: very sweet and almost sugarish, starting on sugared cereals, rum, vanilla liqueur… Quite some oomph but some very simple flavours. Water needed, maybe… Let’s go: the nose gets a little farmier and more phenolic, with a little peat coming through, burning candle, and something meaty, like smoked ham and sausages… It certainly improves, good news. The palate got better as well, still a little sweetish but with quite some dried fruits and also herbal teas. Liquorice as well. The finish isn’t too long, alas, and again a little sweetish. Anyway, Glenglassaugh has never been a high-profile distillery, and this one isn’t bad at all. Perhaps just not as complex as what you’d expect from a malt that’s almost 30 years old. 80 points.
MUSIC – Oldies but goldies: 1968, ex Marilyn Monroe boy friend Yves Montand sings A bicyclette - mp3 live. One of the old French songs I like best - excuse my frenchness. Yves Montand
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
 

December 4, 2005


VIDEO CLIP - Just found a fantastic old movie about the reopening of Scottish distilleries in 1933, after the prohibition. It's on the Scotsman's website, right there.
TASTING - TWO LINKWOODS
Linkwood 1991/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry wood) Linkwood 1991/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry wood) Colour: amber. Nose: rather smooth, with quite some sherry and rubber at first nosing. A little smoky as well. Then it grows fruitier and fruitier (apple compote, ripe apricots, plum cake), with also some notes of sweet white wine. It gets then both caramelly and a little sourish, on cider, oxidised cut apples. Hints of wax and resin. Again a simple but nice young sherried Speysider, it appears. Mouth: creamy start, very sherried and, again, very rubbery. Burnt cake and caramel, fruit cake, crystallised oranges, strong tea (quite tannic in fact) and basta. Simple but not bad at all, with a long finish on caramel and pastry. 83 points.
Linkwood 13 yo 1990/2004 (46%, Whisky-Doris, sherry cask)
Colour: gold. Nose: wow, this is completely different at first nosing, with some mega-bold notes of apple juice and fresh milk, with a little light rubber (even if that doesn’t exist, I guess). Goes on with lots of vanilla crème, then fresh spring water (stony-metallic-vegetal) but not much else. I say it’s ultra-simple and compact but very unusual and highly interesting. Mouth: ah, now we’re much closer to the Wilson & Morgan, with the sherry and the rubber, all the dried and crystallised fruits, but also an added layer of fresh fruity notes, with some very ripe plums and apricots. It’s also fresher, less tannic, and the finish is even longer. Again, it’s not complex but perfectly balanced and very drinkable. 85 points.
Linkwood 13yo 1990/2004 (46%, Whisky-Doris, sherry cask)
Lindsay Quartet

 

MUSIC - It's Sunday, we go classical with the excellent Lindsay Quartet playing Schubert's rather violent (ha!) Allegro.mp3 of Death and the Maiden (No. 14 in D minor, D. 810). Please buy the Lindsay Quartet's music and go to their concerts.

 

December 3, 2005


Speyside 1990/2005 'Armagnac Finish' (54.4%, Celtique Connexion, 297 bottles) TASTING - Speyside 1990/2005 'Armagnac Finish' (54.4%, Celtique Connexion, 297 bottles)  Jean Donnay is starting to bottle some of his ‘double-matured’ malts at cask strength and I say it’s good news. So, I’m really curious about this one… Colour: deep gold. Nose: not too expressive at first nosing, rather ashy, distantly smoky and slightly farmy. Certainly not the bold sweetness you’d expect from that kind of ‘ACEing’, but the malt is soon to develop on some rather maritime notes, dried seaweed bonfire. Quite some burning matchstick (phosphor), hot cake, toasted bread…. A rather ‘different’ profile. Quite some natural vanilla after that, and then the whisky gets rather winey, in a very nice way. I guess it’s the Armagnac’s effect. Rather in the fino sherry genre, A very ‘serious’ nose in any case, not overly expressive but rather subtle and ‘dry’.
Mouth: what a contrast! Hot, bold, creamy, almost invading, with lots of praline, maple syrup, a little fructose (or icing sugar). Lots of oomph! A very nice blend of fruitiness and nuttiness, with some caramelized pecan and cashew nuts and something faintly perfumy (Turkish delights, rose jam, gewürztraminer). What’s more, it’s also rather spicy, with some clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maybe even Chinese anise. I can’t really get the Armagnac and that’s good news, as it should mean it’s been integrated to the malt. The finish is rather long, creamy and coating, with a little liquorice and something rather salty… Very good, in any case. 87 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - It was about time we talked about Mick Harvey, probably the most important collaborator of one of Nick Morgan's (hence Whiskyfun's) favourite artist Nick Cave. Not only he's a member of the Bad Seeds but he's also a diligent exegete of Serge Gainsbourg's works, as, for instance, The song of slurs.mp3 should testify (from his 1995 album 'Intoxicated man'). Do you like it? They buy his/their music. Mick Harvey
 

December 2, 2005


TASTING - TWO TEANINICHES
Teaninich 14yo 1983/1997 (58.3%, Clan des Grands Malts) Teaninich 14 yo 1983/1997 (58.3%, Clan des Grands Malts) Colour: pure gold. Nose: a little closed at first nosing – this one will perhaps need some water. Some rather unusual medicinal notes, though (bandages, camphor) mixing with quince jelly or paste. Ah, it does get much more aromatic after a moment, with some beautiful notes of ripe apricots, greengages, light honey, crystallised chestnuts. Keeps developing on sweet white wine, dried oranges, camomile, with some whiffs of coal smoke and even something maritime. Subtle and delicate.
Mouth: lots of oomph and a nice sweetness. Rather malty, with some notes of sugared cereals, dried oranges, caramelized pastries (fruit pies). Some bold notes of over-baked cake, maple syrup, roasted peanuts… Crispy praline, nougat… Rather concentrated and dense, and maybe a tad mono-dimensional but very, very enjoyable, especially the long and creamy finish on fruit jams and candy sugar. Totally flawless. 87 points (and thanks, Nicolas).
Teaninich 19 yo 1983/2002 (58.7%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 174 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: rather closed again at first nosing, grainier and a little more vegetal. Vanilla crème, Turkish delights, mirabelle jam… Juts like its younger brother, it needs quite some breathing, it appears. Well, quite strangely, it does not get any more complex after a good quarter of an hour, juts mashier and grainier, with some muesli, broiled cereals, caramel rice… Too bad. Mouth: it seems it’s rather simple again. Sweet and powerful, very grainy and cereally, with some corn syrup, sweet cider, caramel, cheap praline… And that’s all, folks. Let’s ad a few drops of water and see whether it improves or not… Well, no, it doesn’t. Always these sweetish cereally notes, with some industrial vanilla crème (dusty, at best). Just uninteresting – thank god we know there are some great Teaniniches around. 76 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Hey, let's play a little game now. It's very simple: you win if you manage to stay completely immobile on your chair while listening to the great Maceo Parker doing Hats off to Harry.mp3. Okay, you loose. Now, please buy Maceo's music! Maceo Parker
CRAZY WHISKY NEWS: OLDEST BOTTLE OF CLYNELISH EVER FETCHES MAD PRICES ON EBAY - Where will the craze stop? Last week, a bottle of 1818 Clynelish sold for £50,000.01 on eBay, setting a new world record. We could get hold of both the (happy) seller, Mr. Pippo Monihasnohoda, from Rome and the (even happier) buyer, Himako Mpulsivekolekta, from Tokyo, Japan. Pippo told us: "Ma, I found three cases ove thatte olde Clinnelishe in an old oenoteca in Sicilia last summer. It ise now closed ande the ownere disappeared but I amme very happy, I wanted to keep alle bottles butte I am not a collectore so I decided to selle one bottiglia to whiskey lovers. Maybe I shalle selle anothere one later bicoz I only collecte Macallan." Hmm, a little confusing, I must say... As for Himako, he couldn't hide his joy: "Me very very very happy! Me buying other bottles. Me love Clynelish. Me says thank you Mr Monihasnohoda!" And when we asked him whether he'd open the bottle, Himako answered: "Me already open. Very good. Very punchy, with a lot aniseed, getting cloudy with water but good. Me love it!" Himako sent us a larger picture of his new treasure, which you can admire here. Thanks, Himako!
(In hommage to Nick Benwell and with our deepest apologies to our Italian and Japanese friends - we love you all, guys.)
 

December 1, 2005


MUSIC – Recommended listening: very excellent new band The Jealous Girlfriends play Lay around.mp3. Nice licks, nice sound, nice vocals, stylish... So much better than the usual bim-bim-bam-bam-bim-bim-bam-bam we can hear these days. And contrarily to what the photograph may suggest, they aren't members of the Malt Maniacs, but please buy their music. The Jealous Girlfriends
Springbank 12yo ‘100° Proof’ (57%, OB, UK, ‘rather light vatting’)

TASTING - THREE HIGH PROOF SPRINGBANKS

Springbank 12 yo ‘100° Proof’ (57%, OB, UK, ‘rather light vatting’)
Colour: amber. Nose: holy cow! Er… excuse me… The first nosing reveals the expected mix of superb waxy and resinous notes with all sorts of dried fruits...

So, we have propolis, eucalyptus, tiger balm, mastic, almond milk, fermenting hay (I love these smells), old books (which I cherish as well), very old Calvados, mixed with coconut milk (almost Malibu, erm…), dates, dried figs, Smyrna raisins, cooked apples with cinnamon, mulled wine. Add to that maelstrom some whiffs of sea air and an added layer of pine resin and you should get the whole picture. Simply a thrill, as expected. Mouth: how creamy, how bold and how elegant at the same time. Really punchy, starting on some bold liquorice, smoked tea, coconut liquor again (no name) and hints of gentian eau de vie, Suze… Lots of dried fruits such as bitter oranges, bananas, figs… And then the waxy cohort, with mastic and eucalyptus candies, fir tree honey, mint and liquorice sweets. Great hints of dry sherry, old rancio, sherry spirit, marc de Bourgogne. The development is endless, with kind of a roughness that keeps it from getting a ‘simple’ digestive (or a Club malt). A perfect hipflask malt, to pour your very best friends after a long walk in the mountains. And the finish is endless, very waxy and nicely rummy (‘arranged’ rum?). Okay, enough maltoporn. 95 points.
Springbank 12 yo 1991 ‘Bourbon Wood’ (58.5%, OB, 5986 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: well, first, I must confess it’s not very fair to try this young overproof Spinger head to head with the legendary old 100° proof, but after all, both are 12 yo OB’s and both have more or less the same level of alcohol. But good news, this more recent version is far from getting ridiculous on the nose. Sure it’s much narrower aromatically but there are some very nice notes of cooked apples, burning candle wax, pepper and porridge. Very ‘natural’, in fact, certainly quite close to the new make. The casks weren’t first fill bourbon, I guess. It gets curiously farmy after a moment, with notes of hors stable and dried seaweed (Longrow?). There must be some peat in there. Quite milky and yeasty, in fact. I quite like it, but it does not hold a candle to the old 100° proof, to be honest. Mouth: powerful, a bit simple at first but getting quite nicely waxy and quite peaty again after a few seconds. Strikingly organic and almost animal, meaty, with some peppered salami, liquorice, burnt caramel, getting very woody after that. Very strong tea, cinnamon, nutmeg, curry… It gets quite hot! Let’s try it with a few drops of water now (and while the nose gets much more flowery): ah, no, that doesn’t work. It gets even more bitter, on infused tealeaves… Too bad, but the finish is long and quite balanced, on herbal teas. A very good whisky – but not a Grand Cru, far from it. 85 points.
Springbank 15 yo 1989/2005 (60.5%, SMWS 27.57) Colour: white wine. Nose: extremely spirity, attacking on pear juice, burnt bread and yeasty/mashy notes. This one needs water… Well, all that happens is the usual farmy notes, with also quite some stale beer (Guinness) and whiffs of wet dog (well, a whole army). A very immature malt, in my opinion. Mouth: smooth and sweet when neat but that’s all. Water needed indeed… Oh, too bad, there very little added complexity, just a little sugared apple juice, perhaps a little liquorice and basta. The finish is quite long but spirity and sugary… Very, very simple. 75 points. Springbank 15yo 1989/2005 (60.5%, SMWS 27.57)
PORT ELLEN MALTINGS CRAZY WHISKY NEWS: SCOTTISH SOLDIERS GET ADVANCED TRAINING AT PORT ELLEN MALTINGS - With the deployment of British troops in several foreign countries where high temperatures, sand storms and fires make for very uncomfortable life conditions, it's been decided to send all Scottish battalions to the Port Ellen Maltings (Isle of Islay) to allow them to get used to these conditions before they leave the country. "Aye, that's pretty cool for us and my chaps and I like the local products but I'm not sure smelling heavy peat like that will stand us in good stead on the field" said to Scotsman Lance Corporal Jock 'Trigger' McAllister. Hmm... Not sure, indeed.

November 2005 - part 2 <--- December 2005 - part 1 ---> December 2005 - part 2

     


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

Ardmore 11 yo 1994/2005 'Heavily Peated' (60.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, cask #121011)

Balvenie-Glenlivet 29 yo 1974/2004 (48%, Cadenhead, bourbon, 180 bottles)

Caol Ila 1979/2005 (60.9%, The Cross Hill, Jack Wieber's, 204 bottles)

Clynelish 17 yo 1987/2005 (55.3%, Signatory, refill butt #990326)

Clynelish 22 yo 1972/1995 (58.95%, Rare Malts, 75cl)

Clynelish 32 yo 1972/2005 (49.9%, Single Malts of Scotland, cask #15619)

Glenglassaugh 27 yo 1978/2005 (46.7%, Auld Distiller's Collection, Jack Wieber, ‘Dark Sherry’, 170 Bottles)

Glen Keith 33 yo 1971/2005 (50.8%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #8056)

Glen Keith 33 yo 1971/2005 (51.9%, Jack Wieber's Old Train Line)

Laphroaig 10 yo 1994/2005 (56.7%, Acorn, Japan)

Port Ellen 21 yo 1983/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, DL 1572, sherry, 435 bottles)

Port Ellen 1981/2005 (57.7%, Scott's Selection)

Port Ellen 27 yo 1978/2005 (52.3%, DL for The Whisky Fair, 198 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo ‘100° Proof’ (57%, OB, UK, ‘rather light vatting’)

Strathisla 35 yo 1969/2005 (56.3%, Whisky-Doris, sherry cask #2516, 90 bottles)

Strathisla 36 yo 1969 (54.6%, Cooper's Choice, 2005)