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Hi, you're in the Archives, February 2007 - Part 1
       
January 2007 - part 2 <--- February 2007 - part 1 ---> February 2007 - part 2
 

February 14, 2007


TASTING - SEVEN GREAT OLD GLEN GARIOCHS for Valentine's Day - pffff...
Glen Garioch Glen Garioch 1971 (43%, OB for Oddbins, mid-1990’s) If this ones comes anywhere near the legendary 1971 ‘Duthie’s for Samaroli… Colour: pale gold. Nose: fantastically complex right at first nosing, one of the greatest ‘Glen Geeries’ it seems. Starts with loads of pink grapefruit and passion fruit plus crushed mint leaves and hints of dry sherry. Very vinous, superbly so, whiffs of high-end wine barrel (not the Ikea versions they usually use in the whisky industry). The peat is bold and fat, yet sort of ethereal… This is a masterpiece on the nose. Goes on with tobacco, leather, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar… Truly fabulous. Keeps going on with camphor this time, oyster sauce, eucalyptus… This is why we’re into whisky!
Mouth: starts slightly weakish for a fraction of a second but a flavourful maelstrom is soon to explode. You have a superb peat (certainly bolder than in most Glen Gariochs from the 1960’s) as well as smoked fish, smoked tea, bags of spices (cloves, cardamom and the likes)… Maybe it’s just a tad cardboardy but certainly nothing to complain about. Goes on with Seville oranges and triple-sec, what a fabulous whisky. Finish: medium long but superbly bitter now, on bitter chocolate, mustard and also well hung game and wild mushrooms (morels). Exceptional, legendary whisky bottled at 43% that has enough aromas and flavours to taste like a 50% malt. 95 points (I have the Samaroli at 96 points but it was bottled at 100°proof).
Glen Garioch 31 yo 1967/1998 (46%, Kingsbury, cask #663) Colour: straw. Nose: simpler and different – but note that its hard to come right after a stunner – although the start is most pleasant, on citrus fruits, gingerbread and soaked grains. Notes of old roses and orange juice, much, much less peat than in the 1971 for Oddbins but it’s kind of fresher. Nice notes of orange cake and vanilla, getting then a little sharper (rubbed orange skin). Mouth: rounder and certainly more jammy and fruity than the 1971. Very nice in fact but it doesn’t hold a candle to the latter. Gets grainier, porridgy, still very orangey. Gets then more tannic and dry, with also black nougat and plum spirit (‘clean’ slivovitz). Very little peat. Finish: long (longer than the 1971’s) but rougher now, more drying, hotter than the OB. A very good whisky but it suffers from the comparison. We’ll try to have it again within a less ‘elevated’ line-up one day. 86 points.
Glen Garioch 1965

 

 

Now a very interesting and famous series of 21 yo 1965’s at three different strength: 43, 50 (100 US proof) and 57% (100 UK proof)...

Glen Garioch 21 yo 1965 (43%, OB, circa 1986) Already had this one and loved it. Colour: straw. Nose: again, les peaty and bold than the 1971, also more austere and mineral, flinty. Less sexy but perhaps more elegant, sharp and aromatically ‘precise’. Notes of linseed oil, motor oil, getting more and more flinty. More peat arises as well as camphor and lots of ashes (matchsticks, fireplace, coal oven). Also wet hay, eucalyptus, metal polish… Excellent and full of personality. Mouth: now sweeter than the 1971, more liquoricy and minty. Develops on tea and oranges, chamomile, peat, cough sweets… Truly excellent, rather smooth. The balance is perfect and so is the finish, even if it isn’t too bold. Complex. Another amazing Glen Garioch but the 1971 is even more multidimensional. 93 points.
Glen Garioch 21 yo 1965 (50%, OB, circa 1986) With a red stripe mentioning ‘Full proof’ just like on some Bowmores from the same era. Colour: straw. Nose: very close to the 43% but even more austere at first nosing, sharp, maybe more vegetal. Superb notes of camphor, embrocations, tiger balm. A little less complexity, it’s also less ‘talkative’ on the nose. Mouth: ah, this is even nicer now. Assertive, powerful, maybe slightly less ‘defined’ and a tad dirtier (as if there was a dirty cask within the vatting, says co-taster Olivier) but also spicier, more peppery, minty. Something slightly metallic (but its a cork stopper), notes of chlorophyll, a little more bitter. The finish is long but a little heavy, maybe a tad ‘vulgar’. Really splitting hairs here, it’s still fabulous whisky. 91 points.
Glen Garioch 21 yo 1965 (57%, OB, circa 1986) Colour: straw. Nose: hotter of course but certainly not less interesting – and thrilling. Much more on wild mushrooms, flints and eucalyptus/camphor (Vicks). Lots of mint as well. Gets even wilder after a while, with notes of wet dog and farmyard, metal, peppermint. Extremely persistent, even dominating. A beast. Mouth: more powerful this time again, even more austere and dry but hugely coherent and compact, sharp like a blade. Lots of mint, liquorice, rhubarb (yes), lots of blck pepper, cardamom, even chilli, peppermint liqueur, roots… A true beast indeed. An exceptional whisky, even if maybe less drinkable than the 43% version and a tad more tiring. The finish is endless this time. If you like sharpness you’ll agree with my 94 points.
Glen Garioch 29 yo 1968 (53.7%, OB, hogshead #627, 1997) Colour: dark amber. Nose: lots of sherry now, starting on full nougat, caramel and chocolate as well as Smyrna raisins and wax polish. Quite some peat and meat. Develops on well hung game, bilberry sauce and cooked apples, high-end wine barrel, old rum, mullein cordial… Very rounded and sweet but nervous as well. Goes on with bananas flambéed and pina colada. Easy and… Creole indeed. Gets then meatier and meatier, with also quite some meat sauce. Very nice wood and but also strange hints of Parmesan cheese. Really playful. Mouth: vibrant and playful indeed but much more peppery now besides the sherry. Lots of fruits, fruit liqueurs and quite some wood, making it a little drying now and kind of bitterish. Lacks a little extra-complexity, I’d say, but it’s very enjoyable (and thick). Finish: long, dry, full-sherried, on coffee, pepper and a little mint. Very good but not totally stunning. It was probably a sherry hogshead. 88 points. Glen Garioch 1968
Glen Garioch 1968 Glen Garioch 29 yo 1968 (56.5%, OB for Bill & Maggie Miller, hogshead #13) Colour: amber. Nose: just superb at first nosing, more austere and dry than cask #627 but also more elegant, more complex. Lots of bitter chocolate and coffee plus mint and then we have truckloads of coconuts, almond paste and macaroons. Resembles some of the greatest new style rums (Savanna), with a perfect balance. There’s a little less peat than in cask #627 but more mint and more nice fresh wood. Great. Mouth: thicker, fruitier and more assertive. Lots of apricot jam, ripe mirabelle plums, less tannins and wood. Develops on nougat, Irish coffee, then hints of horseradish and pepper, a little peat… Maybe not overly complex but the balance is perfect. Finish: long, now rather woodier and tannic, maybe the less distinctive part but the whole is another excellent old Glen Garioch. 90 points, well deserved.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: an amazing hard funk funk made by Betty Davis in 1975. Betty was... Miles' wife! It's also said she had an affair with Jimi Hendrix. This piece is simply called F-U-N-K.mp3.

Betty Davis
 

February 13, 2007


TASTING - SEVEN OLD HIGHLAND PARKS
Highland Park 1973 Highland Park 30 yo 1973 (47.8%, OB, Matthew Forrest Collection, sherry cask #11207, 520 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: starts on full fruit mode, with lots of banana and lychee. Then we have heather, light honey, nectar, pollen, ripe apricots… Maybe not the most complex HP ever, not the most powerful but it’s rather elegant. Hints of fresh mint and yoghurt as well as orange juice. A little nutmeg and soy sauce… Maybe a little restrained. Mouth: much nicer. Elegant and assertive, with lots of caramel, praline and honey plus dried figs nd dates. Very pleasant, with a nice woodiness. Lacks a little magic considering its age and pedigree, that is. Finish: medium long, with a little peat and pepper plus notes of orange marmalade. A highly drinkable old Highland Park. 88 points.
Highland Park 1975/1994 (51.9%, Signatory for the Scotch Malt Embassy, cask #4279) Colour: pale straw. Nose: this one starts much more on nutmeg, cloves and vanilla crème, new books, with hints of tar and rubber (new tyre). Gets then more minty, with also eucalyptus. Rather classic – and classy. Also hints of porridge, getting marginally mashier with time. Mouth: rather full bodied, spicier than the 1973. Sharper, almost aggressive. Lots of crystallised oranges, bitter oranges, a little Campari, ginger, eucalyptus sweets, eucalyptus honey… Not more complex than the 1973 but just as drinkable, a hipflask Highland Park? Long finish on strong honey and dried oranges. More direct and powerful than the 1973 but finally a little less elegant and balanced… Same rating, 88 points. Highland Park 1972
Highland Park 27yo 1972 Highland Park 27 yo 1972/1999 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 324 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: starts a little grainy and caramelly and develops boldly on cafe latte and dried longans and dates. It’s also very ‘toasted’ (toasted brioche and bread). Something nicely sour in the background. Goes on with cooked apples and Bailey’s (or Alexandra, the cocktail, eh.) Like caramel crème with whisky. Mouth: sweet, fruity and very honeyed. A little rubber, maybe hints of sulphur. Lots of sultanas, roasted raisins and caramel again. Also dried bananas. Finish: rather long but not too precise this time. Caramel and cooked apples, getting a little tannic and drying. Good but no winning old HP I think. 85 points.
Highland Park 18 yo 1972/1991 (56%, Signatory, cask #9017, 600 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: this one is more on sherry but we do have the dried longans again as well as quite some smoke and caramel crème, just like with the DL. Goes on with nougat, honey sauce (spare ribs), sultanas… More and more smoke, quite some peat and coal. Classy nose! Mouth: more personality and more oomph than its sibling from 1972. Lots of dried fruits (mostly bananas and figs), peat, strong honey… It’s a great cask, for sure. Lots of raisins of various kinds and an excellent sherry. Finish: long, balanced as well as ‘bold’, really on dried fruits. In short, not stunning but truly excellent, 88 points. Highland Park 18yo 1972/1991 (56%, Signatory, cask #9017, 600 bottles)
Highland Park 28yo 1974/2002 (56.8%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 226 bottles) Highland Park 28 yo 1974/2002 (56.8%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 226 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: fresher, lighter and more mineral, floral and ashy. Soon to get a little milky and mashy (porridge, yoghurt). I think the OMC is nicer. This one gets farmy after a moment, grassy (infused tealeaves), with quite some tannins and green tea. We have more peat after at the ‘end of the nose’. Mouth: wilder, peatier than both 1972’s, more on herbs (thyme) and all kinds of burnt ‘stuff’. A little hot I must say. Goes on with walnut liqueur, orange marmalade and strong honey. Finish: long and very honeyed but a little indefinite, with hints of rubber… Well, maybe this one’s a little boring, like most ‘average’ old Highland Parks, but of course it’s very drinkable whisky. I liked the OMC a little better. 84 points.
Highland Park 1959/1991 (57.6%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’, cask #598) From a mini, never saw this one as a full bottle, neither did Mr. HP (Olivier). - March 7 correction: a friend from the US has got some full bottles - Colour: gold. Nose: an amazing start on lemon and vanilla (make that lemon meringue) with notes of tobacco smoke and lilac and hints of aniseed, parsley and dill. Add to that notes of smoked fish and you get an unusual and very interesting combination. There’s also quite some sage, lovage, something slightly cardboardy (perfectly okay), poultry bouillon, oxtail… Well, it’s maybe not the cleanest old HP ever but there’s lots happening, it’s very entertaining. Mouth: much less powerful than on the nose, very easily drinkable despite the heavy meatiness. Lots of caramel, coffee and various herbs (barbecue herbs). Goes on with wine sauce, liquorice, roasted nuts… Highland Park 1959/1991 (57.6%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’, cask #598)
It’s not too clean, I must say, tasting younger than it is and sort of wild and ‘rural’. Finish: quite long, caramelly, still very meaty and a little smoky and minty. An excellent and wild old style Highland Park, worth 90 points in my books.
Highland Park 1955/1989 (54.6%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’ for Meregalli) Highland Park 1955/1989 (54.6%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’ for Meregalli) Colour: gold. Nose: quite extraordinary at first nosing, starting on a whole array of various honeys plus notes of old books and distinctive old bottle effect. Lots of nougat crème and pollen, vanilla pods, old sweet wine (Sauternes)… It’s also quite smoky (coal oven), with also various aromatic woods (sandalwood, thuja, cedar) and leather. Old Rolls-Royce? Goes on with turpentine and hints of fruity cheese (comté) as well as camphor, green Chartreuse and a little chlorine (nothing unpleasant). Very extravagant, and of course exceptional. Mouth: hugely complex! The oak is here but it’s well mannered. We have all kinds of herbal and mint liqueurs (Dantziger Goldwasser spring to mind).
And Chartreuse indeed, tar liqueur (yes - had that only once in my life but you cannot forget it), liquorice, natural mastic sweets… The whole is just superb, hugely balsamic and resinous, the finish being as long as expected, terpenic, leaving a fabulous aftertaste of fir honey. Exceptional and exciting. 93 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: if you enjoy slide guitar and frenzy blues you'll probably like Calgary's Agnostic mountain gospel choir (okay, the Agnostics) and their Preaching blues.mp3. Please buy this 'choir''s music... Agnostics
 

February 12, 2007


TASTING - TWO OLD LAPHROAIGS

Laphroaig 1977/1999 (43%, Berry Bros, Cask #5081) Colour: straw. Nose: starts on a striking mix of subtle peat (and congeners) with tropical fruits (first tangerines). It does remind me of the old official 1976 and 1977. Not too medicinal but truly coastal, with puffs of sea breeze, clams, oysters… Then it’s back to lemon, tangerines, small bitter oranges, pepper… The balance is really perfect. Hints of old books and candle wax but it stays fresh and clean. Also virgin wool, clean mammal (your pick). A wonderful old-style Laphroaig on the nose.

Laphroaig 1977
Mouth: a little softer at the attack but it gets then really bold, almost punchy despite its rather low strength. It’s also very salty (which usually happens a little later) and then starts to taste like oysters with lemon juice and pepper. Surprisingly assertive. It’s also much more medicinal than on the nose, with something like cough syrup, something tarry, herbal (artemisia, something like verjuice). Excellent and far from being just peat infusion plus lemon juice and pepper. Finish: surprisingly long, just as maritime and medicinal as in the books, with a signature on grapefruit and white pepper. Very excellent, 92 points.
Seville Laphroaig 1967/1993 (50.3%, Signatory for Werner Hertwig, private bottling) This one’s never been labelled. Colour: gold. Nose: first we have a powerful and dominant (and beautiful) oakiness but then we have a blast of true ‘Islayness’. The register is more or less the same as the 1977’s but everything is amplified. Certainly wilder after a moment, with a bigger peatiness than in most very old Islayers (Ardbegs and Laphroigs from the 67’s). Slightly more medicinal than the 1977, with more iodine and then camphor. And that raw wool, and the seashells, and a little motor oil… And huge notes of Seville oranges… A true wonder on the nose.
Mouth: more appeased, almost sluggish at the attack (on bitter oranges and resinous wax) but then it’s a constant ascension. We have these citrus fruits again (kumquats and bitter oranges), then a little liquorice, a little salt (but a little less than in the Berry Bros), lots of pepper, then cough sweets, tar, a little mustard… The mouth feel is quite buttery, it’s almost greasy says co-taster Christophe. Gets more medicinal after a moment and then it’s back to crystallised bitter oranges. Superb, probably a little ‘younger’ than the famous 1966’s and 1967’s by Signatory. Finish: long but unexpectedly soothing and appeased again, just like at the attack, mostly on orange liqueur, soft pepper and oysters… An eternal diva, especially on the nose. 93 points. (and thanks, Marcel).
 
EXCLUSIVE JOB AD - A new secret distillery on Islay is looking for its first Distillery Manager and asked Whiskyfun to post this job ad. Should you be interested, please just contact the Webmaster... (it's a full-time job - not webmaster, that is). The distillery offers £40,000 plus:
Brand new, state of the art facilities designed by famous architect Willibald Hundertpfund.
Well-stocked grocery store in the vicinity (discount card provided).
Sport facilities at hand
(here scuba diving).
Free housing
(architects: Hundertpfund & Partners)
Free entertainment for your kids.
Company car with driver (2hp)
You'll work with Lilly, Senior Accountant.
... and with Mary, Marketing Director.
Free holiday cottage in the colonies (towels provided).
Two assistants at the visitor center (no, already recruited).
Free work clothing (bottles not provided we're afraid).
Monthly cultural events in the parish (lovely).
 
MUSIC – Very heavily recommended listening: guitarist Nguyen Le and percussionist Karim Ziad (from Joe Zawinul's gang) play a totally amazing Louanges.mp3 that blends Vietnamese sounds with Moroccan Gnawa rhythms. It's on the 1998 CD 'Maghreb & Friends' and I think it is absolutely stunning. You must absolutely buy this CD (there is a fantastic bunch of highly skillful musicians playing with them).
 

February 11, 2007


 

 

 

 

 

TASTING - THREE TORMORES

Tormore 5 yo (40%, OB, early 1980’s) In its typical hexagonal bottle. Colour: pale gold. Nose: fresh, grainy, cereally, slightly metallic, with hints of buttercups and quite some praline, nougat, caramel and wood smoke. Totally flawless but maybe not too interesting… Wait, the peat grows quite bolder after a while, as well as fresh oranges and apples… Okay, more interesting than expected. Mouth: well, this is much dryer, cardboardy, tea-ish and, to tell you the truth, weak. Funny hints of salt but that’s all development I can get, except a shortish and grainy finish. 70 points but for the nose.
Tormore 10 yo 1995/2005 (50.1%, Exclusive Malts) Colour: white wine. Nose: an archetypical feinty, mashy malt, on porridge, mashed potatoes, small green bananas and soaked grains. Faint whiffs of smoke. Close to new make but certainly not flawed. Hints of sultanas and ripe pineapple developing after a moment. Mouth: more interesting now. Nice body, nice mouth feel, nice sweetness… It’s still very grainy/mashy but we do have more fruits, the pineapple being more assertive. Also quince, lots of pears, quite some liquorice… A clean distillate, really drinkable even if it won’t make you scratch your head. Maybe it lacks a few more years. Finish: rather long, nicely sweet and fruity, with again quite some liquorice and notes of violet sweets. It’s a good, very ‘natural’ young malt. Not too much character but very honest. 80 points.
Tormore 21 yo 1983/2004 (46%, JWWW Castle Series, cask #1851) Colour: amber. Nose: oh, this is funny and interesting. Very unusual, starting on a curious mix of very ripe oranges and cologne but the latter smells do disappear after a moment. Then it’s all nice dry sherry and all kinds of candied citrus fruits, earl grey tea, Grand-Marnier and something like rosehip tea and even Turkish delights. Hugely ‘candied’ indeed but I don’t know if I like it or not, for it’s so ‘different’. Let’s see… Mouth: ouch, this is really bizarre. Starts on huge notes of high game, rubber and soy sauce… Lots of cardboard as well, rotten oranges, 100% cocoa chocolate… And it gets quite drying, at that. I feel something went wrong in this cask. Nails? Mice? Too bad because you can feel that the rest of the whisky is probably very good, but it’s all hidden behind these bizarre tastes. 65 points.

 

MUSICRecommended listening: it's Sunday, we go classical with the great late Elizabeth Parcells again, this time singing Di tanti palpiti.mp3 (from Rossini's Tancredi, arranged by Anton Diabelli for guitar and voice).

Elizabeth Parcells
 

February 10, 2007


TASTING - TWO 24 yo SCAPAS by CADENHEAD'S
Scapa Cadenhead 24

(from minis, variants of the bottle pictured at the left (several different ABV's were issued)
Scapa 24 yo 1965/1990 (45.6%, Cadenhead dumpy)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: fresh, fruity and maritime at first, then grainier but still with lots of iodine and overripe apples as well as a little mint. Whiffs of geranium, strawberry jam and old books. Champagne? Yes, strawberries with champagne. Cranberry juice… Quite easy and very pleasant. Mouth: sweet but much more grainy now, almost porridgy. Oatcakes, mashed potatoes, liquorice… Nothing too special but lots of oomph. A little apple and cinnamon at the rather long finish and quite some pepper. Good, no doubt. 83 points.

Scapa 24 yo 1965/1990 (50.1%, Cadenhead dumpy) Colour: much more silent, stony, grassy and peppery at first nosing, but with again quite some porridge and also notes of newly cut cactus. A little dusty, I must say, but then we have nice notes of camphor and eucalyptus (Vicks), roots, wood plank… Less easy than its lighter twin cask. Mouth: better! More body, more spices, more mint. Hints of Turkish delights, pepper, walnuts… Lots of wood but a nice one. Goes on with gentian and liquorice, getting almost thick and creamy. Scapa Cadenhead
Finish: really long but woody and spicy… What’s sure is that this one is very ‘natural’ and full bodied: true whisky for big boys. 86 points.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: Cool, very cool: we’re in 1963 and John William Coltrane blows while Johnny Hartman sings One and only love.mp3. Just superb. Please buy Trane’s music.

 

February 9, 2007


 

 

 

 

TASTING - THREE ALLT-A-BHAINNE

Allt-A-Bhainne 1991/2004 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice) Colour: pale straw. Nose: rather rough but also very natural, feinty, spirity, mashy and flinty, which make for a rather enjoyable mix if you like whiskies ‘close to nature’ (oh well…) Nice grassiness, notes of matchbox, coal oven, beech wood smoke, getting then a little minty… A nice, very honest malt on the nose. Mouth: sweet but firm, grassy and fruity at the same time (apples and pears), developing mostly on vanilla, caramel, fudge, nougat… It’s not a complicated whisky but it’s really flawless, despite the fact that it’s probably got less character on the palate than on the nose. Medium long finish on salted caramel… Really ‘nice’, a good surprise. 80 points.
Allt-A-Bhainne 1995/2006 (59.9%, James MacArthur’s, cask #140864) Colour: ho-ho, this is even nicer on the nose! The high alcohol doesn’t prevent some nice aromas of coffee and chocolate to come through, as well as a little caramel, liquorice and then these vegetal notes (mostly hay). Lots of vanilla crème as well. With water: gets truly farmy, even after the usual saponification notes have disappeared. Lots of porridge as well, ‘true’ yoghurt, oatcake, mash… Nature indeed. Mouth (neat): sweet, fruity (pears), almondy… Quite some marzipan and green tea but it’s too strong to be enjoyed at cask strength. With water: sweet and very liquoricy but not truly interesting. Quite some salt, that is. Rather long finish, very ‘neutral’. No flaws-no thrill. 78 points.
Allt-A-Bhainne 28 yo 1975/2004 (60.2%, Dun Bheagan, refill sherry, cask #33152, 624 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: much punchier even if the difference is very small, much grassier and feintier. More on porridge and such but of course water is needed here. With water: here it’s the wood that comes through, with tannins, green tea… A bit hard. And the whisky got extremely cloudy – almost like milk - with water (at roughly 45% and at 22°C, which is quite scary if you ask me). Mouth (neat): cough, cough… I can get a little camphor and mint but otherwise it’s really burning and bitter. With water : (imagine I’ll actually swallow drops of this, err, ‘milk’!) Hum, it’s harsh, woody, tannic, peppery… Hard to enjoy and the finish is long but very peppery again and rather bitter… Dismiss! 72 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: this sweet litle song by Meredith Godreau aka Gregory & the Hawk, called Boats and birds.mp3. Please buy her music... Gregory and the hawk
 

February 8, 2007


TASTING - TWO RECENT OFFICIAL JURAS
Jura 21 Isle of Jura ‘Twenty One’ (40%, OB, 2006) Announcing proudly ‘private estate’ on the capsule, but 40% seems a bit low nowadays… Colour: full gold. Nose: much more happening than expected as far as both the profile and the ‘power’ are concerned. Very aromatic, with some rather bold notes of sweet white wine, candied apricots, caramel and ham. Meaty and jammy, developing with lots of praline, nougat and caramel as well lots of honey…
Somewhat old style, rather rich and lush. What’s more, the meatiness grows bolder by the minute, with also a discreet soapiness in the background. Gets even a little too ‘thick’, as if somebody would have added concentrated wine and fruit juice – which is obviously not the case. Other than that it keeps developing on lots of tea (pu-erh, with that nice dustiness). Mouth: okay, it’s not as bold as on the nose but not weak, nor even weakish. Extremely caramelly and jammy again, now on fruitcake, plum jam, nougat, quite mellow in fact. Goes on with almonds, then bitter almonds, getting then much more bitter but in a rather nice way. The fruitiness vanishes towards the finish, which isn’t too long but with a returning meatiness and a pleasant dryness. A very good one, no doubt, but I’d have loved to try it at 45% or more. 85 points.
Isle of Jura 1999 ‘Heavy Peated Edition’ (58%, OB for LMDW France, 40ppm, 2006) Colour: pale gold. Nose: what a peat blast indeed – and a nice one! Sharp and clean as most other young peaty Juras we could taste these recent years (including casks for Japan), with a rather immense minerality and lots of cold ashes (all kinds) and tar. Faint farminess in the background but then lots of camphor, which is unusual at such young age I think. And again these wee notes of ham (a marker?) plus a little cider and apple juice. A different voice within the peaty pack, certainly interesting and maturing quite fast it seems. Mouth: excellent attack on a relatively refined peat, very mineral and ‘direct’ again but not rough despite its age. Is that the tall stills? Quite some lemon now, walnut skin, green apples, lemon skin an pips… I like the purity and the huge tar notes. Lots of liquorice, maybe even salted one. Interesting spiciness, just as unusual (something like strong curry and paprika). And just as ashy as on the nose. Finish: it isn’t extraordinarily long but beautifully tarry, ashy, camphory… Is Jura a new Longrow (as the latter was up to 1987?) 88 points.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: you don't need to have a great singer to produce a hugely simple yet fantastic little song such as After Hours.mp3. Of course it's the Velvet Underground and the 'singer' is drummer Moe Tucker. (and it's on the 1969 album 'The Velvet Underground'). Please buy all these people's music...

Moe Tucker
 

February 7, 2007


TASTING - SEVEN YOUNG LAPHROAIGS
Laphroaig young
Laphroaig 7 yo 1999/2006 (46%, Signatory UCF, cask #06/373/4, 851 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: really sharp and very austere, mineral, with lots of rubbed lemon skin, wet stones and black pepper. Gets then more mashy but it does not smell too young at all. Gets even more flinty after a moment, with also hints of burnt matchsticks. Also raw celeriac and soaked grains. Not one ounce of sweetness. Mouth: a little sweeter at the attack but it gets then very lemony and vegetal. Green tea, pepper, peat, smoked fish… It does not taste too young and immature at all. Develops mostly on gentian and hints of ginseng powder, with a rather long finish on green tea and pepper. Classic young Laphroaig, not complex but flawless. 83 points.
Laphroaig 7 yo 1999/2006 (59.4%, Signatory, cask #2756, 598 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: similar for a while but in a simpler way. Quite spirity, a little more perfumy than the 46% version. Whiffs of ether and fresh walnuts. Let’s try it with a little water… It now really resembles the version at 46% after a few minutes of rest), with maybe just some extra-notes of cow stable. I must say I like this young one a lot. Mouth (neat): bold, powerful, truly warming, peaty and peppery although not that much… But drinkable despite the strength and the notes of raw alcool, tutti frutti (all over rootie). Also big bold notes of pear spirit that manage to dominate the peat. With water: excellent development now, on dried pears and peat, pepper, papayas (unusual), liquorice allsorts, loads of cardamom… What an excellent surprise (but don’t forget to add water!) Finish: long, balanced, still on pears and pepper… One would have thought they bottled this one to cash in on a very young cask but that’s probably not the case, this Laphroaig is already at a peak (but there may have been other peaks in its career, it’s an excellent cask). 87 points.
Laphroaig 1996/2006 (54.7%, Jack Wieber’s Auld Distillers Collection, cask #5369, sherry) Colour: pale gold. Nose: fresh, maritime, with lots of iodine at first nosing (more than in the Signatories) and then we have the creamy, caramelly and slightly vinous notes of sherry arising. Goes on with soaked grains, porridge… Mashed potatoes and lots of pepper. Rather wild but a little tamed by the sherry. Notes of fudge. Mouth: bold, very powerful, almost pungent, with lots of citrus fruits (tangerines, pink grapefruits, oranges) and a true peat blast. The sherry strikes back and softens the whole a bit (just a bit), with quite some nougat now, caramel, vanilla crème, crystallised oranges… Gets sweeter and sweeter with time but the peat and the pepper do guard the house. Finish: not exceptionally long but very coherent with the rest, with the sweetness giving way to even more pepper and even chilli. Beastly despite the sweetness from the sherry, the peat freaks should love this one except if they hate sherry. 85 points.
Laphroaig 1996/2006 (55,7%, Whisky Doris, Bourbon C#5366, 120 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: close to the Wieber but sharper and more mineral although a little les expansive. Sea breeze and oysters, less medicinal than expected. Hints of sour cream, yoghurt. Gets a little fruitier and more floral (lilies, not too ripe strawberries),. Nice balance, an ultra-clean young Laphroaig. Mouth: we have exactly the same differences with the sherried one as on the nose. Sharper, more uncompromising, all on peat, freshly cut apple and pepper. Flawless. The finish is a bit longer than its sibling’s, maybe more elegant… In short, don’t look for lots of subtleties but if you like big bold young natural peat, this one’s for you. 85 points.
Laphroaig 10 yo Cask Strength (55.7%, OB, circa 2006) Colour: gold. Nose: surprisingly more discrete but getting then much more medicinal than both 1996’s. Notes of mercurochrome, bandages, eucalyptus… Plus, of course, the coastal smells. Also more fresh butter and then quite some apple compote and pepper as well as cider and lager beer. More balanced and ‘crafted’ than the IB’s, but less peated and ‘without compromise’ than earlier batches. Mouth: truly richer and thicker than both 1996’s at the attack as well as more complex and even ‘subtle’. Bitter oranges, marmalade, pepper, salt (which we didn’t have in the others), liquorice, liquorice sticks, smoked tea… Peppered oysters… Probably not as grand as previous versions but still pretty brilliant. Excellent finish, long but a little mellower, with little candy sugar besides the peat and company plus that very funny saltiness. Still a very, very good dram and certainly a bang-for-your-bucks whisky, lacking perhaps just a little majesty (where are the green stripes?) to make it to more than 89 points in my books.
Laphroaig 14 yo 1988/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon cask, MM3863) Colour: white wine. Nose: this is a different kind of Laphroaig, maybe the distillation regime was different back in 1988, or maybe it’s the further ageing. Much waxier and more vegetal, subtler and more complex… And certainly much more ‘coastal’. Lots of fresh kelp, sea breeze, then fresh walnuts and almonds, a little paraffin, apple skin… The peat is silkier but certainly not absent. Goes on with flowers (a little lavender and violets) and even hints of diesel oil. Quite superb on the nose. Mouth: now it got rougher and wilder, closer to its colleagues. Lots of peat, a little mustard, crystallized quinces and lemons, green pepper, black pepper… Beautiful notes of smoked tea and hints of soy sauce (with quite some salt). Sure it’s a little rounder than the younger bros but it’s still got all its teeth. The finish is quite beautiful, the peat, liquorice and crystallised lemons lingering on your palate for quite a few caudalies. Excellent laphroaig, 89 points.
Laphroaig 15 yo 1991/2006 (53.7%, Signatory, cask #6981, 212 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: now it’s the wood that’s talking, with a bold vanilla like if it was matured or finished in new oak. Probably the most bourbonny Laphroaig I ever had, to the point where the oak almost dominates the peat. Goes on with vanilla fudge, green bananas, mustard seeds… The spirit starts to make it through the wood after a while, the whole getting g very green and grassy and then quite minty and camphory. No sweetness whatsoever except the one that’s brought by the wood (which means very little here). In short, ultra-sharp. Mouth: bang! Tons of peat plus tons of oak and tons of lemon… I guess this is what we’d call a bold whisky (or a peatwoodbomb?) Lots of smoked tea (lapsang souchong), liquorice and mint sweets, herb liqueur (Jägermeister – err…), getting even more rooty, earthy and peppery with time… What’s amazing is that it’s nor rough nor vulgar, quite the contrary in fact. The tannins are very well integrated, at that, and we have lots of crystallised quince again. A Truly excellent Laphroaig despite the woody start – I guess you need a terrific spirit to tame such a heavy woodiness in such a beautiful manner. Finish: long, still bold and complex, peaty, earthy and orangey, getting quite salty and finally camphory (medicinal, obviously)… Extremely good I think. 91 points.

 

MUSIC – JAZZ - Recommended listening: outdated, Sun Ra and his Outer Space Arkestra? Probably but they represent an interesting chunk of the history of jazz and a good example is their Nuclear war.mp3 (from 1982 I believe). Now, 'they' could still push that button... Please buy Sun Ra's music, he's a king.

Sun Ra
 

February 6, 2007


TASTING - TWO MACDUFFS

Glen Deveron 12 yo (40%, OB, William Lawson, late 1970’s) Colour: pale gold. Nose: typical old Speysider’s nose, rather delicate, nutty, floral and cereally but swinging to very obvious bottle age aromas (a little metal, crystallised bitter oranges, mint and coal smoke plus a faint mustiness). Notes of cured ham, sherry, getting more minty and smoky after a moment with also notes of lemon balm and chamomile tea.

Macduff
Mouth: more tired now, not weak but a little teaish and cardboardy, drying… A little green banana and candy sugar, speculoos… Not much else. Too bad, the nose was truly pleasant. Finish: short but drying and papery, with just a little caramel. 72 points.
MacDuff 1969/2006 (54.4%, Taste Still Selection, cask #3682, 192 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: starts on big bold fat notes of new oak and sherry. Litres of varnish, cellulose glue and turpentine… Just like if you entered a cabinetmaker’s workshop. Really expressive! All that mellows after a moment and gives way to fruitier notes (mostly blackcurrants) as well as quite some marzipan and notes of peonies plus this cured ham again. And then it’s the mint, camphor and eucalyptus plus quite some resin from the wood. Mouth: more or les the same happens on the palate so you really need not to dislike oak. The good news is that the balance is still very nice and the oak not drying at all, the whole being closer to a malt matured in new oak rather than in refill sherry. So, we have quite some bananas, vanilla, marzipan, strawberries, hints of kirsch, butter caramel… Extremely ‘active’ at 37 years old. Finish: long, oaky and vanilled like a good bourbon’s. Amazingly young in fact, full bodied, almost nervous… A good one to trick your friends (say, how old is this one, Joe?) 86 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: she's Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's daughter and (of course) she's also singing (some would say she whispers but she does that with gusto): she's Charlotte Gainsbourg and one of her nicest songs is The songs that we sing.mp3 (err...) from her album 5:55, music by the band 'Air' and probably somehow by Serge Gainsbourg. Please buy Charlotte Gainsbourg's music... (and thanks for the hint, Paul).
 

February 5, 2007


TASTING – THE IMPOSSIBLE (PHENOLIC) SESSION
phenols
A very unusual session that may well not make a lot of sense (as if you could compare, say a Baillie Nicol Jarvie with all Rieslings and claim the blend is better ;-)) but that I’ve been willing to do since a long time. I’ve always thought these four specific drinks had common aromas and flavours so let’s just taste them together today and see what happens – and if it works… So, we’ll have a tea, a beer, a wine and a malt, but of course not just any of them.
pu-erh Pu er ‘Maison des Trois Thés’ 1992 (for La Maison du Whisky Paris) Pu er (or Pu-erh) is a green tea from Yunnan, China and is the only tea that’s aged in cellars just like wine (I’m talking about genuine pu-ers here). It gets ‘black’, i.e fermented naturally after production, contrarily to usual black tea, and sometimes people call it ‘post-fermented’ tea. 1992 is relatively young, you can find pu-ers that are 50 or 60 years old in the market and I’ve read that some collectors own tea from the Ming era that are more than 500 years old. I infused this one for one minute, my notes are for the first water (you can make a good dozen waters with genuine pu-erh).
Colour: pink gold – salmony. Nose: very expressive, extremely earthy and maritime at the same time. Huges notes of kelp, fisherman’s nets… Then we have lots of fresh wild mushrooms, wet moss and peat, humus, whiffs of moist wine cellar, city rain after a good two sunny weeks, wet clay… Something delicately ashy in the background. Hints of dried flowers. Most aromas are to be found in some malts as well. Mouth: very earthy again at first sip but the we do have some fruits (hints of strawberries and dried pears). Mushrooms again, liquorice sticks, fermented grass and fruits… Probably less demonstrative than on the nose in fact but great if you like earthiness in your tea. Finish: hard to talk about a finish I think, but it’s only there that some rather drying tannins do appear – just a few in fact. In short, a grand tea… 90 points. (I’ve had a 30 yo last year that I would rate 96, but these ratings mean nothing, I’m not experienced enough to rate tea seriously, I’m afraid.)
Trappist Westvleteren ‘12’ (10.2%, Belgian beer) There are three beers made at this abbey and the ‘12’ is the strongest. These beers are very rare (you can only get them at the abbey and only once a month, so aficionados are queuing) and they aren’t even labelled, only the cap carrying a little info. Colour: deep amber – mahogany, with lots of congeners. Nose: now we start more on caramel but the earthiness is well here as well as faint hints of seawater. Quite clean, probably a little less complex than the tea but the balance is really perfect. Notes of buttered caramel, moss, old furniture, then quite some shoe polish and then it gets much more malty. But it’s very phenolic indeed. Westvleteren
Mouth: just like with the tea it’s much fruitier now. Heavy notes of fruitcake, raspberry liqueur, malt, caramel, liqueur-filled chocolate… Hints of Worcester sauce. Maybe not exactly phenolic on the palate but then the finish is. Quite some tannins just like in the tea, bitter chocolate, raspberry liqueur again, kind of a smokiness… What’s sure is that this beer is very complex and not as thick (and cloying) as expected considering its high strength. Truly beautiful and God knows I’m not too much into beer (well, what the largest part of the world calls ‘beer’). 93 points – again, please don’t take them seriously. (and thanks Lindores).
Rangen Pinot Gris 2004 Rangen de Thann (16%, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Alsatian wine, France) Olivier, our new ‘best winemaker of the world’ according to the American press (they can’t be wrong, can they?) did put an ‘1’ grade on this one, which means it’s perfectly dry. I’ve always thought the Rangen, which is a first growth in Alsace, had a peaty character, probably thanks to the volcanic soil. Olivier sometimes jokes and let some people think he does peat his grapes indeed. Good fun! Colour: gold. Nose: first we have a little fruit (quince and butter pears) but that’s just an ‘appetizer’ because the earthiness and peatiness (yes) do arise then. Hints of bicycle inner tube (superb here), shoe polish, fresh kelp again, wet stones, ashes, coal oven.
Then the fruits strike back, more candied and jammy than what I remembered (apricots, yellow peaches and melon) but then we have quite some smokiness and whiffs of, yes, sea breeze (despite the fact that Alsace is 600 km away from the nearest sea). Mouth: the attack is not violent but extremely specific, unlike any other wine that I can think of (except perhaps some old Château-Chalons). You could think it would be sweet and fruity when you first get it into your mouth but it isn’t. Dry, with lots of walnuts, wax, pu-erh tea (yes, funny how it resembles the tea we just had – in a certain way), high-end cider, hints of dried mushrooms, wet pebble. It’s also very slightly balsamic. Finish: long, dry, walnutty, with a bold note of terroir (hard to describe, it’s “the Rangen”) and maybe hints of vanilla sauce. Not easy-easy but truly superb. For wine aficionados and certainly not for newborn fruit/wood bombs lovers. 94 points (on my malto-scale, please don’t compare with the Spec, Parker etc.)
Caol Ila 36 yo 1965/2002 (45.6%, Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection, cask #4211) The oldest Caol Ila I ever had I think. Colour: gold. Nose: fantastic attack on shoe polish, metal polish and a whole plate of oysters. Extraordinary ‘evolution of peat’. Lots of fresh butter after that, vanilla crème, that pu-erh tea indeed (earthiness, roots, wet plants) but also ‘usual’ green tea... Gets even more maritime after that, on seashells, lobsters (right, right), ‘seawater that didn’t move for a while’, seaweed… Amazing freshness considering its age, with the mint leaves arriving after a good fifteen minutes, as well as hints of pine needles and slight camphory notes… Probably not as bold as a very old Laphroaig, Lagavulin or Ardbeg but maybe more delicate. May I say ‘feminine’? Caol Ila 65
Mouth: it’s bolder and thicker now, probably a little bitterish at the attack, and then it gets extremely and amazingly similar to the Pinot Gris in a certain way, with these walnutty, mineral and mushroomy notes. Lots of pepper after that, strong paprika, bitter tannins getting quite dominating… Lots of peat remaining but the wood took maybe a little more than its share after all these years. Finish: long, dry, bitter, mainly on very infused (okay, over-infused) green tea and lots of pepper. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a beautiful whisky on the palate (the attack is great) but I feel it got a bit too dry (and a tad bony flavour-wise, as we sometimes say regarding wine). But the nose was beautiful enough to keep the whole at 90 points. (and thanks, Patrick).
A conclusion for once: just like I always tell my friends (and especially my mum), it’s not the alcohol that does the job and this odd tasting session proved it. It’s certainly not the tea (O%, eh!) that was the ‘weakest’ of the four drinks. And it’s maybe not the Caol Ila that was the most phenolic! What’s sure is that it’s much easier to taste such different products than I had thought, provided you try them in an ascending ‘alcoholic order’ and, most importantly, provided you keep an open mind and don’t try to compare their ‘qualities’ but just some of their descriptors/markers, which may only be interesting if there are some similarities indeed. I’m afraid just any tea vs any beer vs any wine vs any whisky wouldn’t work at all. Just like a rather mundane blended scotch vs all Rieslings wouldn’t…
MUSIC – Recommended listening: how often do we have electronica on WF? Yes, almost never but this time I think it's worth a listen: it's a French guy living in Okinawa, Paul Mahoux, and his piece is called tokashikighostokashiikiss.mp3 (no less). Clever, isn't it? Please buy Paul Mahoux's music. Paul Mahoux
 

February 4, 2007


Strathmill 10

TASTING - TWO STRATHMILLS

Strathmill 10 yo (43%, Scottish Wildlife by Signatory, 1990’s ) Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, clean, rather expressive at first nosing although a little spirity and quite mashy/feinty. Like a blend of porridge and mashed potatoes with a little rosewater and drops of pear spirit. Nice recipe – ahem. Little oak influence and lots of nature indeed. Discreet whiffs of wood smoke and roasting nuts. Not the most interesting nose ever but it’s quite pleasant.

Mouth: things aren’t really improving on the palate, alas. Grainy and cardboardy, with a rather thin mouth feel despite kind of a smokiness (or rather notes of coffee beans). Gets a little musty, not exactly dirty but sort of indefinite… Close to the grain, I’d say (slight bitterness included). Finish: quite short, still rather cardboardy and very grainy… Well, I guess they really tried to get as close to Mother Nature as possible for the Scottish Wildlife Trust – and they succeeded. Congrats, but it’s hard to go any higher than 72 points. As often, the nose was nicer than the palate.
Strathmill 1992/2006 ‘Very Cloudy’ (40%, Signatory for LMW, cask #05/901, 362 bottles) Colour: white wine – and not that cloudy. Nose: more expressive, bolder and woodier, although maybe a bit strange. Overripe oranges? Notes of cologne, pineapple liqueur, pear juice… Lots of wood smoke again, including fir or pine. Smells more and more like pear juice, or pear liqueur for that matter, with maybe a little ‘natural’ mint. Ha, youth! Mouth: more body and more oomph, with again lots of pears and pineapples but also a rather interesting grassiness. Turnips? Raw salsify? Celeriac? What’s sure is that it’s also a little rooty and earthy (gentian), with a little salt(iness). Medium long finish, grainier now, with a little orange after a few caudalies… Perfectly drinkable, this one. Maybe chilled in summer? 78 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: it's Sunday, we go classical with Claudio Monteverdi’s very ‘sweet’ and famous Laudate Pueri.mp3, here by Swiss brothers Lorin and Terry Wey (former members of Vienna’s Knaben Chor). Please go to their concerts. Wey
 

February 3, 2007


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
JAMIE-T
The Astoria, London, January 24th 2007

It was when the group of intimidating thick-set lager-drinking heavyweights in front of us starting snorting huge amounts of coke from their clenched fists that I really thought we might be in for a rough time. They’d already serenaded the surrounding crowd with menacing football chants as the stage was being reset and now they looked totally out of control, falling around to a wild ‘Ike and Tina’. On stage, mop haired in an unprepossessing blue sports shirt Jamie T (or Jaime Treays to give him his full name) has been kicking up a riot since the first few bars of rockabilly infused ‘Brand new bass guitar’ half an hour before. There are more beer cans flying through the air (most, but not all, in the direction of the stage) than there really should be, and behind me there’s a gang of shrieking girls, well … shrieking and taking photographs of themselves. Actually they shriek most of the night. Duff
Jamie T I was lucky to hear some of young (he’s 20, which reminds me that although we did see a mum and embarrassed daughter when we left I do believe that this time I was the oldest person in the Pickle Factory) Jamie’s demo tapes about eighteen months ago and was immediately struck by his huge talent. He was accompanying himself on his bashed-up four string acoustic bass guitar, and there may have been some percussion, but songs like Salvador really stood out as being different, not just for the content of the lyrics but the rhythmical structures that they weave.
It’s a compelling and dizzee fusion of playground chants, music-hall ditties, Chas and Dave, ska and rap, played to a remorseless and driving drums and bass punk beat. That’s my take – have a look at the cleverly-composed cover of his new album to see where Jamie thinks his influences lie. Live on stage with a band his music may lose some of its complexity and subtlety, but none of its infectious rhythm. And it’s hot – ‘Calm down dearest’ his new single charted at No 2 a couple of weeks ago thanks to downloads; his debut album Panic Prevention was released on January 29th. And it goes without saying that the Astoria is heaving.
Jamie’s lyrics very much reflect the zeitgeist of the twenty year old south Londoner that he is, but there is a hidden and knowing maturity to many of the songs that you might not pick up at first hearing. There’s certainly too much drinking, too many drugs, too many cigarettes, not enough sleep, and there are lots of girls of one sort or another who behave like ‘Sheila’ - “Drunk, she stumbles down by a river, screams calling London”.
I begin to think that most of the shrieking girls (they’re not just behind me, they’re all over the bloody place) might be called Sheila, though it’s sadly pretty clear that the irony of songs like this or ‘Operation’ are lost on a large part of the audience, for tonight at least. But Jamie just spits out his lyrics like a machine gun – with almost perfect enunciation as he works his way through twelve songs before returning with another four more. Jamie-T
I have to say I most enjoyed ‘Operation’ ‘Ike and Tina’ and ‘Northern Line’, but would also have to confess we missed the encore as we decided to make a break for safety half way through ‘Salvador’.
Something will have to go very wrong in Jamie T’s career to prevent him being around for some time. Unlike the rather contrived Mika (who currently heads the UK singles charts with ‘Grace Kelly’) this young man has a depth of vision, an ability with words and just substance that should mean he remains a fixture on the music scene for some time. So long as he can keep on dodging the beer cans. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)
Thank you Nick. A very good new artiste indeed (I’d add The Clash, Talking Heads and Richard Hell to the references). Now, the main difference between this new generation and the former one (the post-punks from the 70’s) is that the old ones would probably not have put important keywords such as ‘buy’, ‘download’, ‘order’ or even ‘pre-order’ everywhere on their websites. That’s why, I guess, the ‘new’ ones do have a future, and I just heard Jamie-T's debut album 'Panic Prevention' that was released five days ago, is already #2 in the UK album charts. And there are excellent tunes to be found on his myspace page indeed. -S.
 
Deanston 21

 

 

 

 

TASTING - TWO OFFICIAL DEANSTONS

Deanston 12 yo (43%, OB, early 200O’s) Colour: white wine. Nose: quite grainy at first nosing but gets then more metallic and waxy (paraffin, oiled paper) as well as nicely herbal (lots of thyme and dill, even celery). Quite some overripe oranges and hints of olive oil. Alas, it’s also a little cardboardy and sort of watery, but I like this much better than the versions from the 1990’s. Mouth: hmm, sure it’s a bit weakish at the attack but it sort of takes off after a few seconds, getting even powerful. Oily, thick mouth feel, quick to get a little too cardboardy, alas, with also this waxiness that’s not too nice here. Gets very grassy, maybe a little acrid, with quite some salt at the end. Oomphy it is! The finish is quite long at that, grainty and salty, with a bitter signature that isn’t too nice. The whole is rather good I must say, worth trying in any case. 77 points (I have older versions at 55).
Deanston 21 yo ‘Oldest Royal Reserve’ (43%, OB, decanter for Asia, early 2000’s) Same shape as the old 25 yo , that’s easier to find in Europe. Colour: straw. Nose: dusty and musty at first nosing, with all these oily smells again but also something much more farmy, sort of wild. Wet stones, fresh mushrooms, ham, caramel… Whiffs of peat, oxtail, gravy, roots… Quite playful and unusually complex (but who knows Deanston well? I certainly don’t). gets mintier after a moment, with also hints of lilies of the valley… A good surprise so far. Mouth: rounder and probably more ‘academic’ than the 12 yo , even if there’s quite some peat again. Other than that we have a little muesli, lots of roasted nuts, herbal teas, chlorophyll, grass, olive oil. It’s not significantly better than the 12 yo in the middle, actually. More on bitter almonds. Finish: a little cardboardy now but not drying at all. Nice fresh almonds and olive oil again – is this one good for, or rather against our cholesterol? Now, it’s hard to give it more than 80 points.
 

February 2, 2007


TASTING - THREE EXCELLENT OLD GLENROTHES
Glenrothes Glenrothes 1970/2006 (41.8%, Taste Still, cask #10590, 175 bottles) From the rather impressive new series from Corman Collins'. Colour: gold. Nose: extremely fruity at first nosing, not unlike an old Clynelish or Lochside. Starts on all things orangey (juice, jam, sweets) and lots of tangerines as well as mangos and guavas. Even hints of passion fruits. It gets then more typically Glenrothes, with notes of honey, beehive, wild flowers (buttercups and dandelions). Huge notes of beeswax, wax polish... Keeps developing on whiffs of farmyard, orange cake, baklavas... Also hints of incense, praline crème... Classy stuff, for sure. Perfect balance, the whole getting wilder after a while (hints of clean wet dog, rabbit). Also a little pepper. Hugely enjoyable.
Mouth: good news, it's not over-woody but rather hugely honeyed, closer to a typical old Glenrothes now. So we have all kinds of honeys, crystallised quince, dried pears, bananas and figs, notes of cake, apple skin… The tannins start to come through after a while, making the whole nicely bitter but not drying. Granted, it's not as expressive as on the nose but no flaws here. Gets a little tea-ish, though, with also quite some cinnamon and vanilla, but it is good. Finish: not too long and probably a little drying now but the fruitiness we had on the nose is back, with quite some orange marmalade, quince, kumquats… Quite some white pepper as well. In short, it's a superb old Glenrothes, even if the nose does most of the job. Highly recommended. 90 points.
Glenrothes 1979/2005 (55.2%, OB, cask #3808, 502 bottles) Bottled at cask strength, which is rather unusual at Glenrothes' if I'm not mistaken. Colour: pale amber. Nose: starts more spirity as expected, with more varnish, even glue… This one suffers from the comparison with the 1970, for it's so rougher - even slightly soapy. Yet, it gets then unusually perfumy (roses, musk, scented soap, incense again), all that in an enjoyable way. Something vegetal as well (asparagus). Hints of cardboard. The whole is a bit strange, maybe it's the high proof. Let's try it with a little water: it gets wilder now, more vegetal but also more complex, maybe slightly peaty, waxy… Phenolic, in any case. Glenrothes 1979
Mouth (neat): better, much better than on the nose when undiluted. Very assertive and unusually raw for a Glenrothes (in a good way). Lots of roasted nuts, caramel, toffee, with something very vegetal and nicely bitter (bay leaves, capers, radish). Then we have the usual honey plus quite some mastic, chlorophyll, infused tealeaves... A different Glenrothes, more a hipflask version than a club version. I like it, it's got a little more to tell you than the usual Glenrothes, no matter how perfect their balance and roundness is. Finish: very long, sweeter now, still very honeyed but with again a growing grassiness and something phenolic if not peaty. I had it at 87-88 points but I must say its extra-dimension (phenols and such) deserve a little more. Okay, it's going to be 89 points, but this one needs time.
Glenrothes 1972 Glenrothes 33 yo 1972/2006 (56.6%, Signatory, sherry butt #12368, 549 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: that's funny (well), this one is kind of a blend of both the 1970 and the 1979. First we have a little of the 1979's roughness but then it gets very fruity. Maybe not as extravagantly so as the 1970 but we aren't that far. More on bananas in fact, coconut, apples... Beautiful waxiness, with also hints of fruity olive oil, marzipan, hawthorn... Develops on rubbed orange skin, fresh pineapple, oriental pastries... Also argan oil, roasted hazelnuts and, should we say of course, lots of honey and pollen together with great notes of pine needles, moss and fresh mint. Really complex and most enjoyable.
Mouth: a superbly minty and resinous attack, bold and 'wide' (does the peacock's tail right away). Crystallised tangerines, wax ala Clynelish, cloves, bananas, passion fruits, pink grapefruits… Also lots of spices (even more cloves, black pepper, paprika). It does calm down after a moment, getting more classically honeyed and 'caky'. Also quite some orange liqueur (triple-sec). Lots of oomph considering its age, I guess little people would tell you it's almost 35 yo when tasting it blind. Finish: long, fruity, nervous… A tad drying of course (it's 35 yo ) but also slightly salty. Assertive indeed and amazingly young. 88 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: WF favourite Regina Spektor singing I need your love.mp3 (from 'Soviet Kitsch'). Quite beautiful, with all these violins (huge market for used violins and cellos these days). Please buy Regina Spektor's music... Regina Spektor
 

February 1, 2007


MALT MANIACS NEWSFLASH  
Not only has the brand new MM Matrix finally been published, we also managed to get MM#101 ready just two weeks after we published the previous issue. That must be a new record!
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
Auchentoshan

 

 

 

 

TASTING - THREE AUCHENTOSHANS

Auchentoshan ‘Select’ (40%, OB, circa 2006) Colour: white wine. Nose: grainy and vegetal at first nosing (newly cut grass), with also notes of lavender and pear. May be mistaken for vodka but it’s actually pretty flawless. Just not really interesting. Mouth: light and grainy, sweet, very discreet indeed. Not much happening but again, that means there’s no serious flaws either. Finish: short, maybe a tad salty but still very grainy. Reminds me of Zubrovska, actually. Serve chilled. 70 points.
Auchentoshan 10 yo (40%, OB, circa 2006) Colour: straw. Nose: much more wood and caramel influence. Quite some vanilla crème as well as hints of orange juice and violet perfume. Otherwise it’s quite bland and I must say I like the Select’s ‘full nudity’ better. Mouth: things are improving now, there’s certainly more body than in the select. Alas, the caramelly notes are too strong and I feel the spirit doesn’t really stand that. Lots of cereals and nuts as well, something toasted (cake)… Finish: quite short but longer than the Select’s, still very caramelly but also a little tannic. Maybe a little substandard, if I may say so. 70 points.
Auchentoshan 12 yo ‘QE2’ (43%, OB for Cunard, 100cl, circa 2006?) This comes from left over stocks from Cunard’s liner Queen Elizabeth II. Colour: pale gold. Nose: much nicer now, the oak is much nicer, there are whiffs of mint and earl grey tea, kumquats, roots… Really a, err… nice one. Mouth: the same is happening here, it’s much livelier than the 10 yo . Enjoyable oakiness, notes of liquorice, a little orange water (baklavas), orange marmalade, praline, dried lychees. Good, for sure. Finish: also longer, candied, nutty, with quite some tannins… An Auchentoshan ‘retour des Indes’? Lucky cruise passengers, they were spoilt… 79 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: lots of sweet romantic tunes on WF these days (but there will be more rock and roll soon!). So, today it's Joshua Radin with Schuyler Fisk singing Paperweight.mp3. Isn't that cool? Please buy Josh and Schuyler's musics. Paperweight
January 2007 - part 2 <--- February 2007 - part 1 ---> February 2007 - part 2


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

Caol Ila 36 yo 1965/2002 (45.6%, Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection, cask #4211)

Glen Garioch 1971 (43%, OB for Oddbins, mid-1990’s)

Glen Garioch 21 yo 1965 (43%, OB, circa 1986)

Glen Garioch 21 yo 1965 (50%, OB, circa 1986)

Glen Garioch 21 yo 1965 (57%, OB, circa 1986)

Glen Garioch 29 yo 1968 (56.5%, OB for Bill & Maggie Miller, hogshead #13)

Glenrothes 1970/2006 (41.8%, Taste Still, cask #10590, 175 bottles)

Highland Park 1959/1991 (57.6%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’, cask #598)

Highland Park 1955/1989 (54.6%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’ for Meregalli)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1991/2006 (53.7%, Signatory, cask #6981, 212 bottles)

Laphroaig 1977/1999 (43%, Berry Bros, Cask #5081)

Laphroaig 1967/1993 (50.3%, Signatory for Werner Hertwig, private bottling)