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

July 31, 2005


Ardbeg 18yo 1978/1996 (64.7%, Adelphi, cask #274, 192 bottles) TASTING - Ardbeg 18 yo 1978/1996 (64.7%, Adelphi, cask #274, 192 bottles)  An incredibly high ABV! Nose: extremely powerful, quite smoky and minty, with a bit of eucalyptus. Notes of burnt cake… Quite some wood too. Mouth: very punchy but drinkable. Notes of hot still (metal), very sugary but almost no peat. Was it an unpeated batch? Not bad at all but a strange one… Almost as strange as Johannes' Cambodian funk yodeler (Wot, you doubt that exists? Then listen to this!) Water doesn't work too well with this Ardbeg, alas (but it might help you yodel). 80 points.
MUSIC – JAZZ - Highly recommended listening: I've been wanting to write a few lines about Aziza Mustafa Zadeh since I started this little website, and now's the time, as Charlie P. once said. Indeed, 'the Azeri Princess' is one of my favourite jazz pianists (with Don Pullen, Abdullah Ibrahim, Randy Weston, Monk and Bill Evans of course...) and besides, she always looked much better ;-) Here are a few samples of her great work, so that you can judge by yourself: Chargah.mp3 - Dance of Fire.mp3 - Take Five.mp3 (yes, she also sings beautifully). And no need to say that you must buy her music. (via Jo's Nexus) Aziza Mustafa Zadeh
 

July 30, 2005


New on maltmadness/maltmaniacs.com: Johannes the flying Dutchman just added a google search function that comes quite handy and dandy. And whiskyfun, you may ask... Well, everything's in the indexes.
 
TASTING - TWO INCHGOWERS
Inchgower 12 yo ‘De Luxe’ (70 proof, OB, Arthur Bell’s) Colour: dark straw. Nose: fresh and lively, on fresh fruits, soft spices and dried flowers. Not extremely complex but a nice nose. Mouth: too bad, it’s a bit weak and also quite bitter. It then gets sour and woody, with some dust and old books. The finish is very dry… Too bad, really: the nose was nice. 74 points.
Inchgower 19 yo 1985/2005 (60.7%, Adelphi, cask #5664)
Nose: starts on some fruit liquors (apricot by Bols). Powerful, with some notes of sweet white wine (Monbazillac) Hints of rubber… Very nice indeed but a bit rough. Mouth: it starts on some strange notes of aspirin, C vitamin tablets and ‘chemical’ orange juice. It then gets more natural, thank God, with some nice notes of dried oranges, pineapple, candy sugar… A nice one despite the slightly disturbing ‘chemical’ notes. 80 points.
Inchgower 12yo ‘De Luxe’ (70 proof, OB, Arthur Bell’s)
Raz Mesinai   MUSIC – Recommended listening: forget about the Brazilians and try Israeli percussionist Raz Mesinai, if you want something really efficient. For instance, his Horse dance.mp3 won't let you breathe one single second - thank God it's only an excerpt. Ah, yes, there's also Lady Dem Crazy.mp3: cool, eh? Please buy Raz Mesinai's music if you like it.
 

July 28, 2005


TASTING - TWO GLEN SPEYS
Glen Spey 21 yo 1970 (55.4%, James McArthur) Colour: white wine. Nose: nice attack, on freshly mown grass, ginger ale. Gets very flowery, on lily of the valley, Easter lily. Develops on lemon juice, grapefruit, a bit of parsley. Very ‘natural’, I like it. Mouth: very lemony attack, with lots of 'fine' sugar too… A good surprise. The cask must have been very inactive, so the distillery really shines through. Gets quite bitter (lemon seeds) and grassier and grassier. Austere but enjoyable. 83 points. Glen Spey 21yo 1970 (55.4%, James McArthur)
Glen Spey-Glenlivet NAS (56.4%, Cadenhead’s) Glen Spey-Glenlivet NAS (56.4%, Cadenhead’s) This one is actually labelled as ‘Speyside’ but a back label states it’s a Glen-Spey. Colour: amber. Nose: a nice sherry, with lots of light toffee, caramelized honey, burnt cake… Gets very yeasty, on Guinness, overcooked wine sauce, sweet and spicy Chinese red sauce. Mouth: lots of sherry again, extremely sweet, on all sorts of caramelized fruits, Xmas cake, candy sugar… Extremely sweet and malty. Long finish. I quite like it although some other maniacs didn’t enjoy it too much. 79 points.
CRAZY SUMMER ADS - PART IV
Seagram's VO 1984   Hennessy 1984
Seagram's VO 1984: 'Break away from the ordinary. Try the drink that leaves the rest behind.' What did they mean by 'the rest', exactly? Crapulous naps?   Hennessy 1984: 'The civilized way to get your feet wet.' We're still wondering about the uncivilized ways, aren't we?
     
Anthony and the Johnsons   MUSIC – Recommended listening: now that the craze following their latest album 'I am a bird now' (featuring Lou Reed, Devendra Banhart, Rufus Wainwright and Boy George) is almost over (well, not sure), it's time to listen to Frankenstein.mp3 by Anthony and the Johnsons peacefully. Controversial but quite unique and beautiful. Please buy their music if you didn't already.
 

July 27, 2005


TASTING - TWO 1974 ARDBEGS

Ardbeg 30 yo 1974/2004 (53.7%, OB, MC for Italy, cask #2739, 134 bottles) From a bourbon hogshead. Nose: wow, very pure and almost crystalline. Sea air, seaweed, fresh oysters… Rather delicate peat smoke, getting a bit farmy after a while (wet straw). Not a smack in your face Ardbeg at all. Delicate and beautiful. Mouth: sweeter than expected, not too powerful again but nicely balanced at first sip. It then grows stronger and stronger, as usual. Quite classical in fact, with the usual peaty-lemony notes. A very, very nice Ardbeg if not one of the greatest MC’s. 91 points. (thanks, Luc)

Ardbeg 30yo 1974/2004 (53.7%, OB, MC for Italy, cask #2739, 134 bottles)
Ardbeg 26yo 1974/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 252 bottles) Ardbeg 26 yo 1974/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 252 bottles) SofI Colour: dark straw. Nose: a beautiful peat smoke, with some nice notes of smoked ham and cooked French beans. Cider apples. It gets more and more maritime, on oysters and seaweed. Some lettuce and some chocolate (!). Grapefruit. Mouth: very bold attack, superb. Sweet and spicy at the same time. Lots of ginger and some heavy notes of liquorice. Again a magnificent Ardbeg. 91 points (and thanks, Gordon).
MUSIC – JAZZ - highly recommended listening: Jimmy Scott (aka Little Jimmy Scott) sings Charlie Chaplin's Smile.mp3, from The Modern Times' OST. That's on Jimmy Scott's 2000 'Mood Indigo' album, which you should absolutely buy immediately, unless you don't like great voices, elegant souls and refined vocal jazz. Vive Jimmy Scott!!! Jimmy Scott
 

July 26, 2005


TASTING - TWO INDIE GLENLIVETS
Glenlivet 29yo 1963/1992 (52.1%, Signatory Vintage, cask #269-270) Glenlivet 29 yo 1963/1992 (52.1%, Signatory Vintage, cask #269-270) Colour: mahogany. Nose: full liquorice, smoke, burnt grass, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce. Superb sherry, very special. Espresso coffee, Havana cigar, lapsang souchong tea… Getting waxy, roasted pecan nuts, all sorts of dried fruits, including tropical. Stupendous sherry, with an extraordinary smoky underlining. Even some notes of smoked ham, pine needles. Incredible whisky. Mouth: starts on all sorts of fruit jams, plum, gianduja, very old port and rum, balsam. Gets more and more resinous… Notes of Smyrna raisins. Some great tannins that give it a superb structure. Finihs: gets quite meaty, maple syrup, A fantastic old sherried malt! 92 points.
Glenlivet 30 yo 1971 (43%, Inverallan’s, cask #971) This one is a not too bad but rather MOTR Glenlivet, I think. Some dried flowers, straw and oranges on both the nose and the palate, but not much else… Too bad it gets soapy and sort of perfumy after a few seconds in the mouth. Not one of the best old casks, that’s for sure, but it’s still quite drinkable. Now, it's 30 yo and even if it's at the lower end of the scale, they sell it for cheap, so it might impress your neighbours around Xmas... 79 points. Glenlivet 30yo 1971 (43%, Inverallan’s, cask #971)
CRAZY SUMMER ADS - PART III
Canadian Club 1947   Canadian Club 1959
Canadian Club 1947: 'I dived so deep for an Aegean sponge, that the champ had to dive for me.' Thank God they had some Canadian Club to recover.   Canadian Club 1959: 'Barracuda puts crimp in sunken treasure hunt.' Geez, every time a Canadian Club drinker dives, something weird happens!
     
Hanne Hukkelberg MUSIC – Recommended listening: young Norwegian artist Hanne Hukkelberg sings a very fresh and bouncing little song called Ease.mp3. Scandinavian minimalism? Maybe, but isn't she very good? Please buy Hanne Hukkelberg's music! Oh, here's another very excellent piece: Balloon.mp3. Take care, Björk!
 

July 25, 2005


CONCERT REVIEW: ALAN GLEN AND SONNY BLACK, THE ANIMALS
Ealing Blues Festival, July 23, 2005 by Kate Kavanagh
 
Editor's note: Nick Morgan, our regular reviewer is currently "sailing up shit creek" in the Hebrides without a diesel engine and praying that two big mermaids will turn up shortly to tow them to the nearest dry land, failing that... sing "We've gotta get out of this place" and wait for the Oban lifeboat. Thank God, Kate, our official concert photographer, agreed to write a few lines about these various Animals (not the mermaids) for us.
Runnin’ down the avenue (Gunnersbury Ave., that is), I observed with relief for Alan Glen’s sake that Mister Blue Sky was living here today for another great celebration of British blues. Ace ex-Yardbirds harmonica player and his tremendous guitarist pal, Sonny Black, need not have worried earlier about weather and consequent turnout for their fine acoustic set in the beautiful park surroundings. I did note that Alan had roped in the whole of his lovely enthusiastic family, Jackie and the boys, to boost audience numbers and/or as “roadies” – bless them all!
Alan GlenAlan Glen
A splendid “tour de force” of blues harp, slide and picking and just generally great guitars from the guys took us through Slim Harpo’s (via Rolling Stones) “I’m A King Bee”, G. L. Crockett’s (via Duster Bennett) “Man Down There”, Jimmy Rogers’ (via The Barcodes) “That’s Alright”, Sonny and Brownie’s “Hoedown”, Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Byebye Bird” (check out SBW with the Yardbirds, live at the Crawdaddy some decades back, on CD). Indeed, there were plenty of Crawdaddies and Mummies around at today’s gig!
Alan Glen    

So it was good. To the extent that it deserved a commemoration (see pic). Great T-shirt, merci Serge, and not bad whisky, either! So busy dramming were they that they almost missed the next bit…

Having spent a day at London Zoo earlier this week, I thought I would be able to understand something of evolution. But not in the case of these Animals! The number of name and lineup changes over the years would require a Darwinian understanding of the British R and B species.

Put simply, today’s gang of four were formed by original “Animals” drummer John Steel. Around him were grouped Pete Barton on bass and vocals, Johnny “Guitar” Williamson on lead guitar and Micky Gallagher on keyboards. Honestly, I didn’t jump up, windmill-arm, do the splits and chorus “WHO are you?”!!
The rest of the crowd (several hundred crammed into a splendid tent and more standing five deep outside) roared their appreciation for the opening number, 1964’s “Baby Let Me Take You Home”, dedicated to “Chas” Chandler and Dave Rowberry. Nice. Then, 1965’s “It’s My Life” and the rest…a mix of new and, mostly, old. “Don’t Let Me Be…”, “I Believe”, “Bring It On Home…”, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, etc.

 

 

The Animals

 

The Animals

But was it her age, the absence of THE great voice, or just her unrequited junior crush on Alan Price (please do not mention the daft “Dancing Bear” song) which made Nick’s recently “idle photographer” (now known as “Doolittle” – geddit?!) walk away from the Animals, not talk, or grunt or squeak or squawk with the Animals?
But back home, you can dram with the Animals, as you loved them! So Serge, for my big men, their fave: “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” on mp3, original version, please. Merci!! - Kate Kavanagh (text and pictures)

Thank you so much, Kate. Perhaps you'll notice I did a bit of unusual extra-editing on the pictures, I hope Nick won't be jealous! And as a lady's will is God's will, yes we have the original Don't let me be misunderstood... Ooooops, no, wait, here it is:
 
TASTING - TWO SPECIAL YOUNG SPRINGBANKS
Springbank 8 yo 1995/2004 (56%, OB for the Springbank Society, fresh sherry, 306 bottles) Colour: full amber. Nose: lots of sherry, a bit sulphury. Dried orange, dried fruits – a little closed. Quite yeasty too. Notes of leather, getting farmy, on wet dog and rubber band. Mouth: punchy and very creamy. A bit rough and immature but very enjoyable. Develops on liquorice. The finish is long, still on liquorice but also with some rubbery notes. 86 points.
Springbank NAS Private Bottling (OB for distillery visitors 2005, mini) Colour: light amber. Nose: caramel and coffee, toffee, dark chocolate. Much more sherry than expected. Hints of lamp petrol, peanut oil, burnt cake. Not too complex but enjoyable. Mouth: very punchy but quite bitter and herbal this time. Dried herbs, dark toffee, smoke. Long, but slightly sour and rubbery finish. Not too bad indeed, although I’d say it’s not really worth a visit to most depressing Campbeltown. 79 points.
Springbank 8yo 1995/2004 (56%, OB for the Springbank Society, fresh sherry, 306 bottles)
 

July 24, 2005


TASTING - TWO OLD BALBLAIRS BY G&M
Balblair NAS (70 proof, G&M licensed bottling, 1970’s) Balblair 10yo (40%, G&M licensed bottling, 1980’s) Balblair NAS (70 proof, G&M licensed bottling, 1970’s) Colour: dark amber. Nose: very nice sherry, with an interesting mix of meaty notes and dried fruits (figs, dates, raisins). Sure it lacks a bit of oomph but it’s still a nicely balanced oldie. Mouth: a little too dry this time, mostly on stale tea and beer. It then gets quite dusty and cardboardy. Too bad, the nose was really great! 78 points.
Balblair 10 yo (40%, G&M licensed bottling, 1980’s) Colour: gold. Nose: this one really smells like when you enter a warehouse. Wet wood, humus, dried fruits, white pepper… Some hints of orange marmalade. Rather nice but quite thin, I'm afraid. Mouth: the attack is a bit flat, developping mostly on dried herbs, old papers, nutmeg, and cinnamon… Alas, it's soon to become very drying. Once again, the nose was quite interesting but the mouth didn't deliver and was even unpleasant. Too bad. 73 points (for the nose).
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

 

 

MUSIC – JAZZ - highly recommended listening: 1957, the great Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sing The nearness of you.mp3, right from the stars. Fab. Oh, and of course, there's also the brilliant Let's call the whole thing off.mp3. Repeat after me: tomhatto, vanilllllah, carhamelll (oops!)

 

July 23, 2005


TASTING - Lac’Holl (42%, OB, France, 700 bottles) 
This one is distilled near my place, in Riquewihr in Alsace, and is 4yo, roughly. Gilbert Holl is both a distiller and a brewer, which means that 100% of the product has been made at the distillery, unlike many other ‘foreign’ whiskies. Colour: light amber. Nose: nicely fruity, with some grain and white chocolate. Better than expected. It does smell whisky indeed, without too many notes of ‘white eau de vie’. Mouth: nice fruit again, very sweet and rounded. Some notes of sweet white wine, red fruits, ripe gooseberries and apple juice. Nicely made, this one – and I ain’t chauvinistic here. 75 points.
Lac’Holl (42%, OB, France, 700 bottles)
 
CRAZY SUMMER ADS - PART II
Highland Park 2003   Crown Royal 2003
Left - Highland Park 2003: 'Experience the warmth of the world's northernmost single malt Scotch Whisky.' A warming ad indeed, even if, maybe, they could have written 'Scotland's northernmost single malt whisky' instead. Or do they suggest one can make Scotch Whisky anywhere in the world? Did the SWA approve?
Right - Crown Royal 2003: 'Paradise found.' But where's this bottle tree located? Do they have other kinds? Brora trees?
Gutevolk   MUSIC – Recommended listening: Japanese pop can sound silly, very silly, but this time it's different. Sure, Gutevolk - aka Hirono Nishiyama - hasn't got a 'voice' but she knows how to craft some very clever little ritornelles, like for instance Sora.mp3. Far, very far from Pizzicato Five! Please buy Gutevolk's music if you like it.
 

July 22, 2005


TASTING - TWO INDIE ARDBEGS DISTILLED IN THE 60's

Ardbeg 30 yo 1967/1997 (50.3%, Signatory, dark oloroso, US, cask #1141, 510 bottles) Colour: deep mahogany. Nose: wow, some bold notes of eucalyptus and camphor right from the start. Develops on tropical fruits (passion), beeswax, beehive, wax, paraffin. Some Mandarine Impériale liqueur too. Magnificent oakiness. Some tiger balm and also some superb notes of old Sauternes (Yquem 1967?) Magnificent indeed. Mouth: starts with all sorts of herbal teas and herb jellies, creamy but not lumpy at all. Develops on a beautiful sherry (dried oranges, Xmas cake, honeyed pecan nuts…) before some very discreet peaty notes do emerge (a bit ghostly). Fantastic balance. The finish is perhaps a bit tannic but it’s still a thrill. No wonder this one’s already a legend. 95 points (and thanks, Tom).

Ardbeg 30yo 1967/1997 (50.3%, Signatory, dark oloroso, US, cask #1141, 510 bottles)
Ardbeg 24yo 1969/1993 (40%, G&M for Carato, Van Gogh Collection, sherry) Ardbeg 24 yo 1969/1993 (40%, G&M for Carato, Van Gogh Collection, sherry) Nose: starts on some nice tropical fruits, grapefruit juice… Gets quite grassy, with some hints of wet straw. A little too weak, alas, lacking a little oomph. Sometimes Arbeg easily stands 40% ABV but here we want more. Mouth: rather thin body but with some huge notes of caramel, cinnamon and dried fruits (dates, raisins). Gets then a bit sweetish, on liquorice allsorts. Really in the G&M Connoisseur’s Choice style, although some CC's are much better than this one. You got it, it really lacks a little bit of oomph (and perhaps one ear ;-)) 78 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: French singer Claudine Longet has now a cult status, despite the fact that she stopped recording around 1974. She had been co-staring with Peter Sellers in Blake Edward's movie The Party, had married Andy Williams and divorced, eventually killed her boyfriend two years later (unintentionally, it is said), and then decided to keep a much lower profile... (good news?) Let's listen to one of her last recordings now: Lynsey de Paul's Sugar me.mp3 (1974). Lethal, isn't it? Claudine Longet
 

July 21, 2005


TASTING - TWO GLENLOCHIES

Glenlochy 27 yo 1974/2002 (53.3%, Signatory, cask #4459, 212 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: extremely perfumy, notes of mead, overripe fruits. Whiffs of paint thinner, getting very orangey. Notes of sangria wine, apple wine… I think it’s plain weird but perhaps some would like it. Mouth: very strange, on chemical fruit juices (Tang), green plums, getting quite metallic (silver spoon). Some plum sauce. Really strange, I think, but some other malt maniacs sort of liked it. 68 points.

Glenlochy 27yo 1974/2002 (53.3%, Signatory, cask #4459, 212 bottles)
Glenlochy 24yo 1980 (58.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 62.11) Glenlochy 24 yo 1980 (58.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 62.11) Nose: very nice, grassy and flowery. Heather, meadow flowers, hot milk… Perhaps a bit dry and austere, I think. Mouth: very hot, tannic, herbal. Gets quite sugary after a moment… It keeps improving, developing on icing sugar and fresh fruits. Yet, it remains a bit too ‘neutral’ but it isn’t bad malt at all. 83 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Elvis Presley does Are you lonesome tonight.mp3 live. LOL!!! I now this version is famous but listen to it again, it's irrestistible and very refreshing! One question, though: did he fire the chorist after the recording?   Elvis Presley
 

July 20, 2005


Celtique Connexion ‘Vin de Paille’ 1992/2004 (43%, Celtic Whisky Compagnie, 385 bottles)

TASTING - TWO RECENT FRENCH BOTTLINGS

Celtique Connexion ‘Vin de Paille’ 1992/2004 (43%, Celtic Whisky Compagnie, 385 bottles)
This one is a single malt scotch whisky that’s been further matured near the sea, in Brittany. The cask contained some ‘straw wine’ from Jura (East of France) previously – a very sweet and quite powerful wine that’s made out of grapes that are dried for a few months before pressing. The ‘Vins de Paille’ are not vinous at all usually but a little sugary, so I must confess I feared this one would be too ‘sweetish’ for my tastes. Let's see...

Colour: full amber. Nose: lots of sultanas, cooked strawberries and dried dates at first nosing, mixed with some very nice notes of humus, tea, mushrooms, forest… A very nice balance indeed, together with a nice boldness. It’s quite rich but not lumpish at all. Excellent! Some nice notes of toasted wood, and even some botrytis (noble rot – but I know there mustn’t be any in there). Some hints of burnt rubber. Mouth: sweet and mellow attack, but still nicely balanced. Dried fruits, bitter orange, pu-ehr tea… Gets a little rubbery. The finish is quite long and creamy, but again, not lumpish at all and perfectly balanced. In short, one can feel the double maturation really added some extra-complexity to the malt, and that’s it’s been ‘crafted’ with much care. Not a quick-and-dirty finishing at all – too bad these Vin de Paille casks are so scarce. 88 points.
By the way, I could also taste the third batch of Glann ar Mor’s newmake while visiting the superb little distillery a few days ago. Even if master distiller and owner Jean Donnay told me he didn’t reach the perfect ‘equilibrium’ yet during that batch, I must say I’ve been impressed. First, because unlike many ‘foreign’ whiskies and malts, Glann ar Mor’s ‘French Plain Spirit (!?)’ really smells and tastes like a single malt. Second, it’s clean and pure, but also complex and quite bold, with no metallic and/or rubbery notes, and the fruity notes are well here and very elegant but not in the grappa/fruit eau de vie genre at all (again, unlike many ‘foreign’ whiskies). The small stills sure offer more contact with copper, and I’d say the result is perfect, with lots of character. Impressive indeed (nope, no chauvinism here) and I can’t wait to taste the peated batches to be distilled later on!
Benriach 1992-1994/2004 (43%, Jean Boyer Best Cask Selection, France) A new series by a French indie bottler, which includes mostly young malts such as Macalan (no typo), Pulteney, Linkwood, Mortlach… Most are bottled at 43% but there’s also a Port Ellen 1983 bottled at 46%. Strange. Anyway, let’s taste this new Benriach. Colour: white wine. Nose: astonishingly fresh and very maritime, with lots of smoke, grapefruit, oysters… Lots of peat (it’s one of these peaty batches), very clean, more complex and finer than the official ‘Curiositas’. Mouth: not as complex as the nose, and a bit yeastier but still a very nice peaty malt, somewhat in the Caol Ila genre. Notes of freshly cut apples. The finish is medium long and fresh like a baby’s mouth. Definitely a good one. 83 points. Benriach 1992-1994/2004 (43%, Jean Boyer Best Cask Selection, France)
 
CRAZY SUMMER ADS - PART I (a new series that should last until the end of August)
Canadian Club 1985
 
Seagram's Seven Crown 1987
Canadian Club 1985: 'Be a part of it.' Or why one should always wear a tie, even when at the beach. Classy, don't you think?           Seagram's Seven Crown 1987: 'Seagram's 7 and 92°' Guys and girls on inflatable mattresses, with glasses in their hands. It remains to be seen how they'll manage to sip their whiskeys...
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Canadian composer Sam Andreyef is kind of a crossbreed of Peter Skellern, Picabia and Raymond Queneau. Baroque dadaïsm? Pataphysics? Anyway, have a go at The final days.mp3 and you'll hear what I mean... Very nice, eh? Please buy Sam Andreyef's music if you like music (sam lives in Paris). (via David F.'s excellent blog)   Sam Andreyef
 

July 19, 2005


Fever Pitch  

CONCERT REVIEW: AIMEE MANN
Carling Academy Glasgow, July 15th 2005
by Nick Morgan

I still don’t think I’ve recovered, mentally or physically, from having my head wedged in a door at the Port Charlotte Hotel at the end of a heated discussion (with a distinguished Malt Maniac of all people) over the literary merits or otherwise of the erstwhile author Nick Hornby. Now let’s get my position straight. Having read the first 37 pages of Fever Pitch, and then never having turned another of any of his novels, I am uniquely positioned to judge his writing as flaccid, self-indulgent, white middle class twaddle. An unfortunate stain on the reputation of 21st Century British literature.

Oh yes – and I was mightily pissed-off when I lost my regular North London parking space outside the Home of Football at Highbury when Fever Pitch was being filmed (key message Mr Hornby – never fuck with someone’s parking). But I conceded – and at this point the pressure on my head somewhat eased – that Hornby’s 31 Songs is an inspired read, and in truth was the book that lead me to Aimee Mann – not enough to warrant forgiving Mr Hornby for his other sins, but maybe it’s a start. And certainly, as I recall, enough to diffuse a potentially nasty confrontation which ended happily in a musical discussion over a Caol Ila or three.
So Hornby is also responsible for us being in Glasgow to see the great camera shy Diva – as the photographer discovered when a strip search (it’s a Glasgow thing) resulted in all her equipment being confiscated (very pleasantly I should add) for the duration of the evening. It’s part of a European tour to promote the new ‘concept’ album The Forgotten Arm. Actually I’m not sure it’s a concept in the way that marketeers might understand it – no apparent functional benefit for example, but rather a collection of songs (a song cycle then) narrating the torture of a doomed relationship, foundering on despair and drug addiction. So doomed and so despairing that I’m surprised that it manages to go for twelve songs – I might have given up after about half a dozen, but as at least one other writer has said, so it goes. Aimee Mann
The previous two albums, Bachelor No 1 and Lost in Space were works of real lyrical and musical beauty, marked to a great extent by the guitar work of Michael Lockwood, as well, of course, as Ms Mann’s astonishing and quite unique voice. New concept, new album, new producer, new band, but unfortunately nothing as new and surprising – and simply as engaging – as some of the work on the previous two.
Not to say that this isn’t a good evening. Ms Mann is one cool performer; relaxed, charming and chatty. Nothing to suggest the ‘difficult’ reputation that she is supposed to have. She handled the good-natured Glasgow hecklers with aplomb, and won the hearts of the audience (well, those that she didn’t already have in her pocket) during the encore with a call for requests. All rehearsed I cynically thought, until she and the band embarked on a song that quite clearly neither they, nor I, for that matter, could remember. Brave stuff. We got most of the new album in the correct ‘concept’ order (apart from the nice ‘King of the Jailhouse’ which was the first encore) interlaced with a selection of older tunes, such as ‘Back to Zero’, ‘Invisible Ink’, ‘Susan’ and ‘4th July’.
Ms Mann’s voice lived up to all expectation, added to which she played acoustic and electric guitars, bass and piano. No lack of talent there then. Nor with her band who, though we didn’t catch the name of the brilliant drummer – ‘played like an old-fashioned jazz percussionist’ said the idle photographer, were I strongly suspect the core of the musicians on Forgotten Arm. And a nice set of lights too, which reminded me of the lettering on the cover of the old Jimi Hendrix Smash Hits album.
The problem was that as the evening wore on the one real weakness in Ms Mann’s armoury became apparent.
Most of the songs were one paced, played at the same tempo which was frankly verging on the tedious just before the main set ended. And it makes all the songs sound the same, which I know isn’t true, but then I’ve never listened to three of her albums back to back, and to be honest I’m beginning to wonder if I’d buy a fourth. So what I began to think was that you needed to be a real fan to like this stuff in such intense doses, and began to doubt if I was. Lucky though that 99% of the good-natured audience were. They had a ball, and we had a good time too. Just a bit disappointing, that’s all.
Anyway music lovers, it’s adieu from me, at least for a little while. I’m writing this from a room overlooking Oban Bay, and I’m about to start my annual fortnight’s adventure around the West Coast of Scotland. But not to worry – plenty of great gigs lined up for August, including our Festival Special. Happy sailing. Nick Morgan
Thank you so much, Nick. The Festival Special? We can't wait! But let's have Save me.mp3 (live) by Aimee for now. And oh, to our readers: I wasn't that malt maniac discussing over the literrary merits of Nick Hornby at the Port Charlotte. I don't even know who that Hornby guy is!

TASTING - TWO SPEYBURNS

Speyburn 12 yo (63.1%, James MacArthur, bottled 1992, cask #3337) Colour: white wine. Nose: full pineapple juice and grass juice – really pungent. Spey-burn indeed. Difficult to get anything else than alcohol. Mouth: sweet but very strong. Sugarish, with some notes of white fruits but almost nothing else. Perhaps pear spirit? Not interesting, even with water and at various dilutions. 70 points.

Speyburn 12yo (63.1%, James MacArthur, bottled 1992, cask #3337)
Speyburn-Glenlivet 15yo 1975/1991 (60.1%, Cadenhead’s) Speyburn-Glenlivet 15 yo 1975/1991 (60.1%, Cadenhead’s) Colour: white wine. Nose: starts on some heavy notes of walnut skins, Fra Angelico liqueur, getting then very fruity, on apples and pears. Wet hay, ripe kiwi… Very lemony too. Interesting Speyburn! Mouth: sweet, extremely powerful so let’s taste it with water (otherwise it’s undrinkable). Very sweet and simple, with lots of fresh apple and lemon skin but not much else. It then gets dry and spirity, with no special flavours that would give it any interest. 77 points (because the nose was interesting).
 

July 18, 2005


TASTING - THREE MINI 50 yo MORTLACHS BY GORDON & MACPHAIL
Mortlach 50yo Mortlach 50 yo 1936/1986 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail) Colour: pure gold. Nose: starts on caramel, developing on beehive, wax polish, apple compote. Fir honey, hints of eucalyptus, quince jelly, Mirabelle jam. Lots of maple syrup, butter caramel, Werther’s Originals. Beautiful toffee, with hints of citrus that give it a kick. Complex yet compact. Just superb and very ‘traditional’.
Mouth: very creamy, on fine caramel, fudge, Mandarine Imperial liqueur. Develops on cake, biscuits, crystallised fruits… Lots of liquorice and plum jam. Some wood but not too much, which is amazing. Some nice tannins. Rather long finish, on fudge and oak, getting finally a bit too drying. 89 points.
Mortlach 50 yo 1938/1988 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail) Colour: pure gold. Nose: idem but a bit woodier, a bit more sour, and perhaps with more eucalyptus and balsamic aromas. Slightly dusty. Mouth: creamier and also peatier, smokier. The balance is really perfect in this one, with bunches of fruit jams, eucalyptus candies. Superb vivacity brought by some tropical fruits such as passion fruit and kiwi. Lots of herbs too. Long, bold finish, with some smoke, peat and quite some tannins. Wunderbar, bolder and punchier than the 1936. 91 points.
Mortlach 50 yo 1939/1989 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail) Colour: pure gold. Nose: this one is again closer to the 1936, with lots of milk caramel, hot milk, caramel crème, chicory. Brown tobacco, cooked red cabbage, quite some smoke and peat. A bit of burnt wood and even button mushrooms. Mouth: more herbal, even medicinal. There’s quite some peat in this one! Lots of herbal teas, camomile, vanilla crème… Beautiful vivacity at such an old age. Long, creamy finish, on crème brûlée and tea. I like it the same as the 1938: 91 points.
In short these pre-war Mortlachs are really excellent and not tired at all, probably the best 50yo's by G&M. The minis are still available in the UK, a great opportunity to taste some pre-war malts... (and they're much cheaper than the 1937 Glenfiddich! ;-)
MUSIC – Recommended listening: I was sure I did put some Robert Wyatt on this humble website already, but I cannot find him in the Index (can you help me? ;-)) Anyway, time for his Sea song.mp3 now. And please buy the Great Robert's music if you like it - of course you do.   Robert Wyatt
 

July 17, 2005


Milton-Duff-Glenlivet 12yo (43%, OB, Ballantines, 70’s)  

Coming soon: Nick Morgan's review of Aimee Mann's recent concert in Glasgow. Stay tuned.

TASTING – Milton-Duff-Glenlivet 12 yo (43%, OB, Ballantines, 70’s) Colour: very pale (white wine). Nose: fresh and lively, grainy and flowery. Not complex at all but rather enjoyable and quite flawless. Mouth: nicely balanced, on cereals, candy sugar and fruit salad. Too bad it’s a bit weak and getting even watery… Not much else to say about this one, I’m sorry. 79 points.

MUSIC Recommended listening on a very hot day: French band Mukta plays and entrancing Portrait.mp3. Something of Ravi Shankar with Philp Glass, a perfect blend of jazz and raga (not ragga!) that works extremely well, I think. Please buy Mukta's music if you like it! Mukta
 

July 16, 2005


Longmorn 1973/2005 (51.3%, Duncan Taylor) TASTING - Longmorn 1973/2005 (51.3%, Duncan Taylor) Colour: straw. Nose: extremely clean and fresh for such an oldie. Big, bold notes of pink grapefruit, getting even a little maritime. Very, very big citrus. Mouth: grapefruit juice again, lemon marmalade, lime… Big citrusy notes again, that take the control from the start to the finish. Surprisingly youthful if not too complex. One to try if you like… lemon! (I know, I insist). 88 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: le rap, c'est chic? Well, maybe in Australia, as Macromantics' piece ? Future.mp3 might testify. And good news, no Lacoste or Sergio Tacchini track-suits here, just a girl 'with hair gelled back, in jeans and t-shirts or shirt sporting canvas shoes with rhymes so snappy they make the crocodile hunter scared'. Okay, did you listen to it? Good, now we can resume our 'Please no rap' policy, but please buy Macromantics' music if you like it... Macromantics
 

July 15, 2005


Glenlossie 12yo (65.8%, James MacArthur, cask #8230, 75cl)

TASTING - TWO GLENLOSSIES

Glenlossie 12 yo (65.8%, James MacArthur, cask #8230, 75cl) Colour: amber. Nose: really overpowering. Lots of dark chocolate, nutmeg, cardboard, biscuits. Quite closed on the nose, actually. With water, it doesn’t get any better, just less aggressive. Mouth: very sugary and very strong. You can dip your lips into the whisky but you just can’t drink it. It seems to be very simple. With water, it gets somewhat waxy and even medicinal: nice! 81 points.

Glenlossie-Glenlivet 13 yo 1966/1979 (45.7%, Cadenhead dumpy) Colour: gold. Nose: very delicate at first nosing, with lots of dried fruits (figs, bananas, pears), some fresh pineapple and some herbal tea. Hints of passion fruit and quince jelly… A typical old bottle effect. I like that. Mouth: superbly balanced, on herbal tea again, with lots of fresh fruits like strawberries, gooseberries, melon… Some apricot jam. Not really special but extremely well balanced and most enjoyable if not complex. One to drink rather than collect! 89 points.   Glenlossie-Glenlivet 13yo 1966/1979 (45.7%, Cadenhead dumpy)
Metamorphosis MUSIC – Recommended listening: hey, why not try something a little smarter, for once? If you liked the Kronos Quartet, you'll probably love Love and napalm.mp3 by Austrian band Metamorphosis. They say they are playing some contaminated chamber music - I'd rather say it's some contaminating chamber music. Please buy their excellent recordings. (via David Fennech)

July 2005 - part 1 <--- July 2005 - part 2 ---> August 2005 - part 1

     


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

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

Ardbeg 26 yo 1974/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 252 bottles)

Ardbeg 30 yo 1974/2004 (53.7%, OB, MC for Italy, cask #2739, 134 bottles)

Ardbeg 30 yo 1974/2004 (53.7%, OB, MC for Italy, cask #2739, 134 bottles)

Ardbeg 30 yo 1967/1997 (50.3%, Signatory, dark oloroso, US, cask #1141, 510 bottles)

Glenlivet 29 yo 1963/1992 (52.1%, Signatory Vintage, cask #269-270)

Mortlach 50 yo 1938/1988 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail)

Mortlach 50 yo 1939/1989 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail)