Hi, you're in the Archives, June 2005 - Part 1
JUST IN - Great
news: the first spirit just came out
of Jean Donnay's Glann
ar Mor distillery in
Brittany, France. That happened on
Sunday 12, at 17:05. I'll rush there
in July to taste the 1 month old FPS
(French Plain Spirit ;-)) and keep
you posted. Blow, trumpets, blow!
- THREE INDIE LAPHROAIGS
16 yo 1988/2004 (52.5%, The Whisky
Shop, dumpy bottle, 614 bottles)
Nose: a rather simple expression
of Laphroaig, but a nice one. Pure
smoke, seaweed and cider apples,
if you see what I mean (but don’t
we all like smoke, seaweed and cider
apples?) Mouth: bold smoke, spicy,
peppery. Rather extreme in fact
but still a bit simple. Lacks a
little more roundness, I think,
but it’s quite enjoyable.
A little monster. 84 points.
10 yo 1991/2002 (58.8%, Scotch Malt
Whisky Society, 29.24, 260 bottles)
SofI Colour: pale straw. Nose: very
smoky and fruity. Rather maritime.
Lots of white fruits… Gets also
a little farmy (hay) and quite sulphury.
Mouth: quite powerful! Nice peat,
apples, peaches, apricots… White
pepper. Not much else but again, it’s
quite enjoyable. 80 points.
‘Bloodtub Valinch’ 1988/2005
(54.9%, Murray McDavid, sherry cask
There are now a few non-Bruichladdich
small casks ('boodtubs') available
at the distillerie, where you can
fill your own 50cl bottle - but these
small casks aren't really used for
maturation, I think. This one is an
excellent and unusual sherried Laphroaig,
bold, powerful and sweet at the same
time. Not overly complex but very
compact and satisfying. Lots of cooked
fruits and a bit of toffee plus, of
course, the usual big peat smoke.
Very, very nice. 89 points.
– Highly recommended
listening: ah, after Damien Rice,
Rufus Wainwright and The Postal Service,
something quite new and interesting,
finally. It's Andrew
Morgan doing This
awful room.mp3. Pretty excellent,
with something from the early Pink
Floyd and an eatheral singing... Really
is another fantastic piece. Please
buy Andrew Morgan's music if you like
it. I think his CD ' Misadventures
in Radiology' is an absolute must.
‘Rocks’ (OB, Banyuls finish,
This new one is a blend of malt from
1990, 1993, 1998 and 2001 and that’s
been ‘affined’ in some
Banyuls cask. Colour: slightly pink
like Tavel rosé, or blush wine.
Nose: quite young, the youngest malts
sort of dominate the whole. An interesting
spiciness, though, quite unusual in
Bruichladdich. Quite some herbal notes
and very little vinous notes if any.
Mouth: very sweet attack but with
lots of pepper and quite some tannins.
Very, very nervous and a bit green
but well made. Long finish, just a
bit bitter, with some winey notes
finally coming through. Interesting
experiment. 83 points.
15 yo 1990/2005 ‘Valinch: the
Purest Malt’ (55.5%, OB, cask
extremely fruity and very fresh. Pure
indeed, somewhat like a good young
Speysider. Mouth: very sweet and fruity
again, rather clean. Not complex at
all but very quaffable. One to sip
just like that - and why not on ice!
WHISKY ADS - THE GRANDEUR OF HUNTING
Left: Gilbey's Spey-Royal
1925. 'Worth hunting
for - Matured in many years in well-seasoned
Sherry casks (what's that?)
Spey-Royal is the finest Whisky procurable.
It is the produce of the best equiped
distilleries in the Glenlivet District
(ah, it's the equipment!)
Distilleries: Glen-Spey, Rothes, Strathmill,
Banff, Knockando, Morayshire.'
A blended malt, in 1925?
Grand-Dad circa 1930. 'That's
the taste worth hunting for.'
A similar headline, but do we really
need to dress like that to hunt for
a glass of Bourbon?
Johnnie Walker Red Label 1985.
'When hunting for pleasure,
Red stands out' Yes, forget about
the poor stags, girls are the thing.
Merriweather, aka Dan
the Automator gives us a very Gainsbourg-esque
Ace.mp3 that's supposed to be
'music to make love to your old lady'.
Well... Anyway, please buy his music
if you like it - or if you just ran
out of ginger.
- Dufftown 20 yo 1981/2001 (50%, Silver
Seal, 375 bottles)
Colour: amber with an orange hue.
Nose: some very nice sherry notes,
even if a bit too sulphury right at
first nosing. It then gets quite meaty,
with some notes of Chinese sauce,
Bolognese (sure, it’s an Italian
bottler, and no, I wasn’t near
a restaurant)… Very special
and really interesting, if not highly
enjoyable. Mouth: sweet yet nervous
attack on sherry and crystallized
tangerines. It then gets quite spicy
and gingery… Quite bold and
compact, with an excellent balance.
A nice one, no doubt. 87 points.
– Highly recommended
listening: Columbian band Aterciopelados
from Bogota does La
culpable.mp3. Pretty excellent,
isn't it? So, please buy their music!
– North Port Brechin 1980/1996
(57.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
Colour: white wine. Nose: very dusty
at first nosing, with lots of caramel,
cocoa and cardboard. Notes of praline,
flour… Quite interesting in
fact, with much more oomph than the
rather poor Connoisseur’s Choice
North Ports. Mouth: really powerful
and very sweet, getting hugely peppery
and even quite peaty. It makes me
think of Talisker in a certain way.
Goes on with some caramel crème
and vanilla sauce. The finish is long
but a little drying. Anyway, a very
nice surprise considering this distillery’s
pedigree. 83 points.
listening: a strange encounter! Swedish
member of Ensemble Nimbus Håkan
Almkvist aka Orient
Squeezers plays the sitar
and all sorts of other Indian instruments
Not exactly Ravi Shankar, but he's
good, isn't he? Please buy his music
- it's on their website.
- H2H: TWO OLD WONDERS FROM BRUICHLADDICH'S
40 yo ‘Forty’ 1964/2004
(43.1%, OB, 500 bottles)
Matured in fresh bourbon casks.
Colour: dark straw. Nose: similar
to the 1970 I liked so much, with
lots of fresh fruits, melon, guava,
peach ad pear. Very youthful for
its age. Gets also very floral,
with a nice sourness from the wood.
Punchier than the 1970, in fact,
and even a tad smoky. Mouth: creamy,
slightly herbal, developing on all
sorts of fruit jams (mirabelle,
quince, melon…) Some fresh
tangerine. Too enjoyable for a £1000
bottle? The finish is perhaps a
bit dry but the whole is very, very
nice – even if I still like
the 1970 better. 92 points
for this forty.
35 yo 1968 ‘Legacy III’
(40.7%, OB, 1572 bottles)
Matured in fresh bourbon hogsheads.
Colour: full amber. Nose: beautifully
oaky, with bunches of spices. Lots
of apricot too, milk chocolate, crystallised
oranges, lavender honey. Rich and
complex but not complicated, pure
pleasure on the nose. Mouth: bold
and lively - very far from being and
old, tired chap. All sorts of fruit
jams and dried fruits, with some figs,
sultanas, apricots… Also some
small red fruits. The finish is very,
very nice, balanced, mostly on dried
oranges. A superb whisky, highly sippable.
Again, pure pleasure. 92 points.
– Highly recommended
listening : king of 'trance blues'
Taylor plays Rosa,
Rosa.mp3. Better than Ry Cooder?
You decide, but I made my choice...
Please buy Otis Taylor's music if
you like it (via Telarc)
– Sort of -
These pictures just in, taken during
the latest (and last) Enduro du Touquet
which took place in February in France.
The Enduro du Touquet used to be the
largest enduro race in the world,
and there were usually approx 300,000
spectators and more than 1,000 motorcycles
(and 300 quads) racing in the dunes
fact that the race was held in the
dunes was what several environmentalists
have been protesting about since
quite some years, and having just
seen these pictures, no wonder the
Mayor of Le Touquet has finally
bowed to the political pressures
and stopped the event for the years
can wonder what would happen if
somebody was to organize the Enduro
of the Isle of Islay!
Bush Empire, London
June 5 2005 - by
I admit it. I was going to start
this review with That Marianne
joke, albeit nicely wrapped up in
a sugary conceit that I’d
dreamt up myself. But when it came
to it, after about two hours in
the company of this charming, self-depreciating,
graceful, elegant and still hugely
talented lady, I decided to think
the better of it. It would, to say
the least, have been churlish under
just a pity that there weren’t
more people there to do the evening
justice. A half empty Bush –
those of us with spare tickets couldn’t
even give them away outside. At least
on this occasion the French voted
“Oui” with a strong de
rigueur contingent in the crowds to
celebrate this Grande Dame of rock
and roll. And celebrate we all should.
Forty one years and still going pretty
strong – well, she had a cold,
nasty cough, and by her own admission
was “the size of a small bungalow”
- but still managed to look and sing
like an angel who’s been to
hell and back (which, of course, she
has). And – it occurred to me,
despite the slightly over-theatrical
gestures now and again, and the café
chanteuse cod dramatics, and occasionally
appearing (as my photographer described
it) “un peu distraite”,
she is a real professional. It is
refreshing to see a performer who
knows how to make a real entrance,
and a real exit, sufficiently impressive
to forgive the Monroesque and heavily
pouting, “I love you all”
mouthed to the adoring crowd as she
departed. Yep – top class.
although we had an evening that offered
a retrospective of her long (and to
be frank inconsistent) career, this
is also an artiste who has just recently
released a pretty decent album Before
the Poison, principally made up of
collaborations with P J Harvey and
Nick Cave (with a few of those nasty
Bad Seeds in tow too) which makes
very good listening, and certainly
deserves a “please go out and
buy this” commendation from
Serge. Critically acclaimed as possibly
her best album it is however not selling
well, and she’s thinking of
quitting. That would certainly get
a “Non” from me if I were
allowed a vote.
by a pretty spunky band of New York
residents, albeit led by her faithful
collaborator (ex-pat ex Mancunian)
Barry Reynolds, Ms Faithfull gave
us a handful of songs from the new
album, including the excellent ‘Mystery
of Love’ (Polly Harvey) and
“Crazy Love” (co-written
with Cave). We went as far back as
‘As tears go by’ (hmmm)
and also had (an ill-judged inclusion
if you ask me) a song written for
her by Roger Waters (recorded and
understandably never released by Pink
Floyd), ‘Incarceration of a
Flower Child’. Also of dubious
quality was the result of collaboration
with film composer Angelo Badalamenti
from her ‘forgotten’ album
Secret Life. Called ‘She’
it sounded very much in the mould
of that other song of the same title
by that Frenchman, Charlie something.
Not a good choice. Apart from the
newest songs the best were predictably
the hardest – ‘Guilt’,
‘Sister Morphine’, ‘Working
class hero’, ‘The ballad
of Lucy Jordan’ (hey Serge,
what is this nonsense about driving
through Paris with the wind blowing
in your hair ?), the spitting and
splenetic ‘Why d’ya do
it’ and the fantastique ‘Broken
English’, as you say.
in all this was a pretty impressive
show from a lady who only seems to
be remembered for news headlines from
almost half a century ago, rather
than for the handful of truly great
and timeless albums she has recorded,
including I suspect, the latest. Buy
the album, and if you get a chance
go and see her and celebrate her unique
voice, and her unique and tenacious
hold on life. Nick Morgan (photos
a bunch, Nick. I sure will rush out
and buy Before the Poison... Sex with
Strangers didn't really convince me
but I'm a fan since I saw Marianne
Faithfull in Jack Cardiff's 1968 movie
'Girl on a Motorcycle' - and I believe
I'm not the only one. Now, as for
driving through Paris with the wind
blowing in your hair, well... It's
true that I always wondered why the
English drive many more convertibles
than the French. It can't be the rain
- must be the air, you're right! Anyway,
here we have My
friends have.mp3 from Miss Faithfull's
latest opus Before the Poison.
– TWO CANADIANS
Tangle Ridge 10 yo (40%, OB, Canadian)
This one is a pure rye, and after
the whisky has aged for 10 years
in oak barrels, it is dumped and
then blended with 'a hint of sherry'
and 'a touch of vanilla' (eh?).
The whisky is then re-casked for
the flavours to mingle before bottling.
What a cuisine! Let’s taste
it now… Colour: amber. Nose:
loads of caramel and burnt sugar,
vanilla indeed, and some vinous
notes indeed. Otherwise it just
smells wood alcohol. Palate: weak
and rather disjointed, on sugared
water and burnt caramel. Perhaps
a little praline but I’m not
too sure. Not much else, I’m
afraid, except some rather weird
grassy notes (grass juice). The
finish is rather short with just
some strange notes of rum persisting
on the palate. It’s not utterly
disgusting but I can’t see
what this ‘Double Casking’
brought to the spirit, except some
added offbeat notes. 50
N°40 (43%, OB, Canadian)
A ‘single copper pot still’,
they say. Colour: amber. Nose: oh,
this is so much nicer! Starts on some
bold notes of cooked raspberries and
ripe bananas, topped with vanilla
sauce and light caramel. It then gets
sort of meaty and smoky (smoked ham),
with also some hints of Sauternes
wine. Some Turkish delight, and perhaps
a bit of grass, dill and celery. Fresh,
complex, and unusual (for a Scotch
drinker). Palate: nice attack, that
starts on some notes of good grappa
(and I like good grappa). Very fruity
again, on kirsch, pear and cider.
Nicely balanced, with perhaps too
much fruitiness for somebody who’s
used to Scotch, but it’s well
made. Then it gets perhaps a bit duller,
with quite some caramel, vanilla and
wood… before the heavy notes
of grappa strike back. The mouth is
simpler than the nose, no doubt, but
the rather long and balanced finish
makes the whole an enjoyable experience.
Recommended! 80 points.
– TWO OLD 15 yo GLENFARCLAS
Glenfarclas 15 yo (43%, OB, Frattina,
Colour: yellow gold. Nose: quite
subtle but a little lumpish. Lots
of American coffee, light toffee
and burnt cake, developing on caramel
and candy sugar, but not much else,
I’m afraid. Mouth: ah, this
is nicer and more balanced. A bit
bolder than on the nose, but the
middle is a little weak again. Some
tea notes and a bit of honey, but
then it’s almost over. It’s
quite enjoyable globally, but modern
palates ask for more oomph, I think.
15 yo (46%, OB, Averna, 80’s)
Colour: deep amber. Nose: much more
sherry, with some heavy chocolate,
coca and coffee. Hints of old cardboard.
Hmm… This one is even lumpier,
I’d say. Mouth: ah, again it’s
a bit more nervous, on some notes
of crystallised fruits, tangerine
and even ripe kiwi. A rather nice
sherry, even if the whole really lacks
freshness. Old bottlings are not always
better, that’s for sure, as
I like the contemporary versions of
this one better. 80 points.
– JAZZ - Highly
recommended listening: I've been mentionning
quite a few times, so it was about
time to post about a very good piece
they recorded more than 30 years ago:
Charlie Parker's Confirmation
- mp3 - 'direct from the vinyl'.
Weren't they good? (via swingera.net)
MALT MANIACS ON ISLAY: Very last news
– Well, everything
went perfectly well until we went
to admire the famous Kildalton Cross,
Islay's most prestigious monument
(sorry about the very bad picture).
Alas, since that very day, Islay will
never be the same! Roll your mouse
over the cross...
23 yo (53.7%, James MacArthur, bottled
Colour: very pale (white wine). Certainly
a very neutral cask. Nose: wow, very
waxy, with some heavy notes of paraffin
and lamp oil. Goes on with lots of
milk chocolate and tea. Lots of caramel
too, getting then wonderfully herbal,
and then very meaty, with some notes
of smoked ham. Extremely complex!
Mouth: bold and powerful, on milk
chocolate again. Lots of herbal tea,
acid drops, dried white fruits (apple,
pear…) Really beautiful, a great
surprise, that stresses Springbank’s
astonishing complexity, as there’s
little wood influence. No less than
listening, just for fun: it's completely
crazy, but what a performance! Busdriver
places.mp3. Listen and then relax.
No, don't try to relax first... And
please buy Busdriver's music if you
like it - or if you like acrobats.
BREAKING NEWS – Much
more fashionable than buying a red
Ferrari Enzo, renting a flat in Monte
Carlo or investing in a Texan Evangelist
Congregation: building a malt distillery
on the Isle of Islay! So, on their
very last days on the island, the
Malt Maniacs decided to collect what
was left in their wallets after they
had bought quite a few of Ardbeg's
latest 'Festival releases' and to
start the works right away. Chosen
place: the beautiful hamlet of Hiwannahav'
Meeoundastalary, near Portnahaven...
distillery is not a computerized one,
we believe in Man' said ex-IT
wizard and new manager Johannes McHeuvel
(picture, right). It is world famous
distillery architect Davin McKergommeaux
(picture, middle) who designed the
beautiful, environement-friendly post-modern
complex, that's been built within
just three days.
only we have the most advanced - yet
un-computerized - facilities on the
island, we also chose the most up-to-date,
announced special consultant Oliver
McHumbrecht. For instance, a new ultra-modern
malt mill made by Foresights of Newcastle
has just been installed (picture at
the right). 'It grinds the malt
but also oak planks, so that we get
the woody tastes right from the start.
No further maturation in wood will
be needed' added McHumbrecht.
was also proud to deliver a few more
secrets: 'We won't use any warehouses,
in fact. Steel barrels (picture:
the first new steel barrel one day
after it had been delivered to the
distillery) behave perfectly well
in the open. We believe this kind
of barrel will speed up maturation
better than bloodtubs. The market
is now ready for even more variety
and we were extremely pleased with
our first batch, even if after just
47 secs of ageing, the angel had already
taken a share of 98.54% of the spirit.
Moreover, famous expert Charles MacLean
has already tasted our first batch
and we're extremely pleased with his
comments ('My God!'). Too bad Charlie
is at the Islay Hospital just now
but we've heard he's recovering rapidly.'
barn manager Peter McSilver added:
'The only incident that happened
so far is that we've lost tracks of
a gentleman from HM Customs and Excise
who came to visit the distillery. He
left without saying goodbye. The administration
should improve its relations with
first malt heads to visit the distillery
have been a bunch of well-known American
die-hard connoisseurs named the 'PLOWED'.
' We must admit we came for the
name' said Alan, Tom, Dave, F.X.,
Tim, Rodger, Jay, Gordon, Peter and
Todd. 'In fact we had thought
it was another one but we're happy
with our mistake. The guys at Snort
Ellen sure know what they're doing,
they are all very friendly and, good
news, the tour lasted exactly 17 secs.
We wish them good luck and a bright
recognition, already! Indeed, Snort
- OLD YOUNG AND RECENT OLD SPRINGBANKS
5 yo (43%, OB, 1.5 litres, 60’s)
The bottle itself is superb, so
I had to put a picture twice the
usual size ;-).Nose: very fresh
and lively, with lots of white fruits
and flower nectar (pollen too).
Some whiffs of smoke… Not
much else, alas, and the whole isn’t
too complex but it’s still
very enjoyable. Isn’t it just
a five years old? Mouth: quite sugarish,
like many old 5 yo single malts.
It gets quite herbal, and perhaps
a little thin and slightly drying
(notes of nutmeg and cocoa powder).
In any case, it’s a nice one
– perhaps the best 5 yo I
ever had. 84 points.
50 yo ‘Millenium’ (40.5%,
OB, ca 2001)
This one spent at least ten times
more time in its casks... Colour:
astonishingly light (white wine).
Nose: curiously young at first nosing!
Very flowery and a little resinous,
with some slight medicinal notes (bandages).
notes of sea water and lemon juice
(fresh oysters), with some camomile
and some Chinese green tea. It’s
all a matter of subtleness here…
Mouth: surprisingly smooth, developing
on a great mix of herbal tea and dried
fruits (pineapple, guava…) Perhaps
it gets a little dusty if not too
tannic, with some hints of old papers.
Really delicate and subtle, although
the finish is a little bitter and
dry. In short, a very nice and very
subtle old Springbank, that has still
quite some stories to tell after fifty
years despite it’s relative
lack of oomph. 90 points.
– Highly recommended
Ray's Maria Taylor
does a wonderful The
song beneath the song.mp3 (low-fi
but it's okay). Take care, it's quite
haunting... Please buy Maria or Azure
Ray's records! Well, I don't know
whether Maria Taylor ever recorded
a CD in solo, actually...
FROM ISLAY - No need
to say it's been a blast! I'll upload
plenty of photographs, tasting notes
and an interesting story about a new
distillery the malt maniacs are currently
building on the island - yes, I have
the pictures. In the meantime, we've
got this very interesting piece of
news. Can you help?...
Newswire. Dateline: Islet of Islayshire,
Scotland, England, June 1st.
MAN OF SCOTCH
Rumours, myths, nay legends grow
apace on the remote Scottish island
of Islay, England, about the mystery
man of Scotch thrown ashore on this
distant coastline of the islet known
to some as the Queen of the Hebrides
(37) from some as yet unknown seaward
adventure. Dressed only in an elegant
white tuxedo and gaudy tie this
silent (yet steely eyed) man of
mysteriousness is being cared for
by senior surgeons and physicians
in the Frank McAvennie Memorial
Rehabilitation Center of Islay’s
capitol Bowmore’s Islay’s
General Accident and Emergency Center.
Explained one senior Center consultant,
who wished to remain unnamed, “He
was found thrown ashore on this
distant coastline, dressed only
in an elegant white tuxedo and gaudy
to sources, silent and unable to speak,
when given a pencil to write his name
he broke down in tears and could only
draw a bottle of one of the famous
Scottish whiskies for which this far
flung atoll is famous. When shown
a bottle of this potent and strong
tasting alcoholic beverage he fell
about his paper like a madman, writing
lengthy and barely comprehensible,
yet alone credible, ‘tasting
notes’ as if from memory, ending
each with the memorable refrain “quite
possibly the finest whisky in the
world, 93 points”. Shrouded
in a smoky mist of inscrutability
the identity of this mystery man remains
a secret to all but those who know
his name. Can you help identify this
shadowy savant of Scotch ?
– Millburn 29 yo 1974/2004 (53.9%,
Cadenhead Authentic Collection, 246
Colour: straw. Nose: oh, it’s
so fresh! Starts on lots of vegetables
such as French beans and salsify…
Then there’s some fresh vanilla,
some cherry tree resin and some whiffs
of white truffle. Quite unusual. Develops
on smells of forests after a heavy
rain… Beautiful. Mouth: unexpectedly
sweet yet rather nervous, with a superb
acidity (I know, I know…) Notes
of oolong tea and hints of liquorice
roots… Even some gentian, which
I’m fond of. A stunning Millburn,
yummy! 92 points.
the index of all entries:
malts I had these weeks - 90+
points only - alphabetical:
35 yo 1968 ‘Legacy III’ (40.7%,
OB, 1572 bottles)
40 yo ‘Forty’ 1964/2004 (43.1%,
OB, 500 bottles)
29 yo 1974/2004 (53.9%, Cadenhead Authentic
Collection, 246 bottles)
23 yo (53.7%,
James MacArthur, bottled around 1989).
50 yo ‘Millenium’ (40.5%,
OB, ca 2001)