Hi, you're in the Archives, June 2009 - Part 1
REVIEW by Nick Morgan
London, May 12th 2009
all about technique, really. About
hours of relentless practice, remorselessly
pushing oneself to the outer limits
of endurance. Stretching every muscle,
every tendon, every nerve in search
of that ultimate goal. It’s
something that amateurs and dilettantes
never understand, never appreciate.
It’s about having the technique.
How else do you think anyone could
survive three hours packed sardine-like
into the Borderline on a warm Spring
evening? The sweat is dripping off
the walls, beer sticks to the floor.
audience, mostly over-weight men in
their fifties [who exactly are you
talking about Nick? Ed.] seems to
have prepared for the evening by spending
three days eating nothing but Chicken
Chilli Masala laced with pickled onions
(an inspired combination of two of
Britain’s most traditional foods)
, if the tepid and malodorous air
– what little of it there is
– is anything to go by. With
no space to spare, it’s every
man (or Photographer) for himself,
trying to find a spot, perfectly balanced,
where a not-too-craned neck will get
you a clear view of Sonny
Landreth. Because you
just have to see him playing the guitar.
Listening isn’t enough. It’s
all about the technique, really.
case you don’t know, Landreth,
who hails from Louisiana, is a slide
guitarist. Well, not quite. In most
people’s eyes, he is the slide
guitarist. A man who transforms rolling
a piece of metal tube across six pieces
of taught wire into an art learnt
from the gods. He’s not what
you would call well-known: most of
his reputation rests on the work he’s
done for other artists, notably John
Hiatt. His last album, 2008’s
From the Reach, a collaborative work
with a host of blues luminaries, is
currently ranked 22,861 in Amazon’s
list of UK bestsellers. That puts
him almost on a par with Bob
the Builder, whose Never Mind
the Breeze Blocks ranks at 19,735,
way behind the soundtrack to Madagascar
3: Escape 2 Africa, out of sight
School Musical 3: Senior Year,
and apparently in an entirely inferior
league to the novelty-voiced Paisley
(i.e. Scotland, and where the ties
and dressing gowns come from) boy
Nutini, whose new album is, after
only a week on the market, listed
as number one.
then that Rolex International Brand
Ambassador and sometime blues guitarist
Clapton (did you know he has a
watch collection, Serge? Who would
do a thing like that?) should describe
him as "probably the most underestimated
musician on the planet, and also...probably
one of the most advanced.". But
it’s true, and to appreciate
the point you have to endure any degree
of physical discomfort to see him
play. It’s all about the technique,
had told me, not even Mike who’s
seen Landreth on many occasions, so
when he started playing, I was simply
flabbergasted. And the point is that
it wasn’t just his left hand
which, ably working the slide, killing
unwanted strings behind but fingering
others, made it look as though the
slide was just a natural extension
of his hand like some sort of X-Man.
No, it was his right-hand technique
that was truly remarkable. Of course,
he led with a percussive thumb pick
as most slide players do, but the
way he used his remaining four fingers
(or was it eight, or ten, or twelve?)
was practically impossible to comprehend.
He picked, he plucked, he strummed;
his right-hand fingers danced the
length of the fret-board, teasing
sounds from the slide and strings
that were simply wonderful. In fact,
I cannot do it justice, I’m
not that good a writer. You have to
see him play.
don’t get me wrong, or mismanage
your expectations: the songs aren’t
really great. His backing band are
as precise as the atomic
clock, but they’re never
going to set the world on fire. And
Landreth’s voice is pretty much
like any other southern-accented American
rock singer. That’s not the
point. It’s the guitar playing:
it sounds as devilishly complex as
it looks, so that corpulent men and
bowel and body odour notwithstanding,
you could listen to it for hours.
It’s all about the technique,
really. - Nick Morgan (photographs
– OLD AND NEW LEDAIG
10 yo (43%, OB, +/-2009)
Colour: white wine. Nose: typical
peaty/soaky mashiness that’s
also to be found in most young versions
by G&M. Stale seawater (with crabs
and seaweed ;-)), butter, grated ginger,
ale, then tarry rope and a little
tincture of iodine. And heavily peppered
porridge. Certainly a bigger personality
than older young OBs. It’s also
rather cleaner even if we’re
still far from what I would define
as ‘clean’ whisky. Unusual.
Mouth: it’s good! Good body,
good peat, quite some salt, cough
drops, other medicinal notes (antiseptic?),
something leathery, tobacco…
Slight dirtiness and something a tad
dusty. Lemonade and ginger tonic.
Not a classic. Finish: medium long,
saltier. Anchovies? Comments: good
and interesting whisky, maybe less
oomphy than most Islayers but maybe
also more complex and less wham-bam-in-you-face.
Worth trying. SGP:236 - 82
21 yo 1973/1995 (53.4%, Cadenhead’s
Authentic Collection, small white
Ledaig is relatively unknown today
but experimented maltsters know how
great it could be around 1972-1974.
Colour: pale gold. Nose: totally unusual!
Almost repulsive at very first sniffing,
with bold whiffs of old rusty engine,
motor oil and damp papers and even
cheap soda (Fanta and such) but becomes
much straighter once you’ve
passed that difficult stage. Rather
beautiful peat combined with bitter
oranges and leather, with something
that reminds me of recent naked Longrows.
Multifaceted, as they say. With water:
porridge, porridge and porridge. Feinty?
Yes, quite… Mouth (neat): ah
yes, it’s good right upfront
this time. Big pepper and very big
resinous notes. Peppered cough syrup?
Almost thick, oily, and more and more
terpenic. Big peat too. With water:
more lemon but also this dirtiness
that’s back. Dust. Floorcloth?
Finish: medium long, on something
bizarre. Peppered orange juice with
grated parmesan? Sorry if you’re
about to have dinner ;-). Comments:
totally whacky! Not the best Ledaig
from the early 1970s. Sometimes very
good, sometimes completely offbeat.
I’d suggest adding water drop
by drop and check what gives each
time. SGP:335 - 81 points.
– TWO SLIGHTLY SULPHURY LOCHNAGAR
12 yo 1993/2005 (46%, DL McGibbons
Provenance, Sherry, winter/winter,
Colour: dark gold. Nose: it’s
the sherry that talks first, with
an avalanche of coffee and chocolate
plus quite some gunpowder and ‘clean’
rubber (bicycle inner tube). Goes
on with notes of roasted chestnuts
and hot brownies and a bit of shoe
polish and stays on all that for a
long time. Probably the closest to
espresso malt whisky can go. Simple
but quite brilliant in its own genre.
Hints of orange blossom water after
a while. Mouth: too bad the magic
stops here, as these burnt notes are
much less pleasant than on the nose.
It’s now much more spirity,
rough, a little burning and actually
rather flavourless. Notes of bubblegum
and even more burnt cake after that.
Finish: medium long but still a little
indefinite, with even more burnt cake
and a bitterness in the aftertaste
that’s not too enjoyable. Comments:
a rather spectacular nose but a disappointing
palate in our view. Ultra-dry. SGP:152
- 78 points.
Lochnagar 22 yo 1986/2009 (56.4%,
Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #942)
Colour: straw. Nose: it’s interesting
that we aren’t too far from
the very ‘olorosoed’ 1993
here, with the same kind of heavy
coffee and rubber notes. Develops
on even more rubber, gunpowder, struck
matches and even black truffles. Okay,
the sulphur is huge here but it’s
absolutely not of the ‘stinky’
kind! It’s only after a good
ten minutes that some slightly porridgy
and vanilled notes do come through,
making the whole a little more balanced.
Rather spectacular globally –
if you like the style. With water:
mega-huge notes of bicycle inner tube
now. Exhaust pipe, coal. Mouth (neat):
starts much fruitier and more assertive
than the 1993 but the burning/bitter
side is well here again. A lot of
pepper, heavy cloves, unsugared coffee,
cocoa powder… Once again, not
too pleasant on the palate but maybe
water will help. With water: indeed,
that worked. The sulphur gets more
discreet, letting more notes of apple
juice come through. Finish: long,
on something like smoked apple juice.
Comments: another one that’s
not easy-easy but it’s interesting
whisky. SGP:242 - 82 points.
- Recommended listening:
The norwegian band Flunk
Please buy Flunk's music.
TASTING – A WHOLE BUNCH OF HIGHLAND
PARK from the 1990s
think I’ve written tasting notes
for much more than 200 different HPs
so far, so let’s celebrate and
add to the volume with eight more
if you don’t mind.
Park 7 yo 1997 (43%, Natural Color,
Colour: white wine. Nose: rather expressive,
with hints of wood smoke, lychees
and lilac but also a lot of immature
porridgy and feinty notes that make
it rather ‘newmakish’.
Mouth: sweet and almost sugary (sweets),
with notes of burnt sugar/caramel
and quite some apple juice and liquorice.
Malt. Lacks complexity but drinkable,
less youngish than on the nose. Finish:
medium long, malty and a little more
citrusy this time. Comments: not bad
but not very inspiring. SGP:531
– 72 points.
Park 1990/2007 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best
Casks of Scotland, recoopered hogshead)
Colour: straw. Nose: a more mature
version of a ‘naked’ HP,
with the same pleasant smokiness but
also whiffs of sea air and quite some
vanilla, apricot pie, yellow flowers
and just a faint soapiness in the
background. Wet sawdust. Not unpleasant.
Mouth: round yet nervous, with these
notes of heather honey that are often
to be found in HP. Surprisingly big.
A little ginger from the wood. Finish:
medium long, with more pepper and
a bigger smokiness. Comments: a good
smoky dram that offers an interesting
variation wrt the OBs. SGP:442
– 82 points.
Park 12 yo 1994/2006 (46%, Duncan
Taylor, Whisky Galore, Portwood finish)
Colour: straw with apricotty hues.
Nose: less smoke and much more warm
butter and caramel cream. A few winey
notes (blackcurrant buds). A little
porridge/muesli and whiffs of sea
air again. I liked the 1990’s
straightforwardness a little better.
Mouth: big sweetness from the Port
(strawberries and cassis jam, other
cooked fruits) and then a slight bitterness
(strong tea, herbal teas). A little
salty. Finish: medium long, on a strawberry
and malt combo. Comments: another
one that’s not unpleasant at
all but as you may know, we aren’t
into these sorts of wine-doped young
malts. SGP:531 - 77 points.
Park 18 yo 1990/2008 (53.5%, Cadenhead,
Bond Reserve, bourbon hogshead, 283
Colour: white wine. Nose: another
very ‘naked’ HP but this
one has a lot of oomph, with some
pear juice, wood smoke, acacia honey
(lightly aromatic honey), hints of
wet stones and then plain apple juice.
Little wood influence. Fruit drops.
Cut grass, wet hay. With water: gets
extremely farmy, milky and porridgy,
even after having waited for a loooong
time (it’s not just saponification
that happens every time you add water
to whisky – more or less.) Mouth
(neat): extremely fruity and youthful.
A playful HP that tastes much younger
than it actually is but that’s
very pleasant. Great freshness. A
little salt and liquorice. Gets just
a little lavenderish and soapy. With
water: no more lavender but no further
development. Finish: rather long,
grassier and less fruity. Comments:
a good HP. SGP:552 - 83 points.
Park 17 yo 1990 (54.1%, Art of Whisky,
Colour: pale gold. Nose: a silkier
and more polished version, with also
much more vanilla and even fudge,
and less grassy and straight fruity
notes. Honey. With water: not much
development except for these farmy
notes again that are often to be found
in these indie HPs. Mouth (neat):
very close to the Cadenhead’s,
only a little fatter and without these
notes of lavender. Spicier too (pepper).
With water: very good now, very ‘natural’.
Whatever that means. Liquorice, vanilla
and pear drops. Finish: rather long,
clean, balanced. Toasted/roasted notes.
Comments: simply very good, with a
little more oak than in the Cadenhead.
SGP:552 - 85 points.
Park 17 yo 1991/2009 (54.6%, Duncan
Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #8089)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: interesting,
we’re somewhere between both
1990s here. Complex, fruity, grassy,
smoky, honeyed, liquoricy HP. Hints
of aniseed and bergamot. The most
complex of them all so far. With water:
superb! Beautiful oakiness and even
more liquorice. Mouth (neat): excellent
attack, much more complex once again.
Soft fruits, spices, marzipan, orange
blossom water, oranges, honey…
Excellent. With water: complex, delicate
and punchy at the same time. Beautiful
notes of oriental pastries (that honeyness)
and soft spices. Finish: medium long
but beautifully liquoricy. Comments:
one of these great 1991s, more complex
than other ‘vintages’
or so it seems. Excellent value for
money. SGP:532 - 90 points.
Park 17 yo 1991/2009 (55.2%, Duncan
Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #8088)
From a sister cask, obviously.
Colour: gold. Nose: amazing how this
one is different from its sister (brother?)
Much more austere, grassier and more
spirity, without these wonderful spicy
notes. Waxier and more mineral as
well, which may bring compensation.
Earthier and more maritime too. Imagine
these two casks were filled one after
the other! With water: we’re
getting a little closer to cask #8089.
Nicer. Mouth (neat): ah, now we’re
in the same league as the sister cask.
More or less the same whisky (err,
obviously.) With water: ditto, even
if this one is not quite as perfect.
Finish: medium long. Liquorice allsorts.
Comments: very good once again but
globally less stellar as cask #8089
in my view. SGP:531 - 86 points.
Park 1995/2006 (57.2%, G&M Cask,
Refill sherry c#1326/1331/1333)
Colour: gold. Nose: a very
different profile, with much more
wood and more peat as well. Orange
marmalade, wet earth, heather, horse
saddle, cooked butter… With
water: got fresher and fruitier as
well as more peppery and gingery.
Mouth (neat): the sherry is much more
obvious now, and so is the peat. Did
they raise the peat level at HP around
1995? Strawberry drops, gingerbread,
raspberry liqueur (from the sherry?)
With water: excellent. ‘Good’
bubblegum and a lot of peat (relatively).
Orange marmalade. Finish: rather long,
with more orange marmalade, bitter
oranges, pepper, peat. Comments: a
Highland Park that hints at…
Lagavulin. Well, sort of… SGP:543
- 88 points.
also, even more HPs… Highland
Park 16 yo (75° proof, OB, mid-1960s)
nose, with an amazing development
on various herbs and the most delicate
peat. That will do. Mouth: rich, elegant,
complex, superb. Heather honey galore.
Finish: wonderful and incredibly long,
but that’s no surprise. Comments:
enough said. SGP:665 –
94 points (merci Olivier).
Park 19 yo (40.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky
Society, #4.129, 53 bottles)
Not much left in this cask, probably
leaking hence the low ABV. Nose: plantain,
mint, fir, Williams pear and caramel
crème. Unexpected freshness.
Smells more and more like mint liqueur
(Get 27). Mouth: rich and phenolic.
Bananas and coconut too. Surprise!
Too bad it’s also a tad dusty.
Plain barley. Comments: a very unusual
HP, with something very ‘young’
(pears) and something very ‘old’
(mint). SGP:452 – 86
points (thank you Angus).
- Recommended listening
Please buy Julie Kelly's music.
TASTING – TWO GERMAN WHISKIES
Falckner (43%, OB, Falckenthal, East
This was one of the most famous whiskies
made in the German Democratic Republic.
No doubt the dreadful Volkspolizei
used to drink plenty of this…
Colour: white wine. Nose: believe
it or not, this is quite nice, at
least at first nosing. It’s
a rather waxy/mineral profile, with
whiffs of linseed oil, paraffin, motor
oil, wet chalk and then loads of cut
grass, with even something slightly
maritime (seashells) and smoky. Something
of Old Pulteney – honest! Alas,
it falls apart a bit after a few minutes,
getting more papery. Ha, good old
bureaucrats! Mouth: sure it’s
a little weakish but in no way repulsive.
Pleasantly fruity (strawberries, Williams
pears) and rather clean, lacking ageing
for sure but the spirit is fair and
balanced, with even a nice freshness
despite a slight sugariness that gets
a tad invading after a moment. Maybe
this one was doped as well, after
all… Finish: a little short
but once again, it’s clean and
rather straightforward. The aftertaste
is a little liqueurish. Comments:
nah, sure it’s no Brora ’72,
but we’ve tried Scottish blends
that were certainly worse in our view,
including old ones. Plus, this one
has an immaculate heritage, hasn’t
it? SGP:530 - 70 points.
3 yo 2006 (43%, OB, Germany, American
This brand new whisky comes from Bavaria
and was distilled in pot stills. Coillmor
means ‘large forest’ in
Gaelic… Wait, Bavaria, Gaelic?
Bah, who cares! Colour: gold. Nose:
very expressive, all on sour oak,
vanilla, thick porridge and spices.
It’s not unpleasant at all but
we’re extremely far from Scotch
whisky here. Hints of pears and hops
coming through the heavy oakiness
after a while, the whole reminding
me more and more of ‘fleur de
bière’ like they make
here in Alsace (distilled beer). Mouth:
rich and, to tell you the truth, more
to my liking than on the nose even
if the flavours are in the same vein,
that is to say sweet and spicy. Chinese
sweet and sour sauce, very ripe apples,
pepper, nutmeg (a lot), cinnamon (a
lot), Belgian beer (do you know Duvel?)
and finally notes of gingerbread and
speculoos (Belgian again). Finish:
rather long, balanced, rich, just
as spicy and sweet. Comments: I think
this works, even if it cannot be compared
to Scotch whisky. Carefully and honestly
made for sure. SGP:640 - 74
our friend Günther over at thewhiskytrader
tells us about the Coillmor and the
Gaelic name: 'Well, not especially
Gaelic but the Celts settled in soutern
Germany and parts of Bavaria are Celtic
homeland. The Celts moved westward
as early as the arrival of the Romans
and finaly fled before oncoming tribes
that were one the move from the East
shortly before and after the Roman
Empire finally broke up. Thus there
is no Celtic German tribe anymore
but a Celtic heritage which is burried
in the soil of Bavaria ans Suebia
(Schwaben). One of the most famous
burrials is the Celtic Prince of Hochdorf
(Fürstengrab von Hochdorf) in
The Celts actually fled as far West
as Cornwall and North to Scotland.'
What's better than knowledge in life?
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
thanks to Jean Marie
- Recommended listening
Artist: ex-Moutain Leslie
Please buy Leslie West's music.
+ CIGARS = ?
article is submitted by Denis, who
blogs about cigars at CigarInspector.com.
Feel free to subscribe
to the updates if you’re
an aficionado! Thanks a lot, Denis.
am often asked what drinks pair
up best with a cigar. Luckily, there
are many good combos available.
My personal favorites include red
wine, cognac and, of course, whisky.
In this article I will try to give
you some advice on how to pair your
cigar with the right malt.
of all, let us tackle the choice of
the cigar. As whisky is usually a
quite powerful drink with very expressive
flavors, I would suggest selecting
a strong, full-bodied cigar with a
lot of pepper. A good example is a
No. 2 for those of you who live
outside of the United States or an
601 Green Label and anything else
from Don Pepin Garcia. On the other
hand, milder cigars like Davidoffs
will be completely overwhelmed by
the drink and you won’t be able
to distinguish the subtle flavors
that they (some of them, rather) deploy.
far as the whisky goes, my preferences
are for the medium-priced single malts.
My absolutely favorite is the Macallan
12 years, but you can also opt for
a Glenlivet 12/18 years, the Talisker
10 years or a Lagavulin. The main
rule here is not to sacrifice a premium
bottle because it can be enjoyed on
its own and not to use a cheap whisky
as it will completely spoil the experience.
you respect the above recommendations
you will notice that both cigar’s
and whisky’s flavors get changed.
Some elements will be subdued whereas
others will be highlighted. You really
never know what you are about to discover
and this is what makes the experience
truly unique. - Denis.
– TWO BLAIR ATHOL
Athol 18 yo 1987/2005 (43%, Signatory,
cask #5224, 389 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: very fresh,
very young and rather fruity, all
on apple juice, with a ‘young
Speyside’ character. Right,
Blair Athol isn’t in Speyside.
Hints of baker’s yeast, muesli,
just a little smoke, maybe hints of
lavender and not much else. Simple.
Mouth: sugary and beerish, with a
little bubblegum, strawberries, apple
liqueur and just hints of pepper.
Probably not the most ctive cask ever
seen at Blair Athol. Finish: medium
long, with a little caramel. Comments:
there are some gems in this gently
priced series but I wouldn’t
say this one was one of them. Not
much happening. SGP:430 -
Athol 19 yo 1989/2009 (53.7%, Cadenhead,
bourbon hogshead, 274 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather powerful,
with huge notes of vanilla and a little
flour and sawdust. Light honey (acacia),
more vanilla crème, peanuts…
Gueuze beer, more apple juice, even
more apple juice and then nothing
but apple juice. Maybe cider ;-).
Very simple whisky once again. With
water: smells like plain beer. Mouth
(neat): spirity, sugary and…
That’s more or less all. Breadcrumbs.
Lacks character. With water: a little
liquorice and lemonade. Finish: shortish.
Sugared chamomile tea. Comments: in
the same vein as the 1987. We’ve
had some much better Blair Athols.
SGP: - 71 points.
- Recommended listening
Way To Get
He's very good in my opinion. Please
buy Bob Schneider's music.
THE MALT MANIACS MALT MONITOR
Monitor now displays no less
You may download the PDF here
to MM's Luca for his tremendous
work and to all the scoring
REVIEW by Nick Morgan
May 7th 2009
a wry, wonderfully well-thought-out,
and strangely melancholic start for
a set from a band noted for their
high energy and upbeat performances,
although let’s remember, that
was around thirty years ago (when
half of our party hadn’t been
audience are in a high state of anticipation.
And we’ve all been on the edge
since last night’s opener of
the five sold-out dates at the Brixton
Academy was postponed at the very
last minute (leaving punters arriving
from all over the world, as we were
told, in tears). It doesn’t
matter that the reformed Specials
have been touring the UK for a few
weeks, gaining largely rave reviews
in their wake. Those were just rehearsals;
warm-ups for the main event. It’s
London. And as those nice people at
Ticketmaster eventually mailed to
tell us (that must be what I’ve
been paying all those huge booking
fees for all these years), the gig
is going ahead. So it’s worth
the wait in the jostling queue outside,
it’s worth a strange return
to the hierarchy of the school playground
as wimps like me stand aside to let
the bovver-boy bullies get to the
bar or push into the elongated line
for the loos, it’s worth the
frankly uninspiring support set from
Pistols, and the simply tedious
DJ set, increasingly reliant on calling
for weary refrains of ‘Rude
Boy’ from the audience to keep
their interest. And I note from the
forums, it was apparently even worth
enduring the pickpocketing binge that
sadly infected the crushed area at
the front of the stage.
lights dim. The black curtain drops.
And there, caught for a few seconds
in silhouette behind a white screen,
almost like a freeze-frame of Elvis’s
famous ‘Jailhouse Rock’
dance sequence, are a group of slightly
slumped middle-aged men, playing a
mournful rendition, New Orleans funeral
band tempo, of ‘Enjoy yourself’.
Just for about twenty seconds –
the first verse, and first chorus
– “Enjoy yourself, enjoy
yourself, it’s later than you
think”. And then all havoc let
loose as the screen rose and the Specials
exploded into ‘Do the Dog’,
at a pace which frankly seemed unsustainable
for men of their years. But what they
produced was a relentless high-energy
show, even on the slow songs, which
saw them work through a remarkable
back catalogue of hits, which as you
may recall, were generated in a very
short period of time. There have been
Specials revivals before but this
was the real one, the most complete:
the entire band with only one absentee
being founder, inspiration and keyboard
player extraordinaire, Jerry Dammers.
Apparently the reunion was bankrolled
by entrepreneur and football club
owner Simon Jordon, whose long-standing
efforts to bring them back together
were frustrated by “Jerry Dammers
being away with the fairies in Middle
Earth spending the last 15 years remixing
not entirely clear what simmering
resentments generated over years of
infighting led to his exclusion, but
it’s clearly the subject of
on both parts, leading some reviewers
to condemn the whole exercise as a
sham, nothing more than a nostalgic
tribute band, as I read Dammers saying
if it is a tribute act then it has
to be one of the best around. Frontmen
Staples and Lynval
Golding threw back the years,
and along with Roddy
on a better-than-I’d-ever-realised
guitar, injected the songs with a
real sense of energy. Drummer John
Bradbury and bassist Horace Painter
were tireless. There was no going
through the motions. And the set was
cleverly designed so that when they
did tire, as all fifty-plus men must,
the brass section was brought on to
sustain and build on the initial drive.
In the middle of it all was the lugubrious
Hall. Not perhaps quite as menacing
as thirty years ago, but still bearing
an air of perplexing detachment from
it all. And more than anyone else
it was Hall, with his deadpan and
still angry delivery, who was able
to lift some, if not all, of the songs
above pastiche or self-parody to a
real level of contemporary engagement.
And let’s face it, songs like
‘Blank expression’, ‘Doesn’t
make it alright’, ‘Too
much too young’ and ‘Nite
klub’ (where, as Hall spits
out the words, “the beer tastes
just like piss”) don’t
lose their sense of relevance: they
are timeless. ‘Ghost Town’,
which ends the main set (before they
return to finale with a breakneck
rendition of ‘Enjoy yourself’)
is both a historical document, recalling
the bleak post-industrial landscape
of Mrs Thatcher’s Britain, and
serving as a prescient reminder of
times that are not quite as past as
we comfortably-off middle-classes
might like to think.
that the audience cared a jot. Downstairs
was a writhing throng of bodies of
all ages and sizes, only a few of
whom provoked the anger of Neville
Staples (and the rest of the crowd)
by beer-throwing and what might have
been racial baiting. Upstairs the
stewards were fighting a losing battle
trying to stop the dancing and ‘skanking’,
as my daughter colourfully described
it, although it looked more like ‘Doing
the exercise machine’ to me.
On our way home, we earned a proud
escort from a closely-tonsured and
foul-mouthed faction of the Knights
of St George, neatly summing up, in
their stay-pressed way, the contradictions
that always surrounded the Specials,
their politics and their sometimes
perplexingly diverse audiences. So,
hugely enjoyable though this evening
was, if I had to make the choice between
the two (and it wouldn’t be
a difficult one), I’d go and
Dammers’ Spatial Aka Orchestra
any day before returning for another
Specials reunion. -
Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
– OLD AND NEW LITTLEMILL
16 yo 1992/2008 (46%, Hart Bros)
Colour: white wine. Nose: rather expressive
but spirity and rather feinty, with
a lot of porridge, ale, malt and leaves.
Grass. Gets then more lemony but also
rather oddly sugary and a little cardboardy
(wet cardboard). Gets also chalkier
and more mineral, which isn’t
bad news. Hard to say whether I like
this little Littlemill or not…
Let’s check the palate. Mouth:
a mixture of overripe apples with
notes of chewed paper and lemon-flavoured
yoghurt, then Werther’s Originals,
vanilla fudge and sweet spices. A
tad milky/yeasty too but pretty sippable.
A good, easy Littlemill. Finish: medium
long, with more sweetened lemon juice,
apples and a little liquorice. Comments:
a rather pleasant Littlemill, less
feinty than other ‘expressions’
of this lost distillery. SGP:351
- 80 points.
35 yo 1965/2001 (47.4%, Douglas Laing
OMC, 198 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: quite incredibly,
we aren’t too far from the 1992
as far as the profile is concerned
but of course, this is more polished
and elegant. Old high-end Italian
lemon liqueur? Quite some linseed
oil, even olive oil, ‘newspaper
of the day’ (ink) and then all
these resinous and varnishy notes
that come with good quality old wood.
Mint tea, cigar ash, marzipan, a little
turpentine… Maybe not absolutely
brilliant but very interesting and
‘different’. Not boring
for sure. Mouth: this one sure doesn’t
start like a 35yo whisky, it’s
almost as fresh as the 1992 once again.
Candied lemons and apple liqueur,
then more spices (cardamom, sweet
pepper), then more caramelised lemon
(does that even exist?) and finally
the same kind of resinous notes as
on the nose, only toned down here.
It’s also slightly medicinal
(some herbal teas, cough syrup). Finish:
long, with more lemony notes. Grog?
Comments: it’s a good old Littlemill.
This kind of whisky will soon be no
more… sob, sob… SGP:551
– 87 points.
– OLD AND RECENT DEANSTON
Mill 8 yo (40%, OB, Seiba, Italy,
Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely
unusual and very interesting, starting
on a mix of camphor, shoe polish and
chamomile tea, getting then frankly
medicinal (antiseptic) and beautifully
lemony (lemon balm, lemon marmalade).
There’s also quite some wet
cardboard/old books, whiffs of old
mouldy wine cellar… And then
we’re back to cough syrup and
old style leather polish. Very beautiful!
Mouth: excellent once again, with
quite some lemon and mint in the attack,
then kiwi jam, coffee and smoked tea…
Too bad it sort of fades away after
the beautiful attack, leaving only
very dry notes of coffee beans and
maybe black tea. Finish: short and
dry. Comments: very beautiful nose
and attack on the palate, but it’s
a little tired after that. No big
deal after all these years! SGP:451
- 85 points.
12 yo 'Malt' (40%, OB, White Label
w. Golden Letters, 75cl, +/-1985)
was also a NAS and a 8yo version of
this one, which I didn’t like
too much (WF 75/70). Colour: gold.
Nose: this one is completely different
from the 8yo, as if there was much
more sherry. Starts all on American
coffee (as they say in Italy, depicting
anything that’s not ristretto)
and liquorice and develops on some
very pleasant meaty notes but not
of the gamy kind. Rather well cured
ham and smoked beef. Gets then more
herbal, with whiffs of newly mown
lawn, fresh walnuts and green tea.
A bit dusty in the background but
the whole is most pleasant if not
totally entrancing. Mouth: starts
on coffee once again, marzipan, mocha,
toffee, roasted almonds… It’s
also very malty. Better mouth feel
than with the 8yo, good body. Gets
then a tad resinous, smoky and slightly
dusty. Cigarette tobacco, liquorice
wood. Finish: medium long, maybe just
a tad soapy but other than that it’s
enjoyable. Mint drops and liquorice.
Comments: the nose wasn’t as
stunning as the 8yo’s but it
had more oomph on the palate. SGP:352
- 84 points.
12 yo (46.3%, OB, +/- 2009)
An unusual ABV and some funny claims
on this label, such as ‘We put
everything we are into everything
we make, this is bottled bliss.’
Or better yet, ‘Nothing added
but hard work and determination.’
Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is much,
much drier than the oldies, and probably
much less complex at first nosing.
Very dry, grassy and pretty oaky,
with only a little liquorice and faint
whiffs of menthol that often come
with the wood. Gets then more toasted/smoky
and malty but the huge notes of grass
(and sawdust) are still there. The
oak is quite big here. Mouth: well,
this one isn’t easy, especially
after the classy oldies. A lot of
wood once again, as if this puppy
had been reracked into uncharred new
oak. Ginger, chewed pencil, tealeaves,
nuts and lemon zests. Gets clearly
grassier, bitter and tea-ish but the
whole is still rather drinkable, provided
you’re not against heavy grassy
notes. Finish: medium long and more
resinous, which may indicate some
kind of wood treatment indeed. Comments:
not the easiest kind of malt whisky
in my view. Maybe we should have waited
for twenty more years before trying
- 74 points.
- Recommended listening
Artist: Sacramento's now disbanded
My Friends Say
Please buy the Low Flying Owls'
– FOUR GLENLOSSIE
14 yo 1968 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s
Choice old brown label, +/- 1982)
Colour: amber orange (yup, it’s
probably what you think). Nose: not
exactly powerful but mucho aromatic
and expressive, starting on all things
orangey and going on with notes of
vanilla and nutmeg. Marmalade, Indian
korma sauce, cane sugar, cinnamon
and burnt wood. Just a tad dusty (flour).
Pretty classic. Mouth: ah yes, this
is excellent, rounded, polished yet
nervous and compact, with lots of
crystallised oranges, marmalade, nougat
and various roasted nuts. Also hints
of chestnut purée, marrons
glacés and a tiny-wee bit of
Turkish delights. Delightful. Finish:
medium long, more on honey, vanilla
fudge and caramel. Comments: an excellent
Glenlossie, fresh and fruitful, one
for your youngest nephew. Joking.
SGP:632 – 86 points.
28 yo 1978/2006 (55.4%, Scotch Malt
Whisky Society, 46.13, "Orange
Colour: gold. Nose: this funny, it
smells just like the older CC, only
at cask strength, that is to say with
more power and maybe something faintly
spirity and rough. Oranges indeed,
nutmeg, cinnamon and candy sugar.
With water: as often, it’s the
oak that comes out but this is classy
oak, with a lot of cinnamon, cardamom
and leather. Faint waxiness. Mouth
(net): exactly like on the nose, this
one tastes like the G&M at C/S.
Oranges galore, then dried ginger,
chestnuts and honey. With water: actually,
it IS the 1968 when diluted down to
+/-40%. Well, almost. Very good. Finish:
long, compact, all on honey and fruits.
Comments: excellent Glenlossie, maybe
not immensely complex but very elegant.
SGP:641 - 87 points.
1975/2002 (54.8%, Cadenhead, Chairman's
Stock, 210 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: we’re close
to the SMWS but this one is a tad
fruitier and sort of fresher. More
orange juice than marmalade, then
various other fruits (butter pears,
guavas, ripe mangos). Fruit salad.
Quite superb I must say, it’s
funny how Cadenheads managed to gather
a ‘style’ with this series,
as far as old Speysiders are concerned.
Almost all are superb! With water:
yes, superb! Even more fruits and
a lot of honey. Ripe apples and something
of an Irishness in the background
(bananas). Mouth (neat): excellent
once again. Thousands of fruits, both
fresh and cooked, coated with a blend
of various honeys. It’s punchy
stuff, that is… With water:
unfolds very nicely, with the spices
complementing the fruitiness. Cinnamon
on top of cooked zwetschkes (purple
plums). Finish: rather long, clean,
fruity, spicy, fresh… Comments:
warning, one could sip litres of this.
SGP:632 - 90 points.
1981/2008 (64.4%, Jack Wieber, The
Cross Hill, 64.1%)
Colour: white wine. Nose: almost overpowering,
brutal, spirity and very perfumy.
Cologne? Help, waaaater! With water:
it got very grassy, mineral and waxy,
without the beautiful fruitiness that
we found in the others. Whiffs of
warm milk. Nice but maybe not stellar.
Mouth (neat): the extreme sweetness
is very misleading, this one is a
monster of a whisky when naked! Cough,
cough! With water: we’re much
closer to its very fruity siblings
but this faint ‘porridginess’
is still there. Also more liquorice
and even aniseed (or dill, fennel,
celery… well, I’m sure
you see what I mean.) Finish: nicer
now, fruitier and fresher, more similar
to the Cadenhead. Comments: another
very good Glenlossie but it hasn’t
got all of the other ones’ emphatic
fruitiness in my opinion. Maybe a
rather inactive cask is the culprit.
SGP:441 - 85 points.
21 yo 1957/1978 (80° proof, Cadenhead,
dumpy black label)
Nose: quite some camphor and beeswax,
developing more on motor oil and well-cured
ham. A little mint. Mouth: powerful,
meaty and spicy, with a very faint
acridness. Hints of coriander and
pine resin. Surprisingly powerful
and very unusual but very good. A
little dust in the finish, which often
happens with these old bottles. Also
hints of ginger and liquorice, and
even some tangerine liqueur in the
aftertaste (yes, that fruitiness).
SGP:453 – 91 points
(and thanks, Geert)
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
- Recommended listening:
an old Brasilian anthem by one the
most skilled and extravagant, yet
true to the tradition singer/composers,
Please buy Ney Matogrosso's music!
– OFFICIAL AND INDIE TOMATINS
1980/2008 (47.4%, OB, cask #994, 172
Colour: straw. Nose: starts on whiffs
of vanilla and damp wood, with more
kirsch and plum spirit after that.
Notes of sour cream, beer and fermenting
grass. Actually nicer than it sounds,
but there isn’t any fresh bold
fruitiness this time. More vanilla
and porridge coming through then,
and maybe faint whiffs of crushed
bananas. Gets rather fruitier after
a good fifteen minutes (pineapples
and pears). Mouth: sweet and fruity,
fresh, with a lot of fruit salad,
fudge and cappuccino in the attack.
Good maltiness. Hints of bubblegum
and liquorice allsorts as well as
a little coriander and even hints
of rhum agricole (sugar cane). A rather
complex dram, most enjoyable. Finish:
medium long, more caramelised. Speculoos,
honey and gingerbread. Comments: a
very, very good Tomatin, candied,
rich and highly sippable. Flawless.
SGP:541 - 87 points.
1976/2008 (47.2%, OB, cask #19090,
Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one
is much fruitier than the 1980, with
much more bananas, vanilla and very
ripe strawberries. Whiffs of fermenting
fruits and even sangria, warm butter,
Gets then a tad farmier. Apple pie,
burnt cake, hot bread straight from
the oven and even more vanilla…
A very lively middle-aged Tomatin.
Mouth: very rich, invadingly fruity
and kind of luscious, on loads of
fruit jams, fudge, light toffee and,
once again, hints of rum. Gets kirschier
after a moment. Maraschino. Finish:
long, with more wood and a faint bitterness
coming thereof. Nougat. Comments:
a lot of pleasure in this rich, yet
very elegant dram. Another flawless
Tomatin. SGP:551 – 89
points. (and thank you,
30 yo 1976/2007 (49.3%, OB, 1,500
This one was finished for three years
in ex-oloroso casks. Colour: gold.
Nose: we’re rather close to
the 1976 but this one has more sherry
(obviously) although I wouldn’t
say it’s ‘sherried whisky’.
Rather big ‘kirschiness’
that reminds me of the 1980, overripe
pears and sultanas, vanilla, very
ripe oranges, some thyme in the background.
Candy sugar. Very nice nose, the re-racking
in sherry worked well. Mouth: very
good attack, rather rich, but there’s
something a little sourish from the
butts, with notes of artichokes and
a heavy liquorice. A lot of caramel
too, praline, strong honey, strawberry
jam… Not sure the finishing
improved this one. Finish: rather
long, with more pepper and maybe touches
of salt. Comments: very good but I
liked the two single casks better.
SGP:551 - 85 points.
43 yo 1965/2009 (48.1%, The Whisky
Fair, bourbon hogshead, 120 bottles)
Colour: full gold. Nose: wonderful!
a good three steps further as far
as fruitiness is concerned, starting
with whiffs of flambéed pineapples
and bananas with hints of wood and
coal smoke. Shoe polish. The wood
kicks in after that, with notes of
wax polish, cinnamon, tea and even
a little menthol. A lot of menthol
actually! Also bergamots and kumquats.
Superb nose! Mouth: sweet and round
at first sip and with more oak after
that, but it never gets ‘woody’
as such. A lot of dried fruits (pears,
bananas, figs), notes of ripe strawberries,
tropical fruits, soft spices (white
pepper, cardamom) and a little mead.
Excellent. Finish: long, maybe just
a tiny-wee bit drying now (tea tannins).
Crystallised oranges. Comments: another
tireless 1965 Tomatin. Very expressive!
These old Tomatins may well be the
best bargains nowadays. SGP:651
- 91 points.
20 yo 1988/2009 (55.4% A.D. Rattray,
cask #1087, 203 bottles)
Colour: full gold. Nose: this profile
is completely different. Not only
is it ‘younger’, but there’s
also much more toasted oak, wood varnish,
liquorice and vanilla bonbons, Hints
of Parma violets, salmiak, cigar box…
A rather unusual Tomatin, earthy and
leafy, less ‘light’ than
usual. With water: gets even grassier.
Green cigars, green bananas, then
a lot of sugar cane. Notes of very
ripe mangos. Mouth (neat): we’re
much closer to the OBs, especially
to the 1980, with the same kind of
profile plus the extra-kick from the
higher abv. Fudge, mocha, rum, bananas
and roasted malt. With water: much
more ginger and oak, big notes of
nutmeg. Finish: rather long, much
more on oranges with always a lot
of nutmeg. Grapes. Comments: simply
another excellent Tomatin. Classy
fruity spirit in high quality oak.
Now, all these fruity Tomatins are
dangerous whiskies, you can down them
like orange juice. SGP:551
- 88 points.
DID IT! A website
where you can learn about and buy
only Loch Dhu. The
owners are 'the largest single stock
holder of Loch Dhu in the world' but
I doubt they're Diageo, are they?
- Recommended listening
Artist: The very ‘cult’
her only album, Take A Picture (1968)
Please buy Margo Guryan's music.
– TWO GLENALLACHIE
11 yo 1995/2006 (45%, Samaroli, sherry
wood, cask #Z06/06088, 441 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: starts a little
bizarre, with whiffs of plastic (brand
new ‘spritzed’ car) and
oat, paraffin and cut grass, getting
a little rounder (vanilla, apple juice)
but also more mineral. Wet stones,
chalk, metal, apple peeling, fresh
walnuts, Schweppes, cinchona, bitter
oranges… Not an easy profile
for sure. Keeps developing towards
lager beer, hops and ink. Maybe just
faint whiffs of honey and ‘yellow’
flowers (buttercups, dandelions).
More and more hops. Mouth: amazing,
it’s beer at cask strength!
Huge notes of bitter beer, even Guinness
(a lot of caramel, liquorice and coffee
liqueur), gingerbread, something like
old rancioed wine, ratafia and finally
walnut wine (which is a liqueur).
A very, very unusual palate and I
must say I like it (partly because
it’s so… unusual.) Finish:
long, on white beer spirit like they
make here in Alsace, ginger wine and
bitter oranges. Comments: I wouldn’t
say the nose was much to my liking
but the palate is quite spectacular.
Which kind of sherry was it? SGP:451
– 85 points.
18 yo 1989/2008 (57.1%, OB, Cask Strength
Edition, batch #GA18 005, 50cl)
A rather low-key series by Chivas
sheltering interesting, but usually
expensive whiskies. Colour: deep amber.
Nose: classic dry sherry, expressive
yet a tad austere. A lot of sulphur
of the gunpowder kind as well as faint
whiffs of H2S (I’m afraid!)
Burnt matches, blood oranges, burnt
caramel, then strawberry jam and blackcurrant
leaves… Starts to smell more
and more of orange squash and old
walnuts, with also whiffs of pipe
tobacco, both lit and unlit. Interesting
that Chivas’ blenders chose
to bottle this one as a single malt,
it’s anything but an easy going
whisky. Mouth: very rich and heavy
sherry, extremely nutty and pretty
dry, all on walnuts, something leathery
(not that I eat leather too often),
almonds, slightly acidic jam (redcurrants),
oranges and lemon drops. A very citrusy
kind of sherry! Water isn’t
needed here but let’s see what
gives… With water (while there’s
even more gunpowder on the nose, but
no H2S anymore): simply more of the
same. Very good now. Finish: long,
candied, orangey and caramelised.
Quite some clove in the aftertaste.
Comments: a spectacular kind of sherry
monster. Whether the original spirit
has much to say here is… uncertain
but it’s a truly excellent dram.
SGP:452 - 87 points.
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
- Recommended listening
Artist: the legendary and 'seminal'
Little Suite (some superbly
funny and very entertaining free
Please buy Roscoe Mitchell's music.
TASTING – NO LESS THAN EIGHT
12 yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2008)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: a blend of
marmalade with roasted nuts and caramel
plus whiffs of wood smoke and a touch
of honey. Simple as that. No, wait,
also whiffs of Provence herbs, rosemary
and a little cooked butter. Mouth:
rather punchy and a little grassier
than on the nose, with an obvious
maltiness and hints of roasted nuts
and orange cake. Well composed. Finish:
a little short but clean, more on
toffee and chocolate. Comments: a
good malt whisky that should please
all whisky lovers who come from the
blend category. In other words, a
perfect access category malt whisky.
SGP:431 - 80 points.
12 yo (40%, OB, +/-1987, 75cl)
Colour: gold (slightly darker than
the newer version.) Nose: certainly
more complex and more polished, with
more honey, smoke, new leather and
these rather wonderful floral notes
(and pollen plus nectar). Not sure
about what comes from bottle ageing
but this older version is of higher
quality in my view. Mouth: excellent,
very honeyed, spicy and even meaty,
really full-bodied. Reminds me of
the best meads. Notes of cappuccino
and quinces. Yes, a drop of quince
eau-de-vie in a good coffee. Finish:
fairly long, rounded but not dull
at all. Honey, coffee, orange liqueur
and liquorice. Comments: an excellent
dram but once again, whether this
superior quality comes from the 20
years of bottle ageing or not is hard
to tell. SGP:532 - 86 points.
13 yo 1989/2002 (46%, Signatory Unchillfiltered,
Oak Cask #962, 375 Bottles)
Colour: white wine, almost white.
Nose: we’re close to the old
12 in style, only with a little more
fruits (ripe pears) and a little less
flowers. Nice hints of thyme. Gets
then a tad rougher than the old 12.
Mouth: indeed, this one reminds me
of the old 12 but it’s certainly
sharper here, less polished, more
on fresh fruits (apples and pears,
gooseberries, greengages.) A little
spirity. Finish: rather long, fruity,
with added notes of violet sweets
and maybe even lavender sweets. Comments:
pleasant, nervous Cragganmore. SGP:541
- 82 points.
15 yo (46%, Duthies, +/- 2009)
Colour: white wine. Nose: this one
is a tad milkier and grassier, with
less of these very nice whiffs of
flowers from the fields. Cut grass
and a little paraffin. Not much dimension.
Mouth: very similar to the 1989, with
a little more bubblegum and strawberries.
Pear drops. Finish: rather long but
in the same vein. Not very mature.
Comments: honest, flawless malt whisky.
Would go well in summer cocktails
I’d say. Other malts in the
same series were much more impressive!
SGP:521 - 77 points.
1976/1991 (55.8%, Gordon & MacPhail,
CASK, cask #3583-3584)
Colour: full gold. Nose: rough and
spirity, punchy, raw, fruity (baked
apples). Hints of beeswax. Cut grass.
This is raw! With water: oh, it got
so much nicer! Lots of various honeys,
cooked fruits, ripe bananas, smoked
tea, camphor, shoe polish and a little
soot. Great nose! Mouth (neat): liquid
honey at first sipping but it’s
soon to turn bitter and extremely
grassy. Uncooked vegetables? Varnish?
A rather bizarre dram at this stage…
With water: oh yes, that worked once
again. Superb notes of caramelised
bananas and quinces. There’s
something slightly bitterish left
(over-infused tea) but no big deal.
Finish: long, honeyed yet firm. Comments:
an ode to water in your whisky. SGP:442
– 89 points.
12 yo 1989/2002 (59.6%, Blackadder,
Raw Cask, oak hogshead, cask #1966)
No bits of wood in this one, we’re
about to complain! ;-) Colour: straw.
Nose: we aren’t far from the
1976. Almost as raw and ‘simple’,
only a tad grassier and waxier. With
water: gets grassier, but rather nicely
so. Too bad there’s also a little
soap (shampoo actually). Oak. Mouth
(neat): raw spirit, raw oak. With
water: once again, it improved but
without getting as appealing as the
1976. Apple peeling and fresh walnuts.
Finish: long, hesitating between fruits
and grass. Comments: we won’t
remember this one forever but once
again, it’s honest malt whisky.
SGP:351 - 79 points.
1978/1995 (61.5%, Gordon & MacPhail,
CASK, cask #4957)
Colour: gold. Nose: rather overpowering
of course but curiously smoother and
more ‘civilised’ than
its compadres. Very nice whiffs of
metal polish (we like that!) and coal
smoke. With water: not as magnificent
as the 1976 when diluted but it did
improve, getting even more mineral
and sooty/ashy. Mouth (neat): extremely
strong but once again, sort of sippable
when neat. I mean, drop by drop…
Hints of strawberries. With water:
water worked once again, even if these
added notes of bubblegum and banana
skin are a little ‘too much’.
Finish: long, maybe a little spirity
once again, even when diluted down
to +/-40%. Comments: very nice dram
that swims well, but lacks the 1976’s
rather stunning development with water.
What’s sure is that Cragganmore
seems to take water perfectly well.
SGP:341 - 83 points.
Stills 1966/2006 (45%, Gordon &
MacPhail, 2.2, casks #1204 + 1449
+ 1452, 600 bottles)
Not sure this one was Cragganmore,
but many say so (but once again, as
Coluche said, it’s not because
many are wrong that they’re
right ;-))… Colour: full gold.
Nose: it’s true that the same
kind of ‘honeyed fruitiness’
as in the other Cragganmores is to
be found in this oldie that’s
incredibly fresh and lively. Indeed,
we aren’t too far from the old
official 12 and from the 1976 by G&M
in style, with tons of honey, Seville
oranges, beeswax and this wonderful
‘quinciness’ that we enjoy
so much. No, nothing to do with Quincy
Jones. Superb oakiness and the most
delicate spices. Almonds and old furniture.
Wonderful old malt! Mouth: rolls out
the red carpet! Sure there’s
quite some oak (cinnamon) but also
some wonderful other spices (I get
star anise and hints of caraway).
A little mocha, maybe drops of almonds,
argan oil, halva… Certainly
something oriental. Finish: medium
long but wonderfully orangey, with
a lightness that calls for…
more! Moreish indeed. Comments: luscious!
And indeed, nothing that tells us
that it cannot be Cragganmore. SGP:541
- 93 points.
- Recommended listening
Artist: One of my all-time favourite
pianists, the immense Don
Don’t Lose Control, Don Pullen-George
Adams Quartet, 1991
Please buy Don Pullen's music.
– FOUR MALTS (SOME STRANGE),
PROBABLY FROM THAT FAMOUS, SLIGHTLY
UNDERSTATED BUT VERY ELEGANT AND MUCH
RESPECTED ISLAY DISTILLERY WHERE THE
SCALLOPS ARE EXCELLENT AND NOT ALL
No.1 14 yo 1994/2008 (53.1%, The Nectar,
Daily Dram, 196 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose:
sharp, peaty, mineral and more austere
than the whiskies that usually come
out of that distillery, except some
versions of their 12 years old cask
strength. Whiffs of both ‘the
farmyard after the rain’ and
‘a walk on a kelp-covered beach
early in the morning’. Excuse
me. Fresh almonds. With water: more
‘coastal freshness’ (whiffs
of seashells, iodine) and fresh almonds
but it’s still quite austere.
Mouth (neat): now comes the sweetness
and fruitiness (green apples) as well
as a sharp and very ‘invading’
bitterness (capsicum, lime zest, concentrated
liquorice, wasabi…) Rather extreme
in fact, let’s wee what water
will do to this unusual profile. With
water: a rather huge saltiness comes
through while the bitterness fades
away. More lemon as well. Finish:
rather long, salty and lemony. Comments:
for lovers of the genre – I’m
one of them. Classy, elegant, sharp
and… austere. SGP:257
- 88 points.
5.5 yo (56.5%, Whisky Spirits, F.M.W.A.,
Some kind of finishing in a small
cask having contained Spanish tempranillo
has been done on this one. Colour:
crushed strawberries. Nose: big whiffs
of raspberries and strawberries, then
an unusual combination of milk chocolate
and sweet cherry-flavoured beer (Kriek),
all that on top of quite some peat
and sweet pepper. Faint bubblegumminess.
Not unpleasant! With water: it’s
the oak that comes through now, with
whiffs of varnish and a little turpentine.
Burning pinewood. Interesting and
nice. Mouth (neat): once again, it’s
the wine’s sweetness that talks
first, with notes of blackcurrants
and cherries, but the spirit is soon
to take control. Big peat and a lot
of pepper. With water: the same resinous
notes as on the nose but also big
tannins, both from the wood and quite
possibly from the tempranillo. Finish:
long, a little rough, tannic and bitter
but it’s ‘a style’.
Comments: a funny whisky that swings
from a big fruitiness to the sharpest
bitterness. Interesting and certainly
not bad in my opinion. SGP:567
- 82 points.
6 yo (57%, Whiskykanzler, Germany)
Malt whisky from that distillery has
been further matured in an ex-Springbank
cask. Colour: straw. Nose: classic
malt whisky from that distillery,
in the same vein as the Undercover
No.1, only a little rounder and more
polished, with added notes of vanilla
and pepper-flavoured chocolate. With
water: lemon pie and ginger. Mouth
(neat): big, big malt, very expressive,
with a superb sharpness and not much
of Springbank (that we can get). Big
peatiness and a lot of pepper once
again. With water: great! Balance
is almost perfect, the big peat and
notes of tangerines and orange squash
blending well. A little nutmeg and
maybe cardamom. Finish: long, with
added notes of apple peeling and fresh
walnuts. Also lemon. Comments: a very
good experiment and, once again, a
perfect balance! SGP:447 -
Pirate Whisky 11 yo (59.5%, Jack Wieber,
Old Teresa Part VI, cask #3289, 303
Colour: white wine. Nose: the most
austere of the three, very sharp and
mineral, with huge grassy and herbal
notes (sage?) and a lot of pepper.
Quite wild. With water: not much development.
Wet wool? A little soot, ashes. Mouth
(neat): the most classical at this
stage. Big peat, big pepper and a
lot of green apples and lemons. Hot
stuff! With water: a new dimension
arises, with notes of roots (gentian),
cider apples, kiwi sherbet (or something
like that) and a little aniseed? Coriander.
Finish: long, grassier and even peatier
and more peppery. A lot of lemon too.
Comments: this one is the ‘closest
to Nature’ but it really needs
water. A ‘peat monster’.
SGP:358 - 85 points.
NOW, WERE ELSE DO YOU GET THIS?
Some fitting music with a super-deluxe
Nicolson, the distillery’s
ex-manager, playing (and singing)
his own composition Prisoner
of love live at the distillery
back in 1998 with the band Ninety
Five Proof. They were good, weren’t
the index of all entries:
malts I had these weeks - 90+
points only - alphabetical:
21 yo 1957/1978 (80°
proof, Cadenhead, dumpy black label)
1975/2002 (54.8%, Cadenhead, Chairman's
Stock, 210 bottles)
Park 16 yo (75°
proof, OB, mid-1960s)
Park 17 yo 1991/2009 (54.6%, Duncan
Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #8089)
Stills 1966/2006 (45%, Gordon &
MacPhail, 2.2, casks #1204 + 1449 + 1452, 600
43 yo 1965/2009 (48.1%, The Whisky
Fair, bourbon hogshead, 120 bottles)