Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2008- Part 1
REVIEW by Nick Morgan
THE BARCODES AND THE INCREDIBLE BLUES
The Eel Pie Club, Twickenham, London,
March 5th 2008
been a little while since we’ve
been to see the
favourite London based blues band,
and purveyors of their own fine brand
of “jazz and blues with soul”,
as they like to describe it. That’s
why we’re here at Richmond’s
famous Eel Pie Club, a celebration
of famous 1960’s rhythm and
blues venues in the vicinity of Eel
Pie Island (now home, you may recall,
to the Mystery Jets) such as the Crawdaddy
Club, the Station Hotel, the Imperial,
and L’Auberge. It was here that
bands like the Rolling Stones and
the Yardbirds started, and artistes
such as Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, Eric
Clapton and Jeff Beck launched their
careers. There was, and is, a west
London music mafia (most of the major
labels have their offices over here,
convenient for the large riverside
homes of many of their senior executives)
and it started here. Actually it feels
like a lot of the old blues foot soldiers
are in the audience. In fact, to be
honest it’s a bit like waking
up in an R&B rest home (Dungroovin’
perhaps?), which is something like
my idea of heaven, and it’s
no surprise that by the end of the
evening there seem to be more people
on stage than there are in the audience.
a launch party for the Barcodes new
CD, Live! In Session for the BBC,
and very nice it is too, even if the
title is a bit of a cheat, as the
album is a recording of a live session
in Ipswich for BBC Radio Suffolk.
Cheeky boys. The Barcodes, if you
don’t remember, are keyboard
player Bob Haddrell, with a smooth
soulful voice who’s always at
his best singing the works of Mose
Allison (like ‘Parchman Farm’,
on the CD but not performed tonight)
or Willie Dixon (7th Son, ‘which
is’). Haddrell’s a big
man, but he removes his shoes to play
the bass pedals with wonderfully delicate
Alan Glen (The Barcodes)
delicate, subtle and deftly laid-back
is drummer Dino Coccia – as
the evening wears on he’s almost
impossible to see, but you sure know
he’s there. And fronting the
band on harmonica, and with some very
tasteful blues licks on his Gibson
guitar (note to artist – please
clean guitar), is Alan Glen. Tonight
they also have world-famous conga
Jones, and on saxophone Nick Newall,
who’s worked with the likes
of the Kinks, Zoot Money, Gary Brooker
and Andy Summers. Later they’re
enhanced by “the saxophone-playing
orthopaedic surgeon” Art Themen,
veteran of Stan Tracey’s bands,
and more importantly a stalwart of
the early London blues scene. Later
still, the Barcodes are joined by
Dr Feelgood and Yardbirds guitarist
and Hammersmith native Gypie Mayo
and for their final song, ‘Everything
or nothing’ by vocalist Paul
Themen, Nick Newall, Gypie Mayo
and Alan Glen
Incredible Blues Puppies
I suppose that could have been it,
but it’s not, because the
second half of the evening features
special guests The
Incredible Blues Puppies,
a spin-off from the Barcodes with
Haddrell (only an occasional member),
Coccia and Glenn being joined by
Costa Tancredi on bass and John
O’Reilly on guitar. They work
through a gutsy and energised set
as befits “some of the best
blues hounds around”, being
joined on and off by Cox, Mayo,
harmonica stalwart Shakey
Vick, Jim Mercer on bass and
slide guitarist Tim Nolan (the inspiration
behind the Eel Pie Club). I’m
sure that there were even more people
on stage as I was almost left standing
on my own by the end, and I quite
fancied the thought of having a
go myself, but that no doubt was
pure bravado brought on by the generous
helpings of red wine that my companions
were serving me. Anyway it was great
fun. If you ever get the chance
you should see the Barcodes, and
for that matter the Incredible Blues
Puppies. And if you don’t,
well go and buy Live! It’s
as good as the Barcodes get –
and highly recommended. - Nick
Morgan (photographs by Kate)
you, Nick! All very good - just
like the piece that's playing on
the dear Barcodes' homepage
(from the BBC session). - S.
– TWO 1962 GLEN MORAYS
Moray 42 yo 1962 (47.2%, Murray
McDavid Celtic Heartlands)
Colour: gold. Nose: oh, the smell
of the 60’s! Isn’t it
amazing that so many malts from
that period smell of guavas, mangos,
passion fruits or tangerines? It’s
well the case here, and this Glen
Moray could be mistaken for a Lochside
or even a Springbank. Also great
notes of old wood furniture, vanilla,
rubbed orange skin, a little patchouli,
incense, marzipan, old pu-erh tea...
What a great surprise! Let’s
only hope that the palate will match
this wonderful nose...
it’s all in the same vein, maybe
just a tad less exuberantly fruity
and quite oakier. Vanilla, tapioca,
cinnamon and nutmeg. The fruitiness
arises after that oaky phase, with
more citrusy notes (notably oranges),
Turkish delights and a slight meatiness.
A tad less complex on the palate but
the whole is truly great. Finish:
not excessively long – maybe
it’s the weakest part - but
very clean and in no way drying. Oranges
and cinnamon. Comments: my favourite
Glen Moray ever, together with the
older official 1960. Yes, the swinging
sixties... SGP:732 –
91 points (thank you,
Moray 27 yo 1962/1989 (55.1%, Cadenhead,
Colour: gold. Nose: this is much younger
and much more spirity than the Celtic
Heartlands, more austere, much grassier...
A bit hard and closed I must say,
let’s try to wake it up using
a little water... With water: it got
much grassier, oakier, almost animal
(wet Canidae – hehe) and then
beautifully oily (linseed) and waxy.
Wet chalk. Complex malt but you have
to give it time. Mouth: ho-ho, yes,
we’re much more in line with
the Celtic Heartlands now, with again
this big ‘citrusity’ (more
bitter lemons here) but also more
spices. Szechwan pepper (that’s
no pepper as such, I’ve been
told by an expert from the Isle of
Islay), dried ginger, coriander...
Then lemon pie and cinchona. Very
good without water this time. Still,
with water: more of the same, with
added toffeeish and candied notes
as well as a little salt. Excellent.
Finish: long, ‘focused’,
on crystallised oranges, ginger and
lemon drops. Comments: compact and
complex at the same time. Very interesting
differences between nose and palate
– great single malt in any case.
SGP:631 – 90 points.
– TWO YOUNG BOWMORES
Bowmore 6 yo 1999/2006 (57.4%, OB
for Feis Ile 2006, 600 bottles)
I just remembered that I never wrote
proper tasting notes for this baby,
let’s fix that immediately.
Colour: white wine.
smells obviously young, with the yeasty/milky
side of baby whiskies still dominating
the whole at first nosing, but also
the trademark ‘peaty coastality’
(we’re never short of barbarisms,
are we?) that’s a bit shy for
a while but that grows much more obvious
after that. Heady notes of lit matches,
then flints, fresh oysters, fresh
almonds, wet wool and limejuice. A
little ‘virtual’ at such
young age but “has great potential”,
as they say at masterclasses. Doesn’t
seem to need water so let’s
just not do it. Mouth: rather explosive
and much more on salted liquorice
at the attack. Salmiac. Goes on with
salted liquorice... Keeps developing
on all kinds of liquorices and ends
up in... Salted liquorice. Okay, and
cough syrup, lemon marmalade and pine
tree sap. Finish: more salted liquorice
for a very long time. Comment: simple
– at least on the palate –
but extremely compact, ‘focused’
and ‘coherent’. A little
brutal as well... But in this case
brutality is pleasant. A young ‘monster’.
SGP:247 – 86 points.
11 yo 1997/2008 (53.9%, Jack Wieber,
Old Train Line, cask #4731, 384 bottles)
I like these labels that look like
old stock certificates... (or like
old Readers Digest mailpieces) Colour:
pale gold. Nose: starts with coffee
and vanilla fudge but then it’s
the expected ‘new Bowmore’
cortege that spreads out. Sea air,
kelp, peat smoke but also beech and
pine tree smoke, wet stones, roots,
moss (no mustiness, though), liquorice
sticks and fresh mint. Pure, crisp,
clean Bowmore. Rather brilliant I
must say. Whiffs of fermenting hay
coming through after a moment. Mouth:
let’s face it, if you don’t
like resinous flavours this isn’t
for you. Much more unusual than on
the nose, with unexpected notes of
rosemary, thyme, cough pastilles,
rubber, heavily infused green tea,
concentrated lemon juice, liquorice...
And something unusually medicinal.
Camphor? Gets spicier after that,
with more pepper, mint, coriander,
something like basil (?)... And more
liquorice. Extremely concentrated
in fact, and maybe even smokier than
usual. Finish: did I mention salmiac?
And something like... Hydrocarbon?
Comment: extremely assertive, and
very interesting. A big, big effective
young Bowmore that won’t take
any prisoners. Get ready – and
don’t expect to be able to taste
anything but a Port Ellen Rare Malts
after this one. SGP:156 –
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
listening: the excellent Alsatian
al Malik (not the Caliph)
Amazing to see Gil Scott-Heron's legacy
surviving here in our little corner
of Franc..., errr, I mean Europe.
Please buy Abd al malik's music!
– TWO 23yo CAOL ILAS
Caol Ila 23 yo 1984/2007 (50.7%, Exclusive
Malts, finished in 'Madiera' hogshead,
cask #2729, 386 bottles)
We guess it’s rather Madeira...
Now, we’ve already checked that
Madeira can work quite well. Colour:
pale gold with salmony hues. Nose:
a dry, smoky, peaty and liquoricy
attack on the nose. Quite flinty as
well. ‘Dry’ raisins (Smyrna),
ginger tonic, wet wool, lapsang souchong
tea, cinchona, strawberries... Gets
kind of beefy after a while, as well
as quite minty. Maybe not an ultra-clean
Caol Ila but we wouldn’t say
the finishing didn’t work here
– as far as the nose is concerned,
sweet and peaty attack, both nervous
and rounded (the wine, I guess). Peated
orange liqueur or something like that.
Peppered strawberries, wine sauce,
cassis buds, pepper and cloves, toffee.
The wine’s influence gets more
obvious over time (more cassis jelly,
more strawberries) but never really
overwhelming. Finish: long and more
candied/vinous. Comment: not bad at
all but we prefer our Col Ila naked.
Okay, natural. SGP:536 –
Ila 23 yo 1974/1998 (60%, Kingsbury,
Colour: pale gold. Nose: almost closed.
It seems that the high alcohol sort
of blocks all aromas here. Let’s
give this one time... zzz... zzz...
Well, no, not much happening. Only
hints of smoked fish (smoked trout)...
more time... zzz... Yes, it’s
coming out now, albeit not boldly
so. Liquorice, roasted tea, flints
and vanilla... Right, let’s
add water. With water: t got completely
different, much more ‘maritime’.
Sea shells, kelp, iodine... Then linseed
oil, wet chalk and wet wool (make
that Ileach sheep), fresh walnuts
and almonds... Beautifully clean and
very ‘Islay’. A geographical
Caol Ila? Mouth (neat): hot, peaty,
lemony and peppery, with something
soapy (cologne) but I guess that comes
from the alcohol. With water: oh yes,
it all got much better with water.
Excellent peatiness, nuts, lemons,
clams, olive oil and smoked tea plus
a little pine resin. Finish: long,
in the same vein (plus notes of kumquats).
Comment: amazing how this one needs
water. A fabulous swimmer but an awkward
‘walker’ so to speak.
This addresses the reduced version:
SGP:447 – 91 points
(when neat: 83).
listening: the fantastic Rachelle
Ferrell's version of
the standard Bye
Bye Blackbird.mp3. Fireworks!
Please buy her works.
WHISKY ADS – More worthy tips
on how to handle living together by
may remember these
crazy ads where women were chatting
about their men and about how the
fact that the latter were drinking
Johniie Walker made them more, er,
'interesting'. And men on women, you
may ask? They were not forgotten 'of
course', as these two ads (around
1990) will show us. Well, actually,
the one on the right is more about
men on men, so to speak.Interesting
to se how a big brand was trying to
keep up with societal changes (and
to appeal to all kinds of 'minorities'.)
ADS - Online goodies (very viral)...
then wait for the page to load. Type
your first name in 'seu nome' and
a friend's name in 'nome do amigo
zoado'. Click 'visualizar' and watch
the results! Bar da Boa is a brasilian
beer - we're waiting for a Scotch
– TWO OLD TOMINTOULS
Tomintoul 1976/2007 (40%, OB, decanter)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: very typical,
fresh and fruity (pineapples and
bananas), with the oak underlining
the whole (nutmeg, coconut, ginger).
Vanilla crème. Neither big
nor complex but very fresh and extremely
lacks body at 40% but other than that
the profile is very ‘nice’.
The same kind of ‘oaky fruitiness’
as on the nose. Bananas, oranges and
cappuccino, good quality marshmallows,
crystallised angelica, old rum, coconuts.
Finish: shortish but clean and fruity,
with faint tea-ish notes. Comment:
too bad they didn’t bottle this
one at 45 or 46%. SGP:640
– 84 points.
37 yo 1966/2003 (55.5%, Jack Wieber,
Prenzlow Collection, cask #5259, 156
Colour: amber. Nose: this one is much
more marked by the wood. Starts on
varnish, very big nutmeg, roasted
semolina... Then banana skin and nail
polish, burnt bread crust... Then
fermenting hay, leather, pipe tobaco...
A little bizarre I must say, but very
entertaining. Unusual. Mouth: thick,
concentrated, rubbery and sort of
winey. Liquorice, kirsch, rancio,
molasses and orange liqueur. A bit
cloying I must say. Finish: long but
rather unbalanced. Liquorice, ginger
and orange liqueur? Comment: not my
cup of malt, I’m afraid. Too
– 79 points.
listening: A little straight ahead
jazz by excellent Canadian pianist
Rosnes, a piece called
(from her 1997 CD As we are now).
Who the slinger at the sax, you
may ask? Yup, Chris Potter (and
DeJohnette's on drums). Please buy
JOE JACKSON AND HIS BAND
Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London,
March 2nd 2008
Jackson first came to
my attention in 1979 following the
release of his first album, Look Sharp,
a collection of punchy, spiky and
often misogynistic songs driven by
Jackson’s piano, and his distinctive
voice – somewhere between Elvis
Costello and Graham Parker. It was
released by A&M,
who at the time were also promoting
the Police, whose first album had
largely been ignored when it came
out in the previous year but was now
motoring due to the success of the
re-released single ‘Roxanne’.
And? Well at the time I was working
in a record shop that had a deal with
A&M so these records were played
to death during peak play list hours.
Somehow I managed to escape with some
degree of affection for Jackson, which
is more than can be said for you-know-who.
Jackson followed up his initial success
with albums in quick succession, his
songs becoming gradually more lyrical
and thoughtful, and musically increasingly
jazz orientated. But at some point
in the mid 80s he fell out of my consideration
zone, not that that stopped him from
releasing more albums, relocating
to New York and then back to the UK
(Portsmouth of all places) and picking
up a Grammy for 1999’s Symphony
No 1, which was a big hit in the Billboard
Classical Music charts. But thirty
years on from signing for A&M
he’s almost turned full circle,
and is back with a new album, Rain,
and a tour with two of his original
band, Graham Maby on bass, and Dave
Houghton on drums.
he’s also wearing a very smart
suit, made from cloth, he tells us,
the colour of a Martini, “my
very favourite drink”. I suspect
he’s actually drinking some
sort of throat-cure from the cup that
stands on his piano, as his voice
is quite throaty, far from perfect.
It could of course be the fags –
Mr Jackson is a committed smoker,
and an ambassador and apologist for
the cause. He left New York, apparently
as a result of the smoking ban there,
and has recently moved to Berlin where
he can both smoke in peace and enjoy
the beer, another of his enthusiasms
(as befits someone born in Burton-on-Trent).
And I commend you to read his essay
“Smoke Lies, and the Nanny State”
which you download
from his website – it’s
a reasoned, well-informed and entertaining
polemic, whatever you think about
smoking. And it’s obvious that
in the sold out and all-seated Shepherd’s
Bush Empire he has fans who admire
his music, and others who are there
to celebrate his love of the weed.
Hence the obnoxious, malodorous and
frankly ugly pair behind us who were
only silent when they left (as thankfully
they frequently did) for a quick spit
and a draw outside on the pavement.
all that it’s an entertaining
enough evening - as a three-piece
the band are pretty good, Maby’s
bass particularly impressive, Houghton’s
largely electric drum kit less so,
as it puts me constantly in mind of
the BBC’s East Enders theme
tune. The mix of songs rests appropriately
heavily on Rain – some are pretty
good, like ‘So Low’, played
solo, and ‘A place in the rain’
which ends the main set. In between
the new stuff we get songs from the
past thirty years – an overly
jazzy ‘Steppin’ out’
(during which the band frankly seemed
to get lost) starts the set, and is
followed (in no particular order)
by ‘It’s different for
girls’, ‘Dirty Martini’
(a celebration of both the drink and
New Orleans, the best place to drink
one, according to Mr Jackson), the
pretty awful ‘Chinatown’
and during the encores ‘Is she
really going out with him’,
sung largely by the audience.
also get a couple of gratuitous covers,
Abba’s ‘Knowing me knowing
you’ and Bowie’s ‘Scary
monsters’, the less said about
which the better. And the evening
ends with the very nice ‘Slow
song’, from Jackson’s
only top-ten album, 1982’s Night
It’s an altogether satisfactory
Sunday night (apart from the uglies
behind us), and I’ve been surprised
since the gig to go back and rediscover
how many really good songs Jackson
has written – I can only suggest
you do the same yourself, or go and
see him on this extensive tour (he’s
even playing St
Kilda!). But sadly there are no
photographs to share as the security
guards prowled the aisles pouncing
on anyone who so much as glanced at
a mobile ‘phone. Discretion,
said the Photographer, was the better
part of valour on this occasion. -
you Nick. Not that anybody will care
but I remember very well having Joe
Jackson’s first musicassette
in the car the very first time I drove
to Scotland (and visited a distillery).
It was the time when Tennent’s
had their famous pin-up cans (we collected
them all and lined them up in the
kitchen as soon as we were back –
no, I wasn’t married yet.) A
little earlier, I had seen the punk
band The Police playing over here.
They were the guest stars of... Dr.
Feelgood. No need to say that I have
much fonder memories of Wilko Johnson
and Lee Brilleaux, but by a strange
irony of fate, Arthur is now dating
a girl named... Roxanne. I guess he
couldn't find a Roxette... Oh well...
– TWO 1988 BRUICHLADDICHS
19 yo 1988/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing
OMC, ref #3839, 328 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: this one is
all on oak it seems – and
a refined oak at that. ‘New’
sawdust and vanilla, mint, liquorice
and apple peelings. Nice freshness
behind all that. Newly cut apple,
white peach, coconut milk. Maybe
not a lot of personality but a very
clean and rather delicate spirit.
very sweet, creamy, starting on white
fruits (apples) and tinned pineapples.
The oak chimes in after that, with
a rather beautiful cortege of spices
(cinnamon, nutmeg and white pepper).
Slight cardboardiness. Keeps developing
on something like lychees and rose
jelly, orange flavoured Turkish delights
and cranberry juice. All that is a
little understated (some may think
‘bland’ but it’s
not, at all) but very, very clean.
Finish: long, right between oak and
white fruits. Maybe just a tad drying.
Comment: a classy and subtle Bruichladdich
despite the heavy oakiness. SGP:551
– 86 points. (and
thank you Patrick B.)
19 yo 1988/2008 (54%, James MacArthur,
bourbon, cask #1882)
Colour: straw. Nose: petty close to
the DL, with a little less mint but
more vanilla. Also a little more varnish
and hints of diesel oil, and then
much bigger coconut notes. Mouth:
extremely close to the DL on the palate.
Almost the same whisky, and even the
extra-4% don’t make for any
actual difference. Finish: ditto.
Comment: we’re in the same vein,
obviously. Sister casks? SGP:551
– 86 points.
16 yo 1968/1985 (55.5%, G&M for
From the ‘Luc T. 40th anniversary
session’. Nose: very assertive,
all on melons, oak and green tea.
Mouth: compact, vigorous, with salty
notes upfront. Peach jelly, pepper,
vanilla and ginger. Very gingery finish.
Great stuff – if you like ginger
as much as I do! SGP:631 –
– TWO NEW OFFICIAL LONGROWS
CV (46%, OB, 2008)
Like the older Springbank CV, this
one is a vatting of various ages,
CV meaning Curriculum Vitae (and
not Chairman’s Vat). This
one will be bottled right this week
(tomorrow or the day after tomorrow
if I’m not mistaken). Colour:
straw. Nose: clean, pure and fresh
at first nosing. Smokier than expected,
with rather delicate hints of mint
and aniseed, then apple compote,
vanilla crème and fresh butter,
and finally whiffs of wet wool and
a little brown coal. Neither feinty
(at all), nor marked by any heavy
wood treatment, which sounds like
excellent news to our ears. Great
nose, peatier, more ‘Islay’
than previous recent bottlings.
very direct, very peaty and peppery,
with rather big citrusy notes at the
attack. Pepper and lemons plus a little
vanilla fudge, orangeade, dried ginger...
Gets peatier over time. Not exactly
a peat monster but quite – maybe
the peatiest Longrow I ever tried.
Finish: long, clean, peaty, peppery,
with added notes of bitter oranges
and a pinch of salt. Comment: it’s
amazing how a great spirit Longrow
can be when it’s not masked
by exuberant wood. We like this a
lot and shall buy bottles when it’s
out. SGP:347 – 89 points.
18 yo (48%, OB, 2008)
Advance sample. Another brand new
Longrow that will be bottled this
week according to the ever spirited
Frank McHardy. Aren’t we all
dreaming of something new, that would
match the brilliant 1973s and 1974s,
or the best casks from 1987? Let’s
see... Colour: straw. Nose: starts
boldly on cider apples, raw rhubarb
and warm butter, with also notes of
old walnuts, liquorice and old books
(a second-hand bookshop, really.)
Gets then both farmier and more ‘maritime’,
with the same notes of wet wool as
in the CV, wet grains, kelp, then
fresh mint and moss. Pleasant mustiness,
fresh mushrooms and moss. Medium peatiness.
Mouth: yes, more peat and more punch
on the palate than on the nose, and
in that sense it’s closer to
the CV. The great news is that it’s
also very clean again, more directly
salty, orangey, spicy (notes of dried
cardamom), with an excellent ‘pepperiness’
growing bolder by the minute. Even
hints of chilli (not of the ‘End
of the World – Triple XXX’
category that is.) Salted smoked fish.
Finish: very long, very peppery and
very orangey (bitter oranges). Obligatory
silly comment: please drop the Tokaj,
Barolo or Whicheverwine casks and
make more of this kind of pure breed
(I’m sorry)! This bottle should
become legendary once it has rested
quite a few years in a quiet cellar.
Ours, for example ;-). SGP:436
– 92 points.
listening: just for fun, this very,
err, interesting version of Blue
moon.mp3 by... Bob
de Niro. OK, he's only
singing the first few words and
yes, Liza Minelli is rather better
at this... But anyway, please buy
Robert De Niro's... films Blue moon
was in New York, New York of course).
– TWO INCHGOWERS
25 yo 1967/1992 (44%, Cadenhead’s
150th Anniversary, Green Tall Bottle
Colour: amber. Nose: vibrant, superbly
oaky at first sniffs, with quite
some black tea, cigarette tobacco
and wax polish. The sherry takes
over after a while, with more beef
bouillon, old walnuts and mint as
well as a little camphor and pine
resin. A little rubber and sulphur
(more like matches) but less smoke
than in other old Inchgowers, that
is. More oak after a few minutes,
the whole getting very dry.
seems much punchier than expected
at 44% ABV. Typical sherry –
not overwhelming here – and
very unusual notes of crystallised
lavender petals, maybe even poppy
sweets (not sure that is available
everywhere – apologies ;-))
Rose flavoured Turkish delights. Finish:
long, coating, more and more lavenderish
but in a rather good way – provided
you like lavender of course (not lavender
perfume, eh!) Comments: an unusual
profile, certainly not consensual
but very interesting. SGP:631
- 87 points.
24yo 1980/2005 (54,7%, Scotch Malt
Whisky Society, 18.24, 'Emphatically
Colour: amber. Nose: a very, very
heavy sherry and tons of rubber here.
Smells almost like a brand new bicycle’s
inner tube. Gets vinous after a while.
Extreme whisky, ‘love-it-or-hate-it’
as they say. Not really my cup of
malt as far as the nose is concerned.
Mouth: this is better balanced for
sure, but I find the whole to be a
little ‘too much’. Heavy
vinosity, heavy kirschy notes, rubber...
If this is fig-like it’s more
arrack made out of figs than the fruits
themselves. Finish: long but hot.
Eau-de-vie. Comments: some MM’s
quite liked this one but I don’t.
A matter of taste, really. SGP:640
- 72 points.
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
Monk of course. The
London sessions of course (1971).Crepuscule
with Nellie of course. Take
2 of course. And please buy
his music (of course).
– THREE MACDUFFS DISTILLED
IN THE 1960’s
13 yo 1965/1979 (80° Proof,
Cadenhead's Dumpy, Black Label,
As you probably know, Macduff is
currently officially sold as Glen
Deveron. Colour: gold. Nose: expressive,
smoky and coal-like, with whiffs
of soot and shoe polish but also
a very nice fruitiness (mainly grapefruits
and citrons). Also roasted tea,
malt, cocoa, burnt wood. Extremely
well balanced, with typical notes
of bottle ageing that went well.
Also hints of marzipan and wax.
a little less thrilling at the attack.
Drier and a tad cardboardy (quite
some cinnamon as well). Liquorice,
roasted almonds, bitter chocolate,
slight saltiness. Improves over time,
getting more and more on salted liquorice,
with now notes of crystallised grapefruit
and lemon marmalade coming through.
Finish: rather long, more classically
malty and liquoricy. Comments: superb
nose but a palate that will need a
little time. But great stuff anyway.
SGP:343 - 87 points.
32 yo 1967/1999 (50%, Douglas Laing
OMC, 147 bottles)
Colour: dark gold. Nose: truly superb
at first sniffs! Huge complexity,
with a perfectly balanced blend of
various honeys (acacia, lavdender,
orange), roasted nuts, fresh fruits
(oranges, butter pears), oriental
pastries, ‘wildness’ (hare
belly – if you see what I mean)
and spices and herbs (cardamom, coriander,
aniseed, mint, a little clove). Plus
a little wood smoke and even pine
resin. Quite fantastic and little
development because everything was
there right from the start. Mouth:
very excellent as expected, even if
the attack is a bit too woody. Interestingly,
that woodiness is soon to leave room
for a wide array of flavours (often
it’s the contrary that happens),
quite similar to what happened on
the nose. Various honeys, fruits,
nuts, herbs... Fantastically citrusy,
a little resinous, spicy... Finish:
medium long but in the same vein,
maybe just a tad tired/cardboardy
in the aftertaste. Comments: well,
this one is one the best Macduffs
I ever had. SGP:643 - 91 points
(and thank you, Konstantin)
39 yo 1968/2008 (49.1%, Duncan Taylor
Rare Auld, cask #8550)
A brand new bottling by Duncan Taylor.
Colour: gold. Nose: this one is more
silent and much drier it seems, even
if there are many similarities with
the 1967. Starts more on wood smoke,
bitter chocolate and tar and gets
then even more animal than the 1967.
Game, smoked ham, then soot and coal.
Gets closer and closer to the old
1965 with time. Something pleasantly
metallic (silverware) and also notes
of unlit Havana cigar. Dare I add
little fruitiness this time but that’s
no problem. Great nose, actually.
Mouth: well, here’s the fruitiness!
And it’s great: lemons, papayas
(very vivid), passion fruits... Then
pine resin, liquorice and tar and
finally all sorts of ‘dry’
spices, all beautiful. Cloves, white
pepper, cinnamon (a lot, from the
wood) and soft paprika. Beautiful.
Finish: long and balanced between
the citrus fruits and the wood’s
spices, with very unusual hints of
spinaches in the aftertaste (or is
it me???). Comments: we already had
a fantastic 1969 by Duncan Taylor
(cask #3681) and this is just as good.
Very interesting change of profiles
between nose and palate here. SGP:543
- 91 points.
listening: more funk/soul today
with Mr Richard
'Groove' Holmes and
his Hammond organ doing a rather
for Mr. G.mp3 in 1971. Very
hard to beat, isn't it? As somebody
wrote, 'the funkiest shit ever'.
Right, right... Please buy Mr Holmes'
REVIEW by Nick Morgan
Serge, as you know, I’ve been
away for a while, so missed the
opportunity to make facile jokes
at your expense about the great
victory of our yeoman English warriors
over your French cavalry at your
Stade de France. Another Azincourt
all over again – or so I’m
told. Distinguished readers might
also like to note that I also missed
concerts by Steve Earle at the Roundhouse
and (unlikely I know) Megadeth at
the Brixton Academy – so that’s
two reviews you won’t be reading.
But back to the rugby, score 13-24
if I recall correctly.
suffered your wonderful Blues thrashing
Scotland at Murrayfield a few weeks
ago I can understand how much pain
this shameful defeat must have caused
in the hearts of your countrymen,
the humiliation, the sense of having
no purpose in life. And I can imagine
the appetite for vengeance that must
be burning deep in your breasts. But
please Serge, tell me, is that any
excuse for you to send us back Jane
Birkin? Surely revenge
must have its limits?
Birkin, readers will recall, is forever
famous as the other half of the couple
who scandalised the world in 1969
with the now much parodied 'Je t'aime
moi non plus' – which we last
heard being given the treatment by
the wonderful Ukulele
Orchestra of Great Britain in
December. Her partner was Serge
Gainsbourg, described by Birkin
(she was actually quoting Francois
Mitterrand, ‘though she didn’t
tell us that) as “our Baudelaire,
our Apollinaire”. In France,
the breathless Ms Birkin told us to
cheers from the audience, people talk
about “avant Serge, et après
Serge”, such was this epoch
making giant’s impact on his
nation’s culture. That’s
one view. Sadly, in retrospect, it’s
not difficult to dismiss him as a
drunken sleazebag with an opportunistic
ear for a good tune, and an eye for
a pretty girl.
of course it’s important for
some that his myth be maintained,
not least Ms Birkin, for whom it has
defined much of her life, and her
very reason for being. And strangely
much of the crowd around us seem to
share this view. But then they are
mostly French (I can’t talk
for the crowd in the balcony, who
looked like the well-heeled literary
set from up the hill in Hampstead)
– itself a telling comment on
the durability of Gainsbourg’s
legacy outside his native France.
it’s a poor turn out for a Saturday.
The seats look fairly crowded but
downstairs you could easily swing
several cats, or should I say chats,
in the half-full auditorium. We’re
not just here to hear Ms Birkin sing
as the evening is also supporting
Africa, a non-profit making organisation
dedicated to working with children
in Africa, and named after Ms Birkin’s
nephew, Anno Birkin, who was killed
in a car accident in 2001. It’s
just one of hatful of good causes
that Ms Birkin supports with all the
fervour of a late nineteenth-century
English matron – another is
detained Burmese opposition leader
San Suu Kyi, in whose name we
receive a rather patronising, and
like everything else in the evening,
somewhat over-dramatic lecture with
a song to follow.
could be wrong but I think it was
during this one that the lady next
to me started crying – her child,
sitting disconsolately on the cold
concrete floor had of course been
crying for about an hour to go home,
but that didn’t seem to matter.
And once you’ve heard Ms Birkin
sing you can understand why she brings
tears to the eye – her lyrics
are mostly half-spoken in the tone
(in both English and her very deliberately
unusual French) of a 1950’s
BBC Radio presenter, but when she
reaches for a note she does so more
in hope than certainty, and more often
than not the hope remains unfulfilled.
a shame. She’s vivacious and
charming with a winning smile, engaging
in a very upper-middle class English
sort of way, and trying very hard
(she even sings her way across the
floor and up to the seats early in
the set). And her three-piece band,
covering piano and keyboards, violin,
harp, mandolin, guitar and percussion
are pretty good. But the material
isn’t strong, whether it’s
Serge’s old stuff, newer songs
written by the likes of the Magic
Numbers or Beth Gibbons, or Ms Birkin’s
own compositions, like her 1973 classic
‘Di doo dah’ (“o
di doo di doo dah, mélancolique
et désabusée, di doo
di doo di dah, o di doo di doo dah
…etc.etc.”). But the larger
part of the audience, certainly the
sans culottes around us, loved every
minute of it, and seemed happy, if
not ecstatic, to be part of this wildly
I’d had enough, so cut and ran
to get home in time to catch North
London’s favourite French football
team on the television. I wouldn’t
be surprised if Ms Birkin stayed up
late with a cup of camomile tea watching
Serge Gainsbourg movies. Oh yes –
and did I mention that Ms Birkin is
also a very famous handbag? If you
don’t believe me then go and
have a look on eBay. - Nick Morgan
(concert photographs by Man Ray. I
mean, by Kate.)
thank you Nick. What can I say? At
least Jane Birkin changed the general
image the French used to have of a
typical English lady. As for 'her'
Hermès bag, she made this comment
a few years ago after having remarked
that the fame of the bag had exceeded
that of herself: "Now when my
daughter goes to America, they ask
her if she is the daughter of the
bag." (quoted on wikipedia).
Isn't that cool?
more, our distinguished readers may
listen to Jane's very nice - albeit
ubernostalgic indeed - song 'ex-fan
des sixties' on her MySpace
page. Not bad at all, methinks
- so please, please, send dear Jane
back to us!
to whisky aficionados: in the 70's
Jane Birkin did a promotional
record for Black & White whisky.
'A nice addition to any collection'
as they say on eBay.
16 yo 1980/1997 (43%, Signatory, cask
#3660-61, 604 bottles)
From sherry casks.
Colour: amber. Nose: this one hasn’t
got Glenugie’s usual fruitiness
it seems. Dry ‘mat’ aromas
of cocoa and flour. Ham and sausages,
faint hints of overripe strawberries.
Roasted peanuts, gets then a bit winey
and finally hugely orangey (orangeade,
Fanta). A little ‘chemical’
in a certain way. Mouth: a rather
bitter start, all on bitter oranges
and herb liqueur plus drying and bitterish
tannins. Cardboard and tapioca, heavily
reduced wine sauce, tar and rubber...
Not the most enjoyable Glenugie ever
for sure. Finish: rather long but
still quite bitter and sort of ‘chemical’.
Strange. Comments: I think there are
many better Glenugies, including by
Signatory Vintage (check their excellent
1977’s.) SGP:461 - 70
24 yo 1980/2005 (51.4%, Scotch Malt
Whisky Society, 99.8, 'Fruity Bakers
Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is very
different. Starts all on vanilla and
yellow flowers, together with hints
of lager beer and ginger tonic. Goes
on with orange marmalade and hints
of yoghurt and newly cut grass. Quite
yeasty, definitely, but nicer than
it sounds, actually. Slight cardboardiness
coming through after a while. Mouth:
this one starts rather bitter, just
like the Signatory, but it’s
pleasant bitterness from the wood.
Black tea, dried ginger, bitter oranges,
herbal tea (rosehip) and marshmallows.
Also notes of burnt orange cake and
dried ginger again. Finish: long but
slightly rawish and spirity, with
big tannins. Comments: not an easy
whisky for sure but its ‘savageness’
and ‘roastedness’ on the
palate make it very interesting. Probably
not one of these winning older Glenugies,
that is. SGP:432 - 86 points.
Couvreur's whisky cellars in
– THE BIG MICHEL COUVREUR
that we stopped publishing examples
of fake whiskies (phew, that was
painful!) we have more time again
for serious tasting sessions. This
one will be quite unusual.
twelve years ago or so, I attended
a Michel Couvreur session where they
claimed that the distillery didn’t
matter, that only the casks did, thus
implying that displaying the distillery’s
name on a Scotch single malt whisky
was useless. No need to say that that
did really put me off, and that anything
branded ‘Michel Couvreur’
used to make me frown – at best
– since that very session. Yet,
samples started to pile up on my shelves
and after having noticed that I had
gathered more than one dozen of Couvreurs,
I decided to have a go at all of them
today. In a certain way, this is close
to blind tastin’, isn’t
it? (With heartfelt thanks to
Gisela, Martine and Konstantin.)
Clearach (43%, Michel Couvreur)
Colour: gold. No new make, obviously,
but virtual whisky that’s younger
than 3 years. Nose: vanilla and praline
plus fudge and café latte.
Whiffs of yellow wild flowers and
a little smoke. More mature than many
10yo malts on the nose. Mouth: very
sweet and very malty. A certain harshness,
typical of very young whiskies. Vanilla
and quite some oak (ginger and nutmeg).
A very active cask it seems. Finish:
medium long, getting even spicier
(white pepper). Comments: well, I
don’t know what this would have
become over time, it’s already
rather woody, albeit pleasantly so.
SGP:351 - 78 points.
Whisky 12 yo (43%, Michel Couvreur)
According to RoyalMile Whiskies, this
one is a vatting of no less than 54
whiskies. Colour: gold. Nose: a little
less expressive than the clearach
but balanced and bearing the same
general profile. Yellow flowers and
vanilla. Grows more nervous with time.
Mouth: again, this is a little less
marked by the oak than the Clearach
– at the attack, that is. Gets
then quite peppery and tannic after
that. Vanilla crème and pear
spirit. Finish: rather long but gets
rawer, almost spirity, especially
in the aftertaste. Comments: you got
it, I liked the Clearach much better.
SGP:341 - 73 points.
Single-Single 12 yo (45%, Michel Couvreur)
Single-single simple means single
cask (one cask from one distillery).
Colour: straw. Nose: this is much
more interesting. A lot of gooseberries,
strawberries and lemon balm on top
of lemon pie and whiffs of sea breeze.
Very clean and very pure, although
the oakiness grows bolder again over
time (ginger). Mouth: still very fresh
but the attack is grassier. Peppered
apple pie. Finish: long, quite tannic
and salty. Comments: nice malt, especially
on the nose, but you have to like
plain oak in your whisky. Salted fresh
oak? SGP:551 - 79 points.
Vatting ’12 to 20 years in wood’
(45%, Michel Couvreur)
Colour: amber/bronze. Nose: very much
more in cognac territories here. Ginger,
leather, peat and tobacco mixed with
orange marmalade. This is very nice,
excellent composition on the nose.
Mouth: thick and coating, with the
oak upfront again. Prunes, ‘pipe
juice’, ginger, curry, over-infused
black tea, white pepper and cinnamon.
Maybe a bit too much for my taste.
Finish: long, chewy, tannic. Comments:
great nose but a little too much oak
on the palate for my taste. SGP:362
- 79 points.
Vatting ’12, 14 and 22 years’
(45%, Michel Couvreur)
Colour: full gold. Nose: completely
different. Wild flowers, verbena,
fresh mint and lemon balm. Truly beautiful
nose this time. Rather extreme notes
of menthol. Mouth: again, there’s
a lot of wood here. Huge tannins,
grape pips, apple skin and lemon zest.
Yet, the spirit stands it. Crystallised
lemons, mint, lemon pie. Finish: long,
maybe just a tad cardboardy now. Comments:
my favourite so far – and by
far – despite the heavy oakiness
(not a flaw at all here). SGP:551
- 85 points.
Transition Single Malt 22 yo 1982
(45%, Michel Couvreur, 400 bottles)
Double matured hogshead/PX.
Colour: full amber. Nose: extremely
close to the Special Vatting ’12
to 20 years in wood.’ Mouth:
again, similar but with a little more
body, which better ‘absorbs’
the woodiness. Very gingery. Finish:
long, compact, good balance this time.
More fruits as well. Comments: very
good oak integration here. SGP:452
– 84 points.
Sherried Single Malt 23 yo (45%, Michel
Colour: dark amber. Nose: dry sherry
galore. Dark chocolate, walnuts and
coffee as well as prunes. Much less
oak as such than in most other versions
we just had. Mouth: sweet attack,
drier middle. Armagnac soaked prunes,
a little balsamic vinegar. A bit rough
I think, then sort of fades away.
Finish: a little bigger again. Wine
sauce and sweet red wine. Comments:
good sherried whisky but it’s
a little rawer than the average classic
sherry monster. SGP:431 –
Auld Sherried (45%, Michel Couvreur)
Colour: dark amber. Nose: this is
much more elegant! Prunes, leather,
cigars, old wooden furniture and orange
marmalade. Mouth: yes, a much better
balance here. Smooth, rounded yet
not lumpish at all, all on fruitcake,
orange zests, sultanas and notes of
aniseed. Plus various spices including
cloves. Finish: long and in the same
vein. Comments: excellent, classic
sherried malt. SGP:541 - 88
27 yo 1969 (45%, Michel Couvreur,
Colour: full gold. Nose: unexpectedly
silent for a while, needs time to
take of but then it’s all elegance
and sultriness. Wet hay, cigar box,
leather polish, honey and orange marmalade
plus hints of peat smoke, green tea
and finally rather big notes of cumin.
This one has much to say. Mouth: very,
very good at the attack. Earl grey
tea, kumquats, walnuts, orange cake.
A slight drop at the middle, then
spices and tannins (nothing excessive.)
Finish: not too long but much drier.
Never gets cardboardy, though. Comments:
great classic whisky, maybe except
at the finish. SGP:551 - 87
Single Cask 1996 (45%, Michel Couvreur,
aged in P.X. media bota)
Colour: pale amber. Nose: much more
youthful, obviously, but not less
mature I’d say. More ‘modern’,
with more ‘obvious’ notes
such as oranges, ginger and vanilla.
And of course big notes of raisins.
Not the most elegant of them all but
it’s very pleasant on the nose
(reminds me of some of Glenmorangie’s
small batches, such as Missouri Oak
and so on, despite the completely
different wood treatment). Mouth:
that was unexpected! Starts on verbena
and Chartreuse, even mint liqueur,
and it’s only then that the
sherry starts to play its part, mostly
on sultanas and orange marmalade.
Finish: long, compact and satisfying,
with ‘funny’ notes of
sweet curry. Also very orangey. Slightly
tannic aftertaste. Comments: certainly
not as sweet as we had feared considering
the cask it came from. Good stuff.
SGP:551 - 84 points.
Single Cask 1995 (47%, Michel Couvreur,
Colour: pale amber. Nose: very, very
close to the 1996 we just had, almost
the same whisky. Maybe just an added
slight meatiness (ham). Mouth: same,
this one is very similar. Maybe a
tad more rubbery. Finish: same. Comments:
same. Marginally wilder and rawer.
SGP:551 - 84 points.
Single Malt 15 yo (47%, Michel Couvreur)
Colour: dark amber /brownish. Nose:
coffee (ristretto!), soy sauce and
barbecued beef at first nosing, then
prunes, prunes and... raisins. Rather
beautiful although not complex as
such. Mouth: big, sweet and balanced,
all on sweet sherry. Cream sherry
in this case? Finish: more wood now,
more tannins again. Grape skin. Comments:
sweet and round until the finish,
where the wood gets more, err, remarkable.
Reminds me of some Armagnacs. Good
whisky anyway. SGP:631 - 85
Scots Whisky Forum Edition No. 3 13
yo 1994/2007 (51%, Michel Couvreur,
This one was matured in a bourbon
hogshead and than finished for more
than two years in ‘winefresh
Pedro Ximenez sherry media bota’.
Colour: gold. Nose: this is subtler
again it seems. Herbal teas (verbena,
mint, chamomile and maybe hawthorn)
and prunes, then smoked ham, then
old walnuts (flor?), leather, cigar
box and hints of game (pheasant).
Very ‘wide’ but very ‘coherent’.
Mouth: thick and powerful but with
more spirit character than in most
other versions we had today. More
peat as well it seems, faint hints
of lavender sweets, orange marmalade,
kumquats... Very, very palatable.
Maybe less direct cask influence than
in most other Couvreurs. Finish: long,
with more pepper and other spices.
Also dried ginger and a peaty backburn.
Comments: one of my favourites. So,
what’s the distillery? Ardmore?
(very wild guess). SGP:555
- 88 points.
Ever Young Pristine Single-Single
Malt 35 yo (53%, Michel Couvreur)
Colour: amber. Nose: not
sure this would have been forever
young but beautiful it is. Patchouli,
mint, liquorice, walnuts, beeswax,
honey, shoe polish, sandalwood, crystallised
oranges, ham and... more liquorice.
Again, this is a classic (a classic
what?, you may ask... Good question!)
It has something Edringtonian I must
say. Mouth: round but not ‘sleeping’
at all, almost nervous, honeyed...
Dried bananas, hints of peat, orange
cake, roasted nuts, praline, caramel,
milk chocolate, liquorice... And then
more peat. Now we’re really
talking, this is quite magnificent.
Excellent malt-wood integration at
35 years of age. Finish: long, complex,
balanced, with the honey lasting longer
than all other flavours. Comments:
state of the art. Highland Park? SGP:653
- 90 points.
Scotch Whisky 12 yo (56%, Michel Couvreur,
dried on Scottish peat)
Colour: gold. Nose: peat indeed,
but not more so than in the Scots
Whisky Forum Edition No. 3. The profiles
are very similar in fact: let’s
save kilobytes, please read above!
Actually, this one is maybe just tad
more flowery. Mouth: indeed, pretty
much the same whisky, except for even
more oomph (56% instead of 51% ABV,
that counts.) Finish: very similar.
Comments: ditto. SGP:555 -
listening: Some people really seam
to hate this record but I don't:
Evans Orchestra playing
the music of Jimi Hendrix in 1974.
Well, at least Crosstown
Traffic / Little miss lover.mp3
was 'close to the spirit'. Please
buy Gil Evans' works.
case you haven't read it yet,
is online! Don't miss it...
While we're at it,
rumours say that there will
be a new Glenfarclas '105'...
40yo! (a vatting of three
– SIX 1974 ARDBEGS
1974/1991 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs
Colour: gold. Nose: oh well... This
is fabulous. Unmistakenly Ardbeg,
wonderfully peaty, tarry, smoky and
‘maritime’. A fisherman’s
boat. Smoked fish and tarry ropes,
putty, diesel oil, cold tobacco smoke
and smoked oysters. I don’t
know if these casks were laying at
G&M’s in Elgin but what’s
sure is that if it’s the case,
distillery character can’t come
from the warehouse’s location
coz again, this is very ‘Ardbeg’.
Oh well... Mouth: sweet and a little
rounder than on the nose, but again,
there’s a lot of ‘Ardbeg’
character in this. Superb marzipan,
smoked fish, resin, cough syrup, kippers
and salt. And what a body, at 40%
ABV! Finish: I would not have imagined
that whisky at 40% would be that long.
Comments: great spirit transcends
its conditions (wot?) This must have
been a bl**dy great cask. SGP:348
- 91 points. (and thanks,
19 yo 1974/1993 (43%, Signatory, cask
#4390-91, 840 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: less expressive
than the G&M, a little more subdued
in fact. More on lemon juice, smoked
grains (yeah, peated barley) and grapefruit
juice. Something slightly cardboardy.
Mouth: much, much better than on the
nose. Much more ‘idiosyncratic’.
Peat, lemons, apples, pepper, paraffin
and almonds. Finish: medium long but
beautifully salty as expected. Comments:
this one suffered a bit from comparison
with the G&M but it’s still
a great whisky, notably on the palate.
SGP:357 - 87 points.
(and thanks, Mike)
23 yo 1974/1997 (43%, Signatory, casks
#1047-48-52-54, 800 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: this is very
different. Much more on all sorts
of crystallised citrus fruits, fresh
almonds, oysters and clams, fresh
lemon balm and hints of verbena and
mint. Rather perfect if you ask me.
Mouth: a little less ‘Ardbegally
Ardbeg’ than its bro from the
same bottler’s but it’s
got more ‘fullness’ in
a certain way. Excellent notes of
crystallised lemons topped with salt,
almond milk and mint crème.
And of course, kippers and all that
jazz. Finish: not the longest ever
but it’s round and creamy, on
something like salted roasted almonds.
Comments: great Ardbeg at low strength,
from a great vintage. Vintages in
whisky? Nah... SGP:347 - 90
points. (and thanks,
26 yo 1974/2001 (46%, Silver Seal,
First Bottling, 264 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: I don’t
know if this is the cask, but this
is different. More on fresh butter
at first nosing, more on wet stones,
flints and chalk as well, maybe a
bit more ‘narrow’ in fact.
Wet wool and apple peelings. Less
‘coastal’ elements, but
it’s still excellent whisky
of course. Mouth: good attack, rather
nervous, smoky and resinous with notes
of marzipan and salted toffee. Then
peppered apple pie, salted butter
and ‘peat’... This isn’t
overly complex but this is very assertive.
Finish: long, with a little more candy
sugar. Comments: a good example of
a perfectly balanced Ardbeg, absolutely
excellent whisky but maybe lacking
a little magic. SGP:536 -
30 yo 1974/2004 (43.3%, Symposion
Sweden, Xmas Bottling, 2nd fill sherry,
137 bottles, 50cl)
Colour: gold. Nose: a bit between
the very ‘Ardbeggian’
Signatorys and G&M and the Silver
Seal. Sea water, wet stones, wet wool,
cider apples and black pepper ala
Talisker. Then lemon juice, fresh
almonds and cut grass plus hints of
waxed paper. A rather austere Ardbeg.
Mouth: not unlike the Silver Seal,
this one is excellent but seems to
lack complexity. Peat, salt, cooked
apples, lemon marmalade, liquorice
and pepper. Finish: long, more than
perfectly balanced again and with
even more salt. Comments: an average
1974 Ardbeg in my book, which still
means a very, very excellent whisky
of course. More concentrated than
the Silver Seal. SGP:537 -
1974/2002 (44.5%, OB for Oddbins,
cask #3475, 126 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: his is another
dimension, quite unusual at that.
Much more fragrant and less ‘austere’
than all the other 1974 Ardbegs we
just had. Starts on orange liqueurs
and rosewater as well as incense,
but comes back into line after a few
minutes (seconds, actually), getting
splendidly mineral, almondy, peaty,
mushroomy, seaweedy and, of course,
smoky. Reminds me of the first Provenance,
with maybe just a little less oomph
but also a little more elegance. No
need to say I like this a lot. Mouth:
this one underlines what I was meaning
regarding the ‘Symposion’,
for it displays a much wider array
of flavours. At random: ham, camphor
and pine resin, salt, citrons, peat
(no kiddin’!), marzipan, crystallised
lemon zests, smoked fish, live oil...
Whatever... Finish: long, a litlle
more resinous now, with also unexpected
pearish notes. Yes, pears. Comments:
state of the art – and very
entertaining at that, thanks to the
(Williams) pears. SGP:646
- 92 points. (and thanks,
listening: We’re in the early
60’s and a marvellous bunch
of soul-infused British musicians
Steampacket are playing
take me.mp3. Maybe you’ll
recognize nobody less than Brian
Auger, Rod Stewart (wasn’t
he good at the time?), Long John
Baldry and Julie Driscoll... Plain
fab. Please buy all these wonderful
Mosstowie 15 yo (40%, G&M for
Sestante, mid 1980's)
As you probably know, Mosstowie was
made in Lomond Stills at Miltonduff.
Lomond stills used to give whisky
that was somewhere between grain whisky
(from column stills) and regular malt
whisky (from pot-stills). Let’s
see what gives in this oldie. Colour:
full gold. Nose: grainy and malty
at the attack, getting rather dusty
and cardboardy after a moment. Hints
of dried bananas. Wet clothes, attic,
paraffin. Lacks the expected fruitiness
but as always with these old bottles,
that may have happened while in glass.
a little better but frankly, there
isn’t much happening here. A
bit thin. Grains, cappuccino, sweetened
black tea. Hints of aspartame in fact.
Finish: rather short, getting a little
too cardboardy. Comments: drinkable
of course but little interest here,
especially since we get little fruitiness
except for hints of dried bananas
on the nose. SGP:220 - 75
32 yo 1975/2008 (48.5%, Duncan Taylor,
Rarest of the Rare, cask #5811)
I quite liked cask #5812 and cask
#5809 (even better), that were issued
as 29yo’s. Colour: white wine.
Nose: starts very ‘funnily’,
on ultra-big notes of both milk and
white chocolate as well as vanilla
pods. Huge cask influence it seems.
We’re closer to grain whisky
this time, even if there is a slight
maltiness as well as hints of smoke
and hot coffee. Very little flowery
and/or fruity notes that I can get,
contrarily to what happened with this
one’s sister casks. Mouth: ah,
this is quite better, exactly between
malt and grain whisky indeed. Vanilla,
tinned bananas, cinnamon, milk chocolate,
hints of mint, tea, the whole getting
maybe a tad too tannic after a moment
but more complex at the same time.
Liquorice and marshmallows. Finish:
rather long, a tad grainier at this
stage. Comments: a good example of
Lomond still malt whisky, just a tad
less thrilling that its sister casks
by the same bottler in my opinion.
SGP:521 – 84 points.
listening: Let’s have a little
more vocal jazz today with Linda
Sharrock & Eric
Watson doing a fantabulous
(that’s on their album ‘Listen
to the night’) We love Linda’s
Sharrock singing... Please buy her
music (and Mr Watson’s as
well of course).
the index of all entries:
malts I had these weeks - 90+
points only - alphabetical:
23 yo 1974/1997 (43%,
Signatory, casks #1047-48-52-54, 800 bottles)
1974/1991 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs
1974/2002 (44.5%, OB for Oddbins, cask
#3475, 126 bottles)
11 yo 1997/2008 (53.9%, Jack Wieber,
Old Train Line, cask #4731, 384 bottles)
16 yo 1968/1985 (55.5%, G&M for
Ila 23 yo 1974/1998 (60%, Kingsbury,
Ever Young Pristine Single-Single Malt 35 yo
(53%, Michel Couvreur)
Moray 27 yo 1962/1989 (55.1%, Cadenhead,
Moray 42 yo 1962 (47.2%, Murray McDavid
18 yo (48%, OB, 2008)
32 yo 1967/1999 (50%, Douglas Laing
OMC, 147 bottles)
39 yo 1968/2008 (49.1%, Duncan Taylor
Rare Auld, cask #8550)