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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2008- Part 1
       
February 2008 - part 2 <--- March 2008 - part 1 ---> March 2008 - part 2
 

March 14, 2008


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
THE BARCODES AND THE INCREDIBLE BLUES PUPPIES

The Eel Pie Club, Twickenham, London, March 5th 2008
The Barcodes
The Barcodes
It’s been a little while since we’ve been to see the Barcodes, Whiskyfun’s 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.
It’s 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 stockinged feet.
Alan Glen
Alan Glen (The Barcodes)
Equally 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 player Robin 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 Cox.
Art Themen, Nick Newall, Gypie Mayo and Alan Glen
The Incredible Blues Puppies
The 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)

Thank you, Nick! All very good - just like the piece that's playing on the dear Barcodes' homepage (from the BBC session). - S.

 
Glen Moray

TASTING – TWO 1962 GLEN MORAYS

Glen 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...

Mouth: 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, Hans)
Glen Moray 27 yo 1962/1989 (55.1%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) 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.
 

March 13, 2008


Bowmore

TASTING – 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.

Nose: 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.
Bowmore 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 – 90 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
 
MUSIC – Recommended listening: the excellent Alsatian 'slammeur' Abd al Malik (not the Caliph) does Saigne.mp3. 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!
 

March 12, 2008


TASTING – TWO 23yo CAOL ILAS
Caol Ila 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, that is.
Mouth: 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 – 83 points.
Caol Ila 23 yo 1974/1998 (60%, Kingsbury, cask #12618) 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).

 

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: the fantastic Rachelle Ferrell's version of the standard Bye Bye Blackbird.mp3. Fireworks! Please buy her works.

 

Rachel Ferrell
CRAZY WHISKY ADS – More worthy tips on how to handle living together by Johnnie Walker
You 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'.)
 
CRAZY ADS - Online goodies (very viral)...
First go there 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 version...
 

March 11, 2008


Tomintoul

TASTING – 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 well balanced.

Mouth: 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.
Tomintoul 37 yo 1966/2003 (55.5%, Jack Wieber, Prenzlow Collection, cask #5259, 156 bottles) 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 ‘cooked’. SGP:561 – 79 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening: A little straight ahead jazz by excellent Canadian pianist Renee Rosnes, a piece called Absinthe.mp3 (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 their music...

Renee Rosnes
 

March 10, 2008


Joe Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCERT REVIEW
JOE JACKSON AND HIS BAND
Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, March 2nd 2008

Joe 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.
Tonight 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.
For 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.
 
We 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 and Day.
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. - Nick Morgan
Thank 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... - S.
 
Coconut

TASTING – TWO 1988 BRUICHLADDICHS

Bruichladdich 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.

Mouth: 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.)
Bruichladdich 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.
And also: Bruichladdich 16 yo 1968/1985 (55.5%, G&M for Intertrade) 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 – 90 points.
 

March 9, 2008


Peat

TASTING – TWO NEW OFFICIAL LONGROWS

Longrow 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.

Mouth: 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.
Longrow 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.

MUSIC – Recommended 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).

Niro
 

March 7, 2008


Inchgower

TASTING – TWO INCHGOWERS

Inchgower 25 yo 1967/1992 (44%, Cadenhead’s 150th Anniversary, Green Tall Bottle Black Label) 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.

Mouth: 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.
Inchgower 24yo 1980/2005 (54,7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 18.24, 'Emphatically fig-like') 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.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 

 

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: Thelonious 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).

 

Monk
 

March 6, 2008


Macduff

TASTING – THREE MACDUFFS DISTILLED IN THE 1960’s

Macduff 13 yo 1965/1979 (80° Proof, Cadenhead's Dumpy, Black Label, 75cl) 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.

Mouth: 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.
Macduff 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)
Macduff 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 ‘Jägermeister’? Very 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.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: more funk/soul today with Mr Richard 'Groove' Holmes and his Hammond organ doing a rather stunning Groovin' 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' music!...

Groove
 

March 5, 2008


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
Jane Birkin

JANE BIRKIN
The Roundhouse, London
March 1st 2008

Well, 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.

Having 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?
Ms 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.
But 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. Serge who?
And 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 Anno’s 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 Aung 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.
I 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.
It’s 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 nostalgic chansonnerie. Jane Birkin
But 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.)
Well, 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?
What's 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!
Note 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.
 
TASTING – TWO GLENUGIES
Glenugie Glenugie 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 points.
Glenugie 24 yo 1980/2005 (51.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 99.8, 'Fruity Bakers shop') 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.
 

March 4, 2008


Couvreur
Couvreur's whisky cellars in Burgundy

TASTING – THE BIG MICHEL COUVREUR SESSION

Now 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.

Indeed, 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.)
Couvreur
Couvreur’s 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.
Malt 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.
Pale 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.
Special 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.
Special 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.
Couvreur 2
The 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.
Very Sherried Single Malt 23 yo (45%, Michel Couvreur) 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 – 80 points.
Blossoming 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 points.
Single-Single 27 yo 1969 (45%, Michel Couvreur, cask #72) 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 points.
Fleeting 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.
Fleeting Single Cask 1995 (47%, Michel Couvreur, L’Inconnue Ephemère, 310 bottles) 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.
Couvreur 3
Sherried 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 points.
The Scots Whisky Forum Edition No. 3 13 yo 1994/2007 (51%, Michel Couvreur, 144 bottles) 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.
For 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.
Malt 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 - 88 points.

 

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: Some people really seam to hate this record but I don't: The Gil 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.

 

Gil Evans
 

March 3, 2008


 

MALT MANIACS NEWSFLASH

In case you haven't read it yet, Malt Maniacs #108 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 casks)

 
TASTING – SIX 1974 ARDBEGS
Ardbeg 1974
Ardbeg 1974/1991 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice) 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, Bert)
Ardbeg 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)
Ardbeg 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, Obélix)
Ardbeg 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 - 86 points.
Ardbeg 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 - 88 points.
Ardbeg 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, Ho-cheng)

MUSIC – Recommended listening: We’re in the early 60’s and a marvellous bunch of soul-infused British musicians called The Steampacket are playing Babe 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 people’s music.

Steampacket
 

March 1, 2008


TASTING – TWO MOSSTOWIES
Mosstowie 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.
Mouth: 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 points.
Mosstowie 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.

MUSIC – Recommended listening: Let’s have a little more vocal jazz today with Linda Sharrock & Eric Watson doing a fantabulous Welcome.mp3 (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).

Sharrock

February 2008 - part 2 <--- March 2008 - part 1 ---> March 2008 - part 2


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

 

 

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

Ardbeg 23 yo 1974/1997 (43%, Signatory, casks #1047-48-52-54, 800 bottles)

Ardbeg 1974/1991 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice)

Ardbeg 1974/2002 (44.5%, OB for Oddbins, cask #3475, 126 bottles)

Bowmore 11 yo 1997/2008 (53.9%, Jack Wieber, Old Train Line, cask #4731, 384 bottles)

Bruichladdich 16 yo 1968/1985 (55.5%, G&M for Intertrade)

Caol Ila 23 yo 1974/1998 (60%, Kingsbury, cask #12618)

For Ever Young Pristine Single-Single Malt 35 yo (53%, Michel Couvreur)

Glen Moray 27 yo 1962/1989 (55.1%, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Glen Moray 42 yo 1962 (47.2%, Murray McDavid Celtic Heartlands)

Longrow 18 yo (48%, OB, 2008)

Macduff 32 yo 1967/1999 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 147 bottles)

Macduff 39 yo 1968/2008 (49.1%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, cask #8550)