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

March 31, 2008


Strathisla

 

 

 

 

TASTING – THREE OLD STRATHISLAS

Strathisla 35 yo 1968/2004 (43.2%, Duncan Taylor, cask #2773, 218 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: all floral at first nosing, starting on yellow wild flowers (dandelions and the likes), then more fragrant flowers (lily of the valley), then some very fresh minty notes (as well as a little eucalyptus) and finally vanilla and very soft spices as well as a little honey. The balance is excellent here, the wood perfectly tamed, and the overall profile subtle and delicate yet very expressive. An excellent alternative to the sherried Strathislas by G&M methinks. Oh, and whiffs of wood smoke. Mouth: sweet, fruity and rounded attack on all things ‘yellow’ but alas, the oak is soon to get much louder than on the nose. Not exactly ‘plankish’ but there’s quite some tannins, cinnamon and white pepper as well as a little nutmeg. Ginger. Now, it’s still very good old whisky but you have to like oak. Finish: quite long but as expected, a little drying and sort of ‘mate’. Comments: very nice nose, palate a little drying... The 37yo (47.6%, cask #1332) is still my favourite old Strathisla by DT. SGP:561 – 83 points.
Astral Hits 40 yo 1967/2008 (47.2%, The Nectar, Daily Dram, 120 bottles, Strathisla) Yet a funny anagram by The Nectar! Colour: gold. Nose: we’re pretty much is the same vein here, as far as the nose is concerned, except that this one is a little less aromatic at first nosing, but also a little more complex. Added waxy and mineral notes as well as something slightly grassier (or is it fresh almonds?) Gets wilder with time, now more on cigarette tobacco (unlit, eh!) and smoked tea (lapsang souchong), also a little oakier. This oldie still has lots to say. Mouth: it’s interesting that despite being quite older, this one displays much less oakiness. Or rather that the rest is big enough to compensate for the oakiness. Orange marmalade, dried ginger, apricot jam, hints of cough syrup, then quite some pepper and cloves, then a little mint... Very solid. The oak comes out a little more towards the finish (even more pepper) but it’s more ‘structuring’ oak than plain tannins and lactones. Finish: very long, very peppery now. Big oak indeed but again, no flaw here. Comments: if you’re looking for a whisky that displays a rather heavy oakiness on the palate while still being very, very good, watch this one. SGP:561 – 91 points.
Strathisla 40 yo 1963/2003 (57.7%, JWWW Old Train Line, cask #2745, 180 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: this one is much ‘louder’, and it’s not just for the higher alcohol. Notes of sherry, apricot jam, plum jam (greengage), then the same kind of tobacco as in the Nectar (still unlit, eh!), leather polish, then all these beautiful flowery notes (remember, dandelions), vanilla fudge, butterscotch, old sweet white wine (old Sauternes mixed with old white Port or something like that – no crime, it’s all virtual here), white chocolate... Gets a little shyer after all that but water may give this one a second life. With water: indeed, it’s a second life. Cigar box, camphor, lemon balm, old Chartreuse, pineapple liqueur, old rum... Superb! Mouth (neat): yeah, this is loud! Resembles the Nectar, only much more powerful, which makes it a little hard to enjoy when naked (Serge!) Concentrated tannins. Quick, water: oh yes, that worked! Superb mint, smoked ham, eucalyptus sweets, liquorice, mastic, argan oil, marzipan, macadamia nuts, vanilla fudge... Very exciting I must say. Finish: maybe not exceptionally long but bringing extra-flavours (more praline, vanilla, white pepper.) Comments: very great but don’t forget to add water or the palate will be a little ‘too much’. SGP:672 – 92 points.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Do you remember Curved Air? Almost thirty years later lead singer Sonja Kristina does a revised version of one of their hits: Melinda (more or less).mp3 (it's on the CD 'Songs from the acid folk'). Please buy Sonja Kristina's music!

Sonja
 

March 28, 2008


ONLINE PETITION against the use of the wording 'Blended Malt Scotch Whisky' for vatted malts to be found there. If you're ever prompted to make a donation to the website, it is not obligatory and your vote will be recorded even if you discard the donation.
 
Ardmore

 

 

 

 

 

TASTING – FOUR 1977 ARDMORES

Ardmore 26 yo 1977/2003 (45%, Samaroli, 35th Anniversary cask #7631, 738 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: very amusing, this one starts on rather big notes of olive oil (Italiano, ma!) before it gets much more typically Ardmore, mixing coal smoke, ripe peaches and something like cooked rhubarb. Hints of candle wax. A little less peaty than expected but there’s a perfect balance. Also hints of bitter oranges, fresh putty, fresh almonds and lemon marmalade. Mouth: a very classy attack, at perfect strength. Excellent body and mouth feel. Starts on smoked tea, liquorice, pine resin and salted butter fudge, getting then more classically peaty, smoky and mineral. Extremely compact, precise and yet complex. Superb notes of buttered apple pie – but butyric it ain’t. Finish: medium long but again, very precise and compact. Peat, cooked apples and almonds. Comment: warning, this is way too drinkable. SGP:555 (wazzat?) – 90 points.
Ardmore 30 yo 1977/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, sherry, 427 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: this one is certainly peater and more marked by the oak – in a perfect way here. Old furniture, cigar box, coal smoke, peat smoke, walnuts, charcoal, old pu-erh tea and vanilla plus a dash of aniseed powder. And wet limestone. Impeccable balance between peat and a beautiful oakiness. Motor oil. Mouth: Wait! Wazzat? Very, very bizarre... I loved the nose but I’m afraid I really dislike the palate. Glue, varnish, plastic, rotting oranges, lavender sweets, soap and ginger tonic. Finish: more of the same. Comment: this is flawed I think. Maybe it’s a cork problem, I’ll have to try some from another bottle when I can. If it’s its ‘original’ profile, SGP:282 – 45 points but let’s say that does not count.
Ardmore 23 yo 1977/2000 (58.1%, Signatory, cask #1183, 306 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: this is much more closed, austere, too flinty, too oily and too spirity I think but water should help. Big peatiness it seems, though... With water: it becomes a little lactic for a while, and then funnily vegetal (raw cabbage, raw asparagus – not cooked! – fennel, dill...) Also whiffs of farmyard after the rain – or something like that. Mouth (neat): almost a peat blast happening at the attack, this could easily be mistaken for an Islayer, albeit a younger one. Peat, lemon and pepper – raw power. With water: same comment, this could easily be a rather young Ardbeg. I think. It is good! Finish: long, peaty, lemony, peppery... With kumquats. Comment: very good whisky but don’t forget your jug of water. SGP:367 – 84 points.
Ardmore 17 yo 1977/1995 (59.6%, Cadenhead) Colour: white wine. Nose: I cannot make any differences with the Signatory at this stage. Maybe just a tiny tad sharper and more almondy. Quick, water: just like the Signatory, gets a little lactic but develops then more on coconut and vanilla crème, with less peat smoke. Gentler, in other words. Hints of aniseed. Mouth (neat): more different from the Signatory than on the nose. A little less of a peat monster, something rounder and creamier, fruitier (green apples)... Well, that’s just for a moment because it gets quite ‘monstrous’ as well after a few seconds. Cough, cough! With water: we tamed it! A little less ‘Islay’ than the Signatory, spicier and fruitier at the same time (grapefruits and pepper.) Finish: long and a little earthier. Gentian, salt, ginger. Comment: in the same league as the Signatory, may a tad more complex. SGP:366 – 85 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Laurie Anderson's It Tango.mp3 (from Big Science; 1982). Of course. Please buy Laurie Anderson's music!

Laurie Anderson
 

March 27, 2008


NEWS - Hans Offringa proposes to make this very day, March 27, the International Whisky Day from now on, as it's Michael Jackson's birthday (the great man would have turned 66 right today). We think it's a very good idea, so let's all join Hans and raise a dram or three to the memory of Emmdjay! (picture: poster that was made for Michael in San Francisco. It used to hang on the wall of his office in Hammersmith.)

Michael Jackson
 
TASTING – FOUR TALISKERS
Talisker
Tactical 18 yo 1988/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, Refill Hogs, Ref 3220, 325 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: rather punchy but unusually feinty at first sniffing, with notes of sour cream, ‘natural’ yoghurt, lime juice and even grass juice. Raw and acidic, with something twisted. The peat is of the mineral kind (excuse me Mr botanist). Sweat. Mouth: better than the first time I tried this one, maybe it needed quite some breathing. Big peat mixed with orange cake, ginger and pepper. Good sweetness – maybe a tad excessive, that is. Notes of marshmallows and strawberry sweets. Gets then very salty, which may not work too well with the very sweet notes. Finish: long but a bit ‘too much’, thick, slightlyu cloying. Yes, that salt plus sweetness thing again. Comments: a good Talisker but there are many better (and better balanced) ones around I think, including ones by Douglas Laing. SGP: 646 – 80 points.
Talisker NAS 'Special Vatting' (53.9%, OB, Distillery only) This one was for visitors only. Colour: straw. Nose: big, clean, sharp and austere. Lamp oil, wet stones, thyme, seashells and paraffin, sheep, and finally the expected black pepper. Not really multidimensional but exactly what one would expect from a young Talisker, I’d say. Mouth: zing! Clean, pure, straightforward Talisker, all on peat, salt, pepper and crystallised lemons. Very, very salty, actually. Finish: long and even saltier. Comments: a simple but totally flawless Talisker, for Talisker lovers. You may pass, should you dislike salt in your whisky. SGP:347 - 87 points.
Talisker 25 yo 1975 (59,9%, OB, Bottled 2001, 6000 bottles) The first limited official Talisker I believe. I always liked it but never took proper notes. Colour: full gold. Nose: it seems that there’s kind of a fight between the spirit and the sherry here, at least for a while, but both mingle together pretty nicely after a few seconds, and do create an ‘extra-dimension’. Something like peated and peppered Seville oranges. After that it’s all on orange cake, vanilla fudge and chestnut honey (a very aromatic honey), with the maritime side coming out but not too much. Lovely anyway. With water: more sherry, of the beefy kind. Barbecued steak, stout beer and smoked ham as well as dried kelp. More complex indeed. Mouth (neat): ultra-big, starting more on bitter oranges and something like icing sugar than on the expected peat-pack. Something slightly ‘unbalanced’ (orangeade) but let’s try it with water. Great news, these disturbing ‘chemically orangey’ notes vanished and we’re all on dried mushrooms, Havana tobacco and dried ginger now. Something like lychees and guavas as well – yes, that was unexpected. It got truly beautiful. Finish: long, balanced, sort of ‘appeased’, both fruity and peaty/peppery. Comments: I had this one at 88 until now but I’ll happily add two more points. SGP:536 – 90 points.
Talisker 15 yo 1981/1996 (64.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 14.5) Colour: full gold. Nose: not peat and pepper at first nosing, rather very bold notes of spicy vanilla crème. The rest seems to be blocked by the high alcohol level so let’s add water right away. With water: amazing how this one got medicinal. Antiseptic, pine resin, eucalyptus, wet newspapers, raw wool, stones... Still quite sharp, even at 45% ABV. Very flinty. Mouth (neat): forget about it. Extremely oily but extremely hot as well. Okay, water please: wow, that worked! Extremely ‘Talisker’, all on crystallised lemons, peat, salt and pepper. Close to the ‘NAS for visitors’ but a little sharper and more brutal, that is. Finish: long and very peaty, ending with peppered orange zests. I’ll try that in real life one day. Comments: what a brute! SGP:237 – 86 points.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: remember The Real Kids? True rock and roll in disco times. Let's listen to My Baby’s book.mp3r from the album 'The Real Kids and then buy The Real Kids' music!

Real Kids
 

March 26, 2008


Glen Grant

 

 

 

 

TASTING – FIVE GLEN GRANTS from the 70’s

Glen Grant 23 yo 1977/2001 (45%, Signatory Vintage, Stills of Scotland, hogshead) A series for La Maison du Whisky. Colour: white wine. Nose: starts pretty yoghurty and feinty. Lemon-sprinkled porridge, hay, sour cream, old barrel (wet, mouldy wood). ‘Not a winner’ as they say. Mouth: a little better but also a little too ‘chemical’ (Aldi lemonade), ginger tonic... A little cardboardy as well. Gets better after a while, more ‘cleanly’ gingery and spicy (pepper, cloves). Finish: medium long, now more on walnuts and orange juice, with these feinty notes still lingering. Comments: not a very pleasant old Glen Grant in my book – does Glen Grant always need sherry? SGP:251 – 71 points.
Glen Grant 30 yo (46%, Single Malts of Scotland, cask #188, 241 bottles) From a sherry butt. Colour: amber. Nose: starts on the same feinty notes as in the Stills of Scotlands, but with added layers of stale wine. Also cooked cabbage, ‘old’ ham and walnut liqueur, gym socks, bitter oranges... Not that it’s completely flawed I think but the overall profile is rather weird. Perverse? Mouth: really better than on the nose now, even if there’s something ‘chemical’ again. Oranges, orangeade, roasted nuts, mead, old walnuts... Not a big body. Finish: its at this stage that it gets really better, with pleasant notes of peppered ripe strawberries. A little too late... Comments: there’s been some much, much better Glen Grants in this series, especially the 1972 bottled 2007 at 54.9%. SGP:363 – 74 points.
Glen Grant 30 yo 1977/2007 (46%, Coopers Choice) Colour: mahogany. Nose: this is much more classically sherried. Perfect dryness, prunes, bitter chocolate, Corinth raisins, grilled beef, balsamico, tobacco, shoe polish and old walnuts. Extremely classic. Mouth: superb attack on walnut liqueur and old rancio, then mastic, orange drops, fudge and coffee-schnapps. No need to say more. Finish: medium long, in the same vein except for a few tannins starting to play on your palate as a signature (tea). Comments: really classic, really excellent and very drinkable. SGP:253 – 90 points.
Glen Grant 27 yo 1972/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 510 bottles) Colour: dark amber. Nose: another classic sherry monster but with more exuberance and a bigger fruitiness. Loads of prunes, fruitcake, sangria, big notes of dried figs, orange cake, strawberry jam... And a little smoke, a little gunpowder and a little mint. Good balance. Mouth: just like on the nose, the attack is very fruity (all kinds of dried fruits and a few overripe ones). Big figs again. Actually, it’s amazing how this one tastes exactly like dried figs! Finish: long, fig-like, with just a little more spices. Comments: do you like figs? I do... SGP:541 – 88 points.
Glen Grant 35 yo 1972/2008 (57.7%, Duncan Taylor, cask #3890) Colour: pale amber. Nose: this one is a little more restrained it seems, but that could be the higher alcohol. On the other hand, it’s maybe a tad more elegant. Walnuts, dried figs, something like buttered tea (only had that once so I may well be wrong here), oranges, wet hay... Also a little more vegetal (fern, moss, mushrooms) as well as a little nuttier. With water: no big changes. Maybe a little more orangey. Mouth (neat): keyword balance. Assertive and fruity, resinous and waxy. Quinces, prunes, maple syrup, walnuts, toffee, strawberry jam. XLNT despite a slight sugariness. With water: jammier, more candied, and just like on the nose, more orangey. Finish: quite long, clean, fruity, orangey and candied. What a good jam! Comments: keyword oranges. Excellent whisky. SGP:531 – 89 points.

NOTE - The other day I noticed that I had just written my 200th tasting note for an Ardbeg, so I quickly checked which other distilleries I had tried most. The figures were as follows: Ardbeg (201), Caol Ila (182), Highland Park (167), Bowmore (151), Macallan (129), Port Ellen (124), Springbank (121), Laphroaig (113) and Bruichladdich (111). Now, I only tried Ben Wyvis twice and am still waiting for samples of Malt Mill, Stromness and Parkmore. Come on, friends!

While I'm at it and because some have asked, we've got strictly nothing to do with a rather recent commercial website named whisky-fun.de, but we fermly believe that whisky and fun are all about sharing... So why not website names?

MUSIC – Recommended listening: simply Mr BB King doing Playin’ with my friends.mp3 (from the album Lucille and friends.) Please buy BB King's music!

BB
 

March 25, 2008


   

MALT MANIACS NEWSFLASH
The SWA/DEFRA Consultation

On December 31, 2007, the SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) launched a new ‘Consultation on proposals for Scotch Whisky Regulations 2008’.

Frankly, we don’t know whether that consultation was aimed at ‘simple’ consumers or not but various friends, including within the whisky industry, suggested the Malt Maniacs should send/publish their own views.

As the deadline for doing so was right today, March 25, well, here there are:

In truth, there has been hot debates regarding this or that aspect of the draft (the latter is available here) but the part that really pulled a consensus within the MM’s (minus one vote, actually) was the now famous ‘Blended Malt’ appellation, that should replace the wordings ‘Pure Malt’ or ‘Vatted Malt’, i.e a vatting of malts from two malt distilleries or more. Like the vast majority of people we could talk to, whether consumers or industry people, we thought that the appellation ‘Blended Malt’ was misleading at best, and came up with this proposition instead (the suggestion first came from Malt Maniac Lex Kraaijeveld):

SWA Proposition
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Single Grain Scotch Whisky
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky --->
Blended Grain Scotch Whisky --->
Blended Scotch Whisky
Malt Maniacs Proposition
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Single Grain Scotch Whisky
Malt Scotch Whisky
Grain Scotch Whisky
Blended Scotch Whisky
Bottom line: KISS!
 
CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
NEIL YOUNG
Hammersmith Apollo, London, March 14th 2008
Neil Young
Neil Young has something of a reputation for being a truculent performer – but he’s certainly not reluctant. Tonight was supposed to have been the first of a two-night stint at the Hammersmith Apollo, but such was the demand for tickets that four more nights were squeezed in here (all sold out I believe) between trips to Edinburgh and Manchester. Such is the appeal of a timeless elder statesman of rock, who has of course only recently survived a brief encounter with mortality. But despite his rather (possibly contrived) shambolic demeanour he doesn’t look (or sound) the worse for it. And by his own standards he’s very engaged with the audience, enjoying a sort of grumpy badinage throughout the two halves (acoustic first, electric second) of a three -hour-plus set. Maybe that’s because long time collaborator Tim Pope is here making a film. Or maybe that’s just how he likes it.
Neil Young
The stage is decked out like a film studio, and at the back roadie and sometime artist Eric Johnson is working on a series of canvases (apparently it’s ‘conceptual’). There are film crew everywhere, and I’m glad not to be seated too close to the front of the stage where their presence is clearly unavoidably intrusive. But Mr Young is protected from them, and the audience, by a comforting circle of instruments, seven guitars and a banjo. There are at least three Martins and a couple of big twelve strings. As he moves in and out of the circle to the pianos on either side of the stage he does that thing which all people do if you have guitars in the house, which is just run your thumb along the strings close to the top of the fret board. It’s a gesture of affection as much as anything else, because guitars are more than just guitars, they’re friends. “You’re not listening” says Young to a song-calling crowd as he strokes the twelve strings, each in a different open tuning. “You’re not listening. These guitars are getting on real fine” He picks up one of the Martins, “Now this one really turned on me last night…” and plays (as I recall) ‘Love art blues’ before returning the guitar to its stand with a caress of real affection. He’s just as fond of his pianos, slowly stroking the side of the ‘psychedelic’ baby grand before playing a haunting version of ‘A man needs a maid’.
It’s a wonderful hour and a half: starting with ‘From Hank to Hendrix’ and finishing with ‘Old man’, he delivers in between a thoughtful selection of his moving (‘Don’t let it bring you down’) and sometimes funny (‘Old King’) songs. His harmonica playing is exceptional and his voice achingly vulnerable – if the passage of time has done anything to his singing it’s made it a better vehicle for his songs than it was. The audience are loving it – this is what the majority of them have come for – and even the song-shouters give up their griping towards the end. Indeed I note that a number of the crowd leave after this first set – no doubt because they know only too well what to expect in the second. I can see that those who don’t, who have somehow managed to keep the Neil Young of Crazy Horse out of their minds, are frankly shocked as the second half begins, with Johnson introducing each song – music hall style, with a canvas on the right hand side of the stage, and Young launching into some mayhem guitar on his old black Gibson Les Paul.
Les Paul
Les Paul Classic
It’s not quite Crazy Horse, but with Ralph Molina on drums, Rick Rosas on bass, and Ben Keith on guitars it’s close enough (Young’s wife Pegi, who opened the show, joins occasionally on vocals and glockenspiel, as does Anthony Crawford on vocals and keyboards). Molina is awesome, but I imagine that having played with Young for so long he’s always able to second guess where he’s going, particularly during the frequent and prolonged denouements to each song. Young’s guitar playing, I wrote in my little black notebook, ‘combines gravitas with a barely concealed adolescent fury’ particularly during his lengthy solo on ‘No hidden path’, much of which is spent facing up to a huge yellow light on the right of the stage.
It’s a wonderfully hit and miss style, fuzzy and feedback fuelled, it’s raw, raucous and thoroughly self-indulgent, just the sort of stuff we’d all like to play in our living rooms if our neighbours would let us. And although it is loud, it’s nothing like the volume of his set with Crazy Horse at the Fleadh seven years ago, when I swear I thought it was impossible for so few people to make so much noise. But everything gets the noise treatment, even if there are some delicate moments – ‘Too far gone’, ‘Powderfinger’, it’s noise all the way through to encores ‘Cinnamon girl’ and ‘Tonight’s the night’.
Did I mention the ovation that Young got when he took the stage at the start of the show? It was huge – almost overwhelming I would have thought. It was even bigger when he left about three and a half hours later after an almost flawless performance (bearing in mind, of course, that flaws define Young’s approach to both recording and performance).

He’s playing in continental Europe later in the summer, and will be back for some festivals in the UK – so should you have a chance I would urge you to go and see him. Forget what the cynics say about ageing rock stars – here’s a man at the top of his game. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)

Music: Neil Young's MySpace page

Neil Young
 
TASTING – TWO NEW 1988 GLEN GARIOCHS
Glen Garioch 19 yo 1988/2008 (53.1%, James MacArthur, sherry, cask #1536) We already had cask #1535 by Kames MacArthur (bottled 2003) and really liked it (88). Colour: full gold. Nose: hot and really punchy! Starts on big notes of rubbed orange skin and plum spirit plus vanilla crème and honey and is soon to get rather superbly resinous after that. Thuja wood, eucalyptus, pine resin, camphor, liquorice... And cigarette tobacco, mint, cedar wood... Add to that rather heady (pleasantly so) notes of ripe strawberries and you’ll get a nose that’s pretty beautiful. Very little peat that I can get but indeed something phenolic. Very nice oakiness as well. Glen Garioch
Mouth: very thick, very creamy, with almost the same mouth feel as a liqueur’s. Big fruitiness (orange liqueur, strawberry sweets) with also notes of milk chocolate and mint, liquorice allsorts, honeydew (pine tree ‘honey’), more peat than on the nose, Turkish delights, soft spices, pepper... Gets more and more enjoyable and drinkable. Finish: long, fruity, still ‘vigorous’ after quite some caudalies (a caudalie is one second, as you may know). Comment: pure pleasure! SGP:634 – 88 points.
Glengarioch 19 yo 1988/2008 (55.5%, Duncan Taylor, cask #1560) A sister cask, possibly from the same lot. Colour: pale gold. Nose: as often, this one is very similar but the sherry and the fruitiness are less obvious, as if it was a refill cask that had contained its first whisky for a much longer time than cask #1536. A bit more mineral and ashy, as well as more vegetal (raw rhubarb, sorrel). It also seems that there was more peat in this one – or rather than the peatiness is less masked by the wood. What’s sure is that it’s a beautiful nose again. Notes of fresh oranges develop over time . It’s great to be able to check the difference that a more – or less – active cask imparts to the very same distillate. Mouth: this is now the same whisky as the James MacArthur, with maybe just a little more resinous notes and a slightly bigger pepperiness. Does that mean that a more active cask is more noticeable on the nose than on the palate? Finish: same as above. Comment: did I already say ‘pure pleasure’? SGP:544 – 88 points.
And also Glen Garioch 29 yo 1968/1997 (55.9%, OB, cask #624) From The Timmermans 40-session. Nose: rather beautiful sherry despite a heavy meatiness. Big notes of cigar, game, tyres, pipe juice, peat... Very thick on the nose. Mouth: ultra-concentrated indeed but balanced, which is quite an achievement. Peat, orange liqueur, chewed cigar, Mandarine Impériale, gentian spirit. Comment: extremely rich - spectacular! SGP:744 – 90 points.
 

March 23, 2008


TASTING – 16, 17, 18: THREE BLACK DUMPY GLENLIVETS
Glenlivet

Glenlivet 16 yo 1974/1990 (54.3%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Colour: straw. Nose: hot, spirity and grainy, with whiffs of smoke, getting rather soapy after a while. Very soapy, actually, hard to enjoy. With water: gets grassier but never quite enjoyable. Farmyard. Mouth (neat): big, punchy but very ‘new’. Alcohol, kirsch, apple spirit. With water: it got more drinkable but the overal profile didn’t change much. Finish: long, fruity, spirity, simple. Comments: one of the last dumpies – not the nicest ones for sure. SGP:541 (wazzat?) - 72 points.

Glenlivet 17 yo 1972/1990 (55.7%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Colour: straw. Nose: even more spirity, with even notes of acetone and then pear spirit after the very varnishy notes have vanished a bit (are we good at cheap alliterations or what?). Raw alcohol. With water: way nicer. Gentle, rounded fruitiness, rhubarb pie and fresh ripe strawberries. Mouth (neat): very spirity and fruity, just like a mixture of various fruit eaux-de-vie. Apple, pear, kirsch, plum... With water: even more of the same. The rubber got bigger. Finish: long but still fruity/rubbery, not unlike quickly distilled tutti-frutti alcohol. Comments: a tad better than the 1974 in my book. SGP:542 - 74 points.
Glenlivet 18 yo 1972/1990 (53.7%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re really on nail polish this time, and then on strawberry liqueur and newly sawn oak plank. Gets better (smoother) with a little time, more on apple peelings and tinned pineapples. With water: whiffs of ginger tonic and even more oak plank. That didn’t work. Mouth (neat): fruit eau-de-vie again plus a little rubber. Harsh and much oakier than its siblings. With water: it’s the pepper from the wood that strikes now. Better balanced than its bros. Finish: long, peppery and grassy. Comments: another one for people who’re not afraid of... raw spirit. What’s sure is that anything that’s black and dumpy isn’t always great as far as whisky’s concerned. Oh well... SGP:451 - 74 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Another Hammond Ogranist extrardinaire, Rhoda Scott. This time she's playing the standard Never let me go.m3 from her album Summertime. Please buy Rhoda Scott's music!

Rhoda Scott
 

March 21, 2008


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
Port Ellen

 

 

 

 

TASTING – THREE 1979 PORT ELLENS

Port Ellen 22 yo 1979/2002 (43%, Signatory, cask #5745, 345 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: not a wham-bam PE at first nosing but a rather typical one, pretty much on tar, new tyres and sea air. Gets then even more ‘coastal’, with notes of fisherman’s net, seashells, iodine (a lot) and kelp, getting finally sort of mentholated, earthier and rootier (humus). Maybe just a tad lactic as well but the general feeling is rather fresh. Mouth: good mouth feel at just 43% ABV, salt, peat, almonds, pepper, lemon and something slightly waxy and resinous (mastic). Very drinkable! Finish: rather long, balanced, more lemony and a tad saltier. The best alternative to tequila? Comments: good and more drinkable than many Port Ellens. SGP:337 – 86 points.
Port Ellen 25yo 1979/2005 (50%, Douglas Lain OMC, sherry finish, DL2016, 425 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: bizarre, very bizarre, and not much ‘PE’ at first sniffing. Vanilla crème, warm milk, orange cake... Gets nicer with time, that is, more maritime, peatier and smokier but I find the whole to be aromatically weakish. Wet wool. Keeps hesitating between ‘a lactic sweetness’ and the expected tarry smokiness. Mouth: more ‘PE’ now but there’s this odd sweetness that remains on your tongue. Icing sugar? As if someone had added sugar to a good, ‘regular’ Port Ellen. The funniest thing is that it’s far from being unpleasant. After gin fizz, here’s Port Ellen fizz! Finish: rather long and very lemony now. Peated lemonade? Comments: on the one side, it’s sort of a made-up Port Ellen, but on the other side, it’s quite good, so let’s not be a silly purist. SGP:436 – 84 points.
Port Ellen 26 yo 1979/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, Rum Finish, 342 bottles) Another one that was oddly finished. ‘Why?’ Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s roughly the same that happens here. Half-sugary, half-peaty/smoky. Good news, the sweetness vanishes rather quickly here, leaving more room for ‘Islayity’. Wet wool, sea breeze, kelp... And a little pepper on fresh butter. Rather nice, the distillery’s character not being masked by the finishing too much. Maybe refill rum? Mouth: sweeter and more sugary than the ‘sherry’. Candied peat. Less balanced than the ‘sherry’, frankly too sugarish for my taste. Unusual notes of very ripe kiwis and dried oranges. Gets bitterish after a while (leaves, rocket salad). Finish: long but even bitterer now (chlorophyl) as well as cardboardy. Comments: from excessive sweetness to excessive bitterness on the palate. A rather weird Port Ellen in my opinion, but it’s still rather good whisky. SGP:566 – 79 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Blues-rock hitman Steve Earle and his Dukes play a very rough and roaring Breed.mp3. Excellent! Please buy Steve Earle's music!

Steve Earle
 

March 20, 2008


Knockdhu

TASTING – THREE KNOCKDHUS

Knockdhu 12 yo (43%, OB, mid-1990’s) The official Knockdhus were named, err, Knockdhu before they were changed to An Cnoc because of some possible confusion with Knockando, but the labels were kept similar for a while. Colour: straw. Nose: very malty, milky and yeasty at first nosing, not unlike a whisky-sprinkled plate of warm porridge. Hints of wet newspaper. Gets then more flowery (buttercups and other ‘yellow’ wild flowers), with also notes of vanilla cream and rice pudding. Not very bold...

Mouth: very sweet attack, very malty, caramelly, vanilled, grainy... Reminds me of some blends. Candy sugar, pineapple sweets and dried apples. Not bad at all I must say but lacks character for my taste. Finish: medium long, malty and caramelly, with maybe just a small pinch of salt. Comment: average but very drinkable. Good introduction to malt whisky? SGP:341 (wazzat?) – 79 points.
An Cnoc 1993/2007 (46%, OB) Colour: pale straw. Nose: much more happening than in the old twelve. Much fruitier (red apples, pears, peaches) and more flowery as well (same notes of wild yellow flowers, heather). Flower nectar and pollen. Whiffs of farmyard behind all that and finally vanilla crème. Very pleasantly assertive (as they say). Mouth: creamy, rather rich, compact, with a very special fruitiness. Ripe strawberries, bananas flambéed, honey and vanilla crème. Good pepper that sustains the whole. Finish: medium long, maltier. Comment: good whisky, much less in blend territory. Very pleasant honeyed notes that give it something of Highland Park. SGP:442 – 83 points.
Knockdhu 14 yo 1989/2003 (52.9%, Cadenhead’s, 282 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: hard! Extremely yeasty, porridgy, yoghurty... Almost feinty in fact. Unusual notes of burned heather and thyme, paraffin, plastic, motor oil... Not repulsive as such but unless you’re really looking for something, well, unusual, you may pass... Mouth: better now, at least at the attack. Much less yoghurty and much fruitier. Rather hot. Plum spirit and cornflakes. Like in the 1993, quite some pepper coming through after a while. Malty and liquoricy. Finish: long but with a bigger bitterness. Tickles your throat a bit. Comment: very average I think. Not much to say... yawn... SGP:241 – 70 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Sadly forgotten soul diva Valorie Keys (very rare!) does Eddie Harris’ Listen here.mp3 in 1966. It's on the the album Funk Soul Sisters. Please buy Valorie Keys' (and all the sistas') music!

Valorie Keys
 

March 19, 2008


Macallan 30

TASTING – THREE YOUNG OLD MACALLANS

No contradictions here, in WF vocabulary, ‘young old’ means a recent bottling of an old whisky. ‘Old young’ means an old bottling of a young whisky. ‘Old old’ and ‘young young’ mean... well, you got it i’m sure.

Macallan 38 yo 1969/2007 (40.4%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, cask #6846, 176 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: it seems that this old Macallan is a very fruity one. Starts on some rather beautiful notes of ripe apples and strawberries, goseberries and even raspberries, and gets then much spicy/oaky (ginger, cinnamon, aniseed). Its also a little bubblegummy, which is sort of funny. Keeps developing for quite some time after that, getting more ‘acidulated’ (lemon, kiwi, tangerines), with also quite some vanilla. Very pleasant, let’s hope the palate won’t be too drying and woody. By the way, no sherry whatsoever in this one. Reminds me of the times when we had to rely on independent bottlers to be able to try unsherried Macallans. Mouth: very good news, this one isn’t too oaky despite its age and the very low strength. No tannins infusion, rather some beautiful notes of dried oranges, dried ginger, figs, quince jelly (luv’ that) and marzipan plus crystallised lemon zests and vanilla fudge. A few tea-ish notes from the wood but it’s more an asset here. Excellent old whisky. Finish: medium long but rather complex, a bit woodier now, faintly sour but also more candied and toffee-ish. Comment: very, very good. Only the rubber and the slightly sour finish prevent me from going up to 90+. SGP:651 (wazzat?) – 89 points.
Macallan 30 yo 'Fine Oak' (43%, OB, circa 2007) Colour: full gold. Nose: similar ‘in spirit’ to the 1969 but other that that, quite different on the nose. Maltier and grainier and rather less fruity. Added hints of sherry as well, albeit very discreet ones. Also a little more flowery (rather big notes of pollen, that is). Dandelions and roses, cedar wood, oranges, spicy honey (ginger) and a very faint soapiness. Rather aromatic as a whole but less so than the 1969. Mouth: rounder, softer and creamier than the 1969 and much maltier as well. A lot of vanilla crème, gingerbread, roasted nuts and caramel. Gets more caramelly by the minute, that is. The sherry grow bigger as well. Also notes of apricot pie, apple pie... More happening on the palate than on the nose I think. Finish: rather long, mainly on candy sugar and gingerbread. Comment: I like this one a little better than last time I had it (from earlier batches). Now, is it worth the 500 Euros price tag? SGP:541 – 85 points.
Macallan 19 yo 1988/2008 (53.3%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, cask #8426, 271 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: more, much more happening here, even if the whole is rougher. Big notes of espresso coffee, very ripe oranges (and zests), rather big smokiness (pine wood smoke – unusual in whisky), rubber bands (a whole pack) and eucalyptus. Also Turkish delights, orange blossom and rosewater. A big, very expressive Macallan, very likeable as well provided you’re not against rubber in your whisky – on the nose. Let’s see what happens with a little water: the malt comes out more, as well as tar and tealeaves. More liquorice as well. Mouth (neat): very thick and very creamy – and directly oriental, with loads of figs (and the liqueurs made thereof), oriental pastries (baklavas, orange blossom water), and liquorice. Very big – and good news, no rubber this time. Slight saltiness. With water: again, it’s the liquorice that grows bigger. Maltier as well. Finish: long, malty, honeyed and salty. Comment: one of the biggest lightly sherried Macallans I ever came across I think. Recommended! SGP:643 – 88 points.
And also Macallan 18 yo 1968/1986 (43%, OB) From the Timmermans 40-session. Nose: complex and balanced. Ham and prunes, milk chocolate, rhubarb pie, praline, espresso coffee and cardamom. Superb. Mouth: again, complex and ‘antique’ yet rather fresh. Sultanas, ripe strawberries, marshmallows and bubblegum (unusual in old Macallans), orange cake. Less sherried than other versions but still at the top. Also slightly medicinal. Brilliant whisky ‘anyways.’ SGP:632 – 91 points. Macallan 18 1968

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Country - blues wonder Ry Cooder plays the Theme from Southern Comfort.mp3; that rather amazing movie where National Guards on a training weekend (thanks, N.) get lost in Louisiana's bayou. Please buy Ry Cooder's music!

Ry Cooder
 

March 18, 2008


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
THE ZOMBIES
Shepherds Bush Empire, London, March 9th 2008
Zombies
It’s the time of the season. There’s one mother of a millennial storm forecast for the UK, and London is red on the map, 60 per cent chance of severe damage and disruption says the risk-averse Met Office. Recommendation? Stay at home, lock your doors, keep away from windows, buy candles, drink hot drinks. Well, it evidently hasn’t worked for everyone, as the Shepherds Bush Empire is almost bursting with brave or foolhardy adventurers who’ve all come out, forty years on, to witness a piece of 1968 that never quite happened.
It’s the Zombies (well almost, as Keith Airey is taking the place of the late Paul Atkinson on guitar), the great lost band of the sixties, performing in its entirety their now much-lauded album Odessey and Oracle. Now don’t let the spell checker fool you, Serge – the story is that the guy who designed the long player’s suitably ‘psychedelic’ cover couldn’t spell Odyssey, and by the time the error was discovered it was too late to fix it. Anyway it’s a piece now regarded as a landmark album – straddling the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson on the one hand and the Beatles and Lennon and McCartney (sorry Sir Paul, I mean McCartney and Lennon) on the other. Odessey
Listening to the album I wouldn’t quite agree – the songs aren’t as strong overall as their counterparts, and the album lacks the coherency that others – notably Sergeant Pepper, offered. But that’s not to say that it isn’t very good. And as the band had split up before it was released (no-one will quite say why, but they were clearly hard-up and there was probably some jealousy between the guys who had the song- writing credits - organist Rod Argent and bass player Chris White - and those that didn’t, Atkinson, drummer Hugh Grundy and stellar vocalist Colin Blunstone), the opportunity to see it performed live is too hard to resist.
That’s not that the Zombies haven’t toured of late – Argent and Blunstone, both of course with their own successful solo careers, have been fronting a Zombies ‘touring band’ – I suppose a sort of self-tribute outfit - for a few years, with Kinks veteran Jim Rodford on bass, his son Steve on drums, and Airey on guitar.
And this is what kicks the evening off with a rather eclectic and not entirely satisfactory selection of songs like ‘I love you’ (a long-forgotten B-side from 1965), Ray Charles’ ‘Sticks and stones’ (one of the R&B standards that had made up much of their original repertoire) and even ‘What becomes of the broken hearted’, during which the audience positively flinched when asked to sing along (at 8.30 on a Sunday night?). Blunstone was then accompanied by Argent and a string quartet through some of his hits – and by this time it was obvious that this most deliberate of singers was really starting to find his voice – notably with the gorgeous ‘Misty roses’. I can’t actually believe I wrote that because I used to detest the then impossibly tight-trousered Blunstone when I was at school, but his voice was simply magical, and you could, as they say, have heard a pin drop when he sang this and, of course, ‘Say you don’t mind’. Argent then had his turn, finishing predictably enough with ‘Hold your head up’.  
Blunstone
Colin Blunstone
To be honest the first half probably left a few of us wondering if we might not have been better advised to follow the advice of the Met Office and stay at home – but we shouldn’t have worried. The Zombies, and Odessey, was introduced by Al Kooper, famous, amongst other things, for his Hammond organ part in Bob Dylan’s ‘Like a rolling stone’, and with respect to this evening, for getting the album released in the United States, where ‘Time of the season’ became a huge hit, ending up, as many of us will remember, on The Rock Machine Turns You On, the first sampler album. They took the stage to an ovation, Blunstone looking nervous and like a Brand Ambassador for Grecian 2000, Grundy invisible behind his drums, a greying but hirsute Argent bouncing with the enthusiasm of a schoolboy, and a portly White defiantly shouting his sixties credentials by having an Esso tiger’s tail hanging from his bass. Assisting on keyboards and vocals was Darian Sahanaja, sometime Musical Director to Brian Wilson and leader of ‘Powerpop’ band the Wondermints.
Zombies
Well, apart from a few guitar notes I didn’t notice a fault with the performance, and the harmony parts if anything sounded better than they do on the album. Blunstone’s voice just continued to amaze and his presence managed to make even the weaker material on the album transcend a sixties time-trap. Some of the songs, ‘Changes’ and (of course) ‘Time of the season’ really stood out, as did the anti-war ‘Butcher’s tale’, very well sung by White, with a resonance for 2008 that he could not have imagined when he wrote it. It’s a short album, so it’s a short set, even if Argent is allowed a slightly self-indulgent (but thoroughly enjoyable) solo on ‘Time of the season’.
The encores, ‘Tell her no’ and ‘She’s not there’ were simply a prelude to a long, and much-deserved standing ovation for these surviving pioneers of pop. And as we ventured out into a windswept west London one thought continued to puzzle me: where did these songs come from? What transformed a pretty good R&B covers band into mould-breaking, and mould-shaping, musicians? Just what happened forty-odd years ago to open a Pandora’s box of beat music and redefine the face of popular music? And to help you find the answer, I suggest you wear a pretty floral shirt, put a nicely-scratched copy of Odessey on your Dansette record-player, pour yourself a large Scotch and soda, light up a slim panatella, and ponder. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate) Cigar
 
TASTING – BALBLAIR, A (very) SHORT RETRO-VERTICALE
Banana Balblair 34 yo 1965/2000 (40.1%, Douglas Laing OMC, 169 bottles) Will this one be as fruity as its sistas from the same years? Colour: full gold. Nose: yes the big fruitiness is well here, albeit it’s not quite an immense fruitiness such as the famous (and adorable) official 38yo 1966. Bananas, tangerines, beeswax, then mint and hints of camphor, then we’re back on coffee and wax polish as well as dried oranges, toffee... A classic old Balblair but with an interesting added smokiness instead of it being a true fruitbomb. Whiffs of hay as well. No signs of overageing.
Mouth: more wood influence, obviously. The oak and the fruits are fighting each other at the attack and even if bananas and peaches never completely die, it’s the wood that wins as often in old whiskies, especially when the strength dropped quite a lot. Green tea, herbal teas (I get cherry stems), grape skin, apple peelings... And finally huge notes of walnut liqueur. Gets rather better with more time – once you got used to the oakiness ;-). Finish: pretty long despite the low strength, better balanced than ‘at the end of the middle’. Bananas (including skin), tea and praline. Comment: as often with these old whiskies, a great-great nose and a ‘very okayish’ palate. SGP:561 (but more like 741 on the nose alone) – 86 points.
Balblair 22 yo 1975/1998 (46%, Dun Eideann, cask #98/1359) Colour: pale gold. Nose: very strange! White tequila and parsley plus lovage and soy sauce. It smells like a Chinese restaurant at rush hour, if you see what I mean. Very metallic as well, wet chalk, dust... And caramelised beef. Highly unusual, it could be great, it could be quite a disaster... Let’s see what gives on the palate. Mouth: well, it’s not a disaster but it’s certainly not something ‘good’ as such. The first thing that comes to mind is these cheap fruit liqueurs that one can buy at tourist shops all over the world. Longans? Strawberries? Oranges? Something cooked as well, Jell-O... Then burnt cake, overcooked coffee, cooked sweet wine... Rather exuberant in fact but enjoyable? Not really... Finish: long, with something slightly chemical now. Orange liqueur, ‘industrial’ orangeade, caramel, black pepper. Comment: weird whisky, which is strange as there were very great ones within this series. SGP:443 – 67 points.
Balblair 16 yo 1991/2007 (55.2%, Dewar Rattray for Jack Wieber for Monnier, cask #3289, 60 bottles) 60 bottles, quite a garage bottling, eh! Or is this one to be found behind other liveries as well? Colour: gold. Nose: we’re rather close to the Dun Eideann but without the odd notes. A more obvious sherry as well. ‘Good’ rubber, gunpowder, coffee, milk chocolate, praline, caramel, chocolate-dipped orange zests... But none of the beautiful fruity aromas that we usually find in older versions of Balblair. Rather pleasant, though. Good mintiness coming through after a while. Mouth: starts on a much heavier sherry – and rubber. Chewed rubber band (yes, you really have to be starving), cherry liqueur, over-infused tea, ginger, kumquats, cloves, pepper... All that is a little too much for my taste, even if I like it better after it could rest a bit. Gets more liquoricy and rounder at the same time. Chocolate-covered liquorice and strawberry jam. Yes, ‘thick’ even if it’s no sherry monster as such. Finish: long, more orangey. Something slightly hot – and heavy liquorice. Comment: liquid liquorice on the palate, really. SGP:542 – 82 points. Balblair
 

March 17, 2008


Dalmore

 

 

 

 

 

TASTING – THREE HIGH-STRENGTH DALMORES from the 1970’s

Dalmore 28 yo 1974/2002 (57.9%, OB for Japan, cask #5083) Colour: gold. Nose: as expected, this one starts boldly on oranges, oranges and oranges. Dried, fresh and crystallised oranges as well as orangey perfume, orange-scented soap and orange-flavoured yoghurt. Let’s see what gives after the addition of a little water. With water: it got quite superb, with more tropical fruits such as passion fruits, mangos, pomegranates... Partly reminds me of old Bowmores in a certain way. Lemon tree honey. Yes, this is superb! Not only oranges ;-). Mouth (neat): very big, very sweet, very fruity. Notes of apple brandy (calvados), tangerine liqueur, Grand-Marnier (or competitor Cointreau), then honey, milk chocolate and caramel... Very pleasant, less in need of water than on the nose. Still, let’s add water again: well, it’s maybe not quite as stunning as on the nose after reduction but still, it’s superb whisky. Beautiful oak and its spicy cortege (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom) plus both white and milk chocolate. And let’s not forget the oranges! Finish: long, mostly on ginger/pepper/dried oranges. Comment: something that reminds me of the fantastic 50yo. Excellent Dalmore provided you don’t hate oranges – who does?, but don’t forget to add water! SGP:742 (wazzat?) – 90 points.
Dalmore 28 yo 1976/2005 (58%, Blackadder, cask #BA0244, 348 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: fresher (more on, ahem, squashed oranges) and more winey. Probably from a second fill sherry cask but I’m not sure. Goes on with crushed strawberries, dry white (riesling), cooked blueberries and a little rubber. Maybe a little too heady and spirity, let’s add water. With water: definitely less fruity than the OB, but maybe more multidimensional. More on guavas, ginger, coriander, chestnut honey (please try that honey when you can, if you never did), soft curry, maple syrup... Again, a beautiful nose, very assertive. Mouth (neat): excellently round, fruity and spicy. Closer to the OB at this stage but also even more satisfying. More candied. Ripe kiwis, cloves, icing sugar and strawberry drops. It’s frightening how easy to drink this one is – at 58% ABV. With water: still big, even at roughly 40% ABV, still thick and creamy, but a little simpler this time, quite curiously. Not that it doesn’t swim but there’s something slightly too rubbery that came out and that never disappeared. Big saltiness as well. Finish: long and salty. Very, very salty! Comment: amazing changes on the palate after reducing. Interestingly, water makes wonders on the nose but doesn’t work too well on the palate with this Dalmore. Excellent whisky anyway. SGP:652 - 89 points.
Dalmore 1976/2007 (59.9%, Jack Wieber, The Cross Hill, 110 bottles) Another one that’s very high in alcohol at around 30yo. Colour: straw. Nose: we’re well in the same family here. Fresh oranges and a little rubber, strawberry liqueur and kirsch. No winey notes, though, rather a bigger oakiness. More butter and more vanilla. With water: this is getting boring, it’s another superb nose! Full oranges, ginger, sandalwood and incense. Mouth (neat): well, this one is too hot and powerful to be enjoyed when naked (I mean, the whisky of course). More oak than in its siblings, that’s for sure (green tea). With water: that worked this time, but it’s quite different from its bros. More on wax, bitter oranges and ginger, as well as various spices (I get cardamom again, cinnamon, white pepper...) Finish: long but maybe a tad oaky now. Strong tea, ‘sawdust’, apple peelings – other than that it’s great. Comment: another excellent old Dalmore, just a tad too oaky for my taste. Well, it was oakier than both the OB and the Blackadder. SGP:542 – 87 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: the marvelous pasionnaria Brigitte Fontaine (born 1939) sings Rue St-Louis en L'île.mp3. Her friends Sonic Youth describe her as 'France's secret weapon of avant-garde amour et sortie'. Yeah well, please buy her music.

Fontaine
 

March 16, 2008


Glenturret

TASTING – TWO DEVILISH 25yo GLENTURRETS

Glenturret 25 yo (43%, OB, Globe Decanter, +/- 1995) This one has quite a reputation... Erm... Colour: pale gold. Nose: right, right... Is that wood alcohol? Methanol? Wet paper, ink, ginger tonic, new plastic, burning tyres, fermenting hay... Bizarre, very bizarre... Not totally unpleasant, that is, it’s just that you’ve got to be a bit perverse to enjoy this I think. But interesting it is! Mouth: yawn! Something like orange wine mixed with caramel, soap and glue (the one that’s behind postage stamps, you know...) Another planet indeed – well, I guess it’s all a matter of references. Finish: medium long but much soapier. Comments: something must have gone wrong here. SGP:161 - 49 points.

Glenturret 25 yo 1965/1990 (52.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Colour: white wine. Nose: perversity at cask strength, I’d say. All what was found in the ‘globe’ plus rotting oranges. And ginger beer? What’s sure is that no-one can remain immune to Glenturret’s ‘charm’, so to speak. Another planet. Mouth: harsh and spirity, gingery, papery, peppery, bitter... But better than the ‘globe’, no doubt, thanks to rather pleasant lemony notes. Finish: long, peppery, lemony and cardboardy. Comments: still one for Dr. Evil in a certain way. SGP: 361 - 66.6 points (of course).

MUSIC – Recommended listening: Frenchman Pierrejean Gaucher and his band are doing Frank Zappa's Heavy duty Judy.mp3 live (that was on Gaucher's 'excellent Zappe Zappa' album.) Please buy these people's music!

Gaucher
 

March 15, 2008


Ardbeg 1993

TASTING – TWO RATHER DIFFICULT 1993 ARDBEGS

Ardbeg 1993/2007 (56.3%, Jack Wieber, The Cross Hill, 303 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: raw alcohol at first, then new plastic and varnish, then rabbit dropping, cider vinegar, riesling from a not-so-sunny vintage, rubbed lemon zest, bitter almonds, motor oil... Yes, I know, that doesn’t sound too appealing, does it? Let’s give this one more time... zzz...

Well, now it got much more on fusel oil and coal, soot, raw asparagus, medicinal alcohol... And peat of course. Very austere to say the least. With water: switches towards an even bigger grassiness. Aniseed, cooked cabbage... And our good friends the wet dogs (sorry again, dogs). Actually, water doesn’t seem to work too well with this one, it rerally starts to smell like the inside of a plastic bag after a moment. Mouth: much more a classic, typical young Ardbeg. Peat blast and all that jazz. And then lemon... Complex? Not, but perfectly ‘profiled’. ‘Funny’ chemical notes (plastic, lemonade) as well but that should disappear with water. So, with water: much better. The off notes have disappeared. Classic young Ardbeg. Finish: long and saltier than usual. Comment: a tricky one. Very interesting but only if you’ve got several other versions on your shelves in my opinion. SGP:168 – 81 points.
Ardbeg 8 yo 1993/2002 (59.8%, SMWS, 33.48, 280 bottles, 'May flowers and Swarfega') What the hell is Swarfega? ‘A degreasing and vehicle cleaner’ they say... Scary, isn’t it? Colour: white wine. Nose: no, I’m sorry, this one doesn’t make it. Too harsh, too acidic (gym socks), too raw... Young whiskies are fine when they matured extremely well but otherwise they really lack complexity – and whisky’s all about complexity, isn’t it! But maybe water will help... With water: now it got nicer, with a whole bunch of ‘mineral’ aromas. Coal, graphite, pencils, chalk, limestone... And yes, maybe ‘Swarfega’. Mouth: very peaty and pleasantly sweet. Almonds. Iodine. Not much else – as simple and straightforward as a young ‘modern’ Ardbeg can get I guess. Lacks ageing, obviously. With water: just the same. Finish: long, just the same, with more salt. Comment: good but too young. Worth it but again, only if you need to have a good example of a very young (immature) Ardbeg on your shelves. SGP:258 – 82 points.
 
WHISKY AND ROCK AND ROLL
Guitar Manne Lagavulin It’s no secret that we at Whiskyfun believe that Single Malt and Rock and Roll gang tegither, so let’s clap to this wonderful new venture: two extraordinary guitars and one bass made by Italian maestro and whisky aficionado Andrea ‘Manne’ Ballarin out of one cask of Lagavulin 1991. The whole story is on Manne Guitars’ website. Yes, Whiskyfun was in on it and yes, we'll spare you silly jokes involving that song by Deep Purple.

 

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: We're in 1944, Woody Guthrie is doing This land is your land.mp3 (it's on the recent CD Original Folkways Recordings). Seminal, as they say. Please buy this legendary music.

 


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


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

 

 

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

Ardmore 26 yo 1977/2003 (45%, Samaroli, 35th Anniversary cask #7631, 738 bottles)

Astral Hits 40 yo 1967/2008 (47.2%, The Nectar, Daily Dram, 120 bottles, Strathisla)

Dalmore 28 yo 1974/2002 (57.9%, OB for Japan, cask #5083)

Glen Garioch 29 yo 1968/1997 (55.9%, OB, cask #624)

Glen Grant 30 yo 1977/2007 (46%, Coopers Choice)

Macallan 18 yo 1968/1986 (43%, OB)

Strathisla 40 yo 1963/2003 (57.7%, JWWW Old Train Line, cask #2745, 180 bottles)

Talisker 25 yo 1975 (59,9%, OB, Bottled 2001, 6000 bottles)