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Hi, you're in the Archives, November 2005 - Part 1
       
         

October 2005 - part 2 <--- November 2005 - part 1 ---> November 2005 - part 2
 

November 14, 2005


TASTING - NO LESS THAN EIGHT VERY RECENT ACES BY GLENGOYNE
Glengoyne 15yo 'Scottish oak wood finish' (43%, OB, 2005 bottling)
Glengoyne 15 yo 'Scottish oak wood finish' (43%, OB, 2005 bottling) Colour: gold. Nose: quite some body, starting on lots toasted notes together with some funny notes of mushroom soup, smoked ham, Maggi, soy sauce… Very meaty, really. Is that what Scottish oak smells like? Gets smokier and smokier, on burnt bread, oxtail soup… It then gets a little more ‘normal’, with quite some toffee and some nice flowery notes but with always some bold ‘organic’ notes. Dried boletus? Even truffles… (gosh, now I’m getting hungry). After a good quarter of an hour: it’s switched to overripe apples with a bit of eucalyptus. Mouth: sweet and certainly simpler but still quite special, with a mix of wax and dried fruits, vanilla crème, smoked meat again, butter caramel, orange and olive oil, mead… Very ‘different’, definitely. Just a strange aftertaste after a few seconds, something like salted coffee but it’s almost subliminal, thank god. The finish is medium long and caramelly, on Chinese plum sauce. A very interesting whisky in any case, it seems that Scottish oaks have something particular to tell us! 87 points.
Glengoyne 15 yo 1989/2005 'Duncan's Choice' (55.7%, OB, sherry hogshead #1204, 350 bottles) Colour: bronze – mahogany. Nose: punchy but not overpowering. This one is on full sherry mode, as expected; lots of chocolate and Smyrna raisins, burnt cake, rum, fruits in liqueur, bigarreau cherries, dried prunes… And some great notes of old fortified wine as well, such as Maury, old Rivesaltes… Something of an old Bourgogne too (Chambertin – the black cherries indeed). A sherry monster for non-sherry freaks, maybe, as the balance is almost perfect, not oafish at all. It smells more and more like a great old red wine, in fact… Wow! Mouth: oh, this is even nicer. Some big, bold sherry, very creamy but not clumsy at all. Tokay essencia, caramel sauce, prunes, ling honey, old tangerine liqueur, fruitcake, pecan pie… Absolutely perfect, and not the faintest hint of rubber or sulphur. A grand sherry monster, not the embodiment of complexity but a superb balance and richness, with a long and almost invasive finish, on alcoholised fruit jams and old Cognac. Wow, congrats, Duncan! 91 points.
Glengoyne 22 yo 1981/2004 (49.1%, OB for The Whiskyfair, cask #410, 234 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: extremely discreet at first nosing, slightly floral with hints of coffee and old cardboard, limestone, wet chalk… It gets then rather herbal, grassy, on freshly mown lawn, lily of the valley, a little violets… Also a little mashy and yeasty, with some dairy cream, mashed potatoes… It finally opens up after quite some time, getting quite farmy. An interesting ‘natural’ Glengoyne. Mouth: sweet and rather creamy, much more expressive than expected. Quite some liquorice, salted butter caramel, dried parsley, light soy sauce. Develops on dried tropical fruits, pineapples, coconut (better than Malibu), ginger… Very nicely balanced, at that, even if it gets gingerier and gingerier. Long and, you guessed it, gingery (and honeyed) finish. Extremely enjoyable on the palate, sort of rounded and sharp at the same time. Very satisfying. 88 points.
Glengoyne 22 yo 1982/2005 'Ronnie's Choice' (53.6%, OB, bourbon barrel #449, 200 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: powerful and very bourbonny indeed, sweet and rounded, with lots of vanilla and dried white fruits (apples, pears, bananas), getting rather rummy (both white and dark rum) before all sorts of beautiful ‘natural, farmy’ notes emerge. Cow stable, horse manure, dried flowers… Chicory, café latte, white chocolate. Gets then rather herbal, with some dill, chive. Again an interesting one, very different and rawer than most Glengoynes I’ve tasted. Well done, Ronnie. Mouth: very similar to the Whisky Fair but even bolder and creamier, and certainly more complex. The coconut notes are really huge now (that, was an active cask), with also lots of beeswax and strong honey, bananas flambéed, old rum. Bold vanilla, dried oranges, sultanas… Really creamy but not plump in any way. And a very long, perfectly balanced finish at that, with even a pinch of salt and caramel. Extremely good, very satisfying again. Again, excellent work, Ronnie. 91 points.
Glengoyne 19yo 1985/2005 (55.8%, OB, refill sherry, cask #1227, 697 bottles)
Glengoyne 19 yo 1985/2005 (55.8%, OB, refill sherry, cask #1227, 697 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: hot, smoky, powerful and a little spirity at first nosing. Lots of salted caramel, sweet wine and hot butter, getting a little rubbery and slightly feinty. Whiffs of cold smoke, flintstone. Keeps developing on apple pie and sweet cider and gets finally quite fruity, with some nice notes of overripe melons and pears… And oh, also some playful notes of dried herbs, thyme, bay leaf, sage… Gets more and more complex, even if not extremely bold. Funny: the smoke might make you think it’s an Islayer at first nosing. Mouth: sweet but rather hot and powerful attack, with both some mint and liquorice and something unusually bitter and herbal at the same time (lavender, Swiss herbal candies). Goes on with some bold notes of dried oranges, marmalade, hot brownies, apricot liqueur. More and more hot pastries, praline, sugared whipped cream. Marzipan. A whole pastry shop! The finish is rather long, on almond milk and fudge, maybe just a tad too tannic and bitter. Water doesn’t really improve it, and makes it even a little bitterer. Anyway, another excellent Glengoyne, even if not one of the very, very best ones in my opinion. 86 points.
Glengoyne 19 yo 1986/2005 'Ewan's Choice' (51.5%, OB, sherry puncheon #441, 600 bottles) Colour: brown – mahogany. Nose: oh, lots of sweet sherry in there! Incredibly rich and dense, opulent and silky. First, there’s a bit of each of the other great ‘brown’ spirits: cognac, armagnac, calvados, rum… Then we have all sorts of raisins and other dried fruits (prunes, orange rinds), fruitcake, clootie dumpling, Grand Marnier, cherries in kirsch, guignolet... Gets superbly toffeeish, with also some leather, Havana tobacco, beeswax… Faint whiffs of camphor and then fresh butter, dairy cream, hay. Extremely demonstrative, almost extravagant yet very balanced and not ‘sticky’ at all. A thrill. Mouth: as rich and full as expected, with no clumsiness at all. Maybe not as complex as on the nose but that would have been miraculous. Bold notes of slightly burnt fruitcake, bitter chocolate, old rum, with some dried coconut, bananas flambéed, baked apples… Lots of cocoa, chocolate liqueur, toffee, with some acidulous notes that keep the whole playful and not over-coating. A very nice sherried mouth, maybe a bit ‘classical’ but again, totally flawless, with a long, creamy but not tiring finish. Not very far from perfection and probably appealing to non-sherry freaks as well. Ewan’s the man! (Yeah, I’m a sucker for these ‘real people’ tricks.) 92 points.
Glengoyne 32 yo 1972/2005 (48.7%, OB, white Rioja cask #985, 328 bottles)
In case you don’t know, white Rioja is made in Spain out of macabeo and sometimes malvasia, and is a dry wine but with low acidity. This is a full-maturing, no finishing or ACE. Colour: full gold. Nose: wow, this is extremely aromatic and concentrated like an ice wine. Yet, it’s superbly fresh and clean. Very rich and compact, presenting three main aromas at the same time: fruits, flowers and caramel. Yes, lots of dried oranges, apricot liqueur, quince jelly, overripe mirabelle plum, nectar, yellow flowers, pollen, light honey, caramel crème… it’s endless and marvellously balanced. Something of a late harvest Alsatian tokay-pinot gris… Ah, and some beautiful notes of ripe strawberries and a whiffs of beeswax… Sumptuous! (For my own references, I added ‘blend of 1972 Clynelish and 1970 Balvenie’). Mouth: silky again, sweet, creamy, fruity and waxy, rounded but rather nervous… And also a little oaky and peppery (white pepper). Probably a little less explosive than the nose but still beautiful. Lots of pear and apricot jams with cinnamon, vanilla beans, quince jelly, bitter chocolate, getting quite gingery after a moment (some wood indeed). The weaker part is probably the finish that’s a little metallic and not extremely long, but quite unexpectedly not drying at all. Anyway, I’m nitpicking, it’s a fabulous malt altogether: 92 points.
Glengoyne 37 yo 1967/2005 (47.6%, OB, sherry butt #975, 246 bottles) Colour: pale amber. Nose: oh, this is just as stunning, yet quite different. Much more winey, superbly sweet and sour, with some very bold notes of cooked rennet apples topped with hot butter and caramel. Almost a sin. Much more humus, earthy notes as well, fresh mushrooms, high-end pu-erh tea, and again all the litany, from quince jelly to mirabelle plum and from nectar to sweet white wine. It’s a beauty, perhaps a tad more discreet than the 1972 but certainly more complex and delicate. Fascinating. Mouth: oh yessss! That’s the kind of attack I just can’t resist. Some ‘western’ fruits, some tropical ones, some waxy, empyreumatical and smoky notes, a little spices and that’s it, you have a winner – in my opinion, at least. This Glengoyne have them all, with some big notes of crystallised quince topping the whole. It is not very complex, it is not very bold, it is not full-bodied, but it’s superbly balanced and even if the finish is a bit drying (but I can’t remember a malt that wasn’t at least a little drying at more than 35 years of age) I think the whole is just a thrill. 93 points (but it would have reached 95 with a little more oomph and just a little less tannins).
Maria Taylor MUSIC – Recommended listening - Azure Ray's Maria Taylor again, singing a beautiful little ballad called Speak easy.mp3. Very tender, very sweet... Please buy her/their music!
 

November 13, 2005


TASTING - TWO FINE AULTMORES
Aultmore 1991/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry wood)
Colour: gold. Nose: lots of dry sherry at first nosing, with again some bold rubbery notes (that will then vanish), burnt herbs, dark toffee, hot coffee beans (torrefaction). It gets then quite curiously farmy, on wet hay and cow stable, with also some bold liquorice. It grows farmier and farmier, and even meaty. Smoked ham? Quite wild for a usually gentle Speysider. Something Islayish, don’t ask me why. I like it a lot, in any case. Mouth: sweet, creamy and coating, with lots of toffee and dried fruits (Smyrna raisins, dates). Rather nervous, at that, with also some fresh fruits such as apples and bananas… It’s really thick, almost like a liqueur. Goes on with some burnt cake, liquorice, and this strange thing I taste once: tar liqueur. The finish is long, on Armagnac and fortified white wine (or, er… sherry). Flawless. 86 points.
Aultmore 1991/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry wood)
Aultmore 14yo 1989 (60.5%, James MacArthur) Aultmore 14 yo 1989 (60.5%, James MacArthur) Colour: gold. Nose: more powerful of course, but nothing excessive. Similarly sherried, with again some bold rubber and toffee, notes of hot metal (still), coffee, and again some feint farmy notes. A little closed, though. We’ll try it with a few drops of water later on. Mouth: incredibly drinkable at 60%, again very similar but simply hotter and rougher. Let’s add a few drops of water… How funny, the nose got very farmy as well, almost as ‘peaty’ as, let’s say Caol Ila. Also very cheesy… The palate got much better too, with more salted caramel and liquorice, smoked meat, high quality balsamic vinegar (not the cheap, watery ones)… And lots of coffee. The finish lasts for hours and is very invading - very ‘full’. A more than perfect, full-bodied Aultmore. 88 points.
MUSIC – It's Sunday, we go classical: mezzo soprano Olga Borodina and her deep, rich voice sing Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix.mp3 (from Camille Saint-Saens' Samson et Dalila, Welsh National Opera Orchestra, Carlo Rizzi, Philips - excerpt of Olga Borodina's CD 'Arias'). Please buy her recordings. Olga Borodina
 

November 12, 2005


TASTING - TWO OLD GLENLIVETS
Glenlivet 1967/2000 ‘Cellar Collection’ (46%, OB, sample code 2GC2003) Colour: gold. Nose: surprisingly spirity at very first nosing, but it’s quick to get much mellower, extremely fruity and flowery. Lots of vanilla but no excessive oak, although one could describe it as being sort of bourbonny. Lots of nectar, honey, plum cake, herbal tea. Big notes of fudge, praline, white chocolate, hot cake, together with some hints of orange and apple juice. Not too complex, I must say, but extremely enjoyable. Mouth: very drying and tannic attack, oaky, with lots of cinnamon and fruit jam (orange marmalade, plums). Goes on with some cocoa powder, cardboard, getting even sort of ‘chalky’. This one went over the hill, no doubt. Moreover, the finish is rather short and weak, but not short of dryness. Too bad, the nose was great. No comment on the quality/price ratio. 82 points. Glenlivet 1967/2000 ‘Cellar Collection’ (46%, OB, sample code 2GC2003)
Glenlivet 36yo 1968/2005 (48.6%, Duncan Taylor, sherry cask #6195, 136 bottles) Glenlivet 36 yo 1968/2005 (48.6%, Duncan Taylor, sherry cask #6195, 136 bottles) Colour: deep amber. Nose: rather smooth but with quite some varnish at first nosing, extremely waxy and resinous, which are signs of a rather active cask, I think. Whiffs of rubber but nothing excessive. Goes on with some refined sherry, lots of dried oranges, fruit cake, honey, sultanas, rum (Barbancourt?), dried figs and dates. Whiffs of smoke and burnt caramel. A classical sherry but with a little extra-freshness that prevents it from being too ‘sticky’. Very, very nice and more complex and bold than the OB, in any case. Mouth: very creamy, nervous, rubbery and resinous again, with a nice bitterness (there’s good and bad bitterness, this one is good). It gets very rummy (maybe I’d have said it’s a rum, had I tasted it blind), hotter and hotter but not burning at all. Lots of raisins, Xmas cake, roasted pecan nuts, with maybe some feint smoky flavours (close to rubber in fact). Still a little rough at such a venerable age, which is amazing. The finish is medium long, on caramel and cake. Very, very nice, sherry just the way I like it. 90 points.

 

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening - Frenchies Thierry Bellia, Jérôme Didelot, Alexandre Longo and Jacques Tellitocci, aka Variety Lab do London in the rain.mp3. Yes, maybe it's lounge music but we can't always listen to pub music, can we? Please buy Variety Lab's music.

Variety Lab
 

November 11, 2005


TASTING - TWO CRAGGANMORES AT 60.1% (but does that make any sense?)
Cragganmore 10 yo 1993/2004 (60.1%, OB, Bodega European oak casks, 15000 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: rather smoky at first nosing, slightly rubbery and ashy, with some rather dry sherry. Notes of burnt breadcrust, roasted nuts, barbeque. Quite some coal as well, fireplace… Unusually anti-sweet, I’d say, with also some hints of cow stable coming through after a moment. It doesn’t lack balance at all, that is. Cragganmore 10yo 1993/2004 (60.1%, OB, Bodega European oak casks, 15000 bottles)
Mouth: ah, it’s much sweeter now, with quite some sherry and kind of a tingling sugarness at first sip. Lots of dried fruits (shall we say ‘of course’?), nougat, mint chocolate, over-baked cake… Nice but quite simple, let’s try it with some water… While the nose gets even smokier but also farmier, the palate stays on the same kind of flavours, with just a little more caramel (Werther’s Originals) and dried oranges. The finish is very long, that is, on dried and crystallised oranges. In short, a nice sherried Cragganmore, not too complex but very compact and satisfying. 84 points.
Cragganmore 1978/1996 (60.1%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’, cask #4959) Colour: pale straw. Nose: much sweeter, vibrantly flowery and fruity (apple juice) but again with quite some smoky and ashy notes. More complex on the nose, and less mono-dimensional. Very nice notes of fresh butter, dairy cream, candle wax… And also old books, praline, cake… A very nice one, highly satisfying. Mouth: powerful but drinkable at that strength, very fruity but, alas, a little soapy. Lots of lavender and violet candies, a little Cologne, lots of marzipan and almond milk, olive oil… Let’s see whether water will improve it or not… Ah yes, it gets creamier, fruitier (boxed pineapples, pears) but there’s still kind of a soapiness – nothing too disturbing, that is. The finish is rather long, slightly smoky, on dried oranges again. Anyway, a nice one again – the nose was nicer than the OB’s, but the palate didn’t fully make it. Let’s give it the same rating then: 84 points.
CRAZY WHISKY ADS - From my good old friend Paul, who's just back from Tokyo, this huge ad for Nikka. I still don't quite get what the link between HenryVIII and Japan or the Nikka company is, but afterall, Paul also told me that some girls there serve Japanese beer while dressed like Bavarian gretchens. I really have to fly to Japan one of these days... Seems to be a lot of fun. Nikka
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Do you like old European gangster movies? You know, Alain Delon and all that? Then you should listen to Belgium's Jean 'Toots' Thielemans whistling this fantastic piece called Wives and lovers.mp3. Feeling a little nostalgic? Anyway, please buy Toots' music, he's also a brilliant jazz harmonica player (you should listen to his works with Jaco Pastorius or even Pat Metheny) and a very good guitarist.(Photo Jos Knaepen) Jean 'Toots' Thielemans
 

November 10, 2005


TASTING - TWO RARE BEN NEVIS

Ben Nevis 34 yo 1970/2005 'single blend' (50.3%, Adelphi, cask #4640) This one is very interesting, because thanks to Adelphi, we have the opportunity to taste a ‘single blend’, made out of malt and grain distilled at the same distillery (with different equipments). Colour: gold. Nose: smooth, extremely fresh and clean, very fruity and flowery. Lots of ripe mirabelles, quince, apricot, oranges mixed with nectar, light honey, flowers from the fields, maybe lilac…

Ben Nevis 34yo 1970/2005 'single blend' (50.3%, Adelphi, cask #4640)
Very nice, even if not too aromatic in fact. Quite some sweet white wine (like a Vouvray), with also hints of beeswax and herbal teas. Harmless and maybe a little feminine (sorry, girls), but it’s much more than just a curiosity. Wait a minute, it gets more complex after quite some breathing, with the grain and some pastry coming through, roasted nuts, praline… I like it. Mouth: oh, that’s very different now. The attack is on fruit eaux de vie, grappa, grain indeed, calvados, with maybe a little lack of body, even if it’s very far from being ‘thin’. Lots of herbal teas, wax, hints of tar and rubber, caramelized apples. Much grainier on the palate than on the nose. Something slightly rummy… The finish is a little thin but long, if you see what I mean, mostly on candy sugar. Very interesting, in any case. 85 points.
Ben Nevis 35yo 1967/2003 (52.5%, OB for Alambic Classique, cask #2218, 165 bottles) Ben Nevis 35 yo 1967/2003 (52.5%, OB for Alambic Classique, cask #2218, 165 bottles) Colour: gold/amber. Nose: wow! This is really something else, for it starts on some extremely bold notes of apple juice. Amazing how ‘pure’ it is, and it stays on apples for quite a long time, before some other fruity notes start to make it through those. That means oranges, tangerines, a little mango, ripe bananas… Really beautiful, especially because there’s a little smoke to spice all that up… And now we have some bold notes of lovage, Maggi, fresh parsley… Hints of amaretto, olive oil, argan oil. Something funnily metallic (hot engine). Quite some dried oranges as well, old books, propolis. It’s incredibly complex ‘behind’ the huge apple notes! I love this nose.
Mouth: oh yes, we probably have a winner here. The nose was ‘apples’, the mouth is ‘dried oranges’. Truckloads of dried oranges, plus tangerines, pink grapefruits… really full-bodied, with a creamy mouth feel. Almost like the very best cuvees of Grand-Marnier, minus the sugar. Then we have some huge waxy notes, old rum, raisins (sultanas), marzipan… A beautiful sherry, at that. It gets then very bitter, but beautifully so, with lots of herbs, cardamom, bitter almonds, maybe some olive oil… Granted, somebody who doesn’t like bitterness, apples or dried oranges won’t like this Ben Nevis too much, but otherwise, what a thrill! Besides, the finish is very long, as expected, on ‘bitter wax’ (does that exist?) Anyway, that’s a 92 points malt in my books (and thanks, Carsten)
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Sure it's a bit too 'lounge' but I still quite like Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori singing Blue glasses.mp3. Lots of freshness and, contrarily to many young pop artists having a go at jazz or Brazilian classics, she's rather got a voice. Please buy Miho Hatori's music. Miho Hatori
Bowmore 34yo CRAZY WHISKY ADS – There's something strange in this brand new leaflet advertising the very recent Bowmore 34 yo 1971, don't you think? Indeed, can you imagine a 'connoisseur' adding ice cubes to such a 'beautiful and stylish' whisky? And truckloads, at that... Or is there something I don't get?
 

November 9, 2005


TASTING - TWO FETTERCAIRNS
Old Fettercairn 10 yo (43%, OB, 1980’s) Colour: gold. Nose: a very grainy and malty attack with quite some hot caramel and distant whiffs or wax polish, eucalyptus, resin… Very nice! It develops on rum and raisins, dried oranges, old rancio. It makes me think of some super-ultra-premium blends. Gets perhaps just a little hot, not unlike some rums again, but calms down after a few minutes, getting rather flowery and gaining quite some freshness. Not overly complex but hugely enjoyable. Mouth: quite nervous but a little thin, alas, with lots of alcohol and rummy/raisiny notes but not much else, except quite some dried fruits and lots of malt. What’s more, the finish isn’t too long and quite coffeeish. In short, another old one that’s got a stunning nose but that doesn’t deliver on the palate. Yes, just like some high-end blends (but don’t blenders work using their nose alone?) 84 points, still. Old Fettercairn 10yo (43%, OB, 1980’s)
Fettercairn 13yo 1980/1993 (46%, Cadenhead) Fettercairn 13 yo 1980/1993 (46%, Cadenhead)
Colour: amber. Nose: haha! This one smells really old-stylish, with a superb sherry (not the lumpish dark oloroso style) and bunches of waxy/resinous smells (mastic, embrocations, furniture polish). Lots of dried oranges, butter caramel… Develops on nectar, honey, pollen, together with some herbs liquors such as Charteuse or Verveine du Velay. This nose is tremendously appetizing, and proves, once more, that one can find some stunning casks in any Scottish distillery.
Mouth: oh yes, this time it’s perfect and with a profile that’s very similar to the nose’s. Some big, bold waxy and resinous notes mixed with a more than perfect sherry, sweet but not too much, powerful but not too much. Lots of dried fruits, marmalade, jams, spices (quite some clove) and a very nice bitterness that prevents it from getting too heavy and tiring. The finish is very, very long, on mastic and marzipan… Another stunner, definitely! 92 points.
And also: Fettercain 1824 30 yo (45%, Stillman’s Dram, circa 2005) Sweet and a little oaky. Rather creamy, grainy, malty, lots of oak but not too tannic. Good but not outstanding. 83 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Well, if all self styled hip hop bands were to 'play' like UK's duo The Herbaliser, I'd have much more hip hop CD's on my shelves. That' not hard because I don't own any, but after you'll have had a go at their great piece Something wicked.mp3, I'm sure you'll just do the same as me: rush out and buy one of their CD's. The Herbaliser
NEW ON WHISKYFUN – The weather forecast for France. Just click here (yeah, even if you're not in France just now).
 

November 8, 2005


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
TASTING - TWO EXCELLENT BLADNOCHS
Bladnoch 14 yo 1990/2004 (43%, Signatory) Colour: white wine. Nose: starts extremely sour, yeasty, on fresh yoghurt, sour cream, empty white wine cask… yet, it’s really enjoyable and nicely balanced, quite curiously. It develops a bit in the same direction (porridge, muesli) before it switches to vanilla cream, light caramel, grains, fudge. There are some citrusy aromas as well but much less than usually, and also some rather bold notes of fresh pineapple. Yes, pineapple yoghurt! I like it. Mouth: ah, this one doesn’t lack body at all! A very nice blend of lemony flavours and cake, vanilla fudge, crystallised fruits, camomile… Hints of liquorice and yoghurt sauce (Indian yoghurt to drink), hay jelly, peach pie… A very enjoyable young Bladnoch, exactly what you’d expect from a young Lowlander. In that sense, it’s just perfect. 87 points (thanks Antoine). Bladnoch 14yo 1990/2004 (43%, Signatory)
Bladnoch 18yo 1980/1998 (46%, Kingsbury, cask #3429) Bladnoch 18 yo 1980/1998 (46%, Kingsbury, cask #3429) Colour: straw. Nose: ah, this is rather less demonstrative but more compact and more stylish, whatever that means. Bold notes of lemon pie with caramel, lemon fudge, crystallised cedrat, with some very refined oaky tones and lots of milk chocolate. Some nicely sour notes developing as well (cider apples). A very classy Bladnoch! Mouth: wow, what a body for a Lowlander. Rather creamy but still playful, starting on all sorts of crystallised citrus (cedrats again, kumquats) and variations on caramel and pastries, fudge, marzipan liquorice candies. Gets very nicely herbal too, with quite some tea. A perfect balance, at that. Pure pleasure again, but this time it tends more towards the full-bodied Highland malts, even if it’s still typically Bladnoch. Perfection made near the border! 90 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - As the picture suggests, this band is 'ultra-cult'! It's Chile's Senor Coconut. The driving force behind the band is Germany's Uwe Schmidt, who 'bored with the European music scene', moved to Chile to explore the possibilities of Latin music. Listen to the cha cha Showroom dummies.mp3 (an old Kraftwerk piece) and check out the results. Then please buy Senor Coconut's music. Senor Coconut
 

November 7, 2005


TASTING - THREE OLD GLEN GARIOCHS
Glen Garioch 10yo (40%, OB, early 1980’s)
Glen Garioch 10 yo (40%, OB, early 1980’s) Colour: gold. Nose: amazingly peaty at first nosing, with lots of tary notes, rubber… Some bold grainy and malty notes too. Perhaps a little soapy. It then gets very winey, hot wine sauce, some notes of old wood, old papers, liquorice… Very interesting. Whiffs of seawater. Mouth: very cardboardy in a nice way (if that’s possible), with some very big notes of dried Chinese mushrooms, dried boletus. Very strong salted liquorice, and lots of organics. The finish is very long, on strong tea and candy sugar. One of these very special old peated Glen Gariochs! It’s not very ‘orthodox’ but extremely interesting and unusual. 87 points.
Glen Garioch 10 yo (43%, OB, late 1980’s) Colour: straw. Nose: much grainier and fruitier, and also much simpler, mostly on apples. Almost no peat if any. Lots of grains and lots of pears. Drinkable but uninteresting. What a shift in profile! Mouth: a little bitter and very cardboardy, with quite some punch. Notes of over infused tea, burnt caramel, burnt wood. Not too enjoyable, I’m afraid, and somewhat dirty (not in the nice Springbank way). 72 points.
Glen Garioch NAS (70° proof, OB, bulky,1970’s) Colour: light amber. Nose: wow, this is beautiful! Lots of eucalyptus, camphor, wax polish, lemongrass… A superb, very subtle peat, with some nice notes of paraffin, olive oil, grapefruit and passion fruit. Also resin, old books… Extremely nice. Mouth: oh yes, very nice indeed, and again so ‘different’. Very punchy, starting on lots of waxy notes, pine candies and mastic, argan oil, Turkish delights, chestnut honey, pine honey… A beauty, really. 90 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Mali's diva Oumou Sangare sings a superb piece called Nebife.mp3 that's very creative despite the rather heavy 'western' producing. Please buy Oumou Sangare's music if you like it. Oumou Sangare
 

November 6, 2005


TASTING - AN OFFICIAL SPRINGBANK AND A HALF
Springbank Bond n°3 (54,9%, Cadenhead, bottled 05/04/2001) Colour: gold. Nose: rather discreet at first nosing but getting nicely fragrant, with quite some wax polish, varnish (good varnish ;-)), beeswax… Very delicate, in fact, not too expressive but quite refined and elegant. Notes of nectar, flowers from the fields, getting a little smoky and rubbery (new rubber band). Very nice, although there’s also some smells of hot metal (hot still?) Mouth: more powerful this time, quite rubbery again, with some burnt bread, overcooked fruit sauce. Nice, quite balanced and showing lots of oomph but not too complex. The finish is very nice, though, on all sorts of roasted things. In short, a very good one, very enjoyable. 87 points.
Springbank Bond n°3 (54,9%, Cadenhead, bottled 05/04/2001)
Springbank NAS (46%, OB, House and Tree label, Germany, mid 1990’s) Springbank NAS (46%, OB, House and Tree label, Germany, mid 1990’s) Colour: gold. Nose: much more powerful than expected and rather spirity at first nosing, but it’s soon to retrieve balance, with all sorts of cooked or dried fruits (apples, apricot, strawberries…) and notes of beeswax, honey and quite some smoke. Dried coconut, hot breadcrumb, smoked tea… Very nice indeed even if less intensely aromatic than expected... Wait, no, now comes the cavalry, with lots of wax, smoked ham, apricot pie, balsam, dandelion, chestnut honey… And it keeps developing for a long time. Great nose! Mouth: bold and subtle at the same time, with lots of dried fruits, sea ‘stuff’, smoke, salt, kiwis, freshly cut green apples… Very ‘coherent’. A perfect balance, with these typical slightly ‘dirty’ notes (as Luc would say) that are so enjoyable. Gets also a little tary, with a dash of ground nutmeg. Very nice indeed, with a long, creamy and very satisfying finish. A classic: 91 points.
MUSIC – It's Sunday, we go classical - Recommended listening: excellent Korean soprano Sumi Jo sings a staggeringly beautiful Ach, ich fühl's, es ist verschwunden.mp3 (from W.A. Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, English Chamber Orchestra, Kenneth Montgomery, Erato). Please buy Sumi Jo's recordings! Sumi Jo
 

November 5, 2005


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan - JOHN PRINE
Shepherds Bush Empire, October 31st 2005
John Prine
The last thing I want to do is cause offence, or be thought to be disrespectful. But you know, it has to be said, and it can’t be gainsaid, John Prine has just got the haircut from hell. And it’s not a new thing – take a look at the tonsorial confections that adorn most of his album covers, from the eponymous John Prine of 1971, to the just released Fair and Square, and you’ll see what I mean. And just watch out for 1978’s Bruised Orange, which apart from featuring two of tonight’s classic Prine numbers, ‘Fish and Whistle, and ‘That’s the way the world goes round’, shows a Prinesque rug that would frighten the pets far more than a whole night’s worth of Guy Fawke’s fireworks. And the children naive creatures that they are blessedly are, obviously thought it was a seasonal thing. “Is it the Bad Halloween Man Mommy?” asked a little girl (eyes covered by her mother’s trembling hands) who sat close by us in the Bush’s exclusive upper-deck Executive Class 5/9s, “Tell me Daddy’s hair will never look like that”.
Well who cares? There’s a Shepherd’s Bush Empire full of Moms and Dads, kids, suited after-office workers, old men with their sandwiches, new-age punks, west London media types, and me and The Photographer, who’ll tell you that this is a man who can in all probability walk on water, and as such the presence of the sad remains of a seventies mullet is nothing. This is John Prine back with his first album of new songs for nine years, a period during which he’s survived major surgery for cancer, and the subsequent chemotherapy (“the doctor said, ‘John, we’re worried about damaging your throat’, I said, ‘Doc, have you ever heard me sing?’”) which saw his voice drop several points on the scale. John Prine
He’s just won some big shot Nashville award for Musician of the Year, and Fair and Square may well have Grammy written all over it. And haircut notwithstanding, he’s just such a nice bloke. He smiles, grins with pleasure at his own lyrics, seems genuinely overwhelmed by the warmth of the reception, and just seems to be having a wonderful time. And he’s got a cough almost as bad as mine and spends much of the night swigging back Benylin from the bottle as if it was Jack Daniels. Even the little girl gently removes her mother’s protective hands from her eyes and gawps with undisguised admiration and affection.
John Prine has that sort of effect on you. His clever little songs sneak up on you when you’re least expecting it – wit, melancholy, wry observation, regret, stoicism, anger, guilt, all played out in little domestic vignettes of American life.
John Prine Of course he’s no friend of the powerful. He came to fame partly through the songs he wrote that were inspired by Vietnam – ‘Sam Stone’, ‘Your flag decal’; well, what goes around comes around, and thirty or more years on (“I got this song out of the attic for George Bush and his friends, I hope they all go to jail”) they’re no less relevant than they were then. If anything even more poignant.
And reinforced by ‘Some humans ain’t human’ from the new disc. Which features a lot during the evening, so we get ‘Crazy as a loon’, ‘Long Monday’, ‘Taking a walk’ ‘Bear Creek’ and ‘She is my everything’ (“This is a song about my wife. It’s a nice song. It’s good to have a nice song about your wife, ‘Cos you can just go ‘round the house humming it when things ain’t too good”). All sung as well as can be expected from a man on a Benylin binge, with support vocals from Mindy Smith (she was dressed for Halloween too) and backed by his superb band of several years: David Jacques on string and electric bass, and the outstanding Jason Wilber on mandolin, lead and slide guitar.
And of course the new material was spiced up with the best of Prine’s back catalogue, not easy to choose from such a vast collection of impressive work. But we got ‘Souvenirs’, ‘Fish and Whistle’, the gorgeous yet resentful ‘Angel from Montgomery’, ‘Dear Abbey’, ‘Donald and Lydia’, ‘Sam Stone, ‘Ain’t hurting nobody’, ‘Hello in there’. ‘Lake Marie’, and to finish ‘Paradise’. It’s remarkable that any writer can have such a strong body of work to call from, and to be frank even more of a surprise that after a considerable gap he can come back with vibrant new material that equals the old. John Prine
But then I suppose, as his haircut signals, Prine is no ordinary person. Like some other artistes we’ve reviewed on Whiskyfun he gets the ‘national treasure’ treatment from the juvenile critics who don’t quite get it. But for once they’re almost right – but please don’t put John in a Museum, put his haircuts there instead, and charge all the people a dollar and a half just to see ‘em. - Nick morgan (concert photos by Kate)
John Prine Thank you so much, Nick. Here's John Prine's excellent new album, 'Fair & Square'. Something strikes me: the road. I mean, did they shoot this picture on Islay? Doesn't the road look like the 'old' one between Bridgend and Port Ellen? You know, the one that literally floats on peat? Anyway, we have two nice songs by John Prine today: Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore.mp3 and a another nice one with Dar Williams: The Ocean.mp3. The ocean? Islay again? (nope, I'm no obsessive mono-maniac...)

TASTING - TWO INDIE SPEYBURNS

Speyburn 1971/1992 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail CC old map label)
Colour: gold/amber. Nose: punchier than expected, starting on some bold notes of dried oranges, caramel crème and fine oak. Typical of this series (as far as Speysiders are considered) but with more oomph. Notes of bananas flambéed, nectar, sugared herbal tea and vanilla. Distant whiffs of smoke. Very classical and nicely made, with an enjoyable freshness. Mouth: sweet and peppery, with a punchy attack again, on burnt caramel, rum and raisins but sort of falling apart after a few seconds, leaving just a rather burning taste on the palate (burnt cake and alcohol). Quite meteoric, this one! The finish is almost non-existent, with just a little bitterness. Nice nose, rather weak palate, it’s a well-known song. Too bad. 78 points.

Speyburn 1971/1992 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail CC old map label)
Speyburn 10yo 1990/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask, 450 bottles) Speyburn 10 yo 1990/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask, 450 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: very typical again, but from the yeasty, grainy, fruity style that comes from young refill casks. Lots of porridge and muesli, mashed potatoes with lots of butter (but not of the exquisite but heavy half-half kind), with also lots of pineapple syrup, white peaches, milk cream. Very fresh and clean. Whiffs of cider and lager. Mouth: powerful attack, on lots of fruit liqueurs such as apricot liqueur, curacao, pineapple liqueur. Extremely sweet and sort of chemically fruity. Tang? Fanta? It’s also very malty, with some notes of burnt caramel and infused tealeaves. Some spices as well, clove, ginger and pepper, the whole getting quite bitter and a little burning. Let’s try it with water now: the nose got more herbal and almost farmy, while the palate got creamier, with much more cooked apples notes and a little praline. Nice! The finish is rather long, on caramel and pepper. 83 points.
 

November 4, 2005


MUSIC – Recommended listening: ex Veruca Salt member Nina Gordon sings Straight outta Compton.mp3 from her first album Bring the Rock. Lots of other nice free songs on her website, but please buy Nina Gordon's music. Nina Gordon
TASTING - THREE YOUNG INDIE MORTLACHS
Mortlach 10yo 1995/2005 (46%, Murray McDavid, Port ‘affined’) Mortlach 10 yo 1995/2005 (46%, Murray McDavid, Port ‘affined’)
Colour: straw with pink/orange hues. Nose: extremely fragrant, starting on incense, gewürztraminer, old roses, boxed lychees and developing on strawberry jam, redcurrant jelly and maple syrup. A fruit bomb indeed and a different product, in a certain way, for it doesn’t smell exactly like a single malt whisky anymore. There must have been quite some wine remaining in the cask!
Some slightly yeasty/mashy notes do emerge after a while though, and also some whiffs of smoke, wet dog and vase water (after a good ten minutes). Nicely made but not my cup of tea. Mouth: extremely sweet but not vinous, quite enjoyable in fact. Lots of pepper and even chilli, which is quite strange considering the general profile. Develops on ultra-ripe bananas, cooked fruits (all sorts). Really full-bodied! Lots of Port after a moment, cooked wine, strawberry candies... The finish is very long but a little burning and bitter, yet quite sweet and fruity. Not bad at all but a bit strange… 79 points.
Mortlach 10 yo 1994/2004 (46%, Eilan Gillan) Colour: white wine. Nose: much more ‘natural’ this time, with again some notes of old roses but also lots of various fresh fruits: mangoes, guavas, Williams pears and pineapples with a dash of white pepper. Hints of vanilla crème, vanillin, freshly baked cake, and also whiffs of ginger ale and lilly of the valley. Not an highly distinctive stunner but a flawless, young, fruity Speysider. Nice! Mouth: very nicely malty and fruity at the same time, with some cooked peaches and apricots, fresh raspberries and kiwis… Notes of vanilla fudge, sabayone, rose jelly, cappuccino, getting just a little cardboardy and quite peppery. Definitely a nice unsherried Mortlach! 86 points. Mortlach 10yo 1994/2004 (46%, Eilan Gillan)
Mortlach 6yo 1997/2004 (61.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 76.42) Mortlach 6 yo 1997/2004 (61.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 76.42) Colour: white wine. Nose: powerful but not too hot at that high strength. Extremely clean and sharp, in fact, with lots of fresh vanilla beans and coffee . Some rather bold notes of smoked ham, cold ashes, matchsticks… It gets then quite stony and citrusy, starting to smell like ferociously dry Champagne (extra-brut), aspirin, paper dust… Rather austere, in fact, but not immature, contrarily to what I had expected.
Mouth: punchy but not aggressive at its full strength. Lots of coffee and lots of fruits, with some bold citrusy notes playing with your mouth. Some Turkish delights, lychee syrup, almond milk and marzipan… Okay, time to add a few drops of water: it gets even fruitier and sort of creamier, with some added vanilla, nougat… The finish is long, mostly on vanilla and pepper. Okay, this one as matured at full speed, it appears – it must have been a hell of a cask! 86 points.
 

November 3, 2005


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan - MICHAEL MARRA
Ye Olde Rose and Crowne, Walthamstow, October 30th 2005
Who in their right mind would want to go to Walthamstow on a Sunday night, particularly if they feel as rough as I do? It’s a drive from one end of London to the other, with all the second-home owners making their way back to the City after a weekend in the country, via the King’s Cross Euro-terminal bottle-neck and through Clapton’s famous ‘shooting alley’. And what is there in Walthamstow?
Well, pioneer socialist, typographer and wallpaper designer William Morris (you know, the one they named the car after) lived there, and his home is now a fine museum. The town hall is a testimony to all those design principles cherished dearly by Mussolini. And there’s a dog track, which Serge, is a track where they race dogs, and you bet lots of pounds to see which dog can chase a bunch of rags (known as a rabbit) fastest. But none of that matters, because we’re going on a pilgrimage, to Walthamstow’s worlde famous Ye Olde Rose and Crowne pub.
Not that I go into pubyes too often, and at seven o’clock on a dark autumn night this one comes as a bit of a shock.
We’re sitting in the medieval section, all reproduction shields and swords on the wall, suits of armour, faux paintings of flat fat faced monarchs and their cod pieces, and seven TV sets, plus a huge video screen, all showing football matches that none of the dozen or so solitary drinkers in the place wants to watch. On the other side of the bar is the heritage section, which boasts a pool table, and seems to house much of the kit that Scott must have taken with him on The Discovery, or that Shackleton must have loaded onto the Endurance for his ill-fated Trans-Antarctic Expedition. You know, sledges, tennis racquets for walking in the snow on, old suitcases, fishing rods (very useful in the Antarctic I’m sure).
Funny how so much of this junk seems to have found its way back to British pubs. Fortunately for us there’s also a charming young Thai guy renting space in the kitchen (as there also seems to be in so many London pubs these days) and cooking decent cheap food, so at least we manage to get some dinner. Then, after a brief visit to the alarmingly industrial-sized urinals (fit only for the disposal of vast quantities of spent ale) it’s through the side door, and up the stairs, to the The Folk Club.
I’d forgotten about folk clubs. Do you have them in France Serge? The last time I was in one must have been fourteen years ago or so in Edinburgh (strangely, to see Michael Marra), and before that, well modesty prevents me from going into detail. But let’s just say, they ain’t changed. De-rigueur, as you say, is: shabby ‘function’ room above or behind pub bar; filthy carpet; lonely ‘Happy 40th Birthday” balloon trapped for eternity on the ceiling; ripped curtains hanging from falling curtain rails; a variety of broken wedding reception chairs; a few tables; improvised stage and sound system with more safety hazards than the Titanic. Oh yes – and the people, trapped, like the balloon, in a time warp. They could have come from Cyril Tawney’s folk club in Lancaster in the 1970s, waistcoats, beards, sandals and all.
Having said that, if it weren’t for these die-hard finger-in-their-ear folkies, then a great many quality musicians would struggle to find anywhere to play. At least that’s the thought I tried to console myself with as I downed a fistful of aspirin, grimaced at the mindlessly smiling faces (about twenty of them at most) of welcome (“Gosh Nigel, he’s new, do you think he’s going to sing us a song?”), took a swig of water and aggressively sat at the back of the room, notebook and pen in hand. Oh yes, and while we were here to see MM, I should give an honourable mention to support act Adrian May, a large bearded lugubrious type in baggy corduroys, who had some nice self-penned tunes and made us all laugh with his ukulele interpretation of ‘Heaven knows I’m miserable now’. Michael Marra cut a different dash entirely.
Michael Marra) Small, wiry, strong eyes, fierce stare – if you met him in a bar in his native Dundee you’d probably carefully move across to the other side and quietly keep yourself to yourself. He’s a Scottish rock veteran, suffers from being too often described as a ‘national treasure’ (just how patronising is that), but is, cutting to the quick, probably one of the best living songwriters in the country. His songs are closely observed pieces, many based on an intriguing mixture of the past and the present, and mostly all firmly rooted in Scotland, and of course in particular the bonnie town of Dundee. I should probably add that I’ve always suspected that Marra is a bit of a fucked-up Roman Catholic, as religion pumps through the veins of many of his creations. Lest you’re getting worried I should assure you that for all this there is nothing parochial about his work (how could there be with song titles like ‘Frida Kahlo’s visit to the Taybridge bar’).
I remember when I worked with Scottish historians that we would always claim (mostly when trying to figure out why we didn’t work in Oxford, or Chicago or somewhere like that) that Scotland was a great laboratory for global historical studies, where you could test hypotheses and methodologies. Well so it is for Marra and song writing. Not only can he bring New Orleans to the most unlikely places (‘Dr John’s visit to Blairgowrie’), but in the turn of a phrase he can transform the most closely focussed piece into something gloriously universal (“Hamish stokes young men’s dreams into a burning flame” from Hamish, a tribute to Dundee United’s great goalie of their 80’s European campaigns). Oh yes – and did I mention that Marra has a voice like sandpaper rubbing on gravel?
Well you can’t hide in a room with a few dozen people in it, and in fact, with his guitar leaning on a chair and his keyboard propped up on an old ironing board, it’s a bit like having him play in your living room. And talk – he’s not spare of a few humorous words to explain where his songs come from (though we rarely get the whole story, so there’s a bit of a joke going on here too), or to share his views on matters topical, such as Scottish History. Michael Marra)
Some of you may not know that for many years Scottish History wasn’t taught in schools in Scotland, so as Marra explained his history came from the likes of pot-boiling author John Prebble (arrgh – not really the best starting point). But it hasn’t done him any harm, as a searing and often cynical sense of history runs through many of his songs like ‘Mincing wi’ Chairlhi’, or the gentle ‘General Grant’s visit to Dundee’, He’s also not bad at nationalism either – tackling the subject head on in a tune written for Martin Carthy, ‘If I was an Englishman’ and in his finale, and nomination for Scotland’s National Anthem, ‘Hermless’, a parody of Scottish meekness in the face of authority which caused some controversy when it was released (letters in the Scotsman as I recall) due to its references to then Liberal Democrats’ (or whatever they were called at the time) leader Robert Maclennan. Actually – let’s just cut the crap – the songs, ‘Bob Dylan’s visit to Edinburgh’, ‘The Guernsey kitchen porter’, ‘Beefheart and bones’, ‘She said, he said’, ‘Neil Gow’s apprentice’, ‘Like a rolling stone’, ‘Reynard in paradise’ and ‘The lonesome death of Francis Clarke’ are simply wonderful. Full stop.
Michael Marra) So, for all you Whiskyfun Scotophiles out there, here’s the Michael Marra challenge. Think you know about Scotland from those rubbish whisky books you’ve read? Think you understand this most complex of little countries? Well how many Michael Marra albums have you got? None? Then just bloody think again! Go out and get some, and if you can’t buy them all then join Michael in cyberspace and do that downloading thing instead. It’s well worth the price of a bottle or two of your favourite, and it’ll last a lot longer too! - Nick Morgan (concert photos by Kate)
Many thanks for several things, Nick. First, for the historical and almost archaeological parts of this review – both English and Scottish. By the way, a friend of mine, who’s working at Edinburgh University, told me it’s hard to find any ‘old stuff’ in good shape in Scotland’s ground, as it’s often dissolved by… peat. Well, by the very acidic soil, in any case. Second, thanks for the good laugh I had with my Mac, ‘who’ wanted to correct the word ‘Scotophile’ obstinately. No comment. And finally, thanks for Michael Marra. His most recent album ‘Posted Sober’ (isn’t that an oxymoron considering a Scot? – hmm, okay, clichés…) is truly fantastic indeed. We do have a little Marra music: a clip of All will be well.mp3 I already posted last year in July and Hermless.mp3, that famous nomination for Scotland's national anthem.
 

TASTING - TWO SUPERB YOUNG INDIE BOWMORES

Bowmore 1995/2005 (57.2%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon cask)
Colour: white wine. Nose: wow, it’s very similar to the magnificent recent Berry Bros 1993 cask #500061 everybody’s raving about, even if it’s a tad simpler. A great mix of peat, farmy smells and vanilla at first nosing, with quite some tar and rubber. Develops on the awaited notes of tropical fruits (pineapples, pink grapefruits, passion fruits, oranges) even if they aren’t as bold as in the older Bowmores from the sixties (let’s not dream). Lots of sea air of course, wet seaweed, fresh oysters, iodine… Ashes, fireplace. A great surprise!

Bowmore 1995/2005 (57.2%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon cask)
Mouth: very powerful but easily drinkable at its natural strength, for it’s so full of flavours. Crystallized fruits, fresh apples, pears and pineapples and lots of very clean peat smoke. Some icing sugar to keep it playful, not too ripe kiwi, strawberries… A little liquorice, quite some pepper and a more than perfect bitterness… Okay, the palate is a little simpler than the nose but it’s still very nice, while the finish is long and perfectly balanced, on fruits and peat. Really excellent! Shall we run with the pack and shout “Bowmore is back”? … Maybe soon! 90 points.
Bowmore 11yo 1992/2004 (61.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 3.92, 624 bottles) Bowmore 11 yo 1992/2004 (61.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 3.92, 624 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: much rubberier at first nosing, but also very smoky, with some bold notes of bonfire, torrefaction, roasted nuts, meat on the barbeque, toasted bread. Goes on with lots of fruit jams and bitter orange before it gets both a little farmy and maritime. Wet hay, sea air and all that jazz. No medicinal smells, that is. Most enjoyable, very clean – yet less clean than the Whisky-Doris version. Mouth: punchy, powerful, and quite similar to the Whisky-Doris this time, even if there’s some sherry in there, obviously. Lots of coffee, peat smoke, dried fruits, pepper, strong honey (chestnut, heather). Very nicely sweet and very compact, with a little salt. Dried herbs, highly reduced meat sauce… Just perfect again, with a long, very satisfying finish on peppered cooked fruits.
Many Bowmores from the 1990’s I could taste were much better than the numerous poor ones they produced in the 1980’s, no doubt about that. I think we can say it’s a fact, and I hope we’ll be able to double-check that with the new OB’s to come. Let’s just hope they won’t vat them with some old stock, and not add too much caramel. Anyway, 90 points for this baby as well.
SHOPPING - Seen on eBay: peat 'incense'! It's called Peat Reek, and it's 'peat from Strath Brora, formed into cones, that bring the aroma of the Highland croft to your home, no matter where in the world that might be.' And they add: 'If a country has a soul, and a soul has an aroma, Peat Reek is the aroma of Scotland, in particular the Highlands and Islands.' Isn't that clever? The price is £9.00 for 30 cones, plus £2.30 postage worldwide. Just type 'Peat Reek' on eBay.
 

November 2, 2005


TASTING - TWO GLENURY ROYALS
Glenury Royal 36yo 1968/2005 (51.2%, OB, 2100 bottles) Glenury Royal 36 yo 1968/2005 (51.2%, OB, 2100 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: very fresh, extremely fresh, astonishingly fresh. Lots of flowers from the fields, lavender honey, apricot syrup at first nosing, before it switches to bunches of fruity notes (primarily fresh pineapples, guavas, very ripe mangos). It keeps developing on old roses, gewürztraminer, lychee syrup, musk perfume… Both dried and fresh oranges.
Goes on with some distant farmy notes (can you here the dogs barking?), wet hay, bonfire. Also something mineral, chalky, burnt matchsticks. Not bold at all but very complex, with a very long development, and no signs of over-ageing whatsoever. Ah, yes, now I get a few waxy notes… Very delicate indeed. Mouth: lots of vitality! Sweet, creamy but nervous, bold but not invading, on lots of fruit jams with a very nice feeling of ‘acidity’ that keeps it perfectly balanced. Almost no traces of wood, right in Diageo’s current style. It gets very gingery, though, in a very nice way. Develops on apricot pie, cooked apples with caramel, herbal tea, quince jelly. Hints of tangerine liqueur, Mandarine Impériale, dried kumquats, roasted nuts (all kinds). A little nutmeg, cinnamon… Lots of oomph but always balanced. The finish is long, on fruit liqueurs and even a little rummy. Very, very good and amazingly young. Sure it’s not infanticide (yes, that’s an expression some use in the wine world) but maybe they should have waited another thirty or forty years to bottle it? 92 points.
Glenury Royal 14 yo 1979 (62%, James MacArthur, circa 1994) Colour: white wine. Nose: okay, I know it’s not very fair to taste this one ‘against’ a 36yo, but it was the only other sample of Glenury I had. Anyway, it’s very herbal, vegetal at first nosing, with even some ginger ale, aspirin, freshly cut grass, cabbage. Even turnips (for Baldrick?). Hard to enjoy this one, I must say. Extremely austere and lacking sweetness and roundness – to say the least. But quite curiously, it’s not overpowering at 62% - or is it me? Mouth: ouch, that’s new make! Quick, some water! Right, with water, the nose gets even more herbal and also much yeastier, whilst the mouth gets extremely sweet, with nothing but notes of very sweet cider, cooked apples, vanilla liqueur (do you know that vile stuff?) Extremely simple, with no sign of maturing. The finish is long but extremely spirity, even when reduced to 40% or so. No disgusting tastes in there, though, hence my 68 points.
Glenury Royal 14yo 1979 (62%, James MacArthur, circa 1994)
Baldrick
aka Tony Robinson
(in Black Adder)
Brook Adams MUSIC – Highly recommended listening - King of ukulele Brook Adams doing Jimi's Purple haze.mp3. Yes, on the ukulele, and I think he's totally brilliant. And there's also this, and this... In short, you'd better buy Brook Adams' music or go to his shows asap! And I now declare that Brook Adams is whiskyfun's artist of the month - no sir, no second degree.

A CD REVIEW - Well, not really! Thanks to a very funny website that 'hates everything', you just have to enter the name of an album, band, singer or song and it will pull information about it from Amazon and generate a very mean review. I tried it by typing 'Britney Spears' and here's what 'it' wrote...
"Britney Spears' Britney, an object lesson in filth...
Like an exploding zit gently squirting sebum into your brain, the opening track, I'm A Slave 4 U is a perversion that may actually appeal to a small group of sick fucks hiding in a basement somewhere in Illinois. Lonely is about as hip as my mother's attempts at the Lambada. It's a vision of hell that not many people live to see, I promise you. Like a cheap keyboard being played by a God-fearing christian fund raiser outside Tesco's, the version of I Love Rock 'n' Roll Featured In "Crossroads" should not be played to the vulnerable. Or those with ears. Too much track twelve, What It's Like To Be Me is bad for your health. I recommend taking up injecting heroin into your eyeballs instead. It tickles a bit, but the rush is awesome. In fact, there's no excuse for people buying this and taking it into their homes to torture their innocent children." If you still like this crap, go buy it on amazon or something."
Try it at 'Our music correspondent writes'

 

November 1, 2005


CONCERT REVIEW
by Nick Morgan

I AM KLOOT - The Astoria, London, October 29th, 2005

For those who may have begun to despair that anything good might ever again come out of Manchester in the wake of that Frankenstein’s monster Oasis, the Happy Mondays, Rio Ferdinand etc., I am Kloot should act as an optimistic signpost to the future.

I am Kloot
Formed in 1999, and with three albums to their name (Natural History, I am Kloot, and this year’s Gods and Monsters – “a coruscating collection of calamitous and courageous songs”, as one hyper-alliterative reviewer described it) I am Kloot are front man, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, the diminutive Johnny Bramwell (“If I stand on this box can you see me?”), Pete Jobson on bass and Andy Hargreaves on drums. It’s 8.30, unusually early at the Astoria, and they’re about to charge through twenty songs or so in around an hour and a half. It’s Saturday night, so between the band finishing, us being chucked out and 11.00pm, the Pickle Factory has to transform itself into the G-A-Y nitespot. Hence the rush.
I am Kloot   Bramwell has something of a reputation as a comedian but there’s no nonsense about this set. It’s smart and snappy – with only a few asides (“this song’s about illicit drinking”, “this song’s about illicit drinking and sex”, “this song’s about illicit vampirism and stuff”), good humoured, exceptionally well rehearsed (the band don’t seem to communicate a great deal on stage at all, ‘though their embraces when they eventually leave indicate how close they are) and played at about 75% of the Astoria’s normal sound level.
So we can hear everything (even the over-informed conversations around us – mostly between blokes – “Johnny’s tuned his guitar down to open A minor for this” or “I’m sure he was using a Gibson acoustic on ‘Twist’ in Glasgow”), and in particular Bramwell’s gravely Mancunian vocals.
Which is just as well. Because for all of their nicely constructed jazzy, folksy rocky style of accompaniment (you could be forgiven for thinking that the main musical inspiration for the band is a sort of Brecht’s Beggar’s Opera meets the Beatles) this is a band that starts and finishes with its lyrics. That’s not the say that the playing isn’t good – Jobson’s unobtrusive bass is outstanding, Hargreaves works his way through I don’t know how many sets of drum sticks, brushes and timpani sticks as he weaves his subtle percussive patterns, Bramwell knows his way round both an acoustic and electric guitars, and they supplement this with occasional support on key boards, pedal steel guitar and guitar (a beautiful sustain accompaniment to ‘Because’). But I can’t really remember anything that sounded too much like a solo all night.
The songs are short and well constructed. Bramwell is a dab-hand at the opening line that just reels you in – “I believe in the hallelujah chorus of the shopping mall” (‘I believe’), “Twisted on destiny, fate and three wishes we fuck and we fight, someone else does the dishes” (‘Twist’), “Unscrew your face from your laptop screen” (‘Morning rain’), and manages to inject all of his songs with a modish mixture of tender melancholy, mystery and the macabre (blimey, that alliterative thing must be getting to me too) – with musical arrangements to suit. Possibly the best example would be ‘Ordinary girl’ or ‘Gods and Monsters’ with it’s marvellously Steve Nievesque organ riffs. But we get a full tour of his writing skills in this frenetic set – from the Oasis like ‘Storm warning’, the twisted ‘Twist’, ‘Cuckoo’ (“sooty urban darkness” says the Guardian),‘Over my shoulder’, new single ‘Maybe I should’ to ‘No fear of falling’, and ‘To you’ both performed solo, and superbly well by Bramwell.
I am Kloot
It really did turn out to be a jolly entertaining evening, with an audience of mixed ages, thankfully free of too many Saturday night stoners, who reacted in kind to the relatively low-key and intimate nature of the set. Of course something had to take us by surprise. As the band dived into a rushed encore/final song ‘Life in a day’, with the sort of underlying drum rhythm that a 1930s musical would use to signpost ‘Jungle themed dance’, so the stage was filled by the Troupe, who danced round the unmoving band in a pastiche of a Busby Berkeley sequence. Dancing Girls at the Astoria two gigs running! And a suitably incongruous end to quite a cerebrally charged night. - Nick Morgan (concert photos by Kate)
Many thanks, Nick. I didn't know these 'Kloots' before, and I must admit the only Mancunian 'thing' I knew of was Eric Cantona. Okay, and Oasis, and I agree this fairly new band is subtler than both, as The Same Deep Water As Me.mp3 should testify.
Macallan 12yo 1990/2003 (46%, Hart Bros, sherry cask)

TASTING - TWO INDIE MACALLANS

Macallan 12 yo 1990/2003 (46%, Hart Bros, sherry cask) Colour: gold/amber. Nose: fresh and clean, rather delicate at first nosing, with some nice notes of light honey and flowers from the fields. Some sherry but very little. Develops on lots of cooked fruits (mainly apples, peaches) and also ripe melon (small orange ones). Lots of caramel and praline too after a moment, before it starts to exhale some notes of gin and Schweppes (just a little). Then it’s back to the sherry, with some bolder notes of rubber, raisins, rum and freshly squeezed oranges. A nice nose, no doubt.

Mouth: sweet attack, with quite some sherry again and some bold notes of apple skins, a little drying. Add to that a little burnt caramel and maybe a few spices (mulled wine, Chinese anise, cinnamon) and that’s it. The finish is medium long but a little indefinite – maybe some apples with caramel? Too bad, the nose was promising but the palate is very simple. Apples and apples. 78 points.
Macallan 14 yo 1990/2005 (46%, Whisky-Doris, sherry cask) Colour: pale straw. Nose: this one is much more ‘natural’, with much less sherry influence at first nosing. It starts on some bold notes of apple peels and then apple pie topped with caramel (tarte tatin), hot praline, milk chocolate. Really nice! It then gets nicely fruity again, with some pear juice, and finally slightly peppery (white pepper). Definitely fresh and enjoyable, much less grainy than the new young OB’s. Mouth: again, it’s a little simpler than the nose but it’s got much more oomph and body than the Hart Bros. Lots of apples again, quince, and also some nice tropical notes, mangos, guavas… A pinch of cinnamon powder and white pepper, some fresh walnut skins, roasted peanuts… Simple indeed but most enjoyable. The finish is quite long, on sugared apples and dried oranges. A nice one, not complex but very drinkable! 85 points. Macallan 14yo 1990/2005 (46%, Whisky-Doris, sherry cask)
Glen Gordon 15yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, ca 1986-1987) And also: Glen Gordon 15 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, ca 1986-1987) Glen Gordon is said to be Macallan, while Glen Avon should be Glenfarclas, but sources diverge. Colour: gold. Nose: nicely flowery and balanced. Lots of beeswax, light honey, furniture polish… Also quite some heather and a very nice wood. Nice and sweet, with again a perfect balance. Mouth: quite oaky, tannic and dry but not unbalanced. Some great notes of leather, getting a little minty. Nice balance again. Notes of bitter almonds and hints of burnt cake. The finish is rather long and slightly rummy. Really enjoyable! 87 points.
Macallan 'Macalan' 1991/2004 (57,5%, Jean Boyer Best Cask, refill hogshead)
Very sweet and perfectly balanced, slightly bourbonny. Creamy, with lots of dried yellow fruits. Excellent. 87 points

October 2005 - part 2 <--- November 2005 - part 1 ---> November 2005 - part 2


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

Ben Nevis 35 yo 1967/2003 (52.5%, OB for Alambic Classique, cask #2218, 165 bottles)

Bladnoch 18 yo 1980/1998 (46%, Kingsbury, cask #3429)

Bowmore 1995/2005 (57.2%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon cask)

Bowmore 11 yo 1992/2004 (61.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 3.92, 624 bottles)

Fettercairn 13 yo 1980/1993 (46%, Cadenhead)

Glen Garioch NAS (70° proof, OB, bulky,1970’s)

Glengoyne 15 yo 1989/2005 'Duncan's Choice' (55.7%, OB, sherry hogshead #1204, 350 bottles)

Glengoyne 19 yo 1985/2005 (55.8%, OB, refill sherry, cask #1227, 697 bottles)

Glengoyne 19 yo 1986/2005 'Ewan's Choice' (51.5%, OB, sherry puncheon #441, 600 bottles)

Glengoyne 22 yo 1982/2005 'Ronnie's Choice' (53.6%, OB, bourbon barrel #449, 200 bottles)

Glengoyne 32 yo 1972/2005 (48.7%, OB, white Rioja cask #985, 328 bottles)

Glengoyne 37 yo 1967/2005 (47.6%, OB, sherry butt #975, 246 bottles)

Glenlivet 36 yo 1968/2005 (48.6%, Duncan Taylor, sherry cask #6195, 136 bottles)

Glenury Royal 36 yo 1968/2005 (51.2%, OB, 2100 bottles)

Springbank NAS (46%, OB, House and Tree label, Germany, mid 1990’s)