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Hi, you're in the Archives, November 2009 - Part 1

October 2009 - part 2 <--- November 2009 - part 1 ---> November 2009 - part 2


November 14, 2009

Whyte MacKay
Whyte & Mackay 'Special' (40%, OB, Blend, Sherry finish, +/- 2009) A 'double marriage blend' - does Prince Charles endorse this bottling? Colour: gold. Nose: starts mildly aromatic, rather dry and grassy, with just touches of bitter oranges and light floral notes. A little coffee, chocolate, malt and grains and a faint dustiness. Cornflakes. Not very expressive globally but rather clean. Gets more porridgy over time. Mouth: light, malty and caramelly, with quite some liquorice as well. The attack is rather nervous but the middle isn’t quite there. Finish: short, on caramel and liquorice plus a little pepper. Comments: rather inoffensive but not exactly weak. The notes of caramel are very obvious. SGP:331 – 68 points. At £10 a litre at Tesco in the UK, no bad value methinks. (and please remember that we’re using exactly the same scale for malts and blends).
Whyte & Mackay 13 yo 'The Thirteen' (40%, OB, Blend, Sherry finish, +/- 2009) Colour: gold. Nose: this one is both fruitier and grainier, almost mashy. Notes of sour cherries, overripe apples, pears and oranges, with also a little butter. Marginally more expressive than the ‘Special’, maybe a tad dirtier (‘dirty’ isn’t always pejorative with whiskies). Hints of rhum agricole. Faint peatiness. Mouth: good body and acceptable mouth feel, with more malt than in the Special. Bitter oranges, marmalade, caramel and honey sauce. Cleaner than on the nose. Finish: fruitier, rather clean and fresh. Strawberries and pineapples. Comments: a very nice blend that I like much better than the Special. Good personality. SGP:531 - 77 points.
Whyte & Mackay 19 yo 'Old Luxury' (40%, OB, Blend, Sherry finish, +/- 2009) Ah, ‘Old Luxury’, a name that smacks of old Britain, of The charge of the Lightweight Brigade an of Peter Sellers’ The Party… Colour: gold. Nose: almost silent after the rather expressive 13, but also cleaner and kind of purer. Develops on more chocolate, wet rocks and peat smoke plus whiffs of old books but it never gets quite big. Hints of cooked butter. Mouth: a drier and more chocolaty version of the 13. Bigger body. Caramel cream, a little green pepper and quite some tannins (strong tea). Gets then more and more citrusy, and even lemony. Finish: much longer than its younger brothers’, and spicier and peatier too. Cloves and lemons. Comments: a rather big blend, it’s good, ‘though we’d like to be able to try it at 43% abv. SGP:542 - 79 points.
Whyte & Mackay 22 yo 'Supreme' (40%, OB, Blend, +/- 2009) Colour: gold. All four W&Ms display exactly the same colour, which proves that with (some) blends, colour has nothing to do with age. Nose: we’re rather close to the 19, but with added medicinal notes, a little camphor, old turpentine, empty wine barrel, dried flowers and just a little tar. Mouth: creamier than the others, obviously richer but also fruitier, with some quinces, dates, ripe apples, some nougat, mocha, oranges, earl grey tea, marzipan… Rather complex. Hints of cough drops. Finish: rather long, orangey and quite medicinal. Comments: very good blend. Once again, we’d enjoy a version at 43% abv or even 46. SGP:552 – 84 points.
Campbeltown Loch 30 yo (40%, OB, +/-2009) Colour: white wine/straw. Nose: very different from the W&Ms, with much less whiffs of old wine barrel and more fresh fruits and flowers. Dandelions, orange blossom water, lilies of the valley… Develops on quite some dried fruits, figs and bananas, some beeswax, light honey and finally soft spices. Very, very nice nose even if it hasn’t got most malt whiskies’ kick. Mouth: it’s not as demonstrative as the W&M 22 on the palate, and rather shy-ish. Apples, pears, tinned pineapples and green tea, with a little cardamom. Grows bigger after a few seconds, though, with more fruit liqueurs, pine resin and a little paraffin, as well as touches of mint and apple peels. Finish: medium long, a tad more citrusy. Mild oakiness. Comments: very, very nice profile but frankly, I think the 40% do not do it justice on the palate. A little more oomph would be welcome at thirty years of age. SGP:451 - 83 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a tad too smooth and loungy? Mmm... maybe but Rachelle Ferrell is the woman. Let's listen to her Sista and then buy her music.

Rachelle Ferrell

November 13, 2009

by Nick Morgan
The Palace Theatre, London, October 11th 2009

As the very knowledgeable readers of Whiskyfun will know, Mr Nick Cave is something of a polymath. The writer of some of the most achingly tender lyrics you’ll find on record (think of ‘Into my arms’ from The Boatman’s Call), he also scribbles occasional outpourings of splenetic violence (“with an ashtray as big as a fucking really big brick I split his head in half”) and managed to summarise the nature of the human condition in the seminal ‘No pussy blues’.

Nick Cave
He plays piano and sings with the Bad Seeds, of late probably the most powerful rock and roll band on the road, and also fronts, swaggering with Fender Thinline in hand, the uber-grungy Grinderman. He has written film scores and even appeared on the silver screen. He’s a poet; and a bit of a scholar famously writing an introduction to an edition of St Mark’s Gospel. And tonight he’s an author, reading from his new work, The Death of Bunny Munroe, in which, according to one critic, we see him “explore or at least entertain the notion that there might be a dimension to human life that is resistant to scientifically empirical explanation or calibration”.
It’s the story of a sex-obsessed salesman, who is rarely far from a handy bottle of hand cream to help him relieve his desires. He has a depressed wife, but she dies. He has a son; he doesn’t. There’s also a serial killer on the run (more whacking then), and a sticky end in sight for our eponymous hero; and it’s not as if Bunny doesn’t give a toss. He’s haunted by a sense of impending doom: he knows there’s something bad coming at the climax. Hand Cream
The novel is available in printed form, but also exists as a brilliantly conceived audiobook, with a stunning i-Phone application.
Cave reads the whole book (some of it on video) and there is a soundtrack composed by Cave and his Bad Seeds, Grinderman and film-score collaborator, Warren Ellis. Ellis is on stage tonight, performing some of the sound accompaniment (some is on tape) while Cave reads three chapters in all, each accompanied by a visual score. It’s heavy-going stuff. Dark, uncomfortably explicit (an explicitness which verges on the tedious), enlivened only by the occasional joke (the bulk of which involving either Kylie Minogue or Avril Lavigne, or both). And frankly it’s not read that well: Cave stumbles over quite a lot of the phrasing, which prevents him picking up the kind of pace and rhythm that his carefully chosen words need. This is partly because he’s reading from disordered publisher’s page-proofs and quite possibly, suggested the Photographer (who’s off duty tonight, no cameras allowed), because he’s a little uncomfortable with the material himself. Thankfully he’s also got bassist Martyn P Casey with him, and in between some mostly uninspiring questions and answers (I blame the audience for the paucity of the questions), they play a brilliant, almost ‘unplugged’ set.
Or at least it’s almost every song you would want Nick Cave to play if he were in your living-room without the Bad Seeds. And the audience love it. Nick Cave
He started with ‘West country girl’, followed by ‘Hold on to yourself’ from this year’s Dig Lazarus Dig (after a anxious hunt for the lyrics), ‘Lime tree arbour’ and ‘Mercy Seat’. The piano playing was spare, Ellis’s contributions well chosen and largely recessive with the bass holding it all together. Cave’s voice was remarkably tuneful, freed from having to sing above the cacophonous Bad Seeds, and added a sometimes missing dimension of gentleness to the songs. Pausing only for the occasional sip of throat tea he sang the wonderful ‘God is in the house’, Tupelo (with Ellis drumming on a single snare), ‘The weeping song’, ‘The ship song’, and ‘Dig Lazarus dig’.
It must have been about then that someone asked (strangely, the only questioner to get a microphone): “Do you think Polly Harvey would join you on stage to sing if she were here?”. Following a brief exchange with one of the boxes, Polly (the object of Cave’s desire in ‘Into my arms’, and for that matter most of ‘The Boatman’s Call’) duly appeared (as did two video-camera wielding blokes from out of nowhere) to duet, perhaps not quite spontaneously, on ‘Henry Lee’. After that he finished with ‘Babe, you turn me on’ and a version of ‘Grinderman’’ that could have come out of a garage.
Perhaps the best moment of the evening was saved for his return for the encore. When he announced that he’d sing a couple more songs one of the persistent questioners stood and asked “why no more readings from the book?”. “Well I’ve read three pieces”, said Cave, “and it’s very complicated with all the music and stuff. Will Self just sits on a stool and reads for ten minutes and then fucks off”. You could see the majority of the audience were cringing at the suggestion of more gruesome prose. It was hardly surprising that when an exasperated Cave eventually said, “Well what do you want, reading or songs?”, the response “songs” came loud and clear from the overwhelming majority of the crowd, who were rewarded with ‘Into my arms’ and ‘Lucy’.

And I can assure you that although Bunny Munroe has its moments, and I do heartily recommend that you look at the i-Phone application, the majority of people who left the theatre in a state of delight will remember the evening not for the member-wielding Munroe, but for Mr Cave’s delightfully performed songs. – Nick Morgan

Listen: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds on MySpace.

Nick Cave PJ Harvey
Nick Cave and PJ Harvey


Hurray, Glenugie! Together with Ardbeg, Brora, Lagavulin and Talisker, Glenugie is in my top five (aka the Grands Crus Classés – yeah, please, nothing too serious!)

Glenugie 19 yo 1959/1978 (80° Proof, Cadenhead's Dumpy, Black Label, 75cl) I had an earlier version, bottled 1977, at 93 points so no need to say that my expectations are deep. Colour: gold. Nose: starts on a combination of citrus fruits with shoe polish and a faint milkiness (or fresh butter). The (relatively) bad news is that these milky and even porridgy notes start to dominate Glenugie’s usual fruitiness after a while. There’s also quite some cardboard, printing ink (close to shoe polish here) and hints of rotting fruits that aren’t superb. Now, even if subdued, the fresh fruity notes are superb as always, with apples, lemons and tangerines. Gets cleaner over time but you really have to take your time. Mouth: ermnlblgmrn… on one side, it’s as deliciously fruity as expected but on the other side, it’s kind of dirty and whacky, cardboardy, too leathery and dry, with these notes of rotting fruits that are back. Rotting oranges. Also some disturbing notes of cheap strawberry sweets. Too bad because once again, a fantastic fruitiness lies beyond all that. Finish: medium long, dry, unexpectedly salty. Some weird tastes in the aftertaste (rotting strawberries?) Comments: there must have been a problem with this cask, nails, mice or mould. But the spirit is great. SGP:363 - 76 points.
Glenugie 31 yo 1977/2009 (58.1%, Signatory, 84 months oloroso finish, cask #7, 577 bottles) Wait, 84 months, that makes for exactly 7 years if I’m not mistaken. More double maturing than finishing if you ask me, as some ‘interplay’ should have happened during such a long time. Colour: amber. Nose: rather less expressive than the 1959 but kind of cleaner, more chocolaty and coffee-ish. Also tea and patchouli. But it’s very powerful so let’s add water right away: wow, that worked pretty well! More flinty notes, meat, beef jerky, leather, beef bouillon, herbs… Not much gunpowder. Mouth (neat): rich, very sherried, not starting on Glenugie’s usual kind of fruitiness, rather on red fruits from the sherry. Strawberries, raspberry liqueur and marshmallows. Some herbal tea in the background (blackcurrant buds). Little oloroso character I must say, not much chocolate/coffee/raisins/prunes so far. With water: more or less in the same range, with maybe a little more oranges. Finish: long, on a combination of citrusy and meaty notes. Maybe not quite straight but it works. Some bitter chocolate – this finish is a tad more ‘vinously oloroso’ than nose and palate. Comments: I’d have loved to try the original spirit before it got re-racked. Anyway, a very good Glenugie. SGP:641 - 86 points.

November 12, 2009

Glen Grant


Glen Grant 18 yo 1990/2008 (59%, Signatory, Cask #7122, 582 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: very, very nice sherried nose, rather fruity and not sulphury at all. A lot of chocolate, strawberry jam, raspberry liqueur, sultanas and ripe oranges. Mildly winey and perfectly balanced. With water: gets less fruity and rather flintier. Some gunpowder and hay. Mouth (neat): powerful but extremely fruity, rich, liqueury and jammy. Orange marmalade, ginger, plum jam and a wee bit of chlorophyll, liquorice and mint. Very slightly prickly and fuzzy (Schweppes). With water: softer but also spicier, with notes of curry and even a little wasabi. The rest is as fruity as when neat. Hugely drinkable. Finish: long, on ripe greengages and raisins. Comments: a perfect all-rounder that will please anyone. Very good cask. SGP:541 - 87 points.
Glen Grant 23 yo 1985/2009 (55.9%, Adelphi, cask #10197, 191 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: expressive, round, slightly fudgy, with a lot of praline, nougat, raisins and roasted chestnuts and a little fresh mint in the background. Aniseed. With water: remains more or less the same. Perfect balance, no flaws whatsoever, all pleasure. A little smoke. Mouth (neat): similar to the 1990 in style, that is to say very rich, creamy and fruity. Plum jam, quince jelly, early grey tea and liquorice tea plus quite some spices (pepper, cloves, cardamom). The quality is high. With water: perfect, total balance between the fruits and the spices. Finish: long, fruity, jammy and liquoricy. Chestnut liqueur. Comments: another one that’s extremely drinkable. The kind of bottle that needs a padlock, if you see what I mean. SGP:541 - 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the late English blues singer Jo Anne Kelly and her guitar doing The Girl I Love, She Got Long Curly Hair (live). Please buy Jo Anne Kelly's music.

Jo Ann Kelly

November 10, 2009

Tessa Souter


TESSA SOUTER on jazz, whisky and MJ

Sometimes Twitter can be great. A few weeks ago, I was browsing a few ‘jazz accounts’ when I stumbled upon the page of a New York based vocalist called Tessa Souter.

As I often do, I decided to listen to a few tracks of hers before ‘following’ her and I instantly regretted that Twitter does not allow you to follow the same account twice. Indeed, the sound snippets immediately made me think of… well, I know comparison is not reason, but yes, I had the feeling I was listening to both Patricia Barber and Cassandra Wilson’s younger sister in a certain way (not that the wonderful Patricia Barber and Cassandra Wilson are relatives in any way, of course). So, Tessa Souter was definitely great, but that was only the beginning of the story…
Indeed, we started to chat and I was soon to find out that she was also Michael Jackson’s cousin! I mean Michael Jackson the great late whisky writer, sometimes nicknamed ‘MJ1’ in whisky circles - no need to tell you who used to be number two. Tessa also spotted Michael Jackson’s tribute page on WF and she found it very moving - and I guess you know that Michael Jackson was a great jazz connoisseur. Anyway, all that was more than enough for us to do a whisky and music interview on Whiskyfun. Tessa isn’t quite the typical whisky freak, but she’s a true jazz star, so read on…
Serge: Tessa, tell us briefly about what you do, music-wise. 
Tessa: Sing jazz reinterpreted through a Middle Eastern/Flamenco-esque lens.
S: Which other musicians are you playing or did you play with?
Tessa: Different ones. I have recorded and or played with Kenny Werner, Billy Drummond, Jay Leonhart, Joel Frahm, and Romero Lubambo (all on my Venus release, Nights of Key Largo), Jason Ennis, Gary Wang, Conor Mehan, Victor Prieto, Todd Reynolds, (all on my Motema release, Obsession), Freddie Bryant , Essiet Essiet, Chembo Corniel (all on my self produced first CD Listen Love), Joe La Barbera, Ron Blake, Ron McClure, Mark Murphy, John Hart and many others.
S: Wow! Ron McClure on bass and Billy Drummond on drums, that would be a dream rhythm section! I believe you know Billy Drummond quite well…
Tessa: That would indeed be a dream rhythm section. They know each other too. And yes Billy is now my boyfriend. We were fixed up by singer Sheila Jordan who has known Billy for about 20 years and me for about nine years – so we figured her opinion could probably be trusted!
S: Which are your other favourite artistes?
Tessa Souter
Tessa Souter
Tessa: Andy Bey, Mark Murphy, Milton Nascimento, Sheila Jordan, Blossom Dearie, Carmen McRae, Shirley Horn, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Naturally 7, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Pat Martino. Pat Metheny, Sandy Denny, Miles Davis, Kenny Barron, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins.
S: Fairport’s Sandy Denny? Not very “jazz” but such a sweet voice and person indeed. And what a shame.
Tessa: Yes, Fairport’s Sandy Denny. I also loved Jacqui McPhee, I think was her name. She sang with Pentangle, which was kind of jazz folk and very celtic and exciting. No one could tell a story like those two! Perhaps especially Sandy, who had a lovely smoky voice that was so intimate. Billy and I were listening to Natalie Merchant the other day and decided that she owed the Sandy Denny estate money! Exact same voice!
S: Natalie Merchant is great since 10,000 Maniacs - other Maniacs, ha! Anyway, in this modern world we're all interested in brands, whether it's whisky or guitars. We'll ask you about your favourite whisky later, but for now, favourite instrument and why?
Tessa: Cello. It is so voice-like. Otherwise, my favorite instrument is the voice.
S: Which are your current projects?
Tessa: At the planning stages of my second CD for the Japanese audiophile label, Venus (who put out my first CD, Nights of Key Largo) and promoting my current US release Obsession, on the Motema label, which we are hoping to release in the UK and Europe in the spring. Getting geared up for my next gig in London at Pizza on the Park on November 12. Packing and stuff, which I hate (although not as much as I hate unpacking!).
S: When did you start enjoying whisk(e)y? Are there any musical memories you particularly associate with that moment?
Tessa: I had my first taste at 15. Not sure I could say it was "when I first started enjoying" -- since it made me throw up. It was a cheap brand. I don't recall what. At around the time of that first episode I became enamored of the Cannonball Adderly LP Somethin' Else.
S: Were you already aware of the fact that your cousin Michael was a very famous whisky writer at the time?
Tessa: Not then, no. I first had an inkling when he made us all laugh at a family dinner telling us about how whenever he made reservations at hotels people would say: “Not THE Michael Jackson? Michael Jackson the SINGER?” Then one day he called and the receptionist said all excited: “Not THE Michael Jackson?” He was just getting ready to explain, no not THAT Michael Jackson, when she said: “.... Michael Jackson the BEER WRITER?” He was so modest, though. I thought that this was a one in a million experience – a bit like my being recognized in the street the other day by a stranger who called me “THE Tessa Souter!” and made my day (or actually my YEAR). So when I went to a whisky event with him for the first time I was absolutely SHOCKED at the line of people waiting to have their books signed and calling him “Mr Jackson” – like he was a movie star! (By the way, if you ever want to make me feel special, call me “Miss Souter” – when it happens it makes you feel like Liz Taylor or someone!)
S: What’s your most memorable whisky? 

Michael Jackson
Tessa: It was at an event in New York with my cousin Michael. In some enormous and crusty blueblood type Gentleman's Club, along the lines of London's RAC Club. There was an enormous dinner, which I think was being held in his honor, and I was shocked that at EVERY COURSE (there were many courses) we were served a different whisky, instead of wine. I had never been served whisky with dinner before (or since, I have to say!).
S: Didn’t Michael try to educate you regarding whisky? Or was he thinking it wasn’t such a good thing for a vocalist? Now, some opera singers, both male and female, have been known for downing a wee dram before each set.
Tessa: I personally find that alcohol isn’t that good for my voice. I really notice it the next day. If I have a bad throat I might sip a little just before a concert. Otherwise I stay away. But it didn’t do Sarah Vaughan any harm did it? And I think Shirley Horn was a tippler too – though I think vodka was her poison.
S: Do you have other memories with Michael, or anecdotes? He was such a great person, still sadly missed by the whole whisky world! He’ll never be replaced, for sure.
Tessa: Michael had this wonderful knack of making you feel important. He came to all my gigs and invariably brought a crowd and, if he did come alone, would often end up sitting with some stranger he had befriended – making them feel important and included. He was one of those people who could really focus – although he was a bit of an absent minded professor type, too – one of those who would wear ten pairs of glasses on his head and always be looking for them. One time he took me with him to a Conan O’Brian taping in New York and actually went on stage with his flies undone. Conan pointed it out! On air! Yikes! (I think he wrote about that in an online Whisky magazine). He was super knowledgeable about absolutely everything, it seemed. He knew so much about jazz, for example. He’d heard of everybody, and would certainly have been the only member of my family to have heard of Billy Drummond. I am so sorry he died before he could see us together. He really knew how to give time to the important things – whether it was a glass of beer or wine (which Billy also likes) or whisky or a piece of music (he’d have loved Billy’s audiophile sound system) or the person he was talking to. And he was kind. That is my favourite quality in a person. I still have his telephone number in my cell phone.
S: Do you have one, or several favourite whiskies?
Tessa: A whisky toddy (sorry if that is sacrilegious) on a cold night, cuddled up on a deep sofa in front of a fire, listening to Nancy Wilson or Shirley Horn on the CD player at the end of a long day.
S: Are there whiskies you don’t like?
Tessa: Any cheap reminder of that first episode.
S: Music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves. Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
Tessa: Of course! They should do both. But they should be practising the guitar at 15 and save drinking whisky until they can afford something really good.
S: If your favourite whisky was a piece of music what would it be, if it was a musical instrument what would it be?
Tessa: Bach cello suites. Cello. Smooth.
S: Ah, Pierre Fournier… I guess you know his recordings of the suites…
Tessa: I don’t but I will look for it. I have Yo Yo Ma’s version.
S: Everyone thinks of Jack Daniels as being the great rock and roll whisky – why not Scotch?
Tessa: Because Jack Daniels is American, like rock and roll is. Whisky should probably be more of a highland fling -- passionate and a little bit wild.
Thank you, Tessa! Dear reader, you should now check Tessa Souter's website where you can listen to her beautiful music. She's also got two excellent blogs, anything you can do you can do better (based on her book) and tessa souter. And, then of course, buy her music and go to her gigs (she's in London at Pizza on the Park right on Thursday, don't miss her!) (Tessa's photographs: Janis Wilkins, Richard Conde)


Glengoyne 1997/2009 (57.5%, Jean Boyer 'The WitC's Bottling’ for Whisky-Distilleries Forum, 46 bottles) A small batch that was done for Whisky In The Church, a great little festival that’s organised each year in The Hague by our friend Jean-Marie Putz. Colour: white wine. Nose: ultra-clean, mega-crisp and beautifully malty at first nosing, with loads of soft caramel, vanilla fudge, nougat and apple compote. Then quite some redcurrants, gooseberries and smoky pears in the background. With water: more of the same, the fruitiness becoming even fresher. Hints of cider apples. Mouth (neat): youthful, very clean once again, all on pears, tinned pineapples and orange drops. But it’s also very powerful so water is obligatory. With water: delicious fruitiness, freshly squeezed oranges and strawberry drops. Finish: long, on a whole fruit salad and various fruit eaux-de-vie. Comments: once again, ultra-clean and mega-crisp fruity Glengoyne. What’s more, it’s very interesting since most young single cask Glengoynes that one can find are sherried, whereas this one is as ‘naked’ as possible. SGP:730 - 87 points.
Glengoyne 11 yo 1997/2008 (56.3%, OB, Sherry hogshead, cask #2692, 301 bottles) Colour: mahogany. Nose: sherry galore this time, with some heavy yet beautiful notes of raisins, old Armagnac, prunes, milk chocolate and a rather obvious oakiness (pencil shavings). Gets even more chocolaty after a few minutes. With water: more pencil shavings but also more dried mushrooms (boletus), balsamic vinegar and walnut liqueur. A wonderful nose in my opinion. Even a little Japanese oyster sauce. Mouth (neat): not as thick as expected, rather fruitful and lively, with a heavy sherry influence but no ‘fatness’. Tons of liqueur-filled chocolate, white Port, raspberry liqueur and orange squash. With water: superb, all on chestnut purée and walnut liqueur, with just touches of pine resin. Finish: long, more resinous. Cough syrup and cherry liqueur. Comments: another ultra-clean young Glengoyne, but a heavily sherried one this time. Marvellous dram despite these notes of pencil shavings (no, I had no problems at school). SGP:641 - 89 points.

November 9, 2009

Clynelish 12 yo (46%, OB, For Friends of the Classic Malts, 2009) Colour: gold. Nose: what’s surprising is the high amount of smoke in this one. Some peat, then wax (but it’s not as waxy as others) and flints, then lemon skin and finally sea breeze. Little fruitiness but a superb flinty/smoky profile. Notes of fresh oranges coming through after a while. Mouth: much fruitier now, with a lot of oranges and tangerines on top of Clynelish’s trademark waxiness. Quite some pepper too, ginger and notes of green apples. Notes of ripe goodeberries. Finish: rather long, very nicely balanced between red berries, wax and pepper, with some orange sweets in the aftertaste. Comments: very good and rather more ‘freshly’ fruity than other young Clynelishes. Maybe a little less ‘old Highlands’ than usual. SGP:542 – 85 points.
Clynelish 1992/2008 'Distiller's Edition' (46%, OB, ref 171/3h) Double matured in oloroso seco cask wood. Colour: gold. Nose: an even drier version than the 12 for Friends, grassier too. Wet rocks, hay, wet wool (not quite sheep) and whiffs of damp clay. The double maturing did not add any sweetness to this one, quite the opposite. And it’s not extremely expressive. Little waxiness. Grows even more flinty over time. Mouth: once again, it’s rather drier and grassier than the 12 for Friends, but the wine is more obvious than on the nose (strawberries and such, orange liqueur). More spices, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves… Finish: long and spicy. Kummel liqueur and Cointreau. Some bubblegum in the aftertaste. Comments: the wine is rather discreet, especially on the nose. The whole is good, probably a little better than the first batches of the Clynelish DE in my book. SGP:551 - 82 points.
Clynelish 1996/2009 (58.1%, Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #8245, 304 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: starts on quite some coffee and bitter chocolate, with a lot of paraffin behind all that as well as notes of fresh almonds and tons of cut grass. It’s rather austere I must say. Whiffs of freshly sawn oak. Not really more expressive than the DE, but a tad more ‘Clynelish’. With water: it gets way grassier and waxier. Whiffs of damp moss and fern, very, very nice. Mouth (neat): rich, fruity and spicy, waxy, phenolic, resinous and as oily as malt whisky can be. Notes of walnut skins. With water: very, very good now. Smoked orange liqueur or something like that, honeydew, orange drops and sultanas and fig liqueur like they make in Turkey. Finish: spicier, on pepper and cloves coating bitter oranges, with a distinct peatiness in the aftertaste. Comments: the sherry really complemented (and complimented) the malt here, creating a smooth yet spicy and nervous dram. SGP:463 - 88 points.
Clynelish 12 yo 1995/2008 (58.5%, Signatory, Sherry Butt #12789, 635 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: a wilder and much more ‘organic’ version, even if there’s even more chocolate and plain cocoa than in the MOS. Loads of chocolate in fact as well as some coffee. Very pleasant dryness. With water: just like in the MOS, the wax comes out as well as some farmy notes. Wet hay and fresh mint. The austerity is pretty superb. Mouth (neat): we aren’t very far from the 1996 MOS here. A tad more vegetal and mustardy at first sipping, and then a little more acidic (green apples, lemon). Very pleasantly sharp, I like this kind of very zesty profiles in Clynelish. With water: the fruitiness is released, with quite some oranges, then honey and even more sweet mustard plus many spices. Finish: long, a tad more vegetal than the MOS once again but similarly great. And always these mustardy notes. Comments: once again, a relatively young Clynelish and an excellent sherry butt do wonders together. SGP:372 - 88 points.
Clynelish 12 yo 1996/2008 (58.6%, Wilson & Morgan Barrel Selection, Marsala finish, cask #06/09013-5) Colour: full gold. Nose: wow, the Marsala really speaks out and Clynelish’s profile is kind of hidden. Now, these huge notes of coffee liqueur (Kalhua) are most pleasant. Also some ginger, soy sauce and hints of fresh mushrooms. Pretty spectacular. With water: very funny, now it smells like lovage, soy sauce and balsamico. Even Parmesan cheese? Funny indeed, and very nice. Mouth (neat): I had feared this would be unbalanced but it’s not. Much fruitier than what the nose suggested, starting on blood oranges and grapefruits, then more on fresh walnuts, apple peelings and a little fresh strawberry. The wine and the whisky blend very well here (who said for once, who?) With water: same, with a superb ‘greenness’. Fresh walnuts and green apples. Finish: long, with very faint bubblegummy notes in the background. Or Haribos. Comments: you may know that I’m no wine finishing freak but I must say this one worked wonderfully. Marsala, you say... SGP:462 - 89 points.
Synch Elli And also Clynelish 'Synch Elli' 27yo 1982/2009 (46%, The Nectar Daily Dram) From a cask that was shared with The Perfect Dram, who bottled their share at cask strength (53.9%). I adored that one (WF93), hence licked the tiniest remaining drop of it. Too bad, I’d have loved to compare both versions. Colour: white wine. Nose: stunning. Ever tried the old Clynelish 12yo white label (distilled at the distillery that was to become Brora)? No? Then try this one, it’s very close. World class malt whisky, very ‘true’. Mouth: please call the anti-maltoporn brigade. Finish: alas. Comments: first class. I know I should score it a tad lower than the version at CS but frankly, this is probably just as stellar. Oh, I just noticed that there were no descriptors in these tasting notes. Who cares? SGP:363 - 93 points.
SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))
The Whisky Show in London’s Guildhall (City) just closed its doors and it was absolutely perfect.

Some fantastic young and old whiskies to try (think Karuizawa 1967, Macallan 1938 G&M, Dalmore 40, Fettercairn 40, Glengoyne 40, Glen Grant 1954 McLeod, Glenlivet 1964, Springbank 1968 Chieftains… And many others!), thrilling masterclasses (well, tutored tastings - I always found the word 'masterclass' a tad strange, it's not Pablo Casals teaching you how to play the cello, is it?) and a matching company, all that in a magnificent and historic setting. Not to mention the more than perfect organisation by The Whisky Exchange crew. What’s more, it wasn’t far from the Tate Modern and its superb albeit temporary John Baldessari exhibition. All that to say that I shall for sure attend next year’s (probable) edition of The Whisky Show, and so should you if you ask me. It's all very London, baby, swinging and tasteful.


MUSIC - Recommended listening: Mr Lucky Peterson himself doing Don't Cloud Up On Me. Electric blues at its best, please buy Lucky Peterson's music!

Lucky Peterson

November 5, 2009

Blended Malts
Johnnie Walker 15 yo 'Green Label' (43%, OB, +/- 2009) Colour: gold. Nose: very nice profile at first nosing, on yellow flowers, honey, malted barley and nougat, then hints of peat smoke and oranges. The peat grows then bigger, as well as some very pleasant mineral notes. Also cinnamon and nutmeg and a little milk chocolate. Nice! Mouth: very lively, orangey, malty and honeyed, with a good deal of peat once again. Notes of liquorice tea and roasted nuts. Very big body at just 43%. Finish: long, smoky, roasted, with mild tannins and a little lemon marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent blender’s work here in my humble opinion. SGP:443 - 84 points.
Blue Hanger '4th Release' (45.6%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Bottled 2008) Colour: gold. Nose: more sherry and chocolate in this one, oranges, coffee, earl grey tea and whiffs of cedar wood. Right, cigar box. Superb spicy notes behind all that, with some cumin, cloves and nutmeg. Roasted honey coated nuts, pecans. I like this nose a lot, its extremely elegant. Mouth: nervous but elegant, orangey, honeyed and liquoricy, developing on many more fruits. Very ripe strawberries, quinces, kumquats, dried figs… Quite some tannins in the background that nicely balance the whole. Also cake, brownies, toasted brioche… Finish: long, clean, balanced, fruity and ‘roasted’. Orange cake, baklavas. Comments: it is well known that the various Blue Hangers (and their predecessors the Berry’s All Malts) are great vatted malts. This one is no exception. SGP:541 - 87 points.
Islay 12yo 'Distilled at Islay secret distilleries' (40%, Master of Malt, +/-2009) Colour: gold. Nose: straight smoke, ashtray and exhaust pipe, then more seaweed and lemons as well as a little yoghurt, gentian and liquorice wood. Rooty. Really playful at just 40% abv and true to its origins. Mouth: good attack, sweeter than expected, on something unusual such as… smoked litchis? Also ashes, apple peels (obvious ‘greenness’), green tea, hints of Turkish delights (we’re close to the litchis again) and a little cinnamon. The middle isn’t big but more than okay considering the 40%. Finish: medium long, on smoke, marzipan, cider apples and orange blossom water. Comments: a very nice fruitiness in this vatted Islayer. Very good quality, I’m sure it would have been a smashing hit at 46% abv. SGP:446 - 84 points.
Big Peat (46%, Douglas Laing, +/- 2009) A vatting of Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen. Some people have been arguing about the character on the label – is it Fred Laing, Stewart Laing of Captain Haddock? Colour: gold. Nose: rounder, more on coffee and chocolate at first nosing, getting then very coastal, on oysters and other seashells. Mixed herbal tea (like aniseed and linden), lemon balm… Then wet wool and raw peated barley, tarry rope, hessian... Very, very nice combination. Some young single Islayers can be a tad mono-dimensional so this vatting brings complexity – not to mention the Port Ellen that’s obviously quite old. Mouth: excellent attack, as Islay as an Islayer can be. Quite amazingly, it tastes as if it was coming from one single distillery, as it’s very, very compact. Rooty, leafy, very peated, lemony, ashy, kippery… Maybe a tad closer to Caol Ila than to the others on the palate. Very good. Finish: long, ultra-clean, zesty, peaty. Big dram. Comments: it is an excellent surprise, a vatted that may defeat many young singles when tasted blind. Funny label too. SGP:457 - 88 points.
Undercover N°3 15 yo 1993/2009 (57.5%, The Nectar, Daily Dram, 320 bottles) Vatted from three different Islay Distilleries. Colour: gold. Nose: more brutal than the Big Peat but that’s probably the much higher ABV. Notes of coffee from the alcohol, peat smoke, cut grass and tar. With water: amazing how it changed, with notes that are typical of an old Ardbeg. Extremely phenolic and tarry, with tons of diesel oil and hints of cow stable. Wet Harris tweed (or any kind of tweed, really). A wild one. Mouth (neat): strong, both a little estery and medicinal. In other words, bubblegum and cough syrup plus a huge smokiness. With water: once again, Ardbeg shines through after diluting. Tar, liquorice, smoked fudge (eh?), green apples and salt. Finish: long, hugely phenolic. Comments: a funny bottling. Not that great when undiluted but fantastic once watered down. Same level as the Big Peat. SGP:368 - 88 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: when a rockabilly trio called The Paladins are doing a hardcore rock-blues tune called Follow your heart. Well, it rocks. Great sound, play it loud! Please buy the Paladins' music.


November 4, 2009

Stronachie 12 yo (40%, A.D. Rattray, +/- 2009) These Stronachies have always been said to be Benrinnes but I don’t think we have proof of that. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very, very malty and quite mashy (bread, lager) at first nosing, developing more on caramel, chocolate cake and raisins but without any obvious sherry character. Also a little honey. Pleasant, no less, no more. Mouth: good, easy attack, rather fruity and nervous, with notes of pineapples and oranges, then gingerbread and orange cake. A little caramel, malt, more oranges, sultanas, fruitcake… Very drinkable. Finish: medium long, slightly smoky, rather drier now. Some oak. Oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: I believe this newer batch of Stronachie is rather better than the first batches. Good fruitiness. SGP:442 - 83 points.
Adelphi's Laudale 'Batch #1' 12yo (46%, Adelphi, Speyside) Colour: deep amber. Nose: a very, very tarry sherry at first nosing, with quite some ‘clean’ rubber and used matches but I wouldn’t say it’s wrongly sulphury. Notes of cardboard, then a lot of dry raisins (Corinth), bitter chocolate and cinnamon. A little leather too, as well as quite some cloves. An unusual style of sherry matured malt. Mouth: very nice attack, typically oloroso-ed but with quite some Turkish delights and baklavas (and other oriental pastries) as well as a little cumin. Notes of blood oranges, Demerara sugar, speculoos and overripe apples. Certainly not the average sherried Speysider. Finish: rather long, a little thick, with some coffee and a little cherry brandy. Resinous wood. Comments: unusual but very nice ‘Oriental’ scents and flavours in this one. SGP:361 - 86 points.
Speyside 'Undercover #4' 19yo 1990/2009 (48%, The Nectar, Daily Dram) Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is more a clean, fruity and rather mineral kind of Speysider, that starts with unusual whiffs of fresh mint, melon and apricots as well as something pleasantly metallic. Then we get more flowers, light honey, a little pine resin and just hints of bananas and vanilla. The whole is very fresh and not woody at all. The clean and fruity side of Speyside. Mouth: fresh, creamy, fruity, starting on ripe melons, apricots and a little sweet ginger. Then hints of herbal liqueur (yellow Chartreuse), honeydew and orange zests, with some white pepper in the background. Balance is perfect. Finish: long, with a great balance between apricots and plums on one side, and cloves, pepper and ginger on the other side. Not that all that does not mingle… Comments: excellent creamy and apricoty Speysider, from a distillery that’s very rarely bottled as independent. No, not Glenfarclas. SGP:541 - 89 points.
Adelphi 18 yo 1991/2009 'Breath of Speyside' (54.2%, Adelphi, cask #5145, 520 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: even more unusual than the Laudale, starting curiously vegetal and dry, a little tarry and quite toffee-ish. A lot of strong black tea (unsweetened), cinnamon, dry raisins, roasted chestnuts and espresso coffee. With water: it’s the oak that plays louder now, with some tannins, grass and bitter chocolate. It was working better when undiluted in my opinion. Mouth (neat): thick, raisiny and as resinous as some much older whiskies. Concentrated, more and more on cough syrup, treacle toffee, strong mint flavoured tea (Marrakesh in winter, yeah, yeah) and angelica. If you like heavy, rich and concentrated whiskies, this is for you. With water: water works much better than on the nose, even it gets a tad more drying. Millionaire’s shortbread, nutmeg, cinnamon, cocoa powder and white pepper. Finish: long, drier, oakier but all that is under control. Comments: a rather spectacular heavily sherried Speysider. Quality is high and Ballindalloch may well not be too far. SGP:461 - 88 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: let's have some straight ahead jazz today with Della Griffin's slightly broken yet marvellous voice singing the standard It Could Happen to You. Please buy Della Griffin's music.

Della Griffin

November 3, 2009

Tomatin 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2009) Colour: straw. Nose: typically honeyed, lightly floral and slightly cereally and malty, with a pleasant freshness. Develops more on overripe apples, butter pears and just hints of tinned pineapple. Faint dustiness in the background. Mouth: fresh, sweet, round, honeyed, easy, flawless. A little liquorice, orange cake and roasted nuts. Very good. Finish: rather long, fruity and nutty, with just hints of caramel and praline. Comments: a very easy but very good malt, well above the rather mundane 12yo OB. Has something of a high-end blend. Excellent value for money in any case. SGP:441 - 84 points.
Tomatin 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2009) I already tried last year’s version at 40% and liked it a lot (WF86). Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts a little more varnishy than the 15 but the rest is rather similar albeit more powerful. Honey, Muscat grapes, apple peeling, whiffs of wood smoke, pears and once again a faint dustiness. Mouth: very good attack, honeyed and nutty, rather close to the 15 but once again, with more oomph. Quite some oak, pepper, dried apricots, ginger and malted barley. Hints of green tea. Finish: long, powerful, very malty, with some honeyed tea and a few tannins. Comments: very good not dramatically better than the 15, and maybe a little simpler than the earlier version at 40%. SGP:451 - 85 points.
Tomatin 18 yo 1990/2009 (56.6%, The Clydesdale, cask ref 0145/7717, 232 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: starts rather aggressive, both spirity and grassy, with only a few fruity notes (apples) as well as a little bubblegum. Ripe gooseberries. With water: we’re on all white fruits now, from apples to white peaches, with whiffs of cut grass, hay… The notes of bubblegum disappeared. Mouth (neat): starts unusually spicy for a Tomatin, quite bitter and tannic in fact. Strong green tea, cider apples, ginger, pepper… With water: smoother, fruitier and more vibrant. Apples and liquorice plus coffee flavoured toffee and notes of brownies. Finish: very long, zesty and tea-ish. A little aniseed. Comments: a big modern style Tomatin that needs a lot of water to open up but then, it gets very good. SGP:361 - 84 points.
Tomatin 15 yo (59.2%, Sestante, mid 1980s) Colour: gold. Nose: very punchy but also more aromatic than all the others, with more various fruits well in the style of the 1960s at Tomatin. Guavas, apples, pineapples and quite some vanilla. With water: exceptional. All topical fruits plus vanilla fudge, raisins and very ripe figs. Emphatic, as they say. Mouth (neat): extremely strong but fantastic! Beautiful spices mixed with all sorts of overripe and dried fruits, figs, passion fruits, bananas and orange blossom honey. Cask strength baklava ;-). With water: just excellent! Same flavours, only more drinkable. Also a little more oak. Finish: long, nervous, jammy. Curcuma on passion fruits. Comments: it’s rather easy to come across ‘new old’ Tomatins but ‘old old’ ones are getting rare. Well, this one is superb, with its typical notes of tropical fruits that most modern Tomatins have lost. Why? SGP:641- 92 points (grazie mille, Max)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: something less serious today, but certainly not less well-crafted, 'kitschy self-styled pop showman' Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele doing Meet me in the garden. Please buy Dent May's music.

Dent May

November 2, 2009

SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))
It's Whisky 4 Movember, you can start to grow your moustache! Movember is a global charity that raises funds against prostate cancer. What's more, the excellent bottlers Master of Malt have issued a special Orkney malt that bears five different moustaches on five different labels (Dave Broom's, Caskstrength.net's Neil Ridley's, mine (the 'walrus' style, arf, arf) and others) and of which all profits will go to Movember, so please buy one or five!
Movember A few useful links:

Master of Malt's Whisky 4 Movember charity bottling (£29.95 only!)

The whole story over at Caskstrength.net

Movembers's global website


Longmorn 16 yo (48%, OB, +/- 2009) An earlier batch from 2007 didn’t quite convince me (WF79) so let’s see if this new one is more to my liking. Colour: gold. Nose: rather different from the earlier version I must say, less on straight oak and grass and rather more on Longmorn’s typical fruitiness. Loads of overripe apples, then ripe cherries and strawberries, with even some bubblegum and marshmallows. There is some vanilla but it’s not excessive, the oak being rather delicate this time. Cedar wood. Whiffs of wax polish. Nice nose! Mouth: rather creamy and, once again, much, much better than the first batches in my opinion, with much more fruits, jams, sweet spices, fruit liqueurs and honey. Perfect mouth feel, rather oily. Excellent. Finish: long, thick, jammy, fruity. Apricot jam. Comments: to be honest, this is a huge surprise. The first 16s were disappointing, especially when compared with the older official 15, but this one is just excellent. Huge improvement in my opinion, kudos! But warning, it’s eminently drinkable. SGP:641 - 88 points.
Longmorn 25 yo 'Centenary' (43%, OB, gold label, 1994) Colour: gold. Nose: Christ, how expressive! Starts on litres and litres of grapefruit, then more grapefruit, then even more grapefruit and then various other ‘acidic’ tropical fruits starting with mangos, then passion fruits, tangerines and… grapefruits. All that is beautifully coated with some milk chocolate and many soft spices as well as something faintly metallic. Very, very vibrant Longmorn, loveable. Mouth: exceptional. So many fruits and so many resinous notes! Apricots, very ripe mangos, litchis, oranges, figs, liquorice, cough drops, eucalyptus sweets, lemon liqueur… Better stop here, the list would be too long (right, and boring). What’s also spectacular is the big body at just 43%, it’s almost thick. Finish: as long as a Berlusconi orgy. Just a little oak in the aftertaste, just a tiny-wee tad drying. Comments: state of the art uberfruity Longmorn. They knew how to celebrate their Century, didn’t they! SGP:741 - 93 points.
Longmorn 30 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/- 2009) Colour: pale amber. Nose: does this one stand the course after the fab 25yo? Yes indeed, it’s far from being ridiculous. The fruity notes are of the same kind albeit less demonstrative, the chocolaty ones are well here, the spices are a tad bigger (cinnamon, nutmeg) and there’s an added meatiness (ham) as well as a little mint. Perfect, soft yet expressive. Mouth: it’s not as easy to pass after the 25yo as on the nose, as the oak’s dryness is much more obvious here. Quite some tea, cinnamon and nutmeg. The fruits are well behind that woodiness, with some oranges, quinces and apples. Chlorophyll, cloves. Finish: medium long, fruitier now, as if the fruits won the fight against the oak. Gingered oranges, white pepper, dried ginger. Comments: great nose but the palate was more in trouble after the Centenary bottling. Maybe I should try this 30 again in the foreseeable future, and oppose it to an easier competitor. SGP:561 - 88 points.
Longmorn And also Longmorn 1971/2009 (47.4%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for Limburg, cask #4812, 190 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: this one starts unusually smoky, with a good deal of apple peelings and vanilla, probably grassier and more phenolic than other old Longmorns. There’s quite some sandalwood, whiffs of cigar box, a lot of pu-erh tea and unusual hints of seashells. A beautiful Longmorn, but one that’s not easily recognisable, even some hints of tropical fruits do come through after a few minutes (oranges, passion fruits.) Mouth: we’re much more ‘Longmorn’ on the palate, with a lot of citrus fruits (more orangey than lemony) coated with cinnamon and other spices from the wood. Quite some tannins too (of the ‘silky’ kind), mint flavoured tea, cardamom, white pepper, then more orange zest and kumquats. The whole is very lively and very nervous, which is great at such old age.
Finish: long, on fresh tangerines, cloves and white pepper. Comments: another very good old spicy Longmorn, with a nose that’s interestingly different from usual Longmorns. Very high quality. SGP:652 - 91 points.
Longmorn Longmorn 33 yo 1976/2009 (52.5%, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 168 bottles) In the true SMWS genre, the label states “Preserved fruits with mango mash”. Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: another rather smoky Longmorn at first nosing, with also a little mint and eucalyptus as well as whiffs of cured ham and liquorice. Oranges and fresh putty, marzipan. Very beautiful. With water: even more pine resin and coal smoke, ashes, smoked tea and liquorice, and of course Longmorn’s usual fruitiness. Superb.
Mouth (neat): creamy, oily yet nervous, starting a little resinous and rather jammy (apricots, plums), with also notes of ‘green’ coffee and quince jelly. Gets then more orangey and globally citrusy. And yes, maybe notes of mangos… Excellent. With water: more of the same, with a little more cinnamon from the oak. Finish: long, very fruity, with a mix of liquorice and pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: another excellent selection by the good people at The Perfect Dram. These Longmorns are top notch. SGP:642 - 91 points.
Longmorn Longmorn 1969/2009 (59.3%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for Japan Import System, first fill sherry, cask #5293, 405 bottles) Colour: dark gold. Nose: exceptional nose, all on figs, raisins, leather, walnuts and cooked apples, with hints of black cherries and blackcurrant buds in the background. The sherry is fantastic but in no way in the rich oloroso style. With water: shifts towards capsicum and cardamom, becoming increasingly ‘Indian’. Popadums, korma sauce… Coffee. Extraordinary. Mouth (neat): it’s one of these rich and deep old Longmorns that G&M have been issuing since quite some years. Thousands of dried fruits (no need to list them all) plus some soft spices and rounding notes of vanilla fudge and cappuccino. Black pepper. Very high-end and incredibly drinkable despite its high strength. ‘Wow’.
With water: a liquid poem. Finish: interminable and amazingly complex. Comments: it reminds me of the Longmorn 1969 ‘Book of Kells’ for the Mash Tun in Tokyo, another Japanese wonder. Symphonic and supernatural (c’mon, Serge). SGP:652 - 94 points. (und Dankeschön, Carsten)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: an extraordinary Slovakian jazz trio called the Pacora Trio playing a piece called D-haluska/D-noodle. Man these people are talented! Please buy all of their music and go to their gigs!

Pakora Trio

November 1, 2009



The Spice Tree (46%, Compass Box, 2009) After four years, it’s the return of the Spice Tree, that should now be ‘legal’ according to the SWA, as the god people at Compass Box used new barrel heads instead of racked staves to ‘treat’ the casks. Colour: gold. Nose: yes! By that I mean that this new versions hasn’t got the old one’s fairly excessive oakiness (heavy, heavy nutmeg and kummel), rather a superb waxiness and minerality that do scream ‘Clynelish’. Also notes of fresh walnuts, cider apples, fresh almonds, grapefruits and finally hints of nutmeg and fresh ginger indeed. Also a little barley sugar. Perfect nose! Just hints of pencil shavings. Mouth: punchy attack, probably oakier hence closer to the old Spice Tree, starting on ginger and nutmeg, ‘Indian spice mix’, beeswax and a little cinchona (or Campari). Develops more on oranges, crystallised lemon and papayas, with light pepper and quite some vanilla. The whole is perfectly balanced. Finish: medium long, slightly candied and faintly resinous, with quite some ginger, lemon and nutmeg in the aftertaste, as well as some mineral notes that we already had on the nose. Comments: I like this new one much better than the old Spice Tree – and it bears a beautiful label, as always at Compass Box. SGP:452 - 85 points.
Double Barrel Macallan & Laphroaig (46%, Douglas Laing, 2009) From a new line of blended malts that combines two distilleries, not unlike the Double Malts that Douglas Laing already made a few years ago, with the help of H.H. Jim Murray (see picture). Colour: white wine. Nose: would you expect the Laphroaig part to dominate the Macallan’s? You would be right! Indeed, this one smells as maritime and medicinal as any young ‘phroaig, with some oysters, antiseptic, tincture of iodine, seaweed and lemon. Also hints of freshly cut apples, maybe from the Speysider? Frankly, I’ve nosed some young Laphroaigs that were less ‘Laphroaig’ than this Double Barrell. Anyway, very nice nose, very fresh. Mouth: maybe it’s a tiny-wee bit less ‘pure Laphroaig’ than on the nose but once again, Macallan hasn’t much room on the palate, that starts as peaty, smoky and salty as possible. Some fruits too but they can be found in young Laphroaig as well (fresh apples, pears). Hints of sweet vanilla and butterscotch. It’s a good, powerful dram. Finish: long, very peaty.
Older 'double' malt
Comments: when I followed some blending masterclasses I could notice to which extend the southern Islayers tended to dominate the blend, even when used in rather small proportions. At more or less 50%, they just crush their opponents – not that we will complain mind you, this (probably very) young Double Barrel is excellent. SGP:437 - 86 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a beautiful jazz ballad played by late master Booker Ervin, called Cry me not (it's on his 'Freedom Book').Coltranian? Ervin died in 1970, please buy his music.

Booker Ervin

October 2009 - part 2 <--- November 2009 - part 1 ---> November 2009 - part 2

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



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical: a heavy month!

Clynelish 'Synch Elli' 27yo 1982/2009 (46%, The Nectar Daily Dram)

Glen Grant 23 yo 1985/2009 (55.9%, Adelphi, cask #10197, 191 bottles)

Longmorn 25 yo 'Centenary' (43%, OB, gold label, 1994)

Longmorn 1969/2009 (59.3%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for Japan Import System, first fill sherry, cask #5293, 405 bottles)

Longmorn 1971/2009 (47.4%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for Limburg, cask #4812, 190 bottles)

Longmorn 33 yo 1976/2009 (52.5%, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 168 bottles)

Tomatin 15 yo (59.2%, Sestante, mid 1980s)