Hi, you're in the Archives, November 2009 - Part 1
FIVE GLITTERING BLENDS
& 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
& Mackay 13 yo 'The Thirteen'
(40%, OB, Blend, Sherry finish, +/-
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.
& 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
& 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 –
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.
- 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.
AN EVENING WITH
The Palace Theatre,
London, October 11th 2009
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’.
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
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
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.
novel is available in printed form,
but also exists as a brilliantly conceived
audiobook, with a stunning i-Phone
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’
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
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
must have been about then that someone
asked (strangely, the only questioner
to get a microphone): “Do you
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.
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
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
Cave & The Bad Seeds on MySpace.
Nick Cave and PJ
TWO OLD GLENUGIE
Hurray, Glenugie! Together with
Ardbeg, Brora, Lagavulin and Talisker,
Glenugie is in my top
five (aka the Grands Crus Classés
– yeah, please, nothing too
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.
31 yo 1977/2009 (58.1%, Signatory,
84 months oloroso finish, cask #7,
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.
TWO MIDDLE-AGED INDIE GLEN GRANT
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.
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.
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
AND MUSIC INTERVIEW:
TESSA SOUTER on jazz,
whisky and MJ
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.
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…
Tessa, tell us briefly about what
you do, music-wise.
Sing jazz reinterpreted through a
Middle Eastern/Flamenco-esque lens.
Which other musicians are you playing
or did you play with?
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.
Ron McClure on bass and Billy Drummond
on drums, that would be a dream rhythm
section! I believe you know Billy
Drummond quite well…
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!
are your other favourite artistes?
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.
Sandy Denny? Not very “jazz”
but such a sweet voice and person
indeed. And what a shame.
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!
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?
Cello. It is so voice-like.
Otherwise, my favorite instrument
is the voice.
are your current projects?
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!).
did you start enjoying whisk(e)y?
Are there any musical memories you
particularly associate with that moment?
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.
you already aware of the fact that
your cousin Michael was a very famous
whisky writer at the time?
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!)
your most memorable whisky?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
have one, or several favourite whiskies?
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
whiskies you don’t like?
Any cheap reminder of that first episode.
and whisky are often though of as
being male preserves. Should girls
play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
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.
favourite whisky was a piece of music
what would it be, if it was a musical
instrument what would it be?
Bach cello suites. Cello. Smooth.
Fournier… I guess you know his
recordings of the suites…
I don’t but I will look for
it. I have Yo Yo Ma’s version.
thinks of Jack Daniels as being the
great rock and roll whisky –
why not Scotch?
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.
TWO EXCELLENT 1997 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
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.
FIVE CLYNELISH + ONE
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
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.
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.
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.
12 yo 1996/2008 (58.6%, Wilson &
Morgan Barrel Selection, Marsala finish,
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' 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.
long for Twitter! ;-))
Whisky Show in London’s
Guildhall (City) just closed its doors
and it was absolutely perfect.
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
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
FIVE VATT… ERR… BLENDED
Walker 15 yo 'Green Label' (43%, OB,
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.
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.
12yo 'Distilled at Islay secret distilleries'
(40%, Master of Malt, +/-2009)
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 -
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.
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.
- Recommended listening:
when a rockabilly trio called The
Paladins are doing
a hardcore rock-blues tune called
your heart. Well, it rocks.
Great sound, play it loud! Please
buy the Paladins' music.
FOUR UNDISCLOSED SPEYSIDERS
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.
Laudale 'Batch #1' 12yo (46%, Adelphi,
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.
'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 -
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.
- Recommended listening:
let's have some straight ahead jazz
today with Della
broken yet marvellous voice singing
the standard It
Could Happen to You. Please
buy Della Griffin's music.
TWO 15yo AND TWO 18yo 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.
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.
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.
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)
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
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,
buy one or five!
THREE LONGMORN + THREE
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.
25 yo 'Centenary' (43%, OB, gold label,
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.
30 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail,
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.
1971/2009 (47.4%, Gordon & MacPhail
Reserve for Limburg, cask #4812, 190
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.
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
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.
(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.
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
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.
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
- Recommended listening:
an extraordinary Slovakian jazz
trio called the Pacora
Trio playing a piece
Man these people are talented! Please
buy all of their music and go to
TWO NEW BLENDED MALTS
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 -
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.
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.
- 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.
the index of all entries:
malts I had these weeks - 90+
points only - alphabetical: a heavy month!
'Synch Elli' 27yo 1982/2009 (46%,
The Nectar Daily Dram)
Grant 23 yo 1985/2009 (55.9%, Adelphi,
cask #10197, 191 bottles)
25 yo 'Centenary' (43%,
OB, gold label, 1994)
1969/2009 (59.3%, Gordon & MacPhail
Reserve for Japan Import System, first fill
sherry, cask #5293, 405 bottles)
1971/2009 (47.4%, Gordon & MacPhail
Reserve for Limburg, cask #4812, 190 bottles)
33 yo 1976/2009 (52.5%, The Perfect
Dram, bourbon hogshead, 168 bottles)
15 yo (59.2%, Sestante, mid 1980s)