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Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2005 - Part 2
       
         

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

October 31, 2005


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
TASTING - THREE RATHER TERRIBLE GLEN ALBYNS FOR HALLOWEEN
Glen Albyn 15yo 1980/1996 (43%, Signatory, cask #2950-51) Glen Albyn 15 yo 1980/1996 (43%, Signatory, cask #2950-51) Colour: white wine. Nose: extremely grassy, vegetal at first nosing. All sorts of freshly cut leaves and plants. Gets a little milky and peppery but not much else, I’m afraid. Ah, yes, a little tea… Mouth: a very bitter attack, on lemon peel and grain, quite painful I must say. Some pepper, nutmeg and litres of over-infused tea. Well… 55 points.
 Glen Albyn 20 yo 1969/1989 (55%, Signatory, cask #484-484) Colour: gold. Nose: again, extremely vegetal and grassy. Really hard to enjoy at first nosing! Less milky and more coffeeish and woodier. Good news, it gets then quite better, with some rather nice notes of vanilla, caramel crème and bitter chocolate. Mouth: punchy, powerful, almost pungent. Extremely dry, with lots of pepper, lemon seeds, herbal teas and other dried herbs… Ouch, it’s really hard to enjoy. Notes of varnish… It gets more and more bitter… That’s enough! Phew… 60 points.
Glen Albyn 25 yo 1979/2005 (56%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, cask #3958, 238 bottles) Colour: bright straw. Nose: strange attack, with some bold Cologne notes and lots of paint, wet plaster and rotten oranges. Totally bizarre, in fact. Some bold notes of feints… Also some fresh parsley… Bizarre-bizarre indeed… Mouth: ouch, it’s extremely hard to drink. Alka-Seltzer, stale ginger ale and all sorts of other repulsive notes. Honestly, I feel it’s really flawed and close to a disaster. Now, Duncan Taylor have issued a constant strain of great old whiskies up to today, so it’s almost a relief to see that they can also fail sometimes. And after all, an old Glen Albyn is rare whisky indeed. The fact that this one is one of ‘the rarest’ might be good news, that is… Hey, nobody’s perfect – and it’s Glen Albyn. 50 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - UK's Jim Santana doing the GI Blues.mp3. I always found these 'look alikes' very moving, and this one is also very good. Please support him by going to his shows, I think he deserves it. Jim Santana
 

October 30, 2005


TASTING - TWO RECENT BENROMACHS
Benromach 22yo (45%, OB, 22 months Port pipes finish, bottled 2005, 3500 bottles)
Benromach 22 yo (45%, OB, 22 months Port pipes finish, bottled 2005, 3500 bottles) Colour: straw with reddish hues. Nose: very fruity at first nosing and quite winey but nothing excessive. Lots of cooked apples and strawberry jam, with some hints of gewürztraminer, old roses and ripe bananas. Develops on some notes of ginger tonic, Schweppes, gooseberries… Very fresh and rather delicate… Hints of white chocolate (yes, that isn’t genuine chocolate) and flowers from the fields. Nicely balanced and quite vibrant. Mouth: much more winey this time, with some very sweet notes of cooked fruits, blackcurrant jelly, strawberry liqueur… It’s quite hot, at that. Very malty as well, with some American ‘cooked’ coffee, burnt caramel… Gets quite woody and a slightly drying and bitter towards the finish. Well, the nose was most enjoyable and the mouth is okay, although too winey for my tastes. But that’s a matter of.. er… taste! 83 points.
Benromach 1980/2004 ‘Cask Strength’ (58.6%, OB)
Colour: sweet white wine (often darker than dry white wine). Nose: much dryer at first nosing but there are some enjoyable notes of white fruits (apples, ripe pears) that are soon to emerge, together with lots of fragrant notes of very ripe kiwi, incense. It’s also the first time, I think, that I can get some Coca-Cola in a malt (no politics!) Again, it’s rather fresh, even if perhaps a little sour. Mouth: bold and powerful, very sweet and oaky attack. Some fruits and some tannins plus quite some pepper and a little bitter chocolate and cider… Add to that some bold malty notes and you get it: it’s a fairly ‘natural’ malt that keeps to the middle but that’s pretty flawless. 83 points as well.
Hélène Grimaud MUSIC – It's Sunday, we go classical: Hélène Grimaud plays Brahms' Intermezzo op.118, andante teneramente.mp3.
 

October 29, 2005


TASTING - TWO YOUNG ROSEBANKS
Rosebank 10yo 1991 (43%, Lord of Scotland, Nextstar brands) Rosebank 10 yo 1991 (43%, Lord of Scotland, Nextstar brands) Colour: white wine. Nose: rather closed and spirity at first nosing, developing then on some rather simple mashy and grainy notes. Mashed potatoes, yoghurt, cereals… Notes of simple dry white wine and grapefruit, freshly cut apples, hints of baby vomit (not the vomit of a 150kg biker after three nights at the Oktoberfest). Very simple but rather flawless, I’d say. Mouth: very sweet, grainy and slightly citrusy. Not much happening in there but it’s quite enjoyable. White fruits (apples and pears), vanilla cream, white currants… And not much else. A rather flawless antithesis of a complex old malt, and the finish is a little short, on sugared porridge… In short, not bad at all but maybe a bit boring. 78 points.
Rosebank 11 yo 1989/2001 (43%, The Ultimate, Cask #789)
Colour: straw. Nose: again, this one isn’t too expressive at first nosing, but gets then very nicely lemony and flintstony, not unlike some Rieslings. Notes of wet chalk, cold ashes, rubbed lemon peel. Some fresh apples, cider, and something distantly fragrant and flowery (Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps). Discreet but very elegant, without the usual yeasty/mashy notes that are so common in many young malts that aged in refill casks. Mouth, very sweet and even sugary this time, much less elegant than the nose suggested. Yes, it tastes like a heavily sugared lemon juice, or perhaps these Italian lemon liqueurs (Limoncello). Hints of icing sugar and maybe a tiny bit of salt but that’s all. Again, not much happening on the palate but the nose was superb. 80 points.
Rosebank 11yo 1989/2001 (43%, The Ultimate, Cask #789)
Mando Diao
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Lots of nice influences (like Jean-Jacques 'Strangler' Burnel's roaring bass) in Sweden's Mando Diao and maybe that's why I quite like their short piece Chiga.mp3. Do you like them too? Then please buy their music! (photo: Gustav)
 

October 28, 2005


MUSIC – Recommended listening - Jill Scott does Another day.mp3 with 4 Hero. So much better than the average silly R'n'B one can hear all day long on most radios. Please buy Jill Scott's music! Jill Scott
Dailuaine 17yo 1980/1998 (43%, Hart Bros)

TASTING - TWO DAILUAINES

Dailuaine 17 yo 1980/1998 (43%, Hart Bros) Colour: straw. Nose: very fresh and clean, starting on cereals, vanilla crème, buttered cream… Also lots of flowery notes (dandelions and other wild flowers), nectar, light breakfast honey… A very Balvenie-ish profile. Some nice sourish/woody notes do emerge after a while, together with some apple juice, cake, sweet white wine. Slightly bourbonny but nothing too lumpish. A very elegant nose!

Mouth: very sweet and lacking a little body, alas, with a rather thin mouth feel. Classically fruity/woody, with a dash of white pepper and some apple pie and light caramel. Furthermore, the finish isn’t too long but quite drying and tannic. Yet, it’s a nice, harmless malt, maybe a little feminine (Serge, will you stop with your stupid comments for now?) The nose was beautiful, and even if the mouth doesn’t quite deliver, it’s still worth 84 points in my books.
Dailuaine 1994/2005 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail for La Maison du Whisky, cask #9788, 382 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: starts much yeastier, on cooked yoghurt and muesli, getting then very nicely fruity. Fresh pineapple, mirabelle plums, cooked peaches, gooseberries… A little sharper and less ‘vanilled’ but there’s also these very nice flowery notes (dandelions and all that). A very similar profile in fact, a tad more nervous and a little less balanced but I like it just the same. Mouth: ah, yes, this quite punchier even if, again, not extremely bold. Maybe a little too sugarish too, with quite some candy sugar, fruit candies, over-sugared herbal tea, marshmallows… But it’s got quite some oomph, going on with some crystallised fruits, oranges, vanilla crème. A little salty and peppery, at that. Not complex but rather shippable. The finish is quite longer than the Hart Bros’ but a little sugary and indefinite again. Anyway, a nice, uncomplicated young Dailuaine. I like it a little more than the Hart Bros as it’s a little bolder. 85 points.
 

October 27, 2005


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
JOHN HIATT AND THE NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS, Shepherds Bush Empire, London, Sunday 23rd October, 2005.
North Mississippi Allstars
What a bizarre audience for the Bush. Well heeled middle aged West Londoners, out of their comfort zone out-of-towners, marketing consultant types, IT specialists and legal eagles, groping 50 plus couples (ugh!), the big ex rugby playing bastard (a financial director I suspect) and his moll who stood unmoving in front of me all night, and loads of late teens and early twenties with their Mums and Dads. Why there was even one sad 40 year old with his mum too (he was drinking Coke, she was on the vodka). Why were they here? At one point from their frequent upward glances I thought it was to admire Frank Matcham’s sumptuous Edwardian decoration, gilded scallop shells, voluptuous cherubs and all. Then I realised they were just casting wistful glances at the congested 5/9s in the upper balconies. Could they be refugees from the late afternoon bicentennial celebrations of Our Greatest Victory in Trafalgar Square? Well no. Roughly speaking the young folks were there to see the brilliant North Mississippi Allstars, and the old ones to see the sublime (yes Serge – you can see where this one is going) John Hiatt. Luckily we were there to see them both.
John Hiatt is possibly best described as one of the great should have beens of American rock music.
North Mississippi Allstars He’s just released his sixteenth (roughly calculated) album, Master of Disaster, recorded in Memphis at the Ardent Studios, produced by veteran Jim Dickinson, and featuring two thirds of the NMA, brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, and bass player and Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section regular David Hood. Not that, from their reaction, many of the oldsters have heard it – they’re here for the old stuff. A great shame really, as Master of Disaster builds on Hiatt’s 2003 release this Gruff Exterior (recorded with his then band the Goners, with Sonny Landreth on slide guitar).
A collection of wonderfully self-assured, mature and grumpy songs (“Well I do my best thinking sitting on my ass, sittin’ here waiting for things to pass”) with a few moments of intense reflection Gruff Exterior, thanks to a strong recommendation from Mike, was my first real introduction to Hiatt. Master of Disaster builds on that, and with the added energy of the NMA (for which see below) it should (but probably won’t) put Hiatt firmly on the same stage as many of today’s younger and much feted song writers. For if you don’t know anything about this man then you should remember one thing, he is a song smith of remarkable talent, and as such makes one mindful of his one time collaborator, producer and Whiskyfun favourite Nick Lowe, or even Ry Cooder (currently leading candidate for Whiskyfun’s Album of the Year) with whom he played in the early 80s, and then along with Lowe and drummer extraordinaire Jim Keltner formed the doomed ‘supergroup’ Little Village.

North Mississippi Allstars
Cody Dickinson on drums
Can you spot the Sunnyland washboard?

But the night kicks off with half an hour for the young folks, a blistering romp by the NMA, of ‘Mean ol’ wind’, ‘Po’ black Maddie’, ‘Shake ‘em down’, ‘Moonshine’, and ‘Mississippi Boll Weevil’, picking the outstanding tracks from their first album Shake Hands with Shorty, and their most recent, Electric Blue Watermelon, mixing their own creative talents with those of their Mississippi muses Fred McDowell, Charley Patton and R L Burnside. Oh yes, and they finished with their great crowd-pleaser ‘Psychedelic sex machine’ during which Cody Dickinson does roughly for the Sunnyland washboard what Jimi Hendrix did for the Fender Stratocaster. It’s almost worth the admission.

 

 

 

 

Chris Chew and John Hiatt

North Mississippi Allstars
Precisely on schedule John Hiatt takes the stage at 9.00pm, supported by all three of the NMA (so that includes that giant among bass guitarists Chris Chew). Kicking off with his new album’s title track ‘Master of Disaster’ he proceeds to give us two hours of greatest hits (“phew” say the old folks, “songs we can shake our arthritis bands to”) mixed with almost all of the new CD. He’s a strange looking guy – somewhere between a slightly diminutive Nick Cave and actor Hugo Weaving (you know the one, the self-replicating agent in The Matrix and one of the chaps with funny ears in Lord of the Rings). But he has that rare thing amongst rock performers, charisma, presence? Well I’m not sure what you’d call it, but he just fills the stage, and then the whole of the Bush.
In fact by the time he’s blown the audience away with a simply sensational and soulful version of ‘Ain’t never going back’ (from Master), song number three, both the Photographer and I (at this point she’s in heaven, perched atop the mixing desk kit with the best view in the place) agree this could be Whiskyfun’s Gig of the Year. Hiatt plays his way through a sequence of sumptuous acoustic guitars and a little bit of keyboard before finally taking up his electric (“you know”, he drawls, “this Telecaster is a fountain of youth”). His singing is remarkable for a 53 year old – at one point he explains that he used to sing soprano in the church choir, and he demonstrates that his falsetto is still up to scratch.
Energised by the NMA boys he bounces around the stage like a 25 year old (and when, without any disrespect intended, Chris Chew starts to bounce I start to fear for the stage of this venerable rock institution) – he’s relaxed, happy, and clearly relishing the grooves of his band, in particular Luther Cody who excels on slide guitar.Songs?
The Photographer made a partial list. ‘Ready for this thing called love’, ‘I’ll find you again’, ‘Cry love’, ‘Thunderbird’ (another new song, inspired by a 1960’s TV performance of Death of a Salesman) ‘Real fine love’, ‘Is anybody there’, ‘Back on the corner’, Tennessee plates’, ‘Love’s not where we thought we left it’, ‘Memphis in the meantime’, ‘Have a little faith in me’, ‘Slow turning’ and ‘Lipstick sunset’. Requited love, unrequited love, cars, domestic dysfunctionality, bars, booze, children, god, triumph and failure – roughly speaking the whole of the human tapestry captured in witty and pithy lyrics, and musically brought up to date by a band par excellence.
North Mississippi AllstarsNorth Mississippi Allstars
North Mississippi Allstars Something strange happened. “Ok folks, let’s go to Memphis’ said Hiatt. At a stroke a third of the audience left – could his hold over them be so strong? Then I looked at my watch – 10.30 and the out-of-towners were heading for the last bus. We stayed to the death, the big bastard departed with his moll for a late night of back wrenching love-making (well, in his case about five minutes I expect), and as Hiatt left the stage at the curfew of 11.00pm with “hope to see you in the summer of 06” we vowed to the nice folks to our left that we’d see them then.
Just a fantastic night. If you get the chance go and see him, if not, then as Serge would say, please buy his records. Oh yes, and please don’t forget those wonderful young boys, the North Mississippi Allstars. - Nick Morgan (concert photos by Kate)

Thanks Nick, I must say I like John Hiatt better than Paris Hilton (yes, ouch!). And the big bastard, doesn't he haunt just any concert on this planet? We had ladies with large hats (see your Queen), then afro haircuts, and now we have ex-rugby players and financial directors. I hope somebody will invent see-through spectacles one day - or lethal popcorn you'd just throw at the buggers. But I digress... I could find four very nice songs by John Hiatt (about whom, I must admit, I didn't know a lot up to today):
Thing called love.mp3 from Bring the Family - yes with Jim Keltner on drums (1987)
Listen to old voices.mp3 from Stolen Moments (1990)
Pirate radio.mp3 from Little Head (1997)
Thunderbird.mp3 from the new album Master of Disaster (2005)

 
TASTING - TWO REALLY EXCELLENT PULTENEYS
Pulteney 26 yo 1977/2004 (58.3%, Duncan Taylor Peerless, cask #3078) Colour: gold. Nose: very malty, caramelly and rather smoky at first nosing, quick to switch to some very nice herbal and farmy notes. There must have been quite some peat … Wait, now it’s developing on some bold notes of flowers and nectar, mead, honey, apricot pie, hot cake, cooked butter… Unexpectedly complex. Some rubber, pollen, beeswax… Whiffs of sea air… and always these peaty notes that sort of underline the whole development so delicately. More elegant than punchy, despite the high level of alcohol. A great surprise. Mouth: now it’s punchy, powerful and very bold, with lots of tannins right from the start. Nice ones, that is. Creamy mouth feel, extremely fruity (all sorts of jams), pineapple liqueur, bananas flambéed, rum. Goes on with quite some other tropical fruits (ripe mangos) and sort of a rubbery feeling. Slightly burnt cake topped with icing sugar. Complex again, broad and compact at the same time (the opposite of disjointed if you see what I mean – excuse my poor English). And always these perfect peaty notes! And what a long finish, doing the peacock’s tail! A perfect Pulteney, with lots of oomph. 91 points. Pulteney 26yo 1977/2004 (58.3%, Duncan Taylor Peerless, cask #3078)
Old Pulteney 15yo 1982 ‘Millenium’ (60.5%, OB, sherry) Old Pulteney 15 yo 1982 ‘Millenium’ (60.5%, OB, sherry) Colour: amber/orange. Nose: the attack is much rougher but even smokier, with quite some rubber, burnt cake, hints of rancio. It gets then similarly flowery and fruity, on nectar, cooked apricots, apple pie. Whiffs of bandages and camphor, and also something of an old Armagnac. Perhaps some smoked ham. Less thrilling than the Peerless but most certainly a very nice malt, much farmier and rubberier than expected. Mouth: rather spirity, powerful, almost invading. Some sherry of course but also quite some rubber and ‘burnt’ notes, bitter oranges and grappa. Rather tannic and getting slightly aggressive and burning after a while. Let’s see if it can swim… After a few drops of water (btw the nose gets much more fragrant, on Parma violets, with also lots of tea, especially pu-erh, which is good news) the malt really improves, getting rounder and much fruitier. All excessive rubbery notes have vanished, amazing! Some ripe melon, peaches, ganache (chocolate mixed with fruits), late harvest Alsatian Tokay… Wow, this Pulteney isn’t a swimmer, it’s Mark Spitz! The finish is very long, creamy, on all sorts of fruit liqueurs and jams. Brilliant whisky, but it needs water. 90 points.
 

October 26, 2005


TASTING - THREE EXCELLENT YOUNG INDIE ARDBEGS
Ardbeg 1996/2005 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail CC for La Maison du Whisky, cask #914)
Ardbeg 1996/2005 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail CC for La Maison du Whisky, cask #914) Colour: pale straw. Nose: sharp, fresh and superbly clean, very tary and maritime at first nosing, but also quite fruity, with lots of pear, fresh strawberries and kiwi. Not a fruit bomb but it’s still fruitier than the usual Ardbegs. Liquorice hints, fermenting hay, old seaweed… Quite some limestone at that. Much more complex than expected, not too bold and surprisingly elegant. Very nice! Mouth: smooth and sweet attack, with some growing notes of liquorice stick, gentian eau de vie, apple skin, lavender crème… Gets quite lemony and salty at the same time (tequila?) with lots of peat but not of the overwhelming kind. Again, sort of discreet but very far from lacking body. Very, very nice indeed, with a rather long finish on lemon and grapefruit juice. I like much better than the official ‘Very Young’ (which is a bit younger, in fact). 89 points.
Ardbeg 10 yo 1992/2002 (56.7%, Signatory Straight from the Cask, cask #424, 478 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: much hotter and rougher, with some bold notes of hot caramel, cake, and horse stable. Lots of porridge too, mashed potatoes, grass… Nice but much more classical and less elegant, one for hardcore peat freaks, probably. Mouth: very sweet but quite bold and powerful, with lots of citrusy notes, icing sugar, citric acid and quite some salt. Very funny! Not complex at all but really playful on your tongue. Some grapefruit, lemon drops, gin fizz… Also some green apples… Not unlike some dry chenin wine. The finish is long and again, extremely lemony and salty. Funny indeed! 87 points.
Ardbeg 1993/2003 (57.6%, Spirit of Scotland, cask #1084) Colour: pale straw. Nose: a very curious attack, quite sour and extremely buttery at first nosing. Stale cider, old apples… Notes of wet dog, raw wool, oxidised white wine. Very, very organic and wild! Goes on with some caramel sauce, Chinese plum sauce, and finally lots of iodine, sea air and medicinal hints, bandages, camphor, eucalyptus. Rough but complex, I like it very much. Mouth: unexpectedly creamy, dense and powerful at the same time, maybe the most “Ardbegian” of the three. Peat, lots of farmy notes, bitter apples, smoked ham, liquorice, sweet pepper, getting then very citrusy and salty almost like the Signatory (but not quite). A very nice development towards smoked tea and lemon marmalade, crystallised ginger… And a very, very long finish on peat and lemon. An excellent young Ardbeg, with lots of life! 90 points.
Paul Weller MUSIC – Recommended listening - Yes, the Jam's Paul Weller's rather funky, hard-hitting and soulful Blink and you'll miss it.mp3, from his 2005 album 'As is now'. Excellent, don't you think? Please buy Paul Weller's music!
JUST A NICE PICTURE - Seen on Springbank's website. A holy light shines softly in the darkness of the malting room... Hail holy light! Amen.
 

October 25, 2005


Isle of Jura 10yo (40%, OB, late 1980’s)

TASTING - THREE ISLE OF JURAS

Isle of Jura 10 yo (40%, OB, late 1980’s) Colour: gold. Nose: very clean, fresh, grainy and flowery. Some soft vanilla crème, milk rice, fresh butter… Gets then nicely fruity, on golden delicious apples, plums, ripe melon… Gets a little mashy, with also some hints of smoke. Totally inoffensive but enjoyable, extremely pure. Don’t let your children nos this one, they might then drink it behind your back. Mouth: again, very fresh and fruity. Not weak in any way at 40%. Cereals, apple juice, peaches… Gets a little sugarish, alas, not unlike some ‘artificial’ liqueurs such as Parfait Amour or cheap curacaos. Too bad because it really started well. And the finish is shorter than a Britney Spears marriage. Really too bad. 77 points.

Isle of Jura 1990/2005 (45%, OB) Colour: straw. Nose: quite powerful, very, very yeasty/mashy with also some very bold notes of old walnuts and beer. It really smells like a washback. Develops on some notes of coffee, porridge, muesli and sour cream. I like that! Gets quite smoky, with also some notes of old books, newspapers (paper and fresh ink). Mouth: quite nervous but getting, again, quite sugarish. Very mashy, on porridge, cereals, beer, perhaps a little smoke, herbal tea… But these sugary notes are a little boring, I’m sorry. Medium long finish, on kind of a heavily sugared porridge. Well, the nose was very nice but the palate doesn’t really deliver, I think. 78 points.
Isle of Jura 13 yo 1989/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon cask, MM 1564) Colour: white wine. Nose: kind of a mix of the two OB’s, half yeasty/mashy and half fruity at first nosing. Develops on some very bold notes of beer again, mixed with apple juice and creals. Tell me about a breakfast! It’s rather clean, that is, getting also a little farmy (wet hay). Notes of pineapple juice. Another one I like. Mouth: ah, yes, this is much better. Bolder, more nervous, again very grainy and mashy (beer again) and also quite nicely fruity (mostly apple juice, pineapple). Hints of pepper, probably from the wood. Rather long finish, on gin and muesli. A nice one! 82 points. Isle of Jura 13yo 1989/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon cask, MM 1564)
Blonde redhead MUSIC – Recommended listening - Blonde redhead and their Gainsbourgian hit Misery is a butterfly.mp3. Yes, for it's so Gainsbourgian. Please buy Blonde redhead's music. (photo Otto Kitsinger)
 
CRAZY WHISKY ADS - AFRAID OF BURGLARS?
Dewar's
Left, Dewar's 1935: 'Something good 'ere, any'ow? - All visitors appreciate Dewar's 'White Label'
Right, Glenlivet 1987: 'The Glenlivet - Just Slightly Out Of Reach'
Well, hadn't Dewar tried to be funny before the war, Glenlivet probably wouldn't have needed to hire some bodyguards fifty years later!
 

October 24, 2005


TASTING - OLD AND RECENT LINKWOODS
Linkwood 12yo (43%, OB, John McEwan & Co, UK, 1970’s)
Linkwood 12 yo (43%, OB, John McEwan & Co, UK, 1970’s) Colour: pale gold. Nose: wow, it’s beautifully fresh, with lots of toasted cereals, fresh white fruits and flowers from the fields at first nosing. Quite complex! Develops on lots of fruity notes (apples and pears, watermelon, bananas, white currants, yellow peaches), with also whiffs of smoke and some distant notes of wax, furniture polish, fresh mint leaves… Also kind of a metallic smell (and also passion fruits and fresh pineapples, roses) that keep it most lively. Just superb! Mouth: oh, this is funny, the funny metallic flavours are here right from the start – the old bottle effect, for sure. Quite grainy, with some burnt notes, lots of liquorice, unsugared tea, fudge… No fruits this time but quite some waxy notes again, and even some rubber. The finish isn’t too long but enjoyable, on lavender honey and orange juice… A stupendous nose and a very nice mouth, like in many old bottles. Anyway, 88 points for this old Linkwood.
Linkwood 16 yo 1987/2004 (43%, Signatory, Decanter) Colour: white wine. Nose: well, this one has the death’s seat after the magnificent old OB, but it does sort of stand ‘the heat’. Much grainier, mashier, on porridge and milk, getting nicely herbal (fresh herbs, freshly mown lawn) before it switches to more or less the same fruity notes as the OB (white fruits). Not utterly interesting but flawless and enjoyable. Mouth: very sweet, very grainy and cereally, with some vanilla fudge, rice cake with caramel and quite some herbs (violets sweets?) Nothing really special but again, no flaws. The finish is rather long and quite close to the spirit. Very little wood influence in this one. 82 points.
Linkwood 1980/2005 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail) Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah, this is something very different! Starts on olive oil and fresh butter, switching to bottled orange juice (Fanta and the likes) and then on roses jelly, Turkish delights and cider. The orange juice notes get heavier and heavier, and they finally sort of overwhelm the malt, together with some honey (like in some Oriental pastries). Very nice, I must say… Mouth: very unusual again! Quite some rubber right from the start, with some bold and enjoyable notes of crystallised oranges and eucalyptus candies, Lots of candies in fact, pineapple, grapefruit, pear… Some burnt caramel and lots of spices (quite some ginger and a little Chinese anise). Notes of lavender ice cream (no lament here), and again a slightly metallic taste. The finish is long, on crystallised pineapple and pollen… A very nice one, very ‘different’. Most interesting and enjoyable: 88 points.
Linkwood 15 yo (57%, G&M licensed bottling, late 1980’s) Colour: amber – orange. Nose: a perfect balance right from the start, with lots of dried fruits, orange juice and all sorts of fresh fruits as well. Alas, it gets also a little too caramelly and woody, lacking complexity. Mouth: bold, very peppery and quite tannic, getting even cardboardy. Some nice fruity notes, though: dried oranges, quince, and also some bitter chocolate. Very nice and drinkable, in fact, lacking just a little extra-complexity. 84 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Stereolab again. I know this doesn't sound too serious but frankly, I like the English-French band's sense of second degree and 'humour'. Try for instance the bouncy and very, very easy (but nicely made) Mass riff.mp3 (from their 2003 EP Instant O the Universe) and you'll see what I mean. And please buy their music. Stereolab
 

October 23, 2005


Beverly Sills MUSIC – It's Sunday, we go classical: American soprano Beverly Sills does Una voce poco fa.mp3 (from Rossini's The Barber of Seville, London Symphony Orchestra, James Levine, EMI, 1975). Please buy Beverly Sills' recordings! Btw, she's also famous for her quotes, such as 'You don't always get what you ask for, but you never get what you don't ask for... unless it's contagious!' or 'A primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his culture in the environmental sense and to permit him to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment'. Well, we won't argue...
 
TASTING - ANOTHER TWO OLD HIGHLAND PARKS
Highland Park 1968/2003 (40.1%, Duncan Taylor for Becking, cask #9535, 106 bottles) Colour: gold – amber. Nose: fresh and elegant, with a very nice wood and lots of yellow flowers from the field (dandelion, buttercup, daisies, camomile…) Light honey, whiffs of sea air, Werther’s Originals, quince jelly… A superb balance at that and lots of delicacy. Highland Park 1968/2003 (40.1%, Duncan Taylor for Becking, cask #9535, 106 bottles)
Mouth: very elegant again but maybe slightly thin – just slightly – and perhaps a little too woody. A nice mix of tea and oak in fact, with quite some tannins, nutmeg and cinnamon and not much fruity notes. The finish is rather short. This one went over the hill, obviously, but it’s still very enjoyable and the nose was beautiful. 86 points.
Highland Park 37 yo 1967/2004 (50.6%, Duncan Taylor for John Scott, sherry cask #3131, 227 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: quite powerful! A most enjoyable mix of coastal notes with flower nectar and smoke. It develops on pine, with hints of varnish (but the bottle was just opened so that may vanish with breathing). Also some white pepper, balsamic vinegar, perhaps even some whiffs of wasabi. Complex indeed, with very little sherry influence left, getting perhaps a little too dusty. Notes of spring water. Mouth: very nice attack, very creamy, bold and punchy. Lots of fruit jams (apricot), apple pie, tea, but again, lots of wood as well. It gets rather dry and quite tannic again, but nothing unbearable in fact. White pepper. The finish is long but now a little too tannic, drying and bitter. But what a nose! 87 points
 

October 22, 2005


QUICK TASTING - TWO NEW OFFICIAL ABERFELDIES
Aberfeldy 12yo (40%, OB, circa 2005) Aberfeldy 12 yo (40%, OB, circa 2005) In a new, bulky bottle. The nose is very fresh, quite grainy in a very nice way and rather fragrant. An elegant dram, especially on the palate that’s very sweet but not sugarish. Probably better than the older versions, even if no winner. A good malt that should appeal to blend drinkers. 80 points.
Aberfeldy 21 yo (40%, OB, 2005) The style is more or less the same but with more roundness. It’s still very fresh, with some rather beautiful oaky notes and lots of salty caramel. Quite some liquorice too, with a most enjoyable dry (but not drying) finish. Not too complex but nicely balanced. A very good Sunday malt for… er… blend drinkers! (I know, a stupid comment) 85 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Better than both Prince and Jamiroquai? Here is UK's Jamie Lidell doing When I come back around.mp3. Please buy his music if you like acid jazz / funk / electronica / soul / whatever. Jamie Lidell
 

October 21, 2005


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
TASTING - OLD AND NEW OFFICIAL BLADNOCHS
Bladnoch 13yo (40%, OB, 2005)
Bladnoch 13 yo (40%, OB, 2005) Colour: pale straw. Nose: very fresh and clean, quite flowery and very fruity. Tangerines, grapefruit juice, freshly cut apples. Also quite grainy and a little yeasty, boiling milk. A simple but enjoyable nose, exactly what you’d expect from a young Lowlander. Mouth: very lemony attack, not weak in any way. Also quite grainy, yeasty, and even a little prickly, but not much else in there after that, I’m afraid. Gets slightly bitter, with a medium long finish on lemon peels. Not bad but really simple. 78 points.
Bladnoch 8 yo (40%, OB, 1980’s) Colour: straw. Nose: a little bolder and certainly more complex than the new one. Much more tropical fruits (mostly passion fruit), dried oranges and some superb notes of cider, sea air… Also more citrusy. Hints of diesel oil and coffee. A great nose, definitely. Very classy! Mouth: wow, again the attack is much bolder, even a little creamy. Very citrusy again but much more complex, with some lemon, grapefruit, green apples… Very nice! Citronella as well, maybe a little oak to spice up the whole. Lemon marmalade, tea, white pepper… The finish is long, on lemon peels again. Excellent, very typically Bladnoch, I’d say. 85 points.
Bladnoch 10 yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, circa 2000) Colour: gold. Nose: quite similar to the old 8 yo but perhaps a little less complex and more powerful. Maybe that’s only the slightly higher ABV. Gets extremely lemony and caramelly at the same time, smelling like a lemon pie that just came out of the oven. Gets slightly sourish (notes of ginger ale, stale cider). A very nice nose in any case. Mouth: this time it’s really bolder, creamier, with a similar profile as the 8yo’s but everything is sort of amplified. The finish is even longer as well, perhaps a little more on pepper but with always these bold lemony notes. Excellent again, the nose was a bit less complex but the palate is bolder. Okay, same rating: 85 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Somebody wrote that their songs are 'the recording of our decadent, materialistic society's final moments, before our engines fail and we crash into a churning sea of revolution (or, at least, recession).' Hmm... Is that the reason why Black Box Recorder did this very nice Bowie cover, the famous Rock n roll suicide.mp3? Anyway, please buy their music if you like it. Black Box Recorder
 

October 20, 2005


TASTING - SIX YOUNG INDIE CAOL ILAS
Caol Ila 11yo 1993/2004 ‘Maverick’ (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon/chenin)
Caol Ila 11 yo 1993/2004 ‘Maverick’ (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon/chenin)
Chenin is a grape variety that’s mostly used in the Loire valley, where it gives notably the best sweet wines but also some sharp, dry ones. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather powerful, very fruity, smoky and mineral. Whiffs of wet chalk and dill, matchstick, cold ashes… Some very nice fruity notes too, like not too ripe kiwi, grapefruit, getting quite lemony… Some notes of flour, mashed celeries… Very, very nicely sharp (chenin being quite sharp as well usually). I like it. Mouth: rather creamy but also quite aerial, on lemon juice, peat, smoked salmon and liquorice. It is sort of vinous but in a very nice way. Notes of un-sugared espresso coffee, roots, pu-erh tea… Long finish, perfectly balanced, on liquorice and roots (gentian eau de vie). Excellent, and no weird tastes or smells from the wine. Good news! 88 points (I had it a bit lower last time but maybe it improved after one year in its bottle – sort of an extra ‘marrying time’? Note to self: don't be silly, Serge!)
Caol Ila 1994/2004 (59.3%, Whisky Doris, Germany) Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: extremely clean, lemony, smoky and mineral, sharp like a blade. Notes of green apples, calcarious stones, lemon peel. Very, very pure. Hints of grain, porridge, green bananas, perhaps a little aniseed and dill, fennel, cold ashes, incense… Very enjoyable. Also some funny whiffs of smoked meat, balsamic vinegar, wine sauce. How beautiful! Mouth: strong, powerful and very rubbery like some new make. Very rough in fact, with some metallic tastes and some notes of cooked sour apples, liquorice roots, burnt caramel. It gets then curiously acidic, with some notes of lemon fizz, pink grapefruit… Aluminium, salt… The finish is long but a little too bitter. In short a superb, sharp nose and a rather rough but enjoyable palate (if you’re into roughness). 85 points.
Caol Ila 1990/2005 (43%, McKillop’s Choice) Nose: fresh like a baby’s mouth and delicately maritime. Whiffs of sea air and salt (sort of ‘stony’, flintstones), salted butter caramel? Very delicate and perfectly balanced. Funny notes of lettuce. Mouth: elegant, rounded and smooth. A perfect peat smokiness and again quite some caramel, salted butter, freshly baked cake. A very, very nice indie Caol Ila, not too complex as often but perfectly balanced. 87 points.
Caol Ila 1981/1996 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail CC, old map label)  Caol Ila 1981/1996 (63.4%, Gordon & MacPhail Cask Strength, casks #2081 /2086) Caol Ila 1981/1996 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail CC, old map label) Colour: gold. Nose: light, grainy, grassy, with some notes of fresh butter. A simple one. Mouth: a bit of peat, sea air, light caramel. Too bad it’s a little too weak and too grainy. The finish is quite woody and dry, with some notes of ale. 79 points.
Caol Ila 1981/1996 (63.4%, Gordon & MacPhail Cask Strength, casks #2081 /2086) Nose: a bit fresher and cleaner, yet spirity and yeasty. Apple juice, hay, rabbit cage. Again a simple one – nothing special. Mouth: sugary and bitter at the same time. Over infused herbal tea, burnt bread… It doesn’t get any better with water. 71 points.
Caol Ila 12 yo (60.2%, James MacArthur, early 1990’s) Nose: fresh but spirity and very grassy and yeasty. Stale beer, Guiness, rotting apples, varnish. This one isn’t enjoyable and too rough, if you ask me. Mouth: spirity and even pungent. Almost undrinkable – let’s add some water… It gets a bit better – just a bit. Still very grassy and bitter. Let’s stop the pain right now. No interest whatsoever, just spirit. 69 points.
 

DO YOU KNOW WOOGLE? Take some simple tasting notes, like for instance these imaginary ones: Ardbeg 30 years official bottling sherry finishing. Nose: powerful, apples, pears, daisies, dog, perfect balance.Mouth: spirity, pungent, fruity, fudge, lots of body. Long and spicy finish. 84 points.
Now, check what it gives using only pictures here. Funny, isn't it! It's Woogle.that made it.

MUSIC – Recommended listening - African rythms plus Western arrangements, that often fails and sounds too 'easy' but with Issa Bagayogo, from Mali, it works pretty well. Listen to Sissi.mp3 and you'll probably see what I mean. And please buy African music... Issa Bagayogo
 

October 19, 2005


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
ALABAMA 3, The Astoria, London, October 11th 2005
What better place to start a congested autumn season of Whiskyfun concert reviews than the crumbling majesty of Charing Cross Road’s Astoria theatre? Did you know that the Astoria began its life as a pickle factory, owned by Crosse & Blackwell, now famous as manufacturers of that most English of tracklements, Branston Pickle (which, I’m assured by those who know, Keith Richards always takes with him on tour with the Stones)? Alabama 3
Why, even Charles Booth visited the place when conducting his famous survey into life and labour in London in the late nineteenth century. In 1927 it reopened as a cinema and went through a variety of guises before ending up as one of London’s leading gay nitespots and a regular venue for leading bands, under the management of the Mean Fiddler Group. Apparently it’s listed for demolition when a new tube station is built at Tottenham Court Road – all I can say is that if the new station isn’t built soon the whole place will simply fall down.
And talking of falling down, what better band to start with than Whiskyfun’s favourites the Alabama 3, who remarkably have been on the road on a punishing schedule promoting their new album Outlaw since we last saw them in Glasgow in May. I have to say that from start to finish what we got was a show that can only be described as slick (not a word one would normally associate with a band of self-styled Brixton anarchists) and very different from the one we’d seen in May, or their most recent Glasgow gig the week before this (as my Argyll correspondent assures me).
Alabama 3 Following a short set from the feisty (Zoe) Devlin Love and harmonica player and part-time A3 member Nick Reynolds (he’s the son of Bruce, you know, the Great Train Robber) we were treated, after a rapid stage set up, to a troupe of burlesque dancers strutting and, err…, showing their stuff. I hope the poor social worker who got so offended by flesh at the last Astoria gig wasn’t here for this – as it was only going to get worse. The band then mostly assembled for their Mobyesque Robert Johnson sample ‘Me and the devil’ (from their ‘rare’ album Zero Tolerance), during which front man for the night D Wayne Love gave us a short insight into the walk he’d taken along the Thames that morning, complete with vultures and all, apparently a sign that the devil is really coming for you.
With an apparently incapacitated Larry Love last to take the stage, and remaining seated all night, the band kicked off with ‘Too sick to pray’ as Larry was ministered too by an increasingly unclothed vamp (Samantha Love, unless I’m mistaken). Now I’m not surprised if Larry’s manic style of joint-breaking limbo dancing has caught up with him, though it certainly didn’t stop him from using his hands and arms for all they were worth to whip the audience into a frenzy. But with Larry a little to the rear D Wayne stepped to the front, and led, if not with his chin, then certainly with his mouth. “That was a blues classic from Jimmy Johnstone folks. Now did you know just what Jimmy’s role was in the great victory of the Lisbon Lions in ….” He also told us later that “Jock Stein said change must come from the barrel of a gun”, which somehow I could just about believe.
Anyway they shot through a bevy of classics as if they were throwing out the family silver (‘Don’t go to Goa’, ‘U don’t dance 2 tekno’, ‘Woke up this morning’ and ‘Mansion on the hill’) before Outlaw tracks ‘Up above my head’ (by this time wee Devlin was back on stage belting out vocals like a, well…, pickle factory worker), ‘Honey in the rock’ and ‘Have you seen Bruce Richard Reynolds’, with the ex Train Robber making his customary London appearance for his narration at the end (“the Whiyld Bunch”). And although I’m not claiming that this is a complete set list, I’m sure they didn’t play ‘How can I protect you’, typically perverse as it’s not only a catchy tune, but also their latest single.
The main set was brought to an end with sensational versions of ‘Bullet proof’ and the anthemic crowd pleaser ‘Hypo full of love’. It was about this time that the girls got back on the stage too. For the short encore Samantha tastefully unclothed herself of a Native American Indian’s outfit during ‘I’m Johnny Cash’ and predictable mayhem ensued with ‘Mao Tse Tung said’. Alabama 3
Not as long as the past few gigs we’ve seen, but very well balanced in terms of songs, strong efforts from everyone in the band (the wraith like Spirit, guitarist Rock Freebase and percussionist Sir Real Love seemed to stand out) and from our usual Astoria position, a nicely judged sound level (could they have turned it down this time?). What more could one ask. Oh yes – and if you’re asking what all the fuss is about then why not ask Santa (yes, it’s that time of year already) for a copy of the just released live DVD Hear The Train A' Comin, recorded here at the gig we saw last December. If you’re lucky enough to get it, this is what you should do on Christmas Day evening.
At bedtime, call up to your partner with some plausible excuse like, “sorry darling, I just want to watch another re-run of the Queen’s speech on TV’, then shut the doors, wedge them closed with any available upholstery and soundproof them with a handy mattress. Load the DVD, but before you press play ensure all volume controls are turned up to full (including the sub-woofer), and you might want to make a few pin holes in some of the speakers just to get that real Astoria feel. Then pour a glass of your favourite, charge your plate with seasonal pickles, and let the fun begin. - Nick Morgan (photos by Kate)
Thanks a bunch, Nick! It seems it was fun, I really have to go and see these guys in concert one day! Dave sent us an excellent link the other day - I don't know if it'll last forever but here's a very nice Dylanesque jam with a certain trombone player from The Guardian named 'Pascal Wyse' (I still fail to understand some of the UK press' habits but remember I'm French): Alabama 3 and Pascal Wyse.mp3. Otherwise, we have a very special Woke up mix.mp3.
 
TASTING - FOUR MILTONDUFFS
Mosstowie 29yo 1975/2005 (48.4%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, cask #5809)
Mosstowie 29 yo 1975/2005 (48.4%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, cask #5809) Mosstowie was distilled from 1964 to 1981 at Miltonduff, using Lomond stills. Colour: light gold. Nose: again a very clean and natural malt, quite powerful and very nicely fruity and flowery. A most enjoyable mix of nectar and yellow flowers (always the same wild flowers, dandelions, buttercups…) with apple juice, tangerines, gooseberries, white peaches… Nice notes of both fresh butter and cooked butter (slightly smoky), keeps developing on dry white wine (Riesling, sauvignon). Notes of vanilla fudge, freshly cut herbs, sour apples… A very nice, ‘natural’ Mosstowie. Ah, and also whiffs of dill, fennel, aniseed… Very nice indeed. Mouth: oh, yes, this is very special. Some bold notes of pineapple flambéed with rum, apple juice, ripe kiwi… Also some pink grapefruit, bananas, Williams pear and a funny metallic taste that plays with the sides of your tongue. Lots of vivacity in there! More and more fresh pineapple, gets then a little spicy – just a little. The finish is very long, on pineapple candies (yes, again). That’s uncomplicated pleasure in a bottle, just perfectly sippable, not unlike some old Clynelishes many of us like so much (except in Amsterdram, maybe). Best of the good ;-). 90 points.
Miltonduff 21 yo 1963 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice, old brown label) Colour: light amber. Nose: a very nice balance. Lots of very ripe apricots and oranges with a pinch of pepper. Hints of eucalyptus and, perhaps, camphor. Goes on with the usual caramelly notes, old books, antiques shop, cinnamon… Very classical and very nice. Mouth: lots of orange juice and light caramel, old sweet wine, vanilla and basta. That isn’t much – although the whole is quite enjoyable. Not the usual punch and complexity of these ‘old brown (or banner) labels’, I’m afraid. 80 points.
Miltonduff 1963 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice, old map label, early 1990’s) Colour: pale amber. Nose: very similar to the older version, with a little more resin, wax… Probably due to the longer ageing (this one is approx 30yo). Mouth: really better this time. Bolder, creamier, with lots of dried kumquats and apricot juice. Very nicely gingery, spicy, peppery… A long, bold finish on orange marmalade, fortified wine and liquorice. Excellent! 87 points.
Miltonduff 12 yo 1989/2001 (65.28%, Single Barrel Collection, cask #30322, 289 bottles) Colour: deep gold. Nose: ouch! Really pungent, with some heavy peppery notes, lots of sulphur, Alka-Seltzer, fish… Hints of American coffee. Very difficult at that strength! With a little water we get whiffs of peat smoke but other than that, no significant improvement. Mouth: ah, now it’s drinkable but of course extremely strong (neat). Rather close to a new make (pear eau de vie etc.) but there is some cask influence indeed. Some salty notes (which I often get in very strong whiskies, so it might well not be salt ;-)) Keeps developing on dried oranges, Cointreau… Not bad but hard to enjoy. With water: it gets much, much sweeter, with more liquorice but that’s all. No added complexity. 79 points.
SHOPPING - It's fellow Malt Maniac Davin de Kergommeaux who advises us to try this Johnnie Walker Red Label + Cola. The fearless Davin wrote: "I had bought this can of JWR Cola in Vanuatu (where I also tasted real kava made with the spit of virgin boys). I admit the cola was kind of tasty and much smokier than JWR alone. The kava? well, you have to experience it to appreciate the coke."
 

October 18, 2005


TASTING - TWO RECENT OLD NEW CLYNELISHES AND AN OLD YOUNG OLD ONE (Oh well, I guess you see what I mean...)

Clynelish 1971/2005 (45.7%, M&H Cask Selection, refill hogshead, 228 b.)
Clynelish 1971/2005 (45.7%, M&H Cask Selection, refill hogshead, 228 b.)
Colour: straw. Nose: quite punchy, even a little aggressive. I does not start on the usual waxy/fruity notes but rather on Swiss cheese (fresh gruyere) and herbal/grassy notes (fern, lettuce). Some bold notes of mashed potatoes, soy sauce, Maggi, gravy... Develops on cider, English bitter beer (not the bitter one), wine sauce, cooked fresh cream. Some notes of apple juice but other than that, very little fruit (perhaps some coconut juice). A profile that’s very unusual for a 1971 Clynelish but I like it a lot. Mouth: quite sharp! Rather salty, herbal, peppery… Again, very ‘different’. Notes of strong coffee (ristretto), dried parsley, Japanese green tea (the one they use to spice up dishes), sweet pepper, burnt caramel… A little austere, I must say. Gets quite woody and tannic, drying but not too much. Long, slightly bitter finish, on strong tea and liquorice roots. A different early ‘new’ Clynelish, worth trying, definitely. 88 points.
Clynelish 1972/2000 (57.3%, Celtic Legends, cask #14265) Colour: white wine. Nose: ah, it’s one of these typically clean and fragrant 1972 Clynelishes. Great freshness, starting on whiffs of sea air, beeswax and lots of flowery notes. Nectar, pollen, hints of hay, tropical fruits (but not too much). Beautifully honeyed. Another classic, it appears. Mouth: yes, very typical again: lots of beeswax and tropical fruits, crystallised quince, orange marmalade, mirabelle plums… Excellent! Some paraffin as usual… A great profile, most enjoyable just like that despite the rather high abv. The finish is very long, on all sorts of dried fruits and a dash of cinnamon powder. It gets nicely salty with a few drops of water. In short, another truly excellent 1971-1972 Clynelish, very classy stuff, immensely quaffable. 92 points.
Clynelish 12 yo (43%, OB for Di Chiano, light vatting, short golden cap, early 1970’s) Colour: white wine. Nose: wow, extremely clean, pure and fresh, sharp like a blade. A beautiful peat – much peatier than other batches of the 12 yo ‘white label’ I had before – and lots of white pepper, bitter almonds and mastic. Some sweet peppers as well, getting very maritime with some very nice whiffs of sea air. It’s not utterly complex but magnificently compact and, again, very ‘clean’. Mouth: very punchy attack, very clean again, astonishingly peaty and peppery. Some very nice grainy notes, together with something yeasty (mashed potatoes). A great balance and very little wood influence, which is good news considering this profile. The finish is long and, again, very clean. Really excellent (although not monstrously complex). 90 points.

 

SHOPPING - The people over at Gift to drink seem to think Scotch whisky is a sovereign remedy, even if it might not be 'enough', as they are selling this attractive 'get well gift' that includes 'a 5cl Bells Whiskey, Alka-Seltzer, a tub of paracetamol and what everyone needs at winter - Lemsip. Guaranteed to make anyone feeling under the weather 'perk up'.' Price: £8.99. They are also selling some Old Putney (sic) 12 year old single malt.

Motion Trio MUSIC – Highly recommended listening: my god they are good! Three accoustic accordions and that's it, but a wonderful music that will make you fly higher than a full bottle of whisky would... Try Janusz Wojtarowicz's Motion Trio, from Poland, doing Little story.mp3 and then you'll buy their music or attend their concerts! (photo Izabella Pajonk-Degardo)
 

October 17, 2005


TASTING - TWO AGED GLENFIDDICHS
Glenfiddich 32 yo 1972 ‘Vintage Reserve’ (47.1%, OB, cask #16036, 219 bottles, bottled 2005)
Funny that several recent single cask Balvenies and Glenfiddichs were bottled at 47.1% and have yielded 219 bottles (like the recent Balvenie 1971). Colour: light gold. Nose: very elegant attack, with a very nice oakiness. Develops on dried oranges, light honey, ripe melon… Goes on with various herbal teas, white pepper and cooked apples, and a little cinnamon and perhaps nutmeg. Not too bold but perfectly balanced.
Glenfiddich 32yo 1972 ‘Vintage Reserve’ (47.1%, OB, cask #16036, 219 bottles, bottled 2005)
Mouth: again, very nice attack, sweet and smooth, with notes of ripe oranges, light toffee and sweet liquorice, counterbalanced by hints of icing sugar and tropical fruits (passion fruits, guavas). The finish isn’t too long, but longer than a Britney Spears marriage, with a smooth oakiness and quite some malty notes. A very good one if not a stunner. 88 points.
Glenfiddich 30 yo (40%, OB, 2004/2005 bottling)
Colour: gold/bronze. Nose: a little spirity at first nosing, developing then on amber beer, herbal teas, fruit jam and quite some spices (nutmeg). Enjoyable but also quite sour, with some notes of oxidized apple juice. Some notes of gin and ginger ale. It gets nicer after a few minutes, with some tropical fruits (guavas). Notes of Chinese rice spirit (Mei kwei lu). Rather nice, even if it lacks a little more definition. Mouth: nice attack, on fruits and spices, fresh oranges, hay jelly, ripe fresh figs… A nice sweetness. Develops on grains, fruit jams, herbal tea, with a rather short, but enjoyable finish on dried fruits. Glenfiddich brought some unreduced 30 yo to WhiskyLive Paris (at 53%, roughly), and it was striking to taste this puppy at cask strength. It was so much bolder and, frankly, better! I hope we’ll see a 45 or 46% version on the market one day! Anyway, 86 points for the current 40% version.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
MUSIC – Recommended listening - another cool new folky band, Samuel Beam's Iron and wine, does Naked as we came.mp3. After Devendra Banhart, the return of the bearded ones (as Dave Broom would call them) is confirmed! Please buy Iron and wine's music if you like it. Iron and wine
 

October 16, 2005


TASTING - TWO STUNNINGLY STUNNING STUNNERS BY HP
Highland Park 30yo 1955/1985 (53.2%, OB for Intertrade, 216 bottles) Highland Park 30 yo 1955/1985 (53.2%, OB for Intertrade, 216 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: wow, it’s superb at first nosing! Lots of nectar, bunches of flowers from the fields, acacia honey, pollen… and also lots of coastal notes (sea air, sea water, oysters). What a fantastic balance! So complex and compact at the same time. Whiffs of peat mixed with very ripe plums, coffee cream, cappuccino, crystallised apricots… Just superb! It then gets smokier and smokier. If the palate matches the nose, this one should be an stunner. Let’s see…
Mouth: yes, yes, yes! What a great attack! So clean, so pure, so ‘natural’! Creamy, spicy, smoky and perfectly fruity (there’s no point in listing all the fruits but I noticed longans), peppered apple pie, pear juice, high-end cider… This old Highland Park has everything, going any further would be maltporn, I’m afraid. 96 points (thanks, Luc)
Highland Park 40 yo 1958 (44%, OB, 665 bottles)
Colour: deep amber – bronze. Nose: fantastic attack on espresso coffee and dried herbs, with also lots of leathery notes (horse saddle). Strong pipe tobacco (Balkan sobranie), walnut liquor, cigar box… Very, very ‘male’, whatever that means. Keeps on developing, on soy sauce and fresh fruits such as granny smith apples – and also dried oranges and pineapples. Whiffs of smoke. Really a stunner, with no weakness due to age. Mouth: extremely sweet and smooth, with a creamy mouth feel. A perfect balance, with a bit of icing sugar at first, followed by bunches of dried fruits (Smyrna raisins, bananas, figs) and toasted nuts (pecan, almonds, peanuts). Cake, Virginia tobacco… Some eucalyptus candies, mint drops… Notes of old claret, cinnamon and a bit of clove, getting spicier and spicier. Rose jam, Turkish delight… Hugely complex and fabulously balanced, with a rather long, smoky and dry finish – and also a little spearmint to give it a little extra-freshness. Exactly the kind of malt I’d like to sip in a club, with a great cigar. Too bad I never go to clubs and I don’t smoke cigars anymore! 95 points. (thanks, Olivier)
MUSIC – Classical - Recommended listening: It's Sunday, the sun shines all over the vineyards... Time for some 'Music', don't you think? Like French diva Natalie Dessay singing L'air des clochettes.mp3 (from Léo Delibes' Lakmé, Choeur & Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse, Michel Plasson, EMI). And please buy Natalie Dessay's CD's! (and go to the opera).
By the way, I will post some great classical music on Sundays from now on - but week days will be blues, jazz and rock only! I also expect to be able to upload some excellent pieces by our maniacal tenor Mark Adams (hey, Marco!)
Natalie Dessay
 

October 15, 2005


NEW MONITOR - The Malt Maniacs' Malt Monitor (aka the monster ;-)) has just been updated. We now have more than 12,000 ratings for 4,400 different bottlings (it's here - beware the 2.8 Megabytes). There's also a lighter, PDF version that's probably much handier (here)...
 
Ambassador 25yo (43%, OB, Taylor & Ferguson, blend, mid-1970’s)

 

TASTING - TWO OLD BLENDS

Ambassador 25 yo (43%, OB, Taylor & Ferguson, blend, mid-1970’s) Colour: gold. Nose: very waxy and extremely fragrant, perfumy (Chanel N°5). Develops very harmoniously on light honey, camomile, pollen… Also lots of organics, wet hay. Really complex. Mouth: sweet and slightly smoky start, alas lacking a little more body and oomph.

Some notes of burnt cake but not much else, with a rather short finish. The nose was extraordinary and the mouth quite disappointing, but the whole experience quite a thrill. Put this into a small crystal bottle and you have an excellent perfume for the next Valentine’s day! 82 points.
Old Mull (40%, OB, John Hopkins, blend, 1960’s)
Colour: pink gold. Nose: superbly waxy at first nosing, but also very musty, with some bold mushroomy notes. Also some coastal notes, with some sea air mixed with caramel, cappuccino, mocha. A very nice blend, although the old bottle effect may be too heavy here. Mouth: dry and a little too bitter, and also very caramelly (too seasoned?). Some notes of herbal tea and candy sugar, but not much else. The finish is rather short, yet quite bitter. Undoubtedly a very, very good old blend, that might just have got a little too tired after a good thirty-five years in its bottle. 77 points.

MS Demeanor MUSIC – Recommended listening: well not really recommended, actually, but maybe MS Demeanor (and Stevie Moore) doing Whose fantasy is this anyways.mp3 will make you laugh a little... And please buy their 'music' if you laughed.

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


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

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

Ardbeg 1993/2003 (57.6%, Spirit of Scotland, cask #1084)

Clynelish 12 yo (43%, OB for Di Chiano, light vatting, short golden cap, early 1970’s)

Clynelish 1972/2000 (57.3%, Celtic Legends, cask #14265)

Mosstowie 29 yo 1975/2005 (48.4%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, cask #5809)

Highland Park 30 yo 1955/1985 (53.2%, OB for Intertrade, 216 bottles)

Highland Park 40 yo 1958 (44%, OB, 665 bottles)

Old Pulteney 15 yo 1982 ‘Millenium’ (60.5%, OB, sherry)

Pulteney 26 yo 1977/2004 (58.3%, Duncan Taylor Peerless, cask #3078)