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Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2007 - Part 2
       
October 2007 - part 1 <--- October 2007 - part 2 ---> November 2007 - part 1
 

October 31, 2007


TASTING – FOUR 1984 CAOL ILAS
Caol Ila 23 yo 1984/2007 (46%, Wilson & Morgan 'Barrel Selection', cask #3128) Colour: gold. Nose: starts nicely dry, smoky, tarry, with also quite some lemon juice and cider apples. Great notes of wet leaves, garden bonfire, humus. Quite earthy, definitely, and I like that. Also wet ashes, tea with lemon, hints of nougat... What’s more, the balance is perfect here. Finishes with whiffs of heating oil and camphor. Mouth: oily, sweet, candied, ‘at perfect drinking strength’, developing on lemon pie, crystallised citrons and quinces as well as soft liquorice. Very elegant and balanced smokiness. Gets saltier after a while, with hints of kippers and smoked salmon. Excellent bitterness (half resinous, half grassy). Finish: rather long, smooth but still candied, lemony and smoky, with also a little mint now as well as a faint saltiness. Aftertaste on salted liquorice. Excellent Caol Ila if you ask me, perhaps not the most complex of malts but extremely drinkable. 89 points. Cao Ila
Caol Ila Caol Ila 22 yo 1984/2006 (54.1%, Murray McDavid, enhanced in Grenache Rouge - Vin de Natural cask, 567 bottles) I believe ‘Vin de Natural’ does not exist, and that it should rather be ‘Vin Doux Naturel’, a rather misleading appellation meaning sweet wine that got ‘muted’ with alcohol, which many people do with grenache or muscat in the South of France. A sweet and funny typo on this label, maybe it’ll make this bottle very collectable? Colour: salmony. Nose: completely different from the W&M but not overly winey at first nosing, with the spirit’s bold character being in total control of the situation. So, first we get peat smoke, ashes and coal, then rather beautiful hints of eucalyptus and camphor, and only then hints of red fruits jam (mostly strawberry) and peonies but they’re much less dominant than in many other finished whiskies. Just touches. Even a certain coastality manages to come through (kelp) as well as soft spices. A very pleasant nose.
Mouth: yes this works pretty well, the wine rounding off the whisky’s edges quite elegantly. Again, no ‘winey’ notes as such, rather a creaminess and a sweetness that make it sort of sexy (but not vulgar). Blackberry jam with quite some pepper, salt, cloves and even a little mustard. I know, sounds horrible but it isn’t, at all. Finish: very long, peatier and spicier now, the wine’s fruitiness having almost vanished. Very good whisky and a process that I really understand here – especially the fact that the wine itself was already fortified must have played a role here. Works very well. 89 points.
Caol Ila 22 yo 1984/2007 (55,5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 246 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: ah, this is a ‘traditional’ zesty Caol Ila, starting on a lot of lemon and grass and quite some mint as well (freshly rubbed leaves), with a big ‘coastality’ (iodine, oysters). Gets slightly buttery but just like the Murmac, it gets then very camphory. And hints of eucalyptus again, apple peelings and brown coal, getting even more lemony after a few minutes, and then very ashy and oily (linseed, castor). Faint whiffs of wet hay. But are all 1984 Caol Ilas camphory and lemony? Interesting... Mouth: a rather big peat blast and quite some salt right at the attack but it gets then much more rounded, vanilled and frankly bourbonny. Peated bourbon? The fact is that it’s rather simpler than both the W&M and the Murmac but the general profile is still very pleasant, extremely compact. Caol Ila
Great peat and great vanilla, that’s it. Finish: long, just as compact as before and still on the same bold notes of peat and vanilla, with maybe just more pepper at this stage. I really like this compactness. 87 points.
Cornelius Jansen
Cornelius Jansen
(1510-1576)
Caol Ila 23 yo 1984/2007 (57%, The Whisky Society) A new series by The Whisky Exchange, not sure about its position vs. The Single Malts of Scotland but I’ll ask Sukhinder a.s.a.p. Colour: pale straw. Nose: ah, this is much more an austere and almost ‘Jansenist’ Caol Ila, with a rather stunning rectitude. Indeed, it starts all on various ‘austere’ oils (linseed, liquid paraffin, sunflower) and raw wool, getting grassier with time (cut grass). Also big lemony notes (zests) and hints of ginger tonic and liquorice roots... And yes, a little camphor, but much less than in all three previous versions. By far the most austere of the flight, for sure.
Mouth: excellent attack, powerful but in no ways overpowering (no water needed it seems), rounder and sexier than on the nose, starting all on peat, orange marmalade, liquorice, salt and vanilla crème... But then a true peppery blast occurs, with a cortege of other spices (I get dried cardamom, aniseed, soft chilli...) Also hints of antiseptic (not that I drink that everyday) and pine resin, the whole getting definitely medicinal after a while. Also various herbs such as chives and dill. Also chicory. What a brilliant, ever-moving development! Finish: very long and ‘alternating’, at times very peppery, at times candied (orange marmalade made with candy sugar), at times very peppery, at times candied... Excellent compactness. Too bad the large sample got emptied before I even thought about trying it with a little water. 91 points.
Bonus: a funny involontary experiment. While I was having these four truly excellent Caol Ilas in four different glasses in front of me, a fearless squadron of ten or twelve of our friend Lex Kraaijeveld’s beloved fruit flies entered the room (we have lots flying around at this time of the year, as in many wine regions) and guess where they ALL drowned themselves? Yes, in the ‘wine-enhanced’ version. All of them, honest!
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
MUSICRecommended listening: Who wrote Louie Louie? Frank Zappa and the Mothers? Iggy Pop? No, it's Richard Berry, in 1955, and he's playing it with his Pharaohs here. Isn't this true rocksteady, Nick? Please buy Richard Berry's music. Richard Berry
 

October 30, 2007


TASTING – FOUR NORTH PORTS

North Port 15 yo 1964/1979 (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy) Colour: gold. Nose: starts all on ‘good’ paraffin and wax, somewhat ala Old Clynelish. Goes on with acacia honey, honeysuckle and a little ham as ‹ell as wet stones and chalk. Also wild flowers (all of them) and hints of pepper and peat. This is superb and certainly very sleek!

Mouth: quite some wax again, the whole not being tired at all. A whole basket of fresh fruits (pink grapefruits, pineapples) makes this one as drinkable as fruit juice, actually. Gets jammier and more camphory with time, with also a beautiful pepper and quite some natural mastic (sweets or Turkish delights). Gets then enjoyably bitter (not too soft olive oil), which ads to the complexity of the whole. I must say this is brilliant. Finish: not excessively long, fading away very elegantly, getting maybe just a tad dryish. Otherwise this one would have fetched even more than 93 points. (and thanks, Heinz).
North Port 26 yo 1981/2007 (52.9%, Duncan Taylor, Rarest of the Rare, cask #775) Colour: straw. Nose: we’re in the same family, obviously, for it starts all on paraffin, waxed paper and lamp oil, but the development is quite different this time, more on lemonade, cut cactus and even white tequila. Gets hugely grassy with time, as austere as this old Scottish lady from around Lochnagar. Also notes of lager beer. A bit hard I must say, everything but sexy I’d add. Mouth: ah! It’s much better now, a bit rounder (but it’s still quite wild), very oily and very thick, with quite some salt, propolis, chlorophyll-flavoured gum, lime juice... Tequila indeed. Echoes of an ancient world... Finish: very long, very assertive, still very oily, waxy, mustardy and grassy... And hints of peat. Quite a beast, this one, with something that reminds me of Banff, maybe it’s the mustard. 84 points.
North Port-Brechin 20yo 1979/1999 (61.2%, Rare Malts) Colour: straw. Nose: roughly the same as the 1981 but even harder, grassier and oilier. Almost a curiosity. Maybe water will make it more civilised, let’s see... With water: that didn’t work – at all. It ‘s all grass juice now, with just added hints of bitter apple peelings and big notes of lamp oil. Mouth (neat): a little sweeter than the 1981 this time but other than that it’s quite the same kind of beast. Extremely grassy. With water: hehehe, we got it! Sweeter and rounder but also saltier, with more spices (I get ginger, pepper, cloves, even chilli). Finish: very long, hugely peppery and mustardy... Alright, the best qualifier I could come up with about this one is ‘excessive’. Atishoo! 78 points.
North Port (Brechin) 14yo 1974/1989 'Very Rare' (66.1%, Sestante Import, 75cl) More than 66% ABV, isn’t that plain devilish? Colour: gold. Nose: a bit more civilised this time despite the higher strength. Obviously more marked by the oak, with more ‘round’ vanilla but also even more beerish notes (and very grassy olive oil). Other than that I’m afraid it’s quite close to kerosene at full strength. With water: my goodness! It’s all on horse dung, sauerkraut and ‘dead animal’ now. Notes of heavy pipe tobacco (maybe Balkan Sobranie will ring a bell), wild mushrooms, civet... Err... Also funny notes of Chinese anise behind all that wildness. One of the whackiest noses I came across I think. Yes, including all red-wine-finished whiskies. Mouth (neat – yes I’m mad): explosively grassy, waxy and lemony. Makes your teeth chatter... Actually, trying this neat should be verboten.
With water: same as the 1979, just a bit rounder for a moment but then we get notes of... wait, rotten fish? Glue? Or is this kerosene indeed? Finish: yes. And a lot of salt, at that. Let’s be honest, this is really nerve-racking and we think that even the most venturesome soul should stay away from this. Unless you’ve got a mother-in-law at home ;-)... 65 points.
 
SHOPPING - MALTERNATIVES
Svedka
After Idaho’s Jimi Hendrix Vodka and New Zealand’s Stil Vodka that was offering us to win a Russian bride, it’s Sweden’s Svedka Vodka that came up with a crazy character in their advertisements: a lesbian robot (fembot) acting in 2033, celebrating by turns New York City’s Blue State Independence Day on November 10 (‘Svedka Vodka salutes the brave men, women roundabouts, strippers, social smokers and transvestites who sacrificed their lifestyle during the Blue State Secession of 2032’), or the fact that Svedka was voted #1 vodka of 2003 (‘Gay men still prefer svedka over sex with women’ or ‘Svedka toasts same sex couples for restoring the sanctity of marriage’). Svedka also salutes L.A. for being the ‘home of the first drive-thru plastic surgery window’.
Yet, there’s more worrying: just like many very cynical and very lazy drink brands already did (such as Miller’s beer right in 1990 and several following me-toos), Svedka also urges you to ‘Do your part to help global warming – Add more ice’. Or how to turn an original theme into something completely naff and tacky. Too bad. Svedka
MUSIC – Recommended listening: today let’s have Jenny Lewis (not Jerry Lewis) with the Watson Twins doing the Dynlanesco-Beatlesesque Handle with care.mp3. As sweet as it can get... Please buy their music... Jenny Lewis
 

October 29, 2007


TASTING - FOUR 1988 HIGHLAND PARKS
Highland Park 13 yo 1988/2001 (46%, Signatory, sherry butt #10455, 750 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: rather sharp, very flinty, ashy and grassy. Develops more on linseed oil but also cardboard and paraffin, and quite some porridge after that. Quite yeasty and mashy. Not easy-easy I'd say. Mouth: sweet, vanilled, with quite some orange juice now. Good body, more oomph than on the palate. Gets a bit caramelly and slightly resinous, improving with time. Finish: unexpectedly long, cleaner, with more honey and orange marmalade. Funny how this one kept improving with time, but there's little sherry influence that I could get. 81 points.
Highland Park 1988/1999 (46%, Murray McDavid, MM1298, Fresh Sherry) Colour: straw. Nose: much fruitier but the mashy notes are still here. Unusual whiffs of lavender-scented soap, lemonade, gin fizz... Very, very lemony actually, getting also very grassy, with hints of peat and green tea. 'Wet newspaper' and once again, little sherry. Mouth: starts more honeyed than the Signatory but also with quite some cardboard and paraffin. Lemonade again, sunflower oil, lemon zest... Maybe a tad bitterish but it's interesting whisky despite a persistent soapiness in the background. Finish: quite long again, more on orange marmalade and quite some salt now, with a little resin again. Once again, not much sherry influence considering this one came from first fill sherry, but an enjoyable HP altogether. 80 points. HP
HP Highland Park 18yo 1988/2006 (46%, Cadenhead, Sherry wood, 678 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: completely different, with a lot of 'obvious' sherry this time, chocolate and crystallised oranges. Faint sulphur (more matchsticks than H2S). Very pleasant dryness, getting a little meaty (smoked sausages). Other than that it's all on fruitcakes, sultanas, walnuts and always quite some chocolate. Keeps developing but gets a bit grassier and more resinous, with these sulphurous notes never really disappearing. Mouth: a much better balance now I think, starting all on chocolate-dipped oranges and an enjoyable smokiness. A lot of raisins as well. The middle is maybe less thrilling (quite some toasted bread but less body) but the finish is pleasantly dry, getting spicier (cloves and pepper). A rather simple but really good sherried Highland Park, no doubt. 82 points.
Highland Park 19 yo 1988/2007 (55.7%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead) Colour straw. Nose: this is another story. Much closer to the Signatory in style but with an even bigger sharpness, very grassy and mineral right at first sniffs. We get olive oil, linseed oil, wax, wet stones (limestone, chalk), apple peelings and lager beer (a very good one, that is). Very elegant austerity, lets see what happens with the addition of a little water. Right, it's really the chalk that got bigger first, as well as a certain soapiness that's very pleasant here (reminds me of the old ads for Lux - don't ask me why), for once (not just soap that came with the addition of water, i.e saponification). Gets then grainier, with notes of high-quality porridge, muesli and even mashed potatoes, with the trademark heather honey as the 'nasal signature'. Long development. Lux
Mouth (neat): excellent attack, bold, oily and powerful but not lumpish at all. Perfect balance between the oranges, the grassiness and the grains. The spices do come through after that, as well as quite some salt and a little marzipan. Very good but maybe it'll be even better with water... Well, yes, this one really stands water, I tried it at various strengths, including very low ones (30% or so) and it was always interesting. Excellent spiciness, good vanilla, perfect oak (discreet but present), and always this marzipan. Finish: long, very 'natural', slightly salty, with notes of fresh grapefruit making a late arrival. An excellent alternative to to the OB's, I'd say, with maybe less cask influence but also more 'spirit'. Great and, err, natural! 90 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: this thing with bossa nova and all the spiritual daughters of Astrud Gilberto will never end it seems and maybe that’s good news. Today let’s have Coralie Clement and her one-note Samba de mon coeur qui bat.mp3 and then buy her works, thanks. Coralie Clement
 

October 26, 2007


Alligator

TASTING – FOUR NEW TOMATINS

Tomatin 22 yo 1984/2007 (48.1%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead) Two brand new Tomatins by our German friends. Cask details and outturns will be added later. Colour: gold. Nose: ah, not one of these extravagantly fruity indie Tomatins it seems, although there are some fruits, definitely, such as not too ripe bananas. It’s also a little butyric (okay, okay, buttery) and quite vanilled, with whiffs of newly cut grass and various other herbs (chives) as well as toasted bread. Quite some pepper as well. Maybe a bit shy and austere... Also notes of wet clothes, ‘wet dog’ (sorry dogs).

Mouth: completely different at first sips, as if it was another whisky. Sweeter, fruitier (pears and pineapples), rounder but also a little salty. Notes of vanilled yoghurt and muesli, caramel, roasted nuts, getting very nutty with time. Very toasted actually, so to speak. Finish: long, caramelly and still very roasted/toasted. Did they make this hogshead ‘alligator’? (‘alligator’ means charring at level 4 on a 4-scale, the wood’s surface looking like alligator hide - but I think it's mainly the Americans who do that for bourbon). 81 points.
Tomatin 22 yo 1984/2007 (48.9%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead) Colour: gold. Nose: close, very close to its twin cask, maybe even more austere actually. Also a tad waxier but even less fruity. A rather extreme grassiness. Mouth: again, very close to its bro, with maybe a little more roundness and oomph at the same time and perhaps a little more oak (spices and slight sourness and bitterness). Similar finish. The whole is a bit more concentrated in fact, but also a tad less complex. 80 points.
Tomatin 17 yo 1989/2007 (58.6%, The Spirit Safe, cask #4731, hogshead, 214 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: I must say this one has more personality, even if it’s even farer from being fruity! All on cod oil, linseed oil, olive oil (and other oils) and rubbed herbs (mint, fresh thyme) plus notes of ink... Gets even more unusual after that, with notes of gherkins, even capers... All that settles down after a moment, leaving room for what appears to be peat, raw wool and quite some pepper. Funny how this one smells like a certain whisky from the Isle of Skye now! Mouth: the peat strikes right at first sip. I cannot remember having tried a peated Tomatin before, I must say. Good, bold mouth feel, lots of spices, smoked tea, apple skin, lemon marmalade, pepper, a little salt... What a surprise! As ‘unTomatin’ as whisky can get, I’d say. Finish: very long, very peaty, smoky, wild, salty... Probably the biggest Tomatin I’ve tried so far. 87 points. Tomatin
Tomatin Tomatin 40 yo 1967/2007 (51.8%, Signatory, cask #2632, sherry butt, 415 bottles) Colour: deep amber. Nose: there’s the sherry (amontillado quality), there’s some mint, there’s some leather, there’s some cigarette tobacco (‘newly opened pack of Camels’), there’s some camphor, there’s some thuja wood, there’s some rancio, there’s some walnut liqueur, there’s some wax polish and there’s quite some raisins, old rum, fruitcake, prunes, very black tea (Russian blends), game, soy sauce, raw cocoa, candle wax, squashed oranges... and only go knows what else. Hey Mr Whisky, we haven’t gotten all night! Mouth: just in case you’re wondering, it’s not woody at all. As for the rest, ‘take the nose, add some liquorice and you’re done’. Finish: now we can feel the oak (and its tannins) but they ‘act’ just as a beautiful signature, making the whole experience sort of more serious and ‘straight’.
In short, an exceptional old sherried wonder by Signatory Vintage that will remind us of some of their older Glendronachs, Glenlivets or Glen Grants. Only flaw: it’s too damn drinkable, especially at ‘the new prices’. 93 points.

 

MUSICRecommended listening: We’re in the 1950’s and Roy Milton and his band are doing the Bartender’s boogie.mp3. ‘Whisky makes you frisky, gin, makes you thin...’ We know at least one reader who will love this one... Please buy Mr Milton’s music, he was still recording in the 1970’s... (via Joie de Vivre)

Roy Milton
 

October 25, 2007


TASTING – THREE OLD CAPERDONICHS by DUNCAN TAYLOR
Caperdonich Caperdonich 34 yo 1972/2007 (53.4%, Duncan Taylor for LMDW, From Huntly to Paris, cask #6707, 210 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: fruitbomb alert! This beauty starts exactly like if it was a huge rum-soaked tropical fruit salad on the nose. Mostly oranges and pineapples at first, then more detailed citrusy notes (tangerines, grapefruits) and bananas... What’s funny is that it almost makes a U-turn after that, getting much oakier and spicier, all that still being ‘below the limits’. Notes of rosemary, chervil, white pepper... Even funnier now, it gets rather bubblegummy after a while, with also hints of strawberry sweets (Tagadas), Jell-O, liquorice allsorts and quite some floral notes (honeysuckle). Well, this is entertaining to say the least, let’s just hope that the palate isn’t be too tired.
Mouth: an uber-fruitiness again, encapsulated in quite some wood and spices. Crystallised oranges and tangerines with a good dash of white pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Drying? No. Gets quite bitter after that but it’s pleasant bitterness, with quite some unsugared green tea, liquorice roots... Gets rootier and unexpectedly salty. Finish: long, with the oak and ginger playing the leading parts now. Rather big tannins, good news that they didn’t strike right at the attack, even if he spirit seems to easily stand them, even at the finish. The tangerines are back in the aftertaste. Very, very good malt. 89 points.
Caperdonich 38 yo 1968/2007 (54.2%, Duncan Taylor for The Nectar, cask #2609, 130 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: my, this is as ‘funny’ and ‘entertaining’ as the 1972 albeit rather different at first sniffs. There’s a rather big fruitiness again but it’s more towards bananas and coconuts plus a little resin (and eucalyptus) and marzipan/almond milk. Maybe one could say this is less ‘wham-bam’ but also a little more complex. Interesting oriental notes lingering in the background (incense, sandalwood, cedar wood) and also maybe something slightly Irish (or is it the banana?) Notes of nougat and quite some mint coming through after a moment. In short, less extravagant and maybe better balanced than the 1972. Caperdonich
Mouth: we’re rather closer to the 1972 now, even if the differences are the same as on the nose: more resinous and almondy and a bit less fruity. Also more candied and honeyed and a tad less oaky. And always these bananas. Slightly bigger in fact and a bit more compact. A lot of ginger, that is... Finish: long (a tad longer than the 1972) and still a little less woody, which is funny as it’s older. Little salt this time, that is, but a pleasant bitterness (lemon zests). Marginally better than the 1972, but enough to make it to 90 points.
Caperdonich 38 yo 1968/2007 (51.4%, Duncan Taylor, cask #2619) Colour: dark gold. Nose: oh, this one is much wilder and much less fruity, as if there was quite some peat. Were they already distilling peated malt at Caperdonich in 1968? All on toasted wood, wood smoke, charcoal, malt, roasted nuts, roasted tea (Japanese hochicha or hojicha), a little mint and eucalyptus... Wait, a lot of mint and eucalyptus. Even whiffs of wet dog (good dog!) And then the same notes of fresh almonds and marzipan as in the one for The Nectar. Certainly less spectacular but a I must say I adore this wildness. Okay, the palate will determine the outcome... Hojicha
Mouth: hmm, this is tough. Closer to its twin cask now but certainly more phenolic again, more resinous, slightly bigger despite a lower ABV, also a little less woody... Beautiful notes of crystallised oranges, orange blossom water, fir honey, cough syrup, hints of peat... The distillate should have been the same, maybe this was an ex-Islay cask or something? Finish: no woodiness and a big ‘honeyness’ instead, with always these beautiful resinous notes and quite some salt like in the 1972. What a big old Caperdonich! You got it, I like it even better than its siblings, even if it’s really a matter of personal tastes as always. 91 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: a sweet and brilliant little song Miami style called I can't dig it baby.mp3 by Little Beaver aka Willile Hale. Please but Little Beaver's music. Little Beaver
 

October 24, 2007


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
(thanks, David at Whisky-Distilleries)
 
TASTING - A PART OF GLENFARCLAS' FAMILY JEWELS
Family Casks Glenfarclas
Glenfarclas 1989/2007 (60%, OB 'Family Casks', cask #11721, 600 bottles) From a sherry butt. You probably already know that Glenfarclas, in very armagnacesque manners, managed to bottle a cask of every single vintage from 1952 to 1994. The old ones are rather fairly priced we think - £700 for the 1953 - but the young ones are quite expensive - £115 for the 1994 - which is unusual with Glenfarclas. Anyway, we already tried a few vintages (some being absolutely great) from this new series that was officially launched in September in London. Alas, we couldn't make it to the swinging city this time but our special MM correspondent Ulf Buxrud, who could attend the event, will hopefully manage to write a few lines about it on MM. Let’s try the 1989 now if you please... Colour: amber. Nose: rather violent and unusually floral (big notes of peonies and violets), with also very big notes of grapes, something slightly muscaty. Blackcurrants, strawberry cordial. Other than that it’s a typical sherried Glenfarclas, coffeish and chocolaty, with maybe just hints of rubber and sulphur and whiffs of smoke. Mouth: thick, big, concentrated to the point where it almost tastes like pure liquorice at the attack. Heavily reduced wine sauce with pepper, strawberry jam and sweets, strong praline, raspberry jam. Well, you have to like it thick to enjoy this one but if you do, this one is for you. Reminds me of the older Macallan 10yo C/S in a certain way, or of A’bunadh. Finish: long, still thick, concentrated, heavy... But clean! A sherry monster, you say? 79 points.
Glenfarclas 1988/2007 (56,3%, OB 'Family Casks', cask #7033, 572 bottles) From a sherry butt. Colour: gold. Nose: there’s probably as much sherry in this one but it’s much fresher and less chocolaty/coffeeish. More on peaches and melons, then crushed mint leaves, apricot jam, sweet white wine, verbena... Rather more elegant than the 1989, with a better balance and absolutely no sulphur or rubber. Mouth: I like this so much better than the 1989! Still powerful but much more complex, spicy (nutmeg), fruity, full of youth yet perfectly mature, jammy, fresh (spearmint), elegantly vanilled... And what an excellent finish, long, balanced, fresh, compact, fruity... Much more my type, you got it, but warning, this is very drinkable. 89 points.
Glenfarclas 1987/2007 (55.1%, OB 'Family Casks', cask #1010, 262 bottles) From a refill sherry hogshead. Colour: amber. Nose: much less sherry this time (refill) but even more fruitiness, all on apricot jam and acacia honey at first nosing. Again hints of rubber but also fresh herbs. Big notes of kirsch arising rather suddenly, also a little quince and dates. A bit shier than the 1988, still. Mouth: kind of a mixture of the 1989 and 1987, with notes of rubber. Fresher than the 1989 but certainly not as entertaining as the 1988. But punchy! 83 points.
Glenfarclas 1976/2007 (49,4%, OB 'Family Casks', cask #3111, 595 bottles) From a refill butt. Colour: full gold. Nose: very close to the 1988 but with more of everything. Please read above. I know it’s not cool to make analogies with other brands but I’d say this is close to the greatest Balvenies. And an unusual meatiness (ham and herbs). Luv’ this. Mouth: holy featherless crow! Immense complexity, starting with everything from the forest (mushrooms, pine sweets, god knows what else) and all the spices on earth, plus a good dozen fruits (papaya, mango, pear...) and kind of a very special flavour that sort of gathers everything and that’s rather meaty, but more complex than any meat. Maybe it’s what’s the Japanese call umami? And resin, and dried lychees, and quince jelly, and salted liquorice, and bay leaves, and various peppers, and, and, and... Finish: the only, very small flaw in my opinion: it’s maybe a tad cardboardy at this stage, but very faintly so (and with notes of unsugared green tea). But we’re still in a forest, with distinct notes of mushrooms again (boletus?). Anyway, 92 points for this one. Only the fantabulous 1965 fetched a higher score in my books so far (95), but we’ve still got a lot of Family Casks to taste...
Glenfarclas 1969/2007 (56,2%, OB 'Family Casks', cask #3184, 148 bottles) From a sherry hogshead. Colour: amber/mahogany. Nose: oh, what a beautiful old ‘sherry monster’. Everything is of the highest class: dried fruits, jams, chocolate, coffee, raisins, dried herbs, herbal teas, meatiness, camphor, mint, tar... Oh well... And what a great liquorice, earthiness (humus, mushrooms...). Just superb. Oh, and there’s also our beloved lovage! Mouth: well, this one unfolds in two steps. First step is beautiful, dry, classical, mushroomy again, with a more than beautiful and complex ‘sherryness’. But then it gets a little too dry for my tastes, slightly bitterish (heavy walnut liqueur, very bitter almonds) and maybe simply too woody, with quite some tannins. Some aficionados may well like this and I won’t argue, but I feel it’s a little too much, especially with the still heavy alcohol pushing the whole to the front. It’s really for big boys, this one! But the nose and the first part of the palate were absolutely brilliant, hence my 87 points. Okay, still less than 10 of these Family Casks tasted so far, I guess it’ll take us quite some time until we manage to complete the series... Maybe nine or ten years? Stay tuned! ;-)
MUSIC – Recommended listening: do you remember Gentle Giant and their very elaborated and refined ‘jazz progrock’? Let’s have their Schooldays.mp3 today and then buy their music... Gentle Giant
 

October 23, 2007


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
JIM WHITE
The Luminaire, Kilburn, London, October 19th 2007
First of all I should apologise, particularly to the man in the red shirt. I was ducking and diving through the crowd with a couple of glasses of beer when much to my surprise I found myself almost at the front of the audience just right of centre - and there’s no way back. Ok for the diminutive Photographer, but not so good for your six foot tall reviewer. Not before too long the overwrought red-shirt (a North American as it happened) indicated rightly that he thought my behaviour a little inconsiderate. Whilst trying to explain my predicament and sooth his agitation I stepped down to the first of two steps that led to the stage front. There I fell foul of the farting and foul-smelling Sapphic ogres, who had formed an unlikely cordon at the front, more intimidating than the famous line of Hell’s Angels at Altamont back in ’69. I’d noticed them at the door, each one menacingly chewing at a jar of pickled onions, daring the punters to make eye-contact.
Abused and thwarted I was back in front of red-shirt, but managed to move slightly to the left to give him a line of sight (ironically the space was immediately filled by another six-footer who spent the whole night taking pictures, which must have pissed him off even more). Anyway, I adopted an exaggerated Shakespearian stoop (think Marty Feldman as Richard III) and tried to spend the rest of the night (in between using the smelling salts that were being generously passed around to the needy) pretending not to be there. Richard III
Strangely, despite numerous subsequent applications of ibuprofen-rich analgesics my neck is still in agony. Such is the degree that I’m prepared to suffer for my art.
We’re in Kilburn at the Luminaire. Opened about two-and-a-half years ago above McGoverns Bar in the High Road, it has quickly become one of the most admired venues in London, scooping numerous awards along the way. It’s worth while looking at how and why they run this independent venue the way they do, because it is very different. And when they say this – “We thought that, instead of acting aloof and moody when people arrived for a gig, we welcomed them and asked how they were and maybe had a bit of a conversation and a laugh, they'd remember that and tell their friends” - I can report that it’s absolutely true – staff at the venue were also remarkably helpful and amusing when we had to ‘phone to check out a few things, and the bar staff were cool, charming, relaxed and astonishingly polite. It’s quite a place – and I can’t hold the venue responsible for that slight unpleasantness at the front of the stage.
Jim White Oh yes – and it’s Whiskyfun favourite Jim White, last seen hanging out with Johnny Dowd and Hellwood. Much apparently, has changed since then. Jim’s turned 50 (he almost shares a birthday with the Photographer) and found some sort of peace within himself. He’s also got a second child (a picture of daughter No 1 still adorns his Telecaster). And critics reviewing his rightly well-received new album, Transnormal Skiperoo, have all bemoaned the fact that Jim appears to be, not to put too fine a point on it, happy.
Jim White
Well it’s a happy album indeed that has a mentally ill boy walking into the “golden sun of the headlight of an oncoming train” (from the powerful ‘Take me away’, which we first heard at the Bush Hall in 2004). And although Jim tells us that now he’s 50 he hasn’t got time to be maudlin anymore, I think the following comment is more revealing: “The first album [Wrong Eyed Jesus] had a lot of aching on it, and a lot of hunger for redemption. This album, though… I feel more at home, and I feel like I belong and have a purpose here”. So it is perhaps contentment – not always the same as happiness. And that apparently is Transnormal Skiperoo: “Transnormal Skiperoo is a name I invented to describe a strange new feeling I've been experiencing after years of feeling lost and alone and cursed. Now, when everything around me begins to shine, when I find myself dancing around in my back yard for no particular reason other than it feels good to be alive, when I get this deep sense of gratitude that I don't need drugs or God or doomed romance to fuel myself through the gauntlet of a normal day, I call that feeling Transnormal Skiperoo”.
Patrick Hargon
Patrick Hargon's customised Telecaster
Jim White gigs are a unique experience – the audience is privileged to be taken into Jim’s intimate world through his wonderfully constructed songs (both lyrically and musically) and anecdotes. On the music front Jim’s aided and abetted by the excellent Patrick Hargon on a customised Telecaster (“I play it real hard--so hard it will make your teeth hurt, like you bit on a spoon too hard”) a bass player, and somewhere amongst the wires and boxes “the Japanese drummer who doesn’t drink”. Japanese drummer
The Japanese drummer >
Set List

He talks himself well past the curfew, telling us not just about Jesus (how many times does He get a mention during the night?), but about growing up in the Deep South, about life as a taxi-driver in New York, playing college fraternity gigs in Texas, and about his family. He’s very dry, very funny, occasionally scabrous (I’m not going to print those) and sometimes very moving. If you want to know what he played then take a look at the set list.

It’s another fantastically performed set from Mr White and his colleagues. We’re very lucky to have him here, and I only hope they treat him well at home (indeed if he were a Brit he would have already been given ‘National Treasure’ status several times over). I wouldn’t be anywhere else – and not even the most malodorous bowels could make me move. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Many thanks, Nick. May I simply confirm that Jim White is a Whiskyfun favourite indeed? - S.
 
TASTING – FOUR NEW INDIE HIGHLAND PARKS
HP Highland Park 16 yo 1990/2007 (46%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #7059, 347 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: starts very fresh and very herbal, almost minty, with also more smoke than what we’re used to and even a slightly medicinal side (antiseptic). Develops more on ‘clean’ porridge after that, yoghurt, wet grass... Wilder than most officials and really super-clean – and definitely heathery. Mouth: a sweet, fruity and slightly resinous attack, maybe less remarkable than the nose. The peat stands out, that is, as so does the grassiness. Gets spicier after that, with quite some pepper and, well, mostly pepper. Also kind of a bitter dryness (green apple peelings). Finish: rather long, more lemony now and still quite grassy and peppery. Not a Highland Park de salon, as they say, it was probably a good idea not to keep this one at cask strength. 84 points.
Highland Park 21 yo 1986/2007 (56.6%, Duncan Taylor, cask #2251, 333 bottles) Colour: colour: pale straw. Nose: this is even grassier, porridgy and lemony, with also notes of not too ripe gooseberries and apples (compote). Even cider apples. Quite some smoke again, bandages, antiseptic (this one is as medicinal as the 1990 in fact). As uncivilized as its sibling and a tad yeastier/mashier, although there’s a little praline and cappuccino making a late arrival. Mouth: funny! Big notes of pink grapefruit and, well, regular grapefruit, lemonade, lime juice... Something candied in the background (baklavas?), also fruit sweets (yeah, grapefruit-flavoured)... Gets quite hot. Hints of cough syrup, resin... Finish: very long, with hints of peat now, always very ‘green’ and almost acidic. Yes, like grapefruits. Very demonstrative, for sure. 85 points.
HP Highland Park 23 yo 1982/2006 (55,6%, SMWS 4.110 'Dried bananas in a pharmacy') Colour: pale straw. Nose: quite curiously, this is more mono-dimensional at first nosing, more marked by the wood (heavy sourness and quite some varnish). Also heavily herbal and grassy (cut grass, cabbage, rhubarb). Not as medicinal as both the 1990 and the 1986 but still a bit on antiseptic, camphor and eucalyptus. Less smoke and no heathery/honeyed notes whatsoever. Anti-official, I’d say. Mouth: very similar to the 1986, all on grapefruits (yeah, yeah), crystallised lemons, acidic coffee (which isn’t a flaw), green tea, cider apples... It’s big whisky, certainly not for the fainthearted. Finish: very long, almost a copy of the 1986’s, just even thicker and wilder and with added notes of marzipan. Very wham-bam and very, very far from the officials again. I like its extremish side – but where were the dried bananas? 86 points.
Highland Park 29 yo 1978/2007 (56,7%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, Sherry, 328 bottles) Colour: dark amber. Nose: ah, this is more civilised and a bit more silent now, even if we still get kind of a wildness somewhere (walnut stain). Develops very gently , on leather, Havana tobacco, chestnut honey and ham, getting beefier with time. Also a hints of ‘old wooden cupboard’, high-grade cologne, orange liqueur. Gets finally wilder, with hints of game, cooked mushrooms, prune sauce, gravy. Classical sherry, dry and very balanced (not a ‘monster’ at all this time). HP DL
Mouth: wait, it’s not that civilised after all. The big notes of grapefruits, lemon zests and grass are back (in the same vein as the 1982), but with the sherry on top of that. Funny how I get the dried bananas now (I swear I didn’t mix-up the glasses). Walnuts, apple skin, heavily infused green tea, spearmint... Also a rather pleasant sourness (wood?) and the expected notes of coffee and currants. Finish: very long, more a classic now, closer to some officials (some of the single casks), with quite some dry sherry, bitter chocolate and roasted nuts. Very good, half-civilised, half-wild. Tarzan? 89 points.
 

October 22, 2007


    

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CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan

ALABAMA 3
The Astoria, London, October 7th 2007

I’m not quite sure why journeys to Alabama 3 concerts have to be so dramatic. This one took us from London to Oban, to Ballycastle and Bushmills Distillery, to Campbeltown and Springbank Distillery, to Arran (dinner only, as mobile ‘phones kept us abreast of France’s astonishing victory over the All Blacks), Largs, Glasgow and London - just in time to get into the queue snaking round the side of the pickle factory at 7.30.

Suitcase
It’s Sunday night, there’s a strict curfew, and the band are due on stage at 8.15 sharp. And give a minute or so they are. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something a little different about the Alabama 3. It’s not just the now slightly road-worn off-white suits and rhinestone studded shirts – a sartorial wink at the title of their new album M.O.R. And nor is it the addition of second guitarist Steve Nicked (Steve Finnerty) whose style contrasts with and complements the driving rhythms of ace Fender Thin line maestro Rock Freebase, resulting in a deeper and richer sound on some of the songs. And it’s not just the brass section – featured on MOR and here on some of the songs both old and new – which also adds a new aural layer to the A3 experience. And it can’t be the still remarkable voice of ever-present Devlin Love who now has to be regarded as an essential element in both their sound and their stage-show. Well – it’s all of these and more. These “techno situationist crypto-Marxist-Leninists” are being very obedient – there’s no smoking (of anything) on stage, and not a great deal of drinking either. Apparently they’ve got new management. And here’s a word that I don’t associate with the lexicon of the First Presbyterian Church of Elvis the Divine – they’re almost, well…slick. “Trust me to leave them just when they’ve started to get their act together” says former bass player, Mr Segs.
A3
And they certainly have. With assistance from the usual range of suspects - Errol T, the Rev. B Attwell, Sister Francesca Love, M C Pablo, and a rather tired looking yet funky Mr Segs on a blistering version of ‘Up above my head’ that closed the main set – they turned in a cracking four and a half star set. It’s a clever mixture of old and recent favourites – ‘Too sick to pray’, ‘U don’t dance 2 techno’, ‘R.E.H.A.B.’, ‘Speed of the sound of loneliness’ (the second encore) and a brilliant ‘Honey in the rock’, and ‘Hello I’m Johnny Cash’ (both from the last album Outlaw) and songs from MOR. There’s ‘Fly’, Lockdown’ (with the brass section taking the stage for the first time), ‘Are you a souljah’ (which is pretty good on the album but seems to suffer from slight timing problems tonight) and ‘Amos Moses’ – about a one-armed alligator hunting Cajun, and a hit for country singer and composer Jerry Reed in 1970. Here it’s given the full Rev D Wayne Love swamp-funk treatment, with support from Francesca and Devlin Love, and Rock Freebase’s guitar. Larry Love, as tireless as ever, growled his way through ‘Middle of the road’, a tribute to the excesses of bands such as the Eagles, featuring Finnerty’s Harrisonesque guitar. The whole thing – as I’ve already said – was bought to an end with ‘Up above my head’.
There followed a rather long interval when I imagine the majority of the band were taking (at the very least) an extended nicotine moment in the alley at the back of the theatre.
They eventually returned to play ‘Holy love’ – an impressive duet between Larry and Devlin Love and some excellent and soulful piano playing from the Spirit – “Here’s some motherfucking gospel singing for you on a Sunday night”, before finishing with ‘Sweet joy’. It’s a bizarre Black and White Minstrels moment (a television programme that my late father insisted on watching just to wind everyone up) because it’s a bluesy almost anthemic reworking of the 1916 popular classic ‘If you were the only girl in the world’ much beloved of the monochrome vaudevillians. Original composers Clifford Grey and Nat D. Ayer don’t get any writing credits on the album – instead they’re shared with Proclaimers Craig and Charlie Reid who are also featured on the recording. They’re not on stage tonight – although by this point almost everyone else is. It’s a suitably climatic finish - with the stage gradually emptying before Freebase and Nicked – supported of course by the excellent drums and percussion of Sir Eddie Real and LB Dope – jam it out to the end. Spirit
Clutching copies of Drive Time, a ‘for sale at concerts only’ remix of some of the MOR tracks, along with some new recordings of older tunes (and well worth a listen if you can find it) we were ushered out to a side exit. When we got outside we were assailed with a pungent burning smell – the band at the top of the alley lighting up again? No – as it turned out there was a major fire on Oxford Street and chaos ensued as we tried to get home.
- Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)
A3
Many thanks, Nick, but which French victory over the All Blacks are you talking about? Ah, yes, I seem to recall something happened a long time ago... Some kind of sport, right? Like football but you can use your hands? So you say the French won a game? The All Blacks? Must be the national team from Liechtenstein or San Marino... Or maybe the veterans of Andorra-la-Vella. Better listen to some A3 if you ask me, there’s some excellent music on their MySpace page. - S.
 
TASTING – TWO LOCHSIDES
Lochside Lochside 22 yo 1981 (50%, Lombard, Jewels of Scotland, bottled +/- 2003) Colour: gold. Nose: I’ve always thought that Lochside was as close as a malt could get to... Clynelish, and it’s not this one that will make me change my mind. Indeed, we have these waxy and lemony notes plus a rather huge ‘coastality’ (kelp, seawater) and quite some wood smoke (beech). Then things diverge, for this Lochside also displays hints of horse sweat, smoked tea, marzipan (but that can be quite close to wax) and, frankly, cow stable. Not a fruitbomb like some older Lochsides (or other 1981’s) but rather a wild one. Also notes of vase water – not problems here.
Mouth: starts all on wax (beeswax with a little honey) and all things lemon (zest, lemonade, sweets and so on) and gets then much grassier, with notes of chlorophyll gum and not too ripe avocado. Goes on with more wax and more grassy notes, becoming rather candied (crystallised oranges). Finish: rather long, quieter now, all on wax and orange zests. Classy whisky and a style that gets more and more uncommon, alas. 88 points.
Lochside 40 yo 1966/2007 (54.4%, Signatory, cask #7536, 213 bottles) Again, we think 1966 was to Lochside what 1972 was to Clynelish so we have deep expectations here. Colour: full gold. Nose: expectations met! (and I promise we’ll stop with our stupid analogies with Clynelish right here). Starts with superb notes of soot, ashes, coal and shoe polish as well as a little turpentine, motor oil, linseed oil, oil paint, metal (aluminium pan)... And paraffin. Unexpectedly, there’s little fruitiness here, no mangos, no bananas and no tangerines, but a superb dryness instead. Okay, maybe lemons... And coffee. Mouth: just even more of the same, with maybe a little more lemon and certainly more oak, but it’s far from being drying oak. I know that Andrew Symington, who’s amongst the rare whisky people who will really tell you what they think of their whiskies – hence who keep their credibility whatever the circumstances (he’s not obligatorily thrilled, delighted and excited with just any booze that comes out of his warehouses) thinks that this one is a bit too woody but frankly, I’m sure it isn’t – at all. Sorry Andrew, it’s just a brilliant 40 years old Lochside, punto basta. Finish: long, on beautiful notes of crystallised oranges, wax and resin. And no, still not too much oak ;-). But it's for connaisseurs only (in French on purpose - note to self: aren’t you getting somewhat bigheaded?) 93 points.
 

October 21, 2007


TASTING – THREE CARDHUS
Cardhu
Cardhu 'Special Cask Reserve' (40%, OB, batch # Cs/cR.07.03, bottled 2007) There are several batches of this new Cardhu. Colour: gold. Nose: malty, toasted, nutty, honeyed and quite floral, with a little smoke in the background. Uncomplicated but perfectly made. Mouth: pretty much the same. Near blend territories but with quite some extra-oomph. Finish: not too long but clean and balanced, on liquid caramel and roasted hazelnuts. Whisky made for people who don’t want to scratch their head whilst writing silly tasting notes I guess. 78 points.
Cardhu 'Special Cask Reserve' (40%, OB, batch # Cs/cR.07.04, bottled 2007) Colour: gold. Nose same as bact #3 but a little less malty/roasted and a little more floral. In short, a little less personality. Mouth: even more different. Fruitier, jammier (apricots), even slightly minty, with more personality this time. Notes of strawberry jam. Finish: again, not too long but pleasantly fruity and candied, with even touches of salt. Youthful, very nicely composed. 79 points.
Cardhu 27 yo 1973/2000 (60.02%, Rare Malts) Colour: pale gold. Nose: bigger of course than the new ones, as well as more complex, but there’s the same distillery character (nuttiness and maltiness plus whiffs of smoke). Develops on hints of olive oil, linseed oil and smoked ham as well as a little nougat, getting more honeyed after that (acacia). And is this lipstick? Much less ‘mundane’ than other Cardhus. With water: and unusual farminess, notes of patchouli, wet newspaper, wet hay... Very good surprise. Mouth (neat): powerful, very fruity (reminding me of the ‘SCR’ 07.04 we just had), with this enjoyable oiliness. Also notes of flower cordial (mullein), apple jelly... With water: it got maltier and, to tell you the truth, bigger than when neat. More grassy notes, a little wax, cider apples, ginger, white peaches... Good! Finish: long, balanced but assertive even if slightly middle-of-the-roadish now. Very good whisky anyway, even if I think the more recent 22yo 1982 was more interesting (90). 86 points for this one.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: we're in 1969 and Ruth White says Charles Baudelaire's The Cat.mp3 (form Les Fleurs du Mal - or Flowers of Evil - it's strange for me to listen to it in English). She composed the background 'music' herself and it's quite good I think. Please buy Ruth White's pioneering works. Baudelaire
 

October 20, 2007


Ardbeg

TASTING - TWO YEARS LATE, THE THING

Ardbeg 1965/2005 (42.1%, OB, Casks #3678-3679, 261 bottles) This is the bottling that made many Ardbeg fans frown for the first time (but probably less than the new ‘gun case’ that really made us cringe) and I’m not particularly proud of myself today. Indeed, after having claimed to the Maniacs that I won’t bother to try any whisky that obviously can’t offer a decent Quality/Price Ratio anymore, here I am in Paris’ legendary Harry’s Bar, sitting (standing, actually) in front of that Ardbeg 1965 that maybe made people talk more about the white gloves that were delivered with it than about the whisky itself. Well, at least I’ve got an excuse, they were selling generous drams of it and at cost price, which, I must say, is quite unusual in days where (almost) everybody in the whisky business seems to be trying to make quick money as if there was no tomorrow.

Colour: amber. Nose: immediately very briny, very ‘maritime’ (sea breeze, seashells), with a layer of Seville oranges underneath. Big notes of orange marmalade getting more vivid, with also whiffs of birch tree smoke (well, any wood smoke, really) and touches of pu-erh tea. Barbecue (charcoal that’s just been lit). Gets more delicate and more complex with time, with notes of mocha, walnuts and leather polish. Softer but certainly not absent. Very high quality as far as the nose is concerned, but we’ve heard several times that the problem was on the palate... Let’s see. Mouth: the first impression is that it’s not tired at all, rather nervous, even if the oak’s acridness is striking right at first sip. Other than that there’s quite some verbena, old walnuts, resin and ‘smoked orange liqueur’... And always oak. Bizarrely it doesn’t taste like 'old' wood so we’re wondering whether the rumours about this one having been re-racked (in a rum cask, we’ve heard - correction, Dr. Lumsden just told MM's Ho-cheng it was bourbon) before bottling were right or wrong (well, they were right). ‘Nice’ bitterness but the whole gets even more tannic and drying after a while, the spirit itself having almost vanished (in Ileach limbo?). Finish: not very long, mostly on liquorice and tannins (almost like over-infused tea now). In short, this 1965 is a wonderful ‘nosing whisky’ but probably not a ‘palate whisky’ despite a pleasant attack. 86 points will be more than enough (huge gap between nose and palate here).
And also Ardbeg 1976/2005 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice) Colour: gold. Nose: a perfect breakfast malt if I may say so. Fresh, clean, peaty and maritime, all on fresh oysters and light smoke. Ethereal. Mouth: more candied (candy sugar) and slightly caramelly, bolder than anticipated, with less peat and ‘coastality’ than on the nose. There’s a huge difference between the nose and the palate again although one can get a little caramel on the nose as well. Finish: rather long but very candied and caramelly, with the peat having a hard time to get through the caramel. 85 points.
Ardbeg 25 yo 1975/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 363 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: pure crystal clean peat and sea water, slightly toasted in the background. Not a big Ardbeg but the freshness is most enjoyable. Gets grainier with time, maybe even a tad porridgy. Mouth: very nice attack, peaty and lemony with also quite some pepper but there’s a sudden drop. We have a weakish middle and a very short finish, which is quite strange. Just a little lemon and a little pepper… Slightly under par I’d say (and God knows DL had some brilliant 1975’s). 85 points.
Ardbeg 1978/2000 (56.9%, Spirit of Scotland, casks #1999 & 2000) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is earthier, rootier, oakier… Funny hints of lapsang souchong tea. Then it’s more on lemon balm, spearmint and cider apples. The peat is relatively discreet here. Mint flavoured liquorice. Green apples. Another interesting variation. Mouth: simpler, starting all on peat, wood, pepper and lemon, with a slightly excessive sweetness from the wood. Icing sugar, crystallized pineapples, lemon marmalade… All that with quite some spices from the cask (ginger, pepper, a little mustard). Finish: long, lemony, slightly sugary… Better than you may think after reading these notes actually. 88 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: we're in 1977 and John's wife Alice Coltrane does an entrancing Sivaya.mp3 on her album 'Transcendence'. Please buy Alice Coltrane's music. Alice Coltrane
 

October 19, 2007


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan

WALTER TROUT AND THE RADICALS
Astoria 2, London, October 3rd 2007

We thought we were going to the Mean Fiddler to watch “blues legend” Walter Trout, but when we got to the door (late, because we’d been enjoying a very interesting dinner along with our mates and decided to have “that other bottle of wine”) discovered it was the Mean Fiddler no more, having transformed itself into the Astoria 2. You see there’s been some movement in the tectonic plates of the live music business – probably the most profitable place to be in music at the moment (closely followed by merchandise and intellectual property – aka ring-tones and licensing). The Mean Fiddler was set up in 1982 by Vince Power, an Irish music entrepreneur with something of a reputation ('I'm very soft and I'm very hard and I'm trying to find the middle ground. If anyone tries to turn me over, I take a very hard view of it.').

Headache
(Attention readers: may we suggests you order this book before you read this review?)
It was originally a club in Harlesden – but became the name of the holding company that controlled almost all the live music venues in London, in addition to the Reading Festival, the Fleadh, the Leeds Festival, Tribal Gathering, and the management of Glastonbury. And the club in turn moved to the basement of the Astoria, taking its name with it. But in 2005 Power sold out (for about £13 million) – forming VPMG and managing a variety of London restaurants and small venues including the ghastly Pigalle.

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    The buyers were Live Nation, with a 51% share, and Power’s long time business rival and fellow Irishman, Denis Desmond, who in addition to owning Ireland’s largest festival Oxygen, also has significant interests, through various businesses in T in the Park, the V Festivals and the Isle of Wight Festivals (for what it’s worth Desmond is also joint franchisee of Yo! Sushi in Ireland). They subsequently tried, but failed, to buy the Brixton Academy and Shepherds Bush Empire. And last year they signed a 15 year deal to manage the refurbished Wembley Arena. Then, in August this year, Mean Fiddler Holdings (or to be absolutely correct Hamsard 2786 Limited) sold the Hammersmith Apollo and the Forum, and then its smaller London venues, its interest in the G-A-Y-E nightclub, and its name, to the MAMA group for (apparently) over £40 million.
The remaining business – the Festivals and the Astoria (and Astoria 2) was renamed Festival Republic, and they appear to have used some of the dosh from that sale to purchase what remaining acreage of the Reading Festival site they didn’t already own. MAMA (with over 50 per cent of their business owned by institutional investors) owns (in addition to its recent acquisitions) the expanding network of Barfly venues, and a management business that handles a number of leading producers and artists such as Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs and the Cribs.        

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      They plan to refurbish the ‘old’ Mean Fiddler, “roll-out” the Jazz Café brand across Europe, and further expand the Barfly business (and reopen the old Mean Fiddler in Harlesden). And more besides I’ve no doubt. Ant the reason for telling you this? Just so you remember that while we’re out there having fun people are making serious, serious amounts of money out of live music. And it’s rarely the bands.
Ok. So we got there late and walked down into the small concrete-clad club where the band was already on stage. Middle-aged men, heavy odour-rich clothes, white faced, lank unwashed hair, soulless staring eyes. And that’s only the audience - the majority of whom formed a phalanx at the front of stage staring intently at Trout’s fingers as they danced up and down his fret board. Actually it could be a fair description for the band too – who to be frank, despite the fair amount of energy in their performance, look dog-tired. I’m not surprised. They’ve already played over a hundred gigs this year before coming here, and their October tour of the UK sees them playing on 29 nights – just two rest days. They’re then doing almost the same during November in Northern Europe. It’s a tough life. And, no doubt, not as rewarding as owning a chain of rock venues or a couple of festivals, or the whole bloody lot.
Walter Trout
Trout, you will know, is a 54-year-old New Jersey native who having taken up the blues guitar, travelled to Los Angeles where he played in the bands of a variety of biggish names (Percy Mayfield, John Lee Hooker and Joe Tex) before joining Canned Heat in 1981.
Four years later he joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers where he stayed for five years before going solo and building a substantial following in Europe through non-stop touring. And, in addition to releasing almost twenty albums, non-stop touring is still what he still does. He is, I can see, a hugely accomplished player, but in the cramped Astoria 2 he chooses to devote much of the time to what I would best describe as ‘Hendrix moments’ – and very extensive ones at that. It’s fast, it’s frenetic, and it’s fascinating for the ageing guitar geeks at the front, but from where we are it’s frankly as boring as hell after the first ten minutes or so. Walter Trout
It’s a shame, because when he does slow down you can really see and hear the talent (and if you like you can hear some nice stuff on his myspace page), but it’s mostly subsumed in this manic gun-slinging guitar. Anyway the audience love it and bring him back for an encore. And Walter loved it too. “Thank you London. Thank you London. I really needed this gig. I really needed this gig. You know I haven’t been feeling too well recently, but I really needed this gig. Goodnight London. I’m Walter Trout and I’m cured”.
And I didn’t make that up. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)
Many thanks, Nick, for this very enlightening overview of the ‘economusical’ situation in London and in the UK. Gulp! Here’s some good guitar by Walter Trout: Go the distance.mp3 (indeed).
 
Compass Box

TASTING – THREE NEW CREATIONS BY COMPASS BOX

 

Canto Cask 46 (53,2%, Compass Box for Park Avenue Liquor Shop, 2007, 248 bottles) John Glaser, who’s sort of the Dominique Laurent of whisky, is never short of good ideas. This time, he decided to play with new barrelheads instead of ‘inner’ staves (I think that a discussion with some Maniac who’s also deeply into wine may well not have been forgotten here), hence creating various clever combinations of oak types with levels of toasting. Each cask is named ‘Canto’ and numbered. They’re all ‘single cask’ bottlings but if they’re also single malts, I don’t know. Some other Maniac from a colder country just told me that they may well be 'pre-vatted' malts, that is to say 'single cask blended malts'. Why not! Anyway, let’s try this Canto Cask 46 now, which was made using new French oak heads, toasted to ‘level 7’ on Compass Box’ scale. Colour: gold. Nose: there may well be quite some Clynelish in this one, and this is very good news I think. It starts on typical notes of warm wax and maybe more smoke than in ‘regular’ Clynelishes, with a rather bold but elegant oakiness that’s also typical of new oak, with quite some vanilla and nougat but also something like soft curry and nutmeg. Goes on with some rather beautiful coastal notes, apple peelings, milk chocolate, roasted nuts (honey-coated pecans or something like that) and the signature is on notes of sandalwood and cinnamon. The balance is perfect and this is very lovable. Mouth: punchy, Clynelishian par excellence, very fresh, very clean, perfectly compact and nervous. More lemon and more freshly cut apple, with that particular waxiness and the new oak’s spiciness underlining the whole (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pepper). Gets very pleasantly bitter after a moment (apple peelings again, walnuts, lemon zest). Finish: long but still very clean, with always this bitterness and also more herbs such as chives and parsley. Also a little honey and quite some roasted nuts. Yes! 88 points.
Canto Cask 47 (53.7%, Compass Box for La Maison du Whisky, 2007, 246 bottles) Just like #46, this one was made with new French oak heads, toasted to ‘level 7’ on Compass Box’ scale. Colour: gold (slightly darker than #46). Nose: pretty similar but maybe a tad more exuberant, a bit less rounded and even more ‘coastal’ and even medicinal. A little more ‘Islayesque’. Also hints of shoe polish, crystallised lemons, quite some wax again (and fresh almonds), apple peelings again, apple compote, camphor... In short, this one is a tad more phenolic but pretty much in the same vein – and league. Mouth: just as powerful as #46 but much more different this time, much more herbal and much more medicinal. A little more of everything in fact, pleasant bitterness included. Quite some liquorice (or, do you know violet-flavoured liquorice tablets?), chlorophyll, hints of white rum or even tequila, mastic... And again a lot of nutmeg, even paprika, pepper... Rooty. And notes of orange liqueur and Chartreuse. Really bold, this one! Finish: very long, more ‘vivid’ than #46, wilder and even more herbal now. No doubt that this works beautifully, with no offbeat notes whatsoever, the whole being anything but a whisky ‘into which someone added something else’. In other words, no flavouring but a very coherent and very pure Scotch Malt Whisky. Very convincing, let’s bring the house down! 90 points. 
Hedonism Maximus (50.1%, Compass Box for LMDW France, Carsebridge 1979 + Invergordon 1965, 228 bottles) A magnificent bottle made for La Maison du Whisky after an old bottle of Usher’s (I mean, the label, not the whisky itself I guess...) And I also guess you need to have quite some cojones to vat a cask of 1965 Invergordon with a cask of much younger grain (both bourbon), unless that Invergordon was worn-out. Let’s see now... Colour: gold. Nose: no, no sign of a worn-out grain whisky, rather something that noses like an old bourbon, with whiffs of cellulose varnish and quite some natural vanilla and dried grated coconut. Goes on with nougat, praline, cappuccino, hints of dates, very soft mustard and curry, tea, warm oak sawdust... More and more on dried coconut and toasted oak. If you like grain whisky, you’ll probably adore this. Oh and there’s also a lot of spearmint and even verbena tea coming through after a while. Mouth: spiced-up bourbon. A rather creamy mouth feel, with also a little salt right at the start (funny), the whole being rather zesty and not ‘too rounded’. Excellent vivacity. Notes of crystallised lemon, lemon verbena, orange marmalade... And a rather big but soft spiciness from the wood (it’s like if they had done this clever ‘new head’ thing on this as well – or maybe not). Finish: long and warmer now, mostly on coffee, chocolate and cinnamon now, with again a little salt playing with your lips. Something like a super-super-Bailey, I’d say. I would not kill for a bottle of grain whisky, even a great one (except if it’s got a lot of character like the old North British Prestonfield we had a few days ago), but again, if you’re into this kind of whisky, this one is definitely for you. 86 points.
 

October 18, 2007


TASTING – TWO NEW ISLE OF JURAS
Jura Isle of Jura 18 yo (40%, OB, 2007) Colour: full gold. Nose: starts very flowery, vanilled and slightly yoghurty, really in the regular 10yo’s genre but with a little more of everything. Gets more precise with time, with quite some buttercups, dandelions, vanilla crème, muesli, grenadine and orangeade, hints of mashed potatoes and boiled milk. Gets a little mashier and yeastier over time but never ‘too much’. Slight oakiness and very faint smoke.
Also pleasant notes of sultanas arising after quite some time.Very ‘honest’ on the nose, a whisky 1.0 as opposed to the whiskies 2.0 (in other words, wineskies and woodskies). Mouth: a tad weakish right at the attack but the overall profile is quite good, with rather obvious notes of fruit spirit (plums) plus quite some caramel and vanilla. Alas, the development doesn’t really happen, it stays on praline and plum spirit. Finish: rather short, grainier and maltier now but with always quite some caramel. I’d say it’s substandard malt as far as the palate is concerned but I really liked the nose. 76 points.
Isle of Jura ‘Special Edition’ (43%, OB for LMDW France, 2007) A new vatting of 10 to 14yo Juras beautifully labelled and packaged in a ‘hatbox’, very, very late 19th Century. Will the warbling match the plumage, as we say over here? Colour: full gold (just the same as the 18yo). Nose: starts much more on crystallised oranges, apricot jam, cooked strawberries and, again, grenadine. The mashy/yoghurty notes come through after a moment but they are much shyer than in the 18yo. The whole is denser and rounder but also quite simpler than the latter. Hints of slightly burnt apricot pie. Mouth: certainly a better body than the 18 even if the profile is more or less the same. A little more oomph and a little more complexity this time, with more praline, honey-coated nuts, nougat and crème brûlée. Also a little ginger. Finish: not too long but more satisfying than the 18yo’s, mostly on candy sugar and caramel again. Not complex but pleasant. 79 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: you couldn't escape the Dexy's midnight runners twenty years ago and then there's been Save Ferris doing the very same Come on Eileen.mp3. I must admit I like it... (please don't shoort at me!) You may buy Save Ferris' music. Save Ferris
 

October 17, 2007


TASTING – FOUR 18yo MACALLANS
Macallan 18
Macallan 18yo 1976/1994 (43%, OB, Giovinetti) This batch was different from the regular 1976 that was bottled in 1995 according to the MM’s data. Colour: full gold. Nose: starts quite beautifully but certainly less obviously sherried than other versions such as many 18yo’s that were distilled earlier. There’s also a faint soapiness but other than that it’s all on old walnuts, wax polish, cooked apricots and old wood. Also a little leather and cigarette tobacco as well as orange marmalade. Something antique, I’d say. Mouth: very fruity and fresher than expected, with, again, no too much sherry influence. Apricot juice, tinned pineapples, mint drops, smoked tea and roasted nuts plus a little milk chocolate. The body is slightly thin but the whole is rather satisfying. Finish: medium-long, on caramelised fruits and medium-bodied sweet white wine (Monbazillac and such). Very good Macallan despite the lack of ‘ampleur’, but there were many better batches of the classic 18yo I think. 85 points.
Macallan 18 yo 1983/2001 (43%, OB) Also integrally from sherry casks. Colour: amber. Nose: much more sherry here. It’s also more chocolaty, dry, raisiny, with notes of prunes and, well, sherry. Also a little bacon and smoked ham. Totally classic and perfectly balanced but not entrancing, I’d say. Mouth: typical, that is to say very good. All what you’d expect from an old-style sherried Macallan: the prunes again, the slight mintiness, the chocolate, the raisins (more from Corinth than sultanas)... and so on. Also a better body than the 1976. Finish: very long, coating, almost thick and very ‘Macallan’. 88 points.
Macallan 18 yo 1987/2005 ‘sherry’ (43%, OB) Colour: pale amber. Nose: much closer to the 1976, much less sherried than the 1983, with also farmier, wilder notes but also something slightly dirty and cardboardy. Don’t get me wrong, these notes that are usually bad news bring an extra-dimension to the malt. A Mac 18 that’s much less ‘de salon’ and much more from the countryside. Mouth: kind of a mixture of both the 1976 and the 1983, but it’s maybe a tad too simple. Fresher than the 1983, more sherried and ‘thicker’ than the 1976, but maybe lacking definition. Especially the finish is a bit indefinite I think, even if there’s quite some liquorice this time. At the crossroads? 86 points.
Macallan 18 yo 1989/2007 ‘sherry’(43%, OB) Colour: amber. Nose: very different again and, I must say, a little more to my likings. Certainly not ample nor luscious but the dryness is very enjoyable, even if there’s a little rubber and maybe even sulphur at first nosing. I like the walnuts, the smoked tea, the whiffs of embrocation (camphor), the notes of hot bread crust, quince jelly, apple pie... It isn’t bold at all, maybe even a bit too shy but balance is achieved and the rubbery notes disappeared. My favourite within the flight. Mouth: yes, the same happens here. Probably not enough to shout ‘Mac is back’ but again, the balance is perfect, the profile is perfect, the sherry is perfect, elegance is achieved and the whole does ‘the peacock’s tail’. Nuts, dried fruits, various deserts, soft spices, smoke and so on... Finish: medium long but clean and candied. I like this one a lot, really, and I’d better own one bottle of this than six cases of any Fine Oak version, including the 30yo. Congrats to the man (or woman?) who composed this one. 91 points.
MUSIC Recommended listening: we'll have something by the godfather of soul (or is it funk?) today - Mr James Brown of course: it's simply called The boss.mp3. and I really like its jazzy development, it almost sounds like some Stan Kenton. Please buy James Brown's music. James Brown
 

October 16, 2007


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
THE DECEMBERISTS
Royal Festival Hall, London, October 2nd 2007
The Decemberists are very clever. Front man and song writer Chris Meloy went to college and studied creative writing, and also spent a while as a drama student before turning to rock and roll. That’s probably why there is so much creativity and drama in their songs. ‘Literate’ is a word that often used to describe them, ‘idiosyncratic’ is another. So take this as an example: “she's a salty little pisser with your cock in her kisser”.
It’s from ‘The tain’, which opens tonight’s concert, and it’s okay because it’s faux sea-shantyish lyrics. You have to get used to faux, because between the creative, the dramatic, the literary and the idiosyncratic there’s a lot of faux in the Decemberists’ work. They contrive (yes – there’s a lot of that too) to inhabit a faux Victorian (or is it Edwardian?) landscape, full of mariners, murderers, mistresses, mayhem and melancholy – oh yes, and let’s not forget the whales. And more than a nod to Russian history (give or take an ‘e’), but I don’t have to explain that to you do I? If you’re reading this then you’re clever too.
Bouillabaisse It’s all jumbled together with the music, the costumes and outfits, and the neat graphics (many, if not all, by Meloy’s partner Carson Ellis) to produce a melange, or perhaps Serge, in a more maritime sense, a bouillabaisse of safely edgy nostalgia, tinged with a studied air of eccentricity. But the Decemberists are very clever. To the surprise of many they left indie label Kill All Rockstars who had nurtured their talent and signed for Capitol in 2005.
The resulting album, The Crane Wife, has been lauded by the critics – “an amazing, innovative, storytelling record”, “an impressively realized song cycle”, “bold and wondrous entertainment”. The latter was from the Guardian, and it’s a Guardianesque bookish lot in the house tonight, overwhelming the indie kids by a significant degree. But you see the Decemberists are clever. Guardian readers are clever. Clever likes clever.
Perhaps the crusty crowd are also here because the Decemberists music reminds them of some of the bands they were brought up with. Actually it is such a derivative sound that it could be almost all of the bands they were brought up with. They acknowledge a debt to British folk rockers such as Fairport Convention (oddly Meloy often sounds a bit like Fairport’s’ Chris Leslie) but if you listen to the songs carefully you’ll hear more than a little REM (very much from the Out of Time era), and the Beatles and I don’t know who else. Actually I do – ‘Perfect crime #2’ which really gets the audience into gear is straight out of the early Talking Heads oeuvre. Now I know that all bands take ideas from other artists, borrow a bit here, pay tribute there (Meloy, I think is a Morrissey fan – listen to ‘The sporting life’) but when you come away from a gig thinking mainly of all the bands that you think you might have heard in the course of a performance, rather than the one who was actually playing, then you might think things have gone a bit too far. And while we’re at it they’ve also tried unconvincingly to dress in a gothic mantle of horror and violence, with songs like ‘Culling of the fold’ – “We’ve never recorded this one because it’s way too violent”.
But it’s primary school stuff (“Dash her on the paving stones, it may break your heart to break her bones, but someone’s got to do, the culling of the fold”) compared to the viciousness of the Bad Seeds’ Murder Ballads (“Well Jerry Bellows, he hugged his stool, closed his eyes and shrugged and laughed, and with an ashtray as big as a fucking really big brick I split his head in half. His blood spilled across the bar like a steaming scarlet brook”), or the darkness of someone like Johnny Dowd. As I said, it’s all a bit mixed up (like a cassoulet perhaps?) and rather faux. Cassoulet
That having been said – it is pretty good fun. The Royal Festival Hall is a hard gig to pull off and the Meloy and his colleagues seem a little overawed at the start. But their playing is excellent and Meloy makes an unlikely animated front man. Eventually, assisted by drummer John Moen, he manages to engage the audience with some entertaining participation stuff, particularly in their tour de force set-closer ‘The Mariner’s revenge song’, which, if you’re not familiar with their work, certainly captures all of the good points, if not a few of the bad as well. The big song of the night was ‘The crane wife 1 & 2’ – I suppose it’s an epic number, and irritatingly it has that magical property to send a shiver down your spine, even if you’re trying not to like it. That is quality song writing.
Wow But it was listening to it again (and ‘Praise the Infanta’) after the show that I had my true and ghastly insight about the Decemberists which will, I’m sure, endear me to no-one. Anyway – I’ll simply mention the Strawbs, and say no more. Need I say more? Except to add a throwaway conversation heard in the cloakroom at the end between some very excited yoofs. “Yeah cool man, we got the set lists”. “Awesome dude. I got a plectrum”. “Man that’s nothing – I got an earplug”.
Oh yes – and sadly I read that the band have cancelled the rest of their European tour due to illness. A great shame because they’ve clearly got many dedicated fans who’ll be upset to miss them. Get well soon. - Nick Morgan
Merci, Nick. It’s interesting that you mentioned cassoulet and bouillabaise, Both dishes are strange mixtures indeed but moreover, both have ‘faux’ versions depending on with whom you’re speaking about them. For instance, people from Toulouse will swear that only their cassoulet is genuine (‘we use the right sausages!’), whilst people from Castelnaudary will tell you just the opposite ('we use the right beans!'). People in Marseille will swear to god that bouillabaisse must contain scorpion fish – or it’s just not bouillabaisse, mon cher. As for choucroute, well, don’t get me started... But back to the Decemberists and July, July!.mp3. - S.
 
TASTING – TWO NEW OLD GLENLIVETS
Glenlivet 1965/2007 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW France, cask #6733) First I’d like to say that this one is priced at 198 Euros, which means either that it’s utter crap, or that it’s a true bargain at 42 years of age these days. Let’s see... Colour: full gold. Nose: bargain! Or when David Niven meets Glenda Jackson. Something stunningly classic right at first nosing, with a sumptuous array of antique aromas such as rosewood box (or the dashboard of an MKII), tiger balm, freshly opened box of mintoids or better yet, Vichy pastilles, Ceylon tea... And something that’s very personal (I’m sorry): a red tin box of plain Benson & Hedges that you just opened – or a pack of Craven ‘A’. And freshly waxed leather. This one works just like Marcel Proust’s Madeleine for me. Glenlivet 1965
Mouth: yes, yes and yes. Same as above, just a tad less complex, as often. And unbelievably drinkable and more-ish, at that, with the oak being exactly at its peak. The sort of classic whisky that will really make you despise all modern attempts at making malt whisky in an ‘innovative’ way. I know you know what I mean. 92 points. (and thanks, Jean-Marc)
Glenlivet 38 yo 1968/2007 (52.1%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, cask #6199, 202 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: ho-ho, it’s just the same but with less oak influence and with more cleanliness and ‘purity’. The tobacco notes are even headier, that is. And quite some church incense, sandalwood, cider apples... Totally beautiful, no wonder all older whisky writers used to claim that the Glenlivet was #1 in Scotland, and by far. Indeed, this is brilliant on the nose. The kind of old Speysider that may make you hate peat... Mouth: totally excellent. Again, please read above. Probably not the most complex old Speysider ever but what a zing! Please, could anyone (try to) make this kind of whisky again? 91 points. (and thanks, Herbert)
 

October 15, 2007


TASTING – TWO NORTH BRITISH (single grain)
North British North British 21 yo (43%, Moon 'The Cars', 196 bottles) A bottling from the late 1980’s or very early 1990’s. Colour: straw. Nose: extremely grainy, spirity, porridgy, developing on not too ripe bananas and a lot of coconut and vanilla from the oak, like often with unsherried grains. Certainly not uninteresting but I feel this isn’t really for malt lovers, quite obviously.
Mouth: sweet, vanilled, slightly bourbonny but with hints of ‘Scottish roughness’ in the background. Something slightly grassy. With time: more vanilla, more coconut and hints of nutmeg. Finish: clean and not too long. Did I already mention vanilla? ‘Arranged’ rum. 74 points.
North British 45 yo 1962/2007 (59.9%, The Prestonfield for LMDW France, cask #46556, 235 bottles) A very unusual bottling that stirred quite some interest at WhiskyLive Paris, with its whopping 60% ABV at 45 years of age. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very, very close, only much more powerful at first sniffs. Plus added layers of fresh mint and olive oil and even scented soap (Lux or Dove spring to mind). Well, a little water should unleash the cavalry here. With water: indeed, it’s different world. Much more complex and much less ‘grainy’, with loads of unusual notes such as ‘Barbour wax dressing’, dried parsley, thyme and rosemary, cardamom (lots), motor oil, horse saddle... And god knows what else. Highly entertaining, for sure. Mouth (neat): sweet but very powerful, close to rum at cask strength. Water obligatory. With water: probably less emphatic than on the nose when watered down but it does get much, much more interesting despite a very faint soapiness again. A lot of various spices (nutmeg again, soft paprika, pepper...), grated coconut, vanilla crème, nougat, sunflower oil... More classic this time. Finish: rather long, really falling back into line now but still very good. In short, probably one of the most interesting single grains I could try. That obviously deserves extra-points, so let’s say 88 points altogether.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
(thanks, Davin)
MUSIC – Recommended listening: the very excellent band Noonday Underground plays When you leave.mp3. Another interesting sould revival band from the UK... Please buy their music. Noonday Afternoon

October 2007 - part 1 <--- October 2007 - part 2 ---> November 2007 - part 1


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

Canto Cask 47 (53.7%, Compass Box for La Maison du Whisky, 2007, 246 bottles)

Caol Ila 23 yo 1984/2007 (57%, The Whisky Society)

Caperdonich 38 yo 1968/2007 (51.4%, Duncan Taylor, cask #2619)

Caperdonich 38 yo 1968/2007 (54.2%, Duncan Taylor for The Nectar, cask #2609, 130 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1976/2007 (49,4%, OB 'Family Casks', cask #3111, 595 bottles)

Glenlivet 38 yo 1968/2007 (52.1%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, cask #6199, 202 bottles)

Glenlivet 1965/2007 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, cask #6733)

Highland Park 19 yo 1988/2007 (55.7%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead)

Lochside 40 yo 1966/2007 (54.4%, Signatory, cask #7536, 213 bottles)

Macallan 18 yo 1989/2007 ‘sherry’(43%, OB)

North Port 15 yo 1964/1979 (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy)

Tomatin 40 yo 1967/2007 (51.8%, Signatory, cask #2632, sherry butt, 415 bottles)