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

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

September 30, 2005


TASTING - THREE OFFICIAL CARDHUS
Cardhu 22yo 1982/2005 (57.8%, OB, 3000 bottles) Cardhu 22 yo 1982/2005 (57.8%, OB, 3000 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: wow, very unusual! It starts on some very bold notes of burning candles and oxidized apple juice, paraffin, passion fruits and kirsch. Whiffs of burnt caramel, burnt bread, coal, chimney… Also some raspberry liquor and calvados. Really different! It gets then a little sourish, with hints of Madeira and sweet light fruit vinegar, mead, tequila… It’s a whole bar! Goes on with some notes of old books, getting slightly dusty and with whiffs of cinnamon on a plum pie. Complex and very, very interesting. Ah, and now there’s some bold praline. Beautiful. Mouth: ha, this is really unusual, as it starts on some very heavy notes of kirsch again, plum eau de vie (quetsche, kind of dark-red plum), calvados and grappa. Funny! Lots of fruits, Muscat, white currant… It grows stronger and stronger. Notes of rosewater, Gewurztraminer, rice spirit (mei kwei lu), with lots of chocolate and mocha. It then gets quite tannic and rummy… Decidedly a whole bar. The finish is long, rather hot and quite spirity. In short, this one is quite a beast and all these ‘eau de vie’ notes might not please everyone, but I really like it a lot, for it’s unlike any other malt I’ve tasted. 90 points.
Cardhu 12 yo (43%, OB, Wax & Vitale Italy, 1970’s)
Colour: white wine. Nose: very malty and caramelly at first nosing, developing on quite some smoky and waxy notes. Great whiffs of turpentine and eucalyptus leaves, wet stone and iron. Notes of grapefruit juice, almond milk and marzipan, old books, getting more and more mineral like some Rieslings. Extremely enjoyable, certainly much less middle-of-the-road than the more recent bottlings. Ah, also some roasted peanuts… Really beautiful, a great surprise! Some similarities with the new 22 yo ’s. Mouth: yes, it’s superb! Paraffin and paper again, mastic candies, olive oil, bitter almonds, orgeat syrup… Very, very waxy and malty, with no weakness at all. Cookies, coffee caramel, cigars… Wow, Cardhu! No wonder it was such a star in the old days (before they transformed it into a heavy selling MOTR malt). 89 points, no less.
Cardhu 12yo (43%, OB, Wax & Vitale Italy, 1970’s)
Cardhu 12yo (86 proof, OB, US, ivory label, late 1980’s) Cardhu 12 yo (86 proof, OB, US, ivory label, late 1980’s) Colour: light amber. Nose: a very nutty start, with quite some caramel, burnt cake, brioche and praline. Notes of nectar and light honey. Gets very flowery (dandelion). Nice and balanced! Mouth: the attack is quite punchy, creamy and coating… Quite some caramel and lots of light honey. Oomphy indeed! Develops on apricot jam, Mirabelle pie, with a rather long finish on caramel. Again, it’s a nice, full bodied whisky. 80 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: another tune I should not like (for it's so Enya-esque and 'produced') so please forgive me, but I enjoy Julie Cruise's It's the end of the world.mp3 quite a lot. Is it serious, doctor? Please buy Julie Cruise's music if you like it... Julie Cruise
 

September 29, 2005


TASTING - TWO NEW ABERLOURS
Aberlour 1994/2005 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd) Aberlour 1994/2005 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd)
Colour: white wine. Nose: very fresh, nicely grainy, starting on muesli, hot milk, breadcrumb. Some nice notes of fresh butter. Develops on some nice vegetal notes, fern, dill, fresh parsley, freshly mown lawn. Also some fresh fruits (gooseberries, apples) and hints of violets. Really clean, with very little wood influence. Mouth: sweet and fruity start (apples, white peaches, watermelon), grainy, getting quite spicy and gingery. Some rather bold notes of pear eau de vie. Rather short finish, quite salty. A rather good and interesting ‘pure’ Aberlour (for it’s quite unusual) but no complexity monster. 80 points.
Aberlour 30 yo 1975/2005 (49.2%, OB, cask #4556, 168 bottles) Colour: light gold. Nose: fresh attack with whiffs of white pepper and some rather bold notes of light honey, nectar, flowers (dandelion), apricot jam, developing on sweet white wine (Sauternes). Cooked apples, vanilla fudge. Interesting whiffs of sea air and notes of high-end cider. Extremely enjoyable and very far from most sherried Aberlours we’re used to. Mouth: sweet and rounded attack, with some beautiful oak and quite some vanilla and apple juice. Very nice spicy notes (a bit of nutmeg, white pepper) and quite some salt. Dried parsley, Provence herbs. Gets a little cardboardy and drying… Notes of sweet wine again, hints – just hints – of balsamic vinegar. Rather long finish, extremely salty (it makes me think of a Malt maniacs vatting we did, that contained a good deal of Lochindaal seawater). Very good indeed, even if it could have been a little bolder. 88 points. Aberlour 30yo 1975/2005 (49.2%, OB, cask #4556, 168 bottles)
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
(with thanks to Davin de Kergommeaux)
MUSIC – Recommended listening: I'd bet you'd never expected to see the versatile José Feliciano on whiskyfun, had you? Okay, I win, here's Stevie Wonder's Golden lady.mp3 (from Feliciano's 1974 CD 'And the feeling's good') - and after all, didn't he do the best 'Light my fire' after the Doors (okay, and after Julie Driscoll...)? Please by José Feliciano's music... José Feliciano
 

September 28, 2005


TASTING - THREE INVERLEVENS
Inverleven 27yo 1977/2005 (51%, Signatory Cask Strength, cask #3600, 146 bottles)
Inverleven 27 yo 1977/2005 (51%, Signatory Cask Strength, cask #3600, 146 bottles) Colour: white wine - straw. Nose: bold and elegant at the same time. Lots of notes or ripe apple, cider, developing on wet stones and ashes, just before some striking notes of aniseed start to assault your nostrils. Great – if you like aniseed, that is. Mouth: quite powerful and sweet, with these bold notes of aniseed right from the start this time, with also lots of liquorice and a nice oakiness. Some bold tannins but not of the (too) drying kind. Quite some lemon juice too. Probably the best Inverleven I ever had, with a superb balance. 88 points.
Inverleven 1979 (40%, G&M licensed bottling, 1990's) Colour: pure gold. Nose: very fresh and clean start, on grains and apples, getting then quite gingery with also some notes of aspirin and gin fizz, orange drops, Fanta… Also rather cardboardy. Quite simple and not too enjoyable, in fact. Mouth: not too bold and extremely sweet, on sugared apple juice, Fanta again; It then sort of falls apart, with a very short finish and just a little pepper and cinnamon – quite bitter, in fact. Drinkable but that’s all, I’m afraid. 73 points.
Inverleven 26 yo 1977/2003 (57%, Ducan Taylor Peerless, cask #3095, 168 bottles) Colour: light gold. Nose: quite spirity, with a mix of grapefruit juice and freshly sawn wood. The alcohol is very burning! What’s more, it does not ‘carry’ any specific aromas – just a little caramel and burning candles – quite soapy at that. Mouth: bold and rather punchy, better than what the nose suggested. Lots of citrusy notes, grapefruit skin, lemon juice and even seeds… Notes of gin, wood, getting quite drying. The finish is long but spirity and quite bitter. Interesting as an example of a very citrusy Lowlander but I did not enjoy it too much. One of the very few real misses by Duncan Taylor? 77 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Sarah Bettens does a minimalist Come over here.mp3 (from her album Scream). Nice voice! Please buy Sarah Bettens' music. Sarah Bettens
 

September 27, 2005


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
TASTING - TWO NEW INDIE GLENDULLANS
Glendullan 14yo 1991/2005 (46%, Signatory Unchillfiltered, cask #4056, 259 bottles) Glendullan 9yo 1996/2005 (46%, Murray McDavid, Bourbon/Grenache, MM10018) Glendullan 14 yo 1991/2005 (46%, Signatory Unchillfiltered, cask #4056, 259 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: very fruity and vegetal at the same time, fragrant and almost vibrant. Beautiful notes of violets and lavender (not that kind of lavender) and freshly cut, ripe pear. Very fresh indeed! Beautifully clean.
Mouth: sweet, creamy and bold. Maybe a little too tannic but nothing unbearable. Also a nice sourness towards the finish. In short, the nose was very interesting, the mouth nicely sweet and sour, a young Speysider to try, definitely. 86 points.
Glendullan 9 yo 1996/2005 (46%, Murray McDavid, Bourbon/Grenache, MM10018) Bruichladdich decided to ‘affine’ (no finishing, they say) most of Murray McDavid’s core range from now on, while the Mission series remains ‘untouched’. This Glendullan (‘not exactly blessed with the most inspiring name or location’ says the label) has been fini… err, affined in some Banyuls cask (the grape variety being Grenache). Colour: blush wine, salmony. Nose: sweet and not winey, but with lots of cooked strawberries and raspberries. Fresh, ultra-clean and uncomplicated. Mouth: bold and powerful, with lots of liquorice and toffee, getting most funnily very salty. There must have been lots of minerals in the cask(s). Hints of violet candies. Gets a little rubbery but it’s a nice winesky. 84 points. (When people will start talking about wineskies, please remember you saw it here for the first time! ;-))
L'Affaire Louis Trio MUSIC – Recommended listening: does French pop-rock really exist? Maybe the answer is in Hubert Mounier's L'Affaire Louis Trio and their 1993 hit Mobilis and mobile.mp3, which was based on Jules Verne's work. The band splitted in 1999 but it's rumoured that Hubert Mounier's new CD is extremely good. Please buy it!
 

September 26, 2005


SHOPPING - This is too funny! It's called the Gray Kangaroo Personal Liquor Filter and even the way they talk about it is funny: 'The world's first and only personal liquor filter is fucking awesome! The Gray Kangaroo Personal Liquor FIlter was invented several years ago as a means of providing high quality cheap booze for large groups of people. The Gray Kangaroo Personal Liquor Filter (currently in it's third design) uses the same technology that the liquor companies use to improve the quality of packaged liquor... What it does is remove particulate matter and harmful toxins while leaving delicious filtered liquor. Filtered liquor (especially vodka) is competitive with brands that cost three times the price. Try it: you will be amazed and never go back to high priced booze.' What's sure is that this is not 'chill-filtering'...
Highland Park 12yo ‘Millenium Edition’ (55.7%, OB, 2000 bottles)

TASTING - TWO YOUNG HIGHLAND PARKS

Highland Park 12 yo ‘Millenium Edition’ (55.7%, OB, 2000 bottles) Colour: pure yellow gold. Nose: very bold (yet delicate) but fresh attack, very flowery and quite smoky, soon to get also rather spicy. Lots of nutmeg, fresh ginger, cinnamon. Whiffs of dill and fresh parsley, wet moss, Chinese star anise… Some interesting notes of wet calcarious stone. Great balance! Mouth: bold and creamy, with again what appears to be a perfect balance. Lots of liquorice, though, and also some smoke and pepper. Clove, cooked zucchini flowers, strong chestnut honey, rubber, satay sauce, light toffee… The finish is bold and very ‘creamy’ and coating, mainly on liquorice. In short, an excellent one and at 12 years old, it’s got a superb complexity. Perfect. 92 points.

Highland Park 13 yo 1992/2005 (65.2%, Adelphi, cask #20361)
Colour: golden. Nose: rather closed at first nosing, which is quite astonishing, but it’s soon to get spirity and fragrant, with lots of melon, peach and pineapple. It then gets very winey (white wine, muscadet) with also some whiffs of white pepper and a little caramel, light toffee and fudge. Some sour notes (nice ones) do also develop after a while, and finally some rather nice oaky ones. It seems to be fresh and ‘natural’ but very far from the OB’s in style. Mouth: very bold and powerful of course, but it’s ‘drinkable’. Very sweet and fruity (tangerines, melon and peach again, boxed pineapples), growing quite herbal (tea) and getting finally very citrusy, with some bold lemon skin and seeds as often. Very little woody notes. Not too complex in fact, but very nicely balanced. Certainly one of the nicest ‘natural’ indie Highland Parks. 86 points.
Highland Park 13yo 1992/2005 (65.2%, Adelphi, cask #20361)
Curt Bisquera MUSIC – Recommended listening: if you sometimes go to rock concerts, you probably already heard Curt Bisquera's powerful drumming, as he must be today's most sought after session drummer. Listen to him in Think.mp3 by M.J. (not the R.S.) and you'll probably understand why. Please buy Curt Bisquera's music! (via drummerworld)
 

September 25, 2005


TASTING - TWO STUNNING LEDAIGS
Ledaig 18 yo 1972 (54.4%, James MacArthur)
Some fellow maniac told me wonders about the 1972 Ledaigs, and it’s true I loved an G&M ‘old brown label’ we had on… Islay. Colour: straw. Nose: wow, wonderfully peaty a la Ardbeg 1974 or Brora 1972 (yeah, talking about vintages in whisky). Very smoky, with whiffs of wet stone and fresh pepper. Extremely clean, pure, almost austere and sharp like a blade, I love that. Hints of seltzer. Mouth: incredible, it’s exactly like the very best unsherried old Ardbegs. Very pure again, sharp, clean, with a superb blend of smokiness, peat and grapefruit juice. Great balance, and some great peppery notes at that. Stunning development on lemon seeds and a very long smoky finish. A perfect style, this one could compete with many Ardbeg single casks or Broras Rare Malts, OB’s or Platinum – and I’m not sure about the results if that’s done ‘blindly’. A stunning surprise: 93 points (thanks again, Luc).
Ledaig 18yo 1972 (54.4%, James MacArthur)
Ledaig 30yo 1974/2005 (48.7%, Signatory, cask #3223, shery hogshead, 208 bottles) Ledaig 30 yo 1974/2005 (48.7%, Signatory, cask #3223, shery hogshead, 208 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: wow! Very complex and immediately enjoyable. Notes of vanilla fudge, cooked strawberries, fresh bananas and oysters right at the start – tell me about a mixture. A delicate but well present woody structure with whiffs of white pepper, plus some very nice notes of dried oranges, Grand Marnier (the best cuvees), and old sweet wine (Sauternes). Traces of peat smoke, just traces (the 1974’s seem to have been much less peaty than the 1972’s at Ledaig). Not overly complex but truly beautiful.
Mouth: sweet, creamy and coating, with a beautiful mix of fruit jams (plums, apricot), smoked tea and lemon juice, with also some acidic fruits (kiwi, green apples) which prevent it from being not nervous enough. Medium long finish, on lemon peel with a little cinnamon. An excellent old Ledaig again, really beautiful and not tired at all after all these years. 91 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Master of the Hammond B-3 Jimmy Smith plays Herbie Hancock's famous Watermelon man.mp3 in 1995 - that was on his CD 'Damn!' Not sure it's not even better than the Headhunters' latest version, which says much. The great Jimmy Smith died in January this year but he will never be forgotten. Please buy his music! (via superlative products) Jimmy Smith
 

September 24, 2005


MUSIC – Recommended listening - oldies but goldies: 1970, Chicagoan band The ides of March do Vehicle.mp3. Ah, how much I like the short, but very Zappa-esque guitar solo! And the brass section... Better than Blood Sweat and Tears? You decide... Anyway, I've seen they are together again, so please buy their music or go to their concerts! The ides of March
Bruichladdich NAS (70 proof, OB, 1970’s) Bruichladdich 10yo (43%, red on cream label, airline plastic bottle, early 90's)

QUICK TASTING - TWO OLD BRUICHLADDICHS

Bruichladdich NAS (70 proof, OB, 1970’s) Colour: straw. Nose: caramel, fudge, Werther’s Originals. Very, very light. Some vanilla crème. Mouth: very light again, even weak. Dried herbs and caramel, getting very grainy. Some notes of old papers. Perhaps a bit tired? 65 points.

Bruichladdich 10 yo (43%, red on cream label, airline plastic bottle, early 90's) Colour: straw. Nose: grainy again and caramel again. Herbal tea, fudge, hot butter. Quite fresh. Better than the older version. Mouth: bolder again and a little creamy. Notes of wood. Develops on herbal tea, fudge, getting quite oaky and finally grainy. Hints of spices (clove). A dry finish but it's rather sippable. This one, once again, stresses the good work done at Bruichladdich since the takeover. 78 points.
 

September 23, 2005


Highland Park 19yo 1985/2005 (54%, Signatory, cask #2911, hogshead, 296 bottles)

TASTING - NEW AND OLD HIGHLAND PARKS

Highland Park 19 yo 1985/2005 (54%, Signatory, cask #2911, hogshead, 296 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: quite powerful, flowery and fruity (apple, pears, fresh pineapple) at the same time. Nice and lively, showing little cask influence. It then gets quite yeasty, with some cooked yoghurt and porridge, before the fruity notes come back with some gooseberries and white currant. Some light perfumy notes and also whiffs of varnish. Rather fresh, lively and enjoyable.

Mouth: fruity attack, the alcohol being rather discreet. Develops on some heavy citrusy notes, not unlike some Lowlanders. Lots of lemon peel and seeds, green vegetables, herbal tea… Quite herbal indeed, with a rather nice sharpness – and also an enjoyable bitterness, provided you’re into this kind of very ‘natural’ whiskies. Rather long, lemony finish. I like this profile, provided there’s some balance. This time it’s the case. 87 points.
Highland Park 18 yo 1960/1978 (43%, OB, ‘James Grant green dumpy’) Colour: cognac. Nose: very complex, growing very coastal and rather smoky. Great notes of sea air and crystallised fruits, honey and heather. Rather light in fact but really complex. Embrocations, camphor, sweet Chinese sauce, soy sauce… Very nice indeed. Mouth: rather creamy, punchier than expected. Very interesting notes of smoked meat, resins, camphor, dried fruits… Also some ‘arranged rum’ (with pineapple juice). Very, very good, even if perhaps a little less complex than the other ‘HP green dumpies’ I had before. The finish is long, though, just slightly bitter. Anyway, an excellent old official Highland Park again! 92 points (thanks Olivier). Highland Park 18yo 1960/1978 (43%, OB, ‘James Grant green dumpy’)
Highland Park 1957/1977 (70° proof, Berry Bros & Rudd) Highland Park 1957/1977 (70° proof, Berry Bros & Rudd) Colour: amber. Nose: rather light but very complex and delicate at first nosing, wit some spring water, dried angelica, liquorice… It gets then beautifully smoky (bonfire), with also some beeswax and heather. Very subtle indeed. Mouth: sweet and light again but not lacking vivacity at all. Very nice notes of crystallised oranges, balsam, menthol and spearmint, with also some hot caramel and flower jelly. An old style Highland Park, all delicacy. Hints of liquorice, dried parsley and Provence herbs. Perhaps a tad flat but really beautiful, getting just slightly bitter towards the finish. 90 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Did you know Jimi Hendrix's home recordings? Here are two versions of Angel.mp3 one after the other. Just Jimi and his guitar... Very, very moving...   Jimi Hendrix
 

September 22, 2005


Talisker '175th anniversary' (45.8%, OB, bottled 2005)

TASTING - TWO TALISKERS

Talisker '175th anniversary' (45.8%, OB, bottled 2005) Colour: gold. Nose: extremely fresh at first nosing, on sea air and light toffee. No punch-in-you-face smells this time, but lots of smoothness and, dare I say, delicacy. The peat smoke is well here but it’s somewhat distant, while these coastal and ‘caramelly’ notes develop together. Then it gets also quite fruity, with some plum jam, quince jelly and very ripe apricots. Hints of apple skins, cider and even some white wine. Less peat and pepper, and more fruit seems to have been the motto when they composed this new Talisker that makes me think of the Caol Ila 18 yo OB.

Mouth: smooth, sweet and peppery (here we go) at the same time, with again these enjoyable citrusy notes (sugared lemon juice, tangerines…). Some peat but not too much, tea, herbal tea, a little liquorice and just hints of toffee, with also some passion fruit. Medium long finish, very enjoyable and with no burn whatsoever. Very, very smooth and balanced but not lacking oomph, this one might be the feminine version of Talisker. Extremely quaffable just like that (warning, danger!) 90 points.
Talisker 15 yo 1989/2004 (59.9%, SMWS 14.14)
Colour: sweet white wine. Nose: ah, this is much rougher! More spirity, with quite some peat and lemon or grapefruit juice. It’s also very mineral (flint stone) and quite yeasty (‘good’ porridge). Some very nice notes of camphor come through, and also something (nicely) perfumy. But it’s still very pure, extremely clean, and reminiscent of the best ‘mineral’ Rieslings (which means much better than BNJ, Mr. Murray). Mouth: the attack is very sweet and smoky at the same time, with some nice notes of not too ripe kiwis and lemon playing with your tongue and quite some pepper, even if it’s not the usual blast. Quite curiously, it’s rather strong but it sort of lacks body, with a rather thin ‘middle’. Nothing too serious, though, it’s still an excellent dram. The finish is long and bold again (bizarre!) on lemon juice and white pepper. Definitely a good one, with a nose that I loved. 87 points.
Talisker 15yo 1989/2004 (59.9%, SMWS 14.14)
 
SHOPPING: LET'S GET SUPREMELY ELEGANT
 
Maybe it's time to forget about your old, lousy Arrow or Hathaway shirts (or your whisky-branded olive green polo-shirts) and switch to these new T-shirts that are now available at aint they cute or T-Shirt T-Shop. Granted, you will never make it onto Vogue or Vanity Fair's covers but everybody will now understand that you live with passion and that you don't swim with the small fish. And why not try them with your Prussian blue Armani suit and a pair of Prada shoes?
MUSIC – BLUES - Recommended listening: it seems that I never posted about the already famous young guitarist extraordinaire Susan Tedeschi, so let's be quick, here's an excellent piece: Woodoo woman.mp3 (live). Please buy Susan's music! Susan Tedeschi
 

September 21, 2005


Ardbeg 1974/1983 (59%, Duthie for Samaroli, 2400 bottles, sherry)

TASTING - THREE YOUNG SHERRIED ARDBEGS

Ardbeg 1974/1983 (59%, Duthie for Samaroli, 2400 bottles, sherry) Colour: straw. Nose: very powerful, extremely tary and hugely smoky attack, with lots of asphalt. Develops on some mega-bold notes of pineapple skins and pu-her tea and then turpentine and pine resin. This young puppy is extremely concentrated, it appears, very compact but not raw in any way (nothing to do with some very fashionable recent baby Ardbegs). Some great notes of pine honey, balsam and even balsamic vinegar.

Mouth: as usually, it’s quite smooth for ten seconds but then it grows stronger and stronger, almost overpowering. Let’s say ‘just at the limits’. Lots of peaty notes of course, all sorts of smoky ones, and also some enjoyable pine candies. Full of empyreumatic tastes indeed, with also some eucalyptus, tar and a little rubber. Now, it’s also really hot and extremely strong! A ‘take-no-prisoners’ young Ardbeg (the real McCoy?) that you can feel from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Many more recent young so called ‘peat monsters’ taste like diluted cider compared to this one. Its finish is incredibly long but also quite burning, even after a good three minutes. This, is a monster. A genuine killer in fact –it’s hard to rate it, even if water makes it a bit more complex and ‘drinkable’ indeed. Let’s say 91 points (thanks, Luc)
Ardbeg 9 yo 1995/2004 (56.4%, Spirit of Scotland for Potstill, sherry cask, cask #1397, 321 bottles) Colour: pure gold. Nose: very classical, typically Ardbeg with a nice smoothness from the sherry. Quite tary, smoky and maritime, with a very nice definition. Then come the caramelly and toffeeish notes, but it’s all very enjoyable and so nicely balanced. Some liquorice too, crystallised oranges, rubber. Just plain enjoyable. A young Ardbeg can be fantastic when not from a lazy cask! Mouth: sweet and rounded at first sip, but the rather violent peaty notes are soon to rule. Really bold and powerful, but not thick. Quite some caramel and liquorice, with some notes of burnt cake. It gets then a little bitter and too rubbery but nothing excessive. Long, bold finish, with a pinch of salt. A very good youngster from an excellent cask: 89 points. Ardbeg 9yo 1995/2004 (56.4%, Spirit of Scotland for Potstill, sherry cask, cask #1397, 321 bottles)
Ardbeg 6yo 1998/2005 (56.2%, SMWS 33.57, fresh sherry gorda) Ardbeg 6 yo 1998/2005 (56.2%, SMWS 33.57, fresh sherry gorda) Colour: amber with pink hues. Nose: this one is very different, much less Ardbegish. Some big bold notes of caramel, sherry and sulphur manage to dominate the malt right from the start. Incredible! Bold notes of cold ashes (chimney) and matchstick, gunpowder, wet stone… Some feint organics but almost no traces of Ardbeg, most astonishingly. In short it’s nice, but it’s not Ardbeg. Gets more and more perfumey and a little sour with time, with something Bowmoreish. Mouth: curiously thin attack, with just some spirit and some wine… Then some overcooked wine sauce, lots of tannins, strong caramel and all sorts of burnt notes and that's all, folks. Or rather not: there are some peaty flavours hiding behind the cask but they are barely detectable before the finish where, indeed, they finally come out.
A nice finish, by the way, but again, the cask might has taken too much of its share – after just 6 years! Certainly a curiosity, for heavily sherried Ardbeg freaks only. 80 points (for the truly enjoyable finish).
MUSIC – Recommended listening: the great Fela Kuti died on October 15, 1997 but his legacy is stronger than ever. Have a try at Water no get enemy.mp3 and you'll see why (and I'm not talking about politics). Please buy Fela's music, (a part of) the money should go to the right place. Fela Kuti
 

September 20, 2005


CONCERT REVIEW -
HAYSEED DIXIE

The Forum
Kentish Town, London
Sept. 14th 2005
by Nick Morgan

Hayseed Dixie
I blame this gig on a good friend of mine, Ol’ Misery. Every now and again Misery (as I like to call him) sends me compilations of his favorite sounds, normally stuff like Bangladeshi funeral chants sampled with the best of Brian Wilson’s Smile. Exhilarating stuff! Anyway a few months ago a Misery special dropped on my doormat. Half way through, just as I was giving up all hope, I was stopped in my tracks by a country tune, “What was that?”. I played it again and realized to my delight it was a bluegrass pastiche of that great rockers’ favourite, Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’, by a band called Hayseed Dixie. I was hooked – or so I thought. Hence the gig.
Big mistake. Hayseed Dixie are a one joke band, playing frenetic ‘rockgrass’ renditions of a comical variety of vaguely heavy metal tunes, ranging from AC/DC (Hayseed Dixie – get it?) through Kiss, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. They even manage to include the marvelously funny Outkast and the less amusing but highly fashionable Franz Ferdinand. The problem is that once you’ve got the ‘joke’ of each song, normally at the start of each arrangement, then each one frankly sounds pretty much the same. It’s like hearing a one-dimensional stand-up comic doing jokes about his mother-in-law all night, and about as interesting. That’s why we left early.
Hayseed Dixie That’s not to say that the band isn’t without talent. Singer and fiddle-player Barley Scotch (aka Nashville recording studio owner and PhD-holding Guardian reader John Wheeler) sings and plays strongly, and does his best to engage the audience with ‘comic’ patter (more of which later) as their interest patently wanes as the night goes on. The guts of the band are provided by Don Wayne and Dale Reno, on banjo and mandolin. These ‘boys’ are sons of the famous banjo picker Don Reno, who co-wrote ‘Duelling Banjos’ back in 1955, or thereabouts. And their playing, despite the comedic bent, is of the highest quality.
But from the look of it both Don Jnr. and Dale were with their Daddy at the time, for they both look to be the wrong (oops, I meant to say the right) side of 50. Now despite his advanced years Dale burst onto stage not in bib and braces, like the rest of the boys, but a cut-off B&B outfit in tribute to AC/DC’s Angus Young (headband and all) , and for the first few numbers does a pretty good and laughingly incongruous Angus routine with his mandolin. But time takes its toll on us all, and as Dale slows down he begins to seek frequent refreshment from the huge tub of iced beers that sits behind the band. As a consequence he takes increasingly prolonged absences from the stage for ‘relief’.
But that’s ok, because Barley Scotch is there to drawl though a parody of a good old boy routine that like the songs becomes increasingly threadbare, complete with a Alabama 3 revivalist religion thing. And lots of beer. Now I guess it may be an attempt to jolt the straight-laced sour faced PC majority out of their sanctimonious smugness, but in the end it’s flat and repetitive. A discourse about ‘ass’ and breasts (both of which feature heavily on the cover of their new album A Hot Piece of Grass), is followed by one about women’s pubic hair (it’s supposed to be a George Bush joke), NASCAR (it’s an American sport apparently) involving more breast, ‘ass’ and beer, and divorce, which brings on more of the same. Hayseed Dixie
In between, in addition to the covers, we also get some of the boy’s own tunes, most notably ‘I’m keeping your poop (in a jar)’, and for whisky lovers, ‘I married the moonshiner’s daughter (she made me liquor all night long)’. Ouch!
Ho hum indeed. Well, it maybe that my sense of humour is failing me (actually I don’t think it is) but this all seemed to add up to something pretty lightweight. A decent idea executed well, but not one that really adds up to an hour and a half in a concert hall, or for that matter forty minutes or so on a disc. So if you have to listen to them think hard about buying an album; maybe get in touch with Ol’ Misery first. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)
Hayseed Dixie Many thanks, Nick. Keeping your poop in your jar? Hum, that may sound familiar to all modern art lovers, since Italian conceptual artist Piero Manzoni issued his famous work 'Merda d'artista' in 1961. What's more, it seems that Hayseed Dixie do sell such a piece on their website, where they write: 'We really mean it - the genuine article, folks! After keeping it on a stand by the bed for all these years, Barley finally feels ready to "make the break" from the past and pass this exquisite reminder of love gone very wrong on to some other needy individual (for a fair price, of course)'.  The price is $2,000, but that might well be only a joke. Anyway, we still have the song: Keeping your poop in your jar.mp3 (live).
 
 
TASTING - TWO FAIRLY RECENT OLD BLENDS
John Scott’s Superior Blended 35 yo (43%, Duncan Taylor for John Scott, Kirkwall, bottled 2003) This one has been made out of five quarter casks of Highland Park (two from 1965 and three from 1968) plus 37% old Invergordon grain. Colour: deep mahogany. Nose: beautiful! Lots of Turkish delight, rose jam and gewürztraminer. It really smells like an antiques shop. Develops on milk chocolate and smoked oysters, with also some pine resin, whiffs of camphor and fern. Wow, how complex! John Scott’s Superior Blended 35yo (43%, Duncan Taylor for John Scott, Kirkwall, bottled 2003)
Mouth: too bad, the attack is very dry and tannic, with lots of notes of burnt wood and burnt caramel. It gets more and more bitter, and also curiously salty. A little unbalanced in fact – I guess almost forty years in a quarter cask might be a little too much and the grain didn’t really manage to prevent the whole from having gone over the hill. Especially the finish is very bitter – and again very salty. Yet, it’s not undrinkable at all and the nose was absolutely fabulous, so my rating will be quite good: 86 points.
Midleton ‘Very Rare’ (40%, OB, Irish, bottled 1996)
Colour: straw. Nose: starts weirdly, on burnt alcohol, caramel and rotting apples. Hints of overcooked butter, developing on wood alcohol (methanol?) and lots of vanilla extracts, getting sort of bourbonny. Some nice notes of hay and melon, though, also some caramel cream. Mouth: very caramelly and very fruity but rather simple. Extremely sweet, almost sugarish. Lots of burnt notes… The whole is surprisingly big-bodied at 40% abv, and much bolder than expected, but it’s not enjoyable in my opinion. Rather long, but very spirity finish. 77 points.
 

September 19, 2005


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
TASTING – THREE OLD BANFFS
Banff 36 yo 1966/2003 (50.2%, Premier Malts) Colour: straw. Nose: very grainy, very vegetal and rather spirity. Lots of notes of fern, freshly mown lawn, and also some notes of gin. In short, very ‘Banff’. It gets more and more herbal, and rather restrained, alas. Banff 36yo 1966/2003 (50.2%, Premier Malts)
Mouth: powerful and a little prickly, quite peppery and very, very woody. Lots of tannins… It’s hardly enjoyable, I’m afraid. Some notes of mustard… Gets almost pungent, which is incredible at 36 yo . The finish is long but too spirity and too vegetal. 77 points.
Banff 24 yo 1977/2002 (50%, Silver Seal) Colour: sweet white wine. Nose: very spirity again, with some strong mustardy notes right from the start. Vase water, very vegetal. Some old rotting seaweed. Again, this Banff is too hard to enjoy, I’m afraid. Mouth: sweet and peppery attack, soon to get very vegetal again. Lots of sugar and pepper, wasabi, horseradish… Rather burning, at that. A little more balanced than the ‘Premier Malts’ but it’s still very ‘difficult’. Extremely austere. 79 points.
Banff 34 yo 1966/2001 (50.1%, Signatory Silent Stills, butt #3437, 528 bottles)
Colour: gold orange. Nose: the usual mustardy notes are now mixed with some rather bold sherry notes and it sort of works. It’s rounder, sweeter, with some bitter oranges and even whiffs of peat. Also some quince jelly and apricot jam. Ripe apricot, ripe melon. An interesting Banff, with quite some oomph for such an old malt. Notes of fresh cider apples. Mouth: bold, very peppery and tannic but this time it’s okay. Some nice notes of tropical fruits and also something rather nicely sourish. Long finish, a little salty. Certainly the best of the flight, even if it’s far from being a winner. 84 points.
Louise Vertigo MUSIC – Recommended listening - My god, it's not Louise Vertigo who's going to improve the reputation of the French, I'm afraid. Try for instance Ici la femme.mp3 and you'll understand why. Anyway, please buy Louise Vertigo's music...
 

September 18, 2005


TASTING - Laphroaig 31 yo 1974/2005 (49.7%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, sherry, 910 bottles) Colour: bronze –amber. Nose: very sulphury attack, but in a very nice way, with also lots of rubber (bicycle inner tube) and some strong notes of dried oranges. A very compact mix of sherry and peat, it appears. It then gets also very farmy, on wet hay, wet dog and horse stable, and keeps developing on some bold notes of bitter almonds, orgeat syrup and mastic. The smoke is superb as well. Very compact indeed, but not narrow in any way – a beauty as expected. Palate: bold, punchy and creamy at first sip, very convincing. Some big notes of burnt herbs, smoked oysters and dried fruits (lots: bitter oranges, pears, bananas, quince, figs…) Some fresh tropical fruits as well, and again these big rubbery notes, with also quite some pepper. It really invades your mouth! Laphroaig 31yo 1974/2005 (49.7%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, sherry, 910 bottles)
The finish is very long ‘of course’, very bitter (a ‘good’ bitterness) and always very rubbery… A stunning bottling, for sure, that rejoins the best Ardbegs in the pantheon of the greatest sherried peat ‘monsters’. At 379 euros, it’s not cheap – to say the least - but alas, the best Ardbegs are quick to fetch the same kinds of prices at auctions anyways! A 95 points malt in my books.
Niamh Parsons MUSIC – Recommended listening: certainly one of the most beautiful voices since Sandy Denny left for the stars, Niamh Parsons sings The Rigs of Rye.mp3 (from her 2003 album 'Heart's Desire') Triple wow! No nead to say there's no reason why you shouldn't buy at least one of Niamh Parsons' records, if you didn't yet..
 

September 17, 2005


Charlie Parker   MUSIC – JAZZ - Recommended listening: Charlie Parker again, who else? This time it's My Melancholy baby.mp3 from the legendary Savoy sessions. Fifty years after he passed away, Bird still rules, no doubt.
TASTING - Pittyvaich 12 yo (54%, James MacArthur, cask #1406) Colour: straw. Nose: very fresh, fruity and floral at the same time. Lots of pear juice and flowers from the field. Nice! Mouth: very sweet and creamy, with a nice oakiness. Some white pepper and lots of cooked apples, apple compote, pineapple juice. Simple but compact and highly enjoyable ‘just like that’. 85 points. Pittyvaich 12yo (54%, James MacArthur, cask #1406)
 

September 16, 2005


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 

TASTING - FOUR OLD MACALLANS

Macallan 10 yo (70 proof, OB for Halls & Bramley, 60’s) Colour: gold. Nose: typical old whisky, with some caramel and old papers – which doesn’t mean it’s tired. Quite on the contrary! Develops on some turpentine, bitter almond, wax, old furniture… It’s like when you enter an antiques shop. Hints of copper cleaner… Just superb. Mouth: rather creamy with some sherry but not too much. Lots of ‘yellow’ jams (apricot, plums) and some cold herbal tea. A little praline, fudge, and hints of roasted nuts. Something winey, in a beautiful way. Extremely delicate, that’s for sure. 90 points.

Macallan 10yo (70 proof, OB for Halls & Bramley, 60’s)
Macallan 15yo 1956 (80 proof, OB, Rinaldi) Macallan 15 yo 1956 (80 proof, OB, Rinaldi) Colour: light amber. Nose: very, very special, unlike any other Macallan I ever had. Lots of notes of bandages, seawater, over infused tea, eucalyptus… No sherry that I can smell – and no fruits. Weird! Mouth: extremely dusty, on cocoa powder, paper, cardboard, cold herbal tea… Getting quite weak and tired. The nose was interesting (yet weird) but the mouth doesn’t make it. Perhaps was the bottle tired? 75 points.
Macallan 10 yo (70 proof, OB label but bottled by G&M, 60’s) Colour: pale straw. Nose: lots of dried herbs, camomile, bitter caramel and grass smoke. Quite dry and perhaps too austere. Hints of soft water and even a bit of peat. Some flower nectar (meadow flowers). Mouth: creamy and quite sugary, on some light caramel and breakfast honey. Much sweeter than on the nose, but with a rather salty finish. An average old Macallan, less creamy than usually but still much drinkable. 82 points. Macallan 10yo (70 proof, OB label but bottled by G&M, 60’s)
Macallan-Glenlivet 15 yo (43%, G&M licensed bottling, Italy, 60’s) Colour: full amber. Nose: lots of sherry, burnt cake, Xmas cake, bitter chocolate. Quite rubbery too. Develops on burnt sugar and Charteuse, Jägermeister. It’s really bold! Mouth: superb attack, on all sorts of herbal liquors, caramel, balsamic vinegar, and of course sherry. Very compact, powerful and full-bodied; Classy, very classy old Macallan! Very long finish, with some hints of camphor and violet sweets. Wow! 91 points.
Cindy Blackman MUSIC – Jazz - Recommended listening: she plays with Lenny Kravitz, and played with David Gilmore, Ravi Coltrane, the great Ron Carter, the great Don Pullen, the great Sam Rivers, the great Kenny Barron, the great Joe Henderson and many other greats. Here she is with her own band: the great Cindy Blackman plays 'Spank.mp3' with Antoine Roney on sax, frenchman Jacky Terrason on piano and Clarence Seay on bass (from her CD 'Telepathy'). No need to say she's the cutest drummer in the world - and certainly one of the best! Please buy Miss Blackman's music!

September 2005 - part 1 <--- September 2005 - part 2 ---> October 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 1974/1983 (59%, Duthie for Samaroli, 2400 bottles, sherry)

Cardhu 22 yo 1982/2005 (57.8%, OB, 3000 bottles)

Highland Park 12 yo ‘Millenium Edition’ (55.7%, OB, 2000 bottles)

Highland Park 18 yo 1960/1978 (43%, OB, ‘James Grant green dumpy’)

Highland Park 1957/1977 (70° proof, Berry Bros & Rudd)

Laphroaig 31 yo 1974/2005 (49.7%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, sherry, 910 bottles)

Ledaig 18 yo 1972 (54.4%, James MacArthur)

Ledaig 30 yo 1974/2005 (48.7%, Signatory, cask #3223, shery hogshead, 208 bottles)

Macallan 10 yo (70 proof, OB for Halls & Bramley, 60’s)

Macallan-Glenlivet 15 yo (43%, G&M licensed bottling, Italy, 60’s)

Talisker '175th anniversary' (45.8%, OB, bottled 2005)