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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2006 - Part 1
       
 
August 2006 - part 2 <--- September 2006 - part 1 ---> September 2006 - part 2
  

September 14, 2006


TASTING – TWO OLD HEAVILY SHERRIED CAOL ILAS AT 63% - but does that make any sense? ;-)
Caol Ila 15 yo ‘Manager’s Dram’ (63%, OB, for the SMD staff association, bottled 1990) Colour: dark amber. Nose (neat): sure it’s powerful but it’s also rather ‘nosable’, even at such high strength. First it’s very meaty, mainly on smoked ham, then the peat starts to come through, together with quite some coal smoke and flints… And then we have the sherry, with first notes of peonies, blackcurrants and green pepper (almost like a young Bordeaux – premier cru of course) and then the more usual coffee, toffee, fruitcake, chocolate, mint leaves, pepper…
The balance is really fantastic, absolutely fantastic. Superbly compact, with strictly no offbeat notes and not the slightest flaw. We’re approaching perfection here, but let’s see what happens with water: ok, it doesn’t really get nicer – which would have been nearly impossible – but water brings out notes of fresh almonds, old books, camphor… Again, wonderful. Mouth (neat): immensely powerful but drinkable, starting on 100% peat plus 100% sherry. Lots of chocolate and quite some salt at the attack, hints of soy sauce, quite some liquorice, balsamic vinegar, pepper, prunes… Hugely concentrated and rich, I guess one could use this one as a sauce (why not with foie gras!) With water: more caramel and more liquorice, gentian eau-de-vie, roots, smoked tea… Brilliant, and no need to talk about the very long finish, I decided to slow down with maltoporn ;-). But what’s stunning is that there’s also lots of elegance in this bold whisky. Legendary. 96 points.
Caol Ila 12 yo 1974 (63%, The London Scottish Malt Whisky Society – James MacArthur, cask #74231) I think this was James MacArthur’s first series. Colour: dark amber. Nose (neat): extremely close to the OB, almost identical, with just a little more power but that may come from the bottles. Maybe also a tad farmier and less flinty but I’m really splitting hairs here. Just as terrific! With water: amazingly, it got even closer to the OB. No noticeable differences now and I’m starting to run short of superlatives… Mouth (neat): again, this one is even bolder but also slightly sweeter than the OB, maybe a tad more medicinal (camphor) but other than that we’re exactly in the same league again. Hugely salty. Wow. With water: same thing. Maybe the finish is a tad more drying but I’m trying really hard to pick differences… 96 points.
 
 

WHISKYFUN'S HALL OF FRIENDS INTERVIEW

- TOM BORSCHEL -

Hi, where do you live and what’s special there?
Hi, my name is Tom Borschel. I was born in Buffalo, New York on 2/3/54. My home is on a hilltop in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The Finger Lakes were formed during the last ice age and hold a wide variety of fish species. Two of the Great Lakes are also nearby (Erie and Ontario). I also happen to be an avid fisherman (a flask of whisky is a constant companion whether I’m out on the ice or streamside).

BTW that’s a Lake Ontario King (Chinook) Salmon in the photo. The Finger Lakes area is also New York’s largest wine region with about 70 wineries. My nom de cyber is “Uisgetom”; in Scots Gaelic you all know what Uisge is and Tom is the word for hill. There’s more whisky on top of my particular hill than on any other for miles around ;-). It’s also home to the periodic debauch known as “The Whisky Hill Dram Jam”. I’m a business traveller (primarily USA, coast to coast) so that has afforded me the opportunity to fleece (or FoaF as we PLOWEDsters say) over 500 liquor stores in the last 10 years. I’ve found some good stashes on occasion!
Who or what made you discover whisky?
I was primarily a beer drinker in my younger years. I liked beer, but beer didn’t like me (nasty hangovers, and I put on a LOT of weight drinking it). I tried bourbon and sour mash whiskies and really didn’t care for them. Ditto on Canadian ryes as well. It must have been around 1980 that a friend (AJ) introduced me to Scotch whisky. I drank mostly Dewar’s White Label for about 10 years. AJ then got me started on Single Malts around 1990. I was basically clueless about malts for the next five years or so and started getting serious about tasting and collecting around 1995.
Why do you like whisky?
Believe it or not I like Scotch for the tasting experience, not just to get drunk (well, you know what they say… s*** happens! ;-)) Mostly however are the PEOPLE I’ve met in my travels and over the internet. The friends I’ve made are the most generous folks I’ve ever met in my life! To meet someone for the first time and then have them pour me a generous dram of very rare whisky still gives me such a warm feeling! Almost to a person, the fellow enthusiasts, distillery managers and employees, retailers and whisky writers that I’ve met; they’re just such absolutely fantastic people
Do you have a favourite distillery?
I tend to go in phases; I’ll be on a Springbank tangent for a while, then I’ll have a hankering for a good peaty Islay dram. You can’t beat any distillery from Islay starting with an “A” or a “B”… well “P” and “L” too… for some reason the flavour profile of Caol Ila really doesn’t do it for me but don’t let my preferences put you off on CI; it’s a very respectable dram. I also like coastal highland drams as well (Springbank, Talisker, Brora, Clynelish, Highland Park, and Glenmorangie). I’ve gotten away from Speysides over the last few years; I think I just prefer a more robust dram these days.
What’s your favourite expression?
Geez that’s a tough one! Any well matured Ardbeg (especially from the early to mid 1970’s), Old Springbanks, 1966-1969 bourbon casked Bruichladdichs and Bowmores just blow my mind!
What’s your best – or most vivid – memory regarding whisky?
Gosh, there are so many! Anything involving Dave Russo and/or Tim Bachelder. They’re absolutely nuts! (Editor's Note: Dave and Tim are famous PLOWED ringleaders).
Is there a specific bottling you’re looking for?
Carpe Maltum “seize the malt”. If I stumble across something that catches my eye, I’ll grab it, but nothing in particular.
Are you a member of a whisky club and which one?
I happened to stumble into the PLOWED Society. PLOWED is actually an acronym for People Lucid Only While Enjoying Dalwhinnie (believe it or not); that club was founded by some college friends in Indiana some years back. Unfortunately the founders (President, VP, treasurer, etc.) aren’t active anymore. Those of us in the club now have a mantra “All Ringleaders, no Minions”. All are equal; sort of the knights of the round table gone whisky mad.
I began meeting up with other whisky enthusiasts online around 1998 or 1999. We began having weekly chats (with drams) online and all decided to finally meet the others face to face in Las Vegas in January 2000. We knew the world would descend into chaos following the Y2K debacle so it was time to bring some of our finest bottles to Las Vegas and share them with each other while the internet crashed and nations and financial institutions failed. Ardbeggeddon was born! There are eight of us who have made all seven trips to Lost Wages so far and we eagerly anticipate the eighth reincarnation this winter!
Imagine you had a magic wand, what would you change in the whisky world?
Let me trade in the magic wand for a cat of nine tails. Anyone who buys rare whisky (like the annual Feis Ile releases) solely for financial gain (putting them up on EBay or the Kruger auction immediately thereafter) should be flogged.
Only flogged? I think they deserve to be flogged, then stoned, then put on the wheel and finally impaled on a double-magnum of Loch Dhu! Now, have you been to Scotland? What’s your favourite place there?
My first visit was almost by accident. I was on a one month assignment in England in 1998 to train a new engineer from the Cotswolds and found myself in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on a Friday morning needing an optical switch to complete an installation. My employer needed to send one up from Swindon, so I found myself heading north up the coast road at 11 AM on a sunny August morning. I managed to get in a tour of Glenturret that afternoon, hit the Scottish Tourism office in Crieff and got myself a room in Elgin at the Laichmoray. Saturday I camped out on Gordon and MacPhails doorstep until they opened up and then blitzed through the Whisky Trail. Sunday I made my way back south hitting Lochnagar, Edradour and Blair Athol.
I returned in 2000 with the aforementioned Dave and Tim to buy some casks of Springbank and make a short trip to Islay. Our first visit with Stuart Thomson in the warehouse… awesome. (BTW Stuart wherever you are, best wishes. Sorry to hear that you’re no longer at Ardbeg). I’ve returned to Scotland twice more in 2002 and 2005 with the PLOWED crowd; these visits planned around sampling our Springbanks to see how they’re coming along and then heading on to Islay for the festival.
My favourite places have to be Campbeltown (sorry Gordon!) Anywhere on Islay (especially in the Ardbeg and Bruichladdich warehouses …Damn did Jim-San get us trashed once … oops! Should I have mentioned that?) Also the Lochside when Alistair and his missus had the place. I also found Orkney to be spectacular.
Do you also, like us at Whiskyfun, like music? Which kind?
Whiskyfun is an excellent site, thanks Serge for a masterful job. Also, if you dare, please visit Tim’s site. He has done a great job in a very wacky sort of way. For music, I’m a blues freak. Favorite artists are Joe Bonamassa (please try and see him, he tours Europe often), Walter Trout and the Free Radicals, Jimmy Thackery, Eric Clapton…
Oh yes, I listened to Bonamassa, thanks to your advice. He's brilliant indeed. Do you have other hobbies?
Fishing and boating, hunting (I’ve been to the Alaskan arctic twice). You just have to experience sleeping in a nylon mountain tent with 300 kg Grizzly bears prowling around just once in your life. That, and dramming Ardbeg at a camp fire with the Aurora Borealis pulsating above. Wow. I also experiment with smoking and curing fish and game. Anyone who has been to a Dram Jam can attest to my “92 proof ribs” marinated in Ardbeg TEN.
Is there another ‘liquid’ you like, apart from whisky? What’s your favourite expression of it?
Coffee (especially dark roasted Columbian and Kenya AA); good hoppy ales (just love a good IPA or English bitters). Tea on occasion.
Anything to add?
If I might speak for the entire PLOWED crowd, we would love to see you in Las Vegas one of these years Serge!
Is there any possibility that we could all chip in and buy the Brora stills?
Well Tom, I think one of these two projects should be much easier - and quicker - to fulfil than the other one... Anyway, thanks for all your answers and your kind words!
 

MUSICRecommended listening - I always had a soft spot for Curved Air and lead singer Sonja Kristina (or is it the other way 'round?) and I'm very happy I could find their very first single B-side, What happens when you blow yourself up.mp3 (uh!) That was in 1971 and I love the sound... Sonja Kristina and Francis Monkman are still around, you should go listen to them and buy their music!

  

September 13, 2006


TASTING – TWO INDIE 1991 ARDBEGS
Ardbeg 9 yo 1991/2000 (60.9%, La Réserve, bourbon cask) Colour: white wine. Nose: a rather beautiful start on lots of freshly brewed coffee and crisp, pure peat smoked grain. This one smells just like at the kiln! Quite some menthol after that, fresh dough, kelp, oysters, lemon, camphor… One of the ‘purest’ Ardbegs I ever nosed. Kind of superb peat flavoured vodka (by the way, did anybody try to do that? I guess one could smoke any kinds of grain…)
Mouth: very strong and very lemony, just as pure in style as on the nose. Almost sharp like a blade, ‘nicely’ burning, with lots of peat of course, crystallized lemons, sweet pepper, getting quite leafy and rooty. I doesn’t develop too much in fact, and maybe it’s a little one-dimensional on the palate but what a beautiful dimension. Very long finish, compact, getting a little almondy with a great bitterness. Perfect style and balance – and a very pleasant aftertaste that leaves your mouth fresh as a baby’s. 89 points (it can’t go any higher on my scale because of its 'simplicity' but I put five stars).
Ardbeg 11 yo 1991/2002 (60.6%, Premier Malts, cask #PM2001) Colour: white wine. Nose: way simpler, almost dull at first nosing when compared to the La Réserve. Much milkier, mashier… Also more mineral. Not bad at all but simply ‘just like any other young Ardbeg’. Which means good and very peaty, of course, but not that interesting. Mouth: this is better now, much closer to the La Réserve, maybe a little more lemony and rougher. Also quite sweeter and, curiously, younger. Much closer to an official 10 yo with more strength. Long finish, powerful but again, simple and maybe a tad too sweetish. Now, it’s true that it’s always hard to pass after a stunner, so let’s give this one 84 points.
 
CRAZY WHISKY ADS – JOHNNIE IS IMPRESSIVE!
Time to talk about crazy whisky ads again, with these two excellent recent ads by leader of the pack Johnnie Walker. Left, "Johnnie Walked – If you drive, you don’t drink" (Publicis Belgium I believe) – Right, "Keep Walking", bilboard on a Lebanese highway AFTER the cease-fire, on August 14. (Leo Burnett Beirut)
That said, September is rather hot here so let’s also have this one (1999)...
Much less impressive, that is, especially after having seen this one for Evian (1998)…
... Now, it seems that it did impress a few other, lazier brands…
Guinness, 2000 - Heineken, 2001 - 7UP, 2001 - UV Vodka, 2003

 

MUSIC - Recommended listening: close to pastiche, the Asteroid number Four - or #4, depending on the sources (never choose a number when creating a band's name!!!) play California - mp3. 'Neo psyc' is the style, they say... What's sure is that it really sounds 'sixties', while the song's name is... Well, sort of 'focused'! Please buy their music if you like it.

 
  

September 12, 2006


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
TASTING - TWO OFFICIAL TOMATINS
Tomatin 12 yo (40%, OB, 2005) Colour: straw. Nose: starts grainy and sort of sour, with notes of old barrels, floorcloth… Also hot ham, porridge, muesli, hints of celery, cabbage, broccoli… A bit bizarre I must say, sort of dirty (yet a little soapy), meaty… Gets a little quieter after a while, though, more simply grainy for a while and then very caramelly. Good news, in a certain way. Mouth: much more straightforward and rather malty, grainy and caramelly again. Quite some crystallized orange, honey, roasted nuts… Toffeeish, getting nuttier and nuttier… The finish is medium long, on cake but also on a little salt. Better than the nose. 76 points.
Tomatin 1973/2005 (46%, OB for LMDW France, cask #26 504) Colour: straw (just a little darker). Nose: this, of course, is much nicer. Starts on orange and apricot juice and gets then rather ‘oriental’, with quite some orange water, apple-flavoured tobacco for narguilehs, sandalwood, incense… Notes of old roses and dried Muscat, dried oranges… Rather enjoyable although, once again, it gets then more classic, on vanilla, oak, honey and praline. But a nice personality and a pleasant ‘difference’. I like it. Mouth: very similar in style, even if it’s maybe not as ‘oriental’. Nice orange, baked apricot, Turkish delight… Too bad it gets then rather woody and slightly drying but the whole is pleasant. A rather long finish, again slightly salty and liquoricy but with also notes of rose jelly. Good and rather assertive. 85 points.
And also Tomatin 25 yo 1980/2005 (56.6%, Weiser Germany, cask #13462, 320 bottles) A superb nose with lots of spearmint, aromatic and perfectly balanced. Lots of banana and pineapple on the palate, great body and balance again. Hints of thyme (says Marcel and he’s right). Excellent surprise, very drinkable. 89 points.

 

MUSICRecommended listening - Somebody said she had the sexiest German accent. Not too sure but Nico's version of My funny Valentine.mp3 (on her excellent and last album, Camera Obscura - 1985) was deep and profound indeed. Superb. Please buy her music...

  

September 11, 2006


TASTING - TWO 1972 LEDAIGS
Ledaig 32 yo 1972/2004 (48.5%, OB, oloroso sherry butt finish) I’m sorry but finishing a 1972 Ledaig sounds very suspicious to my ears, let’s see if it worked. Colour: deep amber – bronze-ish. Nose: rather bold, starting on notes of coal, cardboard and peat smoke plus marzipan and roasted nuts. Ah, no damages here it seems… Quite some bitter caramel, dried kelp, horse sweat… Gets hugely farmy after a moment, with lots of wet hay but also dried mushrooms (like ceps or these huge black, flat Chinese mushrooms).
Then we have whiffs of mint, eucalyptus and camphor, a little soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, English brown sauce, cooked onions… It seems that the original spirit is still going strong. Not exactly subtle but rich, aromatic and very entertaining. Gets very coffeeish after, say fifteen minutes. Mouth: the mouth feel is a bit weak, bizarrely. Maybe that’s why they decided to finish it. Quite some coffee, bitter chocolate, cloves and burnt cake plus big notes of peat but the ‘middle’ of all that is curiously empty. Everything happens at the back of the tongue. Gets quite drying after a moment, more an more coffeeish (un-sugared espressso), and the medium long finish is even drier and more drying. I’m sorry but I don’t like it too much, it’s sort of unsatisfying. But the rather extravagant nose saves it from drowning as far as I’m concerned. 80 points.
Ledaig 22 yo 1972/1995 (51.3%, Cadenhead) Colour: gold. Nose: certainly more discrete at first nosing but certainly subtler. Superb notes of old beeswax, paraffin, old book, old turpentine, linseed oil, getting then quite mineral on whiffs of fireplace and wet stones. Gets then seriously peaty and beautifully vegetal (smoked tea, seaweed, apple skin, walnut burs). Quite some camphor and eucalyptus (Vicks), clean horse stable. Something sweet in the background (strawberries?). Maybe it doesn’t sound so but it’s really delicate. I like it a lot. Mouth: oh yes, it’s so much more like it when compared with the finished one. Powerful, assertive, extremely peaty just like an Ardbeg or a Brora from the same year, it almost tastes young. Quite some liquorice and pepper, apple skin and walnuts, crystallized lemons, strong tea, salt… Even chilli or wasabi. Really strong, a genuine peat monster on the palate (and the nose was so delicate!) The finish is long like a day without bread as we say here, peaty, waxy and liquoricy… Gee, what a monster indeed. More complexity on the palate would have propelled it even above my 92 points. (that was another wonder from our friend Konstantin)
And also Ledaig 18 yo 1972 (55.9%, James MacArthur) The nose is really powerful, pure, clean and maritime, excellent. The palate is sweeter but the balance is perfect. Notes of oysters, pepper and salt plus marzipan. Perfect, 92 points.
 
 

WHISKYFUN'S HALL OF FRIENDS INTERVIEW

This is a brand new rubric! From now on, we’ll publish interviews of whisky friends from time to time ‘cause we think it’s always very interesting to know a little more about the background and views of all these great - and sometimes crazy - people who share the same passion! So, if you’re a friend, get prepared to get an email with a few ritual questions… That may happen next week, next month or next year but it'll happen! Let's kick this off with...

KONSTANTIN GRIGORIADIS

Hi Konstantin, where do you live and what’s special there?
My Name is Konstantin Grigoriadis; I was born in Vienna/Austria on 13/01/1965. From the age of 1 year old I was living in Thessalonica / Greece where I finished school. In 1982 I came back to Vienna for my studies (“Computer Science”), where I live now. The Special things in Vienna (Austria) are the fantastic sweets and pastries ;-) and the beautiful white winters (it’s just like a Thomas Kinkade drawing). .

Who or what made you discover whisky?
Till 2003, the only alcohol I was drinking in a full year was 1 or 2 double Four Roses with ice or Southern Comfort with ice! No beer, no wine, no nothing, just mineral water, fruit juices, and hot chocolate. One day I was in a supermarket in Vienna, when I saw a nice bottle of a 16y (WOW) Scottish Whisky called Single Malt from Lagavulin… I thought, “let’s give it a try to see how such an “old” whisky tastes, time to try something new”…. At home, the first thing I did was to open the box and read the information about the whisky. While reading about the regions of Scotland and the different malts, I opened the bottle. Cool, the stuff smelled like smoked ham!!!! I had to try it… I took a tumbler put some ice in it and poured me a small amount. Once out of the Bottle, the intense smell got even stronger, then the first taste: HELL the stuff was good, strong but good!!! (even with ice) . This had nothing to do with the other stuff I knew. The experience was so intense for me, that next day I bought all the other malts, from the series (Oban, Dalwhinnie, Talisker, etc) and tasted them one by one. Next thing I did was to search for more Information, about Scotland and its Malts. Like in the movie “No5 Lives”, “I need input, more input…”
Why do you like whisky?
Well, whisky is for me more than a “beverage”, as I said before, the only alcohol I drink is whisky, nothing else. With whisky came the love of Scotland and its History and came the love for antique books and drawings. But I think the primary reasons why I like whisky are the variety of tastes and the fact that each bottle that’s not been tasted yet is like a nicely packed gift, waiting to be opened. It is the quest for something new, or something very old.
Do you have a favourite distillery?
I like everything that I categorize as “good” and that matches my tastes… Of course I have preferences, like Highland Park, Port Ellen, Ardbeg, Bowmore, etc but I taste everything! Many not so “well known” distilleries have beautiful bottlings and I believe, that EVERY Distillery has some good stuff, even if I didn’t tasted it yet ;-).
What’s your favourite expression?
As I said before I have my own specific taste and I like all expressions, as long as they match my tastes… (peat, iodine, salt, medicinal, maritime, fruity, diesel ;-) etc…)
What’s your best – or most vivid – memory regarding whisky?
Many, but the most vivid one is the trip we did to Scotland with Mario Prinz, the owner of Potstill in Vienna. It is (till now) the most beautiful memory I have regarding whisky and Scotland. Check for yourself, here are the pictures: with a short report and the complete photo album.
Is there a specific bottling you’re looking for?
Not one bottling, thousands!!, all the stuff out there that I didn’t taste yet ;-) The older ones are preferred…
Are you a member of a whisky club and which one?
Yes, I am a member of the board and one of the founding fathers of the “Whisky Club of Austria”. Further, I am honoured member of the “Regensburger Whisky Club”. But I am not much the club guy, I like people, but not rules…
Imagine you had a magic wand, what would you change in the whisky world?
Yes, if had this power, I would make myself Emperor of the World, ehh, just kidding (or not??) Now, seriously, I would change the POV many people have on whisky, that whisky is a thing about prestige, and that if you know about it and can afford to buy expensive whiskies, you are Somebody… Whisky is made for drinking and sharing with other nice people, for having a good time… not for “bunkering”, not only for having it, not for being somebody… Would you collect vintage salami?…
Have you been to Scotland? What’s your favourite place there?
I was there many, many times in my mind, but only 3 times in real life. My favourite places (yes, here I have favourites) are Islay, the Orkneys, islands in general. I love the rough sea and weather, I love the sea in general.
Do you also, like us at Whiskyfun, like music? Which kind?
I like all kinds of music that matches my tastes… When I was a teenager I loved heavy metal (Motorhead, Scorpions, Nazareth, Deep Purple, etc) then I loved Modern Talking & Samantha Fox (wow, what a girl). Now I listen to everything… (Anastacia for ex.)
Right, Samantha Fox... Err, do you have other hobbies? ;-)
Travelling, antique books, antique drawings and maps, satellite communications, movies, good food :-) and all new technologies…
Is there another ‘liquid’ you like, apart from whisky? What’s your favourite expression of it?
Yes, fruit juices, water, iced coffee and hot chocolate.
Anything to add?
Yes, “People, please be more open minded, don’t take everything so seriously, whisky should be FUN, not STRESS!, life is too short for that !” That’s why your homepage is called “WhiskyFun”, not “WhiskyStress” ;-).
 

 

MUSICBLUES - Recommended listening - Yeah, here's Blind Boy Fuller doing I want some of your pie.mp3. Ah, yes, the 'vintage'... It's 1939!

  

September 10, 2006


TASTING - TWO 1969 GLENROTHES
Glenrothes 33 yo 1969/2003 (46.8%, Hart Bros) Colour: straw. Nose: starts like a quiet old unsherried Speysider, very flowery and vanilled. Lots of nectar, buttercups and light ‘breakfast’ honey (even corn syrup) plus lots of vanilla crème, quince paste… gets then slightly yeasty and mashy (amazing after 33 years, although that may come from the wood), yoghurty and also a little cardboardy. Then we have a few herbal notes (celery, discreet aniseed) and then there’s the oak, with quite some soft tannins and a little black pepper. Classical and not too expressive, let’s check the palate.
Mouth: a rather tannic and drying start, alas, with little aromatic structure that could bear with it. Quite some vanilla, tea, camomile, apple skin and walnuts but that’s not enough I’m afraid. Gets more and more drying, especially at the finish, when your tongue starts to stick to your palate. Too bad. 77 points.
Glenrothes 1969/2000 (53.4%, McNeill’s Choice, cask #19217) A bottle of German fame. Colour: straw. Nose: much, much more expressive and it’s not just the alcohol. Amazing notes of fresh herbs right at the start, eucalyptus, crushed fresh mint leaves… then lots of green bananas, avocado flesh, Tibetan incense (yes, that’s a different one), apple juice… And then we get the oakiness and all the spices that go along (white pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon) plus loads of spearmint. Just superb (it seems you were right, guys). Mouth: an explosive attack on just the same flavours (eucalyptus, mint and bananas to cut a long story short). Goes on with cough syrup, lots of ginger, pepper, very ripe melon (something of an old Bruichladdich here), quince, spearmint again… What a presence. And the finish is very long, still invading, not sweet but flavourful (lots of vanilla now), getting nicely dry. Very, very good but hard to find, they made just 33 bottles of this one at the time. 92 points.
And also Glenrothes 1972/1996 (43%, OB) Very honeyed and fruity, extremely expressive. Lots of oranges and lots of flowers. The palate is full bodied, more nervous than most other official Glenrothes I could taste and maybe more complex as well. Really excellent, 91 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: It's Sunday, we go classical with another stunning recording by Edna Proznik, Gustav Mahler's Nun seh' ich wohl.mp3 (from the Kindertotenlieder). Again, please go listen to her!
  

September 9, 2006


TASTING - TWO GLEN MHORS + TWO
Glen Mhor 1965/1991 (56.4%, Signatory, cask #202, 300 bottles) I often have problems with Glen Mhor – often too ‘foxy’ for my tastes -, despite all the good specialized literature I could read. Let’s see if that would change… Colour: deep amber, brownish. Nose: rather smooth and round at first nosing, starting mostly on coffee and bitter chocolate – it must be a sherry version. Not overly expressive for a while but then we have kind of a burst of flowery and fruity notes.
Peonies, roses and lilies plus very ripe strawberries. It gets then meatier and meatier (rabbit with sauce forestière - mushrooms) and then it’s back to coffee and chocolate plus hints of mint leaves. A nice trip, that’s for sure. Mouth: a great presence and lots of oomph (not exactly a pleonasm). Maybe a tad too winey at the attack, with a certain sourness but then we have lots of caramel sauce, roasted raisins, gingerbread, rancio… Old Port, orange sauce, highly concentrated fruit liqueur, notes of cough syrup, camphor… Maybe hints of rubber but that’s okay. A long, fruity, quite vinous finish, maybe a little too hot but the whole is very enjoyable, although not exactly easily drinkable for it’s so ‘thick’ and winey. 87 points.
Glen Mhor 1979/1994 (66.7%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘cask’) A whopping strength, let’s prepare the water jug… Nose: quite expressive despite the high alcohol, with again lots of coffee, caramel and chocolate plus maybe these notes of peonies we already had in the Signatory. But let’s not burn our nose… With water (reduced to roughly 45%): gets much more austere, dry, almost farmy as if there was quite some peat. Lots of hay, smoked tea, old papers, chalk. Hints of vanilla flavoured milk, rice cake… Mouth (neat – aaargh): extremely fruity, sweet, almost sugary… and burning indeed. Let’s not be reckless and try it with water: yes, that works, with again an enjoyable smokiness plus lots of lapsang souchong tea, pepper, dried herbs (thyme) and dried pears. Great balance and very interesting smokiness. The best part is probably the very long and waxy, phenolic finish. Not unlike a strong tea liqueur (try to make some, it’s very easy and quite good, you just have to let some good tea infuse in plain alcohol and then ad a little sugar). Anyway, 88 points for this excellent Glen Mhor.
And also Glen Mhor 1979/2004 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail) A slightly weak and off-beat version with these 'strange' notes that I often find in Glen Mhor. Yes, must be me... Now, I think it's much better than some earlier ones such as some of the 8yo's. 78 points.
Glen Mhor 34 yo 1966/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 396 bottles) This one is much better than most Glen Mhors I know, maybe even than the RM’s (not that the two great ones we just had, that is). Not really ‘different’ but nicely chocolaty, malty and raisiny, with a nice balance. 85 points.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: this is not the first time I post about Etta James and it's probably not the last. Today we'll have a sweetish yet moving (lots of strings) At last.mp3 from 1961. So excellent... And after all, all superstars had their 'strings incident' (Billie, Bird...) Please buy Miss James' music!

  

September 8, 2006


TASTING - TWO 1966 LOCHSIDES
Lochside 37 yo 1966/2004 (47.7%, Jack Wieber’s Old Train Line, cask #7543) These 1966 Lochsides are always very good, so we have high expectations… Colour: gold. Nose: not highly demonstrative at first nosing, more on almond milk and old books than on tropical fruits. Something like sea water, cold tea… Gets then much mintier and more herbal (the pros would write ‘like a walk in the forest after the rain at 7am’). Wet moss, fern, mushrooms, pine needles…
All that is quite subtle, it’s more a whispering malt for a moment but then it does take off, on eucalyptus, even more pine needles and hints of tiger balm and then we’re back to almonds/marzipan. Complex and delicate, let’s just hope the palate stood the distance. Mouth: well, it is very oaky as expected but the ‘substance’ is big enough to handle it. Starts on lots of citrus fruits (like crystallized oranges), beeswax, bergamot sweets, quince jelly… Getting then quite spicy and salty, with lots of oomph despite the 37 years. Notes of liqueur-filled chocolate, plum eau-de-vie, crystallized ginger… Gets more and more complex, with notes of mocha, hazelnut liqueur, praline (Nutella?) Amazing that the palate is so expressive while the nose was a little shy, it’s usually the contrary that happens with very old malts. What’s more, the finish is superbly balanced (but not very long), on bitter oranges and milk chocolate plus ginger… In short, maybe not the best 1966 Lochside but it’s still beautiful one. 91 points.
Lochside 25 yo 1966/1991 (62.7%, Signatory, cask #3909) Colour: gold. Nose: the heavy alcohol brings a few coffeeish notes at first nosing, with also something cardboardy and chocolaty. Also quite grassy. Not really ‘Lochside’ but this one does probably need water. Let’s try that… Reduced to roughly 45%: oh, no, that doesn’t work, it’s still spirity and unexpressive, with maybe just some added hints of hydrocarbons and a faint touch of old bottle effect (slightly metallic). I’m sure the palate will be nicer… Mouth (neat): well, it’s better indeed but spirity, sugary and very simple to tell you the truth. Maybe Lochside needs (needed) lots of ageing to get its very distinctive profile? It’s true the old official 10 yo was far from being a stunning malt in my book. Anyway, back to this one but reduced this time: well, it does get marginally better but it’s slightly simple considering its pedigree. Notes of oranges, orange drops, pear juice… Add to that a pinch of salt and that’s it. The finish is just as disappointing, slightly cardboardy and sugarish. Well, there are many better 1966 Lochsides by Signatory, but I feel this cask was really below par. Or maybe my expectations were too high considering the distillery and the vintage? Now, it’s good whisky… 79 points.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: do you remember when Hammond B-3 organs were ruling soul-jazz? (yes, together with flutes...) Charles Earland was one of the bests and I'm sure his Happy 'cause I'm goin' home.mp3 will sound familiar to your ears. I love this even if it's a bit 'commercial' (but what isn't?) Please buy the great late Charles Earland's music.

  

September 7, 2006


TASTING - TWO 1977 PORT ELLENS
Port Ellen 15 yo 1977/1992 (40%, Turatello, Italy) Colour: dark straw. Nose: starts as fresh as possible, on lots of apple juice and just the right amount of ‘aged’ peat. Extremely farmy, smelling like a cow stable, wet hay, wet dog… all sorts of animals in fact. Right, also fish, oysters, clams, cooking crabs… Gets then quite buttery, mashy, on porridge, muesli… Very extreme in its wildness despite the low strength and most interesting, even if it gets then slightly beer-ish (stale Kronenbourg).
Mouth: excellent attack despite the 40%, sweet and peaty like… a peated apple. Right, and then we have tea and white pepper, cinnamon, ginger.. Alas, it gets then a little too cardboardy and drying, maybe too many tannins (grape skin) and the relative lack of alcohol makes all that stand out even more. But the finish is rather nice, even if a little too short. Okay, it’s probably too tea-ish and even watery. 85 points for the superb nose.
Port Ellen 23 yo 1977/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 318 bottles, US) Colour: dark straw. Nose: sharper and more austere at first nosing, rather close in style to the famous 22 yo 1978 Rare Malts (which is, of course, good news). Beautiful whiffs of smoke (not only peat smoke, also wood and coal), tar, new tyres. Gets then slightly cardboardy and dusty but then we have all the sea elements (breeze, shells, weed – I mean seaweed) plus liquorice roots, smoked tea, notes of ham, beer… And it’s always sharp and straightforward. Excellent, really. Mouth: again a perfect sharpness and a great straightforwardness, with just a maelstrom of peat, pepper, lemon juice and liquorice roots but these single four elements are so perfectly balanced that it’s, err, perfect (if you like this kind of very austere profile, that is). Finish: very long, peaty, peppery, with also quite some baked apples and a little cinnamon. Perfect in its simplicity, 92 points.
And also Port Ellen 21 yo 1979/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, sherry, 618 bottles) Quite heavy and lacking complexity, good but an average sherried Port Ellen. You can’t always win I guess. 82 points.
 
 

A MALT MANIACS E-PISTLE by Lawrence Graham

No Age Statement (NAS) Single Malt Non Chill Filtered Scotch Whiskies; Proof that a divine Entity loves you and wants you to be happy.

Years ago at the infancy of my journey into the world of Scotch whisky I read of a supposed basic rule; that No Age Statement (NAS) single malts were generally too young and immature for quality enjoyment. Essentially this conventional ‘wisdom’ pointed directly at any whisky under a stated age of 10 years, for a time I accepted this notion. Happily over the ensuing years I have learned differently, however I suspect that there are many, at any stage of their journey, who still believe that NAS whiskies are not a quality dram. Discussed in this epistle are four NAS single malts that completely disprove this outdated and incorrect notion; as an added bonus these single malts are usually well priced for everyday enjoyment. They are vibrant, full of flavour and are sure to please your palate and will be welcome additions to your collection and bar.

1) Aberlour a’bunadh Batch # 14 59.5 % A.B.V. Score 92 Points

This stunning whisky from Aberlour was made to recreate the style of whisky produced at the distillery in the 19th century well before the introduction of ex-bourbon American casks into the Scotch whisky industry. Batches of a’bunadh are made up of specially selected butts that have previously held Spanish Oloroso sherry wine and the batches are made up of 80 to 100 butts each.
A’bunadh is bottled at cask strength, the strength of which varies from batch to batch, and without the addition of spirit caramel or chill filtration. The distillery actually prefers that there to be some slight color variation from batch to batch; this is more authentic to the original style of whisky. Since the whisky is bottled at cask strength without the addition of water the whisky possesses a greater aromatic complexity.
A’bunadh batch # 14 has earthy notes on the nose mixed with huge sweet sherry & spice. The taste is a well balance combination of malt & grape that always delights me. The finish is filled with sweet notes, brown sugar and is medium long. There is a lot in this whisky that is quite perfect and for those who love a malt filled with overwhelming sherry, this is it.

2) Benromach Organic 43% A.B.V. Score 87 Points

This is the newest whisky from Gordon & MacPhail, the owners of Benromach distillery, and they proudly (& quite rightly so) announce it is the only single malt on the market that can claim to be organic in compliance and fully certified by the UK’s Soil Association.
Gordon & MacPhail have gone to great lengths to ensure that the whole process from the raw ingredients through distillation, maturation and bottling is certified organic to the high standards set by the Soil Association. To ensure the highest quality distillate spring water from the Romach Hills, Scottish organic barley and organic yeast are used as well as using virgin American casks for maturation. Additionally Organic is bottled without chill filtration, at natural colour (without the addition of spirit caramel) and at 43% A.B.V.
Golden brown in colour, Benromach Organic is a fresh vibrant whisky with a strong oak influence. The nose reveals sweet, charred oak aromas with fresh fruit notes (bananas and pineapples). An earthy, toasted aroma also present. The palate exposes sweet, vanilla and toffee flavours. Hints of green apples and orange peel with a rich resinous note. (credit www.benromach.com)
I recently tasted this exceptional malt at the Highlander Inn in Craigellachie and was both delighted and surprised at the nose, taste and finish of this very fine dram. The famed bar manager of the Highlander, Tatsuya Minagawa, advised our group to drive to Gordon & MacPhail’s shop in Elgin and buy two bottles each, such was is his respect for this dram. As interesting back up to this whisky is its stable mate Benromach Traditional 40% (NAS), the first whisky to be released after the reopening of the distillery in 1998 and released in 2004.

3) Laphroaig Quarter Cask 48% A.B.V. Score 91 Points

This is the single malt that has taken the Islay whisky world by storm and for many of us our first in depth look at Laphroaig Quarter Cask was in Dave Broom’s article in Whisky Magazine (issue 42). In the article Robert Hicks, then Allied Domecq’s master blender reveals to Dave how Laphroaig commissioned the Speyside Cooperage to make 50 quarter casks from first fill oak, each with a capacity of 105 liters.
A vatting of different ages from standard size casks was then matured for a further period in the quarter casks. The increased whisky to wood ratio and increased contact of charcoal with the whisky resulted in a faster maturation and increased vanilla notes. The overall effect has produced a stunning whisky with lots of smoky and sweet flavours that is vibrant but not over whelming in any one area, magic!
The nose is full of peat, peat and some more peat thrown in for good measure yet is still vibrant and fresh. My first nosing of this whisky reminded me of my first taste of Laphroaig 10 many, many years ago. The taste is very peaty and yet malty sweet (vanilla) at the same time, truly an exceptional experience for those who adore peat. The ending is long and full of more sweet peat with some wood notes.
Happily in my part of the world Laphroaig Quarter Cask is only available in one liter bottles!

4) Ardbeg Uigeadail 54.2% A.B.V. Score 85 Points

Ardbeg Uigeadail, first introduced in 2004, is pronounced 'Oog-a-dal' a justly famed single malt that takes its name from the loch on Islay that supplies the peaty water to the distillery. In just a few short years this malt has garnered a reputation around the world and has added yet another stunner to the Ardbeg line up.
Uigeadail is a special vatting of both bourbon and sherry casks to produce a slightly more smooth & less wild of Ardbeg, bringing together its traditional deep, smoky notes with the luscious, sweet, raisiny tones of old ex-Sherry casks. I have detected damp, musty hessian on the nose mingled with peat however this characteristic has been missing from the most current release I tasted earlier this year, no matter, it’s still very drinkable and tastes slightly more ‘clean’. I was happy to have noted both notes in the various bottlings. Uigeadail is bottled at a ‘traditional strength’ of 54.2% A.B.V. and without chill filtration.
So there you have a brief look at four non chill filtered No Age Statement single malt scotch whiskies all of which are filled with flavour & depth on both the nose and palate. Single malts are all about perspective and these four help fill a affordable and drinkable position in the world of single malts. Slainte - Lawrence

 

MUSICHighly recommended listening - Why don'tcha do me right.mp3 by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention (that was on Absolutely free, 1967). Almost 40 years, that's unbelievable ! Please, please...

  

September 6, 2006


 

MALT MANIACS INFORMATION

GLENUGIE DISTILLERY PROFILE by Serge

Operational: 1833-1983
Region: Eastern Highlands (Aberdeenshire, used to be Scotland’s easternmost distillery)
Neighbours: Glen Garioch
Address: Invernettie, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, AB42 0XY
Last owner: Withbread
Converted to mechanics workshops

Well, I just skimmed a good thirty books about whisky, old or recent, and I noticed that very little experts even mentioned Glenugie’s name, except for Brian Townsend and his excellent ‘Scotch Missed’. Or Michael Jackson but it’s true that his comments in the first edition of his Companion (1989 I believe) were not very engaging: ‘Glenugie had plenty of character, but the elements are not well combined or balanced’. I must confess I’ve never been too much into Glenugie myself and that I always tasted it without really noticing it was ‘Glenugie’. It’s only very recently, after having sampled a fabulous 1967 bottled in 1989 for Sestante, which I rated no less than 95 points (please see my notes below), that I felt the urge to have a look at my old notes. Indeed, I had tasted only eleven Glenugies until today but I just checked that my lowest rating ever was 85 points (for an old Cadenhead Dumpy distilled in 1966) whilst my highest mark was already very high: 93 points for another Cadenhead Dumpy, from 1959 this time. Average rating for Glenugie: 89 points! That’s very, very high! So, maybe it was time to dig slightly deeper and to stop overlooking Glenugie…
The books say it all started in 1833 and that the founder, Donald McLeod & Co, called it first Invernettie but renamed it Glenugie almost immediately, in 1837, and converted it into a brewery. That could have been the end of its very short life as a distillery but Scottish Highland Distillers bought it around 1875 and reconverted it into a small distillery. Alas, the business wasn’t good for SHD and it had to sell Glenugie to George Whyte & Co in 1879, the latter having no more luck and having to resell it to Simon Forbes in 1884. Phew… Thank God, Glenugie’s star started to shine from that period on, despite the general hard times of the early 20th century. Yet, it closed during WWI and only operated for four years between the two wars (1923-1924 and 1937-1939). Gin maker Seagar Evans and Co had bought Glenugie before the war, together with several other distilleries, but was taken over by US company Schenley in 1956, under the general name of Long John Distillers. Long John was very successful and also built Kinclaith in 1957 and Tormore in 1958. Glenugie was possibly going into their other blends in the 1960’s: Islay Mist and Black Bottle.
It’s Schenley that really pushed Glenugie, refurbished it completely and converted it to so called modern technologies (oil burning instead of coal, new stills, condensers instead of worm coils etc.) The production doubled at the time. In 1963, like at many distilleries, on-site malting was stopped. In 1975, Schenley sold Glenugie to the brewing company Withbread. Alas, when the 1980’s downturn happened, Glenugie got closed and as it was also the time when the North Sea oil industry was skyrocketing, the distilling equipment, including the two stills, was removed and the buildings got quickly converted into mechanics workshops.
So, today, Glenugie isn’t a very well known malt, probably because it’s never been sold as an official bottling – and maybe because Peterhead is really off the beaten tracks - but I’ve checked that it has now quite a few devoted admirers, including in Maniacal circles. And including yours truly from now on. - Serge (picture taken from Brian Townsend's book Scotch Missed)

 
TASTING - THREE GLENUGIES
Glenugie 20 yo 1968 (54.8%, Sestante ‘bird label’, sherry) We also have the 43% versions of both Sestantes, we’ll taste them later on. Colour: full gold. Nose: starts on a rather huge smokiness, with lots of torrefaction and a certain chalkiness. Those notes do then mingle with some rather sharp fruity notes (cider apples, fresh walnuts) and then we have some grassy and vegetal notes: pu-erh tea, grass, moss, fern. It gets then rather sweeter and rounder, on oranges, bananas, coconuts… Something that reminds me of the older Springbanks although this Glenugie is probably more discreet. A shier Springbank? Lots of subtlety, that is. Mouth: a sweet and resinous attack, with a nice smokiness in the background. Lots of spearmint, a little passion fruit, tangerines, dried oranges… More expressive than on the nose. Great bitterness that gives it structure, getting very spicy (pepper and cloves, unusual hints of caraway seeds) but not less fruity. Full bodied and rich but not thick at all, with a long, spicy and fruity finish that brings new flavours such as chlorophyll, lemon drops, pink grapefruit… Too bad the nose was a little too quiet because this palate is fab. 90 points.
Glenugie 1967/1989 (59.5%, Sestante ‘bird label’ sherry) Colour: amber. Nose: much more sherry, obviously. Lots of coffee and smokiness again but also quite some old rancio (old Maury), smoked tea, orange cake. Huge notes of orange liqueur arising, as well as passion fruit, papayas, pineapple… This one is much more demonstrative than the 1968. Superb notes of pine needles, eucalyptus, camphor… Very old Chartreuse (Tarragones), old Montrachet… This is grand, no doubt, both complex and extravagant. Mouth: oh yes, this palate is just as fab as the 1968’s, maybe even better. Something clearly ‘Lochside-esque’ on the fruity side (both fresh and dried) but also with tons of spices. Great notes of figs. Really multilayered – please see the 1968, it’s almost the same but with even more complexity now and also a slight saltiness – like a beautiful final somersault. Fabulous whisky that keeps developing for ages. 95 points. (mucho gracias Bert)

Glenugie 22 yo 1981/2004 (52.5%, Chieftain's, cask #5134, 654 bottles) Ouch, this time may have a hard time now… Let’s wait for a good fifteen minutes and drink a lot of water… …. …. Right, let’s go. Colour: gold. Nose: completely different, extremely milky, with lots of vanilla crème but also quite some cardboardy notes. It’s in another league, obviously, but it’s far from being ridiculous. Nice notes of fresh herbs (chive) and hints of nutmeg… Quite some porridge as well, boiled cereals, cooked rice… And always lots of milk. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not ‘lactic’ at all (in the sense that it’s not a cask problem – no problems at all in fact). Hints of lilac make it a little fresher, at that. Mouth: ah, we’re a little closer to the wonderful Sestantes now. Quite some bitter orange, grapefruit, spices (pepper and cloves), icing sugar, grilled herbs (again these notes of thyme)… And the finish is long, citrusy and spicy… Not quite as stunning on the palate as the older ones but it does maintain its rank. Excellent Glenugies! 87 points.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: maybe Nick's praise of Didier Lockwood sort of ingnited a fire as we'll have quite some music by the 'French school of jazz violin'... Today it's Jean-Luc Ponty - of Zappa and the Mothers fame - who's doing a pre-electronica and rather Terryrileyesque Individual choice.mp3 (that was in 1983). Please buy Jean-Luc Ponty's music.

  

September 5, 2006


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
MIKA The Borderline, London, August 30th, 2006
“Listen, you’ve just got to get tickets for this gig. It’s supposed to be awesome. Mika is going to be the next big pop sensation, another Freddie Mercury and Queen. Everyone’s going to be there, and it’ll be the last gig he ever plays in a small venue. You know, it’ll be one of those nights that in ten year’s time people will say, ‘I was there’”. Hard sell or what? So I checked out this Mika on that priceless source of music chatter, Popbitch. They said, “This Autumn, Island records unveil the artist who should be the breakout superstar of the next few years”, adding that “His sound is like nothing else on the market”. Further investigation revealed an engaging but pretty thin story about a boy born in Lebanon, brought up in Paris and London, who was lost in angst but rediscovered himself through music, who learnt his singing skills in the chorus of the Royal Opera, who was mentored in song writing by American composer and producer Jodi Marr, who wowed the people at Universal Music who signed him to subsidiary Island (though his forthcoming single and album will be on the old Disco label Casablanca), and then recorded his first album in LA under the guiding hand of veteran Canadian producer Greg Wells (he also produced Paris Hilton’s new album). His surname is a mystery (but I can tell you now he shouldn’t be confused with Finnish accordionist Mika Väyrynen, or Indian bhangra artiste Mika Mehndi). And although he’s obviously talented, quite how he pulled all of this off is a bit of a mystery too. Did I tell you that he has “an American father, whom he describes rather vaguely as being ‘in finance’”? (continued...)
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We’re packed into the Borderline like sardines. It’s hot, excited, noisy and unpleasant. Everyone seems to know each other. There’s a huge family contingent, and a lot of braying smug and self-satisfied record company types, who seem to think that the mere mortals who actually paid for their tickets are second class citizens. They display what can only be called, with apologies to all my porcine friends, the manners of pigs. There are also fans – very excited too (“I thought the boys at the front were going to ejaculate” said the Photographer as we left), a lot of them clearly underage, and under the influence of a bit too much beer (hey Serge, did you know that Sol is cool again – how did they manage that?). Outside there are members of Mika’s Secret Society (“I take it you want to go to my gigs for free and get all sorts of cool things and be a part of this...epidemic?”) – actually I think it’s what you would normally call a Street Team – handing out Mika rosettes and lollipops. They’re practically peeing themselves too. In fact everyone is so excited that they’re not paying the slightest attention to support Mara Carlyle, who gamely tries to play through the overwhelming noise with her accompanist on guitar, while she sang and played the ukulele and saw. We were quite impressed. (continued...)
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Mika’s band appears to be another mystery, so I can’t tell you who they were. But they were good (“but were they good enough?” I asked myself afterwards), even though they were obviously as nervous as hell at the start. Mika is a tall young man with a mop of curly hair who oozes self-confidence and charm. His voice is quite remarkable, a falsetto that is very reminiscent of the Bee Gees, but with a range that takes him easily down to Freddie Mercury. He flops and dances round the centre of the stage in a rather camp fashion, and thanks us between each song “for coming out”, and at one point for “making all this happen, it’s been a remarkable two weeks”. He sings, unless I miscounted, six songs, and having come on stage at 9.10 pm is off by 9.40 pm, no encore. Songs included opener ‘Love today’ (“après ski Euro pop trash” yelled the Photographer, “but bloody good”) ‘Billy Brown’ and ‘Relax take it easy’ from the forthcoming single, ‘Big girl’ (that must have been the two who stood in front of us and eclipsed the stage like a pair of two huge moons, or do I mean morons?) ‘Lollipop Girl’ (which a mind-numbingly asinine refrain), and Mika’s ‘anthem’, ‘Grace Kelly’, a witty and knowing piece, brilliantly performed, with a huge debt to Queen. (continued...)
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Yes, he was good, but was he good enough? And if he’s the next Freddie Mercury, then where’s his Brian May? And does he have the depth and substance to go beyond a relatively small number of highly polished tunes? And will his backers have patience with him if he fails to deliver on their up-front investment? Actually don’t even bother to answer that one. And how long will it take for his fans to see through the crassly insincere Myspace marketing? But I’ll tell you one thing. The day after the gig I read that he’s playing at Dingwalls in November. Listen, you’ve just got to get tickets for this gig. It’s going to be awesome. Mika is going to be the next big pop sensation, another Freddie Mercury and Queen. Everyone’s going to be there … - Nick Morgan (photograph - not banners - by Kate)
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Thanks Nick! I love marketing, I love advertising, I love prelaunches, I love preprelaunches, I love prepreprelaunches, I love postlaunches, I love clubs, I love CRM, I love London, I love Mika (well, I love Hakkinen even more) and all is well in the best of worlds. Oh, by the way, I hope you won’t take umbrage because I sold your excellent review to a few sponsors, will you? PS: Mika’s lovely music can be found on his lovely Myspace page. To our distinguished readers, Nick and Kate will fly to Uncle Sam's for some holidays so we'll probably get no new reviews for a while... Unless we get something from the good old US of A? We'll see... Oh, damn, with all the money and love flowing in, I almost forgot to add Kate's wonderful (and truly lovely, and truly Sergentpepperesque - or Adamantesque?) photograph of Mika at The Borderline:
 

TASTING -TWO EDRADOURS BY OTHER NAMES

Glenforres 12 yo (43%, Glenforres-Glenlivet, 1980’s) Colour: pale gold. Nose: very grainy and quite malty at first nosing, with hints of walnuts and tea, cider apples. Develops on traces of oak and notes of rubbed orange skin, dried mushrooms, shoe polish… Kind of an ‘old style’ whisky, very pleasant. An obvious ‘nose of yellow’ (fino), Also hints of gentian eau-de-vie, old barnyard, dried flowers…

Mouth: sweet and grainy at first sip, with maybe these slightly ‘twisted’ fruity notes we used to get in old Edradours (the new ones are much better I think). Hints of rotting oranges, perfume, dried lycchees. Quite some oak it appears, as the whole gets then rather tannic, tea-ish, slightly drying and cardboardy. This palate is frankly less interesting than the nose. Finish; not too long but well balanced now, mostly on vanilla flavoured tea and plum sauce. A nose well worth checking anyway. 77 points.
Bere Barley 14 yo 1986 (45%, Michel Couvreur, cask #269, 520 litres) Michel Couvreur sowed bere barley on the Orkneys in 1985 and distilled it at Edradour in 1986. Lots of people think it was distilled at Highland Park but it wasn’t (Royal Mile Whiskies tell you the whole story). Colour: mahogany. Nose: oh, this is very, very different from anything I’ve nosed before – not only whisky. Starts extremely aromatic and extravagant on heavy notes of high game (pheasant), very, very old Port and rotting fruits (I can think of pineapples). Hard to tell you where these weird but not unpleasant aromas come from, barley or cask. Also something of a corn whiskey like McCormick’s Platte Valley (you know, the jug). Goes on with notes of Chinese fermented plum sauce (the one they serve with Peking duck), sake (while I’m at it), wild mushrooms, old wine cellar… Slight hints of gym socks as well, balsamic vinegar, walnut stain… Extremely unusual and interesting, in any case. Mouth: aoh, it’s just as interestingly weird as on the nose. Thick and coating, starting on huge notes of overcooked coffee, walnut liqueur, dried morels, sake again… Alas, we have also something cardboardy, drying… A strange mixture indeed, quite far from what we’d define as ‘whisky’. Goes on with bread crust, burnt cake, bitter oranges, armagnac-soaked prunes, high game again (with bilberry jam – true)… Quite toffeeish as well. The finish isn’t extraordinarily long but on various forms of oranges (dried, rotten, crystallized) and mushrooms… Well, it’s hard to rate this UFO. Let’s say a conservative 80 points but I must confess I’m sort of lost here, sorry. (but thanks, Michel ;-))
  

September 4, 2006


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
MARTIN TAYLOR AND DIDIER LOCKWOOD
Pizza Express Jazz Club, London, August 26th 2006
Martin Taylor MBE (awarded by the Queen for ‘services to music’) has been playing a residency at the Pizza Express Jazz Club (“my favourite jazz club in London” says Martin). It’s a tribute to his eminence in the jazz business that during a ten day period he is joined by artistes as diverse as trumpeter Guy Barker, Scottish singer Alison Burns, and Scottish pianist and composer, and long time Taylor collaborator, David Newton (did I mention that Mr Taylor lives in Ayrshire in Scotland, where he hosts his own international guitar festival to raise funds to promote guitar teaching in schools?). Tonight he’s playing with French violinist Didier Lockwood (I don’t think I can really call him a ‘scraper’) about whom I’m sure Serge knows far more than I. In fact it was only a vaguely recognised name on the programme, but the genius of Taylor had impressed me so much when we last saw him that both pizza, and Mr Lockwood, seemed worth the risk.
Now, I’m not sure if Her Jazzesty popped down for a pizza and a peek at her loyal guitarist but clearly a lot of other folk did. It’s a holiday weekend so the basement club is filled with tourists and out of towners as well as devout fans. It also turns out that half of Mr Lockwood’s family are in too. There are three very well behaved would be guitar boys from North London who have come early to get fretside seats, but by Taylor’s third big solo they’re crying coca-cola tears into their ice cream sundaes, and wondering if they shouldn’t take up the bass instead. And there’s the rather bewildered looking table of blue-shirted Francophile Japanese, who’d bought their tickets from a Soho tout on the promise ‘that they’d get to see Didier play real close up’.
Lockwood and Taylor first teamed up when they played with Stephane Grappelli in the 1970s, which was for both of them the bedrock of their subsequent solo careers. It’s fitting then that one of the songs they play is Grapelli’s ‘Nuages’. To be honest I had feared a bit of a Hot Club de Paris nostalgia night, but thankfully nothing could have been further from the truth. Taylor is noted for his ability to play both fluid bass lines and imposing and lyrical melodies at the same time – tonight he had a willing bass player in Lockwood, who was happy to pluck bass lines as Taylor improvised effortless solos, as he demonstrated on another Grapelli favourite, Sony Rollin’s ‘Pent up house’. Taylor is a remarkably laid back and apparently jolly fellow – he grins rather than grimaces his way through his solos, and some of his music is a humorous as it is humbling – take for example ‘Down at Kokomo’s” (which for some reason I has thought was called ‘Rum Beach’” where with dampened strings he turns his guitar into a steel band – we could have been in Notting Hill - and manages to change key by adjusting the position of his capo mid-tune. He also played an absurdly complex solo on his beautiful Vanden semi-acoustic guitar using only what would describe as (no doubt incorrectly) apparent harmonics. All you really need to know is that it was difficult and delicious.
I’m not sure if it was during this piece or the next that Didier struck out with his wah-wah violin, but as the evening continued he became an increasingly dominant player in the partnership, encouraged by Taylor. When he spoke in broken English he apologised “that I was going to be a nice violinist but then my brother showed me jazz” as he introduced esteemed pianist-sibling Francis Lockwood (“who is just here as a tourist”) who formed a trio, and then dueted with his brother, at which point it seemed the evening was getting very, well…French. Didier Lockwood then played a remarkable solo piece (“from middle east to middle earth” I scrawled in my notebook) in which he brought into play the full gamut of his heavily laden pedals board. I suppose it might have been described as “show off” (he certainly did the grimace thing) but it held the audience spellbound as he used loops, delays and echoes, and every part of his violin, to paint a vivid series of musical pictures. My memory is of a Hebredian seashore with wild surf and seagulls, but our Japanese friends got very animated when they swore they could hear a chanting football crowd. Quite simply remarkable.
I’m not very good with jazz tunes, and not familiar with Taylor’s recorded work, so there’s no point trying to give a set list, although I’m sure they finished with something that sounded very much like ‘Putting on the style’, which was of course exactly what they had done. I can simply do no more than urge you to see Taylor if you can – he tours extensively and is simply a pleasure to listen to. And as for Mr Lockwood, well he was a real discovery – you should go and see him too if you can. - Nick Morgan (photograph by Kate)
Merci beaucoup, Nick. It might be a little puzzling that you let our crème de la crème musicians play in pizzerias but then again, I guess if Martin Taylor does it, why not Didier Lockwood ;-). It’s true that we have several rather famous jazz violinists in France, all more or less spiritual sons of the great Stéphane ‘Hot Club’ Grappelli indeed. Didier Lockwood, Jean-Luc Ponty (of Zappa and Mahavishnu fame), Dominique Pifarély, Michel Ripoche (of Vangelis fame)… All very different but all very good I think. Lockwood is maybe the most versatile, Ponty maybe the most famous, Pifarély the most ‘avant-gardist’ and uncompromising and Ripoche, well, long time no hear, I’m afraid. I’d say they are all worth a listen. But let’s have some Martin Taylor now, with a stunning – and overdubbed - Miraval.mp3 from 1993 (Miraval is the name of the French studio where Taylor and Grappelli recorded their stunning works together).
 
TASTING - TWO 22 yo GLENDRONACHS
Glendronach 1970/1992 (Reserve Cantarelli, hogsheads #546-547, 1200 bottles) From a Michelin-starred Italian restaurant that no longer exists. Colour: dark amber. Nose: starts superbly, on bold notes of both sweet white and red wines. Maury? Banyuls? Well, I guess it’s just sherry but maybe was it ‘Pedro’? Goes on with lots of sultanas, strawberry pie, pecan pie right out of the oven, old rum… Then raspberry ganache, mulberry jam… And just hints of smoke. Superb, ethereal sherry with a perfect balance.
Mouth: a sweet and fruity attack, on strawberry jam and sultanas again, milk chocolate and something smoky. Quite some caramel and honey again, malt, roasted nuts, old rancio… Maybe not as complex as on the nose, though, more a serious, honest high-quality Speysider. Medium long finish on a little rum and praline as well as chocolate and liquorice… But what a nose! 88 points. (and thanks, Giovanni)
Glendronach 22 yo 1975/1998 (57.7%, Signatory, cask #1686, 268 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: oh, again a very, very nice attack on the nose but more on ripe plums and apricots as well as acacia honey and quite some vanilla. Gets then very ‘toasty’, on slightly burnt cake, bread crust… Quite some smoke as well, like often in these older Glendronachs. Also quite flowery (daisies, buttercups). We have discreet notes of rubber but the whole is beautiful and very different from the usual heavily sherried Glendronachs. Gets very malty after a while. Mouth: lots of body, lots of oomph but it’s very drinkable at almost 58%. Starts on quite some fine oak and vanilla fudge, dried apricots and earl grey tea (bergamot). Goes on with lots of bitter oranges, candied kumquats, dried ginger… All that plus the alcohol tickle your tongue quite funnily. And again lots of apricot, ripe yellow plums… So good, with a finish that’s very long, maybe just a tad more mainstreamish but flawless (yellow fruits, malt and honey). Certainly excellent, and Signatory had other great Glendronachs – you may check the Monitor. 91 points.
And also Glendronach 18 yo 1972 (43%, OB, sherry) Astonishingly peaty, with a very dry sherry. Austere but fabulously balanced, with lots of bitter chocolate and Smyrna raisins. A very dry palate that reminds me of the best Marcs de Bourgogne. Excellent: 92 points.
  

September 3, 2006


TASTING - TWO HIGHLAND PARKS
Highland Park 17 yo 1987/2005 (46%, Whisky Galore) Colour: straw. Nose: starts very fresh, clean and fruity, on lots of pear juice, apricots, melons, mirabelle plums… Then flowers, nectar, honey, buttercups, ‘probably’ heather… Gets then a little grainy (porridge) as well as nicely grassy (newly cut grass, hints of basil) and finally slightly oaky for more structure. Lots of vannila as well. A rather simple but totally flawless Highland Park, probably one to drink like that rather than taste. Let’s see…
Mouth: sweet and fruity attack with a layer of white pepper and nutmeg. Quite some apricot pie, apple pie, vanilla crème, notes of calvados… pineapple liqueur, lemon drops. Really mouthfilling, with a long, hugely fruity finish with also a little candy sugar. Hugely drinkable indeed. 86 points.
Highland Park 1985/2004 (54%, Scott’s Selection) Colour: straw. Nose: very, very similar, just more powerful and slightly oakier (a little more coffee, apple skin). Other than that it’s just the same whisky! Mouth: oh yes, same comment. It’s the same whisky, just at a higher strength. Maybe slightly yeastier and mintier but that’s all. I can’t see why I would give it a different rating: 86 points (and thanks Jean-Marie).

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: it's Sunday, we go classical with another excellent mezzo from the Barzilay racing stable, Israel's Edna Prochnik, singing O don fatale.mp3 (from Verdi's Don Carlo). Superb! Please go to Miss Prochnik's concerts.

  

September 2, 2006


TASTING - TWO MANNOCHMORES

Mannochmore 22 yo 1977 (56.1%, Chieftain's Choice) Colour: straw. Nose: a rather youthful start on typical notes of young Speysider: lots of white fruits (apples and pears) as well as quite some porridge, grains, mashed potatoes and just hints of oak, vanilla and caramel. Quite enjoyable and rather flawless in fact but not too much character. Also hints of coffee.

Mouth: a sweet attack (pear and apple juice, pineapple sweets) with lots of tea, white pepper, oak… A certain bitterness but it’s okay. Gets maybe a little too sugary… Add to that a little liquorice and that’s it. Medium long, slightly spirity, oaky and tea-ish finish with also notes of walnut skin. An okay malt (that’s all I could come up with, sorry). 78 points.
Mannochmore 1984/2004 (46%, Helen Arthur) Colour: gold. Nose: more expressive, with clear notes of sherry at first nosing. Old walnuts, old Chardonnay (that lost its freshness), lots of vanilla, a little cardboard… Probably a refill cask. Gets then rather close to the Chieftains (pears, porridge) but there’s an extra-layer of fruits: apricots, very ripe peaches… Quite some tea as well. Again, nothing extraordinarily special but it’s pleasant. Mouth: again, a rather sherried attack, starting right on unsugared coffee, coffee flavoured fudge, walnuts again, something cardboardy as well… gets drier after a moment, with lots of tea, grape skin, green pepper… Lacks sweetness and roundness, although there are notes of lavender sweets coming through now, bitter oranges, grapefruits… Not exactly acrid but there’s something rough. Finish: medium long, rather tea-ish and oaky with hints of liquorice and nutmeg. Marginally more interesting than the Chieftains. 79 points.
and also Mannochomore 12 yo (43%, Flora and Fauna) Straw. Nose: strats on bold notes of linseed oil, even motor oil, developing on a little parsley and mint. Very interesting. Mouth: nice moutfeel, more on caramelk and cereals, the whole being quite satisfying and very drinkable. 80 points.

 

MUSIC – Heavily recommended listening: the late Don Pullen was one of my favourite pianists and here's an unusually easy Milano strut.mp3 he recorded in 1978 on the Hammond B-3 (with his friend Famoudou Don Moye). But beware, I'll post some much freeer pieces by this total genius within the coming months... Please buy the fabulous Don Pullen's CD's... (via Penceland)

  

September 1, 2006


TASTING - 13 IRISH MALTS +1
First, a big thanks you to fellow Malt Maniac Lex who wrote a stunning piece on Ireland and its malts and provided me with some of these samples.
Ambiente Malt Whiskey (40%, Irish, Germany, circa 2005) Probably a Cooley according to Lex. Colour: almost white. Nose: very fresh and very fruity at first nosing, not unlike a good grappa. Lots of strawberries, gooseberries, white currants and then quite some milky and mashy notes (muesli). Uncomplicated but enjoyable, even if newbies may think this isn’t whisky when nosing it blind (and maybe not only newbies). Mouth: very sweet and not too bold, to say the least. Starts a little sugarish, with fructose and bottled orange juice and develops on ripe apples. Rather short finish on fruit eau-de-vie (tutti fruti) with just a little white pepper. Okay, the nose was pleasant but the mouth is quite indefinite I think. Whiskey? Very young, in any case. 65 points.
Merrys Single Malt (40%, Irish, circa 2005) From Cooley, bottled by Robert A. Merry & Co. Colour: white wine. Nose: a bolder start, more frankly ‘whiskey’. Less fruity (but there’s quite some apple, banana and gooseberries) and rather mashier, with quite some porridge and hints of ginger ale. Not as clean as the Ambiente and a tad sourer. Mouth: a little more oomph than the Ambiente, and more on cereals and baked apples. Quite grainy, with also notes of maple syrup but not much more… Medium long finish on grain and a slight maltiness. Well, nothing to get excited about if you ask me. 67 points.

Erin Go Bragh Single Malt 6 yo (40%, Irish, circa 2000) A rare malt from Midleton distillery. Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah, there more presence now, more personality. Too bad it’s quite cardboardy for a moment but it does improve after that, with quite some apples and hints of cinnamon as well as a little incense. Gets fruitier after a while (plums) but also mashier (mashed potatoes, yoghurt sauce). Not superb but frankly nicer than both the Ambiente and the Merrys. Mouth: well, it’s also got more body, starting on spices (cinnamon and white pepper) and developing on sugared apple juice and tea. Hints of tannins. The finish isn’t too long but rather balanced. Not too bad but still not a winner, I’m afraid. 69 points.

Locke’s 8 yo (40%, OB, Irish, circa 2005) From Cooley’s. Colour: dark straw. Nose: again a step forward, this one having more body. Hints of oak, cider apples, apple skin, walnuts and nutmeg… An interesting sourness (‘good’ baby vomit – err…). And then we have the fruits (lychees, strawberries). Nice backbone, the nicest nose so far. Mouth: closer to what we’d expect from a single malt indeed. Rather oaky and peppery, with a nice maltiness and notes of caramel but not much else after that except a certain fruitiness. Bananas? Medium long finish, slightly drying but balanced, with notes of candy sugar and cooked apples. No we reach 70 points.
Connemara 12 yo (40%, Irish, circa 2005) From Cooley’s. Colour: straw. Nose: ah, yes, the peat… An enjoyable mix of smokiness and mashiness on top of a few fruits (bananas, not too ripe strawberries). Goes on with sea spray, yoghurt, oysters… Not too complex but rather clean and straightforward. Really pleasant. Mouth: starts on an enjoyable mix of peat and apple juice plus a little wood (slightly tannic, getting just a little drying). Also apple skin, maybe walnuts… But a rather short finish with just notes of peat and pepper remaining on your tongue. In short, a nice one but I guess it lacks a few extra-degrees to stand the peat. 72 points.
Knappogue Castle 1994/2004 (40%, Irish) An independent version of Bushmills. Colour: white wine. Nose: ah yes, even more personality now. No peat but lots of fruits (mostly gooseberries and green apples), perfumy notes (nice lilac, vetiver) plus hints of porridge and maybe celeriac. Clean and interesting, that’s for sure. Mouth: sweet and fruity attack but less oomph that I’d expected, alas. Also a little too sugarish despite the relative fruitiness (not too fruity for an Irish, in fact, more like a Scotch). Gets then a little spicy (black pepper) but not much else, including at the somewhat short finish. I think the nose was much nicer – and that it doesn’t resemble a Bushmills! 68 points.
Irish 10 yo (43%, Signatory, circa 2003) Another one from Cooley Distillery. Colour: straw. Nose: much more expressive again, and that’s not just the extra 3%. Very nice notes of spices right at the start (Moroccan allspices, I don’t know what’s in it but they use it almost everyday), lots of apple skin and cider, hints of quince and pears, light honey, light caramel… Also hints of aniseed and white sauvignon. Elegant and pleasant, the best so far. Mouth: playful, as fruity as one can get but not only fruity. It’s the first time we also have liquorice and something slightly earthy. Quite some dried tangerines as well, orange marmalade… Quite oomphy! The finish is also the longest and the boldest so far, with quite some added praline and nougat. A good surprise by Signatory Vintage. 78 points.
Bushmills Malt 10 yo (43%, OB, circa 2004) Colour: gold. Nose: yet much more expressive at first nosing, starting on the usual bananas and rum notes. More spirity as well… It’s a completely different style indeed. Goes on with very ripe strawberries, notes of kirsch and mirabelle plums eau-de-vie, with maybe a certain ‘dirtiness’ that’s not quite ‘dirtiness’… Let’s rather say old wood. Mouth: better than the nose I think. Creamy, almost thick, starting on apricot pie and honey and developing on lots of different fruit jams as well as a little white pepper and hints of clove. Ah, yes, also ripe bananas of course. Medium-long finish, again on a whole jam jar plus quite some cinnamon. A style of its own, very drinkable. 80 points.
Bushmills 1975 Millenium Malt (43%, OB, cask #286) Colour: gold. Nose: quite curiously, this one is less expressive than the 10 yo at first nosing. Granted, we have lots of bananas, but… wait, now it’s opening up, with quite some old roses, strawberries and lychees and maybe a little musk. Goes on with rubbed orange skin, ginger, rosehip tea… Very fragrant in fact – but you have to like that. Lacks maybe a little reserve (yes, Serge speaking). Mouth: sweet and very rich, with an enjoyable attack on buttered salted caramel and cooked strawberries, bananas flambéed, rum, heather honey… Quite some apple compote with cinnamon as well, Turkish delights, crystallised fruits… Almost extravagant, too bad it wasn’t bottled at 45 or 46%, there’s just a slight ‘sluggishness’ at the finish. 83 points (and thanks Michel).
Connemara 1992/2006 (46%, OB, k92/303711, 250 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: this is much hotter now, starting on heavy notes of toasted bread (all sorts of toasted stuff in fact) and strong porridge, cereals, yoghurt… Gets seriously sour and woody after a while, and quite dirty at that. Mashed celeriac mixed with sour cream? A bit excessive for my tastes. Hints of peat… Mouth: ah, this is better, with quite some peat that was almost absent from the nose plus candy sugar and rum-soaked pineapples. Add to that a little pepper, nutmeg, sugared apple juice… Nice palate, simple but nice. Rather long finish with lots of oomph, balanced, getting spicier with also caramelized peanuts. Much better than on the nose! 78 points.
Redbreast 12 yo (40%, OB, circa 2003) I know, Redbreast isn’t a pure or single malt but it’s an old favourite. Colour: pale gold. Nose: probably the cleaner and fruitier of them all. Superb notes of ripe strawberries and apricots mixed with whiffs of pine resin and a little cellulose varnish. Goes on with roasted nuts, praline, nougat, honey… A winning Irish on the nose, perfectly composed. Also something slightly bourbonny (vanilla). Mouth: sweet, immensely fruity and honeyed. Lots of strawberries, papayas, tangerines, bananas and coconut milk, all that mixed with acacia honey and crushed pollen plus a dash of black pepper. Superb finish, just as fruity (also dried pears) and honeyed with hints of nutmeg. As drinkable as it can get! 86 points.
Redbreast 15 yo (46%, OB, 2005) Colour: gold. Nose: astonishingly, this one is more closed, more austere, much less playful than the 12yo. Did they try to compose something more ‘serious’? More Scottish? Much less fruity but quite farmy instead, slightly phenolic, waxy. Hints of rubber, blackcurrant leaves… Gets then quite vegetal (newly cut grass, green tea) and slightly peppery. Nothing to do with the rather extravagant 12yo. Mouth: it is better now, much closer in style to the 12yo. Almost the same whisky but with more oomph, thanks to the extra 6%. Maybe a tad nuttier and more caramelly. Too bad the nose lacked the 12yo’s ‘full-Irishness’. And don't tell me it's not PC to like the 12 better! 82 points.
Cooley 13 yo (60.6%, Cadenhead, circa 2006) Colour: straw. Nose: back to the peated Cooleys with this rather mashy and smoky version, close to the regular Connemara 12yo. Huge notes of mashed potatoes and yoghurt sauce (like the one they serve in Turkey with some kebabs), sour apples, all sorts of immature fruits, lemon juice, muscadet (greenish, usually acid white wine, nothing to do with muscat)… Also a little pepper but the whole is really ‘green’ and sour, that sourness managing to mask the heavy peatiness after a moment. A bit hard I must say. Nose: ah, it’s much sweeter now, almost honeyed (by contrast) with a very nice peatiness and lots of apricot jam and black pepper. Very simple but most enjoyable, with a very long, still very peaty and honeyed finish. Again an excellent palate somewhat spoiled by a so-so nose. Too bad! 78 points.
And also Bushmills 1975 ‘Private Cask’ (43%, OB for Whisky Club Kyrburg, cask #359) Truckloads of bananas and coconuts plus quite some fresh paint on the nose. Mouth: very fruity but also a little soapy, lacking a little backbone, yet it’s sort of rough. I liked many 1975 Bushmills better. 78 points.

 

MUSIC – JAZZ - Recommended listening: the magnificent Bill Evans' Waltz for Debby.mp3 sung by the elegant pianist and vocalist Ellyn Rucker, (the excellent Red Mitchell is on bass and Marvin 'Smitty' Smith on drums). Please buy miss Rucker's music, go to her gigs and support jazz in general!



August 2006 - part 2 <--- September 2006 - part 1 ---> September 2006 - part 2

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

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

Ardbeg 9 yo 1991/2000 (60.9%, La Réserve, bourbon cask)

Caol Ila 12 yo 1974 (63%, The London Scottish Malt Whisky Society – James MacArthur, cask #74231)

Caol Ila 15 yo ‘Manager’s Dram’ (63%, OB, for the SMD staff association, bottled 1990)

Glendronach 22 yo 1975/1998 (57.7%, Signatory, cask #1686, 268 bottles)

Glenrothes 1972/1996 (43%, OB)

Glenrothes 1969/2000 (53.4%, McNeill’s Choice, cask #19217)

Glenugie 1967/1989 (59.5%, Sestante ‘bird label’ sherry)

Glenugie 20 yo 1968 (54.8%, Sestante ‘bird label’, sherry)

Ledaig 18 yo 1972 (55.9%, James MacArthur)

Ledaig 22 yo 1972/1995 (51.3%, Cadenhead)

Lochside 37 yo 1966/2004 (47.7%, Jack Wieber’s Old Train Line, cask #7543)

Port Ellen 23 yo 1977/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 318 bottles, US)