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

September 30, 2007


Balvenie

TASTING – TWO UNUSUALLY SHERRIED BALVENIES

Balvenie NAS (43%, OB, flat bottle with flags, 1980’s) Here’s the funny bottle that we sometimes call ‘the tennis racket’. The 18yo version is more common I think, and less sherried.

Colour: full amber. Unusually dark for Balvenie. Nose: starts extremely sherried whilst most official Balvenies we know are much more floral and fruity. Very powerful, almost too sharp and violent at just 43%. A lot of game, lovage (or Maggi plant), much closer to an old Macallan I’d say. Quite some nougat and praline. Gets closer to the usual Balvenies after a while (a lot of honey, dandelions, nectar) but there are also hints of smoke. Mouth: really powerful, extremely honeyed, with also a lot of bacon and notes of peppered strawberries, yet it’s quite perfectly balanced. Bold sherry, nothing to do with the current Balvenies I must say. Finish: ‘as long as a day without bread’ (or without whisky?), mostly on strawberry jam and maybe a little cherry liqueur. Totally amazing power. Love this. 90 points.
Balvenie 17 yo ‘SherryOak’ (43%, OB, 2007) This brand new Balvenie was fully matured in Oloroso sherry casks. Colour: deep amber with bronze hues. Nose: starts immediately dry, mostly on coffee and bitter cocoa, which is certainly unusual for Balvenie, but rather beautiful. Gets even more coffeeish (all kinds of coffee, from espresso to café latte) and rather perfectly spicy (cinnamon, nutmeg, hints of star anise), and then more ‘antique’, with old leather, wax polish, old furniture... Discreet whiffs of soy sauce, but not meatiness here. I really like this one, very cleanly dry. Mouth: a slight weakness at the attack due to the low strength but it’s soon to take off, on these coffeeish and chocolaty notes again, prunes, Corinth raisins, the same spices as on the nose and a slight, pleasant tannicity (not bone-dry). Maybe the middle is a bit weakish again but the finish is longer again, rather full, clean, still very dry, with pleasant tannins and an aftertaste on cooked blackcurrants and prunes. A success I think. 88 points.
MUSICRecommended listening: Some compositions just stay in your mind even if you listen to them only once every ten years. Mason WilliamsClassical gas.mp3 (recorded in 1968) sure is one of them... Yes WF is eclectic! Please buy Mason Williams' music. Mason Williams
 

September 28, 2007


TASTING - TWO PORT CHARLOTTES
Port Charlotte

Port Charlotte 2001/2007 ‘PC6’ (61.6%, OB, 2007) Here’s the brand new Port Charlotte! We’ll also have a glass of the PC5 at hand so that we can compare both. Colour: straw (the PC5 is rather pale gold, that is to say darker). Nose: it’s obviously the same make, except that the PC6 is straighter at first nosing, more directly on smoke and less on pears and kirsch.

But then I detect something fruitier (apricots, very ripe melons) and a rather distinct vinosity, but I wouldn’t say this is ‘winey’. Whiffs of peonies, clean wine barrel, then warm butter and mashed potatoes, hot cake... More towards pastries than the PC5, with maybe a little less smoke. Gets more demonstrative with time, more ‘raw’ (wool, ‘clean’ manure, porridge, new leather, soaked grain). Other than that it’s close to the PC5, with just these added faint winey hints that may (or may not, I have no info at hand) come from time spent in good wine casks. But it certainly doesn’t smell like wine-finished whisky as such. With water: now it got much nicer than the PC5. Indeed, it’s straighter, all on peat and whiffs of a farmyard in a hot summer day, and without a single winey notes left. The hints of mint and curry that we got in the PC5 disappeared as well. Very, very ‘Islay’, and an excellent swimmer it seems. Mouth (neat): again, starts cleaner and better balanced than the PC5 as well as rather more peppery and spicy and, again, less kirschy. But it does need water... So, with water: still powerful and, again, cleaner than the PC5 (I’m not meaning the latter was dirty of course). More fresh fruits (butter pears) and a perfect peatiness, with also notes of ginger tonic and gentian spirit. Very, very good, maybe marginally closer to the Islays from the south shore than the PC5, that is. And indeed, no winey notes on the palate. Finish: long, peaty, fruity, very clean, with notes of plum spirit. Rating? I’d say two points above the PC5, which means 88 points.
09/29/2007 - Added comments – I just learned that this PC6 was partly matured in Madeira casks. Well, all I can say is that it worked well and that it was only relatively obvious to me on the nose that some 'not too vinous' wine was involved ihere. At least we’ve got the answer now .
Port Charlotte 5 yo 2001/2006 (60.6%, Private Bottling Gerold Vincon, refill sherry bloodtub #R42, 41 bottles) Will this one be as good as our friend Gordon Homer’s stunning PC? Let’s see... Colour: amber. Nose: much closer to the official PC’s and less marked with sherry than Gordon’s cask, but quite outstanding again, with a huge complexity, unusual considering its young age. Superb notes of burgers topped with brown sauce, honey, old sweet white wine (something like straw wine from Jura – not the island), various herbs (sage, coriander), then raspberry jam... Gets then closer to the PC6, with similar notes of mashed potatoes. The smoke is truly fantastic. With water: it’s amazing how that worked. Almost like with Gordon’s cask, this young Port Charlotte smells like 20yo whisky. Great flinty notes and even the mashed potatoes got even better (Robuchon’s recipe, half-potatoes, half-butter.) Hints of fresh crushed mint leaves this time. Mouth (neat): fantastic! All on vanilla fudge, praline and smoky nougat (wait, I don’t think that exists in real life...) with several crystallised fruits and a little resin. But it’s hot whisky at 60%, let’s add water again straight away. That made it more toasted, smoky and dry, almost ashy and very flinty again. Add to that hints of our beloved chestnut honey and you get a truly amazing whisky again. Finish: very long, wonderfully balanced, smoky and toasted, maybe more on coffee now. Not far at all from Gordon’s wonder that I had at 94 (Olivier had it at 98, imagine!) Okay, let’s display our very Gallic sense of logic now and give this one 93 points. (and many thanks, Gerold)
MUSICRecommended listening: Yet another fantastic oldie, with blues shouter and ‘loud-talking, fast living, womanising, hard-drinking, shrewd, witty and generous son of a gun’ Wynonie Harris singing the Drinking blues.mp3 in the 1950’s. Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey! Harris also performed with Duke Ellington or Tommy Dorsey. Please buy his music. Wynonie Harris
 

September 27, 2007


Laphroaigs

TASTING - TWO NEW OFFICIAL LAPHROAIGS

Laphroaig 25 yo (40%, OB, 2007) Here’s the new large batch Laphroaig, unexpectedly bottled at 40%. A bit strange when you know the difference that just 3 more percents can make to the regular 10yo. Colour: straw/pale gold.

Nose: starts on distant whiffs of wood smoke, garden bonfire, tarmac and bandages, with little sweetness if any. Gets a little more buttery after that but there are also added notes of antiseptic, and tiger balm (camphor). Certainly one of the most medicinal Laphroaigs I could nose. Also notes of marzipan and almond milk. Very good balance except that the whole is sort of subdued. True to Laphroaig’s legend but more whispering than wham-bam, getting even slightly dusty, cardboardy and pearish after a moment (but interesting whiffs of wet wool do arise at the same time). Mouth: well, this is different, relatively weak right from the start, with quite some peat but also notes of tea, stale pepper, lager beer, light caramel... Not much happening on the palate I think, except for some rather pleasant notes of grapefruits and kumquats like in the 15yo. Yes, this 25 is close to the 15 as far as the profiles are concerned, but it’s also weaker and gets a little too cardboardy. Not much happening indeed. Finish: medium long, slightly sweeter and also a little candied, with notes of crystallised oranges but little ‘Laphroaigness’ other than that. Well, all I can say is that I like the 15, 30 and 40 better. Much better. Too bad... Again, it would probably have displayed more oomph and zing at 43%. But the nose is pretty nice I think, despite its shyness. 84 points.
Laphroaig 27 yo 1980/2007 (57.4%, OB for LMDW France, 972 bottles) Just like the latest Black Bowmore, this one is a vatting of five oloroso sherry casks. Colour: deep amber with brownish hues. Nose: a magnificent sherry and peat combo! Exceptional tarry notes, ‘good’ sulphur (no cooked eggs), very beefy as well, developing on an amazing number of aromas coming out in waves. At random, we have superb camphory and resinous notes, sea water and seaweed, fresh mint and verbena, soy and plum sauces, coffee and toffee, slightly burnt caramel, brandy-soaked prunes, oranges, hints of hare belly or well-hung pheasant, caramelised wine sauce, hints of old rancio, strong Dutch liquorice, chocolate... Yes, what a bunch. Truly exceptional to be honest. And god knows I’d have loved to be able to bash this one because of its insane price... No luck, it is exceptional indeed, even if it wanes a wee bit after fifteen minutes or so. Mouth: what a big, fat, oily, hugely concentrated attack! Did they cook it for hours or what? Amazingly thick indeed, yet not inelegant at all, all on bitter chocolate, prunes and peat (no big bold peat, that is), with also loads of spices starting to storm your palate. Cinnamon, cloves, heavy liquorice, paprika... Also espresso coffee, armagnac (I know people who would think this is a great old cask strength armagnac). Some kinds of ‘tannins’ like in unstemmed grape brandy, certainly pleasant here even if they are quite drying. Grape pips. Orange liqueur. Again, how, fat, how thick, how bold! Finish: long, very drying but not unpleasantly so, mostly on something like orange liqueur in which you’d have let liquorice and all kinds of roots infuse. Maybe even ginseng. Oh, and there’s quite some old plum brandy in the aftertaste... Well, this is not for everyone, and it’s not only because of its frankly over the top price tag (around 680 euros – no typo). I found the 1974 from two years ago to be better balanced and more elegant, but this incredible Hulk of a Laphroaig sure is a great sherried Islayer. But again, you really have to like your whisky black. No wonder they chose an unusual (and very Cadenheadian) black label for it. 92 points.
YET A LITTLE SHOPPING - It's amazing what one can find on the Web (no kiddin'!) For instance a Chinese whisky named Ikusa, with 'Special taste for Chinese food' (USD 36.00 a 12b case) or another one, a Scotch this time, named SKL, about which the wholesaler wrote 'Finest whisky in Scothland, Tasted like Chivas (maybe better)' offered with 'Free trial available in Singapore & KL, Malaysia to witness its unique functions'. A little dearer though: wholesale price USD 10.00 a bottle, retail price USD 40.00 (yeah, sure!) Now, the good news is on the backlabel: 'It's probably the finest whisky of this century.' That makes all the difference, doesn't it! SKL
Grevious angel

 

MUSICRecommended listening: game for some good, honest, America-like country-rock today? So, let's have Grevious Angel doing Down by love.mp3 and then buy their music...

 

September 26, 2007


Black Bowmore

TASTING - THREE OLD BOWMORES

Bowmore 42 yo 1964/2007 ‘Black’ (40.5%, OB, 827 bottles) A vatting of five oloroso sherry casks, from Bowmore’s first distillation using indirect steam heating (vs. direct firing). We absolutely adored the first edition of the older Black Bowmore (96) but found the second and the ‘final’ (at the time) editions slightly lumpish and too much on the ‘blackberry jam - chocolate’ side, the final edition being even a bit tannic, but they were still great whiskies (both 91). No need to say we’re very curious about this Black Bowmore Reloaded...

Colour: very deep amber. Nose: yes! It all starts on an extreme and stunning fruitiness like with most Bowmores from the 1960’s, but with many added layers. I’d say the first impression mixes squashed oranges, chestnut purée, milk chocolate and mint but there’s much more. It gets more frankly fruity after that wonderful attack, with the expected tangerines, blood oranges and papayas (but no passion fruits this time) and then more maritime, with a little iodine, dried kelp, fresh clams... The mint strikes back together with a little camphor and eucalyptus, then quite some dried fruits (prunes, figs, also ginger), and we’re finally back on crystallised tangerines, with also quite some heather honey. Oh, and also notes of oxtail, even Parma ham. Not a single hint of over-ageing and no excessive oakiness whatsoever. Mouth: more obvious oak now, liquorice, strong black tea, dark chocolate and orange zests. I find it rather bitter but it’s pleasant bitterness. Notes of spearmint chewing gum, green tea, un-sugared coffee, apple skin, orange zest, bitters... Very nice dryness I must say but you have to like that. Maybe not as luscious as on the nose, nor as complex, but that almost always happens after 30 years of age I think, not to mention after 40 (who said it’s just like men?) Finish: probably not excessively long but the citrus fruits are back alongside the chocolaty notes. Quite some walnuts too and a rather gingery aftertaste. Well, I’d say that the most interesting part of this new BB is the nose (maybe 80% of the whole happens there actually) whilst the palate is probably a little less remarkable, but the whole is a very great whisky, no doubt. So, is it worth the roughly £2,000 it’ll cost? Probably more so than the Ardbeg-1965-with-white-gloves from two years ago, in any case (more about that one in the coming days). 91 points.
Bowmore 31 yo 1957/1988 (40%, Hart Bros) This one wasn’t reduced with water, the 40% being ‘natural’ and was still distilled using direct firing. Colour: dark gold. Nose: pretty different but we’re in the same family. Fresher and fruitier than the Black at first nosing but less complex. More on crystallised oranges, with hints of marzipan and a bigger ‘coastality’ (sea breeze). Also something slightly milky and mashy, which could be a bit bizarre in such an old malt. We suddenly get huge notes of freshly opened coconuts and it then definitely stays on that, with just a little more mint adding even more freshness to the whole. Not as entertaining and complex as the Black but still very, very nice. Bowmore 1957
Mouth: more body and more freshness than in the BB this time, with a big fruitiness (oranges, passion fruits, mangos) and a little coffee and caramel. Little peat and little ‘coastality’, that is. Picks up steam with time, getting more and more on fruit eaux-de-vie (plums). Maybe not an immense old Bowmore but it’s good. Finish: rather long, on oranges and spices (pepper). Very good but there are more demonstrative old Bowmores, including the official 38yo 1957. 88 points.
Bowmore 1965 Bowmore 1965 (43%, OB, France, Auxil, typed vintage, late 1980’s) We’re wondering if this one will be different from the totally stellar 1965 we’re used to (well, that’s a bold statement), on which the vintage was printed and not just ‘re-typed’. Colour: dark mahogany. Nose: well, it’s very close to the ‘regular’ 1965 but maybe a tad wilder. Hints of horse sweat, changing-room. Other than that it’s all on citrus fruits (all of them, grapefruit being the leader) and seawater, plain salt, iodine, burning heather, liquorice, pepper, cinnamon... And always these wild sweaty notes. Certainly not ‘de salon’. Mouth: marginally simpler and less sweaty (hopefully) but truly magnificent. Loads of grapefruit, cinnamon, salt... Incredibly salty actually. To cut a long story short, just a stunning Bowmore from the 60’s, bottled at its peak. 95 points.
Warning, anorak stuff ahead ...
Bowmore 1965 'Islay Pure Malt', regular printed vintage (for Italy etc) Bowmore 1965, 'Islay Single Malt', typed vintage (Auxil, France)
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
   
MUSICRecommended listening: Quiet, very quiet, but Winter took his life (how weird a band’s name can be...) and their whisperer Susanna Brandin from Gothenburg, Sweden, make rather beautiful music I think. Try Time.mp3 and thenp lease buy it.
Winter took his life
 
 
 

September 25, 2007


TASTING – FOUR OLD STRATHISLAS
Strathisla
Strathisla 40 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, circa 2000) Colour: amber. Nose: starts on fantastic notes of roasted hazelnuts, mint leaves and milk chosolate. Goes on with a superb ‘vinosity”, extremely elegant. Keeps developing on game, pepper, ham and all kinds of wild mushrooms. Extremely classy. Mouth: yes, superb, roasted, candied but quite nervous. Also lots of fresh fruits (oranges but also strawberries) and quite a dash of cinnamon. Perfect. Finish: surprisingly long but maybe a tad too oaky now. Very enjoyable smokiness in the background. State of the art as far as low strength malts are concerned. 90 points.
Strathisla 1963/2005 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail) Colour; amber. Nose: it’s a rather different story. This one starts more on bananas flambéed, coconuts (Malibu) and a beautiful oakiness. Also quite some game, ham, mint sauce (yeah we tried this one in the UK). Gets more similar to the 40yo after a moment but maybe a tad more complex. We have the same kinds of wild mushroom. Mouth: more classic, maybe a little woodier. Dried bananas, crystallised apricots. Loses a little steam with time but never gets weak. Finish: quite long, much spicier than before, getting very peppery. In short, another great old Strathisla, somewhat in the style of an old cognac. Too bad the middle was slightly on the slow side. 89 points.
Strathisla 21yo (40%, Sestante, late 1980’s) This one gathered mixed comments from other MM’s, let’s see what gives. Colour: gold. Nose: rather silent I’d say, and very dry at the same time. Hints of OBE staring to appear (metal polish). Also hints of toasted bread, herbal tea (chamomile, which can be great but also quite dreadful like here). Still quite malty, that is. Not unpleasant in fact, just a bit too weakish and dry. Mouth: weak indeed, almost watery. Too bad because the ‘elements’ behind are rather perfect (nice maltiness, roasted nuts, even a little smokiness) but it’s just like somebody had reduced it down to 25 or 30°%. Finish: not much, not much… But let’s not slam this one, again, the profile is very nice, just way too slim, at least for contemporary drinkers. 78 points.
Strathisla 1937 (70 Proof, G&M Licensed, mid 1970’s) No need to say that it’s a thrill to be able to try a pre-war malt! Colour: amber. Nose: granted, it’s probably not very explosive but the ‘antiquated’ smells are truly beautiful. It’s all on old furniture, wax polish, rosehip tea, pollen, old leather, tobacco… Goes on with slightly overripe strawberries (great to find fresh fruits in such an old malt), old books, attic, a little marzipan, buttered toffee… Then it’s the metallic notes that we find in many old bottles (metal polish), clay. There’s even flowers (mostly peonies). A very moving old whisky, an ode to age. And I no way it’s weak, or even slightly weakish. Wonderful, even if we already know that the palate won’t probably match the nose. Mouth: it’s got ten times more zing than the Sestante! Amazing notes of pipe tobacco, crystallised oranges, several kinds of honey (mostly orange honey), very old white wine… Something delicately resinous… And the peat, you may ask? Yes it’s quite peaty – more than more modern versions at least – smoky… I’d say ‘smoky-candied’. The body is really impressive, it gets almost hot after a while. Absolutely no weakness from the attack to the finish. Speaking of which, it’s long, candied, honeyed, finely smoky, orangey… In short, a thrill, thanks to the Scottish grandpas who made this beauty. 91 points. I’m sure it would have made it up to 95, had it been bottled at 45+%. (and thanks, Roland)
MUSICRecommended listening: Let’s have some classic soul rock today with Al Wilson and his hit The snake.mp3. It seems that he escaped a fire at home earlier this year, but that he sadly lost many of his master tapes. Please buy Al Wilson’s music. Al Wilson
 

September 24, 2007


TASTING - THREE DALLAS DUDES (err, Dhus)
Dallas Dhu Dallas Dhu 34 yo 1971/2005 (52.1%, Blackadder Raw Cask, cask #1060, 276 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: starts all on apple juice, warm butter and wood smoke, getting then rather grassier and waxier. Notes of something like ‘grassy marzipan’ (?), old walnuts, vase water... Gets more on dairy cream after that, yoghurt, with the oakiness also taking off (white pepper, nutmeg and ginger). Very dry, pleasantly so, although we do also get hints of plums and maybe not too ripe apricots. It doesn’t seem to need water so let’s drop it. Mouth: punchy, fruity and very peppery attack, I’d say in the ‘rough Highlands style’. Overripe oranges and lemons, cider apples (a little bitterish), vanilla-flavoured toffee, vanilla, sage... A lot of oak and ‘bearable’ green tannins. Also notes of grape skin, lemon peels... Rather wild and rough I’d say. Finish: long but frankly tannic now, drying. The funny thing is that this ‘flaw’ is rather pleasant here, it gives this Dallas Dhu a big backbone. I quite like it. 85 points.
Dallas Dhu 26 yo 1981/2007 (55.7%, Duncan Taylor, cask #432) A brand new bottling. Colour: gold. Nose: a rather similar profile but it’s all much cleaner, straighter, purer... With also added whiffs of cologne. And a very faint soapiness that’s soon to disappear. Other than that it’s all walnuts and almonds, wax, vanilla-flavoured yoghurt, fresh coconut (very obvious here). Discreet whiffs of wet dog. The cologne vanishes as well, leaving more room for the oak and quite a grassiness again. Bizarrely, it gets more silent after a few minutes. With water: yes it’s revived but it got ‘just’ a little farmier, which often happens when you add water. The rest is similar to the attack. Mouth (neat): well, as much as I found the nose okayish, I find the palate really interesting. The attack is all on pepper and Turkish delights, as if it was something like very good fruit liqueur matured in oak for a long time. Funny. Strawberry sweets and pepper, banana sweets and cloves, ripe kiwis and ginger, squashed oranges and cinnamon... Highly entertaining! Let’s drop water this time again, it doesn’t need it on the palate I think (okay, I couldn’t help trying it with water, it’s more of the same, only smoother and maybe a tad more ‘melted’). Finish: long, with the fruitiness winning the fight this time, which is rather good news. Excellent resinous touch. Highly drinkable, at that. 90 points.
Dallas Dhu 13 yo 1974/1987 (59.6%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade) Colour: straw. Nose: much sharper, rather spirity, waxy and grassy again. Water really needed here I guess. With water: well, it got much grassier and more globally vegetal, with whiffs of asparagus soup, cabbage cooking water, artichokes, manure, horse dung... My, this is wild! Not really to my liking I must say. Mouth (neat): powerful, coffeeish and sugary like many high-strength malts. With water: phew, this is better. The same kind of fruitiness as in the 1981 but less oak or spices for the structure I’d say, even if it gets very peppery and even quite peaty after a while. Big pepper actually, but the rest is a bit average. Finish: long and nice, very peppery, getting even bitterish (lemon skin) but in a rather pleasant way. Crystallised oranges. The finish was the best part I’d say. 78 points. Dallas Dhu 13
 

SHOPPING - It's all about China buying whisky these days but why not try to be smarter and buy whisky FROM China? Frankly, this bottle looks fantastic and they are capable of supplying us with 120,000 pieces a month. The name is 'Blueblood' and here's what they are writing to convince us even further: '
Features: 1) Blueblood 12, Blueblood 18 and Blueblood 21 whisky are deluxe whisky brewed from cereals and malts and underground water from narrow valleys at unique natural climate. 2) Rich wine quality, pure, aromatic and smoky tastes are maintained. 3) Has been sharing good reputation of "Soul of Whisky" for decades. 4) Ingredients: water, barley, wheat, pure malts. 5) Concentrate source: Scotland U.K.. 6) Alcohol volume: 40% vol. 7) N.W.: 700ml.
Now, it is to be wondered if '12', '18' and '21' are really related to this beverage's age... But what's reassuring is that the company was 'established in 1578'! B.C.?

Blueblood
Oh, and maybe it'll be interesting to read another very true story about whisky on Blueblood's website: ' “Blueblood" is a symhol lf noble in English,meaning the blue blook vessel hiding in the white skin of a nobleman.When Elizabeth I came to ascend throne in 1558,London citizens,standing on the both sides of a street,gave a warm welcome to their great and admirable queen. The Scotland people brought their queen whisky made by themselves. Later,the queen had been cherishing memory of the wine whisky and assigned a minister Francis Delex to produce the wine and named it “Blueblood" tha means wine for noble.Then,Delex had firece conflicts with the local aboriginals in a round-the -world sail. They were robbed of what they had except whisky for the aboriginals had no idea of the liquid in the wine barrel. Therefore,the whisky was left fortunately. Delex and his crews were in a sail on the sea for more than forty days,surviving with the rest wine whisky blueblood? None of them starved or even felt sick. From then on, Blueblood became well known in a night,and regarded as"water of life"or"the God's Blessing". Ah, History with a huge H!
MUSICRecommended listening: We’re great admirers of the fantastic Sarah Jones and we already had her 'Your Revolution' on WF, but here’s her version of the same song with Russia’s DJ Vadim. Please buy these people’s music... Sarah Jones
 

September 22, 2007


TASTING – FOUR SPEYBURNS
Speyburn
Speyburn 10 yo (40%, OB, circa 2006) Colour: pale gold. Nose: hello! Is there anybody in there? Ah yes, quite some orange marmalade, a little tea, a little cardboard, a little nougat and gingerbread and also a little mint. All that is very soft, the whole getting more malty after a moment. Not unpleasant. Mouth: round, very cereally and very malty, with quite some liquorice. Good body at 40%. Tea. Not complex but good. Finish: medium long, even maltier. Good whisky, reminding me of a blend with a good proportion of malt. 75 points.
Speyburn 1967/1988 (46%, Moon 'The Sea', cask #1198, 360 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: this is very different. Obvious but excellent OBE to start with, with some rather big notes of tiger balm (camphor, eucalyptus, thuja box) and then bitter almonds and wax. Rather dry. Goes on with notes of shoe polish, coal, paraffin, wet newspaper... Calms down after a while, getting more simply grainy, but there’s still a little camphor. Mouth: very good attack, not too bold but very resinous, with exactly the same kinds of flavours as on the nose. Excellent dryness. Finish: quite long, more candied, really on cough syrup now, with an oakier signature and more liquorice. 90 points.
Speyburn 21 yo 1979/2002 (60.2%, OB, cask #1132) Colour: full amber. Nose: interesting. Very close to the Moon at first nosing (mostly on wet newspaper and camphor as well as mint) but a very dry sherry is soon to take control. Hot bread crust, toasted brioche, roated nuts...) Gets more winey after that (red wine) but more minty at the same time. Slight dustiness. With water: it gets more animal and meaty. Hare, wet cat, oxtail... Same hints of camphor as in the Moon but less elegant ones. Mouth (neat): hot, spirity, much more sherried than on the nose. Quite some rubber and pepper as well but it gets burning, water is needed. With water: it got more tea-ish (earl grey) and nuttier, the malt coming out as well. Lots of candy sugar as well. Finish: long, very liquoricy now, malty, very dry. Maybe a bit raw in fact but the whole is very good heavily sherried malt. 85 points.
Speyburn 26 yo 1980/2006 (61.3%, Signatory, cask #110, 598 bottles) Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this ones seems to be much younger than it is, spirity, immature, grainy, with no fruity notes that I can get. Really raw. Water does bring a few more fruity notes but nothing really entrancing (pears). Mouth: sugary, very spirity, all on pear eau de vie and sugar. Even more pears with water. Finish; long but sugarish. It’s amazing how immature this one is, I guess the cask wasn’t in its prime. But it’s sort of interesting to try old whisky that hasn’t really aged. 69 points.

 

MUSICRecommended listening: This is fun, it's made by Barcelona's Pinker Tones and it's called Love Tape.mp3 (from their CD The Million Colour Revolution). Please buy their music (via the excellent False 45th)

Pinker Tones
 

September 20, 2007


SHOPPING - WORTHY ALTERNATIVES TO SCOTCH (what dear old MJ used to call malternatives says Davin)
Stil
Stil Vodka comes from New Zealand and recently had a very cheeky 'Win a Russian Bride' promotion. The winner was offered a trip to St Petersburg to search for a wife and bring her home. The company added, 'For the single Kiwi bloke who might not be an All Black or very good looking, this is a chance to get hooked up with somebody pretty hot.' A lot of buzz was hence created, although not always very positive, as anticipated. Maybe we'll soon see a 'Win a Scottish bride' promotion...
Glen Elgin

TASTING – TWO OFFICIAL
GLEN ELGINS

Glen Elgin 12yo (43%, OB, circa 2006) Colour: pale gold. Nose: a very malty and ‘roasted’ start with also a good deal of wood smoke (or barbecue). Gets then more honeyed but the loads of roasted nuts are still here, as well as quite some mocha. Very nice nose, not complex but assertive and very pleasant if you like (cold) coffee.

Mouth: a rather weaker attack, still quite malty but with much less overall character than on the nose. A little honey, a little toasted brioche, a little caramel crème… Add to that a touch of salt and you’re done. No flaws but not much thrill I’d say. Finish: not excessively long, still quite malty and ‘roasted’. A perfect example of a 75 points malt in my books, or what I’d call ‘a super-blend’.
Glen Elgin 19yo (60%, OB, Limited Centenary Bottling, 750 bottles, 2000) Nose: this is a completely different story. Huge punch and beautiful compactness on the nose, hugely grassy and rummy at the same time, with lots of coffee of the best breed. The best coffee-shnapps premix I ever smelled ;-). Mouth: starts all on caramelised cereals, extremely bold and assertive. Superb but needs water. So, with water: excellently compact again, all on coffee and caramelised nuts this time. And a super-long finish, as compact and ‘direct’ as a malt can get. High pleasure but certainly not for the oversensitive. 91 points (and thanks, Donald)
MUSICRecommended listening: always more jazz and blues by brilliant ladies on WF! Today it's Marva Wright from New Orleans and her soulful Let's make love.mp3. Please buy her music. Marva Wright
 

September 19, 2007


TASTING – FIVE OLD GLEN MHORS
Glen Mhor Glen Mhor 31 yo 1975/2007 (42.6%, Duncan Taylor, Rarest of the Rare, cask #4031, 258 bottles) Colour: amber with bronze hues. Nose: lots happening in there it seems! First we have rather beautiful notes of fresh walnuts and old pu-erh tea, then pencil box, ‘new’ leather, beef stock, artichoke liqueur (do you know Cynar?), cider apples... There’s well Glen Mhor’s usual ‘twisted’ profile. Keeps developing, this time more on lemon marmalade, hops. A box of Havana cigars that you just opened... No need to say this is fantastic. Mouth: a true oak infusion now. Walnut skin, dried morels, chalk, peanut skin, toasted bread, overinfused coffee and tea, very bitter chocolate (at least 85%)... Well, you really have to like oak to enjoy this brew but it’s so, err, ‘different’ that I quite like it, but the nose was much greater I think. Finish: very long but very oaky, dry and drying, all on bitter chocolate and liquorice. And dried mushrooms! 86 points for the stupendous nose.
Glen Mhor 20 yo 1979/1999 (56.5%, Dun Eideann, cask #697) Colour: amber. Nose: more brutal, but that could just be the alcohol. Bold chocolate and coffee as well as the same notes of walnuts as in the 1975 – just older walnuts. But it’s also very grassy, quite rough I must say. With water: gets a little more leathery but we’re in the vein here... For a while. Indeed, it gets much nicer with time and water), very ‘Gen Mhor’, meaty, animal... Whiffs of ‘moss + mushrooms + humus’. And lovage. Mouth (neat): a more classic sherried malt but again, lots of wood, chocolate, cocoa, coffee, roasted pecans, heavily infused black tea (Russian), walnuts... With water: oh yes, it developed tremendously. Even better balanced, beautifully nutty, candied, slightly salty, with also great dried fruits (bananas, dates). Finish: long, dry, roasted, leathery and meaty. High-class, bottled at perfect age. 90 points.
Lovage
lovage
Glen Mhor Glen Mhor 35 yo 1965/2001 (59.2%, Signatory, Silent Stills, cask #3932, 643 bottles) Colour: colour pale straw – unusually pale for such an old malt. Nose: amazingly young, almost immature. Grains, porridge, rice pudding, tinned pineapples. Hints of violets. Develops on whiffs of lemon soda, ginger tonic, cardboard, tequila. Just hints of varnish. Gets milkier with time. Mashed potatoes with a lot of butter. Well, Glen Mhor wasn’t always great but what’s sure is that there’s always something happening in your glass. With water: wazzat? Plastic? Chalk? Rotting pigeon? I’m joking but this is very ‘twisted’ indeed. Mouth (neat): very, very, very bizarre. Is this lemonade? Limoncello? Extremely unusual (I know I use that word very often but this one IS unusual). Paper, Campari... Gets as bitter as lemon skin. Maybe water will help. With water: oh, this is very bizarre again. Salted plastic? Smoked mushrooms? Tequila and lemon? Frankly, this is a very funny malt but it’s not for the academy. 70 points (organoleptically less but, well, fun...)
Glen Mhor 30 yo 1967/1997 (60.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, 30th Anniversary of Barmetro, 199 bottles) Colour: deep amber. Nose: yes this is beautiful Highland-born sherried malt. Very complex right at first nosing, going simultaneously in three main direction: coffee/chocolate, meat/animal and tea/leather. But I can’t tell you more because of the high strength. With water: oh yes, it’s a procession. Leather, walnuts, coal smoke, sage, cardamom, old amontillado, dried beef, whiffs of horse sweat, cocoa, hare belly, curry... Fantastic with water (and I’ll spare you the hundreds of other aromas any trained nose may find in this beauty.) Mouth (neat): a good example of heavy dry sherry meeting a rather savage whisky from the northern Highlands. Chocolate, kirsch, smoked ham, something resinous... But at 60%, water is really needed. With water: simpler than on the nose but perfectly balanced, orangey, lemony, candied, spicy (cloves), herbal (coriander)... Exceptional complexity, but don’t forget to add water to this one. Finish: very long, sweeter, lively (fructose) and fresher than expected. Superb selection by Mr Giorgio D’Ambrosio - an encyclopaedia of aromas and flavours indeed. 94 points. Glen Mhor
Glen Mhor Glen Mhor 8 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, late 1980’s) Colour: pale gold (we’ve seen much darker vattings of this classic). Nose: all of Glen Mhor’s ‘twistedness’ is here. Oil, paraffin, oxtail, birch smoke, matchsticks, coffee, green tea, newly cut grass... But also plastic, aspirin, wet newspaper, wet chalk, new tires... Phew, this is entertaining but certainly not classic, nor clean. The Gainsbourg of whisky? Mouth: very punchy, sweeter than all its brothers, a little sulphury alas, peppery, coffeeish, getting much drier with time. Also pear spirit, plum spirit... Gets a bit sugarish and indefinite. Less complex and much sweeter than all its older bros, obviously. Mouth: compact, sweet, leathery, like a brief summary of the 1967. Mushrooms and spices. Maltier too. Raspberry eau de vie. Finish: very long, still extremely compact, maybe a tad more cardboardy. Meatiness and dryness. Very, very good and a bang-for-your-buck malt, at the time. 86 points.
PEOPLE - A real stir amongst all Highland Park lovers! All sherried 1967’s had suddenly disappeared from the market, now we know who sneaked them all from eBay, McTear’s or Whisky auction: it’s Avril Lavigne! And look at the glass she’s using... Avril Lavigne
MUSICRecommended listening: Again something that Michael Jackson sort of 'gave' us - while I was browsing the Web for some Dylan Thomas (his favourite poet I've learnt) I came across Portland's Dylan-Thomas Vance and his Old man devil.mp3. Excellent, please buy his music. Dylan-Thomas Vance
 

September 18, 2007


SHOPPING - WORTHY ALTERNATIVES TO SCOTCH Yes, we got seriously fed up with (some of) the Scots' totally insane new price policy - and so are many WF readers acording to the reactions we get - so we decided to have from time to time a closer look at some much funnier - and much much more sensibly priced - spirits.
For instance, with 32 yo Ardbegs or 27yo Laphroaigs priced at 650 Euros or even more, we start to feel that it'll soon be much cooler (and more rock and roll) to sip Hendrix Electric Vodka, especially since it's 'an ultra-premium spirit offering the smooth flavor and purity of true vodka, hand crafted by Master Distiller Bill Scott of Idaho’s Distilled Resources, Inc. This 100% grain vodka marries the finest selection of corn and rye from Idaho and Utah with natural Rocky Mountain spring water. Distilled through four pristine stainless steel columns, Hendrix Electric Vodka is filtered through carbon and crystal, resulting in true vodka of unparalleled flavor and purity'. Even the gibberish isn't any worse than the Scots! Price $30.
Recipe of the Purple Haze cocktail: 1-1/2 oz Hendrix Electric Vodka, 1/2 oz Bols Bohemian Black Raspberry Liquor, Splash of Pineapple Juice, Shake and strain, Garnish with kiwi slice.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
   
MUSICRecommended listening: We’re in 1959 and Sandy Nelson does his very famous drums-based piece called Teen beat.mp3. As they say, ‘seminal’. Please buy Sandy Nelson’s music, he’s still around.
Sandy Nelson
 
 
TASTING – THREE LOCHNAGARS
Lochnagar
Royal Lochnagar 29 yo 1977/2006 (50.4%, Norse Cask, hogshead #QW863, 140 bottles) Colour: pale amber. Nose: this one isn’t extremely expressive at first nosing (except for quite some coffee) but it develops nicely, switching from coffee to tea (both black and green) and orange cake. Faint hints of mustard but also quite some floral notes in the background (peonies). Also eucalyptus. Mouth: sweet and grassy attack, getting then very tannic, ‘green’ (apple peelings, grapefruit seeds) and lemony. This one tastes stronger than it is, let’s try it with a little water: it’s all in the same vein, just more ‘drinkable’. Grapefruits. Very faint cardboard. Mint-flavoured liquorice. Finish: long, getting very grassy again, with always this liquorice. In short, a rather raw malt, for experimented big boys I’d say. 84 points.
Royal Lochnagar 29 yo 1977/2005 (55.6%, Blackadder Raw Cask, 209 bottles, cask #512) Colour: gold. Nose: this one is more expressive and much, much more on coffee, caramel and praline, and then on olive oil and sunflower oil. Very unusual. Bold vanilla as well. With water: just more of the same. Mouth (neat): big punch and big ‘herbality’ this time (grass, green tea, raw French beans). Then a lot of nougat, vanilla, mocha, liquorice... With water: sunflower oil again as well as more tobacco, more herbal teas and more sweet mustard. Finish: long, very close to the Norse Cask now. Big grassiness. Same rating: 84 points.
Royal Lochnagar 1998/2006 (58.1%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland) Colour: white wine. Nose: punchy, on very strong liquorice and violets. Cologne? Orange blossom water, grapefruits... And then litres of acacia honey. Faint whiffs of wet dog. With water: the fruits have vanished and now we have grass, grass and grass (plus grass). Definitely grassy. Mouth (neat): very, very strong... We get lemons and marshmallows, liquorice allsorts... But it’s too hot when naked (pfff). With water: quite funnily, it didn’t get any more herbal but rather even fruitier (strawberry liqueur). Pears. Finish: long, maybe just a tad youngish now but just as fruity, with just touches of oak. Good quality spirit. 81 points. (Picture: 43% version)
And also Royal Lochnagar 28 yo 1977/2005 (58,5%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Hogshead #310, 260 bottles) Nose: great marzipan and oak, fresh nuts. Really powerful. Mouth: simpler but coherent. Spices, wood, smoke, apples. Very good. 85 points.
 

September 17, 2007


 
BETTER LAUGH THAN CRY
Dalmore 1974

Dalmore 32yo 1974 (52%, OB, Mathusalem sherry butt, 780 bottles)

WF 89 points
September 2006
EUR 198.00

Dalmore 1973 Dalmore 33yo 1973 (45%, OB, Cabernet Sauvignon Finish, 1000 bottles)

WF 87 points
September 2007
EUR 599.00
All is well in the new whisky world! Seriously, this is pathetic, pitiful and laughable. A lower alcohol content, more bottles, and a silly finishing at that, and presto, 401 more Euros within one year (not just 400, 401!). We know that there's a sucker born every day, but... (via Mike at the excellent French speaking whisky-distilleries forum, both prices spotted at the same very reputable French online retailer.)
 
          

BREAKING NEWS!
THE MALT MANIACS TOO ARE GOING FOR PREMIUMISATION!
Brand new Premium Deluxe Edition of the Malt Maniacs Malt Monitor now available!

Monitor Deluxe Just like some distillers who seem to have decided to gouge as much money as possible from their loyal customers, we too now have a deluxe version of the MM Monitor. Regular version still free, premium deluxe edition - 675 Euros per download. Get in now!!! Only on line for two weeks. Please click HERE!
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
Very, very inspired by his excellency Dave Broom
 
Teaninich

 

 

 

TASTING – TWO OLD TEANINICHS

Teaninich 1971/2006 (45%, Samaroli, Expression) Colour: gold. Nose: this one is all on fruits, overripe apples, butter pears, ripe gooseberries, melons, white peaches... Also faints whiffs of smoke, black tea of good quality, hay, hints of white chocolate, mint... Balance is perfect. Lots of pleasures. Mouth: exactly the same flavours but with a very pleasant oakiness underlining the whole (soft spices, vanilla). Hints of smoked ham. Another one that won’t make you scratch your head but that’s very delicious. Finish: rather long, less fruity and oakier now, with a little white pepper shining through? Gets slightly tannic at this stage. A good old malt, not particularly thrilling but pretty flawless. Typical 85 points malt in my books.
Teaninich 30 yo 1975/2006 (60.8%, Dewar Rattray, cask #9419, 486 bottles) Colour: rather spirity but still balanced, similar in style to the Samaroli, just with 25% extra-alcohol. Whiffs of coffee as often with very strong whiskies. With water: even more coffee, vanilla fudge (isn’t that rock and roll?) and even more fruits as well as whiffs of rotting hay (‘clean’ manure). Maybe not remarkable but just like the Samaroli, very pleasant. Mouth (neat): hot, uber-fruity, very candied, with hyper-bold notes of bubblegum and marshmallows. Is that the strong alcohol? With water: as sweet and fruity as it gets. Less on bubblegum and more on fresh fruits actually (papayas, pears). Slightly resinous. Good oakiness, less tannic than the Sam. Finish: long, persistent, much spicier now (pepper), with also notes of gentian, ginger and liquorice sticks. Yes, very good, even if, again, not highly interesting. Let’s say 86 points.
MUSICRecommended listening: I must confess that I’m really a big Laura Veirs fan! Let’s listen to her Chimney sweeping man.mp3 today... And then buy her music. Laura Veirs
 

September 16, 2007


TASTING – FIVE OLD INDIE SPRINGANKS
Springbank 17 yo (80°proof, Cadenhead, late 1970s) Colour: pale straw. Nose: grassy, grapefruit, cold metal, grass, sage. Gets grainier with time. Slight mint. Nice OBE. Maybe a faint soapiness. Greengage. Mouth: slightly bitter but pleasant, dried apples, crystallised angelica, a little pepper. Sweetened mustard. Resembles some of the old 10yo’s black label. Finish: medium long, getting a little waxy and just a tad cardboardy. Classically good. 87 points.
Springbank 21 yo (46%, Cadenhead, big S) Colour: gold. Nose: bolder, oakier, more bourbonny. Gets then quite earthy, developing on fresh almonds, marzipan and quince jelly. Wet earth, humus, hints of camphor and turpentine. Fantastically complex and a very long development. Hints of well-hung game. Mouth: very rich, fruity and candied. Corinth raisins, vanilla fudge, orange marmalade, hints of salt, cloves, slight peat, old first class rum. Extraordinary old Springbank, full bodied and complex. A grand cru indeed (at the time). Just the finish is slightly rough and maybe a tad drying. 93 points.
Springbank 30 yo 1965/1995 (55%, Milroy’s, sherry cask #1297) They wrote ‘pearl of Kintyre’ on the label. Colour: gold. Nose: very nicely toasted, with hints of coal and grilled meat. Then venison, old turpentine, armagnac-soaked prunes, orange liqueur, old books, fir liqueur, honeydew. Also something maritime, quite some iodine, salmiak, pinetree… A true masterpiece of the highest order. Mouth: maybe a tad too powerful and candied at the attack but then it’s a maelstrom. Thick and hugely concentrated (what a beautiful sherry), orange liqueur again, cough syrup, Irish coffey, mint , toffee, coffey, mint drops… Oh well, this is just pure magic. Fantastically complex, with an endless finish. 94 points. (and thanks, Olivier)
Springbank 21 yo 1967/1989 (46%, Signatory, cask #3137) Colour: pale amber. Nose: full maple syrup this time, beehive, bananas flambéed and toffee. Pecan pie, cooked butter, coconut liqueur. Slight smokiness. Macaroons. Old papers. Another great one, no doubt. Mouth: quite punchy, again very sweet, fir liqueur, crystallised apricots, caramelised bananas… Just as concentrated as the Milroy’s, maybe a tad less ‘Springbank’. Finish: very long, still very concentrated, a tad less complex but maybe more drinkable. Legendary anyhow. 93 points.
Springbank 23 yo 1965 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, ageing monography, 660 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: very different, starting mainly on raw beeswax and ink rubber. Gets then more resinous, with also hints of motor oil and quite some linseed oil and waxed paper. Very different but extremely pleasant albeit more austere than the sherry versions. Mouth: just as rich as the ‘sherries’ but more resinous, waxy, mineral and slightly peppery and cardboardy. Excellent bitterness. Finish: long, mostly on lemon marmalade (bitterness again) with just faint hints of sweet mustard. Less sweet but certainly not less exciting. 92 points.
MUSICJAZZ - Recommended listening: tenor sax David Murray (ex World Saxophone Quartet, together with Arthur Blythe, Oliver Lake and Hamiett Bluiett) just stormed the Colmar Jazz Festival. He was magnificent and the local press even mentioned Trane. Let's listen to his Mbizo.mp3 (Live in Cracow; 2003) and buy his music. David Murray
 

September 15, 2007


Bibendum

CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
RICHARD HAWLEY

The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
September 5th 2007

“Fookin’ heck lads, give me a bit of room”. It’s Maurice Michelin Man, who edges past a puzzled Photographer (“lads”?), clutching two pints of beer in his hands, and heads for his chum, Maurice Michelin Man II, and his seat. For some unfathomable reason we’re seated in the balcony of the Roundhouse – the mysteries of on-line ticket booking I suppose – but to be frank, after another day of strikebound gridlocked London it’s nice to have a seat. We’ve got a fine view across the stage and the sound is as good as it is down on the floor.

On the stage it’s fookin’ this and fookin’ that as an animated Richard Hawley slips into a Northern pub comic routine (“This fookin’ fella went to the fookin’ doctors, and the doctor said, ‘Look, you’ve got to stop fookin’ wankin’ – ‘Stop fookin’ wankin’ – why?’ ‘Because I can’t fookin’ examine you ‘till you do’”) that most Northern pub comics would be pretty embarrassed by. He’s also in reminiscence mode, telling us about playing guitar in his uncle’s band in Sheffield, clubs, wedding, bar mitzvahs and funerals. He’s very rude to someone in the audience from Ipswich (so rude that I daren’t repeat it lest someone from that fair Anglian city might read my words) – and in fact immediately apologises after his next song finishes – “You know I went all the way through that song feeling guilty about what I just said about Ipswich”. And he’s generous in his thanks to what can only be described (certainly by the end of the night) as an adoring audience – once that is he’s stopped goading them with unfavourable comparisons to the crowd he played to on the previous night in Brighton. Of course like Hawley almost everyone in the audience seems to come from Sheffield. “Fookin heck lads, stand aside” Oh yes – it’s Maurice Michelin Man again, (or is it Michelin Man II?) on what becomes an astonishing number of journeys to bar and urinal. Fookin’ heck.
Hawley
It’s just as well Hawley has Sheffield – it’s provided the backdrop for the four solo albums he’s recorded since the turn of the century. Before that of course he played with Pulp and his pal Jarvis Cocker (you can just imagine the conversation: “Fookin heck Jarvis” “Fookin’ heck Richard”) and before that the Longpigs. And in between all of this he has gained a reputation as, as they say, an “in demand” session man for his very unique style of playing. Coles Corner, his 2005 album, named after a famous meeting place in Sheffield, was widely acclaimed and nominated for a Mercury Prize. The spanking new Lady’s Bridge (named, you guessed, after a bridge in Sheffield) went straight into the charts last week at number six. Not everyone likes it – Hawley’s style is polarising and some apparently find it bland and insipid. You see he’s a crooner – or so they say – and apparently this offends people because it makes him lightweight, not worthy of serious consideration. Well, first of all the bastard encyclopaedia Wikipedia tells me that among current top crooners are Neil Diamond, Chris Isaak, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits, and that’s not such bad company to be in. Secondly it’s not just about his singing, but also about musical arrangements, and Hawley’s recorded work is occasionally what one might call heavily orchestrated country schmaltz – hardly likely to be highly regarded by musical know-it-alls in the UK. It’s a shame because you can hear everything from Pat Boone through Johnny Cash to Nick Lowe in Hawley’s work. And I would admit that on disc Hawley’s individuality does get a little lost in the complexity of the arrangements, which can be cloying. Sometimes it’s hard to see through the pastiche. Delightfully on stage what you get is down-the-line Hawley; although the performance is almost studio perfect it’s stripped of some of the overwhelming studio sound thus allowing the songs, and Hawley’s quite distinct vocal style, to shine through.
Hawley
I guess you really need to go and listen to some of Hawley’s albums to get the point, but believe me, his songs, which like all songs should be are about love, loneliness, leaving and returning, are very strong and very twenty-first century. And on stage Hawley doesn’t sound like any one (well, apart from his wonderful Nick Lowe false-teeth whistle) other than Hawley. The set list goes something like this: ‘Valentine’, ‘Roll river roll’, ‘Just like the rain’, “Fookin heck, move tha’ legs boys” (it’s Maurice Michelin Man again), ‘Dark Road’, ‘Coles Corner’ – hang on, like Berlin this means nothing to you. Just let me say this was a most excellent set. With really touching songs like ‘Darling wait for me’ (“We wrote this for our wives. We must be as soft as a bag of tits”), the wonderful ‘The sea calls’ (I’m sorry Serge, if you haven’t noticed I’m a sucker for sea songs) and ‘Born under a bad sign’. No, it’s not Albert King, it’s a Hawley original. “This is a song about getting pissed all the time. Actually I read an article about alcohol the other day and I was shocked by what it could do to you. So that’s it for me. After tomorrow, … no more …reading”. And as an encore, after one of the best and warmest ovations I’ve heard all year, ‘Tonight’ and then a wonderful version of ‘Ocean’ which only served to remind us, if much of the evening hadn’t, what a brilliant guitarist Hawley is too.
Yes, as you can see Serge, like everyone else here I really enjoyed this. And I should mention the excellence of Hawley’s band who played his deceptively simple songs with an economic precision, and particularly (although this is invidious) guitarist Shez Sheridan, who moved between a bewildering number of guitars and lap guitars and played to a very subtle point of perfection. And Mr Hawley, ramblings aside (“I know a talk a lot of fookin’ shite but I’d just like to thank you all for being here, really…”) played, posed with his Gretsch guitars and shiny suit, and sang to a point that must be somewhere slightly east of Coles Corner, and west of Lady’s Bridge. Very, very good. Take a listen. Fookin’ heck … - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)
Coles Corner
Coles Corner
Thanks a bunch, Nick, and putain de bordel à queue (my own free translation of fookin’ heck), Hawley is brilliant indeed. Besides, there’s a lot of fantastic mp3’s on his website... Check them out while they last! And we hereby declare that Richard Hawley is now one of Whiskyfun's favourite artistes. - S.
 
TASTING – TWO ‘FOREIGN’ WHISKIES
Mackmyra Mackmyra Preludium:03 (52.2%, OB, Sweden, 9,096 bottles, 2006) This malt was smoked over juniper and peat and matured in sherry cask. It seems that there’s been very heavy PR and viral Web use by Mackmyra and its notoriety is very high today, yet it pulled mixed feelings amongst aficionados, Swedes included. But as always, in aqua vitae veritas, so let’s try this Bruichladdichly packaged malt. Colour: straw. Nose: quite clean, porridgy, vanilled, with unusual fruity aromas (from juniper?) Also quite buttery. Smells more and more like genever. Definitely youngish but no foul aromas in this one. The peat isn’t very bold. A few winey notes after a while (more like dry white wine).
Mouth: well, this is definitely young but also very woody (‘plank juice’). The juniper is well here, a little mustard, pepper... and sunflower oil, grains, peat smoke... Again it starts to taste like Dutch genever after a while. Not too bad I must say but very far from Scotch. Finish: rather long but the ‘genever’ makes it a bit unbalanced, drying and rawish at this stage. Oaky aftertaste. Well, not really my cup of aquavit I must say but I wouldn’t say this is flawed. And, after all, I’m no Swede (alas?) 70 points.
Waldviertler Whisky (54.2%, OB, Austria, 35cl, circa 2007) Colour: pale gold. Nose: very, very bizarre... Lots of old books, wet newspaper, warm candle wax... and also lettuce, cabbage, asparagus... Very, very funny and unlike any other whisky I could try up to now. Good oakiness, ginger... Interesting. Mouth: really punchy, fruity, kirschy, tasting like American rye, with good oak and good balance. I like this one’s straightforwardness (or should I say candour?) The oak is a bit dominant after a moment but nothing really excessive. Finish: long, on plum spirit and oak plus ginger and a little horseradish, still with good balance. Good ‘foreign’ whisky, not trying to mimic Scotch, really well made I’d say. Congrats Austria! 78 points.

September 2007 - part 1 <--- September 2007 - part 2 ---> October 2007 - 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:

Balvenie NAS (43%, OB, flat bottle with flags, 1980’s)

Bowmore 1965 (43%, OB, France, Auxil, typed vintage, late 1980’s)

Bowmore 42 yo 1964/2007 ‘Black’ (40.5%, OB, 827 bottles)

Dallas Dhu 26 yo 1981/2007 (55.7%, Duncan Taylor, cask #432)

Glen Elgin 19yo (60%, OB, Limited Centenary Bottling, 750 bottles, 2000)

Glen Mhor 20 yo 1979/1999 (56.5%, Dun Eideann, cask #697)

Glen Mhor 30 yo 1967/1997 (60.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, 30th Anniversary of Barmetro, 199 bottles)

Laphroaig 27 yo 1980/2007 (57.4%, OB, 972 bottles)

Port Charlotte 5 yo 2001/2006 (60.6%, Private Bottling Gerold Vincon, refill sherry bloodtub #R42, 41 bottles)

Speyburn 1967/1988 (46%, Moon 'The Sea', cask #1198, 360 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo (46%, Cadenhead, big S)

Springbank 21 yo 1967/1989 (46%, Signatory, cask #3137)

Springbank 23 yo 1965 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, ageing monography, 660 bottles)

Springbank 30 yo 1965/1995 (55%, Milroy’s, sherry cask #1297)

Strathisla 40 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, circa 2000)

Strathisla 1937 (70 Proof, G&M Licensed, mid 1970’s)