Hi, you're in the Archives, December 2004 - Part 1
Shepherds Bush Empire
- Saturday December 11th, 2004 - by
deca-yotta-deluxe guest writer Nick
apologies to Jimmy J.)
Stately, plump, Barry the Bouncer
came from the stairhead, and walked
into the bearpit of the Shepherd’s
Bush Empire. Halted, he peered down
into the dark and called up coarsely,
‘Jeez, I’d kill for
a pint of porter’. Beneath,
the vulgar and venereal looking
lady spoke through her Guinness
moustache, ‘For goodness feckin’
sake, Christmas wouldn’t be
Christmas without a visit to the
Actually you don’t get a stream
of consciousness from this self
declared ‘Joyce County Ceili
Band’ – in truth its
best to leave your brainbox at the
door – rather it’s a
flood of unremitting (and to be
honest almost oppressive) good humour,
mawkish sentimentality and Irish
Showband fuelled folksy rock and
roll. It’s loud, loquacious,
and totally infectious.
you’re not familiar with the
Doctors then you should
have a look at some of their earlier
albums – If this is rock and
roll then I want my old job back,
All the way from Tuam, Same oul’
town and Songs from Sun Street –
which provide the majority of material
for the evening. To be fair they
haven’t recorded much of real
note since, but they have maintained
their reputation as a live act without
the years doctors have come and gone,
so only two of the original line-up
remain – Davy Carton (who looks
as though life on the road has taken
its toll) and Leo Moran (who still
looks like a myopic daft boy, with
a grin that would just make anyone
want to smile). Moran also gives the
Doctors their very distinctive big
guitar sound – with a style
that is somewhere between Duane Eddy
and Hank Marvin.
crowd, a mixture of Irish ex-pats
(largely, by the look of their football
shirts, from Galway and Ma yo ) and
faux Fenians from up-town slumming
it at the Bush (some had even forgotten
to take their pearls off!) are song
Empire is packed. We fall in with
a crowd of left-footed Ulstermen and
their ladies – happy to help
lift Kate on their shoulders so she
can see Leo – and succumb to
the craic – singing, more Guinness,
waving our arms and trying to dance
(like angels trying to dance on a
pinhead). Poor behaviour for a reviewer
I know. But that’s what the
Doctors are about – ‘if
you need a few tunes just give us
a call for the house, the pub or the
parish hall …’ - take
it or leave it. (picture left
by Nick: after the gig).
yes – and if you’re interested
then check out a free concert in London’s
Trafalgar Square on Sunday 13th March.
The day after Whisky Live in London
– and no vouchers to worry about
paying for! - Nick Morgan (photos
a bunch, Nick. Yes, this concert sounds
like a great follow-up after WhiskyLive.
Here's a sample clip of one of the
band's hits: n17
(short mp3). I also found a very nice
- and complete - version of n17
by another Irish band: the oddly-named
- ANOTHER BIG BOWMORE SESSION:
15 yo 1989/2004 (58%, SSMC, Cask
#6185, 240 bottles)
white wine. Nose: very spirity and
grassy at first nosing, but it then
gets much more complex. Freshly
mown lawn, fresh pepper, green barley.
Some peat, but some ‘farmy
one’. Hints of eau de Cologne
and violets perfume. Hints of dill.
Gets a little buttery after a few
minutes. Fresh rhubarb, ‘boerekool’.
Some peppermint too – and
some Chinese anise. Nice! Mouth:
some big, bold and typical ‘perfumey’
notes. Lavender sweets, violet sweets,
Turkish delight. Some fructose,
acidic fruits (kiwi), litchi. Too
perfumey and spirity for my taste,
I must say. Really pungent, and
some water doesn’t help too
much. Long, burning finish. 82
14 yo 1989/2003 (58.9%, SMWS, 3.88)
dark straw. Nose: really farmy, with
lots of liquorice and roots. Gets
very bourbonny (vanilla, oak). Some
interesting perfumy notes, plus some
dried fruits. The peat is then growing
stronger, getting farmier and farmier.
Mouth: lots of candies at first, pear
drops, English liquorice, parfait
amour liquor. Gets sweeter and sweeter
(plain white sugar). Lots of pepper
then, and some peat… Sugar and
pepper! Long finish, on lavender syrup
and hay jelly, with a pinch of salt.
The nose is absolutely great, but
the palate is a little too much on
‘chemical’ sweets. 85
15 yo 1989/2004 (46%, Signatory for
LMW, cask #6186, La Preceptorie finish)
heavy sweet wine from the South of
France (Banyuls). Colour: light yellow
with a pinkish hue. Nose: the strange
thing is that there are some similarities
between Bowmore and these wines –
especially the sweetish/perfumy aromas.
Still, quite fresh and rather enjoyable,
not too heavy. Crystallised melon
and guava. Some sweet wine, wild strawberries.
Hints of peat, but not much Bowmore
character. Hints of crushed mint leaves
and citronella. Mouth: again lots
of English liquorice, strawberry jam,
cold herbal tea, diet sugar. It’s
hard to know what comes from Bowmore
and what comes from the wine. Very
little peat and smoke. The finish
is medium long and slightly sweetish…
vintage 1984 (58.8%, OB)
light amber. Nose: quite pungent and
even burning at first nosing. The
alcohol sort of blocks all aromas.
Some hand nosing gives lots of peated
barley, but it’s really too
strong. Some water doesn’t bring
any more aromas. Mouth: ouch, this
is precisely the kind of Bowmore I
don’t like. Very soapy and perfumy,
with lots of old pepper and dust.
Erm… 60 points.
17 yo 1976/1994 (52.9%, SMWS, 3.18)
yellow. Nose: wow, again a great fruity
Bowmore in the style of the sixties.
Tons of tropical fruits (passion fruits,
mango, pineapple and fresh banana).
How great! Perhaps one of the last
years when Bowmore was really great.
Some light caramel, kiwi, gooseberry.
Very, very nice. Mouth: bold and rich,
with again, lots of tropical fruits,
crystallised fruits, and a little
peat. Not overly complex, but very
satisfying and ‘compact’.
Highly sippable. 87 points.
1984/2000 (45%, Samaroli, fino sherry
Nose: pure H2S, rotten eggs, sulphur,
matchstick, coal smoke. Not good at
all, I’m afraid. Mouth: weird,
with some tart smoke, nutrasweet,
roasted raisins… Plain un-enjoyable,
no wonder this one never sold. 61
16 yo 1972 (43%, The Prestonfield,
amber. Nose: lots of rosewater, dried
pineapples, pink grapefruit, but the
whole is a little weak. Hints of pear
spirit. Gets a little bitterer after
a while, with some lemon skin. Mouth:
lots of grapefruit at first. Some
apple skin, pepper, smoke, dried Spanish
orange… Orange zest… Very
nice, very compact, even if not too
complex. Gets like an orange marmalade.
Long finish, juts slightly watery.
22 yo 1965 (43%, The Prestonfield,
light amber. Nose: a big basket of
tropical fruits again, with some extra
tangerine and pink grapefruit. Very
intense and complex at the same time.
Freshly squeezed orange juice, crystallised
ginger, Turkish delight, heather honey.
Hints of tiger balm and burning fir
wood. Just superb. Mouth: bold and
very wide attack, so complex and satisfying!
Lots of crystallised grapefruit and
pineapple. Some smoke, some burnt
cake, espresso coffee, amaretto…
Bold and rich. Very long finish, on
pink grapefruit and candy sugar. An
absolute winner. 94 points.
30 yo ‘Sea dragon’ (43%,
light amber. Nose: tropical fruits
again, but slightly oxidised ones.
No so demonstrative, but still impressive
– and very elegant and refined.
Lots of citrus, but some apricot and
melon. Whiffs of smoke, getting coastal.
Mouth: quite creamy and coating, with
lots of fruit liqueurs, some quince
jelly, kiwi juice, lemon seeds. Some
lemon zest that sort of structures
the whole. Very nice bitterness. Slightly
watery, but in a nice way, especially
the finish. This one would have needed
3% more alcohol; it lacks just a little
oomph. 91 points.
- Recommended listening
- I hate to write this, but here's
a guy who made almost all bluesmen
sound cheap - and sometimes laughable:
'King of telecaster' Collins.
We miss him a lot since he died ten
years ago. Please have a listen to
Many Dirty Dishes' (mp3). Convinced?
Oh, there's also this high-energy
contender to the title of 'Official
Hymn of the Malt Maniacs' (mp3)
that Albert composed. Great, eh? Please
buy his music - I know you will.
no updates until
Thursday morning (Italy again).
- GOING WELSH!
of Wales 10 yo (40%, OB, Welsh whisky,
‘Single Vatted Malt’)
Ha! A single vatted malt, so funny!
Fellow Malt Maniac Lex wrote the
whole story of Welsh whiskies in
Malts, and it’s very interesting.
Anyway, let’s taste this one
white wine. Nose: very perfumy, with
lots of lilac, chemical orange juice
(Tang), kiwi, pink grapefruit, red
currant, Chinese sweet sauce (the
one for the dim sums). The ‘chemical’
flavours grow stronger and stronger.
Lemon-flavoured cleaning powder, concentrated
lemon juice. Very special, if not
enjoyable. A part of it makes me think
of Rosebank or Bladnoch… Mouth:
surprisingly strong attack, with some
wood, roasted peanuts, cold coffee,
and lots of caramel, both light and
burnt. Some bitter orange too, but
not much else. The finish is rather
short and gets somewhat bitter, with
some strange offbeat perfumy notes.
This one isn’t a complete catastrophe,
that’s for sure, but it’s
hard to give it more than 49
OB, Single Malt Welsh Whisky)
The fist malt to be distilled in Wales,
according to Lex. Colour: straw with
a salmony hue. Nose: starts on wood
and wine, with some hints of three-star
Cognac. Quite flowery (peony). Gets
then quite buttery, with some milk
caramel, overripe apple. Hints of
vase water and old books. Again, something
special. Quite weak! Mouth: what a
strange attack, on burnt wood, dust
and cheap rum. Gets really bitter
after a moment. Some rosewater, Turkish
delight, bubblegum…Hard to say
it tastes like a Single Malt. Much
closer to some ‘foreign’
experiments, like Guillon in Champagne
or even India’s Sikkim, than
to any SMSW. Short and watery finish,
on melon liquor. Ouch. 45
- Highly recommended
listening - coz they are really extraordinaires!
is mastering the art of pastiche better
than Pizzicato Five! Try for instance
Onions (mp3). As somebody wrote
on their website: 'This band will
pin you to your chair and restyle
your hair'. That's certainly
true, and anyway, you must encourage
them and buy their music.
oh, let's also listen to their wonderful
early-Zappa-inspired track 'One
of the Millions' (mp3). Ah, these
old keyboards! There are lots of other
downloadable tracks on their website,
some being more experimental - try
them all! These guys are really brilliant
- please buy their music (yes, I know,
I insist - heavily).
- Enough with the
music from the North! It's chilly
outside, so I feel I need something
mucho caliente these days... Oh, why
not start with most sucessful 'Franco-Espanol
activist' (LOL) Manu
Chao? Like, do you know
of the Bongo? Or Me
Gustas Tu? (both mp3) Please buy
Manu's music if you like it. It'll
warm up your bones and refresh your
Park 25 yo 1979/2004 (46%, Murray
McDavid Mission IV, 750 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: very flowery,
on dandelion, buttercup, and all sorts
of wild flowers, including heather,
no need to say. Perhaps just a little
too spirity. Mouth: nicely balanced,
on white fruits (pear, gooseberry)
and crystallised fruits (pineapple,
oranges, apricot). Long finish, getting
again a little spirity. 87
BOTTLINGS - Interesting
new label, this one! I'd bet this
brand new Islayer by the German club
- and independent bottler - 'Whiskymania'
is very good, but I can't help wondering
whether the stone soldier (a viking?)
on the label had a sip of it... Does
this malt make the teeth grow? Or
is it a scary beverage? Is the soldier
about to run with his tail between
his legs? Does this malt bite you?
What's sure, is that these Germans
from Whiskymania have a good sense
of humour. Congrats!
ISSUE - Whiskyfun's 15 best whisky
gift ideas for Christmas 2004. Catch
'em all before it's too late!
#1. The famous Glenfiddich
21 yo 'Wedgewood' decanter. The
Exchange has it at £199
instead of £350, which was
the price originally. I hope not
too many collectors rushed out to
buy this one when it was launched...
#2. This Crown
Royal gift set includes a wood
cabinet and two very nice martini
glasses (?!). For just USD 61.56,
it's not too expensive, even if
you throw the bottle away... Now,
if you don't like martinis, this
is not for you.
#3. For £76.45,
Lovers Deluxe gift set includes
only one 35cl bottle of Johnnie
Black, but also loads of fudge,
cheese, or marmalade. There's also
a book by our fellow maniac Charlie.
Great, then it's worth it!
#4. The Crystal
Whisky Mugs (Set of 6) come
from India. For USD 74.99, they
come quite cheap, even if they aren't
especially suitable for sipping
your favourite malt. But maybe crystal
isn't suitable for drinking beer
#5. A Scottish
paperweight with a miniature
single malt whisky. Interesting,
these superb paperweights can make
some very efficient weapons, especially
when your mother-in-law disturbs
you when you're having your prefered
#6. Superb above
your chimney: the Declaration
of Arbroath (no, no, this is
a reprint - limited, though). For
just £49.99, this is the declaration
of 1320, where the Scots swear they
'will never on any conditions submit
to the domination of the English'.
#7. For £39.99
each, these bottles
of whisky contain either a piper
doll (not much room left for whisky)
or a pot still, filled with barley.
Then you'll have to explain to your
friends that you musn't just throw
some barley into a still to make whisky.
#8. There still are
some French families who will never,
ever pour you a whisky directly from
its original bottle (that would be
a shame, mon cher!) If you think they're
right, you can buy one of these lead
decanters for around 110 EUR each.
No need for caramelised whiskies anymore!
#9. For £54.99
each, you can choose either a pot
still, or a globe with working
tap and two glasses. Some interesting
alien objects, supremely elegant.
Beware, these are no narguilehs, so
don't try to use them for smoking
your favourite 'apple' tobacco.
#10. They are very
clever at the Scotch
Malt Whisky Society. I mean, not
always... That's good news for the
glug-glug club, especially at Heathrow:
they won't need to shake all suitcases
to check whether there's some whisky
inside anymore. Boys, just look for
the SMWS luggage tags! (USD 18 for
a set of two).
#11. Now, this is
clever: the Hangover
Hamper. The set includes a bottle
of bloody mary pre-mix, two miniature
bottles of vodka, an ice spoon maker,
a cooling eye mask, and some aromatherapy
'mood enhancers' called 'Morning After
+ Night Before'. Can we also have
one called 'Moring Before + Night
After', for heavy drammers? And the
miniatures, can we have some... OK,
#12. Finally, something
Vuitton à Paris can make
such a special 'cave à whisky'
for you. All handmade, with the best
raw materials... I don't know the
price, though. Maybe around 15,000
EUR? Perhaps they will even go as
far as filling a decanter with some
Brora, for the same price. Cool, some
#13. Tired to serve
your whisky 'from the bottle'? Afraid
of lead crystal? No big deal, then
you can use these 'Souvenir
Barrels'. But if you pour your
whisky into a cask, it'll start to
mature again, won't it? No, it won't.
Look at the barrel's top a little
closer... Yes, there is a glass bottle
inside the cask. Again, clever - and
yes, very elegant.
#14. Dalmore is really
wandering off Scotland, as their luxurious
Experience Hamper, which was 'introduced
to celebrate the magnificent price
of £25,8770.50 which a bottle
of 62 years old made at whisky auction'
(?!) does contain: two Dalmores (OK),
some glasses (OK), a water jug (OK),
plus some Belgian chocolate (?), some
Columbian coffee (??); some havana
cigars and a cutter (???) and finally
Richard Paterson’s Tasting Notes
(ah!). £217.38 for the whole.
#15. Last but not
least: the book that made us all laugh
a lot this year (not for what's inside,
but because they did it): 'The
Definitive Guide to Vintage Macallan'
- formerly known as 'The Definitive
Guide to Buying Vintage
Macallan', and priced at £10.
The price is now only £5, and
as they write on their website: 'shipping
of the Guide is free to anywhere in
the world'. Be quick, buy one
of these, so that they can finally
say: 'Good riddance!'
REVIEW - JAH WOBBLE AND THE ENGLISH
- 100 Club,
- December 7th, 2004 - by
yotta-deluxe guest writer Nick Morgan
performers can have taken as culturally
diverse and eclectic a musical journey
Wobble (actually it's
John Wardle – but apparently
this was too much for the linguistic
skills of the late Sid Vicious,
so he became at some point in the
late 1970s Jah Wobble).
maybe this is what you have to do
when you realise your own musical
limitations, and those of Dub style
bass lines – move rapidly
through genres (and like marketeers,
never hang around long enough in
any one in case you get found out)
and surround yourself with a succession
of highly talented and obviously
tonight we have Jah Wobble (“I
am 45 years of age and still extremely
good looking”), with all the
easy humour and latent menace of
an East End market trader who looks
as though he’s lived life
on the outside and the inside, as
do much of the audience, some of
whom appear to be having a Wormwood
Scrubs reunion in the corner.
Wobble is his English Roots Band,
of whom singer Liz Carter and long-time
collaborator, piper Jean-Pierre Rasle
(yes Serge, a Frenchman playing English
roots music – this European
stuff is really getting out of hand
!) particularly excel. And what we
get for most of the evening are tunes
from Wobbles last album, English Roots
Music, spiced with a few older songs,
notably the hit ‘Visions of
you’. It’s a sort of Fairport
Convention in-a-dub meets the Upsetters.
when it's good – it's very very
good – in fact almost sublime.
But when it's bad – well, you
know the rest …
On the left hand side of the stage
it's solid Wobble bass – he
directs the band, grins, occasionally
mutters at the audience in a cheeky-chappy
sort of way, and carries on a sophisticated
dialogue with the sound-desk (for
much of the night) which comprises
a single message – “Fuckin’
turn it up !!!!”. On the right
a bewildering array of pipes, horns,
whistles and flutes, not just for
Rasle, but also Colin Bell. Guitarist
Chris Cookson divides his attentions
between acoustic and electric and
is consistently mesmerising.
results are pulsating drum and bass
rhythms and surprisingly subtle and
well defined (when you can hear them
properly – “Fuckin’
turn it up !” – or actually,
maybe just turn the bass down ?) layers
of guitars, pipes and voice with an
almost hypnotic effect (Wobble seems
to be in such a self generated trance
that he fails to notice that half
his audience has left with two-thirds
of the gig to go). At the end the
addition of a pedal steel guitar and
percussionist produced what seemed
like 30 minutes of largely self-indulgent
jamming. Good fun with your pals in
the bedroom when your mum’s
out shopping, but pretty heavy going
for the punters. The result is something
of a curate’s egg – which
is probably a pretty good reflection
on Wobble’s work as a whole.
But you know – at least he tries,
and is worthy of considerable respect
for that. So if you’re not up
on the Wobble oeuvre, then here’s
a tip for a last-minute Christmas
stocking filler – his just released
three CD anthology, perhaps fittingly
could have been a contender, which
at around £15 is, if you ask
|a far better investment than
some dodgy independent bottling !
[censored - the editor] - Nick
Morgan (photos by Kate)
you, Nick. Not sure whether that Frenchman
playing the pipe is an oddity or not,
we have many pipers in Bretagne (wot,
who said too many?). Besides, English
roots music might well have been 'imported'
by Guillaume le Conquérant's,
I mean, William the Conqueror's bellicose
mates ;-)... Anyway, I found this
nice song by Jah Wobble: I
Love Everybody (mp3). So do I.
- BLAST FROM THE PAST: TWO VERY
1947 (80 proof, OB, Rinaldi Bologna,
bottled circa 1962)
amazing, like an old leather suitcase
you open for the first time since
fifty years: old leather, wax, old
books… Develops on beehive,
cod oil, burnt cake and lots of
peat and smoke. Mouth: so peaty,
so complex! Bunches of tropical
fruits, dried orange, pine resin.
It’s almost as bold and smoky
as a current 10 yo Talisker. The
kind of bottle the distillery bought
back, vatted and re-bottled recently
to build its ‘vintage’
range. Simply stunning. 96
12 - correction:
in fact the vintage range was made
only with some G&M bottlings
like the one below, which means
it never matured at the distillery,
but in G&M's warehouses. In
other words, just some G&M re-bottlings,
36 yo 1937 (43%, G&M, Co. Import,
pure gold. Nose: surprisingly smoky
(Valentino Zagatti would have said
‘molto torbato’ ;-) Lots
of caramel and lots of vanilla. Some
very nice sherry notes, quite refined.
X-mas cake, dried fruits… Too
bad all that doesn’t last for
too long, the nose getting somewhat
weak after thirty seconds or so –
but how elegant! Mouth: ah, bolder
than expected. Slightly tannic…
Really a classic, but it’s not
too complex. Lots of cooked apples
with some cinnamon and caramel, getting
a little drying and bitter after a
while. Medium long finish, on cocoa
powder and cardboard. 80 points.
Hmm, as they say in Italy: ‘for
drink or for collect?’ –
yes, that is the question.
- Oh, I forgot to tell you that like
every year, we had our 'distillation
day' at home last Saturday. This year
we made some pear (label above) with
a new still we never rented before
(but who the hell had the idea to
paint it blue?) Yes, this is a potstill.
We'll try to peat and distil some
marc de gewurztraminer next year,
and this is no joke.
- Glen Mhor 10 yo (43%, OB for Moccia,
Ferrara, bottled circa 1972)
bottle’s got the same shape
as the current Isle of Juras’,
and Valentino Zagatti told us it used
to be his favourite dram. Colour:
amber. Nose: quite peaty attack, getting
a little grainy. Develops on a lot
of grassy notes, with some lavender
and violet. It really smells springtime,
like a big bouquet of wild flowers.
It needs some time to go any further,
but after ten minutes, lots of dill,
parsley and fennel do emerge. Very
nice! Mouth: again, it’s nice
and very delicate. Peppermint, herbal
tea, camomile… Very nice indeed,
even if not too complex. Perhaps a
little feminine? 85 points
(but emotionally much more).
- FIVE 'ITALIAN' ARDBEGS
21 yo 1974/1996 (40%, Sestante)
Colour: straw. Nose: a nice mixture
of peat, smoke and fresh fruits
at first nosing, but it gets curiously
grainy, flat and weak. Very delicate,
but really too restrained. Perhaps
the bottle has been opened for too
long. Mouth: again, slightly watery,
lacking vivacity. Notes of old cardboard
and smoke. The whole seems to be
really tired. My rating is 78
points but please don’t
take it too seriously.
15 yo 1989/2004 (40%, Mandibolari,
white wine. Nose: not too Ardbegish
– much more Ardmorish at first
nosing. But after a deep nosing some
‘veggie’ smoke, wet garden
bonfire. Quite austere, not too far
from some 1987 Longrows… Yes,
strange to need some other distilleries’
names to describe an Ardbeg! Lots
of white pepper, but it’s really
too restrained and a little weak.
Mouth: lots of roots, gentian eau
de vie, wet earth, humus. Ha-ha! I
really like this… Quite bold
too, with some cooked apple, apricot
jam. What a beautiful taste, but too
bad the nose is a little weak…
Rather long, but slightly metallic
finish. 87 points
(and what a great label!).
Ardbeg that shouldn’t exist’
– or the lost vintage? Ardbeg
1988/2002 (40%, Mandibolari)
Ardbeg wasn't active in 1988, so this
one is said to be a fake. Fake vintage,
that is, or just a labelling mistake?
Colour: white wine. Nose: quite some
grapefruit at first nosing. Somewhat
like a riesling – but not ‘better’,
Mr Murray. Lots of pepper and smoke
coming then. Quite fresh! Fresh rubber
(black, soft rubber). Hints of passion
fruit and kiwi. What a nice nose!
Mouth: some gentian eau de vie again,
some lemon juice, pepper, old vase
water, cold over infused herbal tea.
The aromatic profile is great but
it lacks some oomph, definitely. Would
have been so lively at cask strength!
10 yo 1993/2003 (46%, High Spirits,
Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, quite
clean, on liquorice and herbal tea.
Hints of lemon zest and again, it
gets quite farmy after a while. Mouth:
nice and bold attack, on pepper, ginger
and smoke. Nicely balanced. Lots of
punch! Long and extremely peppery
finish. A good Ardbeg, even if not
amongst the ones we’ll remember
forever. 84 points.
9 yo 1991 (45%, Samaroli, cask #631,
Colour: white wine. Nose: farmy attack,
on fermented hay. Not much else, I’m
afraid. Pure and aromatically skeletal.
Strange… Mouth: the attack is
quite nice, but there’s not
much else then. Infused straw? The
extreme of Samaroli’s ‘clean’
style? Finish: rather long but simple.
- Next time you go
to St Andrews, Scotland, maybe you'll
feel you need a haircut. Clever promotion!
I guess it's quite appealing to some
- Recommended listening:
French actress Jeanne
Balibar sings 'Le
Tour du Monde' (mp3) composed
by Alsatian musician Rodolphe Burger
(yes, it's him on the guitar). Elegant
actress, daughter of a famous philosopher...
no wonder she's making some elegant
music. Please buy Jeanne's music if
you can find it where you live.
CONCERT REVIEW - JOHN OTWAY AND
THE BIG BAND
Half Moon, Putney, London
- December 4th, 2004 - by
zetta-deluxe guest writer Nick Morgan
church bells were ringing when I
arrived in Putney – a Triple
Bob Major I think – a charming,
eccentric, and very British remnant
of a bygone golden age. Appropriate
then that I was heading –
with my mate Bob – to see
Otway; charming, eccentric,
British, remnant, bygone, golden
and most definitely aged.
the 51 year old Otway didn’t
exist it would be hard to imagine
him, let alone invent him. And certainly
far beyond the powers of the witless
corporate-faced marketing and A&R
guys who dominate decision making
in most record companies –
even the so called independents.
[Editor’s note – steady
on Nick - just remember what pays
your pension !] Otway is one of
those very British gems who gently
slid through the door that Punk
had kicked in so violently in the
mid-seventies – think Ian
Dury and the Blockheads, Siouxsie
Sioux, Elvis Costello – but
whose musical directions and ambitions
lay elsewhere. Otway’s songs
(and there are some good ones –
try ‘Josephine’ off
the first album) are mostly rooted
in the English folk-tradition, and
his performance is pure Music Hall
– somewhere between the insouciant
naiveté and manic surrealism
of comedians such as Charlie Drake,
Tommy Cooper and Eric Morecambe.
starts the evening by somersaulting
(literally) through what was –
until a couple of year’s ago
– his sole claim to fame –
the 1977 top thirty (no. 27) hit
‘Really free’, followed
by the B-side ‘Beware of the
flowers’ – which for
those of you who don’t know,
was voted number seven in a BBC
poll in 1999 for the Nations’
favourite song lyrics.
then get Josephine, Delilah (recorded
for a Weetabix advert it charted in
1995 at 187) and Otway’s new
pomp-rock anthem ‘We rock’
– at which point the shirt comes
off for the first time in the evening
(the reason for the failure of Queen’s
‘We will rock you’, he
explains, was because it had too many
words in the title) and finally a
fitting tribute to comedian Benny
Hill, with Otway on electric fiddle.
second set starts with the unlikely
2002 top-ten disco hit ‘Bunsen
burner’ (with Otway on Theremin),
and its B-side ‘House of the
rising sun’, an Otway speciality.
We get turbo-charged Rolf Harris –
‘Two little boys’, and
Bachman Turner Overdrive – ‘You
ain’t seen nothing yet’
during which Otway lives up to the
title by going through an absurd (and
visibly painful) range of stunts –
ending with a diving somersault from
must be easier ways of making a living,
but Otway and his very tight band
are clearly enjoying every minute
of it – as are the audience.
He’s often described as a National
Treasure – but put him in a
museum and I can’t imagine anyone
would pay even a dollar and a half
just to see him. Rock and Roll’s
self-declared ‘Greatest Failure’
is a live act to be savoured. And
like Rome everyone should see him
at least once before they die. So
if you’re ever in the UK and
get the chance – go. Otherwise
wait for the World Tour of 2006 –
which will be funded – Otway
confidently tells us, by his forthcoming
No 1 hit album …….
- Nick Morgan (photos by Nick)
you, Nick. I didn't know John Otway
before, so I just did my homework.
I guess it's all British humour,
which the French will never
understand... Anyway, here's Beware
of The Flowers (mp3). Some other
mp3s are to be found here.
- Convalmore 24 yo 1978/2003 (59.4%,
straw. Nose: very special, it smells
like an un-smoky Laphroaig. Very medicinal,
with some bandages, cod oil, lamp
petrol, tar… Some funny smells
of a brand new tyre. Very special
indeed. Gets slightly metallic (oxidised
copper). Mouth: rich and bold, very
coating. Lots of wax, eucalyptus and
tar. Quite some smoke, smoked tea
(Lapsang Souchong), over-infused tea.
Very, very interesting – I feel
Convalmore was perhaps an overlooked
distillery. Anyway, this one is a
love-it-or-hate-it malt, and I love
it. 90 points.
- Why the hell must
the best ones leave early? Kevin
Coyne, a musician and
painter I liked very much, passed
away on Thursday. Let's just pay tribute
to him and listen to the highly energetic
turns Sour or to the beautiful
folk song God
Watches (mpga - just change to
'mp3' if you want to download the
tracks). And oh, did you know that
Coyne was offered Jim Morrison's job
in the Doors when the latter died?
Coyne turned the proposition down,
because he didn't, as he wrote himself,
'fancy wearing the leather trousers'.
Independence at its best.
- THREE SWINGING BOWMORES FROM THE
SIXTIES (and one from the fifties)
32 yo 1968 ‘Anniversary Edition’
(45.5%, OB, 1860 bottles)
dark straw. Nose: starts on heavy
tangerine, grapefruits, ripe melon.
Then you have a desert with some
vanilla ice cream and all sorts
of fruits, mainly freshly cut pears
and apples. Great notes of old rum
and banana flambéed. Fantastic!
Goes on with lots of passion fruit.
Whiffs of smoke… It then goes
back to vanilla and fruits and doesn’t
change anymore, but the fruity burst
right at first nosing is stupendous.
Mouth: big bold citrus (grapefruit,
lemon) and passion fruit. Goes on
with a ‘nice’ bitterness:
grape seeds, pineapple, white pepper.
Not overly complex but very big.
The finish is long, but slightly
bitter. In short, a fabulous nose
and a good palate. 91 points.
36 yo 1966 (42%, Peerless, cask #3311,
gold. Nose: a prototypical fruity
Bowmore from the 60’s. Tons
of loads of citrus (tangerine, pink
grapefruit, kumquat). Smells like
a great old riesling. Rather simple
and straightforward in fact, like
a mixed fruits juice – but it’s
superb. A super pina colada? Amazingly
little wood. Mouth: much more complex,
with some funny meaty notes like ham
or Grisons meat. Lots of lemon juice
too, grass juice, lemon zest…
Some bitterness. Getting even dry.
The finish is long but slightly bitter.
Some amazing parts – it’s
a jigsaw Bowmore. 89 points.
38 yo 1957 (40.1%, OB, 861 bottles)
pure gold. Nose: much more complex.
There sure is lots of citrus, passion
fruit etc., but there’s also
lots of beeswax, sea air, flowers
and plants, accompanied by all their
sub-aromas. Propolis, tar, shoe polish,
apricot jam, ripe mirabelle, pineapple
liqueur, dried figs. Then it goes
back to some ‘resinous’
aromas, like old turpentine…
This is just endless. What a beauty!
Wait, now I have a walk in the forest
under the rain. Fern, mushrooms, humus…
It would have been simpler –
and quicker - to write down all the
aromas you can’t find in this
whisky. Let’s move on...
rather bold attack, with quite some
tannins right at the start, but they
are soon to get replaced by some wax,
eucalyptus, old books… A little
dusty and, to be honest, tired. There
is almost no point in rating the palate,
this malt stands just by its nose.
And what a nose! 93 points.
‘Black’ 1964/1995 (49%,
OB, final edition)
to taste this one after the 2nd edition
we had in Paris. Colour: tobacco-greenish.
Nose: big sherry, bold torrefaction,
freshly sawed wood, old leather. Then
some shoe polish, getting heavier
and heavier. Lots of Havana tobacco
and rancio (old Banyuls wine). Perhaps
just a little tired. Hints of soy
sauce, mocha, walnut liqueur. Very
little fruit, this time – the
sherry seems to have taken much more
than its share. Mouth: nice attack,
on some typical tropical fruits –
here there are. Lots of cold tea,
with some quite heavy tannins, pepper
and clove. Gets spicier end spicier
(‘wood’ spices, cinnamon,
nutmeg). Goes on with bitter chocolate,
cocoa, orange marmalade. Much less
fruit jam than in the 2nd edition,
but it’s still very nice, even
if a little dry. Long finish, on bitter
orange, the whole being finally less
‘clumsy’ than the 2nd
edition. My rating is just the same:
Toshogu Shrine: 'but what are these
whisky casks doing there?' asks Peter
Campbell . You can check his very
and please drop him a line if you
have a clue... (second from left:
Nikka, third: Yamazaki). Wait, could
it be that the Asian monks are as
'thirsty' as the Western ones?
- Oldies but Goldies:
Hendrix plays Straight
Ahead (mp3 from 'Cry of Love',
posthumous, 1971). Did you ever notice
how funky he was getting in his last
tracks? A demonstration...
Maniacs Monitor light
printable version: bug now fixed (see
yellow column, left)
- Port Charlotte 2001/2004 (67.3%,
Private Bottling, cask #286, 336 bottles)
This is the first bottle of Port Charlotte
I ever saw, as all what I could taste
till today was cask samples. A première!
Colour: white wine. Nose: wow! It
really smells like an excellent Caol
Ila, with something Ardbegish. Quite
amazingly, it is not too spirity at
first nosing, but rather very smoky
and rubbery, somehow a la Port Ellen.
Lots of brand new tyre aromas, new
car, box of rubber bands. Some fresh
and lively fruity notes arise after
that smoky-rubbery blast: pear, apple,
gooseberries, ripe kiwi, litchis…
Some sea air too, plus some hints
of wet hay and (clean) cow stable.
Amazingly mature for such a young
malt, it could as well have been a
10 yo . Simply flawless.
incredible, it is drinkable at more
than 67%. Very sweet, and much less
rubbery than on the nose. Hints
of fruit spirit coming from the
young age, I guess. Lots of apple
juice, pear juice, gentian. Quite
grassy too, with some perfume…
Okay, after three small sips, this
is finally getting too strong, and
my mouth gets anaesthetised. Let’s
add some water now… Great,
the malt reacts beautifully after
the usual one or two minutes of
saponification. Lots of fruity notes
developing, mostly peach. There’s
just kind of a strange metallic
taste coming through after a few
minutes, something like copper,
which makes me think of some foreshots.
The finish is long and very bold,
again slightly metallic –
but hey, it’s only three years
old (and three months). This is
extremely encouraging, to say the
least – and I swear I’m
points, mainly for the
the way, Bruichladdich will start
distilling its Islay grown barley
on Monday, and will compare the
result with some barley coming from
three other places. They hope to
stress the fact that 'Terroir' counts
in whisky as it counts in wine.
Hmm... Imagine it's true... What's
sure, is that the barley itself
counts, as we could find out when
comparing some 'organic' newmake
with some regular one... It was
- THREE NEW BATCHES OF GLENGOYNE
17 yo (43%, OB, 2004)
Here’s the latest batch. Colour:
straw. Nose: rather light, somewhat
restrained. Grainy and slightly
oaky. Hints of vanilla and butter,
not much else. Mouth: ah, nice attack,
although quite oaky and sugarish,
but some sour notes develop after
thirty seconds. Stale wine, cider,
apple juice. Gets a little bitter…
Medium finish on stale beer. Well,
I recall having had some much better
17 yo Glengoyne. Certainly just
a batch that’s below the par,
or is it me? 78 points.
(PS: it may well have been me, as
almost all my fellow Malt Maniacs
rated this Glengoyne much higher)
12 yo Cask Strength (57.2%, OB, 2004)
A new bottling I already had on…
Islay. Colour: light amber. Nose:
quite powerful, yet not much aromatic.
Grainy, with some feint hints of wine.
This one needs a lot of breathing!
It’s only after almost fifteen
minutes that some sherry, burnt cake
and bitter orange emerge. Chocolate
liqueur… Quite nice, if you
have the time. Mouth: very hot and
powerful, almost pungent. Lots of
tannins. It really tastes like a rum,
with some roughness. An excellent
warmer for this winter - a perfect
hipflask malt! 83 points.
19 yo 1985/2004 Summer (52.6%, OB,
Colour: dark amber. Nose: powerful.
Lots of sherry, tangerine, pink grapefruit.
A very nice balance between the heavy
sherry and the fresh fruits. Orange
peel, caramel, peony. It gets more
and more aromatic. Musk, dried lavender,
even some hints of fresh parsley.
It keeps developing for long, getting
very toffeeish. How nice! Mouth: bold
attack, on very heavy sherry. Extremely
winey, tannic and woody. Cooked wine
(reduced). The sherry really overwhelms
the spirit here… Beware, for
sherryheads only. Long, winey finish,
with a pinch of salt and vinegar.
I loved the nose, but the mouth is
too sherried for my taste. 84
points, still. This one has
pulled great results during the Malt
manaics Awards 2004 operations.
- The Malt
Maniacs Malt Monitor has
just been updated. We now have more
than 8,000 ratings representing more
than 3,000 malts. The page is growing
a little too fat, and Excel isn't
too good at exporting huge html tables,
so, I hope you can read the Monitor
in good conditions. I'm considering
slicing it into three 'chunks' next
time, so that it's quicker to dowmload.
We'll see... In any case, you also
have a lighter, PDF version, which
is also easier to print out. Check
the 'yellow' column on the left of
- Highly recommended
listening: genius pianist Dimitris
Sgouros plays Liszt's
Rigoletto Paraphrase (mp3 - an
encore recorded live at the Sydney
Opera House in 1989). Totally stunning!
Dimitris Sgouros will play with the
London Philharmonia conducted by Vladimir
Ashkenazy on December 9, 2004 - Athens
Megaron Concert Hall (Greece).
- FIVE CAOL ILAS (or only four?)
Born on Islay 1995/2004 (43%, Wilson
& Morgan, cask 655-672)
Said to be Caol Ila, while some
earlier versions were said to be
Lagavulin. Colour: gold. Nose: gentle
smoke and peat, with quite a lot
of vanilla, caramel, and some fine
winey notes. Some bitter orange,
burning ashes, spices (clove) and
some hints of freshly cut grass,
tea… Very nice! Strangely
Lagavulinish… Mouth: nice
attack, sweet and smoky. Peat smoke,
orange marmalade, pepper, apricot
syrup. Fruit salad, marzipan…
Yes, very nice. The finish is rather
long, on bitter orange and pepper.
Well done, Italy! 84 points.
Ila 12 yo (43%, OB, 2004)
Colour: white wine. Nose: much cleaner
and fresher, but also a little simpler
than the W&M. Smoke, cooked
apple, matchstick, bonfire, oatcake…
A nice everyday smoky Islayer.
Mouth: more austere, and more compact
than the W&M. Certainly smokier,
with lots of white pepper, apple juice,
freshly cut pear, camphor. Medium
long finish, on peated malt. Not too
complex, I’d say, but nicely
compact and ‘pure’, whatever
that means. Again, a perfect hipflask
malt, worth no less than 85
points in my book.
Ila 1994/2003 (40%, G&M for
Nose: watery but clean, pure and
fresh. Quite nice! Huge whiffs of
smoke but not much else, I’m
afraid. Mouth: really a straight
shooter. Peat, smoke, fresh water,
that’s all. The finish is
quite long but a little spirity
and bitter. 78 points.
Ila 25 yo 1979 (41.7%, Jack Wiebers
Auld Distillers Collection)
This one is quite rounded but smoky
– ‘molto torbato’,
with lots of fruits. Nice depth.
The mouth is smoky and very satisfying,
but gets perhaps a little too sweetish.
Still a very nice old Caol Ila.
Ila 17 yo 1986/2004 (56.2%, Douglas
Laing for Whiskyship 2004, 297 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: quite dusty and
smoky, a little closed. Notes of old
books. Mouth: extremely strong, peaty
but not too much. Very rough, with
lots of liquorice, roots. Long and
earthy finish. 82 points.
- Recommended listening:
Indian born British DJ, singer, multi-instrumentalist,
songwriter, and producer Anjali singing
(both mp3). Sounds like Claudine Longet
singing some James Bond movie soundtracks.
A world of diamonds, fur, caviar,
champagne, single malts (?) and...
second degree. Please buy her music
if you like it.
- Somebody had to
do it: here's an eau de toilette for
men sold in Australia,
called 'Whisky'. It's said to be made
in France but I must admit I never
saw this one anywhere here. But is
it any better than just a drop of
behind the ears? Hmm, I doubt it.
And wait, they also made the 'Double
Whisky' perfume (right). Clever, isn't
it? If you ever smelled one of these
two, please drop me a line. FWP, anyone?
MANIACS AWARDS 2004 -
Blow, trumpets! The results of the
MM Awards have just been published.
You can find the (sometimes rather
remarkable) results here.
There is an overview of all the 15
malts that won an award as well as
the 63 (!!!) malts that won a medal;
gold (3), silver (25) or Bronze (35).
Oh, by the way, the overall winner
out of all Award entries is the Brora
30 yo '2003' (55.7%, OB).
Nah, I know what you think, but all
malts have been tasted 100% blind!
- TWO VERY GOOD NEW SINGLE GRAINS
Grain 40 yo 1964/2004 (42.3%, JWWW,
Old Train Line, 114 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: lots of praline,
roasted peanuts, candy sugar, cappuccino.
Gets quite tannic (oaky), vanilla.
It’s really the cask doing
the job here, but it’s a great.
Lots of cold coffee then, and some
furniture polish. Hints of aniseed
too, concentrated milk, cream. Very
nice! Mouth: some nice oak, very
subtle. Lots of pear drops, vanilla,
light rum, dried coconut…
Not overly complex but very, very
enjoyable. Rather short, but slightly
salty finish. Another great single
grain. 87 points.
15 yo 1989/2004 (60.4%, James McArthur,
A brand new one! Colour: white wine.
Nose: a little medicinal at first
nosing, with some engine grease.
Goes on with rum and vanilla (as
in many single grains). Nice woody
notes – a very classical single
grain whisky. Mouth: ouch, quite
pungent and burning, with some fructose
and white rum. Lots of vanilla,
peardrops… Interesting, it’s
really close to a bourbon this time.
That’s what I’d have
said, had I tasted it blind. 84
- Bruichladdich 35 yo 1968 ‘Legacy
III’ (40.7%, OB)
This one’s made with ‘100%
first-fill bourbon hogsheads’.
Colour: straw. Nose: lots of soft
vanilla, mullein flowers syrup, vanilla
crème, mirabelle pie. Some
white pepper underlining the whole.
Rather delicate! Mouth: much bolder
than expected. Candy sugar, herbal
tea, apple skins, cooked melon. It
gets just a little drying, with a
finish on green tannins. The whole
is very refined and elegant. 89
- Recommended listening:
very interesting singer and composer
Luckett, from San Francisco,
(mp3 - en espanol) or the nicely bluesy
(mp3). She doesn't just sound the
same as many young American singers
who... well, almost sound the same.
Please buy her music!
- Oldies but Goldies:
Cream sings 'I
feel free' (mp3 from their debut
album 'Fresh Cream, 1966). Picture,
from left to right: Eric Clapton,
Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker.
- TWO LONGROWS (including a legend)
14 yo (46%, OB, bottled 2004)
This one has been released in October,
and was sherry matured, although
not first-fill, I think, as the
colour is white wine. Nose: farmy,
on green barley, wet hay and milk.
Very little smoke and peat. Nice,
but not too expressive, I’d
say. Mouth: very sweet and malty,
and again not too smoky. Quite some
pepper… Somehow like a weaker
Talisker. 82 points.
25 yo 1974 (46%, OB, blue box)
A true legend! Colour: light straw.
Nose: very pure peat, extremely clean,
getting even peatier with time. Medicinal,
bandages, paraffin, old turpentine,
fusel oil… Wow! It then gets
a little grassy (fern, freshly cut
parsley), and always quite sharp -
superbly. Goes on with all sorts of
fresh fruits – superb. Mouth:
bold and punchy, with some great smoke
and peat, quite clean again and much
more delicate than expected. Not a
smack in your face peat monster at
all, although there’s lots of
peat in here. In short, a superb balance.
It gets more and more maritime after
a few minutes, with some oyster juice,
sea fruits… And it’s so
young! A great, great malt. 93
the index of all entries:
malts I had these weeks - 90+
points only - alphabetical:
22 yo 1965 (43%,
The Prestonfield, cask #47)
30 yo ‘Sea dragon’ (43%,
‘Black’ 1964/1995 (49%,
OB, final edition)
32 yo 1968 ‘Anniversary Edition’
(45.5%, OB, 1860 bottles)
38 yo 1957 (40.1%, OB, 861 bottles)
24 yo 1978/2003 (59.4%, Rare Malts)
25 yo 1974 (46%, OB, blue box)
1947 (80 proof, OB, Rinaldi Bologna,
bottled circa 1962)
Charlotte 2001/2004 (67.3%, Private
Bottling, cask #286, 336 bottles)