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Hi, you're in the Archives, February 2005 - Part 1
January 2005 - part 2 <--- February 2005 - part 1 ---> February 2005 - part 2

February 15, 2005

ELVIS COSTELLO - Carling Apollo Hammersmith, London
Thursday, February 10th 2005 -
by Nick Morgan
Its funny how songs can haunt you. It’s Autumn (as far as I can recall) in 1976, and in a flat in Lancaster we’re watching the local TV news before heading out for an intense evening sampling some of the country’s best hand-made beers (many alas, no more). Tyro newsreader, and soon to be enfant terrible of the emerging Northern music scene, Tony Wilson, introduces an angry young man with a guitar, Buddy Holly spectacles and an ill-fitting suit who spits out the wonderful words to a song that is still called (at least in my mind) ‘My aim is true’ (yes – I know it’s really ‘Alison’ – but that’s part of the haunting thing). And then, not too much later, the same singer comes up with a lyric which has remained with me ever since, a helpful maxim in navigating ones way through the vagaries of west London social-life - “She looks like Natasha but her name is Elsie, I don’t want to go to Chelsea”.
More years on than I care to remember, I observe that the suit is still ill-fitting (though a bit more on the looser side these days), the specs, though smaller, are still worn at a quirky angle, and Elvis Costello, if not still angry, then has certainly transcended to one of the great grumpy old men of rock and roll. And he’s on stage with the Impostors (aka the Attractions, minus original bass player Bruce Thomas) with keyboard player Steve Nieve (whose fractured psycho-bubblegum style playing has always been, or so it seems to me, the perfect foil for Costello’s spiky guitar and stuttering lyrics), Theremin and all, in quite sublime form.
Last time I saw Elvis he was on stage with Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris (who sings on his new album), Nancy Griffiths and John Prine.
What was noticeable then was that whilst these four transatlantic troubadours had learned the benefits of economy in their songs (average length just under three minutes), Elvis had forgotten it, preferring instead to lurch into self-indulgent longueurs almost bordering on self-parody (on that night he almost murdered ‘Shipbuilding’, arguably one of his finest songs). But tonight, reflecting the style of the new album Delivery Man (and the more recent When I was Cruel) – he’s back to tightly structured power-pop songs, written with the venom and accomplishment that have always made him stand out from the crowd. And apart from a few (largely failed) attempts at guitar hero he’s as tight and focussed as the songs – and for the most part doesn’t have a great deal to say, apart from through his quite excellent and remarkably strong singing.
LVIS COSTELLO   If you haven’t heard the new album, recorded in Mississippi and produced by Dennis Herring, then I would commend it to you. Buy if you can the just released limited edition version which includes a ‘bonus’ CD, Delta-Verite, The Clarksdale Sessions, recorded on a mobile in the same abandoned Clarksdale railway station that the divine Cassandra Wilson used for Belly of the Sun. Which is, by the way, next door to the Delta Blues Museum, well worth a visit if you’re passing through, as is the diner round the corner which serves huge lunch plates of meat and collared greens, and where the friendly locals will share their incredulity with you that anyone has travelled there from London just because of “that music thing”.
The Delivery Man
Elvis Costello
There are fourteen tracks on the album, and we get them all, interlaced, as the evening progresses, with hits from the Costello back catalogue, mostly the classics of the late 70s and early 80s. ‘The delivery man’, ‘Country darkness’. ‘Bedlam’, ‘Needle time’ and ‘Clings like ivy’ are pure Costello, and perhaps surprisingly generously received by an audience who are clearly there more for nostalgia than new work. And the splenetic ‘Monkey to man’ is a reworked tribute to Dave Bartholomew’s ‘Monkey’ (as performed most recently by Dr John), itself recorded in full on the Verite disc. As for the oldies, well its almost “you name them, he played them”. ‘Alison’, ‘Don’t blame it on Cain’, ‘Pump it up’, ‘Radio radio’. ‘I don’t want to go to Chelsea’, ‘When I was cruel’, ‘For the roses’, ‘Shipbuilding’, ‘Watching the detectives’. In fact I counted more than 30 songs in 2 hours 15 minutes (actually I ran out of paper and gave up counting) and couldn’t help thinking that this was one of those occasions when less might have been better.
But really that’s churlish. Here’s a man on top of his game. At one and the same time he’s composing an opera about the life of Hans Christian Andersen, on the other he’s pumping out tunes that are as rocking and relevant as the ones he wrote nearly thirty years ago. Not bad for a bloke who’s just turned 50! - Nick Morgan (photos by Kate, X)

Wow, Nick, thanks! Elvis Costello's always been one of my favourites, and I remember 'My aim is true' like if it was yesterday. We also had Television and Talking Heads which were turning our... err... heads at that time! There was also that band I never, ever heard of again: Doctors of Madness, which happened to be the girls' preferred (violins and all that ;-). Now, here are a few Costello tracks for our readers' enjoyment: Pump it up - mp3, a classic, Gloomy sunday - mp3, another, yet much quieter classic, and the obvious - to me, at least - Crime of Paris - mp3.


An Cnoc 12 yo (40%, OB, circa 1995) Colour: light gold. Nose: honeyed and flowery attack, very sweet and light – but not weak at all. Flower nectar, buttercup, dandelion… Very grainy too, with hints of vanilla creme and traces of oak. A nice, light and undemanding nose… Mouth: sweet attack, getting quickly very vegetal and minty. Raw rice, bitter salad, breadcrumb… Some cooked apple too. Hints of nutmeg and bitter chocolate. The finish is rather short but nicely balanced, on some oaky notes. In short, a nice OB, not too MOTR and surprisingly minty. Not a star but a good, everyday malt. 79 points.

  An Cnoc 12yo (40%, OB, circa 1995)
Knockdhu 1974/1991 (40%, G&M CC old map label)   Knockdhu 1974/1991 (40%, G&M CC old map label) Colour: light gold. Nose: much more aromatic than the OB. Lots of caramel and fruit jam, with a nice freshness. Hints of sherry. Sure, it smells just like almost all the G&M Speysiders… Wait, now there’s some heavy notes of coconut developing (almost like Malibu)… Funny! Mouth: quite bold and satisfying, with some elegant oaky notes and quite a lot of spices (white pepper, nutmeg, clove). Orange marmalade, camomile, praline, sherry, dried coconut… Too bad it gets then rather drying and too woody, the finish being quite dusty and peppery. Anyway , a very good Connoisseur’s Choice, a good step above the general style of the series. 84 points.

February 14, 2005

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Memphis based blues guitarist and singer Paul Wood does Good Day 4 Bad Whiskey - mp3. Bad whiskey but very good straight ahead blues! Please buy Paul Wood's music if you like it.   Paul Wood


Interesting to see that in the pre-WWII era, whisky was still considered as inferior to liqueurs, perhaps meaning brandies such as Cognac. It was only when tasted blind - litterally - that White Horse could get the favours of A+ people, it appears. Now, it still happens more than often that non-whisky people exclaim 'Oh! This tastes almost like a Cognac!' when having a sip of a good old Single Malt... Oh sorry, I know that drives many whisky freaks crazy...


Aberlour a’bunadh batch #10 (59.8%, OB, 2003) Colour: full amber. Nose: wow, what an attack! Hugely compact, on sherry and strong caramel. Bang! The caramel grows even stronger with time, with also some rubber and cooked strawberries. Incredibly bold, but frankly, it rather lacks complexity… Develops on overcooked wine sauce and old rum, roasted raisins… I feel it’s more a ‘recipe’ than a malt, in fact. Is it really ‘natural’? Mouth: strong, bold and coating attack, but it isn’t pungent at all. Very sweet, like a cooked sweet wine… Lots of dried orange, toffee, caramel sauce… Some feint sourish notes too: decidedly, this one is very vinous. Again, it’s not too complex, to say the least! The finish is very long, of course, but sort of lumpish, again on cooked wine. Sort of a monster! 82 points.

  Aberlour a’bunadh batch #10 (59.8%, OB, 2003)
Aberlour a’bunadh batch #12 (60%, OB, 2004) Colour: full amber, just a little lighter. Nose: of course it’s quite similar, but more restrained and discreet (which isn’t too difficult). Much less caramelised and ‘overcooked’, in fact, and more elegant. The sherry is also more refined. Some whiffs of smoke. Nice notes of praline and vanilla cream… With some burnt cake developing after a few minutes. Much less ‘monstrous’ than its older brother, that’s for sure. Mouth: now it’s much closer to batch #10 – even bolder – but it’s also got more vivacity, and it’s also a little less vinous. Other than that, it’s in the same vein, just more elegant, hence a better rating: 85 points for this newer version.
February 13, 2005
Smith’s Angaston Whisky 7yo 1997/2004 (40%, OB, Australia)   TASTING - Smith’s Angaston Whisky 7 yo 1997/2004 (40%, OB, Australia) A vatting of 9 hogsheads, 4 sherry casks, 2 French wine casks and 2 American casks, that strangely includes all heads and tails. Colour: amber. Nose: much, much nicer than many other ‘foreign’ attempts at making whisky. Nice notes of sherry, vanilla and oak, together with some grainy and herbal notes (dill, fresh parsley, fresh mint). Fresh almonds and hazelnuts, mashed potatoes, hot milk… Really nice, and very similar to many young Speysiders. Mouth: hey, it’s nice! Very oaky and a little spirity at first sip, and perhaps slightly watery, it develops on vanilla, wood, sweet wine and grain. Really nice and rather balanced, even if not too complex and aromatically quite narrow. The finish is quite short, though, and quite ‘caramelised’, but the Angaston deserves a good rating, no doubt. I’ve had many Scotch that were much, much worse - not to mention most other Australian whiskies. 75 points – and thanks, Pär.
MUSIC - Recommended listening: Beth Robinson sings 9th obsession (mp3). She's got a superb voice and deserves much wider recognition, no doubt about that!   Beth Robinson
February 12, 2005
Johannes and I just decided to channel our creative energy (!?) into a few ads, banners and postcards for maltmaniacs.com. We will gather them all on a 'Goodies' page but in the meatime, here's a first set of two. Please feel free to use them wherever you like, but don't alter them
Click on each one to get a larger image, and go and see Johannes' first effort on maltmaniacs (scroll down to entry #220).
Inchmoan Inchmoan   BREAKING NEWS - After a Croftengea last year, the guys from The Whiskyfair managed to get hold of two casks of Loch Lomond's peated Inchmoan which have just been bottled. They both sell very fast but maybe you can still get some by contacting our German friends here. I've heard they will also bottle an Invergordon 39 yo 1965 from Duncan Taylor's... If it's any near the fantabulous Invergordons DT already released, it's going to be a stunner of a single grain whisky!
TASTING - Ardbeg 6 yo 1998/2004 'Very Young' (58.3%, OB, committee approved) I didn’t like the earlier, ‘for discussion’ version too much (79 points), because it was really too rough and lacking complexity. Since the Committee finally approved it (LOL, Ardbeg is the king of Customer Relationship Management, no doubt) let’s taste this new version now. Colour: pale straw. Nose: pungent, leafy and very smoky. Lots of earthy notes, with some roots, liquorice stick and wet hay. All great till I got some disturbing and harsh notes of rubber band and hot metal (still), quite typical of a new make in my book – the ones that should vanish during ageing, precisely. Mouth: very bold, sweet and smoky, yet very raw like, yes, a new make. Burning wet wood, garden bonfire, lemon skin… And again some offbeat notes of distillation, foreshots, raw tutti frutti spirit, while the finish is long and peaty but really burning. Well, writing ‘Very Young’ on the label is very clever - kind of an excuse - but whisky is all about ageing in wood, isn’t it? I don’t just buy anything that comes out of Ardbeg, sorry my friends. 79 points again.   Ardbeg 6yo 1998/2004 'Very Young' (58.3%, OB, committee approved)
Daevid Allen   MUSIC - After robert Wyatt (see yesterday's entry), I couldn't avoid talking a bit about his old buddy Daevid Allen, another completely crazy grandpa! Have a try at Money doesn't make it - mp3, one of his most recent pieces of work, and judge by yourself. And don't expect to hear his usual aetheral guitar solos here! Please buy Daevid Allen's music if you like it.
February 11, 2005
FRIENDS - If you're a lassie or a lady, and if you're 'unashamed of your delight in all things alcohol-related', why not pay a visit to an adorable website 'dedicated to the discerning lady imbiber': Ladies Who Lush.com. They told me they are more into cocktails than into Single Malts but a few of them actually are malt heads (and Balvenie 12 yo Doublewood seems to be quite hot in their circle!).  
Linkwood 10yo 1990 (43%, Chieftain’s Choice)  


Linkwood 10 yo 1990 (43%, Chieftain’s Choice) Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh and lively, almost minty. Lots of aniseed, dill, wild carrots. It gets quite honeyed and fruity (pineapple syrup, ripe pear). Hints of smoke and flowers (yes, roses). Nice nose! Too bad it gets a little soapy then. Mouth: sweet, yet firm attack, soon to get a little bitter and thin at the same time. Spirity and peppery. Feint notes of light honey that don’t really make it through the alcohol. Too bad, the nose was nice. Medium long but bitter finish. Again, too bad. 77 points.

Linkwood 13 yo 1990/2003 (46%, Whiskyclub Regensburg) Thanks for this one, Peter. Colour: amber. Nose: this is completely different. A very nice sherry together with lots of toffee and vanilla creme at first nosing. Very interesting hints of fresh parsley, dill again, fern… Lots of soy sauce then, balsamic vinegar, smoked ham, chestnut jam. Rather complex and very nicely balanced. Develops on marzipan and fine oak. Great nose! Mouth: very creamy, mostly on cooked coffee, sherry and crystallised fruits (apricot, orange).   Linkwood 13yo 1990/2003 (46%, Whiskyclub Regensburg)
The palate isn’t as thrilling as the nose, alas, and also a little simple, to tell you the truth. Quite tannic too, with some curious hints of hard water. The finish is quite long but a little drying. In short and as often, the nose was much nicer than the palate, but it’s still a very, very nice Linkwood. 85 points.
Robert Wyatt   MUSIC - Oldies but goldies: 1983, after 'Rock bottom', Robert Wyatt stuns the world again (well, part of it) with his beautiful Shipbuilding - mp3, written by Elvis Costello. Whether you prefer Suede's more recent version or not is up to you. I don't! Please buy Robert Wyatt's music if you like it.
February 10, 2005
ADS RACE - No news from Johannes', maybe he's stunned - or he's looking hard for some even sexier ads! We'll see what happens within the coming days... Pfffft...
SHOPPING - Incredible what you can do with an old oak barrel. After some seats and some hot tubs, here's... an antique birdhouse! And then you can call your birds Diogenes ;-). Seen at Folk Artisans.  
Deanston Malt 8yo (40%, OB, 1980’s) Deanston 12yo (40%, OB, 1990’s)  


Deanston Malt 8 yo (40%, OB, 1980’s) Colour: light gold. Nose: light and curious. Cheap perfume, eau de Cologne, rosewater. Notes of overcooked coffee, curaçao, rotten orange. Weird! Mouth: much creamier and bolder than expected. Lots of Italian coffee, light caramel, fresh cream and kiwi. Not too bad, even if quite simple. Rather long finish – I know, we just started – on fruit liquor and burnt cake. 70 points.

Deanston 12 yo (40%, OB, 1990’s) Colour: dark straw. Nose: even lighter but also much cleaner. Grainy, on mashed potatoes, broiled cereals. The ‘funny’ fruity notes (rotten orange) do come after two minutes, though. Hints of vase water after a week. Mouth: rather weak and watery, on caramel, roasted peanuts and grain. Not much else, I’m afraid. A poor single malt. 65 points.
Deanston 12 yo 1977 (55%, James MacArthur) Colour: light gold. Nose: much bolder, but again some weird notes of rotten fruits and cheap perfume. Cold coffee, dust, old cardboard. Hints of fresh melon and peach – which is better! It then keeps improving, with some rum and Tia Maria liquor. Good news! Mouth: bold and powerful attack, but again it’s really weird. Burnt ‘stuff’, rotten fruits (longans), cheap industrial orange juice, bitter toffee, overcooked coffee… Yeah well, such is life. 60 points.
Sue Foley   MUSIC - Highly recommended listening: she's got a detuned voice but she's not the only one, and she sure knows how to sing the blues - especially the speedy one: Sue Foley does Shake that thing - live - mp3. My God, does she rock! Please buy her music if you like it - or attend one of her concerts (she's Canadian). Must be something!
February 9, 2005

TOTALLY DISGRACEFUL! - Johannes van den Heuvel, of Malt Madness fame, just made a sneak attack on this web site by insinuating that I used 'transparent advertising tricks to lure more people to Whiskyfun' by starting to 'publish a series of increasingly saucy whisky ads'. The poor Dutch soul didn't understand that my aim was purely educational, and now wants to start an 'ads race' - or should I say an 'ads war'? He even published a very greasy one for some blue jeans with a blondie - ha, not even spirits! - that you can contemplate in his log entry #218 if you're into that sort of thing (but hey, you come back later, right?) Now, should we enter the race? What do you think?... Okay, okay, let's just do it. Maybe it's going to be funny...
Let's try to find something sexy enough to meat Johannes' desires... Ah, yes, what about this one?... (please scroll down...) ...

The Club Whiskey Sour   ... ooooops, sorry, wrong file! This old ad for The Club Whiskey Sour is hardly sexy, is it? Wait, I must have something better... Tanqueray Gin sometimes uses some very, very sexy girls, for instance... Ah, yes, I have one, I think...

... (please scroll down...) ...
... blasted, wrong file again! I know, maybe some will say the dog on this Tanqueray Gin ad from 2002 looks smarter than some... Well, you know... Oh, wait, I think I've found something very sexy now...

... (please scroll down...) ...
  Tanqueray Gin ad from 2002
  ... Wot? You say this one isn't sexy at all? Well, maybe you're right! Let's make another try then...

... (please scroll down...) ...
... Ah, wrong file again, I'm sorry! This one - a recent ad for Glenlivet that reads 'Do we look influenced by trends?' - the answer is no, otherwise we'd already have some peated (or wine-finished) Glenlivets - isn't sexy at all, you're right. Okay, let's make a last try, I hope my Mac won't go on playing dirty tricks ;-)...

... (please scroll down...) ...
Black Velvet  

... Ah, yes, now it works! This is a 2004 ad for Black Velvet. I agree, they didn't rack their brains to come up with this one, but after all, it's black, it' s velvety, and of course seductively smooth. Sexy, isn't it?

Okay, Mr Tulip, your turn... And please no ads for some bras! ;-)

Good, back to some more serious matters now...

Glenfarclas 1968/2003 ‘Rare Old Stock Reserve’ (54.10%, OB, cask #686-687, 384 bottles)   Glenfarclas 1968/2003 ‘Rare Old Stock Reserve’ (54.10%, OB, cask #686-687, 384 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: very winey right from the start. Ripe strawberries and pepper, redcurrant, banana flambéed. Develops on dark chocolate, gianduja, chocolate truffles. Lots of sherry, but a very nice one, which is far from making this Farclie dull. Nice hints of fresh mint and balsamic vinegar. Very, very nice if not overly subtle. Mouth: very punchy but not as bold as expected. Lots of wood (pepper) and some slightly sour notes, together with some cold coffee, meat sauce, black toffee… I was waiting for something a little creamier and sweeter, I must say. It even gets a little bitter and drying, but it’s easily bearable. Develops on some heavy notes of wine sauce, wine reduction, lees… Well, it gets a little difficult for me now, quite pungent and even a little acidic. Okay, it’s an extreme sherry monster on the palate, not exactly my taste, I must say. Ah, yes, a rating… let’s say 84 points.
Glenfarclas 1968/2004 ‘For Friends Edition 1’ (50.1%, OB, Private, cask #688, 126 bottles) Colour: dark mahogany. Nose: much less winey, and much more chocolaty at first nosing. It remains a little flat and sort of mat during a few seconds, before the sherry starts to wake up (or is it my nose?) A very subtle sherry at that, with no ‘sweet’n’sour’ notes at all. Peony, lilac… and always lots of chocolate. Nice notes of praline, whisky fudge (sure, sure…) Italian coffee… Feint hints of Worcester sauce. Really beautiful and, again, no lumpiness at all. Mouth: oh, so much better at first sip! Much creamier, sweeter and smoother, even if again, there’s lots of sherry in there. Lots of caramel (somewhat in the Bailey’s style – sorry Luc), chocolate, burnt praline, candy sugar… Lots of balsamic vinegar as well, and even black truffle! (And God knows how much I love truffles). Hints of Grand-Marnier (but the Cuvée du Centenaire) and even Bénédictine, yellow Chartreuse, Jägermeister. Okay, perhaps it gets a little too drying after a while, as the tannins start to ‘stick the tongue to the palate’, as we say. The finish is very long, that is, mainly on some great notes of blackcurrant liqueur. A cute little sherry monster, this one! 90 points.   Glenfarclas 1968/2004 ‘For Friends Edition 1’ (50.1%, OB, Private, cask #688, 126 bottles)
Glenfarclas 1968 ‘For Friends Edition 3’ (OB, Private, WIP, cask #689)   Glenfarclas 1968 ‘For Friends Edition 3’ (OB, Private, WIP, cask #689) Colour: amber. Nose: ah, this one is much fresher again, not too far from cask #686-687. Beautifully floral and fragrant, markedly winey and also very fruity: perhaps it’s the most balanced of them all. Caramel cream, praline, apricot jam, butter cream… Notes of pastry, fresh cookies, roasted peanuts. The sherry is very refined and elegant… Whiffs of pu-her tea, quinquina, bitter orange, and even ginger.
It simply has everything (except peat and smoke, that is). Mouth: oh yes, this one is my favourite, by far. It has much more vivacity than its brothers, and much more oomph. An Aston when the others were Cadillacs! The attack is very nervous, yet creamy, with lots of fruit jam and fruit liquors (mainly mirabelles, plums). Crystallised orange, leather, light tobacco… Even hints of eucalyptus and beeswax. Superb! There is a lot of sherry, obviously, but the latter didn’t overwhelm the whisky at all. Ah, now there are some funny hints of ginger tonic together with a tiny little metallic taste towards the very long and so nicely balanced finish. Wow! This one is meant to get bottled in 2008, but I would advise the owner to check whether it doesn’t get more tannic in the coming months/years, because I find it to be perfect just like it is. Hence my 93 points, by the way… (thanks, Luc!)
MUSIC - 1999: kitsch but hip, Tom Jones and The Divine Comedy did Portishead's All Mine (mp3) and made it sound even more Kurt Weill-esque. Heavy, sir, but the voices, the voices! (From Tom Jones' album 'Reload')   Tom Jones The Divine Comedy
February 8, 2005


MUSIC - Oldies but goldies: 1974, Captain Beefheart sings JJ Cale's Same old blues - mp3. That was on the 'Bluejeans & Moonbeams' album. Not as crazy as some of the Captains' other works but I still like it. A lot! Please buy The Captain's music if you like it... By the way, he just turned 64 in January, so, a belated 'happy birthday Don!'.

  Captain Beefheart


Balvenie 25yo 1974/2000 ‘Single Barrel’ (46.9%, OB, cask #10152)   Balvenie 25 yo 1974/2000 ‘Single Barrel’ (46.9%, OB, cask #10152) A bottle Davin purchased in Panama. Colour: gold. Nose: extremely smooth, yet compact attack, on light honey, flowers and oak. Not overly expressive in fact, but very elegant and refined. Gets quite buttery an creamy (hot cake, vanilla cream), with lots of wild ‘light’ flowers (dandelion, buttercup). Nice freshness! Whiffs of white pepper and white chocolate. Ravishing, even if not too bold. Some nice hints of camphor and turpentine develop after ten minutes or so, and it also gets more nervous. Mouth: beautiful attack, bold and compact again. Lots of fruit jam and honey, with a dash of white pepper and traces of clove. Some very nice rooty notes too (gentian). Hints of rose jelly and Turkish delight. It’s not overly complex but again, so nicely compact and satisfying! The finish is long and coating, perhaps a tad too woody. An excellent all-rounder that will conquer anybody, not just maltheads. 88 points.
Balvenie 30 yo ‘Thirty’ (47.3%, OB, 2004) Colour: gold, just a bit darker. Nose: ah, this new one is even sweeter, with an extra-dimension: tropical fruits! Lots of tangerine, quince jelly, apple (Calvados), apricot jam, mirabelles… Yummy! Other than that, it’s in the same league as the 25yo, with quite some vanilla cream, honey, wild flowers… Less woody, too. A part of it makes me think of the fruitiness of the Bowmores from the 60’s. Most enjoyable, but with a little less vivacity than in the 25yo. Mouth: again, a very creamy and extremely honeyed first mouth feel, with lots of quince and apricot jam. Perhaps some traces of sherry? It then grows quite bolder than the 25yo, and also more peppery and woodier. Hints of mango sauce. Lots of vanilla too… Again, it’s not too complex but hugely enjoyable, with its long, creamy and honeyed finish. I like it just as much as the 25yo, and perhaps even a little more, so let’s go for 90 points this time. Thanks, Martine.   Balvenie 30yo ‘Thirty’ (47.3%, OB, 2004)
February 7, 2005
Balvenie 10yo Founder’s Reserve (40%, OB, 1980's)   TASTING - Balvenie 10 yo Founder’s Reserve (40%, OB, 1980's) This is the famous 'Cognac bottle', dating back from the times when Cognac was leading the market, and both Balvenie and Aberlour did launch such Cognac look-alikes. Today, several Cognac bottlers are 'faking' whisky bottles. The times, they are changing... Colour: straw. Nose: quite smoky and rubbery at first nosing, with some burnt cake, breadcrumb, caramel… Some nice flowery notes (heather) and quite a lot of honeyed notes. Gets a little grassy after a moment, while some nice hints of fresh fruits (apple, gooseberry, peach) appear. Nicely balanced and most enjoyable. Mouth: very nice attack on honey and fruit jam (apricot, quince). Herbal tea, Christmas cake… Some liquorice too. It’s got quite some oomph and I like the notes of dried herbs from Provence (thyme, rosemary). The finish is medium long but nicely honeyed and spicy. A very good oldie! 84 points.
Balvenie 10 yo Founder’s Reserve (43%, OB, 1980's) This one is just the variant at 43%, and was a French import. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very similar of course but perhaps more on dried flowers and cooked apples. Perhaps this bottle was a little more tired. Mouth: again, more tired. Lots of herbal tea and dried fruits but it’s also a little dusty. Short and flat finish: I think the bottle was tired (the level was quite low into the neck). So, no rating, I’m sorry.
MUSIC - Recommended listening: Paul Cummins is a veteran 'indie guitar hero' from Southern California. Try Nature knows (mp3 - beware it's huge). This strange tune - perhaps a little bit over-produced? - features Paul's very good slide guitar playing, somehow between the Pink Floyd and Ry Cooder... Interesting!   Paul Cummins


Well not exactly an answer, as this ad for Chivas ran in 2002. Small white texts, for the girl: 'Yes, God is a man' - for the whisky: 'When you know'. I rarely saw such a clever way of sneaking an almost naked girl into an ad, I must say. So, God is a woman, says Chivas, and maybe that's much less arguable that what's said on the right part of the page! What's sure is that there's one genuine subject of worship in this ad... But is Chivas a macho or anti-macho brand? Mmm... dialectics in whisky!

February 6, 2005
TASTING - Royal Lochnagar 30 yo 1973/2003 (57.9%, Douglas Laing Platinum) Colour: surprisingly light (pale straw). Nose: beautifully balanced, even if not overly expressive right at first nosing. Things are soon to improve, though. Lots of fresh fruits (mango, apricot) together with some great hints of camphor, almond milk and truffles (summer truffles – tuber aestivum). Goes on with lots of dried flowers, herbal tea, caramel rice cake. What a superb nose, mature yet so full of youth.   Royal Lochnagar 30yo 1973/2003 (57.9%, Douglas Laing Platinum)
Summer truffles, September 2004
Mouth: again a beautiful mouth, perfectly balanced and extremely satisfying. Sure it’s a little woody right at the start – with lots of pepper – but then it’s a maelstrom of flowers, fruits and spices, yet it’s not showing off too much. Long and very satisfying finish. Just a great single malt whisky with a superb balance and a fantastic compactness. Ah, and these truffle smells! 90 points.
Caxi Rajão   MUSIC - Recommended listening - if you like Brazilian jazz or Brazilian music generally speaking, Caxi Rajão plays Choro de Vó (mp3). Absolutely superb! Please buy Caxi's music if you like it.
WINE BS, FOR ONCE - Terroir or not terroir, that is the question in the wine world (and sometimes in the whisky world as well). Okay, let's assume terroir doesn't make too much sense, just for the sake of the argument (yeah, stupid); what's sure, is that all grape varieties don't grow just as perfectly under any climate. Let's say some need a lot of sun, some others don't.Yet, the people at Columbia Crest, Washington, make almost all kind of 'cépages' wines: cabernet-sauvignon, chardonnay, gewurztraminer, merlot, riesling, sauvignon, sémillon, syrah... Well, why not, after all? Now, see the 'neck label' on the right (seen in Germany). What does Columbia Crest tell us? That their vineyards are just as 'hot' as France's, as they're both situated between the 48th and 46th parallels. Good, let's admit the Gulf Stream doesn't exist, but let's focus on the little green maps now...  
  ... See the French vineyards? Please roll your mouse over the map and you'll spot their actual location, especially Bordeaux'
Conclusion: not only Columbia Crest isn't very good at climatology, but they also just don't know where the French vineyards really are. Or... they simply put Bordeaux 200 km north of where it actually is, to suggest that their own vineyards are just as 'hot'. Naughty!
February 5, 2005
Anna Claudia   MUSIC - Recommended listening - Who sings Bossa Nova better than Astrud Gilberto? Anna Claudia! Have a try at Mais que perfeito (mp3) while sipping a Mojito... Ahhhh...
TASTING - Glen Spey 30 yo 1974/2004 (46%, Murray McDavid Mission IV, 720 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: lots of smoke and rubber at first nosing, with quite some sulphur. Getting waxy. Goes on with some white fruits, melon and pumpkin. Mouth: coating and sweet, on kiwi, passion fruits, fructose. Hints of vanilla fudge. The finish is a little drying, with quite some heavy tannins. It’s always interesting to be able to taste a Glen Spey! 86 points.   Glen Spey 30yo 1974/2004 (46%, Murray McDavid Mission IV, 720 bottles)
February 4, 2005
Glenordie 12yo (40%, OB, 1980's)  


Glenordie 12 yo (40%, OB, 1980's) Colour: light gold. Nose: light, grainy and malty. Some fruity notes (apple, pear), hints of dried flowers. Lilac. Rather enjoyable, even if it lacks some oomph. Mouth: quite weak and a little watery at first, but getting almost pungent after a few seconds. Strange! Straw, butterscotch, breadcrumb, burnt caramel… Gets very malty after a while, but lacks any further development. The finish is medium long and a little drying. 75 points.

Glen Ord 12 yo (40%, OB, 1990's) Colour: light gold. Nose: bolder, with more presence. Grain, dried flowers, mashed potatoes, lily from the valley. Quite fragrant. Nice notes of freshly cut apple (ripe golden delicious) and hot caramel. A little MOTR, sure, but it’s quite enjoyable and flawless. Mouth: the attack is a little weird, dusty and rather burning, despite the low abv. It tastes like Johnnie Walker Red! Gets a little sugarish and peppery at the same time. The finish is rather long, on… well, whisky, if you see what I mean. The new one in the rectangular bottle is much better, but this old version is rather amiable, after all. 76 points.   Glen Ord 12yo (40%, OB, 1990's)
Ord 27yo 1962/1989 (55.4%, Cadenhead, distilled December)   Ord 27 yo 1962/1989 (55.4%, Cadenhead, distilled December) Colour: light amber. Nose: wow, now we’re talking! Superb fudge and praline, fresh vanilla stick, caramelised apples, sherry (fino). It gets very woody but in a nice way. Gets very spicy at the same time: pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, lots of clove… It then gets quite flowery, on fresh and dry lavender. Hints of cider apples… Just great, even if very influenced by the cask – a great one, that is. Mouth: bold and creamy attack, with lots of tannins – interesting ones. Very, very woody, that’s for sure. Lots of cinnamon and white pepper, liquid caramel. Some notes of bitter herbs, thyme, dried parsley… Some rubber. Too bad, it gets really too dry after a moment, which prevents me from rating this puppy more than 85 points. Maybe they should have bottled it earlier… So, 85 points for this old Ordie.
MUSIC - Recommended listening: Patti Witten sings What I don't tell you (mp3). She makes me think of Joni Mitchell - by the way, just saw that stupid movie, 'Love Actually' where a character sort of says Joni Mitchell is outdated. Rubbish! Joni will never be outdated, she's already a living legend.   Patti Witten


Left: this is a miniature of Glenfiddich, right? Yes, just a regular, widely available miniature of Glenfiddich Special Reserve...

Right: wrong, it is not a mini-bottle of Glenfiddich. Pull it open, and you'll find out that it's... a battery clock! After the Laphroaig alarm-clock, it appears that the Scottish distillers really are focused on time keeping. I'm wondering if Brock Savage has got the same model...

February 2, 2005

The Barbican, London
Sunday January 30th 2005
by Nick Morgan

I have to thank Frank McCamley and Mike Hayward for introducing me to Planxty in October 1973. In a moment the cliché of Irish folk music (“when I came home drunk last night, as drunk as drunk could be” etc.) was demolished.

And at the same time I began an as yet unrequited love affair with the painful, mournful, bending notes of the Uilleann Pipes (Watkin Lees notwithstanding), and with the angelic voices of Andy Irvine and Christy Moore. The album, The Well Below the Valley, barely survived the pounding of indifferent styli, spilt beer and forgotten cigarettes, along with other favourites such as 10CC and Little Feat. And the eponymous song, a morbid celebration of rustic incest, infanticide and consequent damnation, was, it was whispered, never to be recorded, and certainly never to be sung on stage. Welcome to a magical world of mystery and musical complexity.
Two years later Planxty disbanded, and though briefly reformed in the 1980s this supergroup of Irish folk (their only equivalent I suppose is the Scottish/Irish The Boys of the Lough) were confined to vinyl memories and increasingly difficult to find CD reissues. Of course all pursued individual careers, none more so than Christy Moore, whose songs, soulful voice and outstanding albums and performances have blazed a trail for the poor, the oppressed, and the victims on injustice for many years.   PLANXTY
Planxty, circa 1978

But last year these four older, greyer and fatter men (Editor’s note – enough of this!) came together for a handful of performances in Ireland. And on Sunday we sat transfixed amongst the Willie Johns, the black haired darlings, the raggle taggle gypsies and the forlorn anglicised gentry of the Barbican as Planxty played their first gigs in London for 25 years.
When you see a band like this, who you never thought you would, whose timeless respect for (and reinterpretation of) tradition provides constant twists and surprises, whose musical complexity (guitar, mandolin, voice, pipe, bodhran, bazouki, flute) is both beguiling and almost bewildering; well its almost enough to bring tears to your eyes. And great news – no need to write a set list – you can just buy the Live 2004 CD and you’ll get the bulk of it in the comfort of your own living room.

PLANXTY   Highpoints? Liam O’Flynn’s pipes on ‘The dark slender boy’. Christy Moore’s pronunciation of “taarrtarsch” in ‘The good ship Kangaroo’; St Brendan’s circumnavigation of the world, which sounded a lot more fun than Ellen Macarthur’s, and Christy Moore again singing on ‘Little Musgrave’ (or ‘Matty Groves’ to Fairporters). Donal Lunny’s astonishing and rhythmical guitar, mandolin and bazouki (he counted in every song with his plectrum on the strings as if he was about to play ‘Voodoo chile’), and Andy Irvine’s voice. “Jeez, I'd cry for the sound of himself singing the menu at Kavanagh’s”, whispered my raven-haired companion.
Christy Moore
Euro moment: Irvine singing Angus McBride – “The Queen wouldn’t scruple to send us to France where we would be shot in the morning”. And song of the night, forget tradition, was Irvine’s ‘The west coast of Clare’. It’s not quite as magical as Skye or Islay, but the tears, like the smoke and the strong whisky, are just as salty. - Nick Morgan, photos Kate Akers, X.
Thanks a bunch, Nick. Yes, Christy Moore, whom I only knew by name before - a shame indeed - is brilliant! I could find these nice mp3's: Christy Moore - So do I and Matty (both recent recordings, via Irish Songs) and Andy Irvine - Rattlin' Roarin' Willie and Raynard the Fox (both with the Sweeney's Men in 1968). There's plenty of other nice mp3's on their websites.

Sigel N°7 Barley (40%, OB, ‘Good Old Germany’) Colour: light amber. Nose: very weird! Eau de Cologne, dust, pot pourri, violet perfume, that’s all. This one smells anything but whisky! Good old Germany? Yeah, sure, Cologne is in Germany, isn’t it? Mouth: oh my God! Really dirty, offbeat and disjointed. Just undrinkable. And these soapy notes! 15 points.
Slyrs 1999/2002 (43%, OB, Bavaria) Colour: straw. Nose: ah, this is much better, even if again, there are some strange perfumy notes. Lots of orange skin, cooked apples, rose, ‘chemical’ vanilla powder and bubblegum. Mouth: quite nice attack, nicely woody, but it’s then rather weak and un-definite. Some caramel and vanilla, some feint fruity notes, but otherwise it’s aromatically quite poor. Gets dusty. 50 points.

  Sigel N°7 Barley (40%, OB, ‘Good Old Germany’) Slyrs 1999/2002 (43%, OB, Bavaria)
Slyrs 2001/2004 (43%, OB, Bavaria) Colour: straw. Nose: ah, this batch is very different. Always these perfumy smells and bubblegum, but now there’s also lots of hot milk with caramel and vanilla cream. Not too bad! Mouth: again it’s better than the 1999. More defined, with more body. Caramel, sweet wine, vanilla cream, white fruits and kiwi, orange juice… Not un-enjoyable at all, I guess the next batches will be even better. 60 points.


Remember again... A few days ago (see January 31) Black Velvet was telling us that 'A smoother taste comes of age' while showing us a beautiful young (but not too young) woman dressed in fur. Ah, smoothness, that's the thing, it appears, and Jim Beam Black won't argue. These two men are discussing - in small white letters: 'Smooth, mellow and refined. Actually we're talking about the bourbon', while assuming we all saw the girl seated at the back first. Sure the ad is nicely composed for that - the only face on the ad and all that - but hey, the first thing we saw was the glass of whiskey, wasn't it?

February 1, 2005
MUSIC - Recommended listening: Cuban born Canadian king of the 10-hole diatonic harmonica Carlos del Junco plays an astounding jazz-blues-funk piece called Funny thing - mp3. Whether it's funny or not, I don't know, but very good it is! And the guitars... wow! Please buy Carlos' music.   Carlos del Junco
pringbank 12yo (46%, OB, black label, 1980’s)  


Springbank 12 yo (46%, OB, black label, 1980’s)
Colour: straw - a very light 'vatting' - sorry Ulf, I mean 'normalization'. Nose, starts on full beeswax and seaweed. Superb, simply. Lots of dried tropical fruits, shoe polish, marzipan, dried coconut, satay sauce, straw smoke, bitter almonds… Lots of wet stone and some aromas that you can find only in Springbank. Again, superb. Mouth: again lots of dried fruits, wax, creme caramel, vanilla fudge, bitter almonds. Great finish, getting a little meaty (smoked ham). 92 points.

Springbank 12 yo 100 proof (57%, OB, European version)
Colour: amber. Nose: bold, rich and complex, that’s the first impression. Some wax, dried fruits, smoke, spices, sea air… The sherry’s obvious but not overwhelming. Gets herbal (tea, thyme) and even spicier (clove, cinnamon). It keeps improving, even after ten or fifteen minutes. No wonder this bottling has got a cult status! Mouth: what can I say about this malt, that hasn’t already been said or written? Perhaps nothing. It’s fantastic, bold, rich, complex, compact, elegant… It has everything, even if the older versions from the early 80s were even better in my opinion – especially the one for Samaroli in Italy. My rating: 94 points.
  Springbank 12yo 100 proof (57%, OB, European version)

January 2005 - part 2 <--- February 2005 - part 1 ---> February 2005 - part 2

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

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

Balvenie 30 yo ‘Thirty’ (47.3%, OB, 2004)

Glenfarclas 1968/2004 ‘For Friends Edition 1’ (50.1%, OB, Private, cask #688, 126 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1968 ‘For Friends Edition 3’ (OB, Private, WIP, cask #689)

Royal Lochnagar 30 yo 1973/2003 (57.9%, Douglas Laing Platinum)

Springbank 12 yo (46%, OB, black label, 1980’s)

Springbank 12 yo 100 proof (57%, OB, European version)