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Whisky Tasting


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Petits billets d'humeur
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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2005 - Part 1
December 2004 - part 2 <--- January 2005 - part 1 ---> January 2005 - part 2
January 15, 2005
Saint-Magdalene 12yo 1982/1995 (63.8%, Cadenhead)   TASTING - Saint-Magdalene 12 yo 1982/1995 (63.8%, Cadenhead) Funny, this one has got the same ABV as Johannes’ preferred 19 yo 1979 Rare Malts! Colour: light gold. Nose: prickly, very spirity, grainy and grassy, with some fern and lemon zest. It gets fresher and fresher, but also pricklier and pricklier. Develops on un-sugared lemon juice, sparkling water, gin fizz. Wow, it’s really sharp like a blade, with not even a quarter of an ounce of sweetness! Mouse: extremely strong, pungent and ‘fulgurating’. Ahem… but it’s almost un-drinkable! Pure lime juice… It climbs up into the nose!
Let’s pour a few drops of water now… It gets very bitter then (lemon skin) and woody, with even some notes of wasabi. Now, this is a genuine monster again! The finish is very long, lemony and bitter, with lots of rather aggressive tannins. This is a fully untameable Linlithgow, I give up. 82 points, still, precisely because it’s so untameable.
MUSIC - Recommended listening: Karen Bergquist's band Over The Rhine play My love is a fever and Mary's Waltz (both mp3). Great sound, great voice, great band, punto basta.   Over The Rhine
January 13, 2005
Serah   MUSIC - Recommended listening: Serah sings Yes (mp3), her latest single. I''ve discovered her touching singing almost fifteen years ago on a CD she did with German guitarist Friedeman. I'm not into new age music usually, but with Serah, it works pretty well!

JUST A CARTOON - after the SWA / Mackmyra - Glen Breton stories... ;-)


Tullibardine 10yo (40%, OB, twistcap, mid 1990s)  


Tullibardine 10 yo (40%, OB, twistcap, mid 1990s) Colour: light straw. Nose: light and fragrant, with hints of fern, dandelion and bubblegum. Gets grassier and grassier, with hints of beer. A little weak, though. Mouth: very gentle and sweet attack, getting grainy and grassy. Notes of vanilla and beer. Not much further development, alas. Rather short finish, getting slightly bitter.
65 points.

Tullibardine 1993/2004 (40%, OB) Colour: straw. Nose: quite similar but a little fruitier, and perhaps even more subdued. Hints of rubber and Schweppes. Mouth: more structured this time, and also bolder. Grain, vanilla, light caramel, cold tea… Gets very leafy and a little bitter (infused tea leaves). The finish is medium long, on vanilla and cardboard. One step above the old 10yo, but no stunner either. 69 points.
Tullibardine 15 yo 1989/2004 (49.8%, Hart Bros, distilled April) Colour: white wine. Nose: much more presence. Lots of freshly cut pear, boiling milk, cooked butter, beer again.
  Tullibardine 1993/2004 (40%, OB)
Some flowery notes too (violets, lavender). Not monstrously complex, alas. Mouth: quite bold, but with a bitter and rubbery attack. Some cooked apple, ashes, pipe juice (argh). Lots of offbeat notes developing (silver spoon, rubber, genever, foreshots). Again it gets bitter, and the finish is quite long but, well, bitter. 67 points.
January 12, 2005
Springbank 1969/2003 (47.6%, OB private bottling, cask #55)  


Springbank 1969/2003 (47.6%, OB private bottling, cask #55)
Colour: very fresh and lively for such an old malt. Sour creme, bitter almonds, musk, coconut milk, Turkish delight … Again an excellent old Springbank. Goes on with some camphor, massage oil, tiger balm, beeswax. Mouth: starts on a little pepper and various dried fruits (pear, apricot, banana, coconut). Gets slightly bitter after 34 years in wood, but not overly so. Long finish on bitter orange… Another great old springbank. 88 points.

Springbank 1970/2004 (47.9%, Wiskyfair Limburg)
Colour: amber. Nose: quite close to the 1969 I just had at first nosing, but more flowery and smoky. More compact too. It then gets very phenolic, together with some marzipan, diesel oil, bitter almonds. Burning leaves, smoked tea, crème brûlée. Lots of tropical fruits after a moment. Nice, lively and so fresh for such an old Springer! Mouth: sweet and round attack, but it gets quite punchy after just a few seconds. Perhaps it's just a bit simple, on dried fruits, caramel and chocolate. It’s very good but I feel it just lacks a little complexity, and perhaps it’s a little too dry. Still a great old Springbank! 89 points (but the nose is worth much more)
  Springbank 1970/2004 (47.9%, Wiskyfair Limburg)
Springbank 1975/2004 (49.2%, Whiskyfair Limburg)   Springbank 1975/2004 (49.2%, Whiskyfair Limburg)
Colour: light amber. Nose: much more direct and very grassy, in a good way. It smells like a plate of antipasti! Artichoke, green pepper, fresh mushrooms. I like it a lot. Very clean and fresh. Goes on with mashed potatoes, cooked butter. It then gets quite flowery, with some violets, lilac… The cask must have been quite neutral, hence this very pure and clean nose (which, again, I like). Mouth: bold and pure again, and very punchy. Creme caramel, ripe banana, herbal tea, guava. It gets a little dry and tannic, but not too much. Some dried angelica and white pepper, with a long, slightly peppery finish. I like this one more than its older brother, for it’s cleaner and livelier. A top notch Springbank. 91 points.
MUSIC - Oldies but goldies: 1971, the late Roy Buchanan talks over a churchy organ and his electric guitar, which he then makes cry endlessly, like if it were a lost baby whale. An anthem that sends Carlos Santana back to school. Listen to The Messiah will come again (mp3) and please buy Roy's records.   Roy Buchanan

A LITTLE WINE AGAIN - Thanks to my dear old friend Christophe
From left to right:

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux-Saint-Jacques 1995 by Dominique Laurent - Good, but very dry and austere, with a huge acidic structure. Will this one get rounder one day? Hmm…
Côte-Rôtie La Mouline 1993 by Guigal – Too bad it has lost its original boldness and its fruity/spicy character, and became almost fragile. I thought it was a much older and slightly tired wine from Burgundy.
L’Aiguelière 1997 (Côteaux du Languedoc) – Big and bold this time, the right side of the world taste. Excellent.
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle – Superb Champagne!
Pinot Gris Rangen de Thann 1997 by Domaine Zind-Humbrecht – Some hints of old gewurztraminer (old rose, ripe mango) together with lots of ‘phenolic’ notes in this ultra-dry, austere and very special ‘Alsatian Tokay’. For hardcore wine freaks only (i.e. more for us). And oh, Olivier, did you do an Ardbeg finishing with this one?
Lafaurie-Peyraguey 1990 (Sauternes) – A monster of a Sauternes, extremely rich and concentrated. Ultra-decadent - loved it, no need to say.
Vega Sicilia Valbuena 1995 (Ribera del Duero, Spain) - Very rich, bold and spicy, but not vulgar in any way. Loved it.
Woodward Canyon Artist Series 1999 (Washington, USA) – Too bad this one was completely corked, I could ‘feel’ it must have been a great red.
Quart de Chaume 2001 by Château Pierre-Bise – Extremely sweet and concentrated, with a well-hidden acidic structure, which is unusual with chenin. Loved it.

January 11, 2005


I first heard of The Barcodes when Nick Morgan sent me a rather laudatory review of one of their latest gigs in London. Well, I still had to have a good try at one of their CDs, as the short mp3 samples the gang has uploaded on its website did make the same effect on me as a coïtus interruptus.

I don’t know if Nick got my telepathetic calls for some more consistent evidence of the band’s brilliance, but yes, a few days later, The Barcodes’ CDs crossed the Channel and made it into my brand new car’s CD player, before I had a chance to amazon them. Many thanks, Nick, it’s been a perfect occasion to check that eight loudspeakers really are better than just two, and also that a speed limiter is actually useful. Of course it’s no secret that I love jazz, that I love organ – especially the sound of the Hammond B3 – and that I’m not against a good old blues from time to time, but hearing all three ‘genres’ gently mingled on one slice of aluminium coated with plastic always rockets me to heaven, which didn’t happen since… Brian Auger (not the original LPs - I’m not that old - but his CD re-editions).
THE BARCODES   Anyway, that’s what happened with the Barcodes’ superb album ‘Keep Your Distance’ – a worthwhile warning when you’re driving your car, by the way. It all starts with ‘I got news’, a short, laidback jazzy/bluesy tune with a Hawkinsian saxophone joining the dance after just a few seconds… But that was just the aperitif. ‘Thick cut’ – my favourite track – is a great funkish and pointillist piece where the players add different touches of colour to the canvas one after the other: the B3, the harmonica, the howling electric guitar, the electric piano… Just simple touches, but what a great picture!
‘Crazy Life’ is a very nice blues, with some delicate guitar by Alan Glen – an ex Yardbird, s’il vous plaît! - while ‘The Barcode Theme’ has both some funny Henry Mancini and Rhoda Scott feelings. Ah, here’s Steely Dan now! That’s on ‘A little bit more’… Excellent guitar and piano again! It all goes on with some blues from Blues’ - ‘Tell me the truth’ and ‘That’s alright’ are both excellent - and some very good jazz (Neal Hefti’s ‘Splanky’, with some solar organ again by Bob Haddrell). Dino Coccia, the drummer, displays his subtle playing on ‘Eyesight to the Blind’, which is the last track of this splendid little CD. In short, ‘Keep Your Distance’ is much more than just some old buddies having fun together, it’s an excellent showcase of what some experimented blues and jazz musicians can do when they are in great shape, for our most total enjoyment. Thanks again Nick – you’re hired for one more year as Whiskyfun’s now Official Music Reviewer (but again, we have no budget, sorry). - Serge
Rosebank 15yo (50%, OB, Zenith Italy) Rosebank 30yo 1974/2004 (55.8%, Whisyfair Limburg)


Rosebank 15 yo (50%, OB, Zenith Italy)
Colour: straw. Nose: very spirity and grassy at first nosing, almost pungent, with just a few notes of lemon zest coming through after two or three minutes. This one is hard to work out… Apple seeds, fresh walnut skin… Gets a little malty and slightly sour like, yes, some freshly squeezed lemons. Gets even smoky (cold smoke). Another Jansenist malt, extremely austere!..

Mouth: extremely dry and austere again, dried lemons, grapefruit, with a very nice bitterness and a salty tang. It’s a love it or hate it malt, and an anti-sherry, anti-peat whisky, and for that I think it deserves no less than 85 points.
Rosebank 30 yo 1974/2004 (55.8%, Whisyfair Limburg) Colour: amber. Nose: a beautiful sherry at first nosing, in the fino style but it might well not be fino. Walnuts, wax, overripe apples, with hints of orange juice and quince jelly, with a superb balance, not just a sherry infusion. A very nice freshness for a 30 yo Rosebank. Mouth: wow, a nectar. There is quite some oak that makes it just a little dry (tannins) but otherwise it’s all perfect. Apricot juice and jam, quince jelly, honey, walnuts, and then come citrus, grapefruit, lemon… It’s all quite nervous, with lots of oomph, and a very nice finish on cold infused tea leaves. Ha, Lowlanders are light and undemanding, they say! 90 points.
January 10, 2005
Clynelish 12yo (40%, G&M OB for Italy, 1980's)  

Clynelish 12 yo (40%, G&M OB for Italy, 1980's) Colour: amber-orange. Nose: extremely expressive and fresh. Superb traces of sherry at first nosing, then lots of crystallised orange, tropical fruits (guava, mango), malt and smoke, with some added whiffs of see air. Some liquorice and quite some peat come through, not unlike in some old Highland Parks. Super, really. Mouth: a nice punch for such an old whisky. Quite dry – like a Vin Jaune – but with lots of orangey notes, cocoa powder, chocolate. It gets very oaky with lots of green tannins after a moment, which is strange in a rather huge vatting. Hints of pineapple skin. Very interesting and enjoyable – and ‘old style’. Beautiful whisky: 88 points.

Clynelish 12 yo (43%, OB, Ainslie & Heilbronn for M. di Chiano, Italy, 1970's)
Colour: straw. Nose: very special and very complex. Lots of tropical fruits, pink grapefruit, light caramel, old white Chartreuse, Mandarine Impériale, mocha, cappuccino. Hints of smoke (burning hay), seaweed, fresh pineapple. Purely thrilling. No, stunning. And this great freshness after 30 years in its bottle. Mouth, triple wow, at 43%! Incredibly strong, smoky, orangey, hay jam, herbal tea… Tons of spices like clove, nutmeg, curry powder. Superbly pure, this one is definitely not made up like a stolen Mercedes – or many new so-called ‘expressions’. What a word! Anyway, 94 points for this absolute and flawless malt (the Ava Gardner of the single malts?)
  Clynelish 12yo (43%, OB, Ainslie & Heilbronn for M. di Chiano, Italy, 1970's)
Clynelish 28 yo 1965/1993 (50.7%, Signatory, sherry butt #666) Colour: old gold. Nose: ah, typically old Clynelish. Lots of old rum, crystallised orange, fresh oysters, garden bonfire, camomile, Grand Marnier… It starts to smell oak after a moment (old wine cask) and shoe polish… and yes, old leather (I won’t write Russian leather, that would be maltoporn). Old wardrobe. Incredible, it keeps developing, switching to some great grassy notes (forest after the rain, fern…), roasted Japanese green tea. A thrill. Mouth: how creamy and bold! Some sherry, some ‘wet stone’, tropical fruits (mango this time), hay, wet straw, Belgian beer (Orval), gentian roots… Smoked salmon. Incredibly good, balanced and elegant. Hints of lemon liquor. In French we say magnifique. 93 points.
MUSIC - Recommended listening - Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem sing and play Turtle Dove (mp3). Gospel revisited? It's nicely done, in any case.   Rani Arbo
January 9, 2005
Carla Bruni   MUSIC - Recommended listening: after having been a very successful top model, Carla Bruni made it to #1 in the French charts last year - or was it the year before?- with some nicely crafted songs she composed, sang and played herself on the guitar. Listen to Quelqu'un m'a dit (mp3). In the fine old tradtion of the French 'chansons à texte'. Please buy her music if you like it!
TASTING - Longmorn 1971/1999 (57.8%, Scott’s Selection) Colour: deep amber. Nose: mocha, dried orange, crystallised fruits. Some caramel, and a nice balance. Mouth: coating and compact, on fruit jam and spices. A very nice Longmorn. Long, slightly peppery finish… Perhaps a little too dry. 85 points.   Longmorn 1971/1999 (57.8%, Scott’s Selection)
January 8, 2005
Tejedor   MUSIC - I know some friends and readers had a crush on Gallician pipe player Susanna Seivane - so here's some other great and energising 'sort-of-Celtic' music from Spain: the Asturian Tejedor family playing Polquifunkylixa (mp3). Aren't they good?
TASTING - Bladnoch 12 yo 1991/2003 (46%, DL McGibbons Provenance, Autumn/Winter) Colour: white wine. Nose: strangely toffeeish and malty at first nosing. Whiffs of smoke? Smoked ham? The heavy citrus is soon to take control, though. Grapefruit, green lemon. It then gets quite grassy (freshly cut grass) and flowery (lily from the valley, lavender). Much more complex than I thought at first nosing. Hints of light honey. Mouth: fresh, sweet, grainy and fruity (pink grapefruit, green apple). Lemon peel, icing sugar, kiwi… Really youthful. Hints or orange marmalade, rose water, perfume… Interesting, even if not overly complex. Long, bold finish, on grapefruit juice and white pepper. I like it: 85 points.   Bladnoch 12yo 1991/2003 (46%, DL McGibbons Provenance, Autumn/Winter)
January 7, 2005


Glen Kella 12 yo (40%, OB, Isle of Man) Colour: plain white. Nose: fresh and flowery, not unlike some very light Speysiders or Lowlanders. No sign of maturation, or perhaps is it just a little rounder than a new make, but that could just come from the reducing with water. Gets a little sour. It makes me think of a celery spirit somebody makes near my place (no, it isn’t for cooking, and yes, it’s not good – at all). This Glen Kella goes on with some notes of fresh apple juice and some hints of ‘copper smell’. Not too bad, I’d say, but far from being interesting aroma-wise.

  White Duck 6yo 'Dry White' (40%, OB) Glen Kella 12yo (40%, OB, Isle of Man)
Mouth: not too bad! Quite fruity – not a particular fruit, that is. Just ‘fruity’. Extremely simple, but not disgusting in any way. And it does taste whisky! Good news… I’ve had many worse blends. 50 points. By the way, fellow Maniac Lex wrote Glen Kella's whole story here. Very interesting.
White Duck 6 yo 'Dry White' (40%, OB) Colour: plain white. Nose: ouch, lots of glue, paint thinner, rubber and nail varnish (acetone). Hints of sea water… and other than that, just an abyssal perplexity on my side. Did they let some plastic dissolve in the spirit or something like that? Mouth: duty, heavy duty… Let’s go (while pinching our nose…) Here come these chemical, rubbery notes again. Some hints of fruits made me first think it would be drinkable, but the ugly and bitter notes of plastic and varnish are soon to take control of the ‘stuff’. I say yuck! Imagine somebody actually made this nightmare ‘whisky’ one day. Unbelievable! Criminals! 5 points. Oh, by the way, please note that I tasted this 'whisky' before I got the information about the company that made it... Andreas in Germany told me it was made by the Continental Distillery Corp. Philadelphia, PA. While googling that company I fond out that it was a government funded WWII industry, specialised in... distillers dried solvents. Wot? Now you can read my tasting notes again ;-).
MUSIC - Oldies but Goldies: French actor and singer Jacques Dutronc sings Le Responsable (mp3, 1969). One simple riff that might ring a bell, but it works. Okay, worked. Please buy Dutronc's music, his latest CD is very good..   Jacques Dutronc
January 6, 2005
Glen Elgin NAS (43%, OB, Asia)  


Glen Elgin NAS (43%, OB, Asia) Colour: straw. Nose: nice and rather fresh, a very classical Speysider. Butter, light caramel, hot apple pie, flowers, fresh hazelnuts, peardrops. Very nicely balanced. Gets a little grassy, fresh salsify, celery… Very nice. Mouth: very bold and powerful attack, on liquorice. Develops on gentian spirit, roots… Getting very earthy and leafy. Cooked mushrooms, Bailey’s, caramel. A very good malt, quite special, with a long and bold finish, on caramel. Very quaffable! 84 points.

Glen Elgin 19 yo 1971/1990 (50.4%, Cadenhead, distilled September) Colour: straw. Nose: very dusty, nutmeg, cocoa powder. Develops on some very fragrant notes, pear spirit, dill, peony, Kölnerwasser… Hints of strawberry liqueur, fresh pinepapple. Quite youthful! Mouth: very nice attack, on dried fruits, plants (angelica) and spices. Some liquorice roots, gentian again. A superb balance. Goes on with dried ginger, mangoes… Really beautiful, and what a perfect balance. This one has been bottled exactly at its peak, I like it a lot. Besides, the finish is very long and spicy, with always tons of liquorice. An excellent malt, worth 88 points on my scale.   Glen Elgin 19yo 1971/1990 (50.4%, Cadenhead, distilled September)
The Yayhoos   MUSIC - Let's play a little game if you like: have a listen to The Yayhoos playing Highway Junkie (mp3) and try not to move your feet - and even your toes. Impossible, right? You loose! ;-) But please buy their CDs if you like their most energizing country-rock. Last minute: just found another nice - yet heavier - track: California (mp3). Who sang 'Rock'n'roll will never die' again?
January 5, 2005
Glenallachie 12yo  


Glenallachie 12 yo (40%, OB, 1980s) Colour: light straw. Nose: quite grassy, with some smoked ham, matchstick, camphor, cold herbal tea, ashes, fresh water, stone... Really strange but rather interesting! Mouth: weak and sugarish. Dust, cocoa powder, cheap rum. It tastes like some weird ‘foreign’ whiskies. No wonder this bottling has been discontinued. The nose is okay, but the mouth is really weak and completely disjointed. 50 points.

Glenallachie 18 yo 1976/1995 (43%, The Whisky Castle Collection, cask # 6236) Colour: straw. Nose: yuck! Totally disgusting… Rotten meat and eggs, sulphur, chemicals, wet stone, old clothes. Maybe the worst nose I ever came across. Mouth: mega-yuck! Just undrinkable… Some poison? Cleaning liquid? Does whisky rot? It can’t be just some sulphur, and it can’t be the cork, as it’s got a twist-cap. My god! My worst whisky ever, totally putrid. 1 point (that's right - and that might well have been a little too much).
BREAKING NEWS! - As I could read in the local press yesterday morning, wine brings fantastic powers. You doubt it? Then, read this: "At the Sainte-Thérèse clinic, it's a little Serena (...) who came to the world at 01:55. Her weight is 3100kg and she's 50cm high (Editor's note: my God!) Her mother (...) is a salesperson and her father works in the vineyards..." Well, must be the phenols again... (seen in 'Journal L'Alsace' - January 4, 2005)  
The Count Five   MUSIC - Oldies but Goldies: obscure Californian pop band The Count Five sings Psychotic Reaction (mp3, circa 1965).Their one and only hit, so deliciously sixties...
January 4, 2005
Jean-Baptiste Lully   MUSIC - Recommended listening - this charming short piece by Italian born French composer Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687), la Chaconne d'Arlequin (mp3). Lully was Louis XIV's official composer at Versailles.


Glendullan 12 yo (47%, OB, 1980s) Colour: golden straw. Nose: strange, grassy and medicinal. Dust, sawdust, nail varnish. It needs a few minutes before some fruity notes emerge (overripe kiwi and apple). Not too enjoyable, to say the least. Mouth: bold and strong, on coffee, tropical fruits and spices. Much better than the nose suggested! Gets a little bitter. Some bold notes of rum and raisins. It’s rather good, after all! 80 points.

  Glendullan 12yo (47%, OB, 1980s)
Glendullan-Glenlivet 20yo 1978/1999 (64.2%, Cadenhead)   Glendullan-Glenlivet 20 yo 1978/1999 (64.2%, Cadenhead) Colour: light amber. Nose: powerful, on dust and camphor. Tequila, bandages, cocoa powder, rum. Lots of crystallised fruits (banana, mango). Develops on coffee and old white wine. Sherry, obviously. Mouth: wow, punchy but quite drinkable at 64%… Some weird notes of nutrasweet, sugared lemon juice, dried pineapple, rum… Cold coffee, Ice Tea. It tastes more and more like Stroh 80 (an Austrian rum at 80% abv - seen the ad? Does she look Austrian? Yeah, because of the leather pants). The Glendullan develops some sweet and sour notes (Chinese sauce). The finish is long and sweetish. Well, it’s interesting, even if more a curiosity than a highly pleasurable malt. 77 points.
January 3, 2005
MUSIC - Beware, second degree only (or maybe rather 37th degree): Austrian vocalist Louie Austen sings Easy Love and Feel me (both mp3). As his record company Kitty- yo says, Louie Austen is 'known for his "study" of the ratpack (the ultimate loser trio of frank sinatra, dean martin & sammy davis jr.)' Well... It's junk, but highly funny junk, if you ask me. (Via Kitty-Yo, photo Tom Haslinger)   Louie Austen
Ardbeg 1975/1998 (40% G&M Connoisseur's Choice)  


Ardbeg 1975/1998 (40% G&M Connoisseur's Choice) Colour: straw. Nose: bold passion fruit and peat. Most enjoyable. Fresh and lively. Gets then a little peppery and spicy. A refined and elegant Ardbeg that might show a little bottle age. Too bad it’s quite unstable, both the smoke and the fruit do vanish soon, and it gets really farmy (horse stable). Mouth: pepper and farmy notes at first, getting grassy and a little bitter. Hints of fructose and peardrops. Not spectacular, but not too bad either. Farmier than usually - the 1974 was so much better, but again, 1974 was a magic year at Ardbeg's. 81 points.

Ardbeg 1990/2003 (46%, G&M for Symposion Sweden, cask #3133, sherry) Colour: dark straw. Nose: just a little restrained right at the start – as usually with the very good Ardbegs – but then some bold peat and crystallised orange burst out. Peated orange marmalade? Sea breeze, seaweed… Too bad I haven’t got enough time to write more about this stupendous nose. Mouth: wow! What a mouth! What a perfect balance between the peat, the smoke and the dried fruits. Perfectly crafted, a masterpiece. Extra-long finish. Ardbeg has been making some great malt when it was reopened by Allied, that's for sure. 92 points.   Ardbeg 1990/2003 (46%, G&M for Symposion Sweden, cask #3133, sherry)
Ardbeg 11yo 1991/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, Cask#: MM654)   Ardbeg 11 yo 1991/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, Cask#: MM654)
Colour: white. Nose: paint, burning fir wood. Hints of stale Schweppes, wet dog. Some Indian curry. Simple and slightly off-mark, there seems to be something wrong in there. Mouth: again and again, some rooty notes. Quite vegetal, with some liquorice stick and pepper. Some sweetish notes, a little weird. It gets curiously watery towards the finish, with some ginger tonic. Well, Murmac did bottle some much, much nicer 1991s, for sure. 79 points.
Ardbeg 10 yo 1993/2004 (50%, DL OMC, cask DL 1248, 341 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: we have the usual smoke, peat and coffee aromas here. Another bold and compact Islayer. Less smooth and sweetish than the official 10 yo OB, that’s for sure. Quite clean and pure. Lots of different smokes (fir wood, garden bonfire, barbeque charcoal). Freshly cut wood (sawdust), cider, wet liquorice stick. Very nice, but not much development. Just a nice, clean young Ardbeg on the nose. Mouth: nervous attack, with a very nice balance. Peat and apple compote, liquorice, quinquina… Again, not overly complex but it’s quite a beast, that’s for sure. A prototype peated young Islayer? Not much emotion, but no flaw either. Long finish, on liquorice stick… Getting just a little bitter. 84 points.   Ardbeg 10yo 1993/2004 (50%, DL OMC, cask DL 1248, 341 bottles)
Ardbeg 17yo 1974/1992 (43%, Signatory, cask #2026)   Ardbeg 17 yo 1974/1992 (43%, Signatory, cask #2026)
Ah, 1974, the magic year. Colour: pure gold. Nose: this one appears to be complex right at the start. Fantastic, in fact. Smoke, dried fruits, quince jam, beeswax, some passion fruit. Hints of tyre, sea breeze. Just great. Mouth: creamy, with the same profile as the nose’s – except some added gamy meat and some soy sauce. Superbly complex. Long finish, on pepper and Chinese plum sauce (the one they serve with the Peking duck). A thrill, and one of the fantastic casks Signatory bottled at the beginning of the nineties. 92 points.
Ardbeg 28 yo 1972/2001 (49.5%, Douglas Laing OMC, 222 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: the greatest smoke, very, very typical. So pure and so fresh, extremely clean, on mineral oil. Very austere. Wow! Mouth: again, a marvellously clean, pure, 'prototypical' Ardbeg. Extremely austere but amazing. Murray writes ‘sinister’ and rates it only 87 points. Well, I insist, austere is more appropriate a word. Or perhaps Jansenist? Triple wow, 95 points!   Ardbeg 28yo 1972/2001 (49.5%, Douglas Laing OMC, 222 bottles)
January 2, 2005
MUSIC - Oldies but Goldies: Italian prog rock band Alphataurus plays Ombra Muta (mp3, 1973). Sort of a mix of Pink Floyd and Emerson Lake and Palmer... Sure it sounds outdated but hey, this is History and insiders say it's a masterpiece. And look at the cover! Aaah, the seventies...   Alphataurus
Glengarioch 15yo 1988/2003 (46%, Whisky Galore)   TASTING - Glengarioch 15 yo 1988/2003 (46%, Whisky Galore)
– yes, not written ‘Glen Garioch’ here. Colour: light amber. Nose: quite smoky and toasted, with quite a lot of sherry coming through. Some resinous notes (eucalyptus) and hints of mint. Develops on cold coffee, breadcrumb, maple syrup. Hints of apple pie. Mouth: rich, on quince jelly and cake. Quite fruity (kiwi, apple, gooseberry). Goes on with crystallised fruits, icing sugar, sweet wine, plum jam. Nice and lively. Hot caramel, praline, cooked honey… Very nice indeed. Long finish, on fresh fruits (fructose) and light toffee. Great balance! 86 points.
January 1, 2005 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A LITTLE WINE FOR MY VERY BEST WISHES - and for once - Thanks to Christophe, Thomas and Dominique! From left to right:
Château de Cazeneuve 1998,
a very good Pic St-Loup from Languedoc, on full blackcurrant jelly mode. Contrarily to what some claim, they seem to age well.
Beaune Clos des Avaux 1959 Henri Mathieu,
absolutely superb - but again 1959 was the Year of the Century. It's a shame that the people in Burgundy make their wines so that they can be drunk when young nowadays. No young Bourgogne will ever hold a candle to these old-style ones.
Ai-Danil Pinot Gris 1940 from Massandra.
Lots of camphor, quince jelly, apricot jam. Massandra is near Yalta, in Crimea - rings a bell?
Château Margaux 1983,
perhaps a little less mesmerizing than it was two or three years ago. Declining, already?
Château Haut-Brion 1986,
austere and majestic. That's Bordeaux!
Condrieu La Doriane 1994 by Guigal,
on violet sweets. Superb, it can compete with Chave's white Hermitages.
Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chaumées 1995 by Leflaive.
Excellent, on toasted bread and nuts, but it'll start to decline from now on.
Côte-Rôtie La Landonne 1993 by Guigal.
Tired and declining. What? Already? Is this the 'world taste'?
Moët & Chandon Rosé 1998,
one of the best champagne rosés, close to a 'still' wine.
And finally, one of the very best 'generic' champagne, the Bollinger. It beats most of the others in the less than 25 euros range.

John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia and Al di Meola   MUSIC - Oldies but Goldies: 1980, a Friday night, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia and Al di Meola play Meditarranean Sundance (mp3). Incredible what three of the best guitarists in the world can do when they meet on a San Francisco stage. I wish I had been there!

December 2004 - part 2 <--- January 2005 - part 1 ---> January 2005 - part 2

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

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

Ardbeg 1990/2003 (46%, G&M for Symposion Sweden, cask #3133, sherry)

Ardbeg 17 yo 1974/1992 (43%, Signatory, cask #2026)

Ardbeg 28 yo 1972/2001 (49.5%, Douglas Laing OMC, 222 bottles)

Clynelish 12 yo (43%, OB, Ainslie & Heilbronn for M. di Chiano, Italy, 1970's)

Clynelish 28 yo 1965/1993 (50.7%, Signatory, sherry butt #666)

Rosebank 30 yo 1974/2004 (55.8%, Whisyfair Limburg)

Springbank 1975/2004 (49.2%, Whiskyfair Limburg)