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

March 15, 2005

Dalmore 12yo ‘Black Pearl’ Madeira Finish (40%, OB)   TASTING – TWO DALMORES AND TWO JURAS, at a very rock and roll Richard Patterson’s masterclass.
Dalmore 12 yo ‘Black Pearl’ Madeira Finish (40%, OB) This one’s been named ‘Black Pearl’ because Madeira is called ‘the Pearl of the Atlantic’. LOL! It’s been a long finishing: two years and a half. The nose starts on some big, bold vanilla and caramel, apricot jam. Hints of ‘portiness’. Smells of rubber and hot metal. Mouth: lots of leather and tobacco. Creamy and slightly smoky, with some hints of grapefruit. The finish is a little bit salty. Not a stunner, but it’s rather enjoyable. 80 points.
Dalmore 30 yo Cabernet-Sauvignon finish (51%, OB, cask sample) A four years long finishing, to be bottled soon. The nose is nice, very oaky and spicy (nutmeg, cinnamon). Lots of varnish that grows heavier and heavier. Some volatile acidity (always the same story with these ex-table wine casks). The mouth is pungent and prickly, bitter and extremely tannic. Again a wood infusion, barely drinkable. It improves with a bit of water, and becomes mellower, but the tannins are still there, obviously. Maybe they will call this one ‘Oaky Pearl’? 80 points.
Isle of Jura 30 yo 1973 (55%, OB, cask #3155, 466 bottles) This one was matured in an oloroso butt from Gonzalez Byass’. The nose has a lot of pinewood, and cedar wood, and is very fragrant. Interesting. Some nice notes of mastic, marzipan, with some hints of old books. I really like it. It gets quite minty. The mouth is punchy, on overripe banana, rum and raisin. A classic oloroso but with a twist. The finish is quite salty. A great one. 90 points. We also had a cask sample of one of these heavily peated Juras that was rather better than most of the ones that are already on the market, and which had lots of ‘greeny’ peat smoke and salted butter (86 points).   Isle of Jura 30yo 1973 (55%, OB, cask #3155, 466 bottles)
The Decemberists   MUSIC - Recommended listening: The Decemberists' nicely crafted pop-folk, like for instance Architect - mp3. Now, as for attending one of their gigs, maybe it's going to be difficult as according to their website, 'The Decemberists travel exclusively by Dr. Herring's Brand® Dirigible Balloons'. At least they don't blow hot air! Please buy their music if you like it.
Crown Royal 1984 Johnnie Walker Red Label 1988

CRAZY WHISKY ADS - SWEEPSTAKES IN THE 80's - Left: Crown Royal 1984 'Win a $57,000 customized Royal Excalibur (...) The standard by which all other automobiles of its kind are measured' - Noticed the 'of it's kind' part? And what was customized? Ah, yes, a refrigerated whisky bar! Right: Johnnie Walker Red Label 1988 'Win the Johnnie Walker Red Jaguar - Enter the Johnnie Walker Red Jaguar sweepstake'.
Ah, the roaring eighties, so refined! A message to Wilson & Morgan, Samaroli and all the other Italians now: can we have a Maserati, please? And to Glann Ar Mor, please, an old Delahaye or Delage, thanks! And oh, yes, the Germans, please, can we...
Now, there's also been this RonRico 'Marshal Tucker Band' sweepstake in 1975... (left). Well...


March 13, 2005

WhiskyLive London 2005 is now over, and we had some great whiskies again yesterday. Some great fun too with fellow maniacs Charlie, Dave, Olivier, Lex and Ulf. My winners have been the latest Brora 30 yo OB (no wonder, eh?) the Laphroaig Quarter Cask, the new Mortlach 32 yo OB, some new Inchgower 1968 and Highland Park 1980 by Duncan Taylor and Signatory's new cask of Benriach 1975. Watch this space for my (short) tasting notes within the coming days... In the meantime, here are three rather new Glenmorangies...

Glenmorangie ‘Artisan Cask’ (46%, OB) Glenmorangie 1993/2004 ‘Burr Oak Reserve’ (56.3%, OB, 1152 bottles) Glenmorangie 30yo ‘Oloroso Cask Finish’ (44.3%, OB, 4548 bottles, bottled 2004)

Glenmorangie ‘Artisan Cask’ (46%, OB) This one was matured in American oak from the Ozark Mountains. The nose has some big, bold vanillin, which indicates there must be lots of wood in there indeed. Very bourbonny, with lots of meadowflowers, pollen and light honey. The attack is powerful but nicely balanced, and extremely sweet with lots of light caramel, corn syrup, vanilla… Very compact, nicely crafted, but maybe it lacks a little complexity. 83 points
Glenmorangie 1993/2004 ‘Burr Oak Reserve’ (56.3%, OB, 1152 bottles) The nose is very aromatic, with tons of tannins, tea, vanilla. It’s extremely oaky and fragrant at the same time. The mouth is even oakier (‘pencil sharpener juice’), Extremely tannic, really too bourbonny for my taste – which doesn’t mean I don’t like bourbon, no need to say. Frankly, Glenmorangie’s delicate spirit is completely overwhelmed by the new American oak here, although I sort of like the boldness. 78 points.
Glenmorangie 30 yo ‘Oloroso Cask Finish’ (44.3%, OB, 4548 bottles, bottled 2004) Nose: very special, on watercress and walnut skin, with some notes of Darjeeling tea. Very subtle and just superb. The mouth is rounded, sweet but nervous and complex. Some nice notes of ripe bananas, fructose, tropical fruits, getting quite smoky, spicy and gingery. This one is pure pleasure. 90 points.

Mané Silveira and Swami Jr.   MUSIC – JAZZ for Sunday - Very, very highly recommended listening: Mané Silveira and Swami Jr. play John Coltrane's 26-2 - mp3 quite stunningly. What a sound they have! Please, please buy their records.

March 12, 2005

Ah, the wonders of Wi-Fi, thanks to Starbucks – even if I’m definitely not into ‘plastic’ coffee. WhiskyLive London is again a great event this year. The only ones who, again, missed the point yesterday was Bowmore, with a more than silly focus group, I mean, ‘masterclass’, called ‘Recent Rarities’. A sexy name, eh? Yep, but imagine they poured us a Bowmore 12 yo (a rarity indeed), a 30 yo Seadragon (recent indeed) and a Claret (yuk!) plus three good, but rather mundane Suntory whiskies such as the Hibiki Blend 12 yo . Bugger! And they had the guts to call that ‘Recent Rarities’! A swindle, no less, and we left before it was over. Anyway, I’ll post a bunch of new short tasting notes in the coming days, and why not start right today with…
Coopers Choice
All are single cask bottlings, even if no such statements are made on the label.
Rosebank 12 yo 1992/2004 (46%, Coopers Choice) Nose: very nice balance, with the usual lemony notes. It’s also very creamy and nutty, with some nice notes of hot caramel. Just like a lemon pie topped with caramel! Palate: again very lemony, with lots of orange marmalade and a long and creamy finish. An excellent Rosebank. 85 points.
Highland Park 14 yo 1990/2004 (46%, Coopers Choice) The nose is quite heavily smoky, with much more coastal notes than usual, lots of dried herbs, dried flowers, heather. Hints of rubber. Mouth: even rubberier, smoky and creamy. Notes of burnt wood. Again a very good one, with a long finish. 85 points.
Mortlach 14 yo 1990/2004 (46%, Coopers Choice) Nose: lots of sherry, and a very elegant one at that. Some heavy ‘burnt’ notes, getting very creamy and meaty. Moth: extremely salty right from the start, with lots of spices, butter caramel, vanilla crème. Very spectacular and extreme, yet so nicely balanced. 88 points.
Glen Grant 27 yo 1977/2004 (46%, Coopers Choice) The colour is astonishingly greenish. It’s very refined, elegant, with again lots of sherry but with no lumpish notes at all, nor any sulphur. A classic. 88 points.
Caol Ila 14 yo 1990/2004 (46%, Coopers Choice) Very typical, smoky and sweet at the same time. Pure and clean, developing on wood smoke and mown grass. Too bad the tannins get a little drying. A good one, still. 83 points.
MUSIC – JAZZ - Very highly recommended listening, brass and reeds Brazilian band Aquilo Del Nisso plays Na Pressão? - mp3. Triple wow! They almost made me look after my old Supersax LPs in my basement... They are brilliant, you should really have a listen to them, even if you aren't into jazz too much. And please buy their music...   Aquilo Del Nisso

March 11, 2005

Hi - I'll attend WhiskyLive London today and tomorrow, and then spend a few days in Scotland (of course). I'm not sure the hotels will have a Wi-Fi hotspot or if I'll manage to update WhiskyFun the old way (plug my Mac and try to play)... So, here's a big, bold entry to keep you entertained for a while. See you on Thursday 17th (or before, I hope) - Serge.
Aberlour-Glenlivet ‘Over 9 years old’ (70 proof, OB, 70’s)   Aberlour-Glenlivet ‘Over 9 years old’ (70 proof, OB, 70’s) Colour: straw, much lighter than what we’re used to. Nose: a little weak and grainy at the start, with lots of notes if new tyre and rubber. Heavy notes of sulphur, stale beer, rotten kiwi. Not too enjoyable, I’m afraid. Sort of medicinal. Really, really special, but not tired, that is. Mouth: very strange! Aromatically narrow, yet very punchy. Notes of cold tea, aspartame, eucalyptus. Lots of propolis, hay, tar, gentian roots… Very special indeed, unlike any other malt. Not utterly enjoyable but interesting… 82 points.
Aberlour 10 yo (40%, OB, white label, late 80’s) Colour: pure gold. Nose: ah, the old bottle effect? Lots of tropical fruits, mango, passion fruit, guava… Goes on with some eucalyptus, camphor, beeswax, wood polish… Very nice. Hints of sherry, walnuts, hot caramel. Very nice indeed! Mouth: amazing attack for such a mundane malt. Very peppery and strong, even a little sharp. Lots of herbal tea, burnt bread, black toffee… Creme caramel, Irish coffee. Not extremely complex but I’m sure this one must have been a bang for your buck malt when it was on the shops’ shelves. Rather long, creamy and heathery finish. 86 points.   Aberlour 10yo (40%, OB, white label, late 80’s)
Aberlour-Glenlivet 12yo (43%, OB, cream label, 80’s)   Aberlour-Glenlivet 12 yo (43%, OB, cream label, 80’s)
Colour: amber. Nose: heavy sherry, toffee, Grand-Marnier, raisins, rum. Notes of caramel cream, with quite some tropical fruit developing after a while. Very classical. Mouth: nice and punchy attack, balanced, compact and very satisfying. Cold herbal tea, dried parsley, herbes de Provence (thyme, rosemary), balsamic vinegar, caramel sauce. Hints of Worcester sauce. Very good, in spite of a long, but drying and bitter finish. Another very good one. 85 points.
Aberlour 12 yo ‘VOHM’ (43%, OB, Cognac-shaped bottle, 80’s) A famous and funny bottle, tying to mimic a Cognac (VSOP, of course). VOHM was meaning ‘Very Old Highland Malt’. Colour: deep gold. Nose: lots of sherry again, with some caramel, raisins, coffee. Very classical, not much more to say, except that these whiskies were really great. No sign of bottle age. Mouth: strong, bold, coating and very, very chocolaty. Astonishing! Some pepper too, some cocoa, vanilla cream, hints of rum, coffee liquor. Gets then a little vegetal, on caramelized carrots and beans. Hints of salt and even smoke. Very compact and satisfying, but perhaps a little less complex than the two previous ones. 84 points.   Aberlour 12yo ‘VOHM’ (43%, OB, Cognac-shaped bottle, 80’s)
Aberlour-Glenlivet 19yo 1970/1990 (46%, Signatory, cask 236-239)   Aberlour-Glenlivet 19 yo 1970/1990 (46%, Signatory, cask 236-239) Colour: golden. Nose: much flowerier than all old OBs, but with a superb sherry and lots of Cointreau. Very warming and, again classical. Raisins, oak, hints of fruit eau de vie and even Cognac. Nice. Mouth: less ‘coherent’ than the OBs, but with more vivacity. Lots of orange marmalade and spices, Notes of apricot syrup, quince jelly. Lots of pepper too. The finish is very long but very peppery as well, and perhaps a little simple. Anyway, a good one again. 85 points.
Aberlour-Glenlivet 8 yo (50%, OB, cube shaped bottle, small cork stopper, 70’s) Colour: deep amber. Nose: a little closed at first, but some fantastic notes of vanilla cream mixed with fresh mint develop after a few seconds… Lots of cooked cabbage and rubber/latex too. The latex gets then bolder and bigger. Quite some smoke, tar, roasted peanuts, omelette. Perhaps just a little sulphury. So special – and beautiful. Some nice grassy notes arrive after a moment... Wow!   Aberlour-Glenlivet 8yo (50%, OB, cube shaped bottle, small cork stopper, 70’s)
Mouth: what a punch! Dried tropical fruits, bacon, caramel, heather honey. Lots of tar, burnt cake etc. Hints of flowers jam, nectar… Stunning and extremely interesting. The casks must have been something! Top quality! The precursor of the a’bunadhs? In any case, this one is aromatically bolder and more complex that all a’bunadhs, in spite of its lower alcohol level. Just great! 91 points.
Nellie McKay   MUSIC - Recommended listening: WhiskyFun favourite Nellie McKay uploaded a full gig of her's here. She rules! Please buy her music...
1959 On a scooter... (tricky!) 1960 On a bicycle... (Yes, better walk) 1962 In a Falcon Futura... (Did the car maker pay half the budget?)
1962 Letting it being delivered... (Much more classical) 1967 On a water bicycle... (Getting crazier!) 1967 On a skidoo... (Even crazier!) Too bad they never used any Formula One car.
Clynelish 19yo 1983/2002 (57.5%, Dun Bheagan, Hogshead)   Clynelish 19 yo 1983/2002 (57.5%, Dun Bheagan, Hogshead)
Colour: dry white wine. First nosing: rather sharp. It starts on notes of grass, smoked ham, Develops on diesel oil, matchstick, mushrooms, cold ashes, chalk. It keeps developing on porridge, muesli, soap. Some hints of parsley, alcohol, green apple. Quite mineral and very grassy. Not too appealing, although it’s rather sort of complex. Perhaps too narrow. Whiffs of peat - of the farmy style. Palate: the mouthfeel is powerful but sour and very astringent. It starts on grass, overinfused tea, mustard. Quite weird and very bitter. It develops on plastic, cork... Some notes of chemicals, chicory, burnt cake... And finally a little varnish. In short, it's rather unbalanced and too robust. It really lacks elegance, and has too much burnt notes. The finish is long on alcohol, new make... Well, I’ve had so many better Clynelishes! I’m wondering whether this Cask wasn’t deffective, or the bottle simply corked... It ruined my palate! 70 points.
Clynelish 1972/2000 (57.79%, Helmsdale Bar Tok yo ) Colour: light gold. First nosing: warming, refined. It starts on notes of cardamom, quince jelly, crystallised mango, litchee... Stunning! Develops on white pepper, nutmeg, vanilla stick... It's beautifully spicy! It keeps developing on caramel, fudge and cappuccino... It's really satisfying. Whiffs of smoked tea, iodine, old cardboard. Wow, it goes in all directions... Beautiful, refined, elegant... What a contrast! Palate: the mouthfeel is creamy, satisfying. The attack is on white pepper, soft tannins, honey... Yes, like some peppery honey. It develops on herbal tea, orange marmalade. Some notes of roasted peanuts, praline. Hints of smoked tea, rum, camomile. Very bold and refined at the same time. It’s so good, despite the very heavy wood and the tannins which start to stick the tongue to the palate.   Clynelish 1972/2000 (57.79%, Helmsdale Bar Tokyo)
Very gingery, at that. The finish is long on soft tannins and vanillin from the oak. An excellent one, a good example of an old cask that stood the test of time. Now, a littlle less tannins would have made it an absolute stunner. 90 points.

You'll need the following: a cup of water, a cup of sugar, four large eggs, two cups of dried fruit, a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of salt, a cup of brown sugar, lemon juice, nuts, and a bottle of whisky.
Sample the whisky to check for quality.
Take a large bowl. Check the whisky again. To be sure it is the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again.

Make sure the whisky is still okay. Cry another tup. Turn off the mixer. Break two leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the whisky to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Who cares? Check the whisky. Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Whatever you can find.
Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out of the window, check the whisky again and go to bed. (via aboutfood)
I know that one is hardly new but I'm sorry, I'm a sucker for these kinds of silly, easy jokes...
Herbie Hancock   MUSIC – Recommended listening: 1996, Herbie Hancock organises the return of his powerful HeadHunters and records a striking Funk Hunters - mp3, with a big, BIG SOUND! Wowie, that's groooovey... Please buy Herbie Hancock's music, whether very funkish like this one or more jazzy.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: energetic blues lioness Nicole Fournier does Not forgotten - mp3. Her guitar playing is very good and she sings perfectly well. My favourite of the week! Please buy Nicole's music if you like it!   Nicole Fournier

March 10, 2005

Bloomsbury Theatre, London - Sunday March 6th 2005 - by Nick Morgan
I can’t now remember if it was my brother or sister who came home one summer Saturday afternoon clutching a copy of Procol Harum’s Salty Dog, but whichever it was, I was hugely jealous. The LP cover, wittily based on one of Britain’s most famous and iconic tobacco trademarks (Serge, ok to mention smoking products here?) was stunning, and was also a fond reminder of my Great Aunt Win, who wilfully smoked a few Player’s untipped every day ‘till she died in her nineties.   PROCOL HARUM
The music was surprisingly bluesy for a group that had produced THAT single (which was already wearing thin by 1969, and is now simply painful), the songs were great (and have stood the test of time far better than THAT song) and the eponymous ‘A salty dog’ (a poetic warning to sailors all) quite outstanding. Anyway somehow that piece of beautifully packaged vinyl (and I don’t care what anybody says, packaging is important) found its way into my collection, and now the CD is a regular part of my extended playlist. Which is odd really as I couldn’t give a fig for the band, whose earlier and subsequent ‘progressive’ meanderings (Grand Hotel – give me a break!) were to me symptomatic of the pompous and witless rubbish that finally pushed the door open for punk rock in the late 1970s. But for all that when I saw they were playing in London (“blimey, I thought they were dead”) I just couldn’t resist getting hold of some tickets.
PROCOL HARUM   Just a few points on the band before I move to the heart of the matter. Did you know that the core of the classic line-up (Brooker, Trower etc.) were originally Southend rhythm and blues rockers The Paramounts (hit single – ‘Poison Ivy’)? That Brooker is still working with co-writer Keith Reid (who never performed with the band)? Did you know that at one point Brooker gave it all up to go fly-fishing? Did you know that Brooker performs mightily with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings? Or that the band always thought of themselves as a blues-band (“welcome” says Brooker, “to an evening of Procul Harum Blues – more than three chords, but that’s the only difference”)....
Or that they loathed being compared to the Moody Blues (well, come on, who wouldn’t …). Or that Brooker is the only one of the original band to still perform? Or that this is the first concert I have attended where Liquorice Allsorts were for sale in the foyer? “Who cares?” Well the answer is that someone does – a lot.
I knew there was something odd going on from the moment we walked into the theatre. It wasn’t just all the old fat grey haired men and their surprisingly elegant wives. Or the earnest young ones with beards intently studying the equipment on stage, noting down arcane technical specifications. Just how big was the air intake on Josh Phillip’s Hammond organ? There was something eerily familiar about the look on some of their faces, and the expectant and almost reverential atmosphere. Finally of course it clicked. This wasn’t a concert at all. In effect it was a fan-club (of the most extreme ‘Play Misty for me’ stalker sort) convention. The majority of the audience were on first name terms, and many (again I think a majority) had travelled from the continent (and some from the United States) to be there.
As it turned out a good number of them had been at a party for much of the afternoon, celebrating some anniversary or other connected with THAT song. And during the performance many clapped their hands and waved their arms in the air like proselytites at a revivalist meeting, whilst others muttered darkly that “Garry vas not playink so properly, didn’t he miss a note out there?” And of course they all wore their secret society Salty Dog T-shirts. Crikey Serge, anything sound familiar here?   PROCOL HARUM
And what of the concert I hear you ask. Hmmm. High points: Gary Brooker’s singing on the newer bluesey (lower key vocals) songs; Brooker’s “Light and bitter corr that’s a bit of a larrf” patter; Hammond Organ heaven; an almost faultless version of ‘A Salty Dog’. Low points; Brooker’s voice on most of the older material (he simply couldn’t make the notes, and in fact apologised in a sort of a way when he explained that he had sung his voice out in rehearsals). Other lowpoints: School of Rock lead guitarist; the plodding nature of many of the songs – they really dragged; THAT song; and the bizarre ‘multi song suite’ (ugh!) from the 1968 album Shine on Brightly, ‘In held twas in I’.
PROCOL HARUM   Badly played and poorly rehearsed (but I wondered, was it specially played for this most special of audiences as the result of a request, or even maybe a threat?) this piece (I listened to at home later over a much needed Brora) allegedly influenced all those later creators of what came to be known as rock opera.
As far as I could see all it could have inspired was that particularly daft bit in Spinal Tap when the mini-stonehenge arches were lowered to the floor on wires. But the audience loved it, sang along, did crowd noises on cue during ‘Twas tea time at the circus’ (a lot of ‘twas’ then) and almost wept at its conclusion.
I was in shock, but by this time had decided that discretion was the better part of valour as I couldn’t help sensing someone looking over my shoulder at the invective I was scribbling in my little black notebook. My photographer said “they’re a group of well meaning blokes in danger of becoming their own tribute band”. And maybe it was that which caused her camera to malfunction. I said, “Lets get out of here, fast”. So we did. - Nick Morgan (last photo by Kate)
Thank you, Nick. I must confess I didn't dislike Grand Hotel that much - and I especially liked Broken Barricades. Now, as for THAT song... is it this one you're talking about? Yes, R. Stevie Moore doing it. Not too bad, eh? And what about Annie Lennox' version? Ah, yes, some genuine Procol Harum... Here's Simple Sister - mp3 then - a good one, I think.
Blair Athol 21yo (46%, Cadenhead)   Blair Athol 21 yo (46%, Cadenhead)
Colour: straw. First nosing: powerful and rather clean. The attack is on grass, herbal tea, tealeaves. Develops on sulphur, ashes, wet garden bonfire. It goes on with some burnt cake, rubber band, green vegetable... Something like peat, green apple, tar... It gets quite Islayish! Well, this one’s not overly enjoyable... It’s too grassy and tary for my tastes, although it does improve with time. Palate: the mouthfeel is compact and satisfying. Good news! The attack is on herbal tea, Japanese roasted tea, bread... It goes on on gentian, anise, dill. Some notes of cinnamon. Hints of fructose and ginger.
It's quite rich and satisfying. Much more so than what the nose suggested. The finish is long on sugared tea. Not a stunner but a good one... But you have to like tea! ;-) 82 points.
Blair Atholl 23 yo 1966/1990 (57.1%, Cadenhead) Yes, sometimes Cadenhead’s wrote ‘Athol’ with one ‘l’, sometimes with two. No need to say that one 'l' is right, but Cadenhead's is not the only one... Colour: straw. First nosing: sharp,.prickly. It starts on notes of cedar wood, varnish, turpentine and evolves on beer, bread, broiled cereals... It keeps developing on hay, peat, humus, getting very farmy. Something like pine needles, turpentine, resinous, cigar box... In the same 'aromatical' league as the 21 yo , but much nicer. Still developing after a lot of time, on coffee... Palate: the mouthfeel is almost biting and very peppery. - The kind of peppery notes that come with high alcohol levels. To start with, lots of varnish, caramel, toffee. It develops on clove, cocoa, yogurt. Some notes of Havana cigar. Hints of cooked butter, roasted hazelnuts... It's quite robust and bold! I tried it with water but it got very grasssy, although some nice notes of beehive and honey developed. The finish is long, on peppery notes and light honey. A very good one, really in the ‘grassy - honeyed - peppery’ genre. A very interesting non-peated and non-sherried oldie! 85 points.

March 9, 2005

Half Moon, Putney - Saturday March 5th 2005 - by Nick Morgan
I’m not so old that I can’t remember those teenage dreams that made us boys so hot, sweaty and sticky. For Serge, I guess, the subject matter was motorbikes, a Ducati 900SS perhaps, or maybe even a 1952 Vincent Black Lightening (Serge, you do know this most wonderful of all biker songs don’t you?). For me it was an orgy of raunchy rhythm and blues (properly defined, none of that modern-day R&B nonsense) bass and guitar. So I had to pinch myself (could I be dreaming?) when I woke up on Saturday night in a Fender fantasyland, as Wilko Johnson strutted his stuff at the Half Moon in Putney, ably supported by the blistering bass of the incomparable Norman Watt-Roy, and the rhythm machine drumming of (ex Jesus and Mary chain) Steve Monti (actually to be honest, it should have been him, but I’m not 100% sure that it was).  
Wilko JohnsonWilko Johnson
Let me remind you once more about Wilko. An Essex boy who first came to fame with the Canvey Island All-stars, Dr Feelgood, he went on to become a Blockhead, before setting up his own Solid Senders. All that was many moons ago, and for the past decade or more he’s been a regular circuit performer, supported by Norman and a variety of drummers. In that time he’s released a number of frankly disappointing albums (a new one, Red Hot Rocking Blues is on the way), and his song writing, which never offered much by the way of lyrical subtlety or curious and complex structure, has probably gone into reverse gear. But that’s not really the point. We’re not here for complex or subtle. We’re here for Wilko’s quite unique guitar style, his truly bonkers eyes and facial expressions, and his on-stage histrionics. He was, and remains, one of the great R&B live acts.
Wilko Johnson   I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the Wilko Telecaster technique (“borrowed unashamedly” I read recently, from Mick Green, guitarist with Johnny Kidd and the Pirates – “when I first heard him it changed my life”, writes Wilko on one of his websites) spawned hordes of imitators (along with bulging eyes, crew-cuts, and buttoned-to-the-collar black shirts) and inspired a few, like the Gang of Four’s Andy Gill, to take it to even greater heights. So if current pop-darlings Franz Ferdinand (and I understand the even newer and hotter Kaiser Chiefs) are determined to look to Gill and the GOF as a source of inspiration, then Wilko’s contribution to the current (and much to be welcomed) revival of the British guitar band, should also go on record.
But a note to the youngsters. No plectrums please – copy Wilko’s incredible thumb and fingerpicking style if you can. And forget the effects pedals. Wilko blew us away with just his Telecaster and a clever use of pick-ups and amplifier tone and volume. Nothing else. Just keep it simple.
Wilko Johnson   By way of a set list I may mention some of the Feelgood classics and old Wilko compositions, ‘Sneakin’ suspicion’, ‘Back in the night’, ‘Don’t let your Daddy know’, ‘Dr Dupree’, ‘Down by the waterside’ and a raft of other twelve-bar standards. Some truly stunning improvisation from both Wilko and Watt Roy (with Johnson’s grey eye-brows theatrically hitting the ceiling whenever Norman strayed into a jazz riff) was accompanied by more than a sufficiency of machine-gun guitar. Wilko let his Telecaster (and his face) do most of the talking, but his self-depreciating “Just to show we’re not as stupid as we look ….” as the band took to the stage for a series of encores (much to the satisfaction of their packed beery audience) was undeserved. This is a man whose place in the history of rock and roll is assured, and whose playing should put him high on everyone’s list for a rocking Saturday night out. - Nick Morgan (photos by Kate)
Thanks a bunch, Nick. Well, I suspect the English liked the Ducati 900SS because it was almost always black and gold, not unlike many British bikes... ;-). And I remember having seen Wilko with Doctor Feelgood in concert around 1976 here. The guest band was a punk rock combo named... The Police! That was way before 'Message in a bottle'... Anyway, here's a short example of Wilko Johnson's 'staccato' playing: Messin' with the kid - mp3.  
Benrinnes 15 yo 1982/1998 (43%, Signatory, cask #3225) Colour: light amber. Nose: very milky attack, switching to sherry and oak. Very classical, on dried orange, dark chocolate and burnt cake. Not too complex, but a very nice and, again, classically sherried malt – with no sulphury notes whatsoever. Good news! Hints of fresh parsley developing after a few minutes. Mouth: rather sweet and vinous attack, with lots of sherry and caramel. More and more caramel in fact… Well, it almost tastes like pure caramel, but a very nice one. Okay, you have to like caramel to enjoy this Benrinnes! I do. It’s really like a crème caramel, with a long finish. 85 points.
  Benrinnes 15yo 1982/1998 (43%, Signatory, cask #3225)
Benrinnes 12 yo bottled 1991 (63.8%, James MacArthur) Colour: straw. Nose: very dusty and woody, on cocoa powder, clove and nutmeg, milk powder. It gets then very grassy and floral, with some heavy notes of lily from the valley and lis – which isn’t very enjoyable. Gets quite dusty (old books). Mouth: powerful but drinkable at almost 64%! Again some nice sherry and quite some pepper, vanillin, tannins… Quite spicy, with some caramel, dried parsley, liquorice… With a pinch of salt on the tongue. Another nice one with a rather long, but perhaps a little metallic finish. 82 points.

March 8, 2005


  Bowmore 10 yo 1989/2000 (43%, Blackadder, cask #22525, 175 bottles) A cask that’s also been partly bottled at cask strength (120 bottles). Colour: white wine. Nose: very peaty, smoky at first nosing. Fresh, very clean, with quite some peppery notes. Some soapy notes too but in a nice way – no traces of FWP whatsoever. It gets quite vegetal, with some hints of grapefruit juice and wet hay. It keeps developing, on farmy notes and even some seaweed, fresh oysters… And then it gets extremely smoky again! A beautiful nose, very clean and complex at the same time.
Mouth: funny attack, on liquorice and gentian roots, getting then extremely grassy and vegetal. Lots of smoke, bonfire – this one must have come from an unusually heavily peated batch. Hints of perfume, getting a little too bitter after a moment… But it’s still very enjoyable, and again, quite extreme for a Bowmore. It gets earthier and earthier, rooty and leafy, with even some vegetables. The finish is quite long, on tealeaves and even parsley. A very good one, and very interesting, at that. 89 points.
Bowmore 10 yo (42.5%, Cadenhead Original Collection) Not much data on this one, but this kind of label indicates it’s been bottled around 1990, I think. Colour: gold. Nose: wow, this is something completely different, with much more wood influence. It starts on some heavy varnish and turpentine, together with some beautiful notes of rancio, but these explosive notes don’t mask the other great aromas for long, though. Vanilla fudge, dried apricot, guava, coconut milk… And then a swirl of refined and elegant spicy notes, like cinnamon, nutmeg and a bit of Chinese anise. Just stunning – and almost peatless. Mouth: full bodied - quite peaty this time - and very spicy and peppery attack. Really special, with lots of notes of old books, paprika and nutmeg.   Bowmore 10yo (42.5%, Cadenhead Original Collection)
Quite a lot of soft tannins – the oak is very present but not overwhelming in any way. The finish is medium long, getting a little drying but still very nice. The mouth isn’t as stunning as the extraordinary nose, but still beautiful. A very special one, that tastes much older than 10 years. The cask must have been hyperactive! 91 points.
March 9 follow-up information: Carsten at Mara's just confirmed that 'they could not trace back when it was distilled (according to their words). It should have been a cask without prints and lacking the code sheet that should have been attached. So by the time of bottling they did not know how old the whisky was (therefore no year of distillation or bottling is indicated) and decided to have it released as 10y.o.'
Marlui Miranda   MUSIC – Recommended listening, yet a very 'special' one: a consummate Marlui Miranda sings an Agnus Dei - mp3 adpated from a traditionnal Arua Indian song. Some big, bold choirs and sort of a blend of the Missa Criolla with Yma Sumac - when seen from Europe, at least. I thinks it's beautiful. Please buy Marlui Miranda's music.

March 7, 2005

MUSIC – Recommended listening: so you like Brazilian music, it appears! Great! So, what do you think of Anna de Hollanda's rendition of Um Filme - mp3? Excellent, isn't it? Please buy her music if you like it!   Anna de Hollanda
Highlands 1993/2004 ‘Monbazillac finishing’ (43%, Celtique Connexion)   Highlands 1993/2004 ‘Monbazillac finishing’ (43%, Celtique Connexion) Monbazillac is near Bergerac, east of Bordeaux, and is famous for its sweet whites, somewhat in the Sauternes style but usually a little less aromatic. Colour: deep gold. Nose: very sweet at first nosing, on quince jelly, roasted nuts, toffee, apricot jam, strawberry jam. Not too vinous. Some oak but not too much. Whiffs of yellow wild flowers (dandelion, buttercup), nectar, light honey. Hints of burnt cake. Very nice and perfectly balanced… A finishing that seems to work, at least on the nose, with no ‘dull and lumpy’ aromas like in some other ‘sweet wine finished’ malts (sorry, no name ;-). Something of the old Macallan 12 yo OB. Mouth: sweet and rounded, yet quite nervous. Quite oaky, with some roasted peanuts, toasted bread, and all sorts of fruit jam. And again something Macallanish (oloroso). The finish is a bit winey this time – and maybe there’s even some botrytis but that might well be my imagination. The finish is quite long, very balanced and elegant. A very good one! 86 points.
Speyside 1990/2004 ‘Cadillac finishing’ (43%, Celtique Connexion) Cadillac is a very small part of Bordeaux, and its sweet white wines are little known but they do have some followers. And no, sorry, I don't know why an American car maker once picked this name. Colour: pale gold. Nose: much fruitier, and smelling much younger than the Monbazillac, quite curiously. Really playful! Lots of Mirabelle jam, pineapple syrup, and even some hints of bubble gum. It’s very nice but less complex and less special than the previous one. Hints of peach syrup.   Speyside 1990/2004 ‘Cadillac finishing’ (43%, Celtique Connexion)
Mouth: very sweet attack again, but then there’s quite a lot of spirity notes. Quite rubbery, with some cooked yogurt, burnt wood, ‘still’ tastes (metal). I liked the ‘Monbazillac’ much better. Some slight bitter notes (tea leaves). The finish is long but, again, a little bitter and offbeat. 78 points.
Speyside 1990 ‘Armagnac finishing’ (53.5%, Celtique Connexion, cask sample)   Speyside 1990 ‘Armagnac finishing’ (53.5%, Celtique Connexion, cask sample) Colour: straw. Nose: much less expressive and demonstrative, but also cleaner, mostly on some nutty notes like fresh hazelnut. Lots of ripe pear developing, together with some interesting flowery and herbal notes. Really clean, with little influence from the cask’s previous content, this time. The nice notes of pear keep developing (but not the usual pear one gets in the very young spirits, rather dried pears, or ‘beurrée hardy’ - which some call 'French butter pear').
Mouth: bold, rich, powerful, but easily drinkable. Again it’s more austere than its ‘wine finished’ cousins, although the Armagnac really shines through now. That’s really interesting: of all the ‘spirit finished’ malts I already had (mostly rum), it’s the one where I could taste the original spirit the most. Lots of notes of raisins, violet sweets, grapes jam... It’s nice, something really different but not odd at all. The finish is long and more and more ‘Armagnac-ish’. One to celebrate the auld alliance, indeed! I think it deserves to be bottled at cask strength. 87 points.
Johnnie Walker Red 1971  
Johnnie Walker Black 1985 for France
Johnnie Walker Red 1971: 'How to get about 20 more drops out of Johnnie Walker Red.' Want the answer? Here it is: 'When your bottle of Johnnie Walker Red appears empty, place it under hot, scalding water, and more drops of the world's largest selling Scotch will appear. You can do the same thing with any empty bottle of whiskey, but when you do it with Johnnie Walker Red Label, it's worth the trouble'.   Johnnie Walker Black 1985 for France: 'Colère Noire'  (Black Anger, which means a very strong anger in French - and perhaps in English as well?) A typical French ad with very little text, yet playing with words.
Chivas 1965  
Chivas 1977
Chivas 1965: Funny to see how Chivas actually suggested people can re-use an empty bottle and put any other whisky into it. We all like to do what's forbidden, don't we? But were they serious?   Chivas 1977: 'If you think people buy Chivas Regal just for the bottle, try selling this one.' Mmm... Doesn't this contradict what Chivas sort of said in 1965?
Crown Royal 1990  
Crown Royal 2003
Crown Royal 1990: 'Have you ever seen a grown man cry?'   Crown Royal 2003: 'Ever see a grown man cry? ' Well, not a new idea, obviously - and the English! Not really an improvement within 13 years... (but who am I?)

March 6, 2005

Springbank 30yo (46%, OB, parchment label, late 1980’s?)   TASTING - Springbank 30 yo (46%, OB, parchment label, late 1980’s?) Colour: dark amber. Nose: extremely sherried at first nosing, but it’s soon to gain balance and refinement. Lots of waxy notes, dried bananas, old rum, raisins… I’m sure I’d have said it’s a great old rum, had I tasted it blind. Lots of oloroso character, though. Perhaps just a little lumpy. Mouth: beautiful, doing the ‘peacock’s tail’. Orange creme, Grand Marnier (the best old cuvées), very old tokaji wine. It’s really dominated by the sherry. A great bottle but you have to like heavily sherried malts. It’s no secret I prefer the more balanced ones, the ones that let the distillery’s character shine through… 89 points.
MUSIC - Recommended listening: very sympathic Canadian singer/songwriter Valdy does a nicely crafted little song called odd way - mp3, with nice and engaged lyrics. It's jolly good! Please buy his music if you like it!   Valdy
Ian Gray   ART FOR SUNDAY - Some liked Valery Milovic's painting a lot (see February 26), and suggested I should post about art and whisky a little more. Good idea! So, how do you like this one, by Ian Gray?

March 5, 2005

Pur.e Malt (40%, OB, Belgium)  


Pur.e Malt (40%, OB, Belgium) A brand new distillery founded in 2004 near Liège – I don’t quite know how they already came up with some official whisky, but let’s have a try at it. Colour: straw. Nose: yawn, it smells partly like a ‘tutti frutti’ spirit running right from a still, and partly like some freshly distilled beer (yes, I also tried to do that, that’s why I know how it smells ;-). Notes of kirsch and white rum. Hints of rubber and metal (copper). Not too bad but somewhat weird… Very far from a whisky, in fact. Mouth: watery and a little weak at first sip, but some rather nice fruity notes do emerge (pear, pineapple). It still doesn’t taste whisky at all, but I guess it should be rather enjoyable in summer, on a lot of ice, just like a gin. 50 points.

Pur.e Malt ‘distilled from Belgian beer’ (40%, OB, Belgium) Colour: straw. Nose: ah, this is much better, with much less weird fruity notes. It actually smells beer, but much less than the other version, which is bizarre. Much more refined and quite clean, with some hints of white flowers. Not bad at all. I guess they should stick to distilling beer, the result is so much better! Mouth: again, it has nothing to do with whisky – it’s just some nice distilled beer – but it’s quite good, nicely fruity (apricot?) and more elegant than the other version. It obviously lacks ageing, but again, this one shouldn’t be bad on ice. A company called Wolfberger makes what they call ‘Fleur de Bière’ (Beer Flower) near my place, and it’s rather similar, even if this Belgian expression is a little better, I’d say. But hey, Belgian beers ARE the best, so, no wonder! Anyway, I think we should encourage this small new distillery, their products are promising, and I’m looking forward to tasting them when they’ll get matured, as they have put some into wood. Anyway, 60 points for this interesting Pur.e Malt ‘distilled from Belgian beer’.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: it's rough, it's dirty, it's simple... But it's purely excellent: blues guitarist Jimmy Thackery does Hang up and drive - mp3. (thanks to Blind Pig records) Please buy Jim's records!   Jimmy Thackery

March 4, 2005


Craigellachie 12 yo (43%, The Master of Malt, early 90’s) Colour: dry white wine. Nose: fresh and lively, on grain, mashed potatoes, broiled cereals. Hints of anise and lavender. It then gets quite spicy, with some notes of fresh cardamom seeds and perhaps a little Cologne water. Mouth: soapy and quite powerful… Bitter almonds, raw tea leaves, burnt bread, perfume… It gets very bitter and drying after a moment, and quite difficult to drink. The finish is quite long, but alas, getting really too bitter. A rather bad Craig’, I’m afraid. 69 points, because the nose wasn’t too awful.

  Craigellachie 12yo (43%, The Master of Malt, early 90’s)
Craigellachie 21 yo 1973 (53.5%, ‘Drambowie’, The Whisky Connoisseur) Colour: gold. Nose: very dusty attack, on old books, nutmeg, moisture… Strange! It then gets very grassy (fern) and nutty (fresh hazelnuts, almond milk) Hints of marzipan… Getting dirtier and dirtier, with more and more old paper, sawdust and dust. Not too enjoyable, I’d say… Mouth: bold but rather bitter and disjointed, with some ugly notes of foreshots, cooked wine and over-infused tea. Getting burning, like some young and ultra-strong cheap rum. The finish is long but quite dirty, with something winey and lots of tannins. This one isn’t a disaster, but it isn’t far from it, I’d say. For connoisseurs? Kidding?. 65 points.
Liquid Soul   MUSIC – Recommended listening - they sound like a reunion of Parliament and Funkadelic on acid: Liquid Soul does and hyper-speedy version of Spam Sucker -mp3 live. Holy sugar, they're faster than Michael Schumacher! Please buy Liquid Soul's CDs if you like funk and soul jazz...

March 3, 2005

Boris Vian  
Boris Vian
The day before yesterday, on our road back from Bordeaux with my old chap Paul, and while we were having a shot of Talisker at the Lord John Pub in Limoges, France, we stumbled across this incredibly huge cocktail-making machine commanded with a piano. I know, it's hard to believe, but it actually works!   Boris Vian
Inspired by writer and musician Boris Vian's 'L'écume des Jours', this 'Bottle-Box' has been made by a crazy inventor called Jean-Pierre Huitema. Depending on what the pianist plays (picture, left), a computer commands the opening of 20 bottles such as 'whisky', 'mango juice' or 'vodka' (picture, right), and the mix then runs down a copper tube, right into your glass (picture above). Too bad we couldn't try it, I'd have loved to 'taste' the difference between, say some Jerry Lee Lewis and some Chopin.
Three Ships 3yo (43%, Blend, South-Africa)  


Three Ships 3 yo (43%, Blend, South-Africa) This one is a blend of Scotch malt and South-African grain whisky, dsitilled near Capetown. Colour: light gold. Nose: weak, grainy and watery. Some caramel, maybe… and some light fruity notes (apple, perhaps pear…) Hints of praline, hazelnuts, getting a little sour. An ultra-light blend, it appears. Mouth: ah, much bolder, and better than I had thought when nosing it… Yet, it gets quite fragmented after five or ten seconds. Very grainy, with hints of old wood, vanilla, vanilla creme, liquorice. The finish is short, on liquorice stick… Okay, 29 points for this ‘antipodal’ whisky.

Three Ships 5 yo (43%, Blend, South-Africa) Colour: slightly darker than the 3 yo . Nose: very similar to the 3 yo . Caramel, fresh fruits (apple, kiwi, pineapple). This one’s better, obviously. Some coastal notes which make me wonder if they used some Clynelish, or Pulteney. But it’s still weak… Mouth: this palate is much better than the 3 yo ’s. The attack is more compact, less fragmented. Quite fruity at that… Too bad, it gets bitter after a while (burnt wood, burnt vegetables). Overcooked caramel… The finish is quite burning and bitter. Not too enjoyable, I’d say, but I guess these blends are usually drunk ‘on ice’. 39 points.

  Three Ships 5yo (43%, Blend, South-Africa)
Three Ships 10yo (43%, Single Malt, South-Africa, 2003)   Three Ships 10 yo (43%, Single Malt, South-Africa, 2003) This one's been actually distilled in South Africa, and was limited to 6,000 bottles. Colour: light amber. Nose: hey! Nice! Cleaner than the Penderyn I had before… It still smells a little like some cheap cognac or rum, alas, but it’s quite nicely balanced. Vanilla fudge, marzipan, violet perfume, caramel cream. Lots of toffee developing after a few minutes, burnt cake, charred wood… I guess the casks made most of the work here… It’s nice! Mouth: very weird attack, on rum, lavender creme, mescal… Anything but malt, I’d say! Bitter orange… It’s soon to get very sour (Chinese sorghum spirit, foreshots). Sorry, I have to stop here, it’s almost undrinkable – for my taste, of course. 39 points – just for the nice nose.
The palate made me miss the latest Strathmill I had…Now, Andy Watts, maker of the Three Ships line, said that 'tasting whisky is like sex. You'll never find a man who doesn't claim to know everything about the subject.' Well, Mr Watts also said that this malt is 'the culmination of a quarter of a century's distilling experience', so...
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Argentinian singer Liliana Gimenez does a very funny and 'special' version of the Stones' Let's spend the night together - mp3. Between salsa and drum and bass... I like the result a lot! Please go and see Liliana's gigs, she lives in Italy now.   Liliana Gimenez

March 1, 2005

Ronnie Scott's, London - Sunday 20th February 2005

the BlockheadsIan Dury (1942 - 2000)


by Nick Morgan

Kate said, “You know I think this might be a bit sad”, having last seen the Blockheads with their late and much lamented front man at the Bush shortly before he died. But how could it be? In a packed Ronnie Scott’s, on a tiny and equally packed stage, the Blockheads led a devoted audience through a Sunday celebratory service, and in an act of virtual transubstantiation the presence of a benign Ian Dury was conjured up amongst us to enjoy the playing of the band without whom he would have remained somewhere up the Kilburn High Road, doing a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.

The Blockheads, minus the deceased Charley Charles and the departed Davey Payne, appear at first sight to be something of a late middle aged, badly dressed, shambles, maybe a not so posh pub band from Burnham on Crouch. But under the direction of musical auteur Chaz Jankel, in reality the man who was at least fifty per cent of Dury’s talent (although as his social-worker demeanour suggested, without any of his fierce charisma), they play like a band possessed, as if the end of the world’s longest pier at Southend of Sea had somehow managed to reach out to New Orleans.  
the Blockheads
The Blockheads (photo Ian Narbeth)

With Jankel carefully orchestrating every move from his piano stool (or front stage on guitar) the band deliver some virtuoso performances. Norman Roy Watt, who looks and moves like Charles Dickens’ Quilp from The Old Curiosity Shop, is simply sensational on bass, and turns in a fair vocal as he works through Billericay Dickie (if you can’t catch Norman with the Blockheads then he’s always around playing with Wilko Johnson). Drummer Dylan Howe sounds as though his surname should be Neville Brothers. Mickey Gallagher plays his Hammond B3 faultlessly, with barely a smile. Gilad Atzmon (boy – what a weird website, don’t you think Serge?) plays funkadelic sax, and the still-alive Johnny Turnbull played some great guitar and also sang gamely on some of the hits (opening number, ‘Rhythm Stick’) and on songs from the Blockheads’ 2003 CD Where’s the Party. Oh yes, and Derek “the draw” Hussey, looking like a well spaced out Viv Stanshall added percussion, a little bit of Cockney rap, and his own quite decent song, ‘Spread it’.
The set was divided nicely between a very respectfully chosen selection of classics (excluding Ian’s most personal songs) and Where’s the Party; but the rhythm, the outrageous humour of some of Dury’s lyrics (“a seasoned up hyena couldn’t have been obscener”) and the palpable enjoyment of the band were infectious.

  And if the Blockhead’s newer offerings sound a bit stale on vinyl (or whatever it is that CDs are made of) then they’ve lost nothing on stage, apart from one of the greatest characters of late 70’s English rock and roll. But nonetheless Serge these boys were very alive and very Blockhead. C’est si bon, c’est fantastique. Je t’adore, ich liebe dich.
Editor’s Note: The Blockheads logo is the Trade Mark of Blockheads Limited. Beware of fakes and imitations. - Nick Morgan

Thank you, Nick. Yes,' C’est si bon, c’est fantastique. Je t’adore, ich liebe dich'... I remember that song, it's 'Hit me with your rythm stick', right? I guess we all remember Ian Dury's 'Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll' too, with its infectuous riff, so here's another great one from 1980 - very moving: You'll see glimpses - mp3. 'When skies are blue, we all feel the benefit!'

Tamdhu 34yo 1968/2002 (40.1%, Peerless, cask # 4104)   Tamdhu 34 yo 1968/2002 (40.1%, Peerless, cask # 4104)
Colour: straw. Nose: very fragrant, with lots of camomile, passion fruit, beeswax, ripe banana and mango. Yes, this one is astonishingly fruity considering its age. Whiffs of white pepper. Mouth: so sweet, yet quite nervous. Starts on varnish, with some grassy notes, and develops on white, soft pepper, vanilla fudge and milk chocolate. It’s also quite nutty, with quite some roasted peanuts. Sure it’s rather light, but not weak in any way. Very nice, subtle and elegant finish, that even manages to gently bite your tongue – the tannins, I guess. Maybe it still lacks a little persistence to make it to 90 points. Maybe it would have been even a little better, had it been bottled three years earlier. 89 points then.
Tamdhu 33 yo 1969/2003 (40.5%, Hart Bros) Colour: gold with a bronze hue. Nose: cinnamon, clove, then tropical fruits and caramel. Some interesting notes of mastic and Schweppes. Less fruity than the Peerless, it gets quite closed after a while and switches to burnt cake. Some hints of strawberry jam. Very nice but less lively. Mouth: now, the attack is bolder, but quite dry, on crystallised fruits and pepper, with some nice buttery notes. It then gets very dry – perhaps too much wood. Yet, there are some nice notes of grapefruit skin, with quite some salt. In short, this one is less complex and oakier than the Peerless, but it’s still a very nice one. 87 points.   Tamdhu 33yo 1969/2003 (40.5%, Hart Bros)
Tamdhu 1958 (40.8%, Jack Wieber’s Prenzlow Coll, cask #1622)   Tamdhu 1958 (40.8%, Jack Wieber’s Prenzlow Coll, cask #1622) This one comes from an unsold stock from Hart Bros, that was bottled as a 42 yo and then simply re-labelled by Jack Wieber last year. Colour: dark straw. Nose: starts on orange juice, caramel and white pepper. Lots of crystallised orange skin, fresh vanilla stick… some interesting sourish notes, quite close to what could have been peat but I guess it’s the wood. Really nice! Lots of cappuccino, Chantilly crème, apricot syrup. Great balance! Then it’s back on white pepper… Mouth: beautiful attack, amazingly fresh, on honey and beeswax. Very pure. Lots of wood, of course, but less than in the Hart Bros and quite rounded. The tannins are quite soft. Nice notes of salted butter caramel and white pepper. Crystallised fruits, apricot syrup again… Long, honeyed finish getting just a little drying. Anyway, this one is beautiful and not tired in any way. Lots of wood but of an enjoyable kind. Great! 90 points.
Tamdhu 30 yo 1970/2000 (43%, Montgomerie’s, sherry cask) Colour: gold amber. Nose: ah, this one is bolder and richer, and also more complex than the previous ones. Very satisfying, with a lot of oomph. Honey, herbs, caramel, dried pear, Williams eau de vie, toffee… Some whiffs of sea breeze – I know, Tamdhu is far from the sea -, dried apricot, mullein syrup, vanilla crème… By the way, mullein flowers make some stupendous eau de vie. I made some a few years ago, the only problem is that’s it’s a hell of a work, the yield being very small, and that you have to get up very early to pluck the new flowers before the bees take all the nectar, i.e. the sugar. Anyway, back to this Tamdhu, which is really superb. It goes on with cappuccino, caramel crème, crystallised guavas… Wow, it’s just endless. Mouth: bold and rich attack, perhaps less subtle than the nose but still beautiful. Caramel, dried fruits, beeswax, strong honey. Notes of burnt coffee, roasted nuts… Then it gets fruitier, with some cooked strawberries, apple pie… And then it gets quite spicy (clove, cinnamon). Always quite compact and nervous, yet nicely rounded… Just superb. The finish is very long, dry and spicy. Really beautiful! 91 points.   Tamdhu 30yo 1970/2000 (43%, Montgomerie’s, sherry cask)
Tamdhu-Glenlivet 30yo 1963/1993 (48.2%, Cadenhead’s)   Tamdhu-Glenlivet 30 yo 1963/1993 (48.2%, Cadenhead’s)
Colour: amber. Nose: much sharper than all the previous ones yet nicely balanced. Lots of caramel and tannins, plus quite some great vinous notes. Really rougher than its brothers but still beautiful. Lots of tropical fruits a la old Bowmore (passion fruit, mango) with some notes of burnt caramel. Very smoky, at that. Develops on freshly squeezed oranges, tangerine and apricot syrup (a marker?) Tons of honeyed notes, heather… It then gets quite grassy, with some parsley, dill, aniseed, celery, Chinese star anise… Smokier and smokier… And nicer and nicer!
Star anise
Mouth: nice attack, bold and nervous. Lots of caramel, orange, roasted hazelnuts, burnt cake, herbs from Provence (thyme, rosemary). Sure it gets a little bitter but it’s still beautiful. Ah, here’s some balsamic vinegar… Gets very salty, with some oxtail soup… Saltier and saltier, in fact (does it come from the cask?) until the very long finish that does ‘the peacock’s tail’ with lots of spices, pepper, salt and honeyed sauce. Wowie! 92 points.
Johnny Depp   < BREAKING MALTY NEWS - It was in Rolling Stone on February 10, and now it's in The Sun: Johnny Depp is much into Lagavulin. No wonder lots of people have been talking about a shortage last year! Mr Depp has also got a French wife, actress Vanessa Paradis... Wait, he likes Lagavulin, he's got a French wife... Hey, just like me! ;-) (please click on the article if you want to read it).
 The Imperial Crowns
> MUSIC - Okay, we know which malt Johnny Depp likes most, but which is his favourite band, you may ask? Well, I've heard it's The Imperial Crowns. Have a listen to (I'm gonna) hunt you down - mp3. Not too bad, don't you think? Good tastes indeed... Please buy their music.

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

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

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

Aberlour-Glenlivet 8 yo (50%, OB, cube shaped bottle, small cork stopper, 70’s)

Bowmore 10 yo (42.5%, Cadenhead Original Collection)

Clynelish 1972/2000 (57.79%, Helmsdale Bar Tok yo )

Glenmorangie 30 yo ‘Oloroso Cask Finish’ (44.3%, OB, 4548 bottles, bottled 2004)

Isle of Jura 30 yo 1973 (55%, OB, cask #3155, 466 bottles)

Tamdhu-Glenlivet 30 yo 1963/1993 (48.2%, Cadenhead’s)

Tamdhu 30 yo 1970/2000 (43%, Montgomerie’s, sherry cask)

Tamdhu 1958 (40.8%, Jack Wieber’s Prenzlow Coll, cask #1622)