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

March 31, 2005

Bunnahabhain 34yo 1968 (43.5%, OB)  


Bunnahabhain 34 yo 1968 (43.5%, OB)
A superb sherry, beautifully balanced but with a lot of oomph. It’s very tannic but these tannins are quite soft. Very satisfying and compact, perhaps just a bit rougher than the fantastic and already legendary 1968 ‘ Old Acquaintance – Hogmanay Dram’. 90 points.
Bunnahabhain 24 yo 1979/2005 (55%, Signatory, bottled Friday, March 4th) Very farmy and quite smoky, not unlike some Broras. Some heavy, but very nice sherry, making the whole very expressive, bold and concentrated. Very warming: everything but a gentle Bunny, this one. Good work: 90 points.

MUSICAL QUIZZ (for a change) - Who is singing today's recommended listening Stranger in blue swede shoes - mp3? Just click below to check if you're right and win my eternal consideration. And, of course, buy that band or artist's music if you like it...


March 30, 2005


Inchgower 36yo 1968/2005 (46.3%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #5575)   Inchgower 36 yo 1968/2005 (46.3%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #5575) Oh, what a stunner! Not the usual dusty/oaky tired old malts but rather a maelstrom of violets, marsh-mallow, tangerine, chives, honey, beehive… Triple-wow! Develops on spearmint, camomile… Some dried pineapple and guava…It just goes in all directions. Extremely fresh, complex, balanced: a thrill, exquisite and glorious. I can’t give it less than 93 points (and why would I, by the way?)
Glen Keith 33 yo 1971/2005 (50.8%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #8056) This one is very heavily sherried, with quite some sulphur and rubber. Then you get the typical cocoa powder, together with some interesting meaty notes. The mouth is surprisingly powerful at such an old age. Heavy sherry again, with some hints of copper. A very good one again, even if I’m not into these sherry monsters too much. 85 points will do.
Strathisla 37 yo 1967/2004 (47.6%, Duncan Taylor, Bourbon cask #1332)
Rather discreet right at first nosing, getting flowery, with some nectar. A little subdued but very subtle. Quite contrarily, the mouth is explosive, on marzipan, flower syrup (mullein), quince jelly… Stunning palate, concentrated and cheerful, extremely satisfying. 90 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: refreshing Californian singer and songwriter Nedelle Torrisi does a charming tune of hers called Begin to breathe - mp3 or another very good one, In time it snows - mp3, with a guy named 'Thom'. Please acquire Nedelle's music if you like it.   Nedelle Torrisi
SHOPPING – Fellow maniac Mark Adams suggested we should have a look at this new machine named 'AWOL USA' (!?)

AWOL means Alcohol With Out Liquids. It consists of two components: an oxygen generator and a hand-held vaporizer. Tubes from the generator attach to the vaporizer. The user chooses an 80-proof spirit, which is poured into the vaporizer. Oxygen mixes with the alcohol producing a mist which is inhaled through the mouth. Alcohol enters the bloodstream through the lungs rather than the stomach making AWOL low calorie and low carbohydrate. The resulting feeling is the same sense of well being an adult gets from consuming alcohol in the traditional manner, only milder. Once the alcohol enters the bloodstream, it affects the body in the same way as drinking alcohol. Additionally, the alcohol leaves the body in the same manner as if it had been consumed by drinking.
What's the benefit, you may ask? They say it reduces the effects of a hangover and is low carbohydrate. But it shouldn't be too good for nosing our beloved Single Malts, I'm afraid...And I'm just wondering whether it isn't just another joke. A good one, in any case! But hey, why not try the new Ardbeg Manager Choice for Outer Mongolia with AWOL!...


March 29, 2005

MUSIC – Recommended listening: American singer-songwriter Jennifer Marks does Unpredictable - mp3. A very nice little song, don't you think? Please buy her music if you like it. Btw, she's touring the US with the show 'Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad' these days.   Jennifer Marks
Laphroaig ‘Quarter Cask’ (48%, OB, double cask) Laphroaig 1994 ‘Highgrove Edition’ (43%, OB)  


Laphroaig ‘Quarter Cask’ (48%, OB, double cask) Delicately peated, on ripe apples, kiwi, pine smoke. Some notes of fresh butter. Superb nose. The mouth starts on liquorice roots, gentian roots, with a refined peat. Not a monster in any way, yet it’s very satisfying. Some great notes of ripe strawberries, topped with a lot of white pepper. I like it a lot. 91 points.

Laphroaig 1994 ‘Highgrove Edition’ (43%, OB) Tasted at the excellent new Albannach restaurant in London with the Malt Maniacs. It was just like some fully smoked marzipan – although I don’t know if that exists ;-) 90 points.
Haig 1965   Smirnoff 1968
Left: Haig 1965 'Who knows as much about scotch as the Scot's? - We English. The Scots distill Haig - we jolly well drink Haig. Of hundreds of scotches, Britain's largest seller is Haig. You'll find Haig to your taste, too.' Right: Smirnoff 1968 'Rudi Gernreich fashions the breathless scene. And women start turning up in colors beautiful enough to drink. Bloody Mary Red. Blizzard Lime. Screwdriver Orange. Mule Copper. And Martini Silver. Pick your favorite Smirnoff drink. Then pick a woman to match.' (!?) Now, if memory serves, both John Steed and Mrs Peel were drinking Cognac and Champagne, weren't they?
By the way, I'm looking forward to see the ads for the brand new J&B-6şc to be launched later this year. Will they use an antique white car again?

March 28, 2005

The Top Ten lists have been updated. The Brora 30 yo OB bottled 2004 and the new Ardbeg single cask for France enter the Top Ten of the recent bottlings (bottled 1995 and later) while the Caol Ila 15 yo OB 'Bulloch & Lade' enters the Top Ten for the old bottlings (bottled before 1995).
Some other news: I'm currently working on Brora's 'new' history. Expect a full 12-pages 'sub-site' with plenty of pictures, old labels, bottles, and finally the whole story behind what happened there between 1968 and 1975. I'll keep you updated.
Glen Moray 20yo (40%, OB)   Glen Moray 30yo ‘vintage’ (43%, OB)


Glen Moray 20 yo (40%, OB) The nose starts on ashes and mown grass, and develops on meadow flowers and caramel. It’s light but quite nice. The mouth is very sweet, round and creamy, on apricot syrup, apple pie… Quite nice and undemanding, getting a wee bit too tannic for its style. 81 points.
Glen Moray 30 yo ‘vintage’ (43%, OB) They call it ‘vintage’ because it’s 30 yo but it’s not from one single year. Well. The nose is a bit sulphury, quite smoky, on some strange notes of fresh paint and even exhaust pipe. Some smoked ham. Very sulphury indeed. The mouth starts on wet chalk, very mineral, with again some sulphur. Gets quite fruity but quite oddly (rotten fruits). Too bad, the ‘mineral’ side was great. 81 points.

Ursula Rucker   MUSIC – Recommended listening - Queen of talk over Ursula Rucker does Time - mp3 with the band 4 Hero. Urban hip hop? Chill out? Trip hop? Drum and bass? Ambient? Yeah well, I'm kinda lost here but all I know is that I like Ursula Rucker very much, and I hope you like her too. In that case, please buy her music!

March 27, 2005

Camper van Beethoven     Balblair 24yo 1979/2003 (46%, OB, 3150 bottles)
MUSICRecommended listening - American folk rock band Camper van Beethoven plays a nice and fresh Sweet hearts - mp3 with an Eddie Jobson-esque violin in the background. Please buy their music if you like it.     TASTING - Balblair 24 yo 1979/2003 (46%, OB, 3150 bottles) This one is a Bourbon only. Lots of very ripe apples and peaches. Beautiful mouth, quite spicy with quite a lot of nutmeg and cinnamon. A very good one again, nicely balanced and enjoyable. Pure pleasure, highly drinkable! 88 points.

March 25, 2005

THREE NEW OMC’s (short notes)

Macallan 25 yo 1979/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 331 bottles)
Very flowery and buttery, a nice ‘Bourbon’ Macallan but no big thrill. 83 points.

Macallan 25yo 1979/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 331 bottles) Port Ellen 21yo 1983/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, sherry cask, 525 bottles)
Port Ellen 21 yo 1983/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, sherry cask, 525 bottles)
Rather austere and restrained, getting meaty and smoky as usual. A toned down version (compared to some other recent stunners by DL), that’s still nicely balanced and powerful. 88 points.
Caol Ila 25 yo 1979/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 266 bottles) Powerful and sweet at the same time, like all good Caol Ilas. Beautiful peat, refined yet expressive. Develops on some nice ripe fruits like kiwi, gooseberry, freshly cut green pear… For once, Caol Ila defeats Port Ellen! 90 points.
C. Ashleigh Caldwell   MUSIC – Recommended listening: C. Ashleigh Caldwell sings Carrots on a page - mp3 live. A charming little song that makes me think of the great Joni Mitchell. Please buy C. Ashleigh Caldwell's music if you like it (and Joni Mitchell's while you are at it).

March 24, 2005

Mosstowie 29 yo 1975/2005 (44.5%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, Cask #5812)
Mosstowie was distilled until 1981 at Miltonduff with some Lomond stills. This one is very flowery and fresh, with a light character typical of this kind of distillation. Some wax, light honey, nectar, with some hints of old papers. Yet, it’s creamier than expected on the palate. Again a very nice one: 87 points.
Glenugie 22 yo 1982/2005 (58%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, sherry cask #5156) Lots of chestnut honey, with some great smoky notes and some herbs, parsley… It’s also quite yeasty, in a nice way. Not too sherried, good news! It’s also quite nervous on the palate, with lots of various fruits and white pepper. An excellent Glenugie: 87 points.
  Mosstowie 29yo 1975/2005 (44.5%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, Cask #5812)
Seagram 1960   McMaster's 1969
Seagram 1960's: VO asks an utterly stupid question: 'Does a woman really appreciate the taste of fine whisky?' Notice the 'fine', because women usually like bad whisky, that's a proven fact! How stupid they were!   McMaster's 1969: here's the answer - although I have no clue as for McMaster's being fine or not. What's sure is that a rich and beautiful girl didn't seem to bother with Seagram's VO in the sixties...
Stara Jedalen   MUSIC – Blues - Recommended listening: did you know there are many excellent blues bands in Slovakia? Need evidence? Then try Blues o domove - mp3 by Stara Jedalen (a whole new dimension!) or Compares to what - mp3 by Sylvia and Mr Band, and also the very grooooovey Rozmy´sılıanie pri sıálke kávy - mp3 by the Meditating Blues Band. Please buy their music - if you can find it! (via Slovakblues)

March 23, 2005

Bruichladdich 14yo Links ‘Troon’ (46%, OB) Bruichladdich Infinity (55.5%, OB)  


Bruichladdich 14 yo Links ‘Troon’ (46%, OB) From some refill sherry. Young and fruity, on cereals and white fruits, watermelon, white peach. The mouth is a bit rough, quite yeasty and grainy, but it’s globally very enjoyable. Another good hipflask malt for a winter walk (or golf, indeed). 84 points.
Bruichladdich Infinity (55.5%, OB) A mix of Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich from 100% refill sherry casks, but with no peated Laddie from the 1998 runs, unlike in the ‘3D’. It’s been bottled exclusively for four independent retailers like Royal Mile Whiskies, Loch Fyne etc. The nose is really beautiful with a superb peat, very refined and elegant. Hints of beer, with quite some sherried notes. Bold and subtle at the same time. The finish is very, very salty. Wow, there are still some brilliant casks at Bruichladdich's, it appears! 90 points.

White Horse 1961   J&B 1970
White Horse 1961: Dialogs, girl: 'Does a dry Scotch taste better?' - guy: 'Try White Horse and see.' The girl hasn't got any whisky yet, but she's dying to taste a dry one... Will she walk into the trap? Alas, we'll never know...   J&B 1970: A strange, very strange ad. The guy is leaving the girl with his J&B in the hands - the girl seems to have spurned his advances - and the headline suggests that, had the guy brought something better than J&B, he would have been welcomed! Or did they want to suggest that J&B is 'better' than the girl?
Mr. Scruff   MUSIC – Recommended listening - Trip hop can be crappy and boring. Very crappy and very boring... But with Mr. Scruff, things are getting better! I especially like his 1999 tune Honey dew - mp3, with a certain Feebi's beautiful, warm voice. Please buy Mr Scruff's music if you like it.

March 22, 2005

MUSICRecommended listening - Iranian born 'no wave' passionaria Azita Youssefi sings On the road - mp3 (from her album Enantodriomia). I pretty much like her slightly detuned voice and the 'arty' dissonance of her skillful compositions. Please buy Azita's music if you like it as much as I do.   Azita Youssefi
Ledaig 30yo 1974/2005 (48%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, 204 bottles)  


Ledaig 30 yo 1974/2005 (48%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, 204 bottles)
Very creamy and flowery, rounded, with no traces of peat. Has it vanished after all these years? It’s true that Laphroaig 30 yo OB has only 6ppm left, that is (instead of around 16ppm in the 10yo, I believe). This Ledaig grows quite tannic and drying, but the palate is very compact and satisfying, mainly on nectar and pollen. A good one again. 85 points.

Edradour ‘Bordeaux finish’ (Soon to be bottled, Signatory straight from the cask) This one has been finished for 8 months in a cask from Château Pontet-Canet (Pauillac near Bordeaux). The nose is nice, interestingly smoky, but the mouth is too syrupy for my tastes. I’m not saying it isn’t good, it’s just a matter of taste – and it’s ten times better than the Bowmore ‘Claret’ anyway. There’s also a salty tang somewhere towards the finish. 76 points.
Benriach 28 yo 1975/2004 (57.1%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, cask #7221, 208 bottles). Quite smoky but not as much as the stunning earlier bottling (cask #7216) which I scored 92 points. The nose is a bit closed right from the start, but it opens up after ten minutes, getting vegetal, smoky, farmy… The peat arrives, superbly! The mouth is explosive again, on dried tangerines, passion fruit, dried mango, with lots of fructose and quite some delicate peat smoke. Just superb again: 91 points.
Linlithgow 29 yo 1975/2005 (48.7%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, cask #96/3/38) Again a very good Saint-Magdalene, perhaps less complex than some earlier versions but very citrusy. A very ‘Lowlandish’ one, for once! 87 points.
Red Satin 1965   Black Velvet 1972
Red Satin 1965: The body reads 'A man and his closest friends. You'll enjoy Red Satin at first meeting. It's an adventure in taste. And every meeting is as rewarding as the first. So make a date to meet Red Satin. Tonight!'   Black Velvet 1972: But is she really going to drink this full glass? And proud of it, at that! No, the text at the bottom does not read 'Please drink responsibly etc.'...

March 21, 2005

Johnnie Walker Red 1969  
J&B 1973
Johnnie Walker Red 1969: She's married but lonely at Xmas, she looks sad and unhappy, she'got trapped - and she doesn't even drink whisky. Whisky is for her husband, not for her (not to mention the Single Malts he's buying himself!)...   J&B 1973: She's single and she obviously chose to, she looks quite happy, she's having some good time in bars playing snooker and enjoying whisky with friends (see the second glass?)... You can draw your own conclusions! Thanks, UD!
Invergordon 39yo 1965/2004 (49.6%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #15504, 254 bottles)  


Invergordon 39 yo 1965/2004 (49.6%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #15504, 254 bottles) Again one of these stunning old grains from Duncan Taylor’s. Will this one match the beauty that performed so well at the Malt Maniacs Awards last year? It’s got lots of rum, wax, and is very oaky but in a nice way. Develops on beehive, getting even a bit smoky. Some raisins, some burnt cake, and some hints of wet stone on the nose (slightly dusty). A very nice one again, 88 points.

Carsebridge 25 yo 1979/2005 (56.4%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #32901) Carsebridge distillery got mothballed in 1983 (the sad year) and I confess it’s the first time I could taste one, thanks to Kirsty from Duncan Taylor’s. It’s surprisingly compact and bold, quite similar to the Invergordon but with even more oomph. Very waxy, on vanilla, rum, raisins and burnt cake. Not extremely complex but very satisfying and totally flawless. Hints of fructose, fresh pineapple that add some extra-balance to it. Superb! I’m glad this one didn’t end its life in a super-premium blend for Hong-Kong! 90 points.
Strathclyde 24 yo 1980/2005 (62.6%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #1462) A whopping alcohol level at 24yo! Lots of burnt wood on the nose, heavily charred oak, burnt caramel… Hints of herbs. Lots of varnish after a moment, together with some tar. The mouth is very strong and powerful but it’s ‘drinkable’. Some nice fruit juice, light honey, quince compote… The palate is much nicer than the nose. Again a great grain: 87 points.   Strathclyde 24yo 1980/2005 (62.6%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #1462)
Mike 'Sports' Murphy   MUSICVery highly recommended listening: Mike 'Sports' Murphy sings a beautiful and tender The Night Surrounds - mp3. This week's discovery, no doubt! Please buy Mike 'Sports' Murphy's music, doesn't he have something of Nick Cave? And here's another good one: Bad guest - mp3.

March 20, 2005

Glen Albyn 1966/2005 (43%, G&M’s own label)   TASTING - Glen Albyn 1966/2005 (43%, G&M’s own label) The nose is very discreet, with some hints of ripe apple and whiffs of pepper, but otherwise it’s quite weak. Just an added bit of vanilla. Everything seems to come from the wood only. The mouth has some fructose, tannins, and some spicy notes, but the finish is short and rather tired. A rather weak antiquity. Too bad. 77 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: unconventional, hence controversial and 'probably bound to pass unnoticed, even on an underground cult level' artist from Louisiana Damien Youth sings Red ghost mother - mp3. Please buy Damien's music if you like it.   Damien Youth

March 19, 2005

Hakushu 12yo (43.5%, OB) Hibiki 17yo (43%, OB, blended) Yamazaki 18yo (43%, OB)


Hakushu 12 yo (43.5%, OB) A nice nose, on apple and light spices, with some fresh maritime notes. The mouth is sweet and delicately peaty and smoky. Quite rounded but with a nice vivacity. A good one: 84 points.
Hibiki 17 yo (43%, OB, blended) Fresh, on cereals, quite bold. Hints of spices but nothing really special. Mouth: a nice balance but not much character, with some caramel and apricot jam. A little bit of wood. Flawless but not too interesting. 79 points.
Yamazaki 18 yo (43%, OB) This one was matured in sherry casks. The nose is very woody, in a nice way, with some varnish, turpentine. A beautiful balance. Some very soft tannins… Extremely oaky but masterfully crafted. The mouth is superbly balanced, with lots of orange juice and spices. Creamy yet nervous, with all sorts of fruit syrups and jams. Besides, the finish is very long. I loved this one: 90 points.

MUSIC – JAZZ - Highly recommended listening for a sunny Saturday, again from Brazil, André Hosoi plays a beautiful choro called Choro pro Guinga - mp3. How elegant, how refined! And I like the sound of the harmonica so much... Please buy his music if you like it...   André Hosoi

March 18, 2005

The Barbican, London - Monday March 14th 2005 - by Nick Morgan

Nick Lowe  

As far as I can remember my first intimate moment with Nick Lowe went like this. I was browsing through the vinyl 45’s in the Stiff Records Shop in Convent Garden one Tuesday lunchtime (yes youngsters, this is how we used to download our fave tunes in the olden days) when Wreckless Eric burst through a door pursued by Nick Lowe and a tear-gas spray. Once round the shop and they departed through the front door, shortly followed by me, tears in my eyes, no vinyl in my hand.

Well that’s my 1978 story and I’m sticking to it. So it goes …
Since then our relationship has been mediated through vinyl, tape and CDs, and a couple of memorable London gigs over the past six years when Lowe, King of Cool that he is, has blown away audiences with a tighter than tight band supporting his brilliant voice and songwriting skills. But tonight intimacy is restored at the Barbican as the Nickster is solo (unplugged, as they say, despite all the plugs) for about two thirds of his set, before he is joined on stage by outstanding grand slam pianist and long-time collaborator Geraint Watkins. And despite his alleged nervousness (“all I want to do is bolt for the door with a fag and my hand and a large Scotch at the bar”) this is not a man who’s cracking up, in fact he is obviously occupying a comfort zone larger than the size of a tennis court.
I would be surprised if somewhere in your music collection you don’t have some of the following: a Nick Lowe album (Impossible Bird would be best, but anything would do) or single (I know Serge’s favourite is ‘What’s so funny ‘bout peace love and understanding?’ but personally I can’t help liking ‘I love the sound of breaking glass’); a band featuring Nick Lowe (Brinsley Schwarz, Rockpile, Little Village); a Nick Lowe produced album or single – by Graham Parker and the Rumour, Elvis Costello, The Mavericks, Dr Feelgood, Wreckless Eric, John Hiatt or the Pretenders (‘Stop your sobbing’) etc.; or a recording of a Nick Lowe song, and if I mention Johnny Cash singing ‘The Beast in me’ on the first volume of The American Recordings (some say he only married Carlene Carter in order to get her dad to sing this song) then that’s probably enough isn’t it ? Actually if you don’t qualify in any of the above categories then dump the questionnaire and move on bro’, as we relationship marketeers sometimes say.
It has to be said that the Barbican is not a cool space for a cool Brentford boy like Lowe in his white shirt and pleated Italian trousers, but he fills it with his lazy acoustic guitar thumb-picking and strumming technique, and his deeply soulful voice, which got stronger in depth and range as the night went on. He knows how to sing and how to use a microphone, but occasionally the magnificent Barbican sound-system gets the better of him (did we really hear the gnashing of his false teeth on the beautiful ‘Shelley my love’?).   Nick Lowe
The set was made up largely of classics from the Lowe songbook, with an emphasis on his last three albums, – ‘You inspire me’, ‘Soulful wind’ ‘Lately I’ve let things slide’, ‘I knew the bride (when she used to rock and roll), ‘I live on a battlefield’, ‘Indian Queen’s, ‘Cruel to be kind’ – and a few covers, John Hiatt’s ‘She don’t love nobody’ and Watkin’s pretty song ‘Only a rose’. But he also road tested a few new compositions intended for a new album (“my manager keeps on telling me that its four years since the last one”) including Bingo (not well received), ‘The other side of the coin’, and the hugely misogynistic ‘Trained her to love me’ (believe me its rare to have a whole audience gasping and wincing at the audacity of a performers lyrics as they did when he spat his way through this one). “There’s one for all you girls,” grinned Nick as he finished.
Nick Lowe   Perhaps not surprisingly the audience were somewhat Barbican-restrained but (full hall – all seats sold) they were clearly having a wonderful time (including one of the world’s leading experts on intellectual property law, who I bumped into in the gents. Ah – the unifying power of rock and roll) relishing the wit and wryness of Lowe’s lyrics, the remarkable rhythm that he drives through the evening, his infectious passion for his music and general good humour, and his occasional classic rock star poses (yes, I suppose I must mention the quiff at this point). So even though some booed when he ended with only a short encore (last song, naturally, ‘The Beast in me’) everyone left with a smiling face...
That is, until some French bloke (captured with unerring accuracy by my cub photographer) tried to pinch a souvenir from the merchandising store ….. - Nick Morgan (photos by Kate except CD cover)

Many thanks, Nick. As, apparently, I've been caught by your eagle-eye photographer - unerring accuracy indeed, was it really me? Looks rather like inspector Clouzot! - I must admit that yes, indeed, I was there, undercover. 'Vertauen ist gut, kontrollen ist besser' say the guys at Daimler-Benz, so I was just checking whether WhiskyFun's enormous budget for Music Reviews wasn't spent backstage with ageing rock stars and young girls, drinking expensive Champagne (or Single Malts) till dawn after the shows... I can sleep soundly now, thanks.
Ah, yes, Nick's Lowe music... We have two songs today: Poor side of town - mp3 from the latest studio album 'The Convincer' and I knew the bride (when she used to rock & roll) - mp3 which he recorded in 1977 according to my sources. Anyway, great gig, thanks again! Also, I'll try to post about
the great Geraint Watkins within the coming days...

Bowmore 30yo ‘Seadragon’ (43%, OB, for the Asian market, last batch)   After having poured us a recent and rare ;-) Bowmore 12 yo that was even sweeter than I could recall, with no FWP but that was still quite vulgar and loaded with caramel (but rather drinkable: 75 points), they made us taste the latest batches of the…
Bowmore 30 yo ‘Seadragon’ (43%, OB, for the Asian market, last batch) Short notes: The nose is balanced, with quite some peat and some chilli, together with the usual passion fruit and some hints of wet hay but not much else. Rather disappointing, lacking complexity. The mouth is quite okay at first sip but too weak and getting too sweetish (liquorice allsorts). 84 point, yet, for the simple, but rather nice nose.
Bowmore ‘Claret’ (56%, OB, 12000 bottles) A Bowmore 12 yo racked into some casks of Suntory-owned Château Lagrange (Saint-Julien). The colour is pure orange. The nose is pungent, unbalanced, with some bold but disturbing aromas of cooked wine and rotten oranges. Err…. The mouth is just awful (all sorts of rotten tastes) and makes it plain undrinkable. Yuk. 49 points. Thank God they then poured us some rather nice Japanese…(more later)...   Bowmore ‘Claret’ (56%, OB, 12000 bottles)

March 17, 2005

Brora 30yo 2004 Edition (56.6%, OB)  


Brora 30 yo 2004 Edition (56.6%, OB) This is the third batch, and I’ve heard there will be a 4th one in 2005. Not sure about the following years, though… Colour: pure gold. Nose: smoke, peat and some very bold animal notes: amazing! Imagine you visit a farm, with its dogs, the cow stable, a bonfire somewhere in the courtyard… It then gets very waxy and superbly yeasty like Poilâne’s bread… Absolutely stunning. I had thought they would have put the best casks into the first edition(s), but this one proves I was wrong. It then gets quite tary, with some diesel oil. Yet, it’s more refined than the first two editions, and less brutal.

Mouth: surprisingly sweet, creamy, and almost un-peaty at first sip, but like in the very best Ardbegs, the smoke and the peat then develop into a magnificent continuum, even if the whisky remains always refined and subtle. It then gets very lemony and tary again, on green lemon, lemon grass… The finish is very long, on a perfect cocktail of smoky lemon juice with pepper. What a fantastic presence, deserving no less than 95 points in my book (but Olivier, who’s a little less shy than me with his ratings, gave it 97 points). Now, as I already told you, the problem is that this Brora is a killer, as it sort of damaged both the Caol Ila 25 yo and the Talisker 25 yo that were to follow…
Caol Ila 25 yo 1978/2004 (59.4%, OB) Sweeter and much more discrete than the Brora, and also much less smoky and peaty. Lots of ‘classical’ apples, with some whiffs of wood smoke. Quite deceptively restrained, indeed, but rather elegant and subtle. Mouth: ah, this is much better and bolder, but it’s too strong to be sipped naked (the whisky). A few drops of water make the nose much more mineral, on wet stone and chalk. The mouth gets fruitier, with a salty tang, but the peat sort of vanishes. Anyway, I feel it has much more to say so I’ll try it again in solo – and not after one of these egocentric Broras ;-) … 89 points for this new Caol Ila (conservatory rating ;-)   Caol Ila 25yo 1978/2004 (59.4%, OB)
Talisker 25yo bottled in 2004 (57.9%, OB, refill casks, 21000 bottles)   Talisker 25 yo bottled in 2004 (57.9%, OB, refill casks, 21000 bottles) Whether 21K bottles is really ‘limited’ or not is debatable, but let’s rather nose this one now, even if the Brora’s still ‘there’. Again the Talisker seems to be a little restrained, with little smoke and peat – if any. Far from the usual blast of peat and pepper, it’s rather on orange juice and fruit salad… Or is it me? The palate is incredibly smooth and sweet, with the usual peppery notes slowly coming through, and then some green chili. It gets spicier and spicier and quite salty, but it still lacks a little boldness and the usual Talisker signature. I guess it’s the Brora effect again – a good excuse for a new try another day! 88 points (conservatory rating).
Overall conclusion: what a bunch! But please, Diageo, perhaps, I mean, maybe you could put the Brora at the end of the session next time – yours sincerely etc., etc., etc...
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Another fabulous soul jazz band from the UK: the James Taylor Quartet (nothing to do with 'You've got a Friend'). Cracking Hammond organ, superb sax... And what a groove!!! Listen to Splat - mp3 and I'm sure you'll agree... Please buy the quartet's music if you like it!
Meanwhile, I found another excellent track by Niacin: Bullet Train Blues - mp3.
  James Taylor Quartet

March 16, 2005

I’m currently near Edimburgh - in Stirling, actually, where it's raining cats and dogs - but the Swisscom Wi-Fi hotspot at the Highland Hotel is slooooow and unreliable like a drunken Swiss snail, so I hope what follows will find its way along the path. Cross fingers! But back to Diageo’s masterclass: Charlie Smith (manager of Talisker) and Kenny Gray (manager of Oban) – Dave Broom said they are the Laurel and Hardy of the industry, LOL - poured us six of their rarest malts, all limited editions and including the Mortlach 32 yo that goes for £350. So, unlike Bowmore, they didn’t serve any mundane 12 yo or cheap blend. Cool! So, we had…
Glen Ord 25yo 1978/2004 (58.3%, OB)   Glen Ord 25 yo 1978/2004 (58.3%, OB) The nose is very rounded and sweet, yet rather nervous. Quite grassy at first nosing, on fern, hay, straw… Develops on smoked tea and camomile. Very, very good, with little wood influence, letting the distillery’s character shine through. Some nice whiffs of sea breeze (yes, I know, Ord isn’t really near the sea). Mouth: creamy but again quite nervous, bold and powerful. Lots of pepper, cooked apples and cinnamon. A bit of fructose, crystallised angelica, lemon peel… A very serious whisky that doesn’t play any dirty trick, and with a superb balance, at that. Most satisfying. 90 points.
Mortlach 32 yo 1971/2004 (50.1%, OB) Colour: surprisingly light, pale straw. The nose is more discrete than the Glen Ord’s, but more complex and delicate. Extremely floral for such an old malt, again there seems to be little wood influence. Lots of meadow flowers, buttercup, pollen. Hints of farmy notes, wet dog. A little yeasty, with some notes of porridge, green bananas, hot milk. Very complex! It goes on with some acacia honey, and a bit of coconut milk. Very elegant. The mouth is creamy, sweet, getting very gingery with lots of white pepper and nutmeg. Now I can feel the wood’s influence. Goes on with some light caramel, honey. Really splendid, complex and subtle… The finish is long and quite peppery. A winner, no doubt. 92 points.   Mortlach 32yo 1971/2004 (50.1%, OB)
Oban 20yo 1984/2004 (57.9%, OB)   Oban 20 yo 1984/2004 (57.9%, OB) I already had this one and liked it a lot (91 points). This time I found it to be quite closed and not too expressive, but I’m sure the Mortlach we had just before sort of killed it. I guess Diageo ‘ranked’ the malts by peating level or something like that, but I feel it didn’t work too well as, again the fabulous Mortlach almost killed the Oban while the fantabulous Brora badly injured both the Caol Ila 25 yo and the Talisker 25 yo that were to follow. I would have started with the Oban and placed the Brora right at the end of the flight. Well, just my very humble but honest opinion. But speaking of the latest Brora 30yo… Watch this space, more tomorrow! (Is this teasing or what?)
MUSIC – Recommended listening: hey hey, lots of success for Liquid Soul and Herbie Hancock! I'm glad to hear that some other malt aficionados like speedy 'funk-soul-fusion jazz' just like me. Okay, let's go on then... Oh, do you want an even 'speedier' piece? Then, have a go at Niacin's Elbow grease - mp3. Yeah, I guess they need some, that's for sure... And please buy Niacin's music, like their recent Live CD named 'Blood Sweat & Beers' LOL! By the way, Niacin is just three guys, but they manage to make much more noise than ZZ Top!   Niacin

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

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

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

Benriach 28 yo 1975/2004 (57.1%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, cask #7221, 208 bottles).

Bruichladdich Infinity (55.5%, OB)

Brora 30 yo 2004 Edition (56.6%, OB)

Bunnahabhain 24 yo 1979/2005 (55%, Signatory, bottled Friday, March 4th)

Bunnahabhain 34 yo 1968 (43.5%, OB)

Caol Ila 25 yo 1979/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 266 bottles)

Carsebridge 25 yo 1979/2005 (56.4%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #32901)

Glen Ord 25 yo 1978/2004 (58.3%, OB)

Inchgower 36 yo 1968/2005 (46.3%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #5575)

Laphroaig ‘Quarter Cask’ (48%, OB, double cask)

Laphroaig 1994 ‘Highgrove Edition’ (43%, OB)

Mortlach 32 yo 1971/2004 (50.1%, OB)

Strathisla 37 yo 1967/2004 (47.6%, Duncan Taylor, Bourbon cask #1332)

Yamazaki 18 yo (43%, OB)