(Current entries)

Whisky Tasting


Daily Music entries

Petits billets d'humeur
(in French)



Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2006 - Part 2
April 2006 - part 1 <--- April 2006 - part 2 ---> May 2006 - part 1

April 30, 2006

Mortlach 10 yo (40%, MacMalt, 180 bottles, circa 2005) ‘Satisfaction – no collection !’ is what they wrote on the bottle. That’s funny, but I’m not too sure anybody would have thought about collecting young indie Mortlachs, especially at 40% ;-) Colour: gold. Nose: fresh, clean and light, starting on orange cake and honey, developing on lapsang souchong tea and toasted bread and getting then a tad farmy and feinty. Smokier than expected. Uncomplicated but balanced and enjoyable. A perfect breakfast malt? Mouth: sweet, light, rounded but not dull, lacking just a little body. Notes of spearmint, herbal tea, plums, cake again, light breakfast honey. Quite malty as well, too bad it gets a little sluggish after a while. The finish isn’t too long and a tad too cardboardy but the whole is rather good – but don’t try it if you’re in the mood for oomph. 78 points.
Mortlach 12 yo (40%, McNeill, 30 bottles, circa 2005) Colour: gold. Nose: a little discreeter, yet maybe a tad fruitier and more feinty but otherwise it’s quite similar, i.e. very enjoyable. For a double breakfast? Mouth: roughly the same profile as the MacMalt – well, more than roughly, actually. Very, very similar, with maybe a little more body. Just a little. 79 points.
Mortlach 12 yo (46%, Craigellachie Hotel, circa 2005) Colour: straw. Nose: certainly livelier and maltier, with quite some smoke, smoked tea, caramel, resins and dried fruits. Something slightly meaty and mineral at the same time, also grassy (newly cut grass, raw asparagus). Whiffs of mint and aniseed. Mouth: sweet, full-bodied, balanced and compact. Starts on Grand-Marnier liqueur, orange marmalade, liquorice, candy sugar… Goes on with herbal tea and earl grey, plum jam, light caramel. Hints of ripe bananas. Uncomplicated again but quite oomphy and flawless, with a medium long but sweet, creamy and satisfying finish. A tad MOTR but highly sippable. 83 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening - It's Sunday, we go classical. Do they have hits in classical music? Sure, for instance la Callas singing Bizet's Carmen.mp3 (Act I - that must have been in 1961 in Paris, with the French National Radio Orchestra). Maybe it got a little kitsch now but it will put you in a good mood straight off.


April 29, 2006

Port Ellen 22 yo (56.1%, Whisky-Doris, 2006) It seems this one’s been sold out within a few days. Sorry, I’m late… Colour: Cognac. Nose: extremely toffeeish at first nosing, very ‘oloroso’ but the peat and the sherry blend directly – and perfectly – here, creating kind of another dimension. Something like a smoked chocolate (does that exist?) Very, very little rubber or sulphur this time. Develops on (smoked) Smyrna raisins, (smoked) praline, (smoked) strawberry jam, (smoked) balsamic vinegar…
Absolutely brilliant! Keeps developing on dried Chinese mushrooms, dried beef (from the Grisons), dried seaweed (nori but also kelp), with all the ‘coastal cavalry’ behind it (sea air, iodine etc.) Very special and very perfect. Mouth: it’s a bit more classical now, maybe a tad more ‘peat + sherry’ instead of that third dimension I was talking about regarding the nose. The wine is still very present, making this Port Ellen taste a little bit like a finishing (but one that worked excellently). Notes of caramel, toffee, coffee, mulberry jam… Quite some spices as well (clove) and, maybe, something rubbery now. The middle isn’t extremely bold in fact but the finish is rather long, quite big, balanced, peaty and jammy… Lots of pleasure in this one! And the nose was totally stunning. 92 points.
Port Ellen 23 yo 1982 (56.1%, Jumping Jack for Whisky Plus, 130 bottles)
Colour: cognac again. Nose: very, very similar. Maybe a tad stonier but that could come from less breathing. Hey, could it be the same whisky under another label? Mouth: yes, it’s almost the same whisky. Maybe a little more oomph, with something slightly wilder and rougher but otherwise the profile is exactly the same. Maybe they shared a cask – or it was two consecutive casks? (with the same ABV). Right, same rating here (of course): 92 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: Michelle Shocked and her beautiful voice doing Black widow.mp3 (from her 1988 album Short, Sharp, Shocked - remember 'Anchorage'?). Please, please, buy Michelle Shocked's music.


April 28, 2006

Vanilla Sky (Lagavulin) 13 yo 1992/2006 (53.6%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead #5341) It’s always very interesting to be able to taste a Lagavulin single cask, as the owner doesn’t bottle any. Colour: straw. Nose: very smoky and quite austere at first nosing, probably less sweet and ‘polished’ than any of the OB’s (the 12yo’s included). Develops on bold notes of cider apples, with something slightly perfumy in the background (musk?) and quite some almond milk.
A very ‘serious’ Lagavulin, controlled and wild at the same time. Notes of Belgian beer (hey, Orval freaks!), wet stones, getting then quite camphory and resinous (maybe a tad soapy), with also something animal (dog). Very good, probably the most ‘unsweet’ Lagavulin I ever had. Mouth: it’s sweeter now, closer to the 12yo OB’s… A certain narrowness but also a great compactness. Notes of Campari, pepper, bitter oranges, lemon sweets… Goes on with hints of kummel and cloves, smoked tea, verbena tea… Maybe a little mint as well. The finish is long, leaving a very persistent earthiness on your tongue and quite some pepper and bitter almonds as well. And a little salt. And a little liquorice. It’s still a bit rough but an excellent example of a ‘raw’ Lagavulin with little wood influence (was I supposed to get vanilla, by the way?). 90 points.
Breath of Islay (Lagavulin) 12 yo 1992/2005 (57.2%, Adelphi, cask #4345)
Colour: straw – yellow. Nose: powerful but a little sweeter than the ‘Vanilla Sky’ at first nosing (notes of orange juice, rubbed orange zest), yet rougher and sharper. It’s more on stones, aspirin, ginger tonic… Develops on wet hay, moss, pine needles (again these superb resinous notes), almond milk… But no cider apples or beer this time. It’ll be hard to decide between these two Lagavulins by other names… Mouth: wow, this one is punchy to say the least! Lots of peat, something very earthy and rooty (gentian spirit), smoked tea, moderately sugared marzipan (the good one), pepper… Really invading! Goes on with a little curry, green tea, lots of crystallized orange zests and marmalade (truckloads, in fact)… It’s not overly complex but so satisfying… And the finish is very long again, perhaps more coating and smokier than the Vanilla Sky’s… Anyway, this one is just as classy – and very, very peaty. 90 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: after Patti Smith a few days ago, let's have a little Talking Heads. They're doing Give Me Back My Name.mp3 (from the fab Little Creatures, 1985)... The 'intellectual' side of the eighties... Btw, did you know David Byrne was born in Dumbarton, Scotland?


April 27, 2006

Highland Park 16 yo (46%, McNeill, 30 bottles, circa 2005) No vintage on this one, and no explanation about the low number of bottles – as shared cask, I guess. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather fragrant at first nosing, a typical un-sherried Highland Park that smells much younger than 16yo. Whiffs of smoke and quite some flowers, apples and pears, something resinous, marzipan, hints of heather and wet stone… Gets then a little grainy and mashy, on porridge and mashed potatoes… The whole is rather nice but again, seems to lack a little ageing. Mouth: very sweet, with a nice mouth feel. Quite some pink pineapple, fresh walnuts, quince jelly. Gets quite waxy and even resinous. Goes on with apple pie, acacia honey, fresh almonds… I like this palate much better than the nose, in fact. Almost excellent, a very good surprise! And the finish is long, compact, extremely well balanced, on orange marmalade and wax. Again, a great palate. Too bad there was only 30 bottles. 87 points.
Highland Park 15 yo 1990/2005 (46%, The Alchemist) Colour: white wine. Nose: a little sharper and more austere, grassier but more elegant. Quite smoky and very heathery. Cider apples, newly cut grass, a little paraffin. Gets beautifully perfumy after a while, with something that reminds me of L’Air du Temps de Nina Ricci. Clean and elegant, I like it. Mouth: a very ‘natural’ palate, again more austere than the McNeill’s, waxier and much grassier. Even more fresh walnuts and almonds, also marzipan, green tea, butter caramel... Goes on with liquorice, orange marmalade… Really full-bodied, at that. Maybe a tad less balanced than the McNeill’s… The finish is quite as long but more on milk caramel (Werther’s Original)… Another very good Highland Park – and God knows indie HP’s aren’t always ‘top notch’. 87 points.
Highland Park 11 yo 1990 (46%, First Spirits, France) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is much fruitier, with quite some freshly squeezed oranges, tangerines and a little passion fruit, getting then quite mashy, almost feinty again (hints of muesli, yoghurt, cider and beer). Rather nice but far from being as elegant s the Alchemist’s. Mouth: we’re in simpler territories here. Grassier, getting a little bitter, with notes of ginger and quite some peat. A certain acridness (lemon zest) but it’s still rather good whisky, probably a little oomphier than both the McNeill’s and the Alchemist’s. The finish is longer as well, more nervous, mostly on bitter oranges. Another one that’s quite good, even if simpler. 84 points.


MUSIC – JAZZ - Very strongly recommended listening - do you need to make up with 'modern' jazz? Then have a try at the amazing new trio Third Impulse playing Sheba's Hesitation.mp3. So excellent and growing so funny after Darren Johnston's introduction on the trumpet! (I know he's not exactly Clifford Brown's reincarnation but he's really excellent, what do you think Peter?) Anyway, please Third Impulse's music!


April 26, 2006

North Port 35 yo 1966/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 138 bottles)
Colour: gold – amber. Nose: a very aromatic start, on lots of fruit jams (apricot, plums, melon), getting then very camphory and minty. Very nervous considering its age. Goes on with quite some wax polish, old wardrobe, old books, while remaining very fresh and lively. Hints of Virginia tobacco, leather, crystallized oranges, pistachio and olive oil… Gets rather maritime after that, mostly on seaweed.
Hints of diesel oil, linseed oil, a little turpentine, smoked tea. I like it a lot – and there seems to be a little peat in there. Very elegant, at that. Mouth: powerful and creamy, with a rather salty attack. Quite some tannins as expected but this one is far from having gone over the hill. It develops on apricot pie and jam, fudge, roasted peanuts, nougat and gets then very spicy with the usual ‘woody cavalry’: nutmeg, white pepper, cinnamon, ginger… It starts to get a little too drying after a while, though, and especially the finish is quite woody. But it’s a very good old whisky nevertheless. 86 points.
North Port 25 yo 1981/2006 (56.1%, The Whisky Fair, sherry wood, 120 bottles)
Colour: just the same, gold-amber. Nose: even more oomph but it’s also much more chocolaty at first nosing, with different kinds of fruits: raspberries, strawberries. Bold notes of pineapple and coconut liqueurs, raspberry eau-de-vie, Grand-Marnier… Probably less classical than the 35yo, with something that reminds me of Ben Nevis. Again something maritime in the background, even if it’s discreeter here. Quite some apples as well – and apple liqueur (like Saurer Apfel but much better), then coffee liqueur, Guinness, brownies, rum… This one doesn’t keep quiet, but it’s also a little less elegant than its older sibling – on the nose. Mouth: very, very close to the 35 yo now, but it’s less tannic (although it’s still a bit drying) and has a thicker mouth feel. Lots of fruit jams and white pepper, plums, spices (see above), vanilla fudge… Quite hot, in fact… Goes on with dark rum, ‘arranged’ rum (with bananas), dried coconut… A tropical North Port? Lots of body and lots of presence – it still doesn’t keep quiet and keeps improving, getting rounder and more balanced after a while. Great. The finish is rather long, sweet and fruity, mainly on fruit eau-de-vie (tutti frutti), pineapples and rum… Pina Colada? Anyway, it’s excellent, no doubt. 89 points.



I was in Madrid last week, were I found this amazing old ad (well, a postcard actually) for Vargas anisettes and liqueurs. It is well known that the Spanish soul can be very 'dark' but this is profoundly tenebrous, to say the least... Now, the artwork in itself is really stunning, but I'd really love to know what they had in mind when they came up with this strange theme... Gloomy thoughts? Or was some kind of temperance league behind it?


MUSIC – Recommended listening - Let’s have something that sounds nicely churchy – yes, American – today, with the great Susan Tedeschi doing Bob Dylan’s Don’t think twice it’s all right.mp3 Simply beautiful! And please buy Miss Tedeschi’s music!


April 25, 2006

It’s not precisely because of the rock opera ‘The fall of the House of Usher’ he composed with ex-Van der Graaf Generator bandmate Peter Hammill that I decided to interview Judge Smith (note to newbies, Usher was also a pioneering whisky blending house) but rather because of his stunning recent works such as ‘Curly's Airships’, an amazing epic ‘songstory’ that blends rock, English chanson, tango, marching bands, Indian music, 1920’s dance music and many other ‘colours’. As somebody put it, it’s ‘probably one of the largest and most ambitious single pieces of rock music ever recorded’ and I’d add that for once, it’s not just balance sheet ambition. Dadaist ambition?
Whiskyfun: Judge, tell us briefly about what you do, music-wise.
Judge Smith: My principal interest is in telling stories using words and music. As for the music itself, I think of it as rock music, but some people might not agree with me, as it often doesn’t sound much like rock music’s supposed to sound. It’s generally agreed that the stuff I do is pretty unusual; it also seems to come out very English, and not very American.
My background is in the underground music scene of the late Sixties. I co-founded the band Van Der Graaf Generator, and one of the things we were interested in at the time was breaking away from the three-minute song-about-lurve format, and standard song structures (verse / chorus / verse / chorus / middle 8 / verse / chorus / chorus). I’ve still written plenty of songs like that over the years (and years - I’m pretty old) but I’ve always had an ongoing ambition to paint with the music on a bigger canvas.
I’ve tried writing stage musicals (several of those), operas, cantata and song-cycle, with different degrees of success, but now I think I have finally developed a form and a technique that allows me to tell real stories with real music in a seamless and integrated way. I call it Songstory.
I have three Songstories at different stages of completion at the moment, but the only example that is actually finished and available is CURLY’S AIRSHIPS. This is an epic work about the R.101 airship disaster of 1930. It’s a double CD involving eighteen featured performers, among whom are three other original members of Van der Graaf Generator: Hugh Banton, David Jackson and respected solo artist Peter Hammill. Also participating are singer Arthur Brown (of The Crazy World), Pete Brown (of Battered Ornaments and Piblokto), Paul Roberts (of The Stranglers), John Ellis, (formerly of The Vibrators and The Stranglers), plus a 1920’s dance band, a classical Tenor, an Indian music ensemble and several cathedral organs.
It was six years in the making and is probably one of the largest and most ambitious single pieces of rock music ever recorded. It’s got its own web site at http://www.curlysairships.com and the work tells the true story of the bizarre events which led to the destruction of the world’s biggest airship, the giant dirigible R.101, on its maiden voyage to India. It’s a tale of the incompetence and arrogance of government bureaucrats, the ruthless ambition of a powerful politician and the moral cowardice of his juniors; a story of inexplicable psychic phenomena, the thoughtless bravery of 1920s aviators and the extraordinary spell cast by the gigantic machines they flew: the giant airships, the most surreal and dreamlike means of transport ever devised.
WF: Which other musicians are you playing with?
Judge: In the last two or three years I’ve got back into occasional gigging, after barely performing in public for twenty years. As a result of this, I became interested in the possibilities of the small group, ‘unplugged’ format, and last year I released an album of my songs, THE FULL ENGLISH accompanied (mainly) by John Ellis on guitar and Michael Ward-Bergeman on piano, organ and accordion. These are two terrific musicians, and the album, despite not being in my beloved Songstory format, is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
THE FULL ENGLISH was released by an Italian record label, Labour Of Love Records, who have also just released a really great DVD of a very special concert I did at Guastala last year. JUDGE SMITH – LIVE IN ITALY, 2005 also features John and Michael, augmented by respected Italian drummer Gigi Cavalli Cocchi and Marco Olivotto on bass. These guys make some great music out of my songs, and the old boy capering around at the front doesn’t disgrace himself too much either.
You can see an extract, get other free downloads, and lots and lots more info about Judgestuff in general, at judge-smith.com.
WF: And which are your other favourite artistes?
Judge: There are so many. Where to start, and how to finish? Little Richard, Conlon Nancarrow, Taraf de Haidouks, Roland Kirk, Oysterband, Vivaldi, Sex Pistols…. I could go on (and on). In terms of influence on my own work, however, I would have to say Frank Zappa and Peter Hammill, though my stuff doesn’t sound anything like theirs (or anything much like the abovementioned worthies, either.)
WF: Which are your current projects?
Judge: I have just completed a Songstory for me to perform with an Alpine Choir from the Italian Dolomites. It’s called THE CLIMBER, and I sing the part of a British mountaineer getting into trouble on the mountains about fifty years ago. It’s about a culture clash between visitors and locals, and the choir will be singing lyrics translated into their own mountain dialect, while I sing in English. The choir are extraordinary, with a completely unique and beautiful sound. It’s a very exciting project for me, but it probably won’t be recorded until next year some time.
Now I’m just starting the next thing; a sort of companion piece set in Spain, working with a flamenco guitarist. I need to keep busy. There’s a lot of music I want to do before I get too decrepit.
Through the Internet, a few more people are finally finding out about my work and getting interested in what I do. There is even an active Judge Smith Yahoo! Discussion Group. This is an open group, currently with over 300 posted messages. It’s completely independent, and has no connection with any record company, or with me (I'm not even a signed-up member.) However, it's full of lively comment and debate, and I can recommend a visit to anyone interested in my stuff.
WF: When did you start enjoying whisk(e)y? Are there any musical memories you particularly associate with that moment?
Judge: For about twenty years I drank increasingly large amounts of ordinary supermarket blended whisky, or ‘cooking scotch’ as I called it. I have a slightly sweet tooth, and I’m sorry to have to admit that I drank it with a mixer. However, rather than ginger ale or coke, I always took it with tonic (no ice). To my taste, a good quality tonic water with quinine is a great partner for whisky; it makes an astringent, slightly bitter and most refreshing tipple. I was always very surprised that no one else seemed to drink it except me.
However, in the end, I found I liked it rather too much, and these days I stick to wine, unless someone sticks a glass of malt in my hand.
WF: What’s your most memorable whisky?
Judge: Someone gave me a dram of something quite extraordinary once. Can’t remember what it was called; ‘The Auld Glen McSporan Special Tartan Reserve’ or something like that? Sorry. But it was thick and almost sweet, and drinking it was like…was like?…like maybe Milla Jovovich slipping down your throat wearing velvet pyjamas.
WF: Do you have one, or several favourite whiskies?
Judge: As regards proper malt whisky, not the very dry, strong-tasting types. Something smooth and mild and paid for by someone else. (Cheap? I’m not cheap. I’m just a musician.)
WF: Are there whiskies you don’t like?
Judge: Whisky mixed with water.
WF: By the way, music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves. Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
Judge: Female rock musicians are a wonderful thing. Every band would benefit from having a girl member. Their playing has an entirely different vibe, and they always bring something new and special to the music. They can rock just as hard as men but they are a genuinely civilizing and uplifting influence. (Also girls playing rock’n’roll just look so damn cute.)
Whisky-drinking women, in my experience, are women of character, with minds of their own, and a lot of fun, unless they are too-much-whisky-drinking women, who can be as much of a bore as too-much-whisky-drinking men.

Thank you very much, Judge!
A few links of interest:
Judge's official website
The Curly's Airships page.
The Judge Smith Yahoo! Discussion Group
An interesting 2003 Judge Smith interview covering his early period with Van Der Graaf Generator.
(with special thanks to David)

Glenrothes 1986/2005 (46%, Helen Arthur, Plain Oak, 600 bottles) Colour: straw – white wine. Nose: a very discreet start, with just a little alcohol and a few feinty notes. Let’s give this one a little time… Ah, yes, it does sort of take off after ten minutes or so, on pear juice and cider, with whiffs of wood smoke, porridge and tea. Still not much happening, I must say. Not exactly dull but as close to new make as it can get. Incredible considering it’s almost 20 years old…
Right, it does keep improving a bit with time: a little vanilla, green bananas, grass… But it gets also quite beer-ish. Not too bad in fact, but rather uninteresting. Mouth: sweet and rather malty attack, getting quite sugary (fructose, light breakfast honey) but with an almost nonexistent middle. Strange! Not much happening in there, I’m afraid… Just a little sugar and alcohol remaining on your palate (but almost nothing on the tongue). And the finish is short and, well, sugary. Well, it’s not especially flawed but there’s no pleasure here. Too bad. 70 points.
Glenrothes 36 yo 1969/2006 (51.8%, Duncan Taylor, cask #12885) We had the 34 yo 1968/2003 at 40.3% (90 points) and the 36 yo 1968/2005 at 57.2%, (93 points) just a few days ago so I have high expectations… Colour: gold – amber. Nose: very, very aromatic and hugely fruity, on ripe apricots, quinces and melons, plums, honey and fudge… Almost a fruit bomb, really in the Balvenie or Bruichladdich stable (as opposed to the tropical fruits one can find in old Bowmores, Lochsides, Clynelishes etc.). It gets then sort of winey (sweet white wine) and also slightly cardboardy. Goes on with roasted nuts, praline crème, chocolate… Probably a little less complex than its two previously bottled siblings but also compacter. Mouth: extremely rich and creamy, with quite some lemon and orange juice that keep the whole very lively, almost youthful. Very little tannins at this stage, which is great news. Develops on quince jelly, marzipan, light toffee, cappuccino, Irish coffee (or Scottish coffee?)… And the we start to get the oak’s influence with the nutmeg, vanillin, cinnamon, white pepper, ginger… Again, it’s not exactly complex but incredibly drinkable considering its age. Now, it does get frankly oaky toward the rather long finish, with the fruit drying out (except the quince) and being replaced with cardboardy and slightly chalky notes, but the whole is still an excellent and tireless old malt. 90 points.

April 24, 2006

CHRISTY MOORE with DECLAN SINNOTT Barbican, London, April 17th 2006
Declan Sinnott (left) and Christy Moore (right)
Well it’s the Barbican, but not as we usually know it. Few are the Guardian hugging high-brows or the blue-rinsed patrons of the arts. In fact it’s a bit more like a rugby match at Lansdowne Road – glasses and bottles fill every available surface, even lined up along the top of the men’s urinals, which are also doing mighty service to the bladders of the thirst quenched crowd. Of course it’s a high day and bank holiday – our first one of the year, and as historians will surmise, it’s also an anniversary of some appropriate note. But it’s principally a rare solo appearance in London by Irish folk legend Christy Moore, whom we were privileged to see in the same venue last year performing with the simply wonderful Planxty, accompanied tonight by long-time collaborator and one time Horslips and Moving Hearts guitarist, Declan Sinnott.
Moore’s particular legend combines wild rock and roll excess, a voice of remarkably fragile beauty, sometime outstanding songwriting, a deep respect for the traditional canon, an ability to make other performers’ deeply personal songs his own, humour, dark depression, and a commitment to a variety of political causes, (starting at home with the Irish Republican movement but moving to support for the oppressed and victims of injustice around the world) for whom he has become something of a global voice, albeit always on his own terms. He’s fiercely passionate, I would suspect surprisingly vulnerable and self critical, has something of the perfectionist about him, wears his heart on his sleeve, and has a very short tolerance of audiences who choose to participate unasked. “There you are thinking, what a big moody old bollocks that he is, not wanting us to clap” he chides himself, having brought an over excited audience to heel with a single menacing glance. In fact (Billy Bragg please note) he doesn’t say much at all during this song packed two and a quarter hours, choosing to let his music do the talking, which it does with considerable eloquence.
Now if you weren’t there, rather than bother reading this you could buy a copy of his latest double CD, Live from Dublin 2006. Though remarkably only about half of the twenty eight songs that we get are among the thirty on that two disc set. That in itself says something about the huge repertoire of material that Moore has collected over the years. Quite how he puts the set together I can’t imagine, let alone understand how he remembers all the words (“If I get the first line it’ll be ok”, he tells us, “the first is the important one”).
But it has to be observed that by the time he’s finished there aren’t many Irish or British institutions that haven’t taken a good knocking (he breaks into the Irish equivalent of a talking blues in the middle of the apparently harmless ‘Don’t forget your shovel if you want to go to work’ and turns the shovel into a Kalashnikov to spray hot lead at leading politicians in both countries, and Serge’s beloved Charles and Camilla) along with the United States (you should listen, Serge, to his version of Morrissey’s ‘America you are not the world’, I think you would enjoy it). He has a moving reflection on the recent past in his own country, ‘Smoke and strong whiskey’ (“It's Easter again, and we cannot forget, our brothers and sisters and all that was said, so practise your pipes, stand proud in the wet, for the eyes of the world are upon you”).The Church gets a beating up in Joni Mitchell’s ‘Magdalene Laundry’; wife beaters get some of their own treatment in ‘A stitch in time’; privilege, corrupt legal systems and the Freemasons are the targets of Dylan’s ‘Hattie Carroll’, and Capitalism takes a bit of a poke in ‘Ordinary Man’. And a number of songs dwell on the not always easy experience of the Irish Diaspora – in the USA (‘City of Chicago’) and in London (‘Missing you’), not that Moore seems to be unhappy to be here. His version of Ewan McColl’s ‘Sweet Thames flow softly’ exudes a deep affection for the dear old Smoke.
And these and other songs of commitment were mixed with some heart achingly touching love songs, tales of tragedy, and just plain nonsense. ‘North and south of the river’ (co-written with Bono and The Edge), ‘Song of the wandering Aengus’ (“music written by Judy Collins, Yates out of Sligo wrote the words”), ‘Nancy Spain’ and Richard Thompson’s ‘Beeswing’ provides some of the love interest. ‘The two Conneeleys’ and ‘Cry like a man’ some of the tragedy, the crowd pleasing ‘Lisdoonvarna’ and the thoroughly mad ‘Sixteen fishermen raving’ the nonsense.          
Regular Whiskyfun readers will also be interested to know that we had a well informed illicit distilling song, ‘McIlhatton’, written by IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. And, though I can’t list everything that was played, I should mention a noble performance of ‘The well below the valley’, with Moore on bowrawn, and a ‘you could hear a pin drop’ moment when he sang ‘Hurt’, the Trent Reznor song memorably performed by Johnny Cash on The Man Comes Around.
I really do think it would be easier if you bought you the CD, which really speaks for itself. It shows off Moore’s wonderful voice, which was really in good shape at the Barbican, and Sinnott’s guitar work (ditto). You might also like to buy Burning Times, a collection of covers (some quite excellent) by Moore and Sinnott released last year. Best of all, of course, go and see him if you ever get the sniff of a chance. It’s a grand night, you won’t be disappointed. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Many thanks, Nick. Serious stuff, it seems... I like genuine conscious artists as well, what would we do without them? And guess what, we do have that illicit distilling song called McIlhatton.mp3 (yes it's whiskyfun here). Do you know where we unearthed it? Yes, from one of the Sinn Féin's websites... And there was also the beautiful January man.mp3...
Glencadam 16 yo 1985/2001 (43%, Chieftain's, Casks #2689/2691) Colour: straw. Nose: this one starts quite rubbery, together with notes of toasted bread and wood smoke. Very malty. Goes on with apricots and dried figs and gets then rather grassy. Smoked tea, almond milk, dried flowers… Gets also a little cardboardy. An interesting and unusual smokiness.
Mouth: smooth, rather light but not weak, with quite some tea and fruit jam (apricot again, orange marmalade) but also a certain dryness. Lots of roasted nuts, caramel, nougat… Very malty again, and lots of cake. Something that reminds me of Johnnie Walker Black, don’t ask me why. The finish isn’t too long but nicely malty, caramelly, maybe a tad dry. In short, it’s quite simple but flawless and very pleasant to drink. One to pour your best ‘no-whisky-please’ friends, while trying to do a little proselytism. 82 points.
Glencadam 32 yo 1973/2006 (46.4%, The Whisky Fair 'Artist Impression', 87 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: much more complex and lively, starting on lots of fruits such as apricots again, ripe plums, big notes of quince, a little bergamot… Whiffs of smoke again, pastries, hot butter… Lots of nectar, honey and pollen as well, flowers from the fields… Hints of spearmint, resins, marzipan… Quite complex yet very coherent, very compact. Extremely enjoyable, but will the palate stand the distance? Mouth: yes, good news, no signs of over-aging here. Sure there’s a little dryness but that gives a nice structure to the whole. Lots of spearmint and salt, apricots, cocoa, resins (bee propolis)… Unexpectedly full-bodied. It gets then extremely spicy, with the usual nutmeg and cinnamon, maybe saffron, white pepper, even a little chilli and allspice… but I wouldn’t say it’s too tannic, amazingly, especially because we have these bold notes of apricots that keep the whole rather smooth and balanced. Long finish, getting maybe a little drying now but also even mintier and resinous. Very good, dry (OK, OK) but not tired at all. 87 points.

April 23, 2006

Glen Garioch 21 yo 1984/2005 (53%, Old Bothwell, cask #5018) Colour: white wine. Nose: a very fresh and clean attack, on granny smith apples and freshly crushed mint leaves, getting then extremely lemony (concentrated lemon juice) and grassy. Notes of muscadet (very ‘green’ and often sharp French wine), fresh rhubarb, and grape skins, getting then slightly chemical, on Alka-Seltzer, stale lager, Schweppes… A very unusual profile, interesting even if not really enjoyable.
Mouth: starts quite bitter and lemony but again sort of chemical, almost as if it was corked. Lots of lemon seeds, grass (did you ever eat grass?), green tomatoes and bananas, resin… Green tannins? Very difficult I must say, even if, again, it’s ‘interesting’, and the finish is very long but green, sour and bitter… Well, hard to rate this one. I’d say something like 60 ‘organoleptic’ points but let’s add it 10 more points because it’s very unusual, so it’s going to be 70 points.
Glen Garioch 13 yo 1975 (57%, Samaroli, fino sherry) Colour: gold. Nose: lots of bitter chocolate at first nosing, switching then to rather huge medicinal notes. Bandages, embrocations, camphor… Lots of smoke as well (as much as in, say Laphroaig). Gets then sort of similar to the Old Bothwell, with quite some dry white wine, grass, lemon juice, walnut skins, hints of ‘yellow’ as they say in French Jura (neo-oxidation – from the fino I’m sure) and then rather farmy (wet hay, ‘natural’ milk and butter). Superbly sharp and austere, a bit rigid but I like that. Mouth: now, this is beautiful! Very thick and coating, creamy, with again these lemony (lemon marmalade) and grassy/waxy notes, mixed with a superb peat and lots of fresh walnuts – the fino again, I guess. Lots of quince jelly, cough syrup, eucalyptus sweets, mastic-flavoured Turkish delights, bitter oranges, marzipan… Amazingly good. Hints of paraffin, mint drops, both smoked tea and pu-erh… And the finish! Long, invading, still doing ‘the peacock’s tail’ with all sorts of smoky, waxy and citrusy flavours… Extremely good, in the same class as the best Broras and Ardbegs. And only 13 years old! 95 points (merci beaucoup – vielen Dank – thank you very much, Bert)


MUSIC – Recommended listening - It's Sunday, we go classical. Quite some success with Tracy Watson last Sunday, so let's listen to her once again. This time she's singing Non piu mesta.mp3 from La Cenerentola (Rossini). Again, Please go and listen to her or buy her music.


April 22, 2006

Caperdonich 37 yo 1968/2006 (40.3%, Lonach) Lonach is a new Duncan Taylor label, gathering casks that didn’t ‘quite’ make it into the ‘Duncan Taylor’ (ex-Peerless) range. Ah, marketing! Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather discreet – that’s an euphemism -, starting almost like cold tea. Hints of green bananas, plums, peach skin, a little ginger, vanilla, maybe cola, ginger ale… Well, all I can say is that this one is very moderately expressive. Mouth: a rather sweet but whispering attack (well, a kitten’s scratch actually). Banana again, tea… And then the wood and its spicy procession (nutmeg and such)… And then the medium long finish, that is maybe the best part, most unexpectedly. Sure it’s a little cardboardy but also nicely fruity (banana, coconut and maybe pineapple). Anyway, this series is very moderately priced so I’d say it’s a good occasion to impress your friends with a very old malt. Plus, it’s still quite drinkable – and not exactly toothless. 78 points.
Caperdonich 36 yo 1967/2004 (57.9%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 167 bottles) I know everyone already tasted this one but here I am… Colour: full amber. Nose: this is another story. Rather playful, starting on lots of milk chocolate and vanilla. It’s clearly very oaky but doesn’t appear to be drying or tea-ish at all. Very fudgy, developing, on all sorts of roasted nuts and praline, with notes of torrefaction, fresh walnuts, nougat, mocha… Hints of rum-soaked raisins, grape juice… And then we have some bold notes of pistachio halva and dried coconut… Rather beautiful, I must say, even if we get also something slightly rubbery (nothing excessive).
Mouth: lots of punch and concentration considering its age, starting on huge notes of very old sweet white wine and getting then very minty and nicely sweet and sour, like some Chinese sauces. Develops on crystallized oranges and tangerines, Grand Marnier, vanilla fudge and fruit wine (strawberry)… Something quite salty all along… Gets finally rather spicy, but it’s not only ‘oak spices’. Clove, Chinese anise, soft curry, cinnamon… Lots of body, and a long and satisfying finish on dried fruits and spices, getting just slightly drying but hey, 36 years! An excellent surprise (well, not a surprise actually, many friends already liked it a lot). 92 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: isn't this history? Jack Kerouac 'singing' The Last Hotel.mp3 in 1959 with Steve Allen, piano and Zoot Sims (I believe) on tenor sax. It's part of Blues & Haikus, a CD that's included in the 'Joack Kerouac Collection' 3-CD set. Just superb.


April 21, 2006

Laphroaig 1995 'Duke of Rothesay' (40%, OB, 2005) ‘Duke of Rothesay’ is one of Prince Charles titles, and I’ve been told this new series should replace the ‘Highrove Editions’. Let’s try it… Colour: gold with orange hues (caramel?). Nose: very fresh, very elegant, very ‘Laphroaig’, although a little sharper and more nervous than the current official 10yo. It reminds me a little of the 1976, although this ‘Rothesay’ is probably a little discreeter.
Yet, it’s very maritime, with lots of iodine, sea air, kelp but also dried oranges, light pipe tobacco and leather. Freshly squeezed oranges? A rather vibrant nose despite the low strength. Mouth: too bad, it’s a little weak now, almost watery… A shame they bottled it at 40%, I’m sure three more degrees would have been enough. Gets tea-ish (okay, it’s smoked tea but still), with notes of kumquats, something waxy, thyme, chlorophyll chewing-gum… Very balanced but again, quite weak. Why??? The finish is a little longer than expected, though, and makes me think of a mix of seawater and orange syrup. Please, please, bottle this one at a higher strength next time. 43% will do! 82 points still (because the nose is great).
Laphroaig 7 yo 1998/2006 (46%, Taste Still, 424 bottles) A new bottling by Belgium’s Mario & Hubert for their ‘Taste Still Club’. Sorry about the picture, somebody must have pushed me around at the wrong moment – but I guess you get ‘the picture’ ;-). Colour: white wine. Nose: much simpler but not less interesting. Smoky but not overly so, with quite some peat but also green apple juice, sea water, raw peated malt… Develops on mashed potatoes and cereals (oat), oyster juice, burning candles… Simple but very ‘coherent’, without any excessive immaturity. Mouth: full-bodied, sweet, smoky and waxy, starting on apple juice and hops… Goes on with sugared grapefruit juice and earl grey tea and gets then quite rooty and earthy (gentian spirit), with a medium long finish on ‘classical’ peat and sugared grapefruit. Again, it’s simple but flawless and astonishingly mature at 7yo, unlike some of its neighbours. 84 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: care for a good old blues today? Good, let's have The Heaters, from Cincinnati, doing Have you changed your mind.mp3. Ah, the organ... These guys are just excellent, please go to their gigs!


April 20, 2006

Ledaig 1973 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice old map label, circa 1992)
Colour: gold. Nose: wow (sorry, Richard), what a beautiful, subtle ‘peaty’ nose. Very delicate yet lively, on paraffin, sea air, bandages, wet moss and tangerines. A superb profile, very close to an Ardbeg from the 60’s . Very intense, even at 40%! Extremely pure, almost crystalline. I just love it. Mouth: oh yes, it’s fab. Maybe a few more degrees would have made it even better but this one proves that 40% do not always mean a weak whisky. I know some friends don’t even bother to taste 40% whiskies but I feel that’s too bad, they are missing quite some gems – yes, like this one. It gets beautifully waxy, resinous, very phenolic, with hints of cooked apples, kumquats and cinammon, getting maybe just a tad drying. And the finish is astonishingly long, peaty, smoky and citrusy, leaving a little salt on your lips. A huge surprise, almost as great as the older G&M 1972’s! 92 points.
Ledaig 32 yo 1972/2005 (48.9%, Alambic Classique Collection, Germany, sherry but #8721, 396 bottles 396) Colour: gold – amber. Nose: quite curiously, this one is a little less expressive, more subdued. Lots of peat in the background but the oloroso slightly dominates it. Less maritime than the G&M and much farmier, with notes of manure, wet hay… Hints of vase water, getting a little cardboardy. Keeps developing on game, mint sauce, cooked spinaches, getting then more resinous (like a Greek retsina wine). Huge notes of beehive after a while. Very good again, in fact, certainly very complex but also less clean and fresh than the G&M. Mouth: this is even better, with a powerful and creamy attack on crystallised oranges, wax – propolis and herbs (sage, rosemary, dill). Develops on burnt cake, bitter chocolate and lemon marmalade, with also a little rubber. Gets then very spicy (pepper, cloves), with a rather long but maybe slightly ‘dirty’ finish (rubber and wine sauce). Anyway, it’s a very good one, no doubt, except if you’re mostly looking for cleanliness. 89 points.

Ledaig Tobermory 14 yo 1973/1987 (56.3%, Sestante, Italy) We nicknamed this one ‘the Wehrmacht Ledaig’ because of its very… err… Gothic label. Colour: full gold. Nose: much punchier now, closer to the G&M but maybe less complex. More spirity as well, but other than that it’s purely maritime, with all oceanic aromas you can imagine (it’s up to you) plus notes of fresh butter. As nicely sharp as you can get. Let’s try it with a few drops of water now: yes, it does get more complex indeed, with hints of aniseed, green apple, dill and even more peat smoke. Whiffs of horse stable as well. A classy one again, there's nothing to choose between these old Ledaigs and most Islayers from the same years. Mouth (undiluted): extremely compact, almost invading (nothing to do with the label ;-)), starting mostly on peat and lemon marmalade. Notes of apple seeds, cough syrup, pepper… Simple but just excellent. With water: it gets both sweeter and grassier, with hints of lavender and violet sweets, maybe high-end porridge – if that exists… And the finish is long, on peat, peat and peat, maybe even wilder than an Ardbeg. An excellent one again, that’s for sure. 92 points. (and thanks for the tip, Roland)

MUSIC – Recommended listening - Game for an excellent, energetic little song called Queen of quiet.mp3 by superb singer Erin McKeown? I do like her music and if you like it as well, please consider buying her music! (photo Jeff Wasilko)

April 19, 2006

Longmorn 13 yo 1992/2006 (54.8%, MacMalt, bourbon cask #58252 then octave #1055, 60 bottles) Longmorn is getting hipper and hipper these days, thanks to some beautiful old sherried versions, but this one comes from a bourbon cask, and has been re-racked into an octave (I think). An octave is half a quarter cask, that is to say a quarter of a hogshead (i.e roughly 60 litres). Colour: white wine. Nose: this one seems to be very fresh, flowery and fruity, not unlike a Bladnoch or a Rosebank. Flowers from the fields, slightly overripe apples, tinned pineapples… Gets then very mashy, on butter, mashed potatoes, porridge, vanilla crème… Also notes of sweet white wine (monbazillac)… Very aromatic and nicely simple, unlike most Longmorns I could taste.
Mouth: very sweet and quite hot, spirity and tannic. A bit indistinct in fact, switching to something quite bitter (pineapple zest, lemon and apple seeds, walnut skin…) Maybe a little immature despite the rather heavy wood influence. Was the octave made out of new oak? Medium finish, now quite close to new make. Neither unpleasant nor especially interesting, except if you’d like to try a very raw Longmorn. 75 points.
Longmorn 36 yo 1970/2006 (56.1%, Single Malts of Scotland, cask #28, 255 bottles) Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one is maybe a little closed, it seems to need quite some breathing. Indeed, it does start to exhale a blend of various fruity notes after a few minutes: apricots, mirabelle plums, rose jelly, very ripe strawberries, litchis… Not unlike a young gewürztraminer. Gets more and more apricoty, before it starts to switch to rather soft spices such as nutmeg, white pepper, cinnamon… Also dried ginger and whiffs of mint and eucalyptus. Quite some oaky notes as well but it’s not overly woody, despite its old age. Goes on with a little fudge, vanilla, empty wine barrel (but no sulphur)… More an elegant and discreet Longmorn than a wham-bam one.
Mouth: lots of presence, starting on tannins and tinned pineapples, tangerines, apricots again… Lots of oak but it’s not overwhelming the malt, thanks to the rather heavy fruity notes. Again, something of an old sweet white wine. Lots of ginger and white pepper, and also something very salty. Much more demonstrative than on the nose, which is infrequent with such old malts. What’s more, the finish is very long, sweet, gingery and peppery – and of course a little drying. In short, a good oldie, with lots of tannins but also lots of fruits. 88 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: Saskatchewan's Colin James does Better days.mp3, from his 1995 album 'Bad habits'. Easy but rather irrefutable, I think. Please buy Colin James' music.


April 18, 2006

Bruichladdich 40 yo 1966/2006 (42%, Duncan Taylor, cask #199, 197 bottles)
Some of Duncan Taylor’s casks start to reach the 40 yo border but good news, the prices are kept relatively fair (£175 at Royal Mile Whiskies). Colour: deep gold. Nose: not extremely expressive at very first nosing but already very complex. It starts on very maritime notes (kelp, oysters) mixed with the usual fruits (ripe melons and apricots) and soft spices (a little nutmeg, fresh ginger). A superb balance! We have then a little fudge, herbs (mostly coriander but also crushed mint leaves, eucalyptus) and quite some vanilla, ‘fresh’ books (ink and paper), cut apples… Gets mintier and mintier with time, but no aromas do overwhelm the whole. All balance and delicacy. Mouth: not tired at all, even quite vibrant, starting both very fruity (again, melons and apricots) and drying/tannic, but not overly so. Good news! Lots of flavours from the cask: ginger, nutmeg, white pepper, cocoa, raw vanilla, oak… getting then rather waxy and camphory. Quite some salt as well, something delicately sour (the wood again I guess)… Gets spicier with time. The finish is longer than expected, rather ‘wide’, salty and spicy, getting quite drying – should I say ‘of course’ – but that’s easily bearable. In short an excellent old Bruichladdich, rather dry but not tired in any way. Worth trying, undoubtedly, and not only for its age. 90 points.
Bruichladdich 16 yo 1989/2005 (46%, OB, 480 ceramic bottles, Germany)
Colour: amber with bronze hues. Nose: amazing how similar the profiles are, at first nosing at least. Again these notes of kelp and seafood, overripe melons and mint but there’s something dirtier and drier, like very strong cold tea or Chinese sweet and sour sauce (they one they serve with dim sums). Gets rather toffeeish and coffeeish, slightly winey and cardboardy… I guess it was a sherry cask but I’m not sure. It’s a nice nose but maybe it lacks a little definition, although it does improve with time, with quite some eucalyptus starting to come through. Mouth: a sweet and very fruity attack but also lots of tannins that ‘make your tongue stick to your palate’. Lots of caramel and fudge, malt, chocolate but also cardboard, flour, cocoa powder… Also notes of banana flambéed, rum… Quite good in fact but lacking oomph, and the finish isn’t too long but again, quite drying. Maybe a bottle for Bruichladdich collectors? 79 points.
Bruichladdich 32 yo 1967/1999 (48%, Signatory Millenium, cask #968)
Colour: deep amber – orange. Nose: starts on some big, bold notes of roasted peanuts, praline and meat sauce. Extremely nutty in fact (roasted cashew, pistachios), with also lots of old rancio, dry sherry, bread crust, cooked butter, milk… And then we have minty – eucalyptus aromas. Lots of sherry but an elegant one, no heaviness. It gets then even meatier, with notes of oxtail, and also fruitier with, yes, quite some very ripe melon and pipe tobacco. Hints of lemongrass after a moment. Very interesting, this is an unusual kind of heavily sherried whisky. Mouth: it’s quite powerful despite its old age, and also rather fresh. Lots of dried fruits as expected (oranges, raisins) but also fresh ones (tangerines, not melon – but of course, melon – very ripe strawberries). Gets then rather drying again but it’s very far from being unpleasant. Notes of coffee liqueur, chlorophyll chewing-gum, orange marmalade… Quite tary, at that, and the finish is long, quite coating and more typically ‘sherry’. No maritime aromas or flavours that I could get this time but it’s an excellent, elegant old sherried whisky. 90 points (and thanks, Pierre).

MUSIC – Recommended listening - If, like me, you liked Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers with Bill Murray (all whisky lovers are Bill Murray fans since Lost in Translation anyway), this song will ring a bell. It's The Greenhornes featuring Holly Golightly doing This is an end.mp3, the title track. Please buy these guys' music!


April 17, 2006


Talisker 8 yo (45.8%, OB, Distiller’s Agency, 1970’s) Poured at the excellent Lindores dinner in Limburg – thanks guys. Colour: gold – amber. Nose: a very elegant peat at first nosing, not very bold but subtle, with notes of orange liqueur. Gets punchier and smokier after a moment, with hints of ham and a little fudge. Not very complex but superbly compact, developing on maritime notes after a good ten minutes. Even smokier as well.

Mouth: ample, powerful, quite peppery as expected but also slightly metallic (no problems here). We have then quite some candied ginger, spices, various sorts of peppers, the whole getting rather sweeter than the current 10 yo Talisker but still very peppery. The finish is long, frankly rounded now and a little salty. A very, very good old Talisker in any case. 89 points.
Talisker 1955/2005 'Secret Stills Number One' (45%, Gordon & MacPhail)
The name ‘Talisker’ isn’t stated on the label but I’ve heard there’s only one distillery on Skye… Colour: mahogany with orange hues. Nose: first there’s the sherry but whiffs of smoke and eucalyptus are soon to join the troops, as well as notes of hot caramel, cake and mocha. Superb, I must say! Very rich but not heady, and after the cavalry we do have lots of subtler aromas arising, such as all sorts of dried (sultanas) and fresh fruits (very ripe pineapples and bananas), peonies, strawberry jam, strawberry wine like they make in northern Germany… Also notes of old books, strong honey (chestnut), cigar box, meat sauce, gravy… Just fab and very, very complex. No heaviness whatsoever. Mouth: sweet but nervous, much more ‘virulent’ than expected. Lots happening in your mouth! Granted, it’s less complex than on the nose, as almost always with very old malts, but the sherry is superb and comes with ‘arranged’ rum (like pineapple-infused rum), bananas flambéed, cake, sultanas again but also very ripe strawberries – even black cherries -, toffee, and notes of icing sugar that makes the whole very lively. Lots of spices as well (nutmeg, ginger, a little clove). The finish isn’t very, very long but balanced and coating, with a little burnt cake. Excellent, a little more complexity on the palate would have propelled it toward even more than 92 points.


MUSIC – BLUES - recommended listening - From Joe Bonamassa's new CD 'You and me', we have Bridge to better days.mp3. Heavy and timeless.Thanks for the tip, Tom! And let's buy Joe Bonamassa's music...


April 16, 2006

Hazelburn 1997/2004 (46%, Celtic Cross) From the ‘new’ Hazelburn’s first year. I believe this one was the first indie bottling ever but I could be wrong. Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar to a Lowlander at first nosing, grainy and slightly mashy with notes of freshly cut apple and pear. Cereals, fresh butter, faint whiffs of linseed oil, ginger ale and wet stone… Nothing too special but it’s rather fresh and pleasant, certainly less oily and ‘thick’ than a young Springbank.
Mouth: a simple, fruity attack, on apple juice with a little ginger. Maybe it lacks a little body but it’s enjoyable, uncomplicated whisky. Notes of orange juice, lemon pie, pastries… a little white pepper, fructose, light beer… Maybe a little lavender (lavender sweets like they make in Provence). Medium finish, fresh, fruity and gingery. A rather good Lowlands malt, in any case. Reminds me of Auchentoshan. 80 points.
Hazelburn 8 yo (57.4%, Cadenhead’s bond reserve, sherry, 290 bottles, 2006)
This one seems to be much less natural, as the colour is ‘already’ brown with greenish hues. Nose: lots of sherry but not much else, I’m afraid. Chocolate, cooked strawberries and raspberries, wine vinegar, switching to gym socks… Slightly weird, if you ask me. The whisky seems to have been completely buried into the sherry. Maybe Hazelburn is too delicate for such a heavy treatment. Mouth: this is a little better. Lots of sherry (and quite some sulphur), dried oranges, Grand-Marnier, balsamic vinegar… It tastes almost like a heavily fortified sherry in fact. A little disjointed. I think this whisky would have needed at least ten more years to get more rounded and ‘integrated’, but hey, who am I? Rather long finish, a little sweet and sour, slightly drying. I’m very glad I could taste the ‘Celtic Cross’ because it shows that Hazelburn is good whisky when ‘natural’, but maybe it doesn’t really stand such heavy ‘wood’n’wine’ treatments. 75 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening - It's Sunday and it's Easter, we go classical with the American mezzo Tracy Watson singing the aria Erbarme dich.mp3 from St. Matthew's Passion by J.S. Bach. Please go and listen to her or buy her music. (via novo artists).

Alexander Calder for Johnnie Walker Black Label, 1988. Well, it can't be Calder actually, as the great mobile maker died in 1976, but his spirit still survives... Did Johnnie Walker pay fees to Calder's trust or family? (picture above, 'The Chariot' by Alexander Calder, 1961).

April 15, 2006

Left, Roy Lichtenstein for Scoresby, probably late 1960's or early 1970's. Scoresby is said to be the The #1 selling Scotch in California today. Thanks to Lichtenstein?
Right, Joseph Beuys for Nikka, 1985. The great Joseph Beuys, leader of the Bewegung, sold his image for 225 000 Euros, but all the money has been transferred to the German Green party.


Aberlour 9 yo 1995/2005 (43%, Battlehill) Battlehill is a rather new series by Duncan Taylor. Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of caramel at first nosing, switching to notes of burnt cake, pear spirit and apple pie. Something of a rum and something of a blend… Gets a little feinty and ashy after a while. Well, it’s far from being unpleasant but there’s nothing really special in there.

Mouth: the attack is sweet and caramelly again, rounded, with also a little honey and a little salt. Maybe it’s a little sluggish, in fact – we’re now really in blend territory. It gets more and more caramelly in fact, both very sweet and quite bitter… The finish is short, sugary and very simple. Far from a disaster but nothing really interesting. A lower shelf single malt, I think. 70 points.
Aberlour Glenlivet 8 yo 1964 (50%, OB, cube shaped) Colour: gold. Nose: amazingly fresh, smelling just like Werther’s Originals at first nosing (or caramel rice). Something slightly metallic, apricot pie, herbal tea… Not much further development but a very nice compactness altogether. Not a sexy nose, for sure. Mouth: powerful, with a sweet, peppery and salty attack. Lots of body after more than 30 years in its bottle – it’s almost hot, and much less rounded than most other versions of this ‘cube shaped’ Aberlour. A strange one in fact, rather hard to ‘work’. I mean, I can feel it’s very good waiting but it is sort of painful (so to speak) to come up with descriptors. Let’s give it a conservatory rating: 85 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard doing Love is stronger then whitchcraft.mp3. There's something good in this music that rings so many bells... From the Who to... lots of other bands. Please buy Robert Pollard's music.

April 2006 - part 1 <--- April 2006 - part 2 ---> May 2006 - part 1

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

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

Breath of Islay (Lagavulin) 12 yo 1992/2005 (57.2%, Adelphi, cask #4345)

Bruichladdich 32 yo 1967/1999 (48%, Signatory Millenium, cask #968)

Bruichladdich 40 yo 1966/2006 (42%, Duncan Taylor, cask #199, 197 bottles)

Caperdonich 36 yo 1967/2004 (57.9%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 167 bottles)

Glen Garioch 13 yo 1975 (57%, Samaroli, fino sherry)

Ledaig Tobermory 14yo 1973/1987 (56.3%, Sestante, Italy)

Ledaig 1973 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice old map label, circa 1992)

Port Ellen 22 yo (56.1%, Whisky-Doris, 2006)

Port Ellen 23 yo 1982 (56.1%, Jumping Jack for Whisky Plus, 130 bottles)

Talisker 1955/2005 'Secret Stills Number One' (45%, Gordon & MacPhail)

Vanilla Sky (Lagavulin) 13 yo 1992/2006 (53.6%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead #5341)