(Current entries)

Whisky Tasting


Daily Music entries

Petits billets d'humeur
(in French)



Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2008 - Part 1
March 2008 - part 2 <--- April 2008 - part 1 ---> April 2008 - part 2

April 14, 2008


Aberlour 18 yo (43%, OB, dumpy, 2008) Colour: pale amber. Nose: starts boldly, right on tobacco, honey and orange cake. Adorable profile, really. Not powerful but assertive, even at 43%. Gets then a little maltier, smokier (pine wood smoke), even sort of leathery, getting rather ‘tertiary’. Green tea, apple peel, hints of diesel oil... Like if someone had teaspooned this using an Islayer from the south coast.

Very interesting and really complex. We’re used to see Aberlour in every supermarket here in France but this is certainly not supermarket fodder. Mouth: maybe a tad weaker at this point but it’s soon to get more expressive, unexpectedly and nicely dry, much maltier than on the nose. Also apricot pie, toffee, liquorice, mastic, something that reminds me of Bailey’s (sorry)... Even something slightly resinous and minty. Gets bolder and rounder after that, mostly on honey and apricot jam. Maybe quinces. Finish: rather long, toffeeish and honeyed, with notes of candy sugar and just a slight oakiness. Comments: I wouldn’t call this a surprise but what’s sure is that it’s a most engaging dram in its own style. Interesting way of getting bigger and bigger on the palate. SGP:531 – 88 points.
Aberlour-Glenlivet 8 yo (50%, OB, black plastic screwcap, rotation 1974) I thought it would be a good idea to try the new 18 head to head ‘against’ one of these old ‘cube bottles’... Colour: gold. Nose: extreme honey, honey and... toffee at first sniffing, extremely spectacular in that sense. My dear father is a part-time beekeeper and believe me, this smells exactly like when you open a honey-loaded beehive in the middle of summer – minus the stings, that is. Gets then a little more ‘antique’, with notes of newly polished leather, old furniture, linseed oils, even a little turpentine... Now, it’s not overly complex whisky, and we’ve had several old 8yo ‘cubes’ that were more exciting. But what a, err, honeyed malt! Mouth: curiously rougher and wilder at the attack, not too complex and much less honeyed. More on cherry spirit actually, mirabelle spirit, orange marmalade and dried ginger. Finish: long, still a bit harsh and lacking the ‘unctuousness’ that’s usually associated with this distillery. Comments: a very good dram, still, but the new 18 is much better I think. SGP:451 - 82 points.
NOTE: This free advertisement is meant to be a compensation for all the rude things we've recently written or said about the Scotch Whisky Association ;-). (and thanks for your help, Davin)

MUSIC – Recommended listening. French rap artiste: MC Solaar does Jardin d’Eden.mp3 from his album 'Mach 6'. Far from the ghetto... Please buy MC Solaar's music!

MC Solaar

April 12, 2008

Highland Park 16 yo 1987/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, USA, ref 1640, 306 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: not too expressive at first nosing. A little spirity and a little grainy/mashy. Mashed potatoes, flints, soot... Develops more on ginger, camphor and eucalyptus but never gets really complex. Hints chicken curry. Mouth: very sweet, almost sugary at the attack, getting then a little bitter and spirity again. Fruit spirit, brown ale, paraffin and pepper. Finish: long but a bit indefinite (spirity). A little salt. Comments: not bad at all but lacks sexiness. SGP:432 – 79 points.
Highland Park 1984/2008 (50.9%, Duncan Taylor Lonach) Colour: straw. Nose: starts a little like the 1987 but with more oak influence. Vanilla and toasted bread plus grated coconut. Gets then very heathery, which is what’s expected with Highland Park, isn’t it? Mouth: very, very similar to the 1987 at the attack but once again, the development is nicer. Ginger, mint, white pepper, various honeys. A tad resinous. Finish: long, clean, resinous and peppery. Comment: a good HP, not exceptional but the resinous notes are entertaining. Good oakiness. SGP:452 – 83 points.
Highland Park 19 yo 1986/2005 (53.8%, OB, Beltramo's California, cask #2498) Colour: amber. Nose: sherry galore! Extremely winey but in a nice way. Dried mushrooms, soy sauce, game, ‘hare belly’ (not Halle Berry, eh!) roasted pecans and geraniums (no heady geranium notes that is.) Old pu-erh tea, cigar box, patchouli. Very ‘tertiary’! Mouth: superb sherry, all in the same vein as on the nose. Caramelized beef, liquorice, tar, prunes, mint, cream sherry, chewing tobacco (yeuukk – but it’s great here), kumquats and maple syrup. Finish: long and all in the same vein, with a mushroomy aftertaste (no flaw at all in this case). Comment: excellent oomphy sherried Highland Park, lots happening. Does not need water – even if I’m sure water would make it even more complex. SGP:553 – 90 points (and thank you, Konstantin)
Highland Park 20 yo 1985/2006 (58.3%, Blackadder, cask #1425, 312 bottles) This one from a hogshead. Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’re back to more austerity here. Wet limestone, paraffin, soot, mashed potatoes, grass... Gets even waxier over time. With water: ah yes, that works. Our beloved wet dogs are back (even after quite some minutes), green tea, lemon honey, hops, ‘good’ porridge and the very big notes of thyme. Very interesting! Mouth (neat): very good attack on lemon, oak and vanilla. Lemon balm, kiwis, good white rum, lemon honey. Very clean spirit. With water: it got more candied and more honeyed. Kumquats, vanilla and white pepper. Finish: rather long, a little grassier now. Comments: an excellent ‘natural’ HP. SGP:453 – 87 points. HP
Highland Park 9yo 1988/1998 (59.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 4.57) Colour: white wine. Nose: very hot, rough, spirity, immature. Cologne. Raw alcohol, let’s see if water will help. With water: got worse. Chemicals, plastic, scouring powder. Mouth (neat): sugary young spirit plus something unpleasantly meaty (industrial ham – whiffs of plastic and preservative). Water should help: indeed, it got cleaner and more lemony, but also very grassy and sort of acrid. Finish: long but ultra-grassy and bitterish. Comment: it’s only on the palate and diluted to roughly 45% that this one got acceptable. SMWS bottlings are usually much, much better. SGP:262 – 70 points.
Highland Park 1987/1997 (63.7%, Gordon & MacPhail Cask, casks #15474-15477+15490-15492) Colour: white wine. Nose: a little silent, masked by the high voltage, but one can guess that what’s behind is quite classy. Peat, mint and wet stones. With water: it got very austere, which was unexpected, but beautifully so. More wet stones, ink, ashes, soot, metal, gunflints... Opens up after a good ten minutes, getting superbly waxy. Putty, wet wool and marzipan. I like this one a lot. Mouth (neat): too hot but this may be good. Quick, water: amazing how water worked here. All sorts of candied nuts, lemon zests, spices (cardamom, cloves, ginger) and honey. Finish: long, clean, ‘precise’, on honey, spices and pine resin. Big pepperiness. Comments: Mark Spitz.SGP:354 – 88 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Roy Buchanan does Beer drinking woman.mp3. Please buy Roy Buchanan's music!

Roy Buchanan

April 11, 2008

Dufftown Dufftown 1992/2004 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, Port Finish) Colour: pink gold. Nose: medium expressive, starting on vanilla and sweet white wine (something muscatty) plus a little wood smoke but gets then rather porridgy and slightly feinty. Rather vinous as well. Not my cup of malt I must say, like most wine finishings.
Mouth: round and vinous, candied, jammy... Wine brandy and blackcurrants mixed with roasted peanuts and cornflakes. Gets kirschy after that, sweeter, mildly spicy (Chinese anise). Finish: rather long, a little maltier and less vinous as this point. Comments: typical average wine finished whisky. Probably not bad but frankly, all these are getting really boring and tiring. Nothing to do with Wilson & Morgan of course, who have so many great, ‘natural’ whiskies in their ranges – and fairly priced at that. But this, I mean... It’s simply not true whisky in my book. Yes, another winesky. SGP:531 – 74 points.
Dufftown 35yo 1965/2001 (49.6%, Douglas Laing OMC, Sherry cask, 228 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: little sherry as such at first sniffs, rather some big almondy notes, butter, a little varnish and nail polish, ham, tea and ‘clean’ vase water. Yes, make that light green tea. A rather delicate oldie, much less wham-bam than expected – and much less woody as well. Becomes waxy and slightly papery after a while, with also notes of linseed oil and mint. And more shoe polish after a moment. Rather complex but lacks a little zing. Let’s see what gives on the palate... Mouth: it’s all a matter of wood it seems, but this big woodiness is very far from being unpleasant. At random, we have camphor, ginger, soft curry, nutmeg (big), tea, mint, liquorice, rosemary, marzipan, wax, bitter oranges... It’s only at the very end of the middle that it gets a little tannic. Finish: long but the oak got a little less enjoyable now. Drying tannins, overinfused tea and apple peelings on top of orange marmalade and mint drops. Comments: all very good except the finish I think. SGP:461 – 85 points.
Dufftown 1978/2007 (58.3%, Jack Wieber, The Cross Hill, 184 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: another rather delicate one it seems, despite the high alcohol. Light tobacco, tea, nuts and whiffs of old books (yeah, from an old trunk in the attic.) Slight mouldiness, a little humus, infused tealeaves... Maybe water will wake it up. With water: indeed, it got even mouldier (pleasantly so), on humus, mushrooms, old clean wine barrel, old pu-erh tea, various herbal teas (verbena, lemon balm) and milk chocolate. A little lavender as well. Nice nose. Mouth (neat): really powerful and extremely citrusy. Crystallised oranges and lemons, kumquats and pink grapefruits. Big tannins on top of that, the whole working a bit like pincers on your tongue. At cask strength, that is. With water: much more civilised, candied, jammy, compact... Peppered orange marmalade plus nutmeg. Finish: long, fruitier and much less tannic than at the attack, which is unusual. Orange drops and marmalade. Comments: a very, very good whisky that needs time (and water) if you don’t want to miss its nicest side. SGP:542 – 88 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Let's listen to the wonderful Carol Fredette with Steve Kuhn at the îano, they're doing I’m gonna laugh you right out of my life.mp3 (from the album: 'In the shadows'.) Please buy Carol Fredette and Steve Kuhn's music!


April 10, 2008



I am right now at Louisville, Kentucky, USA. This is a special media trip organized by Glenmorangie to visit the Ozarks, looking for the "perfect oak". It is also a pre-launch program for the new Glenmorangie bottling called "Astar".

Not surprisingly, "Astar" is the new generation product of the"Artisan Cask", and we, among the seven journalists from all over the world, are able to taste the prototype batch of the new "Astar". This batch is a vatting of 10 "designer casks", on which Glenmorangie has been working for the past 15 years. And as whisky lovers, we all know that these are the Ozark Oak casks.
These "designer casks" have there important characters: 1.) chosen from the slow growing oak in Ozark mountains. 2.) air-dried for at least two years. 3. ) Heavily toasted but lightly charred.
Astar doesn't actually mean 'A Star', it's a Gaelic word, meaning "Journey", it emphasize what Glenmorgie has done to seek for these "Designer Casks".
I won't go through the details at these moment but I think it would probably be interesting to have my tasting notes for the "Astar", which will be bottled at 100 proof (57.1%):
Glenmorangie NAS Astar (57.1%, OB, prototype of 10 casks vatting)
Colour: light yellow, quite oily with fine legs.
Nose: some vanilla comes out first, quite spicy as the first impression. A lot of new oak feeling. then I get some lemon/citrus. With some notice from Dr. Bill Lumsden, you can actually nose the Balsamic vinegar note.
Palate: tasted straight, it's quite spicy and 'attacks' the palate with a strong and robust feeling. somewhat dry but with a quite long and lingering finish.
Diluted: diluted with just a drop of water, you get a clearer vanilla nose, along with obvious white chocolate and cocoa notes, still quite spicy, even with some cinnamon along with just a wisp of apple.
Comments: 88 points. I actually discussed with Dr. Bill Lumsden about my impressions on both Artisan Cask and Astar. For me, the old Artisan Cask is kind of lighter in style with more citrus and floral notes, while the new "Astar" is heavier and richer in style and certainly more layered and complex. Bill agrees with that, in fact, they actually evolved a little bit regarding what they want from these "designer casks". And it is important that these casks are even more mature in style than the previous Artisan Cask bottling. And for your information, Astar carries no age statement but is actually between 9-10 yos. and will be marketed at a at least 50% higher price than the current core range products.
And tomorrow,we are heading to Ozarks to see the oaks! - Ho-cheng Yao (Taiwan)

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone are doing Baby it’s cold outside.mp3. Indeed. Please buy these poeple's music!


April 9, 2008

Dalmore Earldom 17 yo 1990/2008 (46%, The Nectar, Daily Dram, 220 bottles, Dalmore) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is quite expressive, starting on something clearly ‘Highlands’ (well, what I do associate with the Highlands, which don’t include Speyside in my book). Something Pulteney, something Clynelish... Wax, wet stones and whiffs of sea air. Yet, it gets much more ‘Dalmore’ after a while, that is to say more on crystallised oranges, orange marmalade, milk chocolate. All that finally mingles together in a rather beautiful way, with also hints of cigar tobacco and leather polish. Complex yet compact!
Mouth: nice attack, a little rougher than the nose but still candied and very orangey. ‘Interesting’ saltiness again. Chocolate and spices (rather big cloves), dried ginger, bitter caramel... Also quite some liquorice and notes of strong black tea. Dark toffee. Finish: long, even more on toffee and cloves, with hints of speculoos (ginger and brown sugar cookies). Comments: I swear I didn’t mention speculoos because the bottler is Belgian! Anyway, a very good indie Dalmore, close to the best officials both in style and in quality. SGP:643 – 88 points.
Dalmore 20 yo 1978/1999 (56.6%, Signatory, cask #10133, shery butt) Colour: gold. Nose: this is much more violent, and that’s not only the higher alcohol. Harsher, much grassier, more organic (wet hay, apple peeling)... The sherry is bigger as well (kirsch, orange liqueur, various fruit spirit). Big notes of leather polish again. With a splash of water: gets very vegetal, herbal, on all kinds of herbal tea and hints of asparagus as well as paraffin, wet cardboard, mint and something like waxed paper. Or linseed oil? Certainly less civilised than the Daily Dram. Mouth: hot and punchy, spirity, with something rubbery and a little salt again. A little hard I must say but water will probably help once again. With water: the rubber vanished but now it’s the salt that plays the leading part. Pleasant notes of oranges, that is – very big in fact. Finish: Comments: salted oranges. Sounds weird but it’s rather good I must say. SGP:452 – 83 points.
North British Our friend Yves draws our attention to the wonderful website of the North British grain distillery. It's true that we'd love to see more distillery websites like this one, which is very educational. Thumbs up!

MUSIC – Recommended listening. The good old Flamin’ Groovies do Whisky woman.mp3 (from the album Yesterday’s numbers.) Maybe not their best track but there's whisky, so... Please buy The Flamin’ Groovies' music!


April 8, 2008

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 8 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, 1980’s) Colour: deep gold. Nose: fresh and rather clean, starting on unexpected whiffs of peat, then apple compote and old walnuts. Something ‘antique’ in this one. Goes on with toasted bread and a little mint, before it gets maltier and slightly orangey. Impeccable dryness at this point. Gets also very coffee-ish after a while. Very nice! Mouth: good body but it’s more ‘simply’ malty at the attack, with also some orange marmalade and, alas, quite some cardboard and flour (dry and ‘mat’). Also a pleasant honeyness in the background. Dried apple slices, also this coffee and hints of mint, even a little verbena. Finish: unexpectedly long, more coffee-ish now, as well as quite malty. Chicory. Comments: a rather oomphy old young malt whisky, displaying little OBE. SGP:453 – 85 points.
Glenrothes 1978/1999 (43%, OB, restricted release) Colour: gold-amber. Nose: very similar to the old 8yo despite the extra-12 years in wood. Maybe even drier. Takes off very slowly, with a gentle honeyness and hints of pollen and dandelions. Smoked tea, herbal teas (chamomile), roasted nuts, hints of orange zests and fresh butter. Rather subtle, certainly not big. Actually, this one is curiously ‘silent’, even after a good fifteen minutes. Restricted indeed ;-). Mouth: again, this is no big whisky, but it’s a bit more talkative than on the nose. Malt, ‘dark’ honeys, cappuccino, burned bread... Grows bigger at the middle, more candied and caramelised. Milk chocolate, nougat... Quite some tannins in the background, that make it a bit drying. Finish: rather short, malty and tea-ish. Comments: this one is obviously not the best Vintage bottling by Glenrothes in our opinion, lacks development. The 1972/2004 still rules! SGP:341 - 78 points.
Glenrothes 39 yo 1968/2008 (48.2%, Duncan Taylor, cask #13498) Previous 1968’s by Duncan Taylor have proven very good, and so did 1969’s. Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’re much more on the fruity side here, even if it’s no fruitbomb at all. Bigger orange notes, then something leathery, tobacco, black tea, figs, orange blossom water... Loses oomph over time and gets a little drier, with the oak coming into the game (hints of oak sawdust), as well as more citrusy notes (tangerines, not lemons). Very pleasant nevertheless. Mouth: very good attack (albeit a little tannic) on oranges, tangerines, macadamia nuts and strong black tea. A lot of oomph. Sure the oak has its say here, with quite some pepper, dried cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon... Also quite some ginger. A good example of a rather oaky old whisky that’s still very pleasant. Finish: long, a tad prickly (the tannins) but balance isn’t lost. Liqueur-filled chocolate and black tea. Comments: maybe not as much a total winner as the 1968/2005 cask #13485 by the same bottler, but it’s still an excellent old Glenrothes – provided you don’t just hate oak in your whisky. SGP:542 – 89 points.
Glenrothes 21 yo 1986/2007 (55.1%, Alambic Classique, finished in Cognac Grande Champagne, cask #7116, 149 bottles) Grande Champagne is a part of the Cognac region and has nothing to do with Champagne. Yes, tricky... Colour: amber. Nose: maybe it’s the power of mind but it does start like a Cognac somehow (is this what some call a brandified malt whisky?), before it gets very chocolaty and coffee-ish. Rather big notes of orange marmalade, walnut stain, toast and butter, gingerbread, cigar box... Strawberry jam. Very faint whiffs of dill and mint. Well, it seems that this new embodiment of the Auld Alliance works quite well. With water: bizarrely, water almost killed this one. It got too dry, cardboardy, excessively ‘walnutty’... Bizarre-bizarre. Let’s wait... zzz... No, that didn’t work, it got almost silent now. Yes, bizarre. Mouth (neat): extremely creamy, thick and oily, with an immense fruitiness and, indeed, something that’s not wholly ‘whisky’ (but Cognac is barely noticeable as such). A whole fruitcake, baklavas, apricot jam (loads), quince jelly, marzipan-filled dates... With water: even sweeter, almost sugary now. Got much simpler – again, this one swims like a flat iron. Finish: long, sweet, creamy, candied, with quite some cloves. Comments: fruit jam at cask strength – but don’t add water to this one. SGP:631 – 84 points.
Glenrothes 1980/2004 (56.3%, OB, cask #17563, 558 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: this one starts on pure coffee and bitter chocolate, very dry and pleasantly so. It seems that this was a superb sherry cask! Goes on with walnuts, toasted bread, orange cake, fruitcake, raisins, then Spanish ham (patanegra), old rancio, balsamico, rose water, gewurztraminer, bitter oranges... What an areopagus! Extremely classy, top-notch sherry cask. With water: my, it got even nicer! Beefier, more organic... Chinese prune sauce, horse sweat, high-end sherry vinegar, best Havana cigars (unlit)... This is stunning nose.
Mouth (neat): fantastic sherry! Huge concentration but all that is very drinkable. Old sloe gin, old plum eau de vie, coffee-schnapps, prunes in Armagnac... Well, I’m sure you get the picture. With water: wow! Now we get many plants and herbs, old Chartreuse, mint, eucalyptus, verbena, liquorice... Truly excellent. Finish: maybe not the longest ever but it’s so perfectly profiled... Comments: a masterpiece, very sherried AND very balanced, which doesn’t happen that often. SGP:553 – 93 points.
Glenrothes-Glenlivet 16 yo 1990/2007 (57,3%, Cad Authentic Collection, Rum Butt, 588 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: well, the profile is similar to the 1980’s but whilst the latter was going to eleven (Spinal Tap fans will understand), this one goes to seven. Big chocolaty notes, that is, coffee, leather, Virginia tobacco... Something slightly metallic. Now, maybe it’ll get more complex with water: actually, it does. Nice notes of pipe tobacco and buttered tea, a little shoe polish. Mouth (neat): the rum comes out at this stage but I don’t like it too much. Too sweetish, too ‘twisted’ in my book, tastes like a mixture of two products at the attack. Now, it does get better after a moment, but also too spirity, too hot. Quick, water again: no, that didn’t work this time. It got sort of acrid and bitter, with aromas of raw fruit distillate (kirschy). Finish: long, spirity. Kirsch, spearmint and grape pips (tannins.) Comments: a tricky one. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it isn’t (IMHO). Now, it’s true that it’s hard to stand comparison with the rather stunning official 1980. SGP:541 - 81 points. Glenrothes

MUSIC – Recommended listening. The very free Rahsaan Roland Kirk does Runnin’ from the trash.mp3 from his famous album 'Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata'. Please buy Roland Kirk's music!

Roland Kirk

April 7, 2008

Highland Park 25 Highland Park 25 yo 1941 (75° proof, OB, St Magnus yellow label, 75cl) It’s always very moving to try a wartime malt, even if quite some distilleries were still working in 1941. Colour: full gold. Nose: austerity rules here! Dry, malty, vegetal, even grassy, starting on bitter almonds, wet limestone, newly cut grass and fusel oil. Develops on something a little resinous (turpentine, fresh putty), and then wax and paraffin ala old Clynelish. Maybe hints of heather but that may be far-fetched. The fruits manage to come through after that: grapefruits, oranges, quinces... It’s all a little restrained, that is, but it’s a very elegant and subtle whisky on the nose, no doubt. Well, I guess one had to whisper near Scapa flow in 1941, U-boats were listening.
Mouth: bolder, wilder, almost powerful now. Frankly, it tastes more recent than it is. The attack happens on pine honeydew and black tea, then bitter oranges and café latte, cornflakes, butterscotch... Dried dates and figs, dried pears, honey... A slight roughness in the background (tannins, a bit drying.) Also cough syrup, mint drops... All that is quite compact. Finish: not too long but what remains on you palate is a beautiful and unctuous ‘honeyness’. Comments: this one never went down! SGP:543 – 89 points (and thank you, Olivier.)
Highland Park 25 yo (51.5%, OB, 2000) Colour: amber. Nose: guess what, this isn’t really more expressive than the old 25yo. Now, there’s more wood for sure, more ‘English club smells’ (that is to say leather, wood and cigar smoke – before the smoking ban of course), more honey and beeswax... Grows bolder after that, with some sherry coming through, mead, all sorts of honeys, even pollen, apricot jam, orange marmalade... Lacks a little complexity, that is. Expressive but slightly monodimensional, even if some nice notes of fresh parsley do arise after a while. Mouth: it’s obviously a bigger whisky than the 1941. Thick, creamy, rich, almost explosive and going into all directions, dried fruits, prunes, honey, smoke, cake, liquorice, oranges... All that is quite beautiful but also slightly rough, especially when compared to many superb official single casks that were distilled in the 1970’s. Finish: long, both spicier (cloves, a little mustard) and sweeter (fructose). Comments: rawer and more virile than one may have expected, but an excellent malt, naturally. SGP:663 – 89 points.
Highland Park 25 yo (48.1%, OB, 2007) Colour: amber. Nose: close to the ‘2000’ version but it’s quick to display additional aromas, namely more peat and more resinous notes. In that sense it’s closer to the 1941. Bigger ‘waxiness’ as well, more mint, more nuts (walnuts, almonds), more liquorice... Hints of dill and aniseed... It’s still not a very big whisky but there’s a beautiful complexity. Multidimensional and protean (wot?) Mouth: frankly, I really like this one better than the ‘2000’ version, even if we’re in the same family, obviously. A bigger peatiness, more spices, more pepper, more grassy notes as well (that’s the drawback), more wax, more cough syrup... More powerful honeys (our beloved chestnuts and such)... The tannins are a little bigger as well, less silky, but I think they give a better structure to the whole. Finish: long, punchy, spicy and, err, virile. Comments: my favourite from the pack, even if it’s the wildest (and the ‘2000’ was already quite wild. Good news, it’s widely available. SGP:663 – 91 points.
I’m not the only MM who thinks that whisic and musky – I mean, whisky and music – gang togither. Indeed, many MM’s are also music lovers, and some of them are excellent musicians. That’s why when Italia’s Luca Chichizola sent me this review of a CD by Dream Theater, while adding that I might well do whatever I saw fit with it, it seemed pretty obvious that it had to go online. Especially since this is the kind of music I know strictly nothing about (and I doubt Nick would ever go see this kind of band live and write one of his excellent reviews about it.) Frankly, even the name ‘Dream Theater’ didn’t ring the smallest bell to me, so grazie mille, Luca! – S.
DREAM THEATER - GREATEST HIT (… and 21 other pretty cool songs)
Rhino Records
“Love it or hate it”: Laphroaig’s motto could very well be applied to Dream Theater’s music too. Very few bands can divide the public opinion as much as the American masters of progressive metal: fans love them obsessively and melt with joy when listening to the over-elaborate and furiously fast guitar solos of John Petrucci or the bombastic drumming of Mike Portnoy, while the skeptics bash them saying that they are little more than sophisticated masturbators, boring wizards concentrating only on playing technique (after all they have a solid and rigorous musical background), overpolished but devoid of soul and inspiration.
As usual, truth lies in the middle, although I admit that I lean towards the first group: sure, they are technically proficient and at times a bit too eager to gratuitously show off their superhuman skill in playing impossible riffs and virtuoso scales. Sure, they can be a little too bombastic and pompous at times, with songs clocking at extenuating lengths just for the sake of it. Sure, in recent years they might have put out a couple of uninspired records (“Octavarium” comes to mind), and even the last one (“Systematic chaos”) while excellent is a bit too derivative with all its nods to other bands like Metallica and Evanescence. But let’s not forget the heights they have reached in their career: “Images and words” and “Awake” are prog metal at its best, inventive and fascinating; “Scenes from a memory” is a brilliant concept album with a captivating plot structured as a psychological thriller and an extremely ambitious compositional framework, and even the much maligned “Train of thought” is a very thick, direct and hard sounding disc, almost thrash-metal in style. Not to mention the intricate and charming work of the keyboardists who in the course of twenty years contributed an extra layer of complexity and freshness to the guitar shredding: from the never forgotten Kevin Moore to the ultra-sophisticated Jordan Rudess of nowadays, passing through the short period with Derek Sherinian (who also played with Alice Cooper and Kiss).
Disc one is dedicated to the hardest songs and starts with two classics from their early albums (the dark Pull me under, a song on death with references to Shakespeare, and the funky and very ‘80s Take the time), in slightly remixed versions which do not betray the originals but simply make them sound a bit cleaner and very slightly more “contemporary”. We then range from the grinding metal of Lie to the anthemic rock of Sacrificed sons, passing through gems like the nu-metalish Endless sacrifice, the dreamy Peruvian skies, the ferocious The test that stumped them all or the almost Radiohead-esque Misunderstood.
The second disc, on the other hand, focuses on power ballads and delicate easy-listening songs. A couple of them are slightly corny, very arena-style, at times reminding of stuff like Europe (yuck!). Musically, though, they generally are at the same great level of the hard pieces… and at least show that Dream Theater are not cold and passionless robots. Ranging from the classic Another day (again, in a slightly updated version) to the U2-carbon copy of I walk beside you (one of their most maligned songs, though quite powerful and enjoyable), the CD contains fine tracks like Hollow years (which might have been a very radio friendly hit… but wasn’t), the acoustic The silent man and especially the enchanting and romantic Through her eyes, The spirit carries on, The answer lies within, and the uplifting Peter Gabriel-influenced Solitary shell. You can also feel some vague echoes of Pink Floyd or the Beatles, in this second disc!
Was a compilation such as this needed? Well, the material on the two discs is of very high quality, with almost no filler. But I personally feel that at least part of Dream Theater’s charm (for those inclined to appreciate it, of course) actually comes from that much denigrated over-the-top approach, from the symphonic nature of their records, from the recurring themes, from the abrupt and disturbing changes of pace and style that punctuate their best albums (and those who have listened to The dance of eternity in “Scenes from a memory”, with that sudden jump from metal to ragtime and then to metal again, will understand what I am saying).
Dream Theater
Dream Theater
This collection for obvious reasons omits the longest, most flamboyant, challenging and sophisticated symphonic suites, and presents almost exclusively the most “accessible” songs (often in slightly edited and radio-friendly versions, too). And please note that there are none of the fine songs from “Systematic chaos”, which was published under another label, neither from their debut album “When dream and day unite”… but this, on the other hand, is not a great loss.
What is a great loss is that elaborate tracks like Erotomania, Stream of consciousness, Metropolis, or the wonderful symphonic Overture from the second disc of “Six degrees of inner turbulence” (and many others) couldn’t find a place on the compilation…
Fans already have the albums from which this collection was assembled, with the unedited versions and the longest and most elaborate pieces which could have never found a place in a release like this, but they might be mildly interested in the remixes and in the To live forever B-side. For newcomers, it might be a nice start for approaching the most accessible side of the band with a solid collection of songs that make for 2 and a quarter hours of pure enjoyment (unless you prefer quieter genres, or on the other hand you are a fan of even more “badass” music and sneer with contempt at the idea of a metal band that actually tries to take the genre to “artistic” heights, to build texture, style, atmosphere, musical rigorousness and subtleness instead of simple brutal noise and fury, and that isn’t targeted to a moshing/beer guzzling/leather-clad audience of bikers).
But, again, if you have even a slight suspicion that you might enjoy a band like this, you could actually have a much better introduction with some of the original albums: listening only to such a compilation, you might be left puzzled and wondering why Dream Theater are labeled as progressive rock/metal and not simply pop-rock like many other similar sounding bands. The forced separation of the hard tracks from the gentle ones is another culprit here, completely disrupting the sense of balance, emotional buildup and climaxing that the original albums do have in spades. As such, the compilation has many great moments, but (as predictable) seems to lack focus. Dream Theater’s best albums are usually meant to be listened to from start to finish without interruption for experiencing their complexity, flow, scope, grandeur and careful structuring (which are just as important as the music itself), not simply as a collection of songs: would you be listening to a compilation of 6-7 minutes highlights from Beethoven’s symphonic compositions, rather than to the whole compositions? I don’t think so…
The choice is yours… the money too. And, as Serge would say, please buy Dream Theater’s music anyway!
Verdict: 84 points for sheer music quality (but only 65 points as showcase of the band’s real worth) - Luca Chichizola
Recommended listening: Pull me under.mp3
Note: the title of the compilation is Greatest Hit, an ironic reference to the fact that Dream Theater never got much airplay by radio or MTV except for one of their early ‘90s singles (the excellent “Pull me under”) and nonetheless managed to build a large and loyal fanbase. Those who appreciate in-jokes will also notice the different color on the album cover of those four letters in the title… one of the well-known sparks of juvenile humor from a band that usually takes itself very seriously, one of those quirks you would never expect from guys who play so heavy and are renowned for their maniacal quest for perfection, for their constant highbrow references in lyrics and musical content.

April 6, 2008

Strathmill Strathmill 39 yo 1962/2001 (45.2%, Douglas Laing OMC, 270 bottles) Colour: coffee. Nose: starts like a very typical old sherry monster, with first quite some coffee, chocolate and wood smoke and then a development on dried fruits and old sweet wine/rancio. Figs, dates, fruitcake, dried bananas... Then we’re back on lit matches, and finally something meaty but not exactly beefy. Something like English brown sauce, cooked onions, ham... And prunes. Fresher than expected in any case, no excessive tannins whatsoever and a smokiness that grows bigger with time. Also cigar box, tobacco. A good surprise.
Mouth: a bit heavy now, hugely concentrated (cooked wine) but not exactly cloying. Big notes of spirit-soaked prunes, sultanas, cherry liqueur, liqueur-filled chocolates... Alas, it gets also a little too tannic, drying (strong black tea, apple skin, raw blackcurrants.) Finish: long but thick and a little too drying. Pleasant mintiness, though, and a little icing sugar. Comment: always the same song with whiskies that may have spent a little too much time in wood, the nose can be great but the palate gets, err, ‘hard’ – for my taste, of course. SGP:572 (wazzat?) – 83 points.
Strathmill 31 yo 1976/2007 (48.4%, Dewar Rattray for Jack Wieber for Monnier, cask #1124, 60 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is completely different from the 1962. No sherry, rather a bold yet simple fruitiness – it’s even sort of estery. Tinned pineapples, butter pears, red apples, peaches... Incredibly young at 31 years of age. Gets even a little feinty/yeasty and grassy (whiffs of fresh mint leaves, newly cut grass) and slightly smoky. It seems that this cask wasn’t very active – exactly the opposite of the 1962, but it’s pleasant whisky. Mouth: how fruity! A load of ripe bananas and tinned pineapples mixed with a little coconut juice and seasoned with grated ginger and white pepper. Again, it’s simple but the general profile is very pleasant and entertaining. Much more wood than on the nose. Finish: the fruits remain but it’s really the wood’s spices that play their part now. Long, very gingery and very peppery. Comment: I liked the palate better than the nose, which doesn’t happen that often with old whiskies. This ‘may’ explain why blenders ‘may’ have discarded this one at some point (just a wild theory). SGP:720 – 86 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Dear Sandy Denny and Sail away to the see.mp3. Radiant. Please buy Sandy Denny's music!

Sandy Denny

April 4, 2008

Chuck Berry

(with Nine Below Zero)
100 Club, London
March 23rd 2008

It’s around seven o’clock in the evening on an unseasonably early Easter Sunday in London, and outside on the capital’s retailing street of shame bewildered tourists are walking by the closing down sales and trash shops into the face of a biting wind and stinging sleet.

Inside the 100 Club it’s already hot and sweaty, late lunches and chocolate overdoses mixing with the plentiful wine and beer to produce a pleasingly benign atmosphere. It’s aided by the fantastic music being played by the exceptionally youthful-looking comedian and TV presenter (and owner of an allegedly huge collection of ‘obscure’ rock and roll records) Mark Lamarr. It’s cracking stuff, and most appropriate for a crowd who’ve paid what can only frankly be called a ridiculous amount of money (sorry Serge) to attend a ‘private’ gig featuring an 81- year-old three-times jailbird who in the past has been notorious for his throw-away live performances. We need something to settle our nerves.
Helping out are Nine Below Zero – you know who they are – with the former Rory Gallagher rhythm section Gerry McAvoy on bass, and Brendan O’Neill on drums, Dennis Greaves on guitars and vocals, and harmonica virtuoso Mark Feltham on virtuoso harmonica, who deliver a pretty good set given that it’s only about eight o’clock, and it’s a Sunday. But most of us are still thinking about the old man – will he make it to the stage? Will he deliver? I did see him back in the late 1970s giving a fairly tawdry performance, the centrepiece of which was the rather shameful ‘My ding-a-ling’, so I wasn’t entirely confident.
Preceded to the stage by his band (featuring his son Chuck Berry Jnr on guitar), who were made to wait nervously for what seemed like ten minutes, Chuck Berry finally made his way through the crowd shrouded by minders and stalked, by of all people, guitar-legend Wilko Johnson, who’d been lurking around since the start of the evening. The man who created the riffs that defined rock and roll is wearing his age, skipper’s cap and blue-sequined shirt pretty well, and like so many performers gained at least a couple of inches in stature as he took to the stage, red Gibson hanging from his Union Jack guitar strap, bursting into a rather staccato ‘Roll over Beethoven’. Chuck Jnr., looks on (as he does all night) concerned. There’s obviously no set-list, and as Chuck Snr moves from song to song (in no particular way to go, ‘Around and around’, ‘Nadine’, ‘Rock' n' roll music’, ‘Maybellene’, ‘You never can tell’, the unfortunate ‘My ding-a-ling’, ‘Carol’ ‘Little Queenie’) you can see that Chuck Jnr. is willing him to get it right.
Chuck Berry
Well let’s say that his voice is remarkable; I don’t know where it comes from but it’s Chuck Berry ringing out like a bell, and most of the lyrics are good and true (even if he can’t remember the names of his band, which he can’t). Of course he sings with his face – he grins, raises eyebrows, smirks, and gives the odd salacious leer like an eighteen-year-old. As for the guitar, it’s like talking to an older person I suppose. Sometimes they just don’t seem to be there, and then you get moments of absolute clear lucidity with razor-sharp recollection. And that’s what we got from Mr Berry’s guitar – and when it was good, as it was when he left the stage after an hour still riffing away to ‘Reelin’ and rockin’’, it was as good as it gets.
For that last song he’d invited some ‘gals’ of dubious age to take the stage, which they did, but there amongst them was the ten-year-old boy whose Dad had sneaked him in to see the Prime minister of rock and roll at work. What a story for his grandchildren, whenever that might be. Sad of course that he forgot to play ‘Johnny B Goode’ for him, but you can’t expect a man of his age to remember everything. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Glentauchers Glentauchers 17 yo 1990/2008 (57.6%, Duncan Taylor, cask #14435) Colour: straw. Nose: spirity, mashy, lightly fruity. Hints of roses, freshly cut apples and strawberries, other than that, well... With water: gets more porridgy, mashier, and grassier but that’s all. Whiffs of orangeade. Very, very simple malt whisky. Mouth (neat): cask strength apple spirit. Hmm... With water: diluted apple spirit, but a good one. Very simple pleasures. Finish: medium long, sugary. Spanish apple liqueur. Comments: certainly not bad but very, very simple, with very little maturity. SGP:420 – 75 points.
Glentauchers 13 yo 1990 (59.2%, James MacArthur) Colour: straw. Nose: even more inexpressive than the 17yo. Alcohol. Well... With water: oh, it got almost silent now (at 45%). Fern. Well well well... Mouth (neat): raw spirit. Very sweet but that’s pretty all. With water: same as the 17yo by Duncan Taylor. Marginal woodiness (a little pepper). Finish: medium long, on fruit spirit (tutti frutti) and a little oak. Clean but very simple indeed. Comments: none. Maybe we could discuss the polar ice cap melting instead, or Mrs. Sarkozy’s new Christian Dior outfit but I believe this is neither the place, nor the moment. SGP:331 – 73 points.

April 3, 2008

As some friends pointed out, I’ve always had problems with Glenturret. ‘Give it another go!’ they said... Right, right, let’s try a ‘blitz statistical approach’ then, which will consist in trying no less than 8 versions in a row. Maybe one or two will stand out... (frankly, isn’t that fair?)
Glenturret 12yo (40%, OB, +/-2003) Colour: pale straw. Nose: expressive, but mainly on warm porridge, wet wood and soap. And ‘new plastic’. Not as repulsive as it sounds, that is. Mouth: fruity, lemony, porridgy, less plastic-like. Not weak. Paraffin, gin fizz, grass. Drinkable. Finish: rather long, more lemonade. Comments: an ‘unusual’ malt. The palate is nicer then the nose in my opinion. SGP:361 – 71 points.
Glenturret 12yo 1993/2006 Port Finish (43%, Chieftain's, cask #90771/90772, 1740 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: rounder, fruitier, more appealing than the OB but that may well be the Port. ‘Nice’ scented soap and tinned fruits plus a little ginger and quite some nutmeg. This is pleasant I must say. Mouth: the same pleasant kind of palate as the OB’s, plus the extra-kick from the Port. More orangey and candied. Finish: quite long, orangey and slightly peppery. Comments: probably a case where wine finishing actually improved the original whisky. SGP:451 – 79 points.
Glenturret 13yo 1990/2004 (43%, Chieftain's, casks #90151-90152, 2580 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: strange! Less rounded than the 1993, much more on lemonade and lemon marmalade (a little prickly) and then these soapy notes again. Something ‘chemical’. Plastic, ink and wet papers. Mashed potatoes. Good or bad? Hard to say, let’s check the palate... Mouth: quite punchy but this time the winewood doesn’t quite manage to mask the weirdish spirit (hey, only my opinion). Violet sweets, paper, orange sweets. Finish: rather long, a little spicier (cloves) but also slightly drying. Comments: well, this is certainly not a disaster but... I like it better than the OB, that is. SGP:442 – 73 points.
Glenturret 14 yo (43%, Scottish Wildlife, Signatory, mini, +/- 2000) Colour: pale straw. Nose: similar to the OB as far as the profile is concerned, only cleaner, straighter and nicer. Slightly overripe oranges, beeswax and tea. Perfectly nice. Mouth: again, this is very okay. Crystallised lemons, bubblegum, strawberry drops, grenadine. Good! Finish: long and very fruity. Liquefied Chupa Chups lollipops in a bottle? Comments: this is good – albeit unusual – whisky. SGP:721 – 82 points.
Glenturret 1972 (43%, OB, Black Ceramic Decanter, 37.5cl, 1980’s) Colour: bronze (yeah, not unlike the green Springbanks). Nose: hey-hey, this is very nice! Highly unusual, very fragrant (old roses, tinned lychees, orange liqueur, rosewater). Also old walnuts, cigar box... And finally ultra-mega-big notes of lovage and parsley. Maggi anyone? Soy sauce indeed! Extremely entertaining I must say. Walnut stain. Mouth: excellent! Soft attack but it grows bigger, with Glenturret’s usual ‘wackiness’ mingling perfectly well with this strange, but beautiful cask(s). Walnuts, bergamots (earl grey), camphor, After Eights, old Cognac and orange liqueur. Balsamico. No more Maggi/lovage/soy sauce on the palate, that is. Finish: maybe a tad shortish but very pleasant – albeit unusual again – on something like mentholated walnuts and oranges, should that exist in real life. Comments: yess! Certainly our best Glenturret ever, I knew that this statistical approach would work. SGP:662 – 90 points.
Glenturret Glenturret 16 yo 1988/2005 (50.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 16.28, 'Violets and Vanilla Fudge') This ‘violets’ thing is scary, isn’t it? Let’s see... Colour: white wine. Nose: same as the 12yo but at cask strength.
Mouth: ditto at the attack, but the middle is better. Crystallised lemons and oranges plus a little mint. Cleaner I must say. Finish: long, lemony + white rum. Comments: ready-made mojito. Why not! SGP:550 – 78 points.
Glenturret 20 yo 1978/1998 (53.8%, Signatory, cask #356) Colour: pale gold. Nose: the same notes of lovage, soy sauce and balsamico as in the wonderful 1972 OB, which is great news, but the rest is rather mashy, porridgy and oddly pastic-like. Added whiffs of wet limestone, wet chalk, wet hay and ink. Mouth: exactly like the ‘Scottish Wildlife’, only bigger and more powerful. Okay, maybe a tad less bubblegummy. It’s good. Finish: long – JuicyFruity, pink grapefruit. Comments: very nice palate but the nose is a little too ‘twisted’ for my taste. SGP:451 – 77 points.
Glenturret 14 yo 1993/2007 (56.9%, James MacArthur, bourbon, cask #188) Colour: white wine. Nose: smells very young, spirity (cologne), mashy but not too much. Distilled oranges? Tinned fruit salad. Buttered mashed potatoes. Let’s add water: huge soapiness as often but that disappears quite quickly. More porridge, mashed potatoes and wet grains. Mouth (neat): same as the 1988 by the SMWS. Crystallised lemons and oranges, sweetened porridge, cornflakes. Little wackiness here, but a somewhat simple spirit. With water: gets really good, even if still a little simple. Orange syrup, grenadine and vanilla crème. Finish: rather long, with an added grassiness (and hints of sage). Comments: it’s not impossible that like at several Scottish distilleries, they started to make a better spirit around the early 1990’s at Glenturret. Maybe less idiosyncratic but better, really. Encouraging. SGP:531 – 83 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Uri Caine does I often think they have merely gone out!.mp3 (from album: Urlicht/Primal light). Please buy Uri Caine's music!

Uri Caine

April 2, 2008



Arran 1996/2007 (52,8%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #96/926) Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather powerful, mostly waxy and vegetal/grassy at first nosing. Nice development on linseed oil and candle wax, rather big notes of shoe polish, walnut skin, paraffin and fresh almonds.

Very nice profile, very straight. Very little fruitiness, that is. Gets more floral (roses). With a little water: it became more complex, very nicely ‘wild’, with whiffs of ‘forest after the rain’, mushrooms... Then something maritime (clams?), kelp... Maybe not exactly impressive but rather complex and perfectly balanced. I like this nose. Mouth (neat): sweet and ‘direct’, maybe a little simple now. Apple juice, pear juice and orange squash plus vanilla fudge and a little nutmeg and white pepper. With water: it got more complex, spicier, wider, more assertive... Very nice spices, cinnamon, paprika, soft curry... All that on top of orange marmalade and quince jelly. Excellent. Finish: long, balanced, candied, jammy but never ‘thick’. Comments: this one really benefits from a little water but then it gets truly beautiful. It seems that natural Arrans can be wonderful at 10yo+. SGP:552 – 86 points.
Arran 1996/2008 (56.2%, OB for The Nectar, cask #1860, 233 bottles) Colour: dark gold. Nose: as powerful as its sibling but sweeter, rounder and fruitier. Some winey notes but I don’t know where they come from. Was it a wine cask? Other than that it’s rather flinty and waxy, with some shoe polish again, warm butter, leather, light tobacco, camomile, rosehip tea and nutmeg plus a little vanilla. Gets spicier with time. Ginger, cardamom. Hints of cheese as well (Swiss gruyère). Lots happening in there, it’s both good and entertaining as far as the nose is concerned. With water: it’s the oak that comes out, and a beautiful one. Wax polish, old furniture, leather, cigar box, thuja wood, old walnuts... All aromas that are usually associated with older whiskies. Hey-hey! And no more winey notes – maybe I was dreaming. Mouth (neat): thick, creamy and rich, ‘wider’ than the SSMC even if the general profile is more or less the same. No more ‘vinosity’ as such. Sweet apple compote, ripe Williams pears and ginger. With water: again, water worked excellently. More ‘tertiary’ flavours, various spices, various herbal teas, tobacco... This one came from a very good cask for sure. Finish: long, ‘focused’, a little less complex now, maltier. Comments: great whisky nonetheless. Obligatory stupid comments: Arran, if all your 10yo + casks are like these two, you may drop all the wine finishing from now on, it would really be a waste of very, very good whisky. I’m sorry. SGP:552 - 88 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Yosuke Yamashita and his New York Trio play Who’s Valentine.mp3 from album: Fragments (1999! Please buy Yosuke Yamashita's music!


April 1, 2008



Two milestones have been reached, as the shiny brand new, Monitor now displays no less than 31,116 ratings for 10,204 different whiskies. You may download it here.
Heartfelt thanks to MM's Luca for his tremendous work and to Konstantin for his numerous corrections ;-).

Texan based investment consortium buys Dallas Dhu Distillery from Historic Scotland and launches new 25 years old!
Dallas Dhu Inverness, March 30. - A silent Scotch whisky distillery is to start production again after a 25-year gap, thanks to a £9million Texan investment consortium. Highland distillery Dallas Dhu, which was owned by drinks giant D.C.L., ceased production in 1983, and was then sold to Historic Scotland. But a £5m cash injection from The Jolly Old Fellows Group, from Dallas, as well as a further £4m start-up funding from The Carlisle Group, will see 25 jobs created at the distillery, which is located in the village of Forres, Morayshire.
The visitor centre will be refurbished once the distillery is operational again, and at first, older remaining stocks of whisky will be blended and sold as a 25 years old, re-branded ‘Dallas Dude’ instead of ‘Dallas Dhu’ to pay homage to the new owners. The distillery will change name as well.
Kentucky’s Dickie ‘Big Belly’ Hundertpfund , a consultant on the project and now managing director, said: “The start-up funding will cover running costs for the first year – we estimate it will take two or three months to bring the distillery back to full working order. Dallas Dude
“Dallas Dude has high growth potential. The product will appeal to malt collectors, the uber-rich, and target markets include Vietnam, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq.”
Jay ‘Bigfish’ Apfelstrudel, Jolly Old Fellows Group executive vice-president, added: "The whisky market is a booming sector and, after due diligence, we recognised that the Dallas Dude distillery had massive potential and was a perfect opportunity to bring a historic Scotch whisky back to life. What’s more, we thoroughly enjoyed all the cask samples we could taste, especially the trademark gunpowder aromas. Dallas Dude rocks big time!"
WF update: there is a disturbing rumour since this morning that the new owners will bring dramatic changes to the way whisky was made at Dallas Dude (Dhu). Charcoal filtering should be introduced, as well as heavy barrel charring, also know as ‘alligator’. Other gossips may indicate that various finishings will be done on older stock,
There should be three world premieres, namely a ‘San Antonio jalapeno wood finish’, a ‘guacamole finish’ and a ‘frijoles finish’. Whether the Scotch Whisky Association will allow this to happen or not is still to be seen, but it seems that high-ranking U.S. officials at the White House have confirmed that such a move would 'certainly further strengthen the existing ties between the two countries'. No comments.


Many whisky lovers have been wondering where the famous Mutter Bowmore had gone after it was bought at McTears by an anonymous Russian collector. We’re proud to announce that the answer dropped into our mailbox right this morning. It appears that it was actually bought by a certain Boris-Yeltsin Trust, which, in turn, presented an American gentleman with it (picture). “We’re planning to open it to celebrate my loving wife’s victory at the elections later in November, and to toast to the memory of my old friend Boris on the same occasion” said the proud new owner on the phone. Another mystery solved!

Wasmund's 4 Months Old (48% / 96° Proof, OB, USA, Batch#12, Bottled +/- 2007) 'Chip and barrel aged’. Colour: as magnificently golden as a Patek Philippe minute repeater, with a glinting intensity. Nose: otherwordly. Phenomenal meaty bouquet at first sniffing (nightingale tongue pâté, barbecued Oklahoma buffalo). Gets then emphatically leathery (XK120 seat, Kelly handbag, Argentinian polo saddle). Goes on with Virginia tobacco (untipped 1978 Benson & Hedges) and mountain blackberries, Catalonian pine nuts, half-dried cardamom, Appalachian all-flowers honey, Nicole Kidman’s cleavage and, of course, wet dog (black labrador). Incredibly deep, thick and silky – in truth, the depth and complexity of this bursting nose are totally unreal. Wasmund
Mouth: the power of this uber-unctuous palate is truly astounding, with waves and waves (and waves) of very complex and subtle flavours. The attack alone is a poem, absolutely mesmerizing. Twenty years old Swedish liquorice, burnt Scottish toffee, Michelin 3-star crème brûlee, honey-coated Peruvian pecans, candied Provence apricots, Ostende shrimp croquettes, Mouton 1928 blended with Latour 1945 (or maybe Lafite), white truffles from Alba... do I need say more? Nibelungian development, sappy yet silky - how is this possible at just 4 months? Only WF’s anti-maltoporn brigade will prevent us from going any further from now on... Finish: incredible finish edging out the 12yo Springbank 100°proof Samaroli that we used as a benchmark malt – and it would not quit! Comments: a flamboyant Gothic cathedral, a whisky by which all other whiskies will be judged from now on. SGP:987 – 99 points. (Update: today was April's Fool day. We got quite some requests and questions regarding this whisky, so let's be clear, these tasting notes were a joke. We're afraid Wasmund's isn't such a fabulous whisky in our book... Apologies!)

March 2008 - part 2 <--- April 2008 - part 1 ---> April 2008 - part 2

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



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

Glenrothes 1980/2004 (56.3%, OB, cask #17563, 558 bottles)

Glenturret 1972 (43%, OB, Black Ceramic Decanter, 37.5cl, 1980’s)

Highland Park 19 yo 1986/2005 (53.8%, OB, Beltramo's California, cask #2498)

Highland Park 25 yo (48.1%, OB, 2007)