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Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2010 - Part 2

April 2010 - part 1 <--- April 2010 - part 2 ---> May 2010 - part 1


April 30, 2010

by Nick Morgan
Shepherd’s Bush Empire
February 15th 2010

Some readers may remember that a couple of years ago I compared the fabric of the old Shepherd’s Bush Empire somewhat unfavourably with Memphis’s pristine Grand Orpheum Theatre, where we had seen Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt perform. In the Bush’s defence, I did also observe that the crowd in the Orpheum, who whooped and hollered their way through a crowd-pleasing bunch of songs (mainly, it seemed, about Tennessee, Memphis and its environs) were a sort of Memphis high-brow society bunch. 

Bush Orpheum

The same could rarely be said for an audience in the Bush, apart from that almost ever-present fixture, Sir Peter Blake, of amongst other things (and I’m sure he’ll hate me for saying this) Sergeant Pepper fame.    Well, all that goes around comes around, and tonight the crowd standing in the mosh at the timelessly shabby Empire (we were upstairs in the dusty 5/9s) welcomed Lovett and Hiatt to the stage with the sort of disrespect that London audiences relish. Two or three songs in (Hiatt had begun with ‘Real fine love’, followed by a spare and delicate ‘I will rise up’ from Lovett), as the two are starting to warm to their conversation (“Well John, what did you do this afternoon, John?”, “Well Lyle, I took a walk round town, and how about you, John?”) the impatient ones on the floor began to heckle.  Not everyone, because I imagine most people there would have known what to expect, but there were enough ‘Get on with its’, and ‘Too much talk’, and I’m sure a cat-call about Julia Roberts, to catch Lovett off guard, who frankly looked a little taken aback.  Mind you, he always does manage to look a little startled, even at the best of times.

Lovett Hiatt

Not so Hiatt, who glowered in the direction of the complaints, and said something like “You don’t like the talking huh?  Well we do”, with the look of a potentially fearsome bar-room brawler.  He then told a wonderful story about the late Jim Dickinson, who produced his Master of Disaster album, and sang the eponymous title song  with a flourish, finishing, to great applause, with another fearsome glance in the direction of the miscreant.  Hiatt then went on to win the hearts of the audience, by responding to some of the many requests for songs that he could hear from the crowd, by retuning his guitar and playing the tunes; ‘River of tears’ was one such, which had the considerable North American presence in the Bush in ecstasies.  Even Lovett (who, I should add, I had almost given up hope of ever seeing in London) became more emboldened, although not quite to the extent of playing requests.  But when one song was called out by a hapless Geordie on the floor Lovett looked and out, and drawled, “Well man, I know we speak strange where I come from, but I ain’t never heard anyone sound as weird as that”.

The conversation is engaging, and sometimes very funny, albeit in a rather droll sort of way: after playing ‘Drive South’ Hiatt asked Lovett how he would describe the song, the reply  “Well John, I’d say for me it would be  song of romantic quality with a real sense of direction”.   The two performers are a perfect odd couple: Lovett the more reserved and thoughtful introvert with the dry humour (‘Her first mistake’ was a masterpiece of content, delivery and timing); Hiatt, brash, sometimes belligerent, with his heart on his sleeve (the deeply intense ‘Muddy Water’).  Lovett’s guitar playing is easy, relaxed and delicate, while Hiatt bashed out the songs with considerable aplomb, and although I might have been a little disrespectful of his improvisations during the Memphis gig, on this occasion he plays some impressive solos (including some surprisingly nice jazzy guitar on Lovett’s ‘My baby don’t tolerate’). 

By this time the duo had become a trio, joined by Texan roots-rocker Joe Ely (with whom they have been touring along with Guy Clark, in the States), who joined in ensemble performances of Hiatt’s ‘Thing called love’, and ‘Slow turning’, singing his own ‘My eyes got lucky’, and a very nice ‘Old dusty road’.  In all, I counted around twenty-five almost immaculate songs during two hours from some of the United States’ finest songwriters.  And it didn’t seem at all out of place in the dowdy old Shepherd’s Bush Empire, far from it, everyone seemed perfectly at home. - Nick Morgan

Lyle Lovett on myspace
John Hiatt on myspace
Joe Ely on myspace

Joe Ely



Tasting Macduff 1984 sherry vs. bourbon

Macduff 1984/2009 (52.2%, Berry Bros & Rudd, sherry butt, cask #3148) Three stars and a half Colour: deep gold. Nose: whiffs of sulphur at very first nosing (cabbage or asparagus cooking water), then more notes of marrons glacés (glazed chestnuts?), grass, walnuts, leather and beef. Gets even a little gamey. Flour and tapioca as well. With water: ah, precious water! The cabbagy notes vanished, leaving room for more fruits (both stewed and dried). Seville oranges. Faint flintiness and just tiny-wee hints of struck matches remaining in the background. Tiny acetic notes. Mouth (neat): it’s a completely different whisky now, much fruitier, sweeter, candied and toffee-ish. Notes of mocha, lemon marmalade, dried dates… The mouth feel is quite big. With water: pretty excellent now, with a dry fruitiness and something slightly phenolic/smoky. Crystallised bitter oranges. Finish: long, half grassy, half fruity. Comments: a good Macduff but it takes its time. Not directly sexy, ideal for playing with water and a pipette. SGP:462 – 83 points.

Macduff 1984/2009 (54.9%, Thosop Import, Bourbon cask, 120 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: it does have little notes of cooked vegetables at first nosing but nothing comparable with the sherried version. Other than that we’re much more on almonds, vanilla and flowers (pollen), with something mineral in the background and a little graphite oil. Also touches of ripe pears and pineapples. With water: it got more vegetal and a little leathery. Mouth (neat): excellent, full-bodied, fruity and citrusy. Big mouth feel. Lemon drops, marmalade, hints of spearmint, tangerine liqueur and quite some lemon balm. Cranberry syrup? With water: same, only more drinkable. Maybe added hints of sweet mustard or even horseradish. Finish: long and grassier again. Angelica, rhubarb and liquorice. Comments: many Macduffs have been quite disastrous in my book, and only a few very old ones were very good. This one is a remarkable exception. SGP:542 - 87 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Macduff that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

April 29, 2010

Glenfarclas 40

High flyers: Tasting three Glenfarclas from the 1960s plus five undisclosed Speysiders

Glenfarclas 40 yo (46%, OB, 2010) Five stars This is the rather fairly priced (when compared to other 40yo officials by other distillers) new wonder! Colour: dark amber with red hues. Nose: ultra-typical old sherried Glenfarclas, full of chocolate, raisins, prunes and then touches of mint, liquorice and varnish/pine resin. Also hints of blackcurrant buds, blackberry jam and finally a little coffee, smoked ham and toasted bread. Also a little walnut stain and maybe poppy seeds. In short, a classic. Mouth: excellent attack, with a flavourful oakiness (black pepper sauce alike) and various liqueur-filled chocolates. Chocolate-covered prunes. Goes on with fresh and clean notes of blood oranges, raspberry liqueur and just a few herbal notes that may hint at well-aged chartreuse. Hints of cough syrup. Finish: long, more on fruit skins and jams. Very pleasant fruity and resinous bitterness. Faint tannicity and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: I think it’s a good example of an old malt where an obvious oakiness brings more substance and complexity. Very well composed and worth its fair price, no doubt about that. SGP:562 - 91 points.
Glenfarclas 1962/2008 (52.0%, OB, 'Family Casks' release III, cask #2647, 161 bottles) Five stars Colour: mahogany, almost deep red. Nose: a more powerful version of the 40 but no monster, probably more on old wood (aged cigar humidor), walnuts, dried meat (jerky) and blackcurrant jam. Globally a little more varnishy, in a good way. Quite superb I must say and it doesn’t seem to call for water so let’s pass, for once. Mouth: superb attack, thick yet very nervous and flavourful, on spicy jams and fruit juices. Blackberries and plums/prunes. Goes on with funny touches of icing sugar and even lemon juice that go very well with this kind of profile. No rancio or leathery notes here, it’s all fresh and very lively. Quite some cinnamon after that but the general profile remains very appealing. Rich and a little heavy but appealing. Finish: very, very long, leaving many spices, some mint, some lemon marmalade and wee tannins on your palate. Comments: a rich but never cloying sherry monster for sherry monster lovers. A notch above the new 40yo in my book. SGP:561 - 92 points.
Glenfarclas 1963/2007 (56.7%, OB, 'Family Casks', cask #4098, 420 bottles) Five stars Colour: deep amber. Nose: this one is completely different this time, a little shier, smokier, drier, much more on unlit cigars and espresso, cocoa powder, grass, with only slight hints of dried fruits such as dates and dark raisins (Corinthians). With a little water: remains straight and a tad austere for a while, before some highly unusual notes of old Sauternes or Alsatian late harvest wine do emerge. This is most entertaiing now. Mouth (neat): we’re much closer to the 1962 now, with the same king of ‘citrusy thickness’. Not winey, tasting more like concentrated grape juice. Some cough syrup. With water: not much changes this time, with pretty much the same notes of lemon marmalade. Finish: long, a tad rounder than the 1962 now. Some spicy liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: same high quality as with the 1962, no need to score it differently. SGP:461 - 92 points.
So, while we’re at it, let’s have a bunch of five other well-reputed albeit undisclosed Speysiders…
Glen Avon 35 yo (41.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/- 1995) Five stars Colour: dark brown. Nose: yet another step towards dryness, this time with many dried herbs on top of some wonderful notes of cigars and old leather. Mainly parsley. Quite some chocolate as well, ‘dry’ molasses, and then an avalanche of notes of old balsamic vinegar. No wonder, I picked this one near Modena! What a wonderful dry sherried nose! (but you have to like balsamic vinegar). Mouth: starts smooth but all on spearmint and milk chocolate, with also a little aniseed and… Pastis? No more balsamico this time. Many orangey notes, Turkish delights, rose-flavoured sweets, tangerine liqueur… Definitely oriental. The tannins are there but it’s all under control. Finish: medium long, maybe a tad drying – the tannins have their say now. Some rosehip tea? Big sultanas and dried figs in the aftertaste. Comments: I love the label, I love the malt too. A great variant. SGP:561 - 92 points.
Speyside's Finest 43 yo 1966 (48.2%, Douglas Laing for The Whisky Show, sherry butt #5525, 197 bottles) Five stars Colour: Nose: we’re almost exactly in the style of the Glen Avon 35yo now, only with a little more mint and eucalyptus as well as various spices. Maybe a little cumin. Globally just a tiny-wee less expressive, though, but great nose anyway. A little Armagnac-ish, pleasantly so. Mouth: once again, more or less the same whisky as the Glen Avon with a little more oomph. Maybe a tad more both citrusy and mentholated, with more liquorice too. Finish: very long, warming. Same raisins and dried fruits as in the GA plus quite some chocolate. Comments: power to the old sherry monsters – and yet again the same rating, these bottlings are pretty ‘unsettlable’. SGP:451 - 92 points.
Speyside Selection N°5 38 yo 1969/2007 (48.8%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, cask #3834, 201 bottles) Three stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: no sherry this time, rather more farmy and grassy notes as well as quite some marzipan and fresh walnuts. The profile if completely different but rather nice. Notes of hay. Mouth: strange-ish in this context, quite porridgy and lemony, tasting much younger than 38yo. Same kinds of notes of lemon and oranges as in the OBs but the whole is rather less expressive. Finish: medium long, farmy, orangey. Maybe a tad milky. Comments: perfectly all right and worth its low price when it was launched into the market but suffers from the comparison with the other OBs and IBs we’re having. Can it really come from the same ‘region’? SGP:451 - 81 points.
Probably Speyside's Finest 41 yo 1967/2009 (50%, Douglas Laing, OMC, REF 5159, 305 bottles) Five stars Funny that this series went from ‘Probably Speyside’s Finest’ like here to a more definitive ‘Speyside Finest’ like the 1966 that we had above. Colour: full gold. Nose: more or less the same profile as the 1969 at very first nosing but then it gets much more aromatic and resinous. Quite some camphor, hay, liquorice, eucalyptus, overripe apples, mint-flavoured tea… Maybe a slight cardboard that prevents it from being really exceptional. Mouth: once again, more or less the same profile as the 1969’s, only with more oomph and without the slight flaws that the latter had. Beautiful spices and herbs in this one. Finish: long, orangey and herbal. Cinchona and orange marmalade plus white chocolate. Comments: excellent. Only the faint cardboard on the nose maybe isn’t fully ‘top notch’. SGP:462 - 91 points.
Glen Avon 40 yo (55%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-2000) Five stars Colour: mahogany. Nose: we’re close to the Glen Avon 35 but this is even more on coffee and chocolate and much less on balsamic vinegar. Other than that we have the expected prunes, raisins and cinnamon. Let’s add a little water… With water: great. The interior of an old Jaguar, grandma’s cupboard (where she was keeping the jams), a well-kept humidor, a cabinetmaker’s workshop, an herbalist 's shop… Whatever. Mouth (neat): an invasion of chocolate and blackcurrant jam and liqueur! With water: it’s amazing how close we are to the new 40yo OB now, only with maybe a little more ‘resinousness’. It seems that we have come full circle. Finish: rather long, more on chocolate and tannins now. Only the aftertaste is maybe a tad thickish (read a little too winey here). Comments: classic, to sip with the best chocolates (no milk or white please!) SGP:461 - 91 points.
(with thanks to George, Sandro, Konstantin and Olivier)
More distillery data Our tastings: all Glenfarclas that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the explosive Tiziana Valentini and her band Ta Travudia doing Tiaulu Tialulu (from the CD Travudia). Please buy Ta Travudia's music!

Tiziana Valentini

April 28, 2010

Tasting 3 new makes and a bonus
Abhainn Dearg Chichibu
Marketing-wise, there’s certainly a difference between a brand new or recently reopened distillery selling some of its new make and a long-active distillery trying to sell vodka new make, such as what seems to be going to be more and more the case in the future. Most luckily, we’ll go for the former configuration today.
Abhainn Dearg 2010 (64%, OB, new make, cask #06, cask sample) From the new westernmost Scottish distillery (after Bruichladdich and then Kilchoman) on the isle of Lewis. This new BPS (British Plain Spirit) is 2.5 months old and comes from a wee 30l bourbon wood cask that was introduced in Limburg. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: raw alcohol but with an attitude, whatever that means. Extremely farmy, grassy and porridgy, without any obvious pears or pineapples at first nosing, rather notes of new plum spirit, with that faint almondy profile. After ten minutes: now it’s pears galore! With water: pears and sheep, with some oily aspects. Cow stable. Mouth (neat): starts on brine and feints, with something toasted that reminds me of the first runs of the fruit eaux-de-vie that we make with some friends. Notes of tinned fish, gherkins, samphires… Extremely unusual. With water: same saltiness plus a sudden burst of barley sugar and various fruit sweets. Orange drops. Better! Finish: rather long, on something such as lemon-sprinkled sardines. Comments: this new make has got some character for sure. I don’t quite know where the saltiness comes from, maybe the staves were kept in brine or in seawater? This should make for an interesting whisky once it’s mature. SGP:441 – not ‘scorable’.
Chichibu Newborn 2008/2009 'Double Matured' (61.3%, Ichiro's Malt, Japan, cask #447, 352 bottles) Four stars One year in bourbon, five months in new American oak. Who said Pingussian? Colour: gold. Nose: much, much (much) smoother than the Abhainn, much rounder, more polished but not vanilla-ridden at all. Big notes of apple peelings, malted barley, a little cedar wood, gooseberries… The very special wood treatment seems to have worked perfectly here. With water: I’m sorry but wow! Little touches of tarry smoke and shoe polish on top of the rest. Mouth (neat): sweet, very fruity, very ‘Japanese’, with more vanilla this time but also rather beautiful citrus fruits. Tangerines. Quite some nutmeg too. With water: more spices, more nutmeg, more cinnamon. Finish: long, clean, with a gingery profile that’s often to be found in (much older) Japanese whiskies. Comments: I’m impressed. I’m wondering if this could stay much longer in such active wood or if it ought to be re-racked into refill wood. SGP:531 - 85 points.
Chichibu Newborn 2009/2009 'Heavily Peated' (61.3%, Ichiro's Malt, Japan, cask #451, 360 bottles) Four stars and a half Only 3 months old, from a new American oak hogshead. Colour: gold. Nose: come on, this can’t be only 3 months old, it must be a misprint. Superb peat, very clean, absolutely not offensive, smooth but firm, with notes of lightly smoked tea, butter pears, moss, fresh mint, fresh mushrooms and just hints of wet dogs (hi again, dogs!) The cask must have been of AAA+++ quality. With water: more medicinal, more camphor than antiseptics. Gets more coastal as well (I have to check where Chichibu lies). Mouth (neat): flabbergasting attack, with the same limey character as in the Double Matured plus a crystal-clean but certainly not dull peatiness. I still can’t believe this is 3 months old. Mozartian (cut the crap, S.). With water: yes! An added earthiness, roots, gentian… Finish: long, with some lemon again. Very, very clean aftertaste. Comments: wondering if Ichiro didn’t finally find all distillers’ philosopher's stone, but what’s the price of a new oak hogshead again? SGP:547 – 88 points (blimey, it just occurred to me that I gave 88 points to some mew make).
Bonus: Golden Horse Chichibu 8 yo (43%, OB, Japan) Two stars I believe this Chichibu was distilled at Hanyu, not at the new Chichibu Distillery of which we just tried some thrilling ‘JPS’ (Japanese Plain Spirit, not John Player Special, eh!) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is much lighter than the (diluted) new makes and I can’t help thinking of Glenfiddich 12. A little bit of many things, apple compote, tea, liquorice, oak, faint hints of ham, maybe a little cardboard, getting then a tad sourish (cider) and slightly tarry. Whiffs of sour oak (old white wine barrel). Mouth: different! A rather oily mouth feel, starting very dry, on sunflower oil and something a little papery. Gets then rather tarry/waxy but neither sweet nor fruity. Hints of mustard, a little plastic. Finish: medium long, just as dry and rather more herbal now. Comments: it’s different malt whisky. I won’t say I adore it but neither would I say it’s flawed or unpleasant. SGP:263 - 73 points.
As always regarding anything Japanese and whisky, please go read the splendid Nonjatta website, they have got the whole stories about Chichibu.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: more R.L. Burnside today with this very greasy Detroit boogie (from 2003's Darker blues EP). Please buy the great late R.L. Burnside's music!

RL Burnside

April 27, 2010

Glen Spey

Comparing young and old Glen Spey

Glen Spey 1996/2009 'Manager's Choice' (52%, OB, cask #240, 276 bottles) Three stars and a half Matured in new American Oak, so probably quite on vanilla. Colour: straw. Nose: starts very grassy and slightly varnishy, austere for sure, with much less sweetish and coconutty notes than expected. Rather sharp. Develops more on linseed oil, graphite, motor oil, putty and whiffs of hot metal (fresh iron filings) just before some discrete notes of vanilla, banana and café latte start to emerge. Those grow bigger and bigger after that but the whole never gets ‘too easy’. Some toasted oak. With water: same profile, no more, no less. Mouth (neat): sweet, starting on a combination of sweet fruit jellies (Haribo bears) with some vanilla and that grassiness (toned down now). Tastes young. More spices after a few seconds, mostly pepper and even paprika and juniper but the sweet notes remain big (bubblegum). Good balance, though. With water: same, only a little smoother. A cake made out of jellybeans, vanilla and white pepper. Finish: medium long, very clean, with maybe just a little more liquorice and hints of Turkish delights. Comments: I believe Glen Spey isn’t a high-profile malt and I guess this is he best you can make of it when it’s not 30 years of age of more. It’s very good whisky but not much magic here in my opinion. Kind of engineered. SGP:651 - 84 points.

Glen Spey 30 yo 1977/2008 (54.8%, AD Rattray, 1st fill hogshead, cask #3660, 179 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: it’s quite amazing how similar both Glen Speys are despite their different ages. This one starts just as grassy and mineral as the MC, and develops quite on the same notes of oils and then vanilla and lactones. Gets then spicier, with more herbs as well, pepper, wet hay, vase water and only hints of wet cloth (after a walk in the rain ;-)) Tiny-wee whiffs of strawberries and maybe rhubarb lingering. With water: only a little more liquorice, other than that it doesn’t change. Mouth (neat): once again, we’re close to the 1996 but this is a little more ‘mingled’ and maybe a little more complex (more apricot pie and sweetened tea). A little more straight oak as well. With water: same. It’s still amazing that we’re so close to the younger sibling. Finish: medium long, with a spiciness that’s a little wider than in the MC (more cinnamon) and also a little mint. Comments: very good once again but it doesn’t quite taste like a 30 yo malt in my opinion. Maybe 30 years in a hogshead equal 13 years in new oak? SGP:651 - 85 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Glen Spey that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness
SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

Back from Limburg's Whisky Fair, it was as great as ever despite the lack of spittoons (hint, hint). Great whiskies and, above the whisky, great friends. See you there next year?

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the sheer brilliance of Ornette Coleman's Naked lunch (intro to his 1992 album 'Naked lunch'). Please buy all of Ornette Coleman's music!
Superb photograph by our friend Juan-Carlos Hernandez. Juan-Carlos spent a lot of time with Ornette in his New York appartment back in 2007.


April 23, 2010

Off to Limburg in Germany. Sorry, no updates until Monday...

MUSIC - Recommended listening: well, no ideas about who 'sings' this Schnapps thing but I thought it would fit any Limburg adventures quite nicely. Not sure it's German either, could be Austrian or Swiss... Anyway!

UPDATE: our very good Swiss sleuths tell us that it's actually a Swiss band from Zürich called Radio200000. The song's called 'Schnaps hilft' (something like 'booze helps' ;-)) - Thanks Bernhard!

April 22, 2010


Tasting two faces of Glengoyne

Glengoyne 1972 (51.2%, Jack Wiebers, Prenzlow Collection, cask #4201, +/-2009) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: not one of these old more or less sherried Glengoynes at all, rather a lightly aromatic kind at first nosing, before a sudden burst of tinned pineapples, apricots and even litchis does happen. Quite some vanilla as well, honey, quince jelly and then notes of orange blossom water and Turkish delights (especially rose-flavoured ones). More and more emphatic, with a perfectly mastered oakiness providing a perfect backbone to the whole. Vanilla, cinnamon spread and plum pie (quetsches). A perfect nose, I must say, kind of Cleopatrian as some friend would say. With water: didn’t move an inch, which is great. Mouth (neat): extreme fruitiness! Gooseberries, apricots, pineapples, dried papayas, ripe juicy oranges… Almost ‘too much’, such is this baby’s fruitiness. With water: a little more complex, with added dried fruits. Fig liqueur? Excellent. Finish: long, fruity, honeyed and slightly resinous and liquoricy. A sin! Comments: an old, spectacular fruitbomb. One could drink litres of this, it’s totally excellent. SGP:830 – 92 points.
Glengoyne 19 yo 1988/2007 'SC' (58.3%, OB, Pedro Ximenez, butt, cask #718) Two stars and a halfColour: mahogany. Nose: heavy sherry, heavy coffee, Armagnac, prunes, leather, struck matches and cured ham. Simple, in-your-face heavily sherried malt. Maybe water will make it more complex. With water: it’s the gunpowder that comes out! Also quite some vinegar, balsamico… Gets then frankly (and frantically) acetic for a while, then back on balsmico and prunes. What a decoction! Mouth (neat): extremely rich and thick, extremely sherried! Corinth raisins and blackberry jam, Irish coffee and Chinese fermented plum sauce (the one they serves with Peking duck). With water: a little quieter and more approachable, with more dried fruits. Fruitcake galore. Finish: long, just as jammy and heavily sherried. Notes of grape pips in the aftertaste, tannins. Comments: total sherrybomb, almost Hulkish. For extreme sherry freaks only, I’d say. SGP:631 - 79 points (it is to be noted that the average MM score for this one is 87, which means that all the other Maniacs liked this one much better than I did).
Glengoyne And also Glengoyne 8 yo (43%, OB for Grudi, early 1980s) Four stars and a half Nose: grain, caramel, café latte, malt, cornflakes. Hints of orange marmalade and a little mint. Superb nose. Mouth: punchy. Crystallised oranges, chocolate, ‘good’ lavender sweets, orange liqueur. A little tar, roasted chestnuts. Light smokiness (very rare in Glengoyne but that may come from bottle ageing). Dangerously drinkable. SGP:531 – 88 points.
And also Glengoyne 1968 (50.3%, OB, 4500 bottles, +/-2000) Four stars Nose: curiously grassy, with dried oranges. Kind of absent, dry and very grassy. Mouth: sweeter and much better than on the nose. Mint and milk chocolate, liquorice and oranges, Turkish delights. Very nice but not as stunning as many recent small batches but improves a bit after long breathing. SGP:441 – 85 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Glengoyne that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a ravishing piece by Japanese jazz flutist Kazuyo Kuriya called Rain dance. Please buy Kazuyo Kuriya's music.


April 21, 2010

Glen Scotia

Tasting two recent Glen Scotia

Glen Scotia 17 yo 1992/2009 (59.4%, Dewar Rattray Cask Collection, Sherry Butt #1, 670 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale amber. Nose: one of these sherried malts that start all on quince or plum jam and apricot pie, with little winey notes and no red fruits or even prunes or coffee. Having said that, there are many sultanas, figs and quite some cigarette tobacco (or Virginia Flake). With water: a little gunpowder and leather coming through now, cow stable, horse sweat. Mouth (neat): punchy, maybe a tad dirty-ish and rather more winey than on the nose when undiluted but there are also many notes of lemon squash, peppermint, sweet young balsamico, honey and pepper sauce as well as a little kirsch and some unexpected notes of high-strength bourbon (straight oak and pine resin). Where do they come from? With water: gets unexpectedly simpler, all on dried figs and sultanas. Now, I like dried figs and sultanas… Maybe a little rum (agricole). Finish: rather long, sweet, creamy, still on ‘simple’ dried fruits. Comments: a very good Glen Scotia from a good butt. SGP:542 - 85 points.
Glen Scotia 18 yo 1991/2009 (60.7%, High Spirits, cask #35) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: quite rough and spirity, grassy and porridgy, all that at 60% vol. Imagine. Hints of honey and vanilla lingering. Quick, water. With water: much nicer. Not any more complex but better balanced, with notes of bison grass vodka and many farmy/animal notes that we already had in the 1992. Water did (moderate) wonders here. Mouth (neat): powerful, moderately sweet, on vanilla and grass. Unaged tequila at full strength. Not much character but not easy-easy. With water: once again, water really improves this one. More herbal liqueurs, lemon liqueur and mild honey. The grassiness got toned down. Finish: rather long, on lemon marmalade, with the grass that’s back in the aftertaste. Comments: good stuff if you have good water, otherwise it’s a tad too unpolished for my taste. SGP:462 - 81 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Glen Scotia that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Ethipia's Mulatu Astatke playing Mulatu (simple as that). Excellent grooovey African jazz, please buy Mulatu Astatke's music.


April 20, 2010

Tasting three 1982-1983 Clynelish plus a bonus (make that three)
As long as there’s more Clynelish in the market, I’m as happy as a clam.
Clynelish 25 yo 1983/2009 (55%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #26.61, Refill Hogshead, 101 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: starts quite powerful, a little kirschy and very mashy, not very ‘Clynelish’ if I may say so. The anticipated waxiness isn’t quite there and there’s rather quite a lot of vanilla and cooked butter on top of all this rawness. Something raosted as well (nuts and bacon). Gets then farmier and more herbal – in other words, nicer. Mineral. Water may help. With water: full Clynelish now. All sorts of oils and waxes (linseed, lamp oil, graphite). A little peppermint as well. Mouth (neat): powerful, with the same kind of raw start as on the nose albeit fruitier, almost sugary in fact. Fructose. Also very grassy, between lemon and grass actually. With water: better, there are just faint ‘chemical’ notes (ink? Lavender?) but also quite some salt. Excuse me, a saltiness. Finish: long, grassy, earthy and liquoricy (liquorice wood). Comments: it’s a very good one, too bad there’s this slightly offbeat ‘chemical’ note, the rest is perfect. SGP:363 - 84 points.
Clynelish 1982/2010 (51.5%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #5895, 263 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: this one is rather heavy on oak and vanilla at first nosing, quite grassy as well, with also some leather and quite some cinnamon. Whiffs of cut grass and also some ham just like in the SMWS. Yet, it’s globally rounder and better integrated than the latter so far. After 15 minutes: much more distillery character, wax, linseed oil, sea breeze and moss. With water: yeah! One of these ‘modern’ Clynelishes that are so close to Old Clynelish (pre-Brora), just a little rounder and more polished. Lovable. Mouth (neat): very good attack, on this very peculiar combination of citrus fruits (more lemons and grapefruits) and wax/oils. Grape pip oil. Then more vanilla and grass, with quite some tannins. A very firm dram. With water: perfect. Not a wax-monster (c’mon) but the grassiness is perfect indeed. Finish: long, superbly zesty and Riesling-esque. Less vanilla, more green tea and some honey in the aftertaste. Comments: as good as a ‘modern’ Clynelish can get. I was afraid it would be a tad too much on vanilla but water brought that down. For Clynelish lovers. SGP:463 - 92 points.
Clynelish 27 yo 1982/2010 (55.1%, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 256 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: probably a sister cask of #5895, we’re extremely close. There’s maybe a little less oak and more coffee (café latte). A little more wax as well (Clynelish indeed), the whole Cynelishness developing after 15 minutes, just like what happened with cask #5895. With water: they converge even further. Pure Clynelish. Racing car engine (say a 1968 Cossworth – kidding). Mouth (neat): we’re even closer to cask #5895, only a tad punchier, which gives it kind of a chilli-like profile. Raw power, as Iggy would say. With water: same as cask #5895, that is to say perfect. Finish: very long, flinty, lemony, earthy, waxy… Some honey in the aftertaste. Comments: perfect ‘naked’ Clynelish. SGP:463 - 92 points.
Well, these Clynelishes called for more Clynelish. Wait, why not one from a rarer vintage such as 1980?...
Clynelish 15 yo 1980/1995 (43%, Signatory, Old Label, Tube, cask #1271, 2040 bottles) Three stars From a miniature, hence the high numbers. Colour: white wine. Nose: ha-ha, this is more austere and much more mineral than the 1982s. Leafier as well, grassier, farmier… And maybe also smokier. Garden bonfire, leaves, graphite oil… So far so good! Mouth: yes, even at a much lower ABV, this baby is far from being ridiculous after the big boys at cask strength. It’s a little saltier (tinned anchovies, brine) but also rather peatier, to the point where it could be mistaken for a 1980s Brora. Something slightly metallic in the background. Finish: rather long but there’s something slightly disappointing in the aftertaste, maybe something chemical (burnt vegetables, paper). Fish oil? Comments: everything was great until the finish. One should invent finishless whisky (no, water doesn’t count.) SGP:253 - 82 points.
Clynelish Brora 1976 Right… Who says Clynelish may also think Brora. Why not go on with two Broras? Or rather something even more unusual, trying a Brora and a Clynelish head to head, both from a rather rare vintage: 1976. It’s really an interesting vintage as it was the period of time when Brora’s peatiness got really toned down (from 1975 on).
Clynelish 1976/2002 (59%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, sherry, cask #6501) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: it’s not whisky, it’s coffee! Okay, it seems that there’s quite some peat behind all the sherry aromas (tobacco, blackcurrant buds, prunes, bitter chocolate, Seville oranges). There’s also a little sulphur, some pepper, kirsch, then all these tertiary aromas such as balsamico, game, ham, soy sauce… Even sardines. It’s very big whisky but I wouldn’t say balance is perfect here – so far. With water: wah! It’s the battle of the titans now, with huge whiffs of brine, tarry rope, full cigar humidor (Cubans only), pipe juice, fresh putty… Fab! Mouth (neat): thick and very powerful and madly fruity (add Clynelish’s fruitiness at the time to the sherry’s, imagine). Many notes of sweet liqueurs (fig liqueur, Bailey’s, also arak) plus tons of milk chocolate and a wee bitterness (strong liquorice). Sticks your tongue onto your palate! With water: im-pres-sive. Peat, pepper and liqueur-filled chocolates. High-end tequila (that family stuff from Cuervo’s – I’m afraid I now zilch about tequila) and many tarry things. Finish: as long as a… wait… a late 19th century Russian novel. That’ll do. Comments: simply impressive. It’s a peated Clynelish and the sherry’s big as well. Reminds me of some sherried Islayers in a certain way, think Laphroaig 1974 LMdW or Lagavulin 21. Extreme. SGP:664 - 93 points.
Brora 30 yo 1976/2007 (57.5%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 109 bottles) Five stars This is the bottle that made decide to quit collecting just any Brora when it came out, such was the price at the time (500+ €). You know, when you get the feeling that you’re milked, very unpleasant. But I promise I’ll be fair… ;-). Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is unexpectedly gentler than the Clynelish, a little peatier indeed but not that much, certainly coastal (oysters) and moderately farmy (hay). A sourness in the background (lime juice, yoghurt) and whiffs of wet newspapers. Also an unusual spiciness (cumin and nutmeg). Of course it’s nice but nothing really impressive so far, especially since the Clynelish is much bigger – and that isn’t only the sherry. With water: not much development, it got a little more coastal and leathery (some shoe polish as well, almond oil) but the rest almost vanished. Doesn’t swim too well. Mouth (neat): okay, okay, it’s quite wonderful. Rather more peat than expected, some pepper, some jams (apricots, plums), quite some lemon, marzipan and an obvious saltiness. And balance is quite perfect! Let’s try it with water: wonderful! Smoky almond liqueur (yeah, should that exist), seashells, sweet mustard, lemon marmalade and green pepper. Finish: rather long, more resinous and very pleasantly bitter. Something both grassy and lemony in the aftertaste. Comments: a slightly disappointing nose but a great palate. They should have sold this baby for half the price ;-). It’s still worth a 90-mark in my opinion. SGP:355 - 90 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Clynelish that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Joanna Connor doing an unusually Vanhalenish (ugh) Texas. Classic American rock by a queen of blues-rock. Please buy Joanna Connor's music.

Joanna Connor

April 19, 2010

Tasting four Irish single malts and one English
Tullamore Dew 10 yo (40%, OB, single malt, +/-2010) Two stars Colour: full gold. Nose: starts sour and porridgy, with just hints of overripe bananas on top of it. Notes of cider, sour apples, wet cloth and cardboard, hints of baby puke… Sour cream, vanilla custard. What’s more, all that is quite heady but I wouldn’t say it’s flawed, of course. Just not my kind. Gets quieter after 15 minutes. Mouth: good sweet attack on pears and caramel but drops quick. Some oak and vanilla. Raspberry jelly. Finish: medium long, on the same notes. Comments: a style of whisky that’s not amongst my favourite (an euphemism) but I won’t deny it’s got its moments. How PC is that? SGP:530 - 70 points.
The Irishman 'Single Malt' (40%, Hot Irishman Ltd, +/-2009) Two stars Matured for over a decade, limited to 1,000… cases, states the label. Good one. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is much straighter than the Tullamore (tout l’amour, say my compatriots), starting much more on pear and pineapple drops, but it gets then a tad spirity and oddly woody. Cold tea, then hints of incense, tinned litchis and maybe a little crushed fresh coriander. Whiffs of wet iron. An unusual nose, not unpleasant at all despite a growing meatiness that’s a tad offbeat. Mouth: a tad weird in the attack, slightly weak. Gets then much closer to the Tullamore – almost similar in fact. Pear drops and vanilla, hints of Parma violets. Finish: shortish, on peppered pears. Comments: I like this one a little better than the Tullamore, it’s more complex on the nose. SGP:530 - 73 points.
The Wild Geese Irish Soldiers & Heroes (43%, OB, single malt Irish, +/-2009) Two stars What a strange name! Could it be an attempt at capitalising on some sort of weird outmoded patriotic sentiments? Colour: pale gold. Nose: the profile is quite similar to the Irishman’s at first nosing, with these notes of pineapples and pears, but it develops differently, in a straighter way. Apples, grains, porridge, bananas, vanilla… The whole is rather clean and fresh, but not too complex. Mouth: once again, we’re close to the previous ones. Pears and pineapples, hints of rosehip tea, eglantine… Finish: short, sweet, on pears and vanilla. Comments: I think these Irish are good but they lack body and mouth feel. It’s probably me. SGP:530 - 75 points.
Bushmills 21 yo Madeira Finish (40%, OB, single malt, +/-2009) Three stars and a half I’ve never been a huge fan of Bushmills’ ubersweetness and the 21 never totally convinced me (+/-81) but maybe this newer batch will make me change my mind. Colour: gold. Nose: starts even more unusual than I remembered from earlier batches, with notes of tinned sardines (?) and even anchovies at first nosing, brine… Calms down after a minute, getting more ‘Bushmills’, on bananas and vanilla, mastic, red currants, stewed red fruits, a little leather… Keeps improving. An interesting nose for sure, these hints of tinned fish never completely disappear. Mouth: quite strangely, we’re close to the previous ones at first sips but the main difference is that this one has a much longer development and is much more complex. More fruits (bananas, also figs, litchis, ripe gooseberries and strawberries…) and more spices. Quite some cinnamon as well, from the oak. Finish: medium long, very sweet, very fruity. Something of a fruit liqueur. Kiwis? Comments: as expected, it’s rather exuberant but even if it’s not my cup of malt, I must admit it’s of high quality. Let’s raise its score a bit if you will… SGP:751 - 83 points.
St George 3 yo 'Chapter 6' (46%, OB, The English Whisky Co., unpeated, 2009) Two stars No Irish of course but this was the first release of St George as a genuine whisky (3 years of age). Colour: white wine. Nose: young, fresh, grainy malt whisky, not far from newmake, with also the expected notes of apples and pears (isoamyl acetate) as well as a little porridge and damp oatcakes. Reminds me a bit of the first Arrans at the time. Quite pleasant but obviously immature. Mouth: once again, it’s very young but one can feel that it’s quality distillate. Rather rich and very fruity, on pears of course but not only that. Clementines, Turkish delights, violet sweets, raspberry drops (very obvious), even cherry sweets, nice notes of lavender sweets (nothing to do with perfume)… It’s not whisky, it’s confectionery! Finish: medium long, even fruitier. Comments: the nose is still raw and immature but I must say the palate is attractive. This should start to be great when it’ll be ten or more, it’s already ‘as good’ as the average 10yo Irish malt in my view. SGP:520 – 72 points.


SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

Testing some Speech Recognition Software for Mac.
It's always been one of my dreams, to be able to dictate my tasting notes to my computer and to have very little corrections to do later on. I just gave it a go... (it's called Macspeech)

Roraima €30 all 1976 -- 2007 57.5 per science detail latching on 109 bottles. Gather straw. Notes: this one is very powerful at first nosing with a lot of smoke, some other US notes of firing throng, something milky, something rather rough, maybe slightly better in I also get some further, wet dog is, and a wide array of spices. I quite liked his nose. Alex doubled out very smoky and mindless cruelty. There is something slightly narrative with notes of oyster, and maybe a little of their media and Karen L in the background. Conclusion it's a great small is for sure is very typical of the distillery. I recommend it's. SGP 367 88 points.

Right, right, my accent must be really wrong! The software had said it was pefect during the training phase but... Well, I think it's all pretty useless. I'll give it another go in the very distant future.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a bit of heavy greasy funk with the legendary Reuben Wilson at the Hammond organ playing Yes sir. Yes sir! Please buy Reuben Wilson's music.

Reuben Wilson

April 18, 2010

Glen Mohr

Tasting two rather difficult Glen Mhor

Glen Mhor 1982/2009 (46%, Coopers Choice, cask #1350, 345 bottles) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: ah yes, this is a typical ‘natural’ Glen Mhor but without the usual and sometimes strange ‘leathery meatiness’. Rather flinty and waxy, with hints of horseradish and dill as well as a little mint and plain grass, all that coated with some vanilla and notes of newly sawn oak (slightly toasty). Also some unexpected floral notes, dandelions, nectar… Not that typical, after all, and rather gentle. Mouth: powerful and just as flinty and waxy as on the nose, with many bitter notes (grass, green tea, lemon peel), something mustardy again, something slightly sour (green cider apples) and a faint dustiness. More unsexy than on the nose. Jägermeister. Finish: rather long, getting peppery and even more mustardy, with a few sugary notes (candy sugar). Comments: old style Highlander, sometimes a little sweeter than expected but otherwise relatively rough and ‘rural’. SGP:362 - 82 points.
Glen Mhor 15 yo 1976/1992 (60.9%, Cadenhead, 150th anniversary) Two stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: yah! Much more austere, peppery and mustardy than the 1982, with heavy notes of roots, cut vegetables (turnips, Baldrick?) and a huge flintiness. Wet limestone, ‘clean’ floorcloth, flint, lamp oil, a lot of grass… This one’s very ‘strict’ when undiluted. With water: even more austere, extremely grassy and flinty. Unexpected whiffs of seawater. Mouth (neat): extreme notes of waxed paper and black pepper, nutmeg, chillies, cloves and a prickliness on your tongue. Not easy to say the least! With water: liquid pepper with just a little honey or maybe rather corn syrup. Finish: long, leafy, mustardy and peppery. Hints of very strong white rum or cachaça in the aftertaste. Comments: very difficult in my opinion but interesting as an example of a very raw old-style Highlander. Anti-modern, so to speak. SGP:282 - 78 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Glen Mhor that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the excellent Mohammad Gomar is the leader of the Iraqi Maqam Ensemble. Let's listen to this extraordinary blend of Iraqi music (on the jozza flute) and jazz called A dance on a Turkish song and then buy Mr Gomar's music!

Mohammad Gomar

April 16, 2010

Tasting three old independent Glenrothes (1969-1970)


Glenrothes 39 yo 1970/2009 (48.1%, Villa Konthor for Scots Whisky-Forum, 50 bottles) Five stars A wee bottling for the German forum’s recent meeting in Limburg. Colour: gold. Nose: very typical, very expressive, starting on a blast of honey, vanilla, ‘yellow flowers’ and straight oak. The honey gets then more vivid, so to speak, with also quite some apricots, mirabelle plums and a little menthol. The oak is always quite loud but it’s a very nice oak, no plankish notes here. Keeps developing after quite some time, with notes of tea, maybe a little ripe banana as well as bergamots. High quality. Mouth: creamy and rather nervous, starting on many garden fruits as well as quite some tangerine and other citrus fruits. Even hints of cranberry juice. All that is coated with spicy oak, white pepper, cloves, ginger, cinnamon… Finish: rather long, with the spices to the front and notes of bitter oranges in the background. Comments: very good, oomphy and fruity Glenrothes, with a very big but perfectly tamed spicy oakiness. SGP:661 – 90 points.

Glenrothes 31 yo 1969/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask, 174 bottles) Four starsColour: gold. Nose: less fruits than in the 1970 but much more vanilla, caramel, café latte and a little coconut. In other words, lactone galore! Also notes of strawberry jam, blackberry jelly, a faint rootiness (probably from the oak) and unexpected hints of fresh pineapple that are usually more to be found in younger whiskies. Anyway, very nice nose once again, globally a tad more discreet than the 1970’s. Mouth: this time we’re closer to the 1970 but with more resinous notes, some liquorice, roasted honey-coated nuts, fir honey, bananas flambéed and quite some anisette (aniseed liqueur such as Marie Brizard, or even plain pastis). Very funny! Finish: rather long, with even more pastis. That’s it, a combination of oak, honey, liquorice and aniseed. Comments: very unusual palate. Probably the wood that played funny tricks here – good tricks! SGP:461 - 87 points.

Glenrothes 28 yo 1969/1998 (50.5%, Signatory, cask #19216, 260 bottles) Four stars Colour: full gold. Nose: once again, a rather expressive nose but this one is more ‘cooked’, that is to say more on stewed fruits and honey sauce, with something roasted and coffee-ish in the background. Also some unusual whiffs of cooked vegetables, French beans, maybe even spinach. The whole makes for an interesting dram, much different from the ‘average’ old Glenrothes (don’t get me wrong, old Glenrothes aren’t ‘average’ at all!) Mouth: rich and, once again, sort of ‘cooked’ and slightly bitter. Herbs liqueur. Some honey again, apple pie, blackcurrants and quite some pepper that starts to invade your palate. Notes of sherry, walnut liqueur and orange zests. Tends to get cleaner and a tad fruitier. Finish: long, with yet again quite some oak. Thyme tea and a little rubber in the aftertaste. Comments: more or less the same high quality as with the DL, this one being just a little less ‘interesting’ (and a little more rubbery, probably the sherry). SGP:461 - 85 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Glenrothes that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: bop isn't dead and doesn't even smell funny. Proof: Canada's Alex Dean 'blowing' Parker 51 (from his new record 'The Power of Beauty'). Please buy Alex Dean's music.

Alex Dean
SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

What's a fan on Facebook?
Why would we be fans of just any brand, company or obscure digital entity out there? I’m a fan of Jimi Hendrix or Lucian Freud and I’m even a fan of Brora Distillery, but I’m no fan of The Jolly Old Single Grain Tasters’ Blog or of the Advanced High-Altitude Pisco Company. Friend, why not, follower, why not, but fan, certainly not. It’s probably rearguard action but I believe words have meanings, even on the Internet. As for little Whiskyfun, we’re not Michael Jackson, we’re not higher up than you, we don’t deserve fans, we don’t fish for fans, only friendship counts. Please don’t be a fan
! ;-)


April 15, 2010

Interstellar Overdrive (what?): four old Highland Park distilled in the 70s
Highland Park 1973

Highland Park 28 yo 1977/2006 (46%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: well, this one could well have been an official bottling. Indeed, it’s got everything we’re expecting from an old HP OB, heather honey, faints whiffs of peat smoke, dried fruits, flower nectar, light tobacco, echoes of the sea (okay, sea air), a few herbal notes, earl grey tea, chamomile… All that is rather elegant and very well polished despite a few coarse woody notes in the end (pepper and ginger tonic). Mouth: a little strange in the attack, with unexpected medicinal notes (eucalyptus tea, cough syrup) as well as notes of sweet mint and liquorice that make it very, well, unusual. It’s got something of a very old Islayer (believe me or not, it reminds me a bit of the slightly infamous Ardbeg 1965 OB but this HP is better on the palate). Other than that we have quite some orange marmalade and honey as well as notes of sweet curry sauce and many other spices. Do I like it? Pretty much so! Finish: medium to short but superbly clean and sweetly resinous. Comments: a classic on the nose, a very interesting variant on the palate. The whole makes for a great dram in my opinion, mucho recommended despite the slightly weakish finish. SGP:553 - 91 points.

Highland Park 18 yo 1977/1996 (54.4%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, small white label) Five stars Colour: full gold. Nose: another one that’s rather in the ‘official’ style, that is to say rounded but oomphy, even if there’s rather more oak (fresh sawdust) than usual. Other than that, we have honey, pollen, flowers, smoke, apricots, tea and a wee chalkiness (wet limestone). With water: more meat and parsley. A little leather as well. Mouth (neat): not as unusual as the HB now, rather an all-classic HP, just as on the nose. Dried figs, dates, marzipan, Corinthian raisins, liquorice and a slight peaty bitterness (close to the chalkiness on the nose). Maybe a tad simple. With water: no, not simple, it just needed water. Typical ‘nervous’ honeyness, orange liqueur, aniseed (artisanal pastis), liquorice (that’s in pastis too), orange liqueur… Finish: rather long, coating, on orange marmalade, honey and that very peculiar spiciness that sometimes comes from well-evolved peat. Comments: another very excellent one. I hope the new OB won’t have a hard time now… SGP:542 - 91 points.
Highland Park 1973/2010 (50.6%, OB, travel retail) Five stars This is the newest bottling, we already tried the three younger ones and they were good. Colour: gold. Nose: well, if both 1977s were in the official style, that means that this 1973 is close to the 1977s (do you follow me?) Maybe a tiny-wee tad more aromatic, with a little more sandalwood and maybe orange blossom, other than that we have plum jam, heather honey, quince jelly, a little peat smoke, tea, just a little mint, hints of rhubarb pie… The whole is superb and does not call for water. Yet… With water: not much changes, I told you ;-), but it was already perfect when neat. Mouth (neat): beautiful! The oakiness is bigger than in the IBs but the rest is perfect, majestic and complex. At random: mint, dried fruits, liquorice, lemon marmalade, orange marmalade, quinces, plum jam, honeydew, macaroons… and god knows what else. With water: yes! We’re close to perfection now. Extraordinary playfulness at 37 years of age. Finish: rather long, smooth but firm at the same time, delicately spicy and phenolic, candied, honeyed… Leaves a very fresh and clean aftertaste with just a few tannins. Say 3 tannins (not 2, not 4 – joking). Comments: I’ll soon have to travel (even) more. SGP:552 - 93 points.
Highland Park 19 yo 1970/1989 (52.9%, Gordon & MacPhail for Sestante, green glass, cork stopper, 75cl) Five stars Colour: full gold. Nose: more discrete than the three previous ones, kind of restrained, less emphatic but maybe even more complex behind the scenes. The smokiness gets bigger after a few seconds, the minerality as well, a faint meatiness (Jabugo). A wee dustiness (flour). With water: more chalky/dusty notes and even something slightly metallic, almost assets to the whisky in fact. On the other hand, there are also wonderful whiffs of moss, wild carrots, dill and fir honey (or honeydew). Mouth (neat): punchy but very complex right from the start, with everything that was in the others but also added notes of fresh mushrooms, herbs and something very funny that the trendy chefs over here tend to add to any dish just now: borage flowers. Ha, fashion cooking! With water: oh, a copy of the 1973! How did they do that twennyone years ago? Finish: perfect. As often, +/-20 years in wood plus +/-20 years in glass make for perfect malts. Comments: same high level as the new 1973 OB. These HPs have everything. SGP:553 - 93 points.
PS: a vatting of all four in the glass is purely interstellar (something like 95 points or maybe even more). Oh, and I just checked that there are now more than 250 different Highland Parks in Whiskyfun's tasting database. And many thanks, Konstantin.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Highland Park that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: in 2006 the Berger Knutsson Spering trio did a wonderful recording of some old Don Cherry tracks with daughter Neneh Cherry and son Eagle Eye. It was called See You In A Minute- let's listen to Ganesh and then buy the whole CD.


April 2010 - part 1 <--- April 2010 - part 2 ---> May 2010 - part 1

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



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

Brora 30 yo 1976/2007 (57.5%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 109 bottles)

Clynelish 1976/2002 (59%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, sherry, cask #6501)

Clynelish 1982/2010 (51.5%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #5895, 263 bottles)

Clynelish 27 yo 1982/2010 (55.1%, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 256 bottles)

Glen Avon 35 yo (41.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/- 1995)

Glen Avon 40 yo (55%, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-2000)

Glenfarclas 40 yo (46%, OB, 2010)

Glenfarclas 1962/2008 (52.0%, OB, 'Family Casks' release III, cask #2647, 161 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1963/2007 (56.7%, OB, 'Family Casks', cask #4098, 420 bottles)

Glengoyne 1972 (51.2%, Jack Wiebers, Prenzlow Collection, cask #4201, +/-2009)

Glenrothes 39 yo 1970/2009 (48.1%, Villa Konthor for Scots Whisky-Forum, 50 bottles)

Highland Park 28 yo 1977/2006 (46%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection)

Highland Park 18 yo 1977/1996 (54.4%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, small white label)

Highland Park 19 yo 1970/1989 (52.9%, Gordon & MacPhail for Sestante, green glass, cork stopper, 75cl)

Highland Park 1973/2010 (50.6%, OB, travel retail)

Probably Speyside's Finest 41 yo 1967/2009 (50%, Douglas Laing, OMC, REF 5159, 305 bottles)

Speyside's Finest 43 yo 1966 (48.2%, Douglas Laing for The Whisky Show, sherry butt #5525, 197 bottles)