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

August 30, 2008

Michael Jackson left us one year ago. We'll always miss him.

August 29, 2008



Scapa 8 yo (57%, G&M for Meregalli, longship label, late 1980’s, 75cl) Colour: pale gold. Nose: powerful and even a tad spirity at first nosing, with a rather ‘maritime’ background (see air). Quite some smoke as well, even peat smoke as such, and then a development all on apples (compote, overripe) and honey. As heathery as some Highland Parks. Actually, this could be mistaken for HP. With water: a lot of smoke now, and a lot of stones, mint and wax as well. Very ‘old Highlands’, a style that just cannot be found in recent bottlings from any distillery these days in our opinion. Mouth (neat): punchy, starting more on coffee flavoured liqueur (Kahlua) and fruit drops (strawberries) with also something meaty (more ham than beef). Really characterful, even if it’s a little rough around the edges (a tad bitter and tannic). With water: more drinkable but maybe a little simpler than expected. Fruitier (simply apples and pears.) Water almost killed the meaty notes here. Finish: long and compact. Comments: bizarrely, water worked great on the nose but not quite on the palate. Prepare two glasses… SGP:434 – 84 points.
Scapa 8 yo (100°proof, G&M, White/Black Label, Pure Malt, 1980's, 75cl) Colour: amber with reddish hues. Nose: more smoke, more peat and more sherry. Gunflints, coal oven, walnuts, pepper, honey, chicken bouillon, hints of chives… Even a little tar and hints of spearmint. Unexpectedly complex. With water: it got quite exceptional, blending the ‘longship’s’ Highlands style with much more meaty notes than when undiluted. Various herbs (parsley first.) Superb. Mouth (neat): very thick, very creamy, almost ‘spoonable’. Also punchier than the latter batch. Peppered orange marmalade, blackcurrant jelly, a little pine resin (or cough medicine) and a very obvious smokiness. Very good, with a huge presence. With water: once again, water didn’t quite work on the palate, as the Scapa got rather oddly fruity, almost bubblegummy. Fruit drops. Finish: without water, it’s still smoky and peppery, whilst with water, it’s much fruitier and a little too tannic. Comments: a truly wonderful whisky but tasting it is a bit complicated. Just like with the Meregalli, prepare one glass for the nose and another glass for the palate. SGP:444 – 88 points.
Scapa 1960 And also Scapa 1960 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, 1980’s, 75cl) Nose: maybe a tad too soft and slightly papery at first nosing but doesn’t stop developing after that. Honey and brown sugar. Mouth: more powerful and expressive. Acacia honey, nougat and butterscotch. SGP:441 – 87 points (and thanks, Jean-Michel)
MUSIC – Recommended listening: a beautiful old rag by Al Bowlly (hi RT!), sung by the wonderful and underrated Rose Murphy, called Is I in Love, I Is.mp3. Please buy Rose Murphy's music. Rose Murphy

August 28, 2008


Benrinnes 12 yo 1992/2004 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland) From a sherry cask. Colour: gold – bronze. Nose: quite some sherry (bitter oranges) and notes of vanilla fudge and butter toffee plus a little wood smoke. Gets then rather meatier and earthier, a little Mortlachian so to speak. Whiffs of fresh mint as well, sandalwood… Quite a lot happening, Benrinnes isn’t boring malt for sure and this one is no exception. Mouth: sweet and round, orangey, chocolaty and minty. Notes of toffee and caramel fudge, Demerara sugar, malt… A little less assertive in the middle but the whole stays the course. Finish: medium long, maltier, with a slight smokiness. Comments: very drinkable but not just that. Interesting version to try next to a deluxe blend to show your friends what more malt can do to Scotch whisky. SGP:432 – 83 points.
Benrinnes 1988/2006 (53.7%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #891) Colour: white wine. Nose: starts on similar smoky and beefy notes but there’s also more green apple, as if this one was much younger than the 1992. Whiffs of soot and coal behind the fruity notes. Gets more phenolic with time but also slightly plastic-like. Paraffin. With water: less ‘plastic’ and more organic. Wet hay and wet wool. Mouth (neat): a little pungent, bitterish and even prickly (ginger tonic) at the attack. Quite some pepper as well plus hints of apple liqueur (manzana verde). With water: gets much grassier and still sort of fizzy. Ginger tonic indeed. Finish: long, gingery and peppery, with hints of lemonade. Comments: not an easy/sexy version of Benrinnes for sure. SGP:262 - 74 points.
Benrinnes 1975/2006 (55.5%, Gordon & MacPhail for Holland, cask #3444, 204 bottles) Colour: deep mahogany. Nose: this is a pleasantly sulphury kind of sherry it seems, with heavy notes of beef bouillon mixed with gunflints and used matches. Also quite some rubber (bicycle inner tube) and blackcurrant jelly as well as very unusual notes of Bolognese sauce (tomato and beef) plus a little mint. Rather spectacular. With water: all on old walnuts, beef bouillon and chocolate now. Very, very nice. Mouth (neat): very spectacular indeed but it may be too much here, with heavy tannins, both from the wood and from the wine it seems (grape skin, apple peeling). Blackcurrant and cloves jelly – should that exist. With water: it got better again, more in line with the nose, even if there’s still something tannic. More gingery as well. Finish: long, gingery, peppery and even mustardy. Comments: a rather spectacular evolution. Very dry on the palate. SGP:462 - 84 points.
And also Benrinnes 1975/2006 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail for Juuls, cask #3443, 250 bottles) A sister cask. Nose: starts right on bicycle inner tube and barbecue. Then classic, very big sherry, very spectacular. Mouth: punchy, very chocolaty and rummy. For lovers of sherry monsters, a smoother, easier and better integrated version than the C/S one in my book. Wondering what would have happened, had they switched both (#3443 at C/S and #3444 at 46%). 88 points.
And also Benrinnes 19 yo 1968/1987 (57.1%, Sestante) Nose: roasted nuts and Provence herbs, unusual whisky again. Also olive oil, oranges, chocolate, then chalk and wet stones. Mouth: powerful but elegant, rounded and sweet. Herbs liqueur, ginger, crystallised lemons and a little pear. Quite some peat. Perfect balance, truly multidimensional. Long and still punchy finish on pepper and ginger. SGP:462 – 90 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: wanna go Celtic again? Okay but with a Breton singer this time. He's the wonderful Gilles Servat and he's singing La route de Kemper.mp3. Live! Please buy Gilles Servat's music! Gilles Servat

August 27, 2008


Glen Elgin 1980/2007 (44.4%, Scott’s Selection) Colour: very pale gold. Nose: elegant and slightly smoky (fir smoke, toasted bread) at first nosing, developing on more fragrant notes of cedar wood, old roses, fresh orange juice and light honey. Rather delicate and very elegant. Maybe just a tad yeasty in the background, with also whiffs of barnyard after the rain (oh well…). Mouth: very sweet and very fruity, with these yeasty notes again. Belgian Gueuze Lambic? Gets then more honeyed, but there’s still a lot of strawberries and ripe pears. A tad tannic as well. Finish: rather long, with the wood coming through now. Slight bitterness. Comments: the nose is much more elegant – albeit shier – than the palate. Good whisky altogether. SGP:541 – 82 points.
Glen Elgin 16 yo ‘Manager’s Dram’ (60%, OB, bottled 1993) Colour: mahogany/brownish. Nose: chocolate galore! Really, it’s just like when you open a chocolate bar. Also hints of mocha and ganache… Not much else, that is – yet? With water: yes, that works. It got rather earthy, leafy (Havana cigar, tea box) and even a tad peaty. Slight beefiness, hints of patchouli, walnuts… A very dry sherry it seems, and that’s pretty beautiful – should you not forget to add water. Mouth (neat): rather explosive and heavily concentrated, with a lot of sherry it seems (of the fruity kind) but it’s also a little too hot if you still need your palate before going to bed. So, with water again: it’s the best part. Crystallised oranges, gingerbread, plain ginger, liquorice and mint sweets, ‘spicy’ wine (mourvèdre, syrah)… Finish: long, even spicier. Superb tannins. Comments: water is obligatory here but then we have a beautiful whisky. As almost often with this series, we can’t say anything but ‘lucky DCL/UDV/Diageo managers!’ SGP:463 – 90 points.
Glen Elgin And also Glen Elgin 1975/2007 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, casks 5167/5170) Nose: very appealing, compact yet elegant, on pollen and lemon tree honey. Mouth: similar, with added hints of verbena and yellow Chartreuse (herbs liqueur). Slightly waxy. A very excellent dram. 90 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Scott Hamilton's velvety tenor sax does marvels in the very standard Crazy Rythms.mp3. Too mainstream? Come on! And please buy Scott Hamilton's music! Scott Hamilton

August 26, 2008


Laphroaig 1990/2008 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #2246) Colour: white wine. Nose: this Laphroaig starts rather more aromatic and fragrant than most ‘regular’ Laphroaigs, with even notes of lily of the valley. Then goes the muesli and the porridge (with bananas), then the expected peat blast, the whole getting finally hugely smoky. As smoky as, well, smoke. Also notes of wet dogs… Like wet dogs that would have walked through a kiln (I’m really sorry, dogs.) Mouth: maybe a tad buttery right at first sip (cooked butter with a little lemon) but it gets rather straighter after that, even if we do have this faintly flowery notes again (lavender sweets.) Then lemon drops, pepper and peat, with a very faint sourness. Finish: long, more on lemon juice and pepper. Slightly fizzy. Comments: good Laphroaig, with these pleasant lemony notes in the finish. Not a peat monster as such. SGP:436 – 83 points.
Aloha Grip 16 yo 1992/2008 (58%, The Nectar, Daily Dram, 180 bottles) Surely Laphroaig. Colour: gold. Nose: this is much smoother, rounder and more polished, as if it was from first fill bourbon. Huge notes of vanilla, custard, butter cream, crème brûlée… And then comes the peat, but it’s sort of polished again here. As if this one was made at Glenmorangie’s, if you see what I mean. Very interesting because it’s rather unusual. With water: as expected, it got much wilder, much more organic and much less ‘rounded’, even when down to 45%. Dry kelp on the beach, seashells, brine and cold green tea. Mouth (neat): we’re rather close to the well-known 10yo C/S OB, but with a little more oomph (more lemony notes like in the BBR.) Less ‘polished’ than on the nose when neat, and very drinkable, even when unreduced. Lemon pie, nutmeg, coriander and a lot of peat. Still, with water: it got very, very salty now. Finish: long, clean and immensely zesty. Comments: from ‘quasi-roundness’ to almost extreme ‘salty peatiness’, here are two Laphroaigs in one! Excellent variations, exactly what we’d expect from an IB’s. SGP:447 – 89 points.
Laphroaig 10 yo 1998/2008 (61.2%, Jean Boyer for the whisky-distilleries.info forum) This one will soon be available. Colour: white wine. Nose: this is the wham-bam kind of young Laphroaig, with truckloads of peat smoke, iodine, kelp and hints of antiseptic and fresh mint. Certainly the most ‘traditional’ of the three, maybe more traditional than all OB’s actually. With water: even more smoke, more iodine and more rooty/earthy notes. Prototypical. Mouth (neat): huge sweetness from the alcohol and then plain peat, a lot of lemon juice, apple peeling (very clean and pleasantly sharp bitterness) and a pinch of salt. Extremely compact and exactly ‘Laphroaig’ again. With water: it’s totally liberated now, displaying the perfect peat+lemon+spices+salt combo. Finish: goes on in the same vein for a long time. Comments: absolutely perfect young Laphroaig, extremely peaty and ultra-clean. SGP:338 - 91 points. (please note that I’m a member of the excellent whisky-distilleries.info forum, but I swear to Hueesskee, goddess of whisky, that these notes were totally impartial. - S.)
MUSIC – Recommended listening: the very excellent French bluesman Benoit Blue Boy does Tu parles trop.mp3 (you're talking too much.) Right, I'm writing too much. Please buy Benoit Blue Boy's music! Benoit Blue Boy

August 25, 2008

Clynelish 1972


Clynelish 14 yo 1993/2008 (57%, Adelphi, cask #7541, 282 bottles) It’s getting harder and harder for me to read what’s written on Adelphi’s bottles (yes we’re getting old) and that’s too bad. Although thanks to my camera’s zoom, I could still read this piece of wit that’s written somewhere on it: “Malt does more than Milton can to justify god’s ways to man – A.E. Housman.” Fair enough! Ah, yes, in case you’re not into English literature, it’s John Milton, not Milton Duff (man that was pathetic.). Colour: white wine. Nose: powerful and idiosyncratic, albeit a tad less waxy and mineral than usual it seems. Rather ‘green’, very grassy and very austere, and no fruits that I can smell. This one does not try to entice you – at least not when naked (will you stop it!) With water: more ‘Clynelish’ but still quite austere. Rubbed orange peel, hay, wet stones, beeswax. Very pleasant young Clynelish on the nose. Mouth: (neat): powerful, starting on coffee (which often happens with high-strength whiskies I think) and much more fruit than on the nose (when neat). A little burning and a tad rubbery as well, but that’s probably the alcohol. With water: it’s the best part it seems. Still quite grassy but better balanced, waxy, fruity, spicy and resinous. Finish: rather long, in the same vein but also with a little salt on the tongue. Comments: good, obviously, but not the best Clynelish in my book, including from Adelphi’s (they had a 1989 that was truly great a few years ago.) SGP:353 – 81 points.
Clynelish 35 yo 1972/2008 (53.7%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #12651, 273 bottles) From a hogshead. We loved a sister cask bottled last year (91) so we have deep hopes here. Colour: pale gold. Nose: yes. The expected winning combo of beeswax and dried/fresh fruits. Ripe pears, plums, blood oranges (really, and there are loads of them)… And more blood oranges and pink grapefruits. Orange squash. Hints of nutmeg and ginger as well (and ginger tonic), most probably from the wood. With water: even fruitier. Orange blossom water and strawberry jam. Lychee liqueur and fresh mint. Almost extravagant. Mouth (neat): an avalanche of fruity and waxy notes. At random: oranges (just any kind), grapefruits (ditto), quinces, dried ginger, fir honey, nougat… Quite some oak in the background (green tannins – okay here.) Faint hints of wasabi and quite some pepper. Paprika. With water: keeps developing but doesn’t change directions. Dates and figs, a little salt, cardamom, green pepper… Finish: rather long, more on waxy spices – or spicy wax – and a little mustard. Comments: almost all 1972 Clynelishes – and Broras of course - are great whiskies and this is no exception. Extremely typical. SGP:642 – 91 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: shabadabada, shabadabada, shabadabada... Remember? Let's have Claudine Longet's somewhat unlikely version of A man and a woman.mp3 today and then... WAKE UP! Please buy Claudine Longet's music... Claudine Longet

August 21, 2008

Cropredy, Oxfordshire, August 8th and 9th 2008
Ok Serge, let me start by explaining about the new Whiskyfun Festival Van, although I have to say I’m still at a bit of a loss to understand exactly what happened. We were testing out the kitchen gear, and what better way, I thought, than by turning out my Signature Festival Dish, Pork Pie Flambe avec Chips? It was going pretty well, and I honestly do believe that the recipe (I used to have one somewhere) said use a cupful of cask strength whisky for the flambé (I’d chosen a lovely 22-year-old Rare Malt Mortlach, which at 65.3% looked as though it would do the job). It certainly did, and by the time the flames hit the chip pan I knew that perhaps I’d been a bit heavy-handed with the whisky (next time I might try a Willie Dixon spoonful). Anyway, the long and short of it is that the van’s getting what you might call a bit of a facelift, and that we headed off to Cropredy sans luxury accommodation, with the emergency Whiskyfun tent in the back of the car, to spend a couple of days with the hoi polloi at ‘Britain’s Friendliest Music Festival”. Whiskyfun van
We passed on Thursday – just as well as it rained very heavily meaning that the site was already pretty wet and muddy when we turned up and pitched tent on Friday, just in time for lunch. That meant that we missed Supergrass, who had headlined the night before. “Who?” asked on my on site informant, who we’ll simply call Muddy B, when I quizzed him about the previous night’s performance, “Who were they?” he persisted, which I think speaks for itself. Of course like many fellow festival-goers he spent much of the three days sheltering from the weather in Cropredy’s Brasenose Arms and Red Lion. Thankfully, muddy though it was, Friday evening was rain-free. So we avoided the pub, and after a delicious Cornish Goan Fish Curry (a wonderful newcomer to the food purveyors here) got stuck to a spot in the muddy mosh, and enjoyed the company of some largely entertaining Cropredy veterans, many of whom had (of course) brought their beer with them in weather-proof containers.
Cropredy mud
I have to say I often think that for all the gate money they must take (this year’s close to another sell out, that’s twenty thousand people at something like eighty quids each, which adds up to, well, a lot of dosh) the organisers are a trifle stingy when it comes to booking bands. I know a huge amount must be invested in the infrastructure which is pretty good, but there’s a vast over-reliance on local acts of sometimes questionable talents and abilities. Anyway, Friday night is pretty good. We catch the end of Stackridge’s set – remember Stackridge? They’re famous for opening the first ever Glastonbury Festival in 1970, and the original line-up has reformed for the first time since the mid-seventies. Their style was an eccentric west-country melange of progressive rock, folk and end-of-the-pier music-hall. It still sounds the same and I have to say it’s very dated stuff, but good enough for the folks madly waving sticks of rhubarb at the front (I did say eccentric didn’t I?).
After some lengthy chit-chat from compere Whispering Bob Harris (the one-time Old Grey Whistle Test presenter and radio DJ), Paul Brady takes the stage. Brady emerged from the Dublin folk scene in the 1970s, and had a spell with Planxty and a while in a duo with Andy Irvine before launching into a solo career, marked by some outstanding albums of which Back to the Centre, which provides at least three of the evening’s songs, is perhaps the best known. He has also developed something of a reputation as a prized collaborator, partly due to his outstanding vocal performances. And his singing is on top form here – he’s got a very good band, and an outstanding guitarist in Bill Shanley (I’ll ignore the fact that Bill also plays in Gilbert O’Sullivan’s backing band), particularly when he gets going on his Gretsch Tennessee Rose.
Paul Brady
Paul Brady
But for all that I have to observe that Brady’s new songs (like ‘Say what you feel’. ‘Oh what a world’ and ‘The long goodbye’) are weak compared with tunes like ‘Follow on’ and of course his very famous ‘The island’. It’s almost like his been back pedalling since I last saw him over ten years ago. But it’s a good set, finishing with a moving ‘Homes of Donegal’.
Dave and Joe
Dave Edmunds (L) and Joe Brown (R)
Readers may remember that when we last saw Joe Brown he literally had the power cut on him in Bermondsey Park. Tonight he’s here with his band (yes – it’s the Bruvvers) – who have recently earned quite a reputation after barnstorming Glastonbury a few years ago with his charming and very good-humoured mixture of Americana, roots and rockabilly. At the start of their set the band seem a little unsure of how they’ll be received, but I can tell you that everyone loved every minute of it. Brown showed unexpected dexterity on guitars, mandolin and fiddle, and his band (featuring his son on guitars and mandolin) were equally accomplished both in their playing and their delicate backing vocals and harmonies. Brown, you may recall, was one of the UK’s earliest rock and rollers, who then made a name as a novelty act ("I'm Henry The Eighth"), performing in TV light entertainment shows and pantomimes. But he’s reearned his spurs, to the extent that his special guest is one of the UK’s greatest unreformed rock and rollers, the rather reclusive (he doesn’t even have a website) Dave Edmunds. Edmunds joined Brown for a couple of tunes (‘The winner loses all’) and then finger-picked his way with adroitness through ‘Lady Madonna’ ‘Cut across shorty’ and ‘Classical gas’ before being joined by the band for an energetic run-through of some of his hits, including ‘Queen of hearts’, ‘I knew the bride’, and ‘I hear you knocking’. Believe me, no one plays a bashed up customised Fender Telecaster quite like Mr Edmunds. Later he joined Brown again for songs like ‘Yellow dog blues’ and ‘Girl’s talk’. But it’s Brown’s show, which he ends strumming his ukulele with ‘I’ll see you in my dreams’. He also had one of the best jokes of the night. “I expect you’re wondering what I’m doing here surrounded by all of these guitars. Well you lot paid for ‘em so I though you might like to take a look’. Great stuff.
Following Brown were the Levellers, much more powerful and effective in this setting than in a two-thirds empty Brixton Academy a few months ago. They played with verve and vigour (and a very effective light and projection show), and were it not for the fact that after about six tunes all the songs sounded exactly the same (and were played at the same relentless frenetic tempo – hang on, am I showing my age?), and that the crowd around us were going beery-bonkers, we might have stayed to the end. As it was we navigated our way through the mud and back to base camp for a drop of Scotland’s midnight wine, to wait for whatever the weather would throw at us. Levellers Crossing
And sadly that was it. It rained so much the following morning, and the forecast was so bad, that we cut our losses, raised camp, left the soggy tent in the barn of a local friendly farmer to dry, and headed back to the Smoke, leaving the more hardy to the sea of mud that beckoned. We’ve done it before – you don’t really need to earn your medals twice do you?
The Levellers
The Levellers
Muddy B stayed, and here are his brief views on what we missed. Zappa tribute band the Muffin Men, “enjoyable” and Julie Fowlis (whom we saw singing a couple of songs in the Rogue’s Gallery show) “superb - despite singing exclusively in the Gaelic”. Muddy missed Midge Ure (who anyway frankly, like Vienna, means nothing to me) because it was raining so hard he went back to the Brasenose, and had this to say about Fairport Convention: “some good stuff here, but found the Sandy Denny obsession a bit of a drag. She's been dead for 30 years, and to devote a five-song session to her, reliving some of her songs (without any great signs of having re-worked them to reflect where the band is at now) was a bit like an audio mausoleum”. Muddy also seemed to miss out the fact that Robert Plant joined them for ‘Battle of Evermore’. And here is his rather sad conclusion on the whole weekend – “last year was special, this year less so. It almost felt as though the whole idea had got tired, and they didn't even allow an unaccompanied crowd-only chorus in ‘Meet on the ledge”, a pity as it's a genuinely moving moment”. Well I have to say we did, sitting in the warm, on a dry sofa singing it down the ‘phone to Jozzer and his doll, which was a genuinely moving moment for us, if not them. And next year – who knows? It depends if we can get the van fixed. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate and Nick's iPhone)


proposes his last Summer malt cocktail

Cocktail #8:
"My Sherry Riviera"

Pour into a shaker:
- 6 cl Aberlour 10 yo sherry cask
- 4 cl Marc de Provence (e.g. from Bormes Les Mimosas)
- 2 cl chestnut liqueur (ideally from Collobrieres)
- 1 cl crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur)
Add ice, shake and strain into a cocktail glass decorated with 3 blackberries lying upon a bay leaf.
Variants: Use other sherry typed malts instead of the Aberlour (Glenfarclas,
Macallan, etc...).
For a "Deluxe Sherry Riviera" use an aged sherry malt (e.g. Glenfarclas 17 or 21 yo) and an aged marc de Provence (e.g. Pibarnon Marc de mourvèdre 1990).
A very good and original after-dinner, where the "grape" makes the link between the whisky and the marc.
Good companion of a habano too.
My Sherry Riviera


Craigellachie 1994/2007 (56.4%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #1057) Colour: white wine. Nose: very, very typical young Speysider, as fruity and mashy as it can get. Granny Smith, muesli and mashed potatoes galore! Hints of kirsch, pears, tinned pineapples and green bananas (and plantains). With water: more of the same, plus plain grass. Even more porridge. Hints of aniseed. Not unpleasant but not really interesting. Mouth (neat): hot and uber-fruity. Big, big notes of apple liqueur, pineapple liqueur and vanilla fudge. Little oak and not much ageing it seems, despite hints of nutmeg. With water: more drinkable (of course) but still rather ‘neutrally fruity’ if you see what I mean. A little bubblegummy. Finish: long but without any significant aromatic development. Comments: not bad at all but maybe not what we could call ‘a cask deserving bottling as single cask.’ Exactly a 75-malt in my book. For summer cocktails? SGP:640 – 75 points.
Craigellachie 16 yo 1991/2007 (60.7%, Dewar Rattray, bourbon, cask #6924, 267 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: punchy, with more wood influence than in the BBR. Granny Smith (riper), vanilla, cut grass, ginger and cinnamon. Not overly expressive, I’d say. With water: rounder and balanced. More vanilla and coconut, resembling good grain whisky I must say. Liquorice allsorts. Mouth (neat): very, very strong at the attack. Apple juice, apple peelings, grape pips and a lot of alcohol. Ouch! Now, these notes of grape pips may help us fight the dreadful free radicals… With water: grain whisky again! A good one, that is. Turkish delights, strawberry sweets (Haribo’s stuff), coconut milk, vanilla fudge… And much less tannins than I thought (and no more antioxidants, alas). Finish: long, a tad grassier. Comments: a little more mature than the 1994, which makes sense. Pleasant and drinkable but don’t forget water. SGP:550 – 79 points.

August 20, 2008


The Roundhouse, August 5th 2008
You could easily get the impression that Jim White doesn’t want to be here. He wants to go home. He’s been in Europe ducking and diving between festivals, and he’s missing his little girls, accompanying guitarist and Fender maestro Patrick Hargon is also yearning for the company of his family back in the USofA. But the boys are back on a plane in the morning, leaving stand-in bass player, the Australian Christian Merry (well I think that’s what they called him) in London. Apparently, like most Australian bass players, he’s only missing getting to the pub for a few pints after the show.
We’re in the Roundhouse, and as it’s summer time and London’s mostly deserted (the rich folk having gone off to their Mediterranean gites and villas in search of the sun, and the less rich folks having headed off to hang out in Gatwick Airport for a fortnight) they’ve turned the main performance space into an intimate venue by hanging long black curtains (or drapes, for any of our North American readers) from the old cast iron pillars that form an enclosed circle in the middle of the space. But it’s hard to make this place intimate, especially when there’s a cavernous dome above your head, the crowning glory of this compact cathedral to nineteenth-century capitalism. But they’ve tried, and we’re sitting at round tables ordering rose wine from helpful waitresses as if there’s no tomorrow, which sadly it turns out there is.
It looks full. White looks over the audience and says, “I had a big crowd once before … and I screwed that one up too”. When he’s not reminding us of his homesickness White’s in expansive mood, and only just manages to squeeze thirteen songs in between his narratives and story-telling. Strangely, given just how engrossing White can be if you’re prepared to step into his world for a little while, this seems to grate with some of the audience. “More music” called out someone (according to a contribution on Mr White’s Forum the complainee was a “fat loud-mouth idiot at the back of the room”, but I couldn’t possibly comment), about half-way through the performance, as Jim is explaining the finer points of ”sceptimysticism”.
Transnormal Skiperoo This follows quite a lengthy discussion on “pessimistic optimism”, a “pre-emptive strike against fate” as Hargon describes it. We’ve also had a long story about Jim explaining to a girl in his cab that astral projecting was not a sin, some reflections on the condition of the United States (“people pay me to sing derisive songs about my country and I love it”), and perhaps inevitably some thoughts on evangelical Christianity in the southern states, prompted by an incident in a ice-cream (or was it snow-cone?) queue. “More talk” comes the riposte from others, gearing up for an edgy pantomime-style exchange. Before things get too heated, White calls time – “Sir, are you familiar with my oeuvre?”
The music’s good too. White plays an artful selection from his new album, Transnormal Skiperoo, mixed in with his hits. Merry’s bass-playing and singing is excellent, but Hargon’s understated guitar is quite excellent, adding both texture and depth to White’s music and lyrics. It’s hard to pick out the really good ones, but I might go for ‘Chasing Tornadoes’, about a youthful acid-fuelled encounter with an, err… tornado, ‘A town called Amen’, and the very funny and mildly topical ‘If Jesus drove a motor home’ (“Honking horns at the drive thru. Double-parking at the mall. Midnight at the Waffle House - Jesus eating eggs with ya'll”). ‘Take me away’ is a beautifully-crafted but most disturbing song about a suicide (where White deploys his vocal tape loops to great effect), and ‘Handcuffed to a fence in Mississippi’ is the song that still apparently has him banned from the State. ‘Still waters’ is just simply beautiful, and his final song, played solo on his banjo guitar after the band had left the stage and the curfew was over, was a spooky and chilling ‘Alabama chrome’.
I did say Jim White was going home, didn’t I? Well, to prove it he auctions off the bass amp just before the end of the show, and then walks off to meet his audience at the merchandise stall with bags of dirty laundry. It’s all up for sale. It’s then that I briefly lose sight of the Photographer, only to find her ten minutes later clutching a pair of Mr White’s jeans. Watch out e-bay – superstar trousers are coming your way soon. But just watch out for fakes. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Listen: Jim White's MySpace page
Kate's gig photo album Kate's photographs


Kinclaith 16 yo 1966 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, Old brown label, +/- 1982) Built in 1957, Kinclaith was the last Glaswegian distillery when it was dismantled in 1975. No need to say that it’s not that often that one have the opportunity to try it. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s rather amazing how this is spirity at only 40% ABV. Starts on rather huge notes of plum spirit (slivovitz) and even sorb eau-de-vie (or serviceberry), then apple pie and shortbread, praline, caramel and chicory and getting finally rather buttery and vanilled, with a good oakiness. Surprising and different, as pleasant as the more recent ‘old map label’ versions. Mouth: very punchy again considering the low strength! Quite some salt and quite some fudge (which should make for salted fudge I guess) but alas, there’s also a rather big soapiness that we didn’t get in more recent versions. Lavender sweets. Finish: long, still quite soapy, with quite some tannins and pepper. Cinnamon. Comments: it all started almost excellently on the nose but these soapy notes are a problem on the palate. Too bad. SGP:340 – 69 points.
Kinclaith 35 yo 1969/2004 (51.3%, Signatory, cask #301446) This one isn’t from the same cask as the more ‘common’ (well) version at 54%. Colour: gold. Nose: extremely oaky, almost like newly sawn oak, with quite some varnish and liquorice roots. Much more mint coming through then, hints of tinned pineapples, orange juice, hay, pears, green apples… Fresh oak stays very dominant but once again, it’s far from being unpleasant. The whole is pretty fresh at such old age, but it’s the palate that’ll determine the outcome here, as often with old whiskies. Mouth: sweet, fruity and oaky, and as young as it can get. Orange fizz, oak (cheap new world Chardonnay), mastic, bubblegum… And all the spices from plain oak, white pepper first. Finish: long but gets a little bitterish. Comments: better than it sounds in my notes, and more than just a curiosity, as the very heavy oakiness isn’t as repulsive as it could have been. Plus, it’s a curiosity! Well, at 1,000+ Euros a flask, one is meant to get curious, but as they say, for that price... SGP:470 – 80 points (including maybe two or three emotional extra-points.)

proposes a new Summer malt cocktail

Cocktail #7:
"Sea, Malt and Sun"

Pour into a tumbler with ice:
- 6 cl Glenmorangie Original
- 2 cl liqueur d'abricot du Roussillon (or another apricot brandy)
- 2 cl liqueur de mandarine de Menton (or another tangerine liqueur)
- 1/2 lime juice
- finish with orange juice
Stir and serve decorated with one lime slice and a blackberry.
Variants: Substitute the Glenmorangie with another young, fresh, fruity and spicy malt of your choice. Watch out: this cocktail is "almost too easyly drinkable"!
Sea malt and sun

August 19, 2008

Caol Ila


Caol Ila 25 yo 1979/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, DL REF 2001, 323 bottles) Colour: very white wine. Nose: a very clean and very zesty Caol Ila. Lemon, oysters, kelp, wet chalk and a rather grassy peat. Gets a tad more medicinal after a while (iodine, antiseptic.) Very, very clean. Mouth: punchy, salty and very, very ‘fishy’. Maybe one of the most ‘fishmongeriest’ (!! – at least I’m sure you see what I mean.) whiskies I ever tried. Kippers and smoked salmon plus a lot of gentian, roots, dill… Spectacular whisky. Finish: very long and still very clean and hugely maritime, with a very, very peaty aftertaste. Comments: as I wrote, impressively maritime. If you like that, you’ll love this. SGP:257 – 90 points.
Caol Ila 27 yo 1981/2008 (53.8%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #2932) Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely different from the 1979. Much more vanilla and butter but there’s quite some iodine again. Seashells. With water: clean but maybe a tad simple. A round Caol Ila, without the 1979’s fabulous sharpness. Notes of wet clay and very nice notes of pine resin arising after a while. Mouth (neat): powerful, less maritime than the 1979 and more candied/fruity, even if there’s a lot of peat again. Gentian, lemon zests and liquorice. Lime juice and icing sugar (gets zestier over time.) With water: now it got very ‘fishy’ (kippers.) Lemon marmalade, ginger. Finish: long and actually, it’s at the finish that more things happen. More crystallised fruits (oranges, lemons), fudge, bitter oranges… Comments: one of these funny whiskies that get better once you’ve swallowed them ;-). SGP:366 - 87 points.
Caol Ila 26 yo 1982/2008 (54.3%, Duncan Taylor for The Nectar, 269 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: this is another story, and a rather unusual old Caol Ila. More complex but also a tad ‘dirtier’ – not that it’s a flaw, mind you. Quite some liquorice, buttered caramel, mead (unusually big notes), pine resin, a little camphor, fisherman’s boat (diesel oil included), cut grass… With water: now, this got really spectacular. It smells just like an excellent green tea! Plus quite some peat of course. Mouth (neat): oily mouth feel and once again, an unusual profile. Very liquoricy and very earthy/leafy. Various herbal teas (cherry stem, hawthorn), notes of fresh mushrooms - ‘peppered boletus’ – don’t know if you can find that where you live, more liquorice in all its forms (including salty)… Quite a monster, very, very concentrated. With water: gets a little more ‘normal’ but still with something pleasantly dirty. We get hints of thyme and lavender (not he dreadful, perfumy kind of lavender.) Finish: long, more on liquorice roots, resin (and mastic) and salt. Comments: very interesting variant on Caol Ila. Maybe not one to buy if you don’t have any 20+yo Caol Ila in your cupboard, but if you’ve already got one or two ‘regular’ ones – or if you are rather a blasé kind of whisky freak -, you should really add this version to your line-up. SGP:456 – 90 points.
Caol Ila 25 yo 1982/2007 (60.8%, First Cask, cask #741, 220 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: we’re in the same league as the ‘26yo’, only bigger and more powerful. And maybe a tad more buttery. Huge notes of spearmint. With water: we’re close to the 26 again. Maybe a tad more on the ‘coastal’ side (kelp, seawater.) Mint, dill. Mouth (neat): explosive, ‘cleaner’ than the DT for TN but also a tad less complex. Straightforward powerful Caol Ila. With water: excellent now, and way more typical. Salt, smoked fish, liquorice roots, peat, mastic, dried ginger, seashells (queen scallops) and lemon. Archetypical on the palate. Finish: rather long and a tad more resinous now. Comments: simply very, very good, and good evidence that Caol Ila is the most ‘drinkable’ of all peated Islayers – should you have water on the side. SGP:356 – 89 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: a fairly new band from Montreal named The Stills. With a name like that, it just couldn't remain outside WF's radar, coud it! Listen to Eastern Europe.mp3... Not bad at all! And please buy The Stills' music... The Stills

August 18, 2008

Linkwood 1997


Wild Nook 11 yo 1997/2008 (46%, The Nectar, Daily Dram, 300 bottles, Linkwood) Colour: straw. Nose: starts on a lot of apple juice and candy sugar as well as hints of cinnamon cake and soda water and gets then a little minty and even a tad medicinal (iodine). Pack of sweets, orangeade, cranberry juice and Turkish delights. Gets more and more orangey over time (orange squash). Also hints of hay. Pleasant freshness. Mouth: pretty much in the same vein, very ‘natural’ but not ‘neutral’ at all. Ripe apples and cinnamon, white pepper, butter pears and dried ginger. Finish: rather long, more on dried apples this time. Hints of chlorophyll. Comments: again, a very natural malt that’s already well matured but that’s as fresh as a baby’s mouth. SGP:541 – 85 points.
Linkwood 1973/2003 (53%, James MacArthur, cask #14078) Colour: gold. Nose: what’s interesting here is that we have the same big freshness as in the 1997, and the same kinds of orangey notes. Fresher oranges than, say, in Dalmore. To tell you the truth, both are very similar whiskies, except for a bigger oakiness in the 1973, which makes sense I guess. Also slightly bigger notes of old roses and Turkish delights, orange blossom water. Mouth: more candied now, almost jammy. Apricot jam with brown sugar, vanilla fudge, kumquats, Seville oranges… Loads of spices from the wood get through after a while, such as cinnamon (a lot), white pepper, ginger, nutmeg… Finish: long but maybe just a tad too oaky now (something varnishy). Comments: very good old spirit from a cask that had quite a huge influence. Good news that they didn’t wait any longer… SGP:551 – 86 points.
Linkwood 12yo 1957 (56.9%, OB, for Eduardo Giaccone, Samaroli Import, Black Label, Screw Cap, 75cl) Colour: gold. Nose: less fruits here it seems, but a much bigger minerality, with also more smoke and sweet herbs. Unusual notes of radish (and even horseradish), wet newspaper (ink), graphite oil… As always, it’s hard to guess which aromas were there in the first place, when this was bottled, and which ones were brought by bottle ageing. Wot, do you still believe that whisky stops maturing once bottled? Funnily, we also have the same medicinal notes as in the youngster, that is to say hints of iodine and bandages. Dried flowers. Superb nose, very, very straight and kind of austere in a beautiful way. Mineral like some old Rieslings. With water: wonderfully fresh and almost maritime now. Call the antimaltoporn brigade! Mouth (neat): oh yeah! One would have imagined that a Samaroli/Giaccone tandem would have selected something great, and one would have been right. Even more magnificent than on the nose, with exceptional notes of all kinds of crystallised and dried fruits, the most precious spices and again something beautifully phenolic and smoky. The best cough medicine, no doubt. With water: absolute perfection. Finish: ditto. Superb pepper. Comments: I’m sorry but ‘wow!’ Exceptional whisky, with an incredible complexity. SGP:574 – 94 points (and heartfelt thanks, Konstantin.)
MUSIC – Recommended listening: this delicious old version of Irving Berlin's Be careful, it's my heart.mp3 by Bola de Nieve (aka Snowball, aka Ignacio Jacinto Villa). It's a remastering with extra bass by the wonderful Omar Hernandez. Better than Sinatra? Please buy Bola de Nieve's music... Bola de Nieve

August 17, 2008


proposes a new Summer malt cocktail

Cocktail #6:
"Pete & Jack have fun in St Trop!"
Pour into a shaker:
- 6 cl Macallan 12 yo sherry
- 2 cl liqueur de mandarine de Menton (or another tangerine liqueur)
- 1 cl crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)

Add ice, shake and strain into a champagne flute. Then finish with Pamp' Rosé (sparkling wine from St Tropez /Pampelonne).

Variants : substitute the Macallan with other young sherry-typed malts. Substitute the Pamp' Rosé with other sparkling wines, in order to change the holidays' location of Pete & Jack.
Pete and Jack cocktail
Miltonduff 1999


Miltonduff 8 yo 1999/2008 (46%, Duncan Taylor, Whisky Galore) Colour: white wine. Nose: a very malty and very fresh start, on cereals, mashed potatoes, fried semolina and freshly cut apples. Toasted and roasted, with also hints of yellow flowers and café latte. A rather perfect youngster I must say, love this toastiness. Mouth: fruitier now, all on apples and pears plus various spices such as white pepper and nutmeg. Orange squash, ‘pure’ malt, liquorice. A little smoky. Finish: medium long and coherent. Comments: a good young malt, fresh and clean (a bit more so on the nose than on the palate) but certainly not simple. SGP:441 – 83 points.
Miltonduff 1966/2008 (40.0%, Duncan Taylor, Lonach) Colour: gold. Nose: one might have thought that this is a tired old malt that’s barely ‘whisky’ anymore at 40%. Well, one is quite mistaken, this is fresh and lively, with rather beautiful notes of wild flowers, hay, quinces and good tea (good Darjeeling). Excellent maltiness, notes of roasted hazelnuts, wood smoke, warm cake, milk chocolate… And extremely pleasant nose, let’s just hope the palate will last the course. Mouth: well, it does despite all the wood that’s behind. A true pina colada, actually, with ultra-huge notes of coconut. Seriously, it’s like pina colada, only better! Finish: the longest pina colada ever. Comments: spectacularly coconutty. If you like that, try this! SGP:640 – 88 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: she's from Damascus (Syria, yeah) and she sings a fantastic Seher.mp3. Her name is Lena Chamamyan, and you should really buy her music if you can find it! (She really reminds me of Aziza Mustapha Zadeh).


August 15, 2008

TASTING – FOUR GLENCADAMS (or when the youngster wins)

Glencadam 1995
Mad Glance 12 yo 1995/2008 (46%, The Nectar, Daily Dram, 348 bottles, Glencadam) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is rather fiery and almost a tad spirity at first nosing, with rather big notes of plum spirit and Williams pears and quite some vanilla and oak on top of that. Butterscotch and fresh almonds. The fruitiness grows even bigger then, with some apples, dried longans and dates (somewhat reminding us of a very good arrak). Bottom line: oak matured pear eau de vie – which we like, mind you! (Alsatians distil the best pear spirit in da world, yeah, yeah). Mouth: now we aren’t very far from the official 15yo in style, with a rather big maltiness and notes of roasted nuts and vanilla fudge. Hints of bubblegum behind all that. Also a little coffee, caramel and burnt bread crust. The wood’s spices take part of the control after a moment, which gives one more dimension when compared with the 15yo OB. Finish: long and a little more on oak, even a tad prickly (tannins, pepper.) Comments: a very malty/fruity spirit (as almost often with Glencadam) that was matured in a very active cask it seems. Very good whisky but maybe not a blue chip, but we never had any Glencadam that really blew our socks off… SGP:551 – 84 points.
Glencadam 21 yo (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy, late 1980’s) This was probably distilled in the mid-60’s. Colour: gold. Nose: starts on a typical OBE, blending whiffs of metal pipes and camphor. Gets then more jammy than plainly fruity, with notes of apricots and Mirabelle plums, whiffs of spearmint and then a rather big oakiness (tannins, sawdust) that slightly disturb the whole after a few minutes. Gets somewhat plankish but the camphor behind is pleasant. Mouth: punchy but sort of indefinite at the attack. Bitterish and dry, with quite some mint and, well, lettuce. Sorrel? Very dry development. Too bitter I must say, let’s stop it. Finish: long but even more bitter. Comments: one of the very few “black dumpies” that I don’t like at all. Too bad, parts of the nose were interesting. Please note that it’s no stale whisky at all, this kind of ‘harsh bitterness’ can’t come from ‘bottle deteroriation’. SGP:271 – 68 points.
Glencadam 28 yo 1971/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 246 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: strange, there’s almost only oak in there for a while. Pencil shavings and fresh sawdust. Starts then to resemble the 1995 in style (less pears, that is, and more plums), only with much more oak, varnish and tannins. Carpenter’s workshop. Nicer than it sounds but certainly not very entertaining. Mouth: less oak this time, and more fruits, especially tropical ones (guavas and papayas here), with also apricots. Gets then a bit indefinite, alas, and rather malty/nutty/grassy. The fruitiness disappeared. Finish: long, with more liquorice now, but disappointing in style. Comments: three oaky whiskies in a row – even if the 1995 wasn’t too oaky at all. Does Glencadam stand oak? SGP:471 - 79 points.
Glencadam 13 yo 1974/1988 (61.1%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade) Colour: pale gold. Nose: very almondy this time, and not too overpowering in spite of the very high strength. Less oak this time, but still some sort of sharpness and austerity. Almost grassy. Wet dust (first rain in a city after long dry days). Rather big notes of pears arising after a long while, making it closer to the 1995. With water: even more pears, and even bubblegum and strawberry sweets (newly opened pack.) Also plain tea and cake, peppermint. Mildly pleasant in fact. Mouth (neat): Jesus! This is strong! Once again, there’s much less oak but the rest isn’t too expressive. Must be the high alcohol. With water: more malt, apple juice and these sorts of flavours that simply mean, well, ‘whisky’. Not much personality. Finish: medium long, mildly malty and with more pears again. Comments: no bad whisky at all but it’s a bit bizarre that Intertrade did select this at the time, as most of their other bottlings were top notch. SGP:441 - 78 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: this funny little piece by bluesman/folkman Alvin 'Little Pink' Anderson (son of the legendary Pink Andersion - of course), called Cook good salad.mp3. Please buy Little Pink Anderson's music!

August 2008 - part 1 <--- August 2008 - part 2 ---> September 2008 - part 1

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



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

Benrinnes 19 yo 1968/1987 (57.1%, Sestante)

Benrinnes 1975/2006 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail for Juuls, cask #3443, 250 bottles)

Caol Ila 26 yo 1982/2008 (54.3%, Duncan Taylor for The Nectar, 269 bottles)

Caol Ila 25 yo 1979/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, DL REF 2001, 323 bottles)

Clynelish 35 yo 1972/2008 (53.7%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #12651, 273 bottles)

Glen Elgin 16 yo ‘Manager’s Dram’ (60%, OB, bottled 1993)

Glen Elgin 1975/2007 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, casks 5167/5170)

Laphroaig 10 yo 1998/2008 (61.2%, Jean Boyer for the whisky-distilleries.info forum)

Linkwood 12yo 1957 (56.9%, OB, for Eduardo Giaccone, Samaroli Import, Black Label, Screw Cap, 75cl)