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Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2011 - Part 2

August 2011 - part 1 <--- August 2011 - part 2 ---> September 2011 - part 1


August 31, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
Only 20 Tobermories tasted for WF so far, that’s pretty ridiculous. Let’s add one right away…
Tobermory Tobermory 15yo Oloroso Sherry finish (46.3%, OB, Bottled +/- 2010) Three stars No easy whisky, and usually very polarising. Scores ranged from 71 to 86 for this baby at the MM Awards 2010. Let’s taste it more formally today… Colour: gold/orange. Nose: as porridgy as malt whisky can be, but it’s not off-putting at all, it’s just very peculiar. Also sour wood, walnuts, graphite, ‘pipe juice’ and old sweet wine (Maury and such). Quite some liquorice as well, roasted chestnuts… And then the heady porridgy/yeasty notes are back. Perhaps also a little marrow bouillon? Mouth: a jammy and candied sherry for a start, then crystallised oranges, caramel, Demerara sugar and quite some ginger/cinchona. No sourness. Really tastes like speculoos after a few minutes, not to mention a little stout beer. Finish: long, caramelly, ‘Guinnessy’. Some black tea in the aftertaste. Comments: a different dram that makes me think of some heavy pipe tobacco, I ‘don’t know why… I like this. SGP:361 - 82 points.
And now another ‘T-malt’. In the old days, I used to think that anything that’s beyond Talisker in the alphabet was, well, usually strange at best. More experience taught me how wrong and stupid I was – sometimes.
Teaninich Teaninich 27 yo 1982/2010 (49.2%, Bladnoch Forum, hogshead #7697, 147 bottles) Five stars I had so little Teaninichs so far (23!) that claiming that one was ‘the best’ would be excessive. Well, I had one at 90+ but it was an old 1957 by Cadenhead’s… Colour: straw. Nose: oh, it’s one these malts that scream ‘old Highlands’! Oily, fat, mineral, roundly grassy (do you see what I mean?) and perfectly spicy (green curry), with also quite some wax and graphite oil. This fairly Clynelish-esque style really clicks with me. With water: we’re closer to the barley, in a perfect way. ‘Visiting a malting plant’. Also something earthy and leafy. Great. Mouth (neat): perfect attack, with peppers, wax, sweet mustard, lemon and just touches of gritty oak. It’s like a slightly gentler Clynelish indeed! Gets then a tad spicier, maybe a little greener, but it’s still beautiful whisky. Really my kind! With water: gosh this is to my liking. Beeswax, kumquats, marzipan, fresh almonds and more wax. Finish: maybe not as long as expected, with maybe the oak coming too much to the front now. Bitter walnuts. Comments: probably very ‘segmenting’ and not to everyone’s liking but for me it’s brilliant whisky, only the finish was a tad lower in my book, which makes that I couldn’t go over 90. It’s still a perfect 90, but does that matter? SGP:352 - 90 points. (many thanks for this one, Carsten H.!)
That called for more T-malt, don’t you think? It seems I never wrote proper notes for the 2008 version of Talisker 30yo, for example…
Tasliker Talisker 30 yo (49.5%, OB, 2970 bottles, 2008) Five stars These babies pull very mixed feelings when tasted blind because, I think, they deliver rather less power than younger versions of Talisker (I think the 20 or 25 are much more consensual). Colour: gold. Nose: extremely dry, and extremely austere at first nosing, almost Jansenist if I may say so. Rocks, clay, earth (or even mud), coal, tar, leaves, putty, soot… It’s only after a good ten minutes that more bitter orange and fresh walnut notes do show up, but the whole never quite becomes fruity. There’s also more medicinal notes, disinfectant… And then the expected pepper.  With water: more ‘coastality’. Oysters and lemon. Mouth (neat): big, earthy, leafy, rooty and peaty attack, with quite some brine underneath. Very dry yet again, sharp, very austere, but I love this. With water: more medicinal, Islay-style. More sea stuff as well (to keep all this as short as possible). Finish: maybe not very long but ashier. Also a little olive oil, with something tannic? Also lemons, salt, pepper, oysters…. Comments: I know my descriptions may not sound very sexy, but actually, I adore this kind of whisky, which I find supremely elegant and so anti-commercial, whatever that means. Joni Mitchell vs. Britney Spears… hem, forget about that. SGP:265 - 93 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: more carefully selected African music that does not sound like the welcome band at any Clubmed, with Senegal's Kine Lam and her bass-fueled Takko Wade. Please buy Kine Lam's music.

Kine Lam

August 30, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
Let’s try to find something very unusual to kick this off… Such as an old Deanston?
Deanston Deanston 33 yo 1977/2010 (43%, Thosop, Belgium, 205 bottles) Four stars and a half The highest score I ever came up with for a Deanston was 85 for a very old 8yo. Other than that, this distillery rather cruises along the 75-line in my book, but I never had any old ones. Now’s the time. Please note that the 43% vol. mean natural cask strength here. Colour: pale gold. Nose: well, this is proof that any distillery can distil some excellent whisky from time to time. In this case, it’s probably the cask that did the main part of the job because beyond the very pretty notes of dandelions and plums, there’s quite some marzipan, putty and almond oil. Also notes of ripe greengages and café latte and then more and more eucalyptus from the cask (not that it was eucalyptus wood of course). Very nice, smooth grassy oakiness.
Mouth: it’s quite punchy despite the low strength, starting on very big notes of mead or the best chouchens from Brittany (chouchen is a kind of mead but beware the stuff they make for tourists, it’s sickly sweet). Also quite some marzipan yet again, touches of white chocolate, vanilla fudge... It’s all sweet and maybe not extremely complex, but very good it is. Crystallised papayas? Absolutely no invading oak here, which is quite a miracle. Finish: medium long, with wee touches of menthol thrown into the mix. Honeyed aftertaste. Comments: surprisingly fresh and good! No very complex stuff (i.e. 90+ material in my book) but it’s highly drinkable. Quite a miracle, in fact. SGP:551 - 88 points.
That calls for another oldie that’s relatively light in alcohol and fairly fruity… Such as another old Glenlivet? We’re having lots of Glenlivets these days, they work well as ‘pivotal’ malts in my experience…
>Glenlivet Glenlivet 1977/2009 (43.8%, Scott’s Selection) Three stars and a half Scott’s Selection already had an excellent 1975 Glenlivet three years ago. Once again, the ABV is ‘natural’ here. Colour: gold. Nose: hello, anybody in there? Little aromas, the whole is locked like Fort Knox. Maybe cider apples? A little graphite oil? Even after a lot of breathing, there’s almost nothing happening. Nada, niente, nichts. Let’s add a few drops of water, maybe that’ll work… With water: nope! Okay, maybe a few leaves – dead ones. And maybe corn syrup. Mouth (neat): what a contrast! Great attack, akin to many old officials that were issued recently (Cellar Collection). Apple pie, other fruit pies, then paprika, touches of honey, nutmeg… Also a little tinned pineapple sprinkled with cinnamon liqueur (make that plain cinnamon)… A little green tea as well from the wood. This is much to my liking. No water needed here. Finish: fairly long, with a perfect combination of sappy herbs with oranges and apples. Comments: as you know, many old whiskies are much more emphatic on the nose than on the palate. This little Glenlivet is so controversial! Anyway, what a great palate (90 material in that respect)… SGP:451 (palate) - 84 points.
Well, I just noticed that both the Deanston and the Glenlivet were distilled in 1977. I guess I couldn’t choose anything but another 1977 as #3… (after ten minutes…) Well, that was a stupid idea, it seems that I haven’t got any other recent 1977 in my tasting library. But no worries, let’s bring on the older bottlings! Such as this wee Caol Ila… (we’re sailing towards our 300th Caol Ila by the way, I think that’ll happen soon, I hope I’ll notice and choose a rare one to celebrate appropriately).
Caol Ila Caol Ila 18 yo 1977/1995 (52.1%, Wilson & Morgan, cask # 93.134-36, 288 bottles) Five stars Many of these old CIs by W&M have quite a reputation. Newer ones as well, of course… Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes, it’s one of these keroseny/petroly CIs, extremely mineral as well, and very grassy too. They aren’t easy in my experience and often need water or they’ll remain austere and a little stand-offish. Having said that, I do seem to detect nice whiffs of seaweed, sugarcane and crushed fresh walnuts… Let’s see. With water: it’s still a bit rigorous, so to speak, but the profile is perfect. Exactly ‘a walk along the quayside’ with fish, boats, pitch, nets, sea water and… wait, why not langoustines? ;-) Mouth (neat): absolutely fantastic attack, rich, mouth-coating, very peaty, lemony, salty, grassy, peppery… Many people think that Caol Ila is a lighter Islayer when compared with the big boys from the south shore but this baby will easily send many modern A***s or L***s back to the school of peat, I tell you. With water: ditto. Brine, roots, liquorice, ashes, lemon (a little this time), anchovy paste (really), smoked salmon… Oh well, this is perfect. Finish: very long and in keeping with the middle. Chillies in the aftertaste. Comments: an outstanding middle-aged Caol Ila. This, after fifteen or twenty more years of mellowing in glass… Oh my, it’s gonna be some Verdi.  SGP:368 - 93 points (with heartfelt thanks to Mr. Bert V.)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a strange and funny jazzy/funky piece by French pianist Martial Solal, who's not a funkateer at all. It's called Un Drôle D'escalier Roulant (a funny escalator). That was on 1974's 'Locomotion'. Please buy Martial Solal's music...


August 29, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
Starting a ‘varied’ session with a Rosebank is always a good idea. Well, not always, some can be quite big and fat!
Rosebank Rosebank 1990/2011 (50%, Reiffferscheid, Romantic Rhine Collection, cask #DL6492, 120 bottles) Two stars and a halfI’ve tried a good dozen 1990 Rosebanks so far and my feelings were very mixed, so I’m really curious about this one. Colour: straw. Nose: the first thing that strikes you at first nosing is quite a plankishness, followed with quite some vanilla, custard, green bananas... Not unpleasant but the fruitiness is somewhat hidden so far. With water: water makes it even more oaky and green. A lot of fresh oak. Mouth (neat): same feeling as on the nose when neat, it’s all coated with some rather loud ‘fresh’ oak. Sweet sawdust and banana skin so to speak… But nice body. With water: water unleashed he fruitiness this time, with nice notes of lemons and pink grapefruits as well as touches of fresh mint – from the oak I guess. Finish: rather long, lemony. Some green oak in the aftertaste. Comments: maybe this has been re-racked into new/fresh oak? Now, it’s no sweetie… SGP:361 - 78 points.
I need a relatively young, fresh whisky now… Not too strong… A Bowmore?
Bowmore Bowmore 12 yo 1998/2011 (46%, Duncan Taylor, NC2) Four stars Remember NC2 stands for not chill filtered and not coloured, if I’m not mistaken. Absolutely all the 1998 Bowmores I could try so far have been much to my liking (WF 85-88, all!) Very consistent spirit. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: exactly. 100% pure, smoky, maritime and mineral, what I call a ‘riesling malt’. Cool climate riesling, that is. Enough said. Mouth: perfect combination of brine, smoke and lemon. In truth, there’s isn’t anything else, or barely, but what it does it does well. Finish: long, a tad sweeter now. Lemon drops dipped in brine. Comments: right, it wasn’t very complex to say the least, but if you like this very zesty style, you won’t obligatorily need complexity. SGP:456 - 85 points.
That very good young Bowmore calls for something older and fatter by the same bottlers. Maybe such as this?...
Caol Ila Caol Ila 29 yo 1981/2010 (47.4%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #2927, 322 bottles) Five stars This baby won very solid silver at the MM Awards last year. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a very nice nose, with the peat starting to shade-off so to speak and new aromas starting to appear. ‘Old’ putty and turpentine, for example, pine sap, old chimney, tarry rope… It’s also quite briny. Touches of tangerines in the background. Very nice nose, really complex this time. Mouth: superb half-salty, half-lemony attack, very zesty, zingy… The peat roars in the background, it’s not as ‘pleasantly faded’ as in the nose. Quite some pepper too. Let’s see what water will do to this baby… With water: excellent, it resembles the nose now. Old cough syrup, herbs liqueurs, salmiak (ahem, soft salmiak)… Very good. Finish: long, resinous, ashy as often, with touches of cardamom in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m a sucker for this style. SGP:366 - 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the long but amazing story of Jack the Toad by the legendary British band Savoy Brown. That was on the eponymous LP, out in 1973. Please buy Savoy Brown's music.

Savoy Brown

August 26, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
We'll start this little session with one of my favourite 'entry level' malts, An Cnoc 12. I haven't written notes for it since… A version bottled in 1995. Shame, shame, shame…
An Cnoc

An Cnoc 12yo (40%, OB, +/- 2010) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: I like this kind of fruitiness quite a lot. Imagine a good dose of stewed apples, topped with a honey and caramel sauce and touches of liquorice. Then it becomes more floral (dandelions) as well as obviously malty. A rather perfect all-rounder, as they say. Mouth: pretty much in line with the nose, with the same notes of apple pie, malt, barley sugar, light honey and liquorice (that gives it a faintly smoky/bitter profile). Caramel. Finish: medium, with more liquorice. Comments: it makes me think of some high-range blend. Easy and very good in my opinion. SGP:441 - 84 points.

Let's see how that An Cnoc compares with a recent official Glenlivet. And why not?

Nadurra Glenlivet 1991/2010 'Nàdurra Triumph' (48%, OB, Batch #0310B, +/-2010) Four stars It's not the version at cask strength, as you may have noticed, and this was distilled from Triumph barley which makes it a ‘single varietal’ malt, although many or even most malts are made out of single varietals as well. Not too sure differences between Triumph, Optic, Chariot or Chalice, for example, could be noticed in mature spirit… Colour: straw. Nose: we're more or less in the same family as with the An Cnoc, except that this has more fresh oak, more honey, more vanilla and more tropical fruits such as guavas. Undoubtedly sexier, I'd say, but maybe also a tad less complex. Just a tad… Mouth: easy fruity profile, once again not too far from the An Cnoc. Same notes of caramel and honey, stewed apples and then a little more oak, pepper and ginger. And once again, it’s quite sexy. Finish: rather long, fruity, with the oak's spices growing bigger in the aftertaste in a very nice way. Comments: I think this is very good, even if the An Cnoc  was more 'traditional', whatever that means - no, I'm no traditionalist! SGP:541 - 86 points.
Instead of the usual peater, let's rather have another Speysider if you don't mind, an old Glen Grant this time…
Glen Grant Glen Grant 39 yo 1972/2011 (51.1%, The Perfect Dram, sherry hogshead, 148 bottles) Five stars These '72 Glen Grants are extremely consistent, I never had a dud apart from an old version from twenty years ago. Colour: Nose: well, it's simply one of these luscious, fruity/jammy old Glen Grants, amazingly fresh. Great notes of baklavas, orange blossom water, kumquats and honeydew. Sandalwood, mint... After that, big notes of melons that cannot not make me think of 1970 Bruichladdich. The sherry is relatively discreet. With water: little changes. Maybe more menthol. Mouth: more oak, which was to be expected, but the fruitiness is strong enough to balance it. A lot of orange blossom again, then cinnamon, then mint liqueur as often with some of these old malts (oak). Goes on with more coffee and just touches of kirsch. Coffee-schnaps. With water: once again, no dramatic changes. The oakiness stays where it was and doesn't get any bigger, which is excellent. Finish: medium long, spicy. Cinnamon on a zwetschge pie. Comments: just excellent. Classic. SGP:551 - 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: long time no African music on WF, so time to post some music by Grupo Missema, an old all-female band from Gabon. There's very little information about them but I like this song called Assiya Asso. I'm afraid you won't be able to buy their very rare music...


August 24, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
I have to say that I’m doing this new little session after that Godzilla of a whisky that was SMWS 127.7, and even if I took a one-hour pause, I don’t feel like I should try anything else than three peaters, starting with another young Caol Ila…
Caol Ila Caol Ila 11 yo 2000/2011 (46%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, bourbon hogshead, 156 bottles) Four stars We start to see more and more whiskies that were distilled in the 2000s. Time flies, doesn’t it. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: truly naked spirit, crystal-clean and mega-pure. Bags of fresh walnuts and apple peeling, wheelbarrows of wood and cigar ashes and quite a few clams, winkles, whelks and mussels. I’m joking – it’s just that it’s pretty coastal. Mouth: really what I would call ‘sweet peat’. Smoked apples plus drops of brine and a dash of Tabasco. Easy, clean, simple, pure. Finish: long, very peaty. More lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: these batches were very peaty. Sometimes books tell us that Caol Ila is ‘mildly’ or ‘moderately’ or even ‘whisperingly’ peaty. Well, that has become misleading to say the least, unless we’re talking about the ‘Highlands’ CIs of course… SGP:357 - 85 points.
And now, a Laphroaig. Makes sense, I guess…
Laphroaig Laphroaig 20 yo 1990/2010 (52.8%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Five stars Well, with these three cocker spaniels on the label, this Laphroaig cannot not have wet dogs somewhere… Colour: white wine. Nose: extremely briny, coastal and lemony. Lime juice, then fresh walnuts. The peat isn’t big so far, but this is extremely zesty. Also a little fresh butter. With water: sea water and wet clothes. Right, maybe traces of wet dogs (not cockers, rather Chihuahuas ;-)). Mouth (neat): perfect attack, extremely well balanced between the peat (bigger than on the nose) and several candied citrus fruits. Lemons, tangerines, kumquats… Also something slightly topical, like in the very old official tens (Bonfanti, anyone?) Then it gets very acrid but in a marvellous way. With water: lemon juice and sea water, all that having been smoked. I’m not. Finish: very long, very salty. Comments: these vintages are now mature and start to become more complex. 1990 (and 1991) Laphroaigs have always been my kind anyway … SGP:367 - 91 points.
What to choose to try to ‘climb over’ that Laphroaig? Maybe Ardbeg but there’s no or very little new mature Ardbeg around (I mean, 20-25 years or more). Unless I try a recent Uigeadail… It’s true that I haven’t taken proper notes for Uigeadail since… 2004. Ain’t that a bleeding shame?
Ardbeg Ardbeg 'Uigeadail' (54.2%, OB, 2010) Five stars I won’t elaborate on this bottling, there are some much better exegetes of Ardbeg than yours truly. What’s sure is that recent batches have proven much more polarising than the smashing 2003/2004 editions – but not here. Not sure they still make them in the same way as they originally did (with quite a few casks from the 1970s thrown in). Colour: full gold. Nose: no peat blast, rather whiffs of Demerara rum and other sweet notes. Vanilla fudge, light toffee, caramel and then quite a lot of leather and mushrooms. Humus and compost. Really unfolds over time, even without water. With water: brilliant. Rubber boots, tarmac and heating oil. Mouth (neat): rich, candied attack, all on Seville oranges and barley sugar, coated with tar and liquorice plus a dash of Himalayan salt (please drop the Himalyan part, it doesn’t make any sense – or not much). This is big whisky. With water: perfect. Salty, peaty, rooty, tarry… Rougher and ‘younger’ than on the nose for sure but still wonderful. Finish: long, with now notes of figs and dates, probably from sherry. Quite some cough syrup too. Comments: I don’t know how they do this. Originally, they DID add quite a lot of old sherry casks but do they really still do that? Do they have a secret trick? What’s sure is that it does taste like some rich ‘old style’ Ardbeg, and that it’s probably just as exhilarating as the first batches. SGP:468 - 92 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: this is for our Dutch friends, Vera Mann singing Fluister. I don't know what she's talking about but this is very sweet and 'excellent in summer'. Please buy Vera Mann's music...

Vera Mann

August 23, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
We'll start this new little session with an old grain if you don't mind, one of Duncan Taylor's famed Invergordons but not a sherried one…
Invergordon Invergordon 38 yo 1972/2011 (45.5%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #85255, 163 bottles) Three stars and a half I've tried a bunch of 1965s but never a 1972. But do vintages matter, especially with grain? Colour: gold. Nose: pure vanilla, coconut and sawdust. It's not that I don't like vanilla, coconut and sawdust, it's just that it's only vanilla, coconut and sawdust. I agree, what a waste of digital ink! Mouth: it's more complex than on the nose, richer, wider and fruitier. There's still a lot of… yes, vanilla and the rest, but there's also quite some overripe apple, oranges, bananas and a little guava. We're between rum and bourbon now. Hints of pencil shavings. Finish: medium long, still very sweet. Marzipan and coconut-flavoured marshmallows. Comments: an excellent grain, no question about that. Very sexy, and the sweetness is really huge. SGP:740 - 84 points.
That sweet grain whisky was quite something, but it calls for some old-style Highlander. Maybe a youngish new Clynelish will do?…
Clynelish BBR Clynelish 1997/2011 (55.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #4655) Four stars I've already had superb 1997 Clynelishes, especially the pricey but brilliant official Manager's Choice (WF 90) and an Exclusive Malt by David Stirk (WF 90 for a sister cask of this one, so no need to say we have some kind of expectation here…) Colour: white wine. Nose: well, this is quite strange. Not the big waxy notes, rather unexpected notes of caraway seeds, ginger and curry. Seriously, it smells like an Indian dish. There's also something rather porridgy and whiffs of cardboard, then damp chalk and traces of peat smoke. Maybe a tad butyric as well? With water: this is really funny. Water killed all the slightly unwanted notes and transformed this baby into a state of the art young Clynelish, with minerals, waxes, linseed oil, lemon rinds, hay, leaves and all that jazz. Hurray for water!
Mouth (neat): well, it's just a very fruity, very powerful and quite spectacular Clynelish, very different from the usual mineral/oily/waxy ones again. Bags of pineapple drops (and tinned ones), strawberries, lemon, watermelon and white cherries. All that is coated with quite some ginger, pepper and vanilla from the oak. Will water change it again? With water: it does but less so. Still a lot of sweet fruitiness, cherries, maybe melons and peaches, touches of green mustard, pepper… Quite some green tea as well. Finish: long, with the green tannins being bigger. Touches of smoke and salt in the aftertaste. Comments: not a typical one in my opinion, and not an easy one either. Maybe it's got something of Pulteney, I don't know… SGP:552 - 85 points.
And now the obligatory peater. What will it be? Let's see what I have… Oh yes, maybe the new Port Askaig?
Port Askaig Port Askaig Harbour 19 yo (45.8%, Specialty Drinks Ltd, 2011) Four stars and a half There were a NAS, a 17, a 25 and a 30yo Port Askaig, all high quality stuff. This new one is now called 'Harbour', I don't know why. Was there a Port Askaig Distillery one day? Colour: pale straw. Nose: fresh, flinty, very flinty… Chalk, clay, rocks, gravel, then ashes, fresh walnuts, soot, then lemon, lime, cider apples, seaweed, eucalyptus, menthol (and Vicks)… All that is very fresh indeed. Natural medicine!
Mouth: something a little ancient in this one (old greases and oils, pitch…), then quite some salt and brine, walnut and green apple skins, oysters, marzipan, a bit of barley sugar, then earthy tones, more lemon…  Finish: long, with even more lemon and a briny aftertaste. Anchovies? Comments: very good in my opinion, one of the most lemony and briny Islayers. You have to like a salty feeling in your whisky - I do. SGP:357 - 88 points.
SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

Strasbourg, Alsace, five centuries ago...

Whiskyfun’s home region, Alsace, has always had strong ties with distilling and one of our compatriots, Hieronymus Brunschwig, wrote the first book about distillation in 1500. I especially like this quote, I hope my translation is okayish:

“Distilling means nothing else than separating the subtle from the gross and the gross from the subtle, and making the fragile or perishable indestructible, the material immaterial, the matter spiritual and the ugly beautiful.”
- Hieronymus Brunschwig, ‘Liber de Arte Distillandi ‘ 1500.

You may leaf through the book there or here.


MUSIC - Recommended listening: warning, this is maybe not quite for every ears but it does redefine vocal jazz, in a certain way, especially in the beginning of the track. It's Interlude 5 / IV/X by Austria's Christian Muthspiel (he's also got a fab yodel band). Spitzenklasse! Please buy his music.


August 22, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
Don’t we feel a need for something very unusual again? Such as whisky finished in Calvados casks? I’ve only tried some by Arran so far, as well as some by G&M but I think I never took notes.
Bruichladdich Bruichladdich 6 yo 2004/2011 ‘Micro-Provenance’ (55.8%, OB, for Whisky & Dreams, Calvados ‘Evolution’, 240 bottles) Four stars I think the wording evolution replaced enhancement – or was it exploration? And Calvados and whisky, is that apples and pears? Let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: starts on plums and apples indeed but becomes much more ‘cellary’ after a few minutes, with notes of old barrels and saltpetre. There are also interesting touches of fresh herbs in the background, a tad hard to pin down. Chives? With water:  becomes very farmy and that wouldn’t go away. Farmyard… in Normandy of course.
Mouth (neat): powerful, spicy, fruity and herbal, all at the same time. A lot of brown sugar, pepper, stem ginger, maybe a little rhubarb pie, light toffee, kumquats… I do not really get calvados, it’s all mingled I guess. With water: very good, balanced, sweet but not sugary, candied… A little coffee too. Normand coffee? Finish: long, still very candied. What seems to be quite some peat in the aftertaste. Peat? Comments: the combination worked very well in my opinion. It’s all rich and very clean, without any offbeat notes. A lot of pleasure. SGP:652 - 85 points.
Well, maybe starting with such a rich dram wasn’t a good idea, it’ll be hard to find something as big. Or another ‘big’ Bruichladdich?
Bruichladdich Port Bruichladdich 2003/2010 ‘Port Cask’ (57.5%, OB, cask #538, 240 bottles) Four stars This baby was fully matured in a Port hogshead. Colour: apricot. Nose: make a pie with apples and Mirabelle plums. Add a lot of Demerara sugar and cinnamon and bake for, say one hour. Then sprinkle with grated ginger and liquorice. Bon appétit! With water: becomes very earthy and rooty, farmy as well and relatively peaty. Ex-Port Charlotte cask??? Mouth (neat): very unusual but very nice I must say. Big fruitiness and big spices. Some kind of Thai sauce? The ripe plums are back, butter pears, tangerines, then a lot of sweet pepper and ginger.
With water: excellent! Surprisingly excellent in fact, not because it’s Bruichladdich of course (many fine drams!), but because I’m usually not too much into Port wood. Also great notes of Seville oranges. Finish: long, on oranges and spices as well as touches of strawberry jam. Gingery/peppery aftertaste. Comments: excellent in my opinion, fruity, clean, rich but never cloying… Well done. SGP:642 - 87 points. (thanks Thomas!)
Right, that one was even bigger, and there was a peatiness yet again. Is it me? Anyway, those babies called for straight peat. What shall we have?... I guess Port Charlotte would make sense… And why not Port Charlotte at kerosene strength?
Port Charlotte Port Charlotte 7 yo 2003/2010 '127.7' (66,6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, ‘A sense of elemental freedom’, 687 bottles) Five stars Freedom? And 66.6%? How devilish is all that? This is probably ex-butt. Colour: amber. Nose: frankly, this is burning. Even when using my most advanced ‘short sniffing’ technique (not stiff snorting, eh!) it’s burning. Call me a sissy if you like but I’ll add water right away… With water: creosote, creosote and creosote at first nosing, linoleum, carbolineum as well (not just for the rhyme), then mega-huge whiffs of incense like they use in Buddhist temples (if I remember well), putty… And then even bigger notes of green Chartreuse, and I swear I’m not making that up. No I’m not working for the Carthusian monks. Mouth (neat): high impact, straight in your face feeling, half a drop is bearable but it’ll destroy pretty anything past your throat so let’s take no chances whatsoever. With water: very thick, very rich, jam-packed with mint, resins, Corinthian raisins, cough syrup and cigar ashes. Spectacular. Finish: very long, very tarry. Comments: one of the smokiest whiskies I ever had. And I mean tar/coal smoke. I won’t go any higher than 90 points because I wouldn’t say this is utterly balanced, but it’s well worth 90 in my book. Just between us, is this kind of whisky legal? SGP:368 - 90 points.
The only problem with this kind of tar liqueur at cask strength is that it’s impossible to taste any other whisky before, say one full hour. Yes, even with a lot of water/coffee/you name it.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: not quite the MJQ, Cathy Berberian or Jack Loussier, this was, I believe, one of the greatest attempts at throwing bridges between classical music (not avant-garde) and jazz. Claude Bolling and Yo-Yo Ma play Baroque in Rhythm, from their Suite for Cello & Jazz Piano Trio (1984). Please buy their musics.


August 20, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
We’ll start with an Aberlour that should be quite fruity and hopefully easy. Probably rather complex as well as its ABV is relatively low…
Aberlour Aberlour 1989/2011 (49.8%, Scott’s Selection) Two stars Colour: straw. Nose: typical unsherried Aberlour, starting a bit spirity and all on (Northwestern) garden fruits. Apples, gooseberries, plums… Becomes then a little kirschy and grassy at the same time while there’s more and more porridge in the background. Another one that’s not the easiest malt whisky… It becomes rather flintier after a while, more austere, with the fruits vanishing away… With water: a little bubblegum coming through. Mouth (neat): not extremely mature, I’d say. Apples, grass, bitter herbs, pepper… Really austere, really difficult in my opinion. With water: a tad easier but still bitter and too grassy for my taste. Acrid. Finish: rather long, still extremely grassy and herbal. Bitter drinks such as Underberg. Jah! Comments: a very hard one in my opinion. Probably not meant to be bottled as single originally. SGP:271 - 70 points.
We need something easier! Why not an indie Bruichladdich?
Bruichladdich Bruichladdich 19 yo 1991/2010 (53%, Whisky & Dreams, first fill bourbon hogshead, cask #2960, 245 bottles) Four stars and a half Are we to expect melons and peaches? Colour: white wine/pale straw. Nose: starts a bit in the style of the Aberlour but with more definition and elegance. It’s fairly ‘naked’, or ‘natural’ spirit, without much wood influence (first fill, really?) but these notes of peaches, plum skin, then fresh walnuts and lamp oil are very nice. I quite like this ‘restrained’ style. It’s also relatively grassy. With water: more of the same plus limestone, clay, wee notes of bandages… And more apple juice. Mouth (neat): much, much fruitier now, without being extravagant. Ripe apples, melons (here they come), oranges and then a wee saltiness that plays with the tip of your tongue. Good body. With water: becomes wider, with a little more vanilla, touches of kumquats and just hints of agave, as if someone had added one or two drops of tequila. I think this is excellent, this baby swims like a champ – which isn’t always the case with coastal distilleries ;-). Finish: quite long, very balanced. Comments: a great ‘natural’ Bruichladdich, very ‘serious’ and complex. Also perfect for toying with water and a pipette. SGP:461 - 88 points. (and thanks Thomas!)
It’s quite interesting that the Aberlour and Bruichladdich that weren’t that different as far as overall styles were concerned were actually in very different leagues just because of a much better balance. But let’s have something probably much less ‘naked’ now, such as this…
Glenfarclas Glenfarclas 43 yo 1968/2011 (47,5%, OB, Family Cask for Luc Timmermans, Manzanilla, cask #697, 133 bottles) Five stars Our friend Luc, who was born in 1968 and always loved Glenfarclas, keeps monitoring a few casks from ‘his’ vintage. This is his latest selection. Colour: full gold. Nose: right, that was to be expected. It’s a fairly ‘different’ Glenfarclas, with a very subtle sherriness (there’s very little downright ‘sherry’ in fact) and rather a style that would be akin to some old refill hogshead of high quality. We’re not very far from the best Glen Grants or Caperdonichs in that style, although this is a tad oilier and flintier, as well as kind of fatter.
So we have honeys, plum pies, orange blossom water and ripe apricots, then quite some Virginia tobacco, old polished wood and, maybe, touches of rich trappist beer. I’m not saying that because Luc is from Belgium. Also wee touches of cinchona. The whole is very complex and kind of ‘anti-wham-bam’ despite its bigness. Mouth: very interesting and quite unusual again. Starts on quite a lot of sappy oaky, chlorophyll, honeydew, then goes more towards kumquats and blood oranges as well as, perhaps, guavas, becoming rounder and rounder over time. This phenomenon of some big oak somewhat disappearing is very unusual, usually oak becomes louder and louder in these old whiskies in my experience. Anyway, this is quite perfect. Touches of cardamom in the background, also coriander… Finish: long and rather lemony now. Amazingly, the oak keeps quiet and lets the jammy fruits do all the talking. A saltiness in the aftertaste as well as, okay, rather more oak. Comments: unusual and very superb – but that was to be expected. One extra-point for the originality. Felicitaties! SGP:562 - 94 points. (and many thanks Marc!)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the luminous and sadly missed Carmen McRae singing Monk's Ruby, my dear (from her fa-bu-lous CD 'Carmen sings Monk', 1988). There's nothing better than this. Please buy Carmen McRae's music.

Carmen McRae

August 18, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
I’m in the mood for something really, really wacky today, don’t ask me why. Why not do one of the most unlikely sessions ever? Let’s start with a Russian whisky if you don’t mind. Not a soviet-era oddity, a brand new one!
Russian Praskoveyskoe 5 yo (40%, OB, 2011) Two stars Praskoveyskoe is a large Russian winery that was founded in 1898, hence the big ‘1898’ on this whisky’s label (they learn all the Scots’ tricks quick, don’t they.) They make whisky since around 2003 and claim, according to google translate, that their whisky is ‘single distilled’ and that they use pure pot still technology. Bizarre… But let’s try this baby! Colour: gold. Nose: well, it’s got this porridgy and gingery spiciness that’s often to be found in continental whiskies. Also some sweet mustard, caraway seeds, speculoos, green bananas, then whiffs of cut grass and then more baby’s cereal again plus a little vanilla. I must say this is more than all right for something that’s been single distilled in pot stills ;-). Mouth: again, this is not bad at all. The oak’s spices are a tad too much in the front (cinnamon, ginger, cloves) and it’s certainly not fruity whisky, but it’s not unbalanced and, above all that, not dirty/weak at all. Good body, good feeling. Finish: shortish but fairly clean. Cereals and ginger crème. Tonic water in the aftertaste. Comments: pretty well made, in the same league as, say the Spanish DYC in my opinion. Encouraging. SGP:241 - 70 points. (thanks a lot Mikhail!)
Right, I wanted only wacky whiskies today and it seems that I just failed, so let’s try to get back on tracks with something even wackier! In truth, I don’t think there’s much wackier whisky out there…
Rommel Special Brand ‘Rommel’s Whisky’ (43%, Delva Ltd, bottled +/-1944) Good, I think we’ll need to delve into History a bit here. According to Artfact, this is from ‘a bottle of scotch originally captured by Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps in North Africa, then recaptured by American soldiers during the invasion of Italy. According to history, during the Afrika Korps' traversing of North Africa a vast wine and spirits cellar was uncovered which included over a million and a half litres of scotch, gin, rum and cognac in casks. After Rommel and his troops took their share, the balance of over a million litres was sent to the Italian port city of Nettuno. On Jan. 22, 1944 the nearby city of Anzio was assaulted by Allied forces, and shortly thereafter the battle-toughened soldiers discovered, much to their glee, over 250,000 gallons of booze still resting in the Nettuno warehouses.
The local Delva Distillery stepped in, bottled the liquor in the bottles it now rests in, and applied descriptive fancy labels. Eventually, the bottles were transferred to Linz and sold privately in 1976.’
Frankly, I don’t know what to expect. History rather remembers Rommel for his involvement in the plot against Hitler or for the fact that he was highly regarded by the Allies.. But let's try the whisky. Colour: Fanta ;-). Nose: frankly, this is more akin to cologne or to some kind of weird flower liqueur from times gone by. It’s got absolutely nothing of whisky. Plus, it’s very geraniumy. Also strange whiffs of stale pepper and disinfectant. Should I try to drink this? After all, a body called the ‘R.A.A.C.’ did certify that chemical tests ‘showed all to be within standards of purity prescribed for use by the Allied Military personnel’. The problem is that that was in 1944… but never mind, let’s have a few drops for our just cause! Rommel
Mouth: it’s weak and quite stale, probably more at 30 to 35% vol. than at the original 43%, but the colour was limpid, not opaque at all. Having said that, and even if it does not taste like whisky yet again (more like some slightly stale chartreuse, I’d say), it’s not completely terrible. Notes of ginger, cinchona and various herbs infused in orange liqueur (like triple-sec). Possibly drinkable I must say, and it would probably be even more bearable on ice. Did they have ice in Tobruk, El-Alamein or Tripoli? Finish: pretty long for the strength, gingery and herbal. Feels a tad more like whisky in the aftertaste (bitter grains). Comments: well, I’ve got another sample from another batch, but I’ll try it another day if you don’t mind. According to its taste, this ‘Rommel Whisky’ was probably much ‘arranged’ before it was shipped to the British troops, and didn't see much oak - let’s only hope they didn’t add bromide. Dismiss! SGP:220 - 14 points. (many thanks Ingo – if you're reading this, please get in touch!)
Good, I think I’ve had enough wackiness today – or I’ll start to cry. Cry? Hey, why not try this one… (you’re diving to new lows, S.!)
Writers Tears Writers Tears (40%, Irish, Pot Still blend, +/-2010) Four stars This is most certainly from Midleton and it’s a blend of Pure Pot Still and malt whiskey. Colour: pale gold. Nose: pure, crystal-clean pot still style, with a profile that lies exactly between some’s rather exuberant fruitiness (Redbreast) and some others’ more austere grassiness (Green Spot) in my opinion. There’s also this slight yeastiness that goes well with the style. Develops more on almond oil, a little paraffin (pot still style again), linseed, fresh butter… I think it’s very nice. Mouth: great definition even if it isn’t really big. Same touches of yeast and lemon yet again in the attack, then we have more brioche, hints of ripe bananas and maybe a little tangerine. All that is soft and smooth, rather fruitier than on the nose. Finish: medium long, fruity, very lively, very fresh. Lemons and a wee touch of pepper. Comments: frankly, I think this is superbly bright. Extremely well composed and very ‘Irish’, one of my favourite Irish together with Midleton’s latest official SPSs. SGP:641 - 87 points. PS: it seems that there will be a CS version soon.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: how the quality and length of this stunning recording was achieved, I don't know, but what's sure is that it's seminal, as they say. Charlie Parker is less boppy than usual but certainly not less stellar on Funky Blues, from Mercury's 'Jam Session I' album (1952), with Benny Carter and Ben Webster among other luminaries. What a reunion, what a blues! Please Charlie Parker's music...

Charlie Parker

August 17, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
Just like we did the other day, we’ll start this new little session with a grain. I’m still looking for distillery character in a grain whisky (not talking about old Lochside or Ben Nevis grain here), but maybe I’m not looking where I should…
North British North British 20 yo 1991/2011 (55.8%, Master of Malt, first fill bourbon, 244 bottles) Four stars Signatory had such a 1990 a while back and it was quite excellent in my opinion (WF 86). Colour: straw. Nose: it’s the cask that talks. Archetypical American oak, with loads of vanilla, maple syrup and then hints of pencil shavings and oak sawdust. A little orange liqueur as well. Little coconut so far, but that may come with water. With water: nope, it’s still the same. No, wait, there’s also Turkish delights (newly opened box). Mouth (neat): extremely sweet, almost decadent in that sense. It’s more a liqueur than whisky! Pineapple liqueur, litchis, corn syrup, jelly beans (all colours!) and then more spices straight from the oak, such as caraway seeds and ginger. Maybe even a little mustard. It’s a style but within that style, this baby is at the top. With water: same. Very sweet but very perfect. Finish: long, even more on jelly beans, icing sugar and marshmallows. More spices in the aftertaste, especially cardamom and nutmeg. Comments: look, if you don’t like whiskies that are extravagantly sweet, you may pass, but if you do, I think you should get a bottle of this juice, even if it’s a tad, ah, hem, girly so to speak. Excuse me. SGP:830 - 87 points.
Well, many whiskies will taste dry and austere after that bombastic grain, maybe I should try to find a malt that’s usually very fruity. Such as an Aberlour?...
Aberlour Aberlour 1988/2011 (53.2%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #5551) Three stars Aberlour’s new make is one of the fruitiest in Scotland, but in truth, that doesn’t mean that mature Aberlours are always fruitbombs! Having said that, let’s try this one. Colour: straw. Nose: indeed, this one isn’t easy after the extravagant grain – to think that malt is usually bigger than grain. It’s all rather on soft, ‘gentle’ garden fruits, apples, ripe pears, greengages… All that on a bed of soft vanilla, muesli and walnut skin. Sort of shy so far, I’d say. With water: became grassier and that lasts. Big saponification but that goes away ;-). Anyway, it’s nice but rather subdued in my opinion. Mouth (neat): quite punchy but it’s not wide. Barley sugar and cider apples, then lime and grapefruits plus a little pepper and ginger from the oak. With water: woke up a bit, becoming more assertive, especially with more spices. It’s good, it’s good… Finish: medium long, on apples and ginger. Comments: nothing good or bad to say against this baby, it’s just that it’s very good but not very interesting in my opinion (I didn’t say boring, eh!) Me, blasé? Not at all. Typical 80 points malt in my book. SGP:441 - 80 points.
This calls for another malt by BB&R, because most are usually much more entertaining. Let’s try to find one of those… And why not a Coal Ila, as we just had a rather fab 1983 by BB&R the other day…
Caol Ila Caol Ila 1980/2011 (55.6%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #4938) Four stars and a half Colour: straw/pale gold. Nose: it’s seems that it’s one of the leafy ones, with this grassy, vegetal peat and big whiffs of garden bonfire. Then more paraffin, almond oil, apple and walnut peelings and then clay and chalk. Not a peat monster thus far, but we won’t complain. With water: hello, wet dogs! And clams, oysters, seaweed… Mouth (neat): oh yes! A lot of oomph and one of those lemony bursts that go so well with this distillery’s fairly big peatiness. Did anyone peat a few tons of lemons? There’s also a lot of brine, cider apples and then touches of sandalwood from the cask, I guess. How did they manage to come through? Big body. More syrup and vanilla after a while, as well as more bitter notes (herbs, ginger, citron). With water: becomes a little drier, not really flat – not at all – but I liked it rather better when neat. Finish: long, lemony and much spicier. A lot of pepper, the oak wakes up! Comments: a dry one, almost perfect, but I liked the recent 1983 even better. Well, by one point, which is obviously nothing. SGP:367 - 89 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a lot of jazz fun with wirtuoso pianist Joanne Brackeen 'and special friends' (Terence Blanchard, Branford Marsalis, Cecil McBee and Al Foster - yes baby) playing Fi-Fi goes to heaven with much brio (from the eponymous album, recorded 1990). Fi-fi was miss Brackeen's dog... RIP, Fi-fi! Please Joanne Brackeen's music.


August 16, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
We’ll kick this off with a new blended malt by Wemyss. I really hope their very nice concept, which is very close to what John, Mark & Robbo did a few years ago (composing and naming bottlings by ‘style’), is and will be successful.
Wemyss hive Wemyss Malts 12 yo ‘The Hive’ (40%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, 2011) Three stars There used to be a 15yo single malt that was called ‘the hive’ as well but this 12 is brand new. Colour: gold. Nose: well, it’s not quite the ‘hiviness’ that’s to be found in the very old lightly sherried or unsherried Speysiders such as Glenlivet or Caperdonich but this is quite ‘hivy’ indeed. Think some warm apple pie covered with a little honey. Or better yet, some plum pie. Also touches of cider, then a little orange blossom or baklavas, orange liqueur… It’s all rather rounded and most easy. Touches of coffee as well. Mouth: narrower and simpler as often, maltier as well, with good body at 40% vol. Ripe apples, butter pears, oranges and touches of maple syrup, with a little toasted brioche and coffee in the background. Finish: medium long, with a little more vanilla and earl grey tea (these orangey notes again). A little oak in the aftertaste and touches of lemon squash. Comments: a solid vatted malt, in a higher category than quite a few official 10-12yo single malts in my opinion. A rather bigger body. SGP:451 - 82 points.
Let’s have another one that should be relatively light now… Or not...
House Malt The Whisky Agency’s House Malt 16 yo 1995/2011 (46%, The Whisky Agency, sherry hogshead, 289 bottles) Two stars It’s a Speysider. Colour: full gold. Nose: starts very dry, on a lot of coffee and even chicory as well as quite some artichoke liqueur (I do insist, that exists!) and gunflints. Goes on more on humus, compost and various notes of very old wines, Madeira, Marsala… Quite some leather and old walnuts as well. This is quite unique I must say, I’m very curious about the palate. It could be great – or it could be wrecked. Mouth: yes, this is extremely bizarre. A big, bold attack, very dry again, and then almost no middle, with only a tannicity coating your gums and the back of the tongue. It’s almost like some very, very old fortified wine, with some flor but not too much. A 100yo palo cortado? Walnut liqueur (Nusswasser?) My grandma’s old ratafia (yeah, that helps!) Finish: curiously short, dry, a little leathery. Hints of Tabasco and overripe strawberries in the aftertaste. Comments: a strange dram, with a very dry sherry that really took over. In that sense it’s most interesting and I’m sure there are quite a few whisky lovers who’ll like this much more than I do. SGP:261 - 75 points.
I think I’ve got some better ones by the same bottlers… Let me check… oh yes, why not this:
Laphroaig Laphroaig 21 yo 1990/2011 (56.8%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon hogshead, 279 bottles) Four stars Our friend Tobias, the famous entomologist, told us the bug on the label was a Cercopis bivittata. Good to know! Colour: white wine. Nose: powerful, almost aggressive at first nosing and rather more lemony than other ‘expressions’ at first nosing. A bag of lemon drops, with a few pear and pineapple drops thrown in for good measure. This one is full of youth despite its fairly ripe age. What’s quite interesting is that the peat and the medicinal notes remain underneath all that. Unusual! With water: ah, water killed those fruits and did let the very peaty, coastal and almondy profile come through. Also whiffs of wine barrel, sauvignon… It’s even very, very faintly acetic. Mouth (neat): this time it’s an explosion of ashes and roots, even if the lemony notes are well there as well. Gentian eau-de-vie straight from the still, with quite some cigar ash as well. Do you see what I mean? With water: classic Laphroaig this time, oily, big, peaty, lemony, slightly camphory, rooty… Excellent. Finish: long, very moderately salty. Apple peelings. Comments: a rather ‘different’ one, really fun to follow. SGP:567 - 87 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the mysterious AJ Wilkes and Zomby Woof doing Sinister Footwear II, a piece by the no less mysterious FZ, quite a few years ago. There might be some midi involved. All that is very mysterious indeed... Please buy the music of whomever this may concern.


August 15, 2011

Summer Session Random summer trio
Instead of some light blend or malt, let's start with an oldie right away this time…
Glenrothes 1969 Glenrothes 41 yo 1969/2011 (44.2%, Duncan Taylor, Peerless, cask #12881, 120 bottles) Five stars These old Glenrothes can be extravagantly fruity, and all casks #1288* I could try (obviously not more than ten) were top notch… Colour: gold. Nose: this IS extravagantly fruity. An orchard in late summer… Ripe plums, apricots, a lot of honey, a little banana (flambéed)… Oh well, this is classic… And perfect. What's more, the oak is discreet… Development: complex, on old woods, spices, balms… Baklavas, orange blossom… Also a little humus, as almost always in these old whiskies when the oak's been civilised. Mouth: one of these 'liqueur-malts', with an oakiness that's not absent (tea tannins) but that's all under control. Overripe apples, cinnamon, stewed rhubarb (with a lot of sugar), pink grapefruits, pomegranates… All very good, all eminently drinkable! Finish: medium long, with more honey again. Absolutely not drying. Cooked apples and rhubarb in the aftertaste. Comments: perfect - even if I feel some other casks by DT (13485, 12884, 12885) have been even more entrancing, which says long. SGP:561 - 91 points.
That old Glenrothes called for another old Glenrothes, didn't it!
Glenrothes 1968 Glenrothes 1968/2011 (45.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #13509, 108 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw (surprisingly pale). Nose: a tad less richly fruity than the 1969, and rather more citrusy, which is a tad unusual with old Glenrothes in my experience. Also a wee bit grassier but other than that, pollens, honeys and ripe apples and plums are well there yet again. A nice, elegant nose. Mouth: this baby was a tad more discreet than the 1969 on the nose, but it's the opposite that happens on the palate, even if this one has more apparent oak (and spices, especially cinnamon). A bigger body too. Citrons, maybe a little mustard from the wood, pepper, ginger, bitter orange marmalade… I think this one was bottled at the right moment, as the oak grows bigger over time. Finish: long, peppery, spicy, a tad tea-ish. Orange marmalade. Comments: excellent but the oak never stopped growing bigger. All under control but I'm not sure this baby could have gone to 45 years of age. SGP:461 - 90 points.
And now, another old Glenrothes? And why not a Glen Keith instead?
Glen Keith 1970 Glen Keith 40 yo 1970/2011 (51.8%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 171 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: globally, this style is fairly close to the Glenrothes' but I 'd say this is a tad less rounded, and rather more herbal/mentholated, although that may well come from the cask. Also a tad more resinous (same thing)… Other than that, it's rather more on cake, vanilla, dried pears and dates. Oh, forgot to say, it's just as beautiful without water. With water: it's not that water killed it, but it became much more… silent. Hello? Having said that, some very discreet and subtle whiffs of old roses do arise… Very slowly. Mouth (neat): we're even closer to the Glenrothes', especially the 1968. Very same profile, with a slightly more polished oak as well as a little more herbal notes. Becomes a little bitter after a few minutes. Propolis, strong liquorice, herbal liqueurs… All that is becoming heavy-heavy I must say. With water: more dried fruits but also more tea. Finish: long, with a lot of cinnamon and figs. Comments: very excellent of course, but I think there's a little too much oak and it had a bit of a hard time after the Glenrothes. I'd bet a bottle of Clynelish 1925 that this cask was better ten years ago. Can we have a time warp machine please? SGP:471 - 87 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: there used to be, during and after WWII, a fab French jazz band led by trumpet player Aimé Barelli that sometimes had no one else than Django Reinhardt as its guitarist. Today let's listen to Indecision (actually Charlie Shavers' Undecided), recorded in 1940 - the sound is perfect! - and then buy Aimé Barelli's music.

Aime Barelli

August 2011 - part 1 <--- August 2011 - part 2 ---> September 2011 - part 1

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



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

Ardbeg 'Uigeadail' (54.2%, OB, 2010)

Caol Ila 18 yo 1977/1995 (52.1%, Wilson & Morgan, cask # 93.134-36, 288 bottles)

Caol Ila 29 yo 1981/2010 (47.4%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #2927, 322 bottles)

Glenfarclas 43 yo 1968/2011 (47,5%, OB, Family Cask for Luc Timmermans, Manzanilla, cask #697, 133 bottles)

Glen Grant 39 yo 1972/2011 (51.1%, The Perfect Dram, sherry hogshead, 148 bottles)

Glenrothes 1968/2011 (45.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #13509, 108 bottles)

Glenrothes 41 yo 1969/2011 (44.2%, Duncan Taylor, Peerless, cask #12881, 120 bottles)

Laphroaig 20 yo 1990/2010 (52.8%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams)

Port Charlotte 7 yo 2003/2010 '127.7' (66,6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, ‘A sense of elemental freedom’, 687 bottles)

Talisker 30 yo (49.5%, OB, 2970 bottles, 2008)

Teaninich 27 yo 1982/2010 (49.2%, Bladnoch Forum, hogshead #7697, 147 bottles)