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Petits billets d'humeur
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Hi, you're in the Archives, February 2006 - Part 2
February 2006 - part 1 <--- February 2006 - part 2 ---> March 2006 - part 1

February 28, 2006



Tobermory 9 yo 1995/2004 (46%, Murray McDavid, fresh sherry, MM0420)
Colour: white wine, strange when considering it’s a fresh sherry. Nose: rather hot, expressive, with indeed a little sherry but otherwise we have the expected mashy, grainy and milky notes. Mashed potatoes, hot milk, porridge, muesli… Very simple and close to grain but not unpleasant, especially because it gets then interestingly fragrant, with notes of Turkish delights, musk, pear juice… Really youthful – but where’s the sherry? Ah, yes, we have hints of sulphur coming though now… A ‘nice’ nose. Mouth: sweet and extremely fruity, with rather explosive notes of orange juice, pears again, apples… A little fresh ginger, tea… And that’s all. Extremely simple and resembling a fruit eau-de-vie, but flawless and very enjoyable, to be honest. We don’t obligatorily need to scratch our heads when tasting whisky, do we? And the finish is long and very… fruity. Good, I think! 82 points.
Tobermory 1994 (60%, Natural Color, France, 2005) Colour: dry white wine - almost white. Nose: punchier of course, thanks to the alcohol, but more indistinct, with just a little coffee (as often in high-voltage whiskies), pear spirit and whiffs of liquorice. But let’s not be unfair and add a little water… Right, now it gets also very mineral and herbal (notes of fern), still quite coffeeish, and then we have the usual mashy and grainy notes. Not too bad but it definitely needs water (and you as well ;-). Mouth (neat): extremely sweet and – of course – powerful, with lots of fresh coconut. A cask strength Malibu? ;-) With water now: very, very similar to the Murray McDavid – so please refer to the above tasting notes. And I won’t be a snob just because it’s Tobermory: 82 points again. And speaking of Tobermories for snobs, let’s try the…
Tobermory 1972/1995 (50%, Moon Import ‘De Viris Illustribus’, 600 bottles)
Colour: gold – of course. Nose: another dimension as expected, although it does smell ‘Tobermorish’ at first nosing. Hyper-bold notes of fresh pineapples, together with something very farmy and vegetal. Fern, moss, hay, newly mown grass… Peat? It does remind me of some superb 1972 Ledaigs indeed! Quite some smoke, at that, matchsticks… And then we have various herbal teas (mainly hawthorns and rosehips, aniseeds)… It gets smokier and smokier, and very mineral, in fact! What a perfect compactness – and great surprise! Mouth: oh yeah! It’s clearly more different from the 1972 Ledaigs I know on the palate, and very unusual again. Quite some liquorice sticks, mint tea, cough drops… Gets then very peppery, gingery and spicy… Something meaty (smoked sausages), herbal… Spearmint chewing-gums, mastic-flavoured Turkish delights, cooked turnips (honest), menthol fir honey sweets, honeydew… Very, very special, that’s for sure! And the finish is very long, resinous and quite smoky… Haha! Tobermory! Tobermory? Anyway, 1972 was a great year on Mull as well, it appears. A kind of profile I l-o-v-e. 94 points.


MUSIC – Highly recommended listening - It's bouncy, it's joyous, it's perfectly produced and superbly written, it's Massachusetts' Luke Temple doing Someone, somewhere.mp3. Excellent, very honest music, I think! Please, please buy Luke Temple's works, I'm sure he'll go very far...


February 27, 2006

Lagavulin 12 yo (43%, OB, ‘White Horse’, Carpano import, rotation 1973) Colour: dark gold. Nose: starts very delicately, with whiffs of burning incense and ash tree smoke, hints of smoked fish and a little camphor and mint. Very unusual! Develops on earl grey tea (bergamot), old style perfume (Joy de Patou?), cocoa… Very, very subtle and complex. It gets then much fruitier but with always quite some smoke in the background, on bitter oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, sangria…
It’s really beautiful, with something feminine (all delicacy) yet firm… And then the incense is back, together with a little cedar wood (cigar box) and dried roses… Captivating, really. Mouth: oh yes, it’s superb! Sharper than expected, quite bitter (nicely of course), slightly sweet and herbal (candied angelicas, mint leaves). There’s something very citrusy, waxy and oily, with notes of old Riesling and maybe hints of caramel crème. The finish is rather long, quite resinous and smoky, with quite some salt remaining on the tip of your tongue… In short, a full-bodied old Lagavulin with a very delicate nose and a bold – and almost rough – palate. Probably more extreme in its style than the current 16 yo and certainly less ‘polished’. Excellent, in any case. 93 points.
Lagavulin 12 yo 1988/2000 (56.2%, Hart Bros) Colour: pale straw. Nose: this one starts amazingly different, extremely smoky, almost acrid, although there is a little incense again (Japanese incense sticks). Lots of smoked tea, garden bonfire, coal fire, burning matchsticks (well, a whole box)… Very extreme! It really smells like genuine peat smoke. Also hochicha (Japanese grilled tea). Hints of flowers… A really massive and very impressive Lagavulin, certainly smokier than all its Kildalton neighbours. And these ‘funny’ notes of incense again! Mouth: bold, punchy and very smoky and peaty again. Wow, it’s quite a beast! Lots of dried herbs, ‘grass juice’, bitter almonds… Very vegetal, a little hard to tame – not that it’s too strong but certainly too smoky (I’d never had thought I’d write that one day). Let’s see what happens with a little water – I’m curious… Right, it does get better indeed. More resinous, a little sweeter, almost like one of the ‘best’ cough syrups… And the finish is very long, heady, smoky and resinous… A beast indeed. We’d love to be able to taste more versions of Lagavulin from time to time! Anyway, 90 points – well deserved - for this crazy baby.


MUSIC – Recommended listening - An excellent mashup by king of recycling Futuro, called Breathe with me till dowm.mp3. One ingredient is Judie Tzuke, the other one is... yes, no need to tell you. Please, please do whatever you can do with this kind of stuff... (are there gigs or something?)


February 26, 2006


Braes of Glenlivet 1989 (43%, Natural Color, France, 2005) Colour: white wine. Nose: starts quite fragrant, heathery, with notes of flints and wood smoke, getting then quite smoky (smoked ham) and also rather rubbery (tyre inner tube). Not much maturation but the result is nice, in my opinion. Notes of lukewarm milk, smoked tea, porridge, newly mown grass, hints of lily of the valley… Quite a good surprise, very ‘natural’ if you see what I mean.

Mouth: the attack is rather punchy considering the malt’s strength, quite fruity (Williams pears), very sweet, with also notes of bubblegum and marshmallows. Now it’s a bit too simple… Boxed peaches, boxed litchis, a little caramel and cake, roasted nuts, praline… Not to bad, in fact, and certainly flawless, with a rather long, maybe slightly too rubbery finish. No problems! (OK, and no thrill). 79 points.
Braes of Glenlivet 15 yo 1979/1995 (43%, Signatory, Butts #16042-43) We’ve had several excellent young Braes of Glenlivet by Signatory before, so I’m really curious. Colour: pale amber. Nose: curiously fresher at first nosing, despite the obvious sherry (probably refill here). Bold notes of hot caramel, sulphur (a nice one here), espresso coffee, roasted raisins and herbs… And again something flinty in the background… Very, very enjoyable, although not too complex. Ah, simple pleasures… Mouth: much creamier, oilier, almost thick. Quite some sherry again, but it’s not really of the greatest kind now, I’m afraid. Very rubbery and sulphury, mineral but not in a nice way, getting very cardboardy and chocolaty (a spoonful of Van Houten). Notes of very dry liquorice (tar?), over-roasted fruits (raisins), burnt cake… No disaster here – and the nose was great – but the palate isn’t too enjoyable. Add to that a rather bitter finish and here you go: 75 points.



MUSIC It's Sunday, we go (sort of) classical with Philip Glass' String Quartet No.3.mp3.(a montage from Mishima). I've always liked Philip Glass (even if some wondered why), especially since his brilliant works with Ravi Shankar. Please buy Philip Glass' works.


You may remember Johannes, the sneaky Dutchman from maltmadness, did declare an 'ad war' to whiskyfun a year ago or so and finally asked for a cease-fire. Well, I had hoped he would keep quiet and concentrate on more peaceful activities... Until I saw that he just attacked us again, on February 24 precisely. Maybe you saw it, it was an ad for some obscure tequila, showing a pair of (probably fake) boobs and a piece of lemon. Highly distasteful! Plus, I was on a trip on that very day and didn't have proper editing software at hand, just my laptop and so I couldn't respond properly. But we're back now and instead of even chestier starlets displaying their charms for the sake of any cheap liquor, I preferred to publish these very rare, little-known ads for Glen Close, a brand new high-end pure malt. Don't look for bottles, even on eBay, I've heard it's already sold out ;-). Phew...


February 25, 2006

Left, Seagram's 7 Crown, 1980's: 'Seagram's 7 and six-in-a-tub.' I agree, what's best is what happens after the ski. But why did they plant their skis next to the spa?
Right, Crown Royal, 2003: 'There's nothing more impressive than good stickhandling.' Brutes!
Tormore 10 yo (43%, OB for Dreher, Italy, 1970’s) Colour: amber. Nose: rather discreet at first nosing, a little grainy and cardboardy (typical old bottle effect). It then improves nicely after a little breathing and gets rather ‘ample’, with quite some dried oranges and something nicely waxy. Mouth: it’s much bolder now, powerful, almost aggressive which is quite amazing after 30 years in a bottle at 4% vol. Lots of crystallised oranges and apricot jam, with invading but soft tannins and some nice resinous notes and a rather long and satisfying finish. In short, probably not the most complex old whisky but lots of elegance and body. 84 points.
Tormore-Glenlivet 10 yo (43%, OB, 1980's) Colour: gold. Nose: lots of light caramel and cold tea, unexpectedly powerful again but aromatically rather inoffensive. Not much else to say. Mouth: ‘quite nice’. It’s quite caramelly again, with notes of light honey, getting rather malty. Rather long finish, getting maybe a bit too sweetish. A good, simple old malt in a flashy livery. 77 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening - JAZZ - for serious aficionados only although it's quite 'listenable' ;-) - I've been wanting to post about the great, great Henry Threadgill since I started Whiskyfun but couldn't find any good mp3. Great news, we have one, thansk to Pi Recordings! It's Don't turn around.mp3 (with Make a Move, from the recent CD Everybodys Mouth's a Book). Please, please, please buy Threadgill's music and support jazz!


February 24, 2006

Mortlach 1989/2004 (43%, Dun Eideann, France, cask #2054) Colour: white wine. Nose: starts rather boldly for a 43% malt but also quite spirity. Very grainy, with notes of cut green apples and pears, hints of orange juice but not much else. Or maybe whiffs of wet stones and violets (old style cologne). Gets a little papery – also whiffs of church incense. Not too interesting but rather enjoyable, in fact. Mouth: very, very sweet… Orange liqueur? Banana liqueur? We have also hints of fresh ginger, all sorts of fresh fruits (strawberries, pears, grapes)… It’s almost like an eau-de-vie soaked fruit salad, topped with caramel and a little vanilla crème. Enjoyable – one to offer your neophyte friends? The finish rather long, at that, very fruity and nicely balanced… The palate was much nicer than the nose! It’s not that often that you come across such a fruity malt. 83 points.
Mortlach 1994/2004 (46%, Eilan Gillan, American oak, France) Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar, even less expressive. Mineral and rather grassy at first nosing, it needs its time to develop. There’s a phase where there’s quite some beer and cider, and then quite some flowery notes (lilac) and a little green banana. But it’s no aromatic wonder. Mouth: very sweet and fruity again (yellow peaches and apricots), with a rather nervous attack, but it’s less ‘clean’ than the Dun Eideann, more herbal, nuttier… Something slightly disjointed (notes of paper, paraffin, diluted caramel). Gets sugarish with time, sort of sluggish and lacking structure… I liked the Dun Eideann much better. The finish is long, though, but again too sweetish, leaving something weird on the palate (salted liquorice mixed with overripe strawberries). Too bad, I quite liked the nose. 77 points.
Mortlach 13 yo 1991/2004 (46%, Signatory Un-chillfiltered, butt #4810, 756 bottles) Isn’t that’s a lot of 70cl bottles in a single butt? Colour: dark straw. Nose: quite aromatic right at first nosing, malty, with quite some sherry, a very delicate one. Notes of caramel and smoke, ashes, milk chocolate… Quite some tea as well, bananas flambéed… It’s rather sharp in fact, lots of presence even if it’s not precisely complex. Whiffs of newly broken limestone, iron… also a little calvados, manzana verde (Spanish green apple liqueur)… Mouth: lots of body! Creamy, oily, almost thick, with something sweet and sour (orange wine, wine sauce). Quite some sulphur and rubber (like when were chewing rubber bands at school) – a slight feeling of ‘dirtiness’ but it’s still enjoyable. Develops of ‘very cooked’ coffee, chocolate liqueur, over infused tea… It gets then quite drying, ‘sticky’, nutty (also bitter almonds, marzipan). A sugared Calvados? Long, bold, coating finish on caramel and smoked herbs… Rather extreme on the palate, I’d say, despite the 46%. But it’s still a very nice Mortlach. 82 points.
Mortlach 15 yo 1990/2005 (55.4%, Dewar Rattray, cask #3701, 332 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: much less expressive than the Signatory, almost closed. Hey-ho! Notes of apple skins, grass, malt, grain, green barley… Maybe a little biscuit, cider… And again something slightly mineral but that’s all. Let’s try to break it open with a little water… Yes, that sort of works, the malt getting more mineral, more elegant, with something ‘delicately’ farmy, hay, clean dog… Good news! Mouth (neat): almost overpowering and extremely fruity (apples and pears), getting rather bitter… We need water… Okay, it does improve again. Much more complex, with quite some liquorice, toffee, caramel, mocha, Cointreau… It gets even very good! Amazing what a few drops of water can do, sometimes. The finish is long, balanced (with water), on pastries and milk chocolate. It’s the winner, thanks to the water! 84 points.
MUSIC – Very strongly recommended listening - Especially if you're in an adventurous mood, innovative guitarist Nels Cline doing an extremely energetic (OK, and noisy) Suspended Heat.mp3 with his Nels Cline Singers - no singers here. Play it loud and enjoy! Now, if you're more into Enya or the Bay City Rollers, I'd understand you hate it ;-). But what a f*****g superb player he is! Please, please buy his music...

February 23, 2006

Bruichladdich 18 yo 1970/1989 (46%, Signatory, casks #20354-20359, 1400 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: starts very fruity, smooth but firm, extremely appealing. Yummy! Very bold notes of apricot jam, very ripe mirabelle plums and melons, vanilla crème, coconut milk… Good, very good, it really reminds me of the quite recent official 1970 (44.2%) that was so brilliant.
Lots of tarte tatin as well (caramelized apples and butter), bananas flambéed, whiffs of soft spices, Indian cashews sauce… And maybe something maritime (sea air) but that may be the power of mind. A malt for gluttons? Mouth: now it’s less sweet and rounded than expected, starting quite herbal, with notes of pepper, green tea, liquorice and caramel. Something bitter, probably from the casks but that adds quite some structure to the malt. The notes of very ripe yellow fruits are well here, as well as something quite gingery (Schweppes) and peppery. It’s almost as if you chewed a liquorice stick! Something chocolaty as well (not unlike Spain’s Sampaka 100% cocoa chocolate, very bitter but flavourful). And we have a long, rather sharp and nicely bitter finish. A very interesting malt that goes from a very fruity and rounded nose to a sharp and sort of austere finish. 88 points.
Bruichladdich 18 yo 1979/1997 (55.8%, Cadenhead) Colour: gold. Nose: starts more powerful, almost spirity, which sort of blocks its development for a while – juts a while. It then takes off beautifully. Probably not as extravagant as the Signatory but just as enjoyable. The fruits are fresher (and less cooked) but they are more or less the same: apricots, mirabelle plums and melon, spices, maybe a little ginger, caramel sauce… Quite honeyed, at that, with also little whiffs of camphor. Slightly rougher, sharper, but not less enjoyable, and certainly very elegant. Another classy Laddie. Mouth: now it’s this one that’s the fruitiest. Mirabelle plums again, watermelon jam, pomegranates… And, should I say ‘of course’, melons… We have also, again, a great bitter structure and quite some spices such as white pepper, cloves, nutmeg, a little cumin and a pinch of salt… Very interesting again but there’s a little too much alcohol, let’s add a few drops of water… Right, it gets a little mintier, with also more liquorice, chlorophyll chewing-gum… And there’s an excellent, rather minty finish. Another excellent, quite complex Bruichladdich for aficionados who don’t only believe in peat and sherry. 88 points (tie - and thanks Pierre and Nikos).
Left, Canadian Club, 1975: 'If you Space Ski Mount Asguard... before you hit the ground, hit the silk!' A very worthy piece of advise! And here's another useful ad by Canadian Club...
Right, Canadian Club, 1975: 'Skibobbing the Trockener Steg is really exciting. In fact, it lifted Sandy right out of her seat!'Poor Sandy! But the ad tells us that luckily, the only thing bruised was her ego...


MUSIC – Recommended listening - Innovative (although not on this piece) musician Frank Lenz does Bullets in the wall.mp3. Quiet, nicely crafted and as good as Neil 'Harvest' Young or James Taylor? Maybe... Anyway, please buy Frank's music, it's very cool!


February 22, 2006

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (40%, OB, probably late 1970’s) Colour: gold. Nose: fresh, slightly waxy and rather malty, with lots of ‘light’ caramel and fudge. Some very enjoyable and unusual smoky notes, with even something maritime (!). It gets then a little resinous… The whole isn’t too bold but no weakness here. Certainly more phenolic than the current versions. Mouth: nice attack, rather herbal, with lots of marzipan and bitter almonds, developing on rhubarb pie, smoked tea, praline… The finish is quite long, unexpectedly smoky and tea-ish. A very good Dalwhinnie, no doubt. 86 points.
Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, mid 1980’s) Colour: pale gold. Nose: certainly maltier, and even more full-bodied than its elder sibling. Really punchy and again quite smoky, developing on simple but enjoyable notes of hot praline, pastries, light toffee, cappuccino… It gets quite fruity, at that (bananas, rum soaked pinepapples), with also notes of dried coconut and again something resinous (pine needles, fir liqueur). Very good! Mouth: smooth, sweet, very malty and unexpectedly winey now, almost like a sweet white wine (Cérons, Cadillac). It does grow bolder, with quite some liquorice (liquorice stick), smoked tea, roasted nuts and even something slightly minty. The finish is very long, at that, perfectly balanced, both fruity and caramelly. 86 points again.
Dalwhinnie 20 yo 1963 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice old brown label) Colour: gold. Nose: starts much more restrained, with something papery, but it’s soon to take off, getting much more herbal, resinous and minty than the OB’s, and then very phenolic. Not exactly ‘peaty’ but there is quite some peat, obviously. Great notes of forest (wet moss, fern, mushrooms). Very fresh, in fact, with also hints of turpentine, linseed oil, marzipan… Rather impressive! Mouth: wowie! Very lively, incredibly waxy and fruity at the same time. Beeswax, fresh almonds, marzipan, fruity green olives, spearmint, hints of lemon balm… And again these peaty (not exactly smoky) notes, with a great bitterness. Alas, it gets sort of weak after a few minutes, all flavours seeming to vanish after a little breathing. It then gets cardboardy and a little drying, with a finish that’s quite tea-ish but with still traces of peat and wax. A great surprise – this one would have made it to 90 points with a little more ‘durability’. 87 points.
Left, White Horse, 1968: 'What are good guys made of? White Horse, the Good Guys' Scotch.' The main character looks like Jean-Claude Killy, who won three gold medals at the Winter Olympics in 1968 but it's not him. Ah, the playboys' golden age...
Right, Seagram's V.O., 1971. 'For people who want the best that life has to offer.' Or winter in Gstaadt (and summer in Saint-Tropez)... Very 1970's!
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Lol again! As they say, 'wanna have some fun today?' Then listen to Mexican - Argentinean wizards Faca 'playing' Nightshot.mp3. Then play it again, and again... (OK three times will be enough). I guarantee you'll feel better! And yeah, there's a lot of sun outside! And please buy Faca's music if you can find some!

February 21, 2006

Glengoyne 10 yo 1994/2005 (61.9%, OB, rum finish, cask #9093, 264 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: really amusing! It starts on lots of candy sugar and yes, rum, with some heavy notes of sultanas. It’s almost rum and a rather enjoyable one. If you’re into rum, that is… And the mouth? It’s just the same: rum. Very sweet with a very creamy mouth feel, with also quite some salt and pepper and perhaps hints of smoked ham… But it’s almost pure rum! (I know I insist). Interesting, in any case, and I do like good rums. Let me try to let some friends taste it blind one day, should be funny! Anyway, 84 points for this very Caribbean Glengoyne.
Glengoyne 8 yo 1996/2005 (56.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 123.2, 317 bottles) Colour: amber with reddish hues (thigh of a moved nymph, would say a 18th century painter). Nose: punchy, with a big, bold sherry. Lots of cooked red fruits (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries) and prune jam… Getting fruitier and fruitier (fresh strawberries, boxed litchis and pineapples). It really starts to smell like a good Beaujolais (Juliénas) after a moment, with notes of fresh pastries, butter croissants… Faint whiffs of smoke and flowers (peonies). Very fresh indeed, nothing to do with the usual sherry monsters (no rum-raisins-chocolate). Mouth: quite spirity, much less clean now. Starts like a fruit eau-de-vie (kirsch, plums), with something quite rubbery. Gets quite sour and somewhat acrid at the same time, with the rubber getting bolder. Something bitter as well… Fruitcake, wine and caramel sauce… Not my favourite kind of profile, probably too vinous for my tastes. The finish is rather long but a little bitter and sugarish at the same time. Too bad, the nose was truly great. 80 points.
Glengoyne 14 yo 1991/2005 (57.4%, OB, claret finish, cask #90474, 324 bottles) Colour: just the same. Nose: interesting! We have the same kind of profile but, indeed, closer to a Bordeaux in a certain way. More on blackcurrants, a little bell pepper… Also much more vinous, although it’s not excessively so. Not as clean but still quite fresh and lively. Now, it’s rather simple and lacking a little definition, but we do have the fresh red fruits coming through after a while, as well as quite some kirsch again and cake. Rather pleasant, in fact, even if quite far from ‘Scotch whisky’. Mouth: now it’s this one which is cleaner. Bold, hot, extremely fruity (this palate would fit the SMWS’ nose better!) on strawberry jam and caramel, getting very honeyed. Very sweet and nervous at the same time! Something toasted… Crystallized fruits (oranges)… Getting quite spicy and gingery, with quite some (soft) tannins. And the finish is long, still punchy and remaining a little hot, on strawberry jam. A good finished one, no doubt. 84 points.


Left, Canadian Club, 1963: 'Even my heart turned over when I tried upside-down skiing.' Yet another 'extreme sports' ad by canadian Club.
Right, Three Feathers, 1966. 'Smooth take-off.' Rather weird, but we've seen stranger things in the old Three Feathers ads... We'll post more!


MUSIC – Recommended listening - This is good, this is very good methinks: drummer Scott Amendola and his band doing Buffalo bird woman.mp3. A wonderful development from jazz to country through blues, some very funny hints (at Giant Steps, at the Floyd's Money, at Jefferson Airplane etc.) In short, please buy his music!


February 20, 2006

Ardbeg 19 yo 1974/1993 (43%, Signatory, casks #4375-77, 980 bottles)
Colour; white wine. Nose: wow, lots of oomph for a 43% whisky. It starts unusually citrusy (citrons, lemons, grapefruits) and mineral, almost like one of the best Alsatian Rieslings (from the Riquewihr-Hunawihr region). Huge notes of fireplace, gunflint, fir wood smoke… It gets then more ‘classical’, with quite some apple juice, compote, peat smoke, getting then rather medicinal as expected (bandages, iodine). And it keeps developing, with whiffs of marzipan, almond milk, fresh hazelnuts… Just beautiful, perfectly balanced and bloody enjoyable. Mouth: the attack is a tad weak but that doesn’t last for long. Some nutty and smoky notes are soon to take control, with a very nice bitterness (lemon and grape seeds). Develops on old turpentine, old-style cough drops (I think there was natural tar in them), zabaglione, grilled argan oil, bitter almonds… It’s sort of delicate but not weak at all anymore. Maybe a little mint and certainly quite some forest honeydew. The finish isn’t extraordinarily long but very smoky and waxy… Just excellent! 92 points.
Ardbeg 28 yo 1974/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 264 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: starts much more violently, quite austere, extremely mineral and grassy. This one makes you almost regret the Signatory’s 43% ;-). We have – of course – roughly the same package in the background (citrus fruits, smoke, stones) but the resinous and camphory notes grow bolder here after a few minutes. Eucalyptus-aromatized candles, marzipan, linseed oil, paraffin… It’s certainly rougher but it’s still a very nice baby! Mouth: oh yes, now it’s ‘very superb’. Creamy, almost thick, perfectly bitter (propolis, paraffin, chestnut honey, almond skins…), with a taste that I would describe as ‘Ardbeggish’, I’m sure you get what I mean. Smoky of course. What’s remarkable is that it’s not complex at all, even simple, very simple, but it’s so compact, so bold, so ‘full’. Not too far from the most perfect simplicity (and God knows I cherish complexity). And the finish is very long, very satisfying, very Ardbeggish. Excellent again: 91 points - it would have needed a little extra-complexity to fetch more than that. (and thanks, Konstantin)
Ardbeg 23 yo 1974/1997 (51.2%, Signatory, dumpy, casks #1063&1065, 386 bottles) Colour: pure gold. Nose: wow, it seems we have another beautiful variant here. Smokier and peatier than the OMC, probably rounder, and less mineral and grassy. More fruit as well, such as quinces, apricots, even bananas (unusual in Ardbeg, I think). The profile is closer to the ‘low-strength’ we had before. More balanced, more seductive, subtler. It develops mostly on paraffin, waxed paper and pink grapefruit, with whiffs of incense smoke and seawater. Superb as well, no need to say! Mouth: now it’s much, much closer to the OMC, although a tad rounder and waxier. Bold, even grand, really invading… It’s a perfect blend of smoked herbs, crystallized fruits (quince) and resin-flavoured sweets (and alcohol, of course). Again it’s not as monstrously complex as, say a very old Brora or even Laphroaig or Lagavulin, but it’s got its very own kind of compactness – that I like a lot, no need to say. Very long finish, superbly bitter again (and perhaps just a tad too drying). Wow. 92 points.
Ardbeg 18 yo 1974/1993 (54.6%, Wilson & Morgan, 285 bottles) Colour; straw. Nose: aha! It seems that we have an austere Ardbeg again, pretty much in the OMC’s genre, regarding the profile. But quite funnily, it’s the strongest of the bunch but it’s also the most reserved, and probably the most elegant. It starts on wet stones and ashes, wet chalk, goes on with something delicately medicinal (if that’s possible) and develops on smells of the forest after the rain, mushrooms, fern, moss, pine needles… hay, smoked tea, almond milk… light tobacco, orange peel, a little camphor… Really magnificent. Mouth: oh yes, this palate just matches the nose, despite the fact that it’s certainly more ‘restless’ and probably rougher now. Lots of tea jelly, smoke, all sorts of herbs, a little toffee… Less sweet (some would say sexy) than the Signatory we just had and again more austere. And the bitterness is perfect! The finish is long like a day without bread, on cough syrup and liquorice… But enough maltoporn, this one is a 93 points malt (again, it lacked just a little extra-complexity to make it to 94 or… more!) (and thanks, Bert)


MUSIC – Recommended listening - One of best psych-rock tunes ever and it's French (honest): Serge Gainsbourg doing En Melody.mp3 (on Histoire de Melody Nelson, 1971) with girlfriend Jane Birkin laughing rather hysterically... Would have made a nice soundtrack for Easy Rider, in the cemetary - what do you say, Polo? Anyway, please buy that great Serge's music!


February 19, 2006

Glenburgie 35 yo 1966/2002 (40.5%, Hart Bros) Colour: white wine – surprisingly pale at 35 yo . Nose: very delicate, fruity but not excessively so, flowery (flowers from the fields, buttercups), developing a little on light honey and whiffs of nutmeg but otherwise not much happening here. Hints of tea, butter croissants… Maybe a little litchi and rose… Mouth: a rather weak attack, I’m afraid, with an obvious lack of body. Quite funnily (well), the malt goes directly to its… aftertaste! We do have hints of fruit pie (apricot, quince) and maybe some spices (nutmeg, hints of cinnamon) but otherwise there’s just a little tannins. Almost no finish, just a little pepper in your throat… Well, this one went over the hill, obviously, and probably a rather long time ago. Now, it’s far from being totally unpleasant… 75 points.
Glenburgie 1966/2005 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW France, cask # 11693) Colour: mahogany – coffee. Nose: a superb, rather dry sherry assaults your nostrils. Lots of coffee and lots of mint and coriander. Wow! It’s a little unusual (it’s not oloroso, was it?) Whiffs of smoke – all sorts including fir tree, burning beeswax candles… Develops on beehive, furniture polish, linseed oil… Notes of old high-end rum. It gets then maybe a little less compact and coherent, getting a little too vinous and ‘sweet and sour’ but it’s still beautiful. Hints of balsamic vinegar and Guinness, caramelised meat sauce… A very classy nose, in any case! Mouth: the attack is bold, creamy and very dry – a pleasant dryness here. Quite some coffee again, caramel, rum, raisins and lots of dried ‘oriental’ fruits such as dates and figs. Lots of tannins as well, probably from both the wood and the sherry but these tannins are rather silky and (almost) perfectly integrated. Also a little camphor, very ripe black sherries, prunes… An amazingly concentrated sherry. The finish is long, on fruitcake, fresh mint and old red wine, again quite drying but nothing excessive. An excellent old sherry monster. 92 points. (and thanks, Olivier)
Left, Seagram's V.O., 1960: 'Spectators' favorite at winter olympics. At this tiny corner of the world in the whole world's gaze, thousands cheer champions of thirty nations. This is the great adventure, the grand spectacle, cause for celebration - and, finally, Canada's internationally esteemed whisky is poured in toasts, its balance is faultless, its savor is exceptional, its pleasure is universal.' That's all perfect again, except that most spectators are very busy taking photographs now, instead of enjoying their drams....
Right, Teacher's, 1961. 'In skiing... experience is the great teacher - In Scotch... Teacher's is the great experience.' Teacher's got it finally, they managed to talk about skiing 'directly'.


MUSIC - It's Sunday, we go classical with Germany's Falko Hönish singing Hugo Wolf's short Opus Harfenspieler II.mp3. Not really a very 'classical' voice but certainly a very nice feeling. Please go and listen to him!


February 18, 2006


Brora 13 yo 1982/1995 (43%, Blackadder, cask #430) Tasting a young Brora is interesting but too bad there has never been a young Brora from the first years – I think the youngest ever was the 1972/1992 Connoisseur’s Choice.

Colour: white wine. Nose: very, very ‘young Clynelish’ right at first nosing. Not too bold and extremely grainy and cereally, in fact. Bold notes of mashed potatoes, dairy cream, vanilla crème… Whiffs of paraffin, flowers from the fields, lilac… Very, very fresh, clean and pure but not extremely expressive. Hints of rain water, fern, moss… beer, cider… And then we do have something phenolic indeed (wet straw, new cow litter…) Hints of ginger ale. Enjoyable. Mouth: not too bold and rather grainy, with quite some tannins (apple skin), grape juice, getting rather bitter (un-sugared tea, lemon juice, paper). Not much else… And the finish is quite long but drying and quite MOTR. A lower-shelf Brora, I’m afraid… 72 points.
Brora 23 yo 1981/2005 (46%, Signatory Un-chillfiltered, cask #05/147, 408 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: less fresh and more indefinite. Sort of mineral and cardboardy at first nosing, getting then very vegetal (newly mown grass, lettuce). Whiffs of cake but other that that, not much happening in there… Maybe a little bland. Mouth: now it’s better, punchier and tastier than the Blackadder. Rather nervous, starting quite waxy and resinous, on smoked tea, toasted bread and walnut skin. Notes of cider apples, apple juice, getting quite peppery and gingery, with traces of sherry – just traces. The finish is rather long, compact, nicely bittersweet… A nice Brora, especially on the palate, but it’s definitely not a member of the leading squad. These Broras from 1981 and 1982 may sometimes need a little sherry – yes, Serge speaking. 80 points.
Left, Seagram's V.O., 1959: 'International salute to flawless form. At this moment you are a spectator at the North American Ski Championship at Squaw Valley, California. You watch the skiers' dazzling speed in the downhill race... and then join the crowd in toasts and celebration. The choice of whisky: Seagram's V.O., internationally esteemed for its flawless form, its exceptional flavor and balance.' That's all perfect, except that the girl in leopard arorak just doesn't watch the skiers, she's too busy talking to the ski monitor... Always the same story...
Right, Canadian Club, 1959. 'Jump this crevasse or it's a long way down.' From Canadian Club's famous 'extreme' series.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - "Dad, can't you post about genuine rock and roll on your blog (it's not a blog, son) from time to time? And why let Nick do all the rock and roll work?" said Arthur the other day... Well, I thought I did post about rock and roll but okay!
So, why not have a little Belgian rock and roll, like dEUS doing If You Don’t Get What You Want.mp3? Not too bad, don't you think? Please buy their music if you can find it where you live... (Photo Kristien Dirkx)

February 17, 2006

, Shepherds Bush Empire, London, February 11th 2006
Not that he knows it, but Ray Davies and I go back to the late winter of 1965. He was playing in a band called the Kinks, and I was in the audience at a recording of a famous British TV music show, Thank Your Lucky Stars, watching them perform ‘Till the end of the day’. My Mum and Dad were less than impressed by this gang of leather-jacketed leering louts, preferring instead the vocal charms of their favourite valley-boy Tom Jones, singing ‘Thunderball’. We met Tom afterwards – he’d returned to the studio rather than run the gauntlet of over-excited knicker throwing Brummies (no Mum, I don’t mean you), but I never saw Ray again ‘till the other night. We’re both a bit older – but I have to say that Ray exudes a youthful charm and enthusiasm for what he’s doing, even if his songs reflect a somewhat world-weary melancholy. And given the way he jumps, writhes and dances round the stage you would never think he was only recently seriously ill having been shot in the leg in New Orleans.
He says he’s delighted to be here, this most vaudevillian of performers on one of London’s last remaining great music-hall stages, and the almost permanent grin on that long Joker meets Robert de Niro face suggests he’s telling the truth.

Gordon Brown
It seems to be an odd coincidence, sitting here, sipping at over-iced cool beer, and listening to Davies singing tales of drunkenness and cruelty, so soon after our evening with Billy Bragg. For here are two songwriters apparently obsessed with national identity, Englishness, Britishness, or whatever. But while Bragg’s world is a romantic fairytale of make believe gardeners growing vegetables together in the cause of solidarity, Davies sings of a world we seem to have lost, but can somehow all fondly remember – village greens, dance halls, tea and cakes, football matches, Blackpool Beach and steam trains. Oddly I can’t help thinking that British Chancellor and Prime Minister to be, Gordon Brown, famous socialist thinker and decent historian that he is, the latest politician to urge that we all fly the Union Jack in our gardens, would somehow prefer Davies’s world to Bragg’s. But I didn’t see him in the audience. What I did see was a hugely diverse audience – from granny (90 plus I reckoned) to grandchild – all having a whale of a time.
I can’t quite remember when the singing started. Probably not during ‘I’m not like everybody else’, the pointed starter to the evening. But Ray had certainly got his choir in action by song number two, ‘Where have all the good times gone’, and called upon it at will throughout the evening. Actually I don’t think he could stop it, and although I don’t know where they came from, it was just like we all had the words inside us somewhere, just waiting to come out. I’ve never heard such a joyous racket in the Bush. Why I’m sure we were singing ‘Dead end street’ so loud that even the bloke selling the Big Issue outside could hear us.
It was a great set – a bit of a teaser really. Very old songs at the start, then recent, like ‘London song’, “which has got a new meaning since what happened last July”. ‘Twentieth century man’, the pretty ‘Oklahoma USA’ (written, Ray told us in one of his many digressions, about his sister’s love affair with the cinema, which in turn was the start of his love affair with the United States), a selection from Village Green Preservation Society – “the most unsuccessful album of all time” said Davies, but now of course regarded as his Kinks masterpiece – an impromptu snatch from Harry Rag (Serge – it’s Cockney rhyming slang) and ‘Sunny Afternoon’ (more raucous singing). Then the difficult bit – the new songs – the reason for the gig – the new songs from Ray Davies’s new album, astonishingly his first official solo offering, Other people’s lives. It’s the part when we’re supposed to shuffle our feet, look at our shoes in embarrassment, nip out to the bar or the gents, and generally hope that it finishes soon, very soon.
But not tonight. We get five cracking tunes – ‘Next door neighbour’ (“about the people I grew up with”) ‘Creatures of little faith’ (“people in relationships never trust each other”), ‘After the fall’, ‘The tourist’ (with pleasing musical references to ‘See my friends’) and ‘Stand up comic’ – the latter not being sung by Davies, but by his alter ego, who according to an interview I read somewhere is called Max, and from what I could see is obviously something of a troublesome yet loveable, rough diamond, cockney ‘Jack the lad’. These are all powerful songs, addressing themes often found in Davies’s work, but with, it seemed to me, a slightly harder, perhaps more jaded edge.
That was certainly true of ‘Tourist’, a very cynical appraisal of Brits (and perhaps everyone) abroad. I kicked myself that I didn’t buy a copy of this new album from the merchandise store – it’s not released yet – but when it is I urge you to give it a listen. You can download ‘Tourist’ now from a number of sites.
And then it’s back to the hits – ‘Long way from home’ ‘Tired of waiting for you’, ‘Set me free’ and ‘Days’. Davies told us how record companies hated the Kinks rasping guitar sound – Dave Davies playing through a very small amplifier and speaker – “sounds like a barking dog” said one – and to demonstrate he then barked the introduction to ‘All day and all of the night’ – “woof woof, woof woof, woof woof woof woof” – go on, try it ! The first encore is ‘You really got me’ with a nice slow introduction while Davies told the story of how the song was written (“we thought we were an R&B band” he laughed) and the timeless ‘Waterloo sunset’, followed by a final encore of ‘Lola’. Davies is happy and relaxed – he even has time to say some nice things about recently ill brother Dave with whom he has famously feuded over the years. He talks to his audience like an old friend, and as you would expect is candid and honest. He’s also passionate about his work, new and old. “I’m proud of these songs” he tells us, “that’s why I play them, because I like them”. Quite right too. It’s hard to think of Punk Rock or Brit Pop without Ray Davies, and it’s absolutely clear that unlike almost everybody else from his era, he hasn’t finished yet. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)

Max, Ray Davies' alter ego
Many thanks, Nick. I should confess I only really caught up with Kinks with 1977's controversial (too mainstreamish, say many) LP 'Sleepwalker', which I just exhumed from my basement. Maybe 1977 was too late but good memories at my end anyway! By the way, I just saw that Ray Davies' new album 'Other people’s lives' is out now. I also bought The Tourist from a well-known download service (no names but starts with an 'I' and ends with 'tunes'). It's really excellent, thanks for the tip. And just for the youngsters who are reading this, we have a few seminal anthems by The Kinks: Lola.mp3, Victoria.mp3 and (of course), the much pillaged You really got me.mp3 and its infectious riff and solo. But please buy Ray Davies' music!


Glen Grant 25 yo 1964/1990 (46%, Signatory, sherry casks #10717, 18, 19, 1300 bottles) Bottled at a time when everything wasn’t yet about single casks. Colour: deep amber.

Nose: wow, it’s superb! A very elegant sherry, starting on peaty and minty notes (spearmint), lots of crystallised fruits, fireplace smoke, oriental pastries… It gets then very ‘leguminous’ (cooked cabbage, turnips – for Baldrick – very strong notes of raw celeriac). Just stunning! Goes on with carrots and gets then rather earthy, rooty… Also some cough syrup, camphor, and lots of lovage. Superb indeed. Mouth: oh yes, it’s almost as stunning on the palate, very coherent, perhaps just a bit dry. We have the usual notes of chocolate, cocoa and bitter orange, all that being more playful than usual. Earl grey tea, coffee toffee, hints of clove, thyme, and of course all sorts of dried fruits. The finish is long, perhaps a tad too drying now, with loads of coffee. Yes, superb, too bad it’s a little too drying to make it over 90 points.
Glen Grant 31 yo 1969/2001 (57.1%, James MacArthur) Colour: mahogany. Nose: much simpler at first nosing, perhaps a bit lean and too dry, with lots of cocoa but it does get more complex with time. There again quite some vegetables, more camphor and some very nice notes of cherry liqueur (guignolet), strawberry jam. It hasn’t got the Signatory’s complexity but it’s still a very nice sherried Glen Grant. Mouth: creamier, punchier and also very salty (Olivier said it’s perhaps an osmotic mouth reaction?) Now we have a truly beautiful sherry, with lots of vegetables again, salted liquorice, cake, dried fruits (prunes in Armagnac), getting very coffeeish. Lots of body and oomph – a perfect sherry monster indeed. The finish is rather stunning, on caramelised fruits and salted liquorice. This palate was hugely concentrated, probably a little better than the Signatory’s, but the latter had a nicer nose. So, it’s going to be 89 points for this MacArthur (I had it at 88 before).

February 16, 2006

Macallan 10 yo ‘Full Proof’ (57%, OB for Italy, Giovinetti, 1980’s) Colour: full amber. Nose: starts really powerful, very chocolaty and quite smoky. Surprisingly phenolic for a Macallan. Lots of liquorice as well, coffee, dried fruits… Rather complex, and definitely full-bodied. Wow! Mouth: ample, powerful, invading, nervous… There is sulphur but it’s far from being a problem here. It gets surprisingly lemony, citrusy, and also quite salty (salted butter caramel, salted liquorice). The sherry gets bolder and bolder then, the whole getting a little vinous. Quite a beast, let’s try it with a few drops of water: right, the profile doesn’t change much, maybe it gets a little drying now… Anyway, an excellent, beastly Macallan – for big boys? I like it a lot. 91 points.
Macallan 16 yo 1989/2005 (51.3%, Dewar Rattray, cask #2492, 248 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: oh, this is really ‘the other side’ of Macallan. No traces of sherry, rather a bold fruitiness (cider apples, green pears, boxed pineapples) mixed with some bold mashy and grainy notes (muesli, yoghurt, mashed potatoes). Very fresh but not exactly clean… Gets then rather herbal and sour (sour wood, beer, ginger ale) and slightly minty (freshly crushed mint leaves). Not exactly my kind of profile but I wouldn’t say it’s flawed. Just, maybe, a little immature despite the 16 years. Mouth: now it’s nicer. Certainly less sour and feinty, although very grainy again and rather spirity. Notes of toasted bread, apple pie, lavender sweets, dried apples…
It gets rather hot after a moment, with something burning. Strange, 51% isn’t that high, is it? Very little cask influence that I can get, in any case. The finish is very long but spirity and sort of bitter… Not my cup of tea, definitely, but some might like it. A Macallan for blending? 79 points.
MUSIC – Strongly recommended listening - Haruko Nishimura's Degennerate Art Ensemble is a 'post modernist performance company' from Seattle that breaks all conventions and that I'd love to see coming over here in the near future. In the meantime, we can listen to Dreams From Wounded Mouth.mp3 (a much easier piece than usual) from their latest CD 'The Bastress'. Please let's buy their music and go to their performances!

February 15, 2006

Glen Ord 30 yo (58.7%, OB, 2005)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: wow, extremely aromatic! It starts on bold notes of beehive and ‘yellow’ wild flowers (dandelions, buttercups…) and gets then very, very fruity, mostly on quince jelly, apricot pie, mirabelle plum jam, fresh tangerines. The balance is superb, We have then something really fragrant (musk, patchouli, maybe a little sandalwood) and finally quite some almond milk, coconut, dried pineapples… Nice whiffs of oak. Really superb, very expressive yet elegant. If the palate matches this classy nose, we have a winner.
Let’s see… Mouth: very sweet, bold, rich but clean… Yes, it’s superb. Very fruity again, with quite some pink grapefruit, smoked tea, something waxy… Lots of dried fruits as well (bananas, small oranges, crystallized quince) and a very nice bitterness, probably from the wood, that keeps it very ‘structured’. Notes of camphor and eucalyptus, cardamom, chlorophyll chewing-gum… Really full-bodied! Excellent, with a very long finish, both fruity (lots of Williams pears) and gingery, with always this beautiful bitterness (lemon skin). There’s not only peat and sherry in life! 93 points.
Ord 1962/1984 (58%, Samaroli ‘Bouquet’) Colour: pure gold. Nose: oh, we have another winner here, it seams. Quite similar globally, but a little less fruity and certainly more resinous (close to almond milk and propolis here) and nutty. Lots of marzipan as well, roasted peanuts, beeswax, furniture polish… And then we have more or less the same superb notes of sandalwood… Another amazing nose, impossible to say which one is the nicest. Both are simply wonderful. Mouth: an extraordinary attack, even punchier than the new OB, and also creamier and sweeter. It’s the same distillery, obviously… Again a little less fruit and freshness and more waxy and resinous flavours. Notes of cough syrup, marzipan, lots of dried ginger and smoked tea… Sort of a bitterness (dried herbs) and a long finish again, waxy and on lemon skin again. In short, this one is extremely good again, but it’s maybe just a tad less balanced and complex than the OB. I said 'a tad'… 92 points (and thanks, Bert)
Top, left, Johnnie Walker, 1956: 'Born 1820... Still going strong. Meat a great Scot!.' After having shown up in all sorts of countries and all kinds of situations, good ol' Johnnie couldn't miss the winter sports, which were getting more and more fashionable at the time.
Top, right, Canadian Club, 1956. 'Snow Snakes - In Canada, 'strike' at 2 miles a minute!' Part of a famous series where it's always good to have a glass of Canadian Club after having taken part in various weird, little known local activities from all over the world - sometimes extreme, sometimes not. Our fellow Canadian Maniacs told me it's an Inuit game. It's not part of the official Olympic sports, as far as I know...
Left, Teacher's Highland Cream, 1956. 'Photography as changed since 1830... but the good taste of Teacher's never changes!' Funny that Teacher's sort of stole Dewar's baseline here ('never varies') and adapted it to skiing in a rather strange way... Why doing a detour via photography?


MUSIC – Recommended listening - JAZZ - Blossom Dearie is a sweet, clever and admirable little person and I've got many of her records on my shelves (and err... in the basement). Try for instance the great standard Manhattan.mp3 and you'll see why I love her - and her silly, poppy little tunes too. Please buy Mrs Blossom Dearie's records or attend her concerts - she's still alive and kicking!

February 2006 - part 1 <--- February 2006 - part 2 ---> March 2006 - part 1

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

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

Ardbeg 18 yo 1974/1993 (54.6%, Wilson & Morgan, 285 bottles)

Ardbeg 19 yo 1974/1993 (43%, Signatory, casks #4375-77, 980 bottles)

Ardbeg 23 yo 1974/1997 (51.2%, Signatory, dumpy, casks #1063&1065, 386 bottles)

Ardbeg 28 yo 1974/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 264 bottles)

Glenburgie 1966/2005 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, cask # 11693)

Glen Grant 25 yo 1964/1990 (46%, Signatory, sherry casks #10717, 18, 19, 1300 bottles)

Ord 1962/1984 (58%, Samaroli ‘Bouquet’)

Glen Ord 30 yo (58.7%, OB, 2005)

Lagavulin 12 yo (43%, OB, ‘White Horse’, Carpano import, rotation 1973)

Lagavulin 12 yo 1988/2000 (56.2%, Hart Bros)

Macallan 10 yo ‘Full Proof’ (57%, OB for Italy, Giovinetti, 1980’s)

Tobermory 1972/1995 (50%, Moon Import ‘De Viris Illustribus’, 600 bottles)