(Current entries)

Whisky Tasting


Daily Music entries

Petits billets d'humeur
(in French)



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

February 29, 2008

CONCERT REVIW by Nick Morgan
The Astoria, London, February 12th 2008
Hawley I would have to say that it’s been a pretty good year for Richard Hawley, with the release of his very successful album Lady’s Bridge and a stunning tour leading to a nomination for Best Male Artist in the 2008 Brit Awards. He didn’t get it – like the Mercury Award he was nominated for in 2006 – but I doubt that really matters as there seems to be a nicely understated momentum to his career at the moment, and a bit of brand-building buzz among the vicarious chattering classes, fascinated by his path to musical redemption.
That’s probably why the old Pickle Factory is full to the rafters with all sorts of folk for this NME Shockwave Awards show. Not that Hawley, or any of the support acts have been nominated for any of these, but it is nice to know, as he observed towards the end of the night, that a magazine struggling manfully to maintain its relevance in a digital age, “has got time for a fookin’ old fart like me”. And did I also mention that we’re here with Whiskyfun’s top editorial team, flown over especially from France? Hawley, as you may recall, won the Non Plus Ultra Award in last year’s Whiskyfun Music Awards, ‘the people’s choice’ as I like to think of them (God only knows how many times I voted), and they’ve come just to see how good he really is. Which is why, in the company of such distinguished civilians, we got here early and are upstairs, away (at least for a short time) from the Astoria’s unwashed hordes.
Vince Vincent
    Starting the evening are Vince Vincent and the Villains – with a sound that’s rather like Chris Isaak meets the Stray Cats – who have been doing the rounds of London clubs for the past couple of years. They’ve got some good tunes (surprisingly complex), a nice twangy guitar sound, and Vince can certainly sing (oddly he sounds a bit like a punk Keith Rowland), but there’s something wrong in the rhythm section (bass too slow, drums too fast – or is it the other way round?) and the sound is appalling – the engineers must have switched on the kit and then gone for a few beers. Still, with an album, Gospel Bombs, on its way, they should be around long enough for a more studied review – assuming of course they avoid the Sword of Damocles that’s hanging over them and so many of their fellow artists at major label EMI, currently being ruthlessly restructured by private equity supreme, Guy Hands.
Frankly in need of restructuring were second band up, Maps, whose tedious form of electronica (not helped by very under mixed vocals) was ill chosen for the occasion, and frankly far better suited to a funeral parlour. Sorry guys – wrong time, wrong place.
Richard Hawley Which leaves the triumphant Mr Hawley, with his very precise and quite excellent band, his lovely Gretsch and Gibson hollow-bodied guitars, and his shiny suit and his well-waxed quiff. And the sound engineers had returned to their duties to deliver one of the best sounding gigs I can remember at the Astoria: not only did it do justice to Hawley’s deep, creamy and crooning voice, but you could also pick up all the considerable subtleties of similarly shiny-suited Shez Sheridan’s guitar work (well, guitars really, as he rarely played the same one more than twice through a set of almost twenty songs). Hawley had chosen the best of his last two albums, starting with the topical recent single ‘Valentine’, ‘Roll river roll’ and ‘Just like rain’. Actually the songs, each a really crafted example of the songwriter’s art, came almost like punches. And I have to say (as I have before) that’s it no good simply writing Hawley off as a peddler of pastiche. It’s true that he’s fairly faithful to song structures often associated with the country and western and rockabilly genres.
But he injects these with a very twenty-first century sensibility, and uses them as a canvas to paint both very particular pictures of his home town of Sheffield, in songs like ‘Tonight the streets are ours’ and also broader and more expansive vistas, such as the very wonderful ‘Ocean’ with which the evening finally closed. And the guitar playing, both Sheridan’s and Hawley’s – the latter far more forthcoming on the fret board than he had been at last year’s Roundhouse gig - is as clever and contemporary as it can get.
The end result was really captivating, despite the fact that by now we had been joined by a crushing crowd of people, including three of the most tiresome loudmouths I’ve ever come across at a gig. I struggled, and managed, to keep them out of my head as I savoured the music, but their constant chatter (jewellery, furniture, holidays – you name it, they spoke about it at the top of their voices) was quite remarkable, and a display of utter selfishness only possible from the braying over-educated (yet terminally stupid) and over-privileged English middle classes to whom they belonged.
Asshole and the Assolettes
Downstairs Hawley dealt with a noisy heckler (whom I gather was later thrown out) with aplomb, but sadly there was no way of getting rid of these three idiots. The distinguished editor of Whiskyfun, who christened them ‘Asshole and the Assolettes’ (there’s a joke about food in there somewhere) had to be restrained by his daughter from drowning them in beer (“No Papa, you shouldn’t do that!”) whilst the Photographer made a game but futile attempt to throttle the Asshole. It’s just what you have to put up with these days, what with live music being “the new black”. But let that not detract from the excellence of this performance, which was really focussed on delivering the songs, with a judiciously spare amount of story telling (so quite low on the fookometer compared with the Roundhouse). The main set finished with ‘Born under a bad sign’ (“this is a song about getting pissed”), ‘Something is’ (from his 2001 album late Night Final), and ‘I’m looking for someone’. After a pause for an off-stage cigarette, the encore began with Hawley and harmonica player Clive Mellor playing Ricky Nelson’s ‘Lonesome town’ and Hank Williams’ ‘I’m so lonesome I could cry’ before ending with that sublime version of ‘Ocean’.
Hawley It was, as our large party scattered around the theatre agreed, a night to remember. And as a result of our unfortunate experience in the Astoria balcony you can expect more campaigning to come from Whiskyfun as we frame and shame the selfish bastards intent on ruining music lovers’ evenings out in our new ‘War on Wankers’ page that’ll be coming this way very soon. Wankers – you have been warned. - Nick Morgan (concert photograph by Kate, Asshole and the Assolettes by Serge)
Many thanks Nick. As for Mr Asshole, our offspring noticed that he used to keep ‘dancing’ like if there was no tomorrow even when the music wasn’t on, which might mean GTS (Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome) rather than plain selfishness and 'ill-bredness'. Well, we’ll never know and maybe it was all of that but anyway, Hawley was so good that even that infernal trio of wankers didn’t manage to spoil that marvellous London/Sheffield evening. Thanks again! Music to listen to: Vince Vincent’s MySpace pageRichard Hawley’s MySpace page. - S.
HP 1981


Highland Park 25yo 1981 (43%, The Nectar, Daily Dram, 2006) Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s always interesting to try old whisky that’s not been much influenced by wood. This HP starts very grassy, oily, smoky and delicately yeasty, truly in Highland style. Goes on with whiffs of burnt heather (that dirties your pants when you’re walking on it, would say my friend Olivier) and gets finally slightly ginger and porridgy. Mashed potatoes. As ‘natural’ as HP can get.

Mouth: sweet, clean, fruity (cider apples), delicately honeyed and smoky. Perfect strength here. Only drawback: you may down this as if it was apple juice. Finish: medium long but very clean and pure, with the oak’s pepper making a late but pleasant arrival as the signature. Comments: flawless ‘young old’ Highland Park that perfectly displays the distillery’s ‘true’ character. Keyword: balance. SGP:443 – 87 points.
Highland Park 1981/2006 (45%, Samaroli, Coilltean) Colour: white wine. Nose: this is what sometimes happens when you’re trying ‘close colleagues’ head to head: they can be just the same whisky. That’s the case here, this Samaroli being maybe just a tad more buttery. Mouth: ditto. Just a little more oomph and a little more pepper. Finish: same comments. Comments: ditto. The extra-2% are really noticeable, that is, even if they don’t change anything to the profile. Very good again. SGP:443 - 87 points.

February 27, 2008

Highland Park 1989/2004 (46%, Peck Spa Milano, cask #hp2896) Colour: pale white wine. Nose: another typical ‘naked’ Highland Park, without noticeable wood influence. More on ginger, porridge and mashed potatoes than on fruits and honey, that is. Notes of peat smoke and lavender. Not very sexy I’d say. Mouth: sweet, almost sugary, close to reduced new make I think. Rubber and ginger tonic, aspirin tablets, apple juice and white pepper (and paper). Finish: medium long, sugary and gingery. Comments: not the best HP ever. Lacks maturity in my book. SGP:332 - 72 points.
Highland ärk Highland Park 1989/2006 (51%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #3258) Colour: dark gold. Nose: obvious sherry (and a little rubber) blended with typical honeyed notes. Tar and kumquats, with also whiffs of fermenting hay. Gets meatier after a moment (ham cooked with pineapples), old rum, hints of wood varnish and strawberry jam. Slight roughness but the whole is still most enjoyable. Mouth: thick, coating, quite sherried and very fruity. Fruitcake, fruit eau-de-vie (kirsch, plums), even strawberry liqueur mixed with a little tar/rubber and orange marmalade. Gets rounder with time. Also hints of bubblegum and fructose. Finish: long but smoother, compact, with a honeyed fruitiness. Comments: a restless whisky that gets much quieter after a few minutes, like a young cat that falls asleep (well, that was a stupid comment, wasn’t it!) SGP:632 - 86 points.
Highland Park 1989/1999 (60%, G&M, Cask selection, casks #2871-2872) Colour: white wine. Nose: very, very similar to the Peck in profile but less expressive, as if the high alcohol content was filtering most aromas. Let’s ad water right away... It got very different! Smokier and more vegetal (wet hay, moss) and also much more lemony (from lemonade to lemon marmalade). Interesting zing here. Mouth (neat): big rubber, heavy alcohol and something chemical. Plastic? Things improve over time but again, water is needed. With water: yes, it’s another whisky. No more chemical notes but some pleasant lemony notes again. Grapefruits and wax. Finish: rather long, lemony, sharp. Comments: this one is pretty austere in fact – and hard to enjoy without water – but I like the big lemony notes quite a lot. SGP:551 – 84 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: That's right, it was the great late Joe Strummer-of-The-Clash who was singing this Mondo bongo.mp3, with his last band The Mescalleros. This song was also on the movie Mr and Mrs Smith's OST. Please buy Joe Strummer's music...


Joe Strummer

February 26, 2008

KULA SHAKER with Dr Joel and Companeros

Shepherds Bush Empire
February 8th 2008

I was sure I had a Kula Shaker CD somewhere, but try as I might I couldn’t lay my hands on it before this gig. Maybe it went down to the charity shop in November, along with a bag of other ill-considered purchases.

Or it could be an old cassette, bought in an absent minded moment from a motorway service station bargain bin, and now confined to that rather oily bag of stuff in the back of the car, never played since VWs started coming with CD players only? Either way I know I did quite like that Indian tune they did which at the time (it was 1996, and I can’t remember if the song was ‘Tattva’ or ‘Govinda’) was strikingly different from anything else around, and pleasingly retrospective in a retrospective sort of way.
Hayley Mills
And I confess I was also somewhat seduced by the fact that band leader Crispian Mills was the son of British child acting prodigy Hayley Mills, whom I have to admit I had a bit of a crush on after seeing films like Whistle Down the Wind, In Search of the Castaways, and That Darn’ Cat (all seen in that old and now long-gone cinema in sunny Bedworth, the name of which now escapes me), and even more so after I (and the rest of the world) got a glimpse, a few years later, of her bottom in The Family Way. So it’s hot flushes all round when we take our seats in the front of the balcony (we’ve arrived early for once) only to see Hayley holding court to family and friends in the reserved seats just to our left.
Back to business. You may wonder why Kula Shaker earned the tag “the most reviled band of the 1990s” which still hangs over them like an albatross. Well, partly it was Mills’ showbiz family connections (Dad was film director Roy Boulting, grandpa actor Sir John Mills) and privileged public school background – not unusual (think the original Genesis for example), but often a cause for backbiting in the British music scene. More important, however, was Mills’ defining rock star foot-in-mouth moment, when, based on his interest in things Indian and spiritual, he foolishly declared his love for the swastika (“I'd love to have great big flaming swastikas onstage just for the fuck of it”), and bemoaned the fact that “it's a shame the baddies always get the good uniforms. Ha ha” when discussing Hitler and the Nazi movement. No amount of apologies could ever wipe that off the record. So, although their first album had been a great success rivalling the likes of Oasis for sales, the delayed second (not released ‘till 1999) was a flop, and shortly after its release the band split up. But they’re back with a new album, Strangefolk, released last year – and in a strangely Spinal Tap way, it’s partly because they’re big in Japan (Mills had been working there in the interim with his band Jeevas) where they toured in January before returning to Europe. And if tonight’s sold out show is anything to go by they’re big here too, with a audience ranging from mid-teens (the two charming and wildly polite girls next to us are even wearing kaftans – “not as smelly as they used to be” observed the Photographer) to, well, let’s not go there shall we? And if it’s sedate in the first floor balcony it’s rocking in the mosh downstairs (and upstairs above us) – I haven’t seen so many glasses of beer flying through the air for a very long time.
Dr Joel
It started to go wrong right from the start with a film introduction projected onto two rather church-hall style screens: it’s a cartoon of George Orwell, who introduced the support act, acclaimed “konnakol” vocalist and percussionist Dr Joel. I have to say that I would have found thirty minutes or so of drum and mouth quite entertaining, but unfortunately Dr Joel was sacrificed in the cause of what I think was supposed to be humour, as he was joined on stage by the Companeros, a weakly disguised Kula Shaker and friends, allegedly from Italy but looking like a cross between extras from The Magnificent Seven and the Beatles meet the Maharishi. It is apparently a huge joke – “sending themselves up” as we say here - as they play their way through some folky stuff, country and western and end up with an Indian chant. But it’s heavy handed, self-indulgent and as dull as ditchwater to any but the uninitiated few. If you don’t believe me then have a look on YouTube.
Kula Shaker
What follows is a fifteen-minute comedy as the road crew try and set up the two screens for the main show. It’s not quite like Spinal Tap’s Stonehenge moment but it is as surprisingly amateur as you can imagine. Eventually with projectors failing one screen is dumped and the band play in front of something that wouldn’t have been out of place in a 1970s school classroom. Very classy. Mills came onto the stage with his floppy blonde hair, a dodgy pair of knee-high boots and an ill-chosen black silk top. And when he announced the first song, “This is called Kick out the Motherfucking Jams, motherfuckers” I began to realise that we probably should have spent the night at home nursing cups of Ovaltine by the wireless, listening to Any Questions. This was a serious time warp of a gig, with nothing original to commend it (even that nice Indian stuff, when we got to it, sounded like old hat). Middle of the road rock thrash at its worst – and how could anyone take a band seriously with a organist like Harry B Broadbent (don’t get me wrong – he does pretty well with his Procul Harum style Hammond) looking frankly like the keyboard player Spinal Tap never had, as if he’d walked onto the stage from a dressing-room in 1974 or thereabouts. The new songs are hugely derivative – ‘Second sight’ is a dead ringer for early Yes, ‘Hurricane season’ out of the Mike Scott songbook. Worse, their longstanding cover version of Joe South’s‘Hush’, with which they thankfully begin to draw the evening to an end, is almost note for note Deep Purple’s version – you can do a YouTube comparison if you don’t believe me. Mills whirls around stage with a misplaced enthusiasm and self-belief to an irritating degree, ‘though I have to give him credit for coping with what must have been a painful cut finger early in the set – maybe we can blame some of the otherwise absurdly theatrical grimaces on that
We left as the encores began, starting with the apparently politically incisive ‘Diktator of the free world’ (I was going to quote the lyrics but why bother when they’re so crass?). We made our excuses to the girls (their Mum was waiting for them outside in the Volvo XC70) and had a minicab ride home that was more exciting that the whole evening. Not fair? Well, as ever, go and judge for yourselves. They’re heading out to the Netherlands and Germany over the next week or so and then, I’ve no doubt, will be back out to Japan. You could also buy their new album, or for a touch of nostalgia settle down with a DVD of In Search of the Castaways. I know which I’d do. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)

Dr Joel MySpace page
Kula Shaker MySpace page

Gooseberries Strathisla 40 yo 1967/2008 (46.4%, Duncan Taylor Lonach) Colour: gold. Nose: this one is very clean, very floral, with delicate honey notes, pollen, buttercups, very ripe gooseberries, vanilla crème and hints of cigar box. Delicate but assertive, no excessive oakiness here. At all. Mouth: round at the attack but getting then rather spicy and gently oaky. Nutmeg, white pepper and cinnamon on apple compote. Finish: medium long, a tad prickly (tannins) but balance is still reached at this point. Comment: the palate is a little less interesting than the nose but the whole is very palatable. A good alternative to the usually more sherried G&M’s. SGP:541 – 84 points.
Strathisla 40 yo 1967/2007 (47%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, cask #1887) Colour: gold. Nose: a little less expressive than the Lonach, and maybe a tad more phenolic/waxy. Whiffs of fresh mint. Other than that the profile is very similar, but the Lonach is a little sexier I think (including its price I believe). Mouth: extremely close to the Lonach on the palate, just a tad less tannic. Added hints of marshmallows and apple liqueur. Finish: similar, a tad longer and more peppery now. Comment: this one is a little more satisfying after all. Flawless old ‘natural’ Speysider. SGP:541 – 85 points. Strathisla DT

February 25, 2008

Springbank 20 yo 1968/1989 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, Ageing Monography, 466 bottles, 75cl) Colour: gold. Nose: starts deliciously fruity and floral, as expressive as a virtualy unsherried old Springbank can get. Huge notes of fresh pineapples and coconuts (smells almost like pina colada), then ginger and nutmeg, sweet white wine (Sauternes), praline and peanut butter, faint whiffs of wood smoke and pine resin as well as fermenting grass. Exuberant on the nose, let’s hope the palate will match it. Mouth: punchy, less extravagant now but maybe better balanced as well. Apple pie and tinned guavas, crystallised grapefruits, white pepper, grated coconut and nutmeg. Perfect oak. Finish: long, with a welcomed bitterness (lemon zest) on top of all the rest. Comments: excellent, albeit maybe just a tad less complex than other old Springbanks (the OB’s for example). SGP:653 - 90 points. (and thanks, A lex.)
Springbank 30 yo 1965/1995 (43%, Hart Bros) Colour: white wine. Nose: this is curiously watery (river water) and metallic (aluminium pan). Also notes of ink and fern. Lacks fruitiness but there’s a nice freshness in this very unusual old Springbank. Let’s see what gives on the palate... Mouth: very unusual. Slightly stale lemon juice, something resinous and waxy, lemon pie, olive oil... This is good whisky but I wouldn’t have said it’s an old Springbank. Finish: shortish and a little cardboardy and metallic, even if the spiciness in the background is pleasant. Comments: again, an unusual old Springbank. Maybe were there nails in the cask? SGP:241 - 80 points.
Springbank 23 yo 1965 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, Ageing Monography, 660 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: this one is smokier and a little rougher than the 1968 for Samaroli. More classically on coconut as well, with hints of sage and rosemary, vanilla and oak, bread crust, ripe bananas and maybe a very faint soapiness that’s curiously enjoyable here (saponin.) Keeps developing with notes of mushrooms, tobaco, leather and old books. A rather gingery signature on the nose. Mouth: attack on dry wood and dried mushrooms plus liquorice and toffee, with the trademark coconut arising after that. Also nutmeg, dried figs and bananas. Classy old Springbank. Finish: long, with a salty tang that complements the coconut and dried bananas. Comments: not unlike the 1968, this is maybe not the most complex old Springbank ever, but it’s still grand whisky. SGP:553 - 91 points.
Springbank 1964 (46%, OB, private bottling for Lateltin 100th Anniversary, Switzerland) Colour: full amber. Nose: this is a much more sherried old Springbank, much more on walnuts, dried mushrooms, old wooden furniture, wax polish, dark cigarettes (Gauloises), balsamic vinegar, Chinese prune sauce, olive oil, chestnut honey, old rancio and triple-sec (orange liqueur). The distillery’s character is more hidden here but the sherry’s truly and impressively dry. To my liking. Mouth: yes, this is very good. More fruits (pineapples, papayas, figs) but the superb dryness is well here. Bitter chocolate, espresso, Russian black tea, cooked blackcurrants (without too much sugar), prunes, Smyrna raisins, dark bread (such as pumpernickel), cane sugar... Wow! (sorry) Finish: long and even drier – beautifully so. Comments: great old dry Springbank. Il you like dry sherry, you’ll adore this (provided you can put your hands on it.) SGP:464 - 92 points.
Springbank 31 yo 1964/1996 (51.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 27.41) Colour: full amber. Nose: this is simply a mix of all Springanks we just had (minus the Hart Bros). Marvellous. Mint, mushrooms, orange cake, coconuts, ‘arranged’ old rum, leather, honeydew, gingerbread, game and, well, thousands of other aromas. What a stunning bouquet! Mouth: this is a little drier than on the nose, and closer to the ‘Lateltin’, even if it’s even ‘broader’ and more concentrated at the same time. Morels dipped into highly reduced prune and tea sauce – did anybody ever try to prepare that? And old walnuts, and grated coconut, and bitter chocolate, and raisins, and chewing tobacco, and soy suace... and, and, and... Finish: ‘as long as a day without bread’. Stunning dryness. Comments: a little more freshness on the palate would have propelled this one to 94+ points. SGP:564 – 93 points.
BONUS: Fake Springbank 25 yo 1954/1979 (80°proof, Cadenhead’s, dumpy) Right, this is plain crazy. Trying a whisky that’s certainly not what’s advertised on the label, and that’s been filled by ‘anybody’ may be very risky but I’m sure many WF readers wondered what’s inside these proven fakes, of which dozens have been sold on eBay in recent months. This one was bought by a dear friend, unknowingly of course. Of course, it’s not impossible that all these fakes don’t shelter the very same whisky. I measured this one’s strength using a refractometer, it’s around 44-45% ABV. Colour: white wine. Nose: smells like a young Springbank. Slightly yeasty, with notes of bananas, faint whiffs of peat, sea air, vanilla crème and Seville oranges.
Mouth: a little less ‘Springbank’ at this stage but it could well be one. Apple compote, something slightly waxy, marzipan and vanilla. Finish: medium long, a little smokier, minty, with also notes of vanilla fudge. Comments: this is good whisky – and possibly a 10yo Springbank or something like that – but in no way it could be whisky that was distilled in 1954, matured for 25 years in wood and that spent almost 40 years in glass. SGP:useless – 0 points (useless). Other comments: that was for the cause. Please do not send me more samples of fake or dodgy whiskies, I won’t try them! ;-)



MUSIC – Recommended listening: We're in 1969 and Léo Ferré (1916-1993) the great man sings a stunning Petite.mp3. Better when you understand French of course... But please buy Léo Ferré's music.



February 24, 2008


Glencadam 1975/2007 (46%, Montgomerie's Single cask collection, cask #1) A series by Angus Dundee Distillers. Colour: gold. Nose: a little estery and spirity at very first nothing but that’s soon to vanish. Gets then rather smoky and very malty. Roasted coffee beans, roasted peanuts, hints of leather and sandalwood, rosewater... A lively nose, quite entertaining.

Mouth: rather smooth but firm at the same time, very malty again. Coffee, tea and chocolate; malt for five o’clock? Excellent oakiness that keeps the whole balanced. Nice smokiness. Torrefaction. Finish: medium long but pleasantly malty, with a rather delicate oakiness. Comments: maybe not out of this world but a great, all-round example of an old malt whisky, very, err, malty. SGP:443 - 86 points.
Glencadam 29 yo 1972/2001 (52.5%, Signatory, Silent Stills, cask #7821, 298 bottles) Glencadam was closed when this was bottled, hence its belonging to the ‘silent stills’ series. As you may know, Glencadam is now working again. Colour: gold. Nose: this one is much fruitier, almost bubblegummy at first nosing. A full pack of strawberry sweets that you just opened. As fruity as new make, I’d say. And again, hints of rosewater, even incense. Rhubarb pie, marshmallows. Good balance despite this heavy fruitiness. Faint whiffs of smoke in the background and slight maltiness. Mouth: quite exuberant and hugely fruity again. Bubblegum and apple liqueur (Spanish manzana liquor). Hints of rubber, white pepper, vanilla sauce. Gets maybe a tad too oaky after a moment. That’s it, oak, bubblegum and pepper. Finish: long, getting spicier towards the end (cloves, paprika) and even rubberier, with also notes of orange marmalade. Comments: interesting to see young whisky character (bubblegum) combined with the usual oakiness of a much older one. SGP:731 - 83 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening: We're in 1963 and famous volcalists Lambert, Hendricks and Bavan (Yolande Bavan replaced the famous Annie Ross in the trio right in1963) are singing the Stops and Goes blues.mp3. Don't they sound like saxophones? PLease buy their music...

Lambert Hendricks Bava,

February 22, 2008

Clynelish 1992







Lands Of Scotland Highlands 1992 (40%, Signatory for La Maison du Whisky) Bottled around 2002 I think. This should be Clynelish, which is good news to us of course. Colour: almost white. Nose: yes! Beech smoke, coal, wax, linseed oil and fresh walnuts/almonds. Not much more but this is certainly enough to make for a wonderful, very pure malt. Huge notes of soot after a moment. Great expressiveness at 40% and a rather extreme profile that some whisky lovers may not like as much as I do in fact. Mouth: amazing punch at the attack at 40%. Great mix of smoke and wax with white fruits (yellow peaches upfront). Plummets a bit after that, that is, but never gets watery. Finish: not short. Clean, smoky and phenolic, very Clynelish. Comments: a perfect version for somebody who’d like to analyse Clynelish’s profile without any ‘other’ influence. Add an olive and it’s better than a dry martini. SGP:346 – 87 points.
Clynelish 10 yo 1992/2003 (43%, Hedges and Butler, cask #672/677) This series is to be found mainly in France I think. Colour: straw. Nose: much more ‘invaded’ by warm butter, vanilla and caramel. Malt, cake. Gets butterier over time. Lacks distillery character in my book, but maybe that’s because I’m a Clynelish fan. Mouth: too bad, what could well be caramel sort of blocks the spirit, but other than that it’s good whisky. Also a little mint and liquorice, caramel crème. Finish: medium long but good, with a little salt. Comments: not the best Clynelish ever but this one is rather drinkable. SGP:434 – 80 points.
Clynelish 9 yo 1992/2002 (46%, Signatory, UCF, cask #14776, 411 bottles) Colour: almost white. Nose: somewhat between both previous versions. Half-fruity and vanilled, half smoky/waxy. Maybe less ‘idiosynchratic’ than the ‘Lands Of Scotland’. Mouth: definitely a Clynelish of the fruity kind. Not so much of a phenolic beast, unlike the surprisingly good ‘Lands of Scotland’. A little hot and spirity. Finish: quite long, but maybe not too ‘precise’. Comments: not bad at all but lacks ‘Clynelishness’ I think. SGP:432 – 78 points.
Clynelish 15 yo 1992/2007 (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #1617, 291 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: medium aged Clynelish at its best. Sharp like a blade, mineral, waxy (of course), almondy and smoky. Added whiffs of wet wool and rubbed lemon zest. Lemon honey. My kind of whisky. Mouth: ultra-clean, excellently sharp, smoky and waxy. Smoked tea and lemon squash, black pepper and rosemary. Hints of rose liqueur give this one a funny oriental edge. Finish: long, on the same flavours, with just the pepper growing bigger. Extremely coherent. Comments: a big Clynelish at 46%, for Clynelish lovers. SGP:355 – 88 points.
Clynelish 15 yo 1992/2007 (58,5%, The Whisky Society, bourbon barrel, 218 bottles) A new series from Sukhinder Singh’s. Colour: straw. Nose: starts roughly like its bros but gets then nuttier (hazelnut oil). Wet newspaper, linseed oil, lemonade again, wet chalk, waxed paper. Zing! With water: now we get green apples, wet wool, kippers, roots, damp earth and ‘clean wet dog’. This is something. Maybe only 30% of all malt lovers will like this, but if they do they’ll truly adore it. Mouth (neat): big, big whisky. Grapefruit juice, lime, chillis. Sippable at almost 60% but let’s not take chances. With water: funny how it became a total beast with water. Something like concentrated smoked lemon juice? No roundness whatsoever and something that reminds me of old Clynelish (pre-Brora). Something slightly metallic. Sorry, it’s hard to explain... Finish: same, for a very long time. What’s more, its rather extreme purity will leave your mouth as fresh as a baby’s. Comments: I’d love to be able to try this after 30 years of bottle ageing... Should be something! SGP:265 – 90 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: It’s all a bit too easy-easy, almost like one of these ugly FM jazz pieces but when the very Parkerian Richie Cole blows his alto on Malibu breeze.mp3 it’s all magic. That piece was on ‘Hollywood Madness’, a record he did in the 1970’s. Please buy the wonderful Richie Cole’s music. Richie Cole

February 21, 2008







Bruichladdich 35 yo 1966/2001 (44.5%, Hart Bros) Colour: gold. Nose: first sniffs reveal big notes of shoe polish and soot that hide the expected fruitiness for a while. Then there’s the melon and the peaches, and then a rather heavy oakiness that mingles with the shoe polish. Much nicer than it sounds, actually. Mouth: excellent attack, very complex and much less oaky than feared. Apple peelings, green melon, nutmeg, cinnamon and coffee flavoured fudge. No dryness whatsoever. Also quite honeyed (acacia). Finish: not very long but even better balanced, candied, more orangey and honeyed now. Salty touches and white/milk chocolates. Comment: assertive and compact yet quite complex. Typical old Bruichladdich on the palate (less so on the nose), maybe not as immediately thrilling as the stunning official 1970’s but all pleasure. SGP:631 – 90 points.
Bruichladdich 37 yo 1966/2003 (44.5%, High Spirits, Scottish Colourists, cask #1233, 202 bottles, 75cl) Funny that both ABV and vintage are exactly the same as the Hart Bros’. Colour: gold. Nose: no shoe polish and much less oak this time, which means that the typical fruitiness has got much more room here. Melon and peaches again plus sweet apples. Gets then quite herbal (green tea, apple peelings, chives), with also beautiful notes of mashed potatoes with white truffles from Alba ‘of course’. Classy spirit, not big but very special. Mouth: just like the Hart, it’s much more typical on the palate. White wine poached peaches, ripe melon, acacia honey... Then a little more oak and spices than in the Hart (cinnamon). Slight grassiness as well. Finish: a little longer than the Hart but similar in style. Comment: just as good. Very, very drinkable – too bad we couldn’t find the white truffles again on the palate ;-). SGP:641 – 90 points.
Bruichladdich 30 yo 1969/2000 (46.5%, Cadenhead's Chairman Stock, Bourbon Hogshead, 150 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: extremely unusual, all on cheese at first nosing (comté, gruyère) and then mashed potatoes. No fruits this time but let’s give this one a little time... Right, it got even cheesier after a while. How funny! Goes on with notes of newly cut grass and, well, cheese. Smells almost exactly like ‘aligot’, which is a dish that’s typical from the French Massif Central mountains. Imagine, cheese melted in mashed potatoes, almost fifty-fifty. Yup, a bit heavy but so good (provided you can take a good nap after your meal, that is.) Mouth: again, we’re back on the tracks now. Typical old Bruichladdich, melons and all that, maybe just a tad more spirity than expected. And no cheese this time! Finish: longer and hotter than its sibblings. Melon eau-de-vie, arrack. Also more oak at this point. Comment: a slightly wilder and oakier version. Yah, and cheesier. SGP:551 – 88 points.
CRAZY WHISKY ADS – Around 1990, Johnnie Walker gave us 7 indirect but worthy tips on how to handle living together...
1. Love her for her mind - not for her legs.
2. Make her work more than you do!
3. Stop waisting toothpaste
(but whisky is OK)!
4. Escape to Frisco and leave
her in Little Rock, Arkansas!
5. Go skiing to try and pick up other girls.
6. Drink, it'll let you put up with her kids.
7. And above all, never,
ever get married!



MUSIC – Recommended listening: Scotland's ever provocative Nick Currie aka Momus ('furtive, crepuscular art-rudeboy') sings Lucky Like St Sebastian.mp3 (from his 1995 CD 'Slender Sherbet'). Yes, a bit shocking, isn't it? But please buy Momus' music!



February 20, 2008

Exclusive! We just got this very interesting piece by Jonny McCormick about the now famous – and controversial - Mutter Bowmore via the excellent WhiskyCast's and MM’s Mark Gillespie (thanks Mark). Jonny was in the auction room when the bottle was sold back in September and it appears he was the only one to achieve access to see and handle the bottle. And guess what, he could even nose the whisky (read his notes below)! Jonny does support McTear's and Martin Green on this issue, although he's comfortable with a 1850 - 1880 bracket rather than a specific date. Read on...
The Bowmore That Smashed Auction World Record
By Jonny McCormick
Mutter An exquisitely rare 19th century bottle of Bowmore smashed the World Record at the Rare Whisky auction at McTears, Glasgow in September fetching a staggering £29,400 ($58,800).

The oldest known bottle of Bowmore (circa 1850 - 1880), it was distilled under the ownership of William & James Mutter, whose family bought Bowmore distillery in 1836. William Mutter sold his share in the distillery in 1851 due to ill health. It had been passed down through the generations until the last descendent received the bottle in 1973. “We knew it had to be extremely rare and we were very excited to have the privilege of handling the sale,” said Martin Green, Whisky Consultant with McTears on the day prior to auction. “We sold a late 19th century bottle of Bowmore distilled under the Mutter twins in 2001 and it fetched £14,300 [$28,600]. This bottle is much older than the last one from the Mutter era. As it is being sold by a direct descendent of William Mutter, we know the provenance is impeccable.” The bottle had been stored on its side and once upright, the cork slipped into the neck but dropped into the whisky in the days prior to the auction. Additionally, the lead capsule was punctured creating an unprecedented opportunity for a once in a lifetime nosing of this sesquicentennial whisky (see below).
A hushed silence fell over the room when Lot #152, the W&J Mutter bottling of Bowmore was announced by Brian Clements, McTear’s Director and Auctioneer. The auction room staff hunkered around the internet bids on their monitor or discreetly conveyed the action to the telephone bidders. Clements started the bidding at £10,000 and assuredly moved the bids up in £1000 steps, whipping up the excitement as the bidding swung from the floor to the phones. The eyebrows rose on the faces of the incredulous audience. “Eighteen...nineteen....twenty” pronounced Clements, wielding his gavel like an orchestral baton. At the giddying height of £24,000, all eyes were on Martin Green. Down the wire, his telephone bidder contemplated his position. Time stood still. Then a nod of his head and the record making bid for £25,000 was made. The packed room erupted into applause. With the premium and taxes, the final total came to £29,400 – a snip at $2,100 per dram.

Brian Clements during the sale
Later, it emerged that Morrison Bowmore were amongst the disappointed bidders outpaced by the private Russian collector. Bowmore Brand Director Glen Moore graciously admitted that they would have loved to return the bottle home to Islay but the final bid exceeded their budget.
The screen shows Lot 152. Martin Green is on the phone with the Russian bidder.
The sting in the tail emerged over the Holidays when circulating rumours gathered momentum after a bottle of The Macallan Rare Reserve 1856 submitted to Christie’s in New York was withdrawn. Estimated at $16-$24,000 and a highlight of the pre-auction publicity, radiocarbon dating demonstrated that the contents were no younger than 1950. The Mutter Bowmore’s authenticity came under scrutiny from the “circa 1850” auction catalogue descriptor, the four color trademarked label, (the trademark was used from 1870 but registered in 1876) plus concerns over the bottle manufacturing process. Bloggers, writers and archivists were up in arms. As the only whisky writer given access to view, handle and nose the whisky, I hope some of the myths can be laid to rest about this 19th century bottle. True production and bottling dates will never be known as comprehensive company records are lacking, so Martin Green made this clear to potential purchasers and “circa” notes this uncertainty, and his 1850-1880 bracketing could encompass distilling to bottling dates. Radiocarbon dating of 19th century whisky to the decade is like measuring the width of the Grand Canyon with a piece of elastic. The capsule puncture facilitated the acquisition of the sample for carbon dating and serves to determine the whisky dates pre-1950 but probably little else. Colorless glass was uncommon prior to 1870, but a bulbous neck was not unusual from 1850s (the Glenavon bottle sold by Bonhams in 2006 estimated to have been bottled 1851-8 has a similar shape).
Other bottle features were a lack of linear seams and a body/shoulder discontinuity so mouth-blown manufacture into a three piece base mold is plausible. There were numerous seeds and elongated blisters (types of air bubbles) within the glass, commoner in 19th century mouth-blown bottles and tiny diagonal tooling marks around the shoulder. The gossamer-thin paper label of the Mutter’s family crest had a high sheen. I was shown the plain gray cardboard carton which the Mutter descendents had used for storage, but there were never claims of contemporaneity. Cork slippage was recent when the bottle was stored upright and prior to the nosing, the lead capsule was wrapped in cling film to prevent evaporation. The estimated value, age and fragility of a defective seal make it understandable that McTears acted professionally in the interests of the vendor and it was not on public display prior to the auction.
Whilst conspiracy theories abound, such 19th century rarities will always raise suspicion but the veracity of the Mutter Bowmore as a period example seems more certain.
19th Century W&J Mutter Bowmore
Appearance: The color of a sandy riverbed with greenish tinges. Oily, with little discernible legs.
Nose: Remarkably fresh and undeniably a big, powerful Islay whisky reminiscent of the contemporary big hitters from the island’s southern coast. Iodine, peat smoke, filaments of salty dried dulse in a paper bag, then lingering burnt toffee notes with a subdued susurrus of French roast black coffee. Olfactory time travel!
- Jonny McCormick (sale photographs: Jonny McCormick)



MUSIC – Recommended listening: the guys from Gnawa Diffusion do their Douga Douga.mp3 (from their CD 'Souk System'). There's a lot of fun in their music, please buy it.


Gnawa Diffusion

February 19, 2008



The Troubadour, London, February 2nd 2008

It’s a night of both celebration and commiseration in the Troubadour club, one of West London’s oldest music venues. We’re in a small wood-panelled room at the back of the restaurant (named, for no obvious reason, after Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton). There are winners and losers here. The victors, from the valleys west of the Marches are generously sharing champagne with all, the losers glumly knocking it back in between glassesful of red wine.

It’s Rugby Union: England humiliated by a resurgent Wales. And it’s only 6.30 – we’re here to eat before going downstairs to watch bluesman Ian Siegal and his band (supported by Bluesmix) – and our hosts are anxious that we get there in time to “bag a good spot”. And while I remember, I think it might be Mr Siegal’s birthday – he’s certainly celebrating something.
Strangely when we do get down, almost promptly at 8.00pm the cramped little club is already packed. It’s not really fit for purpose – a sort of U-shaped space with a stage in the middle. But although it’s changed over the years (the stage, I understand, used to be at the back of the room where there are now some cavernous seating booths) it does have a very nice atmosphere – which is just as well as we end up waiting for almost two hours before Bluesmix, with a eclectic mix of not so funky New Orleans funk and blues, take the stage. That’s two hours of soaking in the history of the place – this was where Bob Dylan first played in London, Jimi played here (“kiss the wall”), and Joni. Folk guitar supreme Martin Carthy was a regular in the sixties, and Led Zeppelin are even alleged to have played here during a run of gigs at nearby Earls Court. So that’s a lot of history – and, I should add, red wine – to soak up. And quite possibly we did a little too much of both. Red
And don’t get me wrong – whilst Bluesmix did have their moments I did feel (like most of the audience to be fair) that they played a little too long – so that by the time Ian Siegal got to the stage at around 11.00 we’d all (band included) soaked up a little more. Nonetheless Siegal hit the stage like a whirlwind with songs like ‘Groundhog blues’, ‘John the Revelator’, ‘Sugar Rush’ and ‘Brandy Balloon’.
The area around the stage was packed as everyone tried to get a view, and as I’ve said before, the number of pretty girls outnumbered the chaps in a way that just isn’t supposed to happen at Blues gigs – Mr Siegal has got something special, and it’s not just his guitar playing, or his two wonderful Harmony guitars. On the subject of which – did I tell you Serge, that there’s a group of what can frankly only be called Harmony Maniacs on the internet? And loads of Harmony guitars for sale on e-bay, and a specialist store where you can buy them too? And some pretty good resources to at least help you figure out if you might be buying something that’s ‘not quite right’, as you say in the world of whisky. Or that, more strangely still, one of them has ended up in my house? Ouch.

Anyway – back to the gig – or should I say party, which is what it ended up feeling like. Siegal ended up playing some covers that were appropriate to the venue (beyond which I cannot go as he swore his audience to secrecy) before most of Bluesmix joined for a final jam on a few songs. He’s playing again in London in June, and I think in a few other scattered venues in the UK. Otherwise your best chance to see him is if you live in Holland, Belgium or Sweden. Which is lucky for you and shame for the UK – he’s certainly worth the price of the admission. And if you’re really stuck then you might like to buy a 2008 reissue of Meat and Potatoes, imaginatively called A Bigger Plate of Meat and Potatoes, with a new DVD recorded at the North Sea Blues Festival. But it’s not as good as the real thing. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)

Bluesmix MySpace page
Ian Siegal MySpace page

Tullibardine Tullibardine 1988/2007 (46%, OB, Vintage Edition) Colour: straw. Nose: very milky, mashy, porridgy, with notes of ink, wet cardboard and linseed oil. Hints of wool, apple peelings, newly cut grass. A style of its own. Mouth: sweet and creamy, a tad sugary, quite cardboardy as well. Oatcakes and paraffin plus faint hints of lavender sweets. Finish: long, a tad spicier now (pepper) but also a a very faint soapiness in the aftertaste. Comment: again, a style of its own. Should you like this style, you’ll find this to be totally flawless. SGP:251 – 78 points.
Tullibardine 1992/2006 (46%, OB, Vintage Edition) Colour: straw. Nose: close to the 1988 but a little smokier and ashier as well as a little butyric (make that buttery). Mouth: the fruitiness is a bit cleaner here (bitter apples). Fuller and spicier as well – it seems that the spirit itself got better from 1988 to 1992. Even more personality. Rather big notes of olive oil. Finish: long, definitely grassier and waxier than the 1988 at this point. Bitter almonds. Comment: again, not everybody will like this profile I think, but if you’re looking for something ‘different’, you should like this. SGP:262 – 79 points.
Beam FUN! The Kentucky Chain Saw Massacre? This is actually a Jim Beam decanter, as seen on eBay (number 300198861645). Truly amazing... No wonder it's one of our Canadian MM's who drew our attention to it.(thank you, Lawrence!)

February 18, 2008

Glen Keith


Glenkeith-Glenlivet 12 yo 1967/1979 (80° Proof, Cadenhead's Dumpy, Black Label, 75cl) Colour: straw. Nose: we’re well in the ‘dumpy’ series, with these typical hints of soot, coal and waxed paper that one can find in many of them (where does that come from?) We have also rather beautiful notes of citrons, lemonade, thyme, ink, metal polish, pine resin, mint and tiger balm. We’re very far from other old Glen keiths that are often quite - if not heavily - sherried. Very elegant whisky. Also hints of bacon.

Mouth: again, this one is very ‘old dumpy’. Waxy and phenolic, almost metallic, resinous, candied, lemony... It could as well have been an old Bladnoch. Crystallised citrons, lemon drops, salt, lemon marmalade, marzipan, lemon verbena... All that is very beautiful, no need to say. Finish: medium long but all on the same flavours, with also a pinch of salt. Comment: well, I’d have never said this was Glen Keith! Brilliant. SGP:652 - 90 points.
Glen Keith 1967/1988 (46%, Moon Import ‘The Sea’, cask #1417, 360 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah, this is something very special again! First we have warm butter, vanilla crème, baklavas, orange blossom water and marzipan and then again these sooty notes. Almond milk, leather polish, waxed paper, beef bouillon, fresh parsley, apple vinegar... gets smokier and smokier after a while. What’s quite amazing is that the whole keeps very fresh. Beautiful. Mouth: well, this is almost exactly the same whisky as the Cadenhead, with maybe just a little more oomph and a little more salt. Finish: ditto. Comment: ditto. SGP652: - 91 points. Glen Keith Moon
Glen Keith 34 yo, 1968/2002 (58.1%, Premier Malts, cask #2628) Long time no see new whiskies from this series. Is it dead? Colour: pale gold. Nose: very, very close to the Moon ;-), but at cask strength. Sharper, maybe a tad more lemony and a bit more on green apples. Whiffs of wet dog. Let’s see what gives with a little water... Right, it got extremely herbal and grassy now. Lettuce, grass, wet chalk, clay, ‘vase water’, beef bouillon, wet papers. Lacks a bit of the other ones’ sexiness. Mouth (neat): very punchy, more on oak and mint this time. Verbena, green apples... Sort of acrid I must say. With water: much better! Resinous, minty and salty, somewhat like a simpler version of the 1967’s. Finish: quite long, with even more salt. Comment: a slightly rough and austere version but it’s still excellent spirit. And strictly no signs of overwoodiness. SGP:451 - 86 points.

by Davin de Kergommeaux

Daughdrill, Wendy and Anita Havens

Desperate times make desperate men and in an age when Prohibition and the Great Depression made whiskey as precious as gold, American farmers measured their corn crops in gallons per acre (that’s maize crops in litres per hectare for those living outside the USA). Men, many of them just boys really, worked the stills and smuggled their “shine” to waiting markets under the constant threat of unscrupulous revenuers who resorted to sometimes murderous means to stop the illegal flow.

What Volstead started in 1919, Blaine brought to a close in 1933, but in the interim, fortunes were made that would last generations. So, unfortunately, were misfortunes, as Detective Scott Griffin discovers in this first mystery from Wendy Daughdrill and Anita Havens.
Set in the hills of Calhoun County, Mississippi, the story moves back and forth in time between the moonshiners’ heyday and its still-present fallout in the late 20th century. Literature it ain’t, but Chickenbone Church Reunion is a rollicking good whodunit with whiskey in its heart and a funnybone that just keeps getting tickled.
Former moonshiners, old men now, are turning up dead in mysterious but similar circumstances. Has the ’shining started again, and is this a fight for territory or the revival of old hillbilly feuds? With just enough copper tubing, sour mash, condensing water and stone jugs to keep these possibilities alive, the finger points at several suspects until, after more twists and turns than any condenser coil, the mystery is solved. A number of loose ends are not tied-up in the final pages though, clues surely, that Griffin and his sidekicks will soon return.
Sure, the men might tear-up a bit too easily, and the occasional simile may seem a bit odd – men generally don’t jump when they’re shot, they fall, and old men broken down by arthritis, tend not to amble - but this is a beach read, a story to get you through a long flight, and little incongruities aside, a fun one at that.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: the very great Sarah Vaughan was deep into Brasilian music in the 1970's and as always, she did wonders. Such as this marvellous A Little Tear (Razao De Viver).mp3 (from 'I Love Brazil') Please buy the huge Sarah Vaughn's music.

Sarah Vaughn

February 17, 2008



Singleton of Glendullan 12 yo (40%, OB, Bottled 2007, 750ml) Colour: full gold. Nose: starts all on fresh butter, fresh hazelnuts and dandelions, with a faint mashiness in the background (mashed potatoes). Gets closer to the malt after a moment, grainier, with also hints of rubbed orange zest. Gets back to fresh butter after a moment. An access-category single malt as far as the nose is concerned. Farley rounded, flawless but not really challenging.

Mouth: malty and caramelly, nutty, with something that reminds me of Johnnie Walker Black. Good attack but the middle is a bit weaker. Roasted nuts and crystallised oranges. Finish: medium long, a bit ‘blendish’. Comment: not bad malt at all, probably a good ‘link’ to single malts for blend drinkers. Knockando’s colleague? SGP:331 - 78 points.
Glendullan 11 yo (43%, James McArthur, circa 2000) Colour: straw. Nose: more butter, more mash, more grains, more grass, with also whiffs of scented soap. We’ve had more expressive Glendullans. Mouth: sweet, almost sugary, then grassy and a tad cardboardy. Not much happening here, and it hasn’t got the Singleton’s ‘easiness’. A little more oomph, that is, but that’s probably the extra-3% ABV. Finish: medium long, nuttier and more caramelly now. Comment: not much interest I think, but it’s nothing but drinkable whisky. SGP:231 – 73 points.



MUSIC – Recommended listening: the absolutely stunning Randy Weston plays a thoughtful In The Cool Of The Evening.mp3 (from his rare but extraordinary CD 'Marrakech in the Cool of the Evening'). You must buy Mr Weston's music.


Randy Weston

February 15, 2008

Brora Brora 24 yo 1981/2006 (46%, Chieftain's, cream sherry butt, cask #1522, 750 bottles) Cream sherry is very sweet sherry usually made from oloroso. Will this be thick and cloying? Colour: full gold. Nose: well, at first nosing, it seems that good old Brora doesn’t have much say here, but the general feeling is still very nice. Starts on rather big notes of sultanas and apricot pie... Wait, no, Brora, slowly starts to shove its way, with first something delicately smoky, then bigger notes of wax polish, and finally notes of smoked ham and burning beeswax mingling with the sultanas. All that is more delicate and balanced than it sounds, that is, with also whiffs of sea air.
Mouth: again, the wine does most of the talking at first sip, but the distillery is soon to strike back with more pepper this time, a little peat (not much), wax, cough syrup (and pine resin sweets) and something a little metallic/mineral (hard to describe). Stays very sweet globally. Finish: rather long, sweet and peppery, with notes of very ripe stawberries and a a little orange marmalade. And a little sweet curry. Comment: this one keeps oscillating between the wine’s sweetness and the spirit’s relative austerity, which makes for a very interesting tasting experience even if it’s maybe not the best example of integration. SGP:544 – 86 points.
Brora 26 yo 1981/2007 (54.5%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, cask #1424, 625 bottles) This one was bottled in November last year. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is quite unusual globally, but rather typical when considering the vintage (although not all 1981’s taste the same – see above). Not much peat and not much wax in this one, rather something mashy and porridgy, grainy, oily, maybe a little too austere. Quite some humus, wet newspapers, ginger tonic, grass... And clay, apple peelings, dead leaves... Not the sexiest Brora ever but let’s see if the palate is more engaging. Mouth: this is undoubtedly better now. Sure it’s a little grainy/mashy but the peat is bigger, and so are the wax and the spices. We have a little mustard, cumin, even horseradish, bitter apples, thyme, something slightly resinous... It gets also sweeter with time, which is rather unusual (I usually find sweetness first in my whisky). Orangeade. Finish: long, with an obvious prickliness now and quite some pepper. Something of its alter ego from the Isle of Skye. Comment: not an easy Brora, and definitely not the most compact and assertive. Goes in various directions. Now, it’s still a true Brora, and for me that’s more than enough. SGP:465 – 85 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: the Art Ensemble of Chicago's Lester Bowie playing Waterfall.mp3 with his brass nonet 'Brass Fantasy' (it's on their CD 'When The Spirit Returns') Easier but still beautiful. Pleas buy the late Lester Bowie's music!

Lester Bowie

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

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



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

Bruichladdich 35 yo 1966/2001 (44.5%, Hart Bros)

Bruichladdich 37 yo 1966/2003 (44.5%, High Spirits, Scottish Colourists, cask #1233, 202 bottles, 75cl)

Clynelish 15 yo 1992/2007 (58,5%, The Whisky Society, bourbon barrel, 218 bottles)

Glenkeith-Glenlivet 12 yo 1967/1979 (80° Proof, Cadenhead's Dumpy, Black Label, 75cl)

Glen Keith 1967/1988 (46%, Moon Import ‘The Sea’, cask #1417, 360 bottles)

Springbank 20 yo 1968/1989 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, Ageing Monography, 466 bottles, 75cl)

Springbank 23 yo 1965 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, Ageing Monography, 660 bottles)

Springbank 1964 (46%, OB, private bottling for Lateltin 100th Anniversary, Switzerland)

Springbank 31 yo 1964/1996 (51.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 27.41)