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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2006 - Part 1
December 2005 - part 2 <--- January 2006 - part 1 ---> January 2006 - part 2

January 14, 2006

Imperial 11 yo 1994/2005 (59.2%, Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt #1537)
Colour: straw. Nose: punchy and powerful, starting on some bold notes of espresso coffee, burnt cake… But sorry, it’s too strong for me, I’ll need some water… Ah yes, that works pretty well. The malt gets much, much fruitier, with lots of freshly cut apples (golden delicious) and pears, fresh pineapples, peaches… Something smoky in the background (wood smoke), notes of lemonade, rosehip tea. Young and simple but enjoyable (sorry, I didn’t quite get the sherry).
Imperial 11yo 1994/2005 (59.2%, Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt #1537)
Mouth (reduced to approx 45%): very sweet and fruity (dried oranges, walnuts, nougat), with quite some sherry now. Notes of violet sweets, mint and liquorice sweets, chlorophyll chewing gums. Also some apricot pie, bananas flambéed, honey… Very enjoyable, perfectly balanced, compact, satisfying, with a rather long and bold finish on caramel cream and crystallized oranges. Very good! 86 points.
Imperial 12 yo (65%, James MacArthur, early 1990’s) Colour: gold. Nose: funny, it’s a little less pungent despite the ultra-high abv. Again some coffee, quite some cherries, quince jelly, burnt notes… Well, no, it does need some water as well in fact (and so do my nostrils). Yes, again that works, but this time the malt gets farmier, with also some beautiful waxy/resinous notes (beehive, paraffin, camphor, coffee drops, bitter almonds…) And the coffee is superb now, like a high-end Italian espresso. A magnificent nose – what a surprise! Mouth (reduced to approx 45%): more sherry, definitely, and even more body and ‘compactness’, even if we have more or less the same profile here: dried oranges, walnut liqueurs, liquorice, wax… There’s more tropical fruits, that is, dried figs, dates, longans and lychees, macadamia nuts, all that with lots of body and oomph (even when reduced). Notes of dried herbs, fir honey, maybe a little cardboard… And the finish is very long, creamy, on paraffin and Smyrna raisins… Wow, a great surprise again! 90 points.
the Yardbirds MUSIC – Recommended listening - Oldies but Goldies: 1966, Jeff Beck joins the Yardbirds and they record a rather psychedelic Lost woman.mp3 (from the Roger the Engineer LP, named 'Over Under Sideways Down' in the US, don't ask me why). Note that both Page and Beck were on the picture at the left, dated Nov. 1966.

January 13, 2006

Port Ellen 21 yo 1982/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC for Islay Whisky Shop, 216 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: wow, the first nosing reveals something really superb, some big rubbery notes but of the enjoyable kind. That’s rare! Also quite some sherry and some classy oak, with all the usual Port Ellen markers sort of toned down – for the better, here.
Port Ellen 21yo 1982/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC for Islay Whisky Shop, 216 bottles)
What’s interesting is that we have both the sherry’s and the usual Port Ellen-ish rubbers (rubber band and new tyre). There is some smoke, of course (peat smoke, smoked ham) and then it gets superbly fruity (bitter oranges), developing on fresh mastic, high-end pu-erh tea, kirsch marzipan… Even white truffles (from Alba – and God knows I love that despite the heavy prices). A stunning nose, so perfectly ‘integrated’ – how great! Mouth: again, it’s superb, very waxy, with lots of sea elements this time (oysters, salt). Very nervous, developing on marzipan, mastic-flavoured Turkish delights, salted butter caramel, smoked salmon, smoked tea, grilled tea (hochicha), herbs (rosemary, BBQ herbs), a little nutmeg… It’s endless, unusually complex and perfectly balanced… And it goes on, on balsamic vinegar and olive oil, not to mention the very long, superbly waxy finish. High quality! 93 points (and thanks, Luc).
Port Ellen 18 yo 1982/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, sherry, 777 bottles)
Colour: dark amber. Nose: oh, this one is certainly simpler, more powerful, and the sherry is really bold, whilst there are lots of medicinal notes (camphor, bandages, tiger balm). More ‘agitated’ and probably less ‘coherent’ but not less interesting, especially because it gets then extremely resinous and waxy, which I like. Keeps developing on burnt cake, dark toffee, old rum, crystallized oranges… Yes, the sherry starts to dominate the whole but it’s still a superb malt. Quite a beast, in fact, that reminds me of the Plowed Port Ellen. There’s almost only sherry remaining after fifteen minute (yes it won) but it’s a, excellent one. Mouth: oh, this is even nicer, a great alliance between the sherry and the peat (now it reminds me of the official Laphroaig 1974, the latter being more complex, that is). Lots of Cointreau, tar, Tia Maria, ‘good’ rubber again. Lots of richness in all simplicity. What’s funny is that it’s the peat that wins this time – lots of enjoyable bitterness, grilled herbs (from Provence, no need to say), spices (curry, pepper, cardamom). Yes, an enjoyable beast with a long, tarry and caramelly finish. Another very nice sherried Port Ellen: 91 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Some say French band Air's early works were better. Well, they were certainly more 'solar'... Try for instance Le soleil est près de moi.mp3 (The sun is close to me), while imagining you're in Provence in August, near a huge aquamarine swimming pool. It's very hot... you pour yourself a Campari-orange (okay, a Rosebank on ice) and... Does that work? What? You fell asleep? Maybe there was a Cherry blossom girl.mp3 missing. Anyway, please buy Air's music! Air

January 12, 2006

Springbank 35yo 1969/2005 (50%, Dun Bheagan, refill sherry, 516 bottles)


Springbank 35 yo 1969/2005 (50%, Dun Bheagan, refill sherry, 516 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: rather punchy, fragrant, aromatic at first nosing. Faint whiffs of smoke, then a whole basket of both tropical and ‘northern’ fruits (mangos, pears, bananas, sultanas, strawberries). Then it goes on on flowers from the fields, linden tree and lots of waxy/resinous notes (fir tree), as well as cooked fruits, orange marmalade, marzipan… Very rich, diverse, ‘wide’ if not complex. It gets then more and more caramelly, ‘fudgy’, with some pollen… Almost perfect!

Mouth: creamy, bold, powerful, very waxy and very resinous again. Very malty, nutty, with very little sherry influence that I can get. It’s very compact, nervous, unexpectedly full-bodied at 35 yo but also a little simple. A very slow maturing, probably. Some spicy notes (notably a little clove, pepper), dark toffee… The finish is very long, echoing, with an added pinch of salt and a little (bitter) chlorophyll. What a beast at 35yo! 90 points.

Springbank 35 yo 1970/2005 (59.5%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 120 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: a little more discreet right at the start but then some beautiful, and more delicate notes of fruit jellies and a beautiful oak (antiques) do arise slowly. Notes of wax polish, orange salad, fruity olive oil, dried coconat. It’s probably ‘narrower’ than its brother but much more elegant. Classy stuff! It’s also very clean… Keeps developing, with some notes of hazelnut oil, mint-flavoured tea, pepper… Menthol fir honey sweets, whiffs of coal… Beautiful! Mouth: I’m very curious now, almost 60% at 35yo! This one must have matured in a very hot environment, and probably very, very slowly. And the mouth confirms that, it’s extremely punchy, with some super-bold wax, dried oranges, honey and a lot of salt – amazing. It’s also rather bitter, tannic and drying, but nothing (too) excessive. Wow, it gets then saltier and saltier, with also a little rubber, mastic, salted liquorice, cake, marzipan, strong olive oil (ever tasted the Palestinian olive oil? It’s excellent – no politics here.) Some bold notes of cough syrup, at that, mirabelle and apricot jam, quince jelly… Another (gentle) beast, no doubt, that reminds me of some very old OB’s. No need to say I like it a lot. 93 points.
MUSIC – Highly recommended listening - Terezinha Araújo is from Cabo Verde and she's got a beautiful voice, as the 'tr'adictional' Landu di Amor.mp3 should testify. Please buy Terezinha Araújo's music, it's full of soul. Terezinha Araújo

January 11, 2006

Macallan 1986 18yo 1986/2005 (54.9%, Duncan Taylor, cask #11917)


Macallan 1986 18 yo 1986/2005 (54.9%, Duncan Taylor, cask #11917) Colour: straw. Nose: rather mellow at that strength, starting quite grainy, with notes of caramel and praline, nougat ice cream and vanilla cake. Really ‘nice’, with quite some wood but it’s far from being overwhelming. Gets more and more on cake, with hints of violet crème and beeswax, cigar box.

Not hugely complex but the balance is perfect, with also a little liquorice and a few vegetal notes (hay). Maybe a little peat as well? It gets better and better with time, with the wood taking control but it’s definitely an elegant kind of oak. Mouth: powerful and sweet, with again a very nice tannic structure. Lots of body! Huge liquoricy and caramelly attack, with lots of roasted nuts and quite some smoky ‘stuff’. It gets then nicely sugarish (fruit liqueurs, Jell-O) with lots of vivacity. Nice notes of herbal tea, Turkish delights… The finish is long, balanced, mostly on praline and vanilla. A very good un-sherried Macallan, nicely compact and with lots of oomph! 87 points.
Macallan-Glenlivet 8 yo 1989/1997 (61.5%, Milroy’s) Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts very discreetly when compared to the Duncan Taylor, but it’s still got a similar profile at first nosing. It then gets more spirity and much nuttier, with some bold caramel, liquorice and roasted coffee beans. It’s a ‘nice’ young Macallan, simple but already mature and balanced. Mouth: powerful, ample, again quite similar but more fragrant this time. A beautiful fruitiness, with quite some pineapple (like in many young spirits but it’s really beautiful here), very ripe tangerines… Gets quite stunning for a 8 yo malt. Lots of kiwis at that, crystallized kumquats, liquorice… Lots of ‘scope’, complexity, and it doesn’t seem to need any water, which is amazing at 8 yo and 61.5% vol. Lots of roasted peanuts, praline… Compact, nervous: what a great palate! The finish is long, sort of invading, with a little salt and clove. Wow, it’s a thrilling young Mac’! 90 points (and thanks, Johannes)


MUSIC – Recommended listening - You don't expect a Frenchie named Serge not to post about Serge Gainsbourg from time to time, do you? So, let's listen to Je suis venu te dire que je m'en vais.mp3 (I came to tell you I'm leaving). Please buy Serge Gainsbourg's music!

Serge Gainsbourg

January 10, 2006


Tomatin 40 yo 1965/2005 (44.9%, M&H Cask Selection, bourbon, 120 bottles) Colour: dark straw. Nose: there’s some whiffs of carpenter workshop right at the start (fresh sawdust), followed by some rather bold flowery notes (lilac, gladiolus) and then various herbal teas and soft spices (Chinese anise, cinnamon, cardamom etc.) It’s not too bold, rather delicate and subtle like an old high-end perfume.

Tomatin 40yo 1965/2005 (44.9%, M&H Cask Selection, bourbon, 120 bottles)
Add to that a little vanilla, mocha, Turkish delights, sweet box and maybe a faint rubberiness and you have a flawless old malt, with nothing really unusual or spectacular but that’s most enjoyable. Mouth: more body and more oomph, and also more tannins that bite your tongue a bit. Nothing excessive but it’s clearly very, very woody. White pepper, nutmeg, vanilla cake, notes of gin, ginger ale, beer, caramel sauce… It gets quite drying, let’s try to add a little water (… while the nose gets even oakier…) Now we have a second layer of flavours, mostly tea, cloves, bread crust… But it’s still very woody, and the finish is rather tannic again, slightly bitter but not sour at all. Right, this one is kind of an oak infusion, but it’s far from being unpleasant, quite on the contrary. Just a very woody profile, for aficionados who like wood in their malt (obviously - and I know there are many). Our Belgian friends have done a good job here, I've had several old Tomatins before that were much more tired and got rather bland. 86 points.
Tomatin 28 yo 1976/2005 (51.1%, Exclusive Malt, David Stirk) Colour: pale gold. Nose: how weird at first nosing! A strange mixture of gym socks and rotten fruits (oranges), rancid butter and backwater… Let’s give this one time, maybe it’ll get cleaner after some breathing… (after 15 minutes...) That’s bizarre, it gets now extremely chocolaty, with some notes of burnt cake (well, chocolate cake), rubbery (Wellingtons), but still with these disturbing whiffs of rotting oranges or pineapples and even some paint thinner. Probably a defective cask – or is it the bottle? Mouth: hmm… It’s not as bad as expected although there’s kind of dirtiness. Very unusual, in any case, with some chocolate again, overripe mangos, rotted game (very rotted), stale beer… And it’s quite punchy, at that, getting extremely peppery (it’s almost chilli), biting, prickly… A very strange beast indeed! Not my cup of tea at all but this one should pull funny comments at any tasting session. Not boring, that’s for sure! 68 points.
Bosque Brown MUSIC – Recommended listening - Another young girl who doesn't sing too well, has a detuned voice and plays with a amateur-sounding band, yet I quite like her work, athough I couldn't explain why: it's Bosque Brown and she's singing Still afraid.mp3. Please buy her music!

January 9, 2006

Benriach 21yo 'Authenticus' (46%, OB, peated, 4800 bottles, 2005)
Benriach 21 yo 'Authenticus' (46%, OB, peated, 4800 bottles, 2005) Colour: pale straw. Nose: quite hot, starting on peat smoke and caramel and developing on some rather bold liquorice, with something curiously meaty (not too young smoked ham), not too enjoyable. Some soy sauce, barbecued meat, whiffs of soy sauce. Something unbalanced and kind of ‘dirty’, I’m afraid. Mouth: the attack is nervous, peaty and peppery, but quite sugarish at the same time. Something too ‘simple’ here. Gets rather spicy, with quite some over-infused tea and caramelized apples but that’s it. The finish is medium long, very balanced but very simple as well. Now, we’ve seen much worse and it still deserves 80 points in my books, for it’s rather flawless. Quite uninteresting but flawless.
Benriach 19 yo 1986/2005 (58.6%, OB, cask #285, 201 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: quite curiously, it’s less hot than the Authenticus, starting very herbal, vegetal (cut grass, hay), with a lot of cake. Very enjoyable, in fact, and it gets nicely caramelly, toffeeish, with notes of crème brûlée, rum, soft brown sugar… Goes on with hot praline, cappuccino, herbal teas… Whiffs of menthol, very ripe apples, smoke… A great nose, with lots of freshness and ‘sincerity’ (!) Mouth: again a very nice attack, quite nervous, with bold notes of wax, mastic and a little lavender, but too bad, it develops towards something weird. Granted, there’s some nice caramelized fruits but also something strangely ‘burnt’, raw spirit, rubber… And then it gets really too burning. Let’s try it with water now: right, the nose gets even nicer and the palate much sweeter, with some tea, violet sweets… And the finish is long and balanced. A malt that needs water, in fact, very ‘natural’ but no real thrill. 84 points.
Benriach 1968/2005 (46%, OB for LMW, cask #2711, Hogshead) Colour: pale amber. Nose: wow, very aromatic! Starts on some bold notes of tropical fruits, together with lots of menthol and eucalyptus. Lost of oomph for such an old baby! It’s even quite hard to break it… Ah yes, lots of flowers from the fields now… The aromatic storm calms down then, and lots of other, tinier smells do arise: fruits (oranges, mangos, pineapples, lychees), resinous/minty (eucalyptus again, pine needles, fresh mint leaves), flowers (dandelions, buttercups) and finally a bold, almost muscular woody structure that keeps the whole together. A beautiful balance and lots of vitality considering its age. Very compact and ‘wide’ at the same time. Mouth: ah yes, it’s beautiful. Somewhere a synthesis of an old Lochside, and old Bowmore and an old Clynelish (no less). An avalanche of tropical fruits (quite some banana, pineapple, mango, passion fruit, very bold notes of dried longans). Lots of oomph indeed and no sign of tiredness, even if it’s not monstrously complex. Ah, yes, also some pink grapefruit and a little ginger, white pepper and clove. Really beautiful, an excellent surprise with a long finish on orange zests and hot caramel. Delicious! 92 points (and thanks Hubert).
Benriach-Glenlivet 17 yo 1978/1995 (59.7%, Cadenhead, sherrywood) Colour: brown. Nose: oh, now we have asherry monster, it appears. Lots of punch and some huge chocolaty notes at first nosing, getting then more classical, on old rum, raisins and buttered caramel. The sherry is very, very ‘obvious’ (in the PX style) and this Benriach starts to smell almost like a superb, genuine sherry or port and not like a whisky anymore. Quite spectacular! There must have been litres and litres of wine remaining in the cask (or?) Keeps developing towards notes of Armagnac, baked buttered apples… Really beautiful – if you like ‘clean’ sherry, that is. No sulphur, no rubber at all here. Incredible notes of pears poached in wine. I really like this one a lot, even if the distillery probably hasn’t its say anymore here. A very clean sherry-bomb! Mouth: again, it’s extremely vinous, almost like a wine that would have been fortified up to 50% vol. with neutral spirit. Really hot, maybe a little rubbery this time. Lots of crystallized fruits, sultanas… And again, it starts to taste like an excellent Armagnac. The balance is perfect and the finish long and coating, with a pinch of salt – this one would probably defeat many high-end Craigellachie or Ballindaloch born sherried Speysiders. An excellent surprise, it’s not often that I came across such heavy sherry with that much balance in a malt. 91 points (and thanks, Antoine).
MUSIC – Strongly recommended listening - The great pianist (and Whiskyfun Award winner) Uri Caine plays Schumman's Im Wunderschonen Monat Mai.mp3 with La Gaia Scienza (excerpt - from 'Love fugue', Winter & Winter). Uri Caine's works are always stunning and he always manages to blend classical music and jazz in the most beautiful way - whilst many fail at that dangerous exercise. Please, please buy Uri Caine's music (his works on Mahler are amazingling good as well). Uri Caine

January 8, 2006

Coleburn 1980/2004 (62.9%, McKillop’s Choice, sherry wood, cask #1261) Coleburn 1980/2004 (62.9%, McKillop’s Choice, sherry wood, cask #1261) Nose: really beautiful, starting on some bold notes of crystallised oranges and quite some smoke. Liquorice, smoked tea… Really special. A little water brings some maritime notes, sea air… An unusual Coleburn, rather delicate and subtle despite its strength and the sherry. Mouth: bold and compact at the same time, with a beautiful sweetness and lots of dried fruits, developing on eucalyptus candies, beeswax with honey (the beekeeper’s chewing-gum)… Long finish with ‘a smoky touch’. One of the best Coleburns I ever had. 90 points.
MUSIC – It's Sunday, we go classical with the great Frank Zappa conducting the Ensemble Modern for one of his last works, Outrage at Valdez.mp3 (from The Yellow Shark, 1993). No sir, it's no Rock and Roll... But it's extremely brilliant. Please buy Frank Zappa's works! Frank Zappa

January 7, 2006

Cragganmore 1972 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice, old map label, early 1990’s)
Cragganmore 1972 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice, old map label, early 1990’s) Colour: gold. Nose: rather simple and not too expressive. Very grainy and woody with a little caramel, getting slightly yeasty with some notes of dried oranges… That’s all, folks. Mouth: not too bad but too common: caramel, wood, white pepper, orange marmalade and basta. Not bad at all but rather uninteresting. Cragganmore should have more to tell.us. 77 points.
Cragganmore 14 yo 1969 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice, old brown label)
Colour: yellow gold. Nose: rather fresh and clean, nicely fruity, flowery and spicy (cinnamon). Notes of old wood. Also a little fudge and milk chocolate, heather, and lots of dried fruits. Most enjoyable. Mouth: rather powerful, with quite some vivacity. Very nice notes of passion fruits and some big, bold pepper and salted liquorice. Rather long finish with some thyme and rosemary… A perfect body! 85 points.
Cragganmore 15 yo 1989/2004 (55.6%, Signatory, sherry butt) Colour: straw. Nose: very powerful and ‘joyful’, superbly fresh and extremely fruity (apples, white peaches, gooseberries and white currants). Gets rather herbal (lettuce – I know, lettuce hardly hardly a ‘nose’, fresh parsley) and yeasty. Nice notes of vanilla crème, a little liquorice, violets… Very nice even if there’s almost no wood influence. Mouth: very nicely citrusy and sweeet at the same time, lots of white fruits and herbal tea. Simpler than on the nose but still enjoyable. Some pepper. The finish is long, on, well, whisky (a good one) and fruit liquors (such as Parfait Amour or curacao). The cask was rather lazy! 84 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Good, as in his October 14th review, Nick seemed to wonder why I think Brian Auger is 'sort of a Brora of the jazz - and rock - world' (and not only a Keith Emerson #2), here's a double answer. First, Auger making his organ roar in his most famous 'blue-eyed British soul' hit, Tiger.mp3 (1966, I think) and second, a much more recent and obscure No neck Louie.mp3 (1995) with Frank Gambale and Dave Weckl (I know, Weckl's drumming is a bit heavy). Please buy Brian Auger's music! Brian Auger

January 6, 2006

Craigellachie 1982/2000 (61.9%, Scott’s Selection) Craigellachie 1982/2000 (61.9%, Scott’s Selection)
Colour: dark straw. Nose: powerful, very malty, with hints of sherry in the background. Lots of burnt cake, bread crust, getting then very smoky (coal smoke, fireplace, something Port Ellen-ish) and farmy (fermenting hay, hare belly – not Halle Berry, alas ;-)) at the same time. There seems to be quite some peat in there. A nice sourness and a rather perfect balance… An excellent surprise! Mouth: punchy and very sweet and winey (sweet white wine) with lots of fruits (peach candies, very ripe strawberries and pineapples), getting even sort of sugarish – but nothing excessive. Notes of rubber, with kind of a bitterness (over-infused tea, burnt herbs)… Perhaps a little simple, let’s try it with a little water…

Oh, it gets even peatier now, with some added notes of liquorice roots, gentian, herbs, maybe a little olive oil… Wow, but it’s beautiful! The finish is rather long, peaty and maybe a little too tannic – just a little. A great surprise indeed, this Craig’! 90 points.

Craigellachie 14 yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, circa 2000) Colour: dark straw. Nose: quite discreet at first nosing, with just a few notes of melted caramel and cooked meat, getting then strangely maritime. Notes of almond milk, wet hay, getting then slightly minty, with also some notes of old books and antiques shop. Not bad at all! I like it. Mouth: starts sweet and rounded, with a nice balance. Quite some caramel, toffee, coffee sweets. Rather creamy, with some notes of sherry and even Madeira. Gets very malty, with hints of salt. It wasn’t too bold at first but now it’s really getting more oomph, and the finish is enjoyable, balanced and quite coating. A uncomplicated, but enjoyable malt. 83 points.

Craigellachie 14yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, circa 2000)
Edie Brickell MUSIC – Recommended listening - Oldies but Goldies - 1989 (yeah, not that old), Edie Brickell and her New Bohemians do What I am.mp3. An excellent band! By the way, Edie Brickell is also Mrs Paul Simon... Please buy their music...

January 5, 2006

Ledaig 15 yo (43%, MacNab, 75cl, 1980’s)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: starts very smoky and mineral (burnt matchstick, flint) together with some fresh butter and roasted coffee beans. Goes on with some coal, rubber bands, before it starts to shift towards some rather farmy notes such as wet hay, plus some discreet medicinal notes (bandages). All that is subtle and complex, very elegant, with also quite some marzipan, fern, pine needles, milk chocolate… I’d bet it’s a 1972! Mouth: oh, quite some body! The attack is superb, very elegant yet smoky and resinous, with quite some fruit juice. Peated barley, smoked tea, roasted almonds… Hints of Zubrowska vodka, verbena, a little liquorice. It gets even bolder and ‘wider’ after a while, rather peppery, spicy… And the finish is long, waxy, smoky and resinous, with a bit of salt… An excellent surprise! 90 points.
Ledaig 15yo (43%, MacNab, 75cl, 1980’s)
Ledaig 20yo (43%, OB, circa 2000) Ledaig 20 yo (43%, OB, circa 2000) Colour: white wine. Nose: much sweeter (caramelly and chocolaty) and also much more papery and cardboardy. Less smoky at that, more on apple juice and herbal tea, with some very bold notes of freshly cut grass after a moment. Rather simpler, for sure, but still quite enjoyable and harmless. Some notes of fireplace and coal again after a while but not much else, except a little paraffin. Mouth: sweet and curiously herbal, with also quite some bacon, not so fresh prawns… Um, something really weird here… Notes of aspirin, rotten fruits… There is a problem, I’m having troubles… Sorry, I can’t go on, it’s too repulsive (yes, for my tastes but…) Now, maybe the bottle was damaged - I had a previous one at 79 points. 50 points.
Ledaig 13 yo 1972 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice, old brown label, circa 1985) Colour: pale gold. Nose: wow, this is unique again! Even better than the MacNab. A superb mix of tar and passion fruits, bandages and charcoal, embrocations and cold ashes. Wowie! Lots of propolis too, resin and, of course, peat smoke. Old cardboard, wet chalk… Another stunning 1972 Ledaig, it appears. Mouth: a beautiful balance, with peat and dried oranges, marzipan, nougat, smoke, lapsang soochong… And even some smoked ham. The finish is rather long, at that. A magnificent old G&M (that does ring a bell indeed in Elgin, I’ve been told.) 93 points. Ledaig 13yo 1972 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice, old brown label, circa 1985)
Flamin' Groovies MUSIC – Recommended listening - Don't we like a silly little rock and roll tune from time to time, part 2: The Flamin' Groovies doing Headin' for the Texas border.mp3 (from their 1970 album Flamingo - punk rock avant l'heure?) Please buy the Groovies' music - it's not complicated...

January 4, 2006

Brechin 28yo 1977/2005 (53.3%, OB, 2040 bottles) North Port (Brechin) 14yo 1974/1988 (66.2%, Intertrade, 75cl, 177 bottles)


Brechin 28 yo 1977/2005 (53.3%, OB, 2040 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: oh, extremely fresh and clean (even hyper-clean), starting on freshly squeezed lemons and whiffs of white wood smoke. Not extremely demonstrative, maybe a little shy, but very elegant. Notes of flint, mashed potatoes, wet limestone, chalk… Quite some freshly cut grass as well, hints of fresh parsley, lemon balm, hints of cold lager, caramelized lemon pie. More and more ashes and faint whiffs of lavender (the flower, not any derivative).

Again, it’s very elegant… Mouth: exactly what I expected, the palate is very coherent, with lots of lemon juice, grass juice (good for your health!), maybe some salad and a little liquorice. It gets then a little fruity (orange sweets, violets sweets), with notes of gin fizz… Let’s add a few drops of water now: yes it gets smoother, with quite some apple juice and a little candy sugar, but there’s also quite some bitterness now (from the wood?) Nothing excessive, though. Also something strangely maritime (oyster juice but maybe it’s the lemon ;-)). The finish is rather long and dry, leaving your mouth in good shape. A dry white wine? Very good, in any case, even if it’s, once again, a little austere. 87 points.
North Port (Brechin) 14 yo 1974/1988 (66.2%, Intertrade, 75cl, 177 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: oh, this is very interesting, it’s got almost the same profile at first nosing, with just some added dry sherry. It gets then perhaps more herbal, with quite some rubbed mint leaves, grass, but other than that there’s also quite some white wood smoke, wet stone and lemons. What’s amazing is that it’s not overpowering at all, despite the whopping 66.2%! Just as excellent… Mouth: maybe it lost a few degrees because again, it’s quite bearable at 66% (I hope it’s not me!) It’s rather different this time, sweeter and, of course, much more sherried. Some very bold notes of fruit liquors, blue curacao, orgeat syrup, candied chestnuts… Rather unusual! Right, but now it starts to burn… quick, some water! (… and whilst the nose gets smokier but also a little farmy, which is normal…) Ah, the sherry grows really huge now, with lots of bitter oranges and quite some rubber, together with some tea. The finish is very long, perhaps just a little cardboardy but going back to the basics (lemon + grass). A very good surprise, more expressive than the OB but a little less clean. Let’s rate both just the same: 87 points.
North Port-Brechin 1974/1993 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice old map label) Colour: lemon gold. Nose: rather fresh, grainy and a little malty attack, developing on whiffs of fern, green salad and grass again. Gets a little papery but it’s not bad at all, with even some nice notes of fresh butter and apple. Mouth: a little weak at first sip but getting then rather nicely fruity (strawberries, gooseberries) with also the usual 'GM' notes of white pepper and light caramel. It gets just a little too tannic, and too bad the finish is a little too short (yet quite drying). It is good whisky but it’s perhaps too simple and not expressive enough to make it to 80 points in my books. So, it’ll be 79 points. North Port-Brechin 1974/1993 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice old map label)
Rilo Kiley MUSIC – Recommended listening - maybe it's just straight ahead pop rock for teenagers, but these new cats seem to draw much attention these days and I think they deserve it because some of them know how to play their instruments using more than two fingers. It's Rilo Kiley and they are doing Portions for foxes.mp3. Please buy their music.

January 3, 2006

Glen Mhor 28yo 1976/2005 (51.9%, Rare Malts Selection) Glen Mhor 28 yo 1976/2005 (51.9%, Rare Malts Selection)
Colour: straw. Nose: starts very flowery, on nectar, yellow flowers from the fields (dandelions, buttercups etc.), with also some notes of beer, malt, dampened grains and whiffs of cold ashes, fireplace… Quite some marzipan, fresh almonds and hazelnuts, a little olive oil, paraffin, mashed potatoes, dairy cream… Getting then a little farmy (wet hay, wet clay). A very ‘natural’ expression, maybe a little austere - no make-up and no bling-bling, as almost always in this series. For aficionados only? Let’s see… Mouth: it’s bold and punchy but not pungent at all, with both an impressively enjoyable bitterness (it’s not that often that such bitterness is an asset) and a huge waxiness. Add to that a rather peaty feeling and something very herbal, vegetal (tea, apple and walnut skins) and quite some salt (even diet salt). What’s quite astonishing is the fact that it all blends nicely and… austerely, with a nice ‘compactness’. A very good surprise – I often have problems with Glen Mhor – even if this one is maybe a little too ‘intellectual’, and not only a matter of pure pleasure. 88 points.
Glen Mhor 28 yo 1975/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 309 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: it smells like an opened beehive at first nosing, going on with quite some apple juice and old overripe apples. Some funny notes of Retsina (Greek resinated wine). Not too complex but really beautiful in fact – and I’ve often had problems with Glen Mhor so it’s good news for me. Mouth: a rather creamy mouth feel, coating and nicely papery. Quite some olive and argan oil, paraffin, developing on herbs (rosemary). Very interesting indeed even if not extremely enjoyable. 84 points. Glen Mhor 28yo 1975/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 309 bottles)
Zomby Woof MUSIC – Very strongly recommended listening - The Zappa series goes on - A guy named Zomby Woof (!), from Hungary (he's unknown to me but that's a shame), did sort of rework Watermelon In Easter Hay.mp3 and it's absolutely beautiful! (via his excellent Zappa Internet Jam Sessions where anything is brilliant.)

January 2, 2006

Clynelish 1969/2005 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection, cask #5893, 93 bottles)



Clynelish 1969/2005 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection, cask #5893, 93 bottles) Colour: deep gold. Nose: vibrant and very expressive right at first nosing but extremely winey, with lots of sweet and sour notes (overripe oranges, old red Bourgogne…) and quite some hot butter, caramel, fudge… Hot praline, cappuccino… An then the smoke does come through, together with some very enjoyable fruity notes (mostly apricot and plum jams) while the heavy winey notes sort of slowly vanish. It gets smokier and smokier (coal stove, campfire, cigarette smoke). A different old Clynelish, as enjoyable as the famed 1972’s but certainly less fruity and waxy, but still rather fresh and playful. I know some have been disappointed by this one but I’m not at this moment. Mouth: maybe the mouth feel is a bit thin but other than that it’s quite a festival of fruit jams and, err… tannins. Lots or orange juice, pineapple liqueur, with something prickly (lemon juice)… Notes of nutmeg and white pepper, cardboard, flour, cocoa powder (yes, the tannins) but also a little ginger and clove… Some tea, herbal tea, dried apricots… The finish isn’t too long and, again, a little thin yet bitter, with a little salt. Alright, as often, the nose was superb but the mouth doesn’t quite deliver, although it’s far from being unpleasant. So, I feel it’s still worth 88 points, but the nose suggested it would have fetched 92 or 93 a few years ago… (thanks, Hubert).
Clynelish 12 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, early-mid-1980’s) The label has been faded by the light, normal colours are like bottle at the right. Colour: gold. Nose: a rather smoky attack, on coal again, hot bread crust and hot wax, getting then quite fruity (dried apricots) and rather minty. Something maritime in the background (sea air) and also whiffs of eucalyptus trees, resin (a walk in a pine forest). Notes of liquorice, whiffs of camphor and quite some beer (English bitter)… Really excellent, perfectly balanced, although it’s rather less waxy and oily than the old officials, which makes me think this one comes from the new distillery and not from ‘Brora’. Mouth: bold, punchy but perfectly balanced, with something rubbery at the start but also lots of wax and bunches of dried fruits and jams (apricots again, yellow plums, kumquats, citrons…) Some icing sugar that plays with the tip of your tongue… Develops on salted liquorice (Dutch, of course), cough candies, propolis chewing-gum… A nice bitterness… Notes of heavily cooked wine sauce… Extremely pleasant, and the finish is rather long and very balanced, on smoked candy sugar (!). A classic. 89 points.
Clynelish 12 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail for Meregali, early 1980’s) Colour: gold (a little darker). Nose: rather similar of course but bolder, more aromatic, smokier and perhaps a tad less fruity. Sharper, a little more austere but also more elegant. Much waxier, with also notes of fern, and even mashier (bold notes of warm beer, Guinness…) This one might come from the old distillery this time, it’s closer to the old 12 yo white label. Mouth: oh, it’s even more different this time. Again, bolder, more coating and invading, much waxier and more resinous (cough syrup), really in the style of ‘Old’ Clynelish. Bold notes of strawberry liqueur… Other than that it’s rather similar, but everything is sort of amplified here. What a beauty! 92 points
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Belgium's Whatchamacallit aka the Abnormal Anonymous play Frank Zappa's Hungry Freaks.mp3! Very good! I don't think they have something out yet but let's buy their music as soon as a CD comes out! And expect more Zappa stuff on whiskyfun in the coming weeks... Whatchamacallit

January 1, 2006

Laphroaig Reserve 1908 (70° proof, Berry Bros and Rudd, probably 1920’s)

Thanks to some very dishonnest sellers, many aficionados now think all old bottles are fakes, which is just as stupid if you ask me - and no, the 'too good to be true' method doesn't always work. Anyway, I was there when this old Laphroaig was opened and nothing (glass, label, cork, capsule and content) suggested this 1908 might not have been genuine. Anyway, let's go...

Laphroaig Reserve 1908 (70° proof, Berry Bros and Rudd, probably 1920’s)
Colour: pale gold, almost the same as the 10yo’s, just a little less bright. Nose: starts with a huge shot of ‘old bottle effect’ (dust and wax here) with hints of dry sherry and grandma’s cupboard (a little musty), but it’s soon to get much cleaner. Some big, bold notes of eucalyptus bark, very medicinal (bandages) and, yes, smoky (burning fir wood). Very little peat, though. Develops on all sorts of fruits like overripe gooseberries and kiwis, cider, apple juice, apple skins, very fresh walnuts… A fino character, really. It gets quite maritime, with whiffs of seaweed, brine… The whole is very complex, delicate and subtle… It keeps developing, getting quite waxy again and also smokier (lit candles, beeswax) and more medicinal as well (camphor, embrocations). Really stunning, and it gets more and more Laphroaig-ish with time: more sea breeze, more smoke, more camphor – exceptional! And there’s also some wet moss and fern… After a good 20 minutes, something slightly metallic arises, with also some vanilla crème, café latte, and even a little hawthorn and rosehip tea… plus something neo-oxidative like in some very old sweet wines… Wowie! But will the palate deliver?... Mouth: ah, now it’s much, much weaker and very, very dry. I feel the a.b.v. got slightly below 30% here, the Talisker 1913 we had for Christmas was in much better shape. There is some straw, un-sugared tea, stale bread. Thank God it gets a little nicer with time, with a little quince jelly and quite some pepper and salt (salty butter caramel). There’s quite some tannins and it gets very papery, cardboardy, with even some flour and finally a little cough syrup. It’s really like a very, very old, tired wine. The finish is very short as expected, almost evanescent… Good, again, this very old Laphroaig had a stunning nose but lost almost all its power on the palate (which wasn’t totally unpleasant, though). So, let’s give 95 points to the nose and 75 points to the palate (because it still had a little cough syrup and pepper), which makes an average of 85 ‘organoleptic’ points. But, just like the Talisker 1913, it would be much higher on an emotional scale.
Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB, 2005) Contrarily to what we did with the Talisker, we decided to have the young one after the ancestor because it was much bolder. Colour: bright, pale gold. Nose: so similar in its profile! Granted, it’s much simpler and less delicate, but other than that there’s a lot of similar aromas, like the bold notes of kelp, camphor, bandages, oysters, iodine and smoke… Now, it’s not a wham-bam Laphroaig – at all – and it gets a little beer-ish, although it stays quite clean and almost crystalline. It keeps developing for a little while, on freshly cut apples, wet grass, with whiffs of pepper and diesel oil (just whiffs). Mouth: not very bold (to say the least) but very, very medicinal. Lots of eucalyptus, camphor, smoky ‘stuff’, oysters… A certain lack of body but I guess we really get used to the stunning 10 yo Cask Strength. There’s also dampened cereals, porridge… Not too complex but pretty typical. The finish is medium long, spicy and peppery but quite watery at the same time, with just a little rubber at the end. 83 points. Anyway, it was interesting to check that even if it’s hard to compare these two ‘phroaigs because of the obvious ‘old bottle effect’ in the old one’s palate, the overall profile, just like with the Taliskers, did not change too much within 90 years! Is that Heritage?
Zehetmair Quartett MUSIC – It's Sunday, we go classical with Germany's Zehetmair Quartett playing Schumann's String Quartet in a minor op. 41,1.mp3 (excerpt from 'Robert Schumann, ECM 1793). Please buy their musics and attend their concerts!

December 2005 - part 2 <--- January 2006 - part 1 ---> January 2006 - part 2

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

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

Benriach-Glenlivet 17 yo 1978/1995 (59.7%, Cadenhead, sherrywood)

Benriach 1968/2005 (46%, OB for LMW, cask #2711, Hogshead)

Clynelish 12 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail for Meregali, early 1980’s)

Coleburn 1980/2004 (62.9%, McKillop’s Choice, sherry wood, cask #1261)

Craigellachie 1982/2000 (61.9%, Scott’s Selection)

Imperial 12 yo (65%, James MacArthur, early 1990’s)

Ledaig 13 yo 1972 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice, old brown label, circa 1985)

Ledaig 15 yo (43%, MacNab, 75cl, 1980’s)

Macallan-Glenlivet 8 yo 1989/1997 (61.5%, Milroy’s)

Port Ellen 18 yo 1982/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, sherry, 777 bottles)

Port Ellen 21 yo 1982/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC for Islay Whisky Shop, 216 bottles)

Springbank 35 yo 1970/2005 (59.5%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 120 bottles)

Springbank 35 yo 1969/2005 (50%, Dun Bheagan, refill sherry, 516 bottles)