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

January 31, 2006

Macallan 1974/2001 (50.5%, Scott's Selection)


Macallan 1988/2000 'As We Get It' (54.9%, Kirsch Import) Colour: pale white wine. Nose: powerful, starting very grainy and smoky, getting rather mineral after a while, with very present notes of gunflint, matchsticks and coal oven. Also hints of freshly cut grass and wet hay. Sort of rough but interestingly smoky for a recent Macallan.

Mouth: sweet and full-bodied attack, very youngish this time. Something acrid, alas. Some smoke again but not too much, the whole developing on lemon seeds, concentrated lemon juice, with something Sugarish in the background. Not too ‘Macallanish’, whatever that means nowadays. Gets also bitterer with time. Finish: long, on spirit and lemon zests. In short, it’s rather sharp but not exactly unbalanced, and the nose was quite interesting. 80 points.
Macallan 1974/2001 (50.5%, Scott's Selection) Colour: pale amber. Nose: we have an indie Macallan that’s quite close to the ‘good old’ official sherried ones, for once. It starts on some superb notes of espresso and praline together with a great, elegant sherry – not of the hyper-vinous kind at all. Rather smoky again, almost peaty, developing on hot chocolate cake, hot caramel, high-end rum… Hints of balsamic vinegar, plum jam, getting then very nutty (roasted peanuts, pecan pie…) Extremely elegant, a very classy Macallan, not far from the best old 18 yo ’s. Mouth: creamy but not too much, nervous but not too much, with lots of dried fruits that assault your palate. Superb! Candied tangerines, dried bananas, orange marmalade… Something very smoky again (smoked tea). Wow, it’s almost exemplary. Lots of praline, notes of Alexander cocktail, maybe a little rubber – just a little. Lots of body, for sure… Goes on with strawberry pie, mocha, fruitcake… Maybe it gets then slightly too spirity and sort of rough (to water down or not to water down?) but otherwise it’s perfect. And the finish is long, like if it was a mixture of Contreau with smoked almonds and peanuts. An excellent surprise – well, maybe not a surprise. 91 points.
Macallan ad
Left, Johnnie Walker Black Label 1973 - Right, The Macallan 2003. Lots of progress within 30 years, don't you think?
MUSIC – Highly recommended listening - The Destroyers, aka Vancouver’s Dan Bejar, doing European Oils.mp3. This guy seems to know his early Bowie, Ayers and Dylan by heart, plus he's got his very own, 'precious' musical world, so I can't see why he wouldn't pull huge success - if he doesn't already - including in Europe ;-). Please buy his music (his CD 'Bitter Honey' will be out on February 21st)! (via Merge Records). The Destroyers

January 30, 2006

Bowmore 37yo 1968/2005 (42.8%, Duncan Taylor, cask #1429)


Bowmore 35 yo 1968/2004 (40.5%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead #3818, 150 bottles) Colour; straw. Nose: this one starts on the usual, most enjoyable blast of tropical fruits (mainly pineapples and pink grapefruits, followed by a little passion fruit.) It gets then a little milky and feinty (mashed potatoes), and finally a little peaty (clean farmy aromas, hay). No sign of woodiness, which is quite incredible – and maybe little fern and wet moss. Pretty simple but flawless and typically ‘1968 Bowmore’.

Mouth: quite some body in spite of the low alcohol! Starts quite sweet, fruity and gingery. Nice notes of wax, cardboard, orange juice and caramel crème. Not exactly nervous but still very enjoyable. Goes on with some notes of tangerines (as expected), oriental pastries, orange cake and marmalade… The finish is rather long – again, longer than expected, getting a little spicy. A classical old Bowmore, maybe a tad simple but not tired at all. 89 points.
Bowmore 37 yo 1968/2005 (42.8%, Duncan Taylor, cask #1429) Colour: straw - white wine. Nose: we have more or less the same aromas here, but in different proportions: it’s less fruity and more milky, with something very feinty in the background (very little hints of baby vomit, which is not obligatorily troublesome!) Some notes of spent lees as well. The usual pink grapefruit grows bigger with time, as well as some notes of hot metal (still). Not the cleanest old Bowmore but it’s still most enjoyable on the nose. Mouth: nicer now, more Bowmore-ish, starting on lots of fruits (citrus, orange peel) and going on with quite some rosehip tea and a little nutmeg. It grows then bolder, a little peppery and gets almost biting. Not a toothless old Bowmore at all! Nice notes of very ripe oranges and a little clove. The finish is long again, spicy, on clove and still orange peel. A very nice old beastly Bowmore! 88 points.


MUSIC – BLUES - Strongly recommended listening: Russia's excellent Arsen Shomakhov (aka Arsenic Blues) does Elmore James' The sky is crying.mp3 beautifully. Please go and see him and/or buy his music (isn't he the Poppa Chubby from the East?)

Arsen Shomakhov

January 29, 2006

Aultmore 15yo 1989/2005 (46%, Whisky Galore) Aultmore 15 yo 1989/2005 (46%, Whisky Galore) Colour: white wine. Nose: clean, pure, very ‘natural’, starting very grainy and mashy. Bold notes of buttered mashed potatoes, muesli and porridge, fresh sorrel. Most enjoyable I must say, nothing but the naked truth. Gets nicely grassy, a little flowery (wild flowers), with notes of sweet cider and whiffs of lemongrass, and then fudge and praline. Mouth: very ‘natural’ again, malty but not fruity. Cereals, cake, pastries, herbal tea, getting vegetal, with also quite some liquorice but the ‘neutrality’ gets a little boring now. Just a little. Rather long, grainy finish, with a little spearmint and violet sweets. A flawless nose but a palate that’s a little MOTR. 80 points.
Aultmore 11 yo 1989 (55.3%, Blackadder, cask #3059) Colour: white wine. Nose: a very similar profile but everything is low-key here. Grainy and mashy, slightly feinty, with notes of vodka, raw all-fruit spirit, Alka-Seltzer… Also a little buttery, greengage, immature plums… Not too enjoyable, I’d say. Mouth: nicer than expected, starting very minty, on quite some aniseed as well, lavender sweets, getting sort of bitter and slightly soapy. It gets then a little chocolaty and almondy (orgeat), with quite some liquorice stick and a little marzipan. Quite some body! The finish is rather long, herbal, a little minty again and with a pinch of salt. Probably not a winner but certainly a ‘nice’ one – on the palate, at least. 81 points.


MUSIC – It's Sunday, we go classical with the great, great Rosa Ponselle singing Tosti's Ideale.mp3 (probably 1930's - excellent 78rpm to digital conversion). La Callas once said: "I think we all know that Ponselle was simply the greatest singer of us all."

Rosa Ponselle

January 28, 2006

Linkwood 10yo 1984/1995 (59.7%, Signatory, butt #4085) Linkwood 10 yo 1984/1995 (59.7%, Signatory, butt #4085) Colour: gold. Nose: powerful, slightly zesty, spirity, getting very orangey and nutty. Quite some sherry, with lots of kirsch, fruit spirit, white port… Gets quite rubbery as well, a little sourish, rather gingery. Hints of vinegar… Not exactly dirty but maybe slightly unbalanced and rough. Mouth: punchy, creamy, a little sugarish, with notes of cooked fruits again, a bit of icing sugar, crystallised lemon zest. Gets a little rubbery again but the middle is a little weak despite the high strength, almost watery. Strange… It ‘restarts’ on a little pepper, clove, burnt caramel, but the finish isn’t too long and a little too rubbery. We’ve had many better Linkwoods, including by Signatory. 78 points.
Linkwood 12 yo 1993/2005 (59.1%, Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt #2317)
Colour: gold. Nose: this one is cleaner, even if less expressive at first nosing. Develops on fresh almonds, marzipan, and switches then to fruits cooked in wine (poached pears, peaches). Gets very winey as well (like rosé wine from Anjou). Lots of caramel as well… This nose is undoubtedly nicer. Mouth: bolder, creamier, nuttier… It’s very coherent with the nose, with these nice almondy notes, wine-marinated citrus fruits, vanilla-flavoured sugar… Quite some rubber as well but the whole is much more balanced, although it’s not a winning Linkwood again. Maybe a little too simple… The finish is medium long, caramelly and rather salty. A good Linkwood but nothing too special, I think. 82 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Does making just remixes and mash-ups mean being a musician? Hum, not sure (not at all in fact) but when MC Handy sort of 'does' Sonnet No. 3 (Like A Duck).mp3, well, it's 'sort of' fun! Please buy his... err, sort of works. MC Handy

January 27, 2006

Royal Lochnagar 12yo 1992/2005 (43%, Best Casks of Scotland, Jean Boyer, sherry) Royal Lochnagar 12 yo 1992/2005 (43%, Best Casks of Scotland, Jean Boyer, sherry) Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather fragrant, starting on some very bold winey notes and lots of milk chocolate and rubber. Goes on with quite some rubber (rubber band) and cooked fruits, overripe oranges, strawberries cooked with wine, notes of caramel. Something sweet and sour in the background (cooked yoghurt like in Greek cooking). A nice one, definitely, that makes me think of the old Macallan 12 yo but with more playfulness.
Mouth: the attack is rather creamy and vinous again but it gets quite drying very soon. That dryness then vanishes and the malt gets very caramelly, with lots of caramel crème, praline crème, roasted hazelnuts, with something smoky and a little pinch of salt. Very classical, not exactly extravagant but rather flawless, with a medium long finish, lacking perhaps just a little oomph. A good example of a 85 points malt in my book.
Lochnagar 35 yo 1970/2005 (46.2%, Jack Wieber's Old Train Line, 167 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: wow, it’s extremely fresh and fantastically fruity right at first nosing, like when you smell a basket of tropical fruits (oranges, mangos, passion fruits, pineapples, guavas…) Quite some kiwi as well, banana liqueur, coconut milk… It’s almost like a perfect blend of old Bowmore, Clynelish and Lochside – if you see what I mean. How fragrant! And then we have quite some spices that give it a perfect structure (a little clove, white pepper, quite some nutmeg, a little crystallised ginger). Whiffs of smoke, notes of old sweet white wine, mullein flowers syrup, nougat… Very perfect and no sign of tiredness whatsoever. Wow! Mouth: lots of fruitiness as expected but quite some tannins and ‘bitter’ spices this time. Woody, peppery, getting rather drying but it’s still acceptable. Cocoa (Van Houten)… Alas, it gets then a little too bitter, with quite some red pepper. ‘Pencil sharpener juice’. Well… The finish is long but drying and bitter again, leaving a somewhat unpleasant aftertaste. Too bad, the nose was absolutely stunning! More a beautiful perfume than a whisky, I’d say… 84 points.
And also: Lochnagar 14 yo 1990/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, sherry, 472 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: grainy and malty, with quite some caramel and vanilla. Whiffs of wet stone but not much else, I’m afraid. Mouth: rather similar, getting a little smoky. Quite some burnt notes, burnt caramel… A long but sourish finish… Well… 77 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening - Finger-picking guitar can do no harm, when enjoyed from time to time... So, have a try at Hank Dogs doing Whole way.mp3. No bad at all, don't you think? Please buy their music...

Hank Dogs

January 26, 2006

TESTING A NEW FEATURE - I've added a free java news feeds service about whisky (by The Scotsman) at the right of this page, there. Not sure it's very useful, not to mention complete - and probably not exactly fun, so it's just a test. Tell me what you think here if you like, thanks! I hope they don't just deliver boring industry stuff, advertising in disguise or PR releases (verbatim of course), and that it won't slow down even more (yes, I know) the whole page. And while I'm at it, don't worry, you'll never, ever see any ads on these humble pages, except for friendly whisky events or for a few just causes! Thanks - back to whisky and music now... - Serge.
ZDFbeg 1998/2005 (55.5%, Whisky Kanzler, Glenfarclas finish, 50cl) From a very good ex-oloroso cask that had contained Glenfarclas. Note that ZDF is the second German TV channel, the first one being ARD (clever!) Colour: dark straw. Nose: very Ardbeg-ish as expected. Very bold peat smoke, garden bonfire, camphor and cooked apples. ZDFbeg 1998/2005 (55.5%, Whisky Kanzler, Glenfarclas finish, 50cl)
Little oloroso influence – that I can smell, in any case. Gets vegetal, on smoked tea (Lapsang Souchong) and sort of animal as well (civet, hare belly). Notes of milk chocolate and praline, mastic, bandages… A very, very nice young Ardbeg, for sure. Oh, and also some superb notes of crushed mint leaves. Mouth: punchy, almost invading, probably more ‘mature’ than expected, thanks to the sherry cask (I said probably ;-)). Very compact, very waxy, peaty of course, with a most enjoyable blend of camphor, mint and eucalyptus. Gets also very resinous, with some walnut skin, ‘genuine’ marzipan (not overly sugared) and finally quite some bell pepper. The finish is long, bold but compact, very smoky… In short, I don’t know what the Glenfarclas cask really did to this young Ardbeg but it’s very good indeed. 88 points.
Ardbeg 1991/2005 (57.1%, The Cross Hill, Jack Wieber, 6 months Strathisla finish, 270 bottles) From another excellent old ex-Strathisla cask bottled by Jack Wieber. Colour: white wine. Nose: very, very different this time. Much less smoky, starting on some heavy notes of olive oil (ultra-heavy olive oil!), getting then very mineral (flint), developing on ashes, burnt wood, grass… Then we do have the typical peat smoke, but it’s less demonstrative, let’s say like some Bowmores. Did the Speysider tone down the peat? Anyway, the good news is that the end result is very nicely balanced and rather elegant, with an unexpected ‘austerity’. No sign of ‘roundness’ whatsoever. Mouth: we’re in the same territories as with the ‘ZDF’ now, the whisky being very similar. Maybe a little grassier, punchier, sharper and spicier (and less resinous) but otherwise we have almost the same malt here. Very, very good! Again, I couldn’t get what the ex-cask’s influence was, it was probably ‘there’, but it’s another 88 points malt in my book.
Eef Barzelay


MUSIC – Recommended listening - Clem Snide member Eef Barzelay sings a very good, I think, Ballad of Bitter Honey.mp3. Please buy his (and his band's) music!


January 25, 2006

Highland Park 13yo 1992/2005 (50%, James MacArthur for The Way of Spirits) Highland Park 13 yo 1992/2005 (50%, James MacArthur for The Way of Spirits) Colour: white wine. Nose: very spirity and grainy (it really smells like a grain barn), very yeasty as well. Notes of Indian yoghurt drink (lassi), bold muesli, porridge… Really sweet and sour, in an enjoyable way. Also notes of apple juice, cooked apricots and quite some wood (freshly sawn oak). Hints of fresh strawberries and pears. Very ‘natural’! Mouth: very sweet and fruity with lots pepper and tannins. Kind of a bitterness, it’s like a mixture of chlorophyll with fruit sweets and bubblegum with a little paraffin and propolis. Doubtlessly interesting, even if very quite close to raw malt. The finish is medium long, a little fruity and quite peppery again. 80 points.
Highland Park 21 yo 1984/2005 (54.1%, Glenkeir Treasures, Douglas Laing for The Whisky Shop, 450 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is very different although the background is more or less the same. Quite some vanilla, caramel and praline, nougat, ground coffee… And then it gets much fruitier, almost perfumy and rather hot and spirity after a moment. We have then the same ‘mashy’ notes as in the James MacArthur, with also quite some spices (cloves, hints of cardamom) and whiffs of mint. Very ‘natural’ again. Highland Park 21yo 1984/2005 (54.1%, Glenkeir Treasures, Douglas Laing for The Whisky Shop, 450 bottles)

Mouth: oh, now it’s much more interesting. Quite some punch and a bold, sweet and spicy attack. Imagine a blend of caramel and honey with tons of various spices, curry, ginger, cardamom again, pepper… And then we have a fruity cavalry with lots of quince and quite some apple jelly, greengage and a beautiful, long finish on bergamot sweets and spearmint. Wow, too bad the nose was a tad simple, otherwise it would have earned more than 88 points.

Highland Park 19yo 1986/2005 (55.3%, OB for Maxxium Holland, cask #2793, 1120 halves) Highland Park 19 yo 1986/2005 (55.3%, OB for Maxxium Holland, cask #2793, 1120 halves)
Colour: amber. Nose: powerful but not overpowering at all, starting on sherry as expected, together with the usual official Highland Park’s complexity. Something faintly acidic (kiwis), metallic (silverware) and distinctively heathery that makes me think of the greatest old bottlings (with the black round labels). Lots of mocha, with also something smoky (wood smoke), tary, nicely rubbery, with dried oranges, flowers from the fields, notes of old roses… Just superb!
Mouth: oh yes, it’s a perfect Highland Park, maybe just a tad too rubbery now. Creamy, bold and ‘wide’, with loads of candy sugar, orange tree honey, these metallic tastes again (nothing unpleasant, quite on the contrary) and some smoky, tary notes as well. Notes of violet sweets, lavender sweets, fruitcake, caramelized cashews (I think it’s a Chinese ‘desert’, it’s excellent) and old sweet wine – the sherry, not a dull, sweetishly sweet one at all. And it keeps developing, mostly on crystallized sweets (and candied angelica). The finish is long, bold, almost ‘thick’ and very satisfying. Almost perfect, but why only for (our friends) the Dutchmen? ;-) Anyway, 91 points for this one. Once again with Highland Park, the OB wins, head and shoulders (and thanks, Michel).
Fojimoto MUSIC – Recommended listening - Just a very good little band, but a very good little band indeed: it's Fojimoto playing Virginia.mp3. Please buy their music if you like it.

January 24, 2006

Bunnahabhain 18 yo ‘XVIII’ (43%, OB, 2005, 1500 bottles)
Colour: full gold. Nose: it doesn’t start too vigorously but most elegantly, somehow in the 12 yo ’s way but this one is much more aromatic, with quite some caramel and honey, pollen (all-flowers) and whiffs of smoke. We have heavy notes of baklavas after a few minutes and it gets even smokier (which is quite unusual) – hookah? We have then certain freshness and notes of flowers that make it resemble a (very good) Highland Park. And we have lots of dried fruits, at that, like figs, bananas, dates, honey and hazelnut cake. Again an excellent surprise, as far as I’m concerned. Mouth: oh, a beautiful attack (although it might have been even more full bodied with 2 or 3 more ‘percents’). Creamy, both fruity and malty, with a rather nice bitterness that keeps the whole together and prevents it from getting too weak. Lots of tea, honey again (oriental pastries – right, it’s an obsession), crystallized quince, dried figs again. Something grainy (batter for pancakes), malty, tea-ish…
Bunnahabhain 18yo ‘XVIII’ (43%, OB, 2005, 1500 bottles)
Granted, the palate is not as explosive as the nose (closer to the 12 yo in fact) but it’s still very enjoyable, despite the fact that it’s getting a little too weak now (not exactly watery but…). The finish is medium-long, on cake and with something slightly metallic… It’s really too bad, this one would have made it to 90 points, had the palate been a little more ‘lively’. 88 points.
Bunnahabhain 26yo 1978/2005 (54.6%, Signatory, sherry butt #2539) Bunnahabhain 26 yo 1978/2005 (54.6%, Signatory, sherry butt #2539) Colour: full gold. Nose: this one is probably simpler but it’s also more powerful, thanks to the much higher ABV. The sherry is well here but it’s rather discreet, while the malt develops mostly on cake, toasted bread and bold notes of roasting coffee beans. There’s something sweet and sour then (apple compote?) and quite some chocolate as well, together with whiffs of wood smoke. Much more ‘male’ than usual, whatever that means. Not a Bunny in lace but I still like it! Mouth: a very nice attack, sweet, creamy and powerful, much similar to the XVIII but with the missing power this time – although it’s maybe a little simpler. Lots of honey again, dried fruits, sherry (a nice ‘little rubberiness’) burnt cake… Maybe it’s simple but it’s so nicely compact, full-bodied and satisfying! The finish is rather long, at that, on dried fruits and honey – and with a coffeeish tinge that I like. In short, a rather uncomplicated, but very good one. 88 points (tie again).
MUSIC – Recommended listening: a very, very simple drumming, some even simpler guitars... The result could have been plain catastrophic, yet the Casual Dots managed to craft a nice and funny little song called Clock - mp3 that's quite enjoyable, thanks to Christina Billotte and Kathi Wilcox's voices. Please buy their music if you like it.   Casual Dots

January 23, 2006

Port Ellen 1982/2005


Port Ellen 1982/2005 (55.7%, M&H Cask Selection, bourbon, 240 bottles) Another new baby by our Belgian friends from Corman-Collins.

Colour: straw. Nose: a little discreet at first nosing, with just a little lemon juice and oysters but it’s soon to take off, getting peaty and smoky, with the usual notes of new tyre, tar and coal fire but all that isn’t explosive – which may be good news. Develops on notes of caramel and old books, getting then cleanly farmy (clean cow – err…) and grassy. An elegant Port Ellen. Mouth: holy cow, now it’s really beautiful. Creamier than usual, on bold liquorice, gentian roots, celeriac… Maybe a little sweeter than expected but really beautiful. The smokiness is perfect, neither ‘too much’, nor ‘too less’. It goes on with quite some quince, bitter oranges, mastic sweets… More and more body, and the finish is long, on pure, ‘crystalline’ liquorice. In short, a rounded and sweet Port Ellen with a peat that’s still full of life. Excellent: 92 points.
Port Ellen 12 yo 1981/1993 (64.5%, Cadenhead) A much younger, high strength Port Ellen from a mini now. I must confess I’m a bit scared… Colour: white wine. Nose: quite closed for a start, with just notes of coffee and paper. The very high alcohol masks everything for a rather long time before it gets a little mineral, with some diesel oil, but it’s really overpowering. Quick, some water! Now it gets fresher, vegetal, but it lost its peat, most strangely. Some nice lemon juice, yet, Schweppes, but it stays discreet. Hints of gentian roots… It whispers more than it talks. Mouth (neat): sure it’s little burning but it’s curiously drinkable at first sip, with lots of peat this time, smoke, wax and quince jelly, but then it starts to anaesthetize your mouth. Water needed indeed! Right, now it really tastes like a gentian spirit, getting herbal, tea-ish, with notes of acidic fruits (tangerine, citron) and quite some pepper, but too bad it stops developing and stays rather simple. The finish is long, rather smoky, with some cooked apples but that’s all. A nice profile, finally quite austere but really lacking complexity. 83 points.
Port Ellen 14 yo 1974/1988 (65.5%, Sestante, green glass, cork stopper)
I’m even more scared… Colour: straw. Nose: very similar at the start, with just some added notes of roasted peanuts, camphor and a few farmy notes but again the alcohol overwhelms the whole, yet it’s more expressive than the Cadenhead. It does need water but one feels it’s classier stuff. With water: not much difference at the start but it gets then much nicer, in the mineral (very flinty) and ‘grapefruity’ genre, developing on some beautiful farmy notes. No tyre-rubbery-tary notes this time but it’s still much more expressive than the Cadenhead. Mouth (neat): oh, now it’s really superb, even at full strength. Beautiful balance between peat and fruits, and one can guess it’s complex whisky, let’s see what happens with water… Ah yes, it gets complex indeed, with lots of wax, cake, white pepper… Something Laphroaigishly grainy. The peat is quite elegant, and it gets quite medicinal (cough syrup) towards the long finish, with also the usual gentian and smoked tea. A punchy but complex young Port Ellen! 90 points.
 With thanks to H.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Brooklyn's Miguel Mendez' ode to life, Drinking beers.mp3. A nice little tune without importance, and that's probably what makes it so enjoyable... (besides the 'funny' harmonies). Please buy Miguel Mendez' music! Miguel Mendez

January 22, 2006

Glenlivet 50yo (40%, G&M for La Maison du Whisky 50th anniversary, 50 bottles, bottled 2005)


Glenlivet 50 yo (40%, G&M for La Maison du Whisky 50th anniversary, 50 bottles, bottled 2005) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one starts very classically, on dried flowers, light caramel, light honey and apricot and mirabelle pies. Rather aromatic, very elegant, with also quite some white chocolate (which isn’t chocolate, say the purists). Whiffs of smoke and cake, hot croissant, strawberry and melon jams… Hints of cinnamon. Very refined, exactly what we’d expect from such an old glory.

No sign of tiredness but perhaps a certain lack of oomph and certainly an oakiness that’s behind all that but that never takes control. A beautiful nose, I must say, that almost smells like some excellent old sweet wines (Rivesaltes? Monbazillac?) Mouth: ah, yes, now it’s getting woodier. Not exactly tired or even tannic but there’s this dryness that – maybe – prevents the sweetness and fruitiness to develop to their maximum. Quite some vanilla, slightly burnt cake, toffee… Lots of over-infused tea (OK, tannins), a little mastic, liquorice root, chlorophyll chewing gum… And the finish isn’t too long but drying, although not catastrophically so. Good, the nose was absolutely beautiful but the wood took control of the palate, I’m afraid, so it’s going to be 85 points (but the nose is worth more than 90, no doubt).
The Glenlivet NAS (43%, OB, 'Export', ‘unblended all malts’, Baretto Milano, late 1960’s - early 1970’s) This one is was probably distilled around the same years as the 50 yo , but bottled much earlier… Colour: pale gold. Nose: grainier, mashier, and much smokier: there’s quite some peat in there, it appears! Burnt matchsticks, old coal stove... It gets very mineral, with quite some flint, limestone… And gets then quite waxy a la old Clynelish, with notes of fresh walnut skin, mastic and a bit of aniseed. Ah, and also some lily of the valley and light camphor notes. What an excellent surprise! Mouth: well, it’s not that stunning anymore, with quite an old bottle effect (something drying, metallic and tea-ish) and a bitterness that makes it a little hard to enjoy. Burnt French beans? But otherwise one can feel that was classy stuff a while ago, with quite some camphor and smoke in the background. Too bad but we can’t blame this oldie, can we? Anyway, 85 points again (and again for the fantastic nose – are old Glenlivets only for ‘nosers’? ;-)


MUSIC - It's Sunday, we go classical - did it occur to you that this is another Mozart year? Yes, again! So let's listen to a rather speedy, rock and roll version of the 40th Symphony 4th mvt.mp3 (allegro assai, composed 1788) by a very good Korean orchestra - sorry, I couldn't get the name.


January 21, 2006

Glenlossie 1977/2003 (45%, Samaroli 35th Anniversary, cask #633, 360 bottles) Glenlossie 1977/2003 (45%, Samaroli 35th Anniversary, cask #633, 360 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: extremely fresh at first nosing, nicely spirity and grainy, buttery… Getting very fruity (freshly cut apples and pineapples) then very herbal and aromatic (sage, bay leaf). Develops on spices from the wood (white pepper, a little nutmeg). Astonishingly fresh and natural at that age… Also some nice notes of roses.
Mouth: very nicely balanced, starting on grains again, getting then quite hot. Very sweet but not extremely complex, slightly disappointing. Gets grainier and grainier, with hints of cider and green pepper. The finish is very long, rather waxy, and very grainy, with notes of cooked apples again. Well, the nose was nice but the mouth lacked a little more development to make it above 85, so it’s going to be 84 points.
Glenlossie 14 yo 1974/1988 (58.5%, Intertrade, sherry cask, 297 b.) Colour: Cognac with salmony hues. Nose: starts on lots of caramel and rum and tons of chocolate and Nescafé. Almost thick. Lots of sherry, obviously, a little ‘matt’. Goes on with lots of dried and crystallised oranges, some very nice mineral notes and hints of smoked meat (Islay beaf?) Keeps developing on soy sauce and dark pipe tobacco (Balkan). Very classical, rather complex for a sherry monster. Mouth: powerful, creamy, very rubbery (noble rubber if that exists). It gets quite ‘monstrous’, with loads of grilled herbs (oregano, thyme), bitter chocolate, bitter almonds, fresh peppercorn. Not much sweetness here! Also some notes of bitter oranges, cardboard… It gets a little ‘difficult’, probably a little too tannic. Let’s try it with a few drops of water (… while the nose gets more orangey…): right, there are less tannins now, it’s sweeter, even rubberier (but it’s enjoyable rubber), with quite some mint and eucalyptus coming through and also some balsamic vinegar. Very concentrated! The finish is long but maybe slightly too bitter. In short, this one is a genuine sherry monster and sherry freaks should love it, but I’ll give it some conservatory 87 points.
Grupo Bonsai   MUSIC – JAZZ - Recommended listening, in the fine tradition of the Brazilian masters like Egberto Gismonti or Hermeto Pascoal, the Grupo Bonsai plays Baião Maluco - mp3. Crazy and very entertaining, I like these short pieces a lot. Please buy their music if you like it! And no, that's not avant-garde ;-).

January 20, 2006


Glenugie 25 yo 1980/2005 (47%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 99.10, 263 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: rather vibrant and fragrant at first nosing, starting very grainy (grain barn) and sort of feinty. The aromas are quite numerous but rather unusual – hard to put names on them. Ah, yes, very buttered mashed potatoes, ginger ale… Then caramel crème, old sweet wine, gingerbread, beer… And then we have some pastries, cake, toffee…

Glenugie 25yo 1980/2005 (47%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 99.10, 263 bottles)
Lots happening here but it’s perhaps lacks definition. Goes back to hot milk and porridge before it gets frankly vegetal (fern, hay) and slightly sourish and dusty. Very interesting but not directly enjoyable, I’d say. Mouth: ah, now it’s much cleaner, more ‘defined’. Bold notes of roasted nuts and flower jellies, fruit jam, Turkish delights and Japanese grilled tea. Rice cake, burnt cake and bread, pear eau-de-vie… Still a ‘different’ profile. Some waxy notes, propolis, dried herbs (lots of thyme!) Gets very nutty (hazelnut liqueur), maybe a tad smoky… The finish is medium long, on dried fruits (dates)… An excellent palate after a nose that’s a bit ‘strange’: 87 points.
Glenugie 27 yo 1977/2005 (46.7%, Signatory, cask #5506, 220 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is probably simpler but much more ‘precise’, starting sort of Lowlandish (grains and citrus fruits) but getting very nicely fruity and a tad resinous at the same time. Orange juice, rose jelly, Turkish delights, grapefruit juice… Hints of ginger ale again, pineapple sweets, sweet cider. Faint whiffs of white pepper… Much simpler indeed but certainly more directly enjoyable. Mouth: very, very coherent. Starts on grains, lemon, citrons, then something slightly ‘twisted’ (very ripe kiwis or pineapples, pipe juice (argh!), liquorice sweets…) A very interesting sweet and acidic feeling. Goes on with various herbal teas and gets then quite peppery and tannic (in a nice way). The malt gets ‘broader’, with more body and creaminess, developing on lemon pie topped with caramel, crème brûlée, candy sugar, all sorts of fruit liqueurs… It gets excellent, and the finish is spicy, longer than the SMWS’, creamier and more satisfying. Very good! 89 points (and thanks Luc)
Quoi de neuf docteur MUSIC – Jazz - Highly recommended listening: Serge Adam’s excellent combo Quoi de neuf docteur (what’s new, doctor?) plays a powerful, speedy and innovative Jungle hurricane.mp3. Wowie, sure they have the sound! That’s jazz for people who don’t like jazz, and of course for jazz lovers as well. Please buy Serge Adam’s music.

January 19, 2006

Caol Ila 24yo (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, circa 2004) Caol Ila 24 yo (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, circa 2004) From a mini, not sure this one has been bottled as a ‘big bottle version’. Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah, this is a ‘low-peat’ Caol Ila, it appears… Rather discreet, clean, pure, not’ old’ at all, a little fruity, with quite some herbal tea. Whiffs of menthol, paraffin, getting then rather medicinal (eucalyptus, menthol, cough syrup…) and finally smoky (white wood smoke). Bold pear juice after fifteen minutes.
All that is elegant and classy yet uncomplicated, kind of ‘sober’, with a superb dryness. Mouth: sweet, fruity and liquoricy attack, with the peat taking off slowly but regularly as often. It’s not a bold peat, that is. It gets then very waxy, with some mastic, herbs (thyme, bay leaf and rosemary), notes of lemon marmalade… Very clean again, quite some body, maybe notes of walnut skin… The finish is long, smoky, herbal and peppery… A very good old Caol Ila that tastes rather younger than 24 yo and that’s rather austere, in a very nice way. 89 points.
Caol Ila 26 yo 1979/2005 (57.2%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, Cask #1356, 212 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is much more expressive, almost extravagant with its notes of gewürztraminer, old roses and orange fizz (vitamins tablets). Unusual and very special, with a very clean peat blazing in the background. It gets then very cleanly farmy, on hay, grain barn, dried flowers… Notes of ginger ale and apple pie. Certainly more oomph but again lots of elegance. Mouth: ah, now it really ‘overtakes’ its younger brother. Extremely strong notes of camphor and wax (I think I never had such strong ‘camphor and wax’). with an incredibly bold mouth feel, very oily, developing on argan oil, walnuts, mustard seeds, maybe even horseradish, tea, clove… But what a beautiful Caol Ila! A little salt, liquorice, gentian eau-de-vie, toffee… In two words: stun-ning. And the finish is long, extremely coherent, coating, with a superb ‘peat’. I loved this one, an even subtler nose would have propelled it up to 95, but it’s going to be 93 points. A fab surprise, Oops, I even forgot to add some water (and thanks, Carsten).
The Happy Bullets MUSIC – Recommended listening - Another very, very silly tune that's very, very enjoyable (am I turning mad?), it's The Happy Bullets doing The Vice and Virtue Ministry.mp3. No, no, I should not like that at all, I know! But please buy their music...

January 18, 2006


JOHN OTWAY AND THE BIG BAND, Half Moon, Putney, London, January 14th 2006

It’s winter quiet in January London at the moment. Curtains are drawn early in the afternoon, electric light-bulbs shimmer, families huddle round glowing radiators snacking on Christmas surely-past-their-use-by-date leftovers, and entertainment seems largely to be provided by North London’s European football team and Celebrity Big Brother.

In case you don’t know Serge, that’s a TV programme (remember – the box in the corner?) where run of the mill celebrities like superannuated rock stars, end of the pier comedians, forgotten actors and the odd Member of Parliament sit around in a house making fools of themselves for the sake of a nation’s entertainment (perhaps Gordon Brown will make us all watch it as part of the new British Day celebrations). Personally I don’t get it, but I’m told it’s a fine way of passing the time if you’ve no money, and no where to go. And gigs are certainly thin on the ground at the moment. But by way of avoiding the telly, or worse, we wandered south of the river on Saturday to Putney to see Whiskyfun’s old chum, and Rock and Roll’s self declared ‘Greatest Failure’ John Otway and his Big Band (all five of them).
Not that I thought I would have much to say about this highly entertaining and amiable eccentric (with an appearance that gets more like the late Michael Hordern playing a demented public-school chemistry teacher every time I see him) that I didn’t say when I reviewed him back in 2004. To be sure the set was almost identical, although we did get a couple of additional numbers from his 2005 album Ot-air, including ‘Rumplestiltskin’ and ‘International dateline’.
Richard Holgarth The band (Richard Holgarth, lead guitar; Murray Torkilsden, rhythm guitar; Seymour, bass guitar; and Adam Batterbee on drums) was as tightly inept as Otway deserved, with Richard Holgarth ( a sometime Hot Rod with Eddie) in outstanding form with his School of Rock Gibson SG. It also featured Otway collaborator, writer and producer Barry Upton, on keyboards and guitars, whose perma suntan is no doubt more the result of his work with Cheeky Girls and million sellers Steps than with Otway.
So I stood there enjoying my beer and Otway’s infectious buffoonery whilst the Photographer played with the new Whiskyfun camera. And a thought came into my mind, which was that quite possibly there was more depth, and more danger, to Mr Otway than might at first meet the eye. Think of it this way – we’re told that it’s the youth who challenge the status quo in the music business, and I guess the latest example would be the Arctic Monkeys. But in fact for all the fuss and nonsense about ‘democratisation’ of the music industry through the influence of websites such as myspace, the band are being so hyped by ‘the business’ that it’s hard to tell them apart from anyone else (think of that famous moment in the final paragraph of Animal Farm), and like all the other brave new things before them they seem to be careering happily into the open arms of the music establishment. But not Otway. He subverts the very concept of fame. He subverts the conventional business constructs that support the music industry (don’t believe me? Then have a look at his planned World Tour). And he even subverts the structure of the song (‘House of the rising sun’). Most of all he subverts the notion, commonly held amongst young folk, that 54 year olds should know better.
So what better way to start a musical year than with a performer who turns the musical world (and it should be said, himself) upside down? A musical year, I observe, that promises a mixture of something old, something new, something borrowed, and quite possibly something blue – and all of that before the end of April. And if it delivers only half the entertainment that Mr Otway produces, then I can tell you now that we’re all in for some good whiskymusicfun. Oh yes, and if you do only one thing this year, then please go and see Otway. You won’t regret it. - Nick Morgan (concert photos by Kate). John Otway
Thank you Nick! Yes we have kind of a 'Big Brother' TV show in France as well, although I never watch it - nobody will ever confess watching this kind of show, despite the fact that they gather 10 or 15 million viewers every day. It's called 'La Ferme des Célébrités' (celebrity farm) and it's totally stupid, I've been told (coz, again, I never watch it, honest). Now, if I had to choose somebody for my own 'Performer You Would Most Like Your Daughter to Bring Home Award' I'd probably choose Otway rather than Iggy, he seems to be an excellent entertainer (as these audio files should testify) and I always liked beautiful losers - which Iggy isn't. And Eddie and the Hot Rods! They were quite big in France in the mid-seventies, juts like Dr Feelgood, and they are still around, it seems. Btw, to our distinguished readers, Nick's excellent 2004 John Otway review is here. S.


Aberlour 1989/2005 (55.4%, Whisky Galore Cask Strength) A new livery for Duncan Taylor's Whisky Galore range. Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather powerful, with bold whiffs of sherry right at first nosing. Very vinous, with notes of cooked strawberries and cider apples. Something sourish but that disappears quite quickly and makes room for a nice balance between the sherry and the fruits. Bold notes of orange juice and gin-fizz, with quite some melted caramel, the whole getting even err… nicer after a while. Lots of lemon fudge at hints of clean old wood… ‘cool!’

Aberlour 1989/2005 (55.4%, Whisky Galore Cask Strength)
Mouth: starts a little rough and quite powerful but it’s not overpowering. Quite some tannins and vanilla, making it a little bourbon-like. Roasted nuts, a little liquorice… Really oaky but it’s easily bearable. The liquorice gets bolder, with also some salty notes… Let’s see what happens with a little water: (… while the nose gets a little herbal…) it gets nicely vegetal and sweeter at the same time, and the liquorice grows even stronger! The finish is long, rather smooth and oaky, with always lots of liquorice. In short, an enjoyable Aberlour, very different from the OB’s we know. 85 points.
Aberlour 1990/2002 (59.9%, Blackadder Raw Cask, cask #3318) Colour: white wine. Nose: extremely woody, with lots of varnish, glue, paint thinner… Ouch! Notes of melted butter, sour cream… And now some bold, invading acetone. It gets hard to enjoy, even if there are some nice sourish notes (rennet apples). Whiffs of ‘pencil sharpener juice’. Well… Mouth: very powerful, with again these ‘chemical’ notes (mostly varnish) and truckloads of oak, hyper-infused tea. Quick, water needed! Right, while the nose doesn’t change much, the palate does improve, gets smoother and much more caramelly and buttery, but the tannins get even stronger. The finish itself is quite long but with nothing particular. In short, a rather rough Aberlour – for cooking? 76 points
CRAZY WHISKY NEWS -  Yesterday, the excellent whisky website Lindores.be announced that the SWA just came up with new pictograms to be added to the labels, when appropriate. Alas, Lindores only had a dummy - we're proud to publish both definitive versions ('no wine cask finishing' and 'no new oak finishing').

January 17, 2006

Glendullan 1981/2000 (55.5%, Scott’s Selection) Glendullan 1981/2000 (55.5%, Scott’s Selection) Colour: straw. Nose: rather hot, spirity, with strong feinty smells at first nosing. Bold notes of mashed potatoes, muesli, teapot… Develops on over-ripe oranges, Schweppes, cooked fruits… Sort of rough but interesting if not directly enjoyable. Notes of hot ham, Indian yoghurt sauce, wet hay, with also something lemony and vegetal (guacamole?) It gets quite cleaner with time, very citrusy and sort of mineral (wet limestone, wet clay). More complex than expected, in any case.
Mouth: sweet, very punchy, with some nice oaky tones and lots of various white fruits (cooked pears and apples, gooseberries) and quite some fresh mint. It gets then a little drying, sort of ‘sticky’, with lots of liquorice and something mineral and smoky. It is enjoyable, very natural and probably not very special but rather flawless, with a medium long, sweet and grainy finish, with also a little pepper. A good Glendullan. 85 points.
Glendullan 26 yo 1978/2005 (56.6%, Rare Malts) From the final batch of the Rare Malts series. Colour: straw. Nose: as hot but grainier and maybe simpler at first nosing… But it’s soon to adopt more or less the same profile. Mashed potatoes and porridge, boiled cereals, fresh butter, fresh herbs (chive, watercress). It gets then fruitier than the Scott, on peaches… Some rather bold notes of mint tea, verbena, a little bergamot… Certainly cleaner, although there are some meaty notes as well. Mouth: it’s very different this time, much more explosive, with a ‘punchy’ mix of liquorice and fruits (ripe apricots and melons). Hot caramel, grains, maybe a little lavender crème and something pleasantly prickly (icing sugar, pear drops). Let’s add a little water now (… while the nose gets a little farmier as usual, but also mintier)… Yes, it gets more drinkable, more playful (lots of acidic fruits like lemons, fresh pineapples, apricots, kiwis) and sweeter and more rounded, as expected (light caramel and honey). It’s good and the finish is rather long, sweet and bitter in a nice way, with something waxy in the background. Probably not a total winner but certainly one of the very best Glendullans I ever had. Not ‘dull’ at all! 88 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening - Sons of Nick Cave? Williard Grant Conspiracy play their nice tune Another lonely night.mp3 (1999, live on VPRO Radio, Amsterdam). Please buy their music...

Williard Grant Conspiracy

January 16, 2006

Lochside 38yo 1966/2005 (45.8%, Murray McDavid Celtic Heartlands, 152 bottles) Lochside 38 yo 1966/2005 (45.8%, Murray McDavid Celtic Heartlands, 152 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: incredibly liquoricy and minty at first nosing (certainly from the wood) but it then settles down, developing on buttered caramel, hot beeswax and raspberry dunce.
It gets then sweet like and old Sauternes, with also lots of walnut skin (like in a fino). Keeps going on ‘cold’ beeswax, paraffin, chestnut flour, fresh grains and notes of empty wine barrel. And it’s not over, now we have the expected tropical fruits (pineapples and grapefruits), marzipan… Very complex, concentrated and sort of unusual for an old Lochside (it’s less fruity). Wait, no, it gets much fruitier after 15 minutes, very ‘Lochside’ now. Some beautiful notes of mango and fresh mint leaves salad. Superb, with a very long development. Mouth: creamy, nervous, superbly minty again. Cough sweets, olive oil, very ‘Lochside’ right from the start this time. Pink grapefruit, Turkish delights, melon, banana flambéed… A slight bitterness from the wood but it’s easily bearable. Develops more and more on grapefruit with honey. Extremely good, really. Hints of almond milk, orgeat… The finish is rather long, nicely peppery, with hints of coriander. Excellent – and a nice pencil box as always. 93 points (and thanks Hubert).
Lochside 32 yo 1966/1998 (62.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 92.6) Colour: mahogany. Nose: stunningly nutty, with some bold notes of roasted peanuts, hot praline, and a beautiful, highly concentrated but not ‘sluggish’ sherry. Great notes of old books, candles, old Bourgogne wine, old rancio… Getting then minty as well, with quite some camphor and eucalyptus and lots of balsamic vinegar. Some beautiful maritime notes (raw clams, scallops) and finally the most cherished notes of old Italian ham (Parma). Beautiful! Mouth: lots of body, lots of oomph, lots of sherry, lots of mint again. Very citrusy and waxy, with again these notes of grapefruit, pineapples, melon and bananas. Lochside is well here, despite the heavy sherry! Gets more and more meaty again (smoked ham), with also quite some clove. Let’s try it with water (… while the nose gets smokier…): it got creamier, even more balanced, with lots of coffee caramel, Werther’s Originals… It works! The finish is as long as expected, mostly on orange marmalade. A sherried beauty, the distillery really having its say here. 93 points (tie!) (and thanks Olivier).
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Don't we like a silly little rock and roll tune from time to time, like Detroit's Electric Six doing Gay bar.mp3? Please buy these guys' music! Electric Six

January 15, 2006



Bunnahabhain 12 yo (43%, OB, 2005) Colour: straw. Nose: a fresh and malty start, with Bunnahabhain’s trademark nuttiness and lightness. Something distantly maritime (sea air), developing on earl grey tea, milk chocolate, cake, a little rubber and something discreetly meaty (ham). Goes on with a little nectar, pollen, maybe a little heather and hints of beer… ‘Nice’ and undemanding.

Bunnahabhain 12yo (43%, OB, 2005
Mouth: malty and grainy, with, maybe, a little lack of body but it’s good whisky. Soft spices, violet sweets, chestnut honey, pastries… The balance is almost perfect, in fact, even if we’d sometimes like more oomph. A little restrained and too ‘peaceful’ but other than that it’s flawless and highly drinkable. Probably not a malt for hardcore whisky fans but I always sort of liked Bunnahabhain 12 and I still do. 82 points.
Bunnahabhain 12 yo (43%, OB, 75cl, mid/end 1970’s) Colour: pale gold. Nose: not too different at first nosing, but getting then much maltier, chocolaty and caramelly. Something waxy and resinous developing after a few minutes, as well as hot metal (yes, copper), and then some much bolder maritime notes, such as seaweed, iodine… A little camphor as well, and finally whiffs of sherry, cooked strawberries… Hold on, it really takes off after a good fifteen minutes, getting much fruitier and more complex, with some tropical fruits, mastic, coconut milk, pineapple… Not too demonstrative, still, but extremely enjoyable. Much less MOTR than the current version, that’s for sure. Mouth: oh yes, now we’re on a different planet. Lots of body (and probably a very positive old bottle effect here), a superb waxiness and bunches of fruits: very ripe apples, dried figs, oranges, guavas, ripe bananas… Some peat in the background (or is it my imagination?), smoked tea, candied chestnuts, fresh walnuts, a little rancio (love that)… And it keeps developing on rosewater, oriental pastries, grilled argan oil (rare but stunning – try that if you can put your hands on some), nougat, marzipan, frangipane… Notes of very old Cognac. Excellent, even if it’s slightly weak towards the finish (maybe there isn’t enough alcohol), otherwise it would have fetched even more than 90 points. And I will spare you a rant on ‘the old days’. That was not the point.
Anna Caterina Antonacci


MUSIC It's Sunday, we go classical with the stunning mezzo-soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci singing Paisello's Nina's aria.mp3 (Nina, o sia la pazza per amore). Yes, stunning! Please buy her records or go to her concerts!

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

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

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

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (43%, OB, 75cl, mid/end 1970’s)

Caol Ila 26 yo 1979/2005 (57.2%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, Cask #1356, 212 bottles)

Highland Park 19 yo 1986/2005 (55.3%, OB for Maxxium Holland, cask #2793, 1120 halves)

Lochside 32 yo 1966/1998 (62.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society 92.6)

Lochside 38 yo 1966/2005 (45.8%, Murray McDavid Celtic Heartlands, 152 bottles)

Macallan 1974/2001 (50.5%, Scott's Selection)

Port Ellen 14 yo 1974/1988 (65.5%, Sestante, green glass, cork stopper)

Port Ellen 1982/2005 (55.7%, M&H Cask Selection, bourbon, 240 bottles)