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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2007 - Part 1
December 2006 - part 2 <--- January 2007 - part 1 ---> January 2007 - part 2

January 15, 2007

Malt Maniacs #100 is online! So, please first read today's WF entry - or not - and then you can jump to these brilliant new Epistles.
FOUR OLD AND RARE CAOL ILAS and a few other ones
Caol Ila 27yo 1974/2002 Caol Ila 27 yo 1974/2002 (54.3%, Signatory for Whisky Magazine ‘Editor’s Choice 2002’, cask #12622, 225 bottles) 1974 was the year when the distillery kicked off again after having been rebuilt and extended. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s quite different from the current Caol Ilas. More austere, both meatier and more mineral as well as grassier and more medicinal, while I find the newer batches to be fruitier and more ‘maritime’. This 1974 has notes of burnt matchsticks, smoked fish (I know, that’s maritime), ginger ale, green apples, peppered apple compote… Also quite some camphor, embrocation, massage oil and hints of turpentine and paraffin. Maybe a little cardboard. Superb mintiness and the somke is rather perfect. Well done Mr. Editor (wasn’t it Marcin Miller at the time?)
Mouth: excellent attack, very precise, coherent, peaty and fruitier now (but we’re still only on apples and maybe not too ripe strawberries). Okay, it gets then very citrusy (lemon and kumquats) as well as peppery, spicy. Lots of presence, it’s a beautiful peaty dram, a true Islayer. Long, peaty and lingering finish with a beautiful vegetal signature on smoked tea. Perfect. 91 points.
Caol Ila 1978/1993 (59.4%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #3542) Dating from when they were still using screw caps at the Club. Colour: gold (a little darker). Nose: it’s not that different, but probably wilder, meatier at the start… Notes of smoked ham and sausages, smoked salmon… Lots of stones and metal, waxed cardboard, then mustard and green pepper. Asutere and severe I’d say, but it’s a kind of profile I like. Hints of Scweppes and aspirin and then heavy whiffs of farmyard (hay, animals and all). A wild, severe best I’d say. Yes I like it. Mouth: thicker, creamier than the 1974, with quite some sherry coming through now. We have the peat and the tea but also crystallised oranges, toasted cake, gingerbread… Gets then quite peppery, very spicy (cloves, paprika)… Yes it’s another excellent Caol Ila and the finish is very long, peaty, peppery and jammy (oranges)… Almost perfect. 89 points. Caol Ila 1978/1993
Caol Ila 1968 (58.5%, Gordon & McPhail ‘Cask’ for Meregalli, 1980’s) Caol Ila 1968 (58.5%, Gordon & McPhail ‘Cask’ for Meregalli, 1980’s) Always a thrill to be able to taste an ancient Caol Ila from ‘the old distillery’, and one from these older versions of the “Cask’ series by G&M. Colour: gold. Nose: heavens, this is powerful. Much more on coffee and toffee as well as stones and meat at first nosing, passing then through a relatively ‘perfumy’ phase (orange water) and getting then superbly peaty like with these old Ardbegs and laphroaigs from the 60’s. Notes of rubbed orange skin and seawater. It’s already fab without water, I can’t imagine what will happen with water: of course I could have, it’s now just like at the farm in the middle of August. I’ll stop now or you’ll accuse me of maltoporn.
Mouth (neat): absolutely stunning mix of crystallized lemon and peat, with a fabulous dryness and immense notes of smoked tea. Totally compact and elegant – purebred malt. The mouth feel is fab, at that, it’s almost like concentrated whisky. Sélection de Barley Noble? With water: a little more orange and lemon juice as well as orange cake and cough sweets and hints of violet and liquorice sweet... Phew. What’s really amazing is the balance, like in any masterpiece. And will spare you the finish, but not my rating: 96 points (and heartfelt thanks, Konstantin)
Caol Ila 18 yo 1981/1997 (63.8%, Flora & Fauna ‘cask strength’) It is to be noted that most (all?) 1981 Caol Ilas I already had were very good. Was 1981 a 'star vintage' at CI? Colour: white wine. Nose: this is different again, even if you can feel we’re in the same family. Purer, more crystalline, also smokier and indeed more maritime (oysters, wet seaweed), with whiffs of mustard and almond milk. Easily bearable at such high strength but we’ll still ad water now: it got soapy for a minute, as often when you ad water, especially in a heavily peated malt, but got then much more almondy and grassy (wet hay, fern), with also rubbed lemon skin, infused tealeaves, apple skin… A little severe again but so nicely so.   Caol Ila 18yo 1981/1997 (63.8%, Flora & Fauna ‘cask strength’)
Mouth (neat): lots of alcohol that make it a bit sweetish but it’s classy stuff below the surface. Superb liquorice mixed with peat and lots lemon juice – but let’s add water before our mouth explodes: oh yes, incredible how water works on this palate, it makes me even think of the 1968 now – okay, in a certain way. Beautiful compactness, with ‘kirsched’ notes, orange marmalade, all sorts of smoked things (almonds, tea and… err… what else?) Brilliant. And the finish is long, so compact and coherent, smoky and citrusy… Excellent old official Caol Ila. 91 points.
Caol Ila 12yo 1993/2006 (60.0%, Adelphi, cask #6797, 266 bottles) And also this young wonder: Caol Ila 12 yo 1993/2006 (60.0%, Adelphi, cask #6797, 266 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: very typical, maybe even fresher than usual. Beautiful liquorice and smoke plus whiffs of fisherman’s nest. There’s lots of young indie Caol Ilas in the market and some are sometimes a little boring (too similar to justify bottling as a single cask, even if they’re above average) but this one is really great. Development: peatier and rather more medicinal than the usual young Caol Ilas in fact, more like a Laphroaig. Mouth: enjoyable attack on gentian spirit, very earthy, with a very pleasant bitterness (strong green tea). Also apple skin… Less peaty than on the nose but it gets beautifully rounded after a little time, despite the heavy attack. Long and very pleasant finish, spicy and peppery. 89 points.
Plus these very good, but very similar recent Caol Ilas – no need to write extensive tasting notes, they are all more or less the same…
Caol Ila 12yo
Caol Ila 12 yo 1992/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask 388 bottles) Simple but totally flawless. Warming. 85 points.
Caol Ila 15 yo 1990/2005 (55%, Wilson & Morgan, casks #4709/4710, 600 bottles) Just a little aromatically weak in the finish but otherwise excellent. 85 points
Caol Ila 15 yo 1991/2006 (56,7%, Dewar Rattray, bourbon C#743, 315 bottles) Same. All these Caol Ilas are extremely similar but excellent. 85 points
Caol Ila 1996/2006 (57%, Berry Bros.) Same as others, i.e. very good. 85 points.
Caol Ila 1994/2005 (58,2%, G&M Cask, First fill sherry butts #12423 & 12424) The sherry brings an extra-dimension. Slight rubber on the palate. Too bad, it would have made it to 90 points. 84 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: Blind Melon were different, too bad they happened to split up after a rather somber route and the death of their leader. But let's have Mouthful of cavities.mp3 and St Andrew's Hall.mp3 today and then, please buy their music...

Blind Melon

January 14, 2007

Rosebank 14yo 1992/2006 (46%, Coopers Choice, matured for 7 years in sherry)


Rosebank 14 yo 1992/2006 (46%, Coopers Choice, matured for 7 years in sherry) Colour: gold. Nose: as expected, both the ‘sherriness’ and the trademark lemony smells are well here at first nosing, the blend of both creating something enjoyably citrusy (more on kumquats and candied citrons than on fresh fruits).

Goes on with Xmas cake, figs and earl grey tea, getting then pleasantly spicy (spices for mulled wine, Chinese anise, cinnamon, cloves). All that is still fresh and clean… A double-maturing that worked beautifully it seems. Mouth: more or less the same happens on the palate, with that ‘candiness’, lemon marmalade, cake, crystallized oranges… Quite zesty. Gets much more caramelly after that, with again these great notes of bergamot and also candied quince. All that is smooth but firm, excellent. Finish; rather long, caramely and slightly waxy, with an aftertaste on nutmeg. Highly drinkable. 87 points.
Rosebank 14 yo 1991/2006 (53.3%, Adelphi, cask #2022) Colour: white wine. Nose: punchy, pungent and grassy, starting on notes of aniseed, lemon, dill and parsley. Faint smokiness (cigarettes). Quite some liquorice, old wood, getting resinous but also purer and cleaner. Nice presence. Mouth: rich and sweet but also really marked by the wood, quick to get quite tannic and drying. Lots of tea. Other than that we have the expected lemons, candied tangerines, and a long, citrusy and peppery finish. Still lots of tannins, really drying at the finish - and somewhat aggressive. 78 points.


MUSIC – Strongly recommended listening: we're in 1980 and Frenchmen Claude Bolling (piano) and the late Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute) are playing Jazzy.mp3. Elegant and fast jazz à la Française from their CD 'Suite for flute & jazz piano trio vol. 2'. Please buy their music...

Claude Bolling

January 13, 2007


Half Moon, Putney, London, January 6th 2007
Déjà vu anyone?
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 nowhere 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).

Déjà vu anyone?

Okay – it’s an easy way to write a review, but with the exception of the odd Member of Parliament who has yet to find his (or her) way onto Celebrity Big Brother the rest of it is as true as it was twelve months ago. And it’s a year, Otway tells us, “that didn't quite take off in the way I wanted it to”.
John Otway
He’s talking about his characteristically absurd plan to take a jet full of fans around the world (flying with OTAIR) in 2006 playing gigs in venues such as Tahiti, Sydney and Dubai. Madly enough over a hundred folk signed up and paid for this crazy adventure, but not enough to pull it off, so it was canned in September. But the characteristically irrepressible Mr Otway has put that behind him and is now looking forward to celebrating his past in what is his thirtieth anniversary year as a chart star. ‘Really free’, recorded with guitarist Wild Willy Barret charted in 1977, the start of Otway’s meteoric rise to his cult position as rock and roll’s greatest failure. To mark the occasion there is The Ultimate & Pen-ultimate John Otway, a double greatest hits album featuring 30 tracks, and also Bunsen Burner – the Album, featuring along with some B-sides and odds and sods, his 2002 top-ten hit of the same name, based on ‘Disco Inferno’ and written to help his daughter with her chemistry homework. Naturally both of these featured in the song-packed set that delighted the friendly crowd of beer-happy Otway diehards. Actually we took a hard-bitten twenty-something music industry cynic who’d never seen Otway before. “Dad”, she said with a huge smile on her face, halfway through ‘Beware of the flowers’ (song number two), “Dad, I’m converted”. Nuff said?
John Otway
Déjà vu anyone?

You may remember that when I last wrote about Otway I described him as a musical subversive. The thought was a serious one and still remains, ‘though his most subversive act of this evening was to try and play through the set with an out of tune guitar, something that ace axeman and sidekick, Eddie and the Hot Rod’s guitarist Richard Holgarth clearly wasn’t going to tolerate. As I watched Holgarth struggle to impose some sanity on events I thought, “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.

John Otway
Richard Holgarth tuning
Oh yes, and if you do only one thing this year, then please go and see Otway. You won’t regret it.
Déjà vu anyone? - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Thank you Nick! Yes we still have kind of a 'Big Brother' TV show in France as well, although I still 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 (well, a little less these days). But Otway seems to be an excellent entertainer (as these audio files should testify) and I always liked beautiful losers (btw, remeber Bob Seger's tune?) Déjà entendu anyone? And to our distinguished readers, Nick's 2006 John Otway review is here - 2004 is there. 2008 not published yet. - S.
Strathisla 1976/2004 (45%, Samaroli, cask #3480) Strathisla 1976/2004 (45%, Samaroli, cask #3480) Colour: gold. Nose: a very expressive, hugely honeyed and floral nose, starting with lots of nectar, daisies, acacia… Extremely well rounded, not unlike some old Balvenies if you see what I mean. Quite some vanilla as well. It gets then oakier and slightly spicy (white pepper, a little cinnamon, tea, freshly sawn oak). Keeps developing with something like overripe apples and cigar box, even hints of sandalwood. A perfect balance and a superb freshness. Mouth: sweet, rounded, vanilled, starting with lots of apple juice and tea. Yes, vanilla-flavoured tea. Gets oakier, slightly drying now, with the tannins having lots of say even it's silky ones. Lots of cinnamon as well, crystallized oranges, hints of salt… Less perfect than the nose but still quite pleasant. Finish: not extremely long, rather tannic and with quite some apple skin and white pepper. In short, a very good but rather oaky Strathisla. 86 points.
Strathisla 30 yo 1976/2006 (61.1%, Jack Wieber's Auld Distiller, 100 bottles) A very high strength at such old age. Colour: pale amber. Nose: a little sharper, more directly oaky at first nosing, with huge notes of vanilla crème and milk chocolate, tannins, white pepper, pencil box, getting then rather mustardy, with hints of horseradish. Gets then more herbal, with quite some green tea and then very pleasant minty notes as well as a little eucalyptus. Hints of rose water. The wood did a lot of work here it seems - nice work Mr. Cask. Mouth: much more powerful but also sweeter and probably more satisfying than the Samaroli now. Quite some crystallized quinces and oranges, pineapple sweets and something slightly earthy/mushroomy (that's funny here). Now, it does get spicier and oakier with time but there's also lots of mint again, mint -flavoured chocolate, Turkish delights, tangerine liqueur… Lots happening now, with also a little mastic, cough syrup, eglantine tea… Finish: long, with both the fruitiness and spices from the wood, getting sort of drying but only after a few caudalies (if you don't know yet, a caudalie is one second of aftertaste). 87 points. Strathisla 30yo 1976/2006 (61.1%, Jack Wieber's Auld Distiller, 100 bottles)

January 12, 2007

MALT MANIACS NEWSFLASH by Johannes van den Heuvel
Give and thou shalt receive....


After handing out awards for a few years, the malt maniacs are now on the receiving end of a bunch of awards themselves! After Ulf Buxrud was nominated for the 'Best Drink book in the world (except wine) 2006' Award last week (we've just heard that he's among the three finalists - he already got the 'Best Drink book in English (except wine) 2006' Award for his book Rare Malts), our esteemed collegue Olivier Humbrecht will be on the receiving end of an awards ceremony as well.

Later this month he will be honoured at a ceremony in New York as World Best Winemaker, organised by the Wine Enthusiast. It seems we'll need to add a special 'awards' section to the personal profiles of the certified malt maniacs soon ;-) Hearty congrats to Ulf and Olivier!
Meanwhile, the progress of the major reconstruction of the Malt Maniacs website is progressing slowly but steadily and we're getting ready to publish the first new issue of our E-zine later this month. And that will be Malt Maniacs #100! This may come as a shock to some of you - didn't we have 19 issues when the site was 'frozen' in September 2006? Yes we did, but we didn't start 'counting' until 2002 (while we started publishing E-pistles in 1997) and the articles in some of those old issues were sprawled across three or four pages. To make Malt Maniacs easier to navigate we decided to restructure all the old stuff so that one web page equals one 'issue' of Malt Maniacs. It will take me a while to finish the archive, but when I'm done we'll have 99 old issues ready for your reading pleasure...
PS: Fresh malt maniacs Peter 'Pit' Krause, from Germany, who takes our friend Klaus' seat and Mark Gillespie, from the USA, who takes Roman's, have already 'produced' two excellent Epistles that you'll find there.
Glenglassaugh 19yo 1986 (40%, OB, 2006)
Glenglassaugh 19 yo 1986 (40%, OB, 2006) After Inchgower, lots of new indie Glenglassaughs around it seems. This one comes from the last year of distilling. Colour: pale amber. Nose: starts with a rather beautiful balance, nice sherry. Bitter almonds, small oranges, quite some iodine… Nicely liquoricy and oaky, with alos hints of encaustic and gunflint. Not weak despite the 40%. Mouth: now it's a little weakish and slightly drying. Quite some tannins, cardboard… Too bad because it's also nicely orangey and minty. 80 points (for the nose).
Glenglassaugh 29 yo 1976/2006 (48.9%, Coopers Choice) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one starts very fresh, clean, as floral as it can be. Buttercups, daisies, light vanilla sauce, roasted hazelnuts… Interesting hints of smoke and wet stone before it gets quite farmier, more vegetal (hay, barnyard, herbal tea). Hints of rubber getting through after a while but nothing disturbing. Mouth: quite powerful at the attack that combines vanilla, oak and quince jelly. Rather earthy as well (roots, gentian, tea, wild mushrooms, a little salt), getting then more liquoricy, honeyed, caramelly… Bold and classic. Finish: rather long, oaky, fruity and vanilled, with a nice aftertaste on canned pineapple. Flawless. 85 points.
Glenglassaugh 21 yo 1984/2006 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, cask #190) Colour: pale mahogany. Nose: this one's sherried, with both cooked and fresh strawberries at first nosing as well as quite some 'nice' sulphur (yes, I think sulphur isn't always a problem). Goes on with notes of apricot pie, oranges, wet limestone, oven and gets then rather animal, not exactly meaty but quite. Hints of hare belly (as they say), clean dog… Also Madeira, Corinth raisins, dates… Most enjoyable, a beautiful dry sherry. Mouth: superb attack on toffee and chocolate, very sweet and rounded but not dull at all. Lots of black nougat, strong honey, ultra-ripe bananas, praline… It's also a little tarry before it gets back to ripe strawberries topped with caramel sauce and roasted hazelnuts. Just excellent! Finish: long, very nutty, also more coffeeish now, with more dried oranges. A great creamy sherry-matured Glenglassaugh. 89 points.
Glenglassaugh 28 yo 1976/2005 (48.3%, Jack Wieber's Whisky Castle, cask #2375) Colour: straw. Nose: much more silent and then grassy at first nosing. Sharp, a little aggressive, lemony… Notes of almonds and walnuts… Mouth: sweeter and slightly rounder as well as rather lemony again, herbal, austere… Clean but quite neutral. Finish, quite long but probably too spirity and raw. This one doesn't have much to say it seems. Typical 75 points malt in my books.
Glenglassaugh 27yo 1978/2006 (56.8%, The Whisky Fair, Artist Edition, 211 bottles) Just in: Glenglassaugh 27 yo 1978/2006 (56.8%, The Whisky Fair, Artist Edition, 211 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: whiffs of alcohol and green apples at first nosing but it all gets more civilized after a few seconds. Superb notes of gooseberries and aluminium pan (make that gooseberries in an aluminium pan) plus peonies and breadcrumb (sounds weird but it isn’t). Develops on gianduja and white chocolate and something like kirsch or slivovitz. Hints of sherry. Gets really fragrant after a moment, for we also have a little orange water and faint whiffs of cologne before it gets back to praline. ‘Nice’.
Mouth: starts vigorously, on all kinds of fruit liqueurs, hazelnut liqueur… And then raw walnuts plus again lots of praline. Strong notes of fruit stones, like in some eaux-de-vie (made out of plums). Also Cointreau. Finish: long, a little spirity and still quite fruity like an eau-de-vie. As close to that as a malt can get, plus a certain sherriness and chocolate. Rather lively at 27 yo but maybe not as complex as expected. 84 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: it was banned almost everywhere and the US Federal Communications Commission had censored her by issuing $7000 indecency fines to radio stations for playing her songs. But that was in the very early 2000's, so, let's not be shy and have Sarah Jones (the female Scott-Heron?) singing her famous Your revolution.mp3. Well... Sarah Jones

January 11, 2007

Clynelish DE






Clynelish 12 yo 1993/2006 (43%, Chieftain's, casks #4477-4478, 744 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: fresh, fruity, sherried but not too much. Notes of butter caramel and apple juice. Gets then a little vinous, which sort of masks a bit the distillery's character. Also a little buttery. Mouth: sweet and creamy, starting on apple compote and canned pineapple, with also a little pepper, lots of strawberries, a little bubblegum… Sort of fruitish. Not bad at all but little distillery character. Medium long finish, very fruity, sugary, like strawberry sweets. Drinkable of course but I prefer my Clynelish naked. 76 points.
Clynelish 1991/2006 'Distiller's Edition' (46%, OB) This one was finished in dry oloroso wood. Colour: gold. Nose: very similar, maybe just a little sharper and straighter. Slightly spicier as well. Again, little distillery character but the balance is okay. Faint whiffs of smoke. Mouth: extremely close to the Chieftain's at the attack but it grows bolder and much spicier (quite some nutmeg and cinnamon). Other than that we have again lots of strawberries, even ripe kiwis, oranges, mulberry jelly… Hints of clove. Coherent finish, rather long, spicy and fruity, jammy… Well, I guess once you decided to do a finishing on Clynelish - and we won't argue - you can't really do any better than this (except if you finish it in an ex-Clynelish cask, that is - or better yet, in an ex-Brora cask). Naomi Campbell in an arctic ski outfit, but a nice one. 80 points.
Clynelish 10 yo 1995/2006 (59.3%, Adelphi, cask #12783, 698 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: hot and powerful but rather clean, with lots of strawberries and gooseberries at first. Then we have hints of 'distillation' and quite some pepper. Notes of curry, Indian cooking… Hotter and rougher than usual. Mouth: still hot but rounder, very fruity (cherries, kiwis). There is a little wax and tannins. Then raspberry eau-de-vie and quite some sulphur. The finish is quite long, with a pinch of salt. The whole is a bit heavier than expected. 80 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: get prepared to tap your feet, here comes Finland's Nicole Willis and her infectious Perfect kind of love.mp3 (with The Soul Investigators). When was that recorded, you may ask? 1960? Nope, it was in 2005 and it's on her excellent album 'Keep Reachin' Up'. Please buy Nicole Willis' music... Yup, yup, yup, yup...

Nicole Willis

January 10, 2007

Littlemill 21 yo 1984/2006 (58.7%, Cooper's Choice) Colour: white wine. Nose: rather fresh and clean at first nosing but not too expressive. A bit spirity. Starts to develop on milky notes, tea, mashed potatoes, soaked grain, getting then a little grassy and slightly floral (lilies of the valley). Not lots happening in there but no serious flaws either. Mouth: sweet, very grainy and slightly dusty attack, getting rather sugary, with notes of pear or pineapple sweets. Notes of vodka, bubblegum… The finish is quite long but rather spirity, still very sugary… Rather close to new make, I'd say, but again, no flaws here. 78 points. Littlemill 21yo 1984/2006 (58.7%, Cooper's Choice)
Littlemill 1984/2005 (61.1%, Scott's Selection) Colour: straw. Nose: very similar, with just a little more wood influence (vanilla) and almost no floral notes. Also hints of apple peels. No offbeat notes, though, and and an enjoyable cleanliness. Mouth: same comment, the profile is similar to the Cooper's but there's an added layer of wood influences such as vanilla, tea, tannins… Also hints of oranges. Long finish again, spirity and orangey. A little more complex: 79 points.
Nelli Rees


MUSIC – Recommended listening: nu jazz isn't my cup of tea but I must confess I quite like this very speedy 'railroad' version of Girl from Ipanema.mp3 by Russia's Nelli Rees (from her first album Jazz Noir). Please buy Nelli Rees' music.


January 9, 2007

The Ileach (40%, OB, Islay single malt, Bottled +/- 2006)
The Ileach (40%, OB, Islay single malt, Bottled +/- 2006) Nose: nice peat plus caramel and strong honey. Toasted and caramelly, hints of manure. A gentle Islayer. Mouth: sweet, rooty, peaty. Ripe strawberries and dried pears, black nougat, smoked tea, toffee. Good, lots of body despite the low ABV. 82 points.
Wilson & Morgan 1997/2005 'House Malt' (43%, W&M, casks #8586-8589) Another one we’re very pleased to be able to follow year after year… Nose: compact, peaty and rooty. Ripe apples, liquorice roots, lovage and pumpkin soup. Whiffs of fresh mint leaves. Mouth: just as compact – not too bold but a nice ‘smoked toffee’. Lapsang Souchong tea, spearmint, pepper, ripe apples. Gets spicier and dryer with time – one of the best budget Islayers. 84 points.
Peat Reek NAS (46%, Blackadder, cask ref BA10573, 2005) Colour: white wine. Nose: young, raw peat, very simple at first nosing. Apple juice. Rather farmy and neither medicinal nor coastal. Seems to lack ‘terroir’ (uh!) Mouth: same comment. Apple juice and peat plus a little ginger and pepper and that’s pretty all. Also a little too sweet I think, peat and extreme sweetness do not go along very nicely in my books. But it’s far from being undrinkable! 78 points.
Single Islay Malt 10 yo (52,6%, G&M for GDA Milan, 2004) A bottle selected by Giorgio d’Ambrosio. Colour: straw. Nose: clean, crisp peat, very Ardbeggish. Lots of smoke, dry seaweed and crystallized lemons. Notes of toasted cake, kumquats, buttered caramel, cooked apples… Perfect young Islayer, not complex but the balance is perfect. Nose: smoother than expected, tasting much older than it actually is. Complex, peaty and smoky, coastal… Develops on dried oranges, earl grey tea, kumquats again, smoked tea, dried pears, small bitter oranges… Extremely enjoyable and quite subtle, just like a much older Ardbeg (something of the 17yo). Medium long finish, smooth and lingering, with quite some salt… An excellent surprise! 89 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: if you like Manu Chao, the Mano Negra and all their 'school' you'll probably like Peru's Novalima too. Today they're doing Bandolero.mp3 (nothing to do with the Gipsy Kings) - please buy their music!


January 8, 2007

Chief Concert Reviewer Nick Morgan and Kate His Photographer have been secretly gathering lots of votes and opinions all year long (including theirs and that does mean something) and just came up with the official Whiskyfun Music Award winners. Lots of surprises and a few confirmations – and a very entertaining read. It’s all here!


Tobermory 1995/2006 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Sherry wood)
Tobermory 1995/2006 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Sherry wood) Colour: pale amber. Nose: starts on quite some sherry and also something ‘wildly wild’ (cold ashes, hare, was polish). Rather concentrated but not exactly rich… Notes of paint and varnish, turpentine, then caramel and string honey. It seems that it’s the wood that does all the work here. Hints of motor oil. Well, these young Tobermories are often quite hard to enjoy… Mouth: better, much better, starting on loads of salted liquorice and caramel, with also something vegetal (olive oil?) It’s really thick, getting bitterer after a moment (rocket salad). Amazingly concentrated, like a syrup. Long finish, very caramelly, toffeeish, with also quite some cloves. Hot – even at ‘only’ 46%. A beastly Tobermory: 78 points.
Tobermory 1995/2006 (55.6%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #744) Colour: pale white wine. Nose: powerful, with much less sherry if any but again a rather huge oiliness and something like manure or horse dung at first nosing. Farmy, definitely, I’m wondering if there isn’t a little peat. Hints of coffee, bread crust and crumb (well, bread), smoked tea. Not really clean but nicer than the young OB’s. Hints of lamp petrol and paraffin. Mouth: sweet, really punchy, starting on lots of pear, gooseberries and apples. Not so far from raw spirit or apple brandy. Something buttery. Really simple I think, not really interesting. Long but spirity finish, again on raw fruit spirit, with just something bitter (chlorophyll?). Drinkable but that’s all. 75 points.
Tobermory 10 yo 1995/2005 (46%, Murray McDavid, fresh sherry, 2400 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: we’re right on the sherry at first sniff (quite dry) but it develops on mashier and rubberier aromas. Lots of hot milk, hot butter, mashed potatoes, vanilla crème… Something slightly ‘butyric’ (how technical is that, eh?!) but it’s discreet enough not to appear as a flaw. Slight smokiness, hints of roasted nuts, nougat, caramel… Gets much oilier and farmier with time (hints of wet dog). Mouth: surprisingly thin mouth feel, with a little cardboard, toasted bread and orange marmalade but a sudden drop after that, leaving just a few fruity notes (dried pears). Short finish, nutty and still a bit cardboardy… Well, it seems that the spirit does not quite stand the wood here but it’s certainly not unpleasant. Near the bottom of Murmac’s range, that is. 76 points.
Tobermory 32 yo 1972/2005 (49.7%, OB, 897 bottles) This older one has been finished in oloroso casks. Colour: dark amber. Nose: heavy dry sherry, hugely classical, with the usual cortege of coffee, raisins, chocolate, rum, cooked fruits, smoke, game and mint. Nothing more but nothing less. Totally flawless, no weird aromas here. Mouth: hugely concentrated, maybe more like fortified oloroso than like finished or sherry-matured whisky. Hugely chocolaty, lots of cooked strawberries, excellent dryness and quite some tannins. One of the most extreme sherry monster I’ve had recently. No distillery character that I can get except maybe a faint cardboardiness but that may well be the wood as well. Finish: not very long but pleasantly dry and coffeeish. Extreme but again, flawless – but you really have to like sherry in you malt. 87 points.

January 7, 2007

Auchentoshan 17 yo (51%, OB, Bordeaux finish, 3600 bottles) Matured for 8 years in bourbon casks and 9 years in Saint-Julien casks (probably Lagrange). Colour: gold - orange. Nose: rather hot and spirity, starting on notes of overripe oranges and something dusty and meaty (ham). Notes of pineapple liqueur, rather sweet and sour. Not totally unpleasant I must say, with hints of ganache, praline and nougat and also quite some caramel and roasted nuts. Not vinous at all, good news. Mouth: rather creamy, nutty, not unlike hazelnut liqueur like they make in Italy, with also notes of crème brulee, candy sugar, fudge… Now, there's also rather strange notes of ginger ale and something cardboardy. Not 'plank' but something like tapioca… Also notes of cappuccino and strawberry jam. Finish; rather long, on spiced jam and mulled wine, liqueur-filled chocolate… This one quite works, I must say, but it's more double maturing than finishing. 84 points.
Auchentoshan 10yo 1995/2005 (50.3%, Exclusive Malts) Auchentoshan 10 yo 1995/2005 (50.3%, Exclusive Malts) Colour: white wine. Nose: much more austere, neutral, almost like vodka at first nosing. Then we have a little apple juice, freshly cut grass, hints of lemon juice, fresh almonds and hints of wet chalk… Not much else but the whole is ultra-clean. Mouth: supper-fruity but close to new make, with lots of pear, apple, pineapple… Starts to taste almost like kirsch after a moment, the only difference being a sort of saltiness and traces of oak. Finish: just like fruit eau-de-vie. Amusing. 78 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: it's Sunday, we go classical with the beautiful love duet.mp3 (Che gelida manina) from La Bohème's Act I. (yup, Puccini). Superb, of course.


January 6, 2007

S de Siroua We're back from Morocco. Little whisky (and bad GPRS, sorry) while there but some rather good wine, especially this Moroccan syrah, 'S de Siroua' 2003. Yes, I know, the label rings a bell... And yes, I checked, Siroua belongs neither to Springbank, nor to Signatory Vintage but to Thalvin, and comes from the Zaers region, around Tifflet and Rommani... But are we whisky freaks or not when we select our wine? ;-)
Glenfiddich NAS ‘Pure Malt’ (43%, OB, early 80’s) Glenfiddich NAS ‘Pure Malt’ (43%, OB, early 80’s) I though it would be interesting to taste this older version alongside the 1973, as they were probably distilled roughly at the same time. Colour: pale straw. Nose: rather expressive, grainy, with obvious metallic smells together with a slight smokiness at first nosing. Gets much mashier after a moment (bold notes of mashed potatoes and boiled milk) and then rather grassy, with also whiffs of violets and lilac. Wilder than more recent versions.
Mouth: weaker now, with an attack that’s pretty okay (hugely grainy and also a little crdboardy) but a sudden fall and almost no middle, despite the fact that there’s kind of a bitterness that settles on your tongue. A strange feeling… takes off again after a good thirty seconds but it’s not for the better, with something quite bitter and hugely grassy again. Kind of anarchic – whatever that means. Finish: not that short, still bitterish and grassy, getting extremely dry. Well, the nose was very nice but the palate is just short of being seriously flawed I think. Now, it could be the bottle… 65 points.
Glenfiddich 1973/2006 (44.7%, OB for Waldhaus am See Hotel St.Moritz, cask #9883) There’s already been an excellent official 1974 for La Maison du Whisky this year (90), here’s a 1973 for Switzerland that Jim McEwan liked a lot. Colour gold. Nose: very fragrant, almost extravagant – probably the most demonstrative ‘fiddich I ever had. Starts on huge notes of peonies and blackcurrant jelly as well as vanilla fudge, soon to get unusually meaty (ham). We have then lots of rather complex aromas such as date liqueur, bergamot, sandalwood (huge), lavender flavoured crème, oriental pastries (baklavas)… Lots of oak then (but it’s well rounded) and finally a minty and resinous blast – it almost smells like Vicks Vaporub after a while. And always this meatiness in the background, the whole getting wilder and wilder (well hung game). Lots happening in this one! Mouth: the attack is quite dry and makes me think of a very ‘fino’ sherry. Really nervous, oaky but not too much, with lots of green tea, green bananas, apple skin, various herbal teas, mint… Goes on with a little praline before it gets frankly spicy and peppery, with quite some cinnamon, nutmeg, even paprika… Not as beautiful as on the nose and certainly quite tannic. Finish: very spicy and oaky now, almost like over-infused tea, with more and more black pepper. Wild indeed! I liked the nose much better, it was stupendous, but this rather drying palate prevents it to make it to 90+ in my books. So, it’s going to be 89 points.


MUSIC – Heavily recommended listening: let's have a little Brazilian jazz funk - at its best - with the great Tania Maria doing Come with me.mp3. Highly energetic - please buy Tania Maria's music!

Tania Maria

January 1, 2007

December 2006 - part 2 <--- January 2007 - part 1 ---> January 2007 - part 2

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

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

Caol Ila 1968 (58.5%, Gordon & McPhail ‘Cask’ for Meregalli, 1980’s)

Caol Ila 18 yo 1981/1997 (63.8%, Flora & Fauna ‘cask strength’)

Caol Ila 27 yo 1974/2002 (54.3%, Signatory for Whisky Magazine ‘Editor’s Choice 2002’, cask #12622, 225 bottles)