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

January 31, 2008

Springbank 1967







Springbank 33 yo 1967/2001 (41.4%, Douglas Laing OMC, Ref 3370, 204 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: I’m sorry but ‘wow!’ A maelstrom of various honeys (acacia leading the pack) and ‘debauched fruits’. Rum soaked pineapple, banana flambéed, very ripe apricots and ripe gooseberries. In the background: wet wood in the forest, fresh almonds, lemon balm and hints of wood varnish. Gets rather meatier after that, also sort of animal (dog). As complex as an old Springbank (note to self: thank you, that was useful). Mouth: much more powerful than I had thought at 41%. Ultra-big honey, apricot jam, orange marmalade and spices (nutmeg, paprika, Chinese anise). Pineapple liqueur (not the kind of pineapple that you may find in very young malts.) Great freshness and no sign of tiredness whatsoever. Finish: long, still very honeyed, fruity and spicy, with a delicately smoky and resinous signature. Comments: genuine sweetmeat. SGP:644 - 92 points.
Springbank 31 yo 1967/1998 (46%, Murray McDavid, fresh bourbon, MM1315) Colour: gold. Nose: we’re obviously in the same family here but the wood’s influence is a bit higher (more vanilla and lactones). Also a little more fragrant and flowery (lilies, lime blossom, acacia flowers that match the acacia honey that’s well here again). Olive oil. Other than that we get roughly the same honeyed and fruity notes as in the DL. Great whisky on the nose again. Mouth: it’s really great to have the opportunity to try an unsherried old Springbank! Again, it’s amazing how close to the Douglas Laing this one is, with just a slightly bigger punch due to the higher ABV. Same whisky, really. Finish: same. Comments: same. SGP:644 - 92 points. (and thank you, Patrick!)

Springbank 1967/1988 (46%, OB, 'A West Highland SMW', 648 bottles) Tall bottle. This is legendary – I’ll always remember the dozens of bottles that were standing in a grocery store in Freiburg, Germany, fifteen years ago. I also remember thinking it was a bit too expensive... Stupido! Colour: golden amber Nose: exactly like a freshly opened beehive, on a hot summer evening, after the bees have gathered nectar from all sorts of flowers. Minus the stings. Right, that means various flowers, wax, various honeys, various resins and warm wood. You may add a little leather, tobacco and grated dried coconut, raspberry juice, fresh mint and orange liqueur... This is simply grand. Mouth: starts creamier than the indies, oilier and even more honeyed, with superb sherried touches. It gets then much more phenolic and resinous, that is. Liquorice, mint drops, cough syrup, mastic (you should really try mastic-flavoured Turkish delights if you have the occasion one day), fir honeydew and crystallised pineapple. Majestic but anything but cloying. I think it’s what’s called balance. Finish: long, with the oak making its appearance now. More vanilla, black tea and soft spices. Comments: no, really, I used to be very stupid fifteen years ago. SGP:654 – 94 points.


MUSIC – Highly recommended listening: a fantastic bunch of people play Chalaba.mp3 live at the Essaouira Gnawa Festival 2004. No less than the much regretted Joe Zawinul is on keyboards, Linley Marthe on bass, master gnaoui Hamid El Kasri on vocals, Senegal's master Taffa Cissé on drums and Algeria's Karim Ziad on goumbri. Top stuff - please buy all these people's music! BTW, Essaouira is a beautiful Moroccon city, formerly known as Mogador. (picture: Joe Zawinul)


January 30, 2008

Van Morrison

Hammersmith Apollo, London, January 18th 2008

Sometimes there’s nothing better than being lulled off to sleep by wonderful music. This hugely indulgent experience is probably best enjoyed after a great meal and a couple of pleasant glasses of something, especially on a Friday night after a long week back at work.

It’s a long-standing formula, but we put it to the test yet again with a visit to the Gate in Hammersmith (one of London’s finest vegetarian restaurants) and then on to the Apollo, a few strides away, for an evening with Van Morrison. It’s very busy – an interesting combination of ardent fans, half the clientele of the Irish Centre over the road, and dark wind-screened, limo-borne corporate hospitality merchants.
Of course, as many of you realise, you never quite know what you’re going to get with the sometimes tempestuous Van Morrison, notoriously uncommunicative, notoriously prone to stage fright, and notoriously given to tantrums. When I last saw him back in 1999 at the Fleadh a faulty microphone at his piano drove him into a fury – the road crew reluctant to approach for fear of becoming innocent targets for his rage. There’s no such trouble tonight. The sound is almost perfect (you should see the “it’s not my fault boss” expressions on the band’s faces when there’s even a hint of feedback) – certainly as good as it gets for the Apollo.
Van Morrison
The ten-piece band is spread in a semicircle and just off centre is the Man, grey suited, wide-brimmed Fedora almost entirely obscuring his face, hands held close to his sides, fists tightly clenched. And it’s some band. There’s Van Morrison veteran John Platania (he first played with Morrison in 1969 and features on the Moodance album, amongst others) on guitar and the equally long-serving Crawford Bell sings and plays guitar (and a mean trumpet on ‘St James Infirmary’). Prominent in the arrangements is Sarah Jory’s pedal steel guitar and the fiddle of Tony Fitzgibbon who give a pleasing country feel to many of the tunes, and who, like drummer Neal Wilkinson and bassist Paul Moore, have been with Morrison since he first toured his country and western covers album, Pay the Devil, in 2006.
Pay the devil Tonight’s set is more eclectic, going way back in the Morrison songbook with offerings like the almost inevitable encore, ‘Gloria’ and ‘Moondance’ (did you know, by the way, that Mr Morrison has performed the former 638 times on stage, and the latter 1,010 times?). We’re given a Frank Sinatra cover, ‘This love of mine’, Ray Charles’ ‘I can’t stop loving you’ and the New Orleans classic ‘St James Infirmary’, with Morrison exchanging saxophone riffs with Bell’s trumpet. He plays the sax a lot at the start of the set, and plays it well – former associate and musical director Georgie Fame joined the band for a version of ‘Stranded’ early on - and as the evening progresses Morrison swaps sax for guitar.
He also begins to indulge in some extensive vocal improvisations – most notably in a mega medley of ‘In the afternoon’ ‘Ancient highway’ ‘Joe Turner sings’ ‘Don't you make me high’ ‘Raincheck’ and ‘Mystic church’. Part of the vocal callisthenics involves taking the band down to a whisper, which he does by flapping his fists behind his back like an angry puffin. Remarkably you can almost hear a pin drop.





Van Morrison and Georgie Fame

Van Morrison Georgie Fame
And as he adds these vocal layers and colours to the songs it’s hard not to be carried away to what we call the Land of Nod. I’m well gone during ‘Vanlose Highway’, while the Photographer drops off during the long medley. Morrison’s scat singing, picking up vocal phrases – repeating them, welding them together, taking the band high and low. Sometimes he’s as quiet as a mouse – at others it’s as though he has Tourette’s syndrome. And I think he’s hungry, because his vocal meanderings take on an increasingly culinary hue - “I’m going down the Astral Highway to the Gourmet Buffet for some back street Jelly Roll”. He flaps to get the band as soft as they can be, and as the lights fall and the Photographer gently snores he leaves the stage. It could have been quite cool had he not bumped into the bass player, dropped the microphone with a crash, and woke my companion, amongst many others, with a violent start (she later claimed to have been dreaming about eating Golden Wonder crisps in a mystic church). There are some nervous giggles from the crowd as the band crane their necks to see if the Man might return. He does, and he repeats the sequence (without the mike drop) for ‘And the healing has begun’, ‘Help me’, and finally ‘Gloria’.
It is by any standards a good value Van Morrison gig. Mr M. seems happy (it’s hard to tell), the band seem happy and the audience are largely ecstatic. And if you’re a Van Morrison fan you may care to know he currently has a greatest hits album on the go (2007’s platinum Still on Top), and in March will release the entirely self-penned Keep it Simple. Over forty years, over 35 albums – whatever they say, he’s some man. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)
We thank you Nick, and shall simply hope that our distingished readers will like the tunes that are on Van Morrison's MySpace page as much as we do. Great version of that '638' song! - S.
Glen Garioch






Highland 15 yo 1975/1990 (56%, McCLelland’s for Slim Cowell’s Personal Selection IV, Glen Garioch) Slim Cowell was a famous whisky retailer in Hamburg, Germany. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s not so much a peaty blast that happens, rather a very intricate mingling of yellow flowers, wax, oil and, indeed, peat smoke. Big power! Goes on with white pepper and vanilla crème as well as newly cut grass, inside of bread and hints of ginger tonic. Quite beastly, this oldie, let’s see what happens with water. With water: a big, bold peat that reminds us of Brora or Talisker. Lit matches, hay, smoked salmon and gunflints with hints of bubblegum. Superb, like no other malt after all... Mouth (neat): extremely powerful and hugely peaty this time! Wild, sharp, mineral, smoky and grassy, with truckloads of fresh almonds and pepper. Quite a monster, hard to tame. Quick, water... With water: perfection made whisky. Same aromas, just more approachable, with added notes of dried apples and pears which may remind some of us of Ardbeg. Finish: long, more balanced now, lingering on peat, wax, almonds and dried pears. Comments: a great Glen Garioch from the epic era and a fantastic selection by Mr Cowell. SGP:467 – 93 points.
Highland 1975/1990 (56%, McClelland’ss for Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #545/458, Glen Garioch) Colour: pale gold. Nose: almost the same whisky! Very, very similar... Maybe a tad yeastier? Slightly peatier? Wilder? With water: again, it’s pretty much the same whisky. Maybe a tad sharper and more mineral/ashy. Now, I can’t find these faint bubblegummy notes again in this one, but what a wonderful whisky again. Mouth (neat): my, this is even punchier than the Slim Cowell, but exactly in the same genre. One of the wildest Highlanders (and Islanders for that matter) I ever came across. Wagner meets Grinderman. Either you love this or you hate it; I love it. But again, water is probably obligatory here. With water: perfect. Immense peatiness but less sweetness than in the ‘Cowell’. Finish: extremely long, peppery, peaty, tarry... Comments: after all, maybe it wasn’t exactly the same whisky? SGP:368 – 93 points.
Highland 1975/1989 (60%, McClellands for Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #1975/4500, Glen Garioch) Colour: straw. Nose: again, this is very similar. Maybe a tad more buttery this time, and of course a tad more violent. An extremely wild Highlander, big oiliness. With water: yes, less peat and more butter and vanilla, butterscotch, marzipan, liquorice and mint. Different but in no way less nice – despite a slight soapiness that doesn’t go away with time (usually, soapiness brought with the addition of water fades away within minutes). Mouth (neat): wowie! Fantastic, much more ‘civilised’ this time despite the extra-4%. More elegant, compact, smooth. Crystallised lemons and almond milk, smoked tea and beeswax. Maybe not hugely complex but what a perfect profile! With water: sweeter than the ‘56’s’ even if we reduced it to the same level (roughly 45% as usual). Again, more compact, more almondy, waxier and a tad less peaty. Superb spices (pepper, even chilli). Finish: oh very long. Almonds and pepper but a little less peat. Comments: again, this one is a tad less peaty than its siblings, and probably a little spicier. But let’s not split hairs... SGP:457 – 91 points. (and thank you, Bert V!)

January 29, 2008

Highland Park 1983
Highland Park 1983/1993 (55.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 4.13) Colour: dark amber. Nose: starts quite hot, spirity and rubbery, really like newly made kirsch (we often find kirsch in our malt but it’s really obvious here). Heavy sherry it seems. Develops much more on ham and sausages after that, as well as hints of orange marmalade. But water may be needed here, let’s see what gives. With water: it’s the smoke that boldly comes out now, together with hints of peat, shoe polish and smoked tea. More complex! Beautiful. Mouth (neat): ultra-thick, smoky, creamy and rich, with heavy notes of fruit jam as well as burnt cake and liquorice. Tar and mint. Extremely assertive and quite complex at barely ten years, but again, water may be needed even at a usually drinkable 55%. With water: not much development this time, except that it got fruitier and more bubblegummy. And the liquorice allsorts got even bigger... And more honey! Finish: very long, very creamy, liquoricy and honeyed. Truly invading. Comments: this one didn’t need a lot of maturing it seems. Brilliant young Highland Park by the Society. SGP:754 – 91 points. (and thanks, Obelix)
Highland Park 1983/2003 (56.4%, OB, cask #1096, 440 bottles) We already tried this one and really loved it, but never wrote proper tasting notes. Colour: full amber. Nose: a lot of sherry again but this is much more subtle, fruity and clean, despite the rather obvious notes of gunpowder. ‘Good’ rubber band, apricot jam, heather honey, hints of peat, wood smoke, wet newspaper... And fresh mint, dill and chives. Truly superb. With water: amazing development, with even more of everything. A tad less peaty and smoky than the SMWS but the fresh herbs got even bolder... But you really have to like gunpowder – and balsamic vinegar - here. Mouth (neat): totally exceptional! Various fruits, various herbs (a lot of mint) and various honeys. Goes very far in all three directions. With water: it got really exceptional now. Rich, complex, multi-dimensional (phenolic, herbal, fruity and candied). Finish: extremely long, compact yet rich, with the oak starting to play its part. Comments: an amazing middle-aged expression of an amazing distillery. SGP:764 – 93 points. (and thanks, Patrick)
Highland Park 1983/2004 (56.8%, OB for LMdW, cask #1094, 588 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: less rich and full than the two previous ones, a little more reserved. Again these notes of rubber bands and then quite an avalanche of herbal notes (first verbena, then lemon balm, fresh mint and chamomile). Heather honey. Somewhat lacks the others’ ‘fullness’ but it’s still a rather beautiful nose. With water: strangely, water didn’t work too well here, it made the whisky almost silent. Okay, let’s not exaggerate, let’s say it didn’t add much to the whole nose. Very nice nonetheless. Mouth (neat): lighter and fruitier in style than its siblings, sweeter, but really punchy. Liquorice allsorts, bubblegum, Jell-O, orange marmalade and kumquats. With water: now it works! More herbs (mint), more tar and more honey. Finish: maybe not as long as its predecessor but also a tad cleaner and fresher. Comments: not as complex and perfect as cask #1096 in my book but still a wonderful Highland Park. SGP:663 – 90 points. (and thanks, Pierre)
Highland Park 1983/1992 (59.7%, G&M Cask, cask #1556) Colour: full amber. Nose: powerful, pretty much in the same vein as the great cask #1096, only simpler and a little more ‘brutal’ at less than ten years of age. Orange marmalade and heather honey, with once again these faint rubbery notes. But this one really needs water. With water: it got amazingly demonstrative this time. Heavy notes of lovage, beef bouillon and parsley instead of rubber! Good news... Mouth (neat): very good attack, maybe a tad ‘narrow’ when compared to the others but very precise, all on roasted nuts, orange liqueur and these notes of verbena that we already found in cask #1094. Interestingly drinkable at such high strength (whilst its lighter bros were a bit too punchy) but let’s see if it gets more complex with water. With water: little changes this time, and almost no meaty notes on the palate, unlike on the nose. Finish: long, with the spices coming to the front this time (pepper and cloves). Comments: another excellent one. Just a little extra-complexity would have propelled it to the 90-mark or above. SGP:652 – 89 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Our good friend François Dréno, violonist and singer extraordinaire, has a new CD out, called Héliotropes, with inspired lyrics by another very good friend, Paul Adam (Bruichladdich and Serge Gainsbourg lover, mind you - he’s the guy who’s spitting fire at the left of WF’s main page). This is very good stuff and I’d simply urge you to buy Dréno’s latest opus, should you want to dig a little deeper into the ‘true’ French touch. Simply download Héliotropes there... or listen to excerpts on François' MySpace page. Dreno

January 28, 2008

The 100 Club, London, January 17th 2008
Chicken Legs Weaver
What happens to musicians in early January Serge? Are they like the rest of us, sitting at home nursing colds and coughs, and falling foul of the occasional bout of projectile vomiting? Or are they out at the sales, arm to elbow with crazed-eyed bargain hunters, greedily seeking out half-priced stage outfits? Or are they somewhere in the sun, luxuriating in mountainside villas, servants and their ‘people’ at their every beck and call? Well, either way they are certainly not in London, which as ever is cold, miserable, and devoid of gigs. Actually we were supposed to see Tony MacPhee’s Groundhogs a week or so ago but succumbed instead to a short and very sharp dose of the Norwalk virus which I wouldn’t want to share with even the dodgiest regular at the 100 Club. So it’s now the 17th January and we’re here to see the unfortunately-named Chicken Legs Weaver, who only came to our attention through one of those wonderful moments when you chance upon something on the digital wireless that just stops you in your tracks. On this occasion I think it was ‘Paper Houses’, from their debut 2006 Johnny Dowd produced album, Nowhere.
How would I describe them – well, I jotted in my notebook, “fuzz box-fuelled Sheffield swamp gothic”. It’s raw-edged steely blues from Yorkshire’s musical city of the moment – as uncompromising and uncomplicated as you would expect from the county of the White Rose. Band leader Andy Weaver (whose uneven gait apparently inspired the band’s name) plays a blistering slide guitar – he’s using three or four pedals, but whatever the combination the result is an ear-numbing yet visceral wall of sound (‘though his thumb and finger playing is far more complex than you might give it credit for). The guitar matches his unlikely voice. It sounds like a Marlboro Red 40-a-day man’s blues growl – some say Tom Waits style, but it lacks the subtlety for that – what you hear is what you get. On bass guitar is the relatively recent recruit (the band have been playing for over ten years) the very solid Jane Howden (“Jean Jacques Burnel in female form” wrote another reviewer), who joined shortly after Nowhere was recorded.

And on drums is the man who almost stole the show – ex Comsat Angel Mik Glaisher. He’s a big guy – looks like a cross between Lyle Lovett and Tommy Cooper with a face etched with anxiety – until he starts playing. As befits his size his drumming is huge – it is, if you will, lead drumming as opposed to rhythm drumming, filling in powerfully behind (no, in front of) Weaver’s guitar. The result is enthralling.

Chicken Legs
Just a shame then that instead of being cooped up thigh to thigh in the 100 Club, drumsticks flying over our heads, it’s such a paltry crowd – I might be inclined to put this down to promoters, the rather bantam-weight Alien Jazz Party, who at best seem to be winging it. I hope they haven’t put all their eggs in one basket, because if they have, I fear things may be coming home to roost …[Enough! Ed.]
Ok. Well, the only really disappointing thing about the evening was that we weren’t able to pick up a copy of the band’s new album, Silk Ripped Dress, which has sort of just been released, and features Whiskyfun favourite Richard Hawley on the track ‘Monday Man’. It’s a sign of the difficulty CLW seem to have in getting broader exposure (I read somewhere that major labels thought they were “too old” to sign) is a record company with apparently little or no distribution and a very out of date website – and they don’t even show up to gigs with CDs to sell. But you will be able to hear them on the BBC’s Mark Lamarr show on 16th February. We heard some of the new stuff – including the impressive opener ‘John the Revelator’ (shades of Ian Siegal) and ‘Before the fall’ in addition to ‘Paper houses’, ‘Your enemy cannot harm you’, Howling road’’, ‘Zombified’, and ‘Stump Jon and the owl’ among others from Nowhere. All very good indeed – and I suppose the resultant twenty four hours of partial deafness was partly a consequence of having over a month off. Blimey! Anyway – you know how it goes – if you like your blues deep and dirty with a dose of menace, then give these guys a listen, go and see them, and buy their albums (if you can ever find them).
- Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate and Nick's iPhone)
Thank you Nick. Yes, a shame that Chicken Legs Weaver's official URL (as advertised on the band's MySPace page) leads to one of these dreadful 'parking' pages... But the former has very good tracks by CLW indeed! - S.
Longmorn 30 yo 1973/2003 (45%, Blackadder, cask #3979, 303 bottles, US) From a sherry hogshead. Colour: mahogany/coffee. Nose: starts on a very heavy sherry – heavy but not cloying. Coffee-schnapps, date spirit (arrak), cooked ham, mint sauce, hints of vanish and walnut liqueur and stain. As often, gets then beefier (oxtail), with also notes of onions sauce and English brown sauce. And even black pudding... Is this one for cooking? Mouth: very rich, very concentrated, with loads of dried fruits, coffee, roasted nuts, highly reduced wine sauce and orange marmalade. Hints of curry. How bold! Well, what’s sure is that you have to love sherry here... Finish: very long, still extremely concentrated, maybe a tad tannic now (tea, wine lees). Slight smokiness. Comments: a sherry monster. Not sure the distillery has much say here, but the whole is very enjoyable, even if maybe a little heavy. For sherry freaks only. SGP:742 – 88 points. Coffee
Longmorn 1973 Longmorn 30 yo 1973 (58.4%, Sutherland & Helmsdale Bar Tokyo, dark sherry) Myth Terious! Colour: plain coffee with reddish hues. Nose: very close to the Blackadder, maybe just a tad more restrained but that may be because of the higher ABV. A tad more on prunes and coffee, and less beefy actually. Again, what a heavy, heavy sherry! With a few drops of water:, here are the beefy/hammy notes, as well as a little balsamic vinegar and hints of tar. Even closer to the Blackadder. Mouth (neat): wow, this is plain syrup! Cream sherry, chestnut honey, walnut liqueur and grenadine. Incredibly thick and truly wham-bam. With water: its just the same whisky as the Blackadder now. Hugely concentrated. Finish: as long but maybe a tad spicier. Quite some pepper and even touches of salt. Comments: another true sherry monster, for sherry aficionados only. Marginally more complex than the Blackadder. SGP:743 – 89 points. (and thank you, Govert!)

January 27, 2008

Caol Ila 1990



Caol Ila 17 yo 1990/2007 (50%, Douglas Lain OMC, finished in rum cask, 182 bottles, ref #3898) One of these new rum-finished DL’s. Colour: pale straw. Nose: Caol Ila (smoke, peat, apples, seashells and wet stones) mixed with just a little cane sugar and fresh butter. Does that add an extra-dimension to the malt? Maybe, or maybe not. The palate should tell us more. Mouth: same comment, actually. Classic Caol Ila with something that’s a little more vegetal, grassier this time. A lot of zing but maybe not a huge complexity. Finish: long but a tad mono-dimensional. Slight sugariness. Comments: not bad at all – even good - but I’m sure I’d have liked this better without the rum finishing. SGP:537 – 80 points.
Caol Ila 10 yo 1990/2000 (56.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 53.49, 229 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: quite strangely, this is sweeter than the rum finish. Also more vegetal and farmy. Wet hay, seashells, liquorice roots, raw wool, dried kelp. And of course peat smoke. Typical. Mouth: a young Caol Ila as it should be. Uncomplicated but bl**dy good. Finish: long, maybe a tad sugary again (a halo effect?) Comments: another one (out of hundreds of other versions) that won’t make you scratch your head but that’s very palatable. SGP:447 – 84 points.
Caol Ila 1990/2007 (57%, Taste Still, cask #CO/38, 179 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty much the same as the SMWS, just a tad more reserved. A little more mineral and a little less farmy. Linseed oil, fusel oil. With water: all on wet wool now, ‘smoked fresh almonds’ and oysters. Mouth: punchy, smoky, peaty and, bizarrely, a little sugary again. Or is it me? Let’s try it with a little water again: yes, it’s definitely a sweet one. Notes of genadine. Finish: long, very sweet. Comments: is that possible that 1990 was a rather ‘sweet’ vintage at Coal Ila? Or am I dreamin’ up? SGP:526 - 84 points.

January 25, 2008

Glen Grant
Glen Grant 27 yo 1955/1982 (43%, Duthie for Samaroli, 120 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: obvious OBE here (metal polish, shoe polish). Overripe apples (or slightly oxidised apple juice). Warm butter, old books, leather, tea, butter caramel and hints of what may well be peat. Lacks fruitiness on the nose. Hints of camphor. Mouth: punchy and unusually salty. Roasted nuts, strong walnut liquor, mint and liquorice sweets. Chlorophyll and almond skin. Nicely bitter. Finish: not too long, slight sourness, walnuts and Jägermeister. Hints of peat. Comments: a rather dry version showing quite some old bottle effect on the nose. Maybe slightly tired. SGP:272 – 86 points.
Glen Grant 1954/2006 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail) Colour: amber. Nose: superb start. Antiques shop, beeswax, old furniture, cigar box. Goes on with green tea, beef bouillon, walnuts and liquorice. Ripe strawberries. Very discretely sherried. More expressive and less tired than the 1955. Mouth: round, punchy, starting both minty and beefy. Pepper, cloves and oak. Old walnuts, chewed cigar (or ‘pipe juice’ for that matter), liquorice. Finish: long, a tad drying now. Lacks a little fruitiness again. Comments: a great old Glen Grant altogether but getting dry and a little tannic. May have deserved to be bottled a bit earlier. SGP:371 – 87 points.
Glen Grant 1950/1990 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Fassbind Switzerland) Colour: full gold. Nose: this is different. Starts unusually grassy. Forest, moss, fern, fresh mushrooms (boletus). Even bigger notes of infused green tealeaves. Wet wood, ham, ‘old car’ (say, an MkII). Butter. Big notes of cooked artichokes after a while. Mouth: same big start as the 1954 but with more complexity. Good oak, vanilla, more fruits (gooseberries, blackcurrants), tea, walnuts and mint. Lavender honey, liquorice. Finish: long, less woody than the 1954 and better balanced no doubt. Comments: an excellent old Glen Grant where the oak is very ‘active’ but well integrated. SGP:452 – 89 points.
Glen Grant 42 yo (70°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 1970's, 75.7cl) This was certainly distilled before WWII. Colour: full gold/pale amber.Nose: kind of a mixture of all other three. Superb. Old leather, beeswax, fresh mint leaves, putty, butter, almonds and walnuts, dried beef, ham, humus, old furniture. Hints of horse sweat. Mashed potatoes (strange at that age). Mouth: excellent attack, even if it’s a tad dusty. Big mint and liquorice, orange liqueur (triple-sec), chlorophyll, strong tea, walnut skin and smoked ham. Touches of peat. Strawberry sweets. Truly excellent, very complex. Finish: long, a tad drying again now, with also kirschy notes – also quetsche eau-de-vie (or zwetschke). Comments: great stuff that really stood the test of age, both in its casks and in its bottle. Great balance and excellent complexity. SGP:553 – 91 points.
Catto   CRAZY WHISKY ADS - Hard times over here, in the middle of the War on Whisky Fakers. Loads of emails, hesitations, arguments, even threats... But also a lot of positive messages and excellent support, thanks to you all. But it's really time for more fun, and there's a lot of fun in the old whisky ads we think. Take for instance this 1966 ad for Catto Gold Label Scotch... My goodness, isn’t this a mink pyjama - or was it fake mink? (note to self: oh no, will you stop it!)

January 24, 2008


MALT MANIACS GOSSIP (not always sure, but...)
New Ardbeg Renaissance - Ardbeg will be releasing, in limited quantities, a 10 year old cask strength from the 'new' distillation in the very near future, which they're calling Renaissance.
AnCnoc will have a new 16yo to hit the shelves anytime now.

Ardmore 18 yo 1965/1984 (46%, Cadenhead's Dumpy, Black Label, 75cl) Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts very, very smoky. Soot and garden bonfire, metal polish. More towards lemon zests and smoked tea after that. Burnt matches. One of the smokiest Ardmores I ever had. Reminds me a bit of Caol Ila. Superb. Mouth: much less appealing now. Fanta. Something perfumy, lavender sweets, violet sweets, unsugared yoghurt. Gets nicer after a little breathing but the whole is a little weakish and papery. Finish: shortish, lemony, zesty, slightly dusty. Comments: fantastic smoky nose but the palate is a little tired (may have happened in the bottle of course). SGP:255 – 84 points.
Ardmore 19 yo 1978/1998 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection) Colour: white wine. Nose: quite smoky as well but less than the 1965. Gunflints and matches, wet limestone, porridge sprinkled with, err, peaty whisky. Wet wool. Gets smokier with time, almost as smoky as the 1965 after a while. Mouth: much more body than the 1965. Big smokiness, then pepper and cloves. Very dry. Finish: medium long, extremely dry now, peppery and peaty. Comments: one for lovers of extreme dryness. SGP:036 – 88 points.
Ardmore 18 yo 1976/1994 (51.4%, James MacArthur, 500 Years of Scotch Whisky) Colour: pale gold. Nose: very smoky and buttery. Bigger than both Cadenheads, not only for the higher A.B.V. Old walnuts, almonds, newspaper of the day (ink). Big notes of roasted hazelnuts, roasted argan oil, soot, brown coal. Smoked fish. Quite spectacular. Mouth: big, powerful, lemony and peaty. Slightly soapy at the attack but that vanishes. Paraffin, pepper, almonds, smoky. Finish: long, very peppery. Comments: profile close to the 1978. SGP:146 – 88 points.
Ardmore 16 yo 1990/2007 (59.7%, Signatory, cask #30019, 199 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: very smoky again but with more fruit. Lemons, green apples and white peaches. Less mature it seems, rougher. Matchbox, smoked tea (lapsang souchong). Newly cut grass. With water: as often, gets more vegetal and even animal. Ham, wet hay, old kelp on the beach. Mouth (neat): mixture of white fruits, almonds and peat. Very powerful but drinkable. With water: sweeter, pears, grapefruits. Finish: long, on smoked grapefruits (eh?), very dry aftertaste. Comments: very good. Again, for lovers of big, dry whiskies. SGP:265 – 87 points.
Ardmore 12 yo (56.2%, James McArthur, 75cl, late 1980’s) Colour: straw. Nose: another very smoky one, even sharper than its sibblings. Good beer (the older Pilsner Urquell spring to mind), lemon juice, wet stones, soot, matches, raw wool and ink. Mouth: very big yet balanced, with something that remind me of the recent young Ardbegs (Still Young). Grapefruits, grass juice, peat, wasabi (or horseradish). Quite extreme again. With a few drops of water: more peat, more wildness. Lemon zests and dry olive oil (not the fruity ones). Strong unsugared green tea. Finish: very long, peaty and peppery, very dry. Comments: same as before, for lovers of very dry whiskies only. Almost brutal and certainly spectacular in its own genre. SGP:166 – 88 points.
      MUSIC: this is fabulous, probably the best mash-up ever! (thank you Dave)

January 23, 2008

FRIENDS! – We’re starting to get messages complaining about the fact that (like on eBay) we’re leaving too much room for fake bottles on this page. I agree, it’s all a little demoralizing, isn’t it? So, here’s what we’re going to do from tomorrow on: please keep sending us news and examples of fakes, we’ll happily post the “best ones” (yawn) on the War page, that will remain live as long as necessary. Keep checking it, we should have many other breaking news for you in the future...
Bottle: Port Ellen 22yo 1978 Rare Malts

You may know that we almost never read Press Releases - and hence never talk about those (obviously). Well, I had forgotten why and read a recent one from Men's Vogue, announcing a Scotch story in the Feb. issue, which hits newstands this week. A link led me to their website, where I started to read that Scotch story... "Advocates—if we can call them that—of the Scotch whiskeys of Islay..." Oh no... Now I remember why I never read them...

Jan 24 update - A nice comment by Davin on MM&F on Facebook







Well, the war on whisky fakers has a main drawback – although some may think it’s good news actually: I haven’t got a lot of time for writing detailed tasting notes anymore these days. So, please forgive me but you’ll see more shortish notes in the coming days... No, no, that doesn’t mean that I’m spending less time on each whisky, it’s just that I’ll be more telegraphic with most of my ‘writings’ (yup, I know what you think).
Glen Gordon 15yo 1974/1990 (40%, Antica Casa Marchesi Spinola, Collection No 1, 75cl) Glen Gordon is Macallan. Well, let’s be PC and say that it should be Macallan. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very fruity at first nosing (ripe apples, pineapples) with a rather obvious mustiness in the background. Gets more beerish (not bearish like Wall Street) after a while, with also hints of geranium and warm praline, the whole being quite quick to fade away until it gets almost silent, except for a few herbal notes (lemon balm and hints of verbena). Pleasant but a little weakish, I’d say... The palate should determine the outcome... Mouth: well, no, it does not work. First it’s a bit weakish again and then it’s the oak’s tannins that invade your mouth. Too drying and caramelly as well. Too bad, one can feel that what’s behind that is good stuff (for instance pretty notes of sultanas). And a short and tannic finish... Well, this Spinola series was really strange, it seems that it included true wonders but also unexpectedly feeble versions of blue chips (Port Ellen, this Macallan...) SGP:231 – 77 points (for the nose).
Macallan 1985/2006 (43%, Private Cellar Collection) Colour: pale gold. Nose: a little more expressive than the old Spinola at first sniffing and quite different. More on almond milk, vanilla and oak, with unexpected hints of peat, a little vanilla, hints of pine resin and fresh putty. Nice balance, with a little more oomph than the FO’s of similar ages but a comparable profile. Maybe something metallic. Mouth: maybe more ‘mundane’ at this stage, malty, nutty and caramelly. Also vanilla and cereals... Finish: medium long, nutty and vanilled. Maybe a bit ‘blendish’ but it’s otherwise perfectly okay... SGP:332 – 78 points.
Macallan 26yo 1973/2000 (46%, Murray McDavid, Refill sherry, MM 4755) Colour: pale gold. Nose: very, very close to the 1985 at first nosing but getting more expressive after a while. Hints of sherry, big notes of shoe polish and paraffin, dried pears. More on spearmint after a while, chives, white chocolate, roasted nuts, heather honey... Very nice nose even if the whole is maybe a tad too harmless. A Macallan de salon? Mouth: good attack, peaty, malty and ashy, with good body. Gets then very spicy (nutmeg first, then cloves and cardamom), the oak getting bigger over time (a pleasant bitterness and no excessive tannins). Finish: rather long, oakier now, with a little mint. SGP:343 – 81 points.
Macallan 1973/1999 (47%, Scott's Selection) Colour: straw. Nose: ha-ha, this seems to be big. Not unlike the Spinola but with much, much more zing. Big notes of fresh pineapples and ashes, wood polish, orange blossom water, sandalwood, mint, a little lavender, violet sweets, roasted peanuts, sesame oil... And a little oak to sustain the whole. I like this nose a lot despite a very faint soapiness. Mouth: a strong and even a bit acrid attack, with even more oak than in the MMcD. Chlorophyll and green tea, lemon zest... Gets very green and bitter after a while, nothing to do with the nose – at all. Too bad. Finish: long but very tannic. Well, I was prepared to go as far as 85+ points but the acrid palate pulls it down to around 75 points I’m afraid. SGP:261 (but the nose was more like 544).
Macallan 1979/2004 (51.6%, Scott's Selection) Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s almost exactly the same whisky as the 1973 at first nosing, with just a slightly bigger punch, but it gets then more candied and nutty. Beautiful notes of warm praline, caramel crème, vanilla custard, light honey and sultanas. Then we have similar notes of shoe polish and ashes than in some other versions, as well as notes of fresh herbs (chives, savory) and candle wax. Definitely less fruity than the 1973 on the nose. Mouth: ah yes, now we’re talking. Sweeter and mellower than the 1973 (but also a bit tannic again), slightly lactic but that doesn’t last for long. Lots of spices as well, like in the Murray McDavid (nutmeg and cloves), vanilla, apricots, Corinth raisins and apples. The spiciness is very pleasant. Finish: very long with the oak getting a bit more obvious now. Big pepper. Not an absolute winner but now, truly great Macallans are rather hard to find at the IB’s methinks... SGP:352 – 84 points.

January 22, 2008

Bottle: Tormore 10yo
Seller: docccc (Munich, Germany)
Date of auction: 28.10.07, eBay - Price: EUR 162
Problem: re-painted twist cap
Comments: we think these pictures tell the whole story, don't they? Ah, yes, in case you don't speak the language of Goethe, 'Pinsel-reiniger' means 'brush cleaner'. The clever buyer had thought something was dodgy and decided to find out. Actually, white had been painted over the original cream paint, on which something was written: INVER HOUSE (probably a bottle of Green Plaid or Red Plaid, a blend that you could get for roughly 15 Euros on whiskyauction.com - and no, Tormore never belonged to Inver House). Besides, both cap and label were too shiny anyway. This is an obvious fake, all made up like a stolen truck!
TIP: always check if painted caps have very small parts that are un-painted, especially under the bottom of the caps (under the ring, near the bottle). It's been confirmed that paint on caps is/was always applied on the flat metal before the cap is formed, and hence should be totally even, except for flakes that may come off with wear - but then the rest of the cap should look old, not brand new. What's more, a whisky company would never, ever repaint an existing cap.
<--- Example of a dodgy Macallan cap.
Bottle: 3 Bowmores 21yo (1972, 1973, 1974)
Item # 160166864079, 160166865350, 160166865952
Seller: caposiux (Firenze, Italy)
Date of auction: 12.10.07, eBay - Price: EUR 123, 101, 101
Problem: please try to find out...
Okay, let's make this a little game if you agree. Here are pictures of these three Bowmores that a good friend bought on eBay (don't bother with colour variations please)... All are identical, except for the vintages of course.
Right, let's focus on the 1972 for a while. Below are the three known versions of the 21yo 1972 - pictures by a famous Bowmore collector (these bottles are now in the distillery's collection). Namely the 'regular' 43% - 70cl version, the 43% - 75cl version and the cask strength version that was exclusive to Germany.
Bowmore 21
Okay, now, let's have a look at the old 'regular' 21yo that we all know very well if you please...

Right, do you have good eyes? If yes, and if you spent a little time adimiring these marvellous pictures, you may have found out about that very small detail that tells us that the 1972 (and both the 1973 and 1974 as well in fact) that our friend bought was a fake, or at least a very dodgy bottling...

So, did you spot that detail?

You didn't? Good, please have a look at the name 'BOWMORE' on all these labels...

Yes, you're right, it's all about the 'R'!!! (that means 'registered').
Indeed, on the genuine 21yo 1972 at 43% (both 70 and 75cl versions), the R is above the 'E'.
But on the CS version for Germany as well as on the regular 'no vintage' version, the R is next to the 'E', not above the 'E'.

So, it seems that the forgers didn't pay attention to this very small detail, did they? Thank god, we did...

Now, our friend who bout these fakes showed the bottles to various experts, and it seems that there are several other possible evidences of these being fakes:

- filling level is to high, most vintage Bowmore are filled into the lower neck.
- no boxes.
- the blue sky in the label is a different kind of blue as compared to other bottles.
- the label doesn't have any embossement (raised design).
- the golden letters, when held against the light, don't reflect as they should.
- the edges of the label look 'cut'.

All these clues are difficult to spot on a picture but the 'R' trick should help you spot the fakes! To sum up:
All these vintages at 43% should have the 'R' above the 'E'. All these vintages at Cask Strength or 'no-vintage' versions should have it next to the E. As for these three bottles; they are probably 'simpler' or 'cheaper' Bowmores that have been relabelled by the forgers.

By the way, there's another one in live eBay auctions these days: item #220193339599. What do you say? Fake? Genuine?

MALT MANIACS GOSSIP (not always sure, but...)
Belgium: After the launch of Filliers Whisky called "Goldlys", a beer brewery "Het Anker" from Mechelen has announced the release of the Gouden Carolus whisky. Reliable sources from within Inbev say: "We are seriously thinking about it too.... a Leffe Whisky or perhaps a Hoegaarden whisky."

Bottle: Macallan 1947 (1 BOTTLE)
Item # 230214772568
Date of auction: 24.01.08, eBay - Price: 0 bids so far
Problem: which bottle is it?.

Comments: the seller added various pictures on this item's page. The problem is that they weren't all of the same bottle. We're not saying this is a fraud, but whether you'll get bottle #1 or bottle #2 will make for quite a difference, won't it! Nutshell: it's always better to ask questions before you bid too quickly....


January 21, 2008


MALT MANIACS GOSSIP (not always sure, but...)
You've probably heard this one: Glenglassaugh will re-open this year. It is being sold to a private group from Russia.
Laphroaig intends to introduce a sherry version of the 1/4 cask.
Braes of Glenlivet will re-open this year after a refit.
Imperial is now the next in line for reactivation of Chivas's mothballed distilleries.

Ardbeg 1975
Ardbeg 30 yo 1975/2006 (46.1%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 180 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: strikingly robust and fresh at first nosing, with no sign of mellowing due too age. A little spirity (mercurochrome), earthy, leafy, almost grassy, lemony (skin), developing more towards almondy and waxy notes (paraffin), as well as cold ashes and wet stones. Gets finally bizarrely sourish (grass juice, dry lemon juice, green apples) and even more ‘stony’ (wet chalk). Maybe not the most refined old Ardbeg on the nose... Mouth: hmm, we’ve had better old Ardbegs for sure. Very salty but also a little too dusty for my taste, curiously drying, peppery, a little metallic (not the ‘good’ metal of OBE), getting rather bitter... The rest is classic (peat and the rest) but it’s not enough I think. Finish: medium long and a little, well, indefinite, with something papery and ‘chemical’ but also quite some salt. Frankly, I think this would be perfectly okay if it was 15yo whisky from most other distilleries, but not for a 30y Ardbeg sold for rather big bucks. Okayish. SGP:166 – 81 points.
Ardbeg 30 yo 1975/2005 (47.8%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 274 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: starts a little less expressively than the ‘180’ but much straighter, cleaner and more typically Ardbeg. At random, we have gunflints, peat smoke, wet wool, seashells, wet earth (and clay), humus, our beloved ‘clean wet dog’ (sorry again, dogs), brown coal, almonds, lemons and green tea. Bl**dy typical. No sign of sour apple notes this time. Mouth: yes, this a nicely sharp, peaty, lemony and earthy Ardbeg. Big saltiness again, notes of cough syrup, a little mint, lemon pie, pepper, rather big notes of verbena, liquorice... Excellent Ardbeg this time (but it makes its bro even more underwhelming by comparison). Finish: lingering, peaty, lemony, peppery and salty. Classic. SGP:158 – 90 points.
Ardbeg 24 yo 1975/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 234 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: less typical! Closer to the ‘180’ again but even more extreme in it’s ‘green sourness’, which makes it more interesting actually, albeit a bit curious. Notes of white peaches, acidulous sweets (reminding me of small sweets we had when we were kids, called ‘Pez’) and lemon-sprayed oysters. Comes back into line after that, with more peat (but less than in the ‘274’), more almonds and more ‘wet dogs’ (I certainly hope dogs don’t read Whiskyfun). Gets nicer and nicer with time. Classic, top-notch 1975 Ardbeg, except for hyper-big whiffs of crushed cloves that arise after quite a long time. Mouth: very, very excellent. Richer than both Platinums, more candied (kumquats and mint), much more resinous and much oakier as well (slightly varnishy), the rest being classic ‘coastal’ peat and tar. Concentrated. Finish: very long, almost hot, on oak, peat and pine resin plus salt. Rather a wham-bam 1975 Ardbeg even if it’s rather less elegant than the famous ‘702’. SGP:358 – 92 points.
Ardbeg 27 yo 1975/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, sherry, 342 bottles) Colour: dark amber. Nose: very first sniffs suggest that this one is overloaded with sherry but Ardbeg is big whisky as we all know and it does manage to have its say after a few seconds. Reminds me of coffee with plum spirit (ja, Kaffeeschnapps) for a while, but then we have these faintly sourish notes again – nothing unpleasant, though. Something like lemon liqueur-filled chocolate. Also notes of old walnuts, a little rubber, ham (make that York)... As often, big notes of camphor and eucalyptus arise after a moment, liquorice... Also black olives, earth, tar... It’s big but very complex whisky for sure. I’m curious to see if our second sherried Ardbeg (1975 OB) will behave in front of this one. Mouth: hmm, mixed feelings at the attack for there’s kind of a dustiness but then the whole takes off despite its high concentration. Pine resin, thick cough syrup, liquorice, peat, tar and orange marmalade and then spices (cloves, rosemary, nutmeg, cinnamon –lots – and pepper). Hyper-rich, really. Finish: very long, concentrated, maybe just a tad rubbery and oaky again now, with a nice afterglow on peppered plum jam and chocolate. A very rich Ardbeg but again, if don’t like sherry in your peat – or reversely, beware! SGP:467 – 92 points.
Ardbeg 1975/2006 (41.4%, OB, Italy, sherry, cask #4720, 207 bottles) Not sure this one was for Italy. Colour: deep amber with reddish hues. Nose: this time the sherry really has the upper hand. A lot of old walnuts, old wines, furniture polish, strawberry jam and the pepper, but rather little peat. Gets more medicinal after a moment, though, with whiffs of antiseptic but also quite some old leather, dried mushrooms, old papers, smoked meat, dried meat, oyster sauce and nutmeg. All that is maybe a tad ‘dirty’ and dusty but it is a very good whisky – provided you like sherry that dominates the whisky (even untameable Ardbeg). Anyway, I liked the sherried OMC better so far. Mouth: closer to the ‘342’ but a little weaker, drier, more on bitter chocolate and sourish herbal teas (rosehip, hawthorn). Big cinnamon and cloves, a little cough syrup again, thyme, Parma ham, a little balsamico (goes well with it)... Alas, the whole is a little tired and, again, drying. The finish is quite nice in style, though, but it’s a bit weakish and tannic. Certainly not a whisky worth several hundred pounds if you ask me, whether it’s a rare one or not. SGP:346 – 84 points.
Bottle: Macallan Gran Reserva 1979
Item # 120210917453
Date of auction: 27.01.08, eBay - Price: EUR 138.00 so far
Problem: capsule again!
Macallan GR
Comments: the kind seller sent us detailed pictures of this item (he's not one of these 'forgers' and bought the bottle a few years ago from Italy). The labels and bottle were perfect but something wasn't quite right with the capsule. So, we compared it with a genuine bottle we had on our shelves and found out that the genuine capsule was perfect whilst the 'dodgy' one was sort of wrinkled at the bottom and over the cap. This indicates that the bottle has probably been refilled, the capsule having been replaced by hand. Very dodgy at best! (sorry, colour variations come from 'computerising').

January 20, 2008

Craigellachie 1994/2007 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve, cask #7323) Colour: gold. Nose: rather hot at first nosing, slightly prickly, starting on fresh orange juice and ripe kiwi with something metallic as well (this could be mistaken with an old bottle – advanced OBE?) Goes on with notes of shoe polish and paraffin, getting then sort of ‘chemically orangey’ (Fanta) and a tad dusty. Not bad at all but a little odd I think. Mouth: creamy but nervous, very orangey and spicy at the attack (black pepper and cloves), with also quite some praline and nougat. Excellent body and nothing ‘chemical’ this time. Goes on with dried fruits (pineapple slices, sultanas) and finally strong honey (chestnut, maybe heather) and orange marmalade. Long finish, even more on sultanas, with an excellent peppery ‘end of the finish’ and notes of sage. Maybe the nose wasn’t 100% convincing but the palate is really great. Excellent value at 50 euros. SGP:631 – 86 points.
Craigellachie 14 yo 1971 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, brown label) Colour: gold. Nose: interestingly similar on the nose, except that it may be genuine OBE here. Shoe polish, orange squash and ink (wet newspapers). Gets then beefier (pemmican?) and a little dusty and metallic again, but the whole has a lot of presence. Further develops on nectar and pollen, honeydew and old wooden furniture. Mouth: excellent and even closer to its younger brothers. Good body at 40% and a development that’s very similar (dried fruits, spices, sultanas, orange marmalade). Medium long finish on the very same notes and added hints of salt. Extremely good and full of oomph. SGP:631 – 89 points.
Craigellachie 33 yo 1970/2003 (46%, Murray McDavid Mission III, 498 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts quite funnily, not unlike some old rum, with a lot of vanilla, overripe coconut (or the liqueurs made thereof) and dried figs. Something very ‘mature’. Goes on with the same hints of shoe polish and ink as in the two G&M’s, ripe bananas and also hints of old Sauternes wine and fresh mint. Very nice nose I must say. Mouth: well, it’s all in the same vein. Dried fruits (dates, pears, figs, oranges, coconuts) plus spices (cloves, nutmeg, pepper) and fresh herbs (mint, lemon balm). Very, very good and sort of easy/sexy, which is an asset here (no cheap philosophy, don’t worry). Medium long finish, reminding me of oriental pastries. Great whisky, very drinkable at that. SGP:632 – 90 points.
Craigellachie-Glenlivet 16 yo 1962/1979 (80°Proof, Cadenhead's, Dumpy, Black Label, 75cl) Colour: white wine. Nose: oh, now we have the shoe polish upfront as well as these metallic notes – beautiful ones, that is. Whiffs of soot, coal oven, earl grey tea and metal polish. Hints of sultanas, vanilla and coconuts again, mint, a little camphor and eucalyptus (Vicks), something like amlou (a delicious paste made in southern Morocco out of argan oil, honey and ground almonds). The notes of coal oven are getting bigger – you may find them in many of these old ‘black dumpies’, it’s almost like a house style. Mouth: OBE at its best! Crystallised citrons, bitter almonds, sultanas (and Corinth raisins), lemonade, white pepper, soft curry, paprika and cinnamon. Very different from the recent ones this time. Finish: long, spicier, maybe just a tad dusty, which prevents it from being a totally great whisky I think, but the whole is still worth 90 points in my books. SGP:542 (and thanks, Hercules).
Bottle: Springbank 30yo dumpy
Item # 180206331471
Date of auction: 20.01.08, eBay - Price: EUR 128.77 so far
Problem: capsule!
Springbank 30
Comments: at the left, the bottle that's on auction. Sorry, we did not crop it in height, the seller did it. He was asked to provide us with better pictures but replied that he didn't have any.Hmm. At the right, various genuine versions of the 30yo (thanks, Michiel). So, there is an obvious problem with the closure. Either it's an open bottle or the cap just isn't genuine. Yes, hard to tell, but as the bottle isn't advertised as being open, this shouldn't be bought without due explanations. Very dodgy. Always ask for good and complete pictures!

January 19, 2008

LATEST NEWS FROM THE FRONT – Our Whisky Watchdogs Council (nicknamed the War Cabinet) has now two new eminent members. After the honourable Dave Broom, Carsten Ehrlich and Sukhinder Singh, we’re happy to report that Iain Russell and Doug Stone just accepted to join the squad.
- Iain is a top archivist currently working at the Scottish Brewing Archive but with past experience with whisky firms, most notably Chivas. He was closely involved in the Macallan fakes issue and his most recent investigation was into the questioned date given to the Mutter Bowmore.
- Doug is a paper conservator. He’s been affiliated with the Institute of Paper Chemistry, Appleton, Wisconsin (now Institute of Paper Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, part of Georgia Tech University) as a consultant since 1978 and a member of the advisory board to the Dard Hunter Paper museum (now American Museum of Papermaking) for about 15 years. He’s studying a lot about printing history and enjoys learning about what happened when in the history of technology. Doug has also been working on a whisky industry database for about 25 years.
Other than that, baccusvr (ex-nonno_oreste) is no longer a registered user on ebay. Now, he may use his other nicknames of course, so please be cautious with sudden brand new sellers from Tuscany.
Also, it seems that the forgers had quite a few undersold bottles these days, many being bought back by themselves. As an Italian friend put it, ‘the cat is eating his own tail’.

AND A REQUEST: PLEASE DO NOT SELL labels, empty bottles or boxes to people whom you don't know or trust, at least don't sell 'collectable' bottles. If you do that some may think that you're in collusion with the forgers. What's more, empty bottles make for beautiful lamp stands, so why not keep them?...

And before we go on with a few new examples of fakes (and probable genuines), let’s express another tip if you please: when a seller has got some buyers who buy a lot of items from him and who are located in the very same city/region (or are blacklisted or dodgy sellers), beware! And remember, never, ever buy when a seller’s feedback is private/hidden.

Bottle: Ardbeg 1977 OB
Item # 260202872300
Seller: ittich Germany
Date of auction: 20.01.08, eBay - Price: EUR 1.00 so far
Problem: what do you think?
Ardbeg Comments: something is not quite right here... Did you spot the problem? Yeah, the bottle is empty BUT the capsule is 'immaculately intact'. Actually, the seller (very honest no doubt) explains on the eBay page how easy it is to remove an Ardbeg's capsule and to replace it afterwards. This is also true with all the 'Manager's Choice' or single casks that fetch such high prices on eBay and elsewhere. I know that this may give bad hints to dishonest people but I prefer us whisky lovers to be warned. And just between us, I think that the company should invest a little money in this issue (come up with 'faker-proof' closures ASAP!!!) instead of running after the uber-rich with stupid packagings.
What's more, don't tell me that my compatriots LVMH aren't used to deal with fakers...
So please, Ardbeg, again, we love you but PLEASE do something. And many thanks, ittich! (and Patrick).
While I'm at it, I think it would be a smart move for many bottlers not to make the forgers' lives even easier (and ours messier) by issuing expensive versions using the very same bottles AND CAPSULES as for their core ranges. Laphroaig springs to mind (there has already been many fake 30yo's made out of 10yo Cask Strength or 15yo, for instance, and the company is very well aware of that, so why didn't they use at least a different capsule on the newest 25yo?)
Bottle: 3 x Macallan 50yo 1928 Anniversary
Item # 190183276012
Date of auction: 19.12.07, eBay - Price: GBP 3,600.00
Seller: tanx123, London, UK. (it seems that this ID has been hacked according to eBay)
Problem: faked tax stripes?
Mac Stripe

Comments: This is an amazing story. The sale was for 1 lot of 3 of these bottles, not sold individually. There has been 16 bids (private of course). A friend asked the seller for pictures of all three bottles because there was only one pictured bottle on the eBay page and he wanted to make sure that the seller really had 3. These are the pictures our friend got in the reply.. (see below...)

This is obviously the same picture of the same bottle, only the numbers on the tax stripe having been photoshopped (#556573, 596573, 595573). It is to be wondered what the actual buyer has got... If there ever was an actual buyer that is. What's sure is that the forgers aren't too bad at Photoshopping, which is even scarier, isn't it?
Bottle: Macallan 1951
Item # 300189398057
Seller: lisas4199, Lucca, Italy
Date of auction: 13.01.08, eBay - Price: EUR 300.00
Problem: wrong bottle
Mac 1951 Macallan 1951 Comments: it's very tricky to spot these fake Macallans. In this case, you should know that all 1951's always came in the 'thinner' style bottle of Macallan, that had the same diameter all the way down the bottle (picture at the right) whilst this fake is conical (broad shoulders, bottle getting then thinner - picture at the left). This is yet another fake Macallan.
Bottle: Macallan 30yo blue label
Item # 330188755062
Seller: portokalo2023
Date of auction: 18.11.07, eBay - Price: GBP 180.00
Problem: whisky colour, label code
Mac 30 Comments: the whisky is much paler in colour than the genuine 30yo, which used to be one of the darkest recent Macallans (alas, you can't see that from a picture). Most importantly, every genuine bottle should have a lot number visible near the bottom on the back of the front label (this was confirmed by the distillery) but this one hasn't got any. This is an obvious fake, like most 30yo 'blue label' or 25yo 'Anniversary' one can/could find at Italian sellers and/or their Munich/London/New York 'branches'. Well, actually, we'd even say 'just don't touch any old Macallan/seller that hasn't got an excellent pedigree.'
Bottle: Laphroaig 30yo OB
Item # 300188668324
Date of auction: 17.01.08, eBay - Price: EUR 254.55
Problem: different bottles on picture
Laph 30
Two pictures of what should be the same bottle... GAME: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE!
Comments: right, it's not uncommon that a seller puts a picture of a bottle that's the same as the one he's willing to sell, but that's not a picture of the actual bottle. We guess that you saw that both capsules don't have the same lengths here. That doesn't mean that the bottle is a fake of course, but that at least one of the pictures just can't be a picture of the bottle that's for sale. Okay, let's say this is 'very slightly dodgy', especially since there are so many fake Laph 30yo's around. Anyway, no need to pillory the seller here! (both versions existed in real life anyway)
Bottle: Macallan 1959 80° Campbell Hope & King Rinaldi
Item # 360003699401
Date of auction: 11.12.07, eBay - Price: GBP 160.00
Seller: nonno_oreste aka bacusvr, Italy (no longer a member).
Problem: Shipped bottle does not match advertised one.
Macallan 1959
Left, the picture that was on the eBay page. Right, the bottle that the buyer got.
Comments: it seems that both neck labels were used on this '80° proof' so there's no obvious evidence that this is a fake. However, the seller's 'pedigree' (he's no longer a member of eBay by the way, under this nickname that is) and the fact that the bottle does not match the advertised item makes it dodgy at best.
Bottle: Bowmore 'Ship Label' OB 26 2/3 fl ozs
Item # 330175776560
Date of auction: 13.10.07, eBay - Price: GBP 210.00
Seller: portokalo2023, Firenze, Italy.
Problem: cap too long? Maybe label issues.

Comments: this was bought by a Japanese friend (and many other nice people around the world I'm afraid). The label looks brand new and the level astonishingly high but this is no evidence... The cap is longer than usual 'ship labels' from Italy but there has been such caps in the UK. Sure it's a bit strange that Italian sellers sell bunches of possible UK versions - and we saw many labels for sale in collections - but it's not possible to claim that this is an obvious fake. Now, a member of the Whisy Watchdogs Council bought one of these 'eBayed' bottles (perfect label, booklet, strange bottom glass code - too new) and opened it right away. It didn't taste like Bowmore at all... Let's say this is dodgy at best.


January 16, 2008

REAL NAMES OF THE FORGERS? I'm afraid we won't ever publish them on these pages. We're sorry but even if forging old bottles of whisky is very serious matters, we don't think it would be fair to cause these people more trouble than they actually deserve (which is still a lot, agreed). So, dear fraudsters - we know you read these pages -, we think what would be best would be simply to stop selling fake bottles and focus on genuine whiskies, because we know that you sell some as well. Please, guys!
NOTE: WE'RE GETTING DOZENS AND DOZENS of Fake Alerts and just can't publish them all immediately, nor even answer to everyone as quickly as we wished, but be sure that we will so please be patient, thank you! (gee, it seems that we really started something!)
Besides, we'll be travelling for three days and won't be able to update Whiskyfun until we're back, sorry for that. But here's good reading for you (not from me!)
We got this very good and very enlightening piece from our friend Malcolm Sievwright and decided to publish it in entirety (we just deleted very short parts because they were, well, a bit 'too early' for our common cause). Many, many thanks Malcolm, this is a MUST READ!...
EBAY FAKES - A SPOTTER'S GUIDE - by Malcolm Sievwright
Just over 2 months ago I decided to start collecting whisky. The idea being that I would hopefully accumulate a collection that might appreciate in value with the fallback that I could just drink those bottles who failed me.
As a regular user of ebay I thought that I would check out what was available and look to try and find a few bargains. Most of the bottles that caught my eye happened to come from Italian Sellers. I knew that this would not necessarily come as a surprise as a lot of good collectors come from Italy and they do have good taste in drink as in a lot of the other finer things in life.
I carefully checked the feedback of those users that I purchased items from and did a quick check to see that the items looked genuine. I have to say that I was not unduly worried by what I saw and decided to make a purchase of one item and then see what happened. I mean, who do you trust if you don’t trust a power seller.
I purchased the following whisky from portokalo2023:

Bottle: Macallan 18 year old 4 pack 1974-1977
Item # delisted due to broken ebay rules
Seller: portokalo2023
Problem: 1977 and 1976 looked good – but very high fill levels.
1974 and 1975 – same wording as on 1976 and 1977 for importator whilst they are different on known genuine bottles
Comments: left, 1974 and 1975 bought on eBay. Right, genuine bottles. Differences:
1974: dodgy label reads ' Importatori Esclusivi per l'Italia GIOVINETTI (...)'. Genuine label reads: 'Agenti Esclusivi per l'Italia GIOVINETTI (...) Importatori e Distributori'.
1975: dodgy label and genuine label read the same except that 'MILANO' is below 'GIOVINETTI' on genuine label.

Having checked initially I was convinced that these were good bottles at a good price and thought I would dip my toe in the water again. I bought a total of 8 more bottles from the users brigidino61 and nonno_oreste (now baccusvr). Here are a few examples:

Bottle: Ardbeg Guaranteed 10 year old
Item # 200183257074
Seller: brigidino61
Problem: dodgy label.
Left, the bottle sold on eBay.
Right, two genuine versions (conical neck, bulbous neck)
Comments: The big give away (and you can see this from the picture on the item) is that there is no alcohol strength or bottle volume info. Geert Bero, who's an Ardbeg collector, confirms that this is a fake for the same reasons.Moreover, on any old bottle the edges of the golden prints tend to get small dents (hence black) whilst the fakes are immaculate.

Bottle: Bowmore 1972 21 year old
Item # 360001534241
Seller: baccusvr
Problem: genuine bottle but label possibly full of errors.
Bowmore 1972 Comments: on 'dodgy' bottle: drawing not embossed. Vintage oddly placed (not centered). ABV 43% instead of 49.1% but other parts similar. There has been several versions so maybe this is not an obvious fake. Let's say 'very dodgy' for now.
Left, the bottle sold on eBay. Right, a genuine version

Bottle: Springbank 1954 25 Year Old Cadenhead's
Item # 200183256399
Seller: brigidino61
Problem: the 'S' and other details.
Springbank 25 Left, the bottle sold on eBay. Right, a genuine version
Comments: The S in the middle of the label has very weak strikes along the middle and top of the S and there is no label protection panel. Springbank have confirmed that they are sure that the strength of the S would have been the same as in the 'genuine picture'– which I provided them. Also, 'Proprietors: J.A. MITCHELL & CO. LTD.' is placed lower on fake label. Many of these bottles have been recently sold on eBay. WARNING! There's another one of these in live auctions: #320205509874.

Bottle: Laphroaig 1976 OB Vintage
Item # 350004702017
Seller: marcin3147
Problem: capsule too short.
Laphroaig 1976

Left, the bottle sold on eBay. Right, a genuine version

Comments: The seal over the bottle does not extend down enough – plus the box was fake.

There are many fake, that is to say relabelled fake Laphroaig 30yo's or these Vintages indeed. The forgers seem to use bottles of either 10yo Cask Strength (good whisky, that is) or some versions of the 15yo. See pictures below...

1: genuine 1976. 2: the fake 1976. 3: genuine 10yo CS. 4: genuine 15yo
(pictures of genuine caps taken from the XLNT laphroaigcollector.)

The first bottles that I spotted were the dodgy Ardbeg Guaranteed 10 and the Springbank 1954. I twigged first as they all appeared to come from different people but the postal or UPS forms stated that they all came from the same person.
From that moment I went back over my collection and all the bottles from Italy were fakes. In addition I bought 2 bottles from other ebayers which then turned out to have come from our Italian faker friends.
I have got refunds for all the bottles – I just raised a dispute with paypal and the refunds flowed in without any questions. How dodgy is that!
Even worse was to come, a bottle from marcin3147 was, in my view, passed on deliberately. Although I got a full refund the member got very aggressive when I would not return the bottles. He only stopped sending me messages when I pointed out that it was obvious that he was passing them on deliberately. Having admitted previously that he had had problems with a couple of bottles from Italy he continues to buy and pass on bottles.
Having been through this process myself I was keen to pass on the info – that’s why I am writing this article. I found the WhiskyFun war through forums on WhiskyMag.com and this seems the best place to distribute my own hints and tips.
Tip 1) – Trust No One (isn't this a bit excessive? - Ed ;-))
All the users who provided me with fake bottles, and the evidence that I presented to Serge, were reported to Ebay. I got the usual “Thanks for reporting this, we will take action usually within 24 hours but we can’t tell you anything to protect member security”.
Maybe that is being cynical but ebay does a few things that only gain the
trust and security of fakers:
1) Why allow users to have private auctions?
2) Why allow anyone to have private feedback?
3) Why allow Power Sellers to change ID without losing their status?
4) Why not have a completely transparent fraud reporting process
5) Why make user IDs private for auctions which reach a certain price?
Tip 2) Don’t Trust Feedback on it’s own
As you can see from the reports, these users have lots of positive feedback. No doubt most of it is generated by “fake auctions” between their own ebay IDs, but a lot of it is also because the fakes are good enough to fool most of the people most of the time. If someone is selling a bottle then check their feedback – if they have bought from a faker then steer clear.
Tip 3) Be suspicious of private – whether feedback or auction
Tread carefully – not all private auctions will be fake but it is an indicator. Ebays decision to hide user IDs when the auction reaches a certain price (you get user ids like m***s) is yet another example of them protecting the fraudsters.
Private feedback is a definite indication to steer clear – it masks negative feedback and also comments added to positive feedback if a fake is discovered.
Tip 4) Ask for Clear photos
If the photos aren’t clear then ask for more – no reasonable seller would refuse and most invite such requests. And if you get answers back like “Sorry in Poland on holiday can’t get them in time” then that is a good indication that they don’t have the bottle or it really is fake – especially in auctions with a starting price of £495.
If there is only one photo then ask for more. It doesn’t cost a seller very much (90p for 6) to put on multiple picks and I would expect a genuine seller of a valuable bottle to put on a display. Plus it will help in Tip 5.
Try asking for photos of the neck, rear label, box, a clear shot of the bottle against a light background. Again all these are important to a collector – something a genuine seller would welcome.
Tip 5) Do your research
Even if you only get a couple of photos then there is lots you can do. Google is a wonderful tool and provides almost unlimited resources. Compare the photos (or even a bottle you have bought) with photos from shops an collectors. I am sure there will be more than enough links in the war library to help initially.
Be suspicious of expensive bottles without genuine boxes – and you need to try and work out if the box is genuine too.
Areas I now look out for are as follows:
• Is the bottle shape correct? (include label protection panel *)
• Is the closure correct? – cork or capsule, is it damaged, does it look old enough?
• Is the wording on the label correct – labels change from year to year so try and find a really good match to compare against
• Do the fonts look right – printing fonts change so really old fonts are different from new one and trust your instincts
• Do the logos match – wordings might change (especially on neck labels) but logos won’t
• Does the bottle have the correct embossed bits – Bowmore and Highland Park have very noticeable embossed glass logos which are very expensive to fake.
Tip 6) Ask questions
If you are not given enough information then ask. Again a genuine seller won’t mind and it may reveal clues to a fake – like you get a reply from a different member.
Tip 7) Use forums on well know whisky sites
If you are looking here then you know the ones to trust. There is no better place to discuss things. The more opinions you get the better.
Tip 8) Use Paypal – with adequate buyer protection
I got refunds for all my bottles and was covered by £500 Buyer protection. While paypal has it’s faults it does at least provide you with a way to recover your money. Make sure that the Buyer protection covers your bid – and ask the seller if you think that it won’t cover the winning bid as they may be able to raise it.
Paypal gives buyers confidence which leads to better prices for the seller. For some reason a lot of the German Auctions use only Bank Transfer – I don’t know why but it doesn’t fill me with confidence.
Tip 9) Examine the bottle when it arrives
It is much easier to find differences with the bottle in front of you so do your research again when you get it. Don’t give any feedback until you are sure.
Tip 10) Trust your instincts
If something really looks too good to be true then it usually is. From this article you would think that I would never use Ebay again. Not a bit of it – I will think very carefully about bidding on whisky but with these tips (and others that will appear in this campaign) then I think I am in a good position to judge what is a fake.
99% of ebay sellers are the genuine article and we shouldn’t tar the majority just because there are some bad people out there – you just have to be careful. Buyer beware – the same rules as you would apply when buying from a real auction.
- Malcolm Sievwright

January 15, 2008

  MUSIC – Yes, enough with these fake bottles on eBay (but there’s more below I’m afraid, and it’s far from being over), let’s talk about music again if you please. Mind you, the Ruts (with Henry Rollins) have just issued a new download single, all for charity! It was first online right yesterday and of course it is a must. The name is Babylon's Burning – yes it’s their 1979 hit - and frankly, you just MUST buy one download (hey, at £0.79, why not more than just one!) because the label ‘Ruts’ just means plain and pure energy.

Besides, it’s our good friend Mr Segs a.k.a. Paul Jennings who’s at the bass (remember his interview on Whiskyfun?) and Mr Segs is a single malt lover just like us, which says long about his immense good taste. So, instead of buying dodgy old bottles of whisky on eBay, here’s what you’re going to do right now: first, listen to a preview of Babylon’s Burning from this cool widget that's above (remember, your stereo set may sound better than this computer) and second, click on the wide button at the bottom, where you’ll have the opportunity to download this marvellous track for £0.79 only. Act NOW before it’s all sold out!!! (note to self: that was the stupidest selling point you ever came up with, mate – quite.)
Bottle: Macallan 1945 (G&M for Pinerolo)
Item # 220188334309
Date of auction: 08.01.08, eBay - Price: USD 676.68
Seller: clubwhisky, New York, USA (and other sellers in Italy).
Problem: recent abundance of these 'Pinerolos' on eBay, shiny labels, immaculate conditions.
Macallan Comments: we've had two of these in our hands, albeit from other vintages. The red lettering is as shiny as if the label was coming directly out of a Xerox printer. Fake stains, possibly printed. Label edges are immaculate. Red caps are immaculate. Bottle doesn't match. Whether 1936, 1937, 1938 (...) or 1945, beware of all these old Pinerolos that look almost brand new! Only boxed bottles may remain that shiny - so, where are the boxes?
Bottle: Talisker "Proof" (Robert Watson)
Item # 130167809288
Date of auction: 30.10.07, eBay - Price: EUR 200.00
Seller: roccobaroccorp, Pistoia, Italy.
Problem: bottle and label don't match. Label was previously bought on eBay by 'portokalo2023' (see our January 12 entry).
Talisker Watson Comments: what's funny (well) is that I could put my hands on a sample of this whisky, thanks to the unfortunate buyer. It does taste like a rather good 'sherried' Talisker indeed, albeit rather a modern one, and reminds me a bit of Talisker Distiller's Edition (too bad I don't have any sample at hand for due comparison). We may have to thank this seller for not pouring putrid swill into his fake bottles, at least. So thanks, roccobaroccorp! ;-) Now, it's also true that it may be a smart move to prevent any lab or distillery from stating that what's inside a bottle does not come from the distillery (any lab would find out, using chromatography or other techniques of which I'm afraid I know next to nothing, even if I know that they do exist).
ANOTHER DIRTY LITTLE TRICK used by sellers exposed! Wanna raise the bids on one of your dodgy items? Or put one or several harmless bids on your own item because you know that if nobody bids on it, everybody will think it’s dodgy? Easy, just have another eBay nickname – better with several – and put high bids on your own bottles, that will then have many chances to get over-bidden by honest last minute buyers.
For instance, put bids like EUR 290 or 399 and you’re almost sure that a naive buyer will put a higher bid at a few more Euros, like EUR 307 or 411.50 (whatever), preferably at the very last minute (sometimes by using a sniping service or software), while thinking that he will have been extremely clever. So, watch the bidding history of any bottle that makes sheep’s eyes at you... And if it’s hidden, beware! Frankly, which buyer aiming at winning a bottle on eBay would put stupid bids such as 290 or 399 Euros?
So, the forgers do have special nicknames that are almost only aimed at putting such bids on dodgy bottles, or even at buying/selling very cheap ‘buy-it-now’ items immediately after such bottles have been put on auction, doing that only to enhance their eBay profiles.
Of course, seeing all their tricks being exposed leads many fake sellers to adopt Private Feedback these days (hence making their comments and lists of transactions private) so that nobody can watch their dirty moves anymore. So, again remember rule #1: NEVER, ever buy from a seller whose feedback is hidden – or ‘Private’ in eBay language. On the other hand, Google's cache is very handy for checking old feedbacks even if a seller went private... Just google a seller's nickname + ebay and you'll find many cached information (but be quick! Caches do expire after a while...)
Tamdhu 8 yo (70° proof, OB, 1970’s) A rather rare old official version of Tamdhu, you don’t come across this one too often. Colour: gold. Nose: starts on a rather heavy peatiness, somewhat in the Ardmore genre, together with quite some coal smoke, burnt matches, heather, linseed oil and argan oil. No need to say this is superb, as most old Tamdhus are. Also hints of olive oil and shoe polish. What’s interesting is that the peat was ‘encapsulated’ in the bottle, whereas Tamdhus from the same period that matured for a long time in their cask may well have lost it. Mouth: ho-ho, this is phenolic! Peat, wax, chlorophyll toothpaste, heavy liquorice, caramel, orange blossom water, pepper... This is big whisky! Gets very gingery after that, almost biting. Hard to imagine what this one would be at cask strength. Finish: extremely long, extremely peppery, very bitter (nicely so) and slightly prickly. Very unusual... Actually, I wouldn’t say this is very good as such but interesting it is. SGP:266 (wazzat?) - 80 points.
Tamdhu NAS (40%, OB, circa 1995) Colour: gold. Nose: we’re much more on grains, caramel, cereals and honey here, even if there certainly is a little peat, just a little. Very faint soapiness but other than that it’s solid yet smooth malt, a classic, displaying more and more honeyed notes as well as hints of hot chocolate cake. Mouth: smooth but certainly not lumpish, all on cake, oranges, cereals and vanilla fudge, with a little liquorice and mastic in the background. A little simple actually, the nose was more interesting. Finish: shortish and even simpler. Too bad, this one kept dwindling. SGP:232 – 78 points.
Tamdhu 34 yo 1969/2004 (40.2%, Duncan Taylor Peerless, cask #7316, 247 bottles) Let’s see if the peat has vanished indeed here... Colour: straw. Nose: yes, no peat left (or very, very little) but it got very floral and, again, honeyed albeit more delicately than in the NAS. Very fresh notes of mint leaves, almonds and moss, banana pudding, orange and apple juice... All that is a little shy but very elegant, very subtle. Little oak at such old age. Another old ‘delicate whisperer’ but maybe it’ll be more talkative on the palate. Mouth: it’s the oak that talks now – quite a monologue – but the spirit itself is a little restrained at the attack, even if it does pick up steam after a moment. Bananas, apple skins and vanilla crème. And tannins. Finish: medium long, getting seriously oaky now. Good old malt but little past its prime in my opinion. SGP:351 – 81 points.
Tamdhu 29 yo 1977/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, Hogshead Ref 1873, 211 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: bolder, more powerful than the 1969 but it seems that it’s only the higher alcohol. Bizarrely rough and spirity, with a good dose of banana skins and liquor, big notes of raspberry eau-de-vie, arak and vanilla. Not too clean, slightly disappointing, but the palate will probably be better. Mouth: roughly the same whisky as the 1969, only with 10 more per cents, a little less oak (there’s enough left) and more notes of fruit spirit. Finish: long but a little indefinite, quite bitter and rough. Again, this is a little disappointing. SGP:351 - 79 points. Too bad, I had Tamdhu very high on my lists but it’ll probably slip down a bit next time I’ll update them.

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

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



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

Glen Grant 42 yo (70°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 1970's, 75.7cl)

Highland 15 yo 1975/1990 (56%, McCLelland’s for Slim Cowell’s Personal Selection IV, Glen Garioch)

Highland 1975/1990 (56%, McClelland’ss for Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #545/458, Glen Garioch)

Highland 1975/1989 (60%, McClellands for Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #1975/4500, Glen Garioch)

Highland Park 1983/1993 (55.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 4.13)

Highland Park 1983/2003 (56.4%, OB, cask #1096, 440 bottles)

Highland Park 1983/2004 (56.8%, OB for LMdW, cask #1094, 588 bottles)

Springbank 1967/1988 (46%, OB, 'A West Highland SMW', 648 bottles)

Springbank 31 yo 1967/1998 (46%, Murray McDavid, fresh bourbon, MM1315)

Springbank 33 yo 1967/2001 (41.4%, Douglas Laing OMC, Ref 3370, 204 bottles)