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Whisky Tasting


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Petits billets d'humeur
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Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2006 - Part 1
June 2006 - part 2 <--- July 2006 - part 1 ---> July 2006 - part 2

July 14, 2006


Pittyvaich 13 yo (54.3%, James MacArthur, early 90’s) Colour: white wine. Nose: an extremely fruity start and lots of freshness in all simplicity with a rather smoky background. Maybe a little peat. Apples, pineapples, pears… And then a few herbs (thyme and rosemary) and hints of aniseed and dill.

Mouth: very sweet again, almost prickly, with lots of lemon (both juice and skin), grapefruit… Quite playful even if, again, simple. Gets then a little bitter but we have also lots of apple juice. Notes of olive oil, marzipan… Very satisfying even if, again and again, rather simple. The finish is long, again on lemon and zest… Anyway, it’s good, no doubt. And yes, simple. 82 points.
Pittyvaich 26 yo 1974 (55.8%, Kingsbury for Japan, 514 bottles) Colour: deep amber with bronze hues. Nose: this is a different story! Superb, starting on litres of argan oil with a fantastic smokiness. Goes on with pecan pie, toasted brioche, maple syrup, chestnut honey, apricot jam… Just brilliant… and the beautiful smokiness… Keeps developing on cooked strawberries, blackcurrants, and then we have the peat as well as notes of freshly squeezed oranges. A fabulous nose. Mouth: very rich as expected, powerful, on all kinds of honeys, dried oranges, rum, raisins, but gets then a little too bitter and quit drying… Bitter chocolate, caramel, candid citron… The palate is definitely simpler than the nose but still extremely enjoyable. Gets smokier and smokier, with quit some peat it seams. Lots of fir honey too… And then we have a long, coating finish, on sherry, strong honey and quit some salt… A brilliant Pittyvaich, that’s for sure. 92 points.


MUSICRecommended listening - Lounge music? Heck, why not, it's summer... But something special then, like Turkey's DJ Canan and his Aziza.mp3 (but who's singing?) DJ Canan is the resident DJ at Istanbul's trendy Lacivert restaurant.


July 13, 2006

It’s through the unlikely French Association of Country Music that I first heard about Alberta’s Corb Lund, whose music they called ‘sheer bliss’. More than enough to attract my attention but then I also saw that one of his most successful songs was ‘Time to switch to whiskey’ from his CD ‘Five Dollar Bill’. I immediately had a go at it and found out that it was pretty excellent country music indeed, so I decided to try to interview Corb for Whiskyfun and great news, he accepted. What I didn’t know is that he’s also got a great sense of humour…
Serge: Corb, please tell us briefly about what you do, music-wise.
Corb: My name is Corb Lund, I’m from the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada and my band is called Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans. I write and sing the songs and lead the band. I call my music scruffy country©, ulterior country©, dissident country©, subversive country©, insubordinate country©, non-toxic country©, or post apocalyptic modern traditional western music with some hair on it©. Take your pick.
Serge: I’d pick the last one! And which other musicians are you playing with?
Corb: Kurt Ciesla, string bass. Brady Valgardson, drums. Grant Siemens, electric guitar, lap steel, banjo, etc. Nickelback’s drummer Ryan Vikedal used to be in my band, till he became a rockstar! I also used to have a heavy indie rock band called ‘the smalls.’
Serge: Which are your other favourite artistes?
Corb: Older: Marty Robbins, Johnny Horton, Willie Nelson, Ramblin Jack Elliott.
Newer: Neko Case, Todd Snider, Whitey Houston (that’s WHITEY not WHITNEY), Lyle Lovett.
Serge: Which are your current projects?
Corb: Current record is called ‘Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer.’ And it IS a record, as we pressed vinyl as well. It went gold in Canada two weeks ago, along with my last one, ‘Five Dollar Bill.’ I’m pretty much always on tour. Canada, US, UK, Europe, Australia. Doing a major Canadian concert tour in the fall. Working on a new album.
Serge: Two gold records, wow! So, when did you start enjoying whisk(e)y? Are there any musical memories you particularly associate with that moment?
Corb: I’ve been a fan for probably two decades. The thing that comes to mind is an outdoor festival I played at years ago. We had a one o’clock AM slot, which usually means 3:30 am, and had been on the Crown Royal for quite awhile. Remember very little of the show, but I’ve been told many times that we played ‘Okie From Muskogee’ twice. I don’t recall playing it once, even.
Serge: What’s your most memorable whisky?
Corb: I’m Canadian, so I mostly favour ryes.
Serge: Do you have one, or several favourite whiskies?
Corb: CC is good, Crown, Seagrams. There’s a local ‘micro brew’ called Tangle Ridge that I like. It’s tough getting rye in America cuz the average bartender down there serves you Jim Beam or some kind of bourbon when you order rye. I find it’s best to order Canadian Club by name. Or Crown.
Serge: And are there whiskies you don’t like?
Corb: Sorry, but I’’m not a fan of bourbon. Don’t like the corn I guess. Also have never enjoyed Scotch much. Mostly rye. And Irish. I like Jameson.
Serge: By the way, we’ve heard funny stories (and songs) about cowboys and moonshine and such, do you know anyone who bootlegged whiskey?
Corb: Lots of the cowboys down near the Montana border saddlehorsed it into the States during the 1920’s prohibition. Canada was legal for part of that. My grandfather ranched down there and told me of guys doing that. My mom claims he never did it personally. And I’m sure she’s right.
Serge: Of course, she must be. But it wasn’t always genuine whiskey, was it?
Corb: Well, my favorite components allegedly added to whiskey by early, unscrupulous frontier traders to stretch out the supply, and ‘enhance’(?) the effects were, I think, chewing tobacco, lye, tabasco, ashes, pepper, deer’s blood.
Serge: I see, early finishings… :-) But let’s talk about ‘whisky and music’ lyrics. ‘If the river was whisky baby, and I was a diving duck’ is one of the most famous and well used whisky lyrics, from sea-shanties to blues and rock and roll. Do you have a favourite musical whisky reference?
Corb: “Rye whiskey, you villain, you’ve been my downfall. You’ve kicked me, you’ve cuffed me, but I love you for all.” I suppose I should also plug my own song, “Time To Switch To Whiskey, We’ve Been Drinking Beer All Night.”
Serge: Ah yes, Rye Whiskey, that old traditional, Tex Ritter sang it, didn’t he?… Now, music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves. Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
Corb: Absolutely. Yes and yes.
Serge: In some ways you could argue that tasting a whisky is similar to listening to a piece of music – you deconstruct the two in the same way? Care to comment?
Corb: I can kind of imagine comparing a succession of drinks over the course of an evening to a concert. Starts slow, intrigues you. Tempo rises, you get drawn in, and you end up in a frenzy which you may or may not remember fully.
Serge: If your favourite whisky was a piece of music what would it be, if it was a musical instrument what would it be?
Corb: ‘Angel of Death’ by Slayer. I think it might be one of those really pointy metal guitars. With a big amp.
Serge: Do you have a favourite piece of music to drink whisky with, or better still, desert island dram, desert island disc?
Corb: Desert Island Mix: CC and Eagles Greatest Hits, Volume II.
Serge: Everyone thinks of Jack Daniels as being the great rock and roll whisky – why not Scotch?
Corb: Jack is overrated I think. And, as mentioned above, I’m not a scotch guy either. Rye, rye, rye.
Serge: And if it was Scotch, can you think of which brand? What would be the Scotch equivalent of rappers drinking Cristal?
Corb: Come to think of it, I do like Laphroaig. Smoky and kinda expensive, but not really.
Serge: Thanks Corb, any other questions we should have asked you?
Corb: Yes, you could have asked: “How many friends do you have that do the ‘random urination’ thing when they’ve had too much of the good stuff?” - my answer would have been “At least four that I can think of right off the bat.” And as for the places they’ve used as ‘toilets’, I remember floor, coffee table, bandmates suitcase and clothes dryer.

Lol! Sounds very ‘wild, wild west!’ Many thanks, Corb, and congrats for the gold records!
Links of interest:
Corb Lund’s official website
Time to switch to whiskey.mp3


Tamnavulin 10 yo (40%, OB, early 2000’s) Colour: white wine. Nose: grainy, slightly dirty with something meaty and mashy at the same time in the background. Notes of stale beer… Well… Mouth: weak and dirty, with notes of smoked fish (dead, obviously) and something very cardboardy. Um… 60 points.

Tamnavulin 10 yo (40%, OB, early 1990’s) ‘Naturally light’ they say on the label. Colour: straw. Nose: so much better! Cleaner but also quite mineral, flinty, oily… The kind of profile I like. Notes of parsley, green beans, lots spearmints, lemon balm, hints of camphor… Surprisingly nice! Mouth: starts almost like mint liqueur, with also quite some Chartreuse and huge notes of genepi. Too bad it’s a little weak because it’s highly original. Goes on with lemon cake, caramelized nuts, camomile tea… Very interesting and sort of ‘funny’. The finish is quite long, at that, lemony and slightly gingery. 80 points.
Tamnavulin-Glenlivet (75° proof, OB, 1970’s) Colour: White wine. Nose: light but fragrant with notes of roses, honey, custard, orange juice. Fresh and interesting. Mouth: sweet, punchy, on lots of apple juice, dried oranges, quinces, sugared tea, herbal teas… Gets very citrusy (tangerines, lemon balm, lemon drops). Long, bold finish, maybe a tad sugarish. Much more oomph than expected. 83 points.

July 12, 2006

Macallan 30 yo 1971/2002 ‘Vintage’ (56.4%, OB, cask #4280) Colour: amber – cognac. Nose: huge, starting curiously vegetal and rubbery. Tons of sherry, extremely concentrated. Notes of anise (raki), fig jam, prunes, old rancio, dried bananas… Goes on with old rum and candy sugar, a little liquorice… Also burnt wood and burnt tyres, armagnac, balsamic and game. Incredibly rich. Keeps developing on salmiak… Quite monstrous if I may say so, a very classic sherry monster indeed, although it does get a little more refined after quite a while (spearmint, lemon balm, peppermint).
Mouth: extremely powerful and sherried. Reminds us of an armagnac at cask strength. Quite rough in fact, with lots of kirsch but also drying tannins. Lacks roundness. Again quite some rubber, salted liquorice… Develops on spices, pepper, cloves, cinnamon… Very hot and sort of acrid and burning. Gets vinous (very tannic red like young Madiran). The finish is very long but still quite hot, tannic, drying, with lots of prunes and cooked strawberries. A rather rustic Macallan, the sherry and the wood not being too integrated on the palate after all these years. 84 points.
Macallan 27 yo 1971/1999 (54.2%, Signatory, dark sherry butt #12/096/28, 652 bottles) Colour: dark amber. Nose: extremely present, starting almost hot, with lots of sherry as expected. It’s the ‘farmy’ kind of sherry, with whiffs of manure and overripe oranges but it’s most enjoyable even if untamed. Notes of fir honey, hot ham, smoked tea, bitter caramel, old rancio… Quite complex yet coherent and probably a little more interesting than the OB. Keeps developing on both rubber and cough syrup, black nougat and hints of dried chervil and finally fresh herbs, interestingly (parsley and chive). Very nice. Mouth: a rough and powerful but also sweet and coating attack, the whole being quick to become rounder. Notes of salted orange marmalade (don’t try that at home), all sorts of cooked fruits and then lots of pepper and something very minty and even resinous in the background. Also notes of raspberry drops and strawberry liqueur mixed with a little rum. The finish is long, still quite hot and a tad rubbery, on toffee and notes of eau de vie (arak?) Lots of oomph in any case. 89 points.
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK on vacation in Saint-Tropez
MUSICRecommended listening - I seem to remember my first post about Susana Seivane in 2004 pulled quite some enamoured comments, especially from Holland ;-). So, time to have a little more by the Gallician piper, like for instance the Pasacorredoiras de Ponteareas.mp3. Please buy Susana Seivane's music and go to her shows!

July 11, 2006

It wouldn’t be completely honest to say that I didn’t start to take an interest in this small band from Bisbee, Arizona because of its name, but believe me, I wouldn’t have decided to contact them for an interview if what I could hear of their music, thanks to the mp3’s on their website, hadn’t sounded pretty excellent to my ears.
And, to be even more honest, much more advanced than what I had been exposed to last time I toured the Grand Canyon state on my motorbike with a few friends. Yes, Steppenwolf, yes, Blue Oyster Cult, yes, countless country music ‘stars’ who were unknown to me - remember I’m from Old Europe - but who were sounding very ‘Sunday afternoon BBQ’… plus, okay, the great, great Jerry Garcia. Now, I must say I loved the place and its friendly inhabitants, so I got very happy when Amy and Derrick Ross, aka ‘Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl’, accepted to answer Whiskyfun’s ritual and sometimes tricky questions...
Serge: Tell us briefly about what you do, music-wise.
Amy and Derrick: Well, Amy plays piano and sings and Derrick plays guitar. Our music is sometimes called indie-folk but we think it’s more a mixture of folk, country, blues, jazz and indie-pop. We play a lot around Arizona and occasionally around the west. We’ll play anywhere (clubs, bars, restaurants, golf courses, funeral homes, weddings, farmers markets, backyards, churches, saloons, etc)
S.: Err, and why not distilleries? Which other musicians are you playing with?
A&D: Nobody famous or anything. We once opened for Mellisa Ferrick, which was probably our biggest show. Amy played with a band called Reuben’s Accomplice for a while and they played some big shows opening up for Cake and Jimmy Eat World and the format. Our favourite people to play with are mostly our friends bands from Phoenix…. Fatigo, Sweetbleeders, Lonna Kelly and the Reluctant Messiahs, the World Class Thugs, Sev vs. Evan (Provo, UT). Oh, and the ultra famous Robin Vining plays on our cd.
S.: Which are your other favourite artistes?
A&D: Oh, so many…..I guess there’s really too many to list. Amy loves Pink Floyd. Derrick loves Fugazi. Here’s a few big ones……They Might be Giants, Jimi Hendrix, Fiona Apple, Outkast, Billie Holiday, Bad Brains, Cat Stevens, we could go on and on and on and on and on.
S.: Well, we’ve heard musicians answering ‘us, who else?’ so… Anyway, which are your current projects? (records, concerts, tours etc.)
A&D: We recorded an album of cover songs awhile back that’s due out in September on 727 records. We are working on songs for our 2nd album of original material that we’ll hopefully start recording in the fall. We play at least once or twice a week somewhere in Arizona. We’ve done some touring but Amy has had some health trouble recently that has kept us from travelling too far from home. Hopefully that will all be rectified soon.
S.: We certainly hope so! So, when did you start enjoying whisk(e)y? Are there any musical memories you particularly associate with that moment?
A&D: Amy didn’t start enjoying whiskey until she was 21. Derrick started enjoying the finer things in life a bit earlier than that. The first time Derrick got drunk on whiskey he made out with a rather large, not so attractive lady to “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles. Amy has a bad memory.
S.: Ah! But didn’t the Egyptians invent distilling? Maybe that’s why they used to walk like that… Now, what’s your most memorable whisky?
A&D: Amy pretty much sticks to Walkers Deluxe. Unfortunately for Derrick his most memorable moments with whiskey involve cheap plastic bottle whiskey and vomiting heavily in some strangers’ backyard. But now Derrick likes Makers Mark.
S.: Do you have one, or several favourite whiskies?
A&D: Um I think I already answered that in the previous question.
S.: Right, but are there whiskies you don’t like?
A&D: Well if it’s in a plastic bottle it might be questionable. But in a pinch? Honestly we’ve just started being connoisseurs of life so there are so many that we haven’t tried that at some point we will.
S.: ‘If the river was whisky baby, and I was a diving duck’ is one of the most famous and well used whisky lyrics, from sea-shanties to blues and rock and roll. Do you have a favourite musical whisky reference?
A&D: Yes, our band is called Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl after a song from the great Gillian Welch.
S.: Ah yes, from the song ‘Whiskey Girl’ on ‘Hell Among the Yearlings’. Another one: music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves. Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
A&D: Dude, who doesn’t like a girl that drinks whiskey???? Or plays guitar??? This must be a trick question.
S.: It’s true nobody ever answered ‘no’ to that question… A trickier one now: in some ways you could argue that tasting a whisky is similar to listening to a piece of music – you deconstruct the two in the same way? Care to comment?
A&D: This question is deconstructing my brain.
S.: Okay, okay… What about this one: I once heard an eminent whisky professional say that he tasted whisky in colours. Do you taste whisky in music?
A&D: We ARE Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl.
S.: And if your favourite whisky was a piece of music what would it be, if it was a musical instrument what would it be?
A&D: Live led zeppelin!
S.: Last one: everyone thinks of Jack Daniels as being the great rock and roll whisky – why not Scotch?
A&D: Ask Slash…
Thanks Amy, thanks Derrick!
A few links of interest:
Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl's official website
at their record company (two great mp3's in the download section)
Their Myspace page
(great music there as well!)
Millburn 11 yo 1983/1994 (59.7%, Cadenhead) Colour: deep gold. Nose: quite closed as expected, thanks to the high alcohol, rather grainy and slightly coffeeish but we’ll need water now. Well, it doesn’t work too well, it just gets a little grassier. Mouth (neat): very spicy and peppery, with lots of alcohol… Water needed again. With water: gets sweeter but not really flavourful. A little sugarish, still very spirity at roughly 45%, with a long but only sugary and peppery finish. Not much happening in there aroma-wise. 76 points.
Millburn 25 yo 1974/2000 (58.5%, Aberdeen Distillers, cask #5725) Colour: pale gold. Nose: again, closed. Just a little pear juice and hints of orange zest and paraffin. Water! It does work better here, with quite some farmy, almost peaty aromas. Notes of apple and walnut skins, burning candles, argan oil. Even pistachio oil (excellent)! A very interesting development with water. Mouth (neat): starts on lots of bergamot (earl grey tea) and quince jelly, dried oranges, chamomile tea… Much more happening than in the Cadenhead. Again quite some pepper, probably from the wood, Chartreuse and other kinds of herbal liqueurs. With water: more on eucalyptus now, resins, cough syrup, marzipan, caramel… And even more quince jelly. A long, peppery and fruity finish, with something smoky in the background as well as a pinch of salt… This one was highly enjoyable, no doubt. 88 points.

July 10, 2006

PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK on vacation in Saint-Tropez
HYDE PARK CALLING. The Who, Razorlight, the Zutons, Ocean Colour Scene, Rose Hill Drive. Hyde Park, London, July 2nd 2006
It’s festival time in London. Did I mention that before? It started with the Foo Fighters in Hyde Park, and then about a week of the O2 Wireless Festival, with acts as diverse as the Strokes and James Blunt. There’s Hyde Park Calling, headlining on consecutive days Roger Waters and the Who, several nights of the Tower of London festival, with amongst others Dr John and Jeff Beck and over ten in the courtyard at Somerset House, where the highlight is probably Robert Plant and Strange Sensation. Ken Livingstone is having his own free festival in Finsbury Park, there’s the Lovebox weekender in Victoria Park, and Ben and Jerry’s Sundae, and Get Loaded in the Park on Clapham Common. You can also enjoy sedate concert series at genteel historic homes such as Kenwood House (Art Garfunkel) and Marble Hill (Jools Holland), four nights of ‘Summer Swing’ at Kew Gardens (mostly the ubiquitous Jools Holland again), and, as we shall see later, numerous unheralded musical days out in the park in London’s boroughs and villages. Altogether you might think we were over provided for on the music front, and wonder how some of these events manage to make any money. But remember there’s no Glastonbury this year, and the good folk of London seem to have taken sitting in the sunshine supping lager or savouring Sancerre and listening to music as one of their favourite pastimes. Beats soccer hands down.
And as you’ve probably noticed the sponsors are out in force too, no more so than at London Calling, main sponsor the Hard Rock Café: “The Ambassadors of Rock tour spreads both the music and the "Love All, Serve All" creed to music fans everywhere” – whatever that may mean.
Apparently it’s a round the world merchandising opportunity, though none of the other gigs seem to have quite materialised (maybe something to do with the fact that the chain has been put up for sale by its British owners Rank Group for a cool £500 million), with a charity link to the Nordoff-Robbins Foundation, which provides music therapy to children. It looks like a huge Hard Rock marquee where you can eat burgers all afternoon, drink cocktails in 13 ounce souvenir Ambassador of Rock frosted glasses (mmm, the Crown and ginger sure sounds good) and watch the bands on a massive screen. Elsewhere co-sponsors Brothers Pear Cider (a Glastonbury speciality) seem to be outselling Carling in the booze stakes, and it’s hardly surprising that in 30 degrees of sunshine heat or more, and with no shade, rubber legs syndrome sets in all around us at about seven o’clock. I notice some distant colleagues on a converted double decker bus selling Pimms by the gallon, and suspect these must be the coves ensuring that there’s never fewer than two Smirnoff branded beach balls bouncing over the heads of the tightly packed audience at the front of the stage. We’ve taken a slightly safer spot, dead centre stage and about a third of the way from the back, where it’s rugs, chairs and general bonhomie with a very mixed and sociable bunch, including a sleeping couple who, it turns out, nodded off the previous evening half way through Roger Water’s Dark Side of the Moon – they wake up three seconds into the Who’s opening song ‘Can’t explain’.
Johnny Borrel, Razorlight
Let no one kid themselves, and no disrespect to the other bands, we’re all here to see the Who, especially after their electric performance in the same place at last year’s Live Aid gig. We arrive in time for loud American retro rockers Rose Hill Drive, who play like loud American retro rockers. They’re followed by a rather sad Ocean Colour Scene, not too well rehearsed, or so it seemed, and struggling to break free from the nineties (“weren’t they the warm up band for Oasis?” asked someone at the tasteful open air urinals) – everyone got very excited and sang along when they played their 1996 hit single ‘Day we caught the train’, and that was about it. Then came the much vaunted Scally Scousers the Zutons. Singer and guitarist David McCabe suffered from a faulty lead or connection, and also seemed to have difficulty keeping up with his own lyrics – overall they failed to impress as much as I’d hoped and the Photographer snarled in her fishing chair at their last song, a sort of faux Santana meets Zappa at Woodstock thing – decidedly inferior, and somewhat patronising. The hugely self confident would be kings of stadium rock Razorlight followed, starting with their current single ‘In the morning’, an interesting Talking Heads meets Tom Petty effort. This London band have shot to prominence in a relatively short period of time and quite possibly have the talent to match the hype, the quickly shirtless front man Johnny Borrell certainly has the attitude, with the squealing girls and boys around us not being able to agree if he was most like Mick Jagger (girls) or Iggy Pop (boys). Actually he wasn’t like either of them.
Pete Tonwsend, The Who
My friend Mark was reminiscing the other day about waiting over three hours at Knebworth for the Rolling Stones to take the stage (apparently they were struggling to ‘revive’ Keith); it’s a sign of how times have changed in this world of corporate rock that the Who stride onto the stage a mighty four minutes behind schedule. That, I’m very glad to say, is about as corporate as the Who got. They played a blinder – demonstrating the enduring qualities of many of Townsend’s songs – something I’ve checked over the intervening days by listening to Who’s Next, Tommy and in particular the vastly underrated Quadrophenia. The band by the way, in addition to those two grumpy old men of rock Townsend and Roger Daltrey, were Welsh bass prodigy Pino Palladino, the fantastic Zak Starkey on drums, Townsend’s brother Simon on rhythm guitar, and long time collaborator and keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick. The whole thing rocked from start to finish – with the two front men displaying an energy and aggression that belied their years – there were no compromises here, it was, as the poster said (and as I recall writing on my pencil case at school), “maximum rhythm and blues”.
There’s a nice gentle slope down the stage, so even the diminutive photographer has a good view – but one of the things that makes the set so special, apart from the astonishingly good sound, is the digital film show that accompanies each song, displayed on huge screens to the left and right of the stage, and for the Who, behind the band too. I can’t tell you how clever and well thought out some of these screen sequences were, and as an added bonus we also get shots of the band playing – it’s about as in your face as it can be. And that only serves to raise that question that everyone always asks – “how does Townsend play the guitar like that” – because it’s no clearer how the windmill arms thing works when you can see it going on in front of you about forty feet high. Highlights? ‘Who are you?’ (played apparently in the time it takes a steam train to get from London to Brighton), ‘Behind blue eyes’, an acoustic ‘Drowned’ (“here’s an old sea shanty from Quadrophenia”), ‘Baba O'Riley’ (simply awesome), ‘Love reign o'er me’ (ok, I have to concede Daltrey can sing), ‘My generation’ (sung without irony), ‘Won't get fooled again’ and the encore mini Tommy, featuring ‘Pinball wizard’,
Amazing journey’, ‘See me, feel me’ and ‘Listening to you’.
And that was it – “Goodnight London”. Well it took several hours before I could even consider going to bed after that as the adrenalin was pumping. And to add to my delight an announcement as we were leaving took me to this website where you can buy an official ‘bootleg’ CD or DVD of the gig, recorded from the soundboard, proceeds to charity. So you don’t have to take my word for it, go out and buy it yourself. - Nick Morgan (all photographs by Kate)
Many thanks, Nick! I'd have loved to be there, The Who were one of the first bands I ever saw live, a long time ago. I still have a very vivid image somewhere in my brain, Daltrey and his thick hair shouting "You won't get fooled again!" while something like 10,000,000,000,000 watts of ultra-white light were suddenly catapulted towards our stunned retinas. Bang!!! As Iggy himself would have said, nothing but raw power. Glad to learn that they still have a little drive... And yes, that good old Baba O'Riley.mp3 with its Rileyesque (indeed) synthesizer... And what? Soccer? Football? What's that? ;-)
Dalmore 12 yo ‘The Black Isle Edition’ (40%, OB, 2005) The Black Isle isn’t an island but a very fertile part of Scotland near Invernesss, where lots of barley is grown. Colour: gold-orange. Nose: quite fruity at first nosing but also a little rubbery (not for too long). Goes on with dried oranges, herbal tea, light honey, heather… Alas, it gets then curiously soapy and cardboardy but also nicely flowery (old roses). A two-faced malt?
Mouth: starts very caramelly, with also lots of coffee, chocolate, slightly burnt cake, black nougat, honey… Not too subtle, rather ‘thick’ and very creamy, coating. The finish is rather long, sweet and caramelly again, with hints of apricot pie… Rather flawless but a tad too coating and sweet for my tastes. 80 points.
Dalmore 20 yo (43%, OB, Duncan Macbeth, 1960’s) Colour: gold-orange again, just slightly less bright. Nose: a faint, metallic old bottle effect (yet it's cork stopper) but also lots of passion fruit and tangerines to start with. How elegant, it’s not the wham-bam kind of tropical fruits but rather something very subtle, mixed with notes of old furniture, linseed oil, wax polish, sweet box, mixed with something funnily maritime (shells). Goes on with notes of dried oranges, high-end green tea, hints of motor oil… yet, it’s so delicate! Superb. Mouth: yes, this is exactly the kind of profile I like, which, I had thought, only the old Springbanks, Highland Parks and Clynelishes could display. Very firm but also sweet and fruity (tangerines), with something sharp that I cherish (limestone, hydrocarbons, paraffin) and a whole array of sometimes ‘secondary’ flavours such as beeswax, salted liquorice, pu-erh tea, butter caramel, balsamic vinegar, dried bananas, tar liqueur, candied angelica… And my favourite, propolis! A brilliant whisky that improved in glass, no doubt about that. Even the finish is superb, revealing a slight peatiness, smokiness, and notes of smoked tea with candy sugar. I love it. 93 points.

July 8 - 9, 2006


MUSIC FOR SUNDAYHighly recommended listening - We go classical! Are you tired of all these summerish, poppish jazzish tunes I post these days? Then it's time for Meredith Monk and her stunning, extraordinary 1983 vocal piece Turtle dreams.mp3 (beware, it's long and maybe you shouldn't listen to it at the office). Anyway, please buy the great Meredith's music in all its forms! (agreed, she isn't very classical but a classic, sure she is...)


Balmenach 12 yo 1970 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail CC old brown label) Colour: straw. Nose: this one starts amazingly fresh, on freshly cut apples, caramel and flowers from the fields (nectar). It gets then more orangey, with notes of orange flavoured cookies, oriental pastries (orange flower water) and whiffs of wood smoke, dried ginger and white pepper. Rather subtle!

Mouth: sweet but a little weak, with hints of fructose and grapefruit on top of cake notes. Gets then frankly thin, with just a few spices from the wood such as cinnamon and pepper and a short, slightly sugarish but also drying finish. Too bad, I liked the nose. 75 points.
Balmenach 12 yo (43%, Flora and Fauna, late 1990’s) Colour: amber - orange. Nose: starts a little sulphury and rubbery, town gas, with quite some sherry and lots of dried oranges. The sulphur disappears then and leaves room for nice metallic and papery notes (old books, antique shop). Hints of crème brûlée and candy sugar, Grand-Marnier, wild strawberries. Quite some butter as well, Lots of oomph on the nose! Mouth: creamy, orangey but also quite cardboardy, lacking a little body. Yet, it gets really spicy after a moment, with lots of pepper, clove but also curry, radish, ginger, maybe even wasabi. Other than that we have a little orange and ripe apples… Unusually spicy, this one! The finish isn’t too long, that is, and frankly cardboardy now. But the whole is an interesting whisky, especially on the nose that keeps developing for a long time. 81 points.


Left: PM 1951 'Pleasant Moments in Sports (about Sir Thomas Lipton in the America's Cup') - for your Pleasant Moments ask for PM tonight.' I had never thought Sir Lipton would drink American whiskey.
Right: Adams Export Canadian 1956 'For men with the gleam of discovery in their eyes.' Beautiful artwork, both ads!



MUSIC – JAZZ - Recommended listening: Monk, Monk, Monk, this time by the great Walter Davis Jr. It's the fabulous Ruby my dear.mp3 played on an incredible piano... Detuned? No, no... Again, just fabulous. Walter Davis died in 1990 but you can (should) still buy his great music!


July 7, 2006

Glen Spey 1985/1999 (60.9%, Cadenhead, 222 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: starts quite caramelly and smoky, with lots of apricot pie, butter and ‘nice’ rubber. Goes on with plum jam, heather, pastries and grains. Also a little flowery (nectar, yellow flowers from the fields such as buttercups, nectar etc.) Mouth: lots of salty liquorice, rubber again, thyme and rosemary, getting a little soapy. Long finish, extremely salty with also a little milk caramel (Werther’s). A nice one. 84 points.
Glen Spey 13 yo 1981/1995 (62.3%, Cadenhead) Colour: white wine. Nose: grainy and caramelly, on cornflakes, butter, liquorice, vanilla, custard, fudge, heather… Very natural, with a nice balance. Mouth: sweet and very caramelly, with lots of vanilla and grain. Not much else, I’m afraid, but a long, powerful, liquoricy and again very salty finish. Rawer than the 1985. 80 points.


Time to resume our short series about ships in whisky advertising, which we interrupted a few weeks ago, with:
Left: Corby's 1946 'Motorboat in your future?' In other words, from 1887 to 1946, the biggest progress in motorboat making is that you can have whisky in the wardroom.
Right: Seagran's VO 1953 ...and in cabins as well!



MUSIC Recommended listening - A little Brazilian music for hot days, the excellent Marisa Monte singing Bonde do dom.mp3. Please buy her music...


July 6, 2006

PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK on vacation in Saint-Tropez


MUSICRecommended listening (maybe for a good laugh): 1966, Beethov... err, the Shangri-las doing Past, present and future.mp3. Under the moonlight... What, why are you crying now???


Isle of Jura 1991 (55.1%, James MacArthur, circa 2003) Colour: white wine. Nose: starts on lots of white chocolate, caramel crème and cereals, then we have muesli and hints of oranges. Goes on with praline and oriental pastries (baklava). Very enjoyable although rather simple. Mouth: very sweet, quite close to new make. Vanilla crème and oranges again, getting grainy and caramelly with a long finish mostly on white pepper, lemon drops and icing sugar (quite prickly). A rather nice young malt, to serve chilled in summer? 79 points.
Isle of Jura 1988/2002 (59.4%, Blackadder Raw Cask #1639, hogshead) This one is quite similar, a tad more closed with also hints of paint. Mouth: same comments, with maybe a little marmalade, the whole being slightly less clean. 78 points.
Isle of Jura 10 yo 1983/1993 (63.9%, Cadenhead) Colour: white wine. Nose: quite closed, just a little caramel and apple juice, cake… Develops on hot milk, cereals, porridge and yoghurt, vanilla crème… Very raw. Mouth: a sweet and perfumy attack, with quite some orange juice and drops, canned pears, the whole being quite neutral except for some huge notes of heavily sugared liquorice. As close to new make as it can get and water doesn’t help. Hot finish with hints of salt. 75 points.

July 5, 2006

Teaninich 10 yo 1993/2003 (61%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #59.23)
Colour: white wine. Nose: almost pungent, with a little pineapple and pear juices and something mashy but water is needed. Urgently. So, with water: keeps developing in the same direction: fresh fruits (apples, fresh pineapple, pears) plus mashed potatoes, porridge… Hints of flowers (lilac). Another one that’s quite close to new make, with very little wood influence.
Mouth (with water): very sweet, acidulous, on lots of tangerines and grapefruits with also lots of salt that plays with your lips. Gets then a little tannic (lemon seeds) and sweet ‘n’ sour, starting to taste like a tequila or maybe young pisco. Quite unusual! The finish is long and lemony, with again lots of salt… I quite liked it. 82 points.
Teaninich 21 yo 1982/2004 (62.3%, The Bottlers, cask #7202) Colour: dark amber – mahogany. Nose: lots of sherry, bitter oranges and chocolate but again, water needed. With water: gets more caramelly and even more orangey, with pistachio oil, Cointreau, fir honey… Gets then a little leathery, with also wax polish, moist pipe tobacco, rum… Another classic sherry monster with lots of oomph – not too clumsy at that. Mouth (with water): a superb attack, very waxy and bitterly resinous (but you have to be into that kind of profile), on propolis, chlorophyll chewing-gum, cough gums… Gets then very herbal, with quite some Jägermeister (strong herbs liqueur) and finally the expected rumy and raisiny notes. Lots of oomph! Also dried kumquats, citrons… And the finish is very long, still very lemony and resinous and again with a little salt. In short, an excellent sherry monster, unusually lemony. 88 points.


MUSICBLUES - Recommended listening - In 1940, blues shouter Big Joe Turner was doing a Jumpin' Down Blues.mp3 that had something very rock and roll - already.Ah, I should also post about Blind Boy Fuller one day... Watch this space.


July 4, 2006

Hammersmith Apollo, London, June 29th 2006

I can still remember how smugly cool I felt when I walked out of Osborne’s in Parsons Street with Creedence Clearwater’s 1969 classic album Green River under my arm. However eclectic we liked to pretend our musical tastes might be (it was the ones with big brothers and sisters who won at this game hands down) buying stuff was largely confined to safety zones inhabited by the Beatles et. al. But this raucous Deep South funky rock and swamp outfit (actually they came from California, which I’ve always found a little disappointing) seriously pushed the envelope, as they say in marketing (hey Serge, you’re a marketing guy – what does that mean?). And of course they became the defining sound of the late sixties and early seventies (in 1971 they beat the Beatles to win the New Musical Express’s ‘Best Band in the World’ poll), inextricably linked for many with the last years of the Vietnam War. Thinking about this I wondered if this was really true, or simply something that’s been planted in our minds by all those films where Creedence tracks are a mandatory on the soundtrack.

But then I read this, from a Veteran: “I flew helicopters and combat missions in Vietnam. Whenever I'd get back to base, I'd turn on my Creedence Clearwater Revival records and play them as loud as I could … Every band that the USO brought or played the NCO and officers clubs had to do Proud Mary. It was the song of the day. I heard that song done with British accents, Vietnamese accents, Australian accents, every accent you can think of.” ‘Nuff said.
Needless to say Creedence shone and burned, by 1972 they were all washed up, co-founder Tom Fogerty having left the band acrimoniously a year earlier, and the predictable Beach Boys style legal disputes and wrangling followed. John Fogerty – the voice of Creedence, the guitar sound of Creedence, and the composer of almost all of their songs pursued an on-off recording and performing career (in so far as legal disputes allowed him to) in the course of which he gained the dubious distinction of writing what came to be Status Quo’s anthem, the song that famously kicked off the original Live Aid, ‘Rocking all over the world’.
And having hung up his guitar for few years he returned in 1997 with the fantastic album Blue Moon Swamp which I would recommend to anyone. He has also in latter years associated himself closely with the Democratic Party in the United States, campaigning and performing (along with the likes of Bruce Springsteen) on behalf of John Kerry in the last Presidential election.  

John Fogerty (top)
Fray Bentos - ? - (bottom)
Tonight he’s in London with a tight five piece band campaigning on behalf of his new retrospective album The Long Road Home. And before I start being critical I should say that it was great fun, Fogerty’s voice was in remarkably good form, and although I gave up counting all the songs there was no doubt in my mind, or those of the almost exclusively 50 years old plus audience, that this a great value for money show. And that’s important for such a Saga savvy audience who look as though they don’t get out too much, and as if their critical sensibilities aren’t quite fully honed. We got all the great songs, ‘Travelling Band’, ‘Green River’, ‘It came out of the sky’, ‘Down on the corner’, ‘Have you ever seen the rain’, ‘Bad moon rising’, ‘Fortunate son’ and ‘Proud Mary’ to name but a few – ‘egg timer songs’ said the Photographer, as each was played (with the exception of a long and meandering solo in ‘I heard it through the grapevine’, when I became a bit worried that Alzheimer’s might have set in and that they’d forgotten which song it was) to a tight three minutes or so. We also got a new song. ‘Ramble tangle’, and a very old song, ‘Porterville’, recorded when Creedence were actually known as ‘the Golliwogs’ – well you can’t get everything right can you? Fogerty played a bewildering array of beautiful guitars (it was a real Fender fest) and his band provided excellent support – particularly beefy bass player Fray Bentos (at least that’s what I think he was called) who had every pose from the Bass Players Handbook of Choreography. By the end of the night the dyed blonde OAPs in the front row were waving their pension books at him hopefully, offering something more than a late night (hang on, it finished at 10.00pm on the dot) Ovaltine and Digestives. And as we left you could see that the urinals were full of tight-jeaned beer bellied old men striking Fray Bentos positions as they relieved themselves. Not pretty. And God knows what happened when they got home.
So what was there to moan about? Well for a start this isn’t huge concert hall music, we should have been dripping down the wall of an airless 200 capacity club to really enjoy the sound. But of course Fogerty only does big events – even bigger in the USA where he’ll embark on a huge tour once his European dates are over. And the way the show was staged made it feel like a TV Special more than a real gig. It began with a film montage of Fogerty’s career, with gooey shots of his young son playing guitar that ended with an irony free clip of Bill Clinton introducing him. Fogerty jogged onto the stage with contrived enthusiasm and pulled off that nauseating trick beloved of American politicians, pointing into the faceless crowd as if to suggest some sort of feigned familiarity with fans and friends.
      He did this all night, and also, rather more often than I would have liked, told us how wonderful we were, and how much he loved us. This facile insincerity really grated by the end of the night – but at least we weren’t at a US gig, where you can buy ‘platinum’ tickets which get you front row seats, a signed programme, and a chance to shake the man’s hand. Need I say more? Well actually I will. The big moment of the evening was Fogerty singing solo, from his most recent album ‘Déjà vu’ – an anti-war song reviving that predictable theme that we’ve heard from many American musicians over the past couple of years. Now I would not doubt for a moment the sincerity of Fogerty’s sentiments on this subject, and I’m sure that in the USA this is really quite an edgy piece, but with more film – pretty little girl running through meadow with flowers, archive Vietnam footage, Iraq footage, war memorials, more pretty young girl with flowers etc. etc. – it actually lost its impact and just felt like Mom and Pop apple pie sentimentality. Generally speaking I think even this half geriatric audience could have expected a little more.
But maybe that’s really just churlish. I’ve always wanted to see Fogerty and now I have. And when I shut my eyes and listened to him sing with that southern (err Californian) swamp groove thing going on it was just like being in a little bit of heaven. Everyone should have at worst a Creedence hits album at home, at best a copy of Green River, and you should also seriously have a listen to Fogerty’s Blue Moon Swamp. Great music, shame about the show. - Nick Morgan (all concert photographs by Kate, soldier with guitar www.vietnampix.com)
Thanks Nick! Well, as for your question regarding the expression ‘pushing the envelope’: doesn't it mean 'handing over a baksheesh discreetly'? But of course that can’t happen with marketing people (did I hear ‘alas’?) I’ve also tried to find more data about the famous bassist with an attitude supposedly called ‘Fray Bentos’ and I’m sorry, I couldn’t find any. Fray Bentos seems to be an Uruguayan city actually (founded 1853, 23 122 inhabitants) as it just can’t be that English ready-cooked gourmet food brand (a concept that sounds very unlikely to my poor French ears, currently stuffed with world-cup bawling – no needling meant). Now, what would a whole Uruguayan city do on a London stage? Hmmm, agreed, better listen to a little John Fogerty, like a quite political Mr. Greed.mp3 (from Centerfield, 1985). And ah, yes, of course, Déjà Vu (all over again).mp3. Btw, happy birthday good old US of A!
Balblair 27 yo 1974 (46%, OB, Highland Selection, Sherry, 550 bottles) Colour: dark amber. Nose: a beautiful, very balanced sherry with hints of ginger. Lots of prunes, peonies, very ripe strawberries. Interesting whiffs of pepper and even curry. Really elegant. Mouth: creamy but nervous attack, with quite some caramel and dried apricots. Fruitcake, spices (mainly cloves). A balanced sherry with quite some vivacity. I liked it much better than last time I had it, two years ago, but maybe that’s because this time I tasted it at the distillery with Gordon Bruce and a few Maniacs. 88 points.
Balblair 31 yo 1969 (45%, OB, Highland Selection) Colour: straw. Nose: starts on lots of marzipan and linseed oil, almond milk and vanilla. Rather woody (freshly sawn oak). Hints of smoked meat. Quite some nectar and flowers from the fields. Interesting. Mouth: balanced – oaky but balanced. Quite some pepper, cardboard, vanilla, apples… Oomphy, with a long, vanilled finish. The nose was even nicer and the whole offers lots of pleasure. 87 points.

July 3, 2006

PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK on vacation in Saint-Tropez

Glen Ord 20 yo 1983/2003 (59%, Signatory, cask #378, 458 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: powerful, almost pungent, spirity, with notes of paint thinner and hazelnuts. Quite hard to enjoy this one, we’ll try it with a little water. Yes it gets better, grassier and quite herbal and flowery, with notes of lilac. Mouth (neat): sweet but powerful, with also a little salt and quite some liquorice. Gets then fruitier but it’s a bit silent and inexpressive again. With water: more expressive again, although it’s more on cereals and apricots this time. Rather long, creamy, caramelly and fruity finish. An excellent swimmer even if it still isn’t pure wonder. 80 points.
Glen Ord 10 yo 1985/1995 (56.9%, Cadenhead) Colour: pale white wine. Nose: not really expressive, even quite closed. Spirity and a little coffeeish. Hints of hay, cereals, varnish apple and pear juice (not Williams)… Quite close to new spirit, extremely simple. With water: almost no difference. Mouth: sweeter, a little creamy, pearish, with notes of liquorice allsorts and a pinch of salt. Gets very grassy, even bitter then, with a long but almost acrid finish (apple seeds). Not bad at all but really simple. With water: same thing, no real improvement, maybe just notes of tea. 77 points.
Glen Ord 15 yo 1989/2004 (50%, OMC, 604 bottles) Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: again quite closed but maybe mashier, more on porridge and muesli. Notes of violet sweets, freshly mown lawn, hints of wet hay… Otherwise it’s again a rather inexpressive Glen Ord. The best Ords are on the official side, no doubt. Mouth: again, sweet and grainy, starting on pear spirit but also a little beer, developing on tea, liquorice, pepper, even chilli. Medium long finish, getting funnily quite lemony and salty, even rooty and earthy. A good one. 82 points.
And also Glen Ord 23 yo 1973/1997 (59.8%, Rare Malts) Starts slightly oily, with notes of aniseed, linseed oil, fresh parsley and dill, then switches to praline and nougat. Really powerful but not overpowering. Very good. 88 points.


MUSICRecommended listening - The arrangements are crap (typically 80's) but it's Serge Gainsbourg who composed this summerish Pull marine.mp3 for Isabelle Adjani, so... Please go and... Err... But where's Adjani these days?


July 2, 2006

No comment.
Glenugie 1966/1987 (46%, Cadenhead dumpy, sherry)
- sorry about the picture! Something must have gone wrong... Colour: straw. Nose: starts sort of calmly, with notes of boxed pineapples and papayas, but getting then rather bolder. after a few seconds. Also pink grapefruits that make a transition toward farmy notes such as hay and grain barn. It gets then waxier, slightly mineral and oily (linseed oil). Hints of fresh almonds, sorb apple spirit, olive oil…
And then quite some orange juice, cider, hints of passion fruit. Well, that was a slow, but long development. Mouth: extremely fruity, citrusy and peppery. All kinds of lemon, tangerines, oranges plus a little passion fruit and dashes of spices such as pepper, clove, cinnamon… Gets then a little sugary, maybe ‘weaker’ and slightly tea-ish towards the medium long, citrusy finish. Good, especially on the nose, but not exactly thrilling, I think. 85 points.
Glenugie 1966/1986 (55%, Samaroli, 480 bottles) Colour: deep gold. Nose: the same kind of development it appears, starting quite lazily on bitter oranges and already that almond milk. Quite beerish as well, rubbed orange skin, cinchona… Also bay leaf, a little juniper, bitter chocolate… With a few drops of water: it gets nicer indeed, more satisfying and farmier as almost always. Quite some lapsang souchong tea, newly cut grass, fern… Great news. Mouth (neat): punchy, almost nervous, starting on orangey flavours again plus lots of spices and a little wax. It’s also a little salty but not too complex. With water: gets more gingery and peppery, and even waxier. Hints of peat, candied lemons, tea again… The finish is long, peppery and citrusy (more on oranges now)… A very good one in any case, even if feel it’s not too complex. Sweeter and spicier than the Cadenhead. 88 points. (but many aficinados like it better.)


MUSICRecommended listening - It's Sunday, we go classical with Bulgaria's Dimitar Stanchev singing the Aria di Attila.mp3 (from Verdi's Attila) excellently. Please go listen to Mr. Stanchev and buy opera.


July 1, 2006

Deanston Malt (40%, OB, late 70’s) Colour: straw. Nose: starts quite grainy and a little caramelly but also quite fresh, with notes of flowers (lilac)… Notes of cereals… Gets then quite dusty and cardboardy, with also a few notes of very ripe oranges and lovage. Mouth: sweet and very caramelly, with quite some orange liqueur (Grand-Marnier) and toffee, a little chocolate, roasted nuts… The middle is a bit weak but the finish is rather okay, not too short, on toasted brioche and a little toffee, getting more and more toffeish. A little ‘average’ but not too bad. 75 points.
Deanston 12 yo (40%, OB, 1990’s) Colour: white wine. Nose: ouch! Lots of cardboard, huge notes of paraffin, cod oil, sunflower seeds… Extremely unusual and frankly hard to enjoy. Goes with flour, paint, industrial desert crème, old pastries… Mouth: plain weird, weak (good news), watery, extremely oily and cardboardy, with notes of cold un-sugared herbal tea. Something weirdly minty as well (long-gnawed spearmint or chlorophyll chewing-gum). No finish whatsoever; now, some newer versions seem to be much better. 55 points.


MUSICJAZZ - Highly recommended listening - in 1947, fantastic innovator and ace arranger Stan Kenton was recording the amazing Elegy for alto.mp3. Yes, in 1947... Maybe Kenton was the true inventor of 'free' (although not improvised) jazz?


June 2006 - part 2 <--- July 2006 - part 1 ---> July 2006 - part 2

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

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

Dalmore 20 yo (43%, OB, Duncan Macbeth, 1960’s)

Pittyvaich 26 yo 1974 (55.8%, Kingsbury for Japan, 514 bottles)