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Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2007 - Part 2
June 2007 - part 1 <--- July 2007 - part 2 ---> August 2007 - part 1

July 31, 2007



YES! The Malt Maniacs' Malt Monitor has been updated, with the help of our esteemed colleague Luca Chichizola. We have now exactly 8,500 different whiskies on it (of which +/- 200 have been bottled right in 2007) and 25,000 individual ratings, mind you. Kudos to our livers! Next update around September 30, we hope. You'll find the new Monitor at the left of the home page.

Laphroaig Laphroaig 16 yo 1968 (40%, Sestante, Sailing Ship label, Pinerolo Import) Colour: straw. Nose: not bold at first nosing, rather delicately waxy, smoky and orangey, with also hints of passion fruits and guavas (somewhat like the famous 10yo’s for Bonfanti). Gets more maritime with time but never really medicinal (except for a little camphor). Whiffs of wrack, seashells, floated wood, raw wool, beach sand… Also whiffs of putty. Again, it’s more delicate than wham-bam but everything’s in place. Gets more lemony with time.
Mouth: oh, it’s got much more oomph than expected. Directly salty (pickled anchovies?) and very lemony (lemon marmalade), peaty and smoky… The middle is maybe a tad weaker and sort of watery after that (there’s kind of a little slump) but it fires back at the finish, with again quite some salt, peat and pepper. Too bad it was slightly weakish on the palate ‘between the attack and the finish’, it would have fetched more than just 87 points in my books.
Laphroaig 18 yo 1988/2006 (61.9%, Doulas Laing OMC for Binny’s for The Plowed Society, cask ref 2281, 154 bottles, USA) After their stunning recent sherried peat monsters (Broraggeddon, Port Ellen) our friends the Plowedsters selected a Laphroaig that does not seem to exhale any sherry – but that was bottled at a whopping +/-62% (and not 50% as written on DL’s golden top label – does that make this even more collectable?) Enough babbling, let’s try it. Colour: full gold. Nose: superbly pure and wild Laphroaig after a few days of opening (whilst it was kind of oddly caramelly and candied when the bottle was just opened). Okay, there still is a little vanilla fudge, maple syrup and cappuccino but the coastal notes really got the upper hand. Peat, pepper, oysters, kelp and all that jazz – but just like in the Sestante, no medicine (maybe just faint whiffs of mercurochrome). Also notes of old books. And quite some roasted nuts. Amazingly nosable at such high strength but let’s try it with a little water. So, with water (whilst we had weird lavender aromas when the bottle was newly opened) it gets even more maritime (which makes sense after all) and slightly medicinal indeed this time (bandages, mercurochrome). More a classic Laphroaig now but without any exuberant fruity notes. Mouth (neat): very punchy attack but relatively round and candied at the same time (apricot jam, candy sugar, baklavas, vanilla), with the distillery character really turning up after that. Peat, lemon, pepper, salt, crystallised oranges… With water: not much change except for more balance and a better compactness. Still very candied. Finish: long, peaty, peppery, with a little honey now (orange blossom honey)? A wonderful Laphroaig that didn’t stand water when it was just opened (which is a problem at 61.9%) but that got used to it after a few days. 91 points.

SHOPPING - Well, sometimes I write 'this is a perfected hipflask malt' when commenting on a whisky that's pretty good but more something to sip in small quantities in the open... I'll have to change that, as a company named Orvis is selling this huge stainless steel hipflask that holds one US gallon (3.785 litres) for USD198.00. As they wrote on the website, 'A great gift or decorative home accent, it can also be used as intended to carry spirits'. For people with deep pockets only, or for owner of a bottle of Ardbeg Mór? (via liquor snob)


MUSICJAZZ - Recommended listening: yes, maybe the music is a bit too FM (or Kenny G. - you can't always sound just like Steeleye Dan) but Nnenna Frelon sure can sing, for instance on Louisiana sun.mp3. Please buy her music...

Nnenna frelon

July 30, 2007

(thanks to shopdog)


Bruichladdich 21 yo (45%, OB, Frattina Italy, 1980’s) Colour: full gold. Nose: quite beautiful at first nosing, elegant, sort of austere in a beautiful way, with lots of bitter oranges and lamp oil, soft lead pencil and a little olive oil. Gets a little fruitier with time (melons but more the skin than the flesh, not too ripe apricots, cider apples…) Gets seriously smoky after a moment, ashy, with also whiffs of charcoal. Also a little paraffin and new magazine (ink and paper). Drier and more elegantly austere than most recent versions we know.

Mouth: excellent! Much closer to the current versions in the sense that we have a lot of melons, peaches, apricots, gooseberries… Also sweets (candy-floss, Turkish delights). Other than that it’s quite malty, with again these oily feelings (olive oil) and something distinctly ashy and smoky. Finish: quite long, mostly on sugared smoked tea and cereals, with maybe a little salt in the background. Pretty excellent old Bruichladdich! 88 points.
Bruichladdich 22 yo 1984/2007 ‘Redder Still’ (50.4%, OB, 4,000 bottles) This one was finished in Château Lafleur casks (not La Fleur-Pétrus, not Lafleur-Gazin), one of the very best Pomerols in my opinion, so even if I never really came across a claret-finished malt that was to my liking, I have high expectations. Very eye catching bottle by the way, should be a hit at Chinese New Year, if there’s any left. Colour: amber with orangey hues. Not red. Nose: what strikes me at first nosing is the smokiness rather than the expected winey notes. Quite some coffee, bitter chocolate, toasted bread, wood smoke… And then we have the wine indeed but it’s more discreet than expected. Mostly in the blackcurrant family (fruits, leaves, buds). Whiffs of peonies, ripe redcurrants. A little kirsch, gingerbread, cloves… And olive oil just like in the oldie. Much less extravagant than expected, that is, and that’s pretty good news to me. Lafleur
Mouth: immensely sweet attack, much more winey than on the nose. Cherry stalk tea, blackcurrant jelly, strawberry jam, all sort of ripe plums… Gets then quite spicy (ginger, cloves, quite some pepper). The whole is rather hot but not excessively so. Very faint rubber, a few tannins. Finish: quite long, fruity and winey, with notes of prunes and tea. And red wine of course. A mixture that works, no doubt. 87 points.


MUSICVery heavily recommended listening (I insist): Junior's groove.mp3 sung by Lorette Velvette and played by the Kropotkins (with the Velvet's Maureen Tucker on drums and current WF favourite Dave Soldier on violin). 'More cult than this doesn't exist'. Please buy their music.

Lorette Velvet

July 29, 2007



Lochside 1964/2006 (47.7%, Scott's Selection, Single Blend) Lochside used to shelter both malt and grain distilling equipments. The marriage has taken place at birth, with the incredible Mr. Joseph W Hobbs as the priest, which means that malt and grain whiskies have been together for 42 years. Let’s see if there isn’t any relationship problem…

Colour: gold. Nose: starts on typical slightly bourbonny, oaky and heavily vanilled aromas as well as lots of grated coconut and hot praline. Goes on with a little nougat, milk chocolate, toasted brioche, butter… The malty notes are well in the background, with also hints of orange marmalade and soft spices (Szechuan pepper, paprika, nutmeg). Closer to old grain than to old malt I’d say, but perfectly fresh and clean. Mouth: a very sweet and nicely sour attack with the oak playing a leading part, but also with more fruity notes than on the nose. Lemons, grapefruits, oranges… Something slightly bitter in the background, not unlike heavily infused black tea. Then it’s all back on wood extracts (tannins, something slightly milky, cloves, ginger and all the rest of the family in row). It’s very pleasant woodiness, that is, never getting too drying. Finish: quite long, rather spicy and woody, leaving a rather strong aftertaste of dried ginger. In short, probably less ‘sweet and round’ than an old grain but still very different from an old malt. Not only a curiosity, for sure. 88 points.
Lochside 35 yo 1966/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 216 bottles) This one is a ‘true’ malt from Lochside. Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh, this is very unusual for an old Lochside. Much less of a fruitbomb than most other versions I could taste, more on metal polish, cod oil (really) and paraffin. Somewhat as if somebody had thrown a handful of nails into the cask (or was it heavily patched?) Now, it improves with time, with more waxy notes, shoe polish, cut grass that starts to ferment, even whiffs of wet dog, old leather. Still little fruit, that is, except for hints of banana skins and citrons. Mouth: maybe a little ‘mushy’ at the attack, still not extremely fruity and slightly metallic. Lots of wood, tannins, apple skin… More fruits than on the nose, that is. Very ripe kiwis, bitter oranges. Quick comparison with another 1966 (by Jack Wieber) really makes it sort of weakish and too oaky, but it’s still a very good old dram. Finish: not excessively long, still peppery / woody, gingery, but with nice notes of crystallised orange zests. Slightly disappointing considering its pedigree. 85 points (old Lochside malts usually make it over 90 in my books.)
MUSICRecommended listening: it's Sunday, we go classical with Sviatoslav Richter playing Camille Saint-Saens' Molto allegro.mp3 from the Concerto No. 3. Doesn't it swing? Richter

July 28, 2007








Tobermory 1972/1990 (46%, Moon 'The Animals', cask #1527-31, 600 bottles) I hope this one will be as great as the superb ‘De Viris Illustribus’ version. Nice frogs on the label anyway… ;-). Colour: straw. Nose: quite punchy, starting on something vaguely medicinal (mercurochrome) and rather porridgy at the same time. There is some peat as well (although I wouldn’t say it’s a mislabelled Ledaig), notes of manure, bitter oranges, something like fruits starting to rot, new plastic, wet dog… Don’t Get me wrong, all that is quite pleasant in fact, just very different from what we’re used to. Notes of gin. Gets much peatier with time, with also quite some pepper, hints of mustard, ashes and shoe polish… On second thought, there may well be a little Ledaig in this one. Mouth: well, this is extremely ‘different’ to say the least, not sure I’ll find what I need in my usual tasting vocabulary. Starts with lots of shampoo (just like when you forgot to close your mouth when taking a shower), plastic, waxed cardboard (or something like that)… And cologne (like when you forgot to close your mouth when….), glue (?)… Well, you got it, this palate is plain weird and, honestly, flawed. Funny but flawed. Finish: gets a little better once the shampoo is gone but… In short, if you ever put your hands on this one, you’ll have a lot of fun nosing it but please don’t let the liquid touch your lips. I’ even wondering if they didn’t let those frogs bathe in the whisky before bottling. 60 points (for the nose).
Tobermory 33yo 1972/2006 (49.6%, Alambic Classique, cask #9721, 198 bottles) Colour: amber – mahogany. Nose: it’s the sherry that does the talking here. A lot of praline, raisins, roasted nuts, old rum, strawberry jam… The spirit itself isn’t too talkative so to speak. Hints of rubber (but no sulphury notes). Gets more animal with time, with hints of ham, game, meat and wine sauce… Gravy? Actually, it really improves with time, getting closer and closer to balsamico in a certain way. Old walnut liqueur, Campari. I’m really starting to love this nose (said Caesar to Cleopatra). Mouth: well, this is really concentrated sherry and oak. Starts on big tannins and heavily reduced wine sauce, verjuice, armagnac at cask strength, prunes… Goes o with cherry leaves, blackcurrant leaves, rubber… Frankly, this is a little too much, almost like if they had cooked together five casks of sherry matured whisky to come up with just one. Finish: very long and hyper-vinous as expected. Well, if you’re into true sherry monsters, this is for you, but if you prefer balance and complexity… The Freddy Kruger of sherried whiskies? 76 points (again, for the nose).
Tobermory 12yo 1995/2007 (56.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #482/828, 861 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: of course this is much younger and more simple but there are some similarities with the version by Moon, notably the whiffs of manure, gin and plastic. Other than that it’s on plain porridge, grains and mashed potatoes plus a little pepper and apple juice. Certainly not unpleasant and very, very ‘Tobermory’, maybe even more than the OB’s. Mouth: sweet and grainy, grainy and fruity, fruity and mashy. A genuine Tobermory, no more, no less. Finish: long and in keeping with the palate. And this is how a mundane young malt can defeat two rare and expensive oldies! 78 points.



JUST SEEN on the very excellent French forum whisky-distilleries.info, Douglas Laing's new livery for the Old Malt Cask range. More modern, no doubt - now, it seems that they kept the famous self-destructive hexagonal box.


MUSICRecommended listening: oh no, we forgot to celebrate the 40th anniversary of John Coltrane's death (although 'celebrating' may be a very stupid word here) on July 17. Let's make a few quick Giant steps.mp3...

John Coltrane

July 27, 2007

Benrinnes Benrinnes 2001/2006 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills) I think it’s very clever to issue such young malts to show distillery character in its full nudity, especially when the whiskies are gently reduced (and priced). Would be great to be able to try such expressions of all Scottish distilleries head to head! Colour: almost white. Nose: we’re very close to newmake here but without the unpleasant aromas of distillation. Something smoky and meaty (ham), greengages, kirsch, ripe melons and white peaches. Faint hints of fusel oil. Also sugared yoghurt, lager beer. Quite immature but I guess that wasn’t the point here.
Mouth: sweet, already nicely rounded, fruity and just as smoky and meaty as on the nose, with an added waxiness and notes of toasted bread and oatcakes as well as notes of ripe apples – but no pears despite the young age. A rather clean but also quite thick spirit. Oily mouth feel. Finish: rather long, quite fat even if not exactly heavy, smoky and waxy. Very, very interesting… And pleasant as well! 80 points.
Benrinnes 12yo 1994/2006 (59%, Norse Cask, hogshead #601, 290 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: I must say it’s not really more mature but that could come from the stronger alcohol. Amazingly similar, with a little smoke again, ham, wet stones, roasted coffee beans… But let’s try it with a few drops of water. It got even smokier, almost ‘peaty’ in a certain sense, but also more mineral and grassy. We have the same kind of oily smells as in the 2001 (fusel?) Mouth (neat): again, it’s very similar to the 2001, just a tad sweeter thanks to the alcohol. With water: amazing how it resembles the 2001 when reduced. It seems that seven or eight further years in wood didn’t change much. Maybe the fruitiness is more complex (apples but also oranges). Slightly bitterer as well. Finish: long, just as oily and sort of thick as the 2001, with just an added touch of salt. Excellent young whisky, another proof that Benrinnes makes classy spirit. Thanks to the worm tubs? Or to the partial triple distillation? 81 points.
MUSICRecommended listening: Let's have a little African music today, with Uganda's Charles and Frida Sonko playing Nawuliranga.mp3 with the Orchestra Melo Success. It was in the sixties and they were really good, please buy their music if you can... (via the great blog Benn loxo du taccu) Sonko

July 26, 2007

Caol Ila







Caol Ila 21 yo 1984/2006 (46% Coopers Choice) Colour: pale gold. Nose: classic Caol Ila, mid-peated, smoky, buttery, with notes of ripe freshly cut apples and tangerines. Whiffs of sea breeze and fresh oysters. Not very far from the official 18 yo as far as the nose is concerned. Mouth: yes, classic Caol Ila. A little liquorice, smoke, fruit salad, marzipan… Gets smokier and ashier with time, swinging from fruits to smoke and minerals. Finish: rather long, dry, clean and peaty. Hard to tell you more about this one. 84 points.
Caol Ila 1984/2006 (53.5%, Scott's Selection) Colour: white wine. Nose: punchier but much more on grains, mash, beer, porridge… Less smoky and less peaty than the Coopers. More on lemons – or should I say lemon flavoured yoghurt? Rather nice but a bit simple I’d say. Mouth: powerful, smoky, peaty, fruity (lemons and apples), slightly salty… Ite missa est. Finish: more of the same for quite a long time. Very good but ‘it’s just another good Caol Ila’. 84 points.
Caol Ila 22 yo 1984/2007 (59%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 261 bottles) Colour: pale straw. Nose: a little silent at first nosing, not very expressive. Takes off a bit after a while but it’s still no brilliant talker. Rather sharp, more mineral and ashy than its two siblings, but gains steam with more time (don’t rush this one!) Gets wilder, peatier, closer to the south shore’s profile. Big smoke, ashes, green apples… Mouth: punchy, compact, lemony, peaty, smoky, ashy… And reversely. A little more oomph and complexity that in its bros, thanks to more fruits (notably grapefruits and gooseberries). Perfect balance I must say. Finish: long, pure smoky lemon sweets (somebody should invent that one day). A bit less ‘boring’ than the other ones but maybe all our bottling friends could slow down a bit with Caol Ila… Sure it’s totally great whisky but does the world really need 1,245,278 new (rather similar) expressions every year? No offence intended and of course that's a general comment. 86 points.


MUSICRecommended listening: that's right, it's Punk passionara Siouxsie Sioux who sings Lewis Allan's Strange fruit.mp3 in 1987 (it 's on Through the Looking Glass). Did she manage to capture Bilie Holliday's spirit? Please buy here music...


July 24, 2007

Banff 1974 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label) Colour: dark straw. Nose: very fresh and rather smoky, all on fresh kiwis and working toaster. Notes of cider apples, also muesli. Lots of presence. Whiffs of new putty, mastic. Beautiful oakiness in the background (freshly sawn oak). What’s sure is that it’s very smoky. A great surprise. Mouth: sweet and full bodied at just 40%, starting more on spices this time (mustard seeds, pepper) as well as these green apples and fresh walnuts. Gets a little weaker after that (weakish middle) but it takes off again at the finish, with a nice grassiness and always these mustardy notes. Good whisky, a little old style I’d say. One could use it as a great mustard sauce. 86 points.
Banff 31yo 1967/1999 (41.5%, The Bottlers, cask #3113) Colour: gold. Nose: probably not as smoky as the G&M but there is some smoke. Also much grassier, with big notes of marzipan and fresh almonds as well as smoked tea (lapsang souchong). Notes of wood varnish, old cupboard, carpenter’s workshop (great oakiness). Add to that a rather splendid fruitiness (cider apples just like in the G&M, quinces…) and you get a superb Banff. I must say I start to understand better our friends who are true Banff aficionados, like MM’s Michel. Mouth: similar to the G&M but even more ‘Banffesque’, with loads of spices and yes, these heavy notes of mustard. Un-sugared coffee. Excellent oakiness (apple peel, almond skin) and something slightly perfumy in the background (orange blossom water). Finish: long, peppery and mustardy, with that oriental background (baklavas). Truly excellent and anything but boring. 90 points.
Banff 30 yo 1975/2006 (42.2%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, cask #3416) Colour: straw. Nose: we’re in the same territories but this one is quite fresher (if that’s possible) and less smoky. More a classic old Speysider, on light honey and all kinds of fresh fruits (oranges, apples). Delicate oakiness and quite some farmy aromas starting to take control (clean manure, hay). Faint hints of musk and a little praline. Again, different but just as superb as the 1967. Mouth: almost the same whisky as the 1967, with maybe just a little more oomph. Please see above. Finish: a tad more drying, with more tannins but the whole is excellent again. 90 points.
Banff 26yo 1980/2006 (56.1%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, cask #2913, 220 bottles) Colour; straw. Nose: much more mundane than the 1975 at first nosing, rounder, sweeter, more on cooked fruits (apple compote) and light honey. Also notes of Fanta. No smoke. Gets then more vegetal, grassy, maybe slightly coastal (kelp). Far from being unpleasant but less thrilling than its older brother, at least on the nose. Mouth: powerful, tasting much younger than the 1975 (not just five years) and more bitter as well. Slightly acrid. Other than that it’s also more on lemon zest and green apples. Finish: very long, curiously acidic, just like peppered lemon juice. Good but a bit difficult I’d say – it had a hard time after the superb 1975. 84 points.
Banff 29 yo 1975/2004 (46%, Berry Bros, cask #3323) Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is a straighter version again, much more mineral and ashy. Quite some shoe polish, aluminium pan, matchtiscks… Gets smokier with time, even more mineral (flints, wet chalk). Beautifully austere and extremely clean, with something metallic that resembles OBE. Oh, and we have a lot of bitter chocolate making a late arrival. Superb again. Mouth: extremely coherent with the nose. There’s this straightforwardness (or should we call that rectitude?), a beautiful sharpness and a perfect blend of minerals and citrus fruits. Just like the best Alsatian Rieslings. Banff
Finish: long, softer now, clean, balanced and superbly spicy (now we have a little mustard again). Great bottling, I’d have loved to try this one at cask strength. 90 points (and thanks Tomislav).
Banff 1966/2001 (52.3%, Blackadder Raw Cask, cask #3438, 539 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is much, much woodier, with lots of varnish, vanilla and toffee, and very little of Banff’s character. Pleasant but it could be just any Speysider. Faint whiffs of smoke and mint but that’s all. Mouth: well, it’s definitely the oak that’s got the lead in this one, even if it’s not exactly drying. Again these varnishy notes, very bitter apple peels, grapefruit skin, green curry… And yes, mustard. I’m not a fan of hyper-fruitiness but this one could be a bit more, well, fruity. Finish: long but still quite tannic and bitterish. Extreme in its woodiness, yet it’s not plank infusion. Hard to explain, in fact. 80 points.
Banff And also revisiting Banff 36yo 1966/2003 (50.2%, Jack Wiebers Premier Malts, C#3440) I scored this one quite poorly a few years ago and my friend Michel (yes the same Michel) thought I should try it again and provided me with a new sample. Good idea. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very close to the Blackadder (it’s sister cask) but it’s a little less woody and the distillery character gets through more easily. A little smoke, a little shoe polish, tarmac, apple peel… Less presence than, say the Berry Bros but I agree it’s a very nice nose.
Mouth: powerful, not as woody as its sister cask but definitely spicier. Hugely peppery, mustardy, punchy, bitter… It’s really for bad boys. Finish: marginally rounder and softer than cask #3438 but the aftertaste is very oaky and dry, just like you just ate a full block of bitter chocolate (70%+). Conclusion: you were right Michel, it’s worth more than just 77 points but you really have to like oak in your whisky. My opinion of course. Now, I agree Banff can be stupendous, but I’ll spare you useless comments such as ‘but why the hell did they clo…’ 81 points.
MUSICRecommended listening: it's cult, it's Mister sun.mp3 sung by ex-expert in global warming Brigitte Bardot. Weezz dew Frenchuh accentuh uff coorss'. Please do what you like. Bardot

July 23, 2007


Talisker 1972 (70°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, black label, golden eagle, 1980’s) Colour: pale gold. Nose: molto torbato (copyright Valentino Zagatti) for a Talisker, and very maritime as well. Hints of bicycle inner tube, seawater, beeswax, antique shop and almond milk. Sort of bold and delicate at the same time. Citron and soft pepper. Very perfect nose even if the whole is in fact very subtle. Too subtle for me? Mouth: maybe a little too much caramel. It’s slightly fragile actually, a little cardboardy but not weak at all. Add to that a slight smokiness. Not far from the current 10yo OB (who said old whiskies are always better?) but sort of weaker on the palate – but again, not tired. 86 points.

Talisker 1979/1994 (46%, Moon Import) It’s funny, this one is meant to be from the ‘islay of skye’ according to the label. Well, I know nothing about Gaellic so… Colour: white wine. Nose: rather discreet, maybe a tad soapy in fact. Gets peatier and more peppery with time but also grassy, austere, dry, not very enjoyable I must say. I usually like this kind of profile but this one lacks the sharpness and straightforwardness that should go along. And did I mention the notes of cod oil? Mouth: better for a while, with more body, more richness but also something cardboardy that leads to a weaker middle. Quite waxy and a little salty. A little iodine. Gains power again after a thirty seconds, with the lemon and pepper making a late arrival. Finish: probably the best part. Compact, more ‘Taliskerian’, maritime, with quite some nutmeg and lemon marmalade. Good whisky in fact, but not an absolute winner (although this one may please the label drinkers). 84 points.
Talisker 1992/2006 (46%, Jean Boyer, One Shot) We already tried this one, but it was it's cask strength sister. Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re on another planet despite the similar strength. Much closer to the grain, the mash, with surprising notes of poppy seeds and even sesame seeds as well as almond milk. The whole is rougher and wilder than its older siblings but also smokier, even if not immensely maritime. Grassier. Notes of apples. Peated apples? Mouth: excellent attack, extremely classic. Big, fat, oily, peaty, peppery, maritime and lemony – yet very drinkable. Finish: long, still very bold, assertive, compact… A perfect young Talisker, maybe a tad sharper and less than the recent official OB’s – yes that’s possible. Not really complex but great whisky. 88 points.
Talistill 1996/2007 (46%, Taste Still, 180 bottles) With a name like this, I’d bet it’s Talisker inside (nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?) When the Pot Still bar will have their own bottling, maybe they’ll call it Talipot ;-) Colour: gold. Nose: yet another profile! Cleaner, sharper, more mineral, smokier, less mashy but maybe also less demonstrative. Hints of mint and apple skin, flints… Also notes of very fresh oysters? Very nice notes of beeswax, orange-scented candles… Keeps developing or a long time, with more and more orangey notes. Superb I must say, but you have to give it time. Mouth: rounder, softer for a while but getting more assertive, peaty, candied, fruity (quinces, oranges). Loads of spices as well, an ever-developing peatiness, more and more pepper… And yet, it’s still perfectly balanced. Brilliant young whisky at a perfect drinking strength (not sipping, sipping is 50%, drinking is 46%). Finish: long, wide and compact at the same time, peaty, waxy, smoky and candied… 100% pleasure. Another one that may prove that, indeed, malts distilled from around 1992-1994 on got globally better (again). My tuppence. 90 points.
MUSICRecommended listening: I don't know why I felt the need to listen to this old Super Strut.mp3 by Eumir Deodato today... Why oh why... But please buy his music! Deodato

July 22, 2007

Millburn 1966 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice) Colour: full amber. Nose: beautifully orangey, with also lots of beeswax and honey as well as whiffs of wood smoke, shoe polish, old furniture… Another one that smells like a high-end antiques shop (not just the average second dhand goods dealer, of course). Gets superbly minty and camphory, nutty, toasty… Fabulous balance. Top class old whisky, very complex on the nose. Mouth: lots of oomph but now we have these weird notes of cardboard I often found in Millburn. Quite dry, with lots of cocoa powder, flour, cinnamon, coffee… On the other hand, the sherry’s very pleasant, with a taste of ‘yellow’, dry oloroso, old walnuts… Hints of blackberry jelly. Very interesting I must say, especially the rather long finish on coffee, chocolate and jam (maybe blackcurrant this time). An old style malt, no recent version of any distilleries come close to this regarding its profile. A slice of History? 88 points.
Millburn 1971/1991 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice) Colour: gold. Nose: ouch, this is really weird… Tinned sardines? Corned beef? Last century’s sausages? Luckily, things do improve after a good ten minutes of breathing. More metallic notes, malt, roasted nuts… But there’s also a rather huge cardboardiness. Hints of rotting oranges… And then it’s back to smoked meat. Bizarre… Mouth: very bizarre indeed. Hints of apple compote at the attack but then we have lots of paper and even plastic and soap. Lavender sweets? Goes on on paraffin, fish oil, hints of marzipan… And again this meatiness (smoked ham). Not too enjoyable I must say, even if the medium long finish is nicer, quite salty… 72 points.
Millburn 1974/2000 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice) Colour: straw. Nose: almost silent, this one. A little grainy but also just as cardboardy as the 1971. Hints of coal, wet stones, metal polish. Also very grassy. Not much happening on the nose here, I’m afraid, maybe just hints of beer, mint and sweat (or gym socks). Mouth: almost as bizarre as the 1974 but it’s sort of toned down, not as extreme. Paraffin, mineral tasting oil, paper indeed, stale apple juice, quite some salt… A bit weakish. The finish is rather short, cereally, salty and again, quite cardboardy. 70 points.
Millburn 17 yo 1979/1996 (43%, Signatory, Antique Collection, France, 6000 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: Millburn’s weirdness is well here but this is more civilized. More on fresh butter (but we do have a little wet paper and cardboard), grains, hints of violets, buttered caramel, fresh baguette, tea… Also hints of metal and mint, wet hay, infused green tea, motor oil, smoked ham… There’s always something happening in any whisky coming from the three old Inverness distilleries (Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor, Millburn), for the better or the worse. This one is very pleasant. Mouth: rather full bodied, probably better balanced than both the 1971 and 1974 (the 1966 was on another planet, partly thanks to much more sherry in the vatting I guess). We have quite some salt, notes of Guinness, caramel, chamomile tea, peanut butter, candy sugar… Maybe also a little maple syrup. Lots of praline as well, no cardboard and paper this time. Finish: quite rich, medium long, on caramel, earl grey tea, dried oranges and vanilla. Too bad this wasn’t bottled at 45 or 46%, it’s excellent old whisky. 85 points.


MUSICRecommended listening: it's Sunday, let's go classical with one of WF's favourites, the magical Anna Netrebko (who does not take herself too seriously it seems - great!), this time singing the Cavatina and rondo.mp3 from Act 2 of Glinka's A life for the tsar.Please buy all of her works and go to her operas and recitals.


July 21, 2007








Mannochmore 1984/2004 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice) Colour: gold. Nose: relatively discreet at first nosing, developing mainly on wood (new plank), but it’s high quality plank. Then we have whiffs of sherry, the whole being quite subtle. Pleasant. Mouth: the attack is a bit lumpish but it grows more nervous, on caramel, fudge, cooked coffee and toasted bread. Right, burnt bread again. Finish: not very long but pleasantly bitter, with unusual coastal notes at the very end. A good version. 85 points.
Mannochmore 1990/2006 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice) Colour: straw. Nose: very characteristic, sort of smoky (garden bonfire, burning wet leaves and grass). Gets then more yoghurty, porridgy, grainy… Also notes of green apples, fresh walnuts. Very pleasant in its own genre, with less sherry than in the 1984. Mouth: the attack is a little dry and bitter, less pleasant now. Quite some oak, hints of mustard, strong tea… Burnt bread. Lacks smoothness in my opinion. Finish; long but still drying and bitterish (rocket salad). Interesting nose but the mouth is a bit hard I think. 76 points.
Mannochmore 18 yo (66%, OB, Manager's dram, 1800 Bts., 1997) 66%? Shall we get our kicks from this one? Colour: gold. Nose: starts right on wet paint, cut cactus and newspaper of the day (ink), aspirin. Sure you can nose it but it’s extremely austere, although quite elegant I must say. With water (aaah): gets closer to the grain and the mash, with also whiffs of raw wool, motor oil… Mineral. Not exactly sexy but this one is kind of intellectual. Mouth (neat): extremely powerful to say the least, bitter… Hard to swallow. Notes of ultra-strong herb liqueur. With water: it’s more lemony (crystallized lemon zests) and more on porridge. Finish: long, still austere, very grassy, quite demanding. A very serious malt, sort of respectable but not made to give you much pleasure (not unlike my math teacher, 30 years ago – I hope she’s still alive but does not read Whiskyfun!). But it’s very interesting malt. 83 points.




MUSICRecommended listening: and now for something different, American poet Yusef Komunyakaa declaims No Lowdown Blues.mp3 with master Hamiett Bluiett on barytone sax. Please support poetry.


July 20, 2007








Springbank 10 yo 1996/2006 (46%, Duncan Taylor NC2, Port Cask) Colour: gold – apricot. Nose: rather punchy at first nosing, a little spirity, but then it’s all on apricots, a little wood smoke, toasted brioche and honey. Hints of blackcurrant buds in the background, peonies. Faint whiffs of cologne, nothing unpleasant. Mouth: an extreme fruitiness plus a faint smokiness. We have a lot of blackcurrant jelly, bubblegum, maybe even marshmallows… Seville oranges as well… Is it winey? Maybe a little but the whole is balanced and enjoyable. Good structure. Finish: medium long, still on bubblegum but also with quite some pepper and dried ginger. Good, very drinkable, not complicated. Good value. 85 points.
Same malt but bottled in 2007 : extremely similar although maybe a tad less winey on the nose. The palate is just the same as far I can judge. No reason to rate this one differently. 85 points.
Springbank 13 yo 1993/2007 (58.7%, Single Malts of Scotland) Colour: white wine. Nose: oh, this one is probably the closest to a recent… Longrow that an indie Springbank can get. No peat but very heavy notes of tinned pineapples, dried lychees, something strangely chemical (I’m not saying it’s wrong) such as Alka-Seltzer, lime juice, strong porridge, a little manure… Gets wilder with time, with quite some pipe tobacco, a little shoe polish… Very ‘different’ and extremely entertaining I must say. Unlike any other malt. Mouth: yes it’s like an unpeated Longrow again. Oily, unusually herbal (sage? Coriander? Parsley?), with quite some olive oil, bitter oranges, and maybe hints of lavender and violet sweets. Keeps developing, mostly on grapefruits and spices (cloves, all-spices). Finish: long, much more balanced than expected, grassy and nicely bitterish. Well, this one gives a lot of fun, but who did pour quite a few litres of Longrow into that cask? ;-) 86 points.
Springbank 35 yo 1971/2007 (59%, The Whisky Fair, sherry wood, 239 bottles) Again an improbable strength considering this one’s age. Colour: gold. Nose: this is ‘of course’, very different. It starts on fantastic resinous notes (new thuja box you just bought in a souk in Marrakech – err…), cellulose varnish, bananas, camphor, coconut milk… Also whiffs of camphor, eucalyptus, acacia honey… Extremely fresh, not woody at all, complex but assertive – I like this nose a lot and the high alcohol probably kept this one very, very lively. In other words, the advantages of an old malt without its drawbacks. Will it be the same on the palate? Mouth: sweet, round, creamy, punchy but unbelievably drinkable at 59% (or is it me?) It starts more on apricots and cherry plums this time as well as orange marmalade and ginger, with a few tannins frolicking on your tongue. There’s also a faint smokiness, vanilla, mocha, praline, nougat, white pepper… In short, it’s a very sultry old Springbank. With a few drops of water (not needed but just to see what happens – and while the nose gets more on mint and eucalyptus): not much changes except for a little more oak, a little more salt and a certain grassiness. Finish: long, extremely balanced and satisfying considering its age, fruity, creamy, spicy, salty… With also a little nutmeg. Frankly, I didn’t get much sherry I must say but this is a brilliant old Springbank, elegant and full of uprightness. Impeccable selection by our German friends. 93 points.
MUSICRecommended listening: it's hard blues time today, with the late R.L. Burnside and his Going down South.mp3 (from A ass pocket of whiskey, with Jon Spencer's Blues Explosion). Please buy R.L.'s music... Burnside

July 19, 2007

Glenmorangie 1971 (43%, OB, circa 1996) Colour: gold – amber. Nose: more spirity than expected and not that subtle at first nosing but things keep improving after a few minutes. We have lots of coffee, wood smoke and bitter chocolate, with a marked maltiness together with notes of green apples and then quite a fruit blast (lots of kiwis, gooseberries) with whiffs of steaming hot green tea. Lots of wax as well, stones, a little turpentine and an overall profile that’s closer to a nearby distillery starting with a C. that’s a little further north on the east coast. Great old style Highlands. Mouth: excellent attack, beautifully dry and very elegant, with notes of old fino. Quite some liquorice, lots of spices (soft paprika, cinnamon), walnuts, then cough syrup, black tea from a good house, bitter chocolate… Too bad it’s just a tad weakish because it’s really excellent. Finish: not very, very long but quite phenolic, with some smokiness, resin, crystallized quince, salted liquorice, olive oil… This is funny, there’s more happening at the finish than at the attack or at the middle. Perfect dryness I’d say, and great complexity. Probably one of the best Glenmoes I ever had. 90 points.
Glenmorangie 30 yo ‘Malaga Cask Finish’ (43%, OB, 2597 bottles, circa 2006) Let’s go on with our little ‘embedded’ wine encyclopaedia. Malaga is a city in Andalucia and its production of sweet whites is quite restraint, even if they get more popular again. The main grapes are Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel (which may explain why my old grandma used to like her small glass of Malaga every once in a while). Colour: full gold. Nose: amazingly sweeter and simpler than the 1971 at first sniffs – but it’s a little shy too. Alas, it does not take off like the 1971 did, staying rather simply vinous, raisiny, fruity (apricots), with also hints of ginger tonic. Not exactly in the same league it seems… Mouth: the attack is weaker than the 1971’s, sweetish, sort of lumpish, with a little muscat, crushed ripe strawberries, vanilla-flavoured yoghurt… It’s also a little cardboardy, with just a little spices (nutmeg). Not bad, of course, but it’s really having a bad time after the really brilliant 1971. 78 points.
Glenmorangie 1993/2005 'Chinkapin oak cask' (57.3%, OB, cask #1953, 298 bottles) Exclusive to World of Whiskies at Heathrow. Chinkapin, aka quercus muehlenbergii, is a variety of oak trees that is native to eastern North America. After wine, botany - incredible how much we learn thanks to Glenmorangie. Colour: dark gold. Nose: we’re a little closer to the 1971 at first sniffs, but it develops on lots of hot roasted coffee beans, toasted oak (heavy treatment it seems), vanilla, grilled tea (Japanese hochicha) and hints of mint. Quite simple but like many of Glenmorangie’s ‘oaky experiments’, it does quite work. Nice toastiness and oakiness (but not much else, that is). Enjoyable dryness. With water: it’s like plain coffee now! Amazing… Mouth (neat): sweet and punchy, very resinous and very unusual. An intriguing wood infusion! Something like turpentine (not that I quaff turpentine every day), liquorice sticks, tar… And something very herbal, that I never had before. ‘Funny’. With water: cappuccino! And I’m not joking… Truly amazing. Finish: long, bold, compact, coffeeish, resinous and vanilled. The whole is very different, entertaining and special. Too bad there were so few bottles… 87 points.
Glenmorangie 1991/2005 ‘Speakeasy’ (58.40%, OB, Bourbon Barrel #5448) Hand bottled by clients visiting the distillery. So, a ‘speakeasy’ is a kind of… OK, joking! Colour: full gold. Nose: probably the shyer of them all. A little spirity, getting then very grassy with just a little mint and liquorice… Maybe it’s the high alcohol, let’s try it with water: hmm, no, not much else happening, except maybe a little aniseed that we didn’t have before. Mouth (neat): sweet, spirity, extremely vanilled and fruity (ripe mellon). Much, much nicer than on the nose. Nice spiciness as well (pepper from the wood) but gets a little burning. With water: a little more mint but it dos not get any more complex I’m afraid, and the finish is in the same vein (nice notes of pears, vanilla and mint though). Good whisky but it’s a little ‘middle of the road’, especially when compared with the restless ‘Chinkapin’. 80 points.
MUSICRecommended listening: Most surprisingly, nobody ever complained about the fact that we had some Hot Tuna only once on Whiskyfun. Weird… Anyway, time to listen to the great Jorma and Jack (ex-Jefferson Airplane as you probably know) again, this time they’re doing Bowlegged woman, knock kneed Man.mp3 – live! Please buy their music! Hot Tuna

July 18, 2007

Laphroaig 16 Laphroaig 16yo 1988/2004 (46%, The Syndicate, bottled at Bruichladdich) A strange bottle that looks like an OB. Which kind of Syndicate is it? Sorry collectors, I have no further clues. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a very clean Laphroaig, similar to the usual 10yo but with a little more of everything, that is to say more peat, more lemon, more grapefruit and more gunflints in this case. Not too medicinal I must say. Mouth: pretty much in the same vein. Ripe kiwis and pineapples, even more grapefruits, more peat than in the 10 and quite a smokiness. Finish: rather long, getting salty with time. Very salty actually. Excellent, 89 points. Last minute info: our friend Geert tells me that The Syndicate is a club gathering ten famous whisky people on Islay, including distillery managers, who are funding their activities by doing their own bottlings from time to time.
Laphroaig ‘Quarter Cask’ (48%, OB, circa 2007) Colour: gold. Nose: all on chamomile, bananas, kiwis, butter, vanilla and smoke. Mouth: herb liqueurs, vanilla, wormwood, dried pear… And smoke. Finish: long, closer to the regular Laphroaigs, smoky, delicately tannic. Excellent balance but maybe a tad less thrilling than the first versions in my opinion. Maybe a little too smooth. 87 points. Laphroaig CS
Laphroaig 10 yo Cask Strength (55.7%, OB, circa 2007) A personal favourite (nothing original about that). Colour: gold. Nose: oh, the CS seems to have grown fruitier. Loads of strawberries, orange and chocolate, verbena (brilliant!), cherry plums. Maybe a tad les peaty than previous versions but more globally exuberant. Mouth: closer to previous batches now (by the way, did you know that a typical batch at Laphroaig’s gathers 250 barrels @ 55 gallons?), very smoky, with lots of kumquats and hints of maraschino as well as passion fruits. A lot of zing. Long, compact and perfectly balanced finish. Superb, this one reminds me of the older ‘green stripe’ version. 92 points.
Islay 8 Islay 8 yo 1998/2007 (58.8%, The Spirit Safe and Cask, hogshead #52, 305 bottles) An undisclosed Islayer bottled by Celtic Whisky Compagnie in Brittany. Colour: pale gold. Nose: smoky as it should, medicinal as expected and superbly minty and camphory as well. Loads of mercurochrome, bandages, embrocations… And then big bold notes of soaked peated malt, wet hay, farmyard… One of the most idiosyncratic young Islayers from the south shore I could try recently, but with no fruits and no sweetness. Fantastic. Mouth: triple bang. Hugely concentrated, as smoky as possible (almost like if you licked the snoot off a chimney), with a wild, wild peat. Amazingly demonstrative. Finish: endless, maybe a tad sweeter now (apple lolly), still extremely smoky, peaty and quite salty as well. Succulent. 90 points.
And also two other 'undisclosed' Islayers: Smoking Islay NAS (55%, Blackadder, Cask ref BA2005/213, Bottled 2005) Perfect balance. Prototypical young Islayer, simple but flawless. 87 points. Smoking Islay
Adelphi 13yo 1992/2006 'Breath of Islay' (57,5%, Adelphi, cask #5346, 275 bottles) Excellent smokiness, smoked tea. Pepper. Ashes. Very good. 87 points.


MUSICHighly recommended listening: another slice of that wonderful Hendrix cover CD, 'Power of Soul', this time it's Chaka Khan shouting Little wings.mp3. Please buy her music...

Chaka Khan

July 17, 2007



Ardmore 11 yo 1995/2006 ‘Wood Finish’ (42%, Dun Eideann, cask #14069) A rather strange bottle. The label says it’s a ‘wood finish’ but it doesn’t add which wood nor for how long it’s been finished. Does that make any sense? Let’s try to find out…

Colour: straw. Nose: a rather fresh start on quite some peat like often with Ardmore as well as notes of overripe pears and kiwis. Gets then rather grainy and mashy (mashed potatoes with quite some butter) and slightly minty. Quite some yoghurt as well, sour cream, chlorine… Sort of mouldy (not obligatorily in a bad way), old wine cellar, old barrel... Slightly stale apple juice. Mouth: maybe a tad too smooth at the attack, with first a little apple juice and then directly the peat and the pepper as well as hints of cardboard and liquorice. Very sweet toffee, buttered caramel, cake… Gets a little bolder with time, quite candied and gingery (speculoos). The attack was a bit weakish but it keeps improving after that, even if it never gets really bold or too satisfying. A little too sweet for Ardmore, I’d say. Finish: not too long, sweet, vanilled, fruity and peppery, with something that reminds me of a peated Irish Connemara. Quite some caramel and hints of salt. Alright, I couldn’t get any finishing here, except maybe bourbon, but it’s very drinkable malt for sure. 80 points.
Speyside 1995/2007 ‘Affinage Fût de Vin de Champagne’ (46%, Celtique Connexion) A single malt from Speyside that’s been ‘finished’ in a Champagne cask where white wine was matured before it got ‘champagnised’ in bottles, like they do with the best cuvees. Colour: full gold. Nose: starts on lots of wine and wood influence but in a very elegant way, with notes of wet oak, quince jelly and something toasted/roasted like if they was botrytis. Pretty complex and certainly not fat or thick. Goes on with notes of orange salad with olive oil and fresh mint leaves, hints of fir honeydew, apricot jam… Slight meatiness in the background (bacon with pineapple). Quite some beeswax as well. Very interesting, doesn’t smell of Champagne as such, or maybe very old Champagne in the Bollinger style. Mouth: thicker, somewhat oilier and also oakier, with a rather nice bitterness from the wood that balances the sweetness. Something slightly grassy but then we have the expected yellow fruits (quince, apricot). Notes of walnuts. Maybe less complex than on the nose but quite assertive. Finish: long, grassier, still quite bitter (herb liqueur), with hints of mint again and quite some liquorice. A very active champagne cask it seems and rather punchy and almost ‘invading’ whisky. Not the light side of champagne, I liked the nose a little better than the palate - and what a nose!. 86 points.
MUSICRecommended listening: what, Earth Wind and Fire? Yes, but it's their supersonic version of Voodoo Chile.mp3 (from the fantastic Hendrix cover album 'Power of Soul' that gathers luminaries such as Carlos Santana, Bootsy Collins or Prince). Please buy their music... Earth wind and fire

July 16, 2007

Balblair Balblair 40yo 1965/2007 (47.7%, Speciality Drinks Ltd – The Whisky Exchange) A brand new bottling by our friends in London, with a different packaging. Colour: amber. Nose: really a carpenter’s workshop! Lots of cellulose varnish, freshly sawn oak but also old furniture, antiques… Also lots of vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, roasted nuts. The oakiness is very heavy but also extremely pleasant. This one could be mistaken for a very old and very good rum when nosed blind I think. Keeps developing on crystallised oranges and heather honey, then ripe mellon and peaches as well as bananas flambéed. Gets more and more ‘old-Balblairish’ with time. Quite superb I mist say. Mouth: we’re closer to the famous 38yo OB now, with the fruitiness striking right from the start and holding out on the heavy woodiness. Very ripe melons again, bananas, apricots… Orange zests, pecan pie, coffee beans… Very good even if maybe a little less complex than on the nose. Still very nervous at such old age, in any case. Finish: long, quite hot and almost young, with the wood, the spices and the fruits mingling quite beautifully. A rather rougher version of the famous 38yo OB I’d say, still a beautiful old whisky. 90 points.
Balblair 16 yo 1991/2007 (57%, C&S Dram Collection, hogshead, Cask #1015, 192 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: much less wood influence of course, much closer to raw spirit but it’s classy raw spirit. Quite fruity (fresh strawberries, gooseberries and apples). Faint hints of cologne – nothing embarrassing here. A little porridge. A rather inactive cask it seems. Mouth: extremely fruity, not too far from tutti frutti spirit. It’s a little too hot at full strength, that is, let’s add a little water… Right, while the nose got more lemony and slightly earthy, the palate got gentler, simply fruity (apples and pears again) and malty/grainy. No flaws but maybe no real thrill either at this stage. Also a little pepper. Finish: medium long, with a little oak, less fruits, more pepper and added notes of apple and walnut skins. Simple but good. 79 points. Balblair CS
Carla Bley MUSICRecommended listening: ha remixes! We're not int that too much but I must say Frenchies Rocca and Kohndo did a marvellous job on Carla Bley's Song sung long.mp3 (it was on 1976's Dinner Music) Please buy all these people's music!
June 2007 - part 1 <--- July 2007 - part 2 ---> August 2007 - part 1

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



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

Balblair 40yo 1965/2007 (47.7%, Speciality Drinks Ltd – The Whisky Exchange)

Glenmorangie 1971 (43%, OB, circa 1996)

Islay 8 yo 1998/2007 (58.8%, The Spirit Safe and Cask, hogshead #52, 305 bottles)

Laphroaig 10 yo Cask Strength (55.7%, OB, circa 2007)

Laphroaig 18 yo 1988/2006 (61.9%, Doulas Laing OMC for Binny’s for The Plowed Society, cask ref 2281, 154 bottles, USA)

Springbank 35 yo 1971/2007 (59%, The Whisky Fair, sherry wood, 239 bottles)