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Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2009 - Part 1

June 2009 - part 2 <--- July 2009 - part 1---> July 2009 - part 2


July 13, 2009

Troxy, Limehouse, London, June 17th 2009
Jarvis Cocker
Jarvis Cocker has released a new album, which in the spirit of the times has turned its back on the melodic (although not the melancholic), and rejected sophistication and complexity in favour of a stripped-down rock and roll feel, perhaps partly inspired by recording engineer Steve Albini.
This, you may recall, was as predicted when he previewed songs from the new album at the end of last year at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The reception for Further Complications has been mixed, some rejecting its rawness as a backward step, others embracing it. Not a few have suggested that the music, like the album’s title, reflects a difficult time in Cocker’s personal affairs, if not a mid-life crisis for the 46-year-old.
On this short UK tour to promote the album, Cocker has turned away from the West and brought us to Troxy, the rather unlikely venue (and former theatre of dreams) in the East End’s Limehouse, once in the heart of the capital’s docklands, and the place where cholera first struck in London in 1832, as Cocker reminds us. This last fact was about the only thing all evening that diverted the two sturdy security guards in front of us from their task of managing access to the mosh, and keeping the path to the raised area of the ground floor clear. In fact, the security are everywhere; it’s a hugely over-staffed venue, which, nice though the carpeted floors are, could do with investing a bit more in some basic facilities (the woefully inadequate three urinals guarantee lengthy queues and ill-humour all evening).     Jarvis Cocker
But the sound is pretty good, or certainly good enough for Jarvis’s new stuff, driven by the two guitarists Tim McColl and Martin Craft. The set begins in uncompromising fashion with ‘Angela’, followed by the ‘spare post-industrial rock’ (as my notebook says) of ‘Further complications’, and doesn’t look back.
Cocker joins the stage brandishing a cane, then jumps, kicks, postures and philosophises when he’s not bellowing out his lyrics, which despite the stripped-back sound retain his trademark wit, sophistry and slyness, and not a tad of explicit sexuality (‘Fuckingsong’). At its best the set is glorious; think eighty-five per cent Jarvis Cocker, ten per cent Psychedelic Furs (particularly when the saxophone is introduced) and five per cent rocking Roxy Music and you might get an idea. The set moved between the new album and some of the highlights from his first eponymous album, ‘Big Julie’, ‘Black magic’, and in the encore ‘Fat kids’. And for the most part it’s all very good stuff, though ‘You’re in my eyes’, an inexplicably self-indulgent disco pastiche, is as weak live as it is on the album. Still it’s at least an eight out of ten gig, which is good enough for me. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate) Jarvis Cocker
Listen: Jarvis Cocker on MySpace
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK on holidays in St Tropez


Pittyvaich 1993/2005 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice) Pittyvaich was built in 1975, stopped distilling in 1993 and was demolished in 2002. Wooosh! This one is from the distillery’s last year. Colour: white wine. Nose: typical young Speysider but with a little more smoke than usual. ‘Smoked porridge’ and lemon-sprinkled apple compote, beer and baker’s yeast. We’re not extremely far from some herbs-flavoured vodkas such as Zubrowka. Mouth: easy-going fruity and grassy Speysider at the attack, getting more porridgy and more on fruit drops. Jell-O. Finish: shortish and weakish, grassy. Pears. Comments: not unpleasant (I couldn’t be more PC than that, could I!) SGP:331 - 73 points.
Pittyvaich 18 yo 1990/2009 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, sherry, 703 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: ‘nice’ average sherry with whiffs of gunpowder, struck matches, roasted chestnuts and burnt bread and cake but the sulphury notes grow bigger over time, without becoming a huge problem (no ‘eggs’, no ‘truffles’). Gets then rather less pleasant, with notes of orange squash (Fanta, really) and ginger tonic as well as quite some rubber (bands). Very average. Mouth: the attack is okay but sometimes these notes of orangeade just don’t work well with sherry. Green vegetables, apple vinegar. Finish: rather long but the sulphur comes back. Odd. Comments: cheapo/barely okayish in my opinion. SGP:431 – 70 points.

July 10, 2009

Glen Mhor


Glen Mhor (now Telford Retail Park!) is one the best examples of old school Highlanders, sometimes a tad shaky in my opinion but always interesting and, above all, always funny to try. In other words, exactly the opposite of most recent modern malt whiskies with ‘wood technology inside’.

Glen Mhor 33 yo 1975/2009 (40.2%, Duncan Taylor, Rarest of the Rare, cask #4035, 250 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: smooth, almost a little ethereal (which isn’t very ‘Glen Mhor’ to say the least) but wonderfully waxy and grassy at first nosing, with also distinct notes of green bananas (skin) and fresh almonds. Goes on with notes of green tea, something like asparagus, custard powder, hints of shoe polish and cut grass. Certainly less fruity than most of its sister casks from the same bottler’s, but maybe even more interesting for its ‘oldhighlandsness’. Let’s only hope the palate will last the course. Mouth: well, it does. Not tired, not overly woody, rather wonderfully leafy and herbal, with notes of green tea (lots), liquorice wood and a little horseradish, then fruits, mainly strawberries and gooseberries, and maybe just a little paper/cardboard although it never gets drying. Touches of nutmeg and cinnamon. Finish: astonishingly long, with citrusy notes, ginger and lemon balm. Unexpected! Comments: not a beefy/shaky Glen Mhor, rather a grassy one and it is very, very good. Perfect body at only 40.2% vol. DT, do you have more 1975 Glen Mhor? SGP:362 - 87 points.
Glen Mhor 1980/2007 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling) Many Glen Mhors by G&M have been, let’s say ‘strange’, but some were also brilliant. Let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: well, strange it is. Starts on rather huge herbal notes (a lot of parsley) and gets then rather leathery and meaty, with some cured ham and then notes of wet newspaper and graphite oil. Ink? Certainly a malt like no other! Some vanilla coming through later on, almonds after fifteen minutes. Mouth: full bodied and certainly straighter than on the nose and in that sense closer to the 1975. Leaves, chlorophyll, herbs liqueur, chives, liquorice wood and then signs of youth (?) such as a little porridge, beer, baker’s yeast… Too bad it’s also a little cardboardy. Finish: rather long, with a little more fruits. Bitter oranges. Comments: very decent and very fairly priced, the easiest/cheapest way to try Glen Mhor if you never did. SGP:241 - 84 points.
Glen Mhor 13 yo 1974 (58.4%, Sestante, 75cl) Colour: gold. Nose: what is this? How should I put this? Imagine a mixture of crushed strawberries with pieces of new leather, chalk and bits of new plastic (supermarket plastic bag – remember?), plus a few drop of diesel oil on top of that. Very, very strange, let’s see what happens with water. With water: oh! Did they distil grass? Not one single note of fruits or anything sweet and mellow… Amazing and, I must say, spectacular. Mouth (neat): it is a tad more affable than on the nose when undiluted but it’s still a little hard. Over-infused green tea, fresh walnuts, green apples, lime (yup, all green) and… green pepper. Bites your tongue a bit, or rather kind of catches it in a pincer movement if you see what I mean. Gets then better and better and better (and better), with more marzipan, lapsang souchong tea, cardamom and a little cumin. With water: fantastic! Old Tarragona green chartreuse, well bottle-aged Bénédictine, cough syrup (adult version), Danziger Goldwasser (check that on google)… An amazing herbal symphony. Finish: very long, and very herbal. Comments: as entertaining as a movie by Quenn’tiiiinn’ but certainly not one to pour your new neighbours, unless they were originally living in Inverness. Having said that, this very odd bottling is totally introvabile. SGP:272 - 88 points.

proposes his Summertime malt cocktails

"Battlehill Fizz"

Pour into a highball:
- 6cl young and fruity single malt of the Duncan Taylor's "Battlehill" range (e.g. Imperial 9 yo)
- 2cl melocoton (white peach) liqueur
- 1 lime juice
- finish with Perrier
Add two ice cubes, decorate with a chunk of peach, a strawberry or/and any summer fruit you like.
You may add a dash of mint liqueur to strengthen its freshness.
Fizzes and juleps are my favourite types of cocktails when temperatures grow higher and higher.

MUSIC - Recommended listening:
Long time no have Hammond B3 so let's listen to the wonderful Barbara Dennerlein playing Bo-Peep.
From: Take off!
Please buy all of barbara Dennerlein's music!

Barbara Dennerlein

July 9, 2009



I first thought I’d try the new newmake HtoH with some newmake from another distillery but then I thought it would be ‘funnier’ (well) to compare it to a very cask-influenced Glenglassaugh, so that we could have two extremes. Yes, fun over self-education!

Glenglassaugh 'The Spirit Drink that dare not speak its name' (50%, OB, May 2009, Limited Release, 8160 bottles) Plain newmake, no Scotch whisky. It seems that there are various batches, some bearing Months and bottle numbers and some not. This one is numbered. It’s not exactly a first as Samaroli already had newmake (Longrow) quite some years ago, Kilchoman too and maybe others. Colour: as white as vodka. Nose: well well well, this reminds us of the many visits we did at Scottish distilleries, minus the distilleries ;-). What’s sure is that it’s very clean spirit, not extravagantly fruity but fresh and certainly not beer-ish nor feinty. It’s not aromatically complex and it’s hard to come up with proper descriptors, all I can say is that it’s pleasant. Very faint smokiness and just tiny-wee hints of ham and soap. With water: a little more grass and mash but it’s still not beer-ish. Extremely clean. Mouth (neat): more fruits than on the nose. Raspberry jam, Jell-O, tinned pineapples and Haribo bears, all that soaked in white rum. Better than it sounds ;-). With water: more of the same plus notes of pears. Finish: medium long, clean, very fruity. Just a little beer in the aftertaste. Comments: we won’t comment on the meaning of such a bottle, after all we’re only into whisky tasting (not commenting) on this blog, which isn’t even a true blog by the way. What’s sure is that it’s probably the very best vodka ever, even better than the malt vodkas that one can find here and there. I was ready to smash this bottling because it looked like a pure marketing stunt but I must say I really enjoyed it. Better than many matured malts in my book! SGP:730 - 80 points. (and thank you, Jean-Marc)
Glenglassaugh 20 yo 1986/2006 (55.3%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold, Fresh Sherry Cask, 608 bottles) Colour: reddish mahogany. Nose: a rather unusual heavily sherried whisky at first nosing, smelling just like some vintage Maury (vin doux naturel) – and big time! Heavy notes of raisins combined with spearmint and coffee-schnapps, then loads of marmalade and strawberry jam plus chestnut purée, blackberry jam and a little white chocolate. I guess this is what one calls an emphatic whisky. With water: more leather, varnish, a little turpentine and bitter oranges. Hints of old golden rhum agricole. Mouth (neat): isn’t it funny that we get the same kind of extreme fruitiness as in the newmake here? Bags of bubblegum and jars of strawberry jam, then more classical sherry notes such as raisins again, marmalade, chocolate and a little clove in the background. Thick, but not exactly heavy. With water: the odd notes of orangeade (say Fanta) but other that that, it’s clean, heavy sweet sherry galore. Sultanas, crystallised oranges, tangerine liqueur, stracciatella and fudge. Finish: long, a tad more roasted. Notes of cough syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, playful, a tad heavy but not overloaded. And certainly demonstrative! SGP:631 - 87 points. (and thank you, Konstantin)

MUSIC - Recommended listening:
Some good P-funk today with Bootsy Collins featuring George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars doing Jimi Hendrix's Power of Soul.
From: Power Of Soul: A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix
Please buy Bootsy Collins' music!

Bootsy Collins

July 8, 2009



Old Pulteney 30 yo (44%, OB, 2009) This one is a brand new bottling by the owners, the oldest official Pulteney ever. It’s ex-American white oak (bourbon). Colour: straw. Nose: it’s the trademark brine and the oak that strike first, in a beautiful fashion, with lots of apples and tangerines in the background. After this very coastal start we get more vanilla and flower nectar as well as touches of quince jelly, warm apple pie and maybe just hints of fresh strawberries and marshmallows before it gets more lemony (lemonade). And we’re finally back on iodine and faint whiffs of crushed fresh mint leaves. Extremely ‘natural’ and very elegant, well in the style of our beloved coastal Northeasterners. Mouth: very good body at the attack, even more on apples than on the nose, with the oak soon to kick in. Ginger and a little cinnamon. Goes on with notes of vanilla crème and café latte, then quite some lemon marmalade and finally a little salt that starts to play with your tongue. Touches of ripe strawberries. The oak grows bigger too (quite some pepper). Finish: long, firm, on an oak + lemon + salt + vanilla fudge combo that works very well. Comments: some whisky lovers may find that the rather obvious oakiness is a tad ‘too much’ but it isn’t my opinion as it gives the whole an excellent structure. In other words, the spirit stands the oak that supports the spirit (or something like that). The whole is very, very ‘natural’. And very recommended! SGP:451 – 91 points.
Pulteney 26 yo 1982/2009 (47.7%, A.D. Rattray, cask #502, 201 bottles) This one from a hogshead. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is much heavier and kind of rougher than the new OB, with more oak and many more mineral notes. Wet limestone, chalk, ginger, then whiffs of lemonade and sea breeze again, leather, cut grass, leaves, roots… Definitely wilder and less fruity than the OB but well in the OP tradition. With water: water doesn’t change its profile mucho, except for more coastal notes such as seaweed. Also a little coffee and roasted nuts. Mouth (neat): we’re well in the same category as the OB but once again, it’s all rougher and bigger, which may well not be an asset here. Big oak, big white pepper and quite a ‘greenness’. Angelica. Gets frankly prickly (pepper flavoured vodka). With water: oh well, now it IS beautiful. Very nice notes of caramelised apples, roasted honey and green tea. A tad unusual but very likeable. Finish: long, clean, with the coastal side coming out. Vanilla-flavoured clams? (I’m sorry ;-)) Comments: another very good Pulteney that ‘s maybe a tad slow when undiluted but that becomes quite superb with the addition of a few drops of water. SGP:361 - 88 points.
Pulteney 18 yo 1990/2009 (57.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 217 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: one step further towards ‘wilderness’ but also these hints of strawberries and bubblegum that we already found in the OB. Also more marzipan and cut apples plus a good deal of oak. It’s also the less coastal. Let’s see what happens with water: wow, this is nice! More mint, eucalyptus, even a little camphor, hints of orange blossom water, coconut liqueur (only faint touches, don’t worry). High class, maybe just a tad bourbonny. Mouth (neat): once again, we’re rather closer to the OB than to the 1982, with various fruits encapsulated in quite some oak. Ginger and strawberries, coconut (the oak speaks out), vanilla and white pepper. Funnily drinkable at such high strength. With water: oh well, here’s another excellent Pulteney indeed. Arrak, aniseed, crystallised oranges and always quite some coconut and pepper from the oak. Finish: long, sweet and mildly spicy. Maybe a little less precise now. Comments: a very good Pulteney from a very active cask. The sweetest of them all. SGP:451 - 88 points.
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK on holidays in St Tropez
Pulteney 8 And also Old Pulteney 8 yo (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, Germany, 1970s) Nose: nice smokiness but lacks oomph. Whiffs of leather. Gets then fruitier but a tad ‘mundane’ in style. Light OBE (in case you do not know yet, that means Old Bottle Effect in our weird glossary). Mouth: more cardboardy, a little tired. A little caramel and a little orange marmalade. Comments: maybe not the best old OP ever. One should rather seek the extraterrestrial 100°proof by G&M. SGP:341 – 78 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening:
Artist: Meshell Ndegeocello, Yerba Buena and Ron Blake
Title: Gentleman
From: Red Hot & Riot - The Music And Spirit Of Fela Kuti
Please buy all these people's music.


July 7, 2009


(Or is that only three? Only two?)

Macallan 18 yo 1966 (43%, OB, +/-1984) From one of the good years of the 18, things having got a tad less entrancing from the late 1970s on. Colour: full amber. Nose: yes, yes and yes. This is why The Macallan used to be one of ‘the grands crus’ of malt whisky. It’s a rather powerful whisky, starting compact and ‘focused’ on a lot of marmalade-filled chocolate, wood smoke and hints of cured ham, and getting then much wider, doing what we call ‘the peacock’s tail’ (I guess you get the image). We get a rather wonderful ‘half mustiness’ (old wine cellar), notes of roasted nuts, something delicately fragrant (old roses, Joy de Patou), then more marzipan and baklavas, bergamots and lime blossom. The smokiness wouldn’t leave, which only adds to the superb combo. An epitomically (what?) classy sherried Speysider. Mouth: punchy, fruity, peppery, rather less rounded and than expected at the attack, but really takes off after a while, with quite a smokiness, roasted nuts, strawberry jam, orange zests and cooked honey. Notes of mead. Brownies. Finish: rather long, on a pepper/sherry combination and just a faint dustiness. Comments: very nice nose and a palate that’s maybe a little less thrilling, but the whole is of very high quality. Do not ask us to compare it with recent versions of the popular 18yo. SGP:452 - 90 points. (and thanks to the Gentlemen du Whisky)
Macallan 41 yo 1949/1990 (40.4%, Milroys of Soho, Oak Wood) These vintages are getting increasingly rare and you’ll have to hand out +/-500 Euros if you want to buy an official Macallan 1949. A miniature, that is… ;-). Colour: full gold. Nose: this one is rather different from the 1966, obviously woodier and more resinous and less on ‘classy sherry’ but it’s still very brilliant whisky on the nose. More smoke than in the 1966, with also bold whiffs of rhubarb pie, lemon marmalade, even ripe kiwis, oranges, metal (old toolbox), lovage and parsley… Gets a tad mouldy and plankish but nothing extreme, really. Great old Macallan once again. Mouth: perfect! Curiously medicinal (cough medicine) but also very jammy, without the much feared excessive oakiness. Very pleasant ‘dry’ spiciness (cinnamon and nutmeg), something waxy, notes of limejuice (very fresh considering this one’s age) and a lot of liquorice. Gets finally very honeyed, with the same notes of mead as in the 1966. Finish: rather long and still quite ‘medicinally resinous’ for a Macallan, I guess it all comes from the wood. Aftertaste maybe a tad drying. Comments: an oldie that does taste old but that did not go over the hill. SGP:442 - 91 points.
Macallan-Glenlivet 37 yo 1939 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Pinerolo, sherry wood) Many of these 1939s in the market are fakes, that’s why they are so inexpensive – so to speak! Let’s see if this one is okay or not… Colour: deep gold. Nose: well, it does not smell bad but it does not exactly smell ‘old Macallan’ either, nor very complex. Intriguingly youngish, even a tad spirity, with a light sherriness on oranges, then honey and roasted nuts and just a slight meatiness. Nice and pleasant, more reminiscent of the old 12 and certainly without the smokiness that one should find in these old Macallans. Mouth: once again, this one doesn’t taste too old and it’s certainly rougher than many oldies but it’s good whisky, no doubt, and certainly Macallan. Orange marmalade, candy sugar, straight notes of red wine and hints of leather. Finish: long but rather leafy and tea-ish. Chlorophyll gum. In no way a 37yo Macallan. Comments: well, I did not see the bottle of this one so I can’t be sure, but it’s not impossible that it’s simply an old 7, 8, 10 or 12yo Macallan instead of a pre-war version. Possibly from a fake bottle. SGP:451 - 82 points.
Macallan And also, obligatory drum roll… Patrick’s ‘incredible’ Macallan-Glenlivet 1942 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Pinerolo, sherry wood) This is extremely rare, very little distilleries were still working in 1942 as by law, all grains were to be kept to feed the population. Derogations were only granted to The Macallan and, if memory serves me well, Mortlach and Glenlivet. Nose: a wonderful fruitiness and a perfect balance, with notes of very old liqueurs, figs, lemon pie, metal polish, shoe polish, honey and the most delicate touches of peat. Mouth: absolutely perfect once again, and a sublime balance. Strawberry-filled chocolates and roasted honeyed peanuts. Comments: extreme balance, finesse and complexity. SGP:632 – 93 points.
Now, please look at these two labels...

The one on the left is the bottle that we just tried. It was bought at Bonham’s auction house in the UK by our friend Patrick. The label on the right is from a Macallan 1940 that I have in my cellar (sorry, I own no 1942) and is similar to all old Macallans G&M Pinerolo that were distilled around the war and that you will find on all reputable websites (whiskyauction and others). Do you notice something? No? Actually, there are many tiny differences but the most obvious one is the T from 'The' Macallan that's not the same at all and if you look closer, the whole font is different.
That's why I'm not 100% sure this 1942, on the left, is 100% genuine, nor am I sure that it's a fake by the way. But if it is, what’s quite incredible is that this '1942' is probably better than the original bottling, if it ever existed. I guess the clever Italians who possibly made it used some rather old Macallan, maybe one the best batches of the old 8yo (rather cheap but utterly brilliant whisky!) or of the old 12yo. Should you know more about this kind of label variant, please drop me a line!

MUSIC - Recommended listening:
Artists: the mysterious 'Alex Donnelly' and 'zw'
Title: Frank Zappa's Let's Make The Water Turn Black
Please 'buy' Alex Donnelly's and zw's music.


July 6, 2009

Royal Festival Hall, London, June 16th 2009
One of the many upsides of having to spend quite a lot of time in a car driving around Scotland is that you hear some fantastic programmes on the radio. A little while ago, I was captivated by a documentary called Beat Mining and the Vinyl Hoover, put together by photographer and broadcaster Toby Amies and which opened the lid on the world of crate diggers. This potentially highly lucrative pastime involves tracking down samples that might, just might, be worth a fortune to producers and artists. Part of the fascination of the show was the extent of the hidden sub-culture that it revealed (some of the crate diggers’ blogs were aghast at just how much of their secret world was brought to light). But it was also enlightening to understand just how important sampling has become to contemporary genres of music: it’s travelled a long way since David Byrne and Eno experimented with the technique on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts in 1981. When we saw Byrne earlier in the year, he joked that it had been made in an age of innocence compared with today, explaining that for legal reasons, he would have to sing the sampled vocal himself on ‘Help me somebody’. Amies’ programme began to suggest just what a murky world it had become. And it’s not surprising. Moby sold nine million copies of 1999’s Play, a record built around samples from Alan Lomax’s field work in the southern states of the USA in the 1920s. Moby
I’m sure Moby paid his dues (he’s notable for giving much of his dosh away to charity), and sure enough artists like Bessie Jones, a sample from whom provides the background to ‘Honey’, get an acknowledgement as a licensed artist, along with Boy Blue’s recording of Joe Lee’s Rock (‘Find my baby’) , and Bill Landford (and the Landfordaires) for ‘Run on’. But while there is a general thanks to the Lomaxes, there’s not a mention of poor old Vera Hall, whose sampled lyric from ‘Trouble so hard’ provided the backbone to ‘Natural blues’, one of the big hits for the album. In addition, I’m not sure that the Lomax family or Vera Hall, or the other original performers, received much by way of royalties when the songs were re-used in numerous TV adverts for brands such as Calvin Klein and American Express. Moby woudn’t have got far without them. ‘Natural blues’ is one of the centrepieces in this second of 2009’s Meltdown concerts at the Southbank Centre, curated by Ornette Coleman. ‘Honey’ was the lengthy coda to the set. Other songs from Play, ‘Why does my heart feel so bad’ and ‘Porcelain’ were two of the more impressive pieces of the evening. The latter of these earned a similarly frenetic audience response, particularly from the over-excited guys in front of us; then came Moby’s first breakthrough hit, the David Lynch-inspired ‘Go’, appearing to transform the RFH into a disco under the arches on Brighton sea-front (I swear all that was missing was Dave Broom). Strange, you might think, for this first night of an extensive European tour ostensibly aimed at promoting Moby’s new album, Wait for Me.
He did present five songs from the new work, including opener ‘Walk with me’, a blues sung by the imposing Joy Malcolm, who also sang the sampled parts from Play herself - no samples in use tonight. Malcolm was joined on vocals by the more delicate Kelli Scarr, who sang (among others) new tracks ‘Pale Horses’ and ‘JLFT’. The latter was introduced by Mr M with the strange boast that it was inspired "by the vast majority of my friends in New York, who have all been heroin addicts". For much of this time, Moby chose to concentrate on guitar, where he showed a surprising mastery of power chords, which when combined with the amplified string trio, occasionally produced a wall of sound that even Phil Spector must have heard from his prison cell in Corcoran, California.   Moby
He occasionally took the coveted RFH Steinway (“how could I have a piano the size of a small car in my small New York apartment?”) and even sang; brave, given the relative weakness and tunelessness of his voice. Only once did he really hit the synthesiser for ‘Go’, and even then, no sooner cranked up than he chose to move over to play the congas with abandon instead. So it was an odd and eclectic set of the rather laid-bare and perhaps self-indulgent new material rubbing shoulders with highlights of the old, with little doubt as to where the audience’s heart lay. We even had a couple of covers: Joy Division’s ‘New dawn fades’, and ‘Helpless’ which was wrongly attributed to CSN&Y, rather than simply Y. Despite all this, the audience would probably have been happier, not to mention more exhausted, if he’d played ‘Go’ all night.
Oh yes. For the record, Mr Coleman, who had personally called Moby and invited him to perform in the series of concerts, didn’t manage to show up on stage, as some of us (including Moby apparently) had rather hoped he might. – Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Listen: Moby on MySpace


Glenburgie 26 yo 1975/2002 (53.7%, Signatory, cask #5990, 207 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: fresh and very ‘natural’, with quite some vanilla, green apples, cut grass, walnut skin and fresh almonds. Good quality it seems even if not really characterful. Slightly mineral as well (broken rocks). With water: superb! It really explodes with notes of soft spices and all things from a pastry shop (cakes, fudges…) and quite some vanilla. And baklavas, with these distinct notes of orange blossom water. Top notch! Mouth (neat): sweet and fruity, with just a little cough syrup in the background. Pineapple drops, Williams pear eau-de-vie, grenadine, all that at cask strength. Big body! With water: once again, it opens up with water and does ‘the peacock’s tail’. Marmalade and various soft spices. Quite some ginger. Finish: long, on orange flavoured marzipan (by the way, does that exist?) Comments: a great dram from a rather low-profile distillery, signed Signatory. SGP:552 - 90 points. (ands thank you, Mike)
Glenburgie-Glenlivet 15 yo 1993/2008 (55.8%, Cadenhead's, Authentic Collection, 200 bottles) I always found it funny that Cadenhead would keep using the ‘Glenlivet’ suffix, I guess it’s what was stencilled on the cask’s head. Colour: straw. Nose: obviously younger than the 1975, that is to say more on cut apples and pears, but there’s also a little more smoke. Other than that we get the same whiffs of newly cut grass. Hay. With water: not many changes, a little more paraffin. Pleasant but far from the Signatory’s magnificent development. Lacks ageing? Mouth (neat): another typical fairly young Speysider at cask strength. Pears and apple peeling galore plus a little bubblegum, all that coated with some kind of herbs liqueur. In short, plants and fruits. With water: gets more vegetal and, good news, much closer to the Signatory. Same notes of marmalade and spices. Finish: long, half fruity, half grassy. A tad bitter (walnut skin). Comments: less easy going and luscious than the Signatory but still good. SGP:451 - 85 points.
Glenburgie-Glenlivet 18 yo 1978/1997 (59.1%, Cadenhead) From the series that we sometimes call ‘small white label’. Colour: white wine. Nose: much more austere than the 1975 and 1993, extremely mineral and grassy. No fruits this time, a little hard. With water: hello? A little more smoke but that’s pretty all. Wet hay, vase water. Mouth (neat): starts extremely estery/fruity this time, water is obligatory even if it’s very clean spirit. With water: once again, water does wonders on this Glenburgie that gets more orangey (marmalade) and beautifully spicy. Ginger, lemon balm, vanilla crème. Finish: medium long, clean, with quite some marzipan once again. Comments: a bit hard when undiluted but gets very good with water. Amphibious malt? SGP:451 - 83 points.

July 4, 2009


TASTING – THREE 1970 SPEYSIDERS (undisclosed)

Speyside 39 yo 1970/2009 (54.4%, Perfect Dram, first fill oloroso, 240 bottles) Colour: dark amber. Nose: classic! Powerful but ‘nosable’, first bursting with whiffs of hot chocolate and getting then rather smoky, toasty and flinty. Quite some gunpowder and struck matches (but no cooked eggs). A lot of orange liqueur too. With water: it got fantastic, much more approachable but still elegant. Espresso, orange cake, roasted nuts, quince jelly and toasted bread. Mouth (neat): powerful again, starting fruitier than on the nose. All on fruitcake actually, with figs and prunes leading the pack, then Cointreau, kirsch and liquorice. The expression ‘full bodied’ must have been invented for this whisky. With water: some winey notes do arise (blackcurrant liqueur). Hard to tame, even at 25% vol. it’s still pretty much alive. ‘Undrownable’ ;-). Finish: long, punchy, it just wouldn’t leave. Slight roughness (farmer’s fruit spirit ;-). Comments: amazing that these oldies from that distillery remain so fresh and lively. An ode to old age. SGP:543 - 90 points.
Ballindalloch 1970/2009 (54.7%, The Whisky Cask, sherry butt) Colour: dark amber. Nose: mulled wine! Indeed, mulled wine at cask strength, or maybe even sangria. You guessed it, this one is much more winey and even vinous, with notes of crushed raspberries and strawberries plus Chinese anise, cinnamon and cloves. The whole is clean and, I must say, rather spectacular, but you have to like wine. Keeps changing, getting more herbal (thyme) and very resinous, which isn’t unusual with these old whiskies. Propolis. The vinosity almost vanished. With water: cough syrup! And a great one at that – but once again, you have to like this profile. Faint waxiness. Mouth (neat): thick and oily and directly resinous. Fir buds liqueur, strong cough drops, Jägermeister and even Underberg. Rather extreme in its own style. With water: same but rounder. A tad paraffiny. Finish: long, kind of silkily resinous, reminding me of some mint-flavoured oriental sweets. Comments: the wood did a lot of work here and this profile is maybe a little off-the-tracks, but it’s spectacular and very, very good provided you like the style. SGP:571 - 89 points.
Glenfairytales 38 yo 1970/2008 (54.8%, Whisky Tales, 500ml) Colour: dark amber. Nose: this one started rather similar to the ‘Whisky Cask’, with quite some mulled wine but it suddenly makes a U-turn and gets then much closer to the ‘Perfect Dram’ without ever reaching its smokiness and dryness. Sort of between both, which is good news. With water: same, somewhere between the two. Dried figs and After Eights plus a little grenadine syrup. Beautiful. Mouth (neat): now we’re extremely close to the Whisky Cask. Big resinous notes and just a little new kirsch (that just ran out of the still). Very heavy, very concentrated. With water: oh well, it’s rather different from the two others at this point. More blackberry jam, raspberries, other berries… The minty and resinous notes are well there but got more discreet. Maybe just some tiny sweetish notes in the background, supermarket strawberry lollipops, bubblegum and such. Finish: long, in keeping with the rest. Comments: another restless oldie from that distillery. Good stuff. SGP:561 - 88 points.
Glenfraclas While I’m at it, another recent Speysider: Glenfarclas 20 yo 1988/2009 (51.9%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 203 bottles) Probably much less cask influence to be expected in this one, I believe bourbon hoggies aren’t commonly bottled as single casks at Glenfarclas. Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, this one has nothing to do with the old sherritastics, it even noses rather younger than 20. Very classy ‘naked’ young Speysider all on sweet apples, greengages, a little sweetened lemon juice, notes of vanilla crème, a little butterscotch, walnut cake, Demerara sugar… It’s rather delicate, very elegant. No water needed I think. Mouth: very good, very sweet, very clean, very fruity and… very young. It tastes more or less like a good 10 yo Miltonduff if I may say so. Apple juice, hints of Turkish delights (rose-flavoured, obviously), even pear juice, a little nougat… Finish: medium long, on the same kind of flavours. Aftertaste on fruit spirit. Comments: I like these young Speysiders when they’re as clean as this one… Except that the latter is not exactly young. Oh well… SGP:641 - 84 points.

July 2, 2009

Macallan 7yo (40%, OB Giovinetti & Figli import, Italy, +/-1985, 75cl) The 7 was getting rather poor in its last years but this should be better, even if the older 8 was in a different league (many fakes made in Italy actually contain that old 8yo, which explains why they’re so good and why nobody (even at very high places) never complained). Enough said. Colour: gold. Nose: rather big but unusually grassy for The Macallan, with a combination of apple peeling, walnut skin and plain paraffin. Metal polish, sour apples, wet clay. Not very aromatic to say the least and far from the good 12 or even 10 that were also available at the time. Mouth: very bizarre. It’s not that it’s unpleasant but some notes of candle wax – not too nice on the palate – plus something such as rotting oranges just don’t work. Varnish. Finish: medium long, more on bitter ‘things’ (leaves, fruit skins and so on). Comments: it’s not an OBE that went wrong. Not the best old Macallan for sure but some parts are interesting. SGP:362 - 72 points.
Macallan 11 yo 1997/2008 (43%, Signatory, hogsheads #929-930, 797 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: this one screams ‘young Speysider’ with a lot of apple juice, pear juice and a little beer. Also whiffs of wood smoke plus a little ginger tonic. Simple but not unpleasant at all. Mouth: simple but clean, very fruity, nicely balanced and very ‘natural’. Not much cask influence. A little bubblegum. Finish: medium long, on oranges and a little ginger. Comments: good spirit from a rather inactive cask, at an easy drinking strength. A few ice cubes (or better yet, chilled rocks) would work. SGP:431 - 80 points.
Macallan 12yo (43%, OB, Screw Cap, Imported by ETS Couin, France, +/-1989) Colour: amber. Nose: this popular old version is in a completely different league, with the typical sherry notes upfront as well as the same kind of grassiness as in the 7, only much more refined and elegant. Whiffs of old books (no mouldiness, though) and then old roses and high-end perfume (your pick). A lady’s perfume of course. Quite some smoke again, much more smoke than in recent bottlings for sure. Coal stove. Beautiful nose. Mouth: oh yes, this is nice whisky. It’s not very big but complex and kind of ‘antiquated’, with some sweet/leathery notes, crystallised orange zests, marmalade, Indian soft spice mix (we’ll spare you the maltoporn here), deep-roasted coffee, praline, herbal tea (a mix again)… Beautiful palate, very complex. Many whisky lovers came to maltmania with this one – no wonder! Finish: medium long but still complex, maybe a little more ‘toasted’ and smoky. Comments: utterly classic and classy. SGP:553 - 89 points. (and thank you, Konstantin)
Macallan 1995/2008 (46%, Coopers Choice, refill sherry) Colour: straw. Nose: it is probably not as complex and thrilling as the old official 12 but some parts are well here, such as the smoke (unexpected), the fine sherry, then a little leather and old books again (or old wardrobe in the attic), oranges, a little caramel… A perfect nose for a recent 12/13yo Macallan and one that’s rather more ‘official’ than ‘independent’. More smoke and even flints after a while. Mouth: it’s quite amazing how this one is similar to the old 12 again. Maybe a tiny-wee-bit simpler (and punchier) but other than that, we’re in presence of very similar malts. Excellent. Finish: long, a little more on caramel crème, toffee and fudge. Comments: excellent cask selection by the Coopers’ Choice, closer to the old official wonders (‘though less smoky) than to the recent official… bottlings. SGP:552 - 88 points.
Macallan 12yo 1979/1991 (57%, Cadenhead's, dumpy black label) One of the very last bottlings in this ‘dumpy black label’ series. Sob… Colour: full gold. Nose: oh no, I had hoped the old 12 or the Coopers’ would win this little battle but with these sneaky black dumpies, the dirtiest tricks may be played at the very last minutes and once again, it’s what seems to happen here, at least on the nose. Same profile as the old 12 but bigger and more profound, a tad drier, maybe more austere but also (even) more elegant. More herbal too (parsley, lovage and sage). And quite some smoke, both wood and coal. With water: added whiffs of wet wool, that’s all. Mouth (neat): creamy and unexpectedly lemony. Amazingly lemony in fact, and disturbingly so as well because it’s becoming kind of chemical (cheapo readymade lime juice.) Something chalky as well, and also a little salt. Not too good and possibly flawed here. Cardboardy. With water: that didn’t work. And pipe juice? (only pipe smokers or former pipe smokers will understand – good for the others.) Finish: long but – cough, cough – still oddly lemony and chalky. Comments: fantastic nose but a flawed palate. Too bad. SGP:641 - 79 points.
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK on holidays in St Tropez

July 1, 2009

Glen Scotia

TASTING – ANOTHER THREE GLEN SCOTIA (a redemption in my book?)

We had quite a few disastrous experiences with Glen Scotia in recent times but I know that the humble Campbeltown distillery can be great, so just like Boileau advised, let’s ‘twenty times on the loom, put back our work…’
Glen Scotia 17 yo (46%, Duthies, +/- 2009) Colour: straw. Nose: light and grassy, spirity, austere, inexpressive, faintly smoky… Also hints of linseed oil, graphite, mustard… Slivovitz… It’s not that it’s ugly whisky, it just doesn’t offer much pleasure. Mouth: ha-ha, this is better! It’s still very grassy but the heavy notes of white rum and citrus (mojito!) make it rather enjoyable. It’s also rather leafy, still mustardy, peppery… Some character, no doubt. Finish: rather long, peppery and ‘green’ (cider apples). Comments: interesting malt in its big grassiness. And no flaws that I can detect this time (provided what I think is a flaw is actually a flaw, of course). SGP:261 – 83 points.
Glen Scotia 16 yo 1977/1993 (57.60%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Colour: gold. Nose: the same kind of grassy and flinty notes as in the Duthies but it seems that this one is rather cleaner and straighter. Apple peelings. Let’s try to bring it round with a little water. With water: well, I wouldn’t say it got more expressive but there are some pleasant whiffs of menthol and eucalyptus now. Mouth (neat): starts a bit acrid but just like the Duthies, it’s nicer on the palate than on the nose, even at 57%+. Herbs liqueur, a little wasabi, green apple liqueur like they make in Spain and quite possibly a little peat. With water: same notes, only smoother and rounder. Marzipan. Very good I must say. Finish: long, with a little salt and quite some mint flavoured green tea. Comments: not sexy but full and kind of closer to its high-profile neighbour starting with a S. SGP:452 - 86 points (and many thanks, Tomislav)
Glen Scotia 13 yo 1977/1991 (58.8%, Cadenhead's Dumpy, Black Label, 75cl) Colour: old. Nose: not many differences with the 16yo. Maybe even more ‘narrowly’ grassy. With water: this is funny, it went in the opposite direction when compared with the 16yo. Much more buttery at first, then a tad resinous . Whiffs of wet moss, fern and mushrooms. Slight mouldiness. Mouth (neat): this one is obviously from the same batch as the 16yo. Same profile, a tad rougher and also fruitier (in other words, even more Spanish apple liqueur). With water: oh, it’s the same whisky as the 16yo again, which is great news. Finish: long, similar to the 16, maybe a tad peatier and more herbal. Comments: a big dram with quite some peat, globally a little closer to its high-profile neighbour starting with a L (made at the S. distillery). SGP:353 - 84 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening:
Artist: more French chanson with Serge Reggiani
Title: the very bittersweet Votre fille a vingt ans (Your daughter is twenty)
Please buy Serge Reggiani's music.


June 2009 - part 2 <--- July 2009 - part 1---> July 2009 - part 2

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



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

Glenburgie 26 yo 1975/2002 (53.7%, Signatory, cask #5990, 207 bottles)

Macallan 18 yo 1966 (43%, OB, +/-1984)

Macallan 41 yo 1949/1990 (40.4%, Milroys of Soho, Oak Wood)

Macallan-Glenlivet 1942 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Pinerolo, sherry wood)

Old Pulteney 30 yo (44%, OB, 2009)

Speyside 39 yo 1970/2009 (54.4%, Perfect Dram, first fill oloroso, 240 bottles)