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Hi, you're in the Archives, June 2010 - Part 2

June 2010 - part 1 <--- June 2010 - part 2 ---> July 2010 - part 1


June 30, 2010

Glen Scotia

Tasting three new Glen Scotia

Glen Scotia 18 yo 1992/2010 (52.1%, Cadenhead's, bourbon hogshead, 260 bottles) Three stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: typical flinty and very grassy Glen Scotia, mashy, austere, porridgy… Some soot and some sawdust. Not an easy one so far. With water: more burnt oak and smoke. Cut grass, more soot, freshly broken roots, leaves… A tad Jansenist if I may say so. Mouth (neat): very nice attack, much nicer than the nose in my opinion. Apple liqueur plus Indian spice mix, a little rhubarb, liquorice… With water: more of the same, the whole being rather rounder. Liquorice and apple pie. Finish: long, clean, a little easier. Cane sugar and nutmeg. Comments: actually, this one sometimes tastes like white rum. Not bad at all. SGP:251 - 80 points.

Glen Scotia 18 yo 1991/2010 (57.6%, Duncan Taylor, cask #71375) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: we aren’t too far from the 1992, this one being maybe a tad more elegant and slightly fruitier, with touches of lemon and grapefruit and just faint hints of musk. Whiffs of crushed fresh mint leaves. With water: more sultanas and blood oranges, Campari, gentian (do you know Suze?)… Bitters. Very interesting nose – and very nice. Mouth (neat): creamy, similar to the 1992 but with an extra-fruitiness just as on the nose. Lemon marmalade, dried ginger, herbal liqueur and pine resin. Same notes of Indian spice mix (cardamom, aniseed, cloves and such). Interesting. With water: the notes of gentian and bitters that we had on the nose are back. Bitter oranges. Finish: long, with a faint saltiness. Liquorice wood in the aftertaste. Comments: extremely good Glen Scotia. I wouldn’t say that was unexpected, but… SGP:451 - 88 points.

Glen Scotia 1972/2010 (45.1%, Malts of Scotland for Belgium, bourbon hogshead, cask #1926, 114 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold with bronze hues. Nose: nothing to do with the younger ones, this is much more aromatic, with many more fruits but also a quirkiness that’s often to be found in Glen Scotia. Quite some kumquats, oranges, bergamot, mint tea, hints of tinned litchis, old roses, even gewürztraminer, some cloves in the background… Very interesting nose, very expressive as always in this range by MoS. Some coffee comes through after a while, toasted oak, ashes, raisins… Mouth: excellently fruity and slightly resinous, assertive yet smooth. Sultanas and honeydew, touches of chardonnay (and the oak that comes along), crystallised oranges, date liqueur… Excellent and very drinkable. Finish: long, a little more on bitter herbs and raisins. Clean aftertaste, a tad arak-alike. Funny! Comments: one of the great Glen Scotias – and there aren’t many around, hence highly recommended. SGP:551 - 91 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Glen Scotia that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a very Hancockian 7th Legion played by the excellent young Turkish keyboardist Utar Dundarartun (or Utar Artun) on his new CD '7th Legion'. Please buy Utar Dundaratun's excellent music.


June 29, 2010

Hammersmith Apollo, London,
May 2nd 2010

At the end of the gig, on an empty stage, Iggy Pop, like a man possessed (which frankly he had been all night) leant forward on a monitor at an impossible angle, shirtless torso arched, trousers hanging from his backside, fist punching the air.


“Let me tell you the story of this fucking record” he bellowed.  “We made the album when we were young, and they said we were shit.  But now we’re very old, and we’re going to fucking die, but before we do we came here and we played it for you”.  With that, and a few carefully pointed fingers of affection at his admirers, he turned his back to the audience, jigging like a crazy Lord of Misrule, and left the stage.  Such is the story of Raw Power, the third record cut by Iggy and the Stooges, a notable failure when it was released, but now widely considered to be one of the most important proto-punk albums.

It was recorded in 1973 by a revised Stooges line-up; guitarist Ron Asheton was demoted to bass, his brother Scott was on drums, and on guitar  James Williamson, who co-wrote all the songs with Iggy Pop.  After several break-ups and make-ups with Pop, Williamson retired from music altogether, choosing instead a career in electronics with Sony.  When the Stooges reformed in 2003 there was no place for Williamson; Asheton was back on guitar, and Mike Watt played bass. However Asheton died last year and Williamson was persuaded to give up corporate life and return to the road with his one-time partner. He certainly looks as though he might be more comfortable back in the boardroom rather than walking the boards, not that he moves around much, indeed is almost perfectly still throughout.  And while Pop has years of rock and roll excess etched on every inch of his body (most of which we get to see in the course of the night) Williamson, with his wild years well behind him, looks to have fallen victim to nothing more dangerous than a few too many executive lunches. 


Until, that is, he plays the guitar. If ‘raw power’ captures Pop’s unleashed stage performance then it also perfectly reflects Williamson’s guitar.  It’s loud.  It’s very loud.  By the end of the night it’s painfully loud; an uncompromising and unrelenting sonic assault that defined the performance just as much as Iggy’s antics.


As for Mr Pop, well I’m sure you are probably aware that he’s slowed down a lot these days, what with his UK car insurance adverts and all.  So my notes tell me that his shirt came off 1.6 minutes into ‘Raw power’, which began the set.  I didn’t actually see him launch himself into the crowd during ‘Search and destroy’, but I did see him emerge from the grasp of the adoring throng, finger aloft, and clamber back onto the stage, trousers perched at an impossible angle half way down his backside, where they remained (just) for the rest of the evening.  Clearly he’d forgotten his self imposed ban on stage-diving, as he was in and out of the audience for the rest of the evening.  Hammersmith’s finest joined him on stage for ‘Shake appeal’, where they seemed to half-dance and  half-fight their way through the song with their hero and his minder; ‘Right on motherfucker’ said Iggy to one of the last to depart, as they exchanged the by-now ritual finger signal.   His voice came and went according to his other exertions, but was particularly strong on set closer ‘Open it and bleed’, and encores ‘Fun house’, ‘Kill city’ and ‘Johanna’.  And I think he might not have been quite telling the truth when he sang ‘Cock in my pocket’, but it’s probably best not to dwell on that further. 


Simply this was everything you could have wanted from an Iggy Pop performance, a quite astonishing and exhausting (for audience and performer) show that maintained an energy level that would have been remarkable for a twenty-six year old, let alone a sixty-three-year-old veteran.  And frankly he made performers like Mick Jagger look like pussys; in the same way that Williamson’s guitar showed up the Sex Pistols (who we saw here a few years ago) to be the sham that we always knew they were.

Raw Power?  Rarely has anything been so aptly named. – Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)

Listen: Iggy and the Stooges on myspace.




Tasting three recent Ledaig

Ledaig 16 yo 1993/2010 (43%, Signatory, casks #413+417, 752 bottles) Two stars Colour: white wine. Nose: starts on coal smoke and butter and goes on with more butter, dairy cream, grass, cardboard and quite some paraffin. Ink, wet gravels, wet cloth. No excessive porridgy notes here, the whole being rather cleaner than other recent young or middle-aged Ledaigs. Now, it’s rather thin whisky in my opinion. Mouth: bigger than on the nose for sure, peatier as well, and spicier too. Nutmeg, flour, leavened bread and white pepper on top of a base of apple juice and grass. A tad strange but not unpleasant. Finish: unexpectedly long, ashy, smoky and slightly yeasty, with some black pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: a strange beast that’s very fairly priced. Interesting whisky. SGP:345 - 75 points.

Ledaig 12 yo 1997/2010 (55%, Chieftain's, Acolon Wine Finish, cask #91601, 364 bottles) Four stars Acolon is a new German grape variety that was created in the early 1970s by crossing two other red varieties. Acolon red wines are said to be quite good but I must confess I never tried any. Colour: orangey/apricoty. Nose: very spectacular, I must say, and certainly unlike any other whisky I could try so far. Some kind of mix of thick tarry smoke, liquorice, manure, game, struck matches and rubber/bicycle inner tube. With water: the spirit almost killed the wine. Much more farmy, peaty, grainy and globally organic notes now. Cow stable, then camphor. Mouth (neat): thick and powerful, starting on a good wine/peat combination. Blood oranges and strawberry jam plus quite some black pepper, orange zests and these rubbery notes that we already had on the nose. Big tarry smokiness (salmiak). With water: ha-ha, this is very good now. Gentian and other roots. Finish: long, even rootier and earthier. Very medicinal, actually. White rum. Comments: frankly, this baby was a tad scary at first nosing but it didn’t stop improving after that. Wine finishing that works. SGP:466 – 85 points.

Ledaig 11 yo 1997/2008 (57.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 234 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: not too far from the Signatory but with much more peat and smoke. Tarry ropes, coal ashes, hay and porridge, with just a little apple juice in the background. Hints of boiled milk and then slightly rancid butter. With water: straightforward farmy peat, very close to the Chieftain’s now. Plain peated barley in a kiln (or a malting plant). Mouth (neat): punchy and very dry, rooty/earthy, with huge notes of gentian spirit again and then sharp lemon juice and ashes. It’s big! Also a little barley sugar. With water: doesn’t change. Same profile. Finish: long, sharpish, zesty, lemony and very ashy. Comments: if you never tried natural recent Ledaigs, this one is a good occasion, I’m sure it’s still easily available. SGP:256 - 84 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Ledaig that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

June 28, 2010

SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

Old whisky vs. young:
Chivas stirring up a hornets' nest?
Right, as you may know, I never publish Press Releases, for two reasons. First, most are utterly uninteresting and second, some excellent other blogs, such as Whisky Intelligence, have all the best ones anyway. But this is different.

Age Chivas


Indeed, this afternoon, I got three times a new PR piece by Chivas that claimed that The Age Matters. It’s probably already all over Whiskybloggistan (as I got it three times myself) but I felt I should add a few grains of salt to it. Chivas claims that ‘One of the greatest influences on the flavour of whisky comes from maturation. Much of the complexity of Scotch whisky comes mainly from its time in oak casks in Scotland; with outstanding spirit and excellent wood management, it follows that the longer the maturation period, the more complex the whisky’. That surely contradicts what quite some other brands are now claiming. Brands that emphasize more on wood technology, and less on ‘actual age’, and that, unsurprisingly, seem to have little old casks left in their warehouses – which shouldn’t be the case with Chivas.

I must say Chivas’ move have my sympathies. After all, that’s what the Scots always told us and I couldn’t see why all of a sudden, no-age-statement (read young) malt had to become the norm. Unless, again, you have no old whisky left. Sure ‘young’ is a magical word in marketing and I’m sure we’ll see even more vodka-ised youngism in Scotland, but I’ve always heard that maturation in oak had three main purposes:

  1. Adding flavour from the cask and its previous content to the whisky (quick!)
  2. Withdrawing undesirable flavours that are inherent to young whisky (quite quick!)
  3. Creating a subtle interplay between the whisky and the environment thus making it more complex (takes time!)

Lose one of these three pillars – the third one in this case – and you’ll get raw unbalanced whisky, which, in my very 'amateur' view, cannot quite be compensated with much more of 1. (more vanilla, spices, wine, you name it). Yes, even if it’s got that magical ingredient called peat that masks many flaws and makes even a five years old peat monster quite palatable, as we all find out more often than never.

So, all I can say is ‘well done, Chivas!’ After more than 6,500 whiskies tasted and even if I came across several very brilliant young whiskies, I firmly believe that globally, age does matter indeed and I think it was time a Big Name decided to put the cat among the pigeons.

Here's Chivas' (somewhat repetitive ;-)) commercial for their new global consumer campaign.



Tasting two Glenkinchie

I’d usually try whiskies that are closer to each other but that’s not easy to do with Glenkinchie, as there are very little indie versions.

Glenkinchie 13 yo 1974 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, old brown label) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: this one starts very, very fresh, on meadow flowers and marzipan plus fresh hazelnuts. It’s very delicate and seemingly very complex. Also hints of barley sugar, a little putty, pollen, violets (flowers, not confectionary), spearmint, touches of coriander and chives, light honey, whiffs of incense… One of the most delicate whiskies I could nose this year. Mouth: sure it’s not bold but the profile is quite superb albeit simpler than on the nose. The marzipan is back, bitter almonds, green tea, camomile, macha, liquorice wood… Also notes of green ‘bitter’ salad (rocket or aragula)… Finish: not too long but pleasant, despite the slightly bitterish aftertaste that’ll make it lose a few points. Comments: classy, very elegant old Glenkinchie with a delicate grassiness. SGP:361 - 87 points.

Glenkinchie 1992/2009 'Manager's Choice' (58.1%, OB,  cask #502, 528 bottles) Four stars and a half This one is ex-American oak. Colour: white wine. Nose: less aromatic than the old G&M and probably more citric and grassy (more on hay, actually), but it’s probably the much higher alcohol. Also touches of vanilla and zesty white wine (sauvignon). Green apples and gooseberries. With water: quite some mint arising, apple peelings, eucalyptus, freshly broken wood. Also a little honey and lemon sorbet. We aren’t far from the 1974 now. Mouth (neat): punchy, rather crisp yet rounded at the same time (the oak’s influence), creamy… Tea ice cream and vanilla, lemon marmalade, marshmallows, white pepper, cider apples and a little spearmint just like in the 1974. Rather beautiful clean/crisp profile. With water: it got sweeter, with a little pineapple and also a little more ‘green’ oak and liquorice. Finish: fairly long, even more on green tea. Notes of cranberry juice. Some barley sugar and white pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: I think Glenkinchie can be a wonderful, delicate malt when the casks are of high quality. This one is a good example. SGP:461 - 88 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Glenkinchie that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: this football world cup really made me listen to more and more Abdullah Ibrahim, the great South-African pianist formerly known as Dollar Brand. This time we'll listen to the very lyrical For Coltrane (from his 1987 record 'African Dawn'). Please buy Abdullah Ibrahim's music!

Abdullah Ibrahim

June 27, 2010


Tasting two Rosebanks, one good and one okay

It’s so sunny over Alsace today, time to have some supposedly lemony Rosebank again!

Rosebank 17 yo 1974/1992 (43%, Signatory, Dumpy, cask #5061, 800 bottles) Three starsColour: white wine. Nose: nice nose, starting on a combination of lemon with mashy and porridgy notes as well as just a little vanilla. Icing sugar, lemon drops. Doesn’t develop much, though, but the general profile is pleasant in it’s big simplicity. Actually, this one is rather less lemony than other versions of Rosebank. Mouth: fresh, easy, lemony and mildly peppery. Limoncello, lemon drops. Good mouth feel. Finish: medium long, a tad grassier now. Comments: not complex at all but ‘a perfect summer dram’, as they say. Way better than lemon-flavoured vodka in any case. SGP:541 - 80 points.
Rosebank 19 yo 1990/2009 (52.9%, Acorn) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: less clean and pure than the 1974, with whiffs of sulphur at first nosing. Domestic gas. Improves after that but some notes of fresh putty and fresh paint are a tad disturbing. Also a little cardboard. The rest is pretty okay, with some lemon and vanilla. With water: doesn’t work too well. More grass, damp oak, new leather. Mouth (neat): something rubbery and bizarrely bitter in the attack, then lemon zests, lemon balm and green tea. Improves after a little time, getting cleaner and much less rubbery. With water: relatively pleasant. Lemon pie, limejuice. Finish: rather long but ‘green’ and a tad sour. Tannins. Comments: not bad at all but some aspects can be off-putting. The Signatory was cleaner and more pleasant in my opinion. SGP:451 - 78 points.
More distillery data Our tastings: all Rosebank that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: there weren't many female jazz guitarists around WWII but Mary Osborne was excellent. Let's listen to Rose room (recorded around 1945) and then buy all of Mary Osborne's music.

Mary Osborne

June 25, 2010

Miltonduff 1982

Tasting two Miltonduff

Miltonduff 27 yo 1982/2010 (46%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: an interesting nose, quite aromatic, with an unexpected smokiness at first nosing (coal oven), then more garden fruits, light honey/nectar (obviously ;-)) and a combination of malt, boiled cereals and custard. Quite some apple juice. The whole is very fresh for a 27yo malt, getting more floral and honeyed after a while (plus almonds), with something of Highland Park. Mouth: sweet and fruity, with a good deal of soft pepper and ginger. Apple juice again, quite some nutmeg, hints of lemon, peaches, cardamom… It’s a very ‘natural’ malt, nothing really thrilling but pleasure is here. Finish: rather long, youngish, fruity, with herbs and spices from the wood in the aftertaste. Comments: not much happening but it’s good quality ‘average’ old whisky with medium oak influence. Miltonduff is a low profile malt in my book, this one is one of the good ones. SGP:441 - 83 points.

Miltonduff 42 yo 1964/2006 (45.1%, Signatory, hoghsead, cask #1152, 295 bottles) Four starsColour: dark gold. Nose: typical old malt, with whiffs of polished oak, putty, pine resin, mint and marzipan at first nosing, plus a little varnish and encaustic. Very, very nice nose but the palate could be wrecked – or not. Mouth: there’s some oak but it’s not a blasting one. Same notes of putty, marzipan and mint as in the nose but also quite some dried fruits (rather quince jelly and plums). Also quite some liquorice that goes well with the mint as well as some orange marmalade and white pepper. Very nice presence at such old age. Finish: long, still resinous, with candied fruits and some cinnamon. Comments: very good old Miltonduff with an oakiness that’s still way below the limits. No drying at all. SGP:551 - 87 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Miltonduff that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: great news, scat is not dead! Let's listen to the excellent Sophia Perlman and Ori Dagan doing S'Qua Badu Bop and then buy their music, thanks.

Sophia Perlman

June 24, 2010

Tullibardine 1966

Tasting two unusual Tullibardine, but isn’t Tullibardine always unusual?

Tullibardine 19yo 1989/2009 (58.7%, Scotch malt Whisky Society, #28.22, 631 bottles) Two stars and a half This one is alliteratively nicknamed 'tongue tingling wasabi wipe-out'. Scary, innit! Colour: white wine. Nose: very, very malty at first nosing, earthy and cereally, with also big notes of vegetables (turnips? Celeriac?) and a rather extreme grassiness. Maybe some sweet mustard as well but I do not get much wasabi – yet? Barley sugar, a wee dustiness. With water: more porridge, wet cardboard, high-street after a sudden summer rain, cooked asparagus… Who said unusual? And maybe a little horseradish indeed but as always, once a descriptor has been suggested, it’s hard not to detect it – even if in infinitesimal quantities. Whiffs of roses coming through after quite some time. Mouth (neat): starts on a rather weird combination of barley sugar and sweets (pears) with something a tad cardboardy and indeed something peppery and mustardy, probably from the oak. Oily mouth feel. All that seems to be very young and consequently rather rawish. With water: rounder and sweeter, thick, very close to barley sugar and cane sugar, with something like ginger liqueur that, indeed, may hint at wasabi – or not. Finish: long, the sweetness fading away to leave more room for quite some pepper and ginger. All right, all right, wasabi. Comments: interesting dram. It’s nice to be able to sip one glass of it but a whole bottle? Not sure… SGP:361 - 79 points.

Tullibardine 1966/2001 (54.8%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, cask #2121, 160 bottles) Four stars and a halfColour: apricot-orangey. Unusual. Nose: the notes of raw vegetables are well here, as well as an obvious earthiness, some mushrooms, moss, boiled cereals… A fruitiness arises after that, with some orange marmalade, maybe hints of tamarind, papayas, guavas, multi-vitamins juice… I think such a big fruitiness is quite uncommon in Tullibardine. Very nice. With water: very, very unusual. Mulled wine, gingerbread, honey, marmalade, badian and loads of yellow curry… Spectacular nose now, extremely unusual but very pleasant. After fifteen minutes: even more curry. Mouth (neat): excellent start, on many dried and stewed fruits plus notes of tobacco and almonds. Very unusual but not lame at all. Unexpected saltiness. Tiny-wee notes of paraffin or even plastic that aren’t uncommon in Tullibardine in my opinion, and make it often a ‘love it or hate it’ malt whisky. With water: it’s the oak that comes to the front, with obvious tannins and notes of green tea. Also marmalade and the same kinds of spices as on the nose, only less exuberant. Finish: long, peppery, spicy. Bitter oranges. Comments: another rather spectacular old Tullibardine, rich and spicy. SGP:562 - 89 points (mit tiefer Dankbarkeit, Konstantin!)

More distillery data Our tastings: all Tullibardine that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a very moving and very beautiful Malegria by Italian guitarist Joe Barbieri and Cuban vocalist Omara Portuondo. Please buy these wonderful people's music...

Omara Portuondo

June 22, 2010

Longmorn 1970

Tasting three sherried old Longmorn

Longmorn 40 yo 1970/2010 (52.9%, Alambic Classique, oloroso sherry, cask #10402, 142 bottles) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: punchy and fruity, with a lot of sherry and many spices from the wood. Heavy notes of dried figs and dates, sultanas, Demerara sugar, strawberry jam and marmalade plus a little curry. Classically rich, slightly rawish when undiluted but that should now go away. Also herbs (chives and parsley) that start to make it more unusual. With water: frankly superb now, the rawness went away and is replaced with notes of cough syrup, marzipan and camphor (hints). And even more sultanas and orange zests… Mouth (neat): powerful, creamy but not thickish, starting mostly on bitter oranges, cinchona (and ginger tonic) and marmalade, with some bitterness in the background (green pepper). More fruits coming through after that, plums, raisins, more oranges… Good bitter oaky structure. With water: almost perfect now. Pine resin sweets, oranges, dried figs… Pleasant sweetness (fructose) that lift it a bit. Finish: long, mostly on bitter oranges. Not over-oakiness at all. Comments: maybe a tad less luscious than other old sherried Longmorns but quality is very high. SGP:551 - 91 points.

Longmorn 1970/2000 (57.1%, Scott's Selection) Five stars There was also a version at 57.2%. Colour: mahogany/coffee. Nose: coffee liqueur, coffee liqueur and coffee liqueur. Then old Armagnac and prunes, chocolate, praline, a little leather, smoked tea, tar and blackcurrant jam. Very ‘oloroso’. More old balsamic vinegar after a few minutes. With water: wow, a lot of shoe polish, ink, smoke, struck matches, gunpowder, old books, lovage… Also hints of oyster sauce. Quite stunning now, with a superb dryness. Mouth (neat): very rich, infused, fruitier than on the nose now. Something mustardy (is it wasabi?) and peppery that prevents it from being cloying. Many jams, mulled wine, blackcurrants… Much less coffee and chocolate than on the nose when undiluted. With water: bitter chocolate and tobacco. Amazingly rich, even at 45% abv. Finish: endless, really. Black pepper and plum juice. Comments: a fab oloroso monster, for oloroso freaks only. SGP:572 - 93 points.

And also Longmorn-Glenlivet 1973/2003 (56.5%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #3976) Five stars Colour: mahogany. Nose: another very sherried Longmorn but this time we’re a little more on game and soy sauce, with juts hints of rubber bands. A lot of marmalade and sultanas behind all that, then figs and quinces. Resembles the Alambic more and more. With water: very different from the other ones now, more on dried longans, melon liqueur, Chinese prune sauce, fermenting hay… It’s got something very pleasantly ‘rotten’. Also a little Parmesan cheese? Mouth (neat): the fruitiest of them all, and maybe the lightest as well (but it’s still very heavy sherried malt whisky!) Pepper and oranges, hints of thyme, toasted brioche, dried figs, more pepper… With water: straighter and fruitier. Peppered fig liqueur (I should try that one day). Finish: very long, with a great bitterness. Herbs liqueur. Comments: old Longmorns never fail to amaze me. SGP:561 - 93 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Longmorn that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness


SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))
Chris Bunting and Tim Puett are joining

the Malt Maniacs

Chris, from Tokyo, is the man behind the terrific Nonjatta web site (everything about Japanese whisky) and Tim, from San Jose, California, is leading the excellent Ardbeg Project. Good luck to them!
Chris (L) and Tim (R) >

Chris Tim

MUSIC - Recommended listening: fottball orsoccer? Let's rather pay tribute to one of the greatest South-African musicians, the very inspired Abdullah Ibrahim, with this fairly recent version of the spirit infused Mannenberg (with a b****y great sax!) Please buy Abdullah Ibrahim's music.

Abdullah Ibrahim

June 21, 2010

Royal Lochnagar 1952

Tasting two Royal Lochnagars

Most of the time, I like to compare similar whiskies from the same distillery, often displaying similar vintages or ages, as I think that in whisky matters, only comparison is reason, especially when the taster is mad enough to score his whiskies (comparing is the very essence of scoring). But sometimes it’s funnier to try wildly different whiskies, especially young vs. very old, or recent vs. old bottling. That’s what we’re going to do today…

Royal Lochnagar 27 yo 1952 (70°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice, black label) Four stars and a half This is a rare one! Colour: gold. Nose: this expressive old Lochnagar starts very phenolic and rather smoky, with quite some coal, ink and graphite oil plus some unexpected grassy notes. Agave? White tequila? Unfolds more or less in the same vein, with some shoe polish, maybe a little ‘new plastic’ (new plastic pouches), hints of smoked ham, metal (iron), then more gravy (or English brown sauce, marmite…) Very, very old style! Some mint sauce after a while – English indeed. Mouth: well, I think I never tried something like this. Starts on metallic honey, Asian sauces, liquorice drops, peppermint… It’s big whisky even after all these years in glass and at only 40% abv. Goes on with a little salt, more resinous notes, chewing tobacco, notes of grapefruits, fresh herbs (lemon balm, coriander)… These faint notes of plastic are here again as well as a little paraffin… Finish: unexpectedly long! Salty, mineral, oils… A taste of yellow in the aftertaste (flor, fino). Comments: a strange but excellent old whisky of stout build. This style doesn’t exist anymore – well, not sure it still existed in the 70s. SGP:373 - 88 points. (et merci beaucoup, Patrick).

Royal Lochnagar 1994/2009 'Manager's Choice' (59.3%, OB, cask #837, 528 bottles) Five stars From Bodega sherry European oak. Colour: gold. Nose: there is, indeed, something in common with the old one, especially these faintly metallic and ‘inky’ tones. The grassiness as well, a faint dustiness, chalk, even a little iodine… There is some sherry as well but it’s no big one. Sour apples. ‘Beautifully austere’ as I like to say. With water: more orange zests and straight barley, cut grass, paraffin, fresh mint… Mouth (neat): very punchy, and very sweet and fruity, on lemon drops, pineapples and pears. It’s also almost as grassy and resinous as the oldie but a little simpler so far. Cough syrup and pink grapefruits. With water: a little more sherry influence, more sweetness and a perfect balance now. Orange liqueur, maple syrup and a little mint. Barley sugar. Very good. Finish: rather long, very clean, with a great combination of oranges, liquorice, mint and pine resin, with a good deal of ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: one of my favourite MCs so far. A dram that’s both big and punchy and aromatically elegant, without any excessive (apparent) wood technology. SGP:451 - 90 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Lochnagar that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a bit of very nice straight ahead vocal jazz by Teresa Doyle, it's called You're my cup of tea and it's on her CD Late Night Parlour. Please buy Teresa Doyle's music.

Teresa Doyle

June 18, 2010

Port Ellen stills

Tasting six recent 1983 Port Ellen – quite a cavalcade

As you most probably know Port Ellen has been distilling only for a few months in 1983, before it was mothballed by its owners in spring and then demolished in the spring of 2003.

<- Port Ellen stillhouse, 1967

Port Ellen
Port Ellen's very last cask and the stillhouse being demolished in April 2003

The tasting session...

Port Ellen 1983

Port Ellen 23 yo 1983/2007 (46%, Douglas Laing Provenance, refill butts, ref #3402,3403) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: a very clean, briny, moderately peaty Port Ellen, with a lot of coastal influence. Seaweed and almond oil, coal smoke and kippers. Crystal clean! Mouth: tastes younger than 26yo and reminds of some young PEs that G&M had a while back. Kippers, marzipan, ashes, smoke, brine, lemon juice, tar and olive oil. Very nice. Finish: long, even more on brine and smoked fish but all that remains gentle. Comments: very good, rather easy Port Ellen at drinking strength (as they say). Much quaffable, which isn’t always the case with Port Ellen. SGP:346 – 87 points.

Port Ellen 26 yo 1983/2009 (46%, Douglas of Drumlanrig, cask #5594, 298 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: strange… Quite the same as the 23yo except that there’s quite some vinegar on top of it, at least for a few seconds. Those notes fade away (great news) after that but notes of pickle juice do remain. Sauvignon, chalk. I liked the 23yo much better on the nose. Mouth: better now, a tad more oomphy than the 23, with more liquorice and brine. Too bad there’s a little cardboard in the background. Butter. Finish: long, very salty. Anchovies? Comments: not bad at all and the saltiness is quite spectacular but there’s a lot of better PE’s around in my opinion. But it’s good! SGP:357 - 83 points.

Port Ellen 1983/2009 (51.4%, Romantic Rhine Collection, refill sherry octave, 70 bottles) Five stars From Germany of course. Colour: full gold with orange hues. Nose: a nice, moderately smoky but rather gamey profile (not the foul sort of gamey notes that are flaws in wine, mind you), developing on a moderate tar, almond oil, coffee, smoked salmon, hessian, liquorice and only faint hints of stewed red fruits that may come from the sherry. Absolutely no over-oakiness from the little cask. Hints of black olives coming through after a few minutes. With water: more leather, fern and coal. Mouth: maybe less compact than on the nose but the saltiness is there, as well as notes of leather, tar and liquorice. Also a little orange liqueur and rubber – I believe rubber is often to bee found in PE. Then more and more pepper and cloves. With a few drops of water: excellent! Smoother but ‘wide’, almondy, nicely ‘tertiary’. Finish: long, with notes of bitter oranges. Comments: good stuff, well done Octave! SGP:457 - 90 points.

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2010 (55.1%, Alambic Classique, bourbon hogshead, cask #10423, 124 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: extreme, sharpish, clean, earthy, coastal and slightly tarry Port Ellen. In the style of old Rare Malts. We cannot not applaud. After a few minutes: more fresh almonds and walnuts, then more mineral notes (damp clay, limestone). With water: more medicinal notes. Antiseptic, pine resin, ‘fisherman’s nest’. Great. Mouth (neat): perfect clean, zesty, salty, lemony, smoky and mineral PE. Perfect mouth feel, oilier than usual. With water: more earth, leaves, roots. Preserved turnips? Finish: long, sweeter, slightly candied (brown sugar). Excellent tarry/smoky aftertaste. Comments: just excellent. SGP:467 - 92 points.

Port Ellen 26 yo 1983/2009 (54.7%, Signatory, wine treated butt, cask #232, 587 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: very same profile as the Alambic, maybe just a tad more briny. More iodine. Other than that, same whisky (which wine did they treat the butt with???) With water: a tad farmier. Clean cow stable, dried kelp, oysters… Mouth (neat): indeed, same whisky as the Alambic. Maybe a wee tad earthier (gentian roots) and more medicinal. Or maybe not. Beautiful notes of almonds and lime. Big PE! With water: big indeed, rawish, earthy, salty, tarry and extremely kippery. But where’s that wine? Finish: long, salty. Seashells, bitter almonds. Rounder aftertaste (crystallised quinces). Comments: textbook PE. Maybe a tad narrower than the Alambic. SGP:457 - 90 points.

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2010 (55.7%, Signatory, wine treated butt, cask #231, 501 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: same as sister cask #232. Right, maybe a little more lemon – just a little – and a little more smoke. Splitting hairs now. With water: a tad different now, a little chalkier, greener, but other than that the quality is still very high. Mouth (neat): almost the same as sister cask. Excuse me, I won’t try to find any further differences because that would mean going from one to the other back and forth for hours and that’s not a good idea. Okay, this one is maybe a tad greener indeed (green pepper?) With water: ditto. A slightly rawer version of cask #232. Finish: long, salty, earthy and lemony. Comments: actually, there’s a little more lime in this one but they’re very close. SGP:457 – 90 points.
That one came from a very nice little sample that, following the tracks of Whiskysamples by our friend Luc and several German online retailers, the excellent Master of Malt are now doing for the thirsty – but not uberwealthy – masses. Try before you buy, I couldn’t agree more. Thank you, Master of Malt!

More distillery data Our tastings: all Port Ellen that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

- This nice wee watercolour of Port Ellen Distillery by famous whisky artist Ian Gray. Thank you, Ian.

Port Ellen

MUSIC - Recommended listening: we're in 1937, Robert Johnson plays Love in vain. Another seminal slice of blues that the Stones covered beautifully a few years later ;-) Please buy Robert Johnson's music.

Robert Johnson

June 16, 2010

A strange session, 33yo Mosstowie vs. 33yo Glencraig

Both malts were made using Lomond stills, Mosstowie was made at Miltonduff between 1964 and 1981 while Glencraig was made at Glenburgie between 1956 and 1981. Yes, 1981 wasn’t a good year for Lomond stills! In short, a Lomond still is a crossbreed between a traditional pot still and a continuous still, the pot being fitted with a column containing rectifier plates. Why did they build such stills? To offer more variety to blenders, apparently.


Mosstowie 33 yo 1975/2008 (47.7%, Duncan Taylor, Rarest of the Rare, cask #5817, 198 bottles) Three stars and a half From a bourbon cask. I already tried a few 1975s by DT and they were all very good. Colour: straw. Nose: ah yes, this is nice. Vey flinty and beautifully austere at first nosing (graphite, grass, whiffs of pencil shavings – nice ones) and then a second layer that’s rather fruitier, on apples, gooseberries and a little rhubarb. And a little fresh butter. Not quite as aromatic as cask #5809 issued in 2005 but pleasantly ‘straight and uncompromising’. With water: I get some incense now – wasn’t that supposed to be in the Glencraig? No, I didn’t mix up my samples! Also more fruit jelly. Mouth (neat): rich, oily, coating, rather fruity, malty and a tad sugary. Sweets and tinned fruits (peaches?), maybe a little bubblegum. Perfect strength. With water: more spices but also more fruits. Ginger and pepper over strawberries. Finish: long, with notes of green tea in the aftertaste. Comments: another very good one. Very fresh for a 33yo malt. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glencraig 33 yo 1974/2008 (50.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #104.9, 204 bottles) Three stars and a half Heretically nicknamed 'Church incense in naughty dungeons' (on a 33yo! ;-)). Cadenhead’s had some excellent Glencraigs in the past, let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: we aren’t far from the Mosstowie but this one starts right on grass, with quite some fresh oak and apple peelings. Quite some green fruits again after that, rhubarb again, leaves, a little porridge, colza oil, hazelnuts, wet gravels… Once again, it’s an austere dram. No incense or dungeon so far ;-). With water: not much development. Maybe a little sawdust. Mouth (neat): once again, we’re close to the Mosstowie but this one is a tad sweeter, with more bubblegum but also a little more oak. With water: same comments. Touches of fructose and liquorice. Finish: long, oakier now – but it’s no oaky whisky. Comments: same very good quality as with the Mosstowie. Let’s call it a draw. SGP:561 – 84 points.


Malt Maniac Lex Kraaijeveld once wrote an excellent article about Lomond stills

MUSIC - Recommended listening: well, I don't quite know how you should call this kind of heavy metal/jazz/funk combo (maybe heavy metal/jazz/funk?) but what's sure is that the French Mörglbl Trio and their slinger Christophe Godin are very good at it. Let's listen to the weirdly named Scouskymegnum (warning, don't listen at work!) and then buy these funny people's music.

Morglbl Trio

June 15, 2010

Glenmorangie 1963

Tasting three official Glenmorangie

Glenmorangie 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2010) Three stars The first versions of this premiumised 18yo around 2007 were good in my opinion (WF 82), let’s see if newer batches are in the same league. Colour: gold. Nose: typical floral and mildly fruity nose, on quite some light honey, a little pollen, dandelions, mirabelles and quite some custard. Also some fresh orange juice and maybe a little orangeade as well (make that Fanta). All in all, a light, gentle and very pleasing nose, with something summery. Mouth: good feeling, light but rather creamy, with notes of butterscotch and vanilla crème, a little honey, plum jam, white pepper… It’s neither big not very demanding but pleasant it is. Finish: medium long, rather fruity, with a little more oak and notes of apples and cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: I do not have any older version at hand but it’s probably very similar, i.e. good. SGP:451 – 82 points.

Glenmorangie 22 yo 1963 (43%, OB, one year Oloroso finish) Five stars I believe this is one of, or maybe the earliest example of wine finishing made by Glenmorangie, as this nice baby was bottled around 1985 (obviously). Proof that wine finishing isn’t only a recent marketing stunt. It’s said to be quite rare and certainly expensive but I’ve seen that it’s available at several online retailers’ these days. Colour: deep gold. Nose: absolutely no Oloroso-ish nose, rather the same kinds of notes as in the new 18, only with much more oomph and expressiveness. Develops on more orangey notes (blood oranges, also pink grapefruit – not only because of the colour!), hints of pu-erh tea, something very pleasantly herbal (sorrel? Coriander?) and finally quite some stewed fruits that may hint a bit at sherry indeed. High quality, complex and fresh, reminding me a bit of the neighbouring Balblairs. Faint chalkiness and maybe a little sandalwood. Mouth: once again, this is much richer than the 18 but the profile is also rather different this time. Many more fruits including tropical ones (pineapples), a perfect oak, sweet spices, apricots, hints of tinned litchis and maybe Muscat wine, a little nutmeg… Quite superb, this combination of freshness and richness works very well (nope, I don’t think that’s antinomical). Finish: long, with more spices kicking in but the freshness remains. Comments: great, complex dram. No wonder they went on doing finishings after this success. SGP:561 – 91 points.

Glenmorangie 1987/2004 (54.1%, OB for Germany, cask #6813, 258 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: starts rather less aromatic than the ‘43%s’ but that’s normal. The fresh oranges are there, though, as well as a marginally more chocolaty profile. Lemonade. With water: as often, a farminess appears but it stays there even after a long time. Okay, five minutes. We’re closer to raw barley and malt, candy sugar and just hints of molasses. Mouth (neat): very creamy, all fruits to the front in the attack, with some white chocolate, notes of North-African spice mix (the kind they always use ‘because it’ll enhance just any dish’), prunes, oranges and just hints of liquorice allsorts and icing sugar/fructose – maybe also lavender/violet sweets. With water: very good, sweet, lighter, fruity and jammy, fresh… A fruit salad. Finish: rather long, sweet, fruity, just a tad sugary. Barley sugar, confectionnary. Comments: excellent dram that reminds me of the ones by the SMWS, only with less fresh oak influence. SGP:641 - 88 points.

More distillery data Our tastings: all Glenmorangie that we tried so far
The complete distillery profile on Malt Madness

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Mariska Veres was the singer of the Dutch pop band Shocking Blue. In 1993 she did a very nice jazz recording of some popular pop anthems, including, of course, Venus (the record was called Shocking You!) Please buy the late Mariska Veres' music.

Mariska Veres

June 2010 - part 1 <--- June 2010 - part 2 ---> July 2010 - part 1

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



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

Glenmorangie 22 yo 1963 (43%, OB, one year Oloroso finish)

Glen Scotia 1972/2010 (45.1%, Malts of Scotland for Belgium, bourbon hogshead, cask #1926, 114 bottles)

Longmorn 40 yo 1970/2010 (52.9%, Alambic Classique, oloroso sherry, cask #10402, 142 bottles)

Longmorn-Glenlivet 1973/2003 (56.5%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #3976)

Longmorn 1970/2000 (57.1%, Scott's Selection)

Port Ellen 1983/2009 (51.4%, Romantic Rhine Collection, refill sherry octave, 70 bottles)

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2010 (55.1%, Alambic Classique, bourbon hogshead, cask #10423, 124 bottles)

Port Ellen 26 yo 1983/2009 (54.7%, Signatory, wine treated butt, cask #232, 587 bottles)

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2010 (55.7%, Signatory, wine treated butt, cask #231, 501 bottles)

Royal Lochnagar 1994/2009 'Manager's Choice' (59.3%, OB, cask #837, 528 bottles)