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Hi, you're in the Archives, May 2006 - Part 2
May 2006 - part 1 <--- May 2006 - part 2 ---> Current entries (home page)

May 24 to June 4, 2006

The Whiskyfun crew is in Scotland (including Islay) with a few other Malt Maniacs for a few days. Like last year, we'll try to keep you posted on our adventures, should the wonders of modern technology permit. Please check our SPECIAL FEIS ILE PAGE!

May 23, 2006

Longmorn 1994/2004 (46%, Helen Arthur, bourbon) Colour: white wine. Nose: quite fresh and clean at first nosing, buttery and floral (iris), getting then very, very fruity (golden delicious apples – or any kind of non-acidic apple, pears, white peaches) and switching then to lots of vanilla and fudge, light caramel, praline… Something frankly bourbonny. Maybe also a little leather… Simple but most enjoyable, like many recent young malts, which all seam to have been much better distilled (let’s say since 1991/1992). Maybe it’s just a feeling, that is…
Mouth: sweet but nervous, starting on fruit juice (apples, pears), vanilla, a little coffee and hints of cookies. Gets quite caramelly but also rather tannic, peppery and drying… The finish is rather long, vanilled and peppery… It seems the cask was rather active here, or at least that it imparted much ‘oak character’ to the spirit within a rather short period of time. I’m wondering whether all the new bourbon casks they’re using in Scotland these days won’t oblige some to re-rack their whiskies into used casks, or to bottle them at young age. But then we could get immature spirit with a very strong oak character, which is more or less what’s happening with this Longmorn. On the palate, at least. But it’s a nice whisky nevertheless. 83 points.
Longmorn 1974/2006 (49.8%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead #3494, 135 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: sharper and immediately more complex, starting with whiffs of varnish and resinous wax but soon to switch to lots of fruits. And when I say ‘lots’… Quinces, apricots, yellow peaches, melons, fresh pineapples, oranges, maybe even lychees… And then a sudden burst of ginger tonic, then vanilla and soft spices (the wood starts talking), then cappuccino, ripe strawberries… Then white pepper and plain oak (nice), then hints of chardonnay wine, then a little toffee and toasted bread, sultanas... The oak seams to have had the same kind of effect here as with some high-end white wine (NOT wood bombs!) and sometimes one could even think it’s a refill sherry but it isn’t, of course. Brilliant nose in any case. Mouth: sweet, creamy, textured, starting on both lots of fruits and lots of spices. An obvious oaky character but it’s not as oaky as its younger sibling – but it’s 32 years old! A nice bitterness that keeps the whole very firm, chlorophyll and spearmint, infused tealeaves, nutmeg… Lots happening here, and the finish is rather long, peppery, nicely drying (i.e. not too drying ;-)) and slightly liquoricy and salty. Granted, the nose was much more explosive aroma-wise but the whole is just excellent. 90 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: Alsacian 'compatriot' Rodolphe Burger and Marco Di Oliveira doing their very own version of Moonshiner.mp3 live in 2001. Rodolphe just played with John Tchicai in Paris - that should say it all. Please buy these guys' music.


May 22, 2006



Imagine a very funny and very excellent band from crime-free Souderton, Pennsylvania, singing gems such as their own compositions 'Whiskey in the jukebox' or 'Let's get drunk & break bottles in the alley', or bluegrass versions of Locomotive breath, Space oddity, Nights in white satin or I wanna be sedated... Wouldn't you feel an urgent need to interview them? Luckily, we could get hold of excellent bassist Bradley Keough, ask him our ritual questions and couldn't help rolling on the floor when the answers came in!...

Whiskyfun: Bradley, please tell us a little more about what you do, music-wise.
Bradley Keough: I slap bass and howl with Psych-A-Billy, The World's Second Most Feared Hillbilly Band. Imagine Del McCoury and Frank Zappa having a fist-fight with The Ramones.
WF: He-he... And which other musicians are you playing with?
Bradley: The band personnel: Scott "Old Uncle Possum'' Chaloupka, Eugene "Idjit The Washboard Boy" Smith, Mysterious Keith Galle, Col. Rick Beizer and yours truly, also known as 'The Mushrat'...
WF: Which are your other favourite artistes?
Bradley: If folks ever find out that I listen mostly to jazz at home my reputation will be ruined --and that ain't sayin' much. You can have my Mingus records when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.
WF: Mingus! Again! Always amazing - and understandable - to see that most rock musicians praise Charlie Mingus, especially bassists of course... By the way, which are your current projects?
Bradley: For the last five years we've been wrestling with a studio album called Poke It With A Stick. Preview tracks will be available within the next month or two. In the five-year gap since our last record, I've laid down bass for Adam Brodsky, Boris Garcia's Family Reunion and Steve DiJoseph. We released a live album in 1998 called Play The Damn Song!. It took forty-five minutes to record it. Two years later we recorded another live album and that took even longer. The breathaking-in-its-primitive-splendor Pantalones En Fuego! was recorded in about three hours.
WF: When did you start enjoying whisk(e)y?
Bradley: Breakfast.
WF: Good one! And do you have one, or several favourite whiskies?
Bradley: The bottle that's most regularly found in the liquor cabinet is Tullamore Dew, though I enjoy many other Irish whiskies, and have recently developed a fondness for Maker's Mark.
WF: Are there whiskies you don’t like?
Bradley: There are an awful lot of bad Scotches out there. The trick is to avoid the blends that taste like Bourbon-with-soap-in-it and the single-malts that taste like eating a handful of peat moss.

WF: Ah, yes, it's true that Islay lovers always forget that there are quite a few people out there who hate peated malts... Now, our most popular question: music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves. Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
Bradley: I have yet to find an activity that cannot be improved with the addition of girls. Girls who drink whiskey are the best kind of girls, with the possible exception of horny girls who drink whiskey.
WF: In some ways you could argue that tasting a whisky is similar to listening to a piece of music – you deconstruct the two in the same way? Care to comment?
Bradley: I deconstruct music ferociously. I reduce it to its component parts and mix and match the parts in ways that would make Dr. Frankenstein cringe. For example, after a lot of intense deconstruction of time signatures and scales, Psych-A-Billy has concocted a medley of The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha and Whippin' Post by The Allman Brothers –all played as God intended: Bluegrass Style. Though, incredibly, the band makes it look easy in performance, there was considerable struggle, and several applications of the electrodes before this thing would come to life. Tasting whiskey is nothing like this. It is considerably less strenuous, at least for the first several glasses. Tasting whiskey is more like listening to music. Enjoying the beginning, the middle and the end. Savoring the flavors and the tonalities. I can let the whiskey simply be what it is. Music, however, once deconstructed, has to be put back together and I am completely unable to just let it be.
WF: I once heard an eminent whisky professional say that he tasted whisky in colours. Do you taste whisky in music?
Bradley: No, but I hear music in whiskey; the brashness of brass, harmony of voices, the lingering of strings…
WF: There is a famous passage in a book written in the 1930s (Aneas Macdonald) where the author compares different styles of whisky to different sections of an orchestra – how would you see that working in a jazz or rock band, or in a classical orchestra?
Bradley: Well, I'm not sure, but I think I'd rather drink a bottle of Ragtime than a bottle of Punk Rock.
WF: Everyone thinks of Jack Daniels as being the great rock and roll whisky – why not Scotch?
Bradley: Jack Daniels is a bourbon and, like rock and roll, is indigenous to the American South. The bond between Rock and Jack was formed out of geography and economics. Remember, for most of us, there are still literally hundreds of dollars to be made in rock and roll. You might as well wonder why bagpipers aren't associated with Wild Turkey.
WF: By the way, how did Psych-A-Billy come to be associated with whiskey?
Bradley: The association between Psych-A-Billy and whiskey is completely organic and goes back to the pre-historic origins of the band during the Early Devouring Period. The boys in the band love more than anything to play around campfires at music festivals large and small. We'll play with anybody who asks. And, after each song, it seems somebody is always reaching into the back pocket of their jeans and passing their gentlemen's flask around the circle, deepening the bond and conviviality among the band of the moment.
WF: Our last question, Bradley. I've heard something rather funny about a lot of empty whisky bottles, can you tell us the whole story?
Bradley: About ten years ago, when Psych-A-Billy first moved our so-called rehearsals into the now-infamous, coal-heated, mirror-ceilinged, practice shack and hillbilly love grotto, we didn't have a lot of money to spend on decor. So, we shoved aside some old car parts and hung up our picture of Clint Eastwood on black velvet and some old rasslin' posters. We stuffed some old bar mirrors up into the rafters and hung a bunch of blinky, twinklin' lights about the place. I unrolled a threadbare Oriental rug and we commenced to "rehearsing."
After a while it started feeling more like home. You see, like foolish, college freshman, we weren't throwing away our empty whiskey bottles. We thought it'd be pretty funny to just line them up along the rafters as a sort of tribute to the authenticity of our depravity. And we were right. Until recently, it was all pretty amusing.
Though it took ten years, the number of empty whiskey bottles has recently passed the three-hundred mark and certain, unforeseen complications have arisen. For example: In the bottom of each of those empty whiskey bottles, there's just a little bit of whiskey that's filling each and every bottle with potentially explosive alcohol fumes. We got a match near one of those bottles a little while ago and it made a great big "WHUMP!" and spit out a considerable flame. On account of we heat the place with an ancient coal stove of questionable condition, it's not entirely inconceivable that the shack could catch fire and result in an explosion that would leave a thirty-foot crater, send a giant, orange, mushroom cloud up over scenic, historic and crime-free Souderton, Pennsylvania, and leave nothing but our charred and bewildered selves wondering what just hit us.
In a rare moment of clarity, we decided that we'd rather avoid that. And, as we're still musicians and, consequently, still have no money to improve the place, getting rid of the bottles seemed the simplest option...until we started thinking about that. You see, scenic, historic, and crime-free Souderton, Pennsylvania, is the sort of town where churches outnumber bars by at least six-to-one. The God-fearing folks here are pious and temperate. And, unfortunately, they're also more than a little nosey and kind-of judgmental.
So, if I were to put out three-hundred empty whiskey bottles for the my trashman, Mascaro The Reliable, these simple, Bible-thumpin' folk would panic. Surely, I would run the very real risk of being vilified, demonised, investigated and potentially arrested for God-knows-what. Similarly, putting them out by the curb in instalments would mean a recycling bucket full of empty whiskey bottles every week for months. That could only be worse.
So, always willing to ask for directions, I started raising the problem at Psych-A-Billy shows and asked the esteemed opinion of our audience. And, bless you folks, the best answer on what to do with three-hundred empty whiskey bottles was shouted up to the stage with no small enthusiasm, "Make it three-hundred-and-one!" An excellent idea, but sadly, one that doesn't really solve the problem.
So, last week, under cover of darkness, Psych-A-Billy and a couple of accomplices loaded up three-hundred empty whiskey bottles into a van. And, while scenic, historic, and crime-free Souderton, Pennsylvania, snoozed the summer night away, lulled into slumber by the incessant drone of their air-conditioners, we giddily dropped an empty whiskey bottle into each and every recycling bucket on this side of town. What could possibly go wrong? Well, maybe this...
Excellent and funny story, Bradley, thanks for sharing it with us! And thanks for all your other answers, on behalf of all the most distinguished Whiskyfun readers.
A few links of interest:
Psych-A-Billy's official website
The band's world-famous song Let's get drunk and break bottles in the alley.mp3
Photographs: Psych-A-Billy, Mary Messerly (statestreetblues.com)
Macduff 32 yo 1972 (46%, Ian McLeod for Malt Brothers) Colour: pale gold. Nose: dry and very woody right from the start, which doesn’t happen that often on the nose, even with ultra-old malts. Notes of gin, ginger ale, white pepper, sawdust, getting then quite vegetal (raw French beans, lettuce, cooked cabbage, hay) with also a little vanilla… It does improve after a few minutes, with more ripe apples, apricots, pipe tobacco… Even kind of a maritime freshness (sea air) and hints of spring water… Develops on bold notes of paraffin, leather and tobacco (Havana)… It’s really nicer now.
Mouth: good news, it’s neither tired nor overly woody, although the oakinesss is very present. Rather sweet, very gingery and peppery, with notes of grapefruits and kumquats, getting then slightly meaty (ham) and finally bitter – a nice bitterness, on cough sweets, spices, bitter apples… And the finish is rather long, nervous, not too drying, on apples and pepper… A youthful 32 yo Macduff! 86 points.
Macduff 36 yo 1969/2006 (59.1%, Duncan Taylor, cask #3681, 120 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: lots of wood! Bold notes of varnish and wax polish, cellulosic glue and white pepper… Let’s give this one time… Yes, that works, it gets much fuitier now (lots of crystallised quince) but also very ‘Havanian’, on tobacco again but also old rum, all sorts of slightly rotting fruits and vegetables, wet hay and dog… Their seem to be quite some peat. Keeps developing on dried oranges and then toasted cake, caramel, coffee… Lots happening in there, I like it. Mouth: very bold and powerful, which is quite incredible considering its age. Thick, oily, starting on crystallised oranges and quince again, orange liqueurs, getting very resinous (fir honey, chlorophyll chewing-gum, mastic sweets), sort of tarry, rubbery, bitter… Underberg? (strong herbs liqueur) Notes of curry and mustard… Almost ‘bestial’. The finish is long, thick, still invading, on dried oranges and resinous ‘stuff’ plus a pinch of salt on your lips… Anyway, the fact that it’s at almost 60% after thirty-six years is already amazing, and both the nose and the palate do confirm that. It is bestial ineed! 91 points.

May 21, 2006

TASTING - TWO OLD BLENDS (or so I thought)
Auld Blended 38 yo (40%, Duncan Taylor, 2006) This one’s been married for one year before bottling. Colour: pale gold. Nose: much more on the malt side, almost like a very old ‘non-sherry’ Speysider. Starts very flowery (the ‘usual’ buttercups, chamomile, daisies) and quite fruity (plums), getting then cakier, on vanilla and light caramel. Keeps developing for a while, on oak and fruit jelly with hints of aniseed and lily of the valley. Quite light, delicate and harmless, almost like a good herbal tea.
Mouth: a woody and rather dry attack, with lots of tannins but that’s below the limits. A little fudge and caramel and hints of cooked apples, lots of white pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg, getting frankly tea-ish with also a little liquorice. Gets a little bolder and oomphier toward the finish, with is longer than expected although still quite dry and peppery (white pepper). Probably not a whisky for malt drinkers but it’s quite enjoyable, maybe it would have better stood the tannins at +/- 43%. 80 points.
Highland Fusillier 21 yo (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, bottled 1978) Colour: deep gold. Nose: more expressive than the Auld Blend, with much more fruit: grapefruits, passion, oranges, mixed with quite some caramel and something rather smoky. Aromatic and playful, I guess there’s lots of malt in there too. Develops on grilled herbs (hints of oregano), flint, toffee, milk chocolate… Quite complex and extremely enjoyable, with a superb freshness. Mouth: certainly bolder than the Auld Blend but almost as tannic. Now, there’s much more flavours behind that: cooked apricots, vanilla crème, ripe bananas, toffee, cappuccino, caramel… And again these smoky notes that give it a most enjoyable structure. Notes of dried oranges and violet sweets. The finish isn’t too long but balanced and complex, on dried fruits and spices (quite gingery). In short, an excellent old blend that IS for malt drinkers ;-). 87 points. Hold on, I just saw this is a vatted malt! Silly me...
MUSIC – Recommended listening - It's Sunday, we go classical with a very famous piece by friend of Dada Erik Satie: the Gymnopedie #1.mp3 played very slowly and 'profoundly' by the late Daniel Varsano, who died from aids at age 33. Please buy Mr. Varsano's music... (picture: Erik Satie)

May 20, 2006


Ardmore 22 yo 1977/1999 (43%, Signatory, cask #1184) Colour: pale gold. Nose; really fresh, starting on pure apple juice with hints of fresh butter and a little peat smoke in the background. It gets then fruitier and fruitier, with also pears, gooseberries and notes of sour dairy cream. Gets then rather mashy (mashed potatoes, porridge, muesli), the whole been rather pleasant. Always quite some butter. After a few minutes: quite some notes of old books and wet cardboard.

Mouth: the attack is sweet, not lacking presence (as sweet as a liqueur in fact), developing on sugared apple juice, pineapple and pomegranate syrups. Not much else, alas… Very little peat now. Maybe also a little vanilla crème. The finish is unexpectedly long, unctuous, like if it was a pineapple or pear liqueur, really. Quite a nice whisky, in fact, the palate being probably too simple but the whole is quite drinkable. 79 points.
Ardmore 11 yo 1992/2003 (46%, Signatory for Lavinia, cask #03/374, 308 bottles)
Colour: white wine, very pale. Nose: this profile is relatively similar but probably more austere and peatier, with quite some mineral notes (as flinty as the best Rieslings). Quite some lemon juice too. Really sharper than the ‘purely’ Signatory. I really like this style, where the peat is a complement and spices up the whole without overwhelming all the other aromas. And we have also very nice notes of high-end marzipan and almond milk. Mouth: much more interesting than the 1977 now, with a perfect blend of peat smoke, fruits and white pepper. Quite powerful, compact, very enjoyable, with a perfect balance. Notes of tealeaves and pistachios. Gets even a little resinous, with a little propolis, argan oil and hazelnut oil. This is a great young Ardmore, much more expressive than most older versions. The finish is long, balanced, a little waxy, always with something smoky, apple pie and roasted almonds. Really excellent… 87 points.


Gooderham & Worts' Five Star 1944 'What a great day of discovery! No harsher seamen ever sailed over the ocean than those who manned the dragon-headed Viking ships. In just such a vessel, Leif Ericsson, called Leif the Lucky, steered toward the setting sun and sighted the mainland of North America - almost five centuries before Columbus. Even today, when all the world has been mapped and charted, we can still be explorers - in our own fashion. For instance, if you are still unacquainted with the merits of G & W Five Star, we suggest that you try this delicious blend and enjoy an adventure in flavor. As the first fragrant drops cross your lips, we believe you will be thinking "What a great day of discovery!"'

MUSIC – Recommended listening: a bit of French-Spanish ex-Mano Negra and 'concious' singer Manu Chao again, if you please. This time it's the all-famous King of the bongo.mp3! Probably the most explosive gig I've been to recently (well, it was two years ago). Please buy Manu Chao's music!

May 19, 2006

Tamifroyg (49%, Regensburger Whisky Club, 2006) Pictures above: label (left) and back label (right). LOL! It's another very funny experiment with a small Port cask and a certain Islay distillery by our Bavarian friends, after the 'popal' vatting they made last year. Let's try not to be 'influenzed' by the crazy label! Colour: pink gold. Nose: very interesting at first nosing, with a typical Laphroaig sharpness, almost austerity mixed with hints of small red fruits such as raspberries and redcurrants that are just below the limits as far as I'm concerned, which means that they don't create any 'dissonance', unlike what happens with many finished peaty whiskies I think. Otherwise we have lots of smoky, maritime and medicinal notes, lots of iodine, whiffs of toasted bread and then a great minerality (limestone) as well as quite some lemon juice. Hints of the beach after the rain.... I like it, the development seems to be much longer than many Laphroaigs', that usually deliver very quickly (yet beautifully) I think. Mouth: yes, this one succeeded! The attack is rather smooth and takes off gradually, first on strawberries with pepper, then quite some cocoa, then farmy and waxy notes plus iodine, the whole getting very spicy and rather less 'maritime and tary' than regular Laphroaigs after a moment, not to mention medicinal. Quite some cooked strawberries, jam, blackcurrant jelly... It does enter kind of a third dimension after a while, starting to taste like a different whisky. Something of a Lagavulin, quite funnily (but it's not Lagavulin)... Really excellent, the wine really created kind of a third taste that isn't vinous at all. Hey, Regensburgians, maybe you could pass your 'recipe' to some more professional bottlers? The finish isn't extraordinarily long, that is, but very compact, satisfying, on peppered strawberries again plus quite some salt. Congrats! 90 points. Btw, please read the back label, it's worth it!
Laphroaig 17 yo 1987 (51.9%, Jack Wieber's Auld Distillers, 180 bottles) Colour: yellow gold. Nose: that's funny, this one is rather similar but with just the 'original' part. Very sharp, straightforward, with lots of maritime elements, iodine, wet stones, lemons and maybe an even bolder smokiness. Gets then rather grassy, even more austere, flinty... No fruitiness or sweetness whatsoever in this one. Very nice but maybe a tad rigid... Mouth: a little sweeter now, with even more lemon and grapefruit juices, zests, white pepper, tar and smoke... Too bad it gets quite drying after a while, with quite some grape seeds, over infused tea, dry cider... and then suddenly and curiously fruity, with lots of pear juice... Quite simple, I think, especially the finish that's balanced but maybe a little sweetish. A rather good one but it didn't impress me too much, especially after the brilliant experiment by the crazy Regensburgians! 84 points.


Early Times 1979 'The way it was, the way it is.' To be compared with May 17th's entry. After 'everything changes but our whisky' it's 'nothing changes, including our whiskey'.

MUSIC – Recommended listening: 1993, French band Les Négresses Vertes do Face à la mer.mp3 (Massive Attack remix). Please buy it!

May 18, 2006

Highland Park 24 yo 1981/2005 (52.3%, Dewar Rattray, cask #6061) Colour: straw. Nose: quite fragrant and powerful at first nosing, with some personality. It’s also rather spirity, with a little apple juice and then lots of mint. Yes, it’s unusually minty. Lots of wood as well, tannins, oak saw dust, this woodiness being quite enjoyable. Quite some vanilla, bitter almonds, marzipan, cellulosic glue, even a little coconut. Develops on lots of liquorice and aromatic herbs (quite some thyme, even tarragon), gaining cleanliness after a few minutes, getting very buttery and flowery (quite some heather and lots of roses after fifteen minutes or so). A very nice Highland Park, quite different from most OB’s. I quite like it, even it lacks maybe a little roundness...
Mouth: the attack is rounded and powerful, creamy and rather spicy. Lots of oak and lots of tannins (almost aggressive)… It seems that we’ll need water now, even if we do have notes of lemon sweets, fructose and tangerines. With water (while the wood gets even stronger on the nose) the wood is still very prominent - we’re far from a ‘plank infusion’. A nice bitterness but the palate is quite simpler than what the nose had suggested, in fact. The finish is long, very oaky again, with quite some vanilla and orange marmalade. I like it because I like ‘good oak’, and the palate was most enjoyable. 85 points.
Highland Park 17 yo 1988/2005 (56.7%, Cadenhead’s, bourbon hogshead) Colour: straw. Nose: powerful again but a little less expressive and probably flintier. Rather more austere and grassy, getting then frankly chalky and buttery. It needs time to open up but gets closer in style to the 24 yo after a good ten minutes, without getting quite as aromatic, even if we do have marzipan and hints of lavender. Let’s add a few drops of water… That doesn’t seem to change a lot, the wood getting even bolder but we get also notes of cider apples, apple peels, infused green tea, getting very vegetal but it’s still quite nice in its style...
Mouth (neat): very close to the Dewar Rattray. Lots of wood, vanilla, pineapple or orange sweets, then bunches of spices, probably from the wood: black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, even a little cardamom powder. But again, it seems to need water to express himself, let’s try that… Yes, it gets sweeter but with still a lot of oomph at nearly 40%, with lots of liquorice now, vanilla fudge, vanilla crème… The finish is long, powerful, quite raw but coherent and, you got it, oaky and extremely peppery. We’re more or less in same territories. 84 points.
Highland Park 16 yo 1988/2005 (60.5%, SMWS, 4.106, 605 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s a little less powerful, curiously, but that could come from the cask, which seems to be second-fill sherry (but I could be wrong). Starts on lots of strong honey, notes of rum, herbs liqueur and caramel. Gets then very vinous, with hints of old cask (a bit dirty) and quite some toffee and mocha, overripe pears, liquorice… It gets hugely caramelly after a while...
The very vinous, almost dirty notes do then disappear, the whole getting rounder, compacter… and much nicer. It even got on full caramel mode after fifteen minutes. A very nice HP, finally, maybe between the two we just had and some of the sherried official single casks. With water: it gets more buttery and flowery, also woodier again. Mouth (neat): powerful, of course, more on sherry now, quite hot, rubbery and bitter… More and more bitter, invading the mouth and taking your tongue as hostage. Let’s tame it with water: ah, yes, it got much sweeter, rounder and more enjoyable, on crystallised oranges, honey, caramel… Now, it’s still a rather simple whisky that stays quite biting, even at roughly 40-43%. The finish is long, a little bitter and vegetal again, as well as a little salty. The whole lacks a little complexity but it’s still a pleasant one. 83 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: this one by Josh Rouse is very nice, it's It's the nightime.mp3 (from his 2005 album Nashville). The first time I heard it, I thought it was Bill Wyman on bass... And then I imagined Mick Jagger singing it... Try this: mentally replace Rouse with Jagger, it works (even if their voices are very different, of course). Yes, the Stones should do this one - anyway, please buy Josh Rouse's music!


May 17, 2006

Laphroaig 7 yo 1998 or 1999/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC) A brand new young Laphroaig bottled in April – sorry, I only had a mini and I couldn’t find more info. Colour: white wine. Nose: powerful but not pungent, starting on lots of peat smoke and apple juice. Nice balance at such young age! Gets quite tarry, with notes of brand new tyres, liquorice and iodine and then some bold gentian spirit (very earthy) with whiffs of cardboard.
Nothing too medicinal here, the whole being simple but already quite mature – no infanticide, it appears. Mouth: a sweet and smoky attack, with lots of apple juice and peat. Very simple now, but most pleasant, with a nice compactness, getting unusually fruity: apples but also tangerines, lemons, quince… Also fir liqueur… Very good, I had feared a 7 yo Laphroaig was a gimmick but it’s perfectly ‘ready’ indeed (even if, again, not extremely complex). And the finish is long, on grapefruit juice, smoke and earl grey tea. Very, very good (and God knows I don’t like very young whiskies – or wines - usually) 88 points.
As we get it Islay 8 yo (58.4%, Ian McLeod, single cask, circa 2005) This one is said to be Laphroaig. Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, it’s quite Laphroaigish, even if more mineral and less expressive than the ‘very young’ OMC. Probably a little more maritime and flinty but less liquoricy and without these great notes of gentian. But it seems to be an enjoyable, pure peat monster. Mouth: a beastly young Islayer, very wham-bam with lots of peat, apples, soft spices, something rooty and earthy plus liquorice. That’s all but it’s already quite enough! The finish is extremely long, on ‘smoked liquorice’ if that exists. Simple but flawless. 85 points.


Top, left: Dewar's 1931 'Unchanged in a changing world.' Great 1930's design!
Top, right: Johnnie Walker 1944 'Good work... Good whisky' Typical war time British advertising
Bottom: Johnnie Walker 1948 'Time marches on! It makes me proud to think I've seen the paddle-boat become the 'Queen.' Like Clyde-built ships, I've grown in fame - The skill behind me's still the same.' Very interesting similarities with the Dewar's ad above.



MUSIC – Recommended listening: Momus goes on with his clever songwriting and sound mixing... In 2005 he prepared bowls of Homemade Soup.m3... Very interesting. Do you, like me, enjoy Momus' work? Then there's also Shaftesbury avenue.mp3 and the very cool (but always beware the lyrics) I want you but I don't need you.mp3. You should really buy some of Momus' music...


May 16, 2006

Clynelish 18 yo 1987/2006 (55.8%, Signatory, refill butt, cask #990328, 302 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: extremely fresh and maritime at first nosing (sea air) but soon to get incredibly caramelly and winey, smelling almost like a late harvest gewürztraminer or a straw wine. Dried longans, overripe melons, plum jam… Lots of toffee as well, nougat, roasted peanuts, sultanas… And a little rubber arising (which should happen at first nosing usually) as well as whiffs of fireplace and toasted bread… Lots of personality and lots of freshness considering the very active cask.
Mouth: very creamy, almost to be eaten with a spoon, starting on lots of caramel, burnt cake, all kinds of roasted nuts, rum, candy sugar, crystallised fruits (quince) but maybe also something slightly rubbery and bitter. It’s almost impossible this one was a refill butt – or was it wine-treated before it got filled last time? Then we have Clynelish’s main marker, waxiness (that I didn’t get on the nose) and finally different kinds of fruit eaux-de-vies, mostly stone fruits (mirabelle plums, sorb apples, kirsch…) Very good! And the finish is rather long, creamy again, on fruit liqueurs and spearmint… A very thick, very good sherried Clynelish! 88 points.
Clynelish 20 yo (56.9%, Cadenhead’s Original Collection, 18.75cl, early 1990’s) Colour: amber. Nose: oh, this is almost the same whisky, just more concentrated, maybe thicker. Again we have this ‘maritime freshness’ mixed with sherry, again all the sweet wine, caramel, dried fruits and roasted nuts plus smoke, but there’s perhaps an extra-dimension, consisting in all sorts of cooked or overripe fruits we usually get in old red wines such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blackcurrants. Maybe a little old rum as well… Anyway, a superb nose again (freshness + high-end sherry is always a hit in my books). Mouth: almost as thick as the Signatory but also more complex, it appears. Great sherry calvacade and wax but also quite some resinous notes, herbs (rosemary, mint), fir liqueur and honeydew, with also hints of whortleberry sauce and cooked apples and even game that goes along them so nicely (pheasant?) Oh, and orange marmalade – I almost forgot. The finish is very long and creamy again – almost explosive. Well, this was very good, even if maybe lacking a little finesse. 90 points.


Left: VAT 69 1934 'Triumphant! It takes suprerme merit to win a Cup race. It takes supreme merit in a Scotch whisky to win the preference of connoisseurs. It is this characteristic that has earned VAT 69 Scotch Whisky the same preference in America that it has won the world over. Quality Tells - always!'
Right: King 1945 'Be right - drink light. King - It's whisper light's.'

MUSIC – JAZZ - Recommended listening: a truly excellent version of Sonny Bono's (not U2's Bono, Bono from Sonny and Cher!) The beat goes on.mp3 by adventurous singer Patricia Barber who's also on the Hammond organ (recorded live 1999). Please buy Patricia Barber's music!


May 15, 2006

First, three old OB’s for Giaccone (Edward & Edward) that were poured at a Lindorables’ Ostende Festival.
Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, white label, rotation 1969)
Colour: straw. Nose: extremely fresh and vibrant, with the trademark waxiness right upfront. Like always, these old Clynelishes make me think of the best ‘mineral’ Rieslings. Lots of rubbed orange skin, paraffin, iron, wet stone, developing then on linseed oil and lemon juice. A fabulous sharpness and lots of precision. Goes on with something very maritime, sea air, old fisherman’s nest… Hints of melon and quince. Really excellent. Mouth: fab, just fab. Creamy but not limp, powerful but not violent, with a compactness that reminds me of the best old Springbanks. Lots of bitter oranges, wax, olive oil and honey, something subtly resinous, quite some peat, pepper and nutmeg, Japanese green tea… All that with a perfect balance. And the finish is long, slightly minty but also sweet and coating. Brilliant stuff again – a young whisky as it should be, if you ask me. 94 points.
Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, white label, rotation 1971)
Colour: straw. Nose: this one is a tad less expressive, less sharp and a little less mineral. It develops rather on vanilla crème, orange juice and apple pie, but all the markers are well here (huge waxiness, stones, oil). Maybe smokier as well, with quite some marzipan, propolis, apricot juice… A slightly rounder version. Mouth: similar to the 1971 of course but a little more powerful (maybe it’s the bottle) and even waxier this time, also more on crystallized kumquats and citrons, with hints of cardamom. Maybe a tad less complex but not lesss good. And an even longer finish. In short, this one is bolder but a tad less complex. 93 points.
Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, orange and red label, rotation 1973) Colour: pale gold (a little darker). Nose: closer to the 1971 than to the 1969, a step further toward more roundness, with a little honey now, caramel, apple pie, vanilla pastries… But it’s still a ‘real’ old Clynelish, with all the waxy, mineral and oily cavalry. Gets maybe also a little more vegetal, and peatier as well (something quite farmy). Excellent again. Mouth: oh, this is much peatier now, and even more powerful. Almost hot after 33 years in its bottle (rule the twist caps!) with a fantastic development on wax, bitter oranges, marzipan, propolis and hints of vegetables at the back (Brussels sprouts? ;-)) Quite some liquorice as well… And the finish is as long as it can be, with a fabulous earthiness – like in a good gentian spirit. Fabulous stuff again! 93points.
Clynelish 24 yo (49.4%, Cadenhead for Sestante, dumpy cream label,1980's)
Another bottle that had some Belgian adventures (sorry, a private joke). Colour: deep amber (and lots of ‘congeners’, no filtering here, it seems). Nose: lots of sherry and lots of ‘old Clynelish’ character, that blend just perfectly here. Wax and peat, ‘good’ rubber and Smyrna raisins, lots of leather and Havana cigar plus kind of an herbal infusion involving all kinds of plants (lovage, fern, moss, mint, coriander, rosemary…) and mushrooms. Very complex and extremely satisfying at the same time. And very unusual… Mouth: sweet but very firm, starting on lots of liquorice, toffee, wax (of course), peat like in some old Ardbegs from the sixties, raisins, and an ideal blend of flavours that remind me of some great old Yquems – sorry, I’m too lazy to enumerate them all just now. This can happen only with time and unhurriedness (note to finishers). A good example of glass maturing? 95 points.


Whisky's always been associated with ships and boats, so let's have a short history of how it's been dealt with in advertising...
Left: John Begg 1925 'Old time customs, Crossing the Line. It's a wise old custom to take a peg of John Begg!'
Right: Dewar's 1926 'The Spirit of the Ocean - Of all the roads that men follow in life what finer than the highway of the deep? For there is found incomparable freedom that invigorates and ever-constant charm that brings peace to body and mind. The sailor's faith to the sea is like mankind's faith to...... Dewar's.'



MUSIC – JAZZ - Recommended listening: maybe just like me, you can't really stand Brubeck's original Take five, but do you know Tito Puente's version.mp3? Quite explosive! Please buy the great late Tito Puente's music!

May 2006 - part 1 <--- May 2006 - part 2 ---> Current entries (home page)

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

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

Tamifroyg (49%, Regensburger Whisky Club, 2006)

Clynelish 20 yo (56.9%, Cadenhead’s Original Collection, 18.75cl, early 1990’s)

Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, white label, rotation 1969)

Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, white label, rotation 1971)

Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, orange and red label, rotation 1973)

Clynelish 24 yo (49.4%, Cadenhead for Sestante, dumpy cream label,1980's)

Longmorn 1974/2006 (49.8%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead #3494, 135 bottles)

Macduff 36 yo 1969/2006 (59.1%, Duncan Taylor, cask #3681, 120 bottles)