(Current entries)

Whisky Tasting


Daily Music entries

Petits billets d'humeur
(in French)



Hi, you're in the Archives, May 2008 - Part 2
May 2008 - part 1 <--- May 2008 - part 2 ---> June 2008 - part 1

May 30, 2008

Glen Scotia


Glen Scotia 16 yo 1992/2008 (51.6%, Jack Wieber’s, Auld Distillers, 174 bottles) From a bourbon barrel. Colour: pale gold. Nose: first there’s a little wood smoke but then it’s ‘the porridgy cavalry’ that turns up, together with notes of fruit spirit (kirsch first). Mid-yeasty, mid-fruity... Improves a bit after a while, with hints of fresh mint and other herbs, and the vanilla showing out. Cleaner now.
With water: now we have big notes of coconut, praline, caramel crème and vanilla like in some grains. It got quite simpler actually, but it’s pleasant whisky. Mouth (neat): very punchy and with much more character than on the nose. Big maltiness, caramel, toffee and roasted peanuts, getting then very salty and liquoricy. Salmiak? Slightly brutal, let’s add water: right, it’s plain wood that comes out first, and then liquorice. Once again, water made it a little simpler. Finish: rather long, with resinous and oily notes now, as well as quite some salt. Comments: not the best swimmer ever but it’s an interesting example of heavy oak influence that doesn’t completely destroy the spirit. SGP: 372 – 84 points.
Glen Scotia 14yo 1991/2006 (57.7%, Cadenhead's, 198 bottles) From a sherry hogshead. Colour: dark gold. Nose: this is bold and all on warm butter and plain oak (fresh sawdust, varnish, lactones). Extremely oaky but with little sweetness and a very discrete sherry – if any. With water: oh, now we have whiffs of rotting fruits, very strong pipe tobacco, even well-hung game (oh well, Glenn)... What’s funny is that it’s so unusual, that it becomes interesting. Calms down after that, more on ‘regular’ tobacco and malt. Mouth (neat): once again, it’s the wood that speaks first, and very boldly. Huge tannins, pencil (like when we were at school), honey and salt-coated almonds, very strong liquorice... Big, big whisky, with a huge concentration of oak, but not of the drying kind at all. A mega Californian chardonnay? Hints of black cherries in the background. With water: a lot of salt, more dryness, hints of chilli, dried herbs (thyme)... It really got ultra-dry now. Finish: long, salty and slightly tarry. Comments: a rather big Glen Scotia and certainly not an easy-easy dram. Chewing tobacco? SGP:273 – 84 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening: Ah, Madeleine Peyroux! Of course she ain't Billie Holiday but still, she can sing and what a voice! Let's listen to her swingin' version of Back in your own back yard.mp3 today and then buy a few of her records...


May 29, 2008





Mortlach 19yo 1969/1989 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade) Colour: gold. Nose: starts on fresh oranges and tangerines plus a little malt and café latte and gets then a little farmier (wet straw, wet grains). Slight meatiness and hints of wet papers, cardboard. Pleasant nose but we wouldn’t say this is very complex. Mouth: rather powerful, malty, grainy and orangey, displaying little complexity just like on the nose. Caramel and nougat plus white pepper and apple compote with quite some sugar. Finish: medium long, balanced, honeyed, a tad meaty and smoky now. Comments: certainly good but a little middle-of-the-road, which was quite unusual with Intertrade whiskies. Reminds me of older versions of Highland Park 12. SGP:442 – 81 points.
Mortlach 1961/2000 (40.8%, Scott's Selection) Colour: straw. Nose: ah yes, this one has much more to tell us it seems. I think I never came across a malt that displayed such big notes of sultanas at first nosing, followed by a big honeyness and then all things resinous (pine resin, cough syrup, eucalyptus, fresh putty and the rest.) Settles down a bit after a few minutes, getting a tad woodier and vanilled but it’s still pretty beautiful. Hints of smoke and ham as often in Mortlach. Mouth: oh yes, this is unusual. Exceptional attack on bananas flambéed (not the Irish kind of bananas – eh?) and vanilla crème, and then we have more and more bananas, as if the cask was made out of banana wood (don’t be silly, Serge, banana wood probably doesn’t taste like bananas.) Rum, sultanas and orange liqueur. Just excellent and very ‘diferent’. Little meatiness this time. Finish: rather long, less on bananas and more on honey-coated ham. Comments: a wonderful and quite spectacular whisky at almost 40 years of age, but Mortlach is hard to recognise here. SGP:732 - 92 points.
Mortlach 50 yo 1957/2007 'Ping V' (41.7%, Juul's Vinhandel, cask #3019, refill sherry) Colour: gold. Nose: a little similar to the Scott at first sniffing, but even more resinous. Also a little herbal (fresh mint, lemon balm, camomile and verbena), with notes of rosehip and hawthorn teas. Hints of sandalwood, old roses, rubbed orange skin, and finally delicate oaky tones and a little praline. Antique? Not quite, this one is still quite talkative if not nervous. A very classy oldie. Mouth: more wood here, obviously, but also fresh mint, walnuts, strawberry sweets, something like cranberry juice (no kiddin’), liquorice, old pu-erh tea and dried herbs (parsley, coriander). A little woody but not tired! Finish: not too long but balanced, with rather soft tannins and again a little banana, green this time. Cinnamon. Comments: sure there’s quite some wood in this oldie but what’s good news is that it’s never drying or too ‘green’. Moving old whisky, but maybe not quite as thrilling as the famous 50yo’s 1936-1939 by G&M. SGP:361 – 87 points. (Thank you Hans-Henrik.)

MUSIC – Recommended listening: it's a 'strange' sound that you don't hear too much anymore, but it was quite in a few years ago - it's trumpetist Jon Hassel and his Flash of the spirit.mp3 (recorded 1988, with Farafina). The good old days of 'world' music... Please buy Jon Hassel's music, his recent recordings are very good.

Jon Hassel

May 28, 2008

TASTING – TWO VERY YOUNG AND TWO VERY OLD MACALLANS AT 43% vol. (but does that make any sense?)

Macallan 1998/2007 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt) Colour: pale straw. Nose: all on pear spirit, baker’s yeast, newly cut grass and porridge, with also a little wood smoke and whiffs of fresh mint and liquorice. Uncomplicated but exactly what you’d expect from a very young un-sherried Macallan. Less nutty/malty than the young Fine Oaks, for instance. Mouth: drier than expected, and bigger as well, with more maltiness and less porridge. Good liquorice and then we’re back on pears and ripe apples. Finish: rather long, still on the same flavours. Comments: good young Macallan, with more personality than the young Fine Oaks but maybe a little less than the official sherried versions. A rather big – and good - spirit. SGP:431 – 79 points.
Macallan 1998/2008 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, Small Barrels) The people at Jean Boyer’s are extremely good at selecting young single malts that usually display a lot of straighforwardness and cleanliness. Colour: pale straw. Nose: much more ‘chiselled’ than the Speymalt, sharper, purer and cleaner. Less yeasty/porridgy and much more almondy, minty and a little mineral (wet chalk). Mouth: very close to the Speymalt as far as the general profile is concerned but a little cleaner, sharper and, again, purer. Hints of what tastes like peat but it can’t be peat, can it? Gets bigger over time. Muesli, blueberries. Finish: long, with quite some liquorice again and hints of gentian. Comments: very good, flawless and pure. Loved the gentian in the finish. SGP:532 – 84 points.
Macallan 33 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Pinerolo, circa 1975) Probably distilled around WWII. Colour: dark gold. Nose: how immensely fruity! It’s really a full basket of tropical fruits, such as bananas, passion fruits, guavas, oranges and, err, oranges. Freshly squeezed oranges, that’s it! Well, at least for fifteen minutes, and then it starts to get more complex, with refined whiffs of coal and wood smoke, a little coriander, tamarind, fresh parsley, pineapples, grapefruits… It’s beautiful whisky, but frankly, I’d have rather said this was a 1968 Bowmore, had I tried it blind. Amazing… Mouth: good body but of course, it’s no ‘monster’. Starts on the same citrusy, tropical fruits but in a more ‘whispering’ manner. More on jams than on fresh fruits. Very soft spices (gingerbread, a little white pepper). Gets definitely ‘Macallan’ after a few minutes, less exuberantly fruity and much more malty, more sherried and more on dried fruits and a little resin. But it’s still a very vibrant old whisky of very high quality. And sooo drinkable! Finish: long and much more on tobacco now, nuts, flor (or vin jaune), orange marmalade… Comments: an ever-changing old Macallan of the highest grade. Extremely good – but please beware of all the fake old Pinerolos on eBay, notably the pre-war versions. SGP:743 – 92 points.
Glen Gordon 50 yo 1939/1989 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, 120 bottles) Even if G&M don’t divulge this kind of information, many suppose that Glen Gordon is/was usually Macallan. Colour: amber. Nose: almost as expressive as the 33yo at first nosing but pretty different. Drier and more marked by some sherry wood, with also much more smoke and all kinds of roasted nuts. A bigger meatiness as well (cured ham, Parma), notes of soy sauce, tar, toffee… All that is extremely subtle in fact, but the whisky’s very far from being weak. Very faint OBE (metal). Gets much more ‘tertiary’ after a good fifteen minutes, with even more ham, other meats, steak, even poultry… This one has a lot of old stories to tell us, which is very moving in any case. Certainly more complex than the 33yo, and less wham-bam despite its vintage (come on!) Mouth: great attack, again much drier than the ‘disclosed’ Macallan but definitely of the same breed. Walnuts, tobacco, burnt cake, dark chocolate, espresso, peanut butter with a little salt, salmiak, orange marmalade… Incredible how this is concentrated! Now, the wood has its say as well, which is normal after 50 years, isn’t it! More and more on old walnuts, walnut liqueur, coffee, ‘dry’ toffee… And even more walnuts. It is dry whisky, for sure. Finish: long, with the wood becoming even more obvious now but not tannic and drying nor dominating. Comments: an antique whisky that one may like a little less when not knowing both its age and vintage, but still… What? No, no notes of gunpowder I’m afraid. SGP:453 – 90 points (I must confess a small handful of them may be a little emotional.)
cash TOUJOURS L'HUMOUR - Seen on Oddbins' website, this one already made the MM's laugh. At this strength, no wonder the 168 bottles issued in 2006 aren't all sold yet. (thanks, O.)

MUSIC – Recommended listening: Sheila Landis can sing for sure. Let's listen to her very afro-cuban rendition of the unshakeable Summertime.mp3... Good, eh! Please buy Sheila Landis' music.

Sheila Landis

May 27, 2008

Highland Park

a short retro-verticale

Highland Park 26 yo 1972/1998 (55.7%, Signatory 10th Anniversary, cask #1632, 252 bottles) Colour: old. Nose: starts fragrant and honeyed, but the oak is soon to strike a bit (vanilla, tannins). Very nice notes of apricot jam, acacia honey, then also a little salpetre, iron and coal.
Keeps improving once the oak has vanished again, getting both rounded and vigorous, with more and more smoke and also a little ginger. An entertaining HP. Mouth: big, peppery, salty and candied attack, certainly wilder than most official old HP’s. Then it’s big liquorice and pine resin (like if you swallowed a whole bottle of cough medicine), and then even more salt. Very excellent zestiness in the background (tangerines) and good oak. Finish: long, candied, spicy and resinous. Comments: a lot of punch and a great profile, wilder than usual. What’s more, this was bottled at its peak it seems. SGP:554 – 90 points.
Highland Park 1973/2007 (43%, McKillop’s Choice, cask #8395) Colour: white wine. Nose: very unusual, starting on big notes of peanut butter and mint, getting then a bit more porridgy. Indian cashew and cream sauce. Gets then more resinous and herbal (forest, pine needles, fern). Another one that’s very entertaining! Mouth: we have pretty much the same here, and the 43% are far from being ‘weakish’. Good body, quite some resin, dried and crystallised fruits, herbs, a lot of mint... Maybe just a faint ‘paperiness’ but also quite some salt. No smokiness, that is. Finish: medium long, clean, very pleasantly resinous, with a little vanilla from the wood. Comments: a fresh and clean old Highland Park displaying excellent herbal and minty notes. Would fetch higher scores at 46%+, that is. SGP:362 – 86 points.
Highland Park 33 yo 1974/2007 (44.8%, OB, Ambassador’s Cask #3, cask #9035, 35cl) Colour: gold. Nose: starts both smoky and floral (dandelions), with also quite some old leather. Maybe a bit austere but it gets then much fruitier. Quite some peat as well, green tobacco (do you know Indonesian cigars?), shoe polish... Very interesting in any case. Gets more and more complex, step by step. Fresh mint, camphor, cough medicine, cloves... Beautfiful and ‘complete’. Mouth: much fruitier now, with a lot of tangerine and pineapple, candied oranges, very ripe bananas (or dried – not the ‘Irish’ kind), getting then zestier. Lemon marmalade, even passion fruits, hints of melon and peach... Balance: perfect. The whole is highly drinkable, which may be he problem here, with 35cl bottles... Finish: not too bold nor long but smooth and very, very more-ish. Comments: fruitier than usual, isn’t it strange that ambassadors choose casks that aren’t too typical of the distillery? But we won’t complain here, this one offers a lot of pleasure. SGP:642 – 92 points.
Highland Park 20 yo 1975/1996 (43%, Signatory, cask #4307) Colour: white wine. Nose: ouch! This one is much cheesier, sweaty, acetic... Gym socks? What’s funny is that all that disappears after a moment, leaving room for unexepected notes of mangos, passion fruits and fresh pineapples. Well, it’s still slightly ‘on the edge’ but what an improvement! Do some bacterias survive in 43% spirit? Mouth: well, bizarre it is. On one side, there are these pleasant liquoricy and minty touches, but on the other side, notes of very (very) overripe fruits and something ‘cheesy’ again (quite lactic, in fact) make it frankly too weird for me. Finish: shortish, caramelly, a tad cleaner now. Comments: a strange brew – not undrinkable but we liked the 1972 by Signatory so much better! SGP:261 – 70 points.
Highland Park 18yo 1976/1994 (59%, Cadenhead's for Oddbins, cask #4646) Colour: full gold. Nose: unexpectedly ‘nosable’ despite the almost 60%, all on roasted nuts and various kinds of honeys, including, of course, heather. And then we have coal smoke, and then whiffs of resin and eucalyptus, a little ginger (just a little), a little nutmeg... All that is very complex and not masked by the alcohol at all. Also bitter oranges and quinine tonic wine, touches of cinnamon, fresh parsley, even a little oregano... ‘Wow!’ With water: it got much earthier, now totally on fresh mushrooms, wet clay, even ‘good’ mud... And morels, truffles, old Vin Jaune, old pu-erh tea... F*ck, this is great! Err, sorry... Mouth (neat): big, fat, oily whisky! Pepper, mint, apples and much more peat now. Then we have lemon marmalade with a little salt, then something like dried boletus (yeah, I know – or is it tobacco?), tar (a lot), salted liquorice... It’s really concentrated – and high-class whisky, but let’s se how it’ll behave with a few drops of water. With water: holy featherless crow! Finish: even more of everything, and tankerloads of gentian. Which is great news according to us. Comments: a fabulous very earthy Highland Park. SGP:474 - 94 points (und vielen Dank, Konstantin).
Highland Park 1977/1988 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, Fragments, 'Orkney', 648 bottles) A well-known bottling – it was about time I wrote a few notes about it! Colour: straw. Nose: this is ‘less big’ than the Cadenhead’s, and it’s not only for the lower ABV, but it’s also (even) more complex. More herbal (moss, fern and all that jazz) and waxy for a while, then fruitier. All kinds of crystallised citrus fruits, kumquats, tangerines, then orange peel, then paraffin and turpentine, linseed oil, fusel oil... It’s all quite soft and never aggressive. Perfect on the nose, let’s just hope that the palate will be a tad bigger (soft noses can be great, but translate not too well on the palate). Mouth: success! Much, much more in line with the Cadenhead, to the point where it’s almost the same whisky, just a tad softer. Maybe a tad more elegant as well. Finish: long, soothing, more civilised than the Cad and probably a little more citrusy. The more you wait for it, the more complex it gets, at that (various herbs spring to mind but a list would be, err, very boring.) Comments: quite amazing how this one gained power and richness from first sips to the afterglows of the finish. Now, I liked the Glen Garioch in the same series even better (94)! SGP:574 – 92 points.
Highland Park Reserve And also Highland Park 1977 (46%, La Reserve, cask #89/195) Nose: this one is very fragrant and floral, all on heather (of course), lilies of the valley, violets, ripe melons... Gets a bit more mundane after the rather stunning attack on your nostrils, more on apple juice, soft spices and ginger. Mouth: sweet, starting right on very ripe melons, getting then more citrusy (pink grapefruit), which make it an unusual Highland Park. Comments: a good, uber-fruity and interesting variant. SGP:632 – 87 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening: yes, Theodore Roosevelt Taylor a.k.a. Hound Dog Taylor doing a dirty Look on Younder's wall.mp3. Enough said. Please buy Mr Taylor's music... But beware of the dog!

Hound Dog

May 22, 2008

Glen Ord


Glen Ord 10 yo 1998/2008 (59.5%, Signatory, cask #3447, 321 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: powerful of course but fresh, young and fruity – as expected. Rather ‘noseable’ at such high strength, displaying freshly cut pears, oranges, a little linseed oil, very distinct whiffs of coal smoke, then cappuccino, hints of olive oil... What a beautiful young whisky! Classy profile, even if it gets slightly yeasty after a moment..
With water: the sweetness disappeared and it got much grassier and yeastier for a while, with apple juice making a comeback, together with a little oil (fusel, olive.) Clean but simpler with water. Mouth (neat): young, fierce but balanced young whisky, certainly rougher than on the nose and maybe lacking a few more years of ageing. Other than that the fruitiness is perfect (pears, pineapples and apples, none excessively dominant.) Water should really help here. With water: indeed, it got almost perfect now. Very clean, simply but beautifully fruity, with just hints of pepper and a little coffee and toffee. Slight smokiness as well. Finish: long, in the same vein but with also a little salt. Comments: excellent young Glen Ord that reminds us of the beautiful official 30yo in its fruitiness. SGP:642 – 87 points.
Glen Ord 16 yo 'Manager's Dram' (66.2%, OB, 1991) Colour: pale gold. Nose: the first feeling is that it’s very similar to the 1998, as if Ord didn’t change at all within twenty years. Quite some coffee again, milk chocolate, overripe pears (as opposed to freshly cut ones), roasted peanuts, hints of pineapples and a little smoke again... But at 66% ABV, let’s not take chances with our nostrils. With water: It’s funny, this one got fruitier with water, more complex, with a lot of quince jelly, candy sugar, ripe apricots, fresh mint and a little pine resin. AH, Managers have it good! (don’t shoot!) Mouth (neat): shall we dare to put this into our mouth? Of course, and that was a good idea. Not ‘assaulting’, very creamy, thick, not cloying, all on milk and white chocolates, vanilla fudge, mint and a little banana and melon. Excellent. With water: almost exactly like the 30yo (a benchmark for us.) Does ‘the peacock’s tail’ on all sorts of crystallised fruits and jams (oranges, quinces, Williams pears) with a little nutmeg and ginger. Even eucalyptus. Finish: prolonging the palate for a long time. Comments: another proof that Glen Ord can be a super-malt. SGP:651 - 92 points. (and thanks, Luc)



MUSIC – Recommended listening: more blues, always more blues, this time with the incendiary Dave Hole and his Keep your motor running.mp3 (1996). Please buy Dave Hole's music.


Dave Hole

May 21, 2008





Miltonduff 8 yo 1999/2008 'Mille Tonnes d'Œufs' (46%, The Nectar, Daily Dam, 336 bottles) Mille Tonnes d’Oeufs is pronounced ‘miltonduff’ in French, and means ‘one thousand tons of eggs, but as far as we know, there are no eggs involved in the production of Miltonduff whisky. Colour: white wine. Nose: an extremely fresh start, all on grain, freshly cut apples and pears and something slightly floral (lily of the valley). Add to that hints of vanilla and ‘new’ oak and you’ll have a young whisky offering a lot of pleasure, if not complexity. Another summer malt. Mouth: rounded and a little more mature and spicy than on the nose. Peppered apple juice, raw malt, grapes, a little nutmeg... Also quite some liquorice and hints of orange drops. Finish: medium long, with a slight bitterness that actually improves the balance. Comments: less spectacularly fresh on the palate than on the nose but still clean. It’s very good young whisky globally. SGP:442 – 83 points.
Miltonduff 27 yo 1980/2007 (51.9%, Dewar Rattray, cask #12499, 241 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: it’s the oak that strikes first, with whiffs of carpenter’s workshop, varnish, warm sawdust... Goes on with a little mint and apple peelings, then liquorice, then notes of dandelions and a little pollen... The wood remains quite present, even if it gets better integrated after a moment. Very, very slight soapiness. Mouth: rounder and sweeter, almost sugary attack, with the oak well behind the whole. Apple juice, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. Maybe a little simple... Finish: medium long, with a little caramel. Comments: very ‘middle of the road’. No flaws (well, the wood is a bit too heavy on the nose) but no thrills in our opinion. SGP:352 – 77 points.
Milton Duff 36 yo 1966/2002 (41.7%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 184 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: much fresher and much more vibrant than the 1980 despite its older age. Starts on very impressive notes of ‘petrol-like’ riesling (we adore that) and lemon juice, getting then a little rounder, more on vanilla and all kinds of wild flowers. The aforementioned dandelions but also lilac, buttercups, roses (not the headiest ones), orange blossom... It’s a superb nose, totally unexpected at 36 years of age. Keeps developing for a long time, getting more and more citrusy (big notes of tangerines and blood oranges). Superb. Mouth: a desert! Very smooth attack but in no way tired, even after the 1980 that had 10 more degrees. Orange cake and orange drops, tangerines, notes of passion fruit, grapefruits... The oak gets bolder after a while but below the limits (quite some cinnamon). Finish: a bit shortish but clean, on peppered oranges. Comments: as often with oldies, the nose was nicer than the palate but the latter was perfectly enjoyable. In other words, a wonderful nosing whisky. SGP:651 – 90 points.
SCOTTISH HUMOUR - Another Feis Isle 2008 bottling has been announced, a Bunnahabhain 21yo 1986 bottled at 46.7% vol.and priced at £219 on the distillery's website. Very, very funny! Seriously, we're wondering what the actual price of this very appealing bottle is, coz it's a typo, right?
Oh, and our Maniacal friend Mark Gillespie (also of whiskycast.com fame) just told us that according to Jim McEwan, Bruichladdich are releasing the X4 as the Festival Cask for Feis Ile next week (as British Spirit). That's the quadruple-distilled monster they produced 16 months ago, and it will be bottled at 65% ABV (down from 88% in the cask.) No smoking at Feis Isle this year!
MUSIC – Recommended listening. More jazz piano with the splendid and discrete Andy Laverne playing Pannonica.mp3 (it's on his album True Colors). No need to tell you about Monk, Nica and so on I guess, but please buy Andy Laverne's music! Andy Laverne

May 20, 2008






Glenfiddich 21 yo 1961/1984 (45%, OB for Zenith, Italy) Colour: gold. Nose: starts all on straw and camomile tea, with a slight old bottle effect (OBE). The latter grows bigger after a few seconds, with hints of shoe polish and soot. Also something delicately ashy as well as notes of freshly brewed coffee (torrefaction). Also nougat and praline and finally something slightly farmy (wet hay). Less rounded and floral than more recent old versions. Very nice. Mouth: sweet and rounded attack, fruity like an old Tomatin (if you see what I mean), with hints of violet sweets and mint, liquorice, orange drops and roasted nuts. Very pleasant ‘old resinous waxiness’ that may come from OBE again. Funny hints of marshmallows as well, not that frequent in old bottles, and finally quite some tannins from the wood – and pepper. Finish: medium long, a little oakier, drier... Not the best part I think. Comments: very good old Glenfiddich despite the slightly drying finish and maybe a certain lack of personality on the palate. SGP:261 – 86 points.
Glenfiddich 22 yo 1961/1983 (45%, OB for Nadi Fiori, 350 bottles) The ever engaging Nadi Fiori is the Italian gentleman who was behind Intertrade and is now behind High Spirits, which says long about his ability to select great whisky. Colour: gold. Nose: very similar as expected, maybe a tad shier at first nosing. Grows more herbal after a while, with very nice notes of fresh mint and hints of eucalyptus. Same notes of shoe polish as in the Zenith, as well as a little coal smoke. Very nice again. Mouth: this one has much, much more to say than its twin. Bigger, much more flavourful albeit more tannic and woody – pleasantly so, with notes of not too ripe bananas, roasted nuts, strong black tea and Turkish delights. Peppered oriental pastries (don’t we sound like the SMWS?) Finish: long, sweet and tannic at the same time. Peppered orangeade this time. Comments: a playful old Glenfiddich. SGP:362 – 88 points (and thanks, Geert.)
Glenfiddich 1976/2006 (47.0%, OB, for La Grande Epicerie Paris, cask #16392, 243 bottles) La Grande Epicerie is part of the general store Le Bon Marché in Paris. Colour: gold. Nose: much, much more on butter and plain oak than the 1961’s. Something sourish and almost rancid, at that. Yoghurt, even yak butter (I only came across yak butter once in my life, actually). Gets then more fragrant (orange blossom) but the whiffs of sour wood never really vanish. There’s also a little camphor, that is. Mouth: starts well, on liquorice, vanilla and mint but gets then sort of overwhelmed with tannins and dry spices (white pepper, nutmeg). Also a bit chalky. Finish: long and very woody, almost prickly. Comments: yes, very woody. SGP:271 – 78 points.
Glenfiddich 1976/2004 (50.3%, OB, for Queen Mary 2, cask #21229) This was a single cask bottled exclusively for Cunard's latest Super Liner. Colour: gold. Nose: a little more discrete than its twin at first nosing but it’s also much more elegant, more ‘Glenfiddich’ so to speak. Something that reminds me of the 30yo. Herbal teas (camomile like before, rosehip), vanilla and nougat, then cappuccino, Seville oranges, triple-sec... Grows bigger after a moment, delicately spicy, gingery, with also a little wood smoke (beech wood). Not wham-bam for sure, but a very elegant malt on the nose. Mouth: the wood is more ‘active’ on the palate, but not quite as problematic as in the ‘Grande Epicerie’. Very pleasant mix of herbal teas, pine resin, liquorice, green tea, bitter oranges and then the spicy cortege (white pepper and company). Gets even better balanced over time, even if still quite dry and woody. Finish: long, all on ‘the good side of oak’. Comments: well, you have to like oak but if you do, you’ll really enjoy this ‘unsinkable’ Glenfiddich. SGP:361 - 88 points. (and thanks, Hans-Henrik.) Glenfiddich 1976


And also Glenfiddich 30 yo 1968 (50.3%, OB, cask #13147) From the Timmermans sessions. This one is quite austere on the nose, mostly on grains, oak and apples, but thje balance is quite perfect in its own genre. Mouth: fruitier (very ripe apples and pears). Lively notes of dill and aniseed. We like its freshness. SGP:360 – 88 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening. Let's go Algerian today with Cheb Khaled (aka Khaled, eh) and Safy Boutella doing Chebba.mp3 in 1988 (just discard some 'funny' arrangements.) Please buy these guys'music!

Cheb Khaled

May 19, 2008





Glenfarclas 45 yo 1961/2008 (45.4%, OB, Germany, casks #1, 1319, 1321, 458 bottles) Colour: mahogany. Nose: ho-ho-ho! Sherry galore but elegant sherry galore. Wax polish, rosewood, cigar box, blackcurrant jelly, camphor, orange blossom, unlit Havana cigar, raisins and prunes, all that to the power of three. Say four. No need to tell you more. Mouth: thick, rich, mega-sherried and hence a tad too winey at this stage – at least for my tastes – but truly spectacular. Wine sauce, ripe blackcurrants, ripe red grapes, raisins, rancio... it’s not the ‘antique’ kind of sherry at all, that is. Great mintiness. Finish: long, with loads of tannins (both from the wood and, we guess, from the wine) but surprisingly, this is pleasant. Comments: the wording ‘sherry monster’ could have been invented for this one. SGP:651 – 91 points.
Glenfarclas 50 yo 1956/2006 (50%, OB 'for friends', Edition 2, cask #1779, 96 bottles) Bottled for Hans Wuersching. Colour: gold. Nose: more discrete but maybe more elegant than the huge 1961 at first nosing, starting and developing rather marvellously on all kinds of herbal and resinous aromas. Pine wood, moss, eucalyptus, cedar wood, crystallised lemons (rare in old Glenfarclas), mint... Then dried pears, citrons, quince, kumquats... This is absolutely superb! Mouth: excellent, truly excellent. Very resinous (luv’ that), very minty and very camphory. All kinds of cough sweets and syrups reunited or something like that, pine sweets as well. Plus crystallised oranges and lemons and spices (a little pepper, cinnamon from the wood and dried cardamom.) Finish: long, half-resinous, half-oaky. Comments: and impressive old Glenfarclas that matured particularly well. And the resins! SGP:572 – 92 points.
Glenfarclas 34 yo 1959/1994 (50.2%, Signatory, sherry, cask #3238-40, 280 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: this is a classic sherry monster but with rather less oomph than the 1961. Chocolate, tapioca (and flour), nutmeg, prunes and cinnamon, with hints of strawberry jam. Very nice, actually. Hints of balsamic vinegar. Mouth: starts maybe a tad dirty/dusty but gets better after a few seconds. Big winey notes (pinot noir – strange) but keeps improving after that, getting more classically sherried (prunes, chocolate, coffee, blackcurrants), with a little mint again. Actually, it gets really superb, provided you give it a little time. Mint and chocolate. Finish: long, perfect now (a bit late, eh?) Tea, mint and chocolate. Perfect oakiness. Comments: phew, one shouldn’t rush this one! SGP:461 – 89 points.
Glenfarclas 1960/2008 (43.8%, OB, Family Cask, second batch, cask #1773, 157 bottles) The first cask of the 1960 (#1767) was wonderful but it’s now sold out so here’s already a second edition. Sorry, we haven’t got all details yet. Colour: gold – amber. Nose: amazingly fresh! Starts on oranges (in all states) and camphor, then earthy and leafy notes (moss, mushrooms, pine needles), milk chocolate... Develops more on toffee and coffee (espresso), notes of fresh putty, fresh mint... And signs off (so to speak) with unexpected lemony notes. Amazing freshness at almost 50 years of age! Oh, and old walnuts, parsley, chives... Mouth: very different from what we’d expected. A little drying, ‘grapey’, tannic... Gets better with time but it never departs from this winey aspect. Six months old cabernet in new oak? Glenfarclas 1960
Finish: long but slightly sour and very oaky. Hints of Turkish delights and rose jelly. Comments: extremely more-ish on the nose but the palate is unexpectedly winey and dry/sour. Bizarre... Maybe my sample was defectuous? No doubt we’ll have the opportunity to try this one once more, as it’s ‘our’ vintage. Let’s give it only preliminary scores: SGP:571 – 83 points. (picture: 1st edition)


And also Glenfarclas 1968/2000 (52.1%, OB, ceramic, cask #683, 204 bottles) From the Timmermans sessions. Nose: a lot of blackcurrant, sherry, old Burgundy. One of the most vinous, in a good way. Also tarry (new tyre), and a lot of prunes. Mouth: blackcurrant jelly, kirsch and rancio. Gets fruitier (strawberry liqueur). Big and hyper-concentrated, a sherry liqueur. Extreme! SGP:651 – 90 points.

George Grant
Speaking of Glenfarclas, we do like this recent ad by our friend Ronald Zwartepoorte (whiskypassion.nl) for Glenfarclas in Holland very much. The ever engaging George Grant sure has a lot of charisma as well as an obvious sense of humour to match his beautiful whiskies. Congrats!


MUSIC – Recommended listening. The too rare Monty Stark and his Stark Reality have always been favourites of mine so let's remember this fabulous band with the wonderful Shooting Star.mp3 (recorded in 1970, it's on their anthology 'Now'). Please, please buy Monty Stark's music...

Monty Stark

May 18, 2008

Haggis CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan


The Hammersmith Apollo, London, May 7th 2008
What is it about punctuality, Serge? We learned, without too much difficulty, that Mr Cave and his Bad Seeds would take the stage around 8.45pm. We ate a wonderful supper in the evening sunlight (yes, that vegetarian place again, but in case you’re wondering, it’s vegetarian food for meat eaters, not your miserable “I’ve got another cold”, Guardian-reading, sandal-wearing, social-working, lentil-eating, fun-hating veggies).
And we were comfortably in our seats in time to catch the end of crooner Barry Adamson, perfectly positioned for the start. But why was the place half empty? Why did the witless continue to wander in, aimlessly looking for their seats, clutching the inevitable two or three plastic pint glasses of plastic pints of lager, until almost 9.15? Is this the i-Pod generation? The morons who don’t seem to understand that, in the same way that an album is an album, created to be heard from start to finish, a set is a set, crafted and executed in the same way? Who don’t seem to care if they disturb the concentration of others as they wander about from row to row, wrong seat to wrong seat? And who insist on going back for more and more ‘beer’, interspersed with more and more trips to the pisser, for the whole night? It can get you down, Serge – particularly when for all its violence, volume and histrionics, this eventually brilliant set deserved all the attention one could give it.
If Nick Cave was a waiter, leaning at the door of his restaurant in his dark jacket, flared purple-striped trousers, with his absurdly black mane (“I’ll dye it ‘till I die” he recently told an interviewer), and the sort of moustache you only see in photofit pictures of child molesters, then I’m sure you wouldn’t go in. Even more so if you saw the kitchen staff – led by Warren Ellis, whose beard makes him look like a cross between one of Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs and a ZZ Top cast off. He’s surrounded by a junkshop of three of his miniature guitars – more properly Fender Mandocasters, violins in cases and pedals galore. Nick Cave
Drummer Jim Sclavunos has shaved his off, but don’t let the smooth face and the pink drum kit fool you – he’s as mean with his sticks as ever. Melodious Mick Harvey is relegated to drums and keyboards for much of the evening, only occasionally picking up his guitar. Martyn Casey is menacing and motionless on bass. Conway Savage crouches over his keyboards and looks frankly as though he just been let out of somewhere serious. Thomas Wydler, white-shirted at his drums with his brushes and delicate sweeps seems out of place. This is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds post the Grinderman project, touring their new album Dig Lazarus Dig!!! It’s a stripped-back collection of songs, with all the roughness of Grinderman (even more live, as it turns out) and devoid of the painfully tender romanticism that can inform Cave’s works (‘though he does play ‘Into my arms’ as one of the final encores of the night) and ‘though the lyrics are wonderfully dark, humorous and brilliantly constructed, they contain none of the lyricism of the Boatman’s Call, or for that matter, Abattoir Blues and the Lyre of Orpheus.
Contemporary Mandocaster (not an original Fender from the 1960's)
Cave plays guitar (although he doesn’t change chords too often) , occasionally hits the keys of his organ to some effect (when it’s working) and most of all stalks the front of the stage, jumping, karate kicking and dancing (as I have said before) like Scott Walker’s ‘singer with a Spanish bum”. Leaning forward over the audience, he casts a manic shadow on the sidewalls of the theatre, sometimes menacingly like a madman, occasionally and bizarrely like comedian Max Wall (it must be that hair). And after the first three songs – ‘Night of the Lotus Eaters’, ‘Dig Lazarus dig!!!’ and oldie ‘Tupelo’, he’s prepared to lean forward and start chatting with the fans at the front. “Better start the song Nick” interrupts Harvey, as they break into ‘Today’s lesson’ – featuring a charming cast of characters including “Mr Sandman the inseminator”, whose lascivious behaviour allows Cave to shower the audience with parodic pelvic thrusts, which even, unless I’m much mistaken, bring a slight flush to the cheeks of the Photographer. It’s a well-constructed set, mixing the new album’s material artfully with older songs. There’s ‘Moonland’, and ‘Jesus of the moon’ (one of the more restrained songs) from Dig!! interspersed with ‘The ship song’ and ‘I let love in’. And while ‘Red right hand’ provides the first blasting crescendos of the night it’s surpassed in sheer mad exuberance by ‘We call upon the author’ in which Cave launches a literary-reference filled assault on the modern world “Mass poverty, third world debt, infectious diseases, global inequality and deepening socio-economic division (It does in your brain!)” – before returning to the refrain “Prolix, prolix, nothing that a pair of scissors can’t fix”. And all of this while Ellis, normally happy with his back to the audience but tonight displaying almost rock-star behaviour, is rolling on the floor on his back making the most tremendous feedback- fuelled din. Fantastic!
Nick Cave
The first encore begins with a grungy ‘Get ready for love’ (“This is destined for disaster, as all the great songs are“ says Cave), after which they give ‘The lyre of Orpheus’ a heavy dose of the Sham 69 treatment. During ‘Hard on for love’ (which with a typical incongruity features the real Lazarus and the Book of Leviticus), the stage monitors fail and as the band wait for the fault to be fixed, some of the crowd at the front quickly break into a slow hand clap. This is quickly diffused by Cave who, to applause, stands on the edge of the stage and shares his four-lettered Anglo Saxon views on the ungratefulness of London audiences with the ****s. Quite right too. Speakers fixed, the stage is bathed in blood, gore, as much fucking fucking bad language as you can fucking imagine, and yet more screeching and feedback for ‘Stagger Lee’, built of course around Casey’s imperturbable bass line and Sclavunos’ power drumming. Then it’s another break (more cigarettes at the stage door?) before ‘Into my arms’, and Cave’s take on Johnny Cash’s ‘Wanted man’.

It’s exhilarating, thrilling, tinged with danger, probably something your mother wouldn’t approve of, and all those other critical things which go to make up a great gig. And while the music is stripped back, there’s no lack of talent on display, from all of the band. It’s clever and accomplished and fiercely executed. Another Bad Seeds triumph from Mr Cave. - Nick Morgan (concert photograph by Kate)

Nick Cave's MySpace page
Conway Savage's MySpace page (excellent! -S.)



Glenlochy 1977/1994 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice, old map label) Colour: gold. Nose: certainly bigger than expected, with very pleasant notes of roasted caramel and a big maltiness, together with quite some smoke. Burning toast? Smoked tea? There’s also a little soap but nothing excessive. Gets drier. Interesting.
Mouth: dry, caramelly and malty just like on the nose. Burnt cake and crystallised oranges – very good. A little honey as well. Finish: rather long, nicely caramelised. Honey-coated roasted nuts. Comments: quite some personality and a lot of pleasure. And how malty! SGP:354 – 86 points.
Glenlochy 27 yo 1980/2007 (54.8%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, cask #2454, 278 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: very powerful, very grassy, waxy, paraffiny, austere... And different from the 1977. Unsual notes of lemongrass, then fresh walnuts and gentian. Maybe a little soap again but that’s okay - quite some resemblance with the G&M in fact, despite the big differences (is that understandable?) The smoke comes out only after a few minutes, the whole becoming rather wild. A lot of character. Mouth: nervous and soft at the same time at the attack, getting then very malty again, with a slight bitterness (hops). Bitter salad (what we call mesclun). Lentils? ‘Old style bitterness’. Plantain. Finish: long, grasy and malty, with even more hops and beer. Comments: wild and stylish at the same time - and characterful. SGP:262 – 88 points.

May 16, 2008





Laphroaig 11 yo 1996 (53.6%, Jack Wieber, Auld Distillers, 215 bottles, 2008) Colour: pale gold. Nose: not as powerful as expected (feared?) but ultra-clean, ‘zingy’, peaty of course, farmy, maritime and mineral, with added notes of fresh lemon juice and fresh butter. Very, err, ‘idiosyncratic’ but less rounded than most OB’s. Exactly a good indie Laphroaig. With water: a little more smoke, peated malt, wet straw and wet hay. Hints of cow stable. Mouth (neat): punchy, sweet and peaty, salty, liquoricy and peppery, with a lemony tang. Very classic but maybe a tad sweeter than expected. With water: more of the same, maybe a tad more on the peaty/peppery side. Finish: quite long, classic, peat, pepper, lemon juice and apple compote. Little maritime or medicinal notes here. Comments: good but not out of this world. SGP:247 - 85 points.
Laphroaig 14 yo 1993 (51.1%, Douglas of Drumlanrig, 2008) Colour: straw. Nose: this one is much smokier than the JWW, ashier, even more mineral and also more austere. Metal polish and wet stones, motor oil. Smells a bit like a Ducati after a good run at full speed (provided the electrics didn’t melt down after ten kilometres.) Luv’ it. With water: oh, that almost killed it! What happened? Only a few notes of fresh almonds and wet sand remain... What a bad swimmer on the nose! Mouth (neat): extremely punchy but drinkable, with a true peat blast – as they say. Peat, lemon and pepper. Not complex but water should help again. With water: very classic Laphroaig. Quite some salt now but it didn’t get any more complex. Finish: long, peaty, peppery, ashy. Comments: more austere than the JWW, which may make it more interesting. SGP:148 - 87 points.
Laphroaig 18 yo 1990/2008 (56.6%, Dewar Rattray, bourbon, cask #2245, 291 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: pretty much the same as the Douglas, only a tad woodier and even smokier. Big, big smoke! With water: it got wilder, sort of dirtier (pleasantly so) and farmier. Also more paraffin. Mouth (neat): as big as the Douglas but a little more complex. More spices (well, of the peppery kind, at least). Other than that you know the song... With water: yes, it’s even better. Finish: long and salty. Comments: classic ‘wild’ and ‘straight’ Laphroaig. SGP: 138 - 89 points. Laphroaig
Laphroaig 1990/2008 (55.6%, Berry Bros, cask #2248) Colour: white wine. Nose: same as the Dewar Rattray, only even smokier! Smoke galore! With water: again, water didn’t work too well here but it’s still alive. Fresh almonds again. Mouth (neat): a little rounder than the Rattray, and maybe a tad closer to the OB’s (well, the 10 CS) but other than that it’s a peat blast. Not quite like eating an ashtray but... Also liquorice roots and gentian spirit. Very good. With water: even more punch, even when watered down to roughly 45%. Close to the DR (pedigrees are similar anyway). Finish: long, a tad saltier than the DR. Comments: ‘liquid smoke’. Extreme but very likeable. SGP:128 - 90 points.
Laphroaig 15


And also Laphroaig 15 yo 1968 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice) Notes of old walnuts and bitter oranges on the nose, as well as cake, but little peat if any. A whispering old Laphroaig. The palate is quite rounded, a tad more powerful, on crystallised oranges and soft spices. Figs. Little peat again, hints of Szechuan pepper. Very good but not for peat freaks. SGP:323 – 87 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening. The very excellent Patti Witten does Goin' back to Moline.mp3 (from her 2004 CD Sycamore Tryst). Please... Patti Witten

May 15, 2008

Clynelish 13




Clynelish 13 yo (46%, The Whisky Companion, sherry, +/- 2007) Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts very aromatic, almost exuberantly, on furniture polish, wood smoke and orangeade. Very clean, but things tumble a bit after that, with notes of cooked wine, mash, beer... Gets also quite flinty and almost resinous. Pine-scented candles? Maybe it’s the sherry that doesn’t mix too well with the spirit here (something buttery). Now, it’s still very nice whisky (as long as Clynelishe’s character manages to shine through, I’m happy.) Mouth: sweet yet nervous, starting right on fruit liqueurs (strawberry) and pineapple, orange cake, getting then a little more herbal, waxy, grassy, candied, liquoricy and salty. It’s a bit rough but pleasantly complex at the same time, maybe a tad too ‘sherried’ which seems to give it a sweetness that’s maybe slightly offbeat here. Finish: rather long, sort of sweet and bitter. Comments: slightly unusual for Clynelish, thanks to the sherry (well, that’s my theory) but then again, it’s a good Clynelish. SGP:452 – 84 points.
Clynelish 13 yo 1992/2006 (57.2%, Cadenhead, 294 bottles) From a bourbon hogshead. Colour: straw. Nose: very punchy, starting ‘only’ on vanilla, mint and candle wax. Gets then waxier and waxier, quite resinous as well just like the other 13. Hints of apple peel, fresh walnuts... And then ultra-big notes of coriander and fresh parsley mixed with plain grain. Let’s see what happens with water: it all settles down a bit – I said a bit – and becomes more classic, albeit a little grassier than usual with Clynelish. Loads of apple peel plus a little coal smoke, soot... Also whiffs of ‘farmyard after the rain’. Mouth (neat): big, big notes of coconuts reminding me of some grain whiskies. Also vanillin, plain oak, sugar... There may have been new staves used here! Not much Clynelish character at this stage. With water: more of the same, even if it got a little more ‘Highlander’. Much more salt as well, as well as bitter oranges. Finish: long, a tad more of a classic Clynelish. Comments: very, very good Clynelish but maybe the oak was a bit too active here. A matter of taste of course! SGP:542 – 87 points.
Clynelish (57.3%, OB, available only at the distillery, 2008) Colour: white wine. Nose: rather similar to the Cadenhead, but maybe a tad cleaner and showing more reserve. Just as waxy but less resinous than both 13’s at first nosing, but there’s quite some pine resin indeed after a good while. Also more mineral, flinty, almost lemony notes (lime). Not and easy dram at full strength, it seems that this one is rather for aficionados than for ‘simple’ tourists. Keeps developing for a long time, that is, with whiffs of cardamom, shoe polish, lemon balm, oysters... With water: this is interesting, as it got more ‘precise’ and ‘focused’. Cloves, ginger, wax and a faint yeastiness. Mouth (neat): an even huger punch than with the Cadenhead’s but also a straighter style. A lot of sweetness from the alcohol but also a little salt right at first sips. Pineapple sweets, vanilla and, indeed, a little coconut again. Other than that it’s a little raw so let’s not wait any longer and add water. With water: now we’re talking! More spices, more wax, more salt, more herbs, more smokiness, more, err, ‘clams’ (or any almondy/salty kind of seafood), tea, a little pine resin just like at first nosing... It’s still a little wild (at roughly 45% ABV) but even tourists should not dislike this ;-). Finish: long, even saltier and maritime. Comments: very interesting that the owners composed such a vatting for this ‘distillery only’ version. It seems that they tried to stay as close to the distillery’s character as possible, maybe at the expenses of simple ‘drinkability’. Well, as Clynelish aficionados, we certainly won’t complain! SGP:353 – 89 points.
Very much inspired by Captain Archibald Haddock
MUSIC – Recommended listening. Our beloved Abdullah Ibrahim (aka Dollar Brand) recorded Desert Flowers, a beautiful album, when he first came back to his native South Africa after many years of exile. He over enthusiastically - said the purists - used a synth on The Praise Song.mp3, but we think it was beautiful. Please buy Abdullah Ibrahim's music. Abdullah Ibrahim

May 2008 - part 1 <--- May 2008 - part 2 ---> June 2008 - part 1

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



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

Glenfarclas 1968/2000 (52.1%, OB, ceramic, cask #683, 204 bottles)

Glenfarclas 45 yo 1961/2008 (45.4%, OB, Germany, casks #1, 1319, 1321, 458 bottles)

Glenfarclas 50 yo 1956/2006 (50%, OB 'for friends', Edition 2, cask #1779, 96 bottles)

Glen Gordon 50 yo 1939/1989 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, 120 bottles)

Glen Ord 16 yo 'Manager's Dram' (66.2%, OB, 1991)

Highland Park 18yo 1976/1994 (59%, Cadenhead's for Oddbins, cask #4646)

Highland Park 1977/1988 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, Fragments, 'Orkney', 648 bottles)

Highland Park 26 yo 1972/1998 (55.7%, Signatory 10th Anniversary, cask #1632, 252 bottles)

Highland Park 33 yo 1974/2007 (44.8%, OB, Ambassador’s Cask #3, cask #9035, 35cl)

Laphroaig 1990/2008 (55.6%, Berry Bros, cask #2248)

Macallan 33 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Pinerolo, circa 1975)

Milton Duff 36 yo 1966/2002 (41.7%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 184 bottles)

Mortlach 1961/2000 (40.8%, Scott's Selection)