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Hi, you're in the Archives, November 2007 - Part 2
November 2007 - part 1 <--- November 2007 - part 2 ---> December 2007 - part 1

November 30, 2007

(yes, as promised)
Speyside 8yo (43%, Lombard, bottled circa 2007) Colour: pale gold. Nose: grainy and caramelly, with quite some porridge, nuts, muesli and hints of crystallised oranges. Rather nice sourish notes (yoghurt) and a little honey on top of that. Very faint whiffs of coal smoke. Nicely balanced. Mouth: good body and a funny feeling of old bottle effect (which cannot be true). Malty, caramelly, nutty, with something slightly metallic in the background. Weaker at mid-palate. Finish: not too long, malty and caramelly with also hints of liquorice. Harmless but nicely made. SGP:241 (wazzat?) - 78 points.
Speyside 'Pebble Beach' 12yo (43%, Lombard, bottled circa 2007) As you may know, Pebble Beach is a very famous golf course in California so we guess this bottling is for America. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very different, with much more oak, vanilla, mint and even whiffs of camphor and eucalyptus, liquorice. More ‘modern’, whatever that means, the oakiness being quite ‘obvious’ (warm sawdust). Maybe less balanced but also more zing. Mouth: it’s on the palate that this one makes all the difference. Much bigger and more concentrated, quite resinous and minty, with the oaky notes playing the first parts again. Pleasant bitterness – more ‘Highlands’ than ‘Speyside’ if you ask me, even if we all agree now that regional classifications don’t mean a thing. SGP:360 - 81 points.
Sherry Cask Malt 2000/2007 (43%, Wilson & Morgan 'Room sample', casks #2419-2425) Colour: pale amber. Nose: it’s all a sherry affair it seems, but a very nice one and no heavy Oloroso or PX. Walnuts, praline, honey, fresh putty, banana skin, rubbed mint leaves and Chinese anise. Big notes of soft liquorice (allsorts). Also hints of tinned lychees. I like this. Mouth: extremely coherent. Good, soft, dry sherry with good body. Bigger waxiness than on the nose. Crystallised oranges, walnuts (including walnut liqueur) and pepper. Grows really bigger over time. Finish: very long for a malt at 43%, spicier and spicier. Big notes of cloves at this stage and a little green tea. Rather amazing maturity for a 7yo malt. SGP:543 – 84 points.
Clan Denny 'Speyside' (46%, Hunter Hamilton - DL, bottled circa 2007) A bottling by Douglas Laing. This one is a vatting of Mortlach, Glendullan, Linkwood and Dufftown. Colour: white wine. Nose: as ‘natural’ as unpeated whisky can get it seems. Grass, porridge and wet stones, with white fruits lingering in the background (pears, peaches and apples). A bit ‘naked’ but that may well be an asset (come on!) Mouth: big and natural, punto basta. Same as on the nose plus various fruit liqueurs and eaux-de-vie. Maybe also a bigger grassiness. Finish: rather long and even grassier. Ah, nature! SGP:260 - 80 points.
Celtique Speyside 1990/2006 (46%, Celtic Whisky Co, Celtique Connexion, Bourbon/Sauternes finish, 346 bottles) Colour: pale amber. Nose: quite the opposite of the Clan Denny. Starts quite fragrant but not too fragrant, with indeed a mix of bourbonny and Sauternes notes that really melted together here (no ‘winey’ notes as such). Ripe apricots, marshmallows, seawater, oak and liquorice, plus myriads of smaller notes that include quinces, soot, salpetre, bacon and ripe pineapples. Very complex and in no way ‘just another random finishing’. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Jean Donnay’s work on double maturation but this is another proof that I’m not too wrong. Mouth: sweeter attack, with something clearly ‘sherry-ish’ now. Figs and dates, Turkish delights, rum-soaked bananas... Don’t get me wrong, it’s not sweetish at all.
Quite some oak in the background, with good sourness. White pepper, cloves. Finish: extremely long, with the spices and quite some liquorice winning the fight. This one is maybe a bit drier and less candied than earlier versions, hence a little less demonstrative, but I still like it a lot. SGP:531 - 86 points.
And also Adelphi 15 yo 1991/2006 'Breath of Speyside' (60,2%, Adelphi, cask #5642, 615 bottles) Nose: oak, a little varnish and lots of fruits (strawberries). Incense. Something Japanese. Mouth: powerful but drinkable at full strength. Great oak, great surprise. SGP:751 - 90 points.
  How many litres of pure alcohol are 'sleeping' in Scottish warehouses?  
Answer here
Jeanne Cherhal
MUSIC – Recommended listening: the very excellent Jeanne Cherhal sings Le petit voisin.mp3. Very, very caustic, believe me. Please buy Miss Cherhal's chansons...

November 29, 2007


Life is unjust. Just when we’ve never been as busy we get Marcel van Gils and Hans Offringa’s new book about Laphroaig, The Legend of Laphroaig! Frankly, we knew this was going to be superb but now that we have the book on our desk and could leaf through it for a few minutes (that quickly became an hour, aargh!), we think that it’s more than that. The pictures, old or new, are stunning, the massive dose of information is, well, massive and the general layout is of the highest grade. And what an unusual but highly enjoyable feeling of 'blimey, we've never seen this before'!

What's more, Marcel (who owns the largest Laphroaig collection in the world and displays many of his treasures on the last pages of the book – god those are mouth watering) and Hans have done a job full of passion but managed to keep their distances and not to fall into the trap of unconditional and permanent amazement, which is a tour de force when comparing their new opus with other editorial works by dedicated brand fanatics or self-promoting whisky writers (none among the MM’s of course). We’re not afraid of claiming that this sets a new standard as far as whisky books are concerned (and probably also books about other drinks), both regarding content and form. So, I’m sorry to sound a bit eBayish here but this is the ultimate gift to any whisky lover - whether Laphroaigian or not - and to yourself of course, so please buy a pallet. Let’s just hope that there will be other books of the very same high class about many other Scottish distilleries in the future... Please, please... Already available at Loch Fyne Whiskies (in the books section) and by the end of this week at the Distillery.
Linlithgow Linlithgow 26 yo 1974/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 330 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: powerful, starting very austere, on olive oil, marzipan, varnish and paraffin, getting bitterer after a few minutes. Sharp but most attractive if you like this kind of profile. Goes on with lemon zests. Unmistakably St. Magadalene I think. Mouth: even rougher and very peppery, with quite some oak (a little vanilla), tannins, chilli, lemon zests again. Big bitterness. Almond skins. Gets a litle rounder after that but it’s still a sharp whisky. Finish: long, very waxy now, also a bit resinous. Excellent but again, I think you have to like this very ‘austere’ kind of profile to enjoy this as much as I do. SGP:271 – 88 points.

Linlithgow 25 yo 1982/2007 (51.4%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold, 1000 bottles) Pure Bourbon? Let’s bring the house down! Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is a bit more ‘neutral’ at first nosing and more marked by vanilla as well, but the general profile is quite similar. Less oily/waxy and rounder, but the resinous notes are soon to appear, as well as very great whiffs of crushed parsley and chives, dill, hints of pepper and wasabi. Also hints of pears and fur (chinchilla coat – whatever). Mouth: it’s much closer to the 1974 now, even if probably even bigger. Pepper, oak, vanilla, dried pears, almond skins and strong green tea. A certain harshness. Finish: long, bitterer now, with the oak’s sharpness lingering for a long time. Well, these two Magdas weren’t sexy at all but sometimes we do need a little... austerity in our whiskies, don’t we! SGP:361 – 88 points.

French engineers and IT wizards just invented the first USB-wine! The clip is in French but you should get the general idea... Whisky version expected very soon! (and no, she's not Melanie Griffith). (thanks Polo)
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Something quite unusual on Whiskyfun (shy ears beware), kind of a mixture of Pere Ubu with Suicide (remember?), it’s Sightings from NYC and they are doing Perforated.mp3 from their CD Through the Panama. Please buy their music and play it loud (oh well, I’m doing what I can). Sightings

November 27, 2007



As you may have noticed on the pages of WhiskyFun, Serge is a bit of a gadget freak. As such, he has been nagging the editorial staff of Malt Maniacs ( i.e. me) for over a year now about futuristic gizmo's like MySpace and FaceBook.

After being born with flying colours in 1966 I've walked through life at a brisk pace, which allowed me to jump on the internet bandwagon just in time in 1995. However, when it comes to some more recent evolutions and revolutions in the field of new media like MSN and Second Life I sometimes feel very old indeed. And I guess I'm not the only one, because we haven't even managed to get all certified malt maniacs on board yet with the brandnew Facebook group that Serge launched yesterday. Nevertheless, it's booming. Within a few hours we already had more 'friends' than certified malt maniacs ;-)
Little Johannes
Malt Maniacs Awards

What's more, I've also discovered lots of possibilities to fill some 'holes' that were left in Malt Maniacs after the big reconstruction - like Personal Profiles for all the certified Malt Maniacs and perhaps a 'MaltMap of the World'. Biggest advantage: I won't be able to update Malt Madness or Malt Maniacs while I'm in France and for a few weeks after that (I still have to earn a living), but we should be able to keep everybody up-to-date on the progress via our Facebook Group.

And there might be some interesting discussions going on at the 'conclave' in Alsace this weekend... As you can see from the screenshot of a very small part of the MM Awards ScoreCard, one of the seven maniacs that have submitted their blind scores is quite 'out of step' with the other jury members.

We'll probably inform our readers about the deliberations and the results via Facebook in addition to Whiskyfun. So, why don't you become our 'friend' as well so you'll know what's going on?
Union Chapel, Islington, London, November 13th 2007
This is my first visit to the Union Chapel, which sits in distinguished company in this little Highbury Corner of North London: the Hope and Anchor (home of Pub Rock and a leading Punk venue in the seventies) is just across the road, and a bit further down is the Garage, a Mean Fiddler venue currently being refurbished. And right by the Highbury and Islington tube is the very busy ‘indie’ Buffalo Bar underneath the Famous Cock Tavern. The chapel was built in 1877 and sits in an elegant terrace of houses set back from Islington’s Upper Street. Designed by leading Nonconformist architect James Cubitt (author of the famous Church Designs for Congregations (London, 1870)) it is widely regarded as “a magnificent example of Victorian Gothic architecture and displays many features which were at the cutting edge of technological advance in their day”. Union CHapel
The building fell into dereliction in the 1960s and 1970s but since the late 80s, successful campaigns have been mounted to restore the building (an on-going process) and bring it back to full use as a place of worship, as a centre for the homeless, and as a performance venue. Which is why we’re here tonight enjoying excellent acoustics and perfect sight-lines to the imposing pulpit, in front of which stands singer and guitarist Martin Simpson.
Martin Spimpson
It’s not exactly a full house, but fortunately the audience are joined by a film crew of about fifteen souls which makes the place seem pretty busy. They’re all over the place, and characteristically disruptive for the audience, but I guess that’s the price we pay for getting a gig in such sensational surroundings. Simpson, if you don’t know, is the British folk musician of the moment, which is not bad going seeing that he recorded his first solo album over thirty years ago. His most recent album, Prodigal Son, has received an enthusiastic reception in all quarters, flew into the Indie top twenty charts and has resulted in five nominations for Simpson in the annual BBC Folk Music Awards. And he’s scheduled for an appearance on the last Jools Holland ‘Later with Jools’ show of the year on the TV, which, believe me, means that in UK terms, he’s hot property. And quite rightly too. The album is exceptional; largely due to Simpson’s performance, but also to his arrangements of a variety of British and American traditional tunes and some striking original compositions.
Needless to say, we get the majority of these songs in the course of the evening, which is neatly divided into a solo set, and then (after drinks in the bar – yes a church with a bar, Serge!) a group performance with Andy Seward on bass, Andy Cutting on a wonderful old accordion, and Kellie While on vocals. Behind us there are a gang of boys down from Yorkshire who are in a state of other-worldly spiritual ecstasy, provoked by Mr Simpson’s guitar playing. Now – I guess if someone’s lashed out lots of quids on a big film production unit then you’ve got to be careful not to make too many mistakes – but honestly Simpson’s playing goes way beyond this. He favours a number of open tunings which allow him to focus on a quite unique finger style. It’s a sort of step on from Martin Carthy, with a lot of Bert Jansch’s bent notes – some quite exaggerated – and occasional touches of Richard Thompson – well really only when he plays Thompson’s ‘Strange Affair’. Actually, thinking of all these influences, and his tendency to play blues songs and sing with a strong American accent (he didn’t get that in Lincolnshire, but might have picked it up from living in the United States for many years) I have to admit that I have sometimes thought of Mr Simpson as a sort of superior folk-club singer (not, I hasten to say, that I have anything against folk clubs, or folk club singers), slipping through genres with a imitative ease. But really when you listen to him play, or look at the material on Prodigal Son, you have to confess that he has a very complete voice and style of his own.
Anyway – back to the ecstatic boys. Do you remember the famous Ravi Shankar moment during George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh? Shankar picked up his sitar and started playing, only to receive a (frankly patronising) ovation from his audience. 'If you appreciate the tuning so much, I hope you will like the playing more' he chided them. It’s a bit like that with Simpson – every time he checks his tunings he does so with bewildering fret board intensive routines which simply leave everyone gasping.
Harrison Shankar
George Harrison and Ravi Shankar
His singing isn’t bad either, particularly on tunes like Musgrave (“One day I remembered Nic Jones’ recorded version on his first album Ballads and Songs. I didn’t go back and listen, I just started to play”), Bachelor’s Hall, and the wonderful Andrew Lammie, a ballad collected in the nineteenth century that recounts a particularly brutal honour killing. He turns in a very acceptable version of Randy Newman’s ‘Louisiana’ and sings his own song about his father, ‘Never any good’, quite beautifully. It might be just a tad Radio 2, but it certainly hits the spot.
Martin Simpson Yes, apart from the wretchedly intrusive film crew (let’s hope we don’t see them on the DVD too!) and the cold (chilly places churches) there’s really nothing to fault the performance - au contraire, as one might say. And if you buy Mr Simpson’s CD, or go and see him play, and are as enamoured of his guitar playing as we were, then you may like to know that his website is not only full of generous tips on how he does it, but you can also spend a week with him in a guitar workshop – in France! Are you going Serge? - Nick Morgan
(photographs by Kate, Rex Features)
Many thanks, Nick, for this holy review. Oh yes, I remember Ravi Shankar at the Concert for Bangladesh (not that I was there) and I’m sure younger chaps can’t even imagine to which extend that event was – or should have been - significant to people from our generations. Well, that’s what I’m feeling now. Times when everything was sliding so to speak, including George Harrison’s guitar and Ravi Shankar’s sitar. But let’s let our younger readers have a bit of these Bangladesh impressions here, and then listen to Martin Simpson there. But me, going to a guitar workshop? Well, I could always squeeze the lemons or pass the whiskies...
Springbank Springbank C.V. (46%, OB, white cap, CV at the top, circa 1995) This is complicated! First, it’s not quite clear what ‘C.V.’ used to mean. Some say ‘Chairman’s Vat – or Vatting’, others ‘Curriculum Vitae’... Then, there’s been several versions, notably an earlier ‘white cap’ version that’s the one we’ll have right now, and then a more recent ‘gold cap’ version which we’ll try after this one. Note that both labels are also quite different, but to make things even more complicated, the ‘white cap’ version existed both with the old label (picture left) and with the new one (picture right). Worse than train spotting if you ask me...
But enough nit-picking, let’s try the ‘white cap’ now. Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts extremely mineral, waxy and ashy, with no fruity aromas except for hints of green apples. It really reminds me of the old 5yo from the sixties. Goes on with notes of kelp, wet stones, raw wool... And then more and more smoke, fresh butter and wet hay, as if there was a little old Longrow in there. No need to say I like this. Mouth: big, ‘ancient style’, oily, grassy, bitter... Little wood influence (nor sweetness) it seems, but really a huge grassiness and big notes of small cider apples (and the peelings), chives, lemon marmalade... A big whisky indeed but there’s much less complexity on the palate than on the nose. Finish: rather long, on apples, pears, wax and green pepper, with maybe just touches of salt. I like this one for its wildness. SGP:273 (wazzat?) - 87 points.
Nov 29 Update: our friend Ise tells us that it's definitely 'Curriculum Vitae', as confirmed by the Distillery.
Springbank C.V. (46%, OB, golden cap, CV on the sides, circa 2000) Colour: white wine (much paler than the ‘white cap’). Nose: this one starts a little more spirity and less mature than the white cap, with much more grainy and fruity notes (apples, pears) and much less minerals or smoke. There’s also notes of wet cardboard, soaked grains, very light coffee, apple juice... But the notes of raw wool are here again. Not exactly the same class as the older version I think, even if both start to converge after a good fifteen minutes. Mouth: this is very different again. Big notes of pear spirit, figs, crystallised lemon zests, smoked fish... And then more and more pear spirit. Pears and kippers? Yes, it’s very unusual whisky I think, I can’t think of any other whisky that tasted like this funny CV. Finish: longer than the white cap’s, very bold in fact, with these interesting notes of ‘apple juice-soaked kippers’ (sorry about this weird mental image) and a slight dustiness, plus something oddly metallic. Extremely unusual. Again, I’m wondering if they didn’t use to add some Longrow to the CV, even if not to all the batches. SGP:363 - 85 points.
Springbank 12 yo (46%, OB, red thistle, circa 1995) Once again, there’s been various versions of the ‘12’, notably a ‘green thistle’ and an earlier ‘red thistle’ (not to mention batch colour variations), which is the one we’ll have now. We already had the ‘green thistle’ version several times and always liked it a lot, but the Malt Maniacs’ consensus says that this ‘red thistle’ version is poorer. Let’s see... Colour: white wine (the palest modern batch of the old ‘12’ I ever came across). Nose: oh, this is very close to the older CV! Wet newspaper, paraffin, wet stones, lamp oil, pencil lead, cut grass, wet chalk, cold ashes... It’s complex whisky, but with very little fruitiness nor wood influence if any. Springbank 12
Mouth: this is interesting, it’s almost the same whisky as the first CV. Why would I bother to write new lines then? Let’s just copy-and-paste from above... ... big, ‘ancient style’, oily, grassy, bitter... Little wood influence (nor sweetness) it seems, but really a huge grassiness and big notes of small cider apples (and the peelings), chives, lemon marmalade... A big whisky indeed. Finish: rather long, on apples, pears, wax and green pepper, with maybe just touches of salt. I like this one for its wildness. SGP:273 - 87 points.
Springbank 1997 Springbank 1997 (55.2%, OB, 11,000 bottles, 2007) One and only label so far for this new one... Phew! Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’re more in the vein of the second CV here, but with extra-oomph and more cask influence. More plain vanilla and vanilla fudge at first nosing but then it gets wilder, farmier, more vegetal and more mineral, not unlike the 12 we just had. Notes of fern, moss, fresh mushrooms, plantain bananas, roots, dead leaves... Then very big notes of wet chalk, a little porridge, ginger tonic, faint hints of turpentine and varnish, shoe polish... It’s very complex for such a young whisky, and certainly the one I like most of all recent bottlings by Springbank – so far!
Mouth: excellent attack, punchy but not overpowering, starting right on these very weird notes that I think are quite unpleasant in some recent Springbanks, Longrows or Hazelburns but that work quite well here. Something like Seven-Up or gin-tonic, or ginger wine. Also quite some butter, plain lemons, buttered toffee, malt, something like concentrated milk, melons... Let’s see what happens with water (and while the nose got smokier): more citrus (tangerines starting to rot – nothing wrong here), a little more salt and a very typical salty waxiness (?) plus quite some added spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon and a sherry that got a little more obvious now but still rather discreet we think. Finish: long, more compact (vanilla, lemons and salt) and also a little cleaner, which is exactly what’s expected in a very good whisky at my end. I think this is excellent at barely 10 years of age and I almost feel like shouting ‘hurray for Springbank!’ An old love of mine may well be back... SGP:463 - 89 points.

November 26, 2007

NEW ON WHISKYFUN - Because zeal without knowledge is fire without light (Huxley), we decided to add a new rubric titled 'Whiskyfun's WhiskQuizz' to this modest and unlikely little website. We hope you'll have fun trying to answer the questions and possibly learn a few things. What? No, nothing to win, we're afraid. First WhisQuizz at the right --->
  Who used to prefer Single Malt from Ferintosh Distillery above any other malt and rated it higher than brandy which he dismissed as 'burning trash'?  
Answer here
Macallan 1990
Macallan 16 yo 1990/2006 (46%, Milano Whisky Festival, cask #1754, 240 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: not exactly bold but very pure and clean, starting on fresh butter, vanilla and whiffs of wood smoke. Gets then both grassier and nuttier, with also hints of hot bread (baguette of course) and faint hints of violets. Rather complex and elegant. No sherry that I can smell at first sniffs but something sherry-ish does develop indeed over time. Also slightly yeasty. More and more buttery notes. Mouth: good body, with much more sweetness at the attack (apple pie) as well as bunches of caramelised nuts and quite a lot of honey. Then dried figs, poached pears and plum jam. Coating. Finish: rather long, jammy, candied, with also sultanas. Terribly drinkable. SGP:643 (wazzat?) – 86 points.
Macallan 17 yo 1990/2007 (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, small batch) Colour: straw. Nose: very close to the 16yo, maybe just a tad grassier and a tad less buttery (but it is buttery) and smoky. More austere after deeper nosing and even more elegant. Mouth: just the same whisky as above now, this one may well come from sister casks. Same at the finish. Frankly, there were noticeable differences on the nose but on the palate, nada. SGP:552 – 86 points.
Macallan 10 yo 1990/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, Sherry, 684 bottles) Colour: dark amber. Nose: starts all on coffee and bitter chocolate but it’s a bit rough aroma-wise. Not much development in fact and a certain lack of depth, as if the sherry had killed the spirit here. Gets quite meaty and herbal (parsley), even winey. Very dry. Mouth: this is a bit better, the attack is pleasant, all on coffee-schapps, raisins and chocolate but there’s a sudden drop then, only the casks’ winey and woody notes struggling on after a moment. Finish: bizarrely, it got much more to my likings at this stage, rounder and more candied, with even a little salt playing with your palate. But it’s a bit late... Little complexity in this one I think. SGP:333 – 78 points.
Macallan 17 yo 1990/2007 (52.3%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold, Enhanced in Haut-Brion casks, 1,750 bottles) Well, I’m sure you know Haut-Brion, the best of the Pessac-Leognans/Graves, even if La Mission Haut-Brion has got its aficionados as well. Hold on, maybe they should have tried to find some Mission casks instead of Haut-Brion for the Mission series? That would have made for a clever Double Mission! Colour: salmony. Nose: what’s rather funny here is that the addition of the whisky and the wine cask probably create sort of an extra dimension here, and that that dimension is rather grassy. Other than that we do get hints of red fruits and peonies but that’s very discreet (not sure the HB casks were first fill). Little ‘vinosity’ as such. A little smoke and hints of cat coat. Mouth: more wine now, and also a bigger spirit it seems. Grenadine, quince jam, bilberry pie, honey, raspberry eau-de-vie (guess where the best ones come from?), cornflakes, maple syrup, brioche, baklavas... This is kind of orgiastic I must say. A rather extreme ‘jamminess’, where poor Macallan is rather muzzled, but the end result is interesting and certainly likeable to many people. But it just isn’t a Macallan anymore on the palate, I’d say (whilst it was on the nose) – now, if you like wine finished whiskies, you’ll like this one for sure. SGP:723 – 83 points.
Macallan 8 yo 1990/1998 (61.3%, Dun Eideann, cask #10711, 624 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: aargh, this ultra-grassy and ultra-violent, even ‘chemical’. Ouch, quick, water! With water: it got less violent but just as grassy. Grass, grass and grass. And grass. Mouth (neat): SOS... SOS... SOS... Raw alcohol! With life-saving water: phew, we managed to tame it, it seems but what’s left is only a little caramel, light honey and... Help me, grass! And green apples. Finish: yes. So you say this was a Macallan? SGP: 191 – 65 points (but only for the watered palate)
MUSIC – Heavily recommended listening: Oldie but goldie - we're in 1968 again and the outstanding band Bamboo (including Koerner, Ray and Glover's Dave 'Snaker' Ray) does Girl Of The Seasons.mp3. So, who invented minimalism in rock music? Please buy this music (if you can find it). Bamboo

November 25, 2007

Islay Clan Denny 'Islay' (46%, Hunter Hamilton by DL, Bottled +/- 2007) A vatting of Caol Ila, Laphroaig, Bunnahabhain and Bowmore. Colour: white wine. Nose: starts amazingly coffeeish, as if Bunnahabhain changed the peaty ones greatly. Gets then much more classically ‘Islay’, with a cortege of smoke, peat, iodine, raw wool, kiwis, lemons and sea water. I must say this works extremely well for me, the Bunny part polishing the edges and adding a little honey to the whole. Kudos to the man or woman who composed this vatting.
Mouth: it’s probably the peaty components that dominate here, even if the whole is maybe a tad sweeter than expected. Peat and pears, pears and peat, this one tastes very young in fact and maybe a tad too simple. Peated pear eau-de-vie? Finish: long but still a bit pearish and sugary. Big difference between nose and palate in this one I think. SGP:616 (wazzat?) - 80 points (for the great nose).
Compass Flaming heart '2nd release' (48,9%, Compass Box, 2007) This one contains much Caol Ila and Clynelish – well, we shan’t complain, shall we? Around 4,300 bottles were made, which is quite clever I think, as the first release of Flaming Heart blew my socks off. No need to say we have deep expectations here. Colour: straw. Nose: it seems that the peaty part has been lowered down a bit, for it’s more the waxiness of Clynelish that shines through here. Big notes of wet wool, porridge, mint, ham, chicken bouillon, maybe hints of white truffles (waowow!)... Then seashells, fat oysters, almonds, faint whiffs of eucalyptus, buttered apples. And linseed oil. Something of the Old Clynelish, quite amazingly. Mouth: ah, now it’s really the peaty components that take control. Rougher, bigger, smoky, peppery, fruity (lemon marmalade), waxy, slightly medicinal... Excellent, but peaty whiskies always dominate when above, say 15% in a vatting, did we learn at a vatting masterclass with John Glaser so no wonder. Finish: long, peaty and candied, wih also notes of icing sugar. Well, we had the first Flaming Heart at 90 points, no need to change that score. SGP:346 - 90 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Ah, the good old sound of hardbop... Let's have some Stanley Turrentine today, with Impressions.mp3 (it was on Sugar). This is tenor sax! Stellar, just stellar... And of course, please buy Mr Turrentine's music! Stanley Turrentine

November 24, 2007







Teaninich 12 yo (40%, Lombard, circa 2006) Colour: straw. Nose: rather light, clean, grassy and porridgy, with hints of baker’s years, getting then a bit more honeyed and delicately floral. Breadcrumb. A whispering malt... Mouth: a little sweeter and fruitier but other than that it’s still pretty grainy, malty and cereally (yup), with just hints of crystallised oranges. Now, the cleanliness is enjoyable. Finish: medium long, mainly on cereals, caramel and toasted brioche. Good but maybe a bit too harmless. SGP:251 (wazzat?) – 75 points.
Teaninich 12 yo 1993/2005 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve, cask # 5057, 364 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: same as above but with a little more oomph, thanks to the extra 6%. Just a tad fruitier (apples), I’d say, but the same notes of yeast and breadcrumb get bolder with time. Rather austere. Mouth: exactly the same as the Lombard, with just the extra power and maybe more wax. Finish: ditto. Well, the higher alcohol makes it more satisfying. SGP:351 – 79 points.
Teaninich 12 yo 1993/2006 (58.3%, Cadenhead) Colour: straw. Nose: once more, the general profile is the same, yeast, porridge, grass, apples... Maybe added notes of olive oil and coffee but hat may come from the high alcohol. Let’s see what happens with water: right, it got a bit more mineral but also even grassier, any fruitiness having now vanished. Wet chalk and wool. Mouth (neat): exactly the same as the Lombard and the G&M, just with much more punch (which also translates into more spices, pepper...) With water, at roughly 45%: exactly the same whisky as the G&M. Finish: ditto. Well, the people who say that 46% is the ideal drinking strength may well be right, generally speaking. SGP:251 – 77 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: As sweet as pop can get, it's Saturday looks good to me and their Can't ever sleep.mp3 (from Sound On Sound). Sweet, sweet, sweet... Please buy their music... Saturday

November 23, 2007

Springbank 15 yo 1992/2007 (52.6%, The Whisky Society) Another brand new one by Specialty Drinks/The Whisky Exchange.
Escargots Colour: white wine / pale straw. Nose: ah, this shows how classy a spirit Spingbank can be when it’s not oddly treated with ‘funny’ casks (‘yeah, like many malts’ you may add). It all starts on superb notes of heather honey ala HP, wax ala Clynelish and flowers ala Balvenie, with rather big mashy notes of the greatest kind in the background (mashed potatoes with truffles and maybe a little olive oil, porridge and muesli). Gets even wilder after that, with notes of our beloved wet dogs (again, sorry dogs), wet hay (sorry hay... err....) and something like, wait, cooked snails? Maybe not, but there certainly are whiffs of raw wool and linseed and fusel oils. Brilliant Springbank anyway, in full nudity. Let’s hope the palate will match this nose. Gets more lemony after a while with this slight ‘twistedness’ that’s quite common in recent Springbanks but certainly not unlikeable.
Mouth: sweeter but very lemony right at the attack, with these big, very typical ‘Springbanky’ notes upfront this time. Apple peelings, spearmint, limejuice, white rum (yes, mojito), green tea, grass, lemon balm, and a slightly peculiar waxiness. Finish: rather long, all on lemon zests and tequila now. Caramba, I like this! SGP:274 (wazzat?) - 88 points.
Springbank 15 yo 'Drink me' (54,9%, SMWS, 27.60, Bottled +/- 2006) From the ’26 malts’ series http://www.smws.co.uk/26malts/ , that certainly stirred less blood than it deserved when it was launched. A shame if you ask me – are we all only in it for the liquid or what? Anyway, this one was designed by David Freer, words by Sara Sheridan. Colour: full gold. Nose: well, it’s the same kind of classy spirit, only hidden behind rather massive notes of vanilla and milk chocolate (yes, more active oak). It’s also a bit more buttery but the excellent mashy notes do manage to come to light after a few minutes, as well as a little wood smoke. Not quite as ‘natural’ as the 1992 but it is great whisky. ‘Drink me?’ We will for sure! Springbank
Mouth: exactly the same happens on the palate. These lemony, waxy and grassy notes are coated with vanilla and caramel, the result being rather pleasant, a bit rounder than the 1992 for a while but the bigger pepper (and cloves, and nutmeg) still makes it really, err, big. Finish: very long, clean, always on the same notes. Well, this is big whisky indeed, even if it lacks a bit of the 1992’s huge straightforwardness. SGP:364 - 87 points.
Springbank Springbank 37 yo 1970/2007 (53.9%, Signatory, butt #1621, 370 bottles) We already tried cask #1629 and found it a bit rough but still very good (89). Let’s see if this one is more civilised... Colour: amber. Nose: this is completely different from the two 15yo’s, obviously. Starts in a rather varnishy way, with also rather big notes of crystallised oranges and quinces as well as wine-poached pears and strawberries but gets then much wilder, almost reckless. Big animal notes (horse sweat), leather polish, mutton suet, civet... Then old rancio, ‘clean manure’, rotting oranges, Turkish tobacco (yeah I know but it IS different) ... Gets finally quite cleaner, on fresh apples (newly cut golden delicious before it oxidises) and a little mint. Phew, this one is restless indeed!
Mouth: huuuge notes of cherry stem tea (and leaves), with rather big green tannins but quite amazingly, you’ll like this if you’re not too much of a ‘all honey and apricots’ kind of guy. Goes on with even more oak (‘pencil shavings juice’, as we sometimes say about wine) but also strawberry and blackcurrant liqueur, Chinese plum sauce, all kinds of raisins, burnt brioche, kirsch, tobacco (pipe smokers will understand), liquorice, even salmiac... Well, this is hyper-big. Finish: yes, long as a day without bread – or whisky, for that matter. In short, an old Springbank that’s not really particular about details. Rather extreme and for thrill-seekers only. SGP:475 – 90 points.
Four Roses

We've got quite a few requests for old whisky ads like we had in the past. Well, the reader is king, isn't he? So, let's kick things off again with this unlikely ad for Four Roses that ran in 1937. An American whiskeymaker dressed like Douglas Fairbanks Jr. is visiting a vineyard in Champagne, France and fraternises with the winemaker, who’s certainly not dressed like a French winemaker (more like a Californian orange grower if you ask me, or a Columbian coca planter?) Notice the truly immense grape? (early GMO?) Bottom line: Four Roses is the champagne of bourbon, even if the 'two worlds' used to ignore each other until that unlikely meeting.

MUSIC – Recommended listening: Oldie but goldie - we're in 1968 and Alexander 'Skip' Spence (Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane) records his very cult solo album 'Oar', of which War in peace.mp3 is one of the highlights. Fantastic, isn't it? Please buy the late Skip's music! (and by the way, dou you recognize the musical quote at the very end?) Skip

November 22, 2007



Brora 24 yo 1981/2006 (48,5%, Dun Bheagan, Fino Sherry Butt cask #1524, 726 bottles) Long time no new Brora, time to put things straight. Colour: amber. Nose: unsmistakenly Brora at first sniffs, but barely, I’d say, although it does get much more phenolic after that. Starts rather butter and leafy, with a rather winey sherry and quite some tobacco and molasses, but Brora’s smoke and ‘minerality’ are soon to win the fight and impose their beauftiful sharpness and straightforwardness. Notes of gunflints, ashes, wet dog and hints of game, old rancio and balsamic vinegar. Gets wilder and wilder with time. Apple peelings.

Mouth: very good balance between a rather bold sweetness (orange jam, pear drops) and the smokiness, with also a lot of butter caramel. A lot, really. It goes on with buttered caramel for a very long time, with secondary aromas coming and going (pepper, cloves, orange liqueur, nougat, marshmallows...) certainly less smoky than on the nose after a while. Finish: medium long, with almost no smoke left at this stage but quite some honey, caramel and strawberry jam instead. Very good but maybe not one of the best. SGP:454 (wazzat?) – 88 points.
Brora 22 yo 1982/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, ref #313, 644 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: little peat and smoke here it seems, rather big notes of marzipan and quinces, as well as wax and heavy buttery notes. Also a little mint, coffee (cappuccino actually), bitter oranges... Gets then much meatier (ham, beef stock) and finally a little smoky (garden bonfire). Big whisky for sure but it’s probably one the less smoky and peaty Broras I could try, and maybe the most buttery (yeah, butyric). Bouillon
Mouth: softer than expected, mildly peaty, leafy, leathery and a little buttery again. Soft smoke and a little salt. Same at the medium long finish. In short, another good Brora but it lacks its peers’ oomph and wildness. Too much cask influence? SGP:444 – 84 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Portland's young Leigh Marble doing Killed instantly.mp3. A rather distinctive sound even if the harmonica is a bit, well... Anyway, please buy Leigh Marble's music. Marble

November 21, 2007

The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London, November 5th 2007
I’ve been away, and as a result missed two much anticipated gigs on the Whiskyfun schedule. Rufus Wainwright ended a UK tour at the Hammersmith Apollo (he’s now touring continental Europe). “Weird” said the Photographer, who attended in my absence, “especially when he put on the lederhosen and long white socks”. And the malt-whisky loving KT Tunstall turned in a couple of nights at the Roundhouse – “Good – but most engaging when she played without the band”. Which is where we are tonight (although you might be forgiven for thinking we’re in the middle of a war zone as over-specified fireworks explode in the sky all around us). But not before we’ve paid a quick trip to the noodle house round the corner for some chicken chow mein and chop suey.
Yup – it’s the feisty ‘Ice Queen of Punk’ and ‘Queen of Goth’, the Bill Grundy baiting Siouxsie, aka Siouxsie Sioux, notably once of the genre-defying Siouxsie and the Banshees and no doubt occasionally still called by someone plain Susan Ballion.
Siouxsie is back with her first solo album Mantaray and a clutch of London gigs to promote it, before heading off to the US of A. The Roundhouse is sold out; it’s a mixture of ageing punks, Goths, gays and the odd civilian. The audience is, well let’s say, boisterous (actually I noticed on one of the Siouxsie forums that they were described as “c***ts” which seemed a little unfair). We’re jammed in front of the sound desk. Someone appears to have written “Gangway” on the back of my otherwise rather cool charity shop leather jacket. The Photographer can barely see a thing (see photograph). As in fact neither can the professional snappers, who’ve been banned from the front of the stage and are climbing all over us and the sound desk trying to get a shot of this most photogenic of performers, cursing their luck.
Siouxsie’s band take the stage – drums, keyboard, bass, guitar and a very atmospheric glockenspiel. They start playing the opening chords of ‘They follow you’ as Siouxsie strides to the stage in some sort of glossy bondage playsuit (as I believe they’re called), hair as black as pitch, make up exemplary. They work through two more songs from the new album before reeling off three oldies (which I did get the feeling, as a non Siouxsie fan, that I might have recognised), ‘Arabian Nights’, ‘Spellbound’ and ‘Night shift’.
The rest of the main set is devoted entirely to Mantaray. I’ve read that this material isn’t really Siouxsie at her darkest, but it’s certainly gloomy enough for me. And as the evening progresses it begins to feel as though the songs are really nothing more than a backdrop for Siouxsie’s physical presence on the stage, which is, to say the least, imposing. It’s certainly much stronger than her voice, which is tired, sometimes flat, limited in range compared to her earlier years, and occasionally makes me think “Bring back Lene Lovich”. But she dances, menacingly sways, kicks and karate chops her way through the performance with a remarkable energy, and manages to finish off on a high note with ‘Into a swan’, her single taken from the new album (where her singing reminded me, strangely enough, of Wreckless Eric). As a first encore she sings ‘Nicotine stain’ (soon to be banned in the UK, I’ve no doubt) and turns in a cover of Basement Jaxx’s ‘Cish cash’. At this point, slightly deaf, and dumbed by the good-humoured jostling we decided to make a sharp exit, to the tones of ‘Hong Kong Garden”, which was, or so I’m told, followed by ‘Israel’ and a long standing favourite cover, “Hello I love you”.
An entertaining enough night, with a rousing performance weakened only by the noted deficiencies in Ms Siouxsie’s voice department. And I could rather get to like some of the tracks off the new album – ‘though heaven knows what sort of mood I’d need to be in to play them at home. Anyway, if you get the chance to lash out a few quids on a ticket to see her then I certainly wouldn’t miss the opportunity. Such single-minded performers as Ms Siouxsie are few and far between, and they deserve all the support they can get. - Nick Morgan (concert photograph by Kate) Mantaray
Thank you Nick. Oh well, all I would say is that Ms. Siouxsie looks well-preserved for her age, she could be a brand ambassador for l’Oreal, although probably not in the same league as Mses. McDowell, Cruz, Evangelista or Adjani, but her music is certainly not made-up, is it? Some of her new tunes are on her MySpace page (remember MySpace?) - S.
Old Blends






Berry's All Malt Blended Scotch Whisky (43%, Berry Bros, 'Best - Milano', early 1980’s) This old version has always been a favourite of all whisky lovers. Colour: full gold. Nose: oh yes. Fresh fruits, fresh nuts and great resinous notes to complement the whole. Directly on ripe bananas, quinces, tangerines (big notes), guavas, fresh hazelnuts and almonds plus fresh mint, eucalyptus and orange squash. Maybe not the most complex whisky ever but it’s sooo lively and lovely... Mouth: superb. Maltier, more resinous and Diplaying more OBE now, with a little less fruits and a bigger grassy bitterness (chlorophyll gums). Notes of orange liqueur, cough syrup, toasted bread and marshmallow. Excellent. Finish: maybe not too long but with new notes of raisins and fir honeydew appearing. Great ol’ whisky. SGP:713 (wazzat?) – 89 points.
Blue Hanger 30yo (45,6%, BBR, 3rd Limited Release, Blended Malt, Bottled +/- 2007) A vatting probably involving some old Glenlivets and Glen Grants. Colour: full gold. Nose: again, it’s very demonstrative whisky, but this one starts almost like an old gewurztraminer, on lychees, rose water and pink grapefruits, getting then a bit more classic, on crystallised oranges, honey, nougat and chamomile tea. Very delicate oakiness in the background (vanilla, mocha, mint). Also whiffs of old clean wine barrels, getting slightly but pleasantly mushroomy. 100% pleasure, this one should please everyone. Mouth: it’s a bit hard to bear comparison with the old All Malt now but the general profile is nice, balanced, with good oak, malt, vanilla and cappuccino. Finish: medium long, with a few salty notes complementing the oak. I like this one better on the nose than on the palate (a bit mundane) but the whole is great old whisky, no doubt. SGP:432 - 84 points.
Famous Grouse 30yo (43%, OB, Blended Malt, Bottled +/- 2005) Colour: full gold. Nose: a bit shier than the Blue Hanger at first nosing, also straighter and less extravagantly fruity. Develops on heather honey (HP?), pollen and nectar, beeswax, apricot jam and oranges, with pleasant minty/liquoricy undertones and a rather discreet oak. Also various herbal teas (chamomile...) Mouth: rather close to the Blue Hanger now, maybe a bit more rounded. Pleasant spiciness and oakiness but other than that, there’s not much character I’d say. Finish: relatively short, getting oakish but also pleasantly orangey. Again, the nose was much nicer than the palate I think, only the nice oranges lifted it to 79 points. (SGP:431)

November 20, 2007

Longmorn 27 yo 1969 (43%, Prestonfield for LMDW, cask #4252, 296 bottles) This one was bottled around 1996 – obviously. It is to be noted that all Prestonfields since 1994 were exclusive bottlings for La Maison du Whisky. Colour: full gold. Nose: unmistakably Longmorn but without the usual sherry notes, that is to say that it starts on big bold fruity notes (butter pears, bananas, oranges, very ripe mangos and passion fruits) and gets then rather meaty and beefy, with quite some ham, beef stock, oxtail soup and even marrow. And just as it was about to get almost ‘perverse’, some very fresh herbal notes appear and make the whole fresher and cleaner (dill, chives). No need to say this is as brilliant as expected. Mouth: oh yes, this is beautiful. Amazing freshness and truckloads of fruits (same as above, with maybe bigger citrusy notes) really reminding us of old Bowmores, with even touches of peat (but that may well be our freewheeling mind). Fabulous body and mouth feel at just 43%. Gets spicier over times, as often (mulled wine) and even slightly cloying (well, not quite) due to its high flavour concentration. Hard to imagine hwo this one was when still at cask strength. Finish: a bit shorter than anticipated but very nicely citrusy and meaty. ‘Duck à l’orange’ as the SMWS would say. SGP:852 (wazzat?) - 92 points.(thanks Alexandre – and Thierry)
Longmorn 16 yo (48%, OB, Bottled circa 2007) We were quite disappointed with the first batch of the new Longmorn (a piece of leather and a piece of tin don’t make it), especially when compared with the very good old 15yo that was so cheaper, but maybe the 16 got better after two years... Colour: pale gold. Nose: not really. Oak, vanilla, grass, lemonade, grapefruits, porridge, yoghurt sauce. Something ‘chemical’ (cheap orange soda) and bizarrely meaty (nothing to do with stellar 1969). Frankly underwhelming. Mouth: a bit better at this point, honeyed, spicy and oaky, with a very oily mouth feel, but the extreme simplicity is quite puzzling. Banana liqueur with vanilla and nutmeg. Finish: more of the same for quite a long time. It really tastes ‘modern’, not unlike, well, mid-range Australian or Californian chardonnays (‘xcuse my Frenchness). Not bad whisky at all but I think it is to be wondered where Longmorn’s reputation would be without the indie boys. SGP:251 – 79 points.
Longmorn 1964/2007 (50%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW, cask #1538) Colour: mahogany (really). Nose: oh, this is great! Obviously very sherried but it’s not all sherry here... Indeed, it all starts on thuja wood, cigar box (cedar), cellulose varnish, peonies, old leather (carefully maintained old Jag) and strawberries, getting jammier with time (strawberries again but also oranges as usual, kumquats, rum-soaked pineapple and banana, coconut liqueur, fruit ganache...) as well as meatier (ham). Little coffee/raisins/chocolate this time, which says long about how sherry and spirit ‘melted’ here. Quite exceptional I must say. Mouth: the attack is more on ‘classical sherry’ now, with a lot of blackcurrants (berries, buds and leaves), sultanas, cherry stems tea and bitter chocolate, with a bigger sourness. Also peach soup with a little mint, nectarines, cider apples... Bigger tannins but the whole is far from being unbalanced, especially at 43 years of age. Finish: long and in the same vein. In short, a deeply sherried old Longmorn that stayed quite nervous and oomphy. Just great, even if it’s a bit tannic ‘after the finish’ (water needed!) Fairly priced considering its age: 220 Euros at LMdW. SGP:654 – 91 points.
Longmorn 1973/2006 (54%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’, cask #3650, first fill sherry butt) We got this through various friendly sources, which may mean that it’s great whisky. G&M had several other fab old Longmorns in their CS range anyway... Colour: pale mahogany. Nose: very interesting, as it’s kind of a ‘synthesis’ of the 1964 and more classical Longmorns, i.e. more floral and honeyed ones. So, we have all kinds of honeys and roasted nuts, prunes, marron glacé, pollen, blackcurrant jelly, praline, black nougat, old sweet wine, rancio, old mirabelle eau-de-vie (after 50 years of glass maturing), ham... And only god knows what else. Perfect balance between sweetness and dryness. Mouth: okay, there’s a slightly disturbing rubber at the attack but after that it’s all a ‘velvet carpet’, with various honeys (rather strong ones, such as chestnut and orange), dried and crystallised fruits (all kinds), raisins, liqueurs and pastries. Gets slightly rougher after that (tannins) but that brings an enjoyable wildness to the whole. Big whisky! Finish: long, candied, nutty and sherried, maybe a tad tannic but again, that may well prevent this one from getting a bit cloying as it’s heavily concentrated. Yeah, big whisky indeed. SGP:645 – 91 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Not Laura Veirs but Emily Jane White whispering a nice song called Wild tigers I have known.mp3. Please buy Emily Jane's music. Emily Jane White

November 19, 2007

Glen Grant 1958/2006 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail) Colour: dark amber. Nose: it’s not a blast of sherried notes that happens at first nosing, rather something like cold coffee, cold beef stock and chocolate. It gets even meatier after that (ham, game) but never bold. All elegance and dryness. Keeps developing on parsley and lovage, hints of oyster sauce, old Bourgogne and quite some spearmint and even lemon balm. Very complex. Mouth: superb, even at 40%, such is this one’s depth of flavours. Starts on raspberry jam mixed with mint leaves and chocolate (ganache, truffles), then prunes and raisins, then it’s back to strawberries, then bitter oranges, old armagnac... There’s also a little dryness from the wood but just enough to keep this one straight. Also notes of blackcurrant jelly and then spices (a little pepper and quite some cloves). Finish: as long as a 40% malt can get, perfectly balanced, with added notes of liquorice. Beautiful sherry cask. SGP:545 (wazzat?) - 91 points. Glen Grant
Glen Grant DT2 Glen Grant 37 yo 1970/2007 (50.3%, Duncan Taylor, cask #3474, 116 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: quite floral and fruity, with no traces of sherry. Yet, it’s quite meaty again (stock) getting then rather grainy, a little porridgy and a little sour. Rather big notes of overripe apples and warm butter... It’s also quite marked by the oak and develops more on vanilla, coffee, lactones and cinnamon and hints of cloves and nutmeg. Gets spicier and spicier with time, but the fruitiness manages to shine through the oakiness. Also notes of rubbed mint leaves. Good balance. Mouth: a good attack, on sugared apple compote and even ripe kiwis. Then it’s the wood that takes part of the control again, with quite some tannins but also a little mint again. Finish: long, certainly minty now, liquoricy, getting quite drying (heavy nutmeg and cinnamon). A good old malt but you have to like oak. Actually, we had several other casks of 1970 Glen Grant by the same bottler that we liked a little better (#3493, 824, 861...) SGP:352 - 87 points.
Glen Grant 36 yo 1970/2006 (53,2%, Blackadder Raw Cask, sherry cask #7216, 173 bottles) Colour: dark mahogany, almost black. Nose: close to the 1958 but at cask strength. Very concentrated, all on coffee, Smyrna raisins, bitter chocolate, grilled beef, mint and raspberry jam. Fantastico. Mouth: ditto. Fabulous, heavily concentrated sherry, maybe just a tad dryish at the finish but otherwise it’s exactly what I’d call a classic old sherry monster. No more, no less. SGP:645 – 92 points. Glen Grant
Latricieres Glen Grant 1972/2007 (54.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland) Colour: dark amber. Nose: superb, not unlike the Blackadder, only fruitier and more nervous. Fantastic notes of very ripe black cherries, fresh strawberries, very ripe peaches, and then all what’s associated with strongly sherried whiskies (headed by prunes here). Exceptional nose that reminds me of the best LBV Ports, and this is no joke. I absolutely adore this nose, totally balanced in its extreme fruitiness.
Mouth: I had expected the palate would leave us in peace but not a chance! Very lively, as fruity as on the nose but probably more sherried as such (not quite as sherried as the Blackadder, that is) and maybe more classic. Coffee, prunes, chocolate, strawberries, blackcurrants, toffee, raisins, dried oranges and all that jazz. And very powerful, at that. Finish: very long, concentrated, classically sherried but maybe a tad less drying than a true sherry monster (such as the Blackadder). Oh well, this is partly why we’re into whisky. Not yet on The Whisky Exchange’s website so I couldn’t tell you about the price but it’ll probably be fair so... Well... - SGP:822 – And just for the ripe black cherries on the nose that remind me of a 1978 Latricières: 94 points.
MUSIC – Heavily recommended listening: Do you know the excellent Josh Small, from Richmond? Have a listen to his wonderful Move your hips.mp3 and you'll see that he's big! Please buy Josh Small's music... (another revelation - and we love the banjo! - he's WF artiste of the month!) Josh Small

November 18, 2007


Hammersmith Apollo, London, October 27th, 2007
It’s surreal. We step out of the restaurant towards the car and there hurtling along the pavement, like a cross between the Batman’s Penguin and Alice’s White Rabbit, is Jozzer. ėnguin Rabbit
“Can’t stop. Theatre. Tickets. Late” he pants as he disappears into the gathering darkness of the West London evening. He’s way off his patch. Well out of the safety of his Rotherhithe manor. Not like Christy Moore then. The big man’s come home to the Hammersmith Apollo for two nights with accompanist Declan Sinnott, and for two and a half hours or so on each night this little piece of London has been transported across the water to Ireland.
It’s the second night – a boisterous beery Saturday night crowd. We’re in the second row of the stalls (the receipt tells me I booked the tickets eleven months ago). Actually because of the way the seats have been installed it’s like being in Club Class – but the poor sods behind us (who were also here last night as it turns out) are in danger of losing their knees every time I sit back. Somehow – largely I’ve no doubt because of the quality of the evening – we all manage this in very good humour from start to finish. It’s very close, just off centre, with Moore to our left when he takes the stage, Sinnott, with a cluster of guitars, to our far left. In front of Moore there’s a large print songbook – not lyrics as far as I can see, just song titles. And it becomes clear there’s no set list as such. Moore either simply starts a song, leaving Sinnott to clutch for the right guitar, or calls a tune before breaking into it – “Are you right there Deccy?”
To call him an intense performer would be a mastery of understatement.
He’s as taught as a coil. Lost in that performance space that singers talk of. It’s a tough place to be because the folks are here for the craic. “Come on Christy”. “You’re the man Christy”. “Christy I love you”. Most of it good humoured – but from where we are you can see the muscles in that big neck tightening with anger. Then he loses it – he makes two attempts to sing Richard Thompson’s ‘Beeswing’ but both times is stopped by the timeless clapping. Christy Moore
“All right, good luck to you” he mutters as he breaks into Jim Page’s ‘Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette’ as jaunty a take on nuclear war as you can get. Then he relents “Ok, I’m sorry for being such a bad tempered gobshite, and I know you’ve paid to be here and have a good time. But some songs are for clapping and some aren’t. And this one isn’t. So keep your hands in your pockets, and yours [looking up the balcony hecklers] in your mouth”. Silence. ‘Beeswing’.
Christy Moore Declan Sinnott
It’s a long and crowded set, full of anger, grief, death, oppression, injustice, love and lost innocence. And that’s just in the first song – ‘Yellow furze woman’, which is followed by ‘North and South of the river’, Ewan McColl’s ‘Sweet Thames flow softly’, ‘Biko drum’, ’Does this train stop on Merseyside?’ (an uber-depressing journey through the North of England which even manages to include the Hillsborough Disaster), Mike Waterson’s ‘Van Dieman’s Land’ (transportation to Australia), ‘Missing you’ (the fate of the Irish Diaspora in London), ‘Yellow triangle’ (which I’m sure speaks for itself), ‘Viva La Quinta Brigada’ (with one of many huge side swipes at the Irish Catholic Church) and ‘Ride on’ (phew – a love song). That’s page one of my notebook – there a three-and-a-half others that I’ll not trouble you with. The simple point is that Moore, with his wonderfully lyrical voice and Sinnott’s delicate and perfectly textured accompaniments, really put you through the emotional wringer in the name of entertainment. But the audience simply love it. “You’re the boy Christy, you’re the boy”. And suitably chastised they even turn in a few good turns as a choir towards the end when Moore is relaxed, and gives in to the tumult with crowd-pleasing songs like ‘Don’t forget your shovel’, ‘Lisdoonvarna’, and the self-penned ‘Delirium tremens’, and the very beautiful ballad “Cliffs of Dooneen’ – of which Moore says “I seldom sing [this] now, only when conditions are perfect. Its a temperamental song and cannot be done at will”. Well, obviously tonight was just perfect. And it says something about the man that, returning for an encore, he plays the intensely intimate ‘Black is the colour’ and Jackson Browne’s moving ‘Before the deluge’, holding the audience as if he had us all in eye contact in the back room of a tiny pub.
Have you noticed, by the way, that in the space of a week we have seen Jim White, Richard Thompson, John Hiatt, Nick Lowe and now the masterful Christy Moore? Pinch me. Wake me up. Have I fallen from my super-executive club-class seat on a plane and landed in a musical heaven? - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)
Great, thanks Nick. Very busy here with the MM Awards... Slurp, sniff, sip, sip... Have to be done by the end of this month... Results on Dec 1 here on Whiskyfun... Only forty to go... Sniff, slurp, sip, spit...Ride on.mp3... - S.
Short notes for a few Macallans we had with our maniacal Austrian friends Heinz and Konstantin at Whisky Live Paris' Off-festival (that is to say the Harry's Bar, rue Daunou).
Macallan 1938 (43%, OB, Corade France, early 1980’s) This one should be roughly 45 years old and has been opened for ‘the Austrians’ and yours truly at Paris’ Harry's Bar. Yippee! Colour: gold / amber. Nose: oh well... this is, I mean, just amazing. Incredible smokiness and a full tanker of acacia honey as well as lilac, beeswax and leather polish. Goes on and on... ripe apricots, flower nectar, Seville oranges, orange syrup, whiffs of seawater... Absolutely exceptional. Gets smokier with time (Havana smoke). Hints of apple peelings. This nose just leaves me speechless (who said good news?) Mouth: amazingly lively, nervous, fruity... Apricot jam, ripe plums, chestnut honey, toasted brioche, high-grade pepper... Totally fantabulous. I’m afraid the rest will be censored by our anti-maltoporn police department. SGP: 845 (wazzat?) - 96 points.
Macallan 1963 (43%, OB, square crystal decanter, early 1990’s) Colour: amber with brownish hues. Nose: starts a little mouldy, also on roasted nuts and quite some peat. Gets very tarry after a while, on new tyres and even something like burnt plastic. I know, sounds terrible but it isn’t, although some could say this is flawed. Just like sulphur in whisky, those are ‘controversial’ aromas. Notes of torrefaction, charcoal... A slightly scary old Macallan I’d say. Mouth: fat, thick and honeyed, slightly syrupy, even sugarish at the attack. Candied. Gets more classic after a moment. A lot of chestnut honey, the whole getting bolder with time, almost brutal. Hints of salt. Finish: interminable, candied, with a slight bitterness (gentian, chlorophyll). A beast – and who said whisky in decanters don’t keep well? Maybe it lacks the old Macallans’ usual lusciousness, that is. SGP: 852 - 89 points.
And also Macallan 25 yo 1957 ‘Anniversary’ (43%, OB) Stunning whisky, all on wood smoke, lovage and game, with also a slight mouldiness both on nose and palate. Very big, very dark Macallan with huge sherry. Takes no prisoners. SGP: 826 - 93 points.
And also Macallan 1950 (43%, OB, Corade France, early 1980’s) Tried quickly (yes, a shame). Unusual mouldiness, tar, smoke, mushrooms, crystallized oranges and roasted nuts. Maybe a tad too mouldy. SGP: 643 - 87 points.

November 17, 2007


The Royal Festival Hall, London, October 23rd 2007
I don’t think you get much casual trade at a Nick Lowe gig, especially not at the recently refurbished Royal Festival Hall on London’s arty South Bank. We’re mostly all of a certain age and probably beyond the point at which we could be called ‘fans’, having in some respects all been through too much together and managed, more or less, to come out on the other side. Muppet
So the interval is almost like a reminiscence therapy session – and have you noticed Serge, how loudly blokes like to reminisce at gigs? The two behind us are talking high volume, hard core bollocks – “Never thought I’d see the day when we’d pay to see Basher in a place like this”, “Yeah, or be here with all these middle classes”, “It’s never going to be as good as that night down the police club”, “Yeah – I mean do you remember when we’d go down to gigs like that at the Ricky Tick club”, “Always with knives, pills, and birds”, “And some top nights in Leytonstone…”, “Of course she never liked us going there”, “Seen much of your kids since the divorce?”, “Not really, how about you ...?” So it goes.
Nick Lowe
At My Age (Nick Lowe)
Lowe has just released a new album, the first since 2001’s The Convincer. At My Age is a perfectly crafted piece of work – nine original songs and three covers, including a country meets skiffle version of Charlie Feather’s ‘The man in love’ and “Not too long ago” – originally performed in 1965 by Joe Stampley and the Uniques but sounding every bit like a Lowe original. Of the Lowe compositions ‘I trained her to love me’ (the song that drew some sharp intakes of breath when we first heard it performed at the Barbican – more middle classes – a few years ago) is probably the one that stands out most. But actually they’re all – characteristically of Lowe’s compositions - so good, so economic, so precise, so perfectly produced, and so carefully performed, that they provide a complete and compelling body to the evening’s set.
It’s not quite the studio band on stage – long time collaborators Robert Treherne – aka Bobby Irwin - (drums) and Geraint Watkins (organ and piano) and new boy Matt Radford (double bass) are there, but in place of Steve Donnelly on guitar it’s sometime Van Morrison band-member Johnny Scott. And for songs like ‘A better man’, ‘Long limbed girl’ and ‘Other side of the coin’ (written originally for Solomon Burke) there’s a brass section, featuring Martin Willing on tenor sax and clarinet and Annie Whitehead on trombone (in place of blues veteran Chris Barber who features on the album). Lowe normally performs solo these days, but he likes to put a band together for “special occasions” – and this is very special, even if an irritating hum from the sound system does take away some of the glow.
Nick Lowe
Oh, and I should have said that the new Lowe songs follow his well-established groove of lost love, regret, hope, fear and all that other universal stuff that makes them so attractive. And – in case you’re wondering he’s gone on record as saying that he doesn’t hate women – “but singing about people who hate women is very good fun”. He kicks off solo with ‘People change’, ‘Soulful wind’, ‘What’s shaking on the hill’ and ‘All men are liars’ before being joined by the band. “Welcome”, he explains, “to an evening of first class light entertainment”, before the band tear into ‘Without love’ (the other Lowe song recorded by Johnny Cash), ‘Lately I’ve let things slide’, ‘Has she got a friend?’ and ‘I trained her to love me’. To be frank most people could have stopped at that and felt pretty pleased with themselves. Lowe and his band continue with ‘Indian Queens’, ‘Cruel to be kind’, a studio perfect version of ‘You inspire me’ and then five in a row from At my age, before ‘Shting shtang’, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, Lowe’s Rockpile classic ‘I knew the bride’. Solo, Lowe finished the set with that song – twelve years in the writing, his Jekyll and Hyde classic that formed the centrepiece of Johnny Cash’s American Recordings – and you could have heard a pin drop as he sang the final lines of ‘The beast in me’.
The vacuous veterans behind us leave to get their buses back to the lonely suburbs as Lowe returned for a solo ‘Heart of the city’, played ‘What’s so funny about peace love and understanding’ with the band and then finished solo again with Moon Mullican’s rockabilly hit ‘Seven nights to rock’. It’s a standing ovation – and quite rightly so, for the variously described “Headmaster of rock”, “Jesus of cool”, and “PhD of pop”. With his unmistakeable haircut, unmistakeable voice, quite excellent band and perfectly hand-crafted artisanal songs Lowe is a performer of huge accomplishment. You should buy his new record, and if you get the chance to see him, then go. Isn’t that right, Serge? - Nick Morgan (concert photograph by Kate) Nick LOwe
Many thanks, Nick. Oh yes, I remember that gig at the Barbican very well. Just a man and his guitar, singing in a foreign language (no, I never get everything they say, because even if their English is probably perfect, mine really isn’t as all readers of Whiskyfun may have noticed.) Should have been a bit... err, difficult but it wasn’t at all actually, quite the contrary. And Geraint Watkins, whom I didn’t know before, is now a favourite in the house! So, I thank you again, and let’s listen to a little Nick Lowe, with I love the sound of breaking glass.mp3 (yes, an oldie).


Aberfeldy Aberfeldy 1989/2007 (43%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice) Colour; straw. Nose: starts floral and buttery, with also quite some fresh oak, getting grassier after that. Also quite some vanilla, cereals, porridge. And honey, pollen... Rather clean but also rather discreet. Mouth: very light attack, a little fruitier than on the nose that is. Apple juice and cornflakes plus a little maple syrup. Again, the oak is quite present (tea, tannins). Gets a little spicier over time (pepper). Finish: rather short but quite clean, on peppered and buttered apple pie. A good everyday dram. SGP:330 (wazzat?) - 80 points.
Aberfeldy 19yo 1978/1997 (43%, Signatory, cask #5032) Colour: straw. Nose: very discreet, whispering, with hints of fresh butter and cereals plus almond milk and avocado. Shy but the overall balance is quite perfect, it’s a very elegant dram on the nose. Mouth: a little bigger than the G&M at the attack and marginally more phenolic. Hints of toasted bread. Other than that it’s all on vanilla, cereals, tea and something slightly resinous. Yes, another good everyday dram. SGP:331 – 82 points.

November 16, 2007

Caol Ila


Caol Ila 1996/2007 (48%, Wilson & Morgan) Wilson & Morgan already had great Caol Ilas in the past so let’s see is tradition is respected. Colour: white wine. Nose: yes, just a very clean, very sharp, very lemony, very smoky, very ashy and rather lemony Caol Ila. Which means that it’s not a mashy / porridgy / buttery and ‘organic’ kind of Caol Ila. Right, right... Mouth: smoky lemon juice with a little gentian spirit and smoked tea. No more, no less. Finish: long, getting a bit salty. Very good (wasn’t that short and sweet?) SGP:246 (wazzat?) – 86 points.

Caol Ila 25 yo 1980/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, Refill Hogs, Ref 2405, 327 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: it seems that this one developed more towards a rather big oiliness. At random, we have apple peelings, lamp oil, linseed oil, paraffin, fresh butter, fresh almonds, putty, orgeat, whiffs of ink, roots... Oh, and smoke of course. And fresh walnuts. Mouth: apple juice, lemon juice, pepper, smoked oysters and kippers and salt. A bit thicker and oilier than the youngster. Finish: long, waxier and leafier. Very, very good (wasn’t that just as short and sweet?) SGP:346 – 88 points. Caol Ila

Caol Ila 16 yo 1991/2007 (57.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland) Colour: white wine. Nose: somewhere between the 1996 and the 1980, really. And a big farminess (raw wool, wet hay etcetera). A big Caol Ila it seems. Mouth: indeed. A bit sweeter than the 1996 and 1980 and also spicier. Finish: extremely long and very salty. Very, very good (yeah). SGP:347 – 87 points.

Caol Ila 32 yo 1975/2007 (58.4%, Signatory, cask #458, 221 bottles) Okay, let’s be a little serious, this one is a venerable old Caol Ila, dating back from the times when the distillery had just been reconstructed (1974)....

Colour: gold. Nose: big, very big and in no way ‘32yo’ in spirit. Three main directions here: stony/mineral/ashy on one side, then waxy / grassy / lemony, then smoky / peaty / coastal. All that is, well, very big... (excuse me but it’s getting a bit hard to write tasting notes for Caol Ilas, there are so many versions around!) Now, it seems that ‘the evolution of peat’ created some rather beautiful notes of tangerines and grapefruits here, but in no way as bold as in Laphroaigs, Bowmores or Ardbegs of similar age. Mouth: oh, good news, it’s rather more ‘mature’ than on the nose, even if it’s still a relatively ‘young’ malt. Big bold lemony notes (almost extreme in fact) plus all of the usual smoky/peaty cavalry, pepper, chilli... And even more pepper. This is very powerful whisky, not for the fainthearted that may think that ‘old = smooth’. Caol Ila
Finish: interminable, as peppery, smoky and lemony as whisky can get. Geez, this is almost an ode to immortality – 1975, really? Anyway, great whisky all around and yes, more of a peat monster than many much younger Ardlaphlagas. SGP:368 - 90 points.
Caol Ila And also Caol Ila 1968 (58.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, green lettering, 1980’s) There’s also been a version for Meregalli in Italy at same strength but printed in brown instead of green. On the nose, this one is more honeyed and resinous than smoky strictly speaking, also quite almondy. Notes of plum jam. Mouth: big, bold, with more peat this time. Superbly candied, lemony, extremely smoky. Big whiffs of coal and wood smoke. SGP:427 – 94 points (and thanks, Michel)
MUSIC – Recommended listening: the fabulous Claude Nougaro sings Dansez sur moi.mp3 (Live at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées). He was a great, great man, please buy his 'musing' music. Nougaro

November 15, 2007

Linkwood Linkwood 1979/1993 (46%, Moon Import, The Sails in the Wind, butt #6097, 660 bottles) Colour: brown amber. Nose: this beautiful thing (we have a friend in Vienna who should like this label a lot) starts right on oxtail, old rancio and barbecued beef and develops on slightly more civilised notes such as Corinth raisins, espresso coffee, old walnuts, Havana cigar (lit – big smokiness here) and smoked ham. Superbly dry, a truly fantastic sherry here (even if the spirit can’t tell us much here). Also notes of shoe polish and game.
Mouth: oh yes! Tobacco again, game with bilberry sauce, chocolate (loads), coffee-schnapps, soy sauce, lovage, burger with genuine ketchup (not the cheap sugar and GMO-loaded swill we all know too well), nuts, sultanas, cough syrup... How great! Finish: long, with all flavours mingling into some sort of umami. Holy crow, this is sherried whisky. SGP:337 (wazzat?) – 92 points.
Linkwood 16yo 1990/2007 (49,3%, Adelphi, cask #9733, 269 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: oh, this is interesting, this one smells much waxier and even more phenolic than most Linkwoods we could try. Notes of linseed oil, paraffin, olive oil... It gets then more vegetal and a little resinous (pine needles), then more candied and jammy (very ripe yellow plums, honey sauce), and finally very minty, with big notes of a pack of mint drops that you just opened. Also dried flowers, roses... Oh, and also a beautifully balanced sherry in the background, probably second fill. This is very beautiful. Mouth: oh yes this is beautiful, sweet like a candy store but firm like, like... Whatever. A true hotchpotch of various jams, honeys, sweets, jellies, pastries, and spices. Only the finish is maybe a little less assertive and a little simpler, more on ‘simple’ caramel and honey. One for Hansel und Gretel? 90 points (and exactly the opposite of the Moon, SGP:733 vs. 337).
And also Linkwood-Glenlivet 1956/1979 (80°proof, Cadenhead) An hyper-floral and hyper-honeyed nose, with also a lot of wax and notes of old furniture. Hints of high-end scented soap and cologne.Wonderful. The palate is a bit bitterer but still beautiful. Also rose jelly and marzipan. Rich and complex. SGP:835 - 90 points. (and thanks, Heinz) Linkwood
MUSIC – Recommended listening: let's go African if you please, with the magnificent Malian singer Oumou Sangare and her Saa magni.mp3. Please buy her music and support Africa (yeah, I know...) Oumou Sangare

November 2007 - part 1 <--- November 2007 - part 2 ---> December 2007 - part 1

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



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

Adelphi 15 yo 1991/2006 'Breath of Speyside' (60,2%, Adelphi, cask #5642, 615 bottles)

Caol Ila 1968 (58.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, green lettering, 1980’s)

Caol Ila 32 yo 1975/2007 (58.4%, Signatory, cask #458, 221 bottles)

Compass Flaming heart '2nd release' (48,9%, Compass Box, 2007)

Glen Grant 1958/2006 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail)

Glen Grant 36 yo 1970/2006 (53,2%, Blackadder Raw Cask, sherry cask #7216, 173 bottles)

Glen Grant 1972/2007 (54.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland)

Linkwood 1979/1993 (46%, Moon Import, The Sails in the Wind, butt #6097, 660 bottles)

Linkwood 16yo 1990/2007 (49,3%, Adelphi, cask #9733, 269 bottles)

Linkwood-Glenlivet 1956/1979 (80°proof, Cadenhead)

Longmorn 27 yo 1969 (43%, Prestonfield for LMDW, cask #4252, 296 bottles)

Longmorn 1964/2007 (50%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW, cask #1538)

Longmorn 1973/2006 (54%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’, cask #3650, first fill sherry butt)

Macallan 1938 (43%, OB, Corade France, early 1980’s)

Macallan 25 yo 1957 ‘Anniversary’ (43%, OB)

Springbank 37 yo 1970/2007 (53.9%, Signatory, butt #1621, 370 bottles)