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

November 14, 2008

Highland Park 1991 TASTING – BRILLIANT HPs
Highland Park 17 yo 1991/2008 (46%, Signatory for LMdW, cask #15098, 820 bottles) From a sherry butt; this one didn’t remain unnoticed for long at Whisky Live Paris this year. Colour: gold amber. Nose: independent HPs are usually quite different from the officials in style but this one isn’t. Smoke, vanilla fudge and gooseberries strike first, then plain peat and mocha, then fir honeydew and even mead, then smoked tea and kiwis, then sea air and shells, then oranges and tangerines like in much older Islayers, then eucalyptus and camphor like in old Laphroaigs… A divine surprise, this one is truly multifaceted yet extremely coherent. Great, great HP!
Mouth: my, this is as peaty as, say some Ardmores and maybe even Taliskers! Settles down a bit after the wham-bam attack, getting more on citrus fruits and cough medicine, with also quite some salted liquorice and orange marmalade. Lemon drops, spearmint… Also a slight meatiness, most probably from the sherry. Excellent. Finish: long, with now more pepper and salt. A very coastal Highland Park, most definitely. Comments: a very excellent, restless and rather affordable indie HP, we feel the need to applaud! SGP:564 – 91 points.
Highland Park 21 yo 1987/2008 (50.4%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, cask #1529) A brand new bottling. Colour: straw. Nose: I had feared this one would have a hard time after the wonderful 1991 but greatest of news, it’s quite as superb. There’s less candy and coffee and more white fresh fruits (simply apples) but almost all the rest is there. Smoke, peat, tangerines, sea air, camphor, ‘resinous’ honey… Gets finally a tad farmier and rougher, with more wet hay, whiffs of farmyard… And quite some fresh mint as well. Great nose anyway, a little less ‘easy’ than the 1991. Mouth: we’re closer to the 1991, just even bigger, thanks to the higher ABV. Wild, peaty, extremely smoky and peppery, with layers of candied lemons and oranges, ‘resinous honey’ again, waxes, smoked fish, salt… Wow, it’s almost a brute! (flog me baby!) Finish: very long, all on orange zests and pepper now. Comments: lots happening in this HP that has its eye on Skye or even Islay. A big dram, in the same league as the 1991 as far as quality is concerned. Highly recommended, especially since the quality of indie HPs can be very, say ‘uncertain’. SGP:475 – 91 points.
And also Highland Park 12 yo 1995/2007 (59.8%, OB for Dr Jekyll’s Pub Oslo, cask #1556) An OB among the IBs! Colour: dark amber. Nose: punchy, all on chocolate, bicycle inner tube, roasted chestnuts and barbecued beef. Big sherry. With water: huge notes of gunpowder, then leather and cigar tobacco (smells like a box of Partagas). Game. Mouth: more on strawberry jam, kirsch, a little rubber, nutmeg… With water: more classic now, less peaty than the IBs but still quite peaty. Vegetal. Cardamom. A very good youngster, very big. 20 more years of bottle ageing may propel this baby way over 90 pts. SGP:463 – 88 points. (and thank you Astrid and Morten) Highland Park

MUSIC – Recommended listening: some 'modern' R&B on WF? Hell, why not, when it's Erykah Badu, first American diva of neo-soul. She's singing Honey.mp3 and you should buy her music...

Erykah Badu

November 13, 2008

Glen Keith


Glen Keith 30 yo 1978/2008 'Keen Light' (46%, The Nectar, 120 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s the oak that plays the first part here it seems, with quite some ginger, cardamom and cinnamon at first nosing. Then there’s more freshly cut apples and pears, gooseberries, even kiwis, beer, hints of cloves, gingerbread, green tobacco… Not quite exuberant, rather ‘natural’ in fact and in that sense quite different from most other old Glen Keiths we could try. Mouth: big, acidulated (lemon drops) and grassy, extremely nervous at 30 years of age. A lot of marzipan as well, smoked tea, grapefruits… Gets oakier after a moment but never too tannic or drying. Good balance. Finish: medium long, fruity and oaky in a nice way. Walnuts. Comments: a very good ‘natural’ old Glen Keith, maybe a tad shy but perfectly composed and balanced. Good oakiness. SGP:351 – 87 points.
Glen Keith 1967/2006 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice) Colour: amber. Nose: this one starts on ultra-big notes of used matches, gunpowder (it’s really like a gun that just shot) and coal. These notes never vanish actually, and hide any other aromas that may – or may not – be there. Very, very extreme. Also hints of pemmican and other dried meats (Grisons, bresaola and so on). Mouth: ultra-dry, with a lot of sherry, tannins, spices, cardboard and strong tea. Very extreme in its style. Finish: long and very tannic, but that’s no ‘flaw’ as such here. Once again, just very extreme in style. Comments: yup, extreme and for that it may be worth having in your bar. I think I never had a malt that displayed such heavy notes of gunpowder. SGP:262 – 85 points.
Glen Keith 1968/2007 (54.8%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMdW, Cask #2625, 64 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: superb grassiness, with quite some burnt matches again but also a lot of newly cut grass, fresh walnuts, apple peeling, fresh almonds… Quite beautiful. With water: gets meaty, on ham and smoked meat. Mustard, paprika, coriander, nutmeg. Mouth (neat): big, expressive, somewhat prickly, lemony (skin), hugely grassy. Big tannins, kind of leathery. With water: more of the same, but with more pepper and other spices. Still a bit prickly. Finish: long, with a more obvious oakiness now. Lemon and a little salt. Quite brutal. Comments: big oak and a big grassiness. Exactly what you wouldn’t expect from a very old Speysider. SGP:271 – 88 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening: often right between plain free jazz and straight ahead tango, Argentina's first blower Gato Barbieri plays Nunca mas.mp3. Fantastic! Please buy the maestro's music... (btw, did you know that he was the inspiration for the crazy Muppet that was playing the saxophone?)

Gato Barbieri

November 12, 2008



Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB for Bonfanti, short label, mid 1970s) To true Laphroaig aficionados, ‘Bonfanti’ is a sesame. There are very little ‘very large batch’ OBs that ever came close to these whiskies, maybe except for old Lagavulins and Taliskers. We already tried a few other bottles from Bonfanti’s and we’ve always been blown away. Colour: gold. Nose: epitomical old Islayer, even if it’s maybe a tad ‘less big’ than other versions. Actually, it’s not too easy to decompose this one into several well-known aromas, it’s kind of an aroma of its own. Maybe ‘very old RAF sheepskin flying jacket’ or something like that (ridicule has never been the unmaking of anyone, has it?) Mouth: we have the expected winning combo of citrus fruits and peat here, even if, once again, this is not extremely big. Kumquats, cough syrup, mastic, kippers (a lot of salt), salted buttered fudge, lemon liqueur, smoked tea, pine resin… Gets more candied over time (toffee). ‘Great anyway’. Finish: rather long, very complex, ending up on something like salted liquorice and caramel sweets. Comments: amazing whisky, but that’s no breaking news. SGP:467 – 94 points.
Laphroaig 10 yo (91.4 US proof, OB, imported by R.H Elsbach & Co, San Francisco, 4/5 quart, late 50s or early 60s) One of the earliest Laphroaig 10yo we’ve ever tried. This one comes from Marcel van Gils’ collection and we’ll try to spare you any even sillier comments (such as ‘1947 Soviet leather ushanka’ ;-)) Colour: dark gold. Nose: well, this is much punchier and bigger than the well-known Bonfantis, with much more metallic and sooty notes. At random, we get notes of old oil stove, flints, old car engine, charcoal, old turpentine, linseed oil, pencil lead… And god knows what else. Less fruity than the Bonfanti (that one had citrusy notes), and probably more sherried. More austere in fact, ‘without any compromise’. Mouth: we’re closer to the Bonfanti now, only bigger again. Incredible attack, hugely peaty. Usually peat would get smoother through the years but it’s neither smoothened nor ‘transformed’ at all here, which may suggest that this whisky was extraordinarily peaty when it was bottled. As for the rest, well… Please call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: it’s that long that it’s not really a ‘finish’, rather an endless extension. Comments: maybe the boat trip to San Francisco fifty years ago improved this one even further? We’re very close to perfection here. SGP:558 - 96 points. (thank you Marcel and Luc)
Laphroaig 12 yo (53.1%, OB for World Duty Free, oloroso, 2007) We believe this one came from a single cask. Colour: straw (oloroso? Probably third or fourth-fill then). Nose: typical young modern Laphroaig. Peat smoke, gentian, cider apples, butter and sea air. Extremely nice but there’s nothing really ‘different’ here, even if there are some very nice notes of crushed mint leaves and even verbena developing. Good, classic young Laphroaig at cask strength like many IBs have issued in recent years. Mouth: punchy, clean, classic. Smokiness, apple juice, icing sugar, liquorice allsorts and salt. Finish: long and maybe a tad sweeter than usual. Comments: this one reminds me of the 1994 ‘Feis Ile 2006’. Very, very good young Laphroaig, but where’s the advertised oloroso sherry? (not that we’re complaining, of course…) SGP:438 - 87 points.



MUSIC – Recommended listening: maybe you'll remember the late Big Twist and his Mellow Fellows, right between Philly and the blues shouters? Today we'll have Just one woman.mp3... (but please not THAT one!) Please buy these people's music.


Big Twist

November 11, 2008

Yamazaki 1979


The Cask of Yamazaki 1979/2002 (56%, OB, Japanese oak "Mizunara", cask # RF1013) Colour: full gold. Nose: a rather beautiful attack on the nose, compact as often with ‘crafted’ Yamazakis but with very distinct notes of ginger and soft curry added to a rather waxy and oily character (paraffin, linseed oil, olive oil.) With water: it got much more vegetal and grassy, which is a little curious I must say. Whiffs of peat arising. No sweetness/fruitiness. Mouth (neat): hugely concentrated but not thick, which is quite an achievement. Loads of spices, crystallised oranges, ginger, cardamom and pepper. A lot of wood but it’s great wood, I must say (spices.) With water: rounder of course, and more ‘oriental’ as well. Turkish delights, lychees like we found in other versions, orange squash, mint flavoured tea. Excellent now. Finish: rather long and a tad more resinous. Comments: an ultra-dry nose and a rounder and fruitier palate, which is exactly the contrary of what happens with many old Scotch. Two whiskies in one! SGP:552 – 91 points.
Yamazaki ‘Vintage Malt’ 1979/2005 (56%, OB, sherry butt, Japanese oak "Mizunara") Colour: full gold. Nose: as expressive as the ‘COY’ but with more sherried notes that make it a little less ‘focused’ right at the attack, but it gets then just as superb. A little more mint and camphor plus hints of game (hare). With water: it behaved quite differently from the COY, keeping its fruitiness (hints of coconut from the wood as well as pineapples) beyond the same kind of grassiness. A tad phenolic. More game, more animal notes as well. Superb nose, very complex, which is maybe not what was expected. Mouth (neat): contrarily to what happened on the nose, I like this one a little better than its bro at the attack. Somewhat drier, more elegant and just as big. Oranges, tobacco and herbs, then the same kind of spices plus a little chilli (Thai red sauce.) Perfect balance between the big spiciness and the fruits. With water: wilder, even spicier, with an even bigger presence. Spearmint, cardamom, coriander, basil and bitter oranges. Yes, an unusual mix. Finish: long, more liquoricy and herbal. Comments: it’s hard to decide between these two marvellous 1979’s. Let’s not even try… SGP:553 – 91 points.Yamazaki makes me think of Lexus. I mean, fifteen years ago we were thinking that Lexuses (Lexi?) were pale imitations of Mercedes, which they more or less were actually. Today some people think that Lexuses are better cars than Mercedes, and are rather more innovative. As for 'heritage', well...


MUSIC – Recommended listening: Probably one of the best 'free' jazz pieces ever, Archie Shepp and his band doing Blasé.mp3 in 1969, with singer extraordinaire Jeanne Lee (photo) on vocals. Famous (yet stunning) piece. Please buy Archie Shepp's music!

Jeanne Lee

November 10, 2008


Yamazaki 1982/1997 (45%, OB, sherry wood) Colour: amber. Nose: very, very compact, starting on hints of dried mushrooms and cigar box and displaying notes of honey, caramel, roasted nuts and whiffs of smoke and peat after that. Gets also a little meaty (grilled beef.) Les exuberant than many of its colleagues. Mouth: much, much more sherry influence on the palate. A little drying (blackcurrant leaves, grape pips, green tea) and a little too vinous for my taste. Prunes, blackcurrants, bitter oranges. Finish: rather long, still vinous but also spicier (cloves.) Comments: not as ‘crafted’ as more recent bottlings but still good – if you like heavy sherry influence, that is. SGP:451 - 81 points.
Yamazaki ‘Vintage Malt’ 1980/2004 (56%, OB, refill sherry) Colour: amber. Nose: not very different from the 1982 as far as the profile is concerned, only much bigger and expressive. Please read above. With water: wilder, more animal (soy sauce, beef bouillon.) Pu-erh tea, Habano, bitter chocolate, coffee. Hints of peat. Mouth (neat): explosive, very fruity, very ‘sherried’ and very spicy. Huge concentration! Much nicer than the 1982 in that sense. Pepper, strawberries, hawthorn tea, blackberry jelly and strong honey (chestnut and the likes.) Gingerbread. With water: smoother of course but not less flavourful. More spices and more herbs (interesting hints of thyme and mother-of-thyme.) Liquorice. Finish: long, with silky tannins and more notes of blackcurrants (fruits and buds.) Comments: very, very good, this one pulled excellent comments and scores at the MM Awards 2007. SGP:552 - 88 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: the Silver Jews from Nashville doing their People.mp3. We like their sound, their simplicity and their multiple references. Please buy the Silver Jews' music.

The silver jews

November 9, 2008

Yamazaki 1990

TWO 1990’s

The Cask of Yamazaki 1990/2005 (55%, OB, cask #0W70223, Ohmi cellar, hogshead) Colour: pale gold. Nose: oily, mineral and waxy at first nosing, with quite some vanilla in the background as well as hints of flour (‘clean dust’, sawdust.) Linseed oil, fabric. Gets dustier over time. Tapioca, cedar wood. With water: it got more organic and even maritime, not dusty anymore, with whiffs of oysters and iodine, wet hay… Also a little more ‘oriental’ (sandalwood, incense), with always quite some plain oak, and quite some smoke. Very ‘natural’. Mouth (neat): rather explosive and very fruity, on fresh pineapples, apples (golden delicious) and hints of bananas. A little spirity. With water: more of the same, only smoother and much better balanced. Pineapple sweets and vanilla crème. A tad simple but perfectly compact, which isn’t the same. Finish: long, jammy and smokier now. Comments: a fruity/sexy one that’s an excellent swimmer. SGP:731 – 86 points.
The Cask of Yamazaki 1990/2008 (61%, OB, cask #0N70646, 2nd fill Spanish oak sherry butt, 504 bottles) Another brand new one that’s been bottled in June. Colour: mahogany. Nose: very punchy and very chocolaty. Hints of old books and old roses and a little strawberry jam. Needs water! With water: much, much nicer. Beautifully vinous and ‘roasted’. Old Port, green cigar like they make in Indonesia, Smyrna raisins, dates and hints of aniseed (or Ouzo/Raki). Superb but really needs water. Mouth (neat): the winey notes are rather big here, with quite some strawberry liqueur, backcurrant crème and a little rubber. Heavy wine influence it seems, but the whole is very strong. Water needed again. With water: once again, it’s way better at roughly 45% than at cask strength. Complex development on tobacco, dark chocolate, rum, prunes, cocoa powder and overripe strawberries. Fruitcake. No more rubber. Finish: long and spicier (cloves, pepper) which is quite normal. Comments: another one that really needs water but that gets truly wonderful when reduced. Super sherry. SGP:651 – 90 points.

TWO 1986’s AND ONE 1989

Yamazaki 1986/2003 (45%, OB, sherry wood) Colour: full gold. Nose: starts more on the waxy and oily notes (linseed) that one can often find in Yamazaki than on sherry. The sherry’s quite discreet actually, most probably refill. Notes of olive oil, sawdust… Slowly takes off after a few minutes, getting maltier and nuttier, the sherry being more obvious now. Fig jam and walnut liqueur, with whiffs of incense. Very very nice now, with something Irish. Mouth: soft and very fruity attack, once again very Irish (Bushmills). Pineapples, bananas flambéed, honey sauce, papayas… Goes on in the same vein, with just a little more oak after a while (soft pepper.) Finish: medium long, very fresh and very fruity. Comments: one of the fruitiest Japanese we could try. Perfectly composed and highly drinkable. An easy, sexy dram. SGP:720 – 85 points.
Yamazaki ‘Vintage Malt’ 1986/2005 (56%, OB, sherry hogshead) Colour: pale amber. Nose: how jammy! Very big notes of plum jam (Mirabelle), apricot jam, honey… Also rather flowery (yellow flowers, nectar, orange blossom) and ‘oriental’ like many of its bros (sandalwood, incense, cardamom.) This isn’t whisky, it’s jam. Almonds. With water: a wonderful oakiness, very straight, complementing the huge fruitiness. Extremely pleasant. Mouth (neat): superb attack, half fruity, half spicy. Perfect mouth feel. Longans, figs, bananas, ginger and white pepper. A tad less extravagant than on the nose but the balance is perfect. With water: it all mingled, giving something very compact and very coherent. Immensely drinkable. Finish: long, with the oak getting more distinguishable (lactones). Comments: this one offers huge pleasures. Perfectly crafted. SGP:641 - 90 points.
Yamazaki ‘Vintage Malt’ 1989/2005 (56%, OB, hogshead, white oak) Colour: full gold. Nose: much more austere than the 1986, it’s having a rather hard time after that one. Vanilla, a little cardboard, newly sawn oak and ginger. It’s only after deep nosing that some fruitier notes arise, such as pineapples and ripe apples. With water: it got a tad more organic. Hay. Mouth (neat): much closer to the 1986 here, but the woodiness is much more obvious, and even a tad drying. Tinned pineapples plus a lot of spices (ginger, pepper, cloves, Chinese anise, liquorice). With water: more of the same, with also some slightly disturbing cardboardy notes. Finish: medium long, rather tannic but not excessively so. Comments: the oak really stands out here. Quite good but not my favourite. SGP:461 – 80 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: Daevid Allen and Robert Wyatt's wonderful Memories.mp3 (from 1971's very famous Bananamoon LP). Please buy Daevid Allen's music!

Daevid Allen

November 7, 2008

ONE 1992 AND TWO 1991’s

Yamazaki ‘Vintage Malt’ 1992/2005 (56%, OB, hogshead, white oak) Colour: pale gold. Nose: expressive, starting on quite some olive oil and peat, very vegetal, organic and leathery. Chlorophyll, leaves, ginger, sandalwood, incense and pine resin. With water: oh, it got quite simpler, more on grass and vanilla. As if water had shut it down – and yes we gave this one time (it just got a tad more pearish). Bizarre… Mouth (neat): punchy but ‘drinkable’, with a little peat and a rather big ‘greenness’. Walnuts, salicornias, mint flavoured nougat, mastic sweets… Notes of pears and pineapples behind all that. Very good, extremely satisfying if not very complex - yet? With water: once again, it got somewhat simpler. Not bad at all, but simpler (pineapple and green spices, cardamom?) Finish: medium long, fruity, with a ‘return’ on vanilla crème. Comments: a good Yamazaki but it seems to lack most of its bros’ complexity and ‘fullness’. SGP:542 – 80 points.
The Cask of Yamazaki 1991/2002 (60%, OB, bourbon, Ohmi cellar, cask #1O70640) Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely similar to the 1992 it seems but the high alcohol blocks many aromas, or so it seems. Hops and tobacco. With water: once again, it did not really get more complex but what a great profile! Smells almost like a newly opened pack of mentholated Dunhills. Hints of fresh butter. Mouth (neat): round, fruity, grassy and peaty but very, very hot. Aargh… With water: very compact, reminding us of Glenmorangie’s experiments with new oak. Less vanilla and more peat but the style is sort of similar. Brown sugar, crystallised ginger and cinnamon. Finish: long and spicy/oaky. Comments: good again but maybe a tad ‘fabricated’. Well made of course but lacks a little magic. SGP:532 – 81 points.
The Cask of Yamazaki 1991/2002 (61%, OB, sherry, Ohmi cellar, cask #1O70047, 468 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this seems to be extremely fine! Obvious notes of palomino fino, old walnuts, petrol, coffee, tobacco… Very hot, though, so let’s not wait and add water. With water: stunning nose now. Not really complex but so wonderfully straightforward, on a magnificent trilogy of resin, peat and pears, and then these notes of walnuts, marzipan and fishing boat (including diesel oil and tar). Yes it’s a tad maritime. Mouth (neat): exceptional profile – or so it seems because once again, this is very hot. We’re no sissy (yeah, yeah) but we need our throat, so… With water: this one is a winner. It’s not that it’s really more complex than its bros but he general feeling is much more satisfying, and the wood extracts rounder. Soft curry, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and hints of pineapples. Finish: rather long, an extension of the palate. Comments: he kinship with Dr Lumsden’s work at Glenmo’s is very obvious here, and even if it’s a sherry cask, it tastes like brand new American oak as far as we can taste. Not really romantic but beautifully made. SGP:561 - 87 points.



MUSIC – Recommended listening: this beautiful little song by Congo's Sam Mangwana, called Maloba.mp3. Please buy Sam Mangwana's music - and African music in general.

Sam Mangwana

November 5, 2008


Yamazaki 1993/2006 ‘Private Choice’ (62%, OB, NBA Osaka Kita) A special bottling for the Nippon Bartenders Association. Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of dead leaves and cigarette tobacco, pine resin and putty. Let’s not try too hard, at 62% it would be a bit hazardous. With water: resinous and leafy indeed. Obvious notes of game, smoked tea (lapsang soochong), argan oil, putty, fern, moss, mushrooms… And a beautiful peat. Top notch on the nose, compact yet complex. Mouth (neat): rounder than expected, concentrated, certainly peaty. Peated pears and pineapples - should that be possible. This seems to be very, very good but again, let’s not take chances. With water: excellent! Unlike other any Scotch, blending resinous and peaty flavours most wonderfully. Again, hints of tinned pineapples. Finish: long and just a tad tannic – nothing embarrassing here. Comments: the NBA know how to select a cask it seems. No wonder… Maybe it’s just a tad too mono-dimensional, but let’s not split hairs. SGP:465 – 90 points.
The Cask of Yamazaki 1993/2008 (62%, OB, puncheon #3Q70048, 492 bottles) This is a brand new peated version (26ppm) and the puncheon was a 2nd fill one (American oak). Colour: pale gold. Nose: partly similar to its ‘bro’ but more phenolic, resinous, smoky (pinewood) and herbal (patchouli, hashish). Quite spectacular, even at 62% ABV. With water: a tad less resinous but also a tad peatier. Greens, shoe polish, mushrooms (do you know blue foot or wood blewit? They smell exactly like this malt.) Big stuff. Mouth (neat): almost the same whisky as its sister cask, only fruitier and more flavourful. Unusual notes of lychee liqueur and rose jelly. With water: again, close to the NBA’s cask but with an extra-dimension, brought by these very fruity notes (lychees and such) that I never found in any Scotch – I mean, to this extend. Spectacular whisky. Finish: long, on a very unusual lychee/peat combo. Comments: had you told me a whisky would taste like peated lychees, I’d have told you to stop drinking. It’s like a mixture of 80% Ardbeg and 20% fine de gewurztraminer. I love this, mind you. SGP:555 – 91 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: we're in 1975 and Frenchman Jacques Higelin plays L'ange et le salaud.mp3 (angel and bastard - that was on Irradié) with a killer riff. Please buy this other grand Jacques' music.


November 4, 2008


ONE 1994 AND TWO 1995’s

Yamazaki ‘Vintage Malt’ 1994/2005 (56%, OB, barrel) Colour: gold. Nose: dry, oily and waxy. Whiffs of lovage. Quite some oak, fusel oil, pencil eraser, charcoal... Hints of cedar wood in the background. Vanilla, grass, beer (yeast) and green tea. Rather sharp. With water: more phenolic and resinous. Wet hay, linseed oil, wet chalk. We like it much better now. Mouth (neat): much, much sweeter and fruitier than on the nose. Loads of pineapples (fresh, tinned and dried) and an excellent oakiness behind these pineapples. With water: reveals an elegant spiciness but the pineapples are still there, together with coconuts and bananas. Finish: medium long, very clean, fruity, still on pineapples and honey. Comments: a tropical Yamazaki that needs water – and then it gets excellent. SGP:731 – 86 points.
Yamazaki ‘Vintage Malt’ 1995/2005 (56%, OB, sherry) This one is said to be very rare. Colour: mahogany. Nose: this is a sherried version, and a rather beautiful one. Chocolate, cigar box, leather, fudge, Parma violets, coffee and walnuts. Flawless. With water: now it got truly wonderful. Old Spanish ham (pata negra) and very old white Madeira. Almost stunning. Mouth (neat): what a beast! Concentrated, even sort of heavy, with quite some oak (tannins – maybe a bit green) and truckloads of prunes plus English brown sauce. Sticky. With water: stunning whisky. More coffee and chocolate and then more fruits (blackcurrants, prunes, blackberries). Cleaner and less meaty than when neat. Finish: long, clean, fruity and jammy (blackberries). Comments: luv’ this. ‘Natural’ sherry maturing perfectly handled. SGP:652 – 90 points.
Yamazaki ‘The Owners Cask’ 1995/2006 (58%, OB, for World Liquor Brutus, cask #5C3009, 401 bottles) Colour: mahogany. Nose: fantastic sherry here. Sure it’s a tad vinous but it’s so spectacularly compact! Walnuts, dark chocolate, blackcurrant buds, grilled beef, balsamico and espresso coffee. With water: gets very close to the ‘Vintage’ version, maybe a tad more complex (various herbs). Mouth (neat): ooh-aah! As concentrated as if they had cooked this one for three days before bottling it. Plum jam, blackberry jam, prunes, lees, cherry stem tea, caramel, orange liqueur, spearmint, cough syrup… What a monster! With water: it got really amazing. Dry sherry at its best. High-end tea, tobacco, thousands of spices, fruit liqueurs, herbs… Finish: endless but more on spices. Comments: maybe this is a tad ‘engineered’ but all I can say is that it’s awfy good. Sherry lovers should try to track this down, honest. SGP:652 – 92 points.
Seagrm CRAZY

Seagram's 7 Crown, USA, 1980.
Teaser: “Every Party's Choice."
Body: "No matter how you mix it, Seagram's 7 Crown's a winner. 7 & Cola with a slice of lime! Triumphant! 7 & 7! Victorious! Even all by itself over ice, it's unbeatable! And enjoy our quality in moderation."

MUSIC – Recommended listening: we're in 1969 and John D. Loudermilk does his rather famous Goin' to hell on a sled.mp3. Psych country at its best, scary but funny. Please buy John D. Loudermilk's music. Loudermilk

November 3, 2008

After 30 Highland Parks a few months ago, we did have another 'Summer Session' in July, this time with 20 Yamazakis including two brand new ones, exclusive to Europe. That Yamazaki can be wonderful is no secret anymore, so once again, we had high expectations. Please note that these have already been published - rightfully so - on Chris' very excellent Nonjatta, the best blog about Japanese whiskies, with loads of information.(with heartfelt thanks to Bert V. and other friends):


Yamazaki 15 yo ‘80th Anniversary’ (43%, OB, 2003) This was bottled to commemorate Yamazaki’s 80th anniversary. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very expressive, fruity (plums, apricots) and pleasantly oaky (vanilla). Develops on quite some mint and whiffs of cinnamon and ginger, as well as chocolate, vanilla fudge and acacia honey. A very sexy and very well composed nose. Mouth: again, quite a lot happening on the palate, even if the general profile is much, much drier. Notes of cider, apple peeling, green tea, mead, vanilla… Gets more peppery and gingery after a moment. Quite chewy. Finish: medium long, prolonging the palate in the same style. Comments: very good malt, with a big personality. Huge difference between nose and palate, though. SGP(on average):551 – 86 points.
Yamazaki 12 yo (43%, OB, bottled in the 1980’s) Colour: gold. Nose: drier and more phenolic than the more recent 15yo. Tea, sandalwood, cedar wood, patchouli… Gets maltier after that. Hints of olive oil, waxed paper, fresh almonds. Less sexy, I’d say. No OBE yet on the nose. Mouth: we’re extremely close to the 15yo now, with roughly the same profile. Same rather big dryness. Grassy. Bigger spiciness arising, though (pepper, mustard.) Not an easy whisky. Finish: long, peppery, liquoricy and a little resinous. Comments: very punchy and very, very spicy old Yamazaki. SGP:362 – 80 points.
Yamazaki 15 yo 'Tarudashi Genshu' (56%, OB, distillery version, circa 2004) Only available at the distillery. Colour: pale amber. Nose: even more wood here, Japanese style. Cinnamon, cigar box, cinnamon… Notes of fresh putty and almonds, leaves, tannins… Then chlorophyll, green tea, bay leaves, juniper… Rather ultra-dry. Hints of rubber bands. Mouth: punchy and very expressive, with a good fruits/wood combo. A lot of ginger, white pepper, nutmeg, cloves and mint. Peppered quince pie. Let’s see what happens with a little water (while the nose got woodier and more tannic): it got a little rounder, more ‘polished’, but the resinous notes got even bigger. Finish: long and very tannic/peppery. Comments: not unlike the old 12yo in style, only bigger and punchier, with more oak and more mint. A tad too much for my taste but it’s good nevertheless. SGP:371 – 83 points.


MUSIC – Recommended listening: isn't Benji Hughes very funny? Let's listen to his Why do these parties always end the same way?.mp3 and then buy his music.

Benji Hughes

November 2, 2008

Dufftown 15 yo 1987/2003 (46%, Duncan Taylor, Whisky Galore) Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, young, fruity (apples) and slightly smoky. Notes of mashed potatoes and oatcakes, hints of juniper berries and wet paper. Gets more porridgy and even a little yeasty. Mouth: very fruity and quite youngish. A tad sugary in fact. Apple pie, blackberry jam, lemon pie, ginger tonic and vanilla fudge. Finish: medium long, on overripe apples and pineapple drops. Notes of dried ginger and Turkish delights. Comments: simple and drinkable. SGP:421 – 78 points.
Dufftown-Glenlivet 19 yo 1988/2008 (53.5%, Cadenhead, 243 bottles) From a sherry hogshead. Colour: straw. Nose: very big oak, on the verge of being sour. Cider apples, slightly rancid butter, yogurt and dairy cream. Lemon juice. Gets very grassy… Well, a little hard to enjoy. With water: even more on sour apples and yoghurt. Sawdust, wet wood. Mouth (neat): very sweet but simply fruity, without the sour notes that is. Apple soda and lemon-flavoured chewing gum. With water: added notes of violets-flavoured liquorice and bubblegum. Finish: long, sweet, fruity, with notes of icing sugar and violets again (parfait amour liqueur). Comments: maybe a tad more expressive than the 1987 but also sourer on the nose. SGP:431 – 77 points.
And also Dufftown – Glenlivet (80 Proof, OB, clear glass, 1970’s) Nose: all on smoke, Parma ham, parsley, ash, soot and metal polish. Great stuff. Mouth: more camphor here (cough sweets) and orange marmalade. Verbena liqueur and yellow Chartreuse (not Chartroose, Quentin). Brilliant whisky, very complex despite a slightly weakish attack. Other wise it would have gone even higher on my scale. SGP:553 – 91 points. Dufftown


MUSIC – Recommended listening: fantastic jazz drummer and pioneer Andrew Cyrille plays Pioneering.mp3. A lot of fun and a lot of free spirit in the Sixties. Please, please buy Andrew Cyrille's music.


October 2008 - part 2 <--- November 2008 - part 1 ---> November 2008 - part 2

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



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

Dufftown – Glenlivet (80 Proof, OB, clear glass, 1970’s)

Highland Park 17 yo 1991/2008 (46%, Signatory for LMdW, cask #15098, 820 bottles)

Highland Park 21 yo 1987/2008 (50.4%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, cask #1529)

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB for Bonfanti, short label, mid 1970s)

Laphroaig 10 yo (91.4 US proof, OB, imported by R.H Elsbach & Co, San Francisco, 4/5 quart, late 50s or early 60s)

Yamazaki ‘The Owners Cask’ 1995/2006 (58%, OB, for World Liquor Brutus, cask #5C3009, 401 bottles)

Yamazaki ‘Vintage Malt’ 1995/2005 (56%, OB, sherry)

The Cask of Yamazaki 1993/2008 (62%, OB, puncheon #3Q70048, 492 bottles)

The Cask of Yamazaki 1979/2002 (56%, OB, Japanese oak "Mizunara", cask # RF1013)

Yamazaki ‘Vintage Malt’ 1979/2005 (56%, OB, sherry butt, Japanese oak "Mizunara")

Yamazaki 1993/2006 ‘Private Choice’ (62%, OB, NBA Osaka Kita)

Yamazaki ‘Vintage Malt’ 1986/2005 (56%, OB, sherry hogshead)

The Cask of Yamazaki 1990/2008 (61%, OB, cask #0N70646, 2nd fill Spanish oak sherry butt, 504 bottles)