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Hi, you're in the Archives, November 2008 - Part 2

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


November 30, 2008

Just after Louis-Vuitton-Moët-Hennessy acquired Ardbeg Distillery, their marketing directors started to wonder why no Ardbeg single malt was ever sold to a market as large as Croatia. Therefore they hired a well-trained and well-known detective named Igor to investigate the matter. After a long and hard search Igor found out that at a remote place called Filozici, on the remote island of Cres that lies in a remote sea called the Adriatic, operated a man called Dr. Know (pronounced dr:nou), a man who was very much loved by the locals. The reason for that is that Dr. Know produced a spirit called ‘Ardbeg’ that everybody there just adored.
With the help of the intuition, Igor found out that in the hidden cottage, a very complicated machinery had been built, which was capable of producing millions of bottles of Ardbeg on a daily basis.
Igor immediately measured the heighth of the spirit still, finding it to be the tallest on the island. That was the reason why such a sophisticated and successful spirit was produced.
Igor also measured the strength of the spirit that was running directly out of the condenser (105% pure ethyl!), as well as the strength at which it was then immediately bottled: 52.3% vol.
But Dr. Know was soon to show up round the corner and was immediately arrested. Igor found out that the moonshiner’s real name was Tomislav, a man with very good connections in France, Italy, Germany, Canada and Islay.
It was also found out that Tomislav had been spying on the original distillery for a long time and had learned about how to make such brilliiant spirit during his numerous visits to Islay (picture from Scotland Yard's Archives: the man caught spying in one of Ardbeg's warehouses).
But the story ends well. Igor made a fatal mistake when he decided to try the Croatian Ardbeg and all at once he forgot his duties and instantly became friend with Tomislav. The two fellows subsequently decided to send a wee sample of the Croatian Ardbeg to a famous whisky writer in the U.K., who awarded it with the title of ‘World Whisky of the Year’ after having scored it 97.5 points out of 100! The only little mistake that Igor and Tomislav had made was to write the origin of the spirit too quickly on the sample’s label, so one may well have have read ‘Canada’ instead of ‘Croatia’. They had also written 'Uiggidill', which means 'whisky' in Cressian dialect.

November 28, 2008


The first results of the Malt Maniacs Awards 2008 are in!

On Malt Maniacs of course!


Shepherds Bush Empire
November 5th 2008

Fleet Foxes
Few new bands can have earned such plaudits over the past year as Seattle five-piece The Fleet Foxes, whose eponymous album (released in June) found dewy-eyed reviewers looking back forty years with unwarranted affection to the great summer of love, whose soundtrack has so clearly inspired composer Robin Pecknold and his colleagues.
These hugely talented young men, (the five-piece which recorded the album subsequently lost two members and gained a couple more, including drummer J Tillman, who played a largely unappreciated acoustic solo support set here), with their unruly hair, unkempt beards and nonchalantly-worn shabby clothes, exude the spirit of the sixties. Their conceit is that of the purist, the enthusiast, the gifted amateur, the searcher for truth and beauty rather than fame and fortune – ‘not much of a rock band’ as they describe themselves. And according to the press, the band and their various family members live the sort of idyllic, almost communal life style, that those reviewers harking back to a lost golden age (and no doubt a lost youth too) might wish for themselves. Why, even their merchandise store turns its back on merchandise, preferring to offer ‘artefacts’ for sale instead. Tell me Serge – since when has a t-shirt been an artefact?
The Fleet Foxes
The Fleet Foxes
The Shepherds Bush Empire is packed to the rafters (a lot of the audience sporting unruly hair, unkempt beards and nonchalantly-worn shabby clothes) and there is an air of eager, if uncertain, expectation. But whatever the preconceptions, the whole place is blown away by an enchanting start, with the unaccompanied ‘Sun Giant’ followed by album opener ‘The sun it rises’, a song caught somewhere between Steeleye Span’s English idyll, and the unabashed and joyful audacity of ‘Suite Judy blue eyes’ (do you remember just how remarkable that sounded played for the first – or was it second – time at Woodstock?). These boys can sing. It’s not just Pecknold, whose voice must be a recording technician’s dream (and an A&R man’s for that matter) but the whole band. We’ve already heard Tillman’s delicate high-notes, but combined with Pecknold and his colleagues the impact is stunning. However I do get a growing sense of déjà vu as the evening wears on – and realise I’m not thinking back even a few decades but rather a few months. Same theatre, different band. It was the Zombies in March playing the famously miss-spelt Odessey and Oracle, “a piece now regarded as a landmark album – straddling the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson on the one hand and the Beatles and Lennon and McCartney (sorry Sir Paul, I mean McCartney and Lennon) on the other”. And sadly, once that thought got into my mind (not the Sir Paul bit I hasten to add) it unleashed a small wave of negativity which I found difficult to lose as the evening progressed – sadly quite the reverse. And the Photographer was no help – after about 15 minutes, frustrated at not getting a good shot, she had firmly adopted the ‘I’m a bored Photographer get me out of here’ look.
So before Whiskyfun is hacked out of existence by starry-eyed naive and idealistic, unruly hair, unkempt beard and nonchalantly-worn shabby clothes-sporting youths, let me repeat how good these guys are, they can play, and as I’ve said, they sing like angels (Pecknold singing Judee Sill’s ‘Crayon Angels’ and ‘Oliver James’ solo was spine-tinglingly good). They’re also quite personable. Anyone who comes on to the stage the day after an American Presidential Election and says “You know, this is the first time I’ve walked on stage and not felt bad about being American” has to win a small place in your heart for their candour alone. And their radio style chit-chat about politics and all that sort of stuff is insouciantly charming. And I did mention they could sing, didn’t I?
Fleet Foxes But the sad fact is they’re all source material and no synthesis. There’s no real argument here – no hypothesis. I’m not saying it’s plagiarism – it’s so much better than that, but these boys have got a long way to go before they’re the real deal. The songs are episodic – almost incomplete. And the lyrics – well if you’ve got a mind open to the realities of the world we live in, then you have to wonder where they could have come from – if not, of course, from Odessey and Oracle and its like.
And you just can’t write songs and keep your head totally in the sand, as some reviewers would seem to wish. But I would like to think that the Fleet Foxes, and their genius Mr Pecknold, do have a truly great album inside them somewhere. And I’ll be the first to buy it.
In the meantime, here’s a nice idea for anyone struggling to decide how to spend their VAT cuts and tax rebates, as the fall of world capitalism brings Christmas strangely closer. This is an after-Christmas-lunch game, for adults only, involving a blindfold and a copy of the Fleet Foxes very nice album, and a copy of the Zombies Odessey and Oracle (Revisited), recorded live at the Bush this year. (If you listen closely you might hear a gentle Fender amplifier hum in the background, but rest assured it was only the Photographer snoring gently). Get your DJ to alternate tracks and try and guess which is which. Hours of fun and seasonal obfustication guaranteed. - Nick Morgan (concert polaroids by Kate and Nick)
Listen: The Fleet Foxes' MySpace page


Mortlach 1954/2008 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling) If I’m not mistaken, this one is 54 years old, more or less! Colour: amber. Nose: it seems that this one is very well alive after all these years! Of course it’s not a restless youngster anymore but it displays most of the very subtle aromas that one would expect from such an oldie, starting with milk chocolate and balsamic vinegar, beeswax, old wooden furniture, leather, roasted nuts and ‘old liqueurs’ and ending up with verbena, old tea, dried mint, various other herbs and old Burgundy wine (game). Much more coffee after ten minutes – actually, it does smell like plain coffee! Mouth: hey-hey, it’s almost restless! Very concentrated, creamy, sweet and fruity (bananas flambéed), with notes of old Cognac (these spirits do start to taste almost the same when they are very old) and old rum (ditto). It’s also a little almondy, getting finally more and more resinous and herbal (tannins). Notes of old sherry too. Finish: long, more on ‘old’ jams. Fig jam? Comments: there is quite some wood in this one but the spirit was big in the first place and stood the oak. Maybe not totally stunning but the fact that it’s still so much alive after all these years is an achievement as such. SGP:471 – 86 points.

Mortlach 35 yo 1936 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail for Pinerolo, rotation 1972) 35 years in wood plus 35 years in glass, this should be close to perfection! Colour: full gold. Nose: we’re on another planet here! Totally exceptional, in the same league as very old Yquems and other old white wines of the highest grades. Let’s not be too long (the anti-maltoporn brigade may be watching), this is fantastically ‘phenolic’, herbal, waxy, sooty and fruity - and immensely complex. Mouth: a miracle. All the fruits (okay, mainly dates, quinces and figs), all the nuts (macadamia first, very obvious here), all the ‘resins and oils’ and probably hundreds of tiny other flavours, many not even known to Man (don’t get carried away, S.!) Amazing presence, it’s only after a good twenty minutes that it starts to show signs of relative tiredness, which is totally normal of course. Finish: not too long but so complex! It’s the leathery and sooty part that’s the most active at this point. Comments: a poem. I think it’s a dimension that you just can’t achieve with only wood maturing, and I believe that some Scots should try to create ‘paradises’ like they have at their best enemies’ the Cognac houses. Even if that may costs them quite some years on the labels (non-wood years don’t count). Who will try that first? After all, that’s what The Macallan sort of did with their Fine and Rare series - many being rebottled old G&Ms just like this Mortlach – and a Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare was just sold for USD 70,000 in South Korea this year! SGP:552 – 96 points.
Mortlach 36 yo 1936 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail for Pinerolo, rotation 1973) Colour: full gold. Nose: this is not quite the same whisky, as it’s a little less fresh and rather nuttier and more chocolaty. It’s less sooty/waxy too, and a tad less complex. A bigger OBE as well. Anyway, brilliant whisky again, just a ‘slightly subdued variation’ on the 35yo. Mouth: exactly the same happens on the palate. Same differences, without exceptions. Finish: ditto. Comments: another magical old Mortlach from the golden years. Isn’t it strange that while Europe was preparing for one of the worst wars ever, some distilleries such as Macallan, Linkwood, Mortlach or Talisker were distilling the best whiskies ever made by Man (and computers of course – pfff…)? SGP:443 - 91 points.

November 27, 2008

Brucihladdich Octomore


We really do admire how the Bruichladdich crew managed to improve the brand’s fame and image and to increase ‘to the max’ the value of the dowry of thousands of casks they got when they bought the distillery in the very early 2000s – not that there weren’t quite a few straight gems as well within the bunch, of course! But now is the time to try their three brand new ‘100% original’ bottlings, all fully made by the gang, in their naked glory (the whiskies, not the gang…)
Bruichladdich 2001/2008 ‘Resurrection’ (46%, OB, bourbon, 24,000 bottles) From the first runs of Bruichladdich by the new owners, using malt that was peated to 10ppm before they went back to very little peat after that. It seems that there were also batches at other peat levels (we’ve also seen 5 or 8). The bottle itself is very, say ‘noticeable’ and the name of 'Resurrection' rings a bell (Renaissance, anyone? Who will launch a Rebirth? ;-)) Colour: pale gold. Nose: what strikes first is the peat, quite unexpectedly. It’s as if Bruichladdich’s trademark freshness and cleanliness worked as an amplifier for the tiniest ‘ppms’. The peat calms down after a while, that is, leaving room for quite some iodine and even medicinal hints (unexpected again), as well as notes of fresh mint and aniseed. It’s also quite farmy in the background (farmyard, hay, wet wool). Very little sweetness and fruitiness here and in that sense it’s extremely different from older ‘natural’ versions that always had a little apple/pear/peach/melon/you name it. After ten minutes: a lot of smoke and elements from the sea (make that sea air). Mouth: once again, this is very surprising, much peatier than expected. Very ‘maritime’ again (oysters!) and rather herbal and spicy (mint, green tea, ginger, white pepper.) Quite ashy/smoky as well. Hints of bitter fruits developing (cider apples) as well as chlorophyll but the peatiness is still unexpectedly huge. Finish: long, smoky and vegetal (Japanese green tea). Comments: a huge surprise. This has strictly nothing to do with the older 10 or 15yo, whether recent or formerly bottled by Invergordon or earlier owners. It has to be ranked among the peated Islayers – not the monsters of course -, even if it does also have something of Scotland’s northeastern coast. By the way, we like it a lot. SGP:255 - 87 points.
Port Charlotte 2001/2008 ‘PC7’ (61%, OB, American oak, 24,000 bottles) PC5 was youthful and fruity (86) and PC6 was bigger and fuller but also just a tad winey on the nose as it spent some time in Madeira casks (88). Greatest of news, PC7 is ‘more traditionnal’, that is to say partly bourbon and partly sherry matured (thanks Arild). Colour: gold. Nose: much more spirity than the Laddie of course, thanks to the very high alcohol. We do get coffee (as often in high-strength whiskies), pears and smoke but that’s pretty all. Nothing unusual, let’s add water… With water: now we’re talking! Extremely organic, all estery notes having vanished, with a big smokiness and big both farmy and coastal notes (from wet dogs to clams – excuse us dogs and clams). Also quite some freshly ground black pepper, walnuts and just hints of car dashboard polish. Mouth (neat): strong, very strong. Fructose, salt and apple peeling but that’s all. With water: the peat and the smokiness are very big now, almost a bit acrid. The whole is much less fruity than PC5 and 6 but also better integrated, with also more salt and just hints of butter pears. Finish: very long, peaty, liquoricy and a tad gingery. Comments: it is extremely clean and rather fat at the same time. It’s probably a little less exuberant than PC6 but also ‘sleeker’ in a certain way. Which we appreciate mucho! SGP:247 - 89 points.
‘Intermediate bonus’ - another PC for good measure: Port Charlotte 6 yo 2002/2008 (57.6%, Streah, cask #85, 281 bottles) Streah is a new small indie bottler. It seems that they have only bottled this PC so far. Colour: straw. Nose: this one is easier to nose when undiluted. It’s a tad less smoky as well as fruitier than the PC7, with more ‘direct’ coastal notes (seaweed). More notes of tincture of iodine and vanilla as well. With water: the difference is exactly the same. More fruits (pears, apples, gooseberries) and more ‘fresh’ notes (kelp, grass, fresh walnuts.) Less smoke. Mouth (neat): extremely close to the PC7, almost as strong, with a bigger smokiness this time. With water: we’re extremely close to the PC7 again. Maybe just a tad fruitier again, and maybe also a tad more peppery and less ‘fat’. Finish: long, clean, really half-peaty half-fruity (green apples), with a very peppery aftertaste. Comments: one year younger than the PC7 and one can feel that from the added fruitiness. But it’s great whisky anyway. SGP:347 - 87 points. (and thank you, Tomislav)
Octomore 5 yo ‘Edition 01.1’ (63.5%, OB, bourbon, 6,000 bottles, 2008) Here it is, the frightening peat monster that was distilled out of malt that was peated to 131ppm (whilst the ‘Futures’ used malt peated to 80ppm). Everybody knows that ppms in the barley and ppms in the spirit aren't the same thing and that one may lose a huge proportion of the peatiness during the mashing/brewing/distilling process, but still, 131! Unusual bottle too! Colour: straw. Nose: once again, it’s a bit hard to get many aromas from such high strength but the first overall sensation I have is ‘an ashtray full of cigar ash at four in the morning’ plus quite some olive oil. With water: a maelstrom of kerosene, diesel oil, tar, fermenting grass, canned sardines and even anchovies. And both the habanos and the olive oil are still there. The only possible comparison with other ‘general profiles’ would be with ‘old young’ Ardbegs such as the 10yos white label. Mouth (neat): very, very unusual! The peat is extremely big, even at full strength, and you get almost the same flavours as when you chew raw peated malt. Other than that there’s some other ‘stuff’ (fruits and such) but I feel it’s too dangerous to go any further without bringing this baby down to roughly 45% (Serge, you sissy!). With water: an immense smokiness, notes of pipe juice, salmiak, Japanese oyster sauce, mastic, walnut skin and ultra-dry fino sherry (yes we know this one didn’t mature in sherry casks.) Finish: long, extremely tarry and liquoricy, with a little salt – or rather a saltiness. Comments: good, one may have thought that after all the fuss, this unusual whisky may have brought nothing but shrugs and disappointments. But truth is that this is a very impressive beverage, both very spectacular and extremely good, far from being only a peat record breaker. As Jean de la Fontaine would have said, this garage whisky has got ‘le ramage et le plumage’ (both warbling and plumage.) The new Le Pin of the whisky world? SGP:249 – 89 points. (I’m sure Octomore will fetch 90+ points within only a few years, maybe even one single year, but of course you have to be a peatophile to enjoy this. Now, who isn't these days?)


MUSIC – Recommended listening: French bassist Henri Texier and his supernatural gang (Lee Konitz, Bob Brookmeyer, Steve Swallow, Paul Motian - what a line-up!) play Respect.mp3 in 1998. I say respect! Please buy Henri texier's music...

Henri Texier

November 26, 2008

With thanks to Olivier
TASTING – FIVE NEW TOMATINS (a short verticale)
Tomatin 12 yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2008) Colour: straw. Nose: light, very fresh, all on apple juice, strawberries, light honey and cereals. A perfect breakfast malt? Cleaner than earlier batches in my opinion. Good news! Mouth: clean, fruity and grainy but lacking oomph and complexity at this point. Something roasted and rather malty but we’re in ‘blended’ territories here (if that makes any sense). Finish: medium-long, malty and ‘simply’ honeyed. Comments: a very pleasant nose but a palate that’s still a bit too mundane for our taste (how pretentious is that?) SGP:320 - 77 points.
Tomatin 18 yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2008) A recent version that I never tried before. Colour: straw. Nose: very nice nose! More complex than the 12, much more flowery and honeyed. Unexpected hints of smoke as well. Apple peeling, fresh walnuts, grapes, hints of capsicum. We like this a lot. Mouth: much richer and more complex than the 12, woodier as well. Jammy, with notes of apricots, herbal tea (cherry stem), quince, cough gums, pine resin… Almost as nice as on the nose. Finish: rather long for 40%, a tad earthier. ‘Good’ rubber. Comments: a surprise. Excellent and worth any cent, which cannot be said regarding all recent Scottish bottlings, can it? SGP:441 - 86 points.
Tomatin 25 yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2008) Colour: pale gold. Nose: once again, a very pleasant nose, more on the fruity side this time. Tinned pineapples, guavas, lavender honey (that does not smell like lavender perfume, eh!), tangerines, ripe bananas… I always found kind of an Irishness in older Tomatins and this one is no exception. Mouth: rich, fruity, lively. Excellent despite its low strength. Very Irish once again. Bananas flambéed and apple pie. Finish: long, candied and fruity. Comments: even more expressive than the 18 but maybe a tad less complex. Anyway, I really like these malts that are so fairly priced – but not only because of that. SGP:631 - 85 points.
Tomatin 1976/2008 (49.6%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #19085, 336 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: almost the same overall profile as the 25, only with more punch and added herbal notes, ranging from pine resin to dill. Also hints of fresh putty. Extremely sexy! Mouth: very punchy and very fruity but a little less so than the official 25. The wood is more present (tannins) and so are the resinous notes. Green tea, cough syrup, strawberry jam, heavy liquorice and cinnamon. Gets maybe just a tad too kirschy after a moment. Finish: long, with also the same kind of rubberiness as in the official 18. Comments: a big fruity dram with quite some tannins that give it a very solid structure. SGP:661 - 88 points.
Tomatin 42 yo 1965/2008 (50.0%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, Germany, cask #20939) Colour: gold. Nose: it’s quite fantastic to be able to try this after the 25 and the 1976, for it’s really the ‘natural’ evolution of them. The fruitiness got more complex and maybe a little less wham-bam whilst the spicy and resinous notes from the wood got bigger. Cigar box, old furniture, wax polish, pollen, bananas flambéed, nougat… In short, this is quite superb. Let’s only hope that the palate won’t be too woody and dry… Mouth: super, it’s not woody at all, rather extravagantly fruity, almost bubblegummy. Big notes of strawberry drops, marshmallows and grenadine syrup. Even hints of lychees and Chupa Chups lollipops. Rum-soaked pineapples. It’s only after a good ten seconds on your tongue that the oak’s tannins start to get more obvious but never invading. Finish: long, now half-fruity, half-oaky and spicy but never drying. Comments: 42 years of age? Ha, a youngster! SGP:641 – 90 points. (and thank you Herbert)


MUSIC – Recommended listening: Vetiver do Biff Rose's very romantic To baby.mp3 (from Thing of the Past - Devendra Banhart is on guitars). We all need a little romance, don't we? Please buy Vetiver's music...


November 25, 2008


Bloomsbury Theatre, London, November 1st 2008

It apparently took Eliza Carthy seven years to produce her new album, Dreams of Breathing Underwater, her second of entirely self-penned songs as opposed to arrangements of traditional tunes. Not that she hasn’t been busy or preoccupied during this time. She’s been dumped by a record company. She fell out with her management, dealt with some difficult personal stuff and, by her own account, spent a lot of time “down the pub”. And now she’s expecting a baby.

Eliza Carthy
She also released a couple of albums, including 2002’s highly-acclaimed and award-winning Anglicana. She has also been involved in some notable collaborations, principally with those bastions of British folk music, mother Norma Waterson and father Martin Carthy. She’s also a leading light of Imagined Village, a very creative exploration of the roots and identity of English music. And she featured notably on the Rogue’s Gallery collection of sea-shanties, making an inspired contribution at this year’s live piratical performance at the Barbican. As it turns out we’re very lucky to be seeing her at all at the start of this tour to promote the new record. After only a couple of gigs she was forced to cancel the tour due to a problem with her vocal chords that can’t be treated during her pregnancy – but like the trooper she is, she hopes to begin touring again in the Spring. Don’t be surprised if the baby’s on stage with her singing along, in true family tradition.
The new album is quite inspired in its breadth of vision, ‘though I have to say it’s one of those pieces of work that is made so much more accessible by having heard it sung in live performance. It draws heavily on the English (and British) folk traditions, but blends these with a disparate array of worldly influences, sometimes not always to best effect on record, but when once heard live, the whole thing seems to work perfectly. Eliza Carthy
Which might explain why the album is top of my current play list (vying for that spot at the moment, for what it’s worth, with Willie Dixon’s I am the Blues), and why “Hug you like a mountain” keeps on being played on the random shuffle of that i-Pod in my head. At the centre of everything is Ms Carthy’s remarkably deep and expressive voice – it owns the songs, despite the very superior nature of her own playing, and the musicians around her. Emma Smith (whose collaborations range from Ms Carthy, to Damon Albarn and Hot Chip) is playing double bass, world-music specialist Phil Alexander plays accordion and piano, and standing in on drums is Tim Wright. Barney Morse-Browne plays cello, and also began the evening playing multi-looped cello and guitar under the guise of Duotone. They turn in a splendid ensemble performance, with Ms Carthy joining on violin, accordion, and a hypnotic electric tenor guitar on songs such as ‘Follow the dollar’.
This, like all of the songs on the new record, has a story to tell, albeit some are more obvious than others. But sung by Ms Carthy they are rich in imagery, and her voice brings to life the colourful characters that inhabit so many of them. None more so than bar-room dreamer and lothario ‘Mr Magnifico’, co-sung tonight in excellent style by guest Tim Matthew, violinist with Edinburgh’s Mystery Juice. It’s one of the songs that doesn’t quite work on the album but live it is pure Alex Harvey Gothic, dark and brooding with a driving dynamic Latin rhythm. It would be hard to pick out other highlights from such an all-round set, but if pushed I’d mention ‘Two tears’, combining strands of Marianne Faithfull and Tom Waits, and the aforementioned ‘Hug you like a mountain’.

But altogether this was one of the more satisfying, accomplished and nicely surprising gigs of the year. So as your Whiskyfun non-whisky shopping adviser I can only urge you to add Dreams of Breathing Underwater to your recession-beating Christmas gift list. It’s a must. - Nick Morgan

Listen: Eliza Carthy's MySpace page



Ardmore NAS 'Traditional Casks' (46%, OB, peated, finished in quarter casks, +/-2008) Ardmore Traditional Cask is double matured, first in usual oak barrels, and then in much smaller ‘quarter casks’, like both Laphroaig and Glenfarclas already did/do. But are QCs traditional?

Colour: gold. Nose: very fresh at first sniffing, really on peated vanilla-flavoured porridge if you see what I mean. Not too sure the oak’s huge sweetness fits perfectly well here, that is. Gets fruitier, more on butter pears. Hints of Demerara sugar and ginger (speculoos), gentian and liquorice (allsorts). One of the sweetest very peated malts. Mouth: very sweet and rather rich, which once again makes for a slightly bizarre sweetness/peat combo. However, it’s a good dram, with a lot of vanilla again as well as notes of very ripe peaches. Finish: medium long, always on this unusual vanilla/peat duality. More so, in any case, than with the Laphroaig QC. Comments: typical modern whisky, where the oak has its say as such (spicing), not only as a ‘maturation facilitator’. SGP:525 – 81 points.
Ardmore 11 yo 1996/2008 (50%, Douglas Laing, OMC, selected by LMdW, DL ref 4215, 364 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: I’d say this is exactly like the Quarter Cask, minus the very sweet vanilla. Granted, it’s much more austere but also cleaner, fresher and less cloying (not that the QC was cloying or sickly sweet of course, but…) More mint, aniseed, wet earth, newly cut grass, plain chlorophyll and garden bonfire. Also a tad bubblegummy after a while, and rather less peaty/smoky than the QC altogether despite the pleasant whiffs of cold ashes. Mouth: a much more typical Ardmore, zesty, smoky, peaty, nervous and very fresh. Fresh walnuts, freshly ground pepper, lemon drops, smoked tea and hints of cloves. Not very complex but perfectly ‘streamlined’ so to speak. Finish: medium long, lemony, peppery, peaty, very zesty. Comments: an elegant, straightforward young Ardmore without much wood influence. Good news? SGP:445 – 85 points.

November 24, 2008

MM's Ho-cheng tells us that Kingcar, the Taiwanese single malt distillery, have just released their first single malt bottling. Ka va lan
It's called Ka Va Lan single malt whisky and it's a 2 yo single malt, bottled at 40%.
Well, maybe we'll also have La Vis Ker, Fi Klen Dich or Fra La Egg one day... ;-)
OTHER NEWS: most scores for the Malt Maniacs Awards 2008 are in and it seems that the results will be very surprising this year. Expect quite some shudders, a bit of frowning and, we hope, lots of utter joy (depending on the competitors, of course...) Results on Dec 1, as planed.


Glenesk 25 yo 1983/2008 (52.1%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, sherry, cask #4930) Glenesk, aka Glen Esk, aka Hillside, has been silent since 1985 and it’s true that it’s not too often that we can put our hands on its whiskies these days, so thanks to Duncan Taylor for having bottled several sister casks recently. Colour: amber. Nose: very powerful, starting on huge notes of wine and distillation. Kirsch, maraschino, a little rubber and quite some meet sauce (or chicken bouillon for that matter.) Gets then flintier, with also quite some gunpowder and burnt matches as well as notes of plain oak and burnt sugar (right, caramel). With water: a big grassiness arises, with a lot of plain cut grass and infused green tea, and then more linseed oil and paraffin, even motor oil. Mouth (neat): very thick and very creamy, starting all on orange liqueur and herbs (coriander) and getting then more coffeeish. Another coffee-schnapps? With water: it got half sherried, half organic. Bitter oranges, strong coffee (a bit acidic) and peppercorn. Unusual. Finish: long, with many more spices now, including various peppers. Comments: a big multifaceted malt, not easy-easy (a bit Bartokian if you see what I mean) but very interesting. Probably the kind of malt that nobody makes anymore. SGP:361 – 86 points.
Glenesk 26 yo 1981/2007 (56.9%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, sherry, cask #B933) Colour: amber with reddish hues. More wine influence here it seems. Nose: this is drier and cleaner than the 1983, with less kirschy notes and more straight sherry (walnuts, raisins.) Quite some gunpowder again. We like this cask better so far. With water: fantastic notes of wild mushrooms, wet earth, moss, Havana cigar (very, very huge), leather and then the same notes of oil as in the 1983. A wonderful surprise. Mouth (neat): very, very, very heavily sherried and concentrated. Excellently dry, with notes of marc (marc de Jura or Bourgogne), walnuts, chewing tobacco, espresso coffee and even a little tar. Salmiak. With water: a dry sherry monster. Superb. Finish: very long, dry and peppery. Comments: a tad less mindboggling than the 1983, more classic and more beautiful as well. Not sure there’s much distillery character coming through, but we wouldn’t be able to identify it anyway ;-). SGP:252 – 89 points (and thanks, Herbert).


MUSIC – Recommended listening: the amazing Steve Turre at the conch shells - yes - playing Yussef Lateef's Morning.mp3 (that was on Turre's 'Ryhtm Within' CD). A wonderful and very entertaining piece, please buy Steve Turre's music!

Steve Turra

November 21, 2008

Caol Ila


Caol Ila 17 yo (43%, James McArthur, early 1990s) Colour: pale gold. Nose: an extremely unusual Caol Ila! Starts kind of ‘unpeated’ and rather on various kinds of plants and herbs (hard to pin down – maybe patchouli, coriander, dried flowers…) and gets then very ‘coastal’, with big whiffs of sea air, ‘plate of oysters’, wet rocks, plain seawater, iodine, kelp… Prototypical coastal whisky, ‘beyond peat’. Mouth: much, big at this stage! Huge saltiness again, a lot of peat, quite some lemon, various ‘resinous’ herbs and oils, a lot of pepper… And then everything maritime again. Oysters, smoked fish, salt, then more pepper, more salt, even a little mustard… It’s really a big peaty whisky at just 43%. Finish: long, spicier (wasabi), ultra-dry… . Comments: wonderful Caol Ila from the mid-1970s, that is to say from when they had just restarted the distillery. Yes, they got it quite right straight away. SGP:267 – 91 points.
Caol Ila 12 yo (43%, OB for Italy, white label, rotation 1969) Unusual comment on the label: ‘imbottigliato dalla Bulloch Lade & Co. ltd. nello stabilimento di Glasgow’ which means ‘bottled in BL&Co’s Glasgow plant’. Anyway, very old Caol Ilas distilled in the 1950s are very rare so we’re really looking forward to try this one. Nose: unexpectedly punchy and very medicinal. Tincture of iodine, mercurochrome, very fresh almonds, soot, cold ashes and a little lemon juice. Mouth: nervous, fresh and lemony, just a tad acidic (yoghurt). Fine peatiness. Long finish on fresh almonds. Maybe a little less ‘big Islay’ than the Caol Ilas that were distilled right before the distillery got reconstructed (such as the the 1966s, 1968s or 1969s) and in that sense closer to the current production. SGP:336 – 90 points. (and thank you Luc)

MUSIC – Recommended listening: it's Nick who made me discover the very Brechtian Tiger Lillies (check their concert review). Today, let's have their Russians.mp3 and then buy their music. They also have a great DVD called Moutains of Madness that I heartily recommend.

Tiger Lilies

November 20, 2008



Bowmore 1956 (43%, OB for Soffiantino, 1980s) No need to introduce this series I guess, it put together many of the best malts ever distilled and bottled by man in our opinion. Colour: gold. Nose: otherworldly. Look, let’s keep this short and sweet: it’s a class of its own, different from the Bowmores from the 1960s in the sense that the latter were fruitier and less peaty, whilst this displays the most exceptional combination of peat smoke and tropical fruits (mostly citrus this time). A S.T.U.N.N.I.N.G. combo. Mouth: this is why we’re into whisky. Grapefruits, spearmint, peat, lemon marmalade, angelica, woodruff, high-end walnut liqueur, 3,765 different spices, 4,623 different fruits, 7,598 different ‘phenolic’ aromas… Well, I’m sure you get the picture. Finish: does ‘the peacock’s tail’ several times in a row, like the greatest old wines, the most wonderful peatiness being a permanent feature. Comments: we had always thought that straight peat did not stand long ageing – including bottle ageing – but this is an example of a very old whisky (a 30+20, that is to say 30 years in wood plus 20 years in glass) that kept all of its peatiness. Drawback: this makes many recent whiskies taste a tad, say ridiculous and pretentious. SGP:666 (devilish indeed) - 96 points.
Bowmore 'Bicentenary cask strength' (98.8°proof /56.2%, OB for Fecchio & Frassa, Italy, cubic bottle, bottled 1979) An extremely rare version of the famous ‘1964 Bicentenary’, bottled for the Italian market at cask strength instead of 43% - and in an unusual cubic bottle. This time it’s rather a ‘15+30’ Bowmore. Colour: gold. Nose: rather less impressive than the 1956, but that should come from the higher strength. Notes of verbena and chocolate, kumquats and peat smoke. Actually, maybe we should have tried this one before the 1956, but I’m sure water will help mucho mucho. With water: amazing how it changed. Much peatier, globally phenolic, grassy, tarry, meaty (game), even resinous… Certainly different from all ‘low strength’ versions of the Bicentenary, and certainly peatier and ‘wilder’, even if the markers do show up after a moment (balsamico, honeydew, camphor, thyme…) Even after 30 years in glass, it did need water. Mouth (neat): how punchy! We’re used – so to speak – to try these old Bowmores at much lower strengths (around 43%) or at 50% (the Blacks) but this is quite different. Let’s say this is much more on orange liqueur, Cointreau, even Parfait Amour (violet liqueur), with even something a tad cardboardy. But water should help again. With water: yes sir, it does. Here come the kumquats and tangerines, followed by cough syrup, eucalyptus drops, mint, fir honeydew and plum spirit. Finish: long, in the same vein, with just that faint cardoardiness coming back at this stage. Comments: very interesting whisky. It seems that higher alcohol levels may work as peat preservatives! Now, the ‘usual’ Bicentenaries at 43% are more common, but frankly, they’re also tad better in our opinion. So much for CS bottlings! SGP:366 - 91 points.

MUSIC – Recommended listening: no, it's not Pat Metheny, it's Czech-born jazz guitarist Rudy Linka who's playing this Folk song.mp3 that was on his CD 'Czech It Out'. Better? You decide... But please buy Rudy Linka's music!

Rudy Linka

November 19, 2008

The Union Chapel, Islington, London, October 24th 2008

The Trawlerman is no more. No, Serge, this is not an elegy for the long-running demise of the British fishing industry, but a sad statement of truth. The Trawlerman, or ‘George’s Chippy’, as it was sometimes called, at the top of Upper Street, very close to the famous Hope & Anchor (the birthplace in the seventies of Pub Rock) has closed. George hung up his apron last year and now this once no-nonsense sit-innery has been refashioned, refurbished and thoroughly gentrified, no doubt to compete with the likes of Fishworks and the Fish Shop down the road. But, modernistic décor notwithstanding, it still smells like a chippy (as I’m reminded several hours later when I put my coat back on after the gig), even if a plateful of Haddock and Chips comes in at near a tenner a piece, rather than the 1/6d which I’m sure it should cost.

Julie Fowlis
I can’t help wondering what the less well-off denizens of the area, of whom there are many, must think of this when they come to buy their Friday night fish-supper. But it’s nicely cooked and easy on the palate, there are definitely some maritime notes, perhaps a zesty medicinal kick from the …. oops, sorry Serge, I must have been overdoing it out here in the City of Gold. Where was I? Yes, it is pleasing, even if the chips do have the aura of having been prepared somewhere many miles away from where we’re eating them. Overall verdict – not bad at all.
Julie Fowlis
This is all by way of saying that we’re in Islington heading for the Union Chapel to see Scottish folk-singing sensation Julie Fowlis and her band. Ms Fowlis, who made a brief yet mesmerising appearance earlier in the year at the Rogue’s Gallery gig has made a two-pronged attack on the public consciousness. Firstly, through the traditional folk-roots scene (where she has earned numerous awards and plaudits), and secondly (and less likely) via the good offices of everyone’s favourite middle-aged man’s rock and roll magazine, Mojo. She recorded a version of ‘Blackbird’ for a recent ‘White Album’ tribute that the magazine put together, and such was its reception that it has now been released as a single. And perhaps I should add here, before it’s too late, that Ms Fowlis sings only in Gaelic. She is a native of North Uist, in the middle of the Outer Hebrides, and is proudly taking her culture and language to the world. But don’t be put off by the language bit if, like 99.9999999999999999% of the world, you are not having the Gaelic. For Ms Fowlis falls into that small but captivating category of singer you would listen to singing a Hungarian menu if you could, such is the beauty, clarity, and expressiveness of her voice. Get the picture?
One actually might have hoped that she would have chosen to sing without the use of microphones in the Union Chapel, whose acoustics no doubt yearn for a voice such as hers. At least the sound was perfectly engineered. Note here too that although Ms Fowlis’s voice is something of a show-stealer, she’s no mean hand when it comes to the accordion, whistle or even bagpipes. And such an accomplished performer certainly needs accomplished accompanists, which she certainly has. Her husband, Dubliner Eamon Doorley, plays electric bazouki, sings, and brings a touch of Irish humour to the evening, a counterpoint to the dry wit of Duncan Chisholm, sometime of Wolfstone and Blazin’ Fiddles fame, and undoubtedly one of Scotland’s finest fiddlers. Tony Byrne on guitar combines delicate melodies with driving rhythm, and bodhrán player Martin O’Neill simply puts that often abused instrument onto a different plane of sophistication and subtlety. So to repeat, for all that Ms Fowlis’s voice may be the star, this is a complete ensemble performance of remarkable quality. Julie Fowlis
A shame then that much of it was greeted with the predictably out-of-time clapping and foot-stamping that London audiences (this one has, I observe darkly, something of the Folk Cub about it) presume incorrectly to be a perfect accompaniment for music of this sort.
Setlist? Well that might be a difficult one, but I do fancy we heard ‘Mo Ghruagach Dhonn’, ‘Bodaich Odhar Hoghaigearraidh’, ‘Mo Bheannachd Dhan Bhaillidh Ur’ ….well I’ll stop there, with the one addition that she did of course charm everyone with her version of ‘Blackbird’. This was an outstanding performance, justifying all the plaudits that Ms Fowlis has received, and earning her a few more. She will no doubt be taking to the road again next year and I can only commend you to go and see her if you get the chance. And in the meantime I promise you that her 2007 album, Cuilidh, would be a welcome addition to any Christmas Stocking, or if you prefer, Holiday Sock. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Listen: Julie Fowlis' MySpace page (with Blackbird!)
The lomond still was invented in the 1950s at Hiram Walker’s and was, as we understand it, kind of a crossbreed between a pot still and a continuous still. We’ve read somewhere that these whiskies were aimed at the US market, which was asking for very light whiskies at the time. There’s much more about Lomond stills by fellow maniac Lex Kraaijeveld there.
Glencraig 34 yo 1974/2008 (40.8%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, cask #2929) Picture shows an earlier 1974 from last year. Glencraig was distilled at Hiram Walker’s Glenburgie Distillery between 1958 and 1981. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s rather light whisky but the floral notes are very obvious if not heady. Whiffs of old roses and lilac. Then we get quite some oak together with notes of fresh butter and shoe polish, the whole getting finally drier and even a little mineral/lemony. Very nice, the lighter side of malt whisky. Mouth: it’s got some character! Halfway between malt and grain whisky I’d say, with notes of coconuts, quite some vanilla, hints of lemon juice and quite some apple juice as well. Drops a bit in the middle, lacking a little body but the freshness is most enjoyable. Finish: not too long ‘of course’ but very clean and nicely fruity, with a lot of mint making a late arrival. What’s quite impressive is that such light spirit managed not to get woody after so many years in oak – even if it was maybe third or fourth fill. Comments: very interesting whisky, of an unusual kind. I think any dedicated whisky aficionado should try to taste one of these ‘historical’ Lomond still whiskies one day. SGP:320 – 83 points.
Mosstowie 17 yo (66%, Sestante, mid-1980s) Mosstowie was distilled at Hiram Walker’s Miltonduff Distillery between 1964 and 1981. The spirit must have run at well above 70% vol. when this was distilled. 66% at 17 years of age, imagine… Okay, seatbelts fastened, let’s go. Colour: full gold. Nose: this is, of course, extremely punchy but neither totally brutal, nor spirity as such. You just have to avoid dipping your nose too deep into your glass! These very nice floral notes are well here once again, but the rest is more towards almondy and fruity notes (pears), with also hints of marshmallows (newly opened pack). A very pleasant grassiness in the background. With water (and after a few minutes of rest): great! A very nice waxiness arises, very ‘old Highlands’ style, together with various grassy and herbal notes. Fresh walnuts, cut grass, hay, then something curiously smoky/meaty (chicken soup, or rather pea and bacon chowder) and finally an unusual mix of parsley and mint. Much bigger in style than Glencraig anyway. Mouth (neat): ahem… Well, one may put this into his mouth but I think it’s not a good idea to swallow even one single drop, except after having carefully ‘reduced’ it using saliva. Way better than Stroh 80, that is. With water: once again, this is bigger than the Glencraig, even when reduced down to roughly 40% vol. Liquorice, a little salt, herbs, unusual notes of cooked green vegetables, tea… It’s good. Finish: long and even more vegetal (notes of white rum and tequila). Comments: good and very interesting. Much better than other versions for Sestante such as the more common 15yo at 40% vol. SGP:250 - 84 points.

November 18, 2008


Ground Zero Blues Club, Memphis, Tennessee, October 17th 2008

I don’t think it was really Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker’s fault. The gig, I mean, not the name. Not that he was responsible for that either, what with his daddy, Big Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker having had it and all. So Little Junior ‘Bilbo’ grew up to be just plain ‘Bilbo’ when his daddy passed away, a name which apparently, “he hates” to this day. As perceptive readers will note, this account begs a certain question, but in case you’re wondering Mr Walker is neither diminutive, nor does he have furry feet, he’s not 111 years old (though he certainly looks a bit more than fifty), I don’t believe he’s a burglar, no-one calls him ‘ring-bearer’, “it like riddles, p’raps it does, does it?”, and the only time he disappears is when he takes a well-earned rest in between sets. He has, as his son-in-law tells the Photographer, been travelling a lot and he’s tired.

Robert Bilbo Walker
But like I say it’s not his fault. Maybe it’s the place. We’re in the Memphis manifestation of Ground Zero Blues Club, a cousin of the joint set up in Clarksdale seven years ago by, amongst others, Morgan Freeman (he’s also got a fine restaurant there – if you ever visit I thoroughly recommend the Shrimp and Grits with Onion Gravy – just perfect!). Ground Zero occupies the cavernous ground floor of an ugly modern building and has the appearance of half snooker hall, half blues club. The snooker bit is empty, the blues club half-full. This could be because, although Mr Walker is certainly the best gig of the night, most of the city is at the FedEx Stadium a few hundred yards away for an evening of ‘Memphis Madness’ with college basketball team Memphis Tigers. It’s not even a match, just a training session, and the stadium is packed to the rafters. Leaving us in the company of a largely disinterested and easily distracted audience, working their way solidly through a fistful of frozen Margaritas, burgers, deep fried onion rings and collared greens (well, that’s what the Photographer was doing anyhow).
Robert Bilbo Walker
It’s certainly not his fault, and no one could be surprised when it all gets a bit too much for Mr Walker, an impossibly tall (well, certainly for a hobbit) and rather lonely- looking figure, up there on the stage with his trademark red Stratocaster and white suit. It’s that bad boy of blues Mr. Bobby Rush – again. You see around the bar and hall there must be ten or more TV screens, and they’re on (sound down) even when Mr Walker is playing his engaging Delta take on primitive rock and roll. That’s bad enough, but when all of the males (I was only looking for the purpose of this review, Serge) and not a few of the females in the room are gradually transfixed by the mesmerising gyrations of a troupe of Mr Rush’s impossibly-shaped dancers, it gets, well, a bit too much. “You here to see Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker or you here to see Bobby Rush? I don’t see no Bobby Rush on this stage. And if Bobby Rush wants to come here and try and play his blues with Bilbo then just let him try, ‘cos let me tell you this stage belongs to Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker and there ain’t no Bobby Rush coming here tonight. So you give me some respect when I’m playing for y’all here. This is Robert ‘Bilbo’ Walker”. No, you can’t blame Mr Walker at all, and it’s sad to observe that his outburst only resulted in the screens being switched off for about ten minutes, such is the North American penchant for continual visual stimulation.We left about half way through the second set, by which time Mr Walker’s daughters were singing with him. They’re recording an album together in California where he now lives – “they’re not supporting me, I’m supporting them”), taking the edge off his raw Mississippi sound, best heard on his 1997 album ‘Promised land’ (with the ubiquitous Mr Sam Carr on drums). But by then we had at least witnessed his duckwalk (I hope I can do that when I’m in my seventies), and the famous one-handed guitar solo, a piece of absurd showmanship steeped in the heritage of the blues. And I have to say that given another occasion, no basketball, and no TV screens, we would rush (oops) to see him again. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Listen: on Mr Walker's official web site.


Caperdonich 37yo 1969/2007 (40.6%, Duncan Taylor, Lonach) Colour: white wine. Nose: starts extremely fresh, floral and fruity, on apple juice, Parma violets, flowers from the fields, spearmint and a little muesli. It’s no big whisky but it’s far from being silent at such old age. Goes on with more beer, ale, porridge and mead as well as touches of honey and even beef (true hamburgers – not the poisoning, sweetened stuff they serve you at so-called fast food ‘restaurants’). Very pleasant nose altogether, but not a big one. Mouth: very soft, maybe a tad weakish now, dry, spicy and papery at the same time. Very nice fruitiness in the background as well as pleasant notes of herbs and mint but the wood is a bit overwhelming here. Finish: medium long, with still a very nice fruitiness but the heavy woodiness strikes harder and harder (tannins, flour, cardboard). Comments: this must have been great whisky ten years ago, but I think the wood got a bit too drying now. One may prefer other old Caperdonichs by the same bottler, such as most 1968s in the Rare Auld range. SGP:470 – 78 points.
Caperdonich 1972/2008 (57%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve, Holland, cask #1975) Colour: amber. Nose: loads of wood, pencil shavings, orange cake, overinfused tea, sawdust and cinnamon. Wood extract. With water: much, much better. Great notes of orange jam, mint, dill and ham. It got classic now, but at original strength it’s really heavy. Mouth: huge, heavy again, concentrated, extremely tannic. Sticks your tongue to your palate. Hard to enjoy at natural strength, let’s add water again. With water: once again, it got much better with water, even if it’s still very tannic. Strawberries, strong tea. Litres of strong tea actually. Finish: very long and still very tannic. Loads of cinnamon. Quince jelly. Comments: a true monster, for sherry and tannins lovers exclusively. SGP:481 - 82 points.

November 17, 2008

North Port TASTING
North Port 15 yo 1966 (46%, Samaroli, Flowers, 300 bottles) Like with many of these old distilleries, bottlings of North Port can be ‘hit or miss’ in our opinion, but that also results in more suspense… Colour: pale gold. Nose: ho-ho! This is ‘different’ whisky indeed. It all starts on superb whiffs of mutton soup (yeah, no kidding), Turkish coffee and metal polish and it goes on with a fab combination of wood and coal smoke, warm tarmac, new tyres, burning charcoal and all things beefy plus dried herbs (many different). A truly amazing whisky and a general profile that’s no more for sure. In that sense, this is an historic dram. Mouth: fantastico! All the herbs, citrus fruits, meats and ‘tiny phenolic things’ of creation. Going on would be pure maltoporn. Finish: long, complex, dry, going on with layers and layers of flavours. Comments: as great as the old 1964 by Cadenhead’s that used to be our #1 North Port until today. SGP:474 - 94 points.
North Port 27 yo 1981/2008 (56.5%, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare, cask #779) This was bottled last month. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this could have been very different from the old Samaroli but it isn’t. It’s probably a little less complex but we do get the same huge notes of coffee, smoke, coal and dried herbs. On the other hand, this is not meaty at all. Huge notes of roasted grains as well. Roasted chestnuts. Keeps evolving, getting closer to stout and malt extract but always with a huge smokiness. Mouth: less ‘pleasantly sharp and dry’ now, and maybe a tad too ‘kirschy’ (raw fruit distillate). Oh well, let’s see what gives with water: right, it’s a excellent whisky but its much less ‘different’ that on the nose, contrarily to what happened with the 1966. White fruits, heather honey, a little mint and hints of pear spirit. Finish: long, getting a tad more resinous and smoky now. Comments: superb nose, good palate. Maybe not as stunning as the Samaroli but still a wonderful ‘old style’ dram. Great nose, really. SGP:462 – 87 points.



MUSIC – Recommended listening: king of trombone Bob Brookmeyer plays the standard On the sunny side of the street.mp3 with a lot of hunour. As Zappa wondered, does humour belong to music? Brookmeyer says yes! Please buy his music.


Bob Brookmeyer

November 15, 2008

Left: 1961 – House of Lords ad. "The light Scotch that’s becoming the heavy favorite… with both sides of the house”. Women get the right to drink whisky with their husbands.
Right: 1967 – White Horse ad. “Today , the one who wears the pants chooses the Scotch”. Women also get the right to choose the house’s favourite tipple.
Left: 1974 – J&B ad. “Scotch and the single girl”. Women – especially when single - are now completely independent in their choices.
Right: 2008 – The Macallan’s new Masters of Photography 30yo Fine Oak. Women get the right to, err, pose naked on whisky labels. It's actually quite beautiful but a tad too 1980s/Pirelli Calendar in my opinion, although I’m sure it’ll work. Old tricks ALWAYS work, don't they? (Yes, I know, it's all about fine art photography, not about naked women.)


Benriach 'Bernie Moss' (48%, OB, France, 2008) Bottled at 3 years old (but hey, “as long as there’s peat”, may the market say ;-)). Bernie Moss is the new name for any peated Benriach. Colour: white wine. Nose: very, very young and very, very smoky. Porridge and garden bonfire (grass smoke). Also hints of wet wool, soot, wet hay and fresh almonds. Perfectly ‘noseable’ I must say, but mot expectedly, not really complex. Mouth: quite round, sweet, smoky and peaty. Smoked apples? Simpler than on the nose but pleasant. Hints of salt. Finish: medium long, smoky, salty and almondy. Comments: young peat without any ‘coastality’ except for the salty notes on the palate. A tad gin-ish. Good, simple peaty whisky. At 44 euros a bottle, a few more years of maturing would be welcome, that is… (especially when compared with all official 10-16yo Islays.) Is the market ready for 3yo malt whisky at this price? (yeah, even peated malt?) SGP:426 – 77 points.
Kilchoman ‘New Spirit’ 2006/2008 (62.4%, OB, casks #446/447) Not legally whisky yet, but getting closer… Colour: white wine. Nose: huge notes of coffee and coffee liqueur, as always with high strength whiskies. As much as we like coffee, it’s a bit hard to get anything else (okay, maybe cut apples) so let’s add water right away. With water: great! Sure it’s still a little simple but it’s already quite far from plain newmake. Wet stones, ashes, peat smoke, oysters, smoked fish, vegetables (raw asparagus – not cooked ones) and iodine. Mouth (neat): unexpectedly soft, getting then a tad prickly (lemon juice). With water: tastes younger than on the nose but it’s already displaying good signs of maturity. More apples and pears than on the nose, notes of tinned pineapples, grassy peat, lemons and seafood. Finish: long, even younger now but clean and zesty. Comments: this is still baby whisky (and it’s not sold as ‘mature’ whisky anyway) but it’s already very pleasant. Somewhat in the same class as Brittany’s peated version of Glan ar Mor. SGP:536 – points: 80-ish (yes, already).


MUSIC – Recommended listening: It's Lester Bowie, Malachi Favors, Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell and Famoudou Don Moye aka the Art Ensemble of Chicago and they're playing a Get In Line.mp3 that's not really in line (late 1960s). Please buy these great people's music.


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

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



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

Bowmore 1956 (43%, OB for Soffiantino, 1980s)

Bowmore 'Bicentenary cask strength' (98.8°proof /56.2%, OB for Fecchio & Frassa, Italy, cubic bottle, bottled 1979)

Caol Ila 12 yo (43%, OB for Italy, white label, rotation 1969)

Caol Ila 17 yo (43%, James McArthur, early 1990s)

Mortlach 36 yo 1936 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail for Pinerolo, rotation 1973)

Mortlach 35 yo 1936 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail for Pinerolo, rotation 1972)

North Port 15 yo 1966 (46%, Samaroli, Flowers, 300 bottles)

Tomatin 42 yo 1965/2008 (50.0%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, Germany, cask #20939)