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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2011 - Part 2

September 2011 - part 1 <--- September 2011 - part 2 ---> October 2011 - part 1


September 30, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Old and young entry-level Auchentoshan
The weather is still quite hot over Alsace at time of writing (late September) so let’s have two Summer malts, namely two triple-distilled Auchentoshans. We’ll have an old ‘entry-level’ and the new powerful Valinch. Time gap: around 20 years.

Auchentoshan 10

Auchentoshan 10 yo (40%, OB, late 1980s) I must confess I never liked the old 10s, none having made it into ‘80’ territories. Maybe this other batch will be more to my liking? Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts well, pleasantly grassy and flowery, but everything kind of falls apart after a few seconds, leaving room for some cardboardy and metallic tones that aren’t too pleasant. Also quite some porridge, cheap lager beer, old hay… And whiffs of lavender. Ah well, who said whisky was better in the old days? Mouth: once again, this starts pretty well with quite some fresh oranges and a little barley sugar, but it gets then kind of dirty and stale. Old Guinness, cheapo apple juice (Minute Maid but shhh, no brand names), lavender sweets and liquorice allsorts, then stale tea and… plaster? Finish: short but with strange notes of pencil shavings. Comments: not too good, I’m afraid. SGP:541 - 62 points.

Auchentoshan Valinch

Auchentoshan 'Valinch' (57.5%, OB, 2011) Four stars This one I said to be more or less the regular ‘Classic’, only at cask strength. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s not that it’s ten times more expressive than the old ten, but it’s certainly cleaner and fresher, with more flowers and more fruits. I particularly enjoy the combination of peonies with oranges and tangerines, as well as the light honeyed notes in the background. Maybe also notes of overripe kiwis… With water: a little clay and earth at first, then more fresh lemongrass, dill and mint, then a pack of assorted sweets. Lovable. Mouth (neat): very sweet and creamy and 100% in keeping with the very nice nose, all on fresh fruits and the sweets made thereof. Pineapples, strawberries, oranges… All that with a perfect body. Finish: sweet, fresh, fruity and easy. Comments: multivitamin fruit juice for big boyz and girlz. Yes, for us. Wonderfully composed but warning, it’s very drinkable, even at CS. SGP:740 - 86 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: big, big sound in Franco-Algerian singer Rachid Taha's Mataouel Dellil (from the CD Diwan 2). Play it very loud, and then buy the CD and all of Rachid Taha's music, thanks.

Rachid Taha

September 29, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Old and recent youngish Aberlour at good strength
There’s a new Aberlour 12 at higher strength, with its corollary non chill-filtration. We’ll try it with one of these famous old ‘cubes’… Time gap: around 30/35 years.
Aberlour 12 Aberlour 12 yo (48%, OB, 2011) Four starsThis is the new one ;-). Colour: full gold. Nose: starts on some very obvious sherry notes, orange cake, sultanas, figs, chocolate cake… Gets then earthier, with some humus, touches of mushrooms, then more maple syrup and honey, more chocolate cake… Old rancio? Frankly, it’s a wonderful nose, a bit antique if you see what I mean, old style, sherried Speysider. And it noses older than 12! With water: only touches of straight wine (sweet) and quite some honey, orange liqueur, raisins and then a little more humus, ‘strange’ herbs (not that one) and dead leaves. Mouth (neat): very rich, sweet, honeyed, spicy, with an oily mouth feel. A little plum and raspberry jam, then bags of dates and figs, raisins, bitter oranges and chocolate. We’re somewhere between some sherried Macallan and Gendronach if that helps you. With water: dried fruits and orange liqueur. Ultra-classic, I’d say. Finish: quite long, a little drier and grassier. More chocolate in the aftertaste as well as hints of quince jelly. Comments: as I wrote, ultra-classic big bodied yet elegant sherried Speysider. Are the good old times back? Excellent value at 45€ in my opinion. SGP:541 - 87 points.
Aberlour 1965 Aberlour-Glenlivet 8 yo 1965 (50%, OB, Cube bottle, small cork, Rinaldi Import) Three stars and a half This is the old one ;-). The 1964 was excellent, but I never tried the 1965 before… Colour: gold. Nose: this baby is very different from the new 12, much less sherried and rather more oily/greasy/waxy. Unexpected whiffs of tinned sardines – not kidding, but that may be OBE - , then grass, fresh walnuts and almonds, linseed oil, chalk… It’s big whisky! With water: well, it got a tad chemical, with notes of aspirin and then a lot of soot, saltpetre and shoe polish. Mouth (neat): full blown ‘good’ OBE with something slightly metallic for a start, then camphor, mint, liquorice and various herbs. Maybe a little tarragon – funny. With water: well, it got really weird now, although it’s all quite entertaining. Cinchona, bitter oranges, ginger tonic and clay, plus notes of Fanta (‘chemical’ orange juice.) Finish: long, with more and more pepper. Comments: hard to know what came from the original whisky and what came from bottle ageing. A dry and interesting beast, quite un-Aberlour in my opinion. SGP:372 - 83 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: one of the very best German piano players at one the most iconic German songs, he's Joachim Kühn (of course) and he's playing Lili Marleen (of course) and it's very brilliant (of course). Please buy Mr Kühn's music!!! The whole solo CD 'Famous Melodies' is as much a total blast as a 1972 Brora can be.

oachim Kuhn

September 28, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Old and very old Glendronach
After the successful 12, 15 and 18yo, here’s a new official 21, nicknamed ‘Parliament’. A political bottling? We’ll try it ‘against’ an older glory, an official 1971 single cask from two years ago… Time gap: around 20 years.
Glendronach 21 Glendronach 21 yo 'Parliament' (48%, OB, 2011) Four stars From a combination of oloroso and PX casks, aren’t we expecting something quite thick here? Colour: amber. Nose: a lot of sherry of course, but also a very pleasant dryness, with quite some chestnut and bitter chocolate at first nosing. Then more meaty tones, ham, chicken bouillon, then some fresh mint and maybe parsley, then more ‘traditional’ raisins and figs… And lastly, some orange juice and mead. In other words, very pleasantly classic and anything but aggressive despite the (relatively) high strength… Water not need here in my opinion. After ten minutes: more and more towards Banyuls or even sweet rich Muscat wine, also coffee. Mouth: coffee-schnapps, ginger and orange liqueur, pepper and just a faint cardboardiness, a little drying. Also blood oranges and more and more blackberries, cassis and raspberries, then a growing spiciness (cloves). Curiously Cabernetty after a few minutes. Finish: long, pleasantly winy, with a coffee-ish and liquoricy aftertaste. Comments: it’s not one of the smooth ones in my opinion. I like it but I like the 15 yo even better. SGP:462 - 87 points.
Glendronach 1971

Glendronach 38 yo 1971/2009 (49.4%, OB, Oloroso, cask #483, 544 bottles) Five stars It was about time we tried this baby… Colour: amber. Nose: perfect old yet elegant sherry monster! Old liqueurs, figs, prunes, honeys, ripe apricots, Mirabelle plums, beeswax, fresh mint and candied oranges. It’s all very lively and amazingly fresh despite the ‘pedigree’. Great old Glendronach. With water: many herbs, chives, parsley, then cardamom and something beautifully medicinal. Camphor, high-end mouthwash ;-)… Quite some tar as well, not unlike in an old sherried Ardbeg. And peonies. Funny! Mouth (neat): very rich, very big, very ‘wide’. Exceptional combination of herbs and chocolate, then many fruits, both dried and fresh. Bitter oranges, plums and prunes, then liquorice and… more liquorice. Quite some cumin too. With water: perfect meatiness as well as something mineral, then more oranges. Finish: as long as Der Ring. Fresh and candied oranges, chocolate. Comments: beautifully complex, a rather fab sherry cask even if some parts can be a tad ‘excessive’. SGP:572 – 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: why not have a good slice of slightly fluffy and faintly syrupy bossa today? Sure this sounds very Astrud but Eliane Elias is so good at it... It's the standard Baubles, Bangles And Beads (from her CD Dreamer). Please buy Eliane Elias' music...


September 27, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Old and young whiskey from Middleton
There’s a brand new Redbreast at Cask Strength! Many aficionados have been waiting for this… For good measure, we’ll try it head to head with the oldest available whiskey from Middleton, Jameson ‘Rarest Vintage Reserve’….
Jameson Jameson 'Rarest Vintage Reserve' (46%, OB, blend, 2007) Five stars Some very old casks have been thrown into the vat, some being 30 years old. Colour: gold. Nose: starts a tad spirity, with also quite some vanilla and cut grass, the whole being unexpectedly austere at first nosing. I had expected a fruit bomb… Having said that, there’s more and more stewed fruits coming through, apples, melons, peaches and just touches of bananas, with a wee metallic touch as well. Also whiffs of ‘sour’ wood, then more overripe apples and butter pears as well as soft spices, cinnamon, white chocolate, tropical fruits… Never stops improving with breathing. Superb freshness. Mouth: very fresh, very fruity. A fruit salad, really, with everything from apples and pears to mangos and oranges and a good layer of pepper, ginger, cloves and cinnamon on top of all that. Finish: medium, fresh, fruity. In the same vein, with a lot of pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: the straightforwardness and the fullness are quite impressive. One of my favourite Irish for sure. SGP:652 - 90 points.
Redbreast Redbreast 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (57.7%, OB, single pot still, 2011) Four stars This is, of course, single pot still whiskey (ex-pure pot still). Colour: pale gold. Nose: this baby is more talkative, more explosive than the old Jameson, starting with the same notes of melon and apples but also more chewing-gum (Juicy Fruit), bananas flambéed… There’s also quite some cut grass, and then more and more sultanas, with touches of sherry. And it’s not ‘brutal’ at all. With water: its funny how it resembles the regular 12 now. I really like the way it displays more herbal notes now, pine sap, mint… Mouth (neat): once again, this is quite explosive, very citrusy and very spicy. Pepper and oranges all over the place, then a little more cornflakes and barley sugar. Pretty pretty good, as Larry would say. With water: more tinned fruits (pineapples, maybe litchis) and more mint as well. Lovely. And a little bubblegum, Finish: long, with more pepper and cinnamon. Comments: all pleasure here, it’s all very fresh and full-bodied. I had feared the high strength would have made it too bubblegummy but it’s not, at all. SGP:651 - 87 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: I know some of our dear readers are reggae fans, so why not have the great Serge's Marilou Reggae Dub, recorded around 1976 in Kingston with all the top guns. Warning, the lyrics are quite, er, hot. Please buy Serge Gainsbourg's music!


September 26, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Glen Grant 1956 and 1973
Plenty of old Glen Grants still to try, let’s have two fairly recent ones today. Time gap: 17 years.
Glen Grant 1956 Glen Grant 1956/2008 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling) Five stars Yes, this baby is around 52 years of age, so it’s older than yours truly! I’ll soon have to taste £100,000 bottles of Dalmore whenever I want to try whisky that’s older than me… sob… (but you can buy this old Glen Grant for only £250! Crazy…) Colour: dark gold. Nose: oh, but we aren’t far from some very old Demerara rum. We all know old spirits tend to converge but this is spectacular, because it does smell of sugarcane, pineapple liqueur, maybe even a little coconut (I may be dreaming), sultanas, old wooden furniture, wax polish, old leather… It’s also got something of some very old cognac, without the grapy part. Also superb whiffs of crushed herbs, mint, celery… Truly wonderful. Mouth: maybe just a tad narrower but we have an impeccable body, without any weakness, no excessive oak and no cardboardy notes. Raisins, dates, brioche… And it gets then citrusy, at that age! Orange juice, passion fruit… Again, this isn’t very ‘wide’ – and indeed notes of walnut skin or grape pips start to emerge – but it’s still beautiful and very fresh. Impressive oldie. Finish: medium long, maybe even shortish, but clean, fresh and fruity. A little cinnamon in the aftertaste, but not too much. Comments: £250 for this, at more than 50 years of age. Money well spent if you ask me. SGP:651 - 91 points (and thanks, Olivier).
Glen Grant 1973 Glen Grant 37 yo 1973/2010 (46.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry cask) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: narrower and rather more on vanilla, which suggests American oak (little people realise that most sherry casks are made out of American oak). Touches of white garden fruits, pears, then more pine sap, almond oil, wax… Gets earthier after that, with a little humus, then green tea… It’s very nice altogether, just not very ‘old Glen Grant’, especially after the 1956. Mouth: good fruity attack, with a lot of grapefruit and lemon zests but also something slightly bitter, walnut skin, a little sour wood… Sour apples as well. Quinces. Becomes rather peppery after a while, and liquoricy. Finish: medium long, spicier, kind of mustardy. Comments: mixed feelings about this baby. Some parts were great but others were a tad underwhelming, especially the sour bitterness on the palate. The sherry is very discreet. SGP:551 - 82 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a kaleidoscopic version of the standard Sunny by the very great late Hampton Hawes (from his 1976 album 'At the Piano'). A thrill to follow him here... Please buy Hampton Hawes' music!

Hampton Hawes

September 23, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Glenrothes 1956 and 1968
Time for more old Glenrothes today, I’m expecting something decadently honeyed and fruity. Time gap as far as years of distillation are concerned: only 12 years, but the oldest is the youngest…
Glenrothes 1956 Glenrothes 1956/1991 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice) Four stars I’ve tried a lot of Glenrothes from the 1960s but never any from the 1950s if I’m not mistaken, so this is a first. Colour: amber. Nose: holy featherless crow! Starts magnificently on pecan nuts, wax polish and sandalwood, all that being rather delicate and certainly not powerful, but it does talk a lot. There’s something of the old pre-war Macallans by the same bottlers, especially the huge complexity and elegance. At random, we have also a little motor oil, camphor, new leather, fig liqueur, walnuts, honeydew, old books, tarte tatin, overripe apples… Sadly, it does lose steam after a few minutes, fading away like a precious old wine (or some very old rum). Mouth: indeed it’s no big whisky and maybe it’s a tad drying now, but it’s also relatively fresher, with touches of apples, plums and pears before it becomes a little more cardboardy and tea-ish. Walnuts again, Seville oranges, then more and more cinnamon from the oak. Finish: short and dry, with only touches of white pepper and oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s utterly great whisky only for the first stages of the nosing part, the rest being only details. Do you understand what I’m trying to say? SGP:331 - 85 points.
Glenrothes 1968 Glenrothes 1968/2010 (43%, Duncan Taylor, Peerless, cask #9974, 139 bottles) Four stars High expectations here, I had another cask (#13485) at WF 93. Colour: gold. Nose: well, this is more or less the opposite of the 1956. Much fresher and fruitier, with insane notes of fresh pineapples on butter cream and even a little bubblegum. Incredible. It’s also pretty close to ‘the barley’, smelling at times just like a freshly opened bag of high-end muesli. Behind this madness (considering the age), several mild spices, cinnamon, cardamom… Really spectacular. Mouth: once again, it’s spectacularly on bubblegum, white chocolate and butter cream, even fruity beer (wash!), then more mango and passion fruit, with a sourness from the wood behind all that. Cider apples, ale and bubblegum, then more cinnamon once again. Finish: medium long, with more cocoa powder and orange juice. Comments: in my opinion it’s not one of Duncan Taylor’s greatest Glenrothes – there are so many! – but it’s a very interesting dram because of it’s ‘young’ side. SGP:651 - 86 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the permanent brilliance of Elvin Jones is fully displayed in the Prime Element (recorded 1973, with Jan Hammer and Pepper Adams among other fusionists). Please buy the great drummer's music! Thanks Michel.

Elvin Jones

September 20, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
An alligator and another
strange beast
I guess it was about time I posted some notes for the newish Alligator. Am I not the slowest 'whisky blogger' in the West sometimes?

I must say I tried it several times already, but with very varied feelings, which seldom happens (especially with Ardbeg). At times I loved it and at times I found it too simple and sweet. But it grew on me… Anyway, we'll oppose it to an un-tasted old glory for good measure. Time gap as far as years of distillation are concerned: around 25 years.

Alligator Ardbeg 'Alligator' (51.2%, OB, general release, 2011) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: this is very strange, I like this nose even better than last time (while I really frowned the first time). The first feeling I have is 'old Ardbeg', with these whiffs of burnt tyres, plasticine and 'forgotten seaweed', then more fresh herbs, radish, cress… Maybe also touches of rhubarb pie. It's no big on smoke and peat but it's still very, well, big. After ten minutes, touches of oranges and damp earth, clay, then liquorice and marzipan. No huge vanilla (great news!) and good complexity. With water: more Ardbegness, meaning more coastal notes here. Fresh oysters and clams. Or our beloved whelks. No, not langoustines.

Mouth (neat): sure it's no complex old Ardbeg this time. Straightforward, pleasantly sour (grapefruits, cider apples), briny, earthy, rooty and liquoricy. Then much more pepper and even chillies and mustard, as well as a nice sweet creaminess (apple liqueur). And once again, no excessive sweetness or vanilla. Quite big but easy so far. With water: becomes a little drier and, just like on the nose, rather more coastal and briny. Apple peelings. Maybe a little drying oak in the background. Finish: quite long, dry, still slightly green, with notes of bitter chocolate and coffee beans. Comments: I think this was matured (or finished?) in heavily charred American oak and I've just seen that many tasters have found BBQ notes in this baby. Aha. Well, I didn't, but I like it quite a lot and I think the way they managed to give this 'a feeling of older age' is impressive. Maybe tweaked, but skilfully tweaked for sure. Oh, and it's no peat monster. SGP:456 - 88 points.

Ardbeg Ardbeg 1975/2006 (53.7%, OB, Switzerland, France and a few other countries, sherry butt, cask #1378, 453 bottles) Four stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: it's not one of the classic old Ardbegs in the same series as it starts more on sultanas, bacon and honey sauce. Even less 'big peat' than in the Alligator. Goes on with a little sour apple juice, leather, walnuts, malt (beer) and something quite rubbery (bicycle inner tube) as well as a little mercurochrome. With water: more rubber, more tarmac and more kelp. Bitter chocolate as well. Also 'funny' whiffs of roses and patchouli. Mouth (neat): I find the sweetness a bit weird here, it's unusually fruity in fact. Litres of raspberry eau-de-vie - in an old Ardbeg! I quite like that, it's just that it's so uncommon… After that, more leathery tones, raisins, orange drops, gentian spirit, toffee… And something surprisingly metallic (silver spoon). Really an unusual one. With water: still a little weird. Orange and ginger liqueurs - I mean a mix thereof. Finish: long, first dry, then perfumy. Raspberry drops and heavy liquorice. Strange! Comments: as I wrote, this one is very unusual. Which kind of sherry was it? We're closer to Port in my opinion… Having said that, it's actually better than my notes suggest… It's just very, very unusual. All right, not quite my kind. SGP:657 - 86 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: more organ, more soul jazz, more R and B... He's the one and only Jimmy McGriff and he's playing McGriff Avenue (that was on the album 'McGriff Avenue'). Please buy Jimmy McGriff's music.


September 19, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Craigellachie 1962 and 2002
Craigellachie was founded by Lagavulin's Peter Mackie in the late 1800s. I've only tasted around thirty Craigellachies so far, my favourite having been a recent 1984 by The Whisky Agency and The Nectar.

Time to have two other ones, both from vintages ending with '2' (I know, that doesn't make any sense). Time gap as far as vintages are concerned: 40 years.

Craigellachie Craigellachie-Glenlivet 22 yo 1962/1985 (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy) Five stars I already had a younger 1962/1979 by Cadenhead, it was excellent in my opinion (WF 90). Colour: white wine. Nose: perfect old style, very mineral and phenolic, with many different waxy and resinous touches underneath. I'm meaning beeswax, 'good' turpentine, a little motor oil, linseed oil, leather grease (or Barbour)… Also a bit of metal polish and then some much more delicate floral and fruity notes. White peaches, peonies, lilies from the valley, roses… At times it's almost like some old style perfume. Chanel No.5? Anyway, brilliant nose.

Mouth: big bodied, unexpectedly salty and very lemony at the attack, with the same phenolic and waxy notes that we had in the nose unfolding after that. Then pine sap, old herbal liqueurs, wormwood, aniseed… It's quite spectacular and, once again, extremely good. Finish: long, still on old herbal liqueurs. One of the best Chartreuses I ever had ;-). A lot of salty liquorice in the aftertaste as well as something a little medicinal (cough syrup). Comments: clearly one of these superb old 'black dumpies' by Cadenhead's. A lot of character. SGP:472 - 91 points.

Craig Craigellachie 8 yo 2002/2010 (60.3%, Frisky Whisky, cask #900059/60) Two starsA series/brand selected (and maybe owned) by the legendary John Milroy. Colour: straw. Nose: starts on heady caramelly notes, custard, chocolate sauce, coffee (may came from the high strength) and a lot of burnt cake. Not much else coming through so far… Maybe a little cologne. New-makish. So, with water: same plus a few mentholated notes as often, then a lot of porridge and chicory (coffee), with also a soapy side. Mouth (neat): hot and extremely kirschy. Raw artisanal tutti fruity spirit that would have spent six months in hyperactive oak. Clearly immature in my opinion. With water: more coffee and vanilla, then cornflakes and green oak. Finish: quite long, with rather more green oak and notes of pear spirit in the aftertaste. Comments: frisky or freaky? Well, none. It's not bad but it really tastes like immature spirit that would have been doped with a bit with oak. Pretty uninteresting in my opinion, Mr Milroy has already selected many, many utter stunners but I think this one isn't one of them. SGP:331 - 73 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a good slice of French fusion today, with the Cinelu Bros' Chute Libre and their Black Sweat. That was recorded in the mid-1970s - sounds great, doesn't it! Please buy Chute Libre's music (if you can find it)...

Chute Libre

September 16, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Balblair 1964 and 1990
So today it’s going to be Balblair, with an old CC and a recent 1990 at cask strength. As usual in that case, we’ll have the lighter one first. Should we expect a fruity explosion?... Anyway, time gap: only 26 years this time.
Balblair 15 Balblair 15 yo 1964 (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice, +/-1979) Four stars The only really old Balblairs by G&M that we could try before were ‘licensed’ versions, and I always thought they were a bit weakish. Maybe this one will have more oomph? Colour: full gold. Nose: hey hey, this is not too dry, not cardboardy, not dusty and not caramelly either – and it’s quite powerful! Imagine banana compote spread with olive oil, mint sauce and a little strawberry jam. Sounds unlikely? And there’s more and more mint, as well as something earthy/rooty (say raw celeriac, humus and ‘old wine cellar’). Very nice ‘antique’ nose.

Mouth: it’s lighter now, but indeed there’s this fruitiness that was also to be found in the legendary old OBs that were distilled in the 1960s, although this is rather less complex and emphatic, as the pros say. Funny perfumy touches, rose drops, litchis… Other than that it’s all banana and apple compote, with a little vanilla, white pepper and just touches of cherry liqueur. Maraschino? Finish: medium long but firm and precise, with always these notes of roses in the aftertaste. Or Turkish delights? Comments: this one is very good! No doubt the bottle was kept under perfect conditions, I’m sure it neither lost one cl, nor 1% vol. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Balblair 20 Balblair 20 yo 1990/2010 (57%, Scotland and Malts, Cask Collection, bourbon hoghsead) Four stars This one by another wee German bottler. Colour: deep gold. Nose: less expressive than the 1964 at first nosing but that may come from the much higher strength. We have bananas and mint yet again, whiffs of fresh oak, vanilla and something mineral (gravel). Quite some cut grass too. Let’s add water. With water: it remains a tad narrow but it’s also very precise, with a combination of ripe apples, vanilla, green bananas and pepper that works very well. We aren’t far from the modern OBs.

Mouth (neat): excellent attack, fruity but not too much (no fruitbomb), maybe a bit hot but very clean and rounded. Quite some vanilla. Water should work once again. With water: that worked indeed. Fruit salad topped with custard, pepper and ginger. A little coffee as well. There’s quite some ‘clean’ oak but everything’s under control and the vanilla isn’t excessive at all. Finish: long, with the pepper getting louder – and even touches of chilli in the aftertaste, together with apple peelings. That’s funny. Comments: a very excellent, clean, straightforward and fruity Balblair in my opinion. SGP:551 - 86 points.

It was almost a tie this time!

MUSIC - Recommended listening: what a voice, what a voice. She's Brittany Howard and she sings with the Shakes. Have their You aint alone and then please buy their music.


September 15, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
More old and new Bowmore
Good, we’re back with some other Bowmores and once again I’m expecting quite a bit of ‘violence’, especially since both seem to be heavily sherried. Time gap this time: 28 years as far as years of distillation are concerned.
Nowmore SMWS Bowmore 11 yo 1999/2010 (58.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #3.168, first fill sherry butt, ‘After Dark’, 269 bottles) Four stars After dark? That’s a tad scary… Colour: dark amber, almost coffee. Nose: heady chocolate, black raisins and prunes at first nosing, with quite some rubber as well (new tyre) and a peatiness that’s relatively shy so far (which tells you about how much sherry there is in there). Gets then very leathery, with also whiffs of struck matches and maybe a wee bit of cooked asparagus. Quite some eucalyptus as well. All that is big but not really overpowering. With water: more wood, pencil shavings, brand new furniture… As well as whiffs of soy sauce. Also a little smoked fish, rollmops?… Not much struck matches/rubber left, which isn’t bad news. Although, wait, there’s more and more notes of bicycle inner tube arising. I quite like that in this context! Also syrah?

Mouth (neat): ultra-rich sherry, with tons of fruitcake and chocolate and then a little spice mix (the one they use for mulled wine, star anise, cinnamon, cloves…) Maybe oyster sauce. Yet again, the peat doesn’t quite come out so far. With water: more oak, the pencils we were sucking at school ( well, I was), liquorice wood… And not a big peatiness. And little coastal notes, all that being a tad un-Bowmore. Finish: long, dry, ultra-chocolaty (bitter chocolate, cocoa). The aftertaste is a tad leathery. Comments: ultra-heavy cask influence here. All that is spectacular but some may miss more Bowmoreness in my opinion. SGP:374 - 86 points.

Bowmore Sestante Bowmore 18 yo 1971 (57.1%, Sestante, crest label, +/-1989) Five stars We already had a version of the 1971 ‘crest label’ at 40%, which I adored (WF 93) and a 15 yo that I’ve liked a little less (WF 85). Curious about this one now… Colour: pale amber. Nose: this is much purer and much straighter than the 1999, and better balanced I must say. A beautiful smokiness (peat but also charcoal), glowing echoes (what?) of tropical fruits (passion and mangoes), and just hints of dry sherry to complement this beautiful profile. Quite some chocolate and espresso. With water: wham! A perfect, chiselled old Bowmore nose. Not the ueberfruity ones from the 1960s, all this is more austere and ‘straight’, so to speak. Mouth (neat): ultra-brilliant attack, wide yet focused in a certain way. A maelstrom of jammy tropical fruits, peat and pepper. Little coastal notes here, and little brine/salt. With water: please call the anti-maltoporn brigade. A magical jam. Finish: long, jammy, peaty, spicy. It all remains wide and complex, which doesn’t happen too often in finishes. Peppery aftertaste. Comments: not your salty/briny Bowmore yet again, but this is plain brilliant in my opinion. A star. There also used to be a version at 53.7%, I have yet to taste it (and to find it!) SGP:566 - 94 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a triple wow for one of the best fusion bands evere, Cuba's Irakere, (think Chucho Valdes, Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D'Rivera...) playing a smashing Chekere Son in 1979, blending just everything, samba, bop, funk... Please buy all of Irakere's music!


September 2011 - part 1 <--- September 2011 - part 2 ---> October 2011 - part 1

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



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

Bowmore 18 yo 1971 (57.1%, Sestante, crest label, +/-1989)

Craigellachie-Glenlivet 22 yo 1962/1985 (46%, Cadenhead, dumpy)

Glendronach 38 yo 1971/2009 (49.4%, OB, Oloroso, cask #483, 544 bottles)

Glen Grant 1956/2008 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling)

Jameson 'Rarest Vintage Reserve' (46%, OB, blend, 2007)