Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2005 - Part 2
January 28th 2005
by Nick Morgan
according to some marketing bloke
I once met, trade information with
their friends as part of shared
exchange of social currency. So,
a malt whisky hoodie might say,
“Hey Serge, have you tasted
the latest McRobbem and Pisonem’s
Hazelburn 1977, it’s ace!”
music the fab factoid of the moment
seems to be, “Hey Serge, don’t
you think that Franz Ferdinand’s
guitar sound is deeply influenced
by the Gang
of Four's Andy Gill?
It’s ace!” As a non-participant
in such dialogues I’m surprised.
I always thought that Gill’s
stuttering and sometimes painfully
spare style was a reductio ad absurdem
of the machine-gun licks of Wilko
Johnson. But obviously the PR driven
princes of British pop, darlings of
the liberal media, prefer to plant
their roots in the milieu of maverick
Marxism that the Gang represented
(albeit briefly), rather than with
the deeply unfashionable proletarianism
of the King of Canvey Island rhythm
an blues. C’est la vie Serge.
History is always the victim of the
progress of capitalism.
Anyway, the result of all this highbrow
chattering is a renewed interest in
the Gang of Four’s early work,
and an unstoppable GOF speedwagon
of consensus about their influence
on today’s coolest practitioners
of rock and roll. So it is that we
find ourselves crammed into the second
balcony of the Bush for the last night
of a short tour by the original four
Grumpy Old Men. Older, wiser, greyer
and fatter (and that’s just
the audience) we’re here for
a no-frills economy trip to a twenty-year
time warp – ninety minutes of
sheer bliss – the majority from
the Gang’s first album, Entertainment
(of which more later). The visceral
energy of Gill’s fractured and
alienating guitar; huge Hugo Burnham’s
driving rhythms (like a drum machine
on steroids); Dave Allen’s abrupt
and pounding bass lines; Jon King’s
vocal wails, epileptic dancing and
Neanderthal ramblings (too much time
in male-bonding sessions?). Oh yes,
and the ritual, and rhythmical, destruction
of a portable TV (or was it a microwave
– I really can’t remember
if we had them in 1978?); “Zut
alors”, I muttered to my companion,
“tres intellectuel n’est
pas ?” As fresh, fierce and
frenetic and the same as it ever was.
Simply nothing quite like it, before
if you don’t know, the Gang
of Four released their first defining
and groundbreaking EP, Damaged Goods,
in 1978. Ask anyone who was there
and they’ll tell you. It blew
the door open wide on the parameters
within which contemporary music operated,
and showed that the rare essence of
rock and roll could be taken to a
different and sublime level, both
musically and politically. They could,
and perhaps should, have stopped there,
“at the top of their game”
as the soccer pundits like to say.
But there followed the bizarre signing
to EMI (less like taking over the
means of production than buying a
substantial shareholding in it) and
the first album Entertainment, notably
shorn of that most seditious of songs
from the EP, ‘Armalite rifle’
(which caused the BBC even more angst
than 10CCs ‘Rubber Bullets’)
and featuring the hit single ‘At
home he’s a tourist’ (more
angst from the BBC over an unacceptable
reference to ‘rubbers’
– condoms that is, not ammunition).
of Four's Andy Gill
when I first saw them – in Glasgow
– and it was clear that something
was already going badly wrong. Self-delusion,
acrimony, musical differences, egos,
political realignments, departures
– they did the whole thing,
ending up losing their edge, as impotent
as a beetle on its back.
But tonight is a feisty flashback,
not to what could have been, but to
what was. And if only half of the
bandwagoners who claim GOF as a seminal
influence are genuine, then it’s
still a testament to how much two
small pieces of vinyl, and a little
bit of guerrilla war struggle, can
change the face of entertainment.
Oh yes – talking of vinyl –
I note that the first GOF EP is worth
around ten quids. So to boost my Whiskyfun
expense account (current balance zero
quids) I’m giving readers the
opportunity to buy my own, very special
rare, unique and quite collectible
pressing, on Robert Thorne’s
Inconceivable Records. Come on Malt
Maniacs, anyone want to invest in
some real damaged goods? - Nick
Morgan - 'Tickets + Lagavulin' picture
by Nick, Andy Gill's picture by idle
you very much Nick. I could find a
tune by the Gang of Four, it's To
hell with Poverty - mp3, from
1990. May I say that GOF's music sort
of puts me into the Haze, whether
Thorne's or not? Not all the 'punk'
bands made it into France in the 70's,
and I'm not so sure we must regret
that, I'd add. Of course there was
The Clash, but otherwise... Err...
Well, I know, tastes and colours and
noises, different countries, different
cultures... And then again, we don't
have a Queen!
- TWO OFFICIAL TOMINTOULS
12 yo (40%, OB, ‘old perfume
This one has always been famous for
its bottle – rather than for
its intrinsic quality. Let’s
find out whether that was a shame
now... Colour: light gold. Nose: lots
of caramel at first nosing, developing
on burnt cake, malt and praline. Nicely
balanced. It then gets slightly sour,
with some notes of vanilla and old
wood. It’s not complex but quite
nice and compact, getting more and
more toffeeish. Mouth: very sweet
attack, again on caramel and malt.
Cake, dried oranges, camomile, grains…
The caramel gets then heavier and
heavier, which makes the whole a little
bitter, but not un-enjoyable. The
finish is rather long but too toffeeish,
alas. 78 points.
While I was at it I also had a sip
of the Tomintoul 10 yo 40%, bottled
a few years ago. It's quite similar
but less complex and somewhat stronger
27 yo (40%, OB, 2004)
A new bottling by the new owners,
Angus Dundee. Colour: light gold.
Nose: it’s funny, this one is
much fresher than the old 12yo, with
lots of tropical fruits and kiwi at
first nosing, together with some marked
woody notes. It then gets very fragrant
with hints of fruit sweets and grape
juice. Some notes of light caramel
and sweet white wine. It’s quite
entertaining! Some whiffs of white
pepper too. The nose then shifts to
heavy litchi and passion fruit. Nice!
Mouth: strange attack, a little weak
and watery. Some notes of cold herbal
tea, caramel, malt… It gets
quite oaky and bitter. Rather simple,
with just some added notes of dried
fruits (mostly orange)… The
finish is balanced but again, a little
watery and disjointed, getting even
a little too dry. In short, I liked
the nose but the palate doesn’t
quite make it for me, it’s a
little too weak. 79 points.
WHISKY ADS - BLACK VELVET'S ANSWER
TO EVAN WILLIAMS ON AGE
A few days ago we were talking about
Evan Williams 7 yo showing low-IQ
girls and telling us that 'the
longer you wait, the better it gets'
(see January 27). Here's the Canadians'
answer: whisky doesn't obligatorily
get better, but it gets smoother!
Especially at such an old age as
8 yo ;-) Now, as for the call-girl,
she could finally dress in fur instead
of displaying her advantages...
Yes, smoother... Oh, perhaps I'm
excessive when I'm saying that these
brands show 'call-girls'... Really?
one by Chivas then...
- Glen Scotia 1992/2003 (62.1%, G&M
Cask Strength, cask #89.92, refill
Colour: gold. Nose: heavy, punchy,
on roasted coffee beans, roasted hazelnuts
and caramel. Tons of praline. Very
malty. Some milk chocolate, high-quality
vanilla ice cream (not the industrial
stuff). It gets a little meaty after
a while (game). Really interesting.
With some water, it gets nicely grassy
wow, lots of oomph, but it’s
‘drinkable’ at 62%. Well,
just letting a drop a time rolling
on the tongue… Again, lots of
coffee, praline, caramel, roasted
peanuts, overcooked breadcrumb. Very
malty and spirity. It gets much fruitier
with a few drops of water (cooked
apple), and develops some nice lavender
sweets, sour cream, Indian yogurt
sauce. Long, nutty finish. A great
Glen Scotia, better than the old official
12 yo Full Strength. 86 points.
- Cuban Jazz for Sunday
- Canadian high-class flutist Jane
Bunnett has golden blond
hair, yet she's mostly famous for
leading one of the most successful
Cuban combos, the Spirits
of Havana. Have a try at
el chaqueton - mp3 and you'll
find yourself transported to La Havana
instantly, on a sunny Sunday afternoon...
To be enjoyed with a Partagas Lusitania
and a glass of Glenmorangie Gran Reserva...
Please buy Jane Bunnett's music if
you like it!
- Uno en Mil Brandy de Jerez (40%,
OB, Romate, cask #174)
An extremely interesting brandy made
out of the best hollandas and matured
into 1,000 solera casks having contained
Amontillado or Fino sherry. The average
age of the spirit is twelve years
old, and all casks are bottled separately.
Colour: pure gold. Nose: sweet but
not too much, quite complex, with
some notes of marc, oak and vanilla,
the whole being very nicely balanced.
Some funny hints of Madeira. Quite
fragrant but not dull and lumpish
in any way – unlike a few‘Jerez
matured’ malts we all know too
well. Mouth: again, sweet and vinous,
with some very nice oaky notes that
prevent it from being too sweet. Great
balance! It then gets sort of herbal,
with some camomile and liquorice.
Some interesting notes of fruit jam
and cooked strawberry. The whole is
compact and very satisfying, with
quite some vivacity. A very interesting
product, somewhat between a grappa
and a malt, at half the price of a
Macallan 12yo. Unjust? Perhaps…85
- Oldies but goldies:
1959, a tender and temporarily appeased
Brel sings Isabelle
(mp3). Already 26 years without Jacques
Brel, that's way too much.
- Taol Esa 4 yo 1999/2004 (46%, OB,
Glann ar Mor distillery, Brittany,
Ah, finally, here’s this famous
experimental Breton single malt whisky
everybody’s talking about since
one or two months! I know some fellow
Maniacs, like Lex, liked it a lot,
so I’m more than happy to have
the opportunity to taste it myself
now. Let’s go and try to avoid
all chauvinistic considerations ;-)…
Colour: deep amber. Nose: smooth and
very bourbonny at first nosing. Lots
of fresh vanilla, butterscotch and
light toffee, together with some very
fine oaky notes. Develops on cookies,
praline and roasted peanuts, while
staying very fresh and clean, with
whiffs of sea breeze and iodine. Some
subtle hints of dried coconut…
And then some other tropical fruits
like, perhaps, mango. Wow, tell me
about an experiment! It even starts
to smell Springbank-esque! Yes, that’s
it, a mixture of A.H. Hirsch and Springbank
on the nose, no less. And I swear
I’m not making up my feelings…
the mouth now: ah, yes, now it’s
getting a little weirder – had
the mouth matched the superb nose,
it would have been the work of God
himself. Granted, the first mouthfeel
is very nice, bold and coating, on
butter caramel, vanilla cream an rum,
but it’s soon to get a little
sourish and somewhat oddly fruity
(stale cider and ale), with some hints
of ‘still’, quite typical
of some young fruit eau de vie. Don’t
get me wrong, it’s good and
even very enjoyable, but it’s
perhaps not as close to a classical
Single Malt as the nose suggested.
The wood gets then quite dominating,
with some rather bitter notes (very
strong coffee) and lots of vanilla,
like in some bourbons. The finish
is long and enjoyable though, on coffee
liquor. Well, I guess it could have
needed just a few more years of maturation,
but the cask seems to have been anything
but neutral and the wood had already
taken a big portion of its share,
I think. And finding a neutral cask
to re-rack 50 litres musn't be too
easy. Anyway, all I can say is that
it’s by far the best non-Scottish
/ Irish / Japanese / American whisky
I ever tasted, and that I like it
much better than many, many Scotch
Single Malts. And the nose, the nose!
If the ‘regular’ Glann
ar Mor follows the same route, I’m
bloody sure it’ll be a winner,
especially because the place where
the whisky will be matured –
near the sea – seems to impart
a great maritime character to the
malt – no codswallop here. And
they will also distil some peated
malt! Okay, enough babble: 88
well-deserved points for
the Taol Esa.
WHISKY ADS - EVAN WILLIAMS CAMPAIGNING
ON AGE: 'THE LONGER YOU WAIT, THE
BETTER IT GETS' (click
on the small pictures to enlarge)
well well, lots of stuff to be learnt
from this incredible campaign, don't
you think? First, that 7 years is
'old', according to Evan Williams.
Second, the baseline 'The longer
you wait, the better it gets',
even if not suited to a 7 yo whiskey,
is pure nonsense anyway and does not
fit the pictures. Hey, why not an
ad with a 95 year old granny instead
of some 20 year old bimbos? Speaking
of which, why should some perfectly
alright young girls turn into some
Miami Beach call girls? Do the Evan
Williams people think it's an improvement?
The best future for our daughters?
(sigh ;-) And even the TV sets: why
buy a new one? Just wait and there's
gonna be a better one soon, say the
Flintstones... Yeah, like computers.
Wait, now I get it! Maybe they want
to tell us that instead of buying
Evan Williams 7yo, we should wait
a bit until they launch an older expression.
Like, a 50yo? Or, perhaps, that girls
are 'goods' just like a TV set, a
fish or a diamond? Another set of
ads for Joe Sixpack, it appears...
Now perhaps there is a hidden
message, which could be this one:
'Don't try to date a schoolgirl, better
wait a few more years'. Yes, must
- THREE SIMPLE STRATHISLAS
8 yo (40%, G&M Licensed bottling,
mid to late 80’s)
Colour: dark straw. Nose: the attack
isn’t too bold, but nicely
fruity. Apple juice, cooked apple,
light caramel, apricot… Hints
of chardonnay. Rather undemanding
but enjoyable. Mouth: perhaps a
little watery at first, but a rather
nice development on cooked apple,
white pepper and oak. Again, a malt
that’s a little MOTR. The
nose is very nice but the mouth
is simple. 78 points.
1982 (40%, G&M Licensed bottling,
Colour: light gold. Nose: quite
restrained, just a little oak, vanilla
and overripe apple, and some caramel.
Mouth: quite flat at the start,
it takes off after two or three
seconds but stays simple and really
MOTR this time. A few tannins, a
drop of caramel and basta. 74
12 yo 1989/2001(43%, Signatory, cask
Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh and
lively but really simple. Broiled
cereals, freshly mown lawn, hints
of caramel, breadcrumb, cattle food.
Mouth: quite nice and enjoyable, with
quite a lot of oomph, but again, it’s
really simple. Porridge, hot milk,
cooked apricot… not much else.
Not interesting but sippable. Medium
finish with hints of liquorice. 75
- Recommended listening
- I guess you'll agree this is 'improbable',
yet fun music - Har
Mar Superstar does DUI,
for Help and Power
Lunch (all mp3). Even crazier
than John Otway... Anti-heroes are
very trendy these days, it appears!
Please buy this Superstar's music
if you like it!
NEED YOUR HELP - And
it's going to be quick. Some friends
told me that more and more people
use laptops to browse the Web, and
laptops usually have narrower screens.
I can easily delete the right column
and sneak all the items into the left
column, making the whole page not
wider than 800 pixels. Please tell
me what you think by just clicking
one of the options below:
- OLD AND NEW 12 yo GLENLIVETS
12 yo ‘unblended all malts’
(40%, OB, 1970’s)
Colour: light gold. Nose: it starts
very grassy and grainy, but gets
then quite fragrant and flowery.
Not sign of bottle age whatsoever.
Lots of lilac, peony… Then
some aniseed, dill… All that
is still quite restrained, alas,
and the malt gets very grainy once
all the flowery notes have vanished.
Feint hints of sherry and crystallised
oranges. Mouth: ah, now it’s
getting better, yet it’s a
little week. Dried fruits, aniseed,
liquorice, dried herbs… Very
classical but so nicely balanced!
Some great notes of bergamot tea,
fudge, Werther’s Originals…
The finish isn’t too long
but again very balanced, on cold
herbal tea. Very good! 84
12 yo ‘American oak finish’
(40%, OB, duty free, circa 2003)
Colour: light amber. Nose: starts
on full vanilla mode, with some hot
butter and oak. Tarte tatin, caramel,
vanilla crème… Getting
a little sour after a two or three
minutes, and very grainy. Quite narrow,
in fact, too bad… Hints of liquorice.
Mouth: quite nicer than the nose suggested,
even if quite watery. Some nice liquorice
roots, dried fruits, caramel, vanilla
crème, and yes, quite some
oak and white pepper.
on crystallised orange zest. It’s
not as complex as its older brother
but rather enjoyable and satisfying.
The finish is quite long but there’s
perhaps too much caramel. A nice mouth,
very compact and appealing; too bad
the nose was so simple. 81
12 yo ‘French oak finish’
(40%, OB, circa 2003)
Colour: light amber. Nose: even more
restrained than the ‘American’
version, but oakier. Lots of cold
ashes, grass, dust… It gets
grassier and grassier. Hints of stone,
vanilla, sand… Plus just a little
caramel. Well, this one isn’t
too aromatic, to say the least. Mouth:
quite thin and ‘narrow’
again. Vanilla, dust, water…
Getting quite grainy and grassy, with
again some caramel, but not much else,
except perhaps some hints of aniseed
and violets. The finish is medium
long and sweetish, with some fructose
and some dusty notes. I liked the
American way better – hey, who
said for once? 77 points.
about Dior, Armani or Hermes! Yeah,
show your true colours and switch
to these supremely elegant 'distillery
ties' made in Germany by Krawattendesign.
If you like The Macallan Traveller's
series, you can even wear the four
ties at the same time. I'm sure you'll
impress everybody when visiting any
whisky event! But if you visit a distillery,
please try to wear the suitable tie,
not another distillery's ;-) (thanks
- Oldies but Goldies:
Gainsbourg and Catherine
Deneuve sing Dieu
fumeur de havanes - mp3. 'God
smokes Havana cigars', says Gainsbourg;
'But you smoke only Gitanes',
answers Deneuve. One might wonder
what she was smoking...
Ellen 18 yo 1982/2001 (43%, McGibbons
Colour: amber. Nose: a great mix of
sherry and peat that blend perfectly
here. Orange marmalade, smoke and
pepper. Some great winey notes, together
with some old rose, smoked ham and
salmon, balsamic vinegar… Superb
nose! Mouth: beautiful attack on wet
stone, gentian an liquorice. Very
special indeed. It then gets very
peppery and slightly rubbery…
Some great fruity notes (mostly dried
orange coming from the sherry). Excellent
malt, not too complex but extremely
satisfying. Flawless and giving lots
of pleasure. 88 points.
Ellen 19 yo 1977/1996 (58%, Signatory,
Colour: straw. Nose: a little closed
right at the start, with just some
whiffs of sea breeze (seaweed, iodine).
You have to wait for a good ten minutes
before some notes of green pepper,
lemon juice and old hay start to develop.
It then gets quite sour and dusty.
Some curious hints of tequila…
Not many of the usual Port Ellen markers,
alas (rubber, smoke…) Mouth:
rather nice attack, with yes, quite
some rubber and smoke this time. Very
bold and powerful… Peat, cow
stable, old oysters (?), seaweed…
With a nice sweet coating (dried apricots).
The finish is long, getting just a
little bitter. Well, for once, the
mouth was much nicer than the nose.
- Recommended listening
- Did you know there's a band named
just like the distillery? Yes, that's
true, and their music is poppish,
yet nicely crafted. Try for instance
is an arrow (hey, why not?). Nice
- and there is the obligatory violin,
no need to say... Why not a little
CD as a gift with each bottle, just
like Glenfarclas did a while ago?
- THREE MOSSTOWIES BY G&M
12 yo 1970 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s
Choice, old brown label)
Colour: light gold. Nose: fresh
and quite clean, on butter caramel
and flower nectar. It does lack
some oomph and development, sure,
but it’s quite ‘pretty’.
of turpentine and mint coming through
after a few minutes and a little wood
as well. Very discrete, that’s
for sure. Mouth: much bolder than
expected, but also quite woody and
drying. Oxidised apple juice, burnt
bread, caramel… It gets a little
bitter. The finish is medium long,
on toffee. Not too interesting, I’m
afraid. 74 points.
1970 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s
Choice, old map label)
Colour: gold. Nose: a little sweeter
and rounder, with also a little more
vanilla and wood. Lots of flower nectar
too, but not much else. Perhaps some
traces of rum and raisins. Gets a
little dusty. Mouth: the attack is
a little weak and watery, with some
caramel and some wood. Again it gets
a little bitter, yet it’s got
more punch than the previous expression.
Nothing too special, though, just
some orange zest developing after
a while. 74 points.
1975/1994 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s
Choice, old map label)
Colour: gold, just a little lighter
than the 1970. Nose: this one is more
complex, clearly. Starts on fresh
walnut skin, fresh hazelnuts, apple
skin… Develops on dried orange,
tangerine, citron, pomegranate. Lots
of praline too. Very nicely fruity
and elegant. Mouth: much bolder again,
but also quite bitter. Old walnuts,
rum, lapsang souchong tea, rocket
salad. Gets woodier and woodier…
Too bad! This 1975 was much punchier
than the two 1970s, but it’s
hard to go above, let’s say
LITTLE WINE AGAIN – ‘SUF-CLUB’
SESSION – NINE MERLOTS
Well, not all pure merlots, as some
‘foreign’ winemakers are
allowed to add some other grape varieties,
whether that’s disclosed on
the labels or not. From left to right
on the picture:
d’Avra 1998 (Ticino, Switzerland)
A very fruity wine, with lots of blackcurrant
and some sweet pepper, but that smells
pinot noir rather than merlot. The
taste is a bit metallic and lacks
a little oomph.
Francis Merlot 1991 (Sonoma, USA)
Lots of cooked fruits and strawberry
jam, like in many old wines. Hints
of rum and toffee. The mouth seems
to be a little tired (cooked wine)
but otherwise it’s very good.
The best of the evening.
Lapostolle Merlot Cuvée Alexander
Lots of coffee, sweet pepper and blackcurrant.
More like a cabernet. Hints of rubber.
The palate is rather bold but it gets
very bitter after a while. Not too
good, despite its high reputation.
Peak 2001 (California, USA)
Lactic and oaky, getting too grassy.
The palate is too commercial and simple
– just a wine for every day.
Too spicy for a merlot, there must
be some kind of syrah in there.
Vineyards Merlot 1997 (Napa, USA)
Hot, powerful and compact, rather
oaky. The palate is bold, spicy, fruity
and oaky. Very technical and commercial
(world taste), but quite enjoyable.
Miolo Safra 2000 (Brasil)
Lots of vanilla, coffee and caramel.
Pure oak infusion. The mouth is bitter
and disjointed. I don’t like
it at all – the worst of the
Merlot Syrah 2002 (Vin de Pays du
Strange nose, on old gewürztraminer
(rose), toasted bread, vanilla and
oak. The mouth is weak and restrained,
lacking fruits and oomph, and getting
Crianza 2001 (Catalunya, Spain)
The nose is weak and vinous, sour,
watery and dirty (‘old sister’,
says my disrespectful neighbour).
The palate is better but still weak,
yet very drying. It improves after
a few minutes, though.
Dell Or Merlot Riserva 2002 (Ticino,
Lots of vanilla and oak on the nose,
but with a nice balance. The mouth
is too young and a little astringent,
but it shows a very nice potential.
To taste again in five years.
- Recommended listening
- Wow, just a bass and a voice! These
two Brazilians are incredible: Sergio
and Marivone sing and
(mp3). Aren't they good?
- Hakushu 14 yo 1988/2004 (62.9%,
I already had the 120.1 (83 points)
and the official 12 yo by Suntory
(84 points), so this is my third try
at Hakushu – and I’ve
heard wonders about this version.
Colour: white wine. Nose: extremely
powerful, pungent and esthery at first
nosing. Ouch! But there’s soon
some very fine peat making it through
the alcohol. Some nice hints of wet
hay, garden bonfire… Quite some
liquorice after that, plus some very
elegant oaky notes. Not monstrously
complex but very, very nicely done.
smooth attack, but it gets stronger
and stronger, with a lot of peat,
smoke, grapefruit, and a nice bitterness
(lime). Again it’s not too complex,
but the finish is very long and so
nicely balanced, with a belated explosion
of white pepper. Luc, you were right,
it’s astonishingly good. 89
- Somebody wrote:
'think a countrified twelve bar blues
saloon rock to quickly identify the
music of Joe Flood'
and I thinks that's pretty correct.
Crutch (mp3) or All
the Same to You (mp3). He's good,
isn't he? (Via Diesel
- Royal Lochnagar 30 yo 1974/2004
(56.2%, Rare Malts)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: very spirity
and grassy. Hay, straw… Not
too expressive, I’d say. You
really need to ‘work’
this one. Hints of fresh natural water
(minerals). Mouth: bold, sweet and
spirity, with quite some pepper right
from the start. Cooked apple, peach.
It gets more and more peppery, and
even prickly. Adding a few drops of
water sort of kills it – too
bad. Hints of burnt caramel developing
after a moment. The finish is long
and very powerful… A rather
'difficult' malt, I'd say, for adventurous
aficionados only? 84 points.
- Recommended listening:
the excellent Bill
Mallonee and his Vigilantes
of Love play a speedy She
walks on roses (mp3). I don't
know whether this is alt-country like
some say or not, but I like the energy.
Very good! And while we're at it,
here's another great, yet smoother
(mp3). They make me think of the Waterboys...
wow, classy stuff! Bold sherry, dried
orange, vanilla fudge, milk chocolate.
Less complex than the nose suggested,
and a bit rough around the edges,
but very satisfying. The finish is
long, a little winey and oaky. A very
good and powerful Macallan: 88
18 yo 1986 ‘sherry oak’
(43%, OB, new presentation, 2004)
Again, distilled 1986 and earlier.
Colour: amber, but a bit lighter than
the ‘old’ version. Quite
similar but even lighter, and more
flowery. Markedly less sherried, and
slightly more on orange, and less
on caramel. It gets even grassy and
malty. No big sherry developing, even
after a long time. Both versions diverge
more and more on the nose after a
few minutes. Some whiffs of smoke
appear in the younger one, though…
younger one (right) is slightly
lighter in colour...
In short, the old one is much more
classic, more sherried, punchier while
the young one really is middle-of-the-roadish,
simpler and more restrained. Mouth:
again, it’s weaker, grainier,
and even sweetish and sugarish. Not
the same whisky at all, this time
– and not the same class either.
Big bold orange but not much else,
I’m afraid. It gets sort of
disjointed, fragmented. The finish
is medium long but sweetish and a
little ‘dirty’. 78
points. Okay, I guess the
conclusion is easily drawn…
I liked the new one a little better
when I tasted it ‘alone’,
but compared to its older twin brother
(hey?) it tastes much duller, alas.
Not the same whisky in any case, me
- I had the luck to
listen to Frank
Zappa live several times,
mostly between 1976 and 1985. He was
brilliant but everybody knows that.
Anyway, I just came accross this fantastic
track (mp3) which was recorded
live in Boston on October 24, 1976.
The end isn't 'clean' but the quality
is XLNT. Yes, nobody ever played the
guitar like he did. Vive Zappa! And
by the way, I just found a DVD of
Frank Zappa at Saturday Night Live
(1976 and 1978), with James Belushi
as guest sax player. It's hilarious.
- TWO INDIE SPRINGBANKS
12 yo (59.8%, James MacArthur, cask
#226, early 90s)
Colour: deep amber. Nose: wow, much,
much better than expected. Bold
sherry, with lots of chocolate,
espresso, balsamic vinegar. Heavy
sherry but not the kind of lumpish,
sweetish sherry one can find sometimes.
Very dry and almost austere, which
is rare for a very sherried whisky.
Magnifico, and again a great surprise.
Full of subtleties and elegance.
Perhaps it was a lottery but they
won! Mouth: triple wow! Heavily
concentrated, extremely creamy and
sherried, and bottled at its aboslute
peak. Tons of light caramel, fruit
jam (apricot, quince, mirabelle),
white pepper, tea, spices…
Just superb. Ah, Springbank at 12yo!
When it’s good it’s
very good! 91 points
– especially for the great
10 yo 1965-1993/2004 (46%, Murray
McDavid, sherry and bourbon, MM 0406)
They added some 1965 because they
hadn't enough left to make one bottling
of it. Colour: light amber. Nose:
interesting, on flowers (peony), fructose,
green lemon, citronella, coconut.
Develops on marzipan, cherry-tree
leaves. One really smells that there’s
some young and some very old whisky
(even if a little) in there. Mouth:
very nicely balanced and satisfying,
with some bold grassy notes (violet
ice cream, lavender sweets), dried
fruits, kiwi, watermelon. Very long
finish, on grape seeds. A very good
malt, not top class but highly enjoyable.
Swiss make the best chocolate in the
world, for sure, but it's even better
when filled with single
malt whisky! I tasted it, it's
not buy this nice hipflask made for
Military (they say)? Suitable
for your best Schnäpsli - or
Whiskyli, of course..
you desperately need a keg for your
saint (or any other vigorous dog)
you can order it here.
It will work with your favourite whisky
- but they don't do sizes for chihuahas.
- THREE CASK STRENGTH STRATHISLAS
bold, powerful and quite creamy. Very
nice, even when undiluted. Dried orange,
marmalade, both dry and sweet wine.
Lots of toffee, mocha… Alas,
the water kills it, making it dry
and flat. Too bad. 84 points
for the very nice mouth – for
1972/1995 (61.8%, G&M Cask, Casks
Colour: straw. Nose: much more interesting
at first nosing, with some funny meaty
notes (smoked ham), dried longans,
banana flambée, Special, but
also extremely powerful. Gets very
waxy, paraffin, Develops on heavy
beeswax, cocoa powder, Irish coffee.
Nice and complex, with yes, some nice
hints of sherry. Great nose. Mouth:
extremely tannic and strong, which
sort of takes your mouth as a prisoner.
Ouch. With patience, some beautiful
tropical fruits shine through (again
dried longans), as well as some hints
of balsamic vinegar. There must have
been a very special cask in the vatting.
The finish is very long, no need to
say. A curious, and very interesting
baby, much more ‘special’
than its youngest brother! 86
1972/1994 (62.1%, G&M Cask, Casks
Colour: light gold. Nose: quite similar
to the previous one… and to
the one before. Kind of a mix of both:
some nice sherry but not too much,
some ‘weird’ tropical
fruits like longans but not too many…
Very nice, even if again, it’s
not monstrously complex. Mouth: ouch,
again it’s extremely bold and
powerful. Re-ouch! Lots of liquorice
and, yes, dried longans. Okay, rather
than ad some water that could kill
it, let’s just drink a little
water before each sip. Try that when
you’re heavy a very strong whisky
and you don’t want to take the
risk to kill it with water, it works!
Some dried banana, Stroh 80 (you know,
that strange Austrian rum)…
The finish is very long but burning.
Okay, let’s sum things up: ouch!
- Recommended listening
- Brazilian multi-instrumentalist
Pascoal 'The Sorcerer'
is a pure genius. Whether playing
the piano or blowing a teapot (yes),
he is the Soul of Brazil. Mesmerizing!
Listen for instance to Viva
Jackson do Pandeiro or Chorinho
MEC (both mp3) and you'll see
what I mean. And oh, by the way, I'll
tell you about Benjamin Velle
in the coming days - one of the most
skilful 'Brazilian' guitarist I've
heard within the last years.
DR JOHN at
The Barbican, London
January 11th 2005
by Nick Morgan
takes something (a charmed life
perhaps?) to survive childhood illness,
a shooting injury to the hand, long
term addiction to Class A narcotics,
two years imprisonment in a State
Penitentiary, sessions with artistes
as diverse as Little Richard, Phil
Spector, Frank Zappa and the Rolling
Stones, and an appearance in an
advert for Southern Conmfort. But
Mac Rebennack, aka Dr
John, aka The Night
Tripper has managed all of this
and pursued a solo career for over
thirty years with a chain of somewhat
erratic and diverse albums, and
a heavy touring program. His last
few visits to London have been in
the company of an irresistibly funky
band but tonight he’s solo,
and for the most part devoid of
the Voodoo paraphernalia that normally
bedecks his piano.
this is because the management of
the Barbican objected to (plastic?)
skulls and Ju Ju beads being hung
from their Steinway, or that they
were concerned about the sensibilities
of their elderly and genteel audience,
the majority of whom look as though
they are out for a night of Gilbert
and Sullivan, rather than the master-class
in N’Awlinz ‘second-line’
syncopated rhythm and blues that they
The Doctor is in unusually avuncular
form, as if stripped of the sinister
aura that he displays with his band
– anyone who has witnessed his
bizarre spastic-dancing will know
what I mean. But tonight he’s
almost a jolly old gentleman –“dats-
definitely- not- da- way- Cole- Porter-
compozed- dat- song- but- itz- definitely-
da- way- I- decompozed- it”
– chatting and joking to his
audience in an N’Awlinz patois
that was almost incomprehensible to
most of the audience. In between what
we got was a history lesson (“I-
gonna- play- one- or- two- dat- you-
might- know- and- spose- one- or-
two- dat- youz- might- not”)
and the Doctor’s greatest hits...
we get ‘Walk on gilded splinters’
from his first album Gris Gris, played
seamlessly into ‘Marie Laveau’,
a celebration of New Orlean’s
famous Voodoo Queen, from last year’s
N’Awlinz dis dat or d’udda.
Professor Longhair’s ‘Tipitina’,
Dave Bartholomew’s ‘The
Monkey’, a Huey Smith medley
ending with ‘Rocking pneumonia
and the boogie woogie blues’
made up a bit of the history; ‘Such
a night’, ‘An imitation
of love’, and (again from “Dis
dat”) ‘I ate up the apple
tree’ the Dr John catalogue.
And not only was the Doctor good-humoured.
His growling drawl of a singing
voice was on top-form – clearer
and more concise as it needed to
be without a band. His piano playing
was outstanding. Not an instrument
I really understand – but
his improvisations over and around
the driving rhythms of his left
hand were inspired – and if
Dr John looked possessed at all
it was when he was in the middle
of these long, flowing and complex
passages. The Gilbert and Sullivan
fraternity were foolish enough to
try and clap along (a bit like tapping
your foot to Rachmaninov), which
in turn prompted the Doctor “to-
persionally -hit- on- youz- to-
participate”. The resulting
“Dooba dooba doos” were
sung with all the conviction of
a dwindling congregation in a Home
Counties Parish Church. I cringed
– the Doctor visibly winced
- “I- tink- dat- most- of-
youz- were- shocking- but- datz-
just- my- persional- opinion”.
Apparently there is a forthcoming
DVD of Dr John scheduled for release
later this year – if you’ve
never seen him then it’s worth
looking out for. If that’s
a strong recommendation (which it
is) then a very weak one is to look
out for Mr David Viner. This young
tousle haired Oxfam suited friend
of the stars gave us thirty uninspired
minutes of folk-club average blues
covers. But be warned – this
young Mr knows people in high places
– I fear we’ll be hearing
more of him than we will of the
good Doctor in the future. -
Nick Morgan (photo by Kate).
you very much, Nick. I happened to
tap my foot to Rachmaninov, I must
admit (but that was meaning 'when
the hell will this be over?') Ah,
yes, some music... Let's listen to
Dr John's very funky Food
For Thot (mp3)...
- THREE LITTLEMILLS
5 yo (43%, OB for Aldo Zini, Italy,
This one is to celebrate this poor
Littlemill distillery that just
went into flames. Colour: white
wine. Nose: fresh, fruity and flowery.
Very lively, vernal and youthful.
Lilac, violet, freshly cut cider
apple, not too ripe kiwi, rhubarb…
Develops on vanilla and caramel.
Amazingly enjoyable! Mouth: very
nice attack on soft spices and cooked
apple. Violet sweets, caramel, vanilla
fudge, and some soft tannins. Some
praline too, as well as some milk
chocolate and a dash of white pepper.
The finish is amazingly long and
soft at the same time. I know many
much older malts – Littlemills
included – that are much less
mature than this nice old-young
puppy. Excellent! 85 points
(yes, no less).
17 yo (40%, OB, 80’s)
Colour: light gold. Nose: sweet and
gentle, with lots of hay and grain
at first nosing. Very delicate, which
does not mean restrained. It gets
buttery and creamy, before some interesting
notes of fresh rubber and berries
do emerge. Really feminine. Hints
of tropical fruits too (the old bottle
effect?) Mouth: perhaps a little weak,
a little watery, especially after
the 5 yo which was so compact and
bold. Caramel sauce, grain, broiled
cereals, porridge… Hints of
lavender ice cream and toffee. Not
too interesting, I’m afraid,
even if the finish is not too short,
but getting a little dusty. This one
is quite tired. 77 points,
for the very nice nose.
8 yo 1983 (64.8%, James MacArthur,
Fine Malt Selection)
Colour: white wine. Nose: hey, is
somebody drilling a hole into my nose?
Incredibly pungent – and it’s
not the first time I taste a +/- 65%
malt. Just some caramel and coffee
make it through, otherwise, there’s
only alcohol. One for Jackass? With
a few (well, a lot of) drops of water,
it gets much fruitier, but starts
also to give out some ammoniacal smells
(old fish, dead prawn). Is that saponification?
Mouth (undiluted): now it’s
drinkable, but not enjoyable, let’s
not push it too far. Lots of coffee,
apple, cider, but also dust and old
wood. The finish is rather long but
somewhat indefinite… Just a
curiosity. 69 points.
- TWO NORTH PORT-BRECHINS
Port-Brechin 1974/1996 (40%, G&M
Colour: gold. Nose: quite light
and very grassy. Fern, raw celery,
roots, parsley…Hints of mustard
and horseradish. Then come the liquorice
and the woody notes (old oak plank)
together with some burnt caramel
and roasted peanuts. Quite interesting,
getting more and more toffeeish.
Some funny hints of carrot leaves
and dill do arrive after a few minutes.
a little watery at first sip. Some
caramel, tea, burnt cake… It
grows bolder after a moment, but also
quite oaky and slightly bitter. Bitter
orange, white pepper. Another one
that is a little disjointed. Yet the
finish is quite long, on beer (stout)
and infused green tea leaves. Not
too good, not too bad… which
means exactly 75 points.
Port-Brechin 17 yo 1976/1994 (64.1%,
Cadenhead’s, dist December)
Colour: straw. Nose: pungent and rather
closed, as expected considering its
abv. Just some traces of cooked apples,
gooseberries, crushed leaves. It seems
to be quite vegetal. Let’s try
it with a few drops of water…
Now it gets a little better, but even
leafier and grassier. Lots of straw,
but also some rather interesting notes
of sandal wood, mastic and incense.
Mouth (neat): hard to drink it like
that. Very bitter (acetone), grassy
and too burning, really. With water
– i.e. reduced to 45%, roughly,
it gets very nutty and again, even
grassier than before. Lots of cold
tea, white pepper, chicory, bitter
salad, bitter chocolate…It lacks
some roundness, I’d say. The
finish is rather long but too grasssy,
alas. I liked the G&M a little
better. 73 points.
- Recommended listening:
young American country singer Amy
Allison. A strange, girlish
voice and lots of energy! Try Shadow
of a Man (mp3, quite punchy!)
or her excellent and fresh rendition
you're the One' (mp3). Please
buy her CDs if you like her music.
- These superbly crafted silver
cartridges can contain one dram
of whisky each. For your best shots?
Wild boars approved, I'm sure! But
wait, there used to be on the market
also such cartridges that were already
filled with whisky, like...
this beautiful Glenfarclas miniature
containing 1.2cl of single malt.
The 'Best Shot of the Day'? Yes,
sure! (seen on ebay - thanks Mitsubishi.Man)
ouch, quite weird at first sip. Cardboard,
dried longans, manioc. Some violet
sweets, genever, Worcester sauce,
even tabasco. I think I never tasted
something like that. It’s not
balanced at all, but so special! Hence
my 81 points.
Keith 21 yo (62.5%, James MacArthur,
Colour: light straw. Nose: sharper,
grassier and cleaner. Green tea, lavender
perfume, celery… Not too complex
but very ‘young’, just
like it’s colleague. Hints of
bubblegum and fructose. Maybe like
some white rums or mescal. Mouth:
extremely pungent, this one needs
some water – otherwise it’s
undrinkable – but then it gets
very vegetal. Difficult to handle
this puppy! Okay, I give up. 75
- Recommended listening
- yet some powerful South-American
music for a chilly Sunday: Angel
James, from Venezuela,
Mar (mp3). Mucho Caliente - I
love it! But take care, it's highly
the index of all entries:
malts I had these weeks - 90+
points only - alphabetical:
12 yo (59.8%, James MacArthur, cask
#226, early 90s)