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Petits billets d'humeur
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Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2004 - Part 2
October 2004 - part 1 <--- October 2004 - part 2 ---> November 2004 part 1
October 31, 2004
MUSIC -  Recommended listening: better than Sheryl Crow, Shannon McNally sings Down & Dirty (mp3) A powerful voice, some not-too-commercial arrangements, some fantastic musicians... Wow! I don't know whether one could say this is some FM rock, but what's sure is that it's pretty excellent - and her voice sometimes makes me think of Stevie Nicks (Gipsy, anyone?) Another good tune by Shannon is I'll always be around (mp3). Please buy her music!  


Macallan 12 yo 'sherry' (40%, OB, 2004) A second go at this new expression. Colour: deep gold. Nose: fresh and yes, sherried, but the sherry seems to be quite lighter than in the earlier versions – the ones from the nineties, at least. Fresh and flowery. Caramel, pollen, plum jam, cream. Quite nice! The fact that it got somewhat fresher than the old, boldly sherried 12 yo isn’t obligatorily bad news to my ears. Melon sherbet, apple wine, apricot syrup. And, most interestingly, no winey notes, no woody notes. Ha-ha! Mouth: sweet attack, on caramel, tannins and flower syrup. A little weak because of the ABV, but it’s still quite solid. Orange, oriental pastry (orange flower water). Gets a little sweetish and fragmented – perhaps because of the 40% vol again. Medium finish, on sugared water and orange peel. Nice, but I’d really like to taste this one at 43 or 46%. Let’s have just a go at an old 12 yo 43% now…

The noses aren’t that different, in fact, but the palates are so different! The old one is much more sherried, bolder and punchier, and to be honest, simply better, even if perhaps a little rougher indeed. 80 points for the new one. (My score for that old one – probably bottled around 1998: 84 points).
Macallan 18 yo 'sherry' 1986 and earlier (43%, OB, 2004)
Colour: amber. Nose: again, quite fresh and lively. Not too bold, I’d say. Creamy, nutty, fruity. Lots of fruit jam and syrup. The sherry is quite discrete, which makes it somewhat classier than some earlier ‘hyper-sherried’ versions, I think. It’s also quite flowery (mullein flowers). Some winey notes emerge after a while, but it remains quite pure and fresh, not vulgar. Develops on dried orange, but no dark chocolate this time. Mouth: very similar to the 12 yo at first, just a little bolder. Lots of orange, crystallised fruits, jam, honey, caramel… And again, very few sherried or winey notes. It gets also a little fragmented, and somewhat watery. Lots happening on the palate and at the back of the tongue, but nearly nothing on the tip and the sides. It remains simple after a few minutes, hence really lacks development. The finish is rather long, though, but sticks to dried orange and marmalade. In short it’s good malt, no need to say, but quite far from the mythical single malt the 18 yo used to be. Ah, success! 82 points.
  Macallan 18 yo 1980/1998 (43%, OB) Colour: full amber (on the right - the new one's on the left. Colour consistency?) Nose: much more sherried than the new one, that’s for sure. Wine, orange peel, chocolate, wood… Somewhat more tannic (cocoa). Extremely classic but not too complex – less complex than most 18 yo distilled in the seventies, I’d say. It gets quite smoky and even sort of peaty after a moment. Hints of hot caramel, fresh vanilla, butterscotch, light tobacco (Virginia). Even some incense develops after a few minutes. Very nice, that’s for sure… Mouth: oh! Nice! So much bolder and richer than the new one! Creamy, on apricot syrup, quince syrup, orange marmalade, sweet white wine… It’s really like a fruit jam! I’ll try it for breakfast… Yet, it’s perhaps not as thrilling as some of his older brothers, but it sure sends the new one back to school. Hints of smoke, cake, cinnamon, aniseed. Again and again, a classic, lacking just a little oomph. 87 points.
October 30, 2004
Harvest time - View from my window, this morning, 9:30am. Natural colours...


Mortlach 1990/2004 (43%, The Spirit Safe, 415 bottles) Another one from Jean Donnay’s. Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, spirity and rather grassy at first. Flowery (violets, lavender). Hints of liquorice. Develops on pear and apple juice. A good, young and fresh malt, but nothing too special yet. Mouth: sweet and slightly bitter. Caramel, overcooked coffee, herbal tea. Mirabelle jam, sweets. Medium finish, on cooked raspberry. 80 points.

Mortlach 11 yo 1992/2004 (46%, DL McGibbons Provenance, Autumn/Summer)
Colour: white wine. Nose: very spirity and grassy. Milk, green cereals, fern. Hints of dust, nutmeg, fresh sawdust. Apple juice. Some floral notes too. Again, not too spectacular. Mouth: punchy and spirity. The aromas are rather similar to the ‘Spirit Safe’. Cooked apple, gooseberry, oak, apple skin… not much else. Rather long finish, on apple skin. 80 points.
MUSIC - Well, some will perhaps need a little sense of self-derision to 'swallow' this funny song by Joel Mabus: Hopelessly Midwestern (mp3). 'Social Commentary' was this song's category at the IAP Awards. Funny, I told you. Please buy Joel's CDs if you like his music - and his sense of humour.  
October 29, 2004
  MUSIC - Recommended listening: the Innocence Mission sings Tomorrow on the Runway (mp3). Charming. Please buy their CDs if you like them!


Highland Park 12 yo (40%, OB, 2004) Here’s this all-time winner’s latest batch! Colour: gold. Nose: fresh and fragrant. Lots of flowers from the fields (dandelion, buttercup), heather. Very honeyed (light honey), and creamy. Seems somewhat lighter and sweeter than some earlier versions. Hints of tangerine, orange juice. A perfect balance, even if not a monster of complexity. Mouth: mm… not that big! Starts a little sweetish and even watery. Slightly bitter and woody. Orange skin, burnt breadcrumb, over infused tea. Too bad… Is it I? I remember the earlier expressions I had were creamier, smoother, and certainly quite bold and satisfying. Medium finish, getting peppery and slightly dusty. My score: 83 points still, for the nice nose.

  Highland Park 18 yo (43%, OB, 2004) Colour: vibrant gold (?) Nose: wow! Again lots of flowers and honey, but with lots of added fruits like banana, pineapple, melon… Superb. Smells like a fruit salad with honey. Hints of wood and caramel, Really fantastic. What freshness! It smells almost like a great Sauternes. Mouth: oh yes, Highland Park is more like this. Creamy, nutty, fruity (mirabelle, quince jelly). Lots of light toffee, cappuccino, Bailey’s (or rather like an Alexander). Lots of strong honey (chestnut, fir). Keeps developing on lavender creme, crystallised oranges, dates… Superb, even if very smooth. Long finish, on candy sugar. Always a winner. 88 points.
Highland Park 25 yo (50.7%, OB, 2004)
Colour: plain, deep gold. Nose: double wow! This time it’s a little less fresh and clean, but much, much more complex. Flowers and fruits, for sure (see above) but also sea air, mocha, peppermint. Hints of eucalyptus and turpentine, freshly crushed hazelnuts, subtle sherry… The developments are simply endless. I’d better stop here or I’ll need bytes and bytes. Mouth: bold attack, even if much more austere than expected. Smoke, burnt cake, black toffee, coffee liqueur. The alcohol gets even a little burning. Very creamy, though. It really coats your mouth. Lots of crystallised orange, chestnut honey, lemon marmalade. Understatedly fruity (melon, ripe apricot). Hints of camphor. In short, this one is extremely nice, and far less ‘commercial’ than expected. The finish is very long, on orange syrup and honey. It comes in a nice black ‘pencil box’ but beware, don’t pass it to little children, as the brass shutter can pinch you quite severely. Well, that’s what happened to me, at least… 90 points.
  Highland Park 18 yo 1985/2003 (53.9%, Signatory for La Maison du Whisky, cask #2915) Colour: light gold. Nose: nice! Not as stunning as the official 25 yo but as nice as the 18yo’s, with more punch and more sherry, more smoke, and more coastal notes. Hints of turpentine, fir honey, I like it a lot! A great Highland Park – perhaps slightly rougher than the OBs, but it’s also got more oomph. Yes, it’s a boy! Huge development on vanilla fudge and milk caramel. Great.
Mouth: oh yes! Stunning! Who would have expected this one would hold a candle to the official 25yo? It does! Punchy but not too much, with lots of smoke, heather honey, cake, dried fruits, carrot cake, pumpkin soup. Wow! Extremely satisfying, it goes on with some nice liquorice and even aniseed, Chinese anise, herbs liqueur (Chartreuse). Absolutely great, I’m stunned. The finish is long, very long, on liquorice and salt… Yes, lots of salt left on the tongue… Salt in whisky? Hmm, yeah, perhaps, and I feel 'NaCl' (mp3 - a beautiful song by Michael Cooney) sort of says it all. Funny, isn't it? (via Jim's Chemistry 105). Anyway, 92 points for this absolute winner by Signatory and La Maison du Whisky. Respect.
Highland Park 1996/2003 (60%, Signatory ‘Cask Sample’ series, #140) Colour: plain white with a green hue. Nose: plain spirit. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just some fully immature whisky. Pear eau de vie, pineapple juice, sour milk… A few flowery notes… Not much else, I’m afraid. Mouth: ah, it’s more interesting this time. Some of Highland Park’s markers are well here, especially honey and heather. Frankly, it’s always a thrill to taste some newmake or some very young malt when visiting a distillery, but we’re not really expecting the industry to sell some as ‘regular’ single malt whisky. Somebody said whisky need maturation, and except a few fantastic very young whiskies (peated Jura, Bunnahabhain Moine, some very young casks sold by the SMWS), I’d say such tries rarely succeed. But don’t get me wrong; this one is immature malt, but good immature malt! 69 points.  
October 28, 2004
BRORA - New bottling by Douglas Laing: a 22 yo 1982/2004 (58,5%, Old Malt Cask, Sherry Cask) Tasting notes by Bernd - translation Thomas: Nose: unmistakably Sherry. Palate: the Sherry turns the Brora into a completely different drink. Very creamy, like a Vanilla-Cola-Float. Acacia syrup. Overwhelming coconut. Hint of smoke. Finish: extremely long, sweet-sour finish that finally lets coastal notes come through after all. Thanks to the German connection :-).

TASTING - The Whisky that Cannot be Named 50 yo 1953/2003 (54.3%, Adelphi, cask #1668) Owner Jaimie Walker wrote that the purpose of this bottling was: 'celebrating a decade of decadence from Adelphi' and fellow Malt Maniac Charlie MacLean added it was 'a superb example of how the very best of Speysides tasted in days gone by'. Ha-ha! No wonder I'm eager to try it now... Moreover, they sell it for £500, mind you! Colour: deep amber. Nose: wow! An extraordinary maelstrom of beeswax, shoe polish, turpentine, varnish, fir honey, Sauternes wine (Raymond Lafon, Yquem), Olivier’s Rangen de Thann (especially the gewurztraminer VT 1998), apricot jam, quince jelly, mirabelle eau de vie, milk caramel, hot butter, vanilla fudge… It’s endless. What’s crazy is that at 50yo, it’s still extremely fresh, and that some light floral notes like dandelion or buttercup make it extremely balanced. A piece of art, one of the most extraordinary un-peated noses I’ve ever had. Really a nectar...

Mouth: oh, what a punch for such an old whisky! It starts on herbal tea (cold camomile) then jumps to tropical fruits (guava, pineapple, sultanas), and then gets very spicy (oak, nutmeg, cinnamon). Is it over? Oh no! The yellow fruits do arrive now: cooked peach, apricot, pear. Some turpentine, eucalyptus, camphor. Sure it gets a little bitter (50 years in some oak) but not too much, which is quite incredible. The cask must have been quite neutral right from the start. I know I should add a few drops of water and check what happens, but I just don’t have the guts to do it – and I love this ‘boldness’ and relative compactness.  
The finish is long of course, on turpentine, fir liquor and spices (pepper, clove) from the wood. Wow, wow, wow! Ah yes, a rating… I guess 94 points will do. Some added smoky or meaty notes would have propelled it to over 95 points. Now, as for which distillery this baby should have come from, my bet would be Macallan… Hey, just a bet, I could be completely wrong! 18:58 - I've just learnt it might as well be Glenfarclas.
  MUSIC - Oldies but Goldies: cult and rather unusual English progressive rock band Renaissance plays Ashes are Burning (mp3 from Ashes are Burning, 1973). As AMG writes, it's 'one of the few lengthy progressive-rock pieces of the era that holds up'. Sure, it doesn't 'groove' - at all - and there isn't any single blue note in there, but Annie Haslam, what a voice! Memories...
Special gift: a silver whisky tumbler. Aquazuro asks for £385 each... VAT included (what a relief!) 'It demands to be held', they say. Well, at that price, that's for sure. Beautiful yet not very 'tasteful', if you ask me.  
October 27, 2004

Cabot Hall, Canary Wharf, London - 10/22/04
by super-deluxe guest writer Nick Morgan

One of the reasons for Mike Scott's continued longevity in the music game is his refusal to be put into a box. Always changing, never getting tired. But on Friday night in the middle of London's monument to mendacity he was walled in (with an audience of wedding-reception chaired admirers) by the Temple of Avarice. His response was to open his two-hour set with Universal Hall (from the quite brilliant eponymous album) - a song forged at the Altar of Love. And the effect was magnetic - Scott, pianist Richard Naiff and fiddler Steve Wickham delivering an evening of such intimacy (at one point Scott took time out to poll his audience on a new song) that Mammon was put firmly back into his own box.

With Scott confined to acoustic guitars (rock-star posing notwithstanding), Naiff on electric piano and Hammond organ, and Wickham excelling on violin and electric fuzz-fiddle (hang-on, call in the Definitions Committee, I thought this was an acoustic gig!) the evening swooped and soared through the Waterboys' back catalogue and previewed some fine new material. 'Dunderheid', the audience agreed, not being the best, but 'Strange Arrangement' and the ballad 'Live with me' (a brave choice for a final encore) certainly hit the spot.
'The return of Jimi Hendrix', 'Crown' (from the underrated Rock in a Weary Land), 'The Pan Within', and 'Peace of Iona' were just some of the highlights as crescendo followed crescendo (there were in truth probably a few too many crescendos) 'till we were eventually ejected onto the streets, a strange crew finding our way home through the drink-fuelled bankers of what was for them just another Friday night in Canary Wharf. But we'd been somewhere else. Memorable! - Nick Morgan
Thank you Nick. After 'Peace of Iona' that I already recommended on October 21., here's another excellent song by The Waterboys: The Return of Pan (mp3)


Imperial 1991/2001 Port Wood Finish (40%, G&M Private Collection, cask #99/48 1.2, 2600 bottles) Finished in a Port cask for two years. Colour: light amber. Nose: fresh and quite fragrant. Very flowery: lilac, old rose. Lots of fresh fruits like strawberries, clementines, pineapple. Hints of vanilla crème. Not too winey at all. Not a bold nose, but it’s quite elegant and nicely balanced. Pleasurable. Mouth: nice attack, not as weak as the ABV would suggest. Sweet and quite rounded. Apple pie, milk caramel, vanilla. Quite honeyed. Fruitcake. Gets slightly woody and peppery after a few minutes. Nice, medium finish on milk chocolate and ripe orange. A nice, enjoyable malt, for any occasion. 82 points.

Imperial 16 yo (43%, Scottish Wildlife, bottled 1993)
Bottled by Signatory Vintage for the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Colour: white wine. Nose: very fresh and perfumy – like some eau de Cologne. Orange skin, lily from the valley. Flowers like buttercup, daisy, dandelion. Develops on ashes, stone, matchstick. Gets quite lactic and grassy after a while. Freshly mown lawn. Extremely clean, with no wood influence that I can smell. Seems to be much younger than 16yo. Mouth: a little weird. Sawdust, cold herbal tea, nettle soup. Gets really grassy and sugary. Develops on broiled cereals, mashed potatoes. Rather long finish, on tannins and sugar, with kind of a metallic aftertaste, and finally hints of passion fruit Well, this one’s really special, if not highly enjoyable. Worth trying. 78 points.
  Imperial 1993/2004 (45%, G&M for LMW, single cask)
I already had this one at WhiskyLive Paris, and it scored 85 points. Let’s taste it again, in a quieter environment. Colour: deep amber. Nose: fresh and again, quite fragrant. Quite a lot of oomph. Ginger ale, tobacco, fir honey, sandal wood. Hints of eucalyptus and turpentine. Some smoke too. Develops on spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Very, very nice. Mouth: creamy and nutty. Roasted peanuts, malt, caramel. Quite a lot of crystallised orange, hints of fir honey, eucalyptus, peppermint. Gets quite peppery, with lots of vanilla. Rather long finish, on pepper and cooked fruits (apple, apricot). Very nice balance, highly enjoyable. And yes, this is still the best Imperial I ever had. Let’s give it one more point: 86 points.
October 26, 2004


Linkwood 1989/2004 (43%, The Spirit Safe, 385 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh and light again. Marzipan, yoghurt, herbal tea, cider. Quite restrained and light at first – but not weak. Develops on vanilla creme, broiled cereals, cider. Hints of flowers (rose?) Mouth: nice and punchy attack. Very grassy, getting slightly bitter and a little sweetish. Hints of tea, not much more. Rather long and tannic finish. 80 points.

Linkwood 11 yo 1984/1996 (43%, Signatory, butt #5458) Colour: straw. Nose: rich and nutty, with some discrete, but nice sherry. Caramel, creme brûlée, burnt cake. Lots of cooked fruits, apple, apricot, mirabelle, quince. This nose gets nicer and nicer. Nice hints of spices, aniseed, Chinese anise. Great balance and elegance. Some peppermint. Mouth: nice attack, quite sherried, but much less impressive than the nose. Funny notes of herbs from Provence (thyme, rosemary). Fresh mint. Caramel, dried fruits, breadcrumb. It’s good, for sure! Medium finish, just a little offbeat. 84 points.  
  MUSIC - Recommended listening: Donna The Buffalo does The Ones You Love (mp3). Somewhat like a more modern America or CSNY... Very nice! Please buy their CDs if you like their music. (photo JC Juanis)
October 25, 2004
MALTS - Maybe this is an anorak matter ;-), but somebody I know took this picture at a cooper's in Scotland not so long ago. I really wonder what it is and what it means. Maybe some Macallan malt is been shipped to Glendronach in tankers and 'casked' there? This cask was empty, obviously, which might mean the 5 or 6 yo malt has already been used for blending. Please drop me an e-mail if you have a clue, thanks!  
WHISKY ADS- It's been a long time since I posted the latest crazy whisky ads, so here are two new ones. Left: White Horse 1972 - aren't we wondering when the damn horse is going to jump into the bath? (thanks Marco) Right: Canadian Club 1969. We're all wondering which is this easier way she's thinking about, aren't we?


Auchentoshan 1983/2004 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #513) - picture, right - Colour: white wine. Nose: very fragrant, and extremely citrusy. Is this riesling? Dry chenin? Sauvignon? Very heavy grapefruit and lemon that really overwhelm the malt. Italian lemon liquor, lemon cake, citronella… Well, lemon + lemon = 2 x lemon. What’s interesting is that it’s till very enjoyable, and this ‘mono-dimensionality’ (hey?) does make it simple. It’s great! Some great floral notes develop after a while, like lime-tree (!) or lilac. A great, great nose. Mouth: what would you think? Yes, lemon juice! Incredible! Some tangerine and grapefruit too.

It’s sharp, clean and very pure, and I guess all that must come from the triple distillation and from a very neutral cask, because nobody would have said it’s a 21 yo malt. I never had such a citrusy malt – even from Bladnoch or Rosebank. Its finish is rather long, on… Well, yes, you got it. Perhaps it doesn’t deserve such a high rating, but I’d still go for 90 points, just because of the fact that it’s so extreme.   
  Auchentoshan 21 yo 1970 (43%, OB, 1991) - picture above, left - Colour: cigar/amber. Nose: great sherry, very subtle and elegant. Tons of chocolate, toffee, coffee and orange liquor (Grand Marnier). Really superb, with not an ounce of vulgarity. Smells more and more like a great cognac – and what a fantastic freshness! I really love it, with it’s more than perfect balance and huge complexity. Yes, one of the best heavily sherried malts I had this year. Mouth: oh! Bold and creamy, with lots of sherry (rather in the fino style), orange marmalade, liquid caramel, quince jam, roasted peanuts, sweet white wine (old sauternes). Really brilliant, with just a little lack of power. I’ll try to taste this one ‘against’ an old Glen Garioch 21 yo in the future, should be interesting. Nice, medium finish, on caramel, orange and some hints of burnt cake. 92 points (and perhaps an interesting ‘old bottle effect’ starting to show off.)
MUSIC - Recommended listening: French singer Guesch Patti sings Dans tes Yeux (In you Eyes - mp3) with Canadian born electronica wizzard and 'international musical prankster' Chilly Gonzales. (Via Kitty-Yo)  
October 24, 2004


Scapa 23 yo 1979/2003 (55.6%, Chieftain's, sherry butt #663, 564 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: a mixture of fresh grassiness and sherry. Freshly mown lawn, apple juice, raisins, caramel, cold coffee. Gets a little woody and dusty. Vanilla. Not too expressive either. Mouth: quite bold. Sherry and honey, mixed with banana flambee. Develop on fruit liquors (parfait amour, amaretto, maraschino). Hints of pepper and nutmeg. Goes on with coffee and toffee… Gets better and better. Dried kumquats. Hints of smoke. Quite nice! Long finish, on dried fruits and Grand Marnier. I think it’s no malt to make a fuss about, but it’s quite enjoyable, still. 80 points

Scapa 9 yo 1988/1997 (43%, Signatory, dist. 25/01/1988) Colour: white wine. Nose: not too expressive. Grainy and grassy, hints of muesli, broiled cereals, mashed potatoes. Whiffs of lavender, not much else. Somewhat like neutral alcohol. Mouth: bitter and grassy, hints of dried fruits (crystallized orange zest). Some sweetish notes. Medium finish, on sugar and alcohol. Well… 65 points.
  MUSIC - Hmm, trying to find something exotic for this automnal Sunday... Oh yes, why not have a listen to Tamil young singer Harini's Magamkarukuthu? It sure has a 'Bollywoodian' feeling to us westerners... Maybe a little 'overproduced'? Perfect for a dram of McDowell, in any case...
October 23, 2004

CONCERT REVIEW: BLUES EXPLOSION - Shepherds Bush Empire London - 10/20/04
by guest writer Nick Morgan

The first time I saw them it took almost a week to recover. So I should have known that four days sailing (as it turned out we were on a spaceship, not a yacht) and three nights sleep deprivation in the company of a well known Malt Maniac, followed by a few days in the Fun Factory, was hardly the right preparation for a full frontal assault. Now, aficionados may note that the JSBX have been rebranded by those pesky marketeers to the purer Blues Explosion – but believe me – the product is no different!

Starting with ‘She said’ from 2002’s Plastic Fang, to an astonishing ‘Down in the Beast’ at the end of the main set, Spencer’s tightly knit three piece beat an audience of mixed-aged admirers into a pulp of holy submission with twelve bar blues infused with a manic effects-pedal driven complexity – a brilliantly engineered layer-cake of sound and rhythm. Six songs into the encore he was pulled off by the stage management (I recall seeing this happen to the Climax Blues Band in 1973 – when their power was switched off by the caretaker!). Spencer sang, shouted, growled, howled and hunted his audience, like an old time Mississippi preacher. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had LOVE and HATE tattooed across his knuckles. And with him the razor sharp Telecaster of Judah Bauer; and at the heart of the band Russell Simins’ sensationally visceral drumming. Buy the CDs, watch the video – but to touch and feel the Blues Explosion you really have to be there.- Nick Morgan
Thanks again Nick. You can listen to Jon Spencer's Bues Explosion here: Shakin' Rock'n'Roll Tonight (mp3)


Glenlossie 1993/2003 (43%, The Spirit Safe and Cask, 374 bottles) I already tasted this one at owner Jean Donnay’s place, in Brittany. I did like it a lot! Let’s have another, more serious go at it. Colour : white wine. Nose: very fresh, clean and flowery, young and playful. Some milk, fresh crème, broiled cereals. Hints of citrus. Nice! Mouth: wow, very perfumy, in a nice way. Cold tea, fructose, apple (golden delicious), lavender ice cream. A dash of pepper and vanilla from the wood. Rather long and fresh finish. I like it! Let’s raise the rating to 86 points (instead of 85).
Glenlossie 1993/2004 (46%, Murray McDavid, MM 0413, bourbon) Colour : white wine. Nose: quite similar to the Spirit Safe version, perhaps a little more spirity, and less fragrant. Grainier, and more citrusy (lemon). Grapefruit juice. Hints of fresh mint. A little restrained. Mouth, very, very close to the Spirit Safe version, just a little bolder, and perhaps somewhat less fresh and clean. Lots of cold tea, camomile. Again a long finish, perhaps slightly fruitier. But these two malts are really similar. 85 points.

October 22, 2004
MUSIC - My friend Paul almost had to twist my arm to make me listen to some Aerosmith, by telling me it's great to wake up while being full of energy. Don't tell my mother but I sort of liked it. I mean, not exactly liked, but I must say the 30 first seconds of Pink (mp3) were quite enjoyable to my ears. Because yes, I do like harmonica...  


Clynelish 20 yo 1983/2004 (46%, Murray McDavid Mission III, 498 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: extremely fresh and fragrant. Strawberry pie with vanilla crème, apricot, buttercup, lilac. Most enjoyable! Develops on some very refined coastal notes, with whiffs of peat and pepper. Not the most complex ever, but its freshness is great. Mouth: perfectly balanced. Sweet, fruity and slightly peppery. Peppered strawberries, peach jam. Gets a little dry and woody after a moment (cocoa powder). Medium long finish, a little woody, with hints of cooked coffee. 85 points.

Clynelish 14 yo 1989/2003 (50%, DL OMC, cask #3850, 312 bottles, 6 month rum finish) Colour: light straw. Nose: opens up on coffee and burnt cake. Something completely different! Toffee, raisins, and yes, some rum. Goes on with some peaty notes, mixed with hints of apple skin and wood. Some grassy notes as well: hay, fern… Mouth: bold and powerful, not too different from the Murmac. Rum, apple skin, ripe banana, smoke. Gets quite woody and drying after a while. Candy sugar, caramelised carrots. Long and bold finish, on caramel, rum and herbal tea (camomile). Nice! 83 points.  
  Clynelish 13 yo 1989/2002 (56.7%, Adelphi, cask #3281) Colour: straw. Nose, very interesting, like if somebody had mixed the two first ones. Lots of sour wood, toffee, cooked fruits (apricot pie). Smells like a working stillhouse. Seaweed, peat smoke… Very nice again. Gets quite animal after a while: horse sweat, stable. Hints of caramel, cooked soy sauce. This one’s the most complex! Mouth: sweet, even sugary. Candy sugar, caramel, vanilla crème. Coffee drops, Bailey’s, Tia Maria. Gets quite grassy (soy beans). Roasted meat (Beijin duck), Long finish, on caramelised vegetables (Cantonese cooking) and marc de Bourgogne. How nice! A superb and very special Clynelish, that doesn’t play it ‘coastal’ this time. 88 points.
This is an old Scotch Whiskey (?) flavoured toothpaste seen on a collector's website. Too bad, that site is down by now... Not sure it was ideal when you had a jungle mouth...  
October 21, 2004


Rosebank 13 yo 1990/2004 (46%, Whisky Galore) Colour: straw. Nose: fresh and fruity, not overly expressive. Cider, tangerine, greengage. Gets quite flowery after a while: buttercup, dandelion, violets. Hints of light honey (breakfast honey) and sawdust. Turns slightly sour (wood) and milky (yogurt). The violets aromas make an interesting come back, though. Mouth: powerful, quite perfumy, with lots of bubblegum. Goes on with pear spirit and vodka, then some hints of cider and ginger. Long finish, getting a little bitter. A good, solid Rosebank, somewhat different from the usual citrusy ones, even if some notes of crystallised citron do appear after a while. Not and absolute winner, though. 80 points.

Rosebank 12 yo 1991/2003 (60%, Signatory ‘Cask Sample’ series, #567) Colour: white wine. Nose: quite powerful. Lots of vanilla crème at first, getting grassy. Then the fruits emerge, with lots of pear and ripe gooseberry. Gets slightly woody and spirity. In short, not too complex but enjoyable. Mouth: very powerful, on lemon, grapefruit, cider apples. Quite bitter but in a rather nice way. Grape seeds, cold over-infused tea, walnut skins, green apple, grass. Well, you get the picture, I guess. Long, bitter and sharp finish, almost prickling, on lemon peel. A malt that makes you able to count your vertebras when you swallow it – can be useful! 77 points.

By the way, have you heard the news? Champagne and Cognac company Moët-Hennessy just bought Glenmorangie plc for £300m.

  MUSIC - Recommended - or should I say obligatory - listening: Mike Scott and The Waterboys singing Peace of Iona (mp3, 64kbps), a fantabulous song that comes from their excellent latest record 'Universal Hall'. 'Peace of the glancing, dancing waves... Peace of the white sands... Peace of Iona... Peace of the singing wind... Peace of the stones... Peace of Iona...' To enjoy with a wild dram from the Islands, obviously... (thanks Nick).
October 20, 2004
MUSIC - Again a young singer I didn't know yet: Rachael Sage. Have a listen to Sister Song (mp3) and judge by yourself. And oh, again, please buy the artists' CDs or purchase their downloadable music if you like their works!  


Bowmore 10 yo (50%, OB, 1990’s) An old bottling from around 1993. Colour: gold. Nose: very special. smoke, paraffin, smoked ham, turpentine, wet dog. Rather weird. Lots of soapy notes, lavender perfume, burning fir-wood. Keeps developing on some strange ‘chemical’ aromas, even after ten minutes. Mouth: very peaty, very smoky. Burnt cardboard, pine-needle, old paper. Gets weirder and weirder. Perfume, diesel oil, burnt plastics. Almost undrinkable, I’d say. No wonder this one never was such a heavy seller, and no wonder they did withdraw it. 50 points.

Bowmore 1993/2004 Extra Strength (50%, Wilson & Morgan) Colour: light straw. Nose: quite bold and powerful, very smoky. Lots of peat. Goes on with some nice notes of orange juice, tangerine. Quite clean and straightforward. Develops on seaweed, iodine. Hints of cooked banana. Wow, lots of tropical fruits emerge after a few minutes, mostly passion fruit and guava. Mouth: bold, rich and powerful – what a nice attack, on a perfect mix of peat/smoke and fruits. Fruit salad, pear syrup, ripe kiwi, peach syrup. Gets quite peppery after a while… The fruits strike back, the peat responds, and so on. It’s endless and beautiful, just like the Duetto 'Sul Aria' from Le Nozze di Figaro (mp3 - Deutsche Opera Berlin). 90 points for this Bowmore.

Bowmore 1989/2004 (53.2%, Berry Bros, casks #1968/1969) Colour: light straw. Nose: less spectacular than the W&M. A little closed – needs a little water. Then lots of fruity notes emerge, like strawberry, both fresh and cooked, apple, pineapple. Develops on some nice and quite discrete smoke and peat. Hints of burnt cake, breadcrumb. Really nice. Some white rum. Mouth: starts on lavender, thyme, pine tree resin, strawberry jam, orange marmalade. Rather perfumy, not unlike some OBs. Develops on dried orange, milk chocolate, dried figs. It keeps improving, with more and more dried fruits, and always some nice smoke and pepper. Its finish is extremely long, on Christmas cake. A good, solid overproof Bowmore. 86 points.

BRORA NEWS: Okay, I was a little too quick when I spoke of a new Duncan Taylor Brora to be bottled this week. I've just learnt the operations will be slightly delayed, but Malt Maniac's Luc Timmermans just brought this picture back from Scotland. Yes, it's a picture of the cask #1426, precisely that one. Not bottled yet, indeed. Thanks Luc!

Btw, Maltmaniacs' issue #11 is now on-line. Plenty of breaking news!

October 18, 2004
MALTS - New feature: I just added some stars to each malt I tasted, for quicker and better reading..
means less than 70 points,
between 70 and 79,
between 80 and 84,
between 85 and 89,
90 points or more.


Lochside 1991/2004 (46%, G&M for LMW, cask #15189)
I think 1991 was Lochside’s last year of distilling. Colour: white wine. Nose: very fresh. Sea water, ashes, matchstick, grass. Notes of grapefruit, green lemon. A little restrained but very clean. Mouth: lots of fresh white fruits, apple, pear. Gets quite grassy and woody (dust). Develops on orange peel, ginger tonic. Some vanilla. Medium but nice finish, on grassy notes and apple compote. A good malt. 80 points.
Lochside 1981/2004 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, casks #610/613)
Colour: straw. Nose: wow, quite punchy! Extremely fragrant. Lots of tropical fruits, litchi, passion fruit, pineapple. Superb! Whiffs of Chanel n°5. Some very nice coastal notes. Develops on spices (cardamom). Really beautiful. Mouth: again, just beautiful. Bold and superbly balanced. Lots of tropical fruits, apricot jam, white pepper. Some smoke and some salt on the tongue. Tea (oolong), tobacco. What a great Lochside (like many 1981’s). Funny hints of soy sauce. I really like it! Long finish. 90 points.

  MUSIC - I like English countertenor James Bowman since I listened to him the first time in a little Parisian church, more than fifteen years ago. Great, aerial voice, always thrilling when he sings Monteverdi, Purcell or Pergolesi. Have a listen to Bowman singing Sleep (mp3) a quite modern piece by 20th Century British composer Peter Warlock (picture). Really beautiful.
October 17, 2004

TASTING - Benromach 'Traditional' (40%, OB, 2004)
This is the first bottling of the 'new' Benromach, distilled since Gordon and MacPhail took control of this small East of Inverness distillery. Colour: white wine. Nose: youthful, very grainy and grassy. Hay, lemon peel. herbal tea, citronella. Interesting whiffs of peat (G&M now uses some malt peated at 8ppm at Benromach). Hints of fresh butter. Nice and fresh! Mouth: sweet and balanced, yet just a little watery. Grainy, caramel and vanilla. Again quite fresh. Notes of violet sweets, butter caramel, Japanese green tea. Medium finish, with quite some smoke and some apple skin. A good and clean malt, even if a little too much on the light side. 81 points.

MUSIC - Perfect for a rainy Sunday: John Lennon and the Beatles singing Sun King (mp3). Aaaah...

October 16, 2004


Glenkinchie 17 yo (46%, Cadenhead, old dumpy)
I think this one has been bottled in the 80’s but I’m not sure. I only have a miniature (picture left). Please drop me an e-mail if you know its distilling or bottling year, thanks! Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, grainy and spirity. Lots of paraffin oil, copper cleaner. Hints of flowers (lavender, violet) that are soon to be replaced with hot milk and broiled cereals. Develops on fruity notes: freshly cut apple, pear, gooseberry, kiwi. Whiffs of sawdust, wet liquorice stick. Much nicer than expected! Mouth: much simpler than the nose would suggest. A mix of white fruits (apple, peach) and wood. Gets quite tannic and drying, with quite some white pepper. Medium long, dusty, bitter finish. In short, a fantastic nose but a slightly deceptive palate. 83 points.

Glenkinchie 12 yo (58.7%, OB, Limited Edition, 5010 bottles)
I already had this one at WhiskyLive Paris but now it’s time to have another, slower and quieter go at it. Colour: straw. Nose: bold, malty and spirity. Notes of white rum, tequila. Gets quite grassy – lots of parsley (funny!) Some flowery notes, but quite discrete. Develops on some sour woody notes, mashed potatoes. Quite austere, not too sexy, I’d say. And quite simpler than the old Cadenhead’s. Mouth: wow, very powerful. Quite sweet, developing on malty notes. Lots of fruits: pear, quince, ripe melon. The alcohol is soon to take control again, though. Gets very grassy after a few minutes. Quite some wood too… The finish is long and powerful, getting slightly bitter. This time I think the mouth is nicer than the nose. I’ll rise my earlier rating from 81 to 82 points. Almost tie!

October 2004 - part 1 <--- October 2004 - part 2 ---> November 2004 part 1

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

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

Auchentoshan 1983/2004 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #513)

Auchentoshan 21 yo 1970 (43%, OB, 1991)

Bowmore 1993/2004 Extra Strength (50%, Wilson & Morgan)

Highland Park 18 yo 1985/2003 (53.9%, Signatory for La Maison du Whisky, cask #2915)

Highland Park 25 yo (50.7%, OB, 2004)

The Whisky that Cannot be Named 50 yo 1953/2003 (54.3%, Adelphi, cask #1668)