2004 <--- September
2004 part 1
13 yo 1990/2003 (55.8%, G&M, cask
Colour: amber. Nose: quite smoky, with
some nice peat as often with Ardmore.
A little spirity. Nice fruity notes (melon,
peach, apricot). Mouth: quite bold but
a little rough compared to some earlier
versions. Peaty and fruity. Long, peppery
finish, getting just a little dry. In
short, a nice Ardmore that doesn't do
any exploit, but that’s most ‘sippable’.
- TWO SIMPLE HIGHLANDERS
Garioch 10 yo (40%, OB, circa 2004)
Colour: gold. Nose: quite light, feinty
and milky. Lots of broiled cereals, mashed
potatoes, porridge. Mouth: medium body,
a little spirity and malty. Grainy, getting
grassy. Hints of spices. Medium finish,
getting a little sour. Not too bad, but
nothing special. 78 points.
12 yo (40%, OB, 2004)
Colour: golden. Nose: very smooth and
rounded. Sweet sherry, very syrupy. Hints
of dust, dried orange, milk chosolate.
Mouth: very smooth, sweet and enjoyable.
A little sugarish. Herbal tea, sherry,
Mirabelle jam. Nice finish on cooked apricot.
So sweet, even a little ‘decadent’.
- TWO NEW GLENFARCLAS
12 yo (43%, OB, circa 2004)
Colour: amber. Nose: rather smooth, quite
sherried and slightly spicy. Quite elegant.
Some winey notes, hints of vanilla and
wood. Mouth: quite sherried, getting a
little rough and woody (tannins). Hints
of liquorice and toasted bread. Nice balance,
but the finish is a little drying. A good
all-rounder. 80 points.
1994/2004 (46%, OB, oloroso hogshead,
600 bottles for France)
Colour; amber. Nose: lots of sherry and
wood. Fruitcake, dried fruits, orange
peel, chocolate. Classic, even if not
too rounded. Mouth: lots of sherry again,
somewhat like the old Macallan 12 yo from
the mid-nineties. Nice and bold, very
satisfying, even if it might lack a little
further aging. 82 points.
- Darkness, eccentricity,
morbid wit and playfulness: this is Lambchop,
a cult band from Nashville, Tennessee
that really has class. Here are some very
good mp3 samples from their latest CDs:
from 'Nixon - 2000', The
new cobweb summer and Is
a woman, from 'Is a woman - 2002'
going on from 'Aw C`Mon - 2004'. As
always, please buy their CDs if you like
MANIACS - Most of the
statistics have been updated, including
our Top 100 lists. Check the Special
- TWO CLASSICS FROM SPEYSIDE
15 yo ‘Cuvée Marie d’Ecosse’
(43%, OB) This one is
said to be made only for France, but you
can find it at several ‘foreign’
places. Colour: golden amber. Nose: nice,
quite fresh, with lots of pastry, vanilla
and sherry. Develops on hot butter, toffee
and honey. Nicely balanced. Mouth: quite
smooth and balanced. A little vegetal.
Hints of caramel and fresh fruits. A rather
long and peppery finish (white pepper),
perhaps just a little drying. A well crafted
malt. Cheers to Mary Stuart! 84
30 yo (40%, OB) Glenfiddich’s
gone halves with this one: roughly 50%
sherry, 50% bourbon. Colour: golden. Nose:
not too expressive at first. It needs
time to open up. A little dusty and woody
at first nosing, it develops on some light
fruity notes (pear, quince). Gets slightly
sour. Not very aromatic, to say the least,
but quite elegant and refined. Hints of
vanilla. Mouth: nice, balanced and quite
satisfying, despite the low ABV. Hints
or ripe mirabelle and pear. Medium finish,
on pepper. A little drying. Quite slender,
in fact, but really elegant. I’d
love to taste this one at 43% or, better,
46%! 87 points.
- The first time I listened
to a Devendra
Banhart song, I thought it
had been recorded in the early 70's, and
I even wondered if it wasn't an unreleased
T-Rex track - or an unknown Marc Bolan
solo effort, for that matter. But I've
been flabbergasted when I found out that
it was a young 'eccentric-folk' artist,
not even 25 yet. Listen to Will
is my friend or Rejoicing
in the hands (both mp3) - I think
both are very nice.
- TWO NEW ALLIED BOTTLINGS
14 yo (40%, OB) A brand
new bottling by Allied, with a new livery.
Colour: amber. Nose: fresh, light and
grassy. Lavender. Hints of fruits (pineapple,
green pear). Whiffs of smoke. Nice! Mouth:
surprisingly bold. Some farmy notes, hints
of tobacco and some nice fruit: apricot,
quince jelly, melon fresh almonds. Very
nice! Rather long, fruity finish. Nice
presence at 40%! One step above the former
12yo, I’d say. 82 points.
12 yo ‘Original’ (40%, OB)
Again a new bottling by Allied. Colour:
amber. Nose: very milky, lots of broiled
cereals. No traces of sherry that I can
smell. Gets quite oaky, nutty and buttery.
Mouth: on hot pastry, praline and dried
fruits. Not very complex, much less interesting
than the new Scapa OB. Medium finish,
on grainy notes and vanilla fudge. Nothing
special, I’d say. 78 points.
- THREE BRAND NEW G&Ms
1994/2004 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s
Choice) This one is from
the last batches Iain Henderson did at
Ardbeg before the distillery’s latest
closure. G&M seem to have many casks,
as they already released a batch in 2001,
at 7yo. Colour: white wine. Nose: very
feinty and farmy (horse stable). Much
less smoky, iodized and ‘maritime’
than the usual Ardbegs. Quite malty and
earthy. Mouth: starts a little sugarish,
then develops on smoke, yes, grass and
charcoal. Not thrilling, that’s
for sure. Short and curiously weak finish.
A shadow of an Ardbeg? 78 points.
1989/2004 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s
Choice) A brand new bottling.
Colour: straw. Nose: very nice, fruity
(lemon, tangerine) and floral. A little
spirity but not too much. Nice hints of
spices from the wood. Mouth: very nice,
fresh and balanced. Citrus, gooseberry,
herbal tea. Medium long finish, on pear.
I like this one as much as the 1987 and
1988. Some perfect summer malts, that
can bear an ice cube when it’s very
hot. 84 points.
1995/2004 (40%, G&M, Speymalt)
G&M bottle some great whiskies, but
I must say this particular series always
left me skeptical. Most were too weak
and dry for my taste, so let’s check
whether this brand new version is any
better. Colour: amber. Nose: cooked apple,
cinnamon, old wood, dust mop, hints of
sherry… not much else. Quite weak,
again. Mouth: very smooth but ‘skimpy’.
Hints of white pepper, getting dusty and
drying. Short finish, on wood and crystallized
orange. Well, it’s not too bad,
but you won’t remember it for long.
very young English female musicians playing
a blend of Brit-rock and electonica and
sometimes singing in French... That should
have kept me away and I still wonder how
and why I managed to put my hands - sorry,
my ears on Electrelane's
stuning composition The
Valleys, where the simplest drumbeat
ever and hypnotic organ loops underline
two choirs (female and male) responding
to each other. Listen to it, I think it's
accordion, cello or violin, excellent
orchestrations, a nice voice even if not
her main asset, that's Nina
Nastasia, from New York City.
Yet another skillful and very interesting
young singer! Have a listen to either
the powerful This
is what it is or Stormy
Weather (mp3) and 'you'll see what
you'll hear!' ;-)
- TWO BALVENIES
17 yo 'Islay Cask' (43%, OB) An
interesting 94-casks cuvee I had never
tasted before - I know I'm a little late.
Some loved it, some hated it. It's been
finished for 6 months in some Islay casks
- some say it was Ardbeg, some others
say Laphroaig, and the last said it was
a blend of various distilleries, including
Lagavulin. Some have also argued this
one isn't a single malt anymore, but rather
a vatting of different distilleries. Well,
let's just check what 'the glass' says.
Colour: pure gold. Nose: very earthy,
with lots of gentian spirit - I love that
- melted with Balvenie's typical honeyed
notes. Beautiful, I think. Hints of vanilla
cream and dried orange. Mouth: surprisingly
peated, like if somebody had just poured
twenty bottles of Ardbeg into each cask.
Quite smoky - and even salty. Again, hints
of gentian (roots) and liquorice, added
to the sweet, honeyed notes. Long and
beautiful finish. What a great balance!
15 yo 1988/2003 (47.8%, OB, cask #3971)
This one’s from
the ‘single barrel’ series
– bourbon casks only. The Balvenie
people try to select casks that taste
more or less the same, but there are variations
indeed, even if not dramatic. Colour:
straw. Nose: quite discrete at first nosing.
Pear, pepper, vanilla, oak… hints
of light honey. Mouth: much more spectacular.
Lots of honey, caramel, melon, peach…
Gets just a little woody (spices, vanilla,
tannins) and drying after a while. A very
good, solid malt, somewhat less creamy
and smooth than most other Balvenies.
- Thank God music crosses
the borders freely! I had forgotten about
Stevens aka Yusuf Islam since
a long time, but the news of his blacklisting
by the US authorities today gave me the
idea of having a short go at his recent
work. It's nice! Have a listen to
little ones' (mp3), it's a beautiful,
yet very sad song. Thanks to the US government!
Scotia 1990 (40%, MacPhail’s Collection)
Glen Scotia‘s always been overshadowed
by its neighbour Springbank, but I feel
the revenge is soon to come. Colour: light
amber. Nose: very maritime (sea spray,
seaweed, iodine), almost ‘fishy’.
Hints of peat, with a salty tang. Wow,
interesting! Mouth: fresh and clean, on
tangerine and Japanese seaweed. Some great
spicy notes (clove, nutmeg, pepper) and
a medium long, nicely balanced and salty
finish. A very nice find, even if this
one isn’t for the lovers of ‘smack-in-you-face’
malts. 86 points.
25 yo (40%, G&M distillery label,
bottled 2004) First-fill
sherry only. Colour: full amber. Nose:
bold fresh sherry and lots of tropical
fruits (passion fruit, guava). Almost
smells like an old Yquem! Nice spicy notes
(cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger). Mouth: smooth,
sweet and very rich, on dried pineapple
and apricot. Notes of strawberry jam.
Gets a little peppery, tannic and drying,
but this one still slides down you throat
like velvet. A beautiful, voluptuous malt.
York is an excellent, imaginative
and adventurous jazz singer from New York
City. Listen to her silky voice on And
the angels hover above us or the Beatles'
I fell, with extraordinay pianist
Richie Beirach. Nora wrote: 'My music
grew out of relationships with jazz musicians
because they were the most capable of
playing my musical ideas'. Well,
- TWO NEW ARRANS
Arran Malt (43%, OB, 2004, now 7-8yo)
Colour: light straw. Nose: very feinty
and spirity, really smells ‘the
distillery’. Lots of farmy and malty
notes. Quite close to a newmake, but not
bad at all. Lots of white fruits developing.
Mouth: nicely perfumed, with some toasted
notes. Malty and milky. Rather long finish.
A nice whisky, quite clean and fresh.
A breakfast malt? 79 points.
7 yo ‘Finished in a Port Cask’
(57.5%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, 684
bottles, 2004) 6 month
finishing. Colour: blush wine. Nose: coffee,
toasted bread. Nice hints of blackcurrant
leaves and Port (strawberry jam). Hints
of peony. Mouth: quite bold, with yet
some ‘distillery’ tastes (working
still). Fruit syrup (pear), dried fruits,
hot hay. Long and bold finish, a little
chocolaty. A good malt – Arran really
improves these days! 82 points.
yesterday was my birthday, and I celebrated
with the best of the best: sipping a Brora
1972 while listening to John Coltrane's
Favorite Things' (mp3). Mmmmmmmmm..........
AND REST - From
left to right: (1) this rocker
is made out of a genuine whisky blending
vat. At £975, it's for true aficionados
only! Ideal when you're gloriously drunk?
And oh, did you ever try this 2,000 euros
whisky-spitting chair? I'm not joking,
Looks like a judge's chair... but aren't
all judges sober?
Now, if you prefer something 'artier',
this nice chair by contemporary sculptor
Tibor Timar is made out of welded steel,
found wood and whisky barrel slats. I
don't know its price but it must be quite
While this Jameson inflatable chair will
cost you around £5 only (check ebay).
It also exists with other brands such
as Canadian Mist. What, you don't like
1969 (43%, OB, bottled Sept 2004)
This one’s just been bottled! Colour:
full amber. Nose: wow, some great old
casks must be in there! Quite rich. Apple
compote, cooked fruit with white pepper.
Develops on bitter chocolate, toffee,
honey, heather. Superb. Mouth: bold and
rich, yet very elegant. Fresh Havana cigar,
ripe fruits, toffee, dried orange. Medium
long finish, getting just a little drying.
A great old malt, not tired in any way,
that deserves no less than 91
points. Just perfect for sipping
in your new inflatable chair, while listening
to India Arie's 'Brown
Skin' (mp3) ;-).
the series 'Absolute Gems from the Past':
1969, Julie Driscoll and Brian
Auger play The Doors' anthem
my fire' (mp3). I think nobody played
it that well. Perhaps even the Doors didn't.
- TWO NEW EDRADOURS and a few cask samples
10 yo 1994/2004 (46%, Signatory, cask
#344, 787 bottles) This
one must have been a big butt! ;-) Colour:
coppery. Nose: lots of wood and lots of
sherry. Hints of old cardboard and Tia
Maria coffee liquor. Gets quite chocolaty
and nutty. A very nice nose. Mouth: lots
of wood again (pepper, cocoa powder).
Hints of iquorice, sherry, dried orange
and lemon jam. It’s good –
so much better than the former ‘dumpy’
Edradours! Quite long and creamy finish,
on coffee. In short, not too complex but
bold and thoroughly enjoyable.
21 yo 1983/2004 (53.6%, OB, cask #03/041,
776 bottles) Again, must
have been a huge cask. Colour: amber –
orange. Nose: very elegant and balanced,
not overwhelmed by the Port. Quite bold
and rich, with lots of fruits (dates,
figs, cooked strawberry). A little spicy
(clove, cinnamon) and honeyed. Hints of
eucalyptus. Nice! Mouth: creamy, on fruit
jam (strawberry, raspberry) and hazelnut.
Chocolate, praline, Turkish delight. Long
and bold finish. Not too bad for a Port
wood finish! 83 points.
PS: Richard Joynson found some peat in
it, and wondered if that was Iain Henderson’s
boots. Lol! PS2: we also had an excellent
Edradour 1993 Marsala finish that's work
in progress. A truly fantastic finishing,
for once (90 points). Watch that one when
it gets released. Two 18mo samples of
Ballechin were absolutely great too. One
was a full Portwood matured beauty (85
points) and the other one from a Burgundy
cask. The latter was just stunning: 89
is Bruichladdich's spirit
safe, nicely decorated when the TRA (or
something like that - or was it the CIA?)
was watching the distillery through its
webcams, looking for a WMD plant... You
don't know the story? It's here.
(Thanks again Peter)
Mingus, son of fantabulous
jazz innovator Charlie Mingus. Must be
so difficult to live a musician's life
with such a heavy name. Of course Eric
doesn't quite hold a candle to Charlie,
but I found the bluesy Romantic
to be very moving and so nicely written
and sung, and His
Blood in Me (mp3)
is very nice too. Yes, Charlie's blood,
but his great mind too! Emotions...
Maniacs Monitor has just
been updated - now more than 6,180 ratings!
cars don't make it', sang somebody. True
but this black Ford 350 seems to be quite
useful to move a few barrels. I guess
this picture came from an American ad
or booklet by Ford... I hope Range Rover
will make a similar one one day - why
not with some big sherry butts? (Thanks
- TWO OLD BALBLAIRS AND A YOUNG ONE
38 yo 1966/2004 (44%, OB, Spanish oak
cask, 2400 bottles) A
brand new bottling. Colour: light amber
with a little bronze. Nose: much fresher
than expected. Lots of beeswax, eucalyptus
and menthol. Grandma’s cupboard.
Hints of cooked apple, spices and fresh
walnut. Some fine woody notes. Mouth:
superb, on fir-tree honey, gingerbread
and sultanas. A little syrupy and creamy.
Very elegant, with a beautiful balance.
A true nectar, with a long, honeyed finish.
33 yo 1966/1999 (44.2%, OB, Bourbon cask)
Nose: quite similar to the 38yo, even
if the casks weren’t of the same
kind. Just a little less of everything.
Mouth: same comment, perhaps a little
more tropical fruit. Less complex but
incredibly fresh for such an age. 89
Elements (40%, OB, 2004)
Another rather mundane malt I never tasted
before. It’s a blend of 16, 8, 5
and 3 yo malt, the average being 5.5 years.
Colour: straw. Nose: light and grassy,
with notes of fresh mushrooms and fresh
cereals. Quite clean and enjoyable. Mouth:
fruit syrup, pear juice, and a bit of
salt on the tongue. Medium long and fruity
finish. A simple, but very enjoyable malt.
of news on maltmaniacs.com
(scroll down). My report on WhiskyLive
Paris, Ho-cheng's on the Bruichladdich
Academy, Davin's on the Islay Festival,
not to mention Johannes' great new log
entries with a detailed report on the
official launch of the new
Macallans in Amsterdam. What a load!
- TWO NEW LADDIES, ARMED TO THE TEETH
20 yo ‘Second Edition’ (46%,
OB, ‘Flirtation’, 2004)
Here’s the brand new Laddie that
already made many buzz-kills talk. It’s
been finished for five weeks in some Rivesaltes
casks from Cazes, the grape variety being
mourvèdre. Colour: strawberry jam.
Nose: honey, vanilla and fresh fruit (melon)
with whiffs of wine. Not too many winey
notes in fact, much less than I’d
have expected. Hints of red fruits developing
after a while, together with some fine
oak. Quite nice! Mouth: smooth, quite
creamy and toffeeish. A little woody,
with vanilla and ripe fruits, caramelized
apple. Gets a little spicy (nutmeg) with
just, yes, a few spicy wine notes that
don’t overwhelm, but rather underline
the malt. Medium long finish, on toasted
bread. A very good Bruichladdich, even
if not as stellar as the 20 yo ‘first
edition’. But the latter had some
enemies too ;-) 86 points.
3D ‘The Peat Proposal’ (46%,
OB, 2004) This one is
technically a 3 yo as it’s a vatting
of three different runs: some 15 yo peated
at 8 ppm, some 6 yo peated at 25 ppm -
an Invergordon run, I guess - and some
3 yo Port Chalotte, peated at 40ppm. Colour:
light gold. Nose: quite harsh, with lots
of ‘young’ peat. Quite smoky.
I guess there’s a good deal of Port
Charlotte in there – or is it the
‘upholding’ malt from the
Invergordon era? The whole isn’t
as peated as, for instance the Very Young
Ardbeg, but it made me think of some young
Broras I could taste lately (Cadenhead
13yo). Hints of sherry, cooked fruits
and vanilla fudge. Mouth: bold and powerful,
with lots of peat. A little farmy. Some
seaspray as well. Notes of vanilla and
hints of sherry and old wood that make
it just a little ‘un-structured’,
as they sort of fight the peat that’s
full of youth. Very long finish, even
if it sort of goes two different ways
at the same time. A very interesting try,
for sure. 85 points.
- No, this
is not an old picture of Roxy Music! Exit
Jacques Brel and the flat lands, now the
Belgians swing and groove! Want evidence?
a good electronica band that blends funk,
Brasilian, trip hop, lounge and low fi
quite successfully. Have a listen
(mp3) if you're into this kind of music,
and of course buy their CD if you like
it (thanks, Luc).
1993/2004 (45%, G&M for La Maison
du Whisky) Colour: deep
amber. Nose: nice and quite powerful,
with lots of Havana tobacco and some sweet
honeyed notes. Gets quite phenolic and
peppery. Hints of turpentine. Mouth: quite
creamy and nutty. Whiffs of peat and pepper.
Develops on dried fruits, orange zest
and caramel, with a little vanilla. Rather
long and spicy finish, with a good balance.
A good, solid malt, maybe the best Imperial
I ever had. I guess the 45% make most
of the difference! 85 points.
- TWO PEATED BENRIACHS BY SIGNATORY -
28 yo 1975/2004 (57.1%, Signatory Cask
Strength, hogshead #7216, 234 bottles)
Bottled last week! Here’s Signatory
Vintage’s new ‘Cask Strength’
bottle, the former dumpy having been discontinued.
This Benriach comes from the peated runs
Seagram was doing in the past for blending
purpose. You’ll read more about
this topic in my E-pistle about WhiskyLive
Paris to be published on maltmaniacs.com
shortly. Let’s taste this one now…
Colour: amber. Nose: very rich and bold.
Pinewood, peat, resin, turpentine, tropical
fruit (passion fruit). Hints of liquorice…
Wowie! I just love this beautiful and
very special nose – what a holy
pile of different aromas! Mouth: bold
and powerful, but not pungent. Quite oily
with a great peat. A walk in a pine tree
forest after the rain. Tons of cooked
fruits (cooked mirabelle, apricot pie),
liquorice, spices. Long and very interesting
finish, on camphor and caramel, with a
salty tang. This Benriach is absolutely
superb! 92 points. (Pssst,
it’ll be available at La Maison
du Whisky shortly)
10 yo 1994/2004 (46%, Signatory UCF, cask
#1629) This one is even
more peated, and one could easily think
it’s Caol Ila when tasted blind.
Thank God Signatory wrote 'Heavily Peated'
in bold letters on the label! Colour:
light straw. Nose: Pure and clean peat,
somewhat like some of the peatiest Ardmores.
Lots of white fruits. Gets a little minty.
Interesting, even if not overly complex.
Mouth: a little harsh, almost pungent.
Notes of rubber, tar and green malt. Gets
a little grassy and peppery. Long, peaty
finish. In short, an intriguing Speysider,
ready for the peated era to come –
or is it already here? It’s nowhere
near its older brother the 28yo, especially
regarding complexity, but it’s well
worth trying, that’s for sure.
wrote this is 'the ultimate classic slice
of 60'/70's Gallic pop' and I agree I
should talk a little more about French
music from time to time. So, here's the
t'aime, moi nons plus' (mp3) by Serge
Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
(picture). Gainsbourg died in 1991 and
we all miss him here. Another very nice
song is 'Je
suis venu te dire que je m'en vais'
28 yo 1975/2003 Tain l’Hermitage
(46%, OB, bottling #1560)
Funny that after having tasted many Chapoutier
wines earlier this month, I come across
this Glenmorangie finished in some…
casks from Chapoutier’s. These casks
contained some red Hermitage – and
not Tain l’Hermitage, which is the
nearest city, not the vineyard –
partly Sizeranne, partly Le Pavillon,
but Dr Lumsden doesn’t quite know
in which proportion. The grape variety
is pure syrah, and the malt spent no less
than four years in these Hermitage casks.
Was it too much? Let’s see…
Colour: amber. Nose: round, nicely balanced.
Some very nice woody notes. Very spicy
(syrah!) and almost like some old boy’s
jam (all sorts of red fruits, especially
plum). A great nose. Mouth: lots of quite
harsh tannins. Chapoutier uses some brand
new casks for his Pavillon, so no wonder
the malt’s alcohol extracted that
many tannins. Hints of sulphur. Gets quite
winey after a while. Notes of vanilla
and dark chocolate. Rather long, but tannic
and slightly sweetish finish. Not too
enjoyable, I’d say, but the nose
is really great. 82 points.
from WhiskyLive Paris: lots of new bottlings!
Let's start with the brand new Macallan
range, if you wish. I'll report on many
other interesting discoveries within the
12 yo Fine Oak (40%, OB)
Colour: straw. Nose: fresh and light,
not unlike a Lowland malt (Glenkinchie).
Quite grassy and vegetal, with some flowery
notes. Very clean, and very little sherry
if any. Mouth: a little sweetish and sugary.
Some white fruit (ripe apple, gooseberry).
Not bad at all but lacks personality.
A naked Macallan? 78 points
12 yo Sherry (40%, OB)
This is the brand new packaging of the
‘regular’ 12 yo – see
the 18yo’s picture below, it’s
similar (pictures thanks to La Maison
du Whisky). Colour: amber. Nose: chocolaty,
with lots of toasted bread and dried orange
zest. Not too complex, much less than
the ‘old’ 12 yo from the middle
of the 90’s, in any case. Mouth:
quite heavy oloroso aromas. Caramel, chocolate…
Not bad but nothing special. I’d
say it’s just a little vulgar. 78
points. I even liked the Fine
Oak a little better, mind you.
18 yo Fine Oak (43%, OB)
Made with a mix of bourbon and sherry
casks. No vintage on the label anymore,
while the new ‘sherry’ version
states ‘distilled in 1986 and in
earlier years’, which means it isn’t
a ‘vintage’ 18 yo Macallan
either. Colour: straw. Nose: fennel, old
paper, old wood. Some citrus notes. Quite
enjoyable, but far from being a stunner.
Mouth: quite sugarish, with quite a lot
of tannins. Hints of white fruits. A little
thin, but rather good, although nowhere
near the now old 18yo. 80 points.
Too bad I couldn’t taste the new
18 yo ‘sherry’ (picture above).
30 yo (43%, OB, circa 1998)
I didn't have this one at WhiskyLive,
but at ‘Le Market’, fellow
Vongerichten’s new ‘fusion
food’ restaurant on Avenue Matignon.
Colour: deep amber. Nose: caramel, toffee,
dark chocolate, white pepper and lots
of spices (clove, nutmeg). Gets a little
resinous. Stunning! Mouth: very smooth,
lots of sherry, lots of chocolate, dried
orange… Hints of peat and spices.
Some very nice woody notes. A perfect
balance, even if this is not exactly my
style of malt. It’s a little too
smooth for my taste, but I can’t
decently give it less than 90
- JAZZ -
Bex is an excellent hammond
organ player from France, and his CDs
'Mauve' and '3' are on my top shelf since
they were out. Why not have a listen to
his great bluesy version of Edith Piaf's
à l'Amour' (mp3) - and of course
buy one his CDs if you like it?
again, trumpets! Lex Kraaijeveld
(left), of Celtic
Malts fame, and Luc Timmermans
(right), a true Glenfarclas
specialist from Belgium, join the Malt
Maniacs. That's fantastic news for us!
And yes, the mania goes on and on...
French bureaucrat: 'Right! Let's make
wine that tastes international!...
French winemaker: Let's plant
vines on the airports!!'
Château We Always Did It This Way
seen in 'Le
Point', a French weekly magazine,
Sept 2. issue. A little self-mockery never
does any harm, does it? Btw, is there
any We Always Did It This Way
Distillery in Scotland?
- Are they
building a new kind of hoggie? No, it's
just a wooden hot tub made in the Highlands.
I don't know whether you can fill it with
whisky - I guess you can - but that would
be ideal for making the Naomi Campbell
finish fellow Malt Maniac Klaus always
dreamed about... And if you want a cheaper
one, you can always have a look at the
plastic version here.
Yes, much less romantic...
is a picture of the brand new 'pink' Bruichladdich
20yo. I'm not sure you'll get the true
colours on your screen, but the cap's
usual Laddiesque aquamarine should help
you calibrate you sight. And if you want
to read some truly romantico-emphatic
copywriting, you can click .
(Back label for the world except the US
- Will open a new window). Thanks Ho-cheng.
and August haven't been very sunny here,
but September started beautifully with
lots of sun and 32°C in the shade...
The perfect moment for a good Bladnoch
and some catchy pop music. Something nice
not too serious,
for example... Why not have a listen to
Girl Called Eddie then? Cool
voice, nice arrangements... Try The
Long Goodbye (mp3), for instance.
Not bad, don't you think? (Please buy
her CD if you like her music).
- THREE ABERFELDIES
13 yo 1978/1992 (43%, Master of Malt,
casks #7786-7787) Nose:
very light, almost evanescent. Notes of
freshly mown lawn, fresh almonds and cream,
not much else. Very discrete, that’s
for sure. Mouth: a little weak. Slightly
spirity, getting a little nutty. A shadow
of a malt, I’d say. Short finish.
No serious flaws, but not much aromas
and no flavours either. Serge
70 points, Olivier 73 points.
1978/1997 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s
Choice) Nose: very light
again. Malty and rather caramelised. Hints
of apple juice, not much else, I’m
afraid. Mouth: cold coffee, dried banana,
cold herbal tea (camomile). Medium finish,
on dried herbs. Really lacks a little
more oomph – quite neutral, in fact.
Serge 71 points, Olivier 71 points.
16 yo 1966 (40%, G&M CC old brown
label) Nose: very refined,
very elegant. Dried flowers, camomile,
dried tropical fruits (guava, mango, coconut,
dates). A great nose, extremely subtle.
Mouth: much more powerful than expected.
Herbal liquor, caramel, dried cherries.
Quite a lot of punch for such an old and
venerable G&M! Hints of cookies. Medium,
but great buttery finish. Not an absolute
winner, but a very, very good Aby. Serge
85 points, Olivier 86 points.
- TASTING TWO FLOWERY TEANINICHES
26 yo 1973/2000 (50%, DL Old Malt Cask,
cask #1275) Colour; straw.
Nose: beehive, wild flowers, apple vinegar.
Rich and compact. Flower nectar (lis),
honey, cooked apple, hints of fresh rubber.
Very nice! Mouth: most enjoyable. Apple
juice, burnt rubber, bread crumb, burnt
cake, quince jelly. An excellent malt
that answers the question: yes, there
are many great Teaniniches around…
(watch also the Rare Malts versions).
Serge 85 points, Olivier 86 points.
21 yo (57.2%, James MacArthur)
Colour; straw. Nose: again, lots of honeyed
notes, very similar to the OMC we just
had. Beeswax, pollen… Gets a little
milky and creamish. A little more delicate,
I’d say. Develops on some nice flowery
notes (daisy, buttercup). Mouth: very
punchy! Sweet, on candy sugar and jam
(quince, apricot). Quite woody, with some
white pepper. Long finish, on vanilla
and pepper (i.e. wood). Serge
86 points, Olivier 88 points.
- CHAPOUTIER PART II: THE REDS
eight whites (see yesterday), we had fourteen
reds and one sweet white. Wow! Let's go...
2003 red Made out of pure
Grenache, which is quite an un-complex
grape variety. Perfect for the ‘new’
tastes! Nose: black cherry jam at full
speed, plus some blackcurrant syrup. Yes,
not overly complex, but highly demonstrative.
Mouth: ditto. Not much typicality, but
lots of oomph. A wine for the ‘world-taste’,
that could come from many (hot) parts
of this planet. 80 points,
still, because it’s made perfectly.
2000 red Again a typical
part of the Southern Rhone Valley. The
grapes are harvested by hand and the wine
is matured for more than a year in oak
casks and vats. Nose: blackberry and strawberry
jam. Refined and rather elegant. Blackberry
syrup. Mouth: quite sharp, a little tannic.
Lots of morello cherries, and a rather
spicy finish. Very good, even if not too
complex. But Gigondas isn’t Hermitage!
2000 red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape)
Did you know the popes lived in this part
of France in the Middle-Ages, hence this
strange name of ‘The Pope’s
Newcastle’? This Châteauneuf
is made out of pure Grenache, which is
very special as most Châteauneufs
are made out of up to 13 different varieties.
The soil consists in rolled stones from
the River Rhone’s former bed. The
wine is entirely matured in oak. Nose:
lots of raspberries and blackberries again,
also some cherries. Quite bold and spicy.
Some animal notes (hare’s belly,
civet-cat). Mouth: really chewy and easygoing.
Most enjoyable, even if it somewhat lacks
a little complexity. 84 points.
2001 red Collioure isn’t
in the Rhone Valley, but near Perpignan,
next to the Spanish border. Lots of sun,
lots of sea influence, and some very bold
wines I always liked a lot. Nose: extremely
demonstrative and playful. Lots of iodine.
Rich and almost hot, but in very nice
way. Not heavy at all. Mouth: quite complex,
with some toasted notes and some spices.
Hints of liquorice. Wow, for around 11
euros, it’s a bargain, and of course
I couldn’t resist. Ah yes, a rating:
Lapidem 2003 red (Côtes du Roussillon-Villages)
Again we’re in the South of France
here, near Narbonne. Nose: ouch, lots
of fruits but I feel it’s a little
too much now. Seems to be a little woody…
Mouth: rich and very bold, I’d say
even overly concentrated. Who said Parkerized?
Very tannic, with some vanilla and lots
of cooked fruits (hot jam). Well, it’s
really nicely made, but it’s not
my style. I prefer the Collioure a lot.
82 points, still.
Coast 2001 red (Australia)
Just like many other French producers,
Chapoutier built a vineyard down-under.
Most interestingly, they decided to use
a well-known Rhone Valley native grape
variety: Shiraz (Syrah in French). I’m
very curious… Nose: unlike many
Australian or South-African Shiraz I know.
Less bold, hot and aromatic, and perhaps
a little subtler, almost in a Bordeaux
way! Some would say it’s a little
understated, but the Syrah’s usual
spicy aromas are well here. A little smoky
too. Mouth: quite soft and round, but
not dull in any way. Lots of fruits (berries),
but the whole is a little restrained.
Not a Rhone, not really an Australian…
A style on its own! Interesting…
Meysonniers 2001 red (Crozes-Hermitage)
We already had the white, here’s
the red, entirely made out of Syrah –
I mean Shiraz. Again it’s hand-harvested,
and a quarter of the cuvee is matured
in oak casks for one full year. Nose:
toasted bread like in the whites –
I guess it comes from the oak –
and lots of red fruits. Some flowery notes
(violet and even lavender). Mouth: quite
tannic but nicely rounded. Notes of fresh
strawberry and quite some vanilla. A nice
wine for a good price (around 10 euros).
2002 red (Saint-Joseph)
Again, pure Syrah, from the right bank
of the River Rhone. Nose: elegant and
nicely balanced, but a little weak, as
most wines from 2002 in this region. Quite
flowery, with hints of liquorice and spices.
Mouth: fruity and spicy, but restrained,
with a short finish. A garden wine.
2003 red (Saint-Joseph)
The Deschants is really good when the
vintage is good! No, no, it’s not
the case with any wine, some are always
bad ;-). Again, it’s fruity and
spicy, but it has these typical animal
aromas… Rugby changing-room after
France-England? 87 points.
2000 red Cornas is an
underrated part of the Rhone’s right
bank, I think. This one is matured in
oak casks after its malolactic fermentation,
and again, is made with syrah. Nose: very
nicely balanced, with a mixture of toasted
bread, red fruits and bitter orange (and
no, it’s no sherry). Mouth: sweet
pepper, coffee-grounds, blackberry. The
wines from Cornas used to be quite harsh
and dry (they were saying ‘one looked
like a laughing horse’ after a sip),
and everybody started to de-stem the grapes
before pressing them. Nowadays, perhaps
the Cornas became a little too ‘easy’.
Anyway, I like this one very much. It’s
got a nice vivacity, and a nice, toasted
finish. 84 points.
2001 red (Côte-Rôtie)
Again pure Syrah, on one of the most legendary
parts of the Northern Rhone Valley. There
are two different ‘terroirs’:
the ‘Côte Brune’, schist
with limon and glacial-era pebbles, and
the ‘Côte Blonde’, a
lighter soil colour due to silico-calcareous
deposit from the glacial era. The wine
is entirely matured in oak casks, partly
new. Nose: lots of violets, with some
raspberry and hints of spices. Not as
bold as I’d have expected, but very
nice. Mouth: quite complex, but just a
little restrained. Quite some wood, and
lots of spices. Some notes of ‘garrigue’
(Mediterranean low vegetation). Again,
not too bold, but I really like the complexity.
de la Sizeranne 2001 red (Hermitage)
Wow! A legendary wine, surely one of the
best red Hermitages (with Chave, among
others). It’s been constantly better
than Jaboulet’s ‘La Chapelle’
the latest years, and is made biodynamically
since a few years. Nose: brilliant! Lots
of fruits like raspberry and blackcurrant,
and some quite heavy liquorice. It’s
bold and rich, but still very elegant.
Yes, wow! Mouth: lots of soft tannins,
raspberry, blackberry, blackcurrant and
spices. Long finish, extremely satisfying.
What’s dangerous, is that it’s
very, very drinkable. But it costs around
40 euros… Well, it’s worth
it! 92 points
Mordorée 2001 red (Côte-Rôtie)
This is Chapoutier’s best Côte-Rôtie,
coming from the best plots from the Côte
Blonde (60 yo vines). It is sort of a
‘grand cru’, even if this
appellation doesn’t exist there.
A ‘grand cru’ must come from
the best vineyards, and mustn’t
just be chosen amongst various casks –
you know, the winemaker tasting his casks
and declaring ‘this one’s
gonna be my grand cru!’ Yes, many
do that. Anyway, back to the Mordorée.
Nose: extremely elegant. Roasted peanuts,
ripe blackberries, herbs from Provence,
olive… Just beautiful. Mouth: chocolaty,
milk caramel, and lots of fruits and spices.
Extremely good – I love it, and
it’s well worth the 100 euros they’re
asking for a bottle, I think. Very concentrated,
it really is a superstar. 95 points.
1973 sweet red This is
something completely different, coming
from Perpignan’s region. It’s
all made out of Grenache, and fortified.
The maceration is very long: 1 month,
and then it matures in oak tanks for two
years before bottling. Nose: much fresher
than expected. Ripe fruits, raspberry
jam… Beautiful and elegant –
which is not always the case with such
fortified wines. Mouth: exceptionally
bold and rich. Sweet but not overly so.
Lots of berries, vanilla, soft tannins…
It seems to be very young, yet it’s
its thirty year old. Bravo! 95
points (and only 12 euros a bottle!)
Coufis de Paille de l’Ardèche
2001 sweet white This
is very special, made out of Viognier
using the same technique as the people
from Jura (not the island!) when they
make their ‘vins de paille’
(straw wines). The withered grapes are
hand-picked and dried on a straw bed for
many months before pressing. The result
is usually very sweet and aromatic, yet
not as complex as a good ‘late harvest’
wine. The fermentation is always very
slow, because of he high concentration
and natural sugar level. Nose: superb
and astonishing freshness, I’d say
lighter than most Jura vins de paille.
Lots of tropical fruits. Mouth: sweet,
bold and intense, yet elegant. Again,
tropical fruits, apricot and honey. My
wife loves this kind of wine – many
women do – and so do I. Must be
my feminine side. 89 points.
Thanks again to Chapoutier for this wonderful
folk revival? Frankly, I don't know but
what's sure, is that I like Kathryn
Williams' work a lot. A beautiful
voice, fine compositions and kind of a
'depth' that makes that she's anything
but just another young singer coming from
a provincial art school. You can click
if you'd like to download some great tunes
by Kathryn Williams.
- Hakushu 21 yo 1981/2003 (60.7%, SMWS
120.1, Japanese oak) This
is the second expression of Hakushu I
ever had. Colour: light amber. Nose: extremely
oaky, but quite clean. Fresh and fragrant,
on all sorts of nuts. Hints of cider,
vanilla cream, coffee drops and Madeira.
Mouth; extremely spirity and pungent.
Marzipan, bitter almonds, black pepper.
Not overly complex, but quite a beast,
that’s for sure. Hints of varnish.
Incredible it’s so strong at 21
years. Not really ‘drinkable’,
so to speak, but a most interesting dram.
Serge 83 points, Olivier 86 points.
get fooled by the Ardbeg polo-shirt. Yes,
let’s talk about wine, for once!
Don’t worry, it won’t be too
long before I fall off the wagon again
and concentrate on malt, but I thought
the latest tasting session we had at Chapoutier
last week was very interesting, because
we had a big, big share of their production.
Chapoutier is active mainly in the Rhone
valley. They are amongst the kings of
the Hermitage (they do own 35% of the
hill – by far #1) and are very famous
for several reasons. First, almost all
of their labels are also ‘printed’
in Braille (who’s going to do this
in the whisky business first?), second,
they treat their vineyards in biodynamy
– just like fellow maniac Olivier
Humbrecht – and third, because their
wines are usually very good. "Filtering
a wine is like making love with a condom,"
said Michel Chapoutier. That’s why
they don’t filter any of their wines
anymore, and we can’t blame them
for that, can we ? Anyway, here are my
short notes… Please note that I’ll
use the ‘malt maniacs scale’
rather than Robert Parker Jr.’s,
which is much narrower.
Here are the whites we had - I'll write
about the reds tomorrow
2003 white (Coteaux-du-Tricastin)
Made out of Bourboulenc 20%, Grenache
white 20%, Clairette 20%, and Marsanne
40%. The soil is made out of rolled stones.
Nose: nicely fresh, with notes of lime-tree
flowers and honey. A little mineral and
grassy. Mouth: lacks a little oomph. Weak
and somewhat grassy, with hints of honey.
A very nice nose but too bad the mouth
is kind of weak (and the finish quite
short). But that’s far from being
part of Chapoutier’s flagship wines,
so let’s pass quickly. 78
Meysonniers 2002 white (Crozes-Hermitage)
This one is made out of
pure Marsanne (Chapoutier doesn’t
use Roussanne anymore, too fragile and
needs too much ‘chemical help’).
Nose: toasted notes, quite mellow and
flowery. Hints of honey. The mouth is
quite fresh, with a nice acidity. Perhaps
too much acidity, as often in 2002, which
was very wet and gave many rather un-mature
wines. A little bitter as well, as often
on very fertile soils. 79 points
2001 white (Saint-Joseph)
Again made out of pure Marsanne. Nose;
extremely expressive: honey, toasted bread,
lots of flowers, with some nice buttery
notes (hot butter). Mouth: a great balance?
Nice acidity, with some tropical fruit
notes and fructose. Citrus, honey, toasted
bread again. And again getting a little
bitter on the finish. 85 points
white 2002. Made out of
pure Viognier and completely hand harvested.
The Viogniers from Condrieu are completely
different from the cheaper versions some
make in the South of France or in some
other hot regions in the world. The latter
are usually much more aromatic, but are
much duller and have a shorter finish.
Let’s the Condrieu in this difficult
vintage now. Nose: superb, very fresh
and toasted. Quite aromatic in fact. Notes
of lavender and violet, plus apricot pie.
Mouth: fresh apricot and nice acidity.
A little short, due to the vintage, but
very good provided you don’t keep
it too long in your cellar. 87
white 2003. Ah, here’s
the famous extra-hot vintage. Nose: herbal
tea, toasted bread, hints of turpentine.
Interesting, already a great balance.
Mouth: lots of jam (strawberry jam). Notes
of raspberry and a few terpenic flavours.
The finish is a little ‘flabby’,
due to the very hot year 2003 was. But
it’s still a great Condrieu, one
will have to drink quite quickly again,
it appears. Keep the 2001 for your cellar!
2001 white (Hermitage)
Haha, now we’re really talking!
White Hermitages were the kings’
wines (not the reds, as many believe)
and anyway, the Rhone Valley’s output
was mostly whites in the Middle-Ages.
This Hermitage is made out of pure Marsanne
again, and Chapoutier uses 1/3 new casks
and 2/3 vats. Nose: beautiful freshness.
Hints of alcohol. Toasted bread, hints
of turpentine. Some quince, honey, and
even a little ginger. Quite complex and
beautifully balanced. Mouth: Beautiful,
a little grassy, but not harsh in any
way. Some eucalyptus and ginger again,
with hints of fresh almonds. An excellent
vintage. 90 points.
2001 white (Hermitage)
This is what Chapoutier calls a ‘sélection
parcellaire’, meaning a selection
of the very best plots like ‘l’Ermite’
or ‘le Méal’, where
the vines are very old. The soil is granitic,
extremely poor, which is good for wine.
The wine itself is matured for at least
9 to 10 months in 100% new oak. It’s
supposed to be the best of the best, no
need to say. Let’s see… Nose:
truly exceptional, on quince jelly and
dried fruits. A little ‘stony’.
Don’t get me wrong, I was meaning
‘mineral’. Mouth: rich and
fresh at the same time, and again quite
mineral like some waters. Just a little
short, even if really beautiful and quite
complex. I’d say I prefer the Chante-Alouette,
which is much, much cheaper, as the l’Ermite
is worth 185 euros a bottle (thanks to
Mr Parker, who rated it 95-98 –
both the 1999 and the 2000 even got 100/100!)
My rating for the 2001: 89 points.
Méal 2001 white (Hermitage)
Another ‘sélection parcellaire’.
The vines are 50 year old, no less! Nose:
lots of flowers and fruits this time,
plus some hints of burnt rubber (Port
Ellen?), hydrocarbs, raspberry and blackberry.
Wow! I love it! Some great toasted notes
as well. Mouth: beautiful, very fresh,
just a little heavier than l’Ermite.
But what a nice ‘fullness’
– quite majestic, in fact. I couldn’t
help buying a few bottles, even if at
150 euros each it’s not really a
bargain. But again, life is short…
92 points (again, not
to be compared with Parker’s way
tomorrow for the reds, and thanks to the
great and friendly Chapoutier guy who
organized all this (see the picture above).
I never, ever happened to attend such
a high-flying session at any whisky distillery
2004 <--- September
2004 part 1
the index of all entries: