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Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2005 - Part 2
April 2005 - part 1 <--- April 2005 - part 2 ---> May 2005 - part 1

April 29, 2005

Bowmore 1980/2004 ‘Queen’s Cask’ (52.6%, OB, cask #5777, 236 bottles)   TASTING - Bowmore 1980/2004 ‘Queen’s Cask’ (52.6%, OB, cask #5777, 236 bottles) Elizabeth II visited Bowmore in 1980, and has been granted a few casks. Part of the Queen’s casks have been made available to the public, and this one is now sold with a still-shaped decanter. Colour: gold. Nose: lots of straw, pistachio, wax, paraffin. Develops on fresh almonds, getting then very grassy. Very unusual, not Bowmore-ish at all. Mouth: lots of body, getting very spicy and peppery, with a long finish on Campari. No sign of peat smoke or tropical fruits whatsoever, and no coastal notes.
Very good but not a thrill, I’d say... Prince Charles might have better tastes than his mother - as far as whisky’s concerned, that is. Was this strange Bowmore matured at Buckingham Palace? 85 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: let's give back to Caesar... I mean, if we really want to listen to some hip hop (do we, really?), why not try something African, like Eben & Family, from Gabon, playing this - mp3 (sorry, I don't know the name of this song...)   Eben & Family

April 28, 2005

ULU, London - Friday April 22nd, 2005 - by Nick Morgan
Willy Mason   Hot news music lovers! Singer songwriters are back in fashion. – and it’s big business. Over the past few weeks Polydor have thrown a small fortune in the direction of their PR machine on behalf of Rufus Wainwright (son of his famous dad Loudon III) and his new album Want Two. Tom Vek has been burning Island’s bucks to promote his homemade debut We Have Sound.
On a more modest scale Josh Rouse released the quite brilliant Nashville (as Serge would say, “please buy his CD”), and last year critics raved when little Willy Mason came out with Where The Humans Eat. Quickly labelled as the new Bob Dylan in the British press (a sort of immediate kiss of death I would have thought) Mason found his way across here in February and it seems as though he’s been here ever since, touring the country, playing in well chosen small venues, and winning over the hearts of hoards of fans, and opening the sticky chequebooks of anxious admires in the A&R side of things all pushing to sign him up (his album was released under licence to Virgin and he currently has no publishing deal).
In fact it turns out that Willy might have been here a tad too long, as by the time we managed to see him he was clearly suffering from tour fatigue in a big way, and as this was (allegedly) the last gig of his tour (“I’m going away for a long long time and if I ever come back you won’t recognise me”) he was also somewhat de-mob happy. Toying with a bottle of Jack Daniels on stage has become a trademark of his UK tour, but Willy had clearly been toying at the bar pretty seriously before coming on stage, and though he passed the half-empty whiskey bottle to the crowd early in the set, his admirers provided him with a flow of beverages through the night. It didn’t seem to interfere with his playing too much (at least not until the end), and his voice was more adenoidal than slurred. But it certainly fired him up when it came to his drummer, younger brother Sam Mason...
Now Sam was dressed in a monkey suit – no doubt deep in meaning and linked to the chained monkey pictured on the inside of the CD cover, from a painting by Roelandt Savery (more famous for painting Dodos). So when he appeared on stage his brother subjected him to a tirade of taunts, which continued throughout the evening. Now maybe these were meant to be symbolic too, but I rather suspect that the impromptu brawl (shades of Ray and Dave Davies – they were knocking blocks off each other) that broke out amongst the warring siblings carried a rather different meaning, and by the way the Mason’s manager rushed to the stage to break it up was certainly not planned.  
Sam MasonSam Mason
(in his monkey suit)
Shame really. For all the alcohol Mason (Willy) performed well. He had an easy rapport with the audience (not difficult to tell why – they were the same age, looked the same and were just as pissed) who clearly identify closely with many of his songs – though truth to tell they have a far greater universality than the teenager to man angst stuff would suggest.
Willy MasonWilly Mason's album
'Where the humans eat'
  The audience demanded – and got - the delightful contents of the album, with a few additional songs – one written by his mother and father, ‘Carry him down’, and a very boyscoutesque version of ‘Freight Train’ (he was losing it a bit by then). And if you haven’t heard any of this stuff you should – Mason is a remarkable talent – songs like ‘Where the humans eat’, ‘All you can do’, ‘Oxygen’, and ‘Gotta keep movin’ could grace any ‘100 best songs’ list. But what was really outstanding was the contribution made by brother Sam. His skiffle snare drum style gives the album a real hobo groove, and he delivered it perfectly on stage – despite the tiresome filial abuse. And of course I can’t help thinking that if the big boys get hold of Willy and put him in a studio with a big production budget it could be this sound that’s one of the first things to go.
But at least he showed some contrition. “Ok, I know I’ve been a fucking twat. I’m pissed and I’ve gone too far”. However it didn’t stop him from leaving with a flourish. “Hold them up” he urged his admires – “Fuck, man, I never thought I’d be able to do this in folk music” - and then leapt off the stage and surfed through a sea of hands and waves of beer to the back of the hall, where he ended the evening surrounded by fans and loads of booze, happily chatting the night away. Tired, emotional (“This fame thing is fucking crap man”), maybe just a bit mixed up? Who knows? But do come back Willy; cut back on the JD, and be nice to your brother. - Nick Morgan (concert photos by Kate)
Thank you Nick, I didn't know Willy Mason before, so that's a great discovery. Now, I happened to break my parents' ears with some cheap drumming a few years ago (well, almost 35, actually) and frankly, I can't imagine how one could play the Zildjians or Paiste (they still exist, right?) while dressed in a monkey suit... Imagine John Bonham on Black Dog, or Billy Cobham... Better than the Atkins diet! Ah, yes, some Willy Mason music... A few good rm's here.
TASTING – Glenfiddich 1964/1992 (58%, J&J Hunter, cask #10790) I don’t know whether the brand new Glenfiddich 1974 ‘Play Malt’ bottled exclusively for Playboy Magazine Germany (ha! Deutschland!) is good or not – nope, this is no joke, Glenfiddich has been working with Playboy Germany for quite a few years already – but I hope I’ll be able to taste it soon and keep you updated. In the meantime, let’s sample this 1964 I tasted – yes – in Limburg, Germany. Colour: mahogany. Nose: boldly sherried, on heavy rum notes and raisins. Lots of chocolate, candy sugar and soy sauce. Quite complex and rather satisfying, a perfect, flawless sherried nose. Mouth: hyper sherry, again on rum, raisins and chocolate. And no sourish notes this time. Too bad it gets then a bit too tannic, with also some hints of aspirin and clove. The finish is long, but mainly on burnt coffee...   Glenfiddich 1964/1992 (58%, J&J Hunter, cask #10790)
... Not a ‘naked’ Glenfiddich, that’s for sure, but I guess it’s sexy enough for the most dedicated sherry freaks. As for the other malt heads, maybe they’d better wait for the Playboy Germany 'Play Malt 1974' edition - I can't wait to see the bottle and the label ;-) 87 points.

April 27, 2005

Clynelish 32yo 1972/2005 (49.4%, The Whisky Exchange, 206 bottles)  


Clynelish 32 yo 1972/2005 (49.4%, The Whisky Exchange, 206 bottles) With an humorous ‘Greek’ label that hasn’t been made for Greece… Colour: straw. Nose: beautiful attack on honey and wax, a very classical 1972 Clynelish. Fresh and lively, developing on paraffin, nectar (buttercup etc.) and fresh butter. I love this profile… Mouth: superb body, with lots of cooked fruits and quince jelly. Quite some white pepper and some flower jelly. Perfectly balanced: pure pleasure, especially for wine geeks like me. Great work by Sukhinder and gang. 90 points.

Clynelish 1972/2002 (56.3%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #14287) (short notes) Colour: gold. Nose: so fruity and waxy as always – again a superb 1972 Clynelish. Lots of notes of beehive and meadow flowers, with hints of tropical fruits. Lots of pleasure. Mouth: fruit jelly (quince, Mirabelle plums, ripe apricot). Lots of honey, butter caramel… And a pinch of salt. Perhaps just a tad more complex than the ‘TWE’: Wowie! 92 points.
Clynelish 24 yo 1972/1997 (61.3%, UD Rare Malts) (short notes) Colour: light gold. Nose: wow, again, it’s like when you open a beehive (I know, maybe you never did that but that’s how it smells – agreed, tasting the Clynelish is safer). Lots of wax and rather light honey. Just superb again. Mouth: extremely waxy again, with lots of honeyed notes and flower jams. So drinkable despite the high alcohol level. Not complicated at all but amazingly enjoyable. Yummy! 91 points.   Clynelish 24yo 1972/1997 (61.3%, UD Rare Malts)
Charlie Parker   MUSIC – JAZZ - When listening to Charlie Parker playing Kim - mp3 with his quartet in 1952, one can just wonder whether he was even human... My god! (via Dr Tim Horner)...But yes, quick, some more... So, we have also Crazeology - mp3 played in 1947 with Miles Davis and J.J. Johnson... It's from the famous 'Dial sessions'.

April 26, 2005

Bobby Rush Bobby Rush

The Barbican, London - Sunday April 10th, 2005 - by Nick Morgan

The Barbican may not be an inspired venue when it comes to atmosphere, but they have got an inspired booker – and in putting together their It Came from Memphis series of concerts he or she has delivered an almost unrivalled series of gigs from some of the South’s most legendary performers, themed largely around the great Memphis record labels and studios of Stax, Sun, Ardent, Fame (famed for the Muscle Shoals rhythm section), and Hi Records. Spaced over three weeks, and supported by an intriguing selection of talks and films, on paper at least this is one of the R&B (in that grumpy old man’s meaning of the word) treats of the year.

Of course anticipation and reality can be two different things, and having read a review of the Fame evening (featuring the remnants of the Muscle Shoals boys and a large part of the Country Soul Review) I maybe should have known what to expect of our Delta Blues evening, a repertoire performance by four veteran Memphis bluesmen (actually three Mississippi boys – two from blues heartland Greenville – and one from Louisiana). Possibly disjointed, variable performances, perhaps laboured, and not quite the sum of its parts. Of course, I hadn’t quite bargained on the Bobby Rush effect.
Given that it was a Sunday I shouldn’t have been too surprised at the holier than tough demeanour of much of the fairly full congregation, here for a solemn act of worship, or so it seemed, rather than a juke-joint blues night. And lets face it – the Barbican ain’t no juke joint. “I say darling, it must have been awfully rotten being washed away in the great Mississippi flood of 1927” – pause to turn page of glossy Sunday newspaper supplement – “don’t you think. No wonder he sounds so miserable. Let’s have Moby instead”.
That certainly seemed to be the vibe that first-up T-Model Ford got. “Don’t you’all go to sleep now” he cautioned half way through a set of droning guitar (it looked as though he’d bought a new one from J C Penney), shouted lyrics and simply groovtastic drumming from accompanist Spam.
Rough and raw as befits a Greenville boy this was about as suitable for the Barbican as second act, the accomplished yet charmless Kenny Brown and his band. Clearly unused to such a large venue Kenny and his boys (who, not unlike Michael Howard, had a touch of Deliverance about them) were as tight as ninepence, bashing out high-speed bottleneck blues in a style somewhat reminiscent of the Kings of Leon without the marketing.  
Kenny BrownLeft: Kenny Brown
I think a few folk tapped their feet, but by and large Kenny and Co seemed as bemused by the ferocious earnestness of their audience as T-M-F. The exception was the drunk woman (did I mention her?). Front row, middle seats, arms waving, obviously too much communion wine she was, in truth, the liveliest person in the place. How she managed to get out at the interval was a mystery to me – how she got back to her seat even more so. It took Little Milton, notionally top of the bill, to ratchet things up and break down the audience’s sedentary torpor.
Little MiltonLittle Milton
  Born in Greenville his career took him to Memphis (where he recorded for Sun), Chicago (Chess) and back to Memphis (Stax). Backed by a studio-tight band featuring guitarist Paul Gomez, he worked through a repertoire set that included ‘Just one moment’, ‘Back Streets’, and ‘Little Bluebird’. Charismatic, with excellent singing and some showboating guitar-work Milton succeeded in breaking the ice – managing to get at least half the audience on their feet for his finale ‘The Blues is Alright’ – sort of from reverential to revivalist. Tightly timed from the sound desk he left the stage reluctantly, introducing in his wake ‘one of the baddest men in showbusiness’, Bobby Rush.
Now, let me tell you about Bobby Rush. He was born in 1940, no, 1936; hang on, he told us he was 72 – well whatever, he’s been around for a long time, over fifty years in the business. Born in Louisiana (‘the son of a preacherman’) he now lives in Jackson Mississippi and endlessly tours the local clubs with his band and dancers – ‘the King of the chitlin circuit’. Wide cut pleated pants, sneaky spat shoes, greased back hair he just looks like a bad man – and believe me, he is. Brought in as a last minute replacement Rush is supported by Little Milton’s band – who clearly not well rehearsed, spend most of the set wondering (like the audience) what on earth could be coming next.   Bobby Rush
Bobby Rush   With Bobby is one of his famous troupe of ‘booty dancers’, and believe me this young lady has booty in vast proportions. Just as well given Rush’s material, which as I recall went something like, ‘I got a big fat woman’, ‘My woman she done big and fat’, ‘I woke up this morning with a big fat woman by my side’, ‘When a man loved a big fat woman’, ‘Did I tell yo ‘bout how big and fat my big fat woman is?’ The stirrings of discomfort amongst this most PC of audiences were palpable as Rush jumped and jived, lurched and leered while his bootimunificent lady displayed the material evidence to support Rush’s penetrating lyrics – ‘Let me tell yo’ bout my woman, she’s big and fat, but that don’t matter Lord, Mr Bobby Rush likes ‘em like that’. Actually he sang really well, played the harp like a demon and at one point surprised us all (band included) by picking up his guitar and playing some pretty soulful delta style blues.
But by that time it was really too late – Bobby had outstayed his welcome – the stage-manager was trying to get him to finish, the audience were starting to leave, the band were at their wits end, and the drunk lady was heading for the stage. Blind to his predicament Bobby misinterpreted the audience standing up as a sign of enthusiasm – fixing them like rabbits in the steely headlights of his twinkling eyes he cajoled them to claps hands, sing along (“Mr Bobby Rush says …”) and dance. The shambles that ensued was mighty to behold as the bewildered audience finally headed for the doors.
“For a man of 72 he really should be more mature,” muttered one sour-faced social worker in the foyer. “It was so demeaning”, spat another. “And that girl on stage – she even seemed to be enjoying it!” Of course, fact of the matter was that Bobby had brought folks face to face with the bawdy reality of the blues as it is still played and enjoyed in its homeland. And they didn’t like it – the message was clear: Bessie Smith’s back door man is ok when he’s preserved in aspic on vinyl – but don’t let him out on stage. Me – I thought it was heaven - like a little bit of Memphis sunshine finally bursting through the London clouds. - Nick Morgan ('blue' photos by Kate).
Thank you so much, Nick. We have something rather funky by Bobby Rush, an old tune by Little Milton, a very good Cut you lose by T-Model Ford and All I want by Kenny Brown. I know, the Internet isn't like being at The Barbican, but at least there's no drunken woman waving her arms in front of us. On the other hand, we don't have the booty dancer... Hmm... you're right, adipose blues at home is less fun.
Ardbeg 10yo (80 proof, OB for France, 60's)  

Ardbeg 10 yo (80 proof, OB for France, 60's)
Colour: pure gold. Nose: superb smoke, a perfect blend of peat and fruit juice (apple, pear and peach). Far from being an ‘intellectual’ Ardbeg on the nose: it’s just pure pleasure. The peat is very delicate in fact, and seems to be there just to underline the whole. Notes of herbal tea, Chinese smoked tea, with some wee hints of mustard. Perhaps a little kiwi juice and orange juice. Very subtle, yet straightforward. Mouth: rather smooth and, again delicately smoky, although it gets then bolder and bolder, on a mix of fruit syrup, pepper and nutmeg. The palate is kind of austere in fact, but it’s highly ‘sippable’. Goes on with some apple juice and pepper, green vegetables, cold tea (Earl Grey – bergamot)...

Hints of gin tonic, getting quite woody but with much delicacy. Far from being ‘violent’ but still rather full-bodied, getting more and more austere, the fruit having vanished after twenty minutes in the glass. It gets then very herbal and even a bit astringent and funnily ‘green’. Quite a beast in fact, uncompromising and not so easy to tame, after all. A bit Jansenist? Anyway, a rather philosophical Ardbeg (if not intellectual), whatever that means ;-). The finish is quite long, mainly on lemon juice. Much subtler than the current 10yo, and perhaps just a little less full-bodied. Yes, it just lacks a bit more body to make it to 95, so it’ll be 94 points. (many, many thanks, Jan)
Serendipity (40%, OB, ‘Supreme blended malt’) This one has already caused much ink (and bytes) to flow, as it’s a ‘blend’ of some Glen Moray that has been vatted by ‘mistake’ with 80% Ardbeg 17yo. I had believed it was an April’s fools’ joke but it wasn’t any, it appears. Yet, Ardbeg wrote on its website: ‘… the effect is quite outstanding. So outstanding, in fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was deliberate’. Frankly, why would we think that? Anyway, let’s taste it… Colour: straw. Nose: some cider, some nuts and not much else, I’m afraid… Mouth: a little weak and grainy, rather drinkable but offering no special interest. The finish is short to medium, with just some hints of peat. Well, supreme it isn’t, but the story is. 78 points.   Serendipity (40%, OB, ‘Supreme blended malt’)

April 25, 2005

Glenfarclas 1973/2003 (46%, OB, cask #4793, 124 bottles)  

Back from Limburg. Lots of great drams and friends. Many thanks Roland, Carsten and gang, it certainly is the best whisky event I ever attended. Many tasting notes to come...


Glenfarclas 1973/2003 (46%, OB, cask #4793, 124 bottles) Colour: brownish-greenish. Nose: delicate and refined sherry. Lots of fresh walnut and tropical fruits, together with some crystallised oranges and quince jelly. Some hints of wet radish leaves (is that maltoporn or what?) Nicely balanced but not overly expressive in fact. Mouth: nice, with quite some vivacity right at the start (dried tropical fruits, mango) but the development is a bit subdued, the whole getting a little dusty. A good farclie but there are some much better ones out there. 85 points.

Glenfarclas 1968/2000 (54.2%, OB, Old stock reserve, ceramic, cask #684, 208 bottles) Colour: mahogany. Nose: superb sherry at first nosing. A dominating one, that is. Nice notes of ripe strawberries, cooked blackberries, caramel and balsamic vinegar. Maybe there’s even some whisky in there? The combination is flawless but you really have to love sherry. Mouth: extremely big and powerful, with an avalanche of tannins. It’s hard to enjoy... The sherry is really overwhelming the spirit, with some incredibly bold notes of cloves and a lot of bitterness. Rather hard to drink, let’s try it with a few drops of water. Ah, it gets a bit rounder but there’s a huge deal of saltiness coming out now. What’s that? This beast is really difficult to handle, I give up. It’s even very difficult to rate… Let’s say 80 points but don’t take it too seriously.   Glenfarclas 1968/2000 (54.2%, OB, Old stock reserve, ceramic, cask #684, 208 bottles)
Jonnie Walker ad
Sunny Brook ad   Above, left: Johnnie Walker, 1938: ''The whisky that gets round (...) Reputations "get round" too. That's why you'll hear so many people ask for Johnnie Walker by name, and it's a good example to follow, if you want Scotch whisky at its best and smoothest."
Above, middle: Gilbey's Spey-Royal, 1958: ''The world agrees on "Gilbey's please" (...) Take the world's word for quality, and ask for Gilbey's Spey-Royal. It is your assurance of perfection in Scotch."
Above, right: Sunny Brook, 1952: ''Try it - you'll know why it's the world's largest selling Kentucky whiskey'.
All that to come up with small batches, limited bottlings and single casks! The world goes round... Now, we can wonder what happened to Sunny Brook...
Indeed, this ad from 1961 (just above) says :"The great whiskey from the Old West - one of America's great favorites today". From "the worlds largest selling Kentucky whiskey" to "one of America's great favorites" within just nine years... A downfall or just bragging a little less?
MUSIC – Recommended listening: okay, time for some more Frank Zappa! But instead of fuzzy guitar solos or long 'concrete' pieces, let's listen to the Great Frank's interstellar mega-hit Bobby Brown - mp3. Geez, don't we all miss him? (but not that miserable son of a bitch named Bobby Brown, of course). Please buy Frank Zappa's music...   Frank Zappa

April 23, 2005

Jaboti   MUSIC – JAZZ - Very highly recommended listening: Strasbourg based Brazilian jazz band Jaboti plays a superb Arranca-Debo -mp3 composed by percussionist Joao Catalao, and a very tender Sambinha para Ulysse - mp3 that French guitarist Benjamin Velle wrote. Very good, eh?
Yes, these guys sure know their 'Pascoal' and their 'Jobim' by heart! I especially like their soft tone and laidback yet very inspired way of playing either their own compositions, or some Brazilian milestones such as Milton Nascimento's 'Vera Cruz', Hermeto Pascoal's 'Bebé' or Luiz Bonfa's 'Manha De Carnaval' (which they make sort of 'impossible', you really have to listen to it, it's on Jaboti's eponymous new CD). Jaboti will be touring France this summer - don't hesitate to contact friend Benjamin Velle if you want to know more about their plans. (Picture, from left to right: Joao Catalao, Benjamin Velle and Alexandre Savordelli.)


Caol Ila 13yo 1991/2005 (54.2%, The Whisky Fair, 359 bottles)   Caol Ila 13 yo 1991/2005 (54.2%, The Whisky Fair, 359 bottles) The Whisky Fair’s bottling I already had have been constantly very good – and sometimes stellar, so let’s check whether this one isn’t the joker in the pack. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather delicately smoky and peaty, very clean and even a little austere (which is a compliment in my mouth). Lots of smoked tea, some hints of rosemary, and a very nice layer of fruits like Mirabelle plum and ripe apple. A very nioe one indeed, extremely enjoyable. Palate: a very fruity attack, on apple juice, grapefruit juice, lemon skin. Austere again! The peat smoke is well here… but perhaps not much else. The lemony tastes and the peat really dominate, head and shoulders. I like lemon and I like peat, that is. 87 points.

Caol Ila 14 yo 1989/2004 (57.4%, Krüger’s Whiskygalerie, Eidora n°3, 174 bottles) Colour: light amber. Nose: oh, it’s very special, with some big, bold caramel right at the start. Very unusual for a Caol Ila. Lots of tannins, lactones, heavy vanilla too… Goes on with some resinous notes, turpentine, camphor… Unusual indeed! It gets a little sour after a moment… Which kind of cask was it? Malaga? Sherry? It really overwhelms the peat/smoke, in any case. Not that it isn’t enjoyable, that is. Less, much less ‘clean’ that the Whisky Fair’s expression. Mouth: livelier, and perhaps more complex than the Whisky Fair version now. Again some grapefruit and some lemon skin, but also some farmy notes, some fresh strawberries, and quite some pepper. The finish is very long again, perhaps a bit more satisfying. Anyway, I liked the Whisky Fair’s nose a little better, while I quite prefer this one’s palate. Tie! 87 points.

That's it - off to Limburg until monday!

  Caol Ila 14yo 1989/2004 (57.4%, Krüger’s Whiskygalerie, Eidora n°3, 174 bottles)

April 22, 2005


Dallas Dhu 29 yo 1975/2005 (47.1%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #2484) This one is quite simpler (hard to pass after the Inchgower we had just before). It’s also smokier, waxier, and yet quite fragrant. Some nice hints of quince and mint. A bold, serious, enjoyable and flawless malt, not too complex but quite quaffable with a little water. 88 points.

Highland Park 24yo 1980/2004 (55.1%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #9266)   Highland Park 24 yo 1980/2004 (55.1%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #9266) A superb and very original nose, with some jasmine, clove, smoked ham. Much smokier than expected, and also quite ‘maritime’ with some whiffs of sea air. Hints of burnt cake from the cask. The palate is fabulously balanced and compact, with some beeswax with honey (the beekeeper’s chewing gum) and orange peel, getting nicely dry. A beautiful old Highland Park: 91 points.
MUSIC – JAZZ - Very highly recommended listening: sit down, ask the children - or the colleagues - to stop making noise, and have a listen to the great Patricia Barber's somber - as always - version of The thrill is gone - mp3. Listen to it again, and again, and again, and then I know you'll rush out and buy her CDs.   Patricia Barber

April 21, 2005


Dalwhinnie 27yo 1966/1993 (45.5%, Cadenhead’s)   Dalwhinnie 27 yo 1966/1993 (45.5%, Cadenhead’s)
It’s not too often that one can taste an indie Dalwhinnie – hence a single cask. Suspense, suspense… Colour: gold. Nose: complex and stunning. Loads of eucalyptus, camphor and turpentine, like the best Highland Parks. Develops on old papers, caramel, vanilla, apple pie, cooked pear, with some whiffs of nutmeg and cinnamon. Keeps developing for a long time, with some notes of old white Bourgogne. Fantastic. Mouth: creamy, bold, extremely satisfying. Really powerful. Bunches of tropical fruits and white pepper, spices... Lots of oomph, at that. Classy stuff, perhaps not overly complex but it’s really worth trying it. Ultra-long finish with quite some peaty/smoky notes. A great, great surprise! 89 points.
Dalwhinnie 36 yo 1966 (47.2%, OB, 1500 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: Starts a bit yeasty, but the complexity is well here. Quite a lot of oak, tannins, lactones. Develops on nutty notes, grass, herbs... Perhaps a bit rougher than expected. Hints of mashed potatoes. Mouth: smooth and mellow but it then gets both grassy and fruity (passion fruit, mango). A bit of burnt caramel, tea, white pepper. It then gets oakier and oakier... Some dusty notes, but quite amazingly, it isn’t too drying, in fact. Long finish, somewhat grassy. It lacks just a bit of the Cadenhead’s elegance and complexity. A very nice one but not an absolute stunner like, again, the new Mortlach 32 yo OB that I like so much. 88 points.   Dalwhinnie 36yo 1966 (47.2%, OB, 1500 bottles)
Dog   DOGS AND WHISKY - Is Ardbie, your golden retriever, worth $299.00? Of course it is! So, why not buy him this superb dog house made by Fireside in Indiana, USA? As they say on their Web site: 'Our dog house is made from a white oak whiskey barrel with a wrought iron stand to keep it out of the mud. Our dog house also has a treated wood platform (sun roof)'.
Great, except that they didn't manage to make the dog enter the bl**dy barrel, even for the picture! Well, perhaps he doesn't like whiskey smells too much... Rex, will you! Rex, listen to me, please... C'mon, Rex, it's for the Web site!...
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Sheryl Crow's sister? Myrna Sanders from Houston, Texas, does a nice and energetic Good thing - mp3. Please buy her music or attend her gigs...   Myrna Sanders

April 20, 2005

Glen Mhor 14yo 1978/1993 (43%, Signatory, cask #4041-4043)  


Glen Mhor 14 yo 1978/1993 (43%, Signatory, cask #4041-4043) Colour: dry white wine. First nosing: rather fresh starting on some fruity notes like green apple, kiwi, pink grapefruit and also some sherry. Develops on cereals: grain, muesli… It goes on with some porridge, yoghurt, caramel. Whiffs of white pepper. Really fresh, fruity and lively, with some jolly nice yeasty notes. Just a bit dusty, but the cask was still very neutral, it appears... Oh, some nice and bold vanilla fudge developing after fifteen minutes or so.

Palate: the mouth feel is quite powerful, the attack being little sour and unbalanced. Certainly less clean and fresh than the nose suggested. Some hot milk, brioche, yeast... Green vegetables, hydromel, bitter beer (like Bombardier). It gets even sourer after a while, and drying at the same time. A bit of apple vinegar... Too bad, it gets then even worse, with some disturbing offbeat notes. The finish is very sour, on green tomatoes and over-infused tealeaves. Yes, too bad. 76 points.
Glen Mhor 20 yo 1979/1999 (43%, Signatory, cask #697) Colour: gold. First nosing: mellow and clean. This one is quite different, even if the yeasty notes are well here. A little bit soapy and waxy to begin with... Develops on apples, fresh hazelnuts, almond milk. It goes on with a little bit of nutmeg and cinnamon, and quite some caramel. Not some added caramel, that is. Again a nice Glen Mhor on the nose, even more balanced that the one I just had. Feint hints of varnish coming through after a good teen minutes. Palate: starts on caramel cream, burnt cake, cold coffee, developing on lots of winey notes, getting again a little sour and bitter at the same time. More and more so, in fact... It also gets very 'planky', in fact, lacking smoothness and roundness. Again, too bad, the nose was so nice! 80 points, still.

MUSIC – Recommended listening: New York based arty gang Blonde Redhead knows its Serge Gainsbourg by heart, it appears... Have a try at Misery is a Butterfly - mp3, for instance... Striking, isn't it? Please buy their music if you like... Serge Gainsbourg! (via Sputnik7)   Blonde Redhead
Old Forester ad   I.W.HARPER ad
Jim Beam, 2002 ad  

Above left: Old Forester, 1951: ''... as it says on the label, "There is nothing better in the market."

Above right: I.W.HARPER, 1968: ''The most prized Bourbon... and we've got the Gold Medals to prove it! (That's why we put them right on the label)"

Left: Jim Beam, 2002: ''The world's finest bourbon - If it weren't true, it wouldn't be on our bottle."

Too easy? Yeah, I think so and I am right, otherwise that wouldn't have been written (by me) on this Web site. Geddit?


April 19, 2005

Bloomsbury Theatre, London - Saturday April 2nd, 2005 - by Nick Morgan
Martins 4
From left to right: Martin Taylor, Martin Simpson, Martin Carthy and Juan Martin

I’ve never been too sure about the numbers thing when it comes to names. I mean, I remember from my philosophy classes that names signify something (Thomas Hobbes unless I’m much mistaken), but what about numbers? Dave Clark Five, Alabama Three, Temperance Seven, Three Mustaphas Three, Gang of Four, Brora 30, Birmingham Six, 7 Eleven, Three Dog Night, Colt 45 – I’m sure the list is almost endless. But what do all these numbers really mean? And if you add them up then what do you get?
In the case of Martins 4 then the answer has to be a convenient handle for a random collection of four very accomplished guitarists, each with their own distinctive styles and audiences. The question has to be asked, “Why bring them together”? If you were a whisky blender you might baulk at throwing together a powerful and temperamental Islay (Juan Martin) with a feisty islander (Martin Carthy), a sublime Speyside (Martin Taylor) and a fourth malt that didn’t quite know what it was (Martin Simpson) in equal proportions. Yet the result is certainly, as a good blend should be, more than the sum of its parts, whether by accident or good fortune.

Martin CarthyMartin Carthy
  The audience, though not quite in the same league of bonkersdom as on my last visit here (Procul Harum and the Palers) seems at first sight equally random, bearded folkies, swarthy Spaniards and a few cool jazzheads, with an age span from around 12 to late seventies. My impression was that the majority were at the gig to hear particular Martins, which is what they were served first, and not the Martinial confection that was brought to the table in the second half. If they shared my scepticism as to the ingredients then I’m sure that by the end, like me, they were persuaded that sometimes a seemingly random mix can be just as good as a well tried recipe.
So Martin Carthy MBE, father of the English folk-guitar, kicked off with three tunes and a badly buggered guitar cable. He gave us a wonderful song collected from Kentish songsmith Len Smith, and his famous rendition of the Harry Lime Theme, which apparently, according to Martin Taylor MBE (who followed), is the music that he (Taylor) wants played at his funeral. Lets hope he doesn’t die soon.  Laid back and loose, Taylor was simply awesome, one of those guitarists who makes it sound as if there are at least three people playing (shades of Bill Frisell).. We got Nora Jones’ ‘I don’t know why’, ‘One day’, a tune written for Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival, and ‘Rum Beach’, when with the addition of a dampener under his bridge he transformed his guitar into a Caribbean steel band.  
Martin TaylorMartin Taylor
Juan MartinJuan Martin
  No less versatile was Englebert Humperdink look-alike Juan Martin (pronounced Hwan Marteeeen) who used his short spot to rumba and fandango his way through an exemplary Flamenco primer, with a particular emphasis on the Moorish roots of his music. If anything Martin Simpson seemed the most rootless of the four – a beautifully played mixture of blues slide guitar and traditional folk, from a musical setting of Patrick Kavanagh’s ‘On Raglan Road’ to an Americanised tribute to the Gibson Super 400 (no Serge, not a motorbike, it’s a guitar) – but altogether something of a curate’s egg.
When the four Martins came together for Martins 4 one might have wondered what for, after such impressive individual sets. However they knocked out six tunes, mostly from their current (and so-far only) eponymous album with great humour and aplomb, giving equal space for each of their diverse talents. Amidst the endless tuning (that’s what guitarists do when they get together) and ‘Smoke on the water’ riffs (no Serge, not a plug for that other Islay whisky – by the way – do they pay royalties to Deep Purple for that ad?) Martin’s ‘La Pasion De lamento’, Martin’s version of ‘Glass of water’, Martin’s ‘Heather down the Moor’, and Martin’s original composition ‘Barrack Street Stroll’ were probably the highlights.  
Martin SimpsonMartin Simpson
As we left Jon said (Martin wasn’t with us) that we should all go and see Martin Taylor the first chance we get – I would commend you all to do the same. In the meantime you can by the CD, and of course try and get hold of the 2003 DVD, Guitar Nights. But hang on – this isn’t by the Martins 4, it’s the Four Martins! Names, numbers, confused? I sure am. - Nick Morgan (top concert photo by Kate)

- Thank you so much, Nick. So, a Gibson Super 400 isn't a motorbike? Strange, I seem to recall I saw that once, written in golden letters on a US bike's rear Fender... Now, as for your question regarding 'why these guys were brought together', well, it can't be just the names, right? I mean, imagine the Willibalds 7, the Ebenezers 3 or the Glützenbaums 23... It's true that we had the Pacoes 3 (Paco de Lucia, Paco McLaughlin and Paco di Meola) but only a marketeer suffering from mad cow disease could have come up with such a strange idea, as it sort of says 'we brought them together coz they carry the same names!'... (regardless of their skills and styles, by the way). Would you do a vatting just because the malts come from all Scottish Islands? Or because you use one hundred of them? Or because they're all 'Glens'? Wait, imagine... 'Glen Seven'! That would be a name! You'd even have the premix, 'Glen Seven and Seven Up', aka 'Seven & Seven' (also called 'Fourteen', because that would be the average age of the targeted audience...) Now, your idea of 'blending' the Martins will probably please the people who were behind the brand that's featured on these old ads (see below...) But enough ramblings, here's a nice little track by Martin Taylor: Chillin with Oscar – mp3.

Martin's vvo ad Martin's vvo ad Martin's vvo ad
Funny and naive series from 1959/1960 (Martins 3?). We learn that contrarily to popular belief (see April 15) the Scots are neither tough people, nor peaceful souls: they are just happy folks! Provided they are in water, on the rocks or with soda, that is... I especially like the way they symbolized soda, don't you?

Linkwood 27 yo 1976/2003 (46%, Cask and Thistle, 336 bottles) Colour: white wine. First nosing: powerful but clean. Curiously restrained at such old age, quite close to a very young malt - from a very neutral cask. Yeasty, on yoghurt, hot milk and porridge. Some notes of cider apple, mango, bubble gum... Twenty-seven years old, really? A bit of caramel, hints of old papers and beer. It's very nice, just curiously 'young'. Palate: the mouth feel is quite powerful but a bit restrained. The attack is on cooked yoghurt, herbs, burnt sugar, dried flowers. A certain bitterness, with quite some notes of liquorice roots and aniseed. Great, it improves with time! It even gets sort of smoky! The finish isn't too long but enjoyable, quite compact and very satisfying. Nice – but again, 27 years? 88 points.

  Linkwood 27yo 1976/2003 (46%, Cask and Thistle, 336 bottles)
Linkwood 27yo 1975 (50.3%, SMWS 39.40, 216 bottles)

Linkwood 27 yo 1975 (50.3%, SMWS 39.40, 216 bottles)
Colour: pure gold. First nosing: powerful and compact. It starts on some notes of fino, nicely oaky, with lots of vanilla cream, caramel and praline. Very nice! Develops on tropical fruits, tangerine... Some heavy marzipan too... And some fantastic, heavy notes of furniture polish, propolis... It gets more and more resinous, and I like that. It keeps developing, with some dried apricot, pollen and nutmeg. Some hints of coffee liquor. A fantastic nose, with a perfect balance. Palate: the mouth feel is powerful yet balanced, immediately very resinous. Goes on with some turpentine and pineapple skin. Quite bitter in fact, but in a rather nice way. It develops on some oaky notes, perhaps it is a little bit too much. Some rubbery notes too, old tar liquor (did you know that?), bitter caramel. It gets smoother after a while, but with some very interesting notes of mint and herb drops. The finish is long and still very resinous. A very good one, that’s for sure. 91 points.

<-- Clacquesin's Liqueur de Goudron, early XXth Century (vegetal tar liqueur)


April 18, 2005


Blair Athol 8 yo (40%, OB, mid-80’s)
Colour: light amber. First nosing: light, fresh. It starts on notes of grain and light caramel, with quite some apple compote and abbey beer. Feint hints of smoke and rubber. Perhaps a bit sulphury. Develops on mown grass and dried herbs. Some notes of fresh butter. Not overly interesting but not too bad at all. Palate: the mouth feel is somewhat creamy, and the attack is on a lot of caramel, crème brulée, vanilla sauce, burnt cake... It then gets quite perfumy (in a nice way), with some Turkish delight, orange water... Some notes of roasted peanuts...

Blair Athol 8yo (40%, OB, mid-80’s)Left, late 80's - right, mid 80's
The finish isn't too long but rather flawless. It's far, very far from being complex but it's easily sippable. A good all-rounder that would please anybody, even plain newcomers, provided it hadn't become a collector's item! 80 points.
Blair Athol 8 yo (40%, OB, late 80’s) This one was part of the hugely successful ‘Classic Malts’ range when they were 7 instead of 6, right at the start. It’s much grainier and rubberier. Rather unbalanced, with some notes of vase water, stale beer, infused green tealeaves and bitter caramel. Very vegetal and much less enjoyable than the earlier version. Whiffs of wet chalk and cheap rum. It really lacks a bit more fruitiness! Palate: sort of weird, with some heavy burnt caramel but not much else. Quite disjointed, with a bit of old wood, candy sugar and 'chemical' orange juice. The finish is long but quite sugarish and a little 'dirty'. Very similar to some blends. No wonder they didn't keep it amongst the Classic Malts: it's drinkable, but it sure doesn't hold a candle to any of them six. 68 points.   Blair Athol 8yo (40%, OB, late 80’s)
A set of miniatures of the '7' Classic Malts, late 80's. Between Dalwhinnie and Glenkinchie: Blair Athol.
7 crown ad   VO ad
Seagram's 7 Crown, 1970: 'We don't want to step on any toes. Scotch makes a great drink. So does Canadian. So does 7 Crown. We just want to remind you that more people prefer the taste of Seagram's 7 Crown. Which is why more people buy it than the top Scotch and the top Canadian combined. Surprised? Then you haven't tasted our whiskey'.   Seagram's VO, 1982: ''Taste! You be the judge. Discover why more V.O. is bought than any other imported distilled spirit in America. More than any Scotch, Canadian, Rum, Gin, Vodka, Tequila.'
Good. Knowing that 7 Crown is an American whiskey and V.O. a Canadian, but that they both belong to the same company, can you now calculate which was the top seller? You have 3 minutes...
Famous Grouse ad   Famous Grouse, 1972: some strange similarities with the 7 Crown ad just above, as it reads: "Most whiskies are drinkable. Some are even very good. A few are superb. Grouse is one of the fortunate few. Since 1800 the Gloag family have been blending and selling fine whisky. Now six generations later, the culmination is their Famous Grouse Brand Scotch Whisky. To test its fine quality, try it neat and compare it with other blended whiskies.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: New York City singer-songwriter Nadine Goellner sings an excellent and jazzy Only you - mp3 (not The Platters', don't worry). Please buy her music if you like it!   Nadine Goellner

April 17, 2005

Glen Moray 1976/2002 ‘Vallée du Rhône Finish’ (46%, OB)   TASTING - Glen Moray 1976/2002 ‘Vallée du Rhône Finish’ (46%, OB) The sommelier at the Soldat de l’An II in Phalsbourg (excellent restaurant in Lorraine, France) told me they used some casks from Chapoutier’s, and that the malt has been finished for no less than two years. Colour: amber, a bit brownish. Nose: very, very interesting. Notes of wet cellar, moisture, beeswax. Gets extremely meaty, on game, smoked ham. Notes of sweet chestnut and old books, humus, mushrooms. This one is much richer than all the other Glen Morays I had before, so the wine must have added quite some complexity to it. Some winey notes developing, hints of armagnac… Getting also even more ‘animal’. Mouth: mellow and dry at the same time. Rather nicely balanced, getting quite coating. A lot of fudge, nougat, honey cake…
There is some oak but not too much. Develops on tea and tobacco, and on cooked blackcurrant too (from the wine, I guess). The finish is rather long, getting quite tannic now but not overly so. In short, a very enjoyable, yet special experience. 88 points.
MUSIC - Recommended listening (jut for fun): London DJ Mark Vidler's mashup called Alive and nellified - mp3. It starts with some Highland pipe music, but it's soon to, well, evolve... For the better? Not sure, but you decide!   Mark Vidler

April 16, 2005

TASTING - Knockhando 1978/1999 ‘Extra-Old’ (43%, OB) Colour: amber. Nose: very grainy and a little spirity at first nosing. Hints of sherry and calvados. It gets rather nicely perfumy (old style perfume, rosewater). Hints of oak. Not overly complex, lacking the more mundane bottlings’ cleanliness. Mouth: rather powerful but also quite bitter, on un-sugared herbal tea. Gets quite grainy, with quite some caramel. Less mellow than expected. The finish is rather drying and not too long. Again, I sort of prefer the regular bottlings, which are perhaps (even) more undemanding but also livelier. 78 points.   Knockhando 1978/1999 ‘Extra-Old’ (43%, OB)
Wookie Foot   MUSIC – Recommended listening - Sure it's very (probably too) political (check the United States' map on their website) but Wookie Foot's music is an interesting blend of funk, world music, protest song and hip hop... not to mention psych-rock. Try for instance Get Down - mp3. Do you like it? I do... Please buy Wookie Foot's music if you like it.

April 2005 - part 1 <--- April 2005 - part 2 ---> May 2005 - part 1


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

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

Ardbeg 10 yo (80 proof, OB for France, 60's)

Clynelish 24 yo 1972/1997 (61.3%, UD Rare Malts)

Clynelish 1972/2002 (56.3%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #14287)

Clynelish 32 yo 1972/2005 (49.4%, The Whisky Exchange, 206 bottles)

Highland Park 24 yo 1980/2004 (55.1%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #9266)

Linkwood 27 yo 1975 (50.3%, SMWS 39.40, 216 bottles)