Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2007 - Part 3
– THREE GLENURIES
Glenury Royal 22 yo 1984/2006 (50.5%,
Duncan Tayor Rarest of the Rare, cask
#3046, 287 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: this one
smells extremely sugary at first nosing,
exactly like bubblegum you juts unwrapped,
or like a full box of Turkish delights.
Then it makes a sudden u-turn, getting
very grassy (beautifully so, with
whiffs of high-end green tea) and
oaky. And finally we have big bold
notes of fresh walnuts, sauvignon
blanc and something like ‘clean’
cardboardy notes. And no more bubblegummy
notes. That’s what’s nice
with these old closed distilleries,
they never really smell and/or taste
the same… That said, maybe that’s
partially why they closed them down.
Mouth: excellent punch, with the oak
and spices upfront this time and the
fruity notes in the background. Hints
of sweet mustard. Extreme oak after
a moment (what we call pencil juice)
but it’s bearable. Pears, kumquats,
blood oranges… Gets very then
very toffeeish, pleasantly caramelly.
Long development leading to a rather
perfect balance between the oak, the
fruits and the caramel. Yes, it could
be rum in a certain way. Finish: long,
very candied, thick and oily on the
tongue, sort of reminding me of Bailey’s
(I’m sorry). Very good in any
case. 88 points.
32 yo 1972/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing
OMC, 226 bottles)
It’s like Allt’A Bhainne
or Glen Ord, nobody ever writes their
names in exactly the same ways! (Glenury,
Glenury-Royal, Glenury Royal…)
Colour: white wine. Nose: starts extravagantly
fruity this time, almost like an Irish.
Lots of bananas, oranges and pineapples,
all that getting waxier and nuttier
with time (fresh walnuts, marzipan).
Also lots of orange squash, kiwis…
It’s funny how it gets then
cardboardy and even waxier, somewhat
like the 1984, but the fruity notes
never disappear here. Maybe hints
of sulphur in the background. Mouth:
very close to the 1984 despite its
10 more years of age. Very waxy, very
candied, lots of fruits (oranges and
pears), pollen, hints of olive oil,
marshmallow, cough sweets, mint liquor…
Lots happening in there. It’s
maybe not the subtlest malt ever but
it’s very entertaining, for
sure. Finish: very long, getting more
resinous, with a little mustard ala
Banff and a lot of unctuousness even
after you’ve swallowed it (it
really coats your palate). Spitzenklasse.
25 yo 1973/1998 (53.3%, Cadenhead’s)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: much sharper,
more spirity, very grainy and nutty.
Certainly more middle-of-the-road
than the two Glenuries we just had.
Gets then grassier (hay), with quite
some paraffin, diesel oil… quite
rough but actually quite stylish at
the same time. We have also whiffs
of turpentine and linseed oil. A painter’s
studio? Mouth: sweet, waxy again,
but gets quite acrid, grassy, peppery,
drying… Not much pleasure on
the palate this time. Like if you
chewed wax – or rather paraffin.
Finish: long, herbal, with still a
lot of paraffin and green tannins.
This one is a little difficult I think
but it’s an interesting variant,
more austere. 81 points.
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK in Saint-Tropez
certainly hope there’s nobody
out there named Marie-Françoise
de la Molletière)
– JAZZ - Recommended
listening: There must be something
between latin jazz and all female
flutists! Indeed, after the fab
Jane Bunnett, here's the very excellent
Brachfeld playing an
(clip) con mucho gusto. Please buy
– CAOL ILA EXTRAVAGANZA, part
2/2 (sixteen aged 14 or more)
Ila 14yo 1992/2006 (46%, The Way
Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh,
clean, very typical. Quite maritime.
Ashes, kelp, wet stones. Hints of
vanilla crème. Fresh almonds.
Flawless. Mouth: sweet, round attack
but gets quickly quite bold, peppery,
peaty. The wilder side of Caol Ila.
Most drinkable and not boring at
all. 85 points.
Ila 14 yo 1992/2007 (46%, Duncan Taylor,
Colour: pale straw. Nose: same as
the Way of Spirits, maybe a tad fruitier
(apple skins) and a little less ‘straight’.
Mouth: very close. Maybe more bitter
almonds now. We’re in the very
same league anyway. 85 points.
Ila 15 yo 1991/2007 (46%, Berry Bros
Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar.
Maybe a tad less wild, sort of more
elegant. Also hints of quince jelly.
Mouth: frankly more maritime, saltier.
Oysters, crystallised lemons. A little
more rounded. Something of Ardbeg
Ten in this one. Perfect drinking
strength. 86 points.
Ila 14 yo 1991/2005 (53.80%, Dun Bheagan
for Movenpick Wien, hogshead, cask
#4736, 330 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: hotter of
course, sweeter and less clean/pure,
but that may be the higher alcohol.
Apple compote. With water: hints of
cologne for a while, old roses. Then
kelp, oysters, peat smoke. Great.
Mouth (neat): sweet and punchy, spicier
and more on crystallised oranges and
kumquats. Pleasant saltiness again.
A lot of pepper in the background,
even mustard. With water: even more
salt and much more liquorice. A bold,
punchy Caol Ila, almost ‘thick’
in style. 87 points.
Ila 14 yo 1991/2006 ‘Eidora
6’ (56.1%, Krüger’s
WhiskyAuction, 287 bottles)
Colour: pale straw.
Nose: similar of course, maybe a tad
less clean and pure again. More vanilla,
coffee and nougat. A more active cask
it seems. With water: yes, that brings
the wood out. Green tea and freshly
sawn oak. Mouth (neat): excellent
attack on gentian spirit this time,
liquorice, butter pears… And
peat and smoke and pepper… This
one is different, maybe more complex.
With water: softer of course, a little
more on bitter oranges. Something
medicinal, which is unusual with these
Caol Ilas I think (camphor). Marzipan.
Top-notch version. 88 points.
Ila 14 yo 1991/2004 (56.8%, The Single
Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask
#186, 183 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: this is
much more austere, on paraffin, wet
chalk, raw wool… Also fresh
oysters (ultra-refined), ashes. Gets
farmier with time (‘clean’
manure). With water: even wilder.
‘A walk on the beach on Islay’
(yeah, yeah). Farmyard. Mouth (neat):
raw, beastly, on lemon skin, limejuice,
something very mineral. More a ‘riesling’
Caol Ila. With water: the salt comes
out. Grape seeds. Very different from
the ‘Eidora’ but the same
high class. 88 points.
Ila 15 yo 1989/2005 (58.1%, Jack Wieber’s
Castle series, cask #4544, 180 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: punchy but more
lactic now, grassy. Yoghurt, wet cardboard
(tons). Sour cream, wet dog, wet wool.
Totally unusual. Lettuce, asparagus.
A love it or hate it Caol Ila I’d
say. Let’s dig deeper…
With water: it’s even more on
‘wildlife’. Rabbit hutch?
Cow stable? A whole trip to the country.
Mouth (neat): fruitier now, powerful
but round. Dried fruits, ripe kiwis
(or fructose), tangerines. Beautiful
smokiness. Again, completely different.
With water: it got a little more classic
now. Kumquats and quinces. Not too
much peat. Smoked tea. In case you’re
wondering I think this is brilliant
but again, it'll be hit or miss with
all aficionados. 90 points.
Ila 15 yo 1991/2006 (58.8%, The Single
Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask
#100, 295 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: green, grassy
and maritime. Sea breeze, lemons,
then quince jelly and vanilla crème.
Not too wild. Gets greener and lemonier
with time. Very sharp. Not too different
from the 14yo by the same bottler.
With water: even closer, wet wool,
kelp on the beach and soaked grains.
Good porridge (because we’ve
had really terrible ones!) Mouth (neat):
extremely lemony. Amazingly lemony.
And grapefruits. With water: orange
sweets, something like Turkish delights.
Not bad at all but not the best by
the bottler I think (we’ll have
the latest version in the coming series).
Ila 14 yo (64.7%, Gordon & MacPhail
for Sestante, circa 1978)
So you were thinking we’d rush
this oldie? C’mon! It’s
from the old Caol Ila distillery,
so let’s take our time. Colour:
straw. Nose: double-bang! Ultra-sharp,
ultra-lemony with a huge complexity
in the background but it wont really
talk to us. Too much alcohol (although
we can get fresh almonds, old pu-erh
tea and maybe fresh strawberries).
With water: an unbelievable development,
at first (pu-erh tea – at least
30 years of age – and all things
almondy) but getting then much wilder,
with notes of new tyres, tar, maybe
even something like new plastic, barbecue,
charcoal… Ad then small bitter
oranges and the more traditional kelp
and oysters. Maybe not the easiest
old Caol Ila in fact, but give it
time an it’ll deliver.
(neat): extraordinarily drinkable
at 64+% (even if this one may have
lost a few degrees in its bottle since
thirty years). Starts all on crystallised
lemons and green tea, grapefruits,
tangerines and something like sorrel
or raw spinach, but gets then really
to hot. So, with water: Houston!…
Indeed, the pleasant tarry/rubbery
notes we had on the nose are here
as well and I’d say they are
much less pleasant on the palate.
It’s a little too bitter now,
wrongly herbal (rocket salad –
or rugola). Hard, and too bad of course.
But it’s still worth 85
points globally in my books!
Long pause (if you please)…
back with another seven Caol Ilas,
all being 16 years of age or a little
more this time.
Ila 18 yo (43%, OB, circa 2007)
Colour: straws. Nose: a more civilised
version of Caol Ila. More fresh
and cooked fruits (apple compote),
notes of fresh almonds, strawberries,
apricots. Quite some fresh butter.
Hints of cut grass. Less peat and
smoke than in most younger versions.
Settles on fresh putty, mastic and
marzipan. A gentleman. Mouth: less
soft than on the nose, peatier,
smokier and saltier. Marzipan, vanilla
toffee. Hints of maraschino. Mocha,
liquorice. Also earl grey tea. Salty.
Classic and consistent and maybe
more ‘easily drinkable’
than many indies. 87 points
(unchanged vs. older versions).
Ila 20 yo 1981(43%, Natural Color,
France, circa 2001)
Colour: straw. Nose: more marzipan
and also something oddly flowery.
Lavender? Marshmallows and light tea.
Little peat. Unusually soft. Mouth:
slightly weakish, especially after
the OB. Cardboardy. Orange blossom
water. Soft curry. Very strange, offbeat.
Cheapish, albeit sort of interesting,
that’s why I won’t go
under 70 points.
Ila 1982/2007 (46%, Berry Bros and
Rudd, cask #727/8)
Colour: white wine. Nose: huge and
very pleasant grassiness. Candle wax,
cider apples, putty. The smokiness
sort of vanished it seems but the
general profile is still perfect.
Very elegant. Mouth: round, waxy.
Almond skins, apple skins, marzipan.
A little more smoke now. Green tea.
Very good, sippable just like that.
Pleasant signs of age and an excellent
mouth feel. 87 points.
Ila 1979/2006 (46%, Jean Boyer's Best
Casks of Scotland)
We already had a C/S version of this
one and we liked it a lot. Colour:
straw. Nose: as waxy and resinous
as Caol Ila can get with age. Same
apple, almond and walnut skins. Elegantly
farmy (‘clean wet dog’).
A superb Caol Ila ‘de salon’.
Soft pepper and high-end green tea.
Mouth: something oriental (curry?
Saffron?) Overripe apples and pears,
paprika, then the skins (almonds,
walnuts and apples). White pepper,
thyme, quinces, ginger... Very good,
even more drinkable than the C/S version.
Absolute top notch, with that ‘evolution
of peat’ that you can find in
the best old Islayers. 90
Ila 1982/1998 (50%, Moon, Horae Solaris,
Colour: white wine. Nose: we get the
same kind of aromas as in the 1982
by Berry Bros. Huge grassiness, wax,
bitter apples, cold smoke (but little
Very ‘green’, certainly
not ‘sexy’ but quite elegant.
Hints of aspirin. Mouth: slightly
rounder than on the nose but sharper
than the BBR. Notes of strawberries,
kiwis and gooseberries. Bubblegum.
Grass, unsugared green tea. A little
bitterish. Maybe not the most balanced
Caol Ila ever but still an excellent
dram. 85 points.
Ila 16 yo 1990/2006 (54.7%, Scotch
Single Malt Circle, refill sherry,
cask #13144, 296 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: cleaner and sharper
recent distillation, maybe a little
‘between two worlds’.
A little bit of everything, sharpness,
lemon, oysters, coal smoke, paraffin,
almonds, pepper, wet hay… Mouth:
big, bold, slightly kirschy, fruitier
and sort of softer than the Caol Ilas
from 1992/3 and younger. Hints of
chlorophyll, lemon skin. Gets a little
drying and ‘green’ again.
Very good whisky anyway. 86
Ila 16 yo 1991/2007 (57.9%, The Single
Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask
#851, 298 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: all on lemon,
white pepper and peat smoke, with
hints of tealeaves and moderate farminess
(wet hay, farmyard after the rain
– pfff). And apple skin. Rather
sharp but beautifully clean. Whiffs
of wet stones. With water: gets chalkier,
more maritime and more vegetal as
well. Mouth (neat): big notes of lapsang
souchong tea, hints of wasabi, quite
some salt, lemon marmalade. Bold mouth
feel, almost sort of fat – pleasantly
so. With water: even more peat, hints
of kippers and salted liquorice. Very
smoky finish (dry smokiness). Excellent
Islayer, exactly what you expect from
this kind of ‘label’.
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK in Saint-Tropez
AMAZING! – We
could put our hands on this very rare
colour photograph of Bruichladdich's
secret underwater warehouses, circa
1939. It is said that it was bombed
by an U-boat right at the beginning
of WWII, and that only the fish didn’t
complain at the time. It’s the
very first time that a picture of
these legendary facilities resurfaces
so to speak and we are very proud
to have been able to buy it at Sotheby’s
recent “Wartime Scotland, Part
II” sale that took place in
London on August 18th (£8,550,
not too cheap, though.)
More seriously, it’s very funny
artwork by Swiss surrealist-dadaist
and Replonk that we just
saw at an exhibition in Grignan, Provence,
and the caption actually reads ‘National
Labour Museum Cellars – Stocks
of Sweat of Brow, kept since fifteen
generations’. Check their website,
to you by Robert (Sweden)
about buying some seemingly
authentic liquid history?
family heirloom Bowmore from
1850 just got on sale at McTears
(valued to no less than £15.000-20.000!).
Probably a perfect after-dinner
– CAOL ILA EXTRAVAGANZA, part
1/2 (fifteen youngsters)
love Caol Ila, I really do, but I’ve
got a lot of them in my sample library
and I’ve really fallen behind
with my tastings so I decided to kill
quite a few in a row. I’ll not
write extensive tasting notes (who
said good news?) nor add pictures
of all this time, rather just point
out what’s maybe different or
unusual… Let’s start with
a few that are 10 yo or less…
All colours between almost white and
white wine. And oh, of course less
litterature doesn't mean that all
these malts aren't worthy of all our
Ila 7 yo 1994 (43%, Lord of Islay)
A bottler that we mostly find (found?)
in French supermarkets. Nose: typical
fresh apple juice, big bold smoke.
Pleasantly sharp and close to ‘the
distillery’. Flawless. Mouth:
extremely peaty, rather Ardbeg than
Caol Ila. Simple but great punch.
Excellent surprise. 86 points.
(thank you Antoine)
Ila 8 yo 1994/2003 (43%, Signatory,
Nose: more porridgy, less ‘clean
and sharp’ and less smoky. Average.
Slightly flowery (geranium). Mouth:
closer to the ‘Lord of Islay’,
peatier and smokier than on the nose,
but with more sweetness. Again, a
little less ‘clean’ but
good. 83 points.
Ila 10 yo 1994/2005 (43%, Signatory,
Nose: even less smoky and unexpectedly
bubblegummy. A funny one. Mouth: cleaner,
sharper, peatier. Tastes stronger
than 43%. A little salt and no more
funny sweetness. Excellent distillation,
the bubblegum on the nose will please
all these youngsters who use to marinate
bubblegum in vodka these days (ever
tried that pink swill?). 84
Ila 10yo 1993/2003 (43%, Aberdeen
Distillers, bourbon cask #6978)
A Blackadder sub-brand. Nose: a little
more restrained, quite mashy and yeasty
but the smokiness gets bigger with
time. Slight dustiness but the whole
is very pleasant. Mouth: lacks its
siblings’ sharpness and purity.
Maltier, kirschy, sweetish. Not bad
at all but there are better ones I
think. 79 points.
Ila 10 yo 1991/2002 (43%, Chieftain’s,
Manzanilla finish, Casks #90121 –
90122, 1974 bottles)
Nose: quite different from all the
previous ones. Less smoke and peat,
the spirit’s cleanliness really
lets the wine stand out. Cabbage,
liquorice, smoked tea. Different but
nice. Mouth: closer to ‘the
distillery’, peat, smoke, liquorice
and cold apple compote. Little winey
notes if any on the palate. 82
Ila 1996/2006 (57.3%, Helen Arthur,
Refill Hogshead # 734, Anniversary
Versailles Dranken, 338 bottles)
Nose: almost closed, except a few
grassy notes (okay, and whiffs of
peat smoke). Water needed I guess.
When watered down, it gains even more
purity as well as very pleasant notes
of smoked tea and pu-erh as well.
Whiffs of cow stable. It seems that
Caol Ila got peatier in recent years,
or am I mistaken? Mouth (neat): wow,
great! Big sweetness (liquorice allsorts)
and a tamed smokiness, it’s
almost gentle at 57%. Or is it me?
Perfect profile but let’s add
water again… notes of tobacco,
liquorice, quite some salt. Excellent
selection by Mrs Arthur. 88
Ila 7 yo 1998/2006 ‘Eidora 7’
(60.2%, Krüger's WhiskyAuction,
Nose: powerful, clean, fruity, slightly
spirity and very maritime (kelp, sea
breeze). Ashes. Hints of marshmallows.
Extremely clean spirit, even if faintly
lactic. With water: huge soapiness,
let’s wait… Okay, it got
more classically peaty and a little
farmy, as well as lightly yeasty.
Mouth (neat): really hot, uberfruity
(kiwis and limes). Quinces and cough
sweets. Water obligatory or…
With water: not that much peat but
more quinces. Kumquats, orange marmalade.
Quite some salt at the finish. Another
good very young one, maybe lacking
just a little more, well, complexity.
Ila 1998/2007 (63.5%, Taste Still,
Whisky Live Verviers 2007, 309 bottles)
Nose (let’s try it neat!): clean,
smoky and very coffeeish as often
with superstrong whiskies. Quite superb
I must say but let’s not tempt
fate. With water: that brought fantastic
notes of fresh mushrooms out (all
kinds except magic ones – too
bad.) Calms down after a moment, that
is. Mouth (neat and after having said
my prayers): well, one can drink it,
it’s actually very close to
the Helen Arthur but it does burn
your throat a bit. With water: again
these mushroomy notes, quite some
salt, something like aubergines? Also
horseradish. Truly excellent, classy
young Caol Ila, very different from
its twin we just tried. 89
make a long pause now, before we try
a few slightly older CI’s…
Okay, all these are 11 or 12 years
Ila 12 yo (40%, OB, circa 2007)
Nose: fresh, a little milky, pleasantly
sour (yoghurt) and very clean. Smoky
but not too much, with also quite
some apple juice, lemon and kiwi.
Mouth: smokier, peatier, with a slight
woodiness and a little liquorice.
And a little salt. Bolder than ‘just
40%’. 84 points.
Ila 12 yo 1989 (43%, Mac Kullick’s
A former MacKillop’s sub-brand
for French supermarkets. Nose: poorer,
kind of dirty and cardboardy. Buttery.
Apple skin. Mouth: a little green.
Candle wax. Apple skin, bitter olives,
a little salt. Quite bitter.
Ila 1995/2006 'Marsala Finish' (45%,
Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection,
Nose: wine and spirit are nicely integrated
but it’s till a bit too winey
for me. Butter, caramel, ‘new
wine’. A bit too round for Caol
Ila. Mouth: quite punchy, much better
than on the nose. Buttered salted
toffee, mocha. More peat than on the
nose. Very good on the palate, an
interesting variation. 83
Ila 12 yo 1991 (46%, Coopers Choice)
Nose: discreet at first, gets sharper
and quite austere after that. Rather
pure clean smoke and hints of tar
and shoe polish. Mouth: good punch,
good peat, good liquorice, pleasant
sweetness. Good balance, slight bitterness
(further improves balance). 84
Ila 12 yo 1991/2005 (56.9%, Artist
Edition by Ian Gray, 145 bottles)
Nose: very austere, grassy…
Faint coastal notes (sea breeze).
With water: more olives but more cardboard,
wet paper. Mouth (neat): again, better
than on the nose. Sweet quince jelly,
kumquats, pepper, peat and orange
marmalade. Hints of marshmallows.
With water (while it gets completely
opaque): even better, a young Caol
Ila in its full glory. What a bit
difference between nose and palate!
Ila 4200 days old (57.7%, Signatory,
Bottling No. 17, circa 2000)
Nose: more complex. Wet stones, peat
smoke, kelp, motor oil, farmyard.
Great profile. With water: more farm
yard but also more coastal notes.
Wrack, sea shells… Mouth (neat):
excellent, reminds me of the official
C/S. Peat, pepper and lemon, orange
squash. Perfect profile. With water:
gets a little salty and liquoricy.
Very salty actually. Excellent surprise!
Ila 1995/2006 (58.2%, Jean Boyer Best,
Casks of Scotland, 300 bottles)
Nose: close to the ‘4200’
but with more coffee and praline.
Extra-dimension. Puehr tea and lemon
peel. With water: it’s the fruit
that develops here, pears and apples,
tangerines… Wet hay as well.
Mouth (neat): again, close to the
‘4200’ but a little rounder.
Toffee, vanilla fudge. Orange drops.
Other than that it’s all peat,
pepper and lemon. With water: quite
some salt and liquorice again. Also
farmier. Very good bottling, sliver
medal at the MM Awards 2006. 89
try a few older ones tomorrow, stay
– Recommended listening:
slide, slide, slide with ex-Muddy
Waters band Bob
Margolin and his Blues
lover.mp3. And please buy his
– FOUR ST. MAGDALENES (strike!)
Magdalene 15 yo 1964/1979 (45.7%,
Another one from these marvellous
old dumpies. Colour: straw. Nose:
starts all on hay and dried flowers,
getting even grassier with time but
also wonderfully oily (olive), developing
then more on motor oil, ashes, metal
polish and very old books that you
just open after having found them
in the attic. Also whiffs of charcoal
and then it’s back to newly
cut grass and green tea. Obvious OBE.
A fantastic profile that you won’t
find in any other malt that I know.
Mouth: brilliant attack on lemon marmalade
and earl grey tea (bergamot), with
a fab dryness behind the scenes. And
then we have the olive oil again,
high-end liquorice, carrot cake (yeah,
really), something like very old sweet
Parmesan cheese, a little salt (wait,
let’s be smart and find an unusual
kind of salt… Why not pink Himalayan
salt?) Anyway, as you can see, this
kind of wonder puts you in a jolly
good mood. Finish: not exactly long
but marvellously candied and still
very salty, with something resinous
now. A fab old bottle and a fab old
distillery. We’ll really have
to have another go at an old favourite
of ours one day: the 19yo 1979 Rare
Malts aka ‘deluxe kerosene for
malt freaks’. Anyway, 94
points for this wonder (and
30 yo 1973/2004 (59.6%, OB, 1500 bottles)
I case you’re a novice (but
do novices read WF?) Linlithgow and
St. Magdalene are the same distillery.
This old official version came from
refill American oak casks. Colour:
pale amber. Nose: a bold, jammy attack
on the nose, mostly on citrons and
lemons, the malt getting then even
fruitier, maybe more in classic Lowland
style than other St. Magdalenes. Still
there are fine notes of linseed oil,
maybe olive oil, ashes… There’s
also an excellent spiciness (hints
of cloves and nutmeg). Much more drinkable
‘just like that’ than
expected. Mouth: more or less in the
same vein as on the nose, with lemon
marmalade and a beautiful oakiness
(perfect ‘oaky balance’
here at 30yo). Long, rather dry finish,
quite sensual I must say. More than
other versions in any case. Love it,
Magdalene 11 yo 1982/1994 (61.5%,
It’s not that often that we
have the opportunity to try a young
St. Magdalene so let’s rejoice.
Colour: pale straw. Nose: ho-ho, but
this is superb! Exactly in the style
of the 1964 by the same bottler minus
the old bottle effect. Cold smoke,
ashes, motor oil, charcoal, cut grass,
hay… Fantastically austere I’d
say. I don’t feel the need to
add any water but let’s still
do it: oh yes, that worked perfectly,
now we have notes of farmyard, clean
wet dog, those old books, coffee,
milk chocolate… And barbecue.
Unbelievably beautiful at 11 years
of age. Mouth (neat): superbly almondy
and grassy but probably too simple
and rough when undiluted. With water:
granted, it’s maybe not the
most complex St. Magdalene ever but
what a nice profile! It got a little
waxier and fruitier (plums) but there’s
still quite some salt. Finish: long,
a little more ‘mundane’
but still very nicely almondy, with
always these salty notes. Top notch
young Lowlander, certainly more ‘Highlander’
than any of its colleagues from ‘below
the line’. 90 points.
(thanks for this one, Nikos)
1982/1999 (62.7%, Mackillop’s
Choice, cask #1337)
Colour: straw. Nose: wowie, it’s
in the same vein again, with maybe
just added notes of coffee but that
may well come from the very high alcohol.
And also hyper-huge notes of hops,
beer, wet wool… But water is
needed again of course: well, it got
grassier and rougher, maybe sort of
‘duller’, but also really
on soaked barley and even more on
all sorts of wet mammals (c’mon!)
Definitely from the country.Mouth
(neat): right, this is really too
strong, even if we get nice notes
of stone fruit eau-de-vie (kirsch,
various plums and, above all, rowan
tree). With water: very, very close
to the 11yo from Cadenhead’s.
The same whisky actually, no need
to repeat my silly comments –
but my rating: 90 points.
(thanks again, Nikos).
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
– Recommended listening:
the people at Mulatta
Records really know how to pick
their artists! This time it's Eleven
piece Pan-African band Mandeng
Eletrik who are playing Yalayala.mp3.
Entrancing. Please buy their music
(reminds me of the XLNT Jephté
REVIEW - This excellent
piece by an undercover reviewer signing
himself (or herself?) “The Keefster”
was found in our inbox last night…
REVERB SYNDICATE at Dancing
in the Streets, fundraiser for
Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation,
August 19, 2007
loves music outdoors. There’s
(Van Morrison, George Thorogood, White
Stripes, Steve Miller etc.) - OK maybe
our definition of the blues is as
liberal as our marriage laws; then
Fest (John McLaughlin, Conga Kings,
and more), then the Folk
Festival (Buffy Sainte Marie,
Arrogant Worms, Kristofferson, and
on, and on) and for those rainy days,
the Chamber Music Festival. Then a
whole pile of free one-offs.
it’s Ashley MacIsaac –
enfant horrible (pire que terrible)
du cap Breton – and the stage
is right at the end of my street,
so why not walk down and listen as
the savage fiddler tortures the neighbours?
There’ll be complaints in Monday’s
paper from the same people who bitched
when Bob Dylan – yup the real
Robert Zimmerman one – kept
them up until 10:30 on a work night
singing songs practically under their
windows as they tried to drift off
a few hours early – hey why
not grab an Americano on the street
– the sounds of Jaguar twang
bars and Fender Super Reverbs draw
me down to a campy (can you still
be camp?) quartet of neo-Ventures
playing spy tunes as two Sovietesque
go-go girls do the frug. No matter
that these kids have no clue who Denny
Faulkner or John Russow were to the
Ottawa music scene of my day, nor
that they’d never believe that
once-upon-a-time the city’s
only venue for original music probably
held 125 standing, refused to sell
drinks when the band was on stage,
and was called Le Hibou, probably
because it didn’t really wake
up until after midnight. No, Ottawa’s
become a new music incubator: these
twango spys may be playing to a beer-swilling
street crowd but they are just a-rockin’
and I’m glad I came early.
Syndicate they call themselves,
and I learn Operation: Jet Set, their
obligatory CD, recorded at Paul Granger’s
The Meat Locker, (bands these days
do CDs the way we used to do posters),
has already yielded a radio hit and
music video – I Am The New Number
Two. So much for their mission of
ridding the world of mind-numbing
Top 40 tunes, or is their hit just
a nefarious decoy to lull us into
dropping our guard, then they nail
us, unsuspecting, with a real underground
sleeper? But no, they’re anything
but mind-numbing and each tune is
just as infectious as Number Two.
If these guys are underground it’s
not the music.
set, mostly guitar instrumentals,
draws heavily on the Ventures, with
their signature Pipeline/Wipeout riff
thrown in more than once. Tunes are
of the 60’s/70’s secret
agent genre, reminiscent of The Man
From U.N.C.L.E. Theme (which they
cover), but they have gone beyond
covers, adding originals that stand
up to their forebears, at least when
you’re in the middle of Bank
Street, in the blazing sun, beer in
hand and all around you people are
more than musicians, Reverb Syndicate
are single malt fans. Now I know the
band is from Ottawa, land of the notoriously
abysmal LCBO (poor selection of malts,
but a great selection of failed politicians
sitting on their well-paid board),
but I also know they maintain their
Cold War spy characters on and off
stage, so maybe they have a source
of malts I can tap into if I just
present myself the right way. I know;
I’ll tell them I know Serge
and pretend I’m writing a review
of their show, then once I get them
talking, I’ll subtly slip in
a few leading questions, using proven
techniques from Espionage for Dummies,
and bingo! They’ll spill their
guts and I’ll have a couple
of hundred new entries for The Monitor.
Nastya and Ivana
up in small-town Ontario, as bassist
Jeff Welch, aka Agent Ampeg, aka
Reginald Goodthrust did, can be
pretty dull with not a whole lot
to do. Perhaps that’s why
small town kids so often turn to
music to entertain themselves. Like
many folks from the boonies, Reg
isn't unfamiliar with the odd day
of drinking in the park , but nowadays
it’s Glenfiddich and not JD
in the paper bag. Ahh… still
so much to learn.
guitarist, Victor Tremolo is a little
further along in his malt journey,
being a sophisticated aficionado
of Laphroaig 10yo, not just for
its smoky sweetness, but partly
because the name has three vowels
in a row. “You don't see that
every day.” Being the older
and wiser musician and drinker,
sometimes I discern that these guys
aren’t totally serious all
likes to ask musicians to compare
tasting whisky and listening to
music; enhancing the enjoyment by
deconstructing the palate as one
deconstructs a song, but when I
run this one by the guys they only
comment that “Well the Syndicate
does believe there is a connection
between drinking whisky and making
music. Unfortunately that connection
is that we don't play that well
after we've drank a couple of bottles
they must not have been dramming
this afternoon because they’re
spot on. “As for our musical
career,” Welch adds, “we
will go wherever it takes us. Hopefully
it will take us to some amazing
go-go lounges with free-thinking
individuals who enjoy dancing. If
that’s the case, we'll pretty
much be happy.”
Reverb Syndicate is James Rossiter
aka Casanova Red on guitar and keyboards,
Mike Bradford aka Victor Tremolo on
lead guitar, Jeff Welch aka Reginald
Goodthrust on bass and Mike Rifkin
aka The Fixer on drums.
from Ottawa for Whiskyfun this is
The Keefster signing off . . . (photographs
taken at the gig by Kate Rossiter
- not our 'official' Kate)
thank you Keefster! We hope these
guys will fly over here one day as
we’re certainly into reverb
(and whisky) as well. In the meantime,
let’s listen to their I
am the new number two.mp3 (ha,
ambition!) and watch then on YouTube.
– THREE WINE FINISHED CRAGGANMORES
1984 ‘Distillers Edition’
(40%, OB, Port finish, bottled circa
Colour: pale gold
with orange hues. Nose: rather fresh
at first nosing (cold tea) but soon
to get quite toasted and malty before
switching to more orangey and honeyed
notes. Very faint rubber in the background
and hints of toffee and fudge. Also
a little smoke, probably from the
‘second casks’. Delicate
but rich, getting heavily and impressively
honeyed after a while (chestnut).
Mouth: a rather demonstrative attack
on coffee, malt and that chestnut
honey that must come from the Port
wood again but a rather sudden drop
and then a rather thin middle, except
for the malty notes and maybe these
hints of rubber. As it sometimes happens,
it gains steam again towards the finish,
but with more rubber and notes of
toasted bread as well as bitter chocolate,
getting unexpectedly dry. A much better
nose I think. 79 points.
1993 ‘Distillers Edition’
(40%, OB, Port finish, bottled 2006)
Colour: pale gold with orange
hues. Nose: very different even if
we’re in the same ‘cluster’
to quote David Wishart. Less malty
and toasted but rather quite floral
and honeyed (dandelions, acacia honey),
with also a little more vanilla fudge
and oak. A little less rich, cleaner
and certainly less marked by the Port.
Mouth: closer to the 1984 but, I think
much nicer on the palate. Again a
little less marked by the Port and
more by the oak, with an added spiciness
that prevents it from the ‘fall’
at the middle that often happens with
malts bottled at 40%. Quite some nutmeg,
ginger, even sweet mustard and soft
curry. Finish: quite long, pleasantly
spicy and oaky, without any excessive
‘vinosity’ (but it’s
there). Really improved since the
first edition I think. 83
21yo 1985/2006 (56.5%, Murray McDavid
Mission Gold, enhanced in Guigal Côte
Rôtie, 665 bottles)
Côte Rôtie is a tiny but
famous part of the northern Rhône
wine region of France and Guigal is
famous for it’s trinity there,
La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque.
Colour: gold with orangey and reddish
hues. Nose: more power of course but
not that much, as well as more winey
notes that are clearly identifiable
as such this time (blackcurrants and
strawberries). More wood smoke and
more organics of various kinds (smoked
tea). ‘Maybe something metallic
from the syrah’. Heavy perfumy
notes arise after a moment, old roses,
something like musk, wet wood. It
really smells more and more like the
inside of an empty good quality red
wine barrel and we’re probably
‘between two worlds’ here
I’d say. Mouth: really punchy,
extremely vinous and quite tannic,
the whisky not having anything to
say anymore it seems. All on strawberry
sweets, blackcurrant jelly, marshmallows
and raspberry jam, with that faint
rubber notes again. Quite spectacular
I must say but you really have to
like this kind. The syrah really shines
through in a very obvious way after
a while, I’d even dare to write
‘Côte Rotie’ (it’s
not that often that one can get exactly
the flavours of the wine in finished
whiskies, these casks may well have
contained some wines from that ‘Trinity’
I mentioned as they are very powerful,
especially when they are young which
is obviously the case in a cask).
Finish: very long, all on syrah (and
one from a rather hot vintage!) Totally
extravagant winesky. 81 points.
REVIEW by Nick Morgan
FESTIVAL SPECIAL: FAIRPORT'S CROPREDY
Cropredy, Oxfordshire, August 9,10,11th
2007 - Part Two
something special about waking at
dawn in the heart of the English countryside,
the strong rays of the early morning
sun cutting through the swirls of
mist that rise from the nearby canal.
Walking through the dew sodden grass,
the only noise is occasional birdsong,
the bleat of sheep from the gentle
hillside that slopes up to the honey-coloured
Georgian mansion to the south, or
the lowing of calves and the gentle
response of their mothers in the nearby
then, like a reluctant participant
in a game of Russian roulette, choosing
a toilet block for your morning
ablutions, never knowing if you’ll
be the unlucky guy who picks the
one that’s just witnessed
an impromptu sphincter Olympics.
yes – the joys of the countryside
indeed. And then breakfast –
everywhere the smell of overheated
oil, frying bacon, and bubbling
beans fights to overcome the rank
stench of body odour accumulated
from two days without showers, whilst
for some petit dejeuner comprises
only the first beer (in the case
of Roger in the van next door his
own malodorous home-brew) and cigarette
of the day. And if you don’t
want to cook there are no shortages
of opportunities to start your Cropredy
day in true yeoman style before
heading to the festival field, fishing
chair in hand, tankard strapped
to your belt, for an afternoon of
ale, ale, err…. ale, and more
been out here at the crack of dawn,
to reserve their seats …the
bastards. It’s worse than
trying to get a decent spot by the
swimming pool when you’re
on holiday in Spain. But with our
coolbags and rucksacks we manage
to get ourselves – just where
we were last year, and, err…the
year before that. And who should
be over to our left but Tankard
Man, who’s got his paint box
out and is making a nice picture
of the stage, bothered only by the
fact that it’s too hot for
his acrylics. And just in front
of him the Pork Pie Club (you remember
Serge, they like pork pies).
with a precision worthy of the dining
room of a faded British seaside
private hotel, everyone is exactly
where they should be; or, as Robert
Browning wrote, “God’s
in his heaven – all’s
right with the world”. Well
not quite – it’s the
hottest day of the year (again)
and the sun is beating down on us
– for the whole afternoon.
The kamikaze are tucking into the
with a vengeance and falling like
flies before too long – the
Photographer produces something
a little more Mediterranean. Nonetheless
the heat is so bad that I spend
much of the afternoon under a tablecloth,
thereby missing opening act Richard
did emerge to listen to Giveway,
four charming albeit rather gauche
sisters from Edinburgh who played
a set of lively jigs and reels –
they have a couple of albums under
their belt and are just off to do
a month long tour of the USA, including
the Celtic Classic Festival in Bethlehem
PA, which includes a ‘traditional
haggis eating contest’. Cor!
They’re followed by The
Bucket Boys who have
come all the way from Cornwall to
play a rather superior pub-rock
set with some nice country tunes.
tablecloth (is this some kind of
British Burkha? - Ed) - Right: Giveway
on is Ian
Matthews. Remember him?
An original member of Fairport Convention
he left in early 1969 and had a smash
hit in the following year with a cover
of ‘Woodstock’. He made
a few albums with his band Plainsong
and then moved to the States where
he continued to write and record,
but seven years ago relocated to Amsterdam.
It’s an odd set – he’s
still got a sweet voice but a certain
sense of discontent seems to run through
his songs, the majority of which are
rather unremarkable. He ends up getting
his set cut short – “Well
isn’t that just like me, I’ve
run out of time”.
followed was bizarre in the extreme.
It’s the Strawbs,
1960s folk outfit (originally including
Sandy Denny) who turned to ‘progressive’
rock under the influence of Rick Wakeman,
and had chart success with the singles
‘Lay Down’ and the appalling
‘Part of the Union’, and
albums like Witchwood and Bursting
at the Seams. I never much liked the
Strawbs, and in particular didn’t
care for Dave Cousin’s affected
singing voice; I never bought any
of their albums, and as far as I can
recall never saw them. They lurched
through a bewildering number of incarnations
before throwing in the towel in 1980,
only to return in the 90s –
now they tour and record in separate
acoustic and electric line-ups. And
boy have they got some devoted fans
– most of whom seem to be sitting
around us. So while I’m having
a Spinal Tap moment, barely believing
that Cousins could dare come out with
such dated balderdash as ‘Witchwood’,
and ‘Ghosts’ in 2007,
the fans are approaching a state of
unbridled ecstasy. The Photographer
warns me to stop my Cousins impersonation,
as it’s drawing disapproving
glances from our neighbours. And when
at the end of their set they’re
abruptly rushed off the stage by the
crew there’s almost an ugly
moment – and believe me Cropredy
doesn’t do ugly. So in the face
of a volley of angry boos and chants
Cousins and the band are led out to
take a final bow before the adoring
masses. Now tell me – who was
right – me or them? Either way
we’re on the homeward strait
– assisted by Tyneside veterans
Fox and Billy
Mitchell who occupy the difficult
pre-Fairport slot with ease. Very
funny, occasionally very poignant.
If the opportunity arises I’ll
certainly go and see these guys again.
Fairport. They’re on stage early
(which turns out to be a mistake,
as they end up finishing the set early,
and have to put in a few hastily remembered
fillers before the finale). They have
a new album out, Sense of Occasion,
and they’ve got back stage projection.
Ah yes – and the gig is being
filmed so we’ve also got the
intrusive arm of an automatic camera
rig moving in and out of our view.
you would expect there are high points
and low points as a barrage of guests,
Allcock, Dave Swarbrick, Dave
Mattacks, former guitarist Jerry
Donahue, Richard Thompson, Uncle
Tom Cobley and all, join the stage.
Best for me is the Fairport Full House
line-up, playing ‘Walk awhile’,
‘Doctor of Physick’ and
‘Sloth’, the last of which
was positively thrilling. My notebook
tells me that Jerry Donahue played
a guitar solo on Sandy Denny’s
‘One more chance’, which
I guess means I liked it. Ric Saunders
(who played a wonderful fiddle part
on ‘Portmeirion’) deserved
a prize for the worst song introduction
– “Talking of shooting
stars, this song’s about shooting
birds…” (it was the Robert
Burns’ poem ‘Western winds’).
We heard a couple of songs from the
new album by the Photographer’s
favourite Chris Leslie. ‘South
Dakota to Manchester’, like
‘Edge of the world’ showed
I thought an unhealthy tendency towards
a rather repetitive Ralph McTell style
‘history song’. It’s
a format that can work once (or maybe
twice) but can quickly become tedious.
Talking of which I’ve often
been irritated by Dave Pegg’s
blokey familiarity and have consequently
sometimes doubted his talents. So
I should go on record as saying that
his bass playing was first class.
And that was about it.
Some controversy when they finally
got round to playing the rather bastardised
(as the previous evening had reminded
us) version of ‘Matty Groves’
that has become a Fairport trademark.
Playing a film that used Lego figures
to portray the characters in the story
was obviously sacrilege for some of
those traditionalists around us. Me
– I thought it was wonderfully
surreal. And then before we knew it
was time to meet on the ledge as the
cold night closed in around us, with
a firework finale to warm us on our
year? Same time? Same place? Same
people? Well, maybe …
- Nick (photographs by Kate)
Oyez, distinguished WF readers, oyez!
No need to take chances with Easyjet’s
sandwiches anymore, nor to confront
Heathrow’s dull-witted janitors,
it’s all here on Whiskyfun,
a whole journey through England’s
most characterful countryside, with
its beers, sausages, sheep, pork pies,
folk-rock singers and Mediterranean
influences (both sun and food –
yet other signs of global warming
for sure). Oh, I almost forgot the
strange headgear. Thanks for this
very excellent and very funny ethnographic
review, Nick! We’re about to
resell it to National Geographic,
hope you don’t mind... But as
you can’t always laugh in life
I guess, let’s have something
beautiful by Sandy Denny now... This,
of course. - S.
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK in Saint-Tropez
– THREE GLENLOCHIES
Glenlochy 13 yo 1974 (40%, Gordon
& MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice
old brown label)
Colour: pale amber. Nose: starts very
meaty ans very grassy, really on smoked
ham and on parsley (both fresh and
dried) and chives. There’s also
whiffs of dried kelp, wrack…
Rather old style, a little dirty I
must say, not too straight so to speak.
Aromas we’re not really used
to anymore with ‘modern’
whiskies. Mouth: a rather weakish
attack, mostly on chives (unusual),
taking off very sloooooowly; never
getting really bold. A little dusty
again, with also quite some cinnamon
and nutmeg from the wood. Other than
that it’s mostly on cereals
and never recovers after the weakish
attack. Finish: short. Now, it may
be the old bottle, oxidation and so
on. 75 points, still
(interesting old style).
1974 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs
Choice, no year of bottling, circa
Colour: gold. Nose: certainly cleaner
but more on grains, cereals and apple
juice at first nosing. Again these
coastal notes (kelp) as well as a
little butter. Also much punchier.
Notes of nutmeg again. Mouth: again,
cleaner, honeyed and nutty but also
quite dry, almost tannic, rather nervous
at the attack but falling down after
a few seconds, leaving just the tannins
and something toasted on your palate.
Finish: short, leaving just a rather
liquoricy aftertaste. Not bad actually,
just very harmless. Like often with
these old CC’s, the nose is
very pleasant but the palate doesn’t
quite deliver. Maybe it’s just
that we got used to higher strengths.
26 yo 1980/2006 (53.2%, Duncan Taylor
Rarest of the Rare, cask #2452, 294
Colour: dark straw. Nose: of course
more oomph. Punchy, grassy, waxy and
floral, all that at the same time.
Starts on heavy notes of orange-scented
candles, marmalade, cut grass, lilac
and peonies, orange blossom water…
And then it’s the oak that starts
to play its part, with something buttery
(pleasantly so), vanilla, apple skin,
grated coconut… Very nice, a
little austere but very nice. Mouth:
a rather perfect attack blending a
little coffee, pear sweets, cooked
rhubarb and tea. Really robust whisky,
old style. Goes on with more fruits
(I can taste peaches, very sweet apples
and dried figs) and the oak again,
a very good one. Gets nicely dry just
like tea. Good in all senses of the
word. Finish: long, sweet, liquoricy,
with a little pepper and an aftertaste
on dried ginger and pineapple slices.
A very good old whisky that’s
got lots to tell us. Stories from
the good old times? 87 points.
the index of all entries:
malts I had these weeks - 90+
points only - alphabetical:
Ila 4200 days old (57.7%,
Signatory, Bottling No. 17, circa 2000)
Ila 15 yo 1989/2005 (58.1%,
Jack Wieber’s Castle series, cask #4544,
Ila 1979/2006 (46%, Jean Boyer's Best
Casks of Scotland)
32 yo 1972/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing
OMC, 226 bottles)
Magdalene 11 yo 1982/1994 (61.5%, Cadenhead)
Magdalene 15 yo 1964/1979 (45.7%, Cadenhead)
1982/1999 (62.7%, Mackillop’s
Choice, cask #1337)
30 yo 1973/2004 (59.6%, OB, 1500 bottles)