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Hi, you're in the Archives, December 2007 - Part 1
       
November 2007 - part 2 <--- December 2007 - part 1 ---> December 2007 - part 2
 

December 14, 2007


TASTING – SIX NEW ROSEBANKS
Rosebank
Rosebank 16 yo 1991/2007 (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, small batch) This one was bottled in September but I didn’t see it on The Whisky Exchange’s website yet. Colour: white wine. Nose: a big but very typical Rosebank it seems. Starts on breaths of farmyard (wet hay) and rather big porridgy notes, with the expected lemony notes bursting out after that, the whole getting cleaner and cleaner over time. Quite some smoke, at that, as well as dill and aniseed. Classic. Mouth: sweet and rounded at the attack but gets very citrusy after that, kind of acidulated. Very good and, as I said, very typical. Good body. Develops on lemon and vanilla fudge, lemon pie... In brief, lemons. Finish: rather long and, guess what? Yes, lemony – and also a little gingery/nutmeggy. A very good Rosebank that’s still full of youth. SGP:752 (wazzat?) – 85 points.
Rosebank 16 yo 1990/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, Cask ref 3404, Claret finish, 263 bottles) Colour: pale apricots. Nose: starts on blackcurrant jelly and strawberry sweets but gets then meatier. Quite some ham and also quite some soap – or let’s say kind of soapiness (pick your brand). Quite pleasant but certainly not too ‘Rosebank’ in style I think. Gets smokier after a while. Mouth: maybe you know that when I see ‘claret’ (or any other red wine) on a whisky label, thousands of flashing lights come on in my head, so I may well be biased here but... This is too winey for me. I’m not saying it isn’t good, I’m just saying this isn’t Rosebank. Peppered strawberry sweets, liquorice allsorts, raspberry cordial, lemonade... Well, you see what I mean. Finish: long, getting a little bitterer which is good news in my books. Not my cup of malt but some may really like this (and I know some do), so here’s my opinion (repeat, only an humble, isolated opinion and no f****g gospel of course): 70 points (SGP:731). And oh, I would like to take this opportunity to insist on one thing: it’s not because I don’t like wine-finished whiskies generally speaking (there are many exceptions) that I’m not a wine guy, which seems to be a common misconception among distillers and bottlers. I’m ALSO a wine freak and that’s precisely why I’m not always into mixtures of both. Oh well...
Rosebank 16 yo 1991/2007 (56.1%, The Whisky Society) This is from a new series by The Whisky Exchange’s people but last time I checked, it wasn’t yet available. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s the oak and its vanillin that play the first parts here it seems, at least for a few minutes, but lemons and tangerines are soon to have the upper hand. Great notes of fresh butter, newly cut grass, ‘clean’ porridge and all sorts of grains. Very clean and, once again, quite smoky. Mouth: rounder, very fruity but extremely clean, all on lemon and pineapple sweets. In other words, Rosebank (as far as the lemony notes are concerned). Anything but made-up. Great zing. Finish: long, lemony, ultra-clean and highly satisfying. Prototypical. SGP:830 – 86 points.
Rosebank 1990/2007 (57.7%, Malt Pedigree, LMdW, cask #1511, 326 bottles) From a series by La Maison du Whisky in Paris. Great label I must say... Colour: white wine. Nose: sharp and very punchy, with more farmy and vegetal notes again and, yes, big lemony notes. Rather lime actually. Sharp like a blade. With water: not much changes, even if it does get a little farmier. Mouth (neat): softer but also much, much more lemony this time. I don’t know if lemon eau-de-vie exists (not liqueur) but I imagine it wouldn’t taste unlike this Rosebank. With water: excellent development, the whole getting rounder, creamier, more candied. In short, more civilised. Finish: long, balanced, fruity and lemony. In the same league as the 1991, I’d say. SGP:731 – 85 points.
Rosebank 15 yo 1990/2006 (59.5%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Hogshead #1522, 294 bottles) Colour; straw. Nose: less talkative and a little less ‘evident’. Grassier, with also nice notes of marzipan. Lemony for sure, but less so than the ones we just had. With water: gets very grassy and also a little soapy, even after quite a long time (no simple ‘saponification’ that quickly vanishes after reduction). Mouth (neat): a bit harsh, overpowering, more acid than lemony I’d say. Spirity and very ‘green’. With water: gets better this time, even good. Creamier, rounder, with a better ‘lemony definition’. Finish: rather long but slightly caramelly this time, and also slightly bitterish. Not bad at all but there are better Rosebanks I think (and much better old Glen Grants at Blackadder’s these days... Yummie!) SGP:451 – 78 points.
Rosebank 25 yo 1981/2006 (61.4%, OB, 2500 bottles) Yeah, I know, it was about time I published my notes for this recent OB... Here they are. Colour: gold. Nose: hey, but this smells like olive oil when neat! Little lemony notes so far, rather various oils (okay, olives but also linseed) and quite some paraffin. And talc? Also notes of green tea and fresh mushrooms (fresh chanterelles – no, I’m not trying to be smart). With water (obligatory here): the oily notes remain but are complemented with rather beautiful farmy notes (faint whiffs of wet dog), wet hay as often, beech smoke, matchsticks, wet chalk... Very austere in fact but it’s a rather magnificent austerity, I’d say. I don’t know why this makes me think of an Islayer form the south coast, but without the peat... Mouth (neat): quite sippable, I’m afraid (it’s always frightening not to be shaken by such high strengths, isn’t it?) More lemons it seems, including zests. But let’s not be a braggart and add a few drops of water again: ah, we’re really back to civilization now. It got much, much more complex, with rather superb notes of fresh marzipan, stone fruits, plum spirit, butter pears and dried figs. This is good. Finish: very long, clean, always on the same notes... And big lemons and citrons. Excellent powerful Rosebank, reminding me of the Rare Malts 1981/2002 at 62.3%. Same kind of enjoyable ‘rigidity’ if you see what I mean. SGP:651 - 89 points.
 
     
  How many editions of the famous Black Bowmore 1964 are there to date?  
 
Answer here
 
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Let's have a little John Lennon today, but not whith his usual band (nor the Beatles) as it's the Rolling Stones who play with him on Yer blues.mp3.
 

December 13, 2007


TASTING – FIVE OLD TULLIBARDINES
Tullibardine
Tullibardine 5 yo (40%, OB, Italy, 1970’s) This is just the apéritif. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather big, smoky, ashy and porridgy, with also quite some liquorice and notes of burnt coffee. Whiffs of wet clothes and boiling milk. Quite nice I must say! Mouth: falls a bit apart now but the body’s good. Bubblegum and oatcakes, caramel, muesli, vanilla custard. Gets a bit dirty after a moment. Finish: surprisingly long, malty and still quite bubblegummy. Marshmallows. Not too bad, really! SGP:551 (wazzat?) - 78 points.
Tullibardine 1975/2007 (52,7%, OB, cask #1009, 194 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: starts on an uber-woodiness (varnish and shaving) and gets then very farmy. Wet hay, soaked grains, ‘clean’ horse dung (I’m saying ‘clean’ because frankly, this Tully doesn’t stink at all). Big notes of fresh mint coming through. It’s a very nice nose, provided you like oak of course as well as a little sourness. Mouth: big attack, with lots happening. Vanilla crème and oak and then liquorice allsorts, jell-O, strawberry jam and a little salt (excuse me, a certain saltiness). Cider apples and grass. The tannins grow bigger with time. The whole is very enjoyable, though, especially at the finish, which is very long and nicely liquoricy and salty. Big oakiness but it’s quality oak. SGP:372 - 85 points.
Tullibardine 1973/2005 (50.2%, OB, cask #2514, 300 bottles) Colour: paler gold. Nose: this one is much cleaner and purer than the 1975 at first nosing. Big almonds and kelp, rather coastal in fact. Apple juice, vanilla creme and rhubarb (slight sourness again). Again, gets farmier after that. I really like this nose I must say. Mouth: good attack, similar to the 1975’s but then it gets a bit disjointed, going into various directions. Huge grassiness, walnut skin, apple peelings (yeah I know that’s only one direction – so far) and then more strawberry or pineapple sweets, raspberry chewing-gum (as far as I can recall), rosehip tea, soft liquorice... Finish: rather long and quite cleaner now, with the liquorice taking control and quite some pepper. Less demonstrative than the 1975 but still very good. SGP:452 – 83 points.
Tullibardine 1973/2005 (50.2%, OB, cask #4138, 356 bottles) A sister cask with the same degree, funny. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very similar to cask#2514, just a tad sharper and more straightforward on the nose. Also maybe a little more of these bubblegummy notes than in the nose of cask #2514. Mouth: rounder and more polished than cask #2514, maybe more coherent. Peppered apple pie with vanilla crème and liquorice. Very balanced oakiness – but the tannins are well here. Finish: very long, bigger than cask #2514 now as well as much oakier – it’s the oak that won over all other flavours at the end. Concentrated! Very good but you really have to like oak in your whisky. SGP:374 – 86 points (and thanks, Ilias).
Tullibardine 1965/2005 (48.3%, OB, cask #949, 199 bottles) Colour: brownish amber. Nose: starts on very bold whiffs of walnut stain and old rancio, arrak (distilled dates) and wine lees. Goes on with wet paint and ‘new plastic’ (it isn’t as horrible as it sounds) and gets then much more classically sherried, with the usual cortege of chocolate, coffee, raisins and a little mint. Not spectacular but balance is reached if you don’t rush this one too much. Mouth: hmm... Now it got seriously woody, with big, rather drying wood tannins and grape skin. The good news is that what’s behind the oak is rather classy here (ripe strawberries, Smyrna raisins) but these flavours struggle to make it through the tannins. This was probably much more ‘accessible’ ten years ago. Finish: long, oaky and winey, as you may guess, very drying. Hard finish, water really needed here. The nose was very nice but took some time to develop, but I think the palate is really ‘too much’ for my taste. SGP:372 - 78 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: ever wondered how Australian suburban indie-country-pop sounds? LIke The Triangles and like their Will it float?.mp3. Charming indeed... Please buy The Triangles' music. Triangles
 

December 12, 2007


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
TASTING – THREE PORT ELLENS
Port Ellen
Port Ellen 28 yo 1979/2007 ‘7th Annual Release’ (53.8%, OB, 5274 bottles) Here’s the new Annual Release! We’ll oppose it to the 3rd Annual Release because it’s the one we never gotten around to write decent tasting notes about, and to a new Signatory because it’s, err, new. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it seems that this one is a rather complex version, which does not start only on big whiffs of burning tyres and lemons but also on soaked grains, porridge and wet ropes. The peat smoke is big as expected but it’s melted into the rest. Mullein flowers, crystallised lemons, lemon honey, vanilla crème, raw wool, clams, spearmint. It gets then a little more austere but never ‘brutal’. A civilised Port Ellen? Palate: well, yes, in a certain way. Quite interestingly, this one reminds me more of an old Ardbeg than of a Port Ellen on the palate. Very nervous and very ‘wide’, with notes of tangerines, Chinese anise, bubblegum (hints), smoked tea, gentian spirit (hello Vienna?), crab, green Chartreuse and even Jägermeister, liquorice roots... Gets almost restless now, concentrated, big, bitterer and bitterer (more herbs liqueurs)... What a presence! Finish: long, more on marzipan now, green walnuts, liquorice, kippers, sea water (remember?) Well well well, we had thought this one would be a very nice and gentle whisky when nosing it first but at the finish it got quite a monster. A vampire? Great whisky anyway – nothing really new under the sun. SGP:288 (wazzat?) - 92 points.

Mullein
Port Ellen 24 yo 1979/2003 ‘3rd Annual Release’ (57.3%, OB, 9000 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is much more vegetal, grassy, lemony and malty, maybe not really violent but it hasn’t got the ‘polished’ side of this year’s release. Big notes of lamp oil, fresh putty, walnut skins and marzipan. Also hints of antiseptic and nail polish. I like the ‘7’ really better as far as the nose is concerned. Mouth: much better now, even if a tad less complex than the ‘7’. Quite similar in fact, maybe a tad waxier and more almondy and peppery. Also a bit drying – it seems that there’s more oak here. Gets a little too hot, let’s see what happens with water (while the nose got even grassier): it’s almost plain seawater now! Smoked seawater, amazing... Finish: long ‘of course’ but rather rough, salty and grassy. Well, this is great whisky but I liked the ‘7’ better. Much more complexity. SGP:187 – 86 points.
Port Ellen 25 yo 1982/2007 (60.1%, Signatory, cask #645, 486 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: a little more closed at first nosing and definitely more austere and maybe ‘simple’ even after a few minutes of breathing. Lemon, white chocolate and green tea. Extreme lemon after a moment (lime juice) and wet wool, car polish, cactus juice. Sharp like a blade actually... Let’s try it with a little water: it’s a whole horse stable now. Sweat, straw and old leather. Gets then back to lemon and polish. Mouth (neat): very punchy, compact, ‘focused’, lemony, smoky and almondy. Not complex but very good and satisfying now I must say. But let’s unleash more flavours using water... It got even more austere, ‘pleasantly’ cardboardy, dry, waxy, mineral, ashy, salty... Not the sexiest Port Ellen for sure. Finish: very long, on the same flavours, with a little more salt. Very good anyway but maybe a little reserved I’d say. SGP:277 - 87 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: between the Flaming Groovies and the Fab Four, the rightly named Marmalade Souls from Sweden are doing It won't be too long.mp3. Quite fresh, quite fresh... Please buy their music. Marmalade SOuls
 

December 11, 2007


TASTING – A FEW BENRIACHS
Benriach
Benriach 21yo Authenticus (46%, OB, circa 2007) This one is a very controversial whisky. Some people think it’s almost Ardbeg-like, others are more hesitant... I must say the first batch didn’t overwhelm me but when I tried this one (it’s the third batch I think) I though it was way better IMO. Let’s dig a little deeper into it if you please... Colour: pale gold. Nose: well, in Scotland’s mainland I think only the early Broras had this typical Islay character. Smoke and peat of course but also seaweed, shells, wet stones, wet raw wool and soaked grains. Then we get a little pepper, bitter oranges, smoked tea and walnut skins. And dried kelp. Moray isn’t far from the sea, after all.... Mouth: it’s on the palate that the resemblance with the Islayers from the south shore is most striking. Dry, phenolic, smoky, herbal (hawthorn tea, chlorophyll), malty, with hints of lavender honey (which hasn’t much to do with lavender as far as taste is concerned) and a very pleasant earthiness. And roots. Finish: long, getting interestingly hotter once you swallowed it, with only the ‘peat’ remaining but for a long time. This Authenticus really grew on me, sample after sample! SGP:327 (wazzat?) - 86 points.
Benriach 19 yo 1989/2007 (51.3%, Exclusive Malts, finished in European oak hogshead, cask #14388, 351 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: the wood’s influence is very obvious here, and reminds me of Glenmorangie’s experiments with new oak. Huge lactones, vanilla, resin and marzipan, with something very bourbonny. Hints of varnish, soft curry and paprika, nutmeg and capsicum. Whiffs of warm butter and pastries. This one smells very ‘modern’ but it smells good. Mouth: same, but with even more spices from the wood. It’s not exactly plank infusion but the wood dominates the whole, especially since unpeated Benriach is rather subtle malt whisky. And frankly, you wouldn’t obligatorily feel it if it was some peated Benriach ‘behind’ the wood. Now, the good news is that the whole works quite well if you’re into heavy wood, especially since this is anything but tannic or too dry. In short, vanilla, spices and resin. A ‘Californian’ single malt? Finish: long, simple but very nicely resinous and spicy. Nutmeg galore! SGP:641 - 84 points.
Benriach 15 yo 1990/2006 (57.3%, Dewar Rattray, cask #10697, 301 bottles) Colour: pale white wine. Nose: as the colour suggested, this is very fresh, with little wood influence if any. I’ always happy to put my hands on such whiskies because it’s really the distillery’s ‘naked’ character that you get (well, that you should get). So, this seems to be close to newmake, with big, clean notes of fruit eau-de-vie. But instead of the usual pears and pineapples that one gets in many newmakes, it’s rather apricots here, plums, maybe guavas and papayas and black cherries (and the spirit made thereof). Also quite some rubber and a little sulphur, as often in new spirit. 15 years old, really? Mouth: it’s better now. Still in the same vein (fruit spirit) but with less rubber. Let’s see what happens with water (while the sulphury notes became even bigger on the nose, even after having waited for a few minutes): oh, now it’s pure pear juice with the addition of, err, pear spirit. Finish: long, still on pears, with maybe just faint hints of salt and a little buttered caramel. Good but lacking maturity. SGP:621 – 78 points.
And also Benriach 33 yo 1972/2006 (45%, OB, cask #1733, 562 bottles) Nose: this one is very refined, elegant, subtle, maybe a little reserved. Bananas and white pepper, patchouli and incense. Mouth: slightly green (tannins) at the attack but it develops superbly after that. Trademark fruitiness (tropical + apricots). Very, very nice. SGP:742 - 90 points.
Benriach 28 yo 1978/2006 (54%, OB, cask #1596, 201 bottles) Nose: extremely rounded, almost syrupy on the nose. Ultra-big apricots and honey. Echoes of old Balvenies here, funny. Mouth: a little more passion fruits. Candied. Big creaminess, oily mouth feel. A very direct, exuberant Benriach. SGP:821 - 88 points.
 
Ardbeg Ten
 
     
  Which distillery was established in 1786 by William Longmore in Keith and was originally called Milton?  
 
Answer here
 
Tim Barry
                       
MUSIC – Recommended listening: oh yes, Tim Barry! He's doing Church of level track.mp3 with great Bowiesque accents (Ziggy era). Please, please buy Tim Barry's music! (thanks to Suburban home records)
 

December 10, 2007


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
Dave Kelly
Dave Kelly

THE BLUES BAND
The 100 Club, London
November 23rd 2007

They’ve put the seats out at the 100 Club, apparently for the Senior Citizens, amongst whom either the Photographer or I must number, given the way that some nice young men stand up to offer us their places. OAPs they may be, but they’re certainly putting their bladders to a means test given the number of pints of London Pride that are being sunk. What with the old-fashioned (and very uncomfortable) chairs and the booze, it seems like a rather alcoholic school assembly. All we need are the teachers – and, masquerading as a blues band, here they are!

There’s the chemistry master and slide guitar maestro Dave Kelly (brother of the late Jo-Ann Kelly), Gary Fletcher (Games and French, and upside down bass guitar), woodwork and metalwork teacher, and drummer, Rob Townsend, classics master and rhythm and lead guitarist Tom McGuinness, and of course the smartly-dressed Deputy Head Master, Paul Jones.
You may remember many of these names, but Mr Jones is possibly the most famous – ex-Manfred Mann vocalist, actor, broadcaster and harmonica player. And he leads the very receptive class in a most scholarly fashion – kicking off with a short and very learned seminar on Charley Patton – it actually gets a little wearing after not too long. Every song has an introduction; some of the anecdotes are engaging, like McGuinness’s story about Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Cruddup's rat-gnawed stage suit, but the rather patronising lectures begin to sound like preaching (did I mention that Mr Jones is a ‘new born’ Christian who evangelises with his wife?) if not hectoring. It’s almost as if he’s forgotten he’s on the stage and thinks he’s back on the radio. It all gets too much for one wag at the back of the class. “Sir, please Sir, get on with it” he shouts. “No, this is it, this is it!” replies the Deputy Head, with a messianic fervour worthy of a Fifth Monarchy Man awaiting the dawn of a new age.

But despite these occasional millennial excesses I have to say that the Staff Room put up a pretty good show. The set was divided into two halves, the first largely acoustic, the second electric and as a rocking as a gang of old pedagogues can be. Dave Kelly plays his slide guitar like a dream, and has a much better blues singing voice than I remember. Fletcher’s left-handed upside-down bass playing (how does he do that?) is bewilderingly good, and he also has a shot at a couple of his own upside-down acoustic numbers too, including ‘Payback’ from his solo album Human Spirit.
Paul Jones Rob Townsend
Paul Jones (top)
Rob Townsend
McGuinness doubles up on guitar and mandolin (that trademark sound from his number one McGuinness Flint hit ‘When I’m dead and gone’) and managed some tasty old blues licks on his Stratocaster in the second half, although I can’t help thinking he’d have been better off playing something with a bigger sound. And as for the Deputy Head, well of course he can sing, and write (but his rather self-consciously maudlin ‘Sonny Boy’ would frankly have been better without the lyrics), and he can certainly talk for England, but his harmonica playing at times was top of the class, with some really intricate work on the high notes. Have I missed anyone off the register? Hang on, what about Mr Chippy, the woodworking drummer? Well, if ever a band was over-serviced in the drumming department this was it, and I’m not sure that they really deserve the atomic-clock timing of ex-Family sticks man Rob Townsend, or his occasional and witty fills. Superb stuff at the back.
Charley Patton Now, what did they play? Do you really want to know? Well let’s start with tune number one, ‘Moon goes down’. Not many people know that Charley Patton was born a veteran blues man in 1891 (or was it 1887?) in Edwards (or was it Bolton? - scholars disagree on that like so many disputed points) Mississippi, sometime in the 1890s, or possibly the late1880s in a small forgotten town that would forever be remembered as the home of the most influential … - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Thank you, Nick. I found this moving song written by Gary Fletcher called World gone crazy.mp3, and the story behind it is here. – S.
 
   

MALT MANIACS NEWSFLASH by Ho-cheng Yao

Our fellow Malt Maniac Ho-cheng Yao had the opportunity to try the new Macallan 55yo ‘Lalique’ at the ‘Asian launch party’ that just took place simultaneously in four different capital cities (Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul). Here are his tasting notes.

Macallan 55yo Lalique II (40.1%, OB, 420 Bts.)
Brown colour. Some clear sherry notes attack first, quite sweet, with lots of malty and toffee notes as well as a rich fruitiness. A quite clear smoky influence comes out later, with just a hint of highland peat. Reminds me of the unique character of the 1946 bottling. Very matured and layered, displaying the usual nose of an old malt. However, maybe was poured out too long ago and the very little amount in the glass oxidized very quickly. After just 3 minutes, it changes very fast and reveals some creamy and nutty notes, and gradually comes with dried plum and grassy noses. Becomes then ‘old’ with a rather tired oaky nose. The palate is actually very dry and light. Somewhat sour and oxidized. I realised later that it was poured around 30 min. before the tasting, without any cover on the glasses, a pity. Quite a drop between nose and palate, with a short and extremely dry finish. Honestly, I quite enjoyed the nose but didn’t get exactly the same feeling with the tasting. Old malts are quite fragile and need a lot of care. Such a large event is probably not the best occasion to taste such rare and old malts. But who am I to complain, without such an event, I wouldn’t even have the chance to taste it. 85 points.
Macallan Lalique
 
Bunnahabhain

 

 

 

 

 

TASTING – THREE BUNNAHABHAINS

Bunnahabhain 23yo 1979 (50%, Lombard, Jewels of Scotland, bottled +/- 2002) Colour: pale amber. Nose: quite some sherry it seems, of the flinty and sulphury kind (good sulphur here). Whiffs of olive oil and paraffin, shoe polish and coal smoke. Soot. Gets meatier after that, on ham and fresh wild mushrooms. Humus, tobacco and mint. Very nice. Mouth: excellent sherry, nervous, with what could well be peat in the background. Very good fruitiness (raspberry eau-de-vie) and absolutely no heaviness here. Roasted nuts, chocolate, rose jelly, white pepper and maple syrup plus hints of juniper berries. Finish: medium long, clean, sherried, mid-dry mid-sweet. Balanced, eh! SGP:444 (wazzat?) – 86 points.
Bunnahabhain 16 yo (54%, OB, Oloroso Shery cask, cask #274, 190 bottles, Feis Isle 2007) I never gotten around to writing notes about this one that made so many smiling people queue early in the morning in front of the Distillery office at the latest Islay Festival. That’s what happens when prices are fair and whiskies brilliant (are you listening, A****g?) Colour: full amber. Nose: a bit mono-dimensional at first nosing, mainly on chocolate, but then it’s quite an aromatic explosion, with a little mint, quite some smoked tea, mushrooms like in the 1979, game, oyster sauce, barbecue smoke, leather, tobacco... Great! And a perfect balance again, which doesn’t always happen with heavily sherried malts. Not heavy at all. Mouth: big, fat, oily, candied, coating... Phew! Yet, it’s anything but cloying, quite the contrary. Develops on various chocolates (bitter and milk) and various jams (blackberries, blackcurrants, raspberries), always superbly balanced. A little mint and dried herbs (thyme) and then the spices arrive (clove, cinnamon and pepper). And always this balance... Finish: as long as a movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and in the same vein (I mean, as the palate). Excellent Bunnahabhain! SGP:745 - 91 points.
Bunnahabhain 9 yo 1997/2007 (59.6%, Adelphi, cask #5265, 597 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: ah, this is from these peated batches! Very, very powerful and punchy but ‘nosable’, very peaty, smoky, earthy, rooty and iodized. Fatter than other young peaty versions of Bunnahabahain we’ve tasted before I think, yet clean and rather pure despite a few mashy/feinty notes. Great freshness. With water: more raw wool and fresh herbs but other than that it smells like the Port Ellen Maltings when they’re working. Mouth (neat): exactly as you imagine it just now. Big peat, a bit raw but already balanced, with also quite some fruits (eaux-de-vie in fact). Pear and pineapple juices. With water: even fruitier. Fresh quinces and Williams pears, the peat being a little more discreet. Finish: long, on pear eau-de-vie and peat just like it started. In short, it’s probably not the most complex young Bunnahabhain ever but what a set of muscles! SGP:427 – 86 points.
 

December 9, 2007


Bowmore

TASTING – TWO OLD ‘SWISS’ BOWMORES

Bowmore 34 yo 1972/2007 (48.4%, OB, for Globus 100th Anniversary, Switzerland, Hogshead, 100 decanters) I absolutely adore this new bottle, I think it’s very sensual (wot?). Let’s see if the whisky matches the container...

Colour: full gold. Nose: ah, this isn’t a traditional uber-fruity old Bowmore at first nosing. Starts slightly reserved, with the oak playing the first parts (but it’s a very elegant oak). Vanilla, white pepper, bananas and apricots. It gets more phenolic after that, more ‘Islay’ if you see what I mean. Whiffs of seawater, oysters and also fresh almonds and butter as well as beeswax. Great complexity. Keeps developing, getting back to fruits but more on plums now. Also hints of pine sap, quinces, marzipan... And finally a discreet, but very noticeable smoke. In short, a rather different old Bowmore, less sexy and wham-bam than others but maybe (even) more elegant. Mouth: quite rougher now, rather wilder than it was on the nose. Definitely ‘Islay’, farmy, peppery, smoky, peaty, with good oak and good fruits. Plums, apricots, strawberry sweets, hints of icing sugar that keep it very ‘alive’, green tea and ‘good’ rubber. It’s rather powerful whisky at 34 years of age, with the pepper growing stronger and stronger. It’s quite funny, the nose was really from the city whilst the palate is from the country (I know, silly analogy - sorry, I’ll do better next time). Finish: medium long but lively, with quite some mint, eucalyptus and resin as well as a little pepper lingering in the background. In short, a very dual whisky in a very sexy decanter, very different from any other Bowmore I could taste up to now. And very, very good. Now, the price tag is quite heavy – 1,400 Swiss Francs (do your math) – but I wouldn’t say it’s not worth it. SGP:656 (wazzat?) - 92 points.
Bowmore 1976/2000 (55.3%, Lateltin Lanz for Waldhaus am See St. Moritz, Switzerland, 100cl) Colour: pale straw. Nose: another world! Much rougher, sharper, even spirity, displaying very big notes of distillation (slight rubber, kirsch, something sour like porridge mixed with yoghurt). The peat smoke manages to come through after a moment but the huge notes of fruit stone (very peculiar almondiness) and kirsch are still striking. Slight soapiness as well and whiffs of freshly ground pepper. A rather bizarre Bowmore and certainly a distillate that was already very ‘differently’ made before it was filled into its cask. Mouth: simple, fruity and quite spirity again. Apple juice, pear juice, tinned pineapples, wax, kirsch, zwetchke spirit (dark-red plums). Improves a lot after a moment, with more peaty/smoky components but also a rather excessive bitterness. Lavender sweets. Finish: longer than the 1972’s but still rough, spirity and sort of immature. More pepper. Do they have cherry trees on Islay? SGP:364 – 80 points.
And also Bowmore 16 yo 1991/2007 (53.1%, OB, Port matured, 18,000 bottles) Nose: a very pretty mix of fresh fruits and ‘Bowmore’. Sure the cassis is heavy, and so are the strawberry notes, but it goes well with the peat and the pepper. Lots of liquorice roots as well. This one works for me on the nose, and better than the older version (Bowmore Voyage). Mouth: yes it works. Port and whisky create kind of a third dimension here, it’s not like if both walked just side by side like in many Port wood finished whiskies (but this is full maturing). Ginger, pepper, bubblegum, ginger tonic. A success but beware, the Port is rather heavy. SGP:726 - 86 points. Bowmore 16
MUSIC – Recommended listening: want something cult today? Right, then let's have something by Detroit's Nathaniel Mayer, like his Lonely man.mp3. Disjointed, rough and sigularly out of tune sometimes but it's not without reminding us of the early Stooges. And the drumming! Ah, Detroit! Please buy Nathaniel Mayer's music... Nathaniel Mayer
 

December 7, 2007


Ballantines

TASTING – THREE TIME WARP MACHINES

Ballantine’s Liqueur Blended Scotch Whisky 17 yo (bottled 1935) A famous old blend poured at WhiskyLive Paris by the owners – much appreciated! Of course, a sample was filled and here we are... Maybe it is also to be noted that 1935 was the year when Canada’s Hiram Walker took over the company.

Colour: gold. Nose: wow, it starts all on smoke, mushrooms, old leather and camphor, extremely aromatic and very, very far from modern blends. Develops more and more towards moss, fern, humus, eucalyptus leaves, wax polish and patchouli. Yes, as if you had reopened grandma’s cupboard in the attic for the first time since thirty years... Superb whisky, absolutely not tired. Gets very liquoricy after a few minutes. Mouth: very good attack, of course a bit ‘weaker’ than on the nose but still rather nervous for its age, malty, unexpectedly salty, waxy and resinous, sappy, with also notes of Turkish delights and praline. What a body! Wait, 1935... Of course, Katharine Hepburn! Finish: medium long, maybe a tad dusty now but imagine, more than 70 years in a bottle! SGP:343 – 88 points (for what it’s worth) Picture: Katharine Hepburn circa 1935
Old Mull Blend, John Hopkins & Co, Tobermory (bottled 1917, driven cork) We already had a much more recent version of the Old Mull by John Hopkins & C° in 2005 . A current version is produced by Donald Fraser & C° but we never tried it. This oldie was a gift from a precious friend who brought it over from London and was shared with the Maniacs during the Alsatian MM Awards celebrations. Thank god we managed to save quite a few cls from the savages for proper tasting! Old Mull
Colour: gold. Nose: we’re obviously in the same league here, but the style is quite different. More mineral and ashy at first nosing, certainly more ‘old Highlands’ and much more coastal as well. Beautiful notes of smoke, malted barley, lamp oil, turpentine, wet chalk, fresh kelp, citrons, metal polish, shoe polish, waxed paper, leather (horse saddle) and even fresh mint. Sure it’s got something ‘antique’ in style but otherwise it’s stunningly fresh and clean. Develops more towards fresh almonds and high-end marzipan after a few minutes. Less sherry then in the Ballantine’s. Superb and very good news regarding the ‘durability’ of our modern cork-sealed whiskies. Mouth: it really makes the difference with the Ballantine’s at this stage, despite its older age. Starts on bigger resinous and waxy notes, with also more liquorice and more mint and again, a lot of salt. Big maltiness and lots of spices (soft paprika, white pepper). Rather big smokiness (yes, everything is big in this), notes of lemon marmalade, peat, grass... What’s amazing is the slight roughness that remains in this one, like an echo from the auld Highlands. This one really makes your mind wander, from the trenches of WWI to the Russian revolution through the wild Western Highlands. Better than any Hollywood movie, I can tell you. Finish: guess what, it’s long! Very good bitterness, wax, salt grass and liquorice. SGP:145 – 90 points (for what it’s worth – and thanks, Nick). Picture: Mary Pickford circa 1917
Gilmour Thomson
Gilmour Thomson's Liqueur Whisky (bottled 1911, driven cork) Gilmour Thompson were Glaswegian blenders who owned Glencadam Distillery at the time. This old whisky was bottled in a Pinch/Dimple-like bottle and probably contained whisky distilled in the 19th century at Glencadam! It’s funny to read on the remains of the neck label that a ‘Public Analyst’, Mr. George Combe Stewart, ‘analysed a sample of Messrs. Gilmour Thomson’s Liqueur Whisky, and find it to be perfectly pure, with an attractive flavour and aroma.’ Further reading: ‘I consider it to be a blend of excellent character, matured by age, and wholesome in composition’. This, of course, has to be related to the ‘what is whisky’ case that any good book will tell you (such as Charles MacLean’s). Colour: gold. Nose: amazing, we’re very close to perfection again! Pretty close to the Old Mull this time, that is to say more ‘Highlands malts’ and less sherried than the Ballantine’s although it’s still got more sherry notes than the Old Mull. It’s also nuttier, with more chocolate, malt, cereals and praline. Quite some smoke as well, shoe polish, beeswax, mint, paraffin, avocado... Again, superb! Mouth: but are all old Highlanders that tireless? Yet, this is quite different in style now, more medicinal, with notes of iodine and a lot of liquorice and aniseed (ouzo or raki) and also an even bigger grassiness than in the Old Mull. It even grows powerful, can you imagine that? I know some people who would even say this is hot and burning – no, not only girls. Amazing. Finish: incredibly long and like the Old Mull, really rough, salty and wild. 1911! SGP:244 – 89 points (for what it’s worth – and thanks, Geert) Picture: Sarah Bernhardt circa 1911
 
     
  Is it true that Golden Promise is a new American R&B singer and Beyoncé's younger sister?  
 
Answer here
 
Ryan Groff
                                       
MUSIC – Recommended listening: If you like peaceful and quiet little songs, you'll like Ryan Groff (from the band Elsinore) and his Harrison St.mp3. Nice voice, nice atmosphere, nice composition... Oh well, all that is very nice. Please buy Ryan Groff's music...
 

December 6, 2007


Laphroaig

 

 

 

 

TASTING - THREE TRULY LEGENDARY LAPHROAIGS

Today I’d like to celebrate with great pomp the Non Plus Ultra Award (Ultra Premium Category) won by the new ‘Black’ Laphroaig 27yo 1980 at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2007, with a short but dense flight of three much older and much rarer siblings. Good idea, don’t you think? So let’s kick this off with the...
Laphroaig 12 yo (80°proof, Cadenhead, tall bottle black label, bottled 1977) A rare bottle carefully selected by the Lindorables in Verviers, obviously distilled around 1964/1965. Colour: straw. Nose: superbly expressive, displaying a very classic ‘evolution of peat’ at first nosing. First we have citrus skins (tangerines and pink grapefruits), then passion fruits and grapefruit juice and then it’s Laphroaig’s typical medicinal side that explodes in front of your nose. Big iodine, seawater, kelp (fresh and dried), antiseptic, camphor, eucalyptus... Then we have notes of old white wine of the highest grade (ever tried Haut-Brion Blanc?), a little fresh butter, cut apples... And then we’re back to these superb citrusy fruits. And the peat is well there. What a ride. Mouth: fantastically assertive, like if it had been bottled yesterday and not thirty years ago. The peat is more striking, more ‘modern’ than on the nose so to speak, but the fruits and the medicinal notes are well here, playing their wonderful parts. Lemon zests, green, white and black pepper, grapefruits, cough sweets, bitter oranges, marzipan... Totally stunning whisky (did I already say that?) And a lot more but let’s hurry a bit if you please. Finish: very, very long, very compact, on lemons, peat, oysters, pepper and oranges. Sensational Laphroaig. SGP:777 – 96 points.
Laphroaig 27 yo 1967/1994 (50.1%, Signatory, cask #2957, 208 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: wowie, this is totally amazing again, albeit quite different from the Cadenhead’s. Even bigger and even more medicinal upfront, with huge notes of cough syrup mixed with orange marmalade but also less peat smoke. It really has something of the famous 10yo for Bonfanti, only at cask strength. Again, we have a little butter, then seaweed and seashells, then lemons, then hints of kippers, then myriads of other fruity notes (passion fruits just like in the 12yo, guavas, kumquats, small bitter cherries...) Extremely dense, concentrated and totally dazzling. Amazing (I think I’ll really run short of laudatory adjectives). Mouth: holy lama! It’s all there in a big basket, oysters, pepper, peat, lemons, oranges, tangerines, spices, butter pears, salt, quinces, citrons and dozens of other flavours. And the whole is so powerful! Now, if we really want to be a bit more analytical, this one is a little less complex than the Cadenhead’s but more full-bodied and more ‘direct’. And no need to tell you about the finish, it’s so long and salty that it may get embarrassing if you have to meet with important people in the following hours. So, is it better than the Cadenhead’s? Less good? Nah, the very same rating will do. SGP:678 – 96 points.
Laphroaig 15 yo 1967/1982 (57%, Duthie’s for Samaroli, sherry) Colour: mahogany. Nose: even more of everything plus a fantabulously chocolaty and smoky sherry. I’m sorry, the rest will be censored by the anti-maltoporn brigade. Mouth: my god. Finish: my god. Comments: this is why we’re into whisky. We’re approaching perfection here. By the way, did you know the joke about this guy who wanted to cook a turkey with whisky and who............ SGP:878 – 98 points.
It is to be noted that all these Laphroaigs were poured at the Lindores Festival in Belgium this year. What are you doing next year?
 
     
  In 1920, Professor Saintsbury recommended a mixture of Smith's Glenlivet and.... ?  
 
Answer here
 
Phonograph
                                         
MUSIC – Recommended listening: some rather good pop-rock with good gimmicks (I'm short of descriptors, sorry), its Phonograph from NYC and they are doing In your mind.mp3. Please buy these people's music.
 

December 5, 2007


MUSIC AND WHISKY INTERVIEW - LIAM GRUNDY:
Liam Grundy

'Rock and Roll’s too broad a church to go for an ‘official’ whisky!'

Loyal readers of Whiskyfun may recall Nick’s review of the legendary Scotty Moore gig at London’s Jazz Café in 2005. The band was really good and the man at the piano was no less than the excellent Liam Grundy, an artiste of many talents - and of great humour - who happened to play with some of the very best rock musicians on this small planet (such as, yes, Jack Bruce!) No need to say that we were thrilled when Liam accepted to do this little Music and Whisky interview for Whiskyfun...

Serge: Liam, tell us briefly about what you do, music-wise.
Liam Grundy: I sing and write country-based Americana music. I play piano and guitar and work with my band in the UK, Europe and The USA.
Serge: Which other musicians are you playing or did you play with?
Liam: I’ve had a long association with my good friend Bass Player Pete Pritchard. We collaborate on various projects. At present he’s working mainly with Alvin Lee but we toured together this year with Billy Swan and James Burton and are looking to do some recording with them in the coming months. In my current band there’s Richie Sadler on Bass, Steve Rushton on Drums and Preben Raunsbjerg on Guitar. Other artists I have worked with include Scotty Moore, James Burton, Billy Swan, Dave Edmunds, Linda Gail Lewis, Frankie Ford, John Otway plus backing up musicians such as Steve Cropper, Leroy Parnell, and others.
Serge: Which are your other favourite artistes?
Liam: Little Feat, Hank Williams, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Horton, Carl Perkins, Scotty and James of course, Billy Swan, Dave Edmunds, Moon Mullican, Asleep At The Wheel, Phil Alvin, Leon Russell, George Jones, Dolly Cooper, Irma Thomas, Alan Toussaint, Randy Newman, The Band, The Beach Boys…..all vital for the survival of life on this planet.
Serge: Which are your current projects?
Liam: New Album being launched in February….it’s taken ages, but then it is rather good! Originally we called it ‘Back To The Bar’ but the album is brighter than that name suggests so watch this/or my space/ for news on that. Got some Festivals coming up. St Ives Cornwall UK Festival pencilled for this September 2008 and The Big Chill UK too is a possibility…just putting dates together as we speak.
Serge: When did you start enjoying whisk(e)y? Are there any musical memories you particularly associate with that moment?
Liam: I remember bottles of Irish John Powers Whiskey being spoken of fondly in Irish literature and music and Tom Waits always featured whisky somewhere it in his writings. Randy Newman in Mama Told Me Not To Come leads the lyric of with it of course and then there’s all those great Honky Tonk Blues songs Let Me Go Home Whiskey etc. which is on the new album and Whisky Heaven which we do live with band. I started having the odd glass in my early twenties on my frequent trips to Galway in Ireland. I never took to Bells and the blended scotches and the Single Malt thing is too intense for me. It seems to require solitude and calm and I only drink when I’m out and about.
Serge: What’s your most memorable whisky?
Liam: I like John Powers frankly, a good domestic spirit. It doesn’t drive you mad like some brands.
Serge: Do you have one, or several favourite whiskies?
Liam: Yep Powers.
Serge: Are there whiskies you don’t like?
Liam: Bells and anything that looks like the label should be on a shortbread tin. I’m not keen on Jack Daniels either, it tries too hard for me and all that horrible merchandising. However I have been known to ‘Persevere’ with it on occasion. I love everything else about Tennessee though. I’ve known people in TN drink Johnny Walker Red label before now.
Serge:‘If the river was whisky baby, and I was a diving duck’ is one of the most famous and well used whisky lyrics, from sea-shanties to blues and rock and roll. Do you have a favourite musical whisky reference?
Liam: ‘Let Me Go Home Whisky’ Amos Milburn.
Serge: Music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves. Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
Liam: Girls should play guitars as long as they’re not in a Jazz Fusion workshop and wearing boiler suits with short spiky hair. But then no one should be playing Jazz Fusion – the smuggest of all musical forms. As for girls drinking whiskey, sure! but I draw the line at a briar pipe...
Serge: In some ways you could argue that tasting a whisky is similar to listening to a piece of music – you deconstruct the two in the same way? Care to comment?
Liam: Oh come on!
Serge: Do you have a favourite piece of music to drink whisky with, or better still, desert island dram, desert island disc?
Liam: It would have to be There Stands The Glass - Webb Pierce. But someone would need to hide the razor blades.
Serge: Everyone thinks of Jack Daniels as being the great rock and roll whisky – why not Scotch?
Liam: Exactly! It’s all marketing….but then isn’t everything now?
Serge: And if it was Scotch, can you think of which brand? What would be the Scotch equivalent of rappers drinking Cristal?
Liam: Keith Richards used to drink Rebel Yell I believe. I ‘m not sure we should be emulating rappers inclinations. Rock and Roll’s too broad a church to go for an ‘official’ whisky. Rock and Roll to me is a music, and all the attitude bullshit and lifestyle posturing is best left to those who can’t carry a tune in a bucket.
Thank you very much, Liam!
A few links of interest:
Liam Grundy's official website
Liam Grundy's MySpace page
 
TASTING - TWO 16yo HIGHLAND PARKS...
HP Highland Park 16 yo (40%, OB, 1 litre, circa 2007) Here’s the new presentation of the ‘16’, usually only available at duty free shops. Colour: gold. Nose: ah, this one is rather a whisperer it seems. Delicately honeyed and floral, with faint whiffs of wood smoke, a little vanilla, a little porridge (or other soaked grains), a little mint, a little liquorice... Yes, a little bit of everything but not much oomph it seems. Maybe it was designed for travelling newbies, as a peaceful and quiet introduction to Highland Park... A whisperer indeed.
Mouth: mild, almost weakish, with a thin body but quite a few tannins. Apple peelings, bitter oranges, vanilla and grass, all that as ‘whispering’ flavours. Hello? Finish: the honey’s back but other than that, it’s all a little shortish and again, a bit tannic, bitter and caramelly. I liked the nose much better. SGP:221 - 78 points.
Highland Park 16 yo 1990/2007 (53.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, casks #1805/2508, 608 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: another world. One of these restless, very natural indie HP’s that are so different from the OB’s that one may wonder if it’s from the very same distillery. Big porridge, pears, pollen, cut grass, ashes, birch smoke, dry white wine (sauvignon and riesling), lemon, nutmeg and wet wood. As restless as the 16yo was peaceful. Mouth: excellent, big attack, very coherent with the nose, starting with peppered dried pears, dried apples, cloves, cinnamon, tannins (not aggressive but big), acacia honey (but where’s the heather?)... Gets more liquoricy and candied with time, with also notes of quinces and bergamot sweets. Really full-bodied – to say the least. Finish: long, more peppery, smokier and spicier, as well as more honeyed. An ever-going Highland Park that needs a little time if you want to catch all its various layers in fact. Excellent, in any case. SGP:464 - 88 points.

 

 

... AND TWO HEAVY 25yo’s + ONE

HP
Highland Park 25 yo 1981 (54.9%, OB, Binny's, USA, cask #7380, 2nd fill butt) Colour: mahogany/brown. Nose: heavy sherry, heavy chocolate, heavy coffee and heavy raisins. Certainly not subtle, you got it, but balance is still achieved, although we can’t get any distillery character here. Gets more winey with time, with big notes of blackcurrant leaves and peonies as well as a little rubber and raspberry jam. We’re curious about the palate here, we feel it’ll be hit or miss... Mouth: thick, heavily sherried as expected, almost monstrous at the attack. Almost like wine that you’d have reduced on fire for a long, long time. Heavy mint in the background, crystallised oranges, bitter caramel, grape skins, robusto coffee... Well, if you’re in the US and are looking for a true sherry monster (whatever the original distillery), you’ll probably like this. If it’s more Highland Park you’re into, well..... Finish: long but so heavily concentrated that this length is a bit disturbing, which takes the biscuit! Monstrous indeed. SGP:675 - 78 points.
Highland Park 25 yo 1981 (48.9%, JWWW, Auld Distillers, Ex Port Cask, 84 bottles) Not a finishing but full portwood maturing. Colour: deep amber. Nose: it’s very interesting to try this one alongside the sherry monster because that really stresses the main differences between full sherry and port maturing. Quite curiously, this is less winey and rather more elegant, even if some rather big notes of blackcurrants and fresh almonds are striking. Other than that it’s all on wood smoke, a little peat, quite some liquorice, coffee flavoured toffee and beeswax. Most enjoyable I think. Mouth (after having downed litres of water because of Binny’s monster ;-)): the Port really shines through now, as if this was further fortified tawny. Blackcurrants, raspberries, oranges (including ones that start to rot), quinine tonic wine, dried ginger, maybe hints of ketchup or even Tabasco... Once again, not much Highland Park character that I can get but that isn’t too much of a problem here, for the rest is very interesting and pleasant. Finish: long, maybe just a tad dusty now, also spicier and more toffeeish, with something like grape tannins coating your palate. In short, no HP in sight but very good hyper-fortified Port! SGP:733 - 87 points.
And also Highland Park 25 yo 1981/2006 (50.3%, The Whisky Trader, Germany, cask #6048, 100 bottles) Another ‘German’ expression. This one was quite wild, peaty and spicy, also slightly camphory and resinous. Not round, for sure, but perfectly bold and punchy – and much more ‘HP’ than both the Binny’s and the Wieber’s. Very good meine Meinung nach. SGP:366 – 88 points (and thanks, Astrid).
 

December 4, 2007


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
IAN SIEGAL AND HIS BAND
The 100 Club, London, November 22nd 2007
Sneeze Hey Serge, I’ve just been away for a few weeks on a course in California. I can’t tell you exactly where for reasons of commercial confidentiality, but I can tell you we were studying something called ‘viral marketing’. We also looked at some ‘diffusion models’, but that’s probably a bit too complicated for you at the moment.
Anyway – let me explain how this viral thing works. Think of it like catching a cold. Now suppose I catch a cold from that irritating person who’s always coughing in the lift at work. I then go home on the train and unexpectedly sneeze, spreading my cold germs to about a dozen other people, who each in turn catch the cold, and then give it to another dozen people. That’s a lot of colds. Now at the moment I can’t quite see where that fits into my job, unless we anticipate that all these sneezing people will go and make themselves hot toddies with a generous slosh of you-know-what.

But maybe we’ll find out on the second half of the course which I think will be here.

Ian Siegal
Anyway, strangely this all put me in mind of the hugely impressive Ian Siegal whom, you may remember, we went to see earlier in the year. Now it’s unusual to see and review the same artist on Whiskyfun in the same year, but these were exceptional circumstances. We were so disappointed with our trip to see Walter Trout recently (not being Stratocaster-hugging troglodytes like the majority of the audience), and felt that we had let down our guests that evening so badly, that we had to make it up to them. And as Siegal and his band were playing at the 100 Club as part of the London Jazz Festival it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.
He has also just released a new album, Swagger (a most appropriate title given his stage bearing), which, according to my old man’s music magazine “leaves the listener in little doubt that Siegal is the cleverest writer and most magnetic performer of blues working in the UK”. It’s a nice mixture of covers and original compositions, and is produced by Matt Schofield, himself an outstanding guitarist.
Ian Siegal
The 100 Club is busy – and so many girls of all ages, an admiring posse of whom hog the front of the stage during the second set. Mr Siegal has obliged with an all-leather outfit, and duly dispenses with the shirt to reveal his notable blues tattoos. With him are his band, and guesting on Hammond organ Johnny Henderson, and harmonicas Giles King. Siegal swaggers and sweats his way through the evening – in the course of which he laments the difficulty of getting gigs in the UK (you’re probably more likely to see him in Continental Europe next year than here) but does announce that he’ll be playing at the Troubadour early next year.
Guitars Like everyone else in the 100 Club our guests are delighted by Siegal’s electric performance – what did I say last time? “Mature song writing skills, a great and versatile voice, a seriously studied blues vocal style, a fierce and frenetic guitar technique, an engaging and authoritative stage presence” – yep, we get all of that tonight and perhaps a little more. Oh yes – and in addition to his battered Telecaster and Harmony Stratotone H44 he’s also got on stage with him a hollowbody Harmony Meteor H70 (pictured here helpfully from the rear) which has got a fantastic raw sound.

Back to that viral marketing stuff. Well my mate Ian was so excited by the evening that he went home and downloaded Siegal’s albums, and then the next morning booked a dozen tickets for the Troubadour gig, and he’s going to take along a bunch of friends who’ve never seen or heard of Siegal. Now Serge, is that how it’s supposed to work?
- Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)

<- Top, the Harmony Stratotone H44
Bottom,
the Harmony Meteor H70

Thank you, Nick. Ha, viral marketing! We now use the words ‘propagation marketing’ over here, after having found out that it can be, indeed, a disease. But let's rather listen to Ian Siegal. - S.
 
Glenlivet

 

 

 

 

TASTING – THREE GLENLIVETS

Glenlivet 18 yo (43%, OB, bottled +/- 2007) Time to revisit this classic! Colour: full gold. Nose: smooth at first nosing, quite floral (dandelions) and slightly caramelly, with a pleasant maltiness and hints of sherry. Gets then fruitier (oranges) and a tad smoky. Not much oomph but no flaws either, exactly what we’d call a ‘pleasant whisky’. Mouth: starts very malty and quite caramelised, with an unexpectedly big oakiness and also rather big notes of overripe apples. Quite punchy at just 43%. Gets nuttier and more honeyed, with also hints of mint and liquorice as well as a little marmalade (both lemons and oranges). Finish: rather long, maybe a tad drying now and not as silky as expected, but the overall profile is very, err, ‘pleasant’. SGP:432 - 80 points.
Glenlivet 'Nàdurra' 16 yo (59,7%, OB, bottled 2007, batch #0407C) We really liked the first Nàdurra when it was first launched at high strength (89) but a version at 48% was a little less convincing (80). Colour: pale gold. Nose: very punchy at first sniffs, with big vanilla and big oak plus quite some fresh butter and big citrusy notes (lemon zests) but it doesn’t quite develop after that, probably because it’s so high in alcohol. Water should help... Yes, it got fresher, even more citrusy and minty, sort of reminding us of a great Rosebank or Bladnoch. Also rather big notes of dill, aniseed and liquorice and then nougat and praline. Very, very well made, this Nàdurra. Mouth (neat): very punchy, very sweet, very vanilled and very citrusy, with a big oakiness (spices). Very big whisky, quite hot and a tad hard to enjoy at almost 60%. With water: that worked excellently. Great sweetness, oranges, tangerines and lemons as well as ginger and always quite some vanilla. Lemon pie? Finish: medium long but quite coating, still smoothly citrusy and gingery. In short, a rather “modern’ whisky, not exactly complex but perfectly assertive and balanced. Lemon-flavoured barley sugar? SGP:532 – 88 points.
Glenlivet 30 yo (55.2%, Anniversary Selection, 375 bottles, 2007) A new bottling by Specialty Drinks / The Whisky Exchange. Colour: amber. Nose: quite some sherry but a rather mellow one, otherwise it’s all on earl grey tea, oranges, wood smoke and roasted nuts (pecans, caramel-coated pecans) plus whiffs of menthol. Let’s see what happens with water: right, it’s its herbal side that woke up, with quite some parsley and lovage and then hints of balsamico and even a little soy sauce. Quite beefy, at that. Mouth (neat): quite mellow at the attack but vibrant, more winey (sort of) than on the nose and oakier as well. Grows much bigger over time, with very big spicy notes (loads of paprika). Also notes of strawberries and cider apples – and of course oranges and honey (chestnut, one of the... biggest honeys). With water: smoother, more civilized, the oak being still quite present, with a cortege of spices accompanying it but also some smoother components (honey, pecans, dried figs). Finish: quite long, maybe a tad drying now (quite some tannins) but also pleasant gingery and peppery notes. SGP:434 – 87 points.
 

December 1, 2007


MM Awards    

MALT MANIACS NEWSFLASH

THE FULL RESULTS OF
THE MALT MANIACS AWARDS 2007
are now on maltmaniacs.org!

 


November 2007 - part 2 <--- December 2007 - part 1 ---> December 2007 - part 2


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

 

 

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

Benriach 33 yo 1972/2006 (45%, OB, cask #1733, 562 bottles)

Bowmore 34 yo 1972/2007 (48.4%, OB, for Globus 100th Anniversary, Switzerland, Hogshead, 100 decanters)

Bunnahabhain 16 yo (54%, OB, Oloroso Shery cask, cask #274, 190 bottles, Feis Isle 2007)

Old Mull Blend, John Hopkins & Co, Tobermory (bottled 1917, driven cork)

Laphroaig 12 yo (80°proof, Cadenhead, tall bottle black label, bottled 1977)

Laphroaig 27 yo 1967/1994 (50.1%, Signatory, cask #2957, 208 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1967/1982 (57%, Duthie’s for Samaroli, sherry)

Port Ellen 28 yo 1979/2007 ‘7th Annual Release’ (53.8%, OB, 5274 bottles)