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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2008- Part 1
       
December 2007 - part 2 <--- January 2008 - part 1 ---> January 2008 - part 2
 

January 14, 2008


Baccusvr LAST MINUTE - PANIC! SOME FORGERS ARE CHANGING NAMES! (thanks for the info, Patrick)
<-- If you ever spot this small logo on eBay, please proceed with extreme caution!
NEWS: WHISKY WATCHDOGS COUNCIL FOUNDED!
Good, we now do have a Whisky Watchdogs Council! From now on it’s three well-known – and true -Whisky Experts who’ll help us finding out about whether this or that bottling is either genuine, or dodgy, or a plain fake. These very serious people are nobody else than:
Dave Broom, the famous and very knowledgeable writer (and Malt Maniac!)
Sukhinder Singh, who handles The Whisky Exchange in London with much maestria and is a great bottler and collector as well.
Carsten Ehrlich, famous co-organiser of the Whisky fair Limburg, collector, retailer and bottler.
Believe me, if these guys think a bottle is a fake, it means that it IS a fake! What’s more, we may have one or two other genuine experts in whisky history and antique papers joining in the future.
So, don’t hesitate to send your pictures, links and comments to this special email address: waronfakewhiskies (at gmail.com).
Also, rather than downloading a 'suspicious' page in html and send the file to us, please favour making hardcopies (screen captures) of any Web page or parts of it (on PC, hold down the ‘Alt’ key and press ‘PrintScrn’ – on Mac press ‘Apple’ + ‘shift’ + ‘4’). On PC you can also use this handy freeware. It’s also wise to make such screen captures of Web pages that may well disappear, rather than taking the risk of seeing them, well, disappear whenever you need them later on. Anyway, we already have many cases in, and will publish them one at a time. Stay tuned!
 
IMPORTANT: When sending examples of forgeries on eBay or elsewhere to be published on these pages, please add pictures and/or links plus comments on why you think it's a fake bottle that you bought or spotted. "I bought a fake Macallan from the seller XXXX" just isn't enough to make it a clear case. Thank you! Oh, of course we won't disclose your name if you don't want us to!
ALSO IMPORTANT: If you have friends who don't understand English but who buy on eBay, it would be cool if you could tell them what happens and pass them the most vital pieces of information - thanks!
 
FAKE BOTTLE CASE - CATEGORY: CLOSED SALES
Bottle: Springbank 15yo 1964/1979 (45.7%, for Samaroli)
Item # 120184407093
Date of auction: 25.11.07, eBay - Price: EUR 469.00
Seller: docccc, Munich, Germany.
Problem: marks on the twist cap and missing ‘paint’ on it may prove that the empty bottle was probably refilled.
Pictures: left, part of the original pictures on eBay's page. Right: close views of the screw cap, taken by the buyer.
Comments: No need to ask the WWC (Whisky Watchdogs Council) for this one as the pictures speak for themselves. The seller had posted many pictures of various parts of the bottle on the eBay page but of course no close views of the cap. So, this bottle is probably genuine but the content probably isn't, and the whole is dodgy at best. Also, beware of private feedbacks, that should mean that the seller has something to hide. More enlightening cases later...
 
FAKE BOTTLE CASE - CATEGORY: CLOSED SALES
Bottle: Springbank 27yo 1967/1995 (46%, OB)
Item # 120181606124
Date of auction: 18.11.07, eBay - Price: EUR 427.99
Seller: docccc, Munich, Germany.
Problem: never existed with a twist cap.
Pictures: left, fake bottle sold on eBay, with twist cap.
Right: original bottles from the 'same' series.
Comments: the WWC (Whisky Watchdogs Council) says this never existed with a twist cap. Probably a mundane bottle that's been relabelled. We're sorry but with two obvious fakes spotted already, the eBay seller docccc a.k.a. 'Arnold J. Rimmer' goes onto the blacklist.
BONUS NOTE: as our friend Dominiek found out, this seller nicknamed 'docccc' has a good sense of humour! Indeed, it seems that he already corresponded with various buyers using both the names 'Thomas Schwarzenegger' and 'Arnold J. Rimmer'. The clever Dominiek suggested to switch first names and we got... Arnold Schwarzenegger and Thomas J. Rimmer! The latter is a character played by Chris Barrie in Red Dwarf, instantly recognisable by the permanent sneer on his lips according to wiki. Grin...
 

FEEDBACK SCORES ON EBAY: DIRTY TRICKS, DADDY!

These fakers on eBay seem to be very, very clever people. Not only do they seem to sell more Macallans than the distillery itself, but they also know how to manage a true ‘brand portfolio’, just like any good old whisky company.

Indeed, all these nicknames are often ‘brands’, several being owned by one and only person, and most smartly, these clever people just raise new brands every once in a while, in case their ‘old’ brands get suspicious and hence stop selling.
Feedback How do they do that, you may ask? Well, it’s simple. As nobody will buy any 1954 Macallan from somebody having a feedback of only 5 or even 15 on eBay, they will simply organise fake sales between various nicknames, including one or several ‘new’ nicks/brands, until the ‘youngsters’ have accumulated 30 or 50 positive feedbacks and can be launched into the market so to speak. Sometimes it’s items that are more or less normally priced (so they’ll have to pay some fees to eBay) but sometimes it’s also ‘buy it now’ items, like a bottle of single malt for only EUR 1! Better be quick before any ‘normal’ eBayer buys it, eh! So, when checking a seller's feedback, please check who are the people who gave the feedback. If they are 'dodgy' people, you know what not to do...
 
TASTING – TWO 1992 GLEN SCOTIAS
Glen Scotia Glen Scotia 15 yo 1992/2007 (53.4%, Exclusive Malts, cask #424, 241 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one starts very punchy, phenolic and grassy. Huge notes of lamp petrol, linseed oil, fresh almonds and wet newspaper, with hints of aniseed in the background as well as freshly cut green apples. If you like it raw, this is for you. With water: a rather superb wax arises, as well as hints of wet hay, peat smoke, ale and wet cardboard. One from the country, we like this. Mouth (neat): harsh and extremely ‘green’, hugely grassy and peppery. In other words, extremely austere without water, like tequila at cask strength or something like that. With water: it gets even waxier, pleasantly bitter (chlorophyll gums) and almondy, but the huge grassiness remains. Finish: long, still very grassy and waxy, with a faint saltiness. Good, raw malt for lovers of good, raw malts. SGP:273 – 83 points.
Glen Scotia 14 yo 1992/2007 (64.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 93.24, 171 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: raw like raw alcohol or even kerosene, with just hints of beer, kirsch and soaked grains emerging as well as used matches and wet stones. It’s not that I don’t like it but water is needed... With water: nicer as expected. Added notes of coffee and milk chocolate, wet wool, beer, ‘not so dirty vase water’ and fermenting grass. Rougher than the Exclusive Malts. Mouth (neat): yawn! Is this legal? Grass juice and surgical spirit. Quick... With water: better! Sunflower oil. Close to it’s bro but sharper and more spirity, slightly salty and peaty. And of course extremely grassy, especially at the very long but very raw finish. Little wood influence it seems – and not the most balanced malt ever for sure. SGP:172 – 76 points. Kerosene
 

January 13, 2008


THE WAR ON WHISKY FAKERS HAS STARTED

Since we started our 'crusade' (I hate that word but hey, this is a crusade indeed) – and yes, that was only yesterday - against the disgusting pricks who keep selling faked bottles of whisky on eBay, we already received dozens of emails from people who bought such bottles.
As expected the same sellers - names and pseudonyms - appear here and there and we will definitely pillory them in the coming days! We’ll need a little time to edit all the pieces of evidence we got and are still getting but meanwhile, let’s just listen to the very worthy pieces of advice that two knowledgeable luminaries give us about old whiskies:
“Maybe this latest initiative will persuade collectors to stop believing in the impossible. As I've said (too) many times before, if it looks too good to be true it probably is. Sadly, the wisest manner in which to approach any of these bottlings is with deep suspicion. Ask questions and check provenance before buying. The information is often out there and there are many specialists who are willing to help. If the vendor is unwilling to enter into a discussion then walk away.” – Dave Broom
“Just assume they're all fakes unless someone can prove otherwise. Sad but true.” - Dr. Nicholas Morgan, Diageo
We also built a special page that you’ll find there, and we’re afraid that this page will keep growing for months, as it’s not only a bunch of Italians (and Germans, and even Americans it seems) who are trying to scr*w us on a daily basis, but also some of the hundreds of buyers who are now trying to get rid of their fake bottles while they can, sometimes unknowingly that is. So, please, don’t just check the sellers, check the bottles as well! Anyway, stay tuned, it’ll be crispy so to speak. Fake-O-Meter
We’ll even try to have a Fake-O-Meter, thanks to a few famous experts who'll help us flushing the frauds out! But back to 'normal' whisky for now...
 
TASTING – TWO 1991 ARDBEGS
Ardbeg 1991 Ardbeg 13 yo 1991/2004 (46%, Murray McDavid, MM426, Bourbon) Colour: white wine. Nose: a softer Ardbeg it seems, starting on vanilla cake and porridge but getting then more phenolic, tarry and earthy. Also notes of fat oysters, fresh hazelnuts, ripe apples and marzipan. Good stuff on the nose but maybe it lacks the sharpness of earlier versions by Murray McDavid – a matter of taste of course. Mouth: sharper now, peppery, lemony, earthy and almondy, with these typical tarry notes that only Ardbeg and sometimes Port Ellen can display. Classic. Finish: long, with more pepper, bitter almonds and salt. One for your hipflask. SGP:248 – 85 points.
Ardbeg 16 yo 1991/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, finished in rum cask, 334 bottles, ref #3883) Another odd finishing if you ask me, why o why would a 16yo Ardbeg need rum? Colour: pale straw. Nose: call me stupid but this is quite interesting actually. Sure it’s more a cocktail than single malt but I must say I quite like this 3rd dimension. Indeed, the rum notes fit the Islayer quite well here, creating ‘something else’ that displays notes of soot, wet candy sugar, dried bananas, liquorice, celery, wet earth, leather and mint. Gets more Ardbeggian after that (Laphroaiggish actually), with notes of bandages, antiseptic, tiger balm, cough syrup and tar. Totally unorthodox but very interesting and pleasant I’m afraid ;-). Mouth: err... again, this is quite excellent. The mixture works very well but it’s maybe because Ardbeg really gets the upper hand here. Tar, peat, liquorice, salt, lemons and candy sugar (but not too much). Big presence. Finish: long, totally Ardbeggian this time, with quite some salt and almost no rum influences whatsoever anymore except for some faint bubblegummy notes in the aftertaste. Nutshell: a big one that will make for an interesting variant in your bar - yes, Serge speaking. SGP:438 – 88 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: oh well, I know I shouldn't like this kind of 'jazz' and sample fiddling but hey, at least it doesn't make you scratch your head too much and is rather nicely 'crafted'. It's DJ Cam and he's doing Rebirth of the cool.mp3. Miles ahead indeed... Please buy his music. DJ Cam
 

January 12, 2008


I'm sorry, no tastings and no music, I think this will be long enough for today...
 
FAKES ON EBAY ITALY: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!
Most true whisky lovers know that several Italian sellers on eBay are shameless forgers. Many old Macallans for, instance, are fakes, whether official bottlings or G&M bottlings. A pre-war Macallan for 200 or 300 Euros? Come on! Same with old Cadenheads dumpies, Laphroaigs 30 or 40yo, Ardbegs Very Old, Springbanks, Highland Parks, Taliskers... Fakes, fakes, fakes all over the place!
Now, I wouldn’t have imagined that one of these rotten sellers would go as far as forging an old bottle of Suntory. A bottle that I bought myself!
So, here’s the whole story. You’ll see, it’s really scary...
Suntory

EPISODE 1 – Buying the old Suntory
On December 12, 2007, I spotted this marvellous old bottle of Rare Old Whisky by Suntory, bottled for the American forces, supposedly in 1945. That’s what the seller wrote, that is... Sure, the Italian tax stamp around the neck looked suspicious but both label and bottle seemed to be genuine. What’s more, it was quite cheap for such a piece of History and I knew that some GI’s were stationed in Italy at the end of the war, so, well, I bought the bottle from the Italian seller ‘caposiux’, for GBP 50. The price was quite low but I thought that maybe nobody was really interested in an old dusty Japanese bottle. Anyway, a few days later, I got the bottle, in perfect conditions. As I’m a very creative person, I immediately posted a positive comment on the seller’s page on eBay and just typed ‘perfect’. So far, so good...

A few days later, I wrote to my excellent friend Chris at Nonjatta (Mr. Japanese Whisky!) and told him about the bottle, asking him if he had details about the US Army and Japanese whisky. He came to the conclusion that it may well have been a bottle gathered by a GI while stationed in Japan, that he then brought to Italy in his bag while being transferred to another American military base.

Now, the claim made by the seller about the bottle being from 1945 was maybe a bit dodgy, said Chris, because ‘there was no "Made in Occupied Japan" mark. Between 1945 and 1952, Japan, which was not really considered a proper country but rather an occupied territory of the US, carried that mark on all/most/many of its products'. Anyway, the bottle still looked good to me, and after all, WWII or the Korean war didn’t really matter to me. Remember, only 50 Bristish pounds... Yes, but...

EPISODE 2 – The revelation
I decided to ask the seller whether he had any other information about the bottle and its origins or not. So, on January 7, 2008, I wrote exactly this to signore ‘caposiux’:

Caposiux
On the very same day, the very quick Mr. caposiux answered this:
Caposiux 2
Alright, no big deal, lotteries are quite common and maybe the ‘1945’ claim was just a wild guess. Nothing too serious, I thought, until I got this second, very mysterious message from eBay:
Portokalo
Uh! Another – different, I’m sure you noticed – answer to the same question, by another person whom I had never heard of before and with whom I had no eBay activity before. Strange, very strange to say the least. Maybe it was the same person? A person having such a poor memory, that he would have answered the same question twice? (albeit with a different version)... Bizarre... Anyway, maybe flea markets and lotteries are sort of the same thing in Italy? But I smelled a rat (who wouldn't?) and decided to browse eBay a little further. Believe me, that was to be no waisted time because here's what I was soon to find...
US
Yes, that’s right, the very same bottle (albeit EMPTY) was sold for only USD 6.99 by an American gentleman right on November 19, to that‘portokalo2023’ who had bizarrely sent a second answer to my request for more information. Obviously the very same person as ‘caposiux’ or a close friend! But wait, was it really the same bottle? Well, yes and no... Please have a closer look at these pictures...
two bottles Left, the empty bottle sold on November 19 to 'portokalo2023' by an American gentleman (who had it from his Dad who had brought it home from the war)...
Right, the bottle refilled by the buyer, with an added Italian tax stamp (carefully made dirty for good measure, or maybe soaked off an other old bottle) and sold to me by 'caposiux' right on December 12, that is to say way less than one month after the empty bottle left the good old USofA for Italy.
 

Needless to say that this obvious forgery says long about the sharp practices of these/this people named 'caposiux' and 'portokalo2023'! Would you buy anything else from him/them from now on? Or any Florentine old whisky? Of course not!
Now, this isn't it yet, as I also decided to spend a little more time browsing eBay to look for other possible empties bought by these fuckers... And I just couldn't believe my eyes...

EPISODE 3– Plain disgust
Yes, there, on evilBay, was the complete whisky forger's tool kit, all bought by 'portokalo2023' within a few weeks. For example, cool labels...
... like these beautiful Pulteneys (GBP 2.20, that's cheap)...
Fake
Or maybe an old Glendronach or a Tamdhu? You may make reservations right now...
Fake
... And I'm asking you, why not an old Glen Grant, or even a blend?
Fake
Or this Talisker 'Robert Watson' that a friend bought later on as a full bottle, unknowingly?
Fake
Oh, and of course an old Macallan 1937 by G&M... Even easier to make laser copies out of flat, unused or carefully kept in albums labels...
Fake
Gosh, and we almost forgot Highland Park! Of course, the St Patrick label is a must...
Fake
... Not to mention a few stars from Islay... Nice Lagavulin, eh!
Fake
Yeah, it's a genuine industry! Here are a few simple but old Macallans... (we told you, beware old Macs on eBay Italy...)
Fake
I can hear you complaining: no Glenfarclas? You bet?
Fake
Tasliker again? Your choice, OB or G&M? The old 8 is very nice...
Fake
Okay, enough labels... But what to do with all these labels? Right, you need bottles and, of course, whisky in case a buyer decides to open and taste his bottle. Pff, easy, just buy old blends! Old blends are cheap and their bottles are more or less the same as most single malts'. Like, say, this cheap old Match whisky, of which you'll buy as many bottles as you can...
Like one bottle on December 6 - 1 Euro only! Gosh, that's cheap indeed!...
Match
And another one on December 28... (expensive, that one!)...
Match
And a third one on December 29... (you never know... wait, no, it's the same, just a matter of time zone. Anyway, who would buy two bottles of this? A match collector?)
Match
Of course, you may also buy some 'ready to fake' like this empty bottle of Grand Reserva with its original box. The problem is that it's much more expensive! 63.60 Euros... and 27 bids! Holy crow, are there so many fakers out there? Or is it our multiple-personality friend who put all the bids using his various pseudonyms?
Mac
And yet another empty Macallan. See, the people actually drink the stuff! (no wonder, it's quite good, yeah, yeah...)
Mac
Or a very old Irish with a beautiful label... Why not!
Irish

Now, imagine you just bough a beautiful old label like, say an old pre-war Macallan OB 'Handwritten' and you want to make shiny laser copies out of it to stick them on some cheap bottles of blend. Right, how will you handle the 'numbered label' issue? Indeed, it's too tricky to sell two bottles or more bearing the same numbers, isn't it? (although we already saw that happen). Anyway, all this is very easy, just buy an ancient stamp machine with 'rolling' numbers. 7,50 Euros, that's really nothing considering the beast...

Tampon
What is it now? Didn't you have enough? What capsules? Ah, yes, the capsules to put onto the corks... It's true that they are usually destroyed when anybody opens a bottles. No big deal, you can buy 60 of them, all ancient, for less than 10 Euros! Plain pewter, at that...
Capsule
An finally (I swear), you may well consider buying boxes to give more value to your forged bottles. Like a beautiful box for a 40yo Laphroaig... And cheap, at that!
Fake
... Or this (ha-ha-ha, the fucker bought the 30yo for more money than the 40! Grin...)
Fake
Okay, yes, we've had enough, I agree. No further comments needed I guess... Except that sure McTears (despite the dodgy moves like that Mutter Bowmore, or the recent Ben Wyvis) and whiskyauction.com are a bit more pricey than eBay, but at least you can bid safely there. Whereas eBay may well be plain rotten, and not only in Italy. Apologies to the honest eBay sellers - we know there are some - but frankly, this is too much. Because no, 'portokalo2023/caposiux' is NOT the only one...
 
 

January 11, 2008


Old Pulteney

 

 

 

 

TASTING
THREE OLD PULTENEYS

Old Pulteney 8 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, bottled 1977) Colour: pale gold. Nose: very austere, mineral and ‘coastal’, with a big smoke. Wet stones, linseed oil, sea breeze, iodine, walnut skin and matchbox. No sweetness/mellowness whatsoever in this one even if there are beautiful whiffs of church incense and sandalwood arising after a while. More wood smoke as well. Mouth: oily, fat and very salty at the attack but a little short after that, with a discreet middle (just a little wax and a little salt). Other than that it’s very good, especially at the finish that’s spicier and bigger again. Very ‘Northern Highlands’. SGP:274 – 82 points.
Old Pulteney 15 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, circa 2007) Colour: pale gold. Nose: completely different, starting all on ultra-big notes of lemonade and orange soda and developing more on wet wood and oysters. Truly maritime but falls apart a bit after a moment, getting almost silent whilst the old 8yo kept picking up steam. Mouth: starts on the same big notes of orange soda, then oak and ginger but gets a bit stale again after that, as if Pulteney needed a little more than 40% to express itself. Finish: shortish, with a few spices (pepper) and a little cardboard. Lacks oomph but the profile is pleasant. SGP:242 – 78 points.
Old Pulteney 21yo 1983 (46%, OB) Colour: pale gold. Nose: more oak, more vanilla, more marzipan, more fresh putty and less orangey/coastal notes. Maybe a very faint soapiness in the background. We start to get the same kinds of incense and wood box as in the 8yo after a moment but those never get big. Ends with walnut skin, candle wax and ginger beer. Mouth: good body this time, with a very gingery and rather salty attack, soon to get very spicy (pepper, cloves). Hints of oranges again (both bitter and blood), a little cardamom, quite some iodine (big oysters, urchins) and then its back to big spicy notes. Rich and fat mouth feel. Finish: long, peppery, gingery and salty. A big Pulteney of high quality. SGP:462 - 86 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: while some mad, mad things happen in Africa these days, let's listen to one of the most brilliant musicians from that continent, the utterly fabulous Abdullah Ibrahim doing Namlhanje.mp3. Please support Africa and its artistes. Abdullah Ibrahim
 

January 10, 2008


Miltonduf

 

 

 

 

TASTING
THREE YOUNG MILTONDUFFS

Miltonduff 8 yo (43%, Duncan Taylor ‘Battlehill’, 2007) Colour: pale gold. Nose: smoky, grassy and a little sugary (cane sugar syrup), with quite some character. Notes of hazelnuts, toast, mint and liquorice as well as smoked tea, cider apples and bitter oranges. Priced like a blend but exactly the contrary as far as the aromas are concerned. We like this. Mouth: sweet, malty and ‘simply’ fruity (apples, pears). Good body. Nougat and praline, notes of maple syrup, the whole getting spicier over time (nutmeg). Excellent balance. Finish: long, clean, still full-bodied, slightly salty. At around £15 a bottle, this is very excellent value. SGP:443 – 83 points.
Miltonduff 11 yo 1996/2007 (54.1%, Exclusive Malts, finished in a Châteauneuf du Pape wine cask, cask #5566, 327 bottles) David Stirk’s bottlings keep improving but it seems that he just jumped on the wineisers’ bandwagon. Let’s see what gives... Colour: pink. Nose: powerful but very milky, yeasty, porridgy and then very ‘vinously’ fruity. Pipe tobacco, raspberry jelly and cooked strawberries (lots). This is far from being unpleasant but I’m sorry, I think it just does not smell like Scotch whisky. Mouth: exactly the same aromas, with added liquoricy notes (plus hints of kirsch as often) and also something earthy. Long and similar finish. Frankly, this will please many winesky lovers because the Rhône’s spiciness really shines through here, but I’d better sip either a natural Miltonduff, or a Châteauneuf (do you know Clos du Caillou? Not as expensive as others and very good), or even a Marc de Châteauneuf. SGP:431 – 79 points.
Miltonduff 8 yo 1999/2007 (55.7%, Whisky-Doris, cask #C810) Colour: straw. Nose: pretty much in the Battlehill’s genre, only a little grassier and more austere, maybe thanks to the higher strength. Gets then very gingery, vanilled, grassy and kind of dusty but I feel this needs water so let’s not lose time. With water: this is funny, it’s wood smoke that comes out now (Miltonduff?) as well as aniseed, dill and more vanilla crème. Mouth (neat): round and punchy at the same time, excellent! Again, close to the Battlehill but with more oomph, more liquorice and more caramel toffee. Nice bitterness on the back of your tongue (chlorophyll). With water: less development than on the nose with water, the profile staying the same, except for maybe more spices (soft curry and pepper). Finish: long, pleasantly grassy and spicy, with a pinch of salt. Peppered and honeyed cooked apples (let’s try that one day). SGP:443 – 85 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: another cool voice from the north, she's Jeanette Lindstrom and she's singing Here.mp3 (with a very tasty Hammond organ in the background). I'm melting... Please buy this lady's music!... Jeanette Lindstrom
 

January 9, 2008


Glen Albyn

 

 

 

 

TASTING – TWO 1963 GLEN ALBYNS + TWO 1979’s

Glen Albyn 21 yo 1963 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Sestante) Glen Albyn is a distillery I’ve always had problems with but maybe that’ll change this time... Colour: full gold. Nose: well, this is bizarre indeed, going into all directions right at first nosing. Something ‘chemical’ (lemon soda starting with ‘7’ and ending with ‘up’), something curiously perfumy (musk and rosewater), something chalky and cardboardy... A bit fuzzy I must say but it gets better focused after a moment, switching to oranges and wax as well as newly cut grass and something like damp peat smoke plus mint. Gets surprisingly beefy after a few minutes. Certainly old style and way above average this time. Mouth: excellent attack, rather punchy at just 40%, on kumquats, bitter oranges and cough syrup plus loads of dried ginger. Beautiful peat, wax and various kinds of pepper (I should ask Martine, she’s an expert in pepper – and not only in pepper of course). Excellent grassiness as well, crystallized lemons, pine resin... Top notch, by far my best Glen Albyn ever (my favourite used to be the old official 10yo, at a only 80 points). Finish: long, with an exceptional bitterness (superb resinous notes). A rather fantastic Glen Albyn, I’m so glad I could finally find one that’s really to my liking. SGP:473 – 91 points.
Glen Albyn 15 yo 1963/1979 (80° Proof, Cadenhead's Dumpy, Black Label, 75cl) Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes, here’s one of these heavily ‘chemical’ Glen Albyns. Starts on new plastic, ginger tonic, aspirin and wet chalk, goes on with notes of a handful of old coins, coal oven and wet stones... Not sure if I should like this or not I should say, it’s so different... Let’s let the palate decide on this. Mouth: hmm, this one really suffers from the comparison with the 21yo, especially at the attack that’s a little too bitter and cardboardy I think. Green tea, green olives, white pepper, lemon zest, grape skin... Not as bad as other Glen Albyns but too bitter and green for my taste. Finish: long but still very bitter. I know some other Maniacs liked this one a lot but I’m sorry, I don’t. SGP:272 – 77 points.
Glen Albyn 27 yo 1979/2006 (53.2%, Part des Anges, Closed Distilleries, cask #PDA362) This one was distilled when the Cadenhead’s was bottle - not that it matters :-). Colour: pale straw. Nose: rather close to the old Cadenhead’s but less metallic and certainly more cereally and peaty. Fresh nuts, wet clay, wet stones, ginger tonic, seltzer, plaster, lime juice, grass, green tea, beer... I guess you get the picture, it’s not easy-easy whisky. Mouth: a bizarre attack, rather powerful but quite weak in the middle, acrid, grassy, lemony, cardboardy, metallic, dry. Really lacks ‘fullness’. Bitter liquorice sticks. Finish: ‘ampler’ but still bitter, a little too acrid and heavily gingery. This one reminds me of an herb liqueur but not one of the best ones I’m afraid. Now, it’s interesting malt whisky, different from any other distillery. The other bottlings by this new bottler were much better I think (Glenugie, Port Ellen and so on). SGP:181 – 74 points.
Glen Albyn 25 yo 1979/2005 (58.7%, SMWS, 69.10, 'Flamenco dancer with slow legs') Colour: pale straw. Nose: yes, this is another hard Glen Albyn, less complex this time but very typically grassy, lemony and stony/mineral. A bigger sourness after that (cooked yoghurt, sour dairy cream), whiffs of stale lemon juice, heavy cardboard, dust, warm milk... This is hard. Mouth: a surprisingly sweet attack but the rest is rather poor, cardboardy, dusty, dry and too herbal. And prickly at that. Long but truly acrid and unbalanced finish. One to forget as quickly as possible if you ask me. Even the slowest flamenco dancer doesn’t deserve to be compared with this poor ‘thing’! SGP:170 – 59 points. Flamenco
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Catherine Deneuve singing? Yeah, sort of... It's quite good actually, it's called Toi jamais.mp3 and it was in François Ozon's 2002 movie '8 women'. Please buy Catherine Deneuve's works.
Deneuve
 

January 8, 2008


TASTING - FORZA SINGLE MALTS!
Italia
With all these new wineskies around, and as I don’t think Scottish wine casks are available yet (with global warming that’ll happen sooner or later), we’re seeing more and more single malts having dual nationality – well, sort of. Today and while we’re wondering if we shouldn’t rename our humble little website ‘Whiskywinefun’, we’ll have four Scottish-Italian whiskies, coming from three distilleries that are in the forefront of wine cask finishing, namely Bruichladdich, Arran and Edradour.
Camarcanda Bruichladdich 14 yo 1993/2007 'Bolgheri French oak' (46%, OB, The Italian Collection, 3000 bottles) This one was matured in Bourbon cask and then ‘enhanced’ in Gaja’s Bolgheri casks (Ca’ Marcanda). It is a Bordeaux ‘taste-alike’, made out of traditional Bordeaux grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc) and matured in French oak from the Allier region. Colour: salmony. Nose: it’s the wine that strikes first, with rather deep notes of peonies and ripe strawberries, but the whisky takes control after that. Muesli, ripe peaches and rather big notes of raw leather and gunpowder. Frankly, this is rather interesting. Mouth: more than often, I think that wine finished whiskies are nicer on the nose than on the palate and this is no exception, as I don’t like the strawberry sweets/malt and liquorice combo too much, but I wouldn’t say this isn’t good, quite the opposite.
Goes on with raspberry jam, caramel, nougat and even bigger malty notes. Finish: rather long, not vinous as such but certainly wine-influenced. It works – again, if you like this kind of profile. SGP:542 – 83 points. By the way, doesn't the wine's label have something... Scottish?
Bruichladdich 14 yo 1993/2007 'Brunello French oak' (46%, OB, The Italian Collection, 3000 bottles) Again, this was matured in Bourbon casks and then enhanced in Italian wine casks, this time Angelo Gaja’s Brunello di Montalcino – I believe it’s Rennina - made out of Sangiovese, the latter being matured in French oak again. Colour: apricot. Nose: the wine is a bit more discreet than in the Bolgheri here but the whole is a little more exuberant, which means that there’s a bigger maltiness (obviously). Nice oak, vanilla and hints of blood oranges. Somewhat rounder and heavier than the Bolgheri. Mouth: exactly the same happens on the palate. Bigger, oakier, maybe a tad bitterish now (un-sugared green tea, rubber). A wilder version – maybe it’s the Sangiovese. Finish: very long, liquoricy, with big notes of blackcurrant leaves tea invading your palate. Well, this is big, to say the least. SGP:462 - 82 points. Rennina
Fontalloro Arran 'Fontalloro Wine Cask finish' (55%, OB, 2007) Felsina’s Fontalloro is made in the Chianti region but is an IGT (or a so-called Super-Tuscan), not a Chianti, but is more expensive than Felsina’s regular Chianti Classico. Like in Bolgheri, the grapes are Sangiovese. Colour: apricot. Nose: very, very close to the Bruichladdich Bolgheri, just more powerful, thanks to the higher strength I guess. Not uninteresting at all, reminding us a of a wood-matured grappa. Hints of gunpowder again. Mouth: more or less the same again but with a much bigger spiciness (mostly pepper). Other than that it’s all on blackcurrant leaves and strawberry jam, especially at the very long but slightly tannic and drying finish. This was maybe finished for a little longer than both Bruichladdichs. SGP:451 – 78 points.
Edradour 11 yo 1996/2007 (56.7%, Signatory, Super Tuscan finish, 467 bottles) This time it’s casks from the famous Ornellaia that were used. Again, it’s a Bordeaux-inspired Super-Tuscan made out of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the coastal region of Tuscany (remember the stupid British ‘wine journalist’ in the movie Mondovino? No, no names, we’re sorry) Colour: apricot with reddish hues. Nose: oh, this is, again, exactly in the same vein on the nose (err...) but with an even bigger punch. Blackcurrant buds mixed with gunpowder, oak and vanilla. The fact that a Bruichladdich, an Arran and an Edradour smell more or less the same when finished in similar wine casks may say long about the wine’s influence, but again, they all work if you like this kind of profile. Ornellaia
Mouth: much heavier than the three previous ones, much more concentrated, thick, oily, flavourful. Very extreme but very pleasant as such. Heavy nougat, kumquats, blackcurrant jelly and strawberry jam. Chewed cigar. Finish: extremely long and totally restless, slightly ‘cooked’. A wine monster but one that works very well if you like... heaviness. Marco Materazzi? SGP:732 – 87 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Let’s have some very good jazzy flute today with La Zombie et ses bisons playing Blizzard.mp3. It's true that they sound a bit like Magma, so blease buy the blazin' bisons’ music... Bisons
 

January 7, 2008


Laphroaig

TASTING – A QUICK SHORT LAPHROAIG VERTICALE

Islay 8 yo 1998/2007 (53.7%, Exclusive Malts, cask #103, 708 bottles) The label tells us this one was distilled at Laphroaig. Colour: pale straw. Nose: very direct, smoky, medicinal and farmy as it should be. Antiseptic, seawater, wet wool and peat smoke – one of the most medicinal modern Laphroaigs I could nose I think. Mouth: powerful, wild, peppery and extremely peaty. Kippers, smoked oysters, salt (reminds me of potash). Finish: more of the same for a very long time plus notes of ‘salted marzipan’. Exactly what we’d expected from a young Laphroaig. SGP:158 - 86 points.

Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2006 (54.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 29.58, 'Sweet Meat') Colour: gold. Nose: a little more marked by the wood (vanilla) and more orangey, also somewhat sharper and more spirity. Hints of metal and ink, dried meat (Grisons). A bigger smokiness as well, but I liked the 1998 a little better. Mouth: strangely cardboardy at the attack, dusty, bitter... Over-grilled beef. The rest is quite perfect but these strange dusty notes make the whole quite lame I think. Finish: even dustier (quite some cinnamon and mint as well). There are so many great young Laphroaigs around that I feel that we just didn’t need this, err, rather strange (and almost flawed I think) one. SGP:357 - 69 points. Beef
Osyers Laphroaig 11 yo 1991/2003 (55,4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 29.28, ‘Deep Heat’) Colour: pale straw. Nose: like the 1998 but with added almondy notes. Medicinal almonds? Also green apples, wet earth and a full plate of oysters. Great! Mouth: ah yeah, now we’re talking. Pure peat, almonds, green apples, oysters, smoked fish and salt. I’m sure you’re getting the picture. Finish: again, more of the same but with an added mintiness just like in the 29.58. ‘Great young stuff’. SGP:158 - 89 points (and thanks, Ho-cheng)
Laphroaig 15 yo 1991/2007 (54.6%, Signatory) Drat! I forgot to write down both cask number and number of bottles for this one and wouldn’t like to disturb the bottler for such unimportant matters... Anyway, all previous 1991 Laphroaigs from this series I could try were truly excellent so let’s not bother. Colour: pale straw. Nose: very, very close to the 29.28, with maybe added hints of lemon juice and bolder notes of smoked fish. Brilliant whisky. Mouth: yes, it has got ev’rything, from cough sweets to kippers and from salted liquorice to fresh almonds and apples (and lemons). And a great finish of course, with a great tarry aftertaste. I’m sure all these 1991 Laphroaigs by Signatory will become true blue chips after a good fifteen years of bottle mellowing – should the large corks behave well. Future 1966’s or1967’s? SGP:258 - 91 points. Laphroaig
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
     
  In 1967, RJS McDowall wrote that an ingredient ‘will continue to be used. It would take a particularly good whisky to do entirely without it’ What was it?  
 
Answer here
 
Aziza
                                  MUSIC – Recommended listening: Azerbainjani pianist extraordinaire Aziza Mustapha Zaddeh plays and sings Stars dance.mp3. Or when Bach meets Asia and Bill Evans... Please buy Miss Zadeh's music.
 

January 6, 2008


Agadir
HAPPY NEW YEAR! – Yes, we’re back from Whiskyfun’s usual New Year holidays in southern Morocco and we can now resume normal activity. ‘Any whisky out there?’ you may ask... Well, we had planned to do only a bit of ‘dopy whisky dramming’ on the terrace - we like to spice up old, slightly tired but still very good whiskies by adding 5 or 10% of a young cask strength Islayer to them; this year, for instance, we had some 30yo Highland Park MacPhail’s Collection containing 10% of Berry Bros’ recent Badger and I must say this ‘home vatting’ was going beautifully with watching the dromedaries on the beach at twilight (picture) – but alas, we just couldn’t escape our Maniacal influences as we also spotted these strange bottles on some shelves. Prince Charlie MacLean? Davin Napoleon? Gasp, you just can’t avoid the MM’s, can you!
 
TASTING – OLD SCAPAS
Scapa
Scapa 1963 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, 1980's) Colour: full gold. Nose: a superb start, very floral (dandelions, mullein syrup, light honey) and with loads of nectar, ripe apricots and high-end apple juice. The oak is very discreet. Develops on notes of riesling, chardonnay (buttery toastiness), hints of sea water, apple peelings, very soft liquorice, marzipan and puty. Nice hints of fresh vanilla pods. A very beautiful freshness in this very honeyed and very floral old Scapa. Mouth: very soft and maybe a bit weakish at the attack but other than that it's very delicate and very subtle whisky. Vanilla, a little salt, good oak, liquorice, apple juice... Gets much saltier after a moment, as if somebody had thrown a pinch of salt into your glass. Finish: shortish but pleasant, on vanilla, soft tannins, apple juice and again quite some salt. As often with old whiskies, this one was more interesting on the nose but it's still a rather wonderful Scapa globally. SGP:451 (wazzat?) – 86 points.
Scapa 1965/1988 (45%, Moon, "The Sea Series", Hogshead, cask #2879, 240 bottles, 75cl) Colour: gold. Nose: this one is much weaker at first nosing, with just hints of oak (plank), flour, chalk and cardboard. Not much development after that, except a little green tea and a little mint. Rather a disappointment so far. Mouth: undubitably better, with more oomph and a nice vanilla at first sipping as well as excellent herbal notes (mint, lemon balm) Good balance, with also hints of rum and coffee toffee. Finish: long, warming, spicier now (ginger, cloves, dried cardamom). Well, the nose wasn't too nice but the rest is quite superb. Patience needed with this one. SGP:442 – 85 points.
Scapa 37 yo 1965/2003 (45.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 17.25) Colour: full gold. Nose: much, much bigger at first sniffing, starting right on oak extracts (rather heavy varnish, walnut skin, apple peelings, strong tea). Goes on mainly on resinous and almondy notes, getting a little closer to the 1963 (yellow flowers, vanilla, white wine and marzipan) and quite 'coastal' as well (seashells) A classy old Scapa. Mouth: ah, this is close to the Moon (so to speak) but oakier and spicier. Dried fruits, oak, pepper and mint, getting more resinous after that (chlorophyll as well). Growing pepperiness. Finish: long, on old oak, pepper and grape pips - quite drying in fact. In short, excellent if you like oak in your whisky and aren't put off by a litle tartness. Pleasant notes of apple juice and walnuts in the aftertaste. SGP:361 – 87 points.
An also Scapa 22 yo 1982/2005 (46%, Chieftain’s, Amontillado cask, cask #549, 558 bottles) Nose: a very, very pleasant Scapa where the malt and the sherry merge beautifully. Semi-dry, semi-sweet, with a very pleasant ‘coastality’ and quite some honey. Mouth: complex, with a lot of honey and enjoyable notes of flor. Very good body. Very faintly drying at the finish. Unusual and very recommended! SGP:642 - 88 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: A stunning song by Tunisian oud player and singer Dhafer Youssef called Al-Hallaj.mp3. Let's buy African music! Dhafer Youssef

December 2007 - part 2 <--- January 2008 - part 1 ---> January 2008 - 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:

Glen Albyn 21 yo 1963 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Sestante)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1991/2007 (54.6%, Signatory)