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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2009 - Part 1
       

December 2008 - part 3 <--- January 2009 - part 1 ---> January 2009 - part 2

 

January 14, 2009


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
Linkwood

TASTING
THREE ‘EXTREME’ LINKWOODS

Extreme Linkwoods? Right, that may not exist but just for fun, we’d like to try to compare three Linkwoods that should be very dissimilar – but all bottled at 43% vol. - and check if ‘distillery profiles’ remain despite very different treatments and ages. We'll have avery young indie, a large batch official and an 'old old' G&M.
Linkwood 1999/2008 (43%, Jean Boyer Gifted Stills) Colour: pale gold. Nose: ultra-fresh and ultra-clean, all on apple juice, pineapple juice, vanilla crème and coconut cake, with faint hints of roses and lychees that give it a slight gewürztraminer side. It’s the second time I nose this and whilst it was rather closed and uninspiring the first time, it really developed with a little ‘bottle breathing’. Proof that one should always be cautious with brand new bottles. Mouth: once again, this is more open than when I first tried it. Maraschino, Williamine, orange cake and vanilla crème, with again a little coconut and an unexpected saltiness. Finish: medium long, more on stone fruits spirit. Kirsch aged in oak. Comments: good clean fruity stuff, I’ll keep this one for next summer. SGP:531 - 80 points.
Linkwood 12 yo (43%, Flora and Fauna, +/-2003) Colour: pale gold. Nose: a grassier and oilier version, with less cleanliness but maybe also more complexity. Hints of asparagus, olive oil, fresh putty, fresh almonds and earl grey tea, with also a little fresh butter (but a very faint rancidness) and unusual notes of sage and wild thyme. Also paraffin – OBE starting, gets then more and more almondy. Mouth: once again, this is more vegetal and kind of resinous and waxy than the indie 1999. Malty, then orange zests, green tea, bitter almonds and un-sugared chamomile tea. It’s good whisky, a bit old school. Finish: medium-long, drier than before, mainly on liquorice wood. Comments: a rather austere composition, pretty anti-modern I’d say. SGP:352 - 82 points.
Linkwood 37 yo 1939 (43% Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, Pinerolo, rotation 1977) We had a 43yo 1939 bottled under the ‘licensed label’ by G&M last year and it was very good (90), so we have high expectations. By the way, too bad we don’t know when this was bottled. If it was before Sept 3, it’s pre-war whisky, as Britain declared war on Germany on that very day. If it’s after Sept 3, well, this is wartime whisky, obviously. Colour: amber. Nose: holy crow! Like all whiskies in this ‘black label’ series, this whisky is totally amazing. 37 years in wood + 31 years in glass = pure magic. Old orange liqueur, old books, orgeat syrup (almonds, sugar and rose water), brown coal smoke, turpentine, graphite, Havana cigar, caramel fudge, argan oil… And thousands of other tiny bits of smells. Totally fantastic and eminently complex. Mouth: right, right, it’s probably not as thrilling as on the nose now, and rather dry and austere (in that sense close to the Flora and Fauna version). Slightly metallic and cardboardy, herbal, smoky, a little bitter (chlorophyll gums)… Mint drops, stomach bitter… Well, you see what I mean. Finish: medium long, rather dry and drying now but certainly not undrinkable. Same notes of maraschino as in the much younger Jean Boyer. Comments: the nose was purely out of this world but the palate was a bit tired, which will prevent this one from getting to 90 or more (why don’t you drop your silly rules, S?) Now, what was interesting globally was to find the same notes of small cherries and almonds in all three Linkwoods, even if one of them was distilled exactly 60 years after another one. SGP:363 - 89 points.
And also Clan Campbell 21 yo ‘Legendary’ (43%, OB, France, blend, +/-1995) There used to be also a 18yo ‘Legendary’ in a flask-shaped bottle. This old 21 was in a very good restaurant last night (Armes de France in Ammerschwihr) and as often, they would fill up your glass to the same level, whether on the rocks or not. Which means that if you’re asking for a ‘naked’ shot, you end up with a +/-8cl dram! Enough for some tasting notes… Colour: amber – orange. Nose: very mellow, on very nice notes of orange marmalade and strawberry jam, very jammy as a matter of fact. Goes on with quite some fudge, caramel, fruitcake and old rum, with a large proportion of malt. Very nice. Clan Campbell
Mouth: smooth, round, very honeyed, malty and caramelly. Comments: a perfect after-dinner dram, not too demanding, with a very faint smokiness in the finish. Very cognac-alike in fact, that’s why it was quite big in France I guess ;-). All pleasure. SGP:432 – 84 points.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: No, it’s not Bob Dylan vintage 1966, it’s Portland’s very excellent Blitzen Trapper playing Furr.mp3. Please buy thèse good guys’ music !

Blitzen Trapper
 

January 13, 2009


Inchgower TASTING
THREE INCHGOWERS
Inchgower 15 yo 1992/2007 (46%, Duncan Taylor, NC2, cask #6649) Colour: white wine. Nose: starts extremely spirity, youngish, inexpressive and chalky. Gets then more porridgy and yeasty, but that’s pretty all. This fellow hasn’t much to say it seems… Scottish vodka? Mouth: bitterish, cardboardy, very simple on the fruit front (apples), with just a little salt like we sometimes get in Inchogower. No smokiness, though. Finish: rather long, on something rather weird… Something like salted slivovitz! Comments: maybe not flawed as such, but we’ve had much better Inchgowers by Duncan Taylor. It’s true that they were older whiskies, distilled in the late 1960s. SGP:261 - 70 points.
Inchgower 20 yo 1985/2005 (60.8%, Usquebaugh Society, cask #5633, 250 bottles) This one is a Dutch bottling. Colour: pale gold. Nose: punchy and spirity, grassy, mineral and… overpowering. Let’s add water straight away. With water: it got phenolic, meaty and farmy like Inchgower can be, with maybe faint hints of sulphur but nothing unpleasant. Other than that it’s all on smoked ham, leather and vegetable soup plus strawberry crème. Very nice profile, not common at all. Mouth (neat): once again, it’s a bit hard and harsh when undiluted, even if one may distinguish pleasant spicy and leathery tones beyond the raw power. With water: spicy and herbal, pleasantly bitter, meaty (beef jerky) and salty. Just a tad cardboardy as well. Good oakiness and then more cooked vegetables. Finish: rather long, with more salt and more oak. Comments: uncommon whisky for big boys. Certainly not an easy/sweet tipple. SGP:362 – 86 points.
Inchgower 26 yo 1980/2007 (59.8%, Adelphi, cask #14155, 223 bottles) This little baby stunned most Maniacs at the awards 2008 and fetched both gold and the Non-Plus-Ultra Award in the premium category. Colour: dark coffee, almost as black as a black Mercedes. Nose: hot and highly concentrated, with tons of sherry, fruit jams and liqueurs as well as some beautiful floral notes (peonies first). But this is very heavy, water is certainly needed. With water: huge beefiness. Oxtail bouillon, herbs, chervil, parsley… Once again, big and extreme. Mouth (neat): huge! Extreme richness and concentration, loads of bitter chocolate and bitter oranges. Almost aggressive when undiluted. With water: pure chocolate liqueur mixed with strong coffee and various spices and herbs. Not less concentrated as when undiluted – we get the feeling that we could bring this one down to 1% vol., it would still be amazingly rich. Finish: very long, a little more on toffee and brandy (rather Armagnac). Comments: a huge sherry monster that’s maybe more Japanese than Scottish in style, reminding me of the most sherried Yamazakis. I’ve been a little less thrilled that most of my maniacal colleagues when I tried this one blind for the first time and shall stick with my first (still high) score. SGP:462 - 88 points.
Supernova NEW - We just saw on Ardbeg’s website that there will be a new ‘Ardbeg Supernova’, a probably very young malt peated to 100ppm. Price: £65 – Peat is expensive, you know! Sci-Tech Encyclopedia's definition: a supernova is 'The catastrophic, explosive death of a star, accompanied by the sudden, transient brightening of the star to an optical luminosity comparable to that of an entire galaxy.'
Oh well...
14:10 update: a WF correspondent tells us that the Supernova has been deleted from Ardbeg's website. Was it only a joke? Playing with words? Testing the brand's buzzability? Teasing?
18:10 update:
it's back, it's real, it's alive!

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: Did you know this rather gloomy but very ‘interesting’ version of A day in the life.mp3 by the Wolfgang Dauner Quartet? Wofgang Dauner used to be part of the legendary United Jazz And Rock Ensemble back in the 1970s and we liked them a lot at Whiskyfun – please buy the quartet’s music!

Wolfgang Dauner
 

January 12, 2009


Glenrothes TASTING – THREE NEW GLENROTHES
Glenrothes 17 yo 1990/2008 (59.9%, The Clydesdale, Sherry cask #0221/11001, 542 bottles) We usually sort the whiskies by increasing ABV but when some are much older than others, we prefer to put them at the end. But then we have to be careful with the high strength ones, Eugene. Colour: amber/orangey. Nose: hot and maybe a tad lactic and buttery, but otherwise pleasantly candied and fruity (dried bananas and pears). Kirsch. With water: as often, it gets much wilder and that doesn’t diminish. Leather (horse saddle), wet hay, Virginia tobacco (amazingly huge notes), hawthorn tea, cherry liqueur, overripe oranges, wood smoke… Quite superb and completely different with water. Also more spices (ginger, garam masala). Mouth (neat): extremely powerful, both candied and rubbery, tasting somewhat like fruit spirit newmake. Yes, kirsch. With water: once again, water worked, even if a little less so than on the nose. Sweeter, richer, fruitier, all on orange marmalade and spices. Yes, garam masala again. Slight over-woodiness. Finish: long, grassier now, on various herbal teas and liquorice. Comments: as good a swimmer as Michael Phelps or Alain Bernard. SGP:361 - 86 points.
Glenrothes 24 yo 1984/2008 (46%, Jack Wieber, Castle Collection, cask #1696, 150 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: an unusually austere and grassy Glenrothes. Very little fruitiness, rather whiffs of crushed almonds, linseed oil and apple peeling, with hints of cologne in the background (N°4711 of course). A bit hard in our opinion. Mouth: well, more or less the same happens here. Unexpectedly immature, a little spirity, rough, close to tutti-frutti eau-de-vie. It’s not unpleasant, though, just… well, unexpected. Finish: rather long but even more on plum spirit. Comments: good spirit but rather far from SMSW. From a very inactive cask, for sure. Kind of ‘aromatically nude’, I’d say. SGP:530 - 78 points.
Glenrothes 39 yo 1969/2008 (46.5%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #12889) All these 1968s and 1969s by Duncan Taylor are very good, and some are even stellar (like this one’s sister cask, #12890, which we scored 92). Colour: gold. Nose: did you ever put your nose over an opened beehive that’s full of honey? This Glenrothes smells exactly like that – minus the stings (believe me, I have beekeepers in the family). Fantastically fruity, honeyed, resinous and flowery. Big engine! Enough said… Mouth: the palate could have been tired and overly oaky but it’s not! Excellent fruitiness, perfect balance, and an avalanche of honeys, fresh and dried fruits, aromatic herbs (mint, dill and many others) and various confectionaries. Finish: medium-long, with a classy oaky signature. Comments: bang for your bucks. SGP:651 – 90 points.
 
Revelstoke  

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MUSIC – Recommended listening: the wonderful WF favourite Rachael Yamagata doing a mesmerizing Sunday afternoon.mp3 (that's on her 2005 Japan exclusive CD 'live at the loft'). Please buy Miss Yamagata's music.

Rachael Yamagata
 

January 11, 2009


Glen Scotia

TASTING – THREE GLEN SCOTIAS

Glen Scotia 16yo 1992/2008 (46%, Murray McDavid for Ermuri Berlin, cask ref 92225, Rum casks Aced) Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s not that we don’t like rum (quite the contrary), but this smells like plain rum indeed. A candied and rather grassy kind of rum, of very good quality. Scotchness is absent here, at least until a good ten minutes, when the heavy notes of rum have evaporated so to speak. But what’s behind isn’t particularly characterful. Mouth: a little less rum as such at the attack, and more bananas and even bubblegum and liquorice. Kind of ‘lazy’. Slight saltiness from the whisky that starts to fight the rummy notes, the whole actually improving. Unusual combination for sure. Finish: rather long and, I must say, even more enjoyable now, with funny notes of green olives. Comments: one can feel that the finishing really improved the base whisky here, even if that produced a spirit that’s not quite whisky and not quite rum. We preferred the palate – an interesting dram! (I thought it was an Irish when I first tried it blind). SGP:552 – 79 points.
Glen Scotia 32yo 1975/2008 (46%, Chieftain's choice, cask #2191, 78 bottles) A part of this cask had already been bottled at cask strength under the Dun Bheagan label two years ago, so these 78 bottles where probably what was left in the cask. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is a rather typical very yeasty, organic, porridgy Glen Scotia, even after all these years. Big notes of baker’s yeast and even hints of baby vomit (which is, of course, much less offensive than a boozehound’s vomit). Actually, this is very spectacular but also extremely difficult. Mouth: way, way nicer than on the nose! Very unusual again but more polished, pleasantly fruity, slightly peaty, salty, unusually grassy (bitter leaves)… Nah, still, this is strange brew. Finish: long and flinty this time, dry, kind of rummy again – but I don’t think this was a rum cask!
Comments: a very strange beast. The nose alone is worth trying – if you’re an experimentation freak that is. Maybe the state of the equipment at the distillery has something to do with these strange smells, even if it was probably in a better shape in 1975 (see recent photograph, courtesy ‘ttn’ over at the whisky-distillerie forum). SGP:362 - 77 points (because it’s interesting malt whisky!)
Glen Scotia 27yo 1966/1994 (51.5%, Signatory, Dumpy, casks #1271-72, 480 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: we’re in a different league here and much closer to Springbank in a certain way. Waxy, phenolic, orangey and gingery, and even a little ‘maritime’, with hints of fresh seaweed. Also great notes of old sweet white wine, good barrel, pepper, peat, almonds… Kind of a crossbreed between Springbank and Talisker. Very, very nice nose, a little old-style. Mouth: very beautiful attack, rather peaty, grassy and citrusy. Once again it’s no easy whisky but balance is achieved and provided you’re not against bitterness in your whisky (okay, Jägermeister), you’ll love this if you can find a bottle. Notes of tequila, walnut liqueur, liquorice, pine resin (even good retsina)… A lot of ‘good’ oak as well. Great whisky, slightly austere but very distinguished. Finish: long and more maritime and salty, maybe more Talisker than Springbank now. Comments: I think it’s my favourite Glen Scotia so far. SGP:354 - 90 points.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: the excellent country-blues vocalist and guitarist Precious Bryant did a nice version of Fever.mp3 in 2002 (on her CD Fool me good). Please buy Precious Bryant's music.

Precious Bryant
 

January 9, 2009


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
   

TASTING – THREE OFFICIAL PULTENEYS

Old Pulteney 
Old Pulteney 17 yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2008) We always quite liked Old Pulteney 17, a whisky that used to be a bit old-school. The labels for both the 17 and the 21 have changed, going from paper to silkscreen. Kind of an anti-Bowmorian move, so to speak. Colour: straw. Nose: the typical coastal, briny notes are well here but we feel this is less mature than earlier batches used to be. A little spirity and quite yeasty and porridgy, with rather huge notes of apples and pears as well as a little mint, nutmeg and vanilla. It’s balanced spirit but it’s also rather simple spirit in our opinion. More fresh bourbon than before? After fifteen minutes: huge notes of coconut, rather ‘too much’. Mouth: similarly simple and fruity. Apples, pears, coconuts, fresh walnuts, barley sugar and a little salt, then more vanilla. Once again, balance is perfectly achieved but there isn’t much thrill. Finish: clean, medium long, more on vanilla fudge and salted butter toffee, with an aftertaste on coconut teacakes. Comments: it’s very good whisky but Pulteney’s traditional Highland style is a little absent here. Too modern? SGP:531 - 79 points.
Old Pulteney 21 yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2008) There has been a vintage version of the 21yo, a 1983 that was very good (86). This version bears no vintage. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a completely different league, as if four more years made all the difference. Just as coastal as the 17 but also much more complex, even if the general profile is more or less the same. Oatcakes, muesli, natural apple juice, pear peel, iodine, butterscotch, liquorice wood, hints of verbena herbal tea. Ends up with nice whiffs of freshly cut pineapple and rhubarb mixed with candle wax and ginger beer. And a minty oakiness. Mouth: excellent attack and body, sweet and round but truly ‘old Highland’. Salty and gingery, slightly ‘wild’ in that sense, with quite some waxy and resinous notes. Peppered oysters. Finish: long, even saltier and more phenolic. Pleasant ‘metallic’ notes. Comments: great whisky, instantly recognisable (well, we did at the MM Awards when we tried it blind, but nothing to brag about, it’s very easy). SGP:453 - 87 points.
Old Pulteney 16 yo 1990/2008 (60.3%, OB, bourbon, cask #5502) This one was only available at the distillery, and had to be hand-filled. Fashion! Colour: gold. Nose: much more closed, with more grassy notes, quite some coconut again and hints of raw medicinal alcohol. This one will probably need quite some water, like all coastal distilleries (joking). With water: much more hay, mint and aniseed and then the expected whiffs of sea air. Quite some coconut left ut less than when neat. Mouth (neat): much more ‘assessable’ on the palate than on the nose when naked. Excellent fruitiness and very pleasant bitter notes (green tea). Other than that it’s all on coconuts, cardamom, ginger and salt. Less vanilled than we had feared. With water: even more so. Excellently straightforward, salty (very) and fruity (gooseberries). Perfect oakiness. Finish: long, clean and, you guessed it, very salty. Hints of soft curry and cardamom again in the aftertaste, which gives it an Indian side. Comments: a little less complex than the 21 but certainly as drinkable. Good bourbon wood, the spirit being big enough not to have become simplistically vanilled and lactony here. SGP:442 - 86 points. (And thanks, Steven!)

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: Caracol is a good little French pop band and here's their nice little song Celle que les hommes pleurent.mp3. Please buy Caracol's music.

Caracol
 

January 8, 2009


Laphroaig

TASTING
TWO YOUNG FINISHED LAPHROAIGS

Laphroaig 7 yo 2000/2008 (58.2%, La Maison du Whisky, refill butt, La Préceptorie Finish, 445 bottles) La Préceptorie make various wines from Maury, usually very sweet and rich. Colour: gold. Nose: rich, unusual combination of straight peat with sultanas. Very nice but it’s as if both aromas were mutually annihilating each other. Maybe water will help! With water: it gets extremely animal. Cow stable, horse sweat, rabbit and Havana cigars. Amazing! Then a little mint and camphor.

Mouth (neat): extremely rich, heavy, sweet and animal. Interesting but very weird. Apricot jam, ginger, honey. Too sweet for my taste. With water: bizarre, something like caramelized reared roe-deer? Extremely unusual. Finish: long but very leathery and losing its sweetness. Comments: really a strange spirit, kind of a love/hate assembling as both the Maury and the very young Laphroaig are very heavy liquids. War in a glass? SGP:557 - 79 points (scored 100% blind). It is to be noted that this one fetched a much higher average (85 points) at the MM Awards 2008.
Laphroaig 10 yo ‘Clinto Cask’ (55.7%, Private, Diego Sandrin) Our friend Diego did let a huge stash of cask strength Laphroaig further mature for 14 month in a Clinto cask. Clinto is a vigorous red wine, also known as Clinton. It’s well known for its resistance to phylloxera and within Italy, it’s mostly to be found in Venetia. Colour: gold. Nose: this is drier and straighter than the 2000, and probably more complex. Very pleasant notes of old wine cellar, fresh mushrooms, leather, medicine (old medicine cabinet), maraschino and something very dry, that reminds me of ultra-dry Champagne. Right, Proseco. With water: more oak, pencil lead, pine resin and, just like in the 2000, some animal notes, but much less extreme. Mouth (neat): we’re much closer to the original spirit than with the 2000 here, even if once again, this is very rich. Good balance. Ginger liqueur, Grand-Marnier and a lot of peat and salt. Clinto
With water: it’s funny how the wine cask did not impart any obvious winey notes but rather something quite resinous that fits Laphroaig pretty well. Eucalyptus drops, mint, camphor, fir honey (honeydew), cough medicine… Very nice balance. Finish: very long and much closer to regular CS Laphroaig, as if the brilliant spirit had finally absorbed all ‘winey’ notes. Funny return on maraschino. Comments: very, very good. Sure, the base whisky was already totally top-notch (and no dodgy and boring immature whisky) but still, this is very well done. Let’s only hope that our friend Diego made enough of this. If you're interested in his experiments you may drop him a line at diegoATdiegosandrinDOTcom. SGP:457 - 90 points.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: certainly one of the best blues-rock super-trios ever, Mike Bloomfield (of Electric Flag), Al Kooper (of Blood, Sweat & Tears) and Stephen Stills (of CSN&Y of course) are playing Donovan's unusually groovy interstellar hit Season of the witch.mp3 (on their 1968 LP 'Super Session'). Sadly, Bloomfield died in 1983, but please buy these famous gentlemen's music!

Super Session
 

January 7, 2009


Glenfiddich

TASTING
TWO VERY OLD GLENFIDDICH

Glenfiddich 29 yo 1956/1985 (50.6%, Intertrade, 384 bottles, sherry) Independent Glenfiddichs are very rare, and we have to rely on old stashes to be able to try some. Colour: gold. Nose: superb, almost magnificent in its extreme yet fantastically subtle oakiness! I think I almost never smelled a whisky that was so woody and so complex at the same time. ‘Anti-plankish’ (what?), instantly hinting at an old Jaguar (saloon) or maybe a Rolls-Royce (but how would we know?) and then distributing aromas as a machine gun would distribute bullets, that is to say one after the other at a heavy pace. Apricot pie, incense, cigar box, camphor, ginger, wood varnish, beeswax, banana skin, very old rum, leather polish, fresh almonds… And then the sherry comes out, almost brutally, with huge notes of coffee that just ran out of the expresso machine. Superb, very superb. Mouth: ho-ho-ho! Thick, deep, rich, fruity, phenolic and resinous, with once again a lot of oak and once again a beautiful one. An avalanche of dried fruits (figs, bananas, pears, apricots, dates, prunes… Actually, you have them all) as well as all spices (and even a little salt), all that doing ‘the peacock’s tail’ in the most beautiful manner. How rich! Finish: as long as a Neil Young guitar solo, maybe just a tad bitter now (the tannins are big) but with also some very, very ‘funny’ notes of raspberry eau-de-vie that make for an unexpected, yet most pleasant signature. Comments: Intertrade! These people knew their job – and they still do. Stellar old Glenfiddich, now my #1 on the GF list! SGP:663 - 94 points.
Glenfiddich 1955/2006 ‘Private Vintage’ (52.6%, OB for World of Whisky, cask #4221, 201 bottles) Priced at, errmlmnmlrmnl… £5,000.00 a bottle. But hell, it’s 50 years old! Colour: very pale gold. Nose: this is fresher and, quite ironically, fruitier than the ‘youngster’, as if the cask had been much less active during all these years. Notes of wild flowers, butterscotch and plain butter plus, at the fruit department, high-end apple juice and orange juice. Becomes partly similar to the 1956 after a moment, with the same notes of leather polish, soot and fresh almonds, but also something more mineral. Graphite oil. This one really reminds me of the 1955 that was bottled for H-H Hansen, that I could try on Feb 8, 2006. It’s superbly pure. Mouth: this is a little rounder and more polished, but there’s also more oak than on the nose. Also something that reminds me of the very old Jones Road Irish that I had a few weeks ago, but this is much, much more pleasant. Quite some wood extracts that are in the ‘mint – eucalyptus – camphor’ category but that aren’t over the top at all here, without one single ounce of bitterness. Also sweet spices (white pepper, nutmeg). Very excellent and directly pleasant. I mean, it’s no intellectual ‘I-have-to-scratch-my-head’ old whisky at all. Finish: medium-long, rather more citrusy at this stage and very, very elegant. Comments: much more than just a curiosity or a vanity bottling for emirs in transit at Heathrow, this is ‘damn good Scotch’, as Kramer would have said. But I doubt Kramer would have shelled out £5,000 for one bottle of this. SGP:462 - 91 points. PS: last minute update – just found out that this is actually the same cask as the one that was bottled for our friend H-H Hansen. So much for our consistency in assessing and scoring whiskies!
And also Glenfiddich 30yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2008) The 30 is a dram that I always liked, let’s see how these newer batches handle the situation… Colour: gold. Nose: less complex than the oldies but not less appealing with its rich, silky profile all on very ripe plums, old roses and high-end oak. Also crystallised oranges and a very pleasant smokiness (wood). Very nice, very classic. Mouth: sweet, soft, absolutely not ‘ridiculous’ after the two fit fighters we just had, all on bitter oranges, soft and silky oak and maybe mango cake. Vanilla cake, orange cake. Finish: longer than expected, clean, balanced and rather complex. Comments: pleasantly old style – if not old school. I assume many unlearned execs have bought this at Duty Free Shops, which is a pity. This 30yo should be reserved to us malt lovers. SGP: - 87 points. Glenfiddich
By the way, if you’re into old Glenfiddichs...
Dyment Glenfiddich
... you may have a look at the ‘future 100 years old’ that Canadian artist Dave Dyment has buried deep somewhere in the distillery’s warehouse #8 last year. The whisky now rests in a sherry butt and will only be bottled in 2108. For now, you’ll get one of the very dadaist empty wooden boxes (US $2,000 a piece) named ‘A Drink To Us (When We’re Both Dead)’, which will ‘maybe’ nestle the 100 year old Glenfiddich when it’ll be unearthed. Now, it is to be noted that the ‘contract’ between the buyer and the distillery/artist stipulates that ‘In the event of future prohibition, this contract is null and void’. We’re also wondering if there will be enough whisky left in the cask to fulfil the contract (but they sell only 25 pieces so that may work), but also if the probable absence of air will actually allow the spirit to age. Imagine a 100yo malt whisky that would taste like plain sherry-infused newmake!
Duchamp But all this is art, of course, even if nothing really new as many artists have already buried such ‘gifts’ to future generations, especially around the year 2000. There’s for instance a ‘modern art cemetery’ in Normandy where artists and owners can bury the pieces that they don’t wish to keep anymore. Anyway, as we can see, Marcel Duchamp’s spirit still blows over France, Canada... and Speyside…

<- Marcel Duchamp (1887 - 1968)

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: music lovers have been knowing this beautiful deep voice for more than thirty-five years; right, he's Elliott Murphy and this time he's singing Deep drunk I love.mp3 (a song about Dominique Laboubé, leader of French band the Dogs who died while on tour in the USA in 2006) Please buy Elliott Murphy's music.

Elliott Murphy
 

January 6, 2009


TASTING – THREE PAIRS OF ARRANS
(bourbon, sherry, finished)

Arran
Arran 1996/2007 (54.6%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #1507) Colour: gold. Nose: punchy and powerful, with a lot of rubber at first sniffing but getting much cleaner after that, these rubbery notes having vanished. Fresh, still young and a tad immature but rather beautifully citrusy, which was unexpected. Something of a young Rosebank? Young rum, lemon marmalade. With water: more lemon and tangerines, limoncello. When I first tried this blind I was almost sure it was Rosebank. Mouth (neat): very citrusy now, lemony. Very powerful, a little hard to enjoy at cask strength. With water: full lemon marmalade and ginger and then pure lemon drops. Finish: medium long, still very lemony but with an added saltiness. Comments: good, clean and zesty Arran with an unexpected good Lowland profile. SGP:540 - 81 points.
Arran 1998/2008 (57.5%, OB for LMdW Paris, Bourbon cask #675, 213 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: punchy, clean, much more waxy and flinty than the 1996. Goes on with notes of cut green apple and even kiwi but there’s a little rubber again (picked blind twice, in both malts). Struck matches. With water: more lemon now, almost as much as in the 1996. Grassier than when neat but more polished as well. Mouth (neat): very punchy but rounder and creamier than the 1996, with much more vanilla, probably from the bourbon cask. Notes of kirsch and plum spirit. Needs water. With water: more kirsch and more lemon again but also a slightly strange bitterness (peach tree leaves?) Raw fresh oak? Finish: longer, almost as zesty as the 1996 but a tad metallic this time. Also vanilla custard. Comments: another good Arran, but that may have needed a few extra years to get a little smoother. SGP:450 - 79 points.
Arran 1998/2008 (52.3%, OB, Sherry, cask #305, 285 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: young punchy sherry, full of kirsch and gunpowder and then dried meat (Grisons meat, bresaola). Strawberry liqueur. Quite some rubber as well, just like in the two previous ones, but it’s below the limits. With water: more organic, vegetal and pearish. More yeasty and porridgy notes as well, as if the sherry casks had ‘cancelled’ its effect on the spirit with water, which is amusing. Mouth (neat): strong, fruity, winey and a tad bitter. Herbal teas, hawthorn, cherry stems. A little prickly. With water: fruitier but also grassier. Bubblegum, tea, strawberry drops, strong green tea. Finish: long, cleaner, more on orange and ginger liqueur, with salty touches again. The aftertaste is a little bitter. Comments: still a little too young and rough, as if it wasn’t a full-term sherry maturing, but a lot of potential (what a silly comment, this isn’t a piano exam, is it?) SGP:451 - 79 points.
Arran 10 yo 1996/2007 (56.8%, OB for Potstill Austria, sherry cask #1759, 267 bottles) Colour: dark amber. Nose: this sherry is as bold as in the 1998 but smoother and more polished, with more coffee and chocolaty notes. Also blackcurrant jam and buds, gunflints, plain grass… A little rubber again. With water: no ‘sherry cancellation’ here, rather more leather, mushrooms, meat and tea. Beef jerky. Nice and entertaining nose I must say, especially since the ‘bad’ rubber disappeared. A little camphor. Mouth (neat): rich and concentrated, more powerful but more appealing than the 1998. Still a little rough, that is. Raspberry eau-de-vie running from the still at 80% vol. ;-). With water: very good now. Bitter oranges, pepper, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cream sherry… Pleasant flintiness. Finish: long, rich, creamy, all on candied red fruits and pepper. Comments: a good three levels over the 1998 I think. Lucky Austrians! SGP:541 – 83 points.
Isle of Arran 12 yo 1996/2008 (46%, Murray McDavid, enhanced in Château Margaux, 1,500 bottles) Colour: salmon. Nose: typical fruity (blackcurrants, strawberries) and slightly leafy/grassy notes. Otherwise we aren’t too far from the two sherry-matured Arrans, with pleasant hints of struck matches and tiny whiffs of rubber bands. A clean product, let’s say ‘mid-winey’ on the nose. Mouth: it’s the wood’s spiciness that strikes first. I don’t know if these casks were first fill Margaux but if they were, they sure had a lot of oak components left. Ginger, cinnamon and cardamom, then the expected strawberry, raspberry and blackcurrants jams, and finally hints of cherry jam as well. Not too sure the spirit has much of its say here but the casks were of high quality, so… Finish: medium long, clean, fruity, ‘liqueury’. Comments: a very pleasant drink, very sweet and fruity, close to a liqueur. SGP:630 – 80 points. By the way, we just had a quick H2H with the Bruichladdich 16yo Château Margaux Aced. Both were quite similar, with the powerful wine dominating the shy-y spirits, but both were also very drinkable (the Laddie being a little more playful and even fruitier).
Arran NAS 'Madeira Wine Cask' (50%, OB Ltd Edition, Bottled 2008, 5760 bottles) Finished in ‘the finest Madeira wine cask, sourced directly from the producer’. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this is great, with superb notes of crystallised oranges, baklavas, leather, smoked tea and even something like ‘peat’ (granted, there isn’t any peat). Rose-scented soap (pleasant here), lychees, orange blossom… And back on plain oranges. Perfectly constructed as far as the nose is concerned, and no obvious ‘vinosity’. Mouth: rich, complex, fruity (oranges galore), honeyed, spicy and mineral. It’s very winey in fact, but it works very well, maybe because of the wine’s trademark dryness. It’s not the first time that I prefer Madeira over other finishings (like, say at Benriach’s). Gets more candied and even caramelly as well as simpler after a moment, but it’s still very good. Finish: long, more toffee-ish. Comments: very good whisky and a finishing that clearly improved the spirit here. SGP:541 - 87 points (including my humble encouragements!)
Last minute:
Arran now have a peated malt out! We hope we'll try it soon...

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: let's have some cool and easy Brazilian (not quite) jazz today, with Vanessa Falabella singing Brian Ferry's hit Don't stop the dance.mp3. Unlikely? Not at all! Please buy Vanessa Falabella's music, she recorded many great covers...

Vanessa Falabella
 

January 5, 2009


TASTING – THREE 1978 GLENGLASSAUGHS

Glenglassaugh 20 yo 1978/1998 (52%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #21.13, 285 bottles)
Moutarde Colour: white wine. Nose: starts fresh, malty and grainy, with hints of mustard and newly sawn fresh oak. Then we have quite some porridge, fresh bread (leavening, baker’s yeast) and ginger tonic, the whole getting grassier and sort of acrid after a moment. Very ‘green’, lacking roundness, even if hints of mocha and vanilla do come through after a loooong time, together with whiffs of soap, alas. A little hard. Mouth: spirity, ‘simply’ fruity (apples), even a little sugary, with once again a tart woodiness. Sweetened mustard? Big green tannins, gets very dusty after a short while. Fresh wood. Not much pleasure here I’m afraid. With a few drops of water: the nose gets nicer but still very grassy whilst the palate gets sugary. Lemon drops. Finish: long, very grassy. Raw artisanal grappa. Comments: not as bad as it sounds but water is obligatory. Really improves with water but it’s too unpleasant when naked. SGP:351 - 77 points.
French 1960 magazine ad
for 'Savora' mustard
Glenglassaugh 27 yo 1978/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, REF #1994, 213 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: this is much more pleasant and interesting than the SMWS. It’s much more on herbal teas such as chamomile and linden, with quite some ‘natural’ vanilla as well, hints of fresh putty, artichokes (unusual), marzipan, spearmint, liquorice and ginger. Once again, a little sweet mustard and then more coffee, vanilla and a newly opened box of toffees. Hints of bubblegum. Entertaining and pleasant, a little old style. Mouth: first round, then rather tannic once again but the rest is big enough to counterbalance the rather heavy woodiness. A lot of liquorice, strong green tea, pepper, ginger, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Less old-fashioned than on the nose. Finish: long, getting saltier and saltier. Comments: really unusual, with very good body but it’s no easy dram. SGP:372 - 85 points.
Glenglassaugh Glenglassaugh 30 yo 1978/2008 (49.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #531, 267 bottles) From a hogshead, probably sherry. Colour: amber with green hues. Nose: quite expressive, starting on notes of rum and even tequila (old anejo) as well as husk, shoe polish, dried beef and Christmas fruitcake. Then we have notes of maple syrup, hints of date brandy (arrak), old leather (horse saddle) and finally a mixture of smoked ham and liquorice. This reminds me of some Glen Mhors – an ‘anti-modern’ malt. Mouth: much rounder than its bros, less grassy (even if these notes of old rum are still there). Candy sugar, caramelised wood (rum again), dried apples, bergamot sweets (a specialty from Nancy in Lorraine), maple syrup and then various soft spices, mostly white pepper and dried cardamom. A slight bitterness (capers?) keeps it pleasantly nervous. Finish: medium long, back on rum and tequila. Also dried bananas, burnt sugar and roasted raisins. Comments: once again an unusual Glenglassaugh, very Caribbean this time. And very good. SGP:551 - 88 points.

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: the good old Fleshtones are wondering if The World has changed.mp3 (in 1982, on their LP Roman Gods). Good question, isn't it? Please buy the Fleshtones' music!

Fleshtones
 

January 2, 2009


 
Tormore

TASTING
TWO HIGH STRENGTH (cough, cough) 1990 TORMORES

Tormore 17 yo 1990/2007 (64.6%, The Clydesdale, cask #0150/1967, 205 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: sure it’s extremely punchy but it’s also rather ‘nosable’, displaying very ‘modern’ notes of vanilla, dried ginger and café latte, somewhat in the genre of the Glenlivet Nadurra or Glenmorangie Artisan/Astar. Superb clean oakiness, nougat and crystallised oranges. With water: excellent and very classy, clean, very compact, with a lot of vanilla again but also whiffs of fresh cellulose varnish and turpentine. Extremely straightforward! Mouth (neat): viscous and very hot but once again, rather drinkable (now, it’s no breakfast malt of course). Rich wood and a lot of spices, very ‘engineered’ and kind of Japanese if you see what I mean. With water: more fruits and more spices. Ginger spread on fresh strawberries. Finish: very long, with the oak coming back for the signature. Comments: very good, we already liked this a lot when we first tried it blind. It really smells and tastes as if it was re-racked in new oak or first fill bourbon. SGP:441 – 87 points.
Tormore 1990/2002 (65.9%, Blackadder Raw Cask, cask #1964, 278 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: same whisky as the Clydesdale, only a little less vanilled and a little fruitier. Less rounded, polished and mature. Same batch, most probably. With water: much less pleasant than the 17yo now, yeastier and even a little feinty, which may prove that this barrel wasn’t of the same grade as #1967. More coffee as well. Mouth (neat): we’ve got exactly the same differences as on the nose here. Less roundness, more harshness. A little premature? Very hot stuff. With water: that worked well (we’re closer to the 17yo) but the whole is still a bit rough around the edges. Ginger tonic. Finish: long but a little too spirity. Comments: good whisky but would have benefitted from more time in oak (and/or a better cask). SGP:531 – 79 points.
 

January 1, 2009



December 2008 - part 3 <--- January 2009 - part 1 ---> January 2009 - 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:

Glenfiddich 29 yo 1956/1985 (50.6%, Intertrade, 384 bottles, sherry)

Glenfiddich 1955/2006 ‘Private Vintage’ (52.6%, OB for World of Whisky, cask #4221, 201 bottles)

Glenrothes 39 yo 1969/2008 (46.5%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #12889)

Glen Scotia 27yo 1966/1994 (51.5%, Signatory, Dumpy, casks #1271-72, 480 bottles)

Laphroaig 10 yo ‘Clinto Cask’ (55.7%, Private, Diego Sandrin)